my_daroga: James T. Kirk (shatner)
Minimalist Magic
The Star Trek Look
By Mervyn Nicholson (thanks to [ profile] zainin666 for the link)

"By treating the style of the original series as integral to the show — and not as a kind of regrettable defect — we can get a better grasp on the Star Trek phenomenon itself."

This article covers a lot of territory under the umbrella of discussing Star Trek as Minimalist in execution and thought (in opposition to the later series.) The use of color, the settiness of sets, and the expression of emotion are referred to, as well as Shatner's acting style. I'm linking and excerpting because it ties into something I was talking about before, about the way that Shatner/Kirk play off each other to create something strange and appealing without being freakish. The importance of emotion, of the face, in a drama without much of anything else to look at is, I think, important in understanding the success of a show without much in the way of special effects or budget to recommend it. Even if I'm not sure I buy the over-arching idea that Minimalism can tie it all together.

Aside from my fervent nodding along to the idea that Shatner's acting is appropriate to the form and style of the show (I am converted, preach to me!), it is interesting to note that the "deficiencies" of TOS can certainly be put down to budget issues and to a lack of style, but they don't have to be. I like a lot of how it looks, and I think it's valid to approach these decisions as choices. Choices bound by necessity, sure, and altered by chance. But the colored lighting on faces and bare walls, the orange skies, the simple uniforms--all that is stuff missing from the later series and which I miss from later series, not through nostalgia but because there's an actual dramatic resonance to placing the action in that context. And maybe that helps explain why someone like me can come to this show now, as an adult who wasn't even around when it came out, and prefer it.

Anyway, because it's me, have some stuff about Shatner:

Trek owes it all to Shatner )

Tl;dr--Basically, Shatner works on the small screen through close-ups, and the impressive mobility of his face and its ability to transmit emotion. He's good-looking, but not too good-looking, fit but not too fit, which lures us in. He is familiar. And yet he embodies a contrast between the macho leading man and a fluid emotionalism, in sharp contrast to a more typical, and less interesting, Jeffrey Hunter type. This, I think, is crucial: "It is not narcissism that he projects but, like him or not, happiness, an intense delight in his role." This is what I feel, watching Kirk work. And why I think the show is still relevant for me, when exploring masculine stereotypes and the male role in media and society. Well. And in being awesome.

One day, I'll write about something else.
my_daroga: James T. Kirk (shatner)
I have things I should probably talk about, that might be interesting, but I keep falling into that cycle of "I'm too tired/busy/braindead to do it justice right now" which is what leads to not posting for months (and it also why I fail at emailing/calling/socializing back).

But for now, in an effort to just babble about what's on my mind, and to risk everyone going "good lord, not Kirk again," I want to talk about something I just saw on [ profile] fandomsecrets. The secret itself doesn't matter much: it's several days old now, and basically said "I can't read TOS fanfiction because it highlights how much of a joke Shatner is/was when you try to make that character make sense."

I thought this was interesting because, as you know, I don't feel that way at all. I used to, when I hadn't seen the show, and I think to a large number of people who haven't and many who have, Shatner is a joke. Obviously anon can feel however they feel, and part of what's interesting to me is how we all gravitate towards particular things that are invisible to others even when we're all ostensibly looking at the same thing.

There are two things I'm talking about here, in my messy way: both that I don't think the character of James T. Kirk is a joke (though he is frequently ridiculous), and that I wonder how certain characters or shows or whatever else (movies books music historical periods/figures) acquire such wholly different resonance with individuals.

Part one: Kirk )

Part two: You )

Fanfiction: Balance (ST:TOS), R

  • Apr. 12th, 2010 at 8:02 AM
my_daroga: James T. Kirk (shatner)
Title: Balance
Fandom: Star Trek: TOS
Characters/Pairing: Kirk with Kirk/Ruth, Kirk/Gary, Kirk/Ruth/Gary
Rating: R
Words: ~4,000
Summary: Many people had gone into making Jim what he was.
Notes: I wrote this, initially, as backstory for a roleplay I'm active in. As such it was an exercise in exploring the reasons behind choices my Kirk was making and attitudes he had developed towards relationships--and it may not reflect attitudes and choices (or endings) I'd have made otherwise. But I'm posting it because it might be of more general interest outside that context.

He was young for an Academy instructor, but in those days he was older than his years anyway. He told himself he was taking responsibility, but in reality, "responsibility" was code for filling time and keeping to himself.

Gary Mitchell was making that difficult.

"See ya, Jim."

"Mitchell," Jim said warningly.

"Gary," Mitchell returned in the same tone.

'Lieutenant Kirk,' Jim corrected, )

Pon Farr in the Park

  • Jul. 26th, 2009 at 10:03 AM
my_daroga: James T. Kirk (shatner)
Yesterday, Mr. Daroga, [personal profile] lettered and myself drove down to Portland to see Trek in the Park, a free, live-action rendition of the episode "Amok Time." Yes, with the "Vulcan biology" and the sexy fighting.

The play was a lot of fun, and there were tons of people. We were late, and only secured a seat through the generosity of a man whose friend didn't arrive. He'd never seen an episode, so we tried to explain to him what we love about the show without sounding rabid or anything. I'm not sure how well we, or the play, succeeded but he was really nice.

Most of the joy of the production came from everyone's knowledge of the source material. Stripped of the background and acting of the actual show's leads, the dialogue comes off rather ridiculous. If you're not a fan, maybe it does anyway, but somehow Shatner, Nimoy and Kelley are always able to make things sound far more reasonable than they are. Maybe because they've made those characters real people. None of the actors yesterday impersonated those original actors' quirks, but most of them lacked that "real person" sense. Kirk was far too passive, though Spock did a better job of imbuing his performance with some sensitivity and edge. Mostly, though, it was campy fun. There was a soprano delivering the theme song, sound effects, and Kirk's uniform was strategically pre-ripped. It wasn't great theater, but it was good fun, and I'm glad we went. We spent the drive home speculating about how we'd do our own production in Seattle, with me as Kirk, Mr. Daroga as Spock, and [personal profile] lettered as McCoy.

So as not to say we'd driven all the way down there just for that, we spent the day in Portland, visiting the legendary Powell's--best bookstore in the world--and seeing other sights. I didn't get photographs of everything, but here's a sample.

grant park and ramona quimby )

multnomah falls )

trek in the park )

Classic Trek has something to tell you.

  • Jul. 10th, 2009 at 7:33 AM
my_daroga: Mucha's "Dance" (iconic)
Lately, I've seen The Price of the Phoenix by Sondra Marshak and Myrna Culbreath recommended about. Recommended in the sense that it's UTTER CRACK in published form, which, to be fair, a lot of TOS is already.

What I hadn't seen was this cover. Which would have demanded my purchase even if I hadn't heard of it.


large image )
my_daroga: Mucha's "Dance" (iconic)
What I want from fic--and you
I think the single-greatest thing about the new Star Trek movie is how it's injected new life into the fandom, and how that's not at all isolated to the actors/characters from the new film. I have talked to so many people who've gotten into TOS via the film, and thus far my interactions in fandom have been really positive and inclusive. (Hell, [ profile] ontd_startrek ate up my Intruder picspam, which is pretty funny considering the community and the fact that the movie I was capping was a social problem film about racism in the South.)

The problem is, perhaps, that there's too much.

I love Kirk/Spock. I'd definitely read other pairings done well. But here's the thing: where do I start? (I know I've asked this before, but my request has been refined and maybe more of you have been asking these questions now, too.) The explosion of fannish activity means that the K/S is overwhelming. Those of you reading fic, how do you decide what to read if you need to be selective? Where do you go? Whose recommendations do you trust?

I'm more interested in the characters from TOS, but I've read some fantastic XI fic, as well. I like angst, I like humor, I like anything good. I like stuff that examines the meeting of both of those worlds, the questions of identity raised by the whole nu/Prime situation and which the film very conveniently allows to be canon. I like stories about both "how does nuKirk become the awesome we know he is destined to be?" and "how do nu Kirk and Spock become the awesome we know they are destined to be?"

What I want from Kirk/Spock
In an effort to educate myself about classic K/S fic, I've been working through a couple rec lists, and I've observed something interesting. Thus far, I haven't seen a single one that doesn't involve a very schmoopy mind-meld pair-bond situation in which Kirk and Spock finally figure it out, hook up with the aid of touch telepathy, and are the most perfect couple foreverandeveramen. I adore the leading-up-to bit, the misunderstandings and the way their respective characters complicate that revelation. I've read some good stuff involving doubt and will and, say, Kirk's decision to sit behind a desk after their five-year mission. What I haven't seen, and very much want to, is fiction dealing with what I would consider the obvious problems of having complete and total access to the mind of the person in whom you've invested everything. Most of the barriers in these stories are outside imposed; Kirk and/or Spock are kidnapped or sick or attacked or whatever and that endangers their relationship.

But what about their own natures? What makes them work as a couple, for me, or even as friends or partners, is the way they complement and defy one another. I'm not saying it needs to be some drawn out domestic melodrama ending only in tears. But don't you think that Spock might see something in Kirk's mind or memories that disturbs him? That he can't reconcile? Wouldn't a mind like Spock's have an alien quality Kirk might not always understand or deal with well? I like a dose of schmoop once in awhile. But most of these fics lose their edge once the hookup happens and Kirk and Spock lose theirs.

I want that edge. I wonder if this is a function of where the fandom was, because it does seem like a genre convention that K/S are soul-bonded in the most comfortable and least problematic way. Maybe that's what people want(ed) to read; it's a very clear wish-fulfillment fantasy. Maybe that's a logical extension of what people see on the show. Maybe I'm just not looking in the right places. But I would like to see something different. Something examining that psychology.

(But you're more than welcome to send along links to schmoopy you like particularly well, because I can be squishy, too.)

What I want from William Shatner
cut for epic obsessiveness. seriously, not for the faint of heart. )

[Note: I'm really sorry to be so behind on my f-list. I find it difficult to find time to both write and keep up on LJ, so writing has taken precedence. But I will try to catch up, and if you do have a post or something you want me to look at, please let me know.]

Obsession (version Shatner)

  • Jun. 15th, 2009 at 10:18 PM
my_daroga: Mucha's "Dance" (iconic)
Last year, inspired by Orson Welles (whom I still adore, no worries!) I wrote:
See, it's been ages--it feels like years--since anything's hit me this hard. When I was a teenager, and through college, certain things would grab hold of me and not let go...

What's funny about this now is that I think this latest Star Trek/William Shatner thing is ten times worse. I don't understand how I'm still functioning; I haven't felt this distracted, hopped up, and ridiculous since those good old days when it didn't really matter if I lost myself in it. And yet I look ahead and know it's gonna end and I am already sad, because as inconvenient as this is it feels good. I'm writing again. It's crazy that this should be the thing, especially since dammit I'm running [ profile] masked_ball and haven't written anything for it and frankly have no interest in anything else. And it's, you know, so old hat.

Side note: It seems that my "new type" is pretty-faced, arrogant assholes who are often labeled hams and later in life get really fat and never stop trying. Whether this is more or less reasonable than my previous preference for the at-worst psychotic/at-best emotionally unavailable ectomorph is debatable.

So. Links and stuff for those so inclined:

* [ profile] more_shatner. What it says on the tin. There's nothing here yet, but I discovered he didn't even have a community! Which is sad!
* Premiere: Shatner/Nimoy fic (by me) about them watching the new movie. Rated G.
* Home by Lanaea. Awesome WIP that is firmly based in the reboot universe but has glimpses of that Jim Kirk reaching towards what he'll become. Also adorable K/S.
* Star Trek Memories was really entertaining, though not, you know, the best writing ever. Maybe I'll do a post about this, but Shatner really comes across as someone who doesn't know he's being self-centered and reacts okay to being told about it, which makes him endearing if you like him and insuffrable if you don't. I loved the story about him getting angry at some guy who rammed his daughters at a go-kart track, deciding he was Captain Kirk, and suddenly realizing that the flying leg kick he was so proud of disobeyed the laws of physics. Luckily, before he tried it. Also the one about stealing Nimoy's bicycle. They're sort of the most adorable thing ever, at this point, all old and mellow and forgetting they fought and stuff.

Some choice [community profile] ontd_startrek posts:
* Vulcan pick-up lines
* On-set gifs from the TOS days, including this one:
cut for cuteness )
I die a little time every time I look at it.

If you're not lucky, there will be picspam.

Roundabout Avenues to Sixties Television

  • Jun. 8th, 2009 at 11:59 AM
my_daroga: Mucha's "Dance" (iconic)
So, as you all most likely know, my household is currently enthralled by TOS. (Current proof of utter ridiculousness: not only have I finally changed my layout to one from [ profile] thefulcrum, I altered the colors. Look closely.) What I could not recall was why, after years of Star Wars vs. Star Trek debates, we'd decided to watch TOS a few years ago.

Mr. Daroga remembered last night.

Apparently, we were actually brought to TOS fandom via William Shatner's music career. Mr. Daroga heard "It Hasn't Happened Yet" (ignore the images; bonus live version here) on the radio (npr?), got interested, bought the album, and that was it.

I am a Star Trek fan because of William Shatner's "singing." I'm fairly certain this is an uncommon phenomenon.

You know what else I'm a fan of? Batman. With Adam West. It's not available on DVD due to weird rights reasons, but we "found" some and we've been watching season 1.

The thing about Batman (the tv series--henceforth that's what I mean in this post when I say "Batman") is that when I was a kid, I remember seeing it on tv and wondering how everyone in the sixties could have been that stupid. I mean, it was so dumb! Did anyone actually think that was funny? I was a very serious child, I guess; later on, when I started watching the animated series and reading some comics I probably became even more offended by the campy excess of Adam West's Batman.

I was so wrong. Several years ago now, when I was momentarily in a house that actually had cable, I saw an episode on TV Land. Batman and Robin are chasing Kitt!Catwoman through a pageant or a fashion show or something and she goes into the dressing room, forcing them to a painful decision:

Can they, or can they not, enter a womens dressing room?

They finally determine they can, if they cover their eyes. That was it. I was done for. For some reason, this crap delights me. I know this is nothing new and I haven't discovered the moon or anything. But imagine the shock of realizing that I actually thought this was funny!

It hasn't stopped yet, either. I love how self-aware and absurdly meta it is. I love that Robin can't follow criminals into clubs because he's underage. And that Batman realizes he can't drive the Batmobile when he's been drugged because he's under the influence. And how he almost moves it when he realizes he's parked in a no-parking zone. And how Dick always hangs his head in shame after Bruce admonishes him about music or algebra or whatever being important to human culture, and says, "Gosh, Bruce, you're right." And how they both get the Riddler's totally stupid riddles as if they're totally obvious. Also the Riddler's hot in his unitard. And how Bruce and Dick keep going "fishing" and Alfred wonders what will happen if Aunt Harriet actually finds out what those boys are up to.

In short, I think I hated it when I was a kid because I didn't get the real joke. Which was that it was all a joke. I still don't know why I think this is so funny, but more than that I don't know why it's important to me to figure it out--I mean obviously lots of people found it hilarious, or it wouldn't be here. And lots of people still find it stupid. I have half a mind to do a post about the socio-cultural implications of this version of Batman vs. others.

One semi-serious thing this suggests to me is that it fits in with the increasing tolerance I have for multiple visions. It's more than just tolerance--I embrace it. I remember when I was a teenager, affronts to my vision of canon (for whatever value of fandom you want to discuss) were MORTAL. Canon--my interpretation of it--was absolute. Which was obviously hypocritical, since my canon probably involved Erik/Christine shipping, which is obviously not supported by actual canon. This is probably not a startling revelation, but it's interesting to me that not only do I love that there are different versions of things, and have a far greater tolerance for fanworks that support alternate interpretations/pairings/whatever, I watch everything with a greater eye to multiple visions within the text itself. Which is one reason I love watching TOS--there are so many places to diverge from each episode, I almost want to watch them again as soon as I'm done.

Maybe I'm just mellowing out in my old age.

Then again, there's this:


Which pretty much blows all pseudo-intellectual argument and soul-searching out of the water.


my_daroga: Mucha's "Dance" (Default)
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