Holodeck from Hell

As my friend, Tom and I, were driving back from Brooklyn on I-678, we had enthralling conversation that lasted till we reached I-91 in Connecticut–if you are familiar with interstates in southern New England, you would know that is a pretty long stretch of driving. This conversation was one of importance that parallels politics, global warming, and indigenous rights to natural resources of postcolonial nation-states. Our minds drifted through childhood television programs, and the likes of MASH, Rescue 911, and Unsolved Mysteries graced our thoughts, as we spoke of shows that we vividly remembered. We talked about these shows, recalling our affinity towards Star Trek: The Next Generation, and reminisced about one thing, that even then, when we watched the show on primetime, we made note of this egregious writer’s faux pas, the ever destructive Holodeck.

Now I can appreciate that writers of sitcoms cannot fill every episode with plot enhancing stories, which further the underlying objective of the starship Enterprises’ mission, and they cannot keep finding planets and new civilizations every episode, because, lets be honest, the solar system would then be teaming with so much life that it would seem a little ridiculous. Bantering our theories back and forth, we came up with a consensus on a this topic of conversation, and it did not bode so well for the creators of The Next Generation.

First off, the writer’s of the show needed filler, and with the creation of the holodeck, they had enough filler to last a lifetime. Like I said before, they could not stumble upon a new civilization every episode without it seeming ridiculous. Or neither could every episode take place on the bridge of the enterprise, knowing sheer boredom would emerge from this, so what is the writers best tool, a trope that gives them unlimited ability to create stories that have no connection to the underlying plot line of the series. Think about it, the writers are all huddled in a room, and one of them has this genius idea, “What if we create a room? And in this room, they can replicate environments and scenarios, like watching a movie, but they are part of it. It will be interactive…I mean its the future, why wouldn’t they have this? And this way, we can write in episodes that have nothing to do with the plot of the show. You know, filler episodes.” I can see them all, shaking their heads, agreeing with the greatest tool ever given to the writer of a sitcom, unlimited possibility. But wait, heres the kicker.

So the holodeck seems a legit idea for the future. In fact, it is probably the most sane thing they could have ever done for that crew. Think about it, you’re trapped on a starship, millions of lightyears away from earth, the same environment seen day in and day out, and the only chance of touching your feet to a planet’s surface is by joining the away team, that, well, if you are not one of the main characters, than you are sure to die–we will address that in a future blog. So this holographic room of recreation has its merits, I will definitely make this concession, but that is where my praise ends.

You are the captain of a starship, and your crew keeps getting locked within a room which seems to want to malfunction and kill you, don’t you think you might do something about this? So why is it that EVERYONE, at one point or another on that damned show, has been trapped inside the holodeck?  Don’t you think, that at some point, you would say, “Hey, maybe we should put an out of service sign on this thing?” Better yet, why would you constantly keep going in there after you’ve been stuck inside many times before. Ok, human nature aside of a propensity for sheer stupidity, it just seems a little over the top. Especially, when  a crew member does become trapped inside this hellish room, the rest of the crew searches for them and never thinks to check the holodeck, as if they wouldn’t inspect the one room that seems to want to kill people. At this point, this all seems illogical. But wait, there’s more.

Can you imagine the Federation of Planet’s contract bid process. You’re a company that has holographic room technology, and you wish to install your product on the ship, securing a strong monetary contract for your company. You know you have competition though, two other corporations are waiting to one up you, stealing the contract from you, and walk away a rich happy firm, lining their pockets with the good taxpayer’s dollars. The government agent leans back in his chair, and confidently asks why your product stands out amongst the rest. With a dry smile and straight face you lean forward and say two words, “lethal mode.” Ok, seriously, lethal! You have an option for your holodeck to be lethal. In what application would this ever be necessary or acceptable to use. How does this, in anyway, make practical sense? I see the government agent standing up in a burst of excitement, “Brilliant, that’s just the kind of innovative spirit we are looking for in a company. You have the contract.” So it is not stressful enough, being so far from home on a star ship, but then you have to wonder if this holographic death box of a room will malfunction and try and kill you every time you use it, which seems pretty damn often.

So, if you are a person who loves to watch reruns of television, and a tendency to watch Star Trek: The Next Generation, the next time you watch the show, think about the ridiculousness of the holodeck. Think about the fact that the ship has a room that can kill you, locks you in about twenty-five percent of the time, and then malfunctions and tries and kills you. Oh, and yes, I forgot, has the ability to make an evil sentient being, that then could leave the holodeck and plot to destroy the ship. Yeah, those writers were geniuses. Geniuses I tell you, “Hey, what do you think this episode should be about? Hmmm, let’s do a Sherlock Holmes episode on the holodeck. You know, filler.” Genius.

 

Today is the Day

I think I’ll write today. That’s it, I’ll write the book to end all books, the book which will get me published, my manuscript will ooze literary savant. I will sit down and words will pour from my fingertips as I furiously bang against the keyboard at a such a speed that my fingers will blur in my sight. I will examine the meaning of life, and put such deep philosophies into print, that my characters will be the most insightful, yet flawed, in the whole existence of history, and prehistory for that matter. Oh, it will be glorious.

I can see the scene set. The environment, the smells, the touch, the emotions, I will make all these things so believable, as I paint the canvas with my thoughts, that when the reader puts down the book, they will be distraught at how fake reality is. Today is the day that I paint my grand masterpiece. Today is the day.

Kissing my wife on her forehead, I relayed the news, and with an excitement bordering on neurosis, closed the door to my office. Coffee cup in hand, steam rising from the molten onyx liquid, which could make a boulder jitter, I took the first lip burning sip, and sat down to work.

Adjusting the lamp in my office–or as I prefer to call it, writing sanctuary–I flicked it off and on, off and on, listening to the click of the round nob, affixed to the brass, 50s, banker’s desk lamp. Staring at the white screen in from of me, I proceeded to fix the keyboard so as to have the maximal typing angle for my wrists. I then adjusted the seat, and analyzed the positioning of my arms, postulating the length of writing time, versus muscle memory, and comfortability of this posture.

Satisfied with this, I now stood up, and looking out the window, saw a flock of turkeys, eating seed from underneath my bird feeder. Their plumage was gorgeous as the sunlight reflected off their feathers, and I wondered how much bird feed in a week was consumed by these birds, and whether or not we should be putting seed down specifically for them, since it would be unfair feeding all the other smaller birds which fly to our feeder, but leave these poor turkeys to scratch up the snow for the leavings and unwanted seeds. These birds found themselves under my feeder for some time, little over a half hour, and then they trotted down the hill, meandering in the lower part of the woods for another hour.

As I sat back down at my desk, I looked around the room, and thought, how distracting all the clutter was. So, I set to work, moving this object here, and that object there. Well, that certainly helped my writing, because after all the organizing, and tidying, I typed a whole paragraph before it was time for lunch. Finding myself a bit peckish, and thirsty, I suggested to my wife we have a light lunch, because work was to be done.

Pawing through the fridge I found condiments, beer, champagne, mead, wilted lettuce–which I placed back in its spot to wilt some more–and various assortment of cheeses. This, being  insufficient a lunch to aid in the endeavors of writing, with a swift step we made our way to the local brewpub. As always the waitress was friendly, and plied her wares upon us, with a quick friendly efficiency, which any salesperson would be jealous. I don’t recall how much we ate or drink, but I believe it was merely a snack.

Making our way back home, we took the dog for a walk, because it would be cruel not to, and then I went right back to my manuscript which would be the benchmark for all literature in the future of known civilization. I then noticed that I had not checked my email in a few hours, and found many adds which could aid me in my quest for great writing. The advertisements of certain travel companies, promising me cheap discounts to Belgium and Ireland, certainly could aid in the prose of any author. Why these countries could be the locations for such stories, or muses of sorts.

This led me to a frantic search for discount travel books on Western European travel, and I came across many that were outdated by a few years. This being insufficient, I found one recent copy on eBay, which just so serendipitously was ending in only an hour. I made a bid, and was instantly outbid, so I put in an outrageously fair price, and then went back to writing.

Not wanting to miss out on such a great opportunity this cheap travel guide was, I clicked the mouse over, just a few times, to my open web browser, hidden behind my almost blank literary canvas, just to make sure I wasn’t missing out on such a good deal. I sensed I was to be the victor of such an auction, and resigned myself to set aside my literary genius for a moment, and not pass up such an instrumental opportunity, that could forever change my life. If I won this guide I could travel Europe unhindered, having the knowledge of which all the locals had, for the subtitle even said “All the tourists know, and the secrets the locals keep for themselves.” I mean, how could someone pass on that.

The victor, last minute sniping, and bids well suited for the cost of such a book I could buy at the local bookstore with no shipping and handling attached to its price–I knew this accomplishment was big. In fact so big because of what it meant for my writing. I sat back, tilting my chair on two legs, and imagined the characters I would develop in Beligium, the bars that would become settings in stories, and the medieval churches, which would be the allegory for so many conflicts the recovering Catholic main character would encounter. Oh this all swirled in my head, and looking outside I realized that the earth was taking on a grey pall.

Opening the door to my office, I looked back inside, and satisfied with my days work, I stepped out into the warmth of the living room, standing next to the wood stove. I rubbed my hands together, warming them after all the hard work, satisfied with my day of writing.