“VANTAGE POINT” (2008) Review

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”VANTAGE POINT” (2008) Review

”VANTAGE POINT” is a tightly woven thriller about eight strangers with eight different points of view of an assassination attempt on the President of the United States, during an anti-terrorism summit in Salamanca, Spain. Directed by Pete Travis and written by Barry Levy, the movie starred Dennis Quaid, Matthew Fox, Forest Whitaker, Sigourney Weaver and William Hurt.

When I had first saw the trailer for ”VANTAGE POINT”, I had assumed it would be one of those remakes of the Japanese film, “RASHOMON” (1950). I figured there would be an assassination attempt on the President and the film would follow with various points of view on the incident. This is what happened in ”VANTAGE POINT” . . . but not quite. ”VINTAGE POINT” did reveal the assassination attempt from various points of view. In ”RASHOMON” and other versions of the film, those views are shown as flashbacks. But in ”VANTAGE POINT” each point of view is not a flashback. Instead each POV merely gives a certain view of the story, while the story moves forward. For example, the movie started out with the point of view of a news producer (Sigourney Weaver) and the newscaster (Zoë Saldaña) that worked under her, before ending at a particular point in the story. The next point of view belongs to Secret Service agent Thomas Barnes (Dennis Quaid), which ends a little further in the story than the news producer’s POV. And so on. The movie ends with an exciting action sequence told from the various viewpoints of the major characters – heroes and villains.

The more I think about ”VANTAGE POINT”, the more I realize how much I enjoyed it. I enjoyed the tight setting of Salamanca, Spain (actually the film was shot in Mexico). I must add that one of the things I enjoyed about this movie was that Levy’s script had a way of putting a twist on any assumptions anyone might form about the plot. I loved how Travis handled the film’s action, making it well-paced. I enjoyed the performances of the major cast members. I was especially impressed by the performances of Dennis Quaid as the emotionally uncertain Barnes, who eventually pieced together the real plot. I also enjoyed the performances of Matthew Fox as his fellow Secret Service agent, Forest Whitaker as an American tourist and Edgar Ramirez (”THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM”) as a Spanish Special Forces soldier blackmailed into participating in the plot against the President. But more importantly, I loved Barry Levy’s script, which put a twist on any assumptions the moviegoer may have formed about the story’s plotlines and characters. My only quibble with ”VANTAGE POINT” was the interaction between Whitaker’s character and a Spanish girl, which I found slightly contrived near the end of the movie.

I suspect that ”VANTAGE POINT” will never be highly regarded by critics and moviegoers.  It is the type of movie that forces the audience to think. And I suspect that most moviegoers would prefer a film that lays everything out in the open. And I especially doubt that many moviegoers will have the patience to deal with the constant rewinds in order to show the viewpoints of various characters. Since I have a history of liking movies that are not popular with the public or film critics, all I can do is hope that I will have the chance to see the movie again, before it leaves the theater for good. Personally, I would recommend ”VANTAGE POINT”.

“Character Development . . . or Regression?”

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The following is an essay I had written about the Phoebe Halliwell character on “CHARMED”:

 

“CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT . . . OR REGRESSION?”

Recently, I had read Lisa Eiseman’s review of the “CHARMED” Season Five episode, “Necromancing the Stone” and found the following:

“Phoebe has always sought out the stronger “alpha” male, and really is best when she is the “damsel in distress” needing rescuing. She has an innate need to be watched over, her own self-assurance was very low when the audience was introduced to her five years ago. Over the years her confidence grew, only to be beat down after Cole’s second turn to the dark side. Yet, her self confidence has been getting stronger and stronger this season after fighting and vanquishing Cole and, of course, her success in the business world. However, this episode only showed how much further she has come in shying away from dependency. Instead of taking Jason’s offer, she realizes that she can exist on her own and still be a strong woman and witch.”

Ms. Eiseman’s words had led me to thinking about Phoebe Halliwell’s development on “CHARMED”. I must admit that I agree with her original statement about Phoebe. She has always been the type who wants an “alpha male” to look over her. A recent example is a description of a scene from the upcoming “Generation Hex”:

“Cole does appear in a few flashbacks– once in his first meeting with Phoebe when he grabs her calf (Coops says it was a cute meet but Present Phoebe just tells Coop that Cole was setting her up, and another flashback from Cenntenial Charmed when Phoebe throws the potion vial at him and Coop hugs Present Phoebe as Cole vanquishes into flames.”

Not only does the above statement verified Ms. Eiseman’s statement that Phoebe will always require an alpha male in her life (at some point, Prue had served this role before Phoebe met Cole), but that Phoebe had never overcame this desire. Even now, she is using Coop as the role of “prince charming” or “knight in shining armor” in her life.

On the hand, I disagreed with Ms. Eiseman’s statement on one matter. I DO NOT believe that Phoebe had displayed any strength when she finally rejected Cole in Season Five. In fact, I believe that she had behaved in a cowardly manner. Instead of facing the troubles of her marriage, she ran away. Neither she nor her sisters had ever bothered to find out how Cole became the Source back in late Season Four or in early Season Five. When he finally came back, she pushed him away – refusing to discuss their problems or what happened. I cannot help but feel that if Phoebe had not done this, she could have learned the truth about the Source’s possession of Cole. But she didn’t. Instead, she pushed Cole aside and ran away. She behaved in a cowardly manner. In the end, her behavior drove Cole to an emotional breakdown.

Had Cole been wrong in his attempt to keep Phoebe in his life? Yes. Back in late Season Three, he had proven with his decision to infiltrate the Brotherhood of the Thorn that he was capable of making a morally correct decision without Phoebe’s encouragement or approval. But one-and-a-half years later, Cole seemed incapable of remaining “good” (if that is the word most fans are willing to accept) without Phoebe in his life, because of his fervent desire to hold on to his marriage. Cole was wrong in his attempt to cling to Phoebe to make his life better. But Phoebe was wrong to push him away, especially when she knew that he was on the verge of an emotional breakdown.

The show’s portrayal of the sisters’ emotional breakdowns in compared to Cole’s struck me as interesting . . . and perhaps a little hypocritical. Prue had suffered an emotional breakdown in “Death Takes a Halliwell” and nearly beat a Seeker to death for the wrong reason (Cole had to stop her). Piper in “Hell Hath No Fury” and Phoebe in “Look Who’s Barking” both suffered from emotional breakdowns and found themselves at the mercy of supernatural entities due to their inabilities to get over their problems. The writers made sure that the viewers would be sympathetic to the sisters’ . . . even when they were doing wrong. But when Cole had his own breakdown in mid-Season 5, the writers had expected the viewers to be glad that Phoebe was pushing him away . . . even when he tried to commit suicide twice. What makes this worse is that even after all of these years, Phoebe still does not have the guts or is too blind to realize that BOTH she and Cole were responsible for the failure of their marriage – and not just Cole. In the end, Cole erroneously believed that he could not stay good without Phoebe in her life. And the Halliwells’ continuous declarations that he was “evil” did not help overcome this state of mind. Alyssa Milano once stated that Cole was nothing more than a “bad boy” for Phoebe to indulge for at least two years of her life. I hate to say this, but I find Ms. Milano’s statement very hard to accept. In my opinion, I believe that Phoebe was simply too immature to deal with being involved with someone as complex as Cole. She wanted a one-note heroic alpha male. And Cole proved to be a complex individual with a light and dark side – something that Phoebe could not handle or deal with.

In another passage of Ms. Eiseman’s review of “Necromancing the Stone”, she claimed the following:

“However, this episode only showed how much further she (Phoebe) has come in shying away from dependency. Instead of taking Jason’s offer, she realizes that she can exist on her own and still be a strong woman and witch.”

Apparently, Ms. Eiseman had been premature in this assessment of Phoebe. The latter eventually did accept Jason Dean’s offer to accompany him to Hong Kong. And in the course of their ten-month relationship, failed to tell him that she was a witch. He had discover this, accidentally in “Used Karma”. Why? Because Phoebe was afraid that such a revelation would end her relationship with the millionaire (or billionaire). Ironically, it was Phoebe’s ten-month lie that eventually destroyed the relationship and not her role as a witch. The end of her relationship with Jason ended up signaling nearly a two-year search for Phoebe to find her “true love” and a father for her future baby. In the end, Phoebe still needed a man . . . and apparently a child, to find meaning in her life. And she found her “Prince Charming” in a man who obviously did not have any problems with serving as Phoebe’s future “alpha male protector”, if that scene in “Generation Hex” is anything to go by.

Did Phoebe Halliwell ever developed as a character? I cannot honestly answer “yes”. Granted, many fans will argue that Phoebe eventually acquired a career. She also moved out of the house . . . something I believe that she had to do to stop revolving her life around her sisters. Moving out of the house may have helped her learn to become Phoebe Halliwell, instead of part of the Charmed Ones. But in the end, I do not think that Phoebe really developed as a character.

Many believe that her romance with Cole had stunted her growth. I agree. But unlike others, I do not believe it was Cole’s fault. I believe that Phoebe could not handle dealing with the moral ambiguity that he represented.

As Paige once stated, whenever Phoebe found any of her relationships in trouble, instead of dealing with it, Phoebe ran away from her problems. I believe she did just that with Cole by pushing him away. She did the same with Leslie St. Clair in early Season Seven. And with Jason Dean and Dex Lawson, she resorted to lies to avoid any problems that might arise with them discovering her role as a witch. With Coop, one of the Cupids, she finally gets her knight-in-shining armor or her “alpha male protector”. But she did so without really developing as a character. Personally, I find that sad. Phoebe got her fairy tale ending without really growing up as a character.

“LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD” (2007) Review

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“LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD” (2007) Review

When I had first heard about a third sequel to the 1988 action blockbuster,”DIE HARD”, I thought that Bruce Willis must be very desperate to revive his career. Aside from the 2005 hit, ”SIN CITY”, he has not appeared in very successful movie in nearly a decade. The last movie in the ”DIE HARD” franchise had been released in 1995. Twelve years seemed like a hell of a time to release a new sequel. And to be honest, successful action flicks about cops have rarely been successful since the dawn of the 21st century. Needless to say, I did not harbor any hopes of this being a first-rate or successful film.

Then other facts and rumors about this new movie began to reach my ears. First came the title – ”LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD”. It seemed very cheesy to me. In fact, it still does. I also heard a rumor that the John McClane character had left the New York Police Department to work for Homeland Security. Thankfully that turned out to be nothing more than a false rumor, for I had envisioned scenes filled with constant flag waving and patriotic rhetoric. Then I learned of the tidbit that McClane’s character would be battling foreign-born computer terrorists. This sounded oddly familiar. In fact, it brought back memories of the 1995 Sandra Bullock film, ”THE NET”. Well that rumor proved to be half-true. The two main terrorists – portrayed by Timothy Olyphant (“DEADWOOD”) and Maggie Q (“MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 3”) – turned out to be American-born. In the end, ”LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD” not only proved to be worthy of its three predecessors, I thought it was just as good as the first film.

Despite its cheesy title, ”LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD” had the good luck to possess an intriguing and damn good story. A former Federal employee named Thomas Gabriel (Olyphant) decides to attack the U.S. infrastructure during the July 4 holiday, through the use of high-tech computer programming. Before the September 11, 2001 attacks, he had warned his employers that any high-tech terrorist could bring about the country’s downfall through similar attacks. When they failed to listen and ruin his reputation and career, he decides to get his revenge with the help of his assistant and lady love, Mai Lihn (Maggie Q). Gabriel tricked several hackers, including one named Matt Ferrell (Justin Long) to create several programs to achieve goals. Then he proceeds to infect the hackers’ computer systems with a virus before killing them off one by one. When Ferrell hacks into the FBI, the latter sends the NYPD to arrest the remaining hacker still alive – Ferrell. Lieutenant Detective (Willis) is assigned to deliver the young hacker to Washington D.C. What started as a simple, delivery assignment turns into a full-scale hunt and destroy mission to take down Gabriel for both McClane and Ferrell.

Moviegoers and film critics tend to focus upon the action sequences for movies like those in the ”DIE HARD” franchise. But for me, exciting action sequences alone does not make a movie. Certainly not sequences like the one that featured McClane and a military jet. I really could have done without that little moment. For me to truly enjoy a movie like ”LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD”, I also need a first-class story and good performances. Fortunately, the movie possessed all three – a first-rate script penned by Mark Bomback, exciting action sequences and an excellent cast led by the superb and always entertaining Bruce Willis. I want to point out that he was especially assisted by Olyphant, who portrayed a very intelligent and sinister villain; and Justin Long, who as Ferrell, managed to create great screen chemistry with Willis.

And believe it or not, director Len Weisman (“UNDERWORLD” and “UNDERWORLD EVOLUTION”) managed to bring it all of these elements together to create an exciting thriller that left me on the edge of my seat . . . instead of boring me out of my mind. To my utter surprise, Weisman actually managed to keep the ”DIE HARD” franchise fresh. And if he and Bruce Willis ever decide to consider it, I would not mind seeing a fifth movie.

“THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL” (2008) Review

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”THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL” (2008)

Back in 1951, Robert Wise directed a science-fiction film about a humanoid alien visitor who comes to Earth with a warning. The film, starred Michael Rennie and Patricia Neal. Fifty-seven years later, Scott Derrickson directed a remake of the classic that stars Keanu Reeves and Jennifer Connolly.

Based upon Harry Bates’ short story, “Farewell to the Master”, this updated version of ”THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL” ditched the Cold War theme and settled upon humanity’s environmental impact upon Earth. Another change in this latest version centered around the main character, Klaatu (Keanu Reeves). In the 1951 version, Klaatu (portrayed by Michael Rennie) started as a “humane” and ended up as a slightly cold alien who threatens the humans during a United Nations conference, with “the big stick” – threatening annihilation if the nations refused to find a way to settle the Cold War. Klaatu experiences a reversal of characterization in this new version. He starts out as cold and tough, with very little hope for humanity. Due to his interactions with Dr. Helen Benson (Jennifer Connolly), Professor Barnhardt (John Cleese) and Helen’s stepson Jacob (Jaden Smith), Klaatu becomes more humane and compassionate over humanity’s situation.

I wish I could point more of the similarities and difficulties between the two versions. But if I must be honest, my memories of the 1951 version are not that sharp. It has never had much of an impact upon me. It just happened to be one of many decent movies that I did not find particularly mind boggling. Even when I became older. And If I must be honest, I can say the same about this version. In the end, ”THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL” (2008) seemed like nothing more than a solid, yet entertaining science-fiction story with a message about a real life crisis in present-day Earth. Namely our endangered environment. Everything about this movie seemed solid – Scott Derrickson’s direction, David Scarpa’s screenplay and the cast led by Reeves and Connolly.

However, there were some exceptional standouts in both the cast and the crew. Jeffrey A. Okun’s visual special effects struck me as being impressive. I especially liked the updated design of Klaatu’s starship and the fact that it, along with Gort, was biologically based. As for the cast, I was impressed by two performers – young Jaden Smith, who portrayed Helen Benson’s stepson and Kyle Chandler as John Driscoll, Assistant to the Secretary of Defense (Kathy Bates). Smith did an excellent job of conveying young Jacob’s anger over his father’s death and resentment toward being “stuck” with his stepmother. And Chandler provided another example of his talent for portraying ambiguous and sometimes, dark characters with his portrayal of the frightened and desperate Driscoll.

Other than that, I found nothing really exceptional about this version of ”THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL” . . . anymore than I did about the previous 1951 version. If you are looking for something exceptional, you will be disappointed. If you are simply looking for a solid story that is also entertaining, then ”THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL” is your movie.

“The Helmsman’s Log – 2371” [PG-13] – 2/2

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Here is the sequel to the personal logs of Tom Paris, set around Voyager’s first year in the Delta Quadrant:

“THE HELMSMAN’S LOG – 2371”

Part II

STARDATE 48671.28 – Just came back from a date with Megan
Delaney. Alone, this time. We had an intimate little dinner
at a romantic restaurant on Gerdi Prime, inside Holodeck Two.
After supper, we enjoyed a walk along the beach, followed by a
nightcap inside my quarters.

Ah, Megan! Such a nice, calm person, in compare to her sister,
Jenny. There were times when she almost reminds me of . . .
Shit! What the hell is wrong with me? I just enjoyed a
pleasant night with a beautiful and intelligent woman and all I
can think about is our cook’s girlfriend. Kes. God, will I
ever stop thinking about her? Or better yet, will she ever
dump Neelix? End personal log.

STARDATE 48695.34 – I nearly lost Harry, today. While enjoying
his Beowulf holonovel, Harry was captured by a photonic being
that had been accidentally brought aboard the ship. Apparently,
while we were gathering energy from a photostar. The being took
refuge inside Harry’s Beowulf program and later captured him.
It also captured Tuvok and Chakotay, after they had been sent to
investigate Harry’s disappearance. In the end, the Captain
sent the Doctor to rescue our missing officers. Thankfully,
the Doc succeeded and received a special commendation for his
troubles. Now, if only the Captain could order Torres to do
something about his personality subroutines. End personal log.

STARDATE 48733.51 – Voyager had a strange encounter with
something out of one of those old “B” movies that I usually
enjoy. While investigating some dark nebula, Tuvok and
Chakotay’s shuttle was attacked. Tuvok only sustained minor
injuries, while the good Commander ended up brain dead. His
bio-neural energy had been removed from him.

It turned out worse than we thought. Some trianic energy being
had possessed Tuvok, in an attempt to convince the Captain to
investigate this dark nebula matter. The being belonged to a
race called the Komar, who wanted the crew’s bio-neural energy
as substance for his people. Meanwhile, another entity began
invading the minds of other crewmen – including mine – in an
attempt to prevent Voyager from entering that nebula. This
second entity turned out to be Chakotay’s bio-neural energy,
displaced by the Komar’s attack. Just great! My brain nearly
became food for a bunch of non-corporeal beings and was twice
possessed by the Great Spirit Chief, himself. Oh well, at
least we managed to escape the nebula and the Komar. End
personal log.

STARDATE 48736.53 – This afternoon, Neelix had decided to hold
a little celebration in honor of Chakotay’s recovery and our
near escape from the Komar. Jesus, this guy would just about
hold a party for anything. Not that I mind. The more parties,
the better. I suspect that this was Neelix’s way of
celebrating Kes’s recovery from an attack by the
Komar-possessed Tuvok. Hmmm. Certainly not a bad reason to
celebrate, in my book.

Captain Janeway and the Maquis seemed to be the only ones
really celebrating. I guess they need something to celebrate
after Seska’s humiliating revelation. Well, most of the Maquis
seemed happy. I noticed B’Elanna Torres, sitting by herself
and shooting jealous looks at the very chummy Captain Janeway
and Chakotay. My God! Is that little infatuation of hers,
still going on? Doesn’t she realize that Chakotay is not her
type? Too bad Harry is still mooning over his lost love,
Libby. Quite frankly, he would make a better choice for
Torres. Of course, I don’t exactly relish sharing Harry’s time
with her. (Beep, beep) That must be Megan. I forgot that she
was coming by for drinks, tonight. End personal log.

STARDATE 48766.73 – Not much happened today. Voyager
investigated a Class J nebula – one of many we have encountered
since our arrival in the Delta Quadrant. The only interesting
thing that happened was a minor conversation with Kes in the
Mess Hall. We discussed some our favorite foods. One of hers
happens to be something called Lokar beans. I told her about
tomato soup (something those damn replicators still haven’t got
right) and peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches. My ultimate
comfort food. By then, even Neelix got into the conversation.
I don’t know if this was his way of keeping an eye on Kes and
me, or merely just genuine interest. At least we managed to
exchange a few words without any hostility or suspicion from
him. End personal log.

STARDATE 48777.42 – Another dull day in the Delta Quadrant. I
guess every day can’t be an exciting encounter with a new
species. Voyager stumbled into the Avery system. It seemed to
consist of several Class M planets. The Captain, in one of her
bouts of “science exploration”, decided she wanted an
investigation of magnacite formations on some of the planets.

I was assigned to explore the planet, Avery III with Pete Durst
and B’Elanna Torres. Voyager should rendezvous with us in two
days. I guess it won’t be that bad. Pete’s okay. He was one
of the few crewmen who had been friendly toward me from the
beginning. And as for Torres – well, we have managed to strike
up a cordial relationship in the last five or six weeks. Hell,
it’s a lot better than spending two days with Chakotay or
Neelix. End personal log.

STARDATE 48790.33 – Oh God! I simply don’t know where to begin!
I feel as if I had taken part in some bizarre horror vid from
the 20th century. Sigh! Might as well get it over with.

While investigating magnacite formations on Avery III with
Durst and Torres, we were captured by Vidiians. That’s right.
The same species who had stolen Neelix’s lungs, three months
ago. These Vidiians didn’t simply steal our organs. They
forced Pete and myself to become part of their slave labor. I
had no idea what happened to B’Elanna. Until the following
day. It seemed some Vidiian doctor named Sulan had extracted
her Klingon DNA, leaving her completely Human. How gruesome!

I still remember the shock of seeing B’Elanna completely Human
for the first time. Oddly enough, I was too surprised by the
change to notice her looks. I must admit that she looked
beautiful. But then, I’ve always thought she made a beautiful
Klingon/Human hybrid. Not only had her looks changed, but her
personality, as well. Gone was the tough and temperamental
woman and in her place, an emotional and sad woman, driven by
fear. I guess the trauma of her situation drove her to be a
little more open about her past. She told me about her
childhood on Kessik IV and how she blamed her Klingon side for
driving her father away. She has not seen him in nearly twenty
years. If that’s true, the man is an idiot. (Pauses) I think
I’m getting a little personal, here. Anyway, I tried to
comfort her with a little revelation of my own. I told her
about the haircuts Dad used to enforce upon me, at the
beginning of every summer. I don’t think it worked. Then
again . . . she did smile a little.

Then everything went from bad to worse. The Vidiian guards
took Pete Durst away. That was the last time I saw him. I
tried to prevent the guards from taking him, but they didn’t
want me. Can’t blame them, I guess. Who would? I later
found out that they didn’t want Pete to send a message to
Voyager. Instead, that monster, Dr. Sulan had Pete’s face
grafted upon his. The guards came back for B’Elanna, leaving
me feel even more useless. God only know how long I would have
remained part of the slave labor force, if Chakotay hadn’t
shown up, disguised as a Vidiian. Too bad we couldn’t take
the Talaxian with us, but the guards were even reluctant to let
me go. We found two B’Elannas being confronted by Dr. Sulan,
with Pete’s face plastered to his skin. I don’t know what
shocked me more – seeing both a Klingon and a Human B’Elanna at
the same time, Dr. Sulan, or witnessing Klingon B’Elanna’s
death after she saved her counterpart’s life. Too bad she
died. I would have liked to have known her. End personal log.

STARDATE 48791.56 – I still can’t help thinking about that Away
mission on Avery III. To me, it’s a reminder of my failure as
a Starfleet officer. I can’t help but wonder what I could have
done to avoid capture or save Pete. I had a dream about it,
several hours ago. At one point, Human B’Elanna’s face
transformed into the dying Klingon B’Elanna’s, and eventually
into Dr. Sulan, with Pete’s face. I woke up in a sweat, after
that. Unable to sleep, I decided to head for Sick Bay to pay
B’Elanna a visit. She still looked Human. Unfortunately,
Chakotay was also there. And since they seemed to be sharing
a tender moment, I didn’t want to interrupt. Oh well. Perhaps
I can read myself to sleep. End personal log.

STARDATE 48799.76 – I finally spoke with B’Elanna. She came to
my table, while I was eating a late dinner in the Mess Hall,
last night. We were the only ones there. She looked normal.
Her Klingon traits had returned, ridges and all. B’Elanna
told me what happened to her on Avery III. Apparently, Dr.
Sulan had used a genetron to remove her Klingon DNA, creating
two B’Elannas in the process – one Klingon and one Human. He
fell in love with the Klingon Human and used Pete’s face to woo
her. He must have been a sick man. Sulan also needed a
full-blooded Klingon to test his theory that Klingon physiology
was resistant to their phage. As it turned out, he was right.

B’Elanna told me that after her Klingon couterpart’s death, she
had assumed she would remain completely Human. I guess the Doc
ruined that dream when he informed her that he needed to
restore her original genetic structure, using Klingon
B’Elanna’s DNA. She seemed disappointed that she would never
be completely Human. I’m not. Although I found both her Human
and Klingon selves to be beautiful, she seems more interesting
as a hybrid. I even told her so. My little remark managed to
produce a small smile, but I could tell that she didn’t draw
much comfort from it. I hope that one day, she will learn to
appreciate her true self. She can really be fascinating. Now,
if only I can learn to do the same about myself. Hmmm, fat
chance of that ever happening.

Anyway, B’Elanna thanked me for supporting her during our
captivity. We also discussed Pete Durst, whose face is now
grafted upon that mad bastard’s own face. When I asked if she
would like to accompany me to Sandrine’s, she declined.
B’Elanna told me that she needed more rest. Oh well. At
least we’ve finally buried the hatchet between us and can
finally become good friends. I guess that’s one thing I can be
grateful about Avery III. End personal log.

STARDATE 48804.91 – God, I’m exhausted! Not a surprise, since
I had my sleep interrupted by a call from the Bridge. Crewman
Henley failed to show up for Gamma shift. Again. This is the
third time in two months. I had to give her a personal
reprimand the last two times. Last night, I personally roused
Henley from bed and ordered her to report to the Bridge. Or
consider herself on report. After a fifteen minute debate,
which ended with me threatening her with the Brig, she
complied. I really don’t know what to do with her. I can’t
threaten her with the Brig, forever. I also realize that she
resents being stuck on a Starfleet vessel, thousands of light
years away from home. But one day, she will have to realize
that she has very little options. End personal log.

STARDATE 48837.63 – Voyager stopped at an M-class called
Napinne. Pleasant little place. And the inhabitants were also
pleasant. Harry, B’Elanna and myself visited the surface for a
few hours, while the Captain, Neelix and Chakotay set about
obtaining food supplies. With the fruits and vegetables now
growing in the Hydropondics Bay, hopefully Voyager won’t be so
dependent upon food supplies from other planets, stations and
ships in the near future. End personal log.

STARDATE 48840.42 – Once more, Crewman Henley failed to appear
for her duty shift. This time, I put her on report. Not long
after I finished Alpha shift today, Chakotay requested my
presence in his office. To discuss Henley, unsurprisingly.
He wanted me to reconsider my decision to put Henley on report.
Give her a chance to fit in with the crew. Then he bored me
with some speech about Starfleet officers learning how to lead
subordinates. Something that already bored me to tears during
Command school. The big hypocrite! I can’t believe this is the
same man who had gave me nothing but grief since we first laid eyes
upon each other. Hell, I’ve been giving Henley a chance for
six months! At least until now. Like it or not, both she and
Chakotay were going to have to live with that reprimand on her
record. Being an ex-Maquis, I doubt that Henley even cared.
End personal log.

STARDATE 48845.9 – After Tuvok’s encounter with Ken Dalby, the
Captain has ordered Henley, Dalby and a few others to undergo
basic Starfleet training, under Tuvok. Poor bastards!
Meanwhile, various ship malfunctions have plagued the crew,
since leaving Napinne. Something to do with the bio-gel
packs. End personal log.

STARDATE 48854.3 – Life aboard Voyager has returned to normal,
thank goodness. No more malfunctions for the time being. The
Captain ordered the ship’s systems to overheat, in order to
kill the virus that had infected the gel packs. My God, the
Bridge almost felt like a furnace! For a while, I wondered if
I would ever be able to breathe again. All thanks to that damn
cheese Neelix had purchased during our stay on Napinne.

Henley and the others are still undergoing their field
training. Must be working, since Henley has reported for duty
without any problems. She also requested additional training
in shuttle maneuvers in the holodeck. We’ll probably never be
friends, but thank goodness I no longer have a troublemaker on
my hands. End personal log.

STARDATE 48892.4 – Harry told me an unusual tale. The Doctor’s
programming and the holodeck systems had malfunctioned, thanks
to the kino-plastic radiation from a anomaly that Voyager came
across. While stuck in one of the holodecks for six hours, the
Doctor believed he was a real person named Lewis Zimmerman and
that Voyager and the crew were all a holographic simulation.
He even thought Kes was his wife. Sigh! I knew it. I’ve
always suspected that the Doc had eyes for our favorite
Ocampan. And this only proves it. Kes is quickly becoming
quite the little heartbreaker on this ship. She has already
captured mine. End personal log.

STARDATE 48921.4 – This has certainly been a day to
remember! I’ve just spent hours at the Helm, dodging a swarm
of . . . hell, I don’t what they were! Some kind of life forms
that resembled a . . . Okay, they resembled human sperm.
There! I said it. I only hope that Starfleet Command never get
a hold of this log. Although the creatures resembled sperm, they
had mistaken Voyager as some kind of sexual mate. Even worse, they
began draining energy from the ship’s systems, in their attempt
to procreate. More problems appeared when a large creature
appeared also began to regard Voyager as a mate. Jeez! I
didn’t realize the ship looked that desirable! Both Torres and
Tuvok wanted to destroy the creature, but Chakoay suggested
that Voyager mimic the smaller ones, giving the impression to
the large creature that we have no interest in procreation with
space born creatures. Ha! Sex in the Delta Quadrant!

Speaking of sex, the Captain made a joke to the Commander about
referring to expertise whenever the subject of procreation
appears. It wasn’t the joke that caught my attention, but the
way she said. I do believe our captain was flirting. The look
on B’Elanna’s face was certainly memorable. She seemed
completely shocked. When I brought up the topic in the Mess
Hall, she gave me a death glare that rivaled the mighty Janeway
herself. I see that she still has that crush on Chakotay.
God, when will it ever end?

Then again, who am I to complain? I still have feelings for
Kes. In my case, I can say that it’s more than a crush.
Before our encounter with the swarm, I helped her gather
Oblissian cabbages from the Hydropondics Bay. On our way to
the turbolift, we encountered Chakotay, along with Ensigns
Bennett and Gallagher. It seems the good Commander caught
them “fraternizing” in the turbolift. Hmm, perhaps the
Captain was right about him being the right man to solicit advice
about procreation. End personal log.

STARDATE 48925.38 – Plenty of surprises awaited me, when I
found Kes in the Hydropondics Bay, following my shift. First
surprise – Ensign Sam Wildman from the Science Division is
pregnant. It seems that Ensign Wildman, who happened to be a
very nice lady, had left behind a Ktarian husband on Deep Space
Nine. Considering how flat her stomach looked, my first guess
was that she sought solace in the arms of a crewman, here on
board Voyager. After all, Voyager has been in the Delta
Quadrant for over seven months, now. But according to Kes, the
embroyo is definitely half-Ktarian. Perhaps Ktarians have
a longer gestation period.

The other surprise? Kes informed me that the electrophoretic
activity from the swarm, yesterday, had sped up her elogium.
Namely, the sexual maturation for Ocampan females. They
usually go through this phase between the ages of four and
five. And since this elogium would have been Kes’ only shot
at conception, she asked Neelix to mate with her.

Neelix and Kes as parents. Good grief! Now there’s an image that
makes me shudder! At first, Neelix felt reluctant. Hell, if I
had known, I would have offered Kes my services. However,
Neelix eventually agreed to mate with her, but she changed her
mind, after realizing that she was not ready for parenthood.
Kes’ elogium ended when Voyager left the swarm behind. I
thought she had lost her chance at motherhood and was prepared
to console her. But Kes assured me that her elogium was false
and the real phase will probably return after her fourth
birthday. I only hope that she and Neelix are no longer a twosome
by then. I realize it’s a rotten thing to say, but I can’t
help feeling they’re wrong for each other. End personal log.

STARDATE 48946 – God, I must really be pathetic! While
playing pool with Harry and B’Elanna in Sandrine’s, last night,
I spotted Kes and Neelix cuddling around a corner table, happy
as pie. Depressing sight. In typical Tom fashion, I decided
to hide my disappointment by flirting with nearly every female
in sight. Except with B’Elanna, of course. One doesn’t
flirt with a close friend. I guess the old Paris charm must
have worked. Later that night, I ended up in bed with Yoshi
Kyoto. After I “subtly” sneaked out of bed this morning,
Yoshi caught me. She assured me that she wasn’t looking for a
permanent relationship. I’m relieved . . . but now, I also
feel like a complete shit. End personal log.

STARDATE 48964.07 – Today was Kes’ birthday. Sigh! Kes’
birthday. Huh. All I can say is that it certainly didn’t turn
out the way I had expected. Not long after we surprised her
with a party inside Sandrine’s, Voyager encountered a
distortion ring that transformed the ship into a labyrinth.
First, the Captain, Chakotay and I got lost, while searching
for the Bridge. We ended back inside Holodeck One. Later,
Torres and I used the turbolift to reach Engineering. To my
surprise, we were fortunate. Thanks to the distortion ship,
B’Elanna almost walked in on Crewman Nozawa inside his
quarters, dressed only in his skivvies. Let’s just say it the
first time I ever saw a Klingon woman blush. A sight, I
suspect, I’ll never see again.

The distortion ring proved to be the third or fourth
non-corporeal life form we’ve encountered since our arrival in
the Delta Quadrant. And all it wanted to do was greet us and
exchange information. Hell of a way to say hello. Both
B’Elanna and Chakotay nearly came to blows with Tuvok on how to
stop the distortion ring. In the end, Tuvok had the best
suggestion. Do nothing.

Kes’ birthday party turned out to be a disappointment. I gave
her a gold filigree locket as a present. She seemed stunned by
it – much to my delight. That delight didn’t last. After our
encounter with the distortion ring, the party eventually
resumed. Kes, who had been worried by Neelix’s disappearance,
declared that she wanted a photo of him, inside her locket.
Great! Just great! A photo of Neelix’s mug will be inside
the locket I gave her. Even worse, I had to stand there on the
Bridge and hold Kes’ birthday cake, while she and Neelix locked
lips.

Sigh! I’m beginning to think that my feelings for Kes are just
as hopeless as B’Elanna’s feelings toward Chakotay. But I
can’t help it. All I can do is hope that she realizes one day
that Neelix is not the man for her. End personal log.

STARDATE 48972.4 – Voyager came across an old 1936 Chevy truck,
here in the Delta Quadrant! Being a connoisseur of anything
20th century Earth, my heart nearly leapt with excitement at
the sight of that old vehicle. I even got a chance to
demonstrate how the truck’s engine worked, once Harry tractor
it to Voyager. I don’t think he, the Captain and the others
appreciated the noise or the carbon monoxide.

The truck also emitted an old S-O-S signal that led us to an
L-Class planet not far away. The trinimbic interference in the
planet’s upper atmosphere made the shuttles and the
transporters, ineffective. So, the Captain ordered me to land
Voyager on the planet’s surface. All I can say that it was
one of the most thrilling moments in my life. And I did it
without a hitch.

The Captain, Harry and members of the Away team not only found
a Lockheed Electra aircraft (which I would have loved to get my
hands on), but several Humans in cryostasis. Kes and I later
joined the Captain and Harry for a closer inspection. Would
you believe it? Among the Humans were the legendary pilot,
Amelia Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan. It seemed she,
Noonan and the other Humans had been abducted from Earth by
aliens over 400 years ago, during the late 1930s. Voyager has
discovered the mystery of Earhart’s disappearance. If only
the Alpha Quadrant knew. Noonan proved to be a paranoid who
managed to hold us hostage. The Captain eventually convinced
him and Miss Earhart that we meant them no harm. Also, a group
of aliens had fired upon Tuvok, Chakotay and another Away team.
Harry told me that after the Captain disarmed them, she
discovered that they were also Humans. Boy! Things really
seemed to be heating up! End personal log.

STARDATE 48974.55 – I did it. I decided to remain aboard
Voyager and continue the journey to the Alpha Quadrant. I’m
probably the only crewman, who has a good reason to remain on
New Earth. Well, it’s not really called New Earth, but that’s
what most of the crew has decided to name the planet.

It seemed the planet’s original inhabitants, a race called the
Briori, were the ones responsible for abducting Amelia Earhart,
Noonan and 289 other Humans from Earth. They brought the
Humans to this planet to serve as slave labor. However, the
slaves revolted, killed the Briori and established a new
civilization. Hence, New Earth. I even managed to visit one
of the cities. It really surprised me on how it closely
resembled San Francisco. Maybe that was the reason I had decided
not to remain behind. It simply reminded me too much of Earth.
Too much of the bad times I had endured. But I must admit that
Kes’ decision to remain aboard Voyager played a part in my
decision. Along with the feeling that I could not abandon the
Captain. Not after all she has done for me.

I also got a chance to show Miss Earhart, Voyager’s helm. I
don’t know about her, but I got a big thrill. Miss Earhart,
Mr. Noonan and the other “37s” (the original ones abducted),
decided to remain on New Earth. I wish them all the luck in
the world. Meanwhile, not one member of the crew decided to
remain behind. Hmmm. I thought at least the Maquis crewmen
would consider. I guess not. End personal log.

STARDATE 48999.17 – New Year’s Eve. Huh. I can’t remember the
last time I celebrated the New Year. Oh yeah, it happened two
years ago and I was at this casino on Perdon Gel. With that .
. . Gods, what was her name? Damn! I don’t even remember.

Anyway, the Captain gave us permission to celebrate the arrival
of 2372 at Sandrine’s. Neelix has even volunteered to create a
few delicacies to entertain the crew. In defense of our
stomachs, the Conn Division pooled their replicator rations to
provide refreshments not cooked by Neelix. I’m sure the crew
will thank us. Meanwhile, I have to shower and change for the
party. I’m suppose to take Marie Kaplan and I’m already
running late. If I don’t return until tomorrow, Happy New
Year! End personal log.

THE END

“LIONS FOR LAMBS” (2007) Review

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“LIONS FOR LAMBS” Review

I honestly had no intention of seeing the new political drama directed by Robert Redford, “LIONS FOR LAMBS”. I had simply had no interest in it. But as with another movie, I had to be talked into seeing it. And to my utter surprise, it turned out to be a lot better than I had expected.

The movie is basically about the current war in Afghanistan and it affected two California-born Army soliders (Derek Luke and Michael Peña), their college professor (Robert Redford) and his current disaffected student (Andrew Garfield); a Washington-based TV journalist (Meryl Streep) and a U.S. senator (Tom Cruise). The story is basically divided into three segments featuring the following:

a) Former California college students-turned Army soldiers Arian and Ernest decide to do something with their lives and enlist in the Army, instead of continue into graduate school. Their actions lead them to take part in a new military operation in Afghanistan, in which the Army will occupy certain strategic points in the mountains in small units. Their copter is shot at and the two fall out before the copter can crash. Arian and Ernest end up being stranded in the Himilayas, surrounded by the Taliban.

b) In Washington D.C. a charismatic Republican Presidential hopeful, Senator Jasper Irving, has invited TV journalist Janine Roth to announce the new Army strategy in Afghanistan that Arian and Ernest are participating in. He hopes that Roth’s report will write will convince the public that this tactic is a good thing, but Roth has her doubts and does not want to become an instrument of propaganda. Her boss feels differently.

c) Arian and Ernest’s former college professor, Dr. Stephen Malley, attempts to reach privileged but disaffected student Todd Hayes, who is the very opposite of Arian and Ernest. He is bright but not a hard worker. Todd claims that this is due to the time he spends with his girlfriend, and as president of his fraternity.

As I had stated before, “LIONS FOR LAMBS” turned out to be a lot better than I had envisioned. Quite frankly, I had expected to be bored. I had learned that many critics were not enamoured of the movie and viewed it nothing more than a filmed play. Although there is plenty of conversations and dialogue in the story, Redford’s shift to Arian and Ernest’s adventures managed to keep the movie from stagnating. And to be honest, I found the dialogue itself to be very interesting. Redford, along with screenwriter Matthew Michael Carnahan not only focused on the Bush Administration’s missteps in both Afghanistan and Iraq; but also on the American public and the media’s support of the initial invasions and the public’s reluctance to face the realities of the country’s political state.

The performances were, of course, outstanding. Well, almost outstanding. I must admit that I found Meryl Streep’s portrayal of Roth a little mannered at times – especially toward the end. But the other performances were excellent – specifically Cruise, whose Senator Irving seemed at times charming and chilling. But I especially have to give kudos to both Derek Luke and Michael Peña for their poignant portrayals of the two former college students-turned-Army soldiers.

I do not know if many would have the patience or the depth to appreciate, let alone understand this movie. Hopefully, there are many out there who will be able to. I find it disappointing that the most of the critics seemed underappreciative of “LIONS FOR LAMBS”. Their views of the movie have only reinforced my belief that is better for a person to form his or her own opinion than allow someone else to form one for him/her.

Peggy Olson’s Promotion in (1.13) “The Wheel”

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PEGGY OLSON’S PROMOTION IN (1.13) “THE WHEEL”

Many fans of the show have made a big deal of Peggy Olson’s promotion in the Season One finale, (1.13) “The Wheel”. Actually, many have focused upon Peggy’s upward mobility from the secretarial pool to her new position as one of the firm’s copywriters – a professional. I had just finished watching this episode and another thought came to mind.

It finally occurred to me that Don had given Peggy that promotion in order to spite Pete Campbell. Pete had informed Don that he managed to acquire the Clearsil account due to his father-in-law being an executive of the company. One could say that Pete was simply being an asshole by trying to shove the achievement in Don’s face. But I think that it was simply another tactic of Pete’s to win Don’s approval.

Unfortunately for Pete, the tactic backfired. I suspect that Don – feeling satisfied and perhaps a little smug over winning the Kodak account – had decided to strike back at Pete for the latter’s blackmail attempt in the previous episode, (1.12) “Nixon vs. Kennedy”. He promoted Peggy and handed the Clearisil account over to her in order to embarrass Pete. It was one of the most childish and despicable acts I have ever seen on that show. And yet, because Pete was (and probably still is) unpopular with many fans, a good number of fans failed to notice that Don had used Peggy to get back at Pete.

I find it amazing that both the critics and fans have accused both Betty Draper (Don’s wife) and Pete of being immature characters. Yet, time and again, Don has proven that he could be just as childish or even more so than either of these two or any other character in the series. But so many seemed blinded by his “man’s man” facade and good looks that they have failed to realize how emotionally stunted Don can be.

“THUNDERBALL” (1965) Review

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“THUNDERBALL” (1965) Review

I had just viewed the 1965 Bond movie, “THUNDERBALL” for the first time in several years. And I can see why this movie is considered to be one of my all time favorite Bond flicks. But I do not think I can state why in one or two sentences.

“THUNDERBALL” turned out to be director Terence Young’s third and last Bond film. Most Bond fans consider it to be his least superior film, but I consider it to be his second best, following 1963’s “FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE”. The story was based upon an unfinished script called “Warhead”, co-written by Ian Fleming, Kevin McClory and Jack Whittingham. The unfinished script eventually became Fleming’s 1961 novel, “Thunderball”. This resulted in a major lawsuit between McClory and Fleming and eventually, EON Productions became dragged into it. “THUNDERBALL” told the story about SPECTRE’s theft of NATO nuclear warheads and how they used it to blackmail the U.S. and British government for the sum of 100,000,000 pounds. Naturally, MI-6 sends all of their “00” agents to recover the warheads before SPECTRE can carry out its threat to detonate the weapons on U.S. and British soil. Many moviegoers in 1965 and 1966 found the movie’s plot a little hard to buy and viewed it as part of the realm of fantasy. But considering the current obsession of terrorism and the high illegal weapons market, “THUNDERBALL” has probably become one of the more relevant plots of any Bond film.

Aside from the underwater sequences which threatened to drag the movie at times, “THUNDERBALL” turned out to be an elegant and exciting thriller with excellent drama with a solid plot that managed to avoid any major plotholes. It also possessed a classy score by John Barry, elegant photography by Ted Moore and a first-class cast.

Sean Connery portrayed James Bond for the fourth time in this film. Although his Bond seemed at his most human in “FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE”, he seemed to be at his top game in this one. In “THUNDERBALL”, his Bond is more mature and sure of himself. Yet at the same time, he managed to retain a good deal of wit and humanity. It was a vast improvement over his performance in 1964’s “GOLDFINGER”, in which he seemed to come off as an immature prat. And he was ably assisted by a first-class cast that included Claudine Auger as Domino Duval, Adolfo Celi as villain Emile Largo (SPECTRE’s Number 2), Rik Van Nutter as CIA Agent Felix Leiter and especially Luciana Paluzzi as SPECTRE villainess Fiona Volpe. Well, I do have a few qualms about Mr. Van Nutter’s performance.

Below is a list of positive and negative aspects of the film. I have decided to start with the negative, since there was little that I did not care about the movie:

Negative:

*Rik Van Nutter as Felix Leiter – Do not get me wrong. Van Nutter’s performance as Leiter was competent and very personable. My problem was that his role was written as a “less-than-bright” sidekick of Bond’s, instead of an ally. Bond has been assisted by Leiter in other movies, but they have never come off as some dumb sidekick . . . except for Cec Linder in “GOLDFINGER”.

*Theme Song – I will not deny that the movie’s theme song, performed by Tom Jones is slightly catchy. But I also found the lyrics to be slightly sexist and off-putting.

*Underwater Sequences – Yes, the underwater sequences had threatened to drag the movie a bit. Actually, I can point out two sequences that came close to boring me – the sequence that featured Largo’s acquisition of the warheads and the final battle between Largo’s men and U.S. Navy frogmen.

Positive:

*Luciana Paluzzi – Let us be honest, folks. The red-haired Paluzzi came dangerously close to stealing the picture from Connery. Like Honor Blackman before her, she radiated sexiness and a strong on-screen presence. She seemed to be even more of a threat than Emile Largo and his men.

*Adolpo Celi – What I like about Celi’s performance is that he does not come off as an over-the-top villain. He was elegant, intelligent, ruthless and egotistical. Perfect villain.

*Nassau setting – The setting in Nassau gave the movie an exotic, yet elegant feel that really added substance to the movie.

*Dialogue – The dialogue in this movie was unusually sharp and witty. But what really appealed to me was that Connery’s puns did not come out of his mouth every other minute, as it did in his previous two movies. In fact, the movie featured what I consider to be one of Connery’s best lines during his tenure with the franchise.

Speaking of dialogue, below is what I consider to be some of my favorite lines:

* Moneypenny: In the conference room. Something pretty big. Every double-o man in Europe has been rushed in. And the home secretary too!
Bond: His wife probably lost her dog.

*Bond: My dear, uncooperative Domino.
Domino: How do you know that? How do you know my friends call me Domino?
Bond: It’s on the bracelet on your ankle.
Domino: So… what sharp little eyes you’ve got.
Bond: Wait ’til you get to my teeth.

*Do you mind if my friend sits this one out? She’s just dead.

*M: I’ve assigned you to Station “C” Canada.
Bond: Sir, I’d respectfully request that you change my assignment to Nassau.
M:Is there any other reason, besides your enthusiasm for water sports?

*Pat Fearing: James, where are you going?
Bond: Oh, nowhere. I just thought I’d take a little, uh… exercise.
Pat Fearing: You must be joking.

*But of course, I forgot your ego, Mr. Bond. James Bond, the one where he has to make love to a woman, and she starts to hear heavenly choirs singing. She repents, and turns to the side of right and virtue…[she steps on Bond’s foot]… but not this one.

I would like to conclude with this little note: in 1983, Kevin McClory – one of the original authors of “Thunderball/Warhead”, produced his own version of the story, starring Sean Connery as Bond. The movie, “NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN” was not terrible, but it almost seemed like an overblown version of the 1965 movie.

“THE FANTASTIC FOUR: Rise of the Silver Surfer” (2007) Review

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“THE FANTASTIC FOUR: Rise of the Silver Surfer” (2007) Review

I found myself surprised that 20th Century-Fox would green light a sequel to the 2005 movie, “THE FANTASTIC FOUR”. When it was released, many critics panned the movie as a ghost of other Marvel cinematic hits such as the “SPIDER-MAN” and the “X-MEN” franchise or the DC comic hit, “BATMAN BEGINS”. Unlike these films and others such as 2003’s “DAREDEVIL”, “THE FANTASTIC FOUR” told the story of how four people with close connections ended up with super powers . . . and how they dealt with it. It also introduced the quartet’s main villain, Victor Von Doom. But it felt more like an comedic character piece than a costumed action film. Although this new sequel, “THE FANTASTIC FOUR: Rise of the Silver Surfer” managed to retain the comedic element of the first story, it turned out to be a suprisingly good action piece with strong character development.

The movie began with the arrival of a mysterious alien presence that caused havoc with the Earth’s resources in various locations. This alien turns out to be the Silver Surfer (Doug Jones and voiced by Laurence Fishburne). The movie soon shifted to more familiar ground – namely the upcoming marriage of Reed Richards aka “Mr. Fantastic” (Ioan Gruffudd) and Sue Storm aka “The Invisible Woman” (Jessica Alba). Or should I say . . . another attempt by the couple to get married. It seemed their past efforts at matrimony have ended up being delayed by either their roles as costumed super heroes, or Reed’s anal obssession with his work. With the threat of the new alien presence announced by Army General Hager (Andre Braugher in a rather intimidating role), Reed and Sue are forced to cancel their wedding plans once more and join other FF4 members – Ben Grimm aka “The Thing” (Michael Chiklis) and Sue’s younger brother, Johnny Storm aka “The Human Torch” (Chris Evans) – to save the Earth from the Silver Surfer.

The blue-suited quartet are eventually embroiled in other crisis as well. As I had stated earlier, Reed and Sue end up enduring an angst fest over their failure to get married. Johnny’s first encounter with the Silver Surfer ended up changing his DNA structure. Because of this, he is able to change powers with any of his colleagues with only a touch. Even worse, Johnny’s uncertainty regarding his powers and his failure to seduce General Hager’s beautiful aide – Captain Raye (Beau Garrett) – led him into an emotional crisis. Also, an old nemesis returned in the form of Dr. Victor von Doom (Julian McMahon). Claiming a desire to help the Army and the Fantastic Four deal with the threat of the Silver Surfer, Victor’ real agenda turned out to be a desire to claim the Surfer’s power source for his own use.

As I had earlier stated, the 2005 movie mainly told the story about how the quarter acquired their powers and became a costumed super hero team. The 2007 sequel, on the other hand, features a solid action-filled story on how the Fantastic Four battled the Silver Surfer, Victor von Doom, the U.S. Army and their own neurosis. Which is probably why this new story is a lot better than the original. Yes, the humor had remained. But the new movie seemed better paced, more solid . . . and dare I say it? More mature. Their interactions with both the Silver Surfer and General Hager turned the story from a basic comic book action flick into something more complex. And adding to the complexity were Reed and Sue’s further obstacles facing their relationship, and Johnny Storm’s troubles with his powers and his own self esteem.

Thankfully, the people at Marvel had decided to reunite director Tim Story with the cast of the 2005 film. Because of this, Story was able to maintain the style created two years ago and take the FF4 franchise to a more complex level. With the exception of Michael Chiklis and Julian McMahon, the returning cast managed to take their roles to a new level in characterization. Do not get me wrong . . . both Chiklis and McMahon did a fine job with their roles. But their characters were not able to shine as much as the others. I suspect this was due to possible conflicting schedules with their respective TV series (“The Shield” and “Nip/Tuck”). Andre Braugher’s tough and intimidating performance as General Hager seemed to have put the rest of the cast on their toes. Both Ioan Gruffudd and Jessica Alba’s screen chemistry seemed a lot more believable in this film as their characters – Reed and Sue – struggle to take their relationship to another level despite the obstacles put in their paths. The real surprise turned out to be Chris Evans’ portrayal as the usually shallow Johnny Storm, who discovered their was more to his life than fast vehicles, women and his celebrity status as one of the Fantastic Four. Who would have thought that this superficially charming character could possess real pathos? Yet, Evans’ first-class performance made this possible. He also provided one of the movie’s funniest scenes, when he “accidentally” torched the bridal bouquet before his new girlfriend, Captain Raye, could catch it. Although I found the Silver Surfer’s abilities and his impact upon the Fantastic Four impressive, I must say that his personality struck me as a little too distant for me to really care about him. At least the revelation of his bondage to a powerful and destructive alien entity made his character a little more interesting than I had originally believed. And I have to give Laurence Fishburne kudos for doing a good job with the character’s voice over.

I would highly recommend “THE FANTASTIC FOUR: Rise of the Silver Surfer” if you are looking for some solid summer action. Granted, it does not have the level of angst or epic-like proportion of other Marvel movies such as the “SPIDER-MAN” or the “X-MEN” franchies, it is still a more complex and interesting story than its 2005 predesessor, “THE FANTASTIC FOUR”.

“The Helmsman’s Logs: 2371” [PG-13] – 1/2

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I had recently read J.A. Toner’s marvelous
“Log Entries”, a collection of B’Elanna Torres’ personal logs
from Season 1 to mid-Season 5. For a while, I had hoped she
would write a similar story from Tom Paris’ viewpoint, but, so
far, it has not happened. In the end, I decided to take on
that task myself. This story is a collection of Tom’s logs
during Voyager’s years in the Delta Quadrant.

Also, Season 2 episodes like “Projection”, “Twisted”, “Elogium”
and “The 37s” were originally supposed to air in Season 1,
after “Learning Curve”. Therefore, the incidents featured in
those episodes will be covered in Part One.

“THE HELMSMAN’S LOGS – 2371”
RATING: [PG-13]
SUMMARY: The first in a collection of Tom Paris’ personal logs
during Voyager’s seven years in the Delta Quadrant. Part 1
focuses upon the ship’s first year, 2371.
FEEDBACK: deerush76@yahoo.com. I would appreciate constructive
feedback. Thank you.
DISCLAIMER: Tom Paris and all other characters related to Star
Trek Voyager belong to Paramount, Viacom, Rick Berman, the
Roddenberry family and other Trek producers.

PART I – 2371

STARDATE 48316.7 – I’m back on a Starfleet vessel. I can’t
believe it! If only Dad could see me now. I can imagine how
he would feel. Then again . . . maybe not. I never understood Owen
Paris. Nor has he ever understood me. I have met the person
whom Dad could relate to. And probably did. Captain Kathryn
Janeway of the Federation starship, VOYAGER.

God, I’m regressing. I better start from the beginning. It
all began two days ago. I was serving my eighteen month
sentence at the Federation Penal Settlement in New Zealand –
otherwise known as Club Fed. While repairing a power generator, when a
throaty voice called out my name. I looked up and there stood
this red-haired goddess in a Starfleet uniform. Maybe goddess
isn’t the right word. The good Captain is what one would
describe as diminutive in height. But despite that, she did
have presence.

To make a long story short, Captain Janeway asked me to help
search for a particular Maquis ship that had disappeared in the
Badlands. It seemed her security chief had joined the crew –
as a Starfleet spy. And guess who commanded this particular
crew? My old ‘buddy’, Chakotay. I can imagine that bastard’s
reaction when learns that I helped Starfleet hunt down his
precious ship. Did I say when? That’s right. Despite the
fact that helping Janeway locate her missing officer seemed
like a hopeless task, I decided to accept her offer. And why
not? I certainly have no loyalty toward Chakotay and his
bunch. Hell, they made my life miserable during my few weeks
in the Maquis. And Janeway has offered to add a word or two during
my next parole review. Who could resist that?

So, here I am, aboard VOYAGER. I must say that she seemed like
one hell of a ship. God, I would give my right leg to sit at
the helm. But it would never happen. Caldik Prime and my stint
in the Maquis made sure of that.

Speaking of Caldik Prime, it seems to have followed me here to
Voyager. The ship’s doctor brought it up the moment I
introduced myself to him. He had been the chief medical
officer at the base on Caldik Prime, at the time. The First
Officer didn’t say a word. At least not with Janeway looking
on. But that sneer on his face and his hesitation to shake my
hand said a thousand words.

If it weren’t for Harry, this damn trip would have been a bust.
Ensign Harry Kim. They don’t make Starfleet ensigns greener
than him. I had to save him from a Ferengi barkeep on Deep
Space Nine, bent on cheating him out of a few latinum. A few
years on a Starfleet vessel should rid him of that naivety.
And I’m sure that once Cavit or Dr. Fitzgerald tell him about
the real Tom Paris, he’ll wise up to me. Damn! Harry is one
of the few people on this ship I really like. Just as well.
I won’t be around very long. End personal log.

STARDATE 48324.61 – A lot has happened in the past few days.
Hell, I don’t know where to begin. VOYAGER got flung 70,000
light years into the Delta Quadrant by some entity on an array
station. This little journey cost the ship several key
officers – including Cavit, Fitzgerald, the chief engineer and
the lovely Lieutenant Stadi. What a shame about Stadi. I
rather liked her.

The crew was beamed to the array, disguised as some Midwestern
farm. Some holographic beauty punched me. We also found the
Maquis crew in a state of unconsciousness. And we ended up in
the same position for three days, while the entity poked and
prodded us. Even worse, I had a ‘pleasant’ little reunion
with Chakotay on the Bridge. The poor bastard was surprised to
learn that his Vulcan weapons man turned out to be a Starfleet
spy. And embarrassed when Janeway prevented him from beating
the tar out of me. I would have enjoyed his embarrassment
even further, if it wasn’t for Harry’s disappearance.

It seems that the being on the array had failed to return a
Maquis engineer and poor Harry to their respective ships.
Which has made me worried. About Harry, I mean. He was the
first person I could truly call a friend. Even after Cavit and
Fitzgerald told him about the three people I killed at Caldik
Prime, and how I got cashiered, he still wanted to remain my
friend. What did he say? “I prefer to choose my own
friends.”
What a friend! And now, he’s missing. I only
hope that Captain Janeway can get him back before something
happens to him. End personal log.

STARDATE 48327.97 – It looks as if VOYAGER is stranded in the
Delta Quadrant for good. I don’t mind. Ever since the ship
got lost, life has . . . well, it has turned out for the
better.

I don’t have to return to prison. We found Harry, along with
the Maquis engineer, on some planet a few light years away from
the array. I saved Chakotay’s butt in the Ocampan tunnels and
earned myself a bodyguard. I’ll need one now that the Maquis
has joined the crew, after Chakotay destroyed their ship during
a battle with a warlike race called the Kazon. The crew has
also acquired a couple of hitchhikers – a funny-looking joker
named Neelix. He’s a Talaxian. Our other hitchhiker is an
Ocampan woman named Kes, whom we had saved from the Kazon.
She’s very beautiful.

Best of all, Captain Janeway has given me a field commission,
the rank of lieutenant junior grade . . . along with the Conn Division.
Which means that I am now VOYAGER’s chief pilot. Isn’t life
grand? I only hope that I can make up to Janeway for all she
has done for me. End personal log.

STARDATE 48339.17 – Life aboard VOYAGER isn’t bad. Well . . .
not that bad. I have to keep an eye out for the Maquis
crewmen. Just in case they decide to use me as a punching bag
for helping Janeway track them to the Badlands. I suspect that
a good number of the Starfleeters might want to do the same.

There is the Conn Division. On one hand, being head of the
division entitles me the position of chief pilot. So far, none
of them have been openly hostile – except for Henley, the lone
Maquis. And yet, they seemed reluctant to seriously pay
attention to the training I have devised for the division.
I’m trying to be thrilled about my new position as VOYAGER’s
chief helmsman, but it’s damn difficult to command a group of
people who consider me a criminal that deserves to spend the
next 70 years in the brig. How do you lead people like that?

It finally came to a head when I tried to give them a pep talk
about learning new piloting maneuvers. “We’re Starfleet
pilots,” Jon Hamilton had said. “Which means that we were
trained at the Academy, just like you. At least none of us had
killed anyone in a shuttle crash. And later lied about it.

For that remark, I assigned Hamilton to the Beta shift for the
next two weeks. Hey, I never claimed to be a saint. Vindictive,
yes, but not a saint. After my little disciplinary action
with Hamilton, the other pilots have ceased questioning my
piloting skills.

Chakotay certainly doesn’t make life easy. Now that he is
VOYAGER’s First Officer, he seems more interested in acting as
my tormentor, instead of bodyguard. If I’m two or three
minutes late on the Bridge, he doesn’t hesitate to point it out
in front of everyone. Even worse, I’ve been summoned to his office on several occasions regarding tardiness and Starfleet
procedures. Mind you, all of this is coming from a man who once
dropped out of Starfleet to join a terrorist group.

At least I have Harry’s friendship. I just don’t know how long that will last. Especially, since he has become friends with that
half-Klingon he was trapped on the Ocampan homeworld with. Her
name is B’Elanna Torres and she works in Engineering. I never
met her during my stint in the Maquis. I had only been with
Chakotay’s cell for a few weeks before my capture, and she was
on a top-secret mission at the time. I must admit that I find
her very beautiful, although somewhat temperamental. She has
made it clear that like her fellow Maquis, she dislikes me.
Not that I care. I’m not exactly fond of her. I don’t mind
her bad temper, but I find her self-righteousness a little hard
to take. A taint she had obviously picked up from Chakotay,
while they were both in the Maquis. I only hope that she
doesn’t come between Harry and me. End personal log.

STARDATE 48443.01 – Nothing much happened recently. VOYAGER
got trapped into an event horizon. Which brought on the sticky
subject of temporal mechanics. God, I hate dealing with that!
It was one of my worst subjects in the Academy. One good
thing came out of it. The pilots under me wanted to know how I
flew VOYAGER out of that horizon. Even Hamilton. To be
honest, I did nothing spectacular. Especially since Janeway
ordered me to use the ship like a battering ram for our escape.

The event horizon brought about another change. Joe Carey is
no longer VOYAGER’s Chief Engineer. B’Elanna Torres, Harry’s
half-Klingon friend, has become the new chief. Despite
breaking Carey’s nose in three different places. If that’s how
one can become chief engineer, how does one become the first
officer? Or the captain? Chakotay must be thrilled that his
little protégée has joined the senior staff.

One last little tidbit that hasn’t exactly made my day.
Because of a course in biochemistry I took at Starfeet, I am
now the new medical assistant and have to work with that
holographic egomaniac in Sick Bay. Sometimes I think the gods
must hate me. End personal log.

STARDATE 48533.7 – Gods, it’s been one hell of a day! VOYAGER
came across a new race called the Vidiians, while searching for
a supply of dilithium.

These Vidiians are a race, who have been inflicted by some
deadly virus called the phage, for the past millinium or two.
To keep their race alive, the Vidiians have engaged in
stealing organs from other humanoids. Ugh! While on an Away
mission with Harry and Chakotay, Neelix had his lungs stolen by
two Vidiians.

If one ever thought that doctors made lousy patients, try
dealing with an annoying Talaxian. I would have removed those
holographic lungs the Doc had created for Neelix, just for a
little peace and quiet, if it weren’t for Kes. She seemed very
concerned about Neelix and I had to assure her that he would
make it through this crisis. I just don’t get it! What does
Kes see in a guy like Neelix, anyway? Gratitude for saving her
from the Kazon? Fortunately, VOYAGER managed to capture the
two Vidiians and one of them turned out to be a physician. He
found a way to alter a donated lung to match Neelix’s
physiology. Guess who turned out to be the donator? That’s
right, Kes. Sigh!

Speaking of doctors, our own chief medical officer is turning
out to be a real pain in the ass. I could understand the
little lecture about holographic matter and so forth. But did
the bastard have to slap my face to prove his point? If you
ask me, the man is a sadist. Maybe I can find a way to change
his personality subroutines. I’ve always been pretty good at
holoprogramming. There is one thing to be thankful. Kes has
just become the new medical assistant. Which means I won’t
have to hang around Sickbay – unless necessary.

Oh, I forgot. Neelix has converted the Captain’s private
dining room into the galley. And now, VOYAGER has a genuine
mess hall. Now that we have a cook, the crew can save
replicator energy. I don’t know about the rest of them, but I
think I’ll stick with replicated food. End personal log.

STARDATE 48549.92 – How can I put this in a nutshell? VOYAGER
explored a nebula, still searching for a supply of dilithium.
The nebula turned out to be a living organism that we damaged
during our little exploration trip. With a little fancy flying
from me, along with the Doctor and Torres’ expertise, we
managed to repair the damage to the nebu . . . uh, the life
form. Of course, all of this resulted in VOYAGER being
drained another 20% of energy.

Anything else? Oh yes. Neelix decided to entertain the Bridge
crew with a few selections of Talaxian hors d’erves. Which I
declined – naturally. I also discovered that Harry remembers
being inside his mother’s womb. What a shame there isn’t a
ship’s counselor on board. I think Harry could really use
one.

I also introduced Harry to my new holoprogram – a recreation of
one of my favorite spots in the universe, Sandrine’s. It’s a
tavern I used to frequent, when I spent my second year in the
Academy at a Starfleet base in Marsailles, France. This
prompted Harry to remark that I miss Earth. Hell, if Earth
only consisted of Sandrine’s, I would. By the way, I believe
that Sandrine, herself, has developed a little interest in my
good buddy.

After our encounter with the nebula/life form, the rest of the
crew decided to try out my program. Including the Captain, who
turned out to be quite the pool hustler. If only Starfleet
knew. The only person who seems to dislike Sandrine’s was
Lieutenant Torres. One of my characters, Gaunt Gary, tried to
proposition her. She, in turn, called us both pigs. You know,
I’m beginning to suspect that Torres really lacks a sense of
humor. If the Captain could tolerate a few innuendos with good
grace, why couldn’t she? End personal log.

STARDATE 48558.22 – Ran into Kes in the Mess Hall, this
evening. Since Neelix was busy preparing dinner for the crew,
I decided to offer her a little company. I learned a lot about
Kes. About her parents, her childhood on the Ocampan
homeworld, and her captivity by the Kazons. We spent so much
time talking about her that we barely touched on my background.
Which suited me just fine. Besides, with a certain Talaxian
cook giving us the evil eye every now and then, we decided to
end our little conversation. What the hell is wrong with
Neelix, anyway? Did he honestly think I would steal Kes from
him? Or ravage her? Hell, the worst anyone could accuse me of
is introducing Kes to my favorite drink – spinach juice, with a
touch of pear. End personal log.

STARDATE 48579.93 – We came so close to returning to the Alpha
Quadrant. Too close, if you ask me. Thank goodness for bad
luck.

Harry had discovered a wormhole that might lead back home.
Although I joked about the Federation (science institute)
naming the wormhole after him, inside I was filled with dread.
Home? Who wanted to go there? As far as I’m concerned,
VOYAGER is home. In the end, we discovered that the wormhole
was too small for the ship to travel through. The Captain
ordered Lieutenant Tuvok to launch a probe through the
wormhole, anyway. I suspect that she had hoped to make contact
with Starfleet. The probe got stuck in some eddy, thanks to
some phase variance. But we managed to eventually make
contact with a Romulan. Fortunately, this Romulan refused to
talk and cut off communication. But that didn’t deter my good
buddy, Harry. While the rest of us slept, he decided to
continue attempts to re-establish contact with the Romulan.
Exactly what does he hope to accomplish? End personal log.

STARDATE 48582.31 – The wormhole turned out to be a bust and
boy, I am relieved! Hell, a return to the Alpha Quadrant would
mean only one thing for me – a reunion with my fellow convicts
at the Federation Penal Settlement in New Zealand. And that’s
a fate I would like to avoid, thank you very much.

For a while, it seemed that the Alpha Quadrant awaited us. Not
only did Captain Janeway managed to re-establish contact with
the Romulan, Torres found a way to transport both objects and
people through the wormhole. Our Romulan contact, a scientist
on a top secret science vessel, became the first humanoid to be
transported through a wormhole, from one quadrant to another.

Then fortune finally stepped in when Tuvok discovered that the
phase variance caused us so much trouble, because the wormhole
not only lead to the Alpha Quadrant, but also twenty years in
the past. Also, our Romulan visitor will not live long enough
to send our messages to the Federation. I realize that the
others are upset, but as far as I’m concerned – all’s well that
ends well. End personal log.

STARDATE 48588.21 – It’s been difficult containing my glee over
our failed attempt with the wormhole. I must be the only
person aboard VOYAGER – aside from Neelix and Kes – who isn’t
disappointed. Although I suspect that our Delta Quadrant
natives are disappointed on behalf of the crew..

Harry has been in a funk, over the past two days. I tried to
cheer him up with a trip to Sandrine’s. Instead, he accused me
of being glad over the whole debacle. How could I deny the
truth? Right now, he’s in Torres’ quarters and both are
probably weeping together over lost opportunities. Do
Klingons weep? I have to look that up.

I can understand why Harry, the Captain and other ‘Fleeters are
upset. But why are the Maquis? Don’t they realize that a
return to the Alpha Quadrant meant a few years in prison for
them? They sure as hell can’t return to fighting Cardassians.
After all, they’re now officially Starfleet prisoners.

At the moment, Kes is the only person I can talk to. While
helping her in the Hydropondics Bay, I explained my feelings
about the wormhole to her. She seemed to understand. What a
relief to find someone I can be honest with.
End personal log.

STARDATE 48604.37 – How could I have been so stupid? What the
hell was I thinking?

Once again, I’ve gone ahead of myself. This is what happened.
VOYAGER encountered a race called the Baneans. They offered
to help repair VOYAGER’s busted collimator. The Captain ordered Harry
to the Banean homeworld, to confer with their top scientist on
the repairs. And since they were at war with another race
called the Numeri, guess who had to fly Harry to Banea? That’s
right! Me.

If only Captain Janeway had sent another pilot. If only
Doctor Ren had been married to an older and less attractive
woman. Hell! If only I had listened to Harry and Liddell, I
would not be in this mess! Liddell Ren. The moment I laid
eyes upon her, I fell in deep lust. Very beautiful and
obviously very bored with her marriage. And since I was bored
listening to Harry and the Doctor discuss engineering, I
decided to focus my attention on the gorgeous mistress of the
house.

Poor Doctor Ren ended up murdered – stabbed in the heart. The
Baneans accused me of the deed, claiming that the good doctor’s
memory engrams clearly showed that I was guilty. Only, I don’t
remember stabbing the man. Nor do I remember kissing Liddell
in the Arterium. Unfortunately, the Baneans didn’t believe
me, thanks to those memory engrams. And now, they have
convicted me of murder and punished me by grafting Doctor Ren’s
engrams with my own. Every fourteen hours, I have to relive
the memory of the murder through his eyes. Something is not
right. The murder couldn’t have happened like this!
Fortunately, the Captain and Tuvok arrived on Banea to
investigate and return me to VOYAGER. I only hope they can get
me out of this mess. End personal log.

STARDATE 48607.42 – Thank goodness for Tuvok! If it weren’t
for him, I would have spent the rest of my life, reliving false
memories of Doctor Ren’s murder, every 14 hours. Considering
how those engrams were frying my neural pathways, I would not
have lived very long.

Tuvok discovered that I was being used as a courier between the
Numeri, and a Banean doctor and Liddell, who were both traitors and
spies for the former. Great! Just what I always wanted to be.
As for Doctor Ren’s memories – it turned out that other Banean
doctor planted altered memories onto my neural pathways.

Harry told me that he would never do what I did. Fool around
with the wrong woman. But he will. One day. And I told him
so. Okay, maybe Harry’s comments did irk me a bit. But I was
serious when I told him that one day, he could meet the wrong
woman. It happens to a lot of guys. Including straight
arrows like Harry.

I found Lieutenant Tuvok in the Mess Hall and thanked him for
clearing me of murder. In his usual Vulcan fashion, he claimed
that he would have otherwise if I had been guilty. But I
thanked him, anyway. Perhaps for being himself, for once.
Others would have naturally assumed the worst and not bother to
investigate the matter. Tuvok had approached the case in his
usual objective manner, thank goodness. As for the rest of the
crew – well, they had all assumed I was guilty, until Tuvok
proved otherwise. With the exception of the Captain, Harry,
the Doctor and Kes. Thank goodness for friends. And the
Doctor. End personal log.

STARDATE 48635.01 – Will miracles cease to exist? I don’t
think so. Especially after I was approached by one of the
Delaney sisters for a favor. It seems that Jenny has developed
an interest in a certain Operations chief and would like me to
arrange a date. Knowing Harry’s devotion to a certain
fiancée, 70,000 light years away, I realize it would be
difficult to arrange this date. I’ve already tried it once and
it didn’t work. Maybe I can try bribery. Or blackmail. Hmmm,
then again, Ensign Eager isn’t the type to succumb to bribery.
And he hasn’t done anything worth blackmailing over. Oh
well. Perhaps I’ll just pester him to death. End personal log.

STARDATE 48638.27 – What do you know? Pestering him to death,
actually worked! In the end, I finally got that double date I
had wanted. Harry, Jenny, Megan and I had the date in
Holodeck One, enjoying the charms of Venice. Well, Megan and I
were able to enjoy Venice. I can’t say the same for Harry and
Jenny. They went for a ride in a gondola and in her enthusiasm
to seduce Harry, poor Jenny overexerted herself and both ended
up in the Grand Canal – heads first. If I didn’t feel sorry
for Harry, I would have laughed. (Pauses) Okay, I did
laugh. But only after Megan laughed first. Her laughter can
be very contagious. So full of life. As for Harry and Jenny –
I have a feeling they won’t be dating for quite a while. End
personal log.

STARDATE 48643.26 – The whole ship knows about the date with
Delaney sisters. Heck, even Torres and Seska were discussing
it, while the former oogled the ship’s Marble Model. I’m
referring to, of course, Ensign Murphy. Actually, there are
two Ensign Murphys. The other Murphy serves under Tuvok in
Security, while the Marble Model is in the Science Division. I
wonder what Torres sees in a man who resembles a Starfleet
recruitment poster, anyway?

At least I’m no longer on the Maquis’ shit list. Harry and I
actually managed to enjoy a conversation with Seska and Torres.
Our little camaraderie didn’t last very long. Chakotay
summoned the Senior officers to the Bridge. It seemed Voyager
came across a ship emitting a distress signal. The ship is
from a nearby planet called Sikaris. And its inhabitants have
invited the crew to spend a few days there, and partake in its
pleasures. Sounds interesting. End personal log.

STARDATE 48643.38 – Ah, Sikaris! I must say it was a beautiful
planet with riches and food, galore for enjoyment. Many of the
women seemed very attractive. Unfortunately, my enjoyment of
the planet was nearly spoiled by my best friend.
After befriending a Sikarian woman named Endana, Harry
discovered that the Sikarians possessed some kind of trajector
that permitted folded-space transport. This trajector could
shorten Voyager’s return to the Alpha Quadrant by 40,000 light
years.

I could only imagine Janeway’s reaction when she heard the
news. Excited. Relieved. To be honest, I didn’t feel the
same. The further Voyager remained from Earth, the better for
me. Thanks to Harry’s discovery of the trajector, the Alpha
Quadrant had loomed pretty close. Too close. Thankfully, the
Sikarians had a canon of laws similar to the Federation’s Prime
Directive. Their laws prevented them from introducing their
technology to other cultures. You know, I usually have a dim
view of the Prime Directive. I mean, what is the point of
non-interference in an alien culture, when Starfleet is suppose
to be about exploration? You can’t explore unknown worlds
without some kind of interference or influence – however
unintentional. The Captain plans to approach the Sikarian
government about making Voyager an exception to their rule. I
hate to say this, but I hope she fails. End personal log.

STARDATE 48648.68 – What a goddamn mess! Who would have
thought a visit to a pleasure-seeking planet would end with
Voyager nearly being destroyed by a warp core breach? And its
Security Chief and Chief Engineer ending in deep shit with the
Captain? Frankly, I’m just glad I’m not the one who messed
up.

The Sikarian Council had rejected Janeway’s request for Voyager
to use their trajector technology. Thank goodness! She had no
choice but to abide by their decision. But it didn’t end
there. Harry’s friend, Endana, introduced him to a Sikarian
man named Jaret Otel, who was willing to break his world’s law
by trading the trajector technology for a library of Federation
literature. Harry, Seska, Torres and I discussed it. I more
or less told the others that they were wasting their time. The
Captain might consider Otel’s offer, but in the end, she would
never go against Federation principles.

Of course, I was right. But Janeway’s decision did not stop
Tuvok and Torres from making the exchange with Otel. And when
Voyager finally left orbit, the trajector proved to be
incompatible with Federation technology and nearly caused a
warp core breach. I learned from Harry that Seska and Joe
Carey were also involved in this scheme, but only Tuvok and
Torres got chewed out. If she had done worse, Voyager would
have ended up with Rollins or Pete Durst as Security Chief.
And Sue Nicoletti as Chief Engineer. I’m just glad that damn
trajector never worked. End personal log.

STARDATE 48662.6 – Will the Universe ever cease to amaze me?
It certainly didn’t, today. Who would have thought? Seska, a
Cardassian! Not only was she a Cardassian, but an agent of the
Obsidian Order, assigned to infiltrate the Maquis! What can I
say? I’m shocked. (Pauses) Then again, knowing Seska’s
character, perhaps not.

Thanks to encounter with a damaged Kazon-Nistrim ship, we
learned that someone aboard Voyager had been trading Federation
technology to the Kazon in exchange for their protection.
Suspects came down to two people – Seska and Joe Carey. Not
surprisingly, most of the ‘Fleeters suspected Seska and the
Maquis, Carey. My choice was Seska. When I told Harry, both
Torres and Ayala overheard me. “Starfleet to the end, right
Paris?” Torres had said with her usual sneer.

I had told her that my Starfleet background had nothing to do
with my opinion. “I don’t know Carey that well,” I said, “but
I know Seska. I don’t trust her within an inch of my life.
She has the brains and imagination to pull something like
this. And you all know how she feels about Federation
principles.” To everyone’s surprise, Ayala agreed. It seemed
he never really trusted Seska, either.

After Seska’s escape to another Kazon ship, most of the Maquis
walked around, either in a daze or looking humiliated.
Especially Chakotay. He was, after all, Seska’s loudest
defender and former lover. Poor Chakotay. He was always a
lousy judge of character. End personal log.

END OF PART I