Tuesday, 23 December 2014

LEAKED! : Star Trek 3 Plot (created by the team who brought us Fast & Furious 6)

LEAKED: The Plot of Star Trek 3, directed by Fast and Furious 6 director Justin Lin and written by Fast and Furious writer Chris Morgan
      In 2286, an unimaginably large, computer-generated, spiky-spike-with-spikes probe hurtles through space at unimaginable speeds, sending out an indecipherable signal and dramatically exploding all planets it passes. The planets collapse dramatically onscreen each time before exploding, debris from buildings, bridges and other computer-generated frou-fra falling in 3D toward the viewers for the entire first fifteen minutes of the film. A Godzilla-like creature makes a brief cameo, getting crushed by an enormous bridge which falls very slowly in 3D toward the viewers.
      As the probe approaches the comparatively minuscule Earth, its signal disables the global power grid and generates planetary storms, creating catastrophic earthquakes, sun-blocking cloud cover and sending an EMP pulse that wipes out all electronics, bringing civilization to a standstill. Right before the EMP pulse, Starfleet Command revives Khan, who is the only man able to get to the message centre in time, where, after a cross-city parkour run, Khan sends out a planetary distress call and warns starships not to approach Earth, before the pulse hits, killing all the staff in the building, including Khan, who dies on his knees, shouting “Kiiiiirk!” to the heavens.
      On the distant starship Enterprise, hearing Starfleet's warning, including the shouted “Kiiiirk!”, Kirk is contacted by “Old Kirk” (William Shatner) from the alternate timeline in which he resides, and together they determine that the probe's signal matches the buzzing of extinct honey bees, and that the object will destroy every molecule in this universe, and all conceivable universes, until its call is answered.
      Engaging in a daring obstacle course race around a joint fleet of Klingon, Romulan, Andorian, Tellarite and Vulcan warships all trying to block the Enterprise from reaching the Sun and changing history, the crew uses the Enterprise to travel back in time via a slingshot maneuver around the Sun, planning to return with a bee to answer the alien signal.
      Arriving in 2015, the crew finds the maneuver has drained most of the Enterprise’s power, leaving it with enough power to operate for only an action-packed 24 hour period before it will no longer be able to return them back to their own time zone. In addition, the ship’s central operating system bluescreens, and will not boot, much to Scotty and Chekov’s amusingly accented chagrin.
      While the clock ticks down the hours, hiding their ship using its cloaking device a half mile above New York's Central Park, the crew split up to accomplish several tasks: Captain James T. Kirk and Spock attempt to locate honey bees in Central Park, while Scott, and McCoy need to obtain plans and materials for constructing a bee hive for the return trip. Uhura, Sulu and Chekov are tasked with finding a way to reboot the ship’s crashed operating system. It involves a high-speed parkour chase, ending up with them sneaking into Apple and rappelling down inside Steve Jobs’ old office, which has been preserved intact, since his death.
      Failing to find any bees in Central Park, Kirk and Spock discover a pair of bees—"George" and "Gracie"—in the care of Dr. Gillian Taylor (played by Taylor Swift) at the Bee Institute in Manhattan, a museum dedicated to the study of bees, and learn the bees will soon be released into the wild. Kirk attempts to learn the tracking frequency for the bees from Taylor, but she refuses to cooperate. Spock then seduces Dr. Taylor, and gets the tracking information from her after a prolonged night of aggressive Vulcan lovemaking which McCoy warns, threatens to give Dr. Taylor permanent brain damage. “I’m a doctor, not a five-dollar Harlem pimp, Spock!” McCoy growls. Uhura is deeply jealous of Spock's attention to Dr. Taylor, but as she has dumped Spock in the opening act of the film, she feels she can only complain amusingly. For his part, Spock can only explain the logic of his actions.
      After a hugely destructive street chase on high-speed motor scooters through a crowded Asian market, Scott, McCoy, and Sulu trade Markus Perrson, the creator of Minecraft, the formula for a plasma-powered quantum hard drive, in exchange for him designing a beehive in Minecraft to show them how it should be made. Amusingly, Perrson is killed in Minecraft by creepers while finishing the Minecraft beehive. He also provides some plywood to build the bee hive.
      Meanwhile, Uhura and Chekov locate Stephen Hawking, who finds a way to connect an iPhone 6 power cable to the Enterprise’s central processing unit, allowing them to upload the Enterprise’s entire computer matrix to the iCloud, then download it again, and pilot the ship entirely using an iPhone app Chekov and Uhura design. While installing the app to run the ship, their presence at Apple is discovered by a security guard played by Patton Oswalt. Sulu flees back to the Enterprise with the iPhone 6, in a high speed motorcycle chase culminating in him jumping his cycle off Manhattan bridge over a pursuing helicopter, which explodes while Sulu is airborne. The iPhone 6 appears somewhat damaged by the explosion, but Sulu reaches the Enterprise and waves at it wildly until he is beamed inside.
      Uhura, barricading herself inside Steve Job’s office, then manages to Facetime Sulu, using Steve Jobs’ iPad, and directs Sulu through the necessary steps of plugging the cable of the damaged but still functional iPhone into the Enterprise main computer, starting up the app, and beaming Uhura back.
      As the app only allows one transporter beaming at a time, Chekov is injured after a prolonged car chase through the streets of New York City involving him stealing and hotwiring the latest Dodge Challenger model, belonging, amusingly, to a mafia don, and racing it through the Bronx, wildly and ineptly seeking to evade a fleet of pursuing mafia sportcars. Chris Rock wakes up from the back seat, in which he has been sleeping, in time to offer some very unhelpful advice as Chekov learns to drive in the 21st century. Chris Rock, playing a character named John Christopher says things like "You from Russia AND the future?  Damn!"
   After a prolonged chase and a dramatic crash, Chekov is arrested by the NYPD for reckless driving and, given his stated birth year, not being old enough to hold a license, and is in danger of being locked up in Bellvue. Kirk, McCoy, and Dr. Taylor rescue him from the mental hospital, explaining lamely that Chekov has ADHD and simply needs his Ritalin. They all return to the ship, in order to have Chekov work with Uhura and fully reinstall the Enterprise’s operating system from the iPhone 6, which flickers ominously, as faulty iPhones which are about to cut out tend to do.
      Spock and Dr. Taylor make love one more time, for no logical reason.  When Dr. Taylor learns that Spock will be leaving her, she writes a catchy, angry pop song about it to express her disappointment and chagrin. She is in the middle of singing it to Spock when she receives a text from an enamoured work colleague played by Justin Timberlake, letting her know that the bees have been released from the museum early, without her knowledge. She tricks Spock in order to board the Enterprise with him, bringing her guitar with her.
      Operating the ship from the damaged but still functional iPhone 6, Spock flies the ship to an idyllic meadow where Malsanti employees are about to spray insecticide, which will kill George and Gracie. Spock scares away the Malsanti employees by decloaking the Enterprise as it hovers above them, firing several photon torpedoes into the field, leaving it a smoking wasteland. Spock then checks with an enraged, ranting Mr. Scott, and is relieved to find Scott has managed to transport the bees aboard the Enterprise, despite the torpedo bombardment, at the last moment. “Old Spock” contacts young Spock to deliver an important moral lesson about the environment and eating organic food that has been sprayed only with organic pesticides, with several veiled references to “Star Trek: The Voyage Home” in it.
      After transporting the bees aboard the Enterprise and installing them in the beehive Scott and his alien sidekick have constructed from the plywood they have acquired from Markus Perrson, the crew returns to the future with Dr. Taylor. The slingshot around the sun is complicated by a travelling asteroid belt which necessitates them navigating a daring high speed obstacle course through it in order to reach the Sun to begin with. On approaching Earth, the ship loses power and crashes into the Hudson River, parachuting the beehive out of the Enterprise on the way down. The parachute snags on the torch of the Statue of Liberty, which causes the bees to buzz loudly as the beehive swings precariously the the Torch. The probe picks up the bee's buzzing and reverses its climatic effects on Earth, stops sending repeated EMP waves, and returns to the depths of space.
      Chekov is then able to save the dramatically leaking, powered-down Enterprise by rebooting its operating system from the depths of the Hudson, using the barely-functioning iPhone 6, which stops working for good once this app has been used. The ship lights up, surfacing dramatically from the river under a full moon, as the lights of New York City come back on, one building at a time.
      The Enterprise crew are put on trial in the One Galactic Trade Center (which is roughly twice the height of the 21st century's One World Trade Center, but in the same location) to answer charges of meddling in the space-time continuum. (The head judge is played by former Doctor Who actor David Tennant.) All charges against the Enterprise crew are dropped; however, as punishment for disobeying a superior officer, Spock is demoted to the rank of Commander. The crew departs on their ship, the newly christened USS Enterprise (iNCC-1701S), and leaves on a new mission, which is teased during the closing credits. 
      A being claiming to be God (played by Oprah Winfrey) is wreaking havoc across the galaxy and the Enterprise is being sent to investigate. (Michael Bay has been signed to direct the sequel)

Thursday, 11 December 2014


There is a tradition, mainly in extremist branches of the Roman Catholic, but certainly not removed from the weekly routines of recent popes, of self-punishment.  Starting out with simple things like sleep deprivation and fasting, and moving up through wearing painful things, whipping one's self, all the way to the point of fifteen or twenty minute sessions of public self-crucifixion. It's all intended as pious activity.
   There are videos all over YouTube of Christians, mainly in the Philippines, walking down the streets whipping themselves bloody, and being publicly crucified (with actual nails, after being swabbed with rubbing alcohol first) for whatever portion of an hour they choose.  They get tons of views, too.

Why Punish Yourself?
The reasoning behind these acts varies.  Some people feel they are choosing to suffer for their own sins, and thereby somehow retroactively lightening the load of suffering, back through time, to Jesus on the cross.  (They're doing it to give Jesus a break.)
     Others feel like the key thing to understanding and emulating Jesus doesn't involve his ability to listen, to help, to care, to save and to love, but mostly fact that he was willing to suffer.  That's what they find most helpful about him.  (They're suffering to feel like they are demonstrating a key character trait of the Lord.)
    Others feel like doing this keeps them from sinning more, somehow.  Still others feel like wilfully suffering encourages God to take their prayers more seriously than He otherwise would. (They're doing it to get God to do what they want.) 
     All of this can be seen in a less dramatic way in the yearly routine most Catholics (and some Protestants in churches which maintain this practice) go through of sacrificing something they love, to God, for Lent, and then often overindulging when at last they can enjoy that thing once again.  Chocolate, Facebook, TV, whatever.  Something enjoyable.  Sacrificed to God, who hates enjoyment, apparently, and loves people who sacrifice it better than people who don't. (They're trying to make God happy.)
    This tradition of sacrifice and self-punishment is far older than Roman Catholicism, of course.  Innumerable ancient religions involved cutting one's self with knives, fasting, sleep deprivation, ritualistic tattoos, facial branding and scarring, and even the sacrifice of one's own children.  This was to do things like ensure a drought stops and the rain returns.  Or a battle goes their way.  Or just because. (They were doing it as a success strategy.)
     It is in human nature to try to better things, to redress the indulgences of the past, by present sacrifice.  Like ill-gotten past joy can be paid for by present misery.

Self-Punishment In My Own Culture
Now, all this dramatic stuff is not the sort of thing that Christians in my faith tradition were likely to do in quite this way.  We Christians didn't even fast, really, for the most part.  Not in my circles.  (I realize, of course, that many human beings use fasting, not to punish themselves, but as a focusing, contemplative, thoughts-clearing thing.)
   But we had our own version of walking down the street, self-humiliated, bleeding publicly on YouTube from our own self-inflicted whippings.  We did private shame and self-loathing. Self-hating. Seeing as "idols" anything that made us happy.  The spiritual or psychological equivalent of crucifying ourselves for our own sins.  Just as if we didn't need Jesus.  (Or Satan.  We became our own accuser, our own enemy, our own nemesis. Wherever we turned, there we were, accusing, saying we didn't deserve kindness or to be happy, and that we deserved to be abandoned and judged and punished.)
     And it didn't really matter to us that God clearly didn't want to do this to us Himself.  That He was trying to bless us and teach us about the world.  That He sent His Son to deal with all of the problematic stuff, and that it's dealt with, wholly, in a way we can't really add to or "help with."  Still, we were determined to pay.
     There was no good word that someone could say to us, no kindness shown that we couldn't ruin for ourselves, like a high school bully, preying on whatever it was that would be valuable to us. Shattering our own peace of mind. Because we didn't deserve it.  Because the act of self-bullying was somehow thought to be virtuous and not only worthwhile, but necessary. (We were trying to do a good thing by bullying ourselves.)
     And there was such fear about ever ceasing punishing and bullying and shaming ourselves...  Surely if we foolishly abandoned our shame obligations, and the focus on how bad we were, and what we'd done, then what we might still do would certainly outshine our past sins a thousand-fold.  Surely if we just lived the lives God gives us daily, and enjoyed compliments and kindnesses and whatever blessing God sent, everything would then go to crap?  Surely the healthy, proper, safe response to joyful things is shame and distrust?  Feelings of unworthiness?  If we didn't go around shaming ourselves, we'd sin.  We'd sin big. We were endlessly interested in the idea of exactly how, and how big we'd sin, if only we let go of our salvific shame for a sec.
       We had a terror of ever ceasing to carry around the great burden of our past missteps and indulgences, and our present, secret flawed nature.  It was like we thought if we didn't carry all of that, it would fall to the street like a stray turd, and someone might call out after us, asking "Hey! Is that yours?"
         Yet we knew right well that Jesus has asked to be the bearer of our culpability, God has accepted this offer, and we can't both carry it ourselves, and let him bear it for us too.

I Think We Had It Wrong
I think we were wrong about all of that.  And I think that kind of stuff makes us embrace a bloody, dark, idolatrous pre-Christian time, and puts us in a place where God Himself has trouble making a good difference in our lives.  I don't think Jesus died so we could shoulder a cross of fear and personal shame.  There's a cross alright.  But I think the cross we shoulder is a very different one:
     It's a cross of shame and distrust that human religious systems, including evangelical Christianity, put upon us.  And just like with Jesus, the Pharisees intend one outcome, and God uses the cross to the opposite effect.  For us, the cross of rejection by human religious systems is the cross our own acts of piety get nailed to.  It's the cross where our need to seem pious to others hangs its head and dies.  Carrying it down the street as disciples of most offensive of all doctrines, the idea that "prodigals such as we" are nowadays favoured sons and daughters, and not through our own wisdom, choices or efforts but through Christ's.  And that we remain saved from our sin no matter what we do.
     We are associated with the troubling doctrine that we just don't really need human religious figures as much as they need us to need them.  We have God.  And He's cool with us.  A pope, a bishop, a priest?  Has really nothing much to offer us.  We have Jesus.  And yes, if we don't keep Lent, don't chastise ourselves daily about our past (forgiven) sins, or the weak, twisted, dark bits of our present psyches, don't do purification rituals, and mumble our prayers over and over and over to God?  Well, He's our Father.  He has good, rather than evil, intentions toward us. Are we scared to open up and let Him shine light into our darkest recesses?  Well, according to the bible, He lives in there. Is in there right now.  Too late to try to keep Him out.  He's in there.  Spring cleaning.
   In our society, our sacrifices aren't going to involve loss of life and health, usually.  Our sacrifices are going to involve walking alone, misunderstood.  Being cut off and cut out.  Being a pariah.  Walking the shame walk.  Living outside the approval, status and support systems we're supposed to need so badly.  To live each day, judged and warned against by religious folk who don't like how we are living.  Shunned by them.  Especially by the most Pharisee of our brothers and sisters. They're going to try to give us what they gave Jesus at every step of his path.  The more we act like him, the more those who are most like the Pharisees will treat us the way their spiritual ancestors treated him.

Allowing Ourselves To Be Blessed
But it's not going to be all sacrifice.  There's rejoicing in heaven over us already.  There's good stuff coming our way all the time.  Wine to be drank.  Sunshine to hit our skin.  Scenery to take in.  Music to hear.  Food to enjoy.  People to love.  There are no good things that do not come from God.  If a thing is good, then it's coming from Him.
     This is not to say that there aren't ways to overindulge, or disrespect, hoard or otherwise act stupidly and nastily about blessing.  But I don't think sacrificing all of it all  of the time is what God wants when He's trying to bless us.
     We live in a society of comfort.  We don't know much about sacrifice.  Yet somehow, we Christians are also raising kids to not know how to receive blessing graciously, gratefully and passionately either.  Not knowing how to take compliments, not knowing how to embrace pleasure without shame, not knowing how to just walk around without feeling like we need to apologize to anyone who's got a complaint of any kind.
     That's the best way to recognize the simple fact that the Bureaucracy of Hell forms the infrastructure of our society: no matter what, we lose and suffer and it's all our fault.  If that's the infrastructure of your home, your church, your week, then you need to turn to God for something better.  To beat that, somehow.
     Or you could shave a tonsure on your scalp, and get out the whips and hairshirts, the nails and rubbing alcohol. It's really up to you.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Oh No! I'm Getting Things Wrong Again!

I've had a couple of conversations with Christian people lately.  And what they'd told me is that I'm messing up.  I'm perhaps hamfisted, unsubtle, and bull-in-china-shop, with little evidence of doing sufficient good to warrant the hurt caused. I'm definitely narrow in my focus, and needing a perspective and attitude adjustment.
     And when this has been shared, I've found myself filling with doubt.  A coldness rushing over me, shame closing over my head and panic.  I was letting myself be assessed by other human beings, who don't really see as much good in what I'm doing as maybe I do.  I'm assuming they know better, because they have an outside perspective on me, which I can never have. I'm caring more what they think than what God might be doing.
     And what happened when I got more of that this evening, was at first I got grim and cold and closed, but then I realized that I do not serve people.  And yes, they're right of course.  I'm getting things wrong.  I'm not doing as well as I sometimes might hope or think I am.
     And I thought of kids who are afraid to write on the blackboard/whiteboard, for fear of spelling something wrong, or of having messy writing.  Of kids who are afraid to speak up, for fear of saying something wrong.  And I remembered how I would always rather some kid write or speak something wrong, than the kids not speak or write anything at all.
     I am not a father, so I don't get that little glimpse into what being God might be sort of like.  All I've got is that I'm a teacher.  And I used that.  I realized that I get to get things wrong.  And I felt the warmth and the ease and looseness pour back in.  I relaxed and opened up.  Things could get in and out again.
     It's not like it's wonderful to get things wrong, but it's inevitable, and God plans for it and works with it.  Delights to, actually. And doing nothing, while being filled with fear and shame are far worse mistakes than doing something and getting it a bit wrong, then retooling it and reworking it and rethinking stuff and making eventual progress.
    Ironically, it takes an odd laying aside of pride and dignity to be willing to put it out there and get stuff wrong.  doesn't matter if you're about to sing a song, do a dance, skate, give a pie, release a book, read a poem or whatever.  And you have to be ready for people to then think you're arrogant and audacious for putting anything out there to begin with.
     Hello.  I'm going to keep saying and doing things.  And I'm going to be getting stuff wrong.  Maybe a lot.  We're all going to have to learn to live with that.  I will listen.  But I will not stop.