Tuesday, May 19, 2009

That Was Satisfying

I jumped the gun on my family today, and went to see the new Star Trek movie. Rob was not all that interested in seeing it in the theater and was waiting until his father got it on video (as he inevitably will), while Dad W. desperately wants to see the movie - preferably with P (the previously temporary neighbor), but with me if P is not available.

Perhaps because my days of Trekkie-hood stem from high school and before I met Rob, let alone his father, I really wanted to savor the movie by myself first, though. I kept intending to see it last week, but the kids were sick in sequence (they're fine now), and movie-going just wasn't happening. So this morning I played hooky on my organ practice and went off to see the earliest Trek showing.

The movie has it's faults, and I'm not blind to them. Nonetheless, it was a very satisfying Trek experience. They captured the flavor of the original series (TOS) extremely well. Sure, there were plot holes and some very transparent techno-babble, but heck, TOS frequently had plot holes you could drive whole fleets through, and the term "techno-babble" largely originated with TOS, where the writers would simply write what they needed to have happen, and the actors would insert whatever sciency-sounding gobbledygook would sound good.

(spoilerish stuff ahead) One of the things I'm finding amusing is that the Mark 2 history for James T. Kirk actually fits with the behavior of Captain Kirk in TOS better than the official history of Captain Kirk in the Mark 1 universe. Captain Kirk TOS, was very much a maverick, feeling free to ignore orders and directives pretty much at his whim, though he was good enough at pulling it off to get away with it. Yet the Mark 1 history for Captain Kirk shows him as a pretty conventional kid - entered Star Fleet Academy at normal times, and with a few exceptions (Kobiyashi Maru, anyone?), having a stellar, yet not particularly mavericky career as a student. The Mark 2 universe makes Kirk much more of a rebel from the get-go, and one who makes Captain by breaking practically every rule Star Fleet ever wrote (in his first three days in space, no less), but making it pay off in a big way. A Captain who gains his place by making those sorts of gambles in the first place is much more likely to continue to make them later in his career, than one who was promoted up through the ranks in more normal fashion - however fast he managed it.

A minor kudo to the make-up people for the movie. It's darned refreshing to see people who get beat up in a movie still sporting bruises, cuts, and black eyes 2-3 days later in the movie time-frame. This movie didn't suffer from the Kevin Costner effect, wherein all damage inflicted is magically removed by the next scene - so named for the Kevin Costner Robin Hood movie, wherein three seconds after a dunking him in a river, dear Mr. Hood's hair is dry and styled.

All-in-all, if you liked TOS, and aren't either so wedded to it that you find the making of a reboot an offense, or such a fan of the offshoots like DS9, that you're annoyed they'd waste time on a TOS reboot, this is probably worth watching. I was smiling for the rest of the afternoon - and I'll go watch it again when Dad W. goes without the least problem.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

New Skills Abound

Life has gotten pretty busy lately. Adding in a 90 minute daily stint on the organ (with a 15 minute drive there and back again) has definitely put a dent in my daily available time. It's fun to be practicing with a purpose again, though.

I find the timing interesting, though. My keyboard skills had largely stagnated for about five years. I would sit down and play now and again. Once or twice I tried to work up my skills, but the effort always floundered within a few weeks. Then, a little before Christmas, Rob found an on-line music shop with sheet music for some of my favorite pieces, and got me two books of New Age piano music as one of my presents. When I pulled out Christofori's Dream, I was startled to find that it was actually a fairly simple piece - one I would have not bothered with under other circumstances, because I always felt I was required in some way to push my skill level. But it was a present, and it was (and is) perhaps my favorite piece of piano music of all time. So I gave myself permission to put in the time to practice it.

And then I realized what I had been doing. Every time I would try to "work up my skills" I would ignore the music I actually loved in favor of doing the music I "ought" to do. No wonder I was getting bored and wandering off within a few weeks! So I started playing what I wanted to, and I started playing every day. And my skills started improving again, despite my not working on 'challenging' pieces. And a few months later, I was offered the chance to become the reserve organist at my church with free organ lessons thrown in the bargain.

Ironically, this means I'm back to doing a lot of obligation music, but when it's to a specific purpose (if you're playing for an Episcopal mass, you had better know "Let Us Break Bread Together), it's a bit different than playing stuff simply because I "ought" to.

It'll be a few weeks at the very least before I'm up for playing a full service, even with plenty of lead time, but it's good to be back and playing again.

Also on the music front, Robbie's guitar lessons continue to go well. He sometimes needs reminding to practice, but I've never had to twist his arm. A reminder is sufficient. We're considering starting Aaron on keyboard this summer while his OT is off on maternity leave. I'm not certain he's ready yet, but a three month trial should be sufficient to find out, and it will give him something to do that's also good for his finger strength and coordination. And if he is ready, then it's worth a little scrimping to keep him going when his OT gets back (we'll pay for the initial set of lessons with the money that would have gone to the OT co-pay).

M has been back to class at the dojo about 4-5 times so far. It's a little strange, because he doesn't really join in much. If we ask, he'll teach - usually something from jujitsu, rather than Isshinryu, but if we don't ask, then he usually goes off to the side and does his own practice rather than joining in the class activity, whatever it happens to be. I'd still like it if he became a regular, but I'm wondering if he really has any intention of really joining in, or if he's just out to use the space. He does teach readily if asked, though, and he chock-full of interesting, useful stuff to learn, so I'm inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt unless he starts becoming detrimental to the class at large.

Only a little over a month to go to the World Tournament now. Apparently the state of the economy is really hurting attendance, which is a shame, but I'm still really looking forward to it. Now if I can only achieve my standing ambition of not finishing dead last in kata. I have a video of myself performing Sunsu, which is my intended kata for the tournament. If I can figure out how to put it up, I will.