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First-ever PageMaps competition entry!

This sketch must be used for a layout in order to win the Fancy Pants Love Note sketch contest:

This is my take on the sketch. I'd been wanting to do a layout with these baby pictures and never had the right inspiration until now:

Thoughts on the Smallville finale

Having read some of the comments online about the series finale of Smallville, I have to wonder what people were really expecting. I thought the finale was awesome, but then I made the mistake of looking on the Net. It seems people had one of two reactions:

1. Fans of Superman (as in, cape, tights & blue undies) didn't count Smallville as part of the Superman story anyway, dismissed it, and then had the cheek to complain that in the finale you hardly saw Clark in "the suit"

2. Fans of Smallville who wanted to see what happened next and got annoyed that it ended without showing Clark's adventures as Superman.

To both camps I say:

The show was called Smallville. Not Superboy. Not Superman. Smallville. It was about the evolution of Clark Kent INTO the supehero was know as Superman. As such, we were never going to see Clark flying around in the blue suit. I knew that going in. I knew that when the producers said, "No tights; no flights". I watched it anyway because, frankly, I liked the way Tom Welling played Clark Kent. I liked Michael Rosenbaum's Lex. I liked Lois. I liked Green Arrow. I liked Chloe. I hated Lana (but then absolutely everybody hated Lana). My thought was that at the end of the show we might get one shot of Clark with the suit on, cape billowing behind him. Then it would end. We actually got a little more - just a little, mind you.

So no, the show was never about Superman. It was about Clark Kent. So stop yer whinin' about not seeing him in the tights and cape for more than a few seconds. That was never going to happen. I dunno about all of you, but I got what I came for: Clark Kent became Superman. The end. We KNOW what happens next. We all watched the Christopher Reeve movies. We watched 'Lois & Clark' (which had great relationship stuff, terrible, terrible villains and stupid, ridiculous storylines). Some of us even watched 'Superman Returns' (I liked it - it was overly long, but I liked it. Kate Bosworth wasn't a very good Lois though).

And before you get on me about the comics, I don't read them. Never have. I am interested solely in Superman-on-celluoid. I read ABOUT the comics and storylines because the concept behind Superman interests me. But I never got into the comics despite a few people's attempts to convert me. I am interested in the portrayal of Superman in televised and filmed media. And in that way I became interested in Smallville because I wanted to see how Clark evolved into the superhero we all know and love. And I saw that.

They played the John Williams Superman theme at the end. Clark became Superman. Smallville ended. That's how it was always intended to be.

Scrapping and All that Stuff

This might be a mini-rant... but it is, after all, me writing this, so... :)

I got into scrapbooking a few years ago. I do enjoy it - there's so much a person can DO with scrapbooking. It allows one to present photos in a particular way so as to enhance the photos, provide people with a glimpse into the "world" in the photos, and allow people to put something of themselves into the scrapbooks.

Let me say I have never attended scrapbooking classes. I've never felt the need to, because I am a huge fan of "book-learnin'". I like to discover techniques and ideas on my own, to read about them and implement them in my own way. So I did that - I bought many books on scrapbooking techniques, read up on them, looked what other people had done, and decided on my own style.

My style involves making the page look good without relying on heavy embellishments and the use of time-consuming methods. I've seen pages that couldn't lie flat and scrapbook albums that only had a few pages but were so big and bulky you couldn't lift them without straining. I decided that type of scrapbooking wasn't for me. I want to be able to put more than ten pages into an album; I want to be able to LIFT the album, but I also want the pages to be pretty.

I also feel that over-reliance on "kits" and tutorials in magazines ends up making everyone's pages look the same. There's a "sameness" to a lot of local pages I've seen. Also, very little decent use of white space. Now I'm not saying we should follow the Australian example of having the picture and embellishments in a tiny space and the rest of the page just blank - but there's also no need to fill every.single.teeny.space with glitter and buttons and flowers and chipboard and stickers and pre-made cardboard "bits". There's nothing wrong with the American approach either - nothing wrong with having some white space so that the page is nicely balanced and doesn't look like it was made by a Grade 1 child with too much glitter glue in his space case.

I will probably catch flack for writing all this, especially since I have already admitted that I haven't attended classes, bought kits or used tutorials from magazines (I use sketches quite a lot though - putting my own spin on them, of course). But I don't think those things are required. I read in an American book that there is no right or wrong in scrapbooking because it's all one's personal style. I'm still waiting to see a personal style in South African scrapbooking. All I see is copies of other people's work. I see heavy frames and embellishments where maybe some restraint and a lighter technique would be called for. I see so much colour matching that one colour overwhelms the page and the pictures disappear. I see so much "dimension" in pages that they're not pages - they're dioramas.

And, really, who am I to say that those techniques are in any way wrong? My point isn't so much that they are wrong - it's that my simpler, plainer, flatter techniques are not wrong either. And I really wish that local magazines would embrace the idea of something a bit different instead of constantly pushing classes, kits and tutorials all the time.

If only British magazines weren't so damn expensive.

Avatar: Another Look

Avatar: Another Look

Despite the fact that a lot of people went to see Avatar, I didn't get much of a sense of enjoyment from them. Everyone said, "Well, it's been done before." Yes, it has. Dances With Wolves. Pocahontas. Even District 9. And those are just the ones that spring to mind immediately.

I didn't think much of the movie the first time I saw it. Oh, the 3D was awesome (I kept trying to swat the bugs I thought were in the theatre or tell people to get out of the way of the camera!) but I think one ends up paying more attention to that than to the story and the interactions of the characters.

Watching the film on a regular TV, I discovered that the "wow" factor was still there - the scenery is truly beautiful and the world James Cameron created seems extremely real. But the characters are also good. I like the journey of Jake Sully and the Na'Vi - I just wish we would have seen more. I would not be averse to a sequel where we get to see his ascension as clan leader and maybe learn more about Pandora and Eywa.

And then I got to thinking: So what if the movie's storyline has been done before? So had the plots of Pretty Woman, Alien and even Romeo and Juliet for crying out loud. Just using a similar plot doesn't matter if you do it well.

This is where most people would argue that it's not done well. That the movie hinges on the idea of a white man wading cluelessly into a bunch of indigenous people and becoming better at their ways than they are. (The comparison was not helped by the casting choices.) And yes, that is annoying. But I do wonder if perhaps the critics missed the point.

I choose the see Jake Sully as more of a Valen type than a John Smith type: as someone who is chosen by The Powers That Be (the Vorlons or Eywa, it makes no difference) precisely because he's an outsider, because he can think like the aliens. But he has to become one of them (via an avatar body or a cocoon machine) in order to really understand what he's fighting for.

And the fact that he fights - and wins - is to me the ultimate happy ending. Yes, he gets the girl, but it's more than that - he becomes what he was always destined to be. Sinclair had Valen's soul because he WAS always Valen. Jake Sully flies the Toruk because, as he says, he was born to do it.

And maybe that's part of the point the film is trying to make: your "people" are not always those who are the same colour/ethnicity/nationality as you. Sometimes you are born with them. Sometimes you find them later in life. Sometimes you have to travel light years and grow a headbone or turn blue before you find them. But you find them.

All James Cameron's movies are love stories at heart: Terminator was the love story of Sarah Connor and Kyle Reese. Aliens was the familial love between Ripley and Newt. Titanic was Rose and Jack. Avatar is Jake Sully and an entire planet and its people.

I liked Avatar when I first saw it. I love it now.

Favourite Episodes of Stargate SG-1

This is another list that was up on my website years ago. I updated it to include episodes from all ten seasons.

1. Heroes
This is my all-time, absolute favourite episode of SG-1. I'm not even 100% sure why - whether it's the chance to see what a documentary would look like if Stargate were real or just seeing another SG team out in the field... who knows. I like all the background bits, like Daniel sitting in the room where he Ascended or talking about Catherine Langford. I love Emmett Bregman quoting from the movie. I think it's the feeling of realism that the whole thing has. Don't get me wrong, I miss Janet terribly, but even her death was logical in the storyline. I have no idea if this episode would serve as a good introduction to SG-1 - I doubt it, but I think it's the first episode I would show anyone nevertheless.

2. Beneath the Surface
I love this episode! I noticed immediately that it was a homage to Metropolis. And hey, if you're gonna borrow ideas from science fiction films, at least borrow from a classic like that one. The whole episode is very well crafted, especially in the way it shows how Daniel goes from being hostile towards Sam and Jack to being a part of them. The best part, though, is that crop-top thing Daniel wears most of the time. It served to show us how buff he really is. And the unshaven look really works on him!

3. Fire and Water
There's not much action in this one, and yet that makes no difference to the strength of the episode. Daniel gets to do a lot of exposition here, and Nem looks very alien. Jack's speech about Daniel was bang-on, too. Not to mention the many close-ups of Daniel sans glasses and all wet. Oooh baby.

4. The Curse
I liked this because we got to see Daniel outside in the real world. We got to see people he knew before he joined the SGC, and how the fact that he was shunned by the academic community really didn't bother him in the long run (might have something to do with the fact that he knows he was right). The first time I watched this, it was interesting to see that Sarah figured out that Daniel knew more than he was saying. But, of course, at the end one realises that this was the case because she was a Goa'uld.

5. Chimera
While the "Sam meets a nice guy" romantic angle is okay, it's the flashbacks of this episode that really interest me, since we get to see Daniel and his interaction with Sarah before he joined the SGC. And that tablet that Osiris was trying to get Daniel to translate - was it co-ordinates for the Lost City? So Osiris was looking for Atlantis? BTW, if the tablet was made of some kind of rock, it can't be carbon dated. You can't carbon date rock.

6. The Other Side
I like episodes where we actually get to meet other races who aren't out to get us. And although Daniel and Jack end up arguing, Daniel is proved right as usual. The first time I watched this, I thought Alar was objecting to Teal'c because Teal'c is a Jaffa. It was only after Daniel figured out the truth that I realised they were objecting to Teal'c's colour. That never once occurred to me! Excellent writing there. Basically, SG-1 nearly helped a bunch of Nazis to exterminate the rest of the people on their world.

7. The Road Not Taken
Episodes without Daniel are usually not worth bothering with, but this one had so much fun stuff in it that to be honest I didn't notice Daniel wasn't there. Highlights for me included Major Lorne being in charge of SG-1, Carter being Rodney's ex, Rodney in glasses (!!), and of course the Prometheus being Air Force One.

8. The Torment of Tantalus
This is a really interesting, hypnotic episode. It's great to see the footage of the gate from 1945, to see Catherine again, and the alien castle place is very impressive too. And while all the SG-1 team members are featured prominently, Daniel is on show here as he contemplates placing knowledge over his own safety. But it's what we've come to expect, and it's why we love him.

9. The First Ones
A great episode! Mostly I like it because it features a LOT of Daniel, plus he wears a bandana and we get lots of close-ups. Only Daniel would be able to make friends with someone who originally intended eating him. And the continuity from the movie is sweet, too: "I met my father-in-law like this."

10. Window of Opportunity
This one is a lot of fun with a serious undercurrent. Jack getting to do various things he wouldn't otherwise have done was fun, and I'm still waiting for him to use the Latin he knows while on a mission. But the best parts here are the serious ones, where Jack convinces the alien archaeologist not to continue with his time experiments and tells him how he could never live Charlie's death over again. All which shows that Jack is a much deeper character than he is often shown to be.

11. The Pegasus Project
I like 'crossover' type shows where shows in the same franchise are mashed together - and this is a particularly good one. It's also filled with so many good moments - Mitchell threatening Rodney with a lemon; Carter upon learning about Rodney's hallucination: "Was I naked?"; Vala not knowing the difference between a St. Bernard and a Chihuahua; Elizabeth thinking Daniel has lost it when he yells at the ceiling; etc. Awesome.

12. Scorched Earth
Another sweet one in which we meet aliens who don't want to exterminate us. I saw a Stargate wallpaper titled "Plot in a Box", and it went something like, "The Party" (picture of the gathering at the beginning of the episode), "The Party Crasher" (the ship), "Jack's Solution" (Bomb), "Daniel's Solution" (Talk, Talk) and "Final Score: Jack - 0, Daniel - 1". Summed it up nicely. One part I always enjoy is when Lotan plays the Gadmeer music and Daniel, holding his hand to his ear, politely says, "It's nice," to which Lotan replies, "It sounds very unpleasant to me." Cute.

13. Cure
A very well-crafted episode indeed. I like archaeology-based episodes. I also enjoyed seeing a culture where they had found a way to "use" the Goa'uld (well, technically, the Tok'ra). But the line I like best is when the female scientist says to Teal'c and Jonas, "Earthers!" And Jonas replies, "EarthLINGS! ... Sorta," and looks at Teal'c with a grin. Jonas and Teal'c had good chemistry. I kinda miss Jonas, but between him and Daniel there is no contest whatsoever - Daniel all the way.

14. Legacy
Come on, Daniel locked up in a mental home! What more could a girl ask for? Really, this episode is good because we get a lot of close-ups of Daniel, plus we get to see him in that white hospital outfit. White is a good colour on him. This episode brings out all my maternal instincts: I just want to hold Daniel and tell him that everything's gonna be all right.

15. 1969
A funny, cute episode, but what clothes do they have our favourite archaeologist wearing?! Many amusing scenes: the "nyet" scene, the scene where Jack claims to be Captain Kirk, the "long time ago from a galaxy far, far away" scene, the scene with the younger Catherine. It all works well, and the guy they chose to play the young General Hammond did a great job.

16. Crystal Skull
The stuff with Daniel and his grandfather was great. Actually, when I first watched this and Daniel was talking about how Nick claimed to have seen giant aliens, I quipped, "Obviously, being a crackpot runs in the family." And yet, as Daniel later states, they were both right! Although, Sam says that no one believed Daniel's theory that the pyramids were landing sites for alien space ships. He never once said that! He also never said that the pyramids were even built by aliens. All he said was that the pyramids were older than people thought. We know that he clearly thought aliens built them, but he never actually said that in public. (Yes, I have watched the movie a lot.)

17. Ripple Effect
I love episodes containing multiples of the same character. And TPTB really went to town with this one. It doesn't really delve deeply into the characters, but it's a fun romp, and seeing Mitchell in his underwear is also a plus!

18. Absolute Power
Oooh, evil Daniel. But we get a lot of really good close-ups, so who cares? It's quite a thing to watch our favourite archaeologist turn evil, and it happens so slowly that we can almost understand his motivations. I just wish we could have seen more of Shifu, who should have been Daniel's son.

19. Summit & Last Stand
This double episode is every science fiction fan's dream episode. Come on, anybody involved in fandom has read at least one story where a character is enslaved! And here we get to see Daniel in the slave set-up, being ordered around by his "master". It's a fan plot, but it manages to set up lots of story threads (Anubis, Ba'al) and continue a few others (Osiris/Sarah, the Tok'ra). And Daniel is eye-candy in that outfit.

20. Abyss
I love this one. I just wish they'd have let Jack be a host a little bit longer; it would have been a novelty to have a Tok'ra on an SG team for a while. The gravity generator effects were excellent and plain weird; Ba'al's accent totally threw me (how do they DO that - keep the actor's original accent and still get the Goa'uld voice on there?) and it was nice to see Daniel again, but the best parts were all Jack's: his slow breaking down to the point where he's ready to confess what he knows, where he's convinced that ascension isn't possible for him, where he'd rather have Daniel let him die than be revived to be tortured again. And of course the part where he and Daniel argue like old times convinced me that Daniel wasn't just a product of his imagination.

21. Bad Guys
Such a fun episode! Best lines, hands down, are from Daniel: "You're hostages! We're your captors! We're heavily armed! There's uh... there's rules. There's a whole school of etiquette to this! Don't eyeball me." So amusing. And I loved the fact that when Mitchell says they have a "John McClane here", Teal'c, not Daniel, is the one who knows the character is from 'Die Hard'.

22. Citizen Joe
Fannish wish-fulfillment is basically the plot of this episode, and it's fun because of that. Who hasn't wished they could meet General O'Neill? Say "Shal kek nemron" to Teal'c? Tell Daniel the show is better with him in it - not that Jonas was a bad guy. And so on. When it's time for a clip show, this is the kind of show to do!

23. Avalon
This one is a fave because of the excellent way they introduced the character of Cameron Mitchell - as someone who is himself a fan of SG-1! Especially considering his obsession with "getting the band back together". I enjoyed his backstory and the way it was woven into the episode. And of course Vala's line to him and Daniel, "I know nothing about your fair planet, other than the fact that it seems to have a very limited gene pool." Heheh.

My Favourite Highlander Episodes

These are in the order they were shown, not in the order I like them.

1. Band of Brothers
A really well-crafted episode, this is many people's favourite. It not only introduced us to Darius, but the sword fight is truly nail-biting. It's one of the few fights in which you can really see that Duncan is struggling, and you honestly worry that he might lose. We also see the barge and the lovely Paris scenery for the first time.

2. Eye of the Beholder
This has just your run-of-the-mill Highlander villain, played by the gorgeous Nigel Terry, but it has a lot of Richie as well as a straightforward storyline. It's not often that we get to see Duncan's opponent also wield a katana, and the fight is well done. But the best part is the scene with Richie holding Duncan's sword and doing a bad imitation of Connor. Cute.

3. Studies in Light
Another episode that many people like. There's some foreshadowing about Richie's fate when Gregor asks Richie what it would be like if he were one of them. Richie replies, "An Immortal? Are you kidding? It'd be fantastic!" Yeah, not so much really, as Gregor shows us with his boredom with life. The final scene, though, is one of the scenes that really defined Duncan's character for me, when he tells Linda the truth and she thanks him. He can barely keep from breaking down as he says, "The pleasure was mine." Beautiful.

4. Eye for an Eye
We finally get to see Duncan training Richie, and it's a lovely sight. I remember a criticism of this episode was that Duncan slept with Annie before Tessa's body was even cold - but actually reaching for life is a natural instinct in the face of death. We also get a glimpse of Callum Keith Rennie playing one of Annie's goons, Irish accent and all.

5. Under Color of Authority
Richie's first quickening. I remember showing this episode to a class of Grade 6 kids years back, and one child's theory about why Duncan was upset at the end was, "Because he didn't know if Richie would turn out good or bad." I like that; it wasn't something I'd thought of before; I just assumed Duncan was upset that Richie had to leave.

6. Prodigal Son
Richie without a shirt on (are we noticing a theme here?). But really, this is another straightforward episode with a nasty kimmie and a cool flashback to Scotland. Flashbacks to Scotland are always cool. The best single line in this is the part where, when Duncan visits him in jail, Richie asks, "They don't still use the guillotine in France, do they?" Heheh. But the best scene, of course, is the one at the end where they crack up laughing.

7. The Samurai
This episode has a lot in common with Shogun, but that's why I like it; it doesn't attempt to disguise the fact - we're just meant to enjoy seeing Duncan in Japan. And we do. Stephen McHattie made a great, nasty bad guy - and here's another kimmie with a katana. Awesome.

8. Line of Fire
This was the first episode I saw after "The Hunters" that had Richie in it (I skipped from season 1 to season 3 as season 2 wasn't showing any place I had connections in!) The story of Duncan and Little Deer is very sweet, and Richie got a lot of screen time and character development. I remember on the Highlander mailing list, people joked about Duncan saying he'd buy Richie a drink - if one season is one year in the HL universe, Richie was only 20. So did he need a fake ID? You can imagine that conversation: "You want me to make an ID for an Immortal that says he's OLDER than he actually is?!!"

9. Courage
The performances in this episode are really good. John Pyper-Ferguson as Brian Cullen is wonderful, and the audience can really relate to Duncan as he tries to help his friend.

10. Blackmail
I just like this one for how amusing it is - how the guy honestly thinks he has the advantage over DUNCAN MACLEOD! My favourite scene is the one in which Duncan feels the bad guy coming, knocks the lawyer out, and throws him in the alley - upon which you hear, "Meeeeooww!". Maybe I just have a juvenile sense of humour, but I giggle every time.

11. They Also Serve
A truly wonderful episode. Great flashbacks, all characters get some screen time, and the scene of the watchers talking about "their" Immortals is fantastic.

12. Homeland
This is one of my absolute favourite episodes (despite the fact that Richie is not in it). I had always wondered how the regular Scottish people had seen the Immortal events, and now we find out there is a legend about Duncan. How cool is that?! The bad guy is just another average kimmie, but the scene where Duncan 'feels' him in the woods is good because of the lovely view of kilt, long hair and biceps. Come on, you were thinking it too!

13. Chivalry
Does anyone ever need to list their reasons for liking this episode? Yeah, I thought not. :)

14. Dramatic License
Just a fun episode with an interesting premise - if someone found out about Immortals, maybe they would indeed decide to write books about them. Why not? They'd make money, I'm sure! Sandra Bernhardt is a lot of fun in this, especially when she jumps on Duncan and Amanda arrives with, "Yippe ki-yay, the rodeo's in town." Another of my favourite lines: "Who's going to wear the kilt?" "Mel Gibson!" Heheh.

15. Comes a Horseman/Revelation 6:8
By the time we got to this one the audience had been speculating for months about Methos' backstory. I'm not sure anyone had thought of him being one of the Four Horsemen, though, so Duncan's shock at finding it out translated well to the audience. I like the flashbacks and background - and frankly I do not care that there were not acrylic nails in the Bronze Age. Honestly, that level of nitpicking just annoys me. Just enjoy seeing Methos with blue face paint! Enjoy the sword fights! Seeing Duncan in the fountain! It's a great two-parter because of those scenes and more.

16. The Ransom of Richard Redstone
"She drugged me, kidnapped me, tied me to a bed." That's the episode in a nutshell. Richie says my name 28 times in the course of this episode. I do not need any other reasons. :)

17. Indiscretions
The Methos and Joe Show! Such great chemistry, such enjoyable banter, and we even get some Methos flashbacks for good measure. I love it when Methos is ribbing Joe over their being "...a really good team. We could be like Scully and Mulder... Sipowitz and Simone... Caligula and Incutatis. No, maybe not Incutatis, cause he was a horse..." So enjoyable!

Those are pretty much my top episodes. Other episodes I like include Shadows, Finale Part I & II, Leader of the Pack, Methuselah's Gift and To Be/Not To Be.
City on the Edge of Forever

I believe that this is still considered to be one of the best Trek episodes ever, and it should be! This episode has everything: time travel (always guaranteed to hook people), love, humour, tenderness, drama, a wonderful setting, and some fine acting. Leonard Nimoy calls this episode "a classic Greek tragedy", and it is. Kirk wrestling with a decision that will affect the lives of millions is gripping to watch. One knows that he will have to choose the millions over Edith (logic dictates it), but one goes through the pain of it with him every time. The best scene in this episode, though, is the one where Kirk explains to the cop about Spock getting his ears caught in a "mechanical rice-picker". I've seen that scene dozens of times, and it never stops being funny. Truly the best episode.

Amok Time

I couldn't sleep the night this episode aired! I think I watched it two hundred times over the years (so often that I know all the dialogue and can watch the episode in my head), and it's still as gripping as the first time I saw it. The idea was unbelievably daring for 1967, and I'm amazed that it ever got on the air. Spock's pain and desperation are obvious, as is Kirk's need to help his friend. The scenes on Vulcan are wonderful, as is the scene when Spock confesses all to Kirk. Not to mention the scene where Spock smiles. 'Wow' just about sums it up.

Mirror, Mirror

This one is straight entertainment, and it's wonderfully crafted. The very idea of a parallel universe inhabited by people with a different code of ethics is great, and so is the execution of it. I always loved the mirror Spock's ominous tones, especially in the scene where he informs Sulu that his operatives would avenge his death... "and some of them are Vulcans". I suppose everybody knows that the final scene (where Kirk spies Marlena Moreau on his own ship) was re-used in the DS9 episode Trials and Tribble-ations, but who cares? It's still great!

The Menagerie

Excellent, excellent, excellent. I loved seeing the Enterprise as it was prior to Kirk's time. Loved the Talosians (their addiction to reliving the thought-records isn't so far-fetched when one sees how easily people become addicted to TV, or to computers) and the fact that they really were not evil the way they first came across. Loved Captain Pike, Doctor Boyce, Number One... everyone. The framing story is written so well that one isn't aware while watching that the story of Pike wasn't always meant to be used this way. The ending gets me every time, too, when a mentally restored Pike goes back with Vina. Ah, sweet. A lovely episode.

Balance of Terror

This is basically a submarine drama, and it works because of this. Kirk wrestling once again with heavy decisions, McCoy giving him the "don't destroy the one named Kirk" speech, the Romulan Commander being basically a decent guy who follows orders but doesn't want war, Stiles hating Vulcans because his family was killed by the Romulans, the Enterprise's eventual victory. It doesn't get much better than this.

The Naked Time

Forget the way that TNG massacred the premise of this episode, watch this episode for itself. It's damn dramatic. The deep hopes and fears of each crewmember are revealed. We find Kirk is married to his ship and will never get that "beach to walk on", Spock has a tough time controlling his human side, Chapel is in love with Spock, Sulu deep down wants to swashbuckle like the Three Musketeers... It's funny in parts, but it's also drama at its best.

This Side of Paradise

A love story for Spock. What more could one ask? It's amusing how in this one, Kirk is the party-pooper: Kirk is the one who remains unaffected by the spores and drags everybody out of Paradise. This episode is worth it just for the scene of Spock hanging from the tree. My favourite scene, though, is the "I am what I am, Leila" scene, and of course the final line from the show, "For the first time in my life, I was happy."

Tomorrow is Yesterday

Just a fun romp, this episode never gets boring despite repeated viewings. The time travel angle is well-played, and there are lots of great lines and scenes. The look on Captain Christopher's face when he first sees Spock is an absolute picture, and the scene on the military base when the Colonel is interrogating Kirk is hysterical.

The Devil in the Dark

One of the first episodes where the Trek premise of "to be different is not necessarily to be wrong" is played out. The Horta seems terrifying and alien, until we realise just what is at stake for her, and the crew has come a long way since they killed the Salt Vampire. Here they realise that understanding can bring tolerance and friendship. The only thing missing here is a look at a baby Horta. Bet they're cute!

Wolf in the Fold

This is just a fun episode with some really cool bits. Scotty chatting up the dancer, Mister Hengist acting all concerned, Spock playing detective using the computer, Sulu's grin when he's shot full of tranquilizer... And I can't help it; I love the fact that the killer turned out to be Jack the Ripper.

My Favourite TV Shows

I made this list back in the '90s when I had my own website. I must say, though, not much has changed regarding my favourite shows. These are not in any particular order (except for Star Trek TOS, which is my favourite show of them all).

Star Trek (TOS, TNG, DS9, VOY, Enterprise)

What can one say about Star Trek? I discovered this show when I was ten years old and it started here in South Africa for the first time. I fell in love with the concept, the characters (especially Spock), the ship, and the feeling of being "out there" in space. After Classic Trek I went on to watch and enjoy the others, but my heart still belongs on the USS Enterprise, "NCC-1701, no bloody A, B, C or D!"


Loved the movie, loved the TV show. The TV show dealt with so many wonderful concepts and so many important issues in such a fresh way that it was impossible not to like it. Whether it was Paul pointing out the beauty of an iris, helping his son come to terms with his alien side, or just telling someone what humanity's strong points were, Starman always touched me.

Alien Nation

Alien Nation was another of those rare TV shows which surpassed the movie. It dealt with some heavy concepts such as racism, survivor's guilt, alienation (no pun intended) and even love. To this day I have never watched a show which has felt so emotionally 'real' to me. I can watch it over and over and never get tired of it. Kenneth Johnson is a genius.

Quantum Leap

Oh boy. I loved this show - and the characters of Sam Beckett and Al Calavicci - from the minute I saw them. Sam was just so... so nice, and Al was a wonderful friend. And the idea of Sam leaping into people and having to deal with their problems directly was a touch of inspiration.

Beauty and the Beast

Ah, romance. Shakespeare. Classical music. A wonderful, loving world under our feet. People who cared. Vincent. Catherine. "For thy sweet love remember'd..." A modern fairy tale which told some important stories, explored some fascinating characters and made us feel that there is someone out there for everyone. What more could a viewer want?

The Professionals

I think this is the only show I like which has no science fiction or fantasy elements at all. But Pros grabbed me from the start. It was gritty, it was macho, it was violent at times. It made no excuses, it just entertained, and it had two gorgeous leading men. As with Star Trek, I grew up watching Pros, and it still has a special place in my heart.

The Incredible Hulk

I know it was based on the comic, but despite that, Hulk was not a show about a green creature. It was a show about a man whose life has been destroyed because of an experiment that went horribly wrong. Watching David Banner struggle to find a cure, to stay out of trouble, to help those he came into contact with, was fascinating. I still watch the Hulk today, whenever I get a chance. And just to reiterate, Kenneth Johnson is a GENIUS! :)


In the end there can be only one. But Highlander is so much more than swordfights and people who can't die. It's about change, about growth, about love, about dealing with loss, about judging others, about trying to do the right thing. It asks the question, "How would someone who can't die deal with trying to live a normal life when people are always coming after his head?" And in six years of the show, we sure enjoyed watching Duncan MacLeod trying to do just that.

Forever Knight

Vampires. Immortality. Drinking blood. Regaining mortality. Forever Knight had one of the most flawed 'heroes' of any TV show, but that was precisely why I watched. Nick tried to be better, and he usually went down in flames, but his struggle was always fascinating.

The Sentinel

This was, in many ways, a typical cop show. The plots were usually the same run-of-the-mill plots that one sees in every show of this kind, and yet there was more to it than that. For one thing, the show had continuity. Characters remembered events and situations from previous episodes, and learned from their mistakes. There was wonderful chemistry between the two male leads, and between them and the other characters. And of course it didn't hurt that both leads were utterly gorgeous in completely different ways.

Stargate SG-1

This is another example of a spin-off which surpassed the movie. But unlike some other movie spin-offs, this one carried on almost flawlessly from the events at the end of Stargate. Even the characters, although played by different actors, had not changed. They visited different planets through the Stargate, but they also learned much about themselves and each other. There was continuity up the wazoo and lots of battles with aliens... but in the tradition of all great programming, the focus was never on the plot, but on the characters. It really worked.

Stargate Atlantis

Trust me, nobody who watched this really cared about the plots of the individual episodes: it was all about the characters and their interactions. Every single character who had even a minute of screen time had something to contribute, something to make us remember them. The "bacon guys". Markham and Stackhouse. Kavanaugh. Dr Biro. Halling. Bob, Steve, Todd, Michael (especially Michael, yum!) Each Atlantis commander (Weir, Carter, Woolsey). The Chevron dialling guys, especially Chuck. Poor Peter Grodin. Rodney's whales. And the main cast, each of whom I dearly love. Yeah, yeah, there's technobabble, who cares - I just want to know what Sheppard and Rodney are going to say about it!

Doctor Who

I was a Doctor Who fan before I ever saw the show. I had articles, books, pictures, episode guides... And then came the new series and I've never looked back. Scientifically, the show makes no sense, but the current writers have done a wonderful job of updating the show for a modern audience. My favourite Doctor is #9.


Captain Jack. 'Nuff said. :)


District 9 is brilliant

Right! Just got back from seeing it at the local movie theatre! We went to the 3 p.m. show and there were only about 15 people in the whole theatre. It was great not to have loud people or lots of little kids around.

Where to start...?

The main character. I think he was meant to be portrayed as your "typical clueless South African", and did a good job. I know people like him - people who don't see the "others" as beings with feelings, who refer to "them" and honestly just do not know any better. In the real world there are people like him, people who have families, who take their kids to school, who have braais (barbecues) on the weekend, who have friends, and who just live in this little bubble of cluelessness.

But it definitely helps if you have the cultural background: a lot of the things Wikus and the others do at the beginning - serving the aliens with eviction notices, talking about the aliens like they're zoo specimens - speaks directly to what people did during apartheid. You'd have documentaries about various things and people would speak just like that. "Oh, they do that. They like to live like that." Whatever. I recognized every documentary I'd seen about "township" life. ("Townships" were the areas where black people had to live during apartheid. Soweto is a HUGE township, for example.) The people in authority (cops, experts, whomever) would know a lot about the people they were "serving" - they could speak the language, they knew the customs - but they weren't affected by it on a personal level. The movie did a brilliant job of portraying that mindset.

Someone on another forum wrote that the aliens were shown as having no redeeming qualities. I don't think this is the case at all. The area where the aliens were kept was dirty, but it was a squatter camp (shanty town). Squatter camps sprang up mostly in the 1980s around major urban centres. A lot of people blamed apartheid, but it's one of the side-effects of rapid urbanization. Brazil has favelas (sp?) for example. You need to remember that a squatter camp is an informal settlement and they don't have paved roads, refuse removal, electricity, etc. So refuse is just left lying around, and in the dry time (in Joburg in July and August it gets VERY dry) it blows everywhere. So while people from other countries might be shocked or think the aliens were dirty and irredeemable, actually, squatter camps look like that. Some people also end up making their shacks so nice that they even have satellite dishes. So just because someone lives there doesn't make them irredeemable or dirty or even necessarily poor.

I find it ironic and kind of amusing that the main human baddies (aside from the cops and MNU people) were the Nigerians. In S.A. we really do have problems with Nigerian crime syndicates. Even the cops in real life are scared of Nigerians. So that, too, had a ring of truth.

I don't think that the aliens were meant to represent any particular group of people. They were just another group of "aliens" in the City of Gold; the only difference being they had a huge ship and cool weapons. In my opinion the movie isn't political in that it tries to get a political point across; it's more like a mirror. It basically holds a mirror up to South African society. I like to think that we would never experiment on aliens, but I can totally believe aliens might be separated from the rest of the population. Although in this day and age the government would probably just make them citizens and be done with it. MNU, the multinational corporation, while it had some S.Africans heading it, was also headed by at least one guy with an American accent. And it was this company, not the government, that wanted the alien weapons and biotechnology. I think in the end it comes down to: "BRING BACK ALIEN FOR STUDY. CREW EXPENDABLE" as the computer wrote in "Alien". It's just the setting that's different. Big business will always want the weapons and technology and consider the people expendable.

The journey of Wikus, the main character, made me think of Dunbar in "Dances with Wolves". It's a journey I love to take with characters. Sikes in "Alien Nation" (the TV series) goes through the same thing as well. The protagonist starts on the outside and something dramatic happens that makes him begin to see things from the "other" perspective. Eventually he becomes a part of the "alien/other" community; becomes one of them. In DWW one of the Union soldiers says to Dunbar, "Ya turned Injun, didn't ya?" In "Alien Nation" Sikes ends up getting together with Cathy (his Tenctonese neighbour) and spending most of his time with the Newcomers. In District 9 it's more blatant - Wikus actually turns into an alien - but it's the same idea. When he realises what is going on, he essentially switches his allegiance to the "correct" side, and the outward transformation is just the expression of that.

Lines in the movie that I found amusing:

"Don't you point that fokken tentacle at me!!" ("Fok", pronounced "fork", is the Afrikaans version of the f-word.)
"Voetsek!" (The guy shouting at the aliens loitering near the vehicle. It's pronounced 'footsack' and is Afrikaans. It basically means "scram" but more rudely.)
"Things have been falling off that bladdy (bloody) ship for months!"
At one point the bad guy says, "You see the alien in the Casspir? He knows something." A Casspir is the name of that armoured vehicle used in a lot of scenes. These really exist and are used by the army. They are normally painted yellow.
"Why are the lights off? Is the power off again?" Heheh. S.A. has been plagued by power disruptions in the last two or so years.

It's a hectic movie. And yes, Johannesburg really is that dusty. They filmed it in winter, when it's dry and there's grit in the air. You can even see mine dumps (those yellow "hills") in some scenes! At one point the camera panned across the city centre and whoops, there was a building with the MTN sign on it! (MTN is a cellphone network.) And I enjoyed seeing the news reports with South African channels' logos!

And the alien baby was adorable!

The new Star Trek movie is AWESOME

Having now had the chance to watch the movie nine times, I feel I can give more of a review on it.


I'm done. :)

Seriously, I have seldom seen such an awesome movie. It had elements of the original Trek, it had 'new' stuff to draw in a new audience, it had great actors, it had fantastic action sequences and most importantly, it had the characters we love.

Kirk? Great performance by a great young actor. I totally believed James T. Kirk ("renegade and terr0rist") could have started this way. Favourite parts? The Kobayashi Maru test and the whole scene after Bones shoots him up with the vaccine. So funny, so brilliant, so Star Trek.

Spock? I have always loved Spock. This did not change. I think I love him even more now. There are scenes in the film where I actually forget that he's played by a different actor, that's how good Zachary Quinto was at being Spock. And when I read he didn't pattern his performance on the series itself, but rather based it on Leonard Nimoy's advice... wow. Shows you how much of Spock was Leonard Nimoy. I mean, it took Leonard 30 years to admit it, but now we have proof. Truly amazing.

McCoy? Fantastic. "My God, man!" :) "Oh, good. He's seventeen." :) "Are you out of your Vulcan mind?" :) DeForest Kelley would have LOVED Karl Urban's performance.

Scotty? I think the character was played a bit too much for laughs. Scotty in TOS was a more serious character. But overall, not bad.

Chekov? A lot of people complained about him being "too blonde and curly" but come on. If that's their only complaint they're really reaching. He did a great job.

Sulu? Also great. "What kind of combat training do you have?" "Fencing." Hee hee.

Uhura? She was fine, but the actress was a bit too "hard" for Uhura, I felt. I can't imagine her saying, "Captain, I'm frightened," believably. (Not that that line was a shining moment for women even in the '60s.)

And people complaining about her and Spock? DID THEY NEVER WATCH THE ORIGINAL SERIES? It's all there! Uhura flirting with Spock, Spock playing his lyre to please her, Spock complimenting her... My friend Rae has always contended Spock had a thing for Uhura. I wish she'd agree to see the movie; she would SO be able to gloat about being right all these years!

Bruce Greenwood? Great casting as Pike.

Sarek? Perfectly fine performance; I think Mark Lenard would have approved.

Amanda? I did a double take during the "You'll do fine" scene when it dawned on me it was Winona Ryder. She really did well at NOT being Winona Ryder.

And Amanda's death and Sarek's subsequent admission that he loved her (it's about time, not that we ever doubted it) push Spock's existential crisis forward by about ten years. He only realized that people need feelings in order for their lives to have meaning in Star Trek: The Motion Picture during the V-Ger encounter. Here it's underplayed but definitely happens - if he was still trying to be some uber-Vulcan he would never have kissed Uhura in the transporter room. (Lucky Uhura.)

I personally don't care about the science of the movie. Yes, yes, black holes don't work like that, tell someone who cares. Transporters can't work like that ("uncouple the Heisenberg Compensators!"). Warp speed would never work. Yadda yadda. Very little of the science in Star Trek makes any sense, or did no one ever notice that? STAR TREK IS NOT ABOUT SCIENCE. There's a reason all the tech is nicknamed "treknobabble". It's all nonsense. But we don't care BECAUSE STAR TREK IS REALLY ABOUT US. It's about the human experience. As David Gerrold wrote in the '80s, "No, space is not the final frontier. The final frontier is the human soul. Space is merely one of the places where we shall meet the challenge." Exactly.

Let me end with a quote from end of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country:

"... they will continue the voyages we have begun
and journey to all the 'undiscovere'd countries,
boldly going where no man... where no ONE...
has gone before."