Speaking of T’Ana, she has the single funniest line in a episode chock full of funny lines. When Boimler’s gravity boots fail, and he plummets groundward, Tendi says she’s glad the safety protocols are engaged—and then she looks nervously at T’Ana. “They are on, right?” T’Ana just stares at her and says, “I don’t know. Sure.” Then keeps climbing. I so love T’Ana.
For 2021, KRAD COVID readings is covering the only short fiction I didn’t read in 2020: my novellas for the Star Trek: Starfleet Corps of Engineers series, a monthly series of eBooks that ran from 2000-2007. I’ll have a new reading every #TrekTuesday.
This week we kick off the landmark 100th installment of the series, and also the last story in the S.C.E. cycle: Many Splendors. Part of the “What’s Past” event done to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Trek in 2006, this story chronicled the Gomez-Duffy romance on board the U.S.S. Enterprise-D, and also provides an engine-room’s-eye view of the second through fifth seasons of The Next Generation.
In Part 1, Gomez comes on board in time for Data’s sentience to be questioned, and gets a bad first impression of Duffy when they work together to keep the ship from falling apart after the destruction of the U.S.S. Yamato.
Day 5 is a song that needs to be played loud. A lot of possible choices for this one (including anything from The Last Waltz, a concert film that opens with the title card “THIS FILM SHOULD BE PLAYED LOUD”), but I’m going to go with a particular live version of “Aqualung” by Jethro Tull, specifically the one on the 1978 live album Bursting Out, which has a killer guitar solo by Martin Barre. Crank this puppy up.
Some aspects of Photons, Be Free, as well as Paris’ rewrite, provide some nice meta commentary on some of Voyager’s more problematic aspects. Jenkins shooting an unnamed, badly injured crew person so that the EMH can treat one of the “senior staff” for a mild concussion is a nasty riff on the fact that nobody seems to even notice when someone who isn’t in the opening credits dies, but it’s a major tragedy if any of the billed cast even gets hurt. It’s “Mortal Coil,” where Neelix gets the zombie Borg cure after he’s killed, which is never offered to any of the other folks on board who die, taken to its absurdist extreme. And then we have Marseilles’ womanizing ways and the comb-over version of the EMH drooling over the Borg triplets as a good satire on how creepy both Paris and the EMH have been over the years. And indeed, many of the crew treated the EMH poorly in the early going. (Of course, the one who always treated him like a person was Kes, and some acknowledgment of her role wouldn’t have been untoward here. Sigh. Three of Eight pretty much takes on the Kes role in Photons, Be Free.)
Day 4 is a song that reminds you of someone you’d rather forget. I’m going with “New York is a Woman” by Suzanne Vega, as the song was sent to me by someone I was once involved with and I’m really sorry I ever was involved with her and would be happy to forget all about her. Mind you, it’s a good song by a great artist, but whatcha gonna do….
Day 3 is a song that reminds you of summertime, and I’m going to be incredibly literal and pick Eddie Cochran’s “Summertime Blues,” because that’s the first song that came to mind when I saw this prompt.
Day 2 is a song you like with a number in the title. My first thought was “5:15” by The Who, but I did The Who yesterday, so instead I’m going to go with a song that is entirely numbers: “4, 5, and 9” by Leadbelly, which includes some of Leadbelly’s best guitar work in the intro.
It’s not quite completely official yet — still waiting for the formal invitation — but the process has started by which I will be going for promotion to yondan, or fourth-degree black belt. I will be going alongside Senpai Charles, with whom I also went for my nidan (second degree) in 2013 and my sandan (third degree) in 2017. We will be joined by Gordy, an advanced brown belt going for his shodan (first degree), and there may be some kids going for their junior shodan as well.
I am, at once, thrilled and scared to death, as the promotions are much more intense at this level. While there are some disciplines that just automatically give you another stripe on your black belt after being in rank for a certain amount of time, Shuseki Shihan Paul doesn’t do that (which, honestly, is as it should be — black belt stripes should be earned). For yondan and above there’s additional testing on top of the three promotion sessions.
This will all happen in mid-November, and between now and then I’ll be running in Van Cortlandt Park, going to every class I can possibly go to, and also attending fighting classes every Tuesday night. Assuming I make it through, both Charles and I will have a title change, as yondans are formally referred to in our discipline as “sensei.”
In Japanese martial arts tradition, you don’t wish someone luck. Instead, you say, “ganbatte,” which means “try your best.” Which is really all we can ever do. And I love the sentiment (so much so that I used “Ganbatte” as the title of a short story that later won an award….). So I won’t ask y’all to wish me good luck, but if you want to throw a “ganbatte” my way, I wouldn’t object…..