Thursday, June 20, 2013

'Tis Charity to Show Chapter VI Part 5

Tis Charity to Show
Chapter VI
Part 5

Rand was not too tired to be livid.  The landing party had just returned from a search conducted on the outskirts of the camp along the desert waste; a search that proved to be so futile it made Spock’s growing lack of professional judgment stunningly apparent, and all too embarrassing.

At least it was over for now, until the next time Spock would be seized by, and induced in, the throes of psychotic hubris.

The shower room resembled the Battery Park Tunnel, only a lot smaller, and without the curvature. Embedded in the tile, on either side, were rows of copper stump showerheads evenly positioned over small, rectangular dashboards.  The tile was a mood mellowing soft ecru, an appropriate color for winding down under glorious jets of warm water and steam, especially after the shit day she had.

Her flip flops made small hollow echoes as she walked over from the connecting locker room, and found a showerhead that was as far from the locker room door as possible for that much-needed sense of privacy.  She manipulated the eye-level controls on the dashboard until the showerhead moved upward to accommodate her height.  Pressing a few more controls made warm water shoot against her skin, enveloping her with its undulating vapors.

“Oh, God.  I seriously needed this,” she thought.

Rand could feel her anger ebb away in the water, vapors and lilac body shampoo she massaged over her body.  She sighed heavily and smiled, raising her face to the shower stream.  Here she could forget about Spock’s mad night search, and her feelings about being stranded on Tijus and abandoned by the Enterprise. 

And from Khobran.

Rand turned briefly from her shower to see a somewhat discombobulated Nurse Rose stumble to the shower next to her.

Barely able to mumble a greeting, she hastily worked the dashboard until water came down and surrounded her. 

Rand grunted, and was about to turn away when something when something struck her.  She pushed her wet, clinging hair away from her face and did a sweeping double take on Rose.

“Did you lose weight?”

Rose turned half-heartedly and cocked her ear towards Rand.

“Did I what?” she asked, listless and with slight irritation.

“You look like you’ve lost weight, around 20 pounds or better.  I’m not kidding!  I can’t imagine what your secret could be with all the food you’ve been wolfing down!”

Rose looked down at herself briefly.  “Hey, I’m not complaining.  At least I’m not as waiflike as you these days.”

Now, Rand looked down at her own body and rand her hand along her hip and ribcage.  She looked malnourished, wasted away.  The fullness of her hips were carved away, leaving indentations of slack, dry flesh.  Her ribs were pronounced, like a canopy, over a stomach so caved in as to looked almost pitted. 

Rand fought the urge to cry at how hollowed out she was, but the one thing that horrified her more was that she had never taken notice of her deteriorating appearance.  How the hell could she have missed all of this?!  She had showered daily, unclothed daily, lotioned herself up.

What in the hell was going on?

Perhaps in response to Rand’s reaction, Rose shrugged and said simply: “Hey, you don’t look that bad.  No worse than anyone else here.” 

There was an awkward silence between the two women.  Rand swallowed hard, thankful that the water from the shower camouflaged the tears that threatened to fall.

“Thanks,” said Rand, flatly.

“Don’t mention it,” Rose returned with equal deadpan delivery.

More silence stretched between them, the echoes of the shower sprays hitting the tile floor becoming louder against the quiet of the room.

Finally, Rose spoke again.  She hesitated, weighing her words very carefully.

“You know, in the beginning, Riley was being a bit of a jerk, complaining about the mission in those first meetings when there was nothing to complain about.  But, well, it seems to me kinda weird, but it was like his complaining was, I don’t know, foretelling how badly the mission would go. 

“Foretelling?  I don’t understand.”

“Well, yeah.  In the beginning, he said that the mission was taking too long and that we needed to wrap things up, which wasn’t true then.  Don’t you remember?  But now, it’s coming to pass.  It’s like he knew to complain before it happened!  Isn’t it weird?”

Rand snorted.  “Everything about this mission is weird.  It’s all creeping me out!  I even feel like I’m possessed at times, like I say and do things I’m not in control of.  Hell, sometimes I can’t even stay focused on things I can normally do with my eyes closed.”

“Same here!  One minute, I’m so all over the place sometimes in that medical lab that I end up wasting a lot of time, but then the next minute I can be just as focused as I would normally be.  Mathias is the same way-totally focused on his job and then minutes later he’s either crying like a baby or kneeling over, screaming about his guts!” 

“I know what you’re talking about.  When I was working in the kitchen with Riley he was so efficient and helpful, so unlike the nutcase obsessed with obstacle courses and that Russo guy.  You were with us in the kitchen.  You’ve seen him.  Night and Day.”

Rose looked at Rand quizzically, her eyebrows slightly raised.

“Speaking of the kitchen, what happened to you?  Weren’t you on meal duty with Riley?  Why did you leave like that?  And why did you take that black thing with you?”

Rand wasn’t even going to dignify that one.  She turned away from Rose to the shower dashboard, and altered the setting slightly for a warmer temperature. 

“Let’s just say I wasn’t focused on my duties like Riley was,” she said smugly.


Rand and Rose turned to each other, startled by the sound of a third showerhead being activated. 

Rand knew for a fact she’d alerted everyone that she would be taking a shower, which meant  the shower room was off limits to the men until she was finished.  Hyacinth was here taking a shower right next to her, accounted for. 

So, who in the hell was in here that wasn’t supposed to be?

Rand and Rose turned in the direction of where the sound was coming from and started to protest while they contorted their bodies, using their arms and legs in a vain attempt to cover their nakedness.  They started to back up to a safe corner, out of sight from the view of this inconsiderate blockhead, but then they froze, their bodies straightening up slowly, unaware, like they were on autopilot.  The two women went silent.

He was standing at the far end of the shower room, his tall powerful body naked as water shot down from the showerhead he stood under, plastering ringlets of blue-black hair to his forehead, which he pushed back and away with both hands, the movement emphasizing the bulge and cut of his biceps.

Rand couldn’t speak; she just stood there dumbly, watching him come closer, his eyes locked in on her like she was his target.  His steps were slow, deliberate, while he made his way to each along his path.  As he closed in, each showerhead would rise and settle to accommodate his height, the dashboards lighting up and fluttering just by him standing in their space; it was like something emanating from his body that acted like some kind of activating force.  Each showerhead dutifully sent out streams of water that cascaded down his hair, his neck and shoulders, his inner thighs, making his emerald skin slick and gleaming.  This went on for a while, until Khobran finally reached Rand and loomed over her, his long-lashed eyes narrowed and heavy-lidded, his lips parted slightly.

Rand knew that this thing standing in front of her wasn’t her lover, wasn’t Khobran, and yet he was physically like every inch of him, the violet glint in his eyes, his broad shoulders, even the hint of musk from his skin.  She couldn’t help herself.  She wanted him just the same, to surround him with her walls and legs. 

She reached up to touch him, caress him, her movement slow and thick like she was under water.  Khobran inched closer and took her hand, placed it on his taunt belly and guided it down with a gentle urgency.  Rand was drawn, lulled into the unreality of it all until another woman’s hand brushed clumsily along Khobran’s chest.

It was like Rand had been punched in the temple.  Livid, she jerked her head back and turned to see Nurse Rose bring her hand to her mouth and run her tongue over her palm.

“What the…fuck are you doing?!...Are you out of…your ever-loving mind?!”

Rand could feel her body shake with rage.  She knew that if she pushed Rose, gave her a good shove, that she might end up breaking her skull on the slippery wet tile, so she checked herself as best she could.

It wasn’t easy.

Rose cocked her head and let out a small, sharp breath.  “Excuse me!  What’s your problem?”

“What’s my problem?!  I’ll break your freakin’ arm in two!  You actually have the audacity to touch Khobran like that, and then lick your goddamn palm afterwards?!  You must either be psychotic or an imbecile!”

Rose’s eyes widened, her face an expression of utter disbelief and patent dismissal.

“You’re crazy!  Touching Khobran?!  Last time I checked he didn’t look like a chocolate fountain—certainly not his color, God knows!”

“Seriously?! You’re trying to wriggle your way out of this…”

“Wiggle nothing!  There was a chocolate fountain at this restaurant that my family used to go to all the time, Jesus!”

A chocolate fountain that she used to go to.  Rand snorted and shook her head in disgust.  Of course.  What’s the one thing Rose obsessed over the whole time she’s been on this mission? 


Always the fucking food.

The two women looked over to where Khobran, or the chocolate fountain, had been.

They were alone now, the two of them.

Alone, standoffish, and seething.

Rand walked over to Rose and got in her face.  “I guess we were both wrong, huh?”

She walked away from the nurse, went to the dashboard to tap on a mechanism that turned off the water, quietly collected her toiletries, and walked back over to Rose.

“For the record, I didn’t much care for that racist crack about Khobran’s skin color.  Say something like that again, and you’ll be chewing on that fat tongue of yours.”

As a final warning, Rand bumped her shoulder violently against Rose’s, nearly toppling the poor woman over.  When she reached the door, she looked over her shoulder to a quiet, humbled Rose standing under the shower with her mouth tightly drawn, and her shoulders hunched.

“No more chocolate to lick from the bowl, am I right,” she quipped.

Rand smiled slightly, nodded her head, and then walked out of the shower room.



Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Humor Me Here: Thoughts on the Success, or Lack Thereof, of Star Trek into Darkness

Humor Me Here: Thoughts on the Success, or Lack Thereof, of Star Trek into Darkness

Author: ProvidenceMine

Source of box office info: Box Office Mojo.  These people really deserve kudos for doing a painstaking job that certainly must be the equivalent of watching paint dry.

I must say that I’ve been pretty amused by all the browbeating ballyhoo on the ‘disappointing’ box office performance of Star Trek into Darkness, especially when the naysayers compare it with the ‘successful’ performance of J. J. Abrams’ first Star Trek installment.

Star Trek 2009 was a box office success?  Really?  I can’t, for the life of me, figure out how this is so.  The first installment was made on an excessive budget of 150 million dollars, 53 million more than the 97 million profits made from 1982’s The Wrath of Khan.  Domestically, Star Trek 2009 made 257,730,019 while it needed an even 300 million just to break even, making it, effectively, a box office failure.  With the foreign market coming in at 127,764,536, the movie made 385, 494, 555 worldwide with a paltry profit of a little over 85 million dollars.  Normally, box office numbers like this would be quite impressive, but not for a film costing 150 million to make in the first place.

By the way things are looking as of this writing, the second installment to the Star Trek reboot will most likely meet the same fate as its predecessor did domestically; it will be interesting to see if the international market will be there to rescue it from total financial failure.

Now, don’t get me wrong!  I’m not, in any way, gloating over the possible failure of Star Trek into Darkness, I’m just dumbfounded by all of the over-analyzing that's been going on.  The smaller profits being made by this sequel have nothing to with a crowded summer movie line-up, J. J. Abrams betraying the true message of The Original Series, Trekkies being too narrow a base as an audience,  the whole nonsense of ‘is it Khan or not’, or whether Star Trek is truly dead.

Oh, and by the way, years ago, it was not uncommon for sequels, no matter how successful they were financially, to make less money than the original. 

Give it a break, people.

The problem is two-fold, and as plain as day.

The problem is a bloated movie budget and an unrealistic expectation on how a film with such a budget can perform in these times.


Let’s face it, we’re in a global economic recession( why no one is calling it a depression is beyond me), and an outing at the movies in the 21st Century isn’t like it was during the hard times of the 1930s.   A ticket price for one person is $ 10.00, and that doesn’t include the wide assortment of nutritionally challenged food that’s also sold at inflated prices.  It may not be dining at the Four Seasons, but for many people in these times, it’s a deep dig in the pocket.

True, there have been a few exceptions ( like Fast and Furious 6, for example), but if you follow box office updates you’ll see that Hollywood has been losing money on most of their ‘blockbusters’ budget films as of late.

It’s unrealistic enough to expect box office magic at a time when economic hardships run deep and widespread; why then, when Star Trek 2009 only broke even worldwide, would you up the budget of the second installment by 40 million?!   That would mean Star Trek into Darkness has the herculean task of reaching 380 million just to get it’s money back!!

As of this writing, Fast and Furious 6, Hangover 3, and Star Trek into Darkness have suffered huge dips at the box office this past weekend.  So, at this point, the chances of the Star Trek sequel breaking even looks far less certain, a pretty twisted thing to say for a movie that has just made over 328 million in only 3 weeks. 

I’m not a Hollywood insider, nor am I a filmmaker, but it seems to me that there are a few things that should be considered if one wants to see profits from the movies they make. 

The first thing is to decide on a cheaper budget.  Considering the many expensive box office failures in recent times, this is a given.

The next thing is to look for less expensive alternatives to the more costly special effects, and using creativity in making them look just as impressive for your film.

The last thing, and perhaps the most important element in all this, is to revisit the concept of storytelling for the cinema.  Too many movies these days have sacrificed good storytelling for bigger, more dazzling effects. 

I’ll give you two examples of what I’m talking about here.

Battleship is a movie that chucked good storytelling out the window in the hope that the special effects would carry it to box office success.  It died at the box office.

Chronicle, on the other hand, made strong storytelling a priority over special effects and scored a huge box office win.   Sadly, this movie is more the exception in Hollywood while Battleship is more the norm today. 

Movie making is no longer about creating a good film as much as it’s about a casino gambling kind of mentality, to see just how much money one can throw on the table and win back in return.

Of course, in the event that Star Trek into Darkness is unable to play catch-up to its predecessor, you’re going to hear all sorts of silliness as to why it did ‘poorly’ at the box office.  Most likely, commentators will try to pin the blame on the Star Trek phenomena itself.  I’ve already heard and read about ‘Trekkies being too small a base,’ ‘too old a base,’ and that the ‘phenomena is dead and past the point where it can be revived’.

Give me a break.

 The two Star Trek reboots have brought out a huge number of people to the box office, both reaching past the 300 million mark.  This, Dear Reader, tells me that Star Trek still has a big audience.  If this base is a narrow one, then you’re talking about the biggest ‘narrow’ base there is.

The terms ‘narrow base’ and ‘small base’ have been used repeatedly in so many commentaries, it’s become a broken record.  It’s also inaccurate.

As for the assertion that Star Trek is ‘dead,’ this is also a freight load of bunk.

Star Trek never died, and it certainly didn’t need a ‘reboot’ in order to make it more appealing to today’s increasingly fickle and distracted youth, who need more explosions and bigger body counts just to keep from getting bored.  The ‘reboots’ are simply an excuse for a Hollywood long bankrupt of any originality to take what has worked before for guaranteed box office wins.

Star Trek has had an incredible run that's lasted for almost 50 years—12 movies(including the reboots), five TV series, an animated series, countless books, comics and documentaries.  It’s inspired people in the arts and sciences since it’s growth from a failed TV series to a cult with legions of fans.  It’s stayed popular with the public when other TV shows, even hugely successful ones, were forgotten( who still talks about Welcome Back, Kotter, after all?).

Star Trek has not died, nor is it on life support.  It is simply a grand old cult that has had a stupendous run, and it doesn’t need the likes of a J.J. Abrams or anyone else to ‘rescue’ it.  It’s the same kind of mentality that says that every bestselling novel ‘absolutely must’ be made into a film, or a mini-series.  If anything, it is finally settling down for a well-deserved rest in the annals of entertainment history.  It should be allowed to do so.