Monday, February 20, 2012

War Games In Space:2099

"To everything that might have been"

To my horror, I learned this week that fellow Montrealer Eric Bernard's brilliant attempt to re-imagine and enhance the classic sci-fi series Space1999, as Space 2099, has been poached by some extraterrestrial carpetbagger named Jace Hall. 

Hall and his HDFilms buddies (producers of the recent 'V' series) took Bernard's Space2099 idea and pitched it to ITV, who have now awarded them the rights to re-imagine the classic series.

Let The Games Begin
All this appears to me to be a case of television industry nepotism, forcing Mr.Bernard to either 'sell out' to Mr.Hall, or leave his project with, using a line from the series itself, "nowhere to die", thus undermining Bernard's efforts to infuse critical integrity, a holistic reconciliation and necessary closure back into the original series.

Since at least 2008, Bernard claims to have approached ITV on three occasions about his enhanced version of Space1999. This probably gave trade-insiders enough time to come up with a similar plan of their own. Bernard claims also to have recently been approached by Hall about his project, but any chance of forming a cooperative effort fell through when the two parties failed to share a common vision for Space 2099. Jace Hall, speaking through his publicist (which says it all for me) claims to have only approached Bernard with regards to acquiring his URL domain name: Bernard refused to concede his baby, yet still wishes Mr.Hall's project the best. Bernard, the man/legend has chosen to take the gentlemanly 'high road' in this 21st Century 'sci-fi cold war'. 

Eric Bernard had painstakingly re-edited the original series to give the production better effects, a quicker pace, while integrating enough 'TLC' to satiate the discerning eye of any passionate fan of Space1999. He and his team at Retcon Studios re-wrote certain stories to cleverly provide a smooth transition and proper explanation of the artistic and storyline differences between the first and second seasons. His next plan was to pitch the idea of a new and revived series called 'Legacy' which would have helped to explain what had eventually become of the inhabitants of Moonbase Alpha, thus offering it's fans a fresh vision of the Alphans' exciting new future.
"The Eagle has Landau" (I couldn't resist!)

Thoughts On The Original Series
As for the original series itself, Space1999 has had a long and loyal cult following, but has generally been viewed with disfavour among many within the acne-scarred ranks of the 'hard-core sci-fi techno-geek' community, who often split atoms trying to negate the value of this fantastic series by dwelling upon the fundamental illogic at the core of the show's fractured scientific premise. Well, that's their business, but I prefer to judge a television show based on it's 'artistic' not 'autistic' qualities.

It would be a personal fantasy to see all those 'sci-fi factoid-obsessed Space1999 haters' piled into a yellow moon-buggy and driven deep into some remote lunar crevasse. Or perhaps to even see Maya transform herself into a hissing alien reptile, forever scaring them into permanent retreat aboard the cozy confines a Borg vessel. Yes, season two (with Maya) was objectively an adolescent farce, but season one was an unparalleled masterpiece of allegorical fiction. Accompanied by Barry Gray's superior score, and an elaborate set design, Space1999 had more than enough style, mood and archetypical mythology to overturn and scatter the 'metaphoric Lego' of any pimply-faced 'Star Wars' or 'Battlestar' loving adolescent.

Many of those 'Science-Geek Pseudo-Critics' failed to see the value in Space1999, usually citing 'bad science' as being a good reason to laugh off and dismiss the series altogether. Perhaps they would have been better off taking the 'Evil Captain Kirk's' advice on SNL twenty some odd years ago, and "move out of their parent's basement". The essence of the human journey is found within the colours of our emotional responses to experiences gained through philosophical enquiry, enriching life's magical palette for those of us who find value in the 'artistic', not 'autistic', expressions of story telling.

Meanwhile, Back At The Ranch!
Another Time, Another's Vision

The HDFilms project appears to be totally 'sexed-up' with newly designed and streamlined bug-headed Eagles, accompanied of course, by all the latest in CG effects. Let me guess, they're probably also going to once again cater to the same lowest common denominator that has so ruined my enjoyment of revivals of other sci-fi enterprises, -Which is an overemphasis on realism, by forcing everything to 'make sense' (appeasing the Geeks), -by introducing a new 'rival race' as antagonists (appeasing the Geeks' need to vanquish a foe for 'heroism') -promoting and cultivating 'love interests' (appeasing the Geeks' girlfriends or wives), and perfectly capped off by adding even 'a cute little boy and his pet dog' (an appeasement of course to the Geeks' insufferable and bratty little kids)

What made Space1999 so enjoyable, was the sense of destiny and purpose impressed upon the Alphans' on their cosmic journey. Unlike other sci-fi series, Space1999 had the ability to show humans as genuinely fear based and flawed (much like my writing style), often exposing their naivete and ignorance (once again like my writing style) and as being somewhat 'less than all knowing' (and once again, not unlike my writing style). The first season put a minor emphasis on 'alien villains' while instead choosing more to focus on 'alien masters', who served as spiritual midwives ever challenging the Alphans in their evolutionary and transformative odyssey (a theme expanded upon nicely in Star Trek: The Next Generation, with the character "Q").

Reflecting back on Star Trek for a moment, we loved how Kirk's courage allowed him to conquer, against all odds, even the greatest of alien foes… but that was Star Trek, a different concept, this is Space1999, and a new vision!
Never turn ones back on the Fans!

Mythological Voyage
I could argue that Space1999 was a kind of 'meta-sci-fi', in that it's futuristic premise was only the artistic device used, which was to parallel man's mythological descent into the underworld for the purpose of rediscovering a spiritual treasure long ago since lost, which is a return home, back to the soul's centre, and a place to 'belong'.

The moon broke from earth's orbit as the result of a technological disaster (a nuclear waste explosion), paralleling the biblical 'exile of man' from the garden, suffering the consequences of our ignorance of natural forces, by biting from the 'forbidden fruit' of technology. As a result of this folly, each week the Alphans were faced with conundrums concerning these newly unleashed alien forces and mysteries.

Space1999 was beautifully filmed and produced, accompanied by realistic acting rarely seen in Sci-Fi TV at that time, or in any of it's cartoonish predecessors. It was thematically 'dark', often leading each episode to culminate in jaw dropping and eerie 'Twilight Zonesque' endings. Sadly, this magic formulae was then methodically eviscerated by 'serial TV killer' Fred Freiberger, who not only produced and wrecked season two, but also drove the final nail into the original Star Trek series by producing, and effectively ruining, it's third season.

End Game
We now have the 'Empire', HDFilms, in control of the Space2099 project, with the 'Jedi Knights', Retcon Studios, needing to somehow mount a swift and decisive counter-offensive. It's officially: 'War Games 2099', and the good people at Retcon's best hope appears to rest with us, the fans, who admire and appreciate Mr. Bernard's vision, and who take a dim view of HDFilms and their unscrupulous methods. Without a little divine intervention from Arra, the Kaldorians or Professor Bergman's 'Cosmic Intelligence', Bernard's project appears all but doomed in the face of HDFilms' usurped quest to feed us their changeling version of Space2099.

Dirty CT   February 2012

A Sample Of Bernard's SPACE:2099

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Surly Valentine

Card Carrying Member of 'Unloved Anonymous'
A single friend of mine, and card carrying member of the unloved, had a great Valentine quote a few years ago: "I hate Valentine's Day", he once said," it only drives home the fact that nobody loves or cares about me". Faced with this stark reality, outsiders like me, at this time of year, will often turn our gaze to other more 'philosophical' horizons, in attempt to provide some meaning to our wretched little lives.

Alternative Enquiry
Our culture's willful ignorance, dismissal, and even knee-jerk rejection of alternative research (usually painted with the depoliticizing meme of 'conspiracy theories'), is rooted in the same fear that has driven it to set up these highly secretive and compartmentalized external authoritarian systems in the first place. Which is specifically designed to surrender our personal moral responsibilities to a paternal governance for the purpose of abdicating certain duties and thoughts which may run counter to our insatiable attempts to acquire our personal grail, which is the fulfillment of our every whim and worldly desire. The catastrophic result of this unconscious historical decision has sentenced mankind to live in an arrested state of perpetual spiritual childhood…now what time do the Simpsons come on?

Ghost in the Machine, The Economy and The Financial Elite
Presidents John F Kennedy and Dwight D Eisenhower both warned their countrymen of the entropic forces of systemic corruption. What has ensued over the last fifty years has been nothing short of the erosion of fundamental human principles for the immediate gratification of speculative riches, leveraged buy-outs and debt based 'prosperity'. Claims are made from pundits that the economy is turning around, and that happy days will soon be here again. Yet the debt to GDP ratios of industrialized nations continues to grow to levels not seen in human history. The result of this, as you may have noticed, is the failure of smaller nations to generate the wealth necessary to service their debt. Banker's have been all too happy to impose their austere solutions in exchange for yet more loans designed for these little nations to 'kick the can down the road' just a little further.

When the financial collapse happened in 2008, the very top heavy 'too big to fails' responsible for inflating the bubble, asked governments to socialize their losses. This was the greatest funnelling of wealth upward in history, and an apparent reward for their malfeasance.

People are now waking up to the horrific consequences of this recklessness, and in the US, most notably in 'Occupy Wall Street and 'The Tea Party'. Those who've abnegated their personal responsibility and are thoroughly satified by their own unfettered capacity for consumption pretend there is no problem, even to the point where they now resent those who possess the vision to foresee the negative consequences of this recklessness, and have chosen to vocalize their discontent. "Hey, Teacher, leave those kids alone!"

Law and Order
Police and Military serve the function of maintaining the social order at any cost, they do not put themselves in the position to make value judgements until the negative consequences of their given orders can no longer be denied or debated, and the negative effects become painfully obvious. At that point, these institutions can fracture, divide, and form new allegiances with those political entities they view will be on the 'winning end' of any major social upheaval. For those serving in the line of duty, the Twilight Zone's episode 'Death's Head Revisited' should be required and mandatory viewing.

Personal Responsibility 
The consequences of turning a blind eye to our moral duties allows for the proliferation of epistemologies easily corrupted by an allegiance to money. At that point, arguments suggesting a nation's or individual's immediate economic best interest becomes seductively appealing. Critics of this 'prosperity' are then viewed with derision, and often marginalized…but don't forget,  NOBODY puts 'baby' in the corner!

Computer Revolution
Few would argue against the overall benefit of current computer technology, it's positive applications are immeasurable, but it's dark side must never be forgotten, for the simple reason we have psychopaths in all levels of society who have the will to apply it. 

Computers can be instant gratification machines, much as the rat pulls the lever to gain access to the pellet, so too does man click the mouse to gain access to digital rewards. Repetition of this daily activity is unprecedented in our evolution, and therefore we have no idea what odysseys of behavioural transformation this revolutionary activity will embark us on… now open the pod-bay door, Hal!

War on Terra
Wars are exercises in the appeasement of elites. who set the conditions for conflict by historically funding violent psychopaths for economic gain. Once our former 'allies' outlive their usefulness, Elites employ experts to promote propaganda designed to bully adversaries and coerce the population into aligning their moral convictions with the interests of their masters. Once this is achieved,  the emotional manipulation of altruistic volunteers under the banner of 'Patriotism' is employed to justify and promote the use of aggression, once again for economic gain. The elites will fund leaders who promise the population justice, security and social reform, and after they crash and burn, will in turn fund those new leaders who will promise to deliver us from all the negative and 'unforeseen consequences' of the ill-conceived idealism of the former.

Now the drums of war are being beaten by well funded political opportunists, who use 'fear of the other' as a 'Sword of Damocles' to coerce the voters to make concessions to these candidates political and economic objectives. This is being done with great intensity now, as the simple arithmetic of inevitable financial implosion puts them in the position of needing to obfuscate this fact by escalating the rhetoric and stoking the fires of global conflict. (by the way, the song is called 'Barbara Ann', not 'Bomb Iran!')

Atheism and the State
It can be tempting to incorporate non-belief systems to fill the vacuum left by previous belief based control mechanisms. Left brained eviscerations of theist beliefs are in my opinion a 'philosophical fool's gold' as they fail to properly incorporate the contextual right-brained holistic approach to the role of experience and meaning. I don't think that an atheistic state has any chance of mitigating the negative effects of cultural dysfunction any better than a Theocracy can. The politicization of belief or non-belief systems has no place in human affairs, and is best left to the discretion of the individual.  Smarty-pants intellectuals take note and piss-off!

Gender Warz
Men and Women have been encouraged for millennia to treat one another as commodities, and this dysfunctional worldview has accelerated in recent years. True liberation of a member of any gender lies in it's ability to not only cast away the yoke of it's own cultural expectations, but also their programmed expectations of the opposite sex. (Oh, and women have got to get off Facebook, throw away their laptops, and start grabbing some crotch!)

Everybody loves to feel they belong, and our ancestral necessity for belonging is best demonstrated in the proliferation of the ubiquitous professional sports franchises. I love sports, don't get me wrong, but nagging in the back (and front) of my mind is the awareness that wealthy people are exploiting this tribal need for entertainment purposes, to the point where healthy competition becomes corrupted by the relentless forces of personal profit and status. Through the use of skillful marketing, professional sports franchises have put their loyal devotees in the position of purchasing this year's version of their team's jersey, year after bloody year, just to keep up with the rapid financial imperatives spearheading this money grab.

Canada's hope of qualifying for the World Cup in Brazil 2014
Not so much, it seems each incarnation of our Men's National Team, ever since we stumbled into Mexico '86, has performed exponentially weaker with each successive World Cup Qualifying campaign. Now that our finest young talent are all content to roll the dice with more competitive national sides, Canada's hopes of ever returning to the world's greatest sporting event, is about as likely a prospect as Don Cherry choking to his death on a stale 'Timbit'.

This Year, 2012
This is the year, so get with the program!  Nobody, and I mean NOBODY, is predicting the end of the world, but this is going to be a year of great change, as the many socio-political and environmental factors in our world begin to converge ever more rapidly. We could be in the process of redefining ourselves as a species (hyperbolae, why not?), and when extrapolations of calcified and archaic ways of thinking collide with new and self-evident realities, the friction from this resistance is liable to send shockwaves down through the annals of time…now go and eat some heart-shaped chocolate!

Dirty CT   February 2012

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Alice's House and "The Chair"


Last week I sat back reflecting on how my last three contracts were all jobs working for women named either Susan or Suzanne, so it came as no surprise when I got a call this week to do some work for a woman named Alice.  

My visit with Alice was a unique experience, she was a woman in her mid-to late seventies, had an abnormally large head and freshly curled blue tinted hair, a doppleganger for Mrs. Doubtfire or Dame Edna.
She invited me in, and proved to be a rather sympathetic woman. 

She proceeded to show me her highly outdated and hermetically sealed plasticized furniture, adorning her antiquated 'museum piece' home. 
She asked me if I wanted to take a look at her office far in the back of the house, off the kitchen. 
Alice asked that I view the room with "one-eye" as it was, after all, a bit of mess. When she turned around, she was startled to see me staring back at her with one eye closed. Slightly 'confused', she laughed, and conceded that I had frightened her with my facial sarcasm. 

She then implored that I go 'take a look at the basement', despite the fact she had already presented me with an overwhelming amount of work to this point. 

She kept asking me, almost naggingly: "Are you brave, Are you brave??" proposing that venturing down to view the basement would require some amount of courage.

When we arrived downstairs she directed my attention to a grey leather reclining chair with a remote control resting on it's seat. "Do you know what that is? she asked, "Have you ever sat in one?" Before I could answer she said: "Would you like to sit in that chair?" I realized by the forms in the footrest, it was a 'massage chair'. I politely declined and then suggested we continue on into the basement to assess the work that needed to be done.

Upon returning from viewing the work, we once again passed through the room with that menacing 'massage chair', and once again she inquired: "Have you ever tried a chair like that, would you like to???"

At that point I realized that there was little chance of landing this job if I didn't at least TRY her fucking 'massage chair'. So I took off my jacket, and promptly sat back in the chair. She came over and perched herself on the sofa next to me, while seizing the controller. 

Her first assault on my senses was to make my pillow 'flutter', followed by an abrupt raising of the leg-rest. A 'mechanical whine' accompanied the slow raising and subsequent gear grinding massaging from the leg-rest. 

After her successful near crushing of my lower leg muscles, She then fussed for several minutes whilst trying in vain to make the chair recline, but to no avail. The best she was able to do was 'flutter' my pillow, and then lower and raise the mechanical leg-rest, up and down (mechanical whine), down and up. 

As I sat there, I reflected upon the sentimental memory of how it had been a year ago to the day that I had arrived in India to embark on a spiritually enriching and mystical life experience, and was now, one year later, held leg-locked captive in the basement of some geriatric joy-seeker.

I knew at this point, that extrication from the chair, and the house, was an absolute imperative. I somehow managed to wiggle out, stand up and announce that we would have plenty of time to 'experiment' with the chair should I ever return to do the work. 

We soon said our goodbyes, leaving now the possibility of any future 'massage chair moments' to the capricious whims of chance. 

Fortunately for me though, shortly after arriving home from my meeting with Alice, I got phone call concerning other potential work from yet another female client, and her name, of course, was Susan.

Dirty CT   February 2012

Alice's House: The Psychedelic Furs

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Extraordinary Claims?

"I know what I saw!"

One of the common battle cries among 'Skeptics' is the phrase, "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence". Well that seems straightforward enough, until one begins to peer into the semantical labyrinth of what is considered to be 'extraordinary' and what is 'ordinary'. Both are value judgements based on what is already known, or believed to be true.  Can anybody ever agree on what is considered acceptable, considered extraordinary? 

Twenty five years ago, 'extra-solar planets' were not yet proven to exist, but most agreed they must surely exist based on an extrapolation of what we already knew, which is our own solar system.

The thousands of people who've witnessed and reported UFO's have very detailed descriptions of their experiences, which is in itself 'extraordinary'. If what is required is extraordinary 'physical evidence' then one need not look any further than the Crop Circle Phenomenon (CCP, not to be confused with the CCCP, Communist Crop Circle Phenomenon) to find that. The question there is; Who made them? Since Giraffes are pretty much out of the question, we're left with two likely possibilities: 'Earthlings' possessing an unknown technology, or 'Extraterrestrials'. Either answer requires we treat this phenomenon with more respect than we do.

What does one consider to be 'extraordinary evidence', if it's not solid evidence, like say a 'crop circle'? We can always look to corroborating anecdotal claims, who in sufficient enough numbers, should lead one to conclude the veracity of an 'extraordinary' claim. Similarly, if the person making the claim has perceived credibility, like an Airforce Pilot, belief in any claim of a 'flying saucer' would be given more credence than a similar claim made by an 'unshaven alcoholic street person living out of a cardboard box'. 

We would take the Airforce Pilot's claim much more seriously for obvious reasons, like his familiarity with aerial phenomenon, keen eyesight and judgement, what he may be risking personally by relating his story, such as his job, credibility, or the fear of public ridicule… etc. 

Our 'unshaven friend' would not be considered a credible witness because of the possibility of having impaired judgement due to his alcoholism, a possible desperate need for attention, or for the simple fact that he is not highly qualified as a trained observer. 

But the possibility of the opposite being true must also never be dismissed outright. The Airforce Pilot might be working on behalf of a covert agenda requiring him to make fallacious claims, he may be making false assertions because he wants a discharge or demotion from a job which he can't admit now 'frightens' him, or he's just a jerk and is outright lying. 

Our 'unshaven man' may simply be telling the truth. Just because someone is 'down and out' doesn't mean they are fantasists or liars.

A common abuse of 'skepticism', sometimes called 'debunking', which takes upon the challenge of trying to disprove 'extraordinary claims'. How do they do this? By offering plausible explanations to fill the void left by claims of phenomenon not yet accepted to be true. If someone says they "saw a UFO", the 'debunker' would then propose an alternative explanation, saying something like "Venus was low in the sky that night, perhaps you saw Venus", or the other implausible explanation: the dreaded 'Swamp Gas'.  

They engage in a process specifically designed to neutralize the potential exploration of unexplained phenomenon, offering instead prosaic explanations. The horrible side effect of this activity is that those who have the strange experience become infuriated when they explain their experiences to these persons, who didn't witness what they witnessed, and then passively watch on as these 'debunkers' peddle alternative explanations for something they never even personally experienced. 

It is the right of a Skeptic to ask questions, and to doubt,  but since the phenomenon experienced has not yet been established as being fact (much like the extra-solar planets had once not been) it's impossible to make any definitive judgement one way or the other, that will satisfy anyone determined to not accept possibilities which are incongruent with the 'status quo'.

In the time before 'extra-solar planets' were discovered, few would have dared to suggest they don't exist. The planets did not need our discovery for their existence to become true, WE only needed to validate it ourselves for them to become true to us. 

When dealing with 'extraordinary' phenomenon, we are usually dealing with politically charged potentials which have massive implications as to the unfolding of our worldview narrative.

Due to the high compartmentalization within corporations like government, and intelligence, those who promote 'official secrecy' may not have ever been in a position to know certain truths in the first place. Hierarchical structures like governments are designed to protect themselves the further one ventures into penetrating it's secrets. At the point where attempts at transparency collide with 'the interests of national security', confessions of lesser abuses will likely be conceded at the expense of protecting graver ones. 

So 'truth' can appear different depending on what level of the hierarchy a person operates. Only a select few of those on the highest levels of the hierarchy would be in a position to truly 'know', and it's well within the realm of possibility, given what psychologists, historians and sociologists know of human behaviour, to have one's integrity compromised due to the fear of entrapment, ridicule or other unknown consequences associated with the disclosure of truth, regarding highly charged and potentially paradigm altering enigmas.

Many of the 'extraordinary claims' regarding, UFO's, 9/11, Crop Circles, the JFK assassination, and suppressed Tesla technology (among others) are not like 'ordinary' scientific claims. Their highly political implications challenge the current ruling paradigm, whose secrets, if revealed, have the potential to drastically alter the current structure of control, that is to say, who gets to rule, how we view ourselves, the division of labour, our relationship to the planet and universe, who gets to lend money, charge interest on it and so on.

My concern with other extraordinary claims like Vampires, Bigfoot or The Loch Ness Monster, is minor, since to my knowledge, the governments of the world don't possess highly classified or blackened documents on these alleged phenomenon.

                                                                                                              Debunk This!
Dirty CT   February 2012