Thoughts On Star Trek: Voyager

With the exception of Dick Clark helping America ring in each new year, all good things must come to an end. The “Star Trek: Voyager” series is no exception to this rule. You may love it, you may hate it, but either way, the last episode will air in a few weeks. Will the crew make it back to Earth? Here at we have a been blessed with a very interesting piece of “inside information”. Unfortunately, it has absolutely nothing to do with Star Trek, so I will have to save that for another story.

Before I go any further, I have to stop and make a special dedication. I like to think of my sister as one of the biggest fans of Star Trek fans in the entire charted galaxy. Wait a minute, I’m thinking of me. My sister hates the whole concept of Star Trek so much that she once spit in the face of Patrick Stewart when he was passing by in the airport terminal. OK, I just made that part up (he only looked quite a bit like the guy who plays Jean Luc Picard), but I can say without any doubt that she has her own “prime directive” to cause bodily harm to any one who thinks its cool to wear a Klingon forehead apparatus in public. So, Karen, if you are reading this, I hope you get a tingle in your spine similar to when Data first activated his emotion chip.

In all honesty, I have to admit to aggravating the situation with my sister by forcing Star Trek information upon her every chance I get. When we were younger, I would often times run around with a banana clip over my eyes pretending to be Geordi La Forge from the “Star Trek: The Next Generation” series. My most shining moment in this aspect of my life was calling up my sister at two in the morning to tell her I just got home from the opening night of the latest Star Trek feature film. I can only imagine the look on her face as I woke her up out of a good night sleep by screaming “STAR TREK– INSURRECTION!!!” into the phone receiver.

I would now like to spend some time hypothesizing about how the Voyager series is going to end. I can assure you that I have no advance knowledge of the actual ending for the series. The whole point of the newfunny stories isn’t to report “facts”, but rather to make the results of my overactive imagination appear to be true. Having said that, here are some official alternate endings for the series:

California Style Ending:

After miscalculating the amount of dilithium needed to get the ship back to the Alpha quadrant, the captain initiates rolling blackouts for the duration of the journey. The shortage of power creates a series of unique predicaments the crew must address. One episode will involve the more elderly crew members on several decks suffering from heat exhaustion after their air conditioners stop running in the middle of a hot summer afternoon. The finale will focus on a no-holds-barred banana cream pie fight between Captain Janeway and First officer Chakotay over who was supposed to fill up on dilithium crystals on their last away mission.

Monty Python Ending:

After some ingenious manipulation of the space/time continuum, the crew manages to get out of the Delta quadrant and back to their own section of the galaxy. Sprits are high as earth becomes visible on the long range sensors. After three days at maximum warp the crew reaches Earth and makes their final landing preparations. A massive celebration is planned at Star Fleet Headquarters for Voyager. Just before the ship sets down a large cartoon foot comes out of nowhere and crushes the ship into a twisted pulp. Roll credits.

Scooby Doo Ending:

B`Elanna Torres and Tom Paris look into the cause of energy surges that consistently disrupt the daily operation of the ship with creepy sounds and unexplained visual phenomena. The young pair eventually gets to the bottom of the case after a series of subtle clues, trap doors, and Scooby Snacks lead them to the culprit. The cause of the “ghosts”, if you will, turned out to be nothing more than a series of computer commands programmed in by the unscrupulous ship’s captain who planned on getting a good deal on a high mileage haunted galaxy class cruiser upon their triumphant return to Earth.

Easter Time

The time has come once again to talk about my favorite social event which, on occasion, is celebrated in April. I’m not talking about the World Wrestling Federation coming to town, the Denver Nuggets announcing a trade of their best players in exchange for a handful of magical beans, or the Internal Revenue Service deciding to audit everyone who wrote nasty comments on their checks to pay income taxes. The event of which I speak is Easter.

To be honest, when I started writing this, I was a little bit fuzzy about the actual date of this holiday. After doing a little research on the World Wide Web, I discovered more often than not Easter falls on a Sunday. While that might be enough information for the casual Easter enthusiast, I like to go the extra mile for all the hard core Easter fanatics reading this story. After giving my research assistant the chore of waiting in line so I could eat some fresh Krispy Kreme doughnuts, I discovered Easter is observed on the first Sunday after the last XFL playoff game before the Denver Nuggets have been statistically eliminated from the playoffs.

To be completely accurate, that formula only approximates the exact date of Easter. The actual equation involves the seventy-two characters representing the true name of God, several artifacts from the Ark of the Covenant (as seen in the first “Indiana Jones” motion picture), and the combination of Bill Gates luggage. Several universities in the world offer graduate degrees in creating computer models for the occurrence of Easter. The National Security Administration is said to have its own set of satellites devoted entirely to future Easter prediction.

I’ve been getting a lot of fan mail asking how I celebrate mainstream Christian holidays. To be honest, I don’t actually get fan mail quite yet, but I believe this is a plot by “The Man” who, despite the fact that I am a white male, is trying to keep me down by removing any mail from my box that might improve my self esteem. Supposing that I was getting my fan mail, I would respond to all the loyal readers out there by saying that to me Easter is about getting up early in the morning, putting on a shirt with buttons all the way up the front and pants that have a crease in them, and eating a lot of candy all day long. If you replace the word “morning” to “afternoon” and change the clothes to “gray sweats with multiple salsa stains on the tummy”, it sounds like any other day.

The highlight of my Easter was the traditional Easter egg hunt. A lot of people think that at twenty-seven years of age I am a little too old to be participating in an activity designed for small children. I say that is exactly why I should be in it. Being two feet taller and a hundred pounds heavier than the competition can be quite an advantage. The biggest problem is that some of them are considerably faster than me. To compensate for this advantage, I bitch slapped a few of them right before the race began to establish myself as the alpha male for the rest of the day. For the kids too young to understand the ramifications of gratuitous violence I sat each one of them down on my knee and carefully explained that if you take eggs from the Easter Bunny he will follow you home, steal all your favorite toys, and chew on your eyeballs when you fall asleep.

Needless to say, my Easter basket was quite full of colored eggs when I went home that evening. This got me thinking about what kind of lessons we are teaching to kids today. When I was growing up, I would hear my parents tell me on a regular basis not to play with my food. Then some random Sunday comes along in the middle of the spring and not only do we color the eggs, but then we go outside, hide the eggs, search for them, and finally watch what happens as we bet our younger brother Donnie that he couldn’t shove three hard boiled eggs in his mouth at the same time.

Along the same lines, I am not sure what goes on in children’s minds when we give them bunny shaped chocolate and teach them to slowly torture the animal by biting off the ears. As if hunting down all the bunny’s eggs in the form of social entertainment wasn’t torture enough for the poor animal. I think it’s fair to place at least some of our society’s ills on the contradictory signals that we are sending children on this holiday.

The bottom line is that Easter is a very complex holiday that covers many of the fundamental ideas that form the foundation of our society. Fortunately, we have boiled it down to the essentials of getting together and eating candy until everyone is too sick to move. It’s just easier that way.

Men And Women

I decided to spend some time talking about what I think is a very important problem in the world today. I’m sure a lot of people think this means more Laser Tag, evil alien overlords, or the decline of fondue. Don’t get me wrong-these are all ALL important, but the topic of the day (or, as they would say in France, “a la mode”), involves women who hate men because they are slobs. I know this sounds like ninety percent of the topics from the Jerry Springer talk show, but I would like to assure everyone that this letter will be done in a tasteful manner without any chair throwing or extensive segments bleeped out by the network censors.

Since there is a possibility this letter may be read by both genders, I really don’t have any choice to start out by saying that, yes, men are slobs. The degree to which any given man is a slob varies, but I think we can all agree that inside every man is a slob trying to express himself. I’d like to dedicate this to all the women out there. Maybe you can’t mold your man into Tom Cruise, Fabio, or John Ritter, but reading this might make you feel less likely to impale your significant other with a steak knife the next time you have to pick up his dirty underwear from the bathroom floor for the sixth day in a row.

Men often have difficulty operating a vacuum cleaner. At first you might suspect that much like household dogs, men are afraid of the strange noises produced while vacuuming. While it seems like a good theory, it doesn’t explain why men evade this chore by hanging out in their work shops all Saturday afternoon with various electric saws, drills, and sanders. A recent study reported that when asked to vacuum a carpeted area, over sixty percent of the men offered instead to spend the next three weekends installing hardwood floors.

So why are men so resistant to the vacuum cleaner? If they are anything like me, they feel tremendous guilt for never returning my girlfriend’s vacuum after we broke up. Now I can’t stop thinking of her every time I want clean carpets in my apartment. While I very rarely claim to be a licensed psychiatrist, I have come to realize the mental bond I have established between my ex and her vacuum. Symbolically, I keep her locked up in the closet-punishment for not wanting to frequent Taco Bell and the local video arcade on a regular basis.

And now a note to all the men who are reading this. I’m sure that some of you out there are married or have a girlfriend who on occasion does more than her fair share of the house work. Please keep in mind that their love for you is similar to those tablets you drop in the toilet bowl tank to make the water turn blue. You may think they are going to last forever, but every time you flush the toilet a little bit of her love goes down the drain. One day you will wake up, stumble to the bathroom, and realize the blue in the toilet bowl is gone.

My point here is that you can always go and buy more love in the detergent isle of your local grocery store. Wait, that doesn’t quite sound right. How about this: if you take a little time and plan ahead, you can keep everything in your bathroom and relationship running smoothly. Contrary to popular belief, helping clean up the dishes after a meal will not kill you. The odds of throwing out your back while putting dirty clothes into the hamper are quite small. A note to all the men reading this-please do not read this last analogy and assume the sum of your household responsibility is to drop the Tidy Bowl tablets into the toilet bowl tank. It is quite possible that your significant other will require more than that from you. For example, you might also have to be responsible for going to the store and buying the tablets.

With the possible exception of my mother, I’ll be one of the first people to admit I’m currently an unmotivated bachelor who enjoys the irony of watching ESPN while eating potato chips and repressing any fleeting thoughts about cleaning up my surroundings. Does this make me a bad person? Of course not. Is loving Taco Bell a crime? I really hope that isn’t the case. My point here is that while men are far from perfect, we are the only game in town. That is, of course until the day that scientists perfect animatronic male robots that don’t leave their underwear on the floor.

Mom, I Want To Grow Up And Be A Lounge Singer

While laying on my couch the other day I experienced one of those, “What should I be doing with my life” moments. OK, to be honest, I was sleeping on my couch in the middle of the afternoon when some random noise woke me up and caused me to go through the usual questions of self examination such as, “Who am I?”, “Did I oversleep some important television show?”, “Why is there an empty bag of parmesan flavored goldfish resting on my stomach?”, and, “Are strange objects really flying out of the television set at me, or was I just dreaming that part?”

After a few moments of getting my bearings and being reasonably sure I wasn’t being attacked by any of the electronic equipment in my living room, I started thinking about what I’m doing with my life. I got myself through college and I have been a computer geek for the past five years, but I never felt like my destiny was to sit in a cubical debugging computer code while the glow of the florescent lights slowly sucked away my life force.

I do not posses the background in behavioral science to explain this aspect of my psyche, but in my travels around the world I’ve discovered a strange admiration of lounge singers. I can’t imagine they make a lot of money or have hoards of young women following them from show to show, but from my point of view it is a noble profession.

I mentally traced this feeling back to a lounge singer I met when I was on a vacation in Hawaii. This guy’s job was to play music in the pool and bar area of the hotel from four until eight three times a week. The resort was on the west side of the island and the bar faced the beach. Any job that involves sitting near the beach in shorts and a T-shirt watching the sun set three times a week is OK in my book. Sure, he isn’t busy finding a cure for cancer and he probably isn’t contributing much to the Gross National Product, but I don’t think that really kept him awake at night.

I met another lounge singer role model when I spent six months living and working in Holland. Some of the people I worked with recommended this small hole-in-the-wall steak restaurant in the town of Haarlem. On the weekends they had a singer sitting behind the bar singing tunes in Dutch and English. I didn’t understand any of the songs in Dutch. For all I know he was singing the, “We drink Heineken and push annoying Americans into the icky canal water” song. That might explain why everyone would raise up their beers, look at me, and break into uncontrollable laughter as the more athletically inclined individuals threw me into the nearest canal.

I don’t want to come off as one of those “fancy lad know it all” types , but I know a lot of words to a lot of popular music. There are even some situations where I know ALL of the words to a given song. I also hypothesize that some of these might be the actual lyrics the original artist intended when they composed the song, although I haven’t done enough research to prove or disprove this theory. For example, I don’t think Jimmy Buffet ever used the phrase, “I’m heading down to the shore for another high colonic.” At least not in his songs.

Another skill I posses that I believe will help me become a successful lounge singer is my ability to sing. At the moment, I can only sing in the shower where nobody else can hear me. I pretend the shower head is a somewhat improperly placed microphone and the cartoon fish on my plastic shower curtain are people in the audience waiting to be entertained.

In order to be more relaxed when I’m performing I employ the classic technique of pretending that I’m naked. This doesn’t take too much imagination on my part since when I take a shower I have removed many of my clothes beforehand. Another issue is that most traditional microphones don’t have water shooting out of them. To get around this I tilt the shower head to one side and tilt my head the other way. A unique special effect I like to use involves singing as water is constantly shooting into my mouth. I believe that logistical considerations would keep me from incorporating this into any of my future lounge acts.

One potential problem I see on my way to becoming a lounge singer is the fact that I really don’t know how to play the piano. Even though I played trombone in high school, I don’t think this would directly benefit me as a lounge singer. One of the key elements in this line of work is the ability to play an instrument and sing at the same time. All my attempts to sing and play trombone simultaneously have failed. I have also learned that while waterproof, trombones do not seem to be designed to function in the shower.

While I’m not sure if I’ll ever become an actual lounge singer, I do like to entertain the thought when I’m stuck in traffic or trying to get my computer to submit to my will. It’s possible that my lack of talent may prove to be the biggest hurdle. And there is always “The Man” who is doing his best to keep me down. I may not be a lounge singer today, and depending on what is on television it might not happen tomorrow, but one of these days I’ll realize my dream-even if it means flying to Holland, beating the crap out of that lounge singer, and tossing his body into the nearest canal.