BookBin2013: A Hard Rain


I always view long flights as the perfect excuse to tune out the entirety of existence for a nice dive into a book or two…or more, depending on just how far I happen to be flying. Recently, I flew to Hawaii. Lots of time for lots of reading (and sleeping, but mostly reading).

I didn’t want to take a lot of thick, heavy books (I wanted to save ample space for important things like all the booze and coffee that I may or may not have bought while there), but I also wanted to take enough books to cover my bases and provide a nice variety of choices.

Thank goodness for Kindle! I loaded mine up with lots of selections, including several TNG books that I have had on my reading list for quite a while. Top choice was Dean Wesley Smith’s “Dixon Hill” novel A Hard Rain. I actually referenced this book in a Doctober post as one of the few TNG novels to actually feature Dr. Crusher on the cover. It was also the only book from this admittedly short list that I had not yet read.

I wish I had left it as unread.

I’ve never read anything else by Smith, but he wrote the novel adaptation of The Core. Do with that what you will (and I already suspect what many of my nerdier denizens will do with it). I got the impression from this story (and its blatantly open ending) that perhaps Pocket Books had planned on making Dixon Hill novels a spinoff to the mainstream TNG novels. I think A Hard Rain was the only one actually written, and I can understand why the idea was abandoned (if it ever existed).

With A Hard Rain, Smith has written a rather chaotic and muddled…tribute? parody?…to the detective novel, using the world of Dixon Hill as his foundation. Perhaps it’s a great novel to detective fans. It’s not a great TNG novel, I can attest to that.

Then again, it’s been years since I last read my TNG novels. Perhaps I have simply outgrown the storytelling parameters of Trek literature? I feel once again that I need to revisit these books, if only to finally put this question to rest. However, I fear that what I will find is that all the books I once loved will now just make me sad. And slightly appalled.

Anyway, I’m still not wild about detective novels, so that aspect didn’t really appeal to me. I’m also not a fan of Smith’s writing style for this particular book (again, I’m assuming that he doesn’t typically write like this and was probably striving to mimic popular detective novel styles). Additionally, I wasn’t all that crazy about the way the Dixon Hill story overlapped the TNG storyline in a rather non-linear and subsequently nonsensical way. Actually, the “real” storyline was more absurd than the Dixon Hill one…although the denouement was ridiculous for both stories. I didn’t like other things about this novel, but at this point I feel like I’m unnecessarily phasering a dead targh. I will say this, however: I never again want to read the phrase “Luscious Bev.”

Final Verdict: I have deleted A Hard Rain from my Kindle. I still have the master file saved elsewhere, but I doubt I will ever revisit it.

TNG Top Ten

Happy Doctober!

Ah, remember last year at this time? Thirty-one days of Dr. Crusher? Good times, good times. I won’t be doing that again this year (don’t think I didn’t hear that sigh of relief; cheeky monkeys). As much as I enjoyed doing Doctober last year, it took a great deal of planning, thinking, designing, and creating. I was quite done by Halloween, I can assure you.

However, I did want to at least tip my paw to the greatness of the event. Plus, I feel a bit guilty that I missed yet another Flashback Friday. I had plans; I simply ran of out time yesterday. I hate when that happens. So, to make up for my absence, I offer you this. Apparently, one of the newest memes to hit teh Interwebz recently was the “10 Days of TNG,” a top 10 list used to countdown to the 24th anniversary of TNG’s television debut.

Obviously, I missed out on that. But I thought I would offer you my answers to the countdown anyway. Because, you know, you’re interested. I know you are.

Say yes or I’ll turn November into Bevember and each day I will post a recording of me singing a new filk song that I have written all about Dr. Crusher.

Actually, that doesn’t sound like a bad idea…

Ten Days of TNG List of Favorites

Day One: Favorite Season

Season 2, of course.

Blech. Just typing that made me feel dirty.

This one’s actually almost a draw between Seasons 3 and 4; however, I have to say that if someone wanted to get into TNG and asked me where they should start, I would more than likely tell them to start at “The Best of Both Worlds” and watch from there. So I guess that means that I think Season 4 is slightly better than Season 3. But only slightly, since Season 3 does contain a slew of episodes that are excellent for all variety of reasons; plus, it contains two classic episodes that are a must for anyone new to the series: “Yesterday’s Enterprise” and “Sarek.”

However, Season 4 is nearly perfect from start to finish. It’s such a shame that it ends on such an…uneven note.

Blonde Romulan. That’s all I’m going to say.

Day Two: Favorite Episode

I can’t answer this question because there are far too many excellent episodes from which to pick. I can’t say that one is the absolute best of the bunch. So how about this: my favorite episode from each season:

Season 1: “The Big Goodbye”
First time on the holodeck and already it’s screwy! Yes, this was the episode that launched a thousand “There’s something wrong with the holodeck” stories that passed on through DS9 and Voyager. This was a spectacular debut, though. Spectacular enough, in fact, that I used images from this episode to launch Doctober.

Season 2: “The Measure of a Man”
As far as I’m concerned, this episode was the only reason to even bother purchasing the second season of TNG on DVD. If you don’t already know the reason why, you’re either new to the lair or you haven’t really been paying attention. Naughty, naughty denizens.

Season 3: “Sarek”
This is when it starts to get difficult to narrow down to just one episode. However, for shear impact and power, the return of Sarek to the Trek universe has to get the crown for Season 3, with “Yesterday’s Enterprise” coming in a solid second.

Season 4: “The Drumhead”
Again, very difficult, but this is one of the best written episodes to ever appear on TNG. Such a powerful episode, and it continues to be poignant—perhaps even more so today than when it first aired. Close calls for this season include “Half a Life,” which is one of the best Lwaxana Troi episodes to ever air; “The Wounded,” which is the first appearance of the Cardassians and an amazing episode for Miles O’Brien; “Night Terrors,” which (minus the “Troi Tuchis” dream sequences) is a deliciously creepy episode; and “Remember Me,” which is my all-time favorite Beverly Crusher episode and will appear here on this list again in a moment or two.

Season 5: “The Inner Light”
If there ever was an episode in which Patrick Stewart truly got to shine, it was this one. This might also be the one time in the history of the world in which a penny whistle moved me to tears for reasons other than irritation or eardrum torment. Close calls here include “Ensign Ro,” which was the debut of not only Ro Laren, who holds a particularly large part of my Trek-loving heart, but also the Bajorans (known at this point as “the Bajora”), the alien race that over time became my favorite Trek aliens; “Cause and Effect,” which is a nice ensemble effort with some really great Dr. Crusher moments; and “The Next Phase,” which is probably my favorite Ensign Ro episode.

Season 6: “Tapestry”
The vote really should go to “Chain of Command” for this season, but I don’t think it’s fair to choose a two-parter (which is why I didn’t say anything about “The Best of Both Worlds” earlier). I think that two-parters should be disqualified or given their own category simply because they get double the time to flesh out their story and double the time to make an impact on viewers. I am seeing a pattern, however, to my choices for best. Every single episode that I’ve chosen thus far has either starred or heavily featured Patrick Stewart. It’s no surprise, though. There’s no denying the fact that he was an amazing catch for the role of Captain Jean-Luc Picard. This episode also gets my vote as one of the best “Q” episodes. Close calls from this season include “True Q,” which isn’t really a great Q episode but heavily features Dr. Crusher, which is always a delight (even if she does get turned into an Irish setter at one point); “Face of the Enemy,” which wins as the greatest Troi episode from the entire TNG run; “Frame of Mind,” which is a trippy Riker episode; and “Timescape,” which is another episode with a great “creepy” vibe.

Season 7: “Attached”
To those of you who thought I would choose “Sub Rosa,” do fuck off. I went with “Attached,” however, for purely subjective reasons. Other than “Remember Me,” this is one of the few great Dr. Crusher-heavy episodes from the entire TNG run. I love how each moment of discovery and revelation shared between Crusher and Picard peels away one more layer of privacy, one more layer of knowing, one more layer of emotion, until the baring of the ultimate “secret” (was it really a secret to anyone but Beverly though? By this point, I’m sure even Spot knew how Picard felt about her). Close calls from the final season are “Phantasms,” which makes me laugh every time I see it, along with making me crave cake (with mint frosting); “Dark Page,” which might actually be my favorite Lwaxana Troi episode; “Lower Decks,” which is an amazing look into the lives of non-senior staff officers on board; “Genesis,” which I know is mocked by most fans of the show but has a special place in my heart as being the first Trek episode directed by a female cast member (who also just happens to be the same actress who played my favorite character); and “Preemptive Strike,” which wasn’t a great episode but gave closure to Ro Laren.

Day Three: Favorite Film

To me, there’s really only one great TNG movie, and that’s First Contact. Even with all its flaws (and there are many), it’s still a great adventure with the best villain to come from TNG (and well before they became so incredibly played out that they lost all semblance of scariness), plus lots of ‘splosions and special effects.

Day Four: Favorite Male Character

Regardless of the obvious Picard-on I had for Patrick Stewart, I’m going to have to say that Data was my favorite male character. There was an innocence and charm to that character that I found delightful. Brent Spiner was quite adept at taking this character who was supposedly emotionless and tapping into the full spectrum of emotions in believable and memorable ways. In fact, I loved Data so much , I named my cat after him. Prettiest kitty in the world, he was.

Day Five: Favorite Female Character

Hmm, let me think about this for a moment.

Ha, yeah, okay. Seeing as I started this post with mention of Doctober 2010, I do believe that the answer to this one is a no-brainer. It ain’t gonna be the buxom Betazoid or the surly blonde. It’s not even going to be the battle-damaged Bajoran…although she’s definitely in the running for second favorite.

Nope, it’s all about the Dancing Doctor. Maybe one day I’ll explain why. But not today.

Day Six: Favorite Guest Star

There were some magnificent guests throughout TNG’s seven-year run, but I’m going to go with the Daughter of the Fifth House, Heir to the Holy Rings of Betazed, Holder of the Sacred Chalice of Rixx. Majel Barrett Roddenberry as Lwaxana Troi was a joy to behold. Of course, I fell in love with Majel Barrett from the moment I saw her as Number One in the very first Star Trek pilot, “The Cage,” so it’s no surprise that I would love her as Deanna Troi’s mother.

Second place? The one whose ears I have hanging in the stairwell… 😉

Day Seven: Favorite Friendship

This is a strange question because I don’t really think that there were many friendships on board this ship. In fact, I think that’s one of my ultimate complaints about the TNG crew: As people, they were rather unbelievable. I know, that’s a horrible thing to say about characters that I love so much, but I think it’s pretty accurate. They didn’t really behave like real people, including they didn’t really interact with each other in believable ways. So, other than the relationship between Geordi and Data, which I guess could pass as a friendship, I don’t really think that any of them had what you’d call significant friendly bonds with each other. However, I think I would go with Guinan and Ro Laren, which was just one of the strangest friendships you could possibly imagine. But it worked. Almost as well as the friendship shared between Guinan and Picard. Although not nearly as funny as the friendship shared between Guinan and Worf. Also, not as time-alteringly significant as the friendship shared between Guinan and Tasha.

Looks like Guinan was friendliest person on that ship, doesn’t it?

Day Eight: Favorite Romantic Relationship

Data and Jenna D’Sora from “In Theory.” This is one of those episodes that I always love to watch and will always stop on if I find it playing on television, and one of the main reasons is that Spiner is such a joy to watch in this episode. It’s definitely sci-fi light, with a silly B-story going on in the background (although that story includes a really creepy scene in which they find a crew member trapped in the floor of one of the decks), but that just allows more time for a nice break from the sci-fi norm. It was a sweet scoop of sorbet to cleanse the palate in time for the awful taste of blonde Romulan (have I gotten it through to you that I really hated that part of TNG?).

Day Nine: Favorite Ensemble Moment

I know it’s schmaltzy and perhaps even a cop-out response, but I’m going to have to go with the very last scene of the very last episode of TNG, “All Good Things.” You know the scene: All the senior staff are gathered in Riker’s quarters for their weekly poker night and Picard shows up unexpectedly to join them. He sits down and looks at his crew and says that he should have done this years ago. He starts to deal the cards and his final words are, “The sky’s the limit,” and the camera slowly begins to pull away…every time I see that moment, I get teary-eyed. Hell, I’m feeling a little verklempt just writing about it!

For sheer fun, however, I’d go with all the Sherwood Forest scenes from “Q-Pid.” But come on, how do you not love that episode? “I must protest! I am not a merry man!”

Day Ten: Favorite Quote

Again, this is a no-brainer. Allow me to direct you to the quote at the top of the page. It’s been there ever since I re-launched the lair back in February 2009, and I don’t see it leaving any time soon. It’s one of the most brilliant things ever spoken on TNG. It’s so awesome, in fact, that my aunts got it for me on a shirt:

Best. Shirt. EVAR.

For those who don’t remember this line, it’s from the Season 4 episode “Remember Me,” which I told you would be making another appearance on this list very soon 😉

BookBin2011: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Companion

Are you getting the impression that I’m not really taking this year’s BookBin all that seriously, denizens? I do apologize for that. I have been reading a “real” book from my collection—an anthology that I bought at a charity book sale more than 10 years ago. The problem is that…well, the problem is that I hate the anthology. Whoops. Guess I’ve given away the fate of this one before I’ve even written about it. I do intend to finish it (it’s the principle, dammit!), but I needed to step away. It was too miserable an effort to keep reading it. Thus why I stopped for my last posted read and now this bit of silly fluff.

That’s a bit of a harsh summary of this book, though. True, the CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Companion isn’t going to be placed on any college-level reading lists, but that’s not why I wanted this book. I wanted it because, apparently, CSI has become my new Trek.

[Loba Warning: This post is probably definitely going to be me geeking out about my obsession with CSI that in many ways rivals my obsession with Trek. So, really, if you don’t dig either, you might want to just skip this entry. Of course, if you don’t love Trek or geeking out in general, why on earth are you hanging out here in the first place?]

Makes sense if you think about it: Both are easily accessible franchises with multiple levels of tasty geekery, including numerous television iterations, video games, comic books, novels and other nerdy books, trinkets, baubles, fanfiction, fan videos, fan sites…the only thing that could possibly make me even happier about the CSI marketing saturation is if they released character action figures. Because honestly? My desk needs a Sara Sidle action figure.

True, in terms of deeper meanings and social commentary, CSI doesn’t scratch a patch on Trek storylines. However, there is something mesmerizing about all that puzzle solving. I still believe that I have a personality well-suited to being a CSI. Too bad there’s all that math and chemistry. I was lucky I made it through high school chemistry with my eyebrows intact. Damned Bunsen burners…

More than just television shows, though, these are my escape for when reality wears me down and I need respite. The stories are almost always engaging and the characters are comforting. Why? Because I can relate to them. For all their attempts at being cool, Trek and CSI characters are HUGE nerds. Like me. And that makes me think that I’d really enjoy hanging out with them if they were real people…okay, maybe not Deanna. Counselors make me uncomfortable anyway, but one who could read my emotional state? Not cool. And Catherine Willows would probably make me nervous as well. She used to be a stripper…and in a previous life, she was a prostitute who hung out with Dana Delany.

Anyway, I think the CSI characters win the cage match for the title of “nerds” though, what with all their antisocial tendencies or awkward attempts at social interaction…not to mention the universally-true-for-all-the-characters science skillz , obsessive puzzle-solving, and anal-retentive behavior regarding their kits and whatnot. Although, really, the characters from both shows could intermingle so well with each other. The Dancing Doctor and the ex-stripper could work blood splatter analysis together before hitting the clubs after shift…and Wesley and Greg might actually get along swimmingly in the lab…ooh, and Riker and Grissom could compare beard trimmers and Laren and Sara could see who had the worst childhood…

Okay, now I want CSI/TNG crossover fanfic. STAT.

What the hell is the point of this post? Oh, yeah. The book I just read. Like my Trek compendiums (which you can see in this photo of one of my geeky bookshelves), this is an episode guide fleshed out with fun facts, trivia, and general behind-the-scenes awesomeness from the set of the original Vegas CSI (the only version of CSI that I watch regularly). This guide only covers seasons 1–3, but those are some of the best episodes that this series has done.

[Loba Secret: Vegas CSI started to slip into a downward spiral around season 7 and hasn’t really found its way back to its former greatness. Does that stop me from tuning in every week? Hells no. Optimism or masochism—call it what you will, but I’m probably going to watch this damn show until it goes off the air. Even when it’s bad, it’s a bad I know and love. Besides, what am I supposed to watch? Reality television?]

I found myself loving and loathing this episode companion. First, the loathe. I expected something a little more high quality from Pocket Books. Not to say that the layout isn’t gorgeous. It is. Lots of shiny pages filled with colorful photos and groovy graphic layouts. The problem is in the editing…or the infuriating lack thereof. Lots of grammatical and spelling errors, including one that is a particular pet peeve of mine. One is not a real trooper about something. One is a real trouper. This drives me about as bat-shit crazy as people who write “tow the line.” Unfortunately, it’s all through this book and it stuck out each and every time I read it, like a sliver of glass in my retina.

Petty quibble? Of course. Then again, I’m a editer. I’m suppose to knowtice these things.

Also, a little fact checking and “on the same page” checking between the guide’s writers and the show’s writers might have been a great thing. I understand that this book came out early in the life of this show. I also understand (and actually quite liked) that this show was not originally a character-driven piece. It was heavily plot-driven, with character exposition coming in small, natural doses like how it actually happens in real-world work environments. If something was relevant to an episode plot regarding one of the characters, we learned that bit of personal information. Otherwise, we (and they) were all about solving the cases at hand. Therefore, character development was probably not something that they gave a whole lot of thought. Plot first, then characters.

All that being said, I kind of assumed that the creators and writers would have figured out certain things about their characters, in preparation for where cases might lead them and what we might learn next. Apparently, though, that hadn’t happened by the 2004 release of this book. Every single one of the character profiles had something startlingly and hilariously incorrect. Best one though? Sara Sidle apparently was meant to have loving parents, including a hippy feminist mother, who were concerned that their bookish daughter might be missing out on the fun of childhood by being so studious.


I laughed for about 10 minutes after I read that. Yeah, I’m that nerdy.

Beyond the absence of research and the massive editorial issues, there just seems to be a general lack of care all throughout…a lot of little mistakes, like Dr. Robbins being listed in his profile as “Albert Robbins,” but all of the accompanying identification badge graphics showing his first initial as “P,” that compounded to become quite distracting after a while.

Distracting enough to get rid of this book? Nope. I admit I’d probably feel a lot surlier if I had paid full price for this guide (thank the prophets I’m cheap and love Amazon Marketplace as much as I do). However, $5 for a 300-page guide filled with nerdy minutia, hilariously flawed “facts,” and oodles of pretty pictures from the only television show that I still watch? I think I can deal with all the errors and enjoy the fun stuff.

Final Verdict: It’s going to be a bit of a tight fit, but soon this guide will be nestled on my geeky bookshelf, right next to those sexy Trek companion guides. Now where are my CSI action figures? And my CSI/TNG crossover fanfic?

Doctober 31: All Good Things…

What more appropriate title for this final Doctober entry than the title of the very last episode of TNG?

I can’t believe that Doctober is now over. I can’t believe that I have awesome, silly ImagiFriendsTM who suggested that this could continue into “Bevember” and even “Crushuary.” (I can, however, believe that I gave both those suggestions serious thought.)

There’s definitely a sadness, at least on my part, that this is the end of this month-long silliness. But this has been an extraordinary amount of fun. I hope that everyone who found their way here enjoyed the daily offerings…or, at the very least, didn’t find the entire idea too off-putting. I’d say I hope you didn’t find it too geeky, but even I know that this was a huge geek-o-rama. I’m okay with that. My quote here at the lair is a Dr. Crusher quote after all (five bars of gold-pressed latinum if you can name the episode from which it came). Geekery is all part of the business here at Chez Loba.

Rather than something over the top for this final posting, I decided I’m going to keep it simple…besides, how do you top the Zombie Crushers from yesterday’s post? It’s a bit impossible, if you ask me. Zombie Crushers win each and every time.

So, instead, I give you this lovely photograph of Gates McFadden, in “civilian” clothes. And I offer my warmest and most earnest gratitude to all who stopped by to see what new craziness this silly little wolf was offering up each day. Not only did Doctober keep my spirits high and my creativity levels soaring, but it helped to push my tracking statistics higher than they’ve ever been. Definitely an unexpected but incredibly appreciated bonus 🙂

Again, thank you. And we now return the lair to its regularly scheduled geekery…

Doctober 30: Night of the Living Crushers

“They’re coming to get you, Beverly…”

That would have been an interesting take on the whole Night of the Living Dead story, eh? Or what if both Crushers turned into brain-slurping zombies? We’ve already witnessed Dr. Crusher consuming Commander Riker’s brain through a straw, so obviously she’s got a bit of those dirty, dirty zombie cravings going on inside. And Wesley is her son…it’s just a matter of time before genetics caught up with him…

Of course, there already is an unofficial “Trek” take on this movie, thanks to Tom Savini’s 1990 remake of Romero’s original zombie tale. The remake stars Tony Todd, most famous to Trek fans as Worf’s brother Kurn (as well as famous to horror movie fans as the Candyman himself), and Patricia Tallman who…wait for it, denizens…was Gates McFadden’s stunt double. Remember the scene in Generations when Data pushes Dr. Crusher off the side of the sailing ship on the holodeck? That was Patricia Tallman going over the side. She was also McFadden’s double during the series run. She also doubled Nana Visitor, Michelle Forbes, Gwynyth Walsh, Louise Fletcher…let’s just say she doubled a lot of the Trek actresses. She also appeared as various characters throughout the run of TNG, DS9, and Voyager.

I very rarely say nice things about remakes, but I do have a soft spot in my heart for Savini’s NOTLD remake, mostly for the Trek influence but also because it’s a gooey, fun take on Romero’s original. Is it better in color than in black and white? That’s up for debate, I suppose. Is it better with Candyman and the Trek Stunt Actress Supreme? Uh. Yeah.

Oh, and because I know you want to see this, here’s what the official Night of the Living Crushers T-shirt design would look like. You know, this is the second Doctober posting that I wouldn’t mind seeing on a T-shirt…

Doctober 29: …Just Drawn That Way

As it is with most geeky entertainment genres, Star Trek has its fingers in many different consumer-friendly pies, including the extremely lucrative comic book world. Oh, what a tangled web we weave when we delve into that particular collector paradise. I’m barely an amateur when it comes to comics; I have certain favorites that I visit now and again, usually in graphic novel format, but I’m by no means a capital-c “Collector.” And when it comes to Trek comics, I’m even worse. I think I own three TNG comics and one DS9 comic. The DS9 and one of the TNG comics were gifts, and the other two TNG ones I bought at conventions because…ready? Dr. Crusher was on the covers. As Comic Book Guy would no doubt say, “Worst. Collector. Ever.”

Then there’s this “comic,” which I think only barely makes the comic categorization by being comic-book size and being drawn. However, as you can see from the following pictures, the interior pages are almost coloring book-esque in their black line art and utter lack of any other color. Regardless of what this actually is, I can honestly say that this is one of the more delightful non-action figure collectible anomalies I own.

I assume that this company, Personality Comics, released an issue for all of “The New Crew,” but this is the only one I’ve ever seen. This one, in fact, didn’t come out until after Gates McFadden had returned to the show for the third season. But rather than blather on any further, I’m going to cut this short and let the photos speak for themselves. And believe me, they have some rather…unique things to say…