Friday, April 12, 2024

Star Trek: Past Tense, Part II

Episode: "Past Tense, Part II"
Series: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Season 3, Episode 12
Original Air Date: January 15, 1995

via Memory Alpha

Last week's episode continues.  In last week's final scene, Sisko (identifying himself as "Gabriel Bell" - long story) and Bashir walk into a hostage situation in the district processing office.  Our friends take the side of the captors - an odd choice at first glance but they do it to calm the situation and keep people from getting hurt.  The ploy works.  By this point, the priority for Sisko and Bashir has shifted from their own survival to preserving the timeline.  The "Bell Riots" as they came to be known, have to happen in order for the residents of Earth to come to their collective senses regarding the homeless, an important step in reaching the utopian future Star Trek promises.

Again, I am on board with the message and admire the production value of "Past Tense."  There is time for comedy as Kira and O'Brien, in trying to rescue their colleagues, pop in on San Francisco of the 1930s and the late 1960s.  But Trek's eternal clumsiness with time travel prevents me from jumping on the "best ever" band wagon.  One could argue, in the end, that the timeline was never actually corrupted as a man named Gabriel Bell was still the hero of the riots.  Maybe this was always the way it happened.  That would be the Doctor Who explanation.  Trek's techno-babble explanation only muddies the waters.

So, "Past Tense" is good, probably even outstanding.  I'm just not ready to call it one of the best.

Because there is still so much awesome yet to come.

Acting Notes

via Miami Vice Wiki

Frank Military played B.C., the leader of the band that takes over the district processing office.  Acting has been a relatively small part of Military's career.  He's done a lot more as a writer and producer.  He's had guest appearances on Miami Vice, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and The X-Files.  Film appearances include The Last Castle and Last Exit to Brooklyn.  He was an executive producer and writer for NCIS: Los Angeles which just completed its 14th and final season.

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Cherry Battle: Starlino vs. Luxardo

The garnish is an essential element of a perfect cocktail and we've been in love with Luxardo, our favored Maraschino cherry brand, for years.  AmareƱa Fabbri found favor in my recipe for a while (see here) but over time, Luxardo proved more satisfying, not least for its longer shelf life (see here).  The one major drawback with Luxardo is the price.  A jar is $21.28 on Amazon, and frequently more at local stores.  I realize most people wouldn't even consider spending that much and I don't exactly blame them.  We are not top-shelf spenders when it comes to liquor.  So spending more for damn good cherries seems a tolerable indulgence.  "Are they really that good?" I hear you wondering.  Yes, they truly are.  

Which is not to say it's not still worth trying something else from time to time.  We recently picked up a jar of Starlino cherries for an audition.  Let the battle begin...  

The Luxardo was its usual dark, warm, syrupy loveliness.  The Starlino... oh boy, you should have seen my wife's face after popping the Starlino in her mouth.  I can only describe her expression as disgust.  Plasticy, she said.  I wasn't nearly as offended but will concede the Starlino was sweeter, and not in a pleasant way.  

So, what to do with them?  My wife agreed to still help eat the Starlinos which is good because even though they cost less than the Luxardos, they aren't exactly cheap.  Plus the jar takes up space on the shelf that could be devoted to something we actually like.  Once we finish the Luxardos, we could add the syrup to the Starlino jar, perhaps improving the flavor.  Of course, I have this idea mere days after disposing of some Luxardo syrup I'd been hoarding in order to make room for the Starlino jar.  Wouldn't you know it?

Winner and Still Champion: Luxardo

Friday, April 5, 2024

Star Trek: Past Tense, Part I

Episode: "Past Tense, Part I"
Series: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Season 3, Episode 11
Original Air Date: January 8, 1995

via Memory Alpha

Due to a transporter malfunction, Commander Sisko, Bashir and Dax arrive in San Francisco, year 2024.  Right place, wrong time - off by three-and-a-half centuries.  It's a few days before a riot which changed the course of (in-universe) history.  They must figure out how to survive and get back to their own era while not corrupting the timeline - no easy task.

The social commentary is direct and heavy in "Past Tense."  In 2024 San Francisco, the jobless were kept in Sanctuary Districts, walled off from the rest of the city.  Sisko and Bashir found themselves in Sanctuary District A, home to about ten thousand residents.  Housing, food and hope are all in short supply.  Speculative fiction dystopia?  While the episode was in production, The Los Angeles Times ran an article outlining a proposal by Richard Riordan, real-world mayor of Los Angeles in 1995, to create fenced-in havens for the city's homeless population in order to make the downtown area more appealing for businesses.  Fortunately, that particular idea never went anywhere but neither did LA's homeless problem.  

"Past Tense" (a two-parter; I'll get to Part II next week) does very well on best episode lists, not just for DS9 but for all of Star Trek.  I won't deny the production quality but Trek's typical time travel clumsiness prevents me from listing the story among my favorites.  The technical justifications not only for the transporter gaffe but also for the Defiant crew's ability to remain unscathed by an already corrupted timeline are ridiculous.  Truly, they would have done better to simply drop the three characters in 2024 without any explanation at all.  

Acting Notes

via Miami Vice Wiki

Bill Smitrovich played Michael Webb, a resident of Sanctuary District A who becomes a civil rights advocate.  Smitrovich was born William Stanley Zmitrowicz, Jr. in Bridgeport, Connecticut, May 16, 1947.  He attended Bridgeport University as an undergrad, then Smith College - a significant institution in my family - for graduate school.  

Smitrovich has had principal cast roles on several television shows, including Crime Story, Life Goes On, The Event and A Nero Wolfe Mystery, one of our family favorites.  His films include Independence Day, Air Force One and Iron Man.

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Squid Eats: Mexcalito Taco Bar

Mexicalito Taco Bar has two Massachusetts locations: one in Amherst, one in Northampton.  We went to the Northampton location this past weekend, our second visit.

Mexicalito has all of the typical (for the United States) Mexican offerings: tacos, enchiladas, margaritas, etc.  I got the Alambre, a fajitas dish, with steak.  The food is nice - nothing especially adventurous (or spicy) but it's fine.  If we go again, I may seek out heat more deliberately, or ask for hot sauce.

One shouldn't have to ask for hot sauce in a Mexican restaurant...  

Definitely can't fault their service.  Both visits, our wait staff has been incredibly warm and friendly.  I don't know if I'd seek out Mexicalito for its own sake but it's not as crowded as other nearby restaurants and therefore getting a table is relatively easy.  It was our fallback plan this time.  T. Roots was full.  They now have a breakfast menu, though as far as I can tell no typical breakfast hours - never open before 11:30.  So maybe it's really more brunch.  I have to admit, I'm curious.

Friday, March 29, 2024

Star Trek: Fascination

Episode: "Fascination"
Series: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Season 3, Episode 10
Original Air Date: November 28, 1994

via Memory Alpha

It's Bajoran Gratitude Festival time!  Major Kira is presiding and Lwaxanna Troi is on the station to join in the fun.  Several in attendance get headaches, then fall hopelessly in love: Jake with Kira, Bareil with Dax, Dax with Benjamin, Bashir and Kira with each other.  Meanwhile, in a more meaningful B-plot, Keiko and Molly are back home from Keiko's botany field work on Bajor.  The readjustment to married life is less than smooth for the O'Briens.  

"Fascination" is DS9's take on A Midsummer Night's Dream.  It's goofy.  It was Armin Shimerman's least favorite episode.  He teaches Shakespeare.  He found the episode embarrassing.  For others, it was a fun romp, a moment of levity just ahead of a heavy story.  We get development for Odo: he admits his feeling for Kira to Lwaxanna.  Watching the doctor and major all over each other was reflective of their real world relationship.  While Alexander Siddig and Nana Visitor wouldn't be married until 1997, they were already romantically involved by '94.  The O'Brien story is more relevant: two adults weighing family needs against personal needs.  Evidently, it hit close to home for many involved with the production.

Acting Notes

via Memory Alpha

Hana Hatae played Molly O'Brien, the young daughter of Keiko and Miles.  Hatae was born in Los Angeles, July 15, 1988.  Molly didn't get a whole lot of material in "Fascination" - she rarely did - but she got to throw up all over her father.  I've been there, Chief.  Between TNG and DS9, Hatae had 12 total appearances.

Hatae only had a modest acting career beyond Star Trek.  She had appearances on Family Matters and Kitchen Nightmares.  The latter was a reality show episode featuring her family's sushi restaurant.  At the time, she was working as a hostess and waitress at the restaurant.  Films include My Suicide, 5th Passenger and The Circuit.  

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Squid Perks: Nest Coffee & Bakery

Nest Coffee & Bakery is but a short walk from the Amtrak station in Essex Junction, Vermont - a perfect spot while waiting for your train.  Vermont got quite a lot of snow this past Saturday so, despite our being close to the beginning of the route, our child's train back to college was significantly delayed on Sunday.  Coffee and pastries were very much in order.

I got a cappuccino and a chocolate croissant and also tried my wife's strawberry and cream croissant.  All were lovely.  Service is friendly and expedient.  Unfortunately, the space is a bit cramped.  My guess is that most of the service is to go, though there are a few tables to encourage people to stick around, including one relatively cozy area with a couch.  The three of us grabbed one end of a long table, the other end eventually taken by a pair of young women debating the relative merits of Star Wars and Star Trek - right up our alley!

We'll be back.  I don't usually give much thought to the area around the train station as it's right by a preferably avoided intersection.  But if we're already down there, Nest is definitely worth a stop.  As it was later in the morning, they'd already run out of some of their pastry offerings.  Ham and cheese croissant is always one of my favorites and I'd love to try theirs another time.

Friday, March 22, 2024

Star Trek: Defiant

Episode: "Defiant"
Series: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Season 3, Episode 9
Original Air Date: November 21, 1994

via Memory Alpha

Will Riker comes to visit the station!  Or does he?  When the handsome man asks Major Kira for a tour of the Defiant, he attacks and kidnaps her, then steals the ship.  It's not Will at all.  It's Tom Riker.  Will's transporter-generated clone is with the Maquis now.  Neither the Federation nor the Cardassians are the least bit pleased that the terrorists now hold such a powerful weapon.

While the Tom Riker story is a good one, for me, the real fun of the episode is the ensuing chess match that plays out between Commander Sisko and Gul Dukat as they work together to rein in the Defiant.  Though truly, it's a four-player game involving Sisko, Dukat, Tom and the Obsidian Order, represented in the Cardassian War Room by Korinas (Tricia O'Neil).  Sisko's role is based on Henry Fonda's character in the 1964 movie Fail Safe.  Unfortunately, Star Trek has never brought Tom back again, despite promises to the contrary by Kira.

For the record, their kiss at the end is completely gratuitous.

Acting Notes

via Scandal Wiki

Shannon Cochran plays Kalita, one of Tom's Maquis collaborators.  "Defiant" is her second of four Trek appearances, her second and last as Kalita.  She was born in Savannah, Georgia, August 7, 1958.  Beyond Star Trek, she has made guest appearances on NYPD Blue, Full House and The Office among others.  Films include The Babe, The Ring and Star Trek: Nemesis.

During filming of "Defiant," Cochran met her future husband, Michael Canavan.  Canavan played Tamal, Kalita's Maquis shipmate.  The couple were married in 2003.