Through the Wormhole – Are We All Bigots?

Morgan Freeman has a Science Channel series called Through the Wormhole. I highly recommend the series for those interested in learning about a broad range of topics from is the universe a simulation to is privacy dead.

One of my favorite episodes is about the nature of racism: Are We All Bigots? In this episode Freeman comes at this question from a number of angles, as he does the topic in every episode. Below is, what I think, is one of the most important segments.

If you like that clip then I highly recommend you watch the entire episode. You can buy it on YouTube for $1.99 (No affiliation with RunPee.)

Opinion
I have to accept that part of my brain is bigoted. It does things (and sometimes gets away with it) that I don’t like.

That may sound like an odd thing to say: my brain does things that I don’t like. What am I if not my brain and it’s decisions? I think its clear, especially if you watch the entire episode of Are We All Bigots, that our brain instinctively makes decisions without the consent of our brain’s rational consciousness. (Not that consciousness is always rational.)

What researchers have proven is that we are not always in control of our thoughts and actions. It’s not an excuse for bad behavior, but it’s a reality we have to deal with. For instance, when someone is addicted to gambling, or food, a drug, whatever, you can’t attribute that to poor character, or weakness.

Our brains evolved to cope with many situations we no longer face. In this modern age we can manipulate those situations in ways that were never possible while the circuitry in our brains was evolving to help us survive. When we eat carbohydrate-rich food — bread, rice, cake, sweets, etc. — our brain says, “OMG, this is great. More please.” That’s because during our evolution there was hardly a chance that we could overeat those things because of their scarcity. That part of our brain doesn’t understand that we now have unlimited access to calories, and don’t need to overeat at each opportunity. The only way to stop ourselves is to use our rational consciousness to intervene and put the breaks on. Again, the rational part of our brain isn’t always in control — much as we might wish it.

It’s the same for how our brain reacts to people who are different from us. Generally speaking, for our hunter-gatherer ancestors, people from outside their tribe wasn’t always a good thing. Like a dog barking at a stranger, we evolved to be wary of different than us. It’s only through life experience that we can retrain our brains. Essentially, we need take that part of our brain that makes snap judgments and pet it, and say, “Hey, it’s okay. These different people are okay. Don’t get worked up.” Over time, that part of our brain will relax. But, we must recognize that it’s always there, ready to wake up again and bark at the next different person that passes by.

I want to make racism go away; from myself and my country and all of humanity. I believe the only way this will be possible is to acknowledge that part of our brains evolved to be wary of different people — because it gave them an edge in survival.

When we see racism, in ourselves or others, we need to make an effort to retrain us/them. And just like training a dog, the best method is positive reinforcement. Because when you yell at someone for being bigoted it’s about as effective as yelling at a dog — pointless and counterproductive. (Even though it feels as good as eating chocolate cake dripping with melted fudge and covered in icing.)

Creator of RunPee. Aspiring author.

Entering the X-Files – The Pilot Episode

The X-Files Pilot still one of the better long-running television pilots out there. Quintessentially set in the early 90s, it holds up well. Scully is an adorable skeptic, still bright-eyed and bushy tailed — so eager to please — with a sweet face still bearing traces of baby fat. Mulder starts out almost exactly as he finishes, tossing his new partner a half assed joke in greeting:”Welcome to the FBI’s most unwanted.” He knows she’s been sent down to his basement to dubunk him, and has his I Want To Believe Poster posted proudly behind his desk, surrounded by conspiracy theory news clippings and marked-up maps.

(Get used to this being Mulder’s domain. Scully only perches on things for the next few years. It does improve for her much later, when she gets a desk of her own. And on a side note, Mulder doesn’t get a bed until the two-parter ep Dreamland, so it’s an equal opportunity level of bodily discomfort.)  🙂

In spite of this preliminarily  lopsided pilot powershow, the two exude instant charisma, and the minor ‘abduction’  story needs thankfully little exposition. It’s got a self contained plot (is it about alien abductions, or driven by some other supernatural condition? It doesn’t matter), and it concludes in a satisfying place.  But the plot isn’t the main show, thankfully.

The real reason to watch the pilot is to play close attention to the dynamics of Gillian Anserson and David Duchovny as Scully and Mulder, respectively. Right away, their mutual charisma bounces between them with a crackling electricity, whether they’re bickering in their office, or laughing at each other in darkness, drenched in the road — where a big red spray can X marks the spot. It’s a good moment. I don’t want to be too specific. Just watch it.

Were they abducted too? Why did they lose time? It’s actually par for the course that we never know. Get used to this in this series, and you’ll be fine. The show is about its two leads, and how they almost, but quite, prove the evidence of aliens and the supernatural.

If you find this coy cat and mouse overly-plotting, stick it out anyway, at least until seasons 5 or 7. The Chis Carter Effect doesn’t set in til then. This is a great show to keep up, because the two leads sparkle even after all this time, and the frequent Monster of the Week episodes are often the best things ever seen on television.

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Content Director, and Managing Officer. RunPee Jilly likes sci fi movies, fantasy films, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder.

Movie Rewatch Review of X-Files – I Want To Believe

You’d think they do believe by now…

The X-Files now has nine television seasons, two movies, and two short-term TV revivals under their belt. This no-spoiler rewatch is for the second feature film,  I Want To Believe, taking place years (both in-universe and out) after the final run of original TV episodes, and before both revivals were even a concept.

(Is this making sense to you? If it’s gibberish, you might not want to bother entering the X-Files universe at this time. X-Files is the most complicated long-running popular entertainment franchise ever made.)

Like the first movie, Fight The Future, most of this takes place in way too much snow. (Just before the credits, you get a small warm payoff this time, so stick around through it.)

A few thoughts on I Want To Believe:

  • No humor. Bummer.
  • It’s mostly a stand alone feature. At least, the plot is. You still need to know the history between Mulder and Scully to appreciate who they are, their motivations, and what they want from each other.
  • It starts out pretty slow, and continues along at a dirge-like pace. The few action scenes we do get are pretty frenzied. Not sure what the director was thinking. Weirdly paced.
  • The plot was sad, depressing, dark, and distinctly unfun.
  • The characters were more pessimistic than usual. The whole reason this great show ran so long was on the strength of the Mulder-Scully dynamic and characterization. I realize they are older and more serious now, but that didn’t make for enjoyable viewing. It was like the director told them to tone down their natural chemistry.
  • Some parts were hard to see – either blurry, dimly lit, or both. Many things ran by too quickly to comprehend. Pay attention to the unusual dog mid-way through, or you’ll miss out on a big clue (and he’s super hard to see properly, even when I knew what to look for).
  • Mulder still has his den of posters (including the iconic titular one), tacked up dodgy newspaper clippings, and pencils stuck in the ceiling tiles (okay, that part was cute).
  • We do find out what happened with the relationship between Mulder and Scully after the series comes to that abrupt end. So that’s sort of satisfying.
  • It had a psychic/serial killer plot, not an alien cover-up one. There was no whiff of the “Mythology/Conspiracy Arc”, unlike in Fight The Future.
  • It was ultimately more about Scully and her religious themes, than Mulder and  his unexplained phenomena.
  • The movie was super creepy at the end. When I say it’s a “Monster of the Week” plot, here the monster is real, and unfortunately all too human. I don’t know how to say more without revealing a big spoiler about WHICH monster this movie references. It’s obvious by the climax. Brrrr. Feel free to put spoilers in the comments.
  • I liked this part the best: we’ve had about a baker’s dozen episodes before, dealing with the use of possible psychics to solve paranormal cases. The BEST part of I Want To Believe is when Scully actually references these guys by name: Luther Boggs (Beyond the Sea), Clyde Bruckman (Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose), and Gerry Schnauz (Unruhe). Those were stellar episodes that fall within the best episodes of any television show EVER done.  Want to watch something great ? Skip this movie and stream those episodes. Bring a hanky.

Here’s a short text exchange between RunPee founders Dan and Jill about I Want to Believe:

Jill: I just did a rewatch of the second X-Files movie. Remember that one?

Dan: I remember that it sucked.

Jill: Sure. That’s totally fine.  It was like a very long, very mediocre X-Files episode. I haven’t seen the second TV revival yet, but I hope they pick up with the William story and put that storyline to bed! Metaphorically (and literally works too).  😉

Dan: I don’t even know if I’ll see the second  revival, after watching the first one. It only had the one good episode with the Were-Monster.

Jill: Agreed. I really liked that one. The rest were meh, at best. It’s too bad.

Dan: Whatever.  I give up.

Jill: But I have some insights from I Want To Believe. I’ve decided that Mulder and Scully can’t quit each other, even though they are not good together. Mulder is a man who will do his thing, and place finding the truth above his relationship, every time. Always. He is a brilliant obsessive-compulsive. And she wants a real life, with the children and a picket fence…Mulder will never give her those things. But she just can’t quit him.

Dan: I can see that about their relationship.

Jill: My mother has already forgotten the entire plot of this movie, believe it or not. It’s weird; we just saw it last week.

Dan: It’s not a good movie, so I’m not surprised.

As you can see, I’m still a fan, even after being disappointed by most of the show’s follow-up. I’m doing a partial TV re-watch right now, introducing my mother to some of the series’ highlights (and having to try to explain most of it). I’m not even sure I remember where most of the dead end subplots ended up going…look up the “Chris Carter Effect” to understand this trope. This phenomenon went on to derail other great, dense shows like Lost and the reimagined Battlestar Galactica).

Ugh! In SPITE of that, it’s still one of the best television shows ever put to the small screen. If you get a chance, and have a lot of binging time available, start at the beginning and worth through the whole thing. Most of it is astoundingly gripping. Mulder and Scully are so much fun to watch that you never notice only two actors carry most of a decade of work between them.

Movie Grade for I Want to Believe: C

———————–

A little happiness to end this post: 
Here’s a quick vid about the Were-Monster, the most enjoyable revival episode. Yahoo Entertainment says this: ““Were-Monster” single-handedly justifies the show’s return after its decade-long hiatus.”

Really, the ep is a pure joy, with a lot of in-jokes for X-Files long-suffering fans:

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Content Director, and Managing Officer. RunPee Jilly likes sci fi movies, fantasy films, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder.

Free In Flight Movies – they rock, but are harder to find

See those screens? Where did they go? I want my MTV…

I used to love Delta Airlines, and willingly paid more for their expensive tickets.

Why? They had movies, over a hundred film options (some barely out of the cinemas, plus new popular TV show episodes), built into the backs of their comfy, relatively wide seats. For free. You brought or bought headphones, plugged them in, and blissed out for hours. I could catch up on lots of cool movies I didn’t get to see before, and arrive at my destination without stress. It was like having my own tiny, private movie theater, with flight attendants serving hot & cold running drinks. In coach!

So now, with airlines getting more and more stingy, why has Delta suddenly made my upcoming coast-to-coast CROSS COUNTRY red-eye flight a frustrating ordeal? I can’t even select my own seat anymore without a $30 fee (which means…the dreaded middle seat). But more importantly: I counted on having an in-flight personal movie selection for the long night flight. There’s no way pre-loaded entertainment on my phone or laptop will last long enough to fill the gap of midnight flight desperation.

Am I peeved? You bet. More than peeved. I could use stronger language here, since this is a long, late flight from RunPee HQ in San Diego to RunPee HQ in Orlando, and now I’ll be too tired to read, but not comfortable enough to sleep.  I want my movies.

Am I being picky over nothing? The touch-screen seat movies made flying almost acceptable again, in my mind. What’s your recent flight experience with free film screens? If you have tips on how to find these flights, add to the comments below.

How People Stay Germ-Free on Flights

Tips to Prevent Catching Swine Flu at the Movies

 

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Content Director, and Managing Officer. RunPee Jilly likes sci fi movies, fantasy films, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder.

Star Trek Characters We Will Probably See Again

Engage!

Sir Patrick Stewart, in an emotional surprise speech this month at the  2018 Las Vegas Star Trek Convention, announced that Jean-Luc Picard is back. CBS, on their All-Access subscription streaming channel, will be gifting us a new Star Trek show centered around the beloved Picard character. It’s set to premier in the fall of 2019, to appear roughly 20 years after the end of Star Trek IV: Nemesis.

Some actors from previous Trek incarnations are still quite active and energetic about their characters and involvement in Star Trek as a whole, on many forms of media. When we look into the future of the 24th century, I’m positive there will be more than one familiar face as either cameos, regular guest appearances, or even as full-fledged cast members. In fact, CBS will probably have to beat these actors off with Klingon Pain Sticks. There are a lot of characters to choose from who could conceivably be still alive and around.

I’ve got my theories on who we’ll see again. I’m basing this list of who’s been continually active in this (or any closely-related) franchise.To the list!

Characters from Star Trek that will probably appear in the as yet unnamed Jean-Luc Picard series:

  • Jean-Luc Picard. Naturally. It’s his show. But it’s super doubtful he’s still a Captain, or even anywhere near the flagship Enterprise. In The Next Generation (TNG) series finale, Picard went on to be a Federation Ambassador, a role the ever diplomatic, passionate, and suited-for-speechifying Picard seems born to play. While the future events seen in All Good Things never came to pass, I’m going to go on a short limb and say Picard is more likely now an ambassador than an admiral (he doesn’t seem to like very many of the admirals we’ve seen), an archaeologist (one of his lifelong hobbies), or something random, like an underground radical (unlike Spock, in TNG’s Reunification).
  • William Riker. Jonathan Frakes LOVES Star Trek. His TNG character kept on coming, in the TNG feature films, as Tom Riker in Deep Space 9, and as his original role in  Enterprise’s finale (and name-dropped by wife Deanna Troi in Voyager). Frakes also directed a lot of Trek, is STILL directing Trek (for the CBS all-access show ST: Discovery) and even episodes of fan favorite TNG expy The Orville.  No way will Riker not be in this.
  • Deanna Troi. Marina Sirtis, of TNG, appeared in the feature films, was a frequent regular on Voyagerand will probably appear with Riker.
  • Reginald Barclay.  Lt. Barclay, ostensibly a TNG character, was on Voyager enough times to be an honorary member of that crew. Actually, the crew DID nominate him for that role. Last we saw, Reg was working on the Pathfinder Project, although if Voyager series finale Endgame is to be believed (in an alternate timeline), he’s now a teacher at Starfleet.
  • Worf. Michael Dorn played his stoic Klingon as a full cast member on bothTNG and Deep Space 9, and in the trek movies. He’s racked up more episodes in Star Trek than any one actor in the entire franchise. Of course, he’s been off the map since DS9 ended, but one can hope the Klingon Ambassador is still around.
  • Geordi LaForge.  Aside from the films, I’m basing this on TNG engineer Levar Burton’s one captaining guest role he played on Voyager’s fine episode Timeless, and his directorial interests. I bet he turns back up as that captain.
  • Kathryn Janeway. All I have for hope on the Voyager Captain (Kate Mulgrew) showing up is her fun little cameo in the otherwise awful Nemesis, but she was an admiral then, and could still be one.
  • Tuvok. Not only has Tim Russ had multiple roles in Trek, but he’s returned to his Voyager Vulcan roots in several fan spinoffs online.  He’s clearly still interested.
  • Q. John deLancie reprised his awesome TNG regular Q on Deep Space 9 and Voyager, as well as appearing in several online fan Trek shows.
  • The Doctor. The talented Robert Picardo could bring his Voyager hologram back anytime. He had a role on The Orville last fall, which shows he’s still interested in Trek-like work.
  • Wesley Crusher.  Wil Wheaton is still young, and the actor is both an internet celebrity and a regular on the very popular, long-running, geek-oriented show The Big Bang Theory (as a version of himself). The character himself might be still wandering through space and time, as we saw him last in TNG’s Journey’s End, but that even makes things easier: he travels as easily as a thought. Literally. He saw Picard as a father figure, so there could be stories to mine.
  • Data/B4. Brent Spiner made an appearance on Enterprise as his own creator’s ancestor, and played himself on The Big Bang Theory. While Data himself is dead (if you accept Nemesis as canon), early “Data” version B4 could still be traveling with Picard, maybe as his attache or something. B4 might even be just like Data by now, and for all purposes BE Data. Okay, please?

Less Likely:  Characters from The Original Series and Enterprise

Could anyone from The Original Series pop in? The problem here is that 1. said characters would have to be alive and long-lived, and 2. their actors would need to still be alive and in good health. This counts just about everyone out, in one form or another, unless we use flashblacks, time-travel, or other well-worn sci-fi tropes. Sulu is a possibility if we go with one of those (George Takei had a well-received flashback episode on Voyager — named, appropriately, Flashback — and is a very active on the internet celebrity). There is also Chekov (although Walter Koenig has been conspicuous in his acting absence).  William Shatner’s Kirk is long dead, though the actor remains hale and is still acting, so….maybe? Note: I’m going to use the Prime Timeline-verse here. That would  muddy up the spaceways too much.

It’s even less likely we’ll have anyone from Enterprise on the new show, since their timeline is set even earlier than TOS. However, as these actors would be younger than anyone from TOS, TNG, DS9, or VOY, a flashback/time travel appearance could surprise us. One problem is that Enterprise is the least-loved, least watched show of all the old Treks, and producers probably want to sweep the memory of this one under the carpet.

What about Star Trek: Discovery?

This brings us to the much-derided Star Trek: Discovery. Even a die hard Trek fan like me won’t watch this show. I caught the free first episode on television, and HATED it. Nothing I heard since seems good: it’s still dark, it’s still weird, and it doesn’t feel anything like the Star Trek we know. But since it’s going to be playing concurrently with Picard’s show, CBS showrunners will probably create a cross-over anyway.

Star Trek Movies Lose Both Chrises

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Content Director, and Managing Officer. RunPee Jilly likes sci fi movies, fantasy films, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder.

Sir Patrick Stewart Back as the Beloved Jean-Luc Picard in New Star Trek

Captain Picard, making it so.

Jean-Luc Picard is back!

I’m so excited that I have to repeat this: He’s BACK! Sir Patrick Stewart announced yesterday at the Las Vegas 2018 Star Trek Convention that he’s ready to take back up the mantle of intrepid Renaissance man Jean-Luc Picard in an upcoming Star Trek series on CBS All Access. Well, frak; looks like I’m going to have to sign up and pay for that platform now.

Will he still be a Captain? An Admiral, or a Starfleet Professor? My guess is he’ll move on to the Ambassador role he played at the end of All Good Things. Picard’s a huge diplomatic asset to the Federation, and I think the beloved Captain, once he’s moved on from Captaining (last seen in that role in 2002’s feature Trek film Nemesis), would head down the road of peace between peoples, using his famous Picard Speeches to pave the way.

We see glimpses of other things that came to pass in that otherwise benighted film – Kathryn Janeway has become an Admiral (with a specialty in Borg Knowledge, if Voyager series finale Endgame is to be believed).

I’m also thrilled to return to the 24th century, where humanity have evolved into a more enlightened state and the future looks hopeful. By the 24th century, humans live mostly at peace with their neighbors (Borg and Dominion Wars aside); poverty, hunger, and most illnesses have been eradicated, and we live in a Post-Scarcity dream world where the greatest mission of an individual is to explore and improve one’s self.

I’ve avoided CBS’s Star Trek Discovery almost completely (I did view the free episode). It’s dark, it’s grim, it’s a big downer. I turned my attention to Seth McFarlane’s The Orville instead: a playful, Next Generation-lite tribute to Trek. Even my mother loves it, and she’s not a science fiction fan as such.

More to relate as 2019 gets closer. But I did want to let Trek fans know that Captain Picard is a thing again!!! SQUEEEEE!

Watch as Stewart excitedly announces his return: 

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Content Director, and Managing Officer. RunPee Jilly likes sci fi movies, fantasy films, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder.