Oh, and the entry on the book I read

I finished reading the latest Star Trek: New Frontier book, “Stone and Anvil” (2003, hardcover edition). I read Star Trek books depending on the plots and characters and writers writing (and how frustrated I am with “Star Trek: Enterprise”). I’ve enjoyed Peter David for his good humor and fascinating characters. They do tend to get cartoonish and outlandish – but if done right, his writing is good reading.

Basically, “New Frontier” follows the adventures of the crew of the USS Excalibur (yeah, there are some blatant allusions to the Arthurian mythos), led by Starfleet Capt. Mackenzie Calhoun – a Capt. Picard protege who was M’k’n’zy of Calhoun on his home planet Xenex. When he was a teenager, M’k’n’zy led his people to overthrow the alien overlords, the Danteri, who were never the nicest of people. Since then, Calhoun, as he is now known to the humans and so on, is barely holding onto the grips of modern civilization and Federation ideals of diversity, democracy, exploration, and so on. Reminding him of those things is his sidekick, Elizabeth Shelby (best known as the tough blonde Starfleet officer of the “Star Trek: the Next Generation” penultimate Borg episode, “Best of Both Worlds” (wherein Picard became a Borg)).

In “Stone and Anvil,” Calhoun is confronted by the sad reality that one of his most loyal officers, Ensign Janos, is a murderer of one of Shelby’s subordinates. But, how did this happen and why; and meanwhile, Peter David (as usual) shifts from the storyline taking place in the present to chapters where we examine Calhoun’s past – how “Mac” got through Starfleet Academy (struggling) and came to accept his destiny as a Starfleet officer (grudgingly, yet loving the idea of command) even if it meant moving away from the love of his life (and, fortunately for him, regaining her later on; but it took about 11 books to get there).

The book is very much about one man’s journey (Calhoun), in parallel to another man’s downfall (Janos). I had quibbles about Peter David’s writing of the “Now” parts (i.e., the Janos storyline, wherein the Excalibur crew try real hard to help him) – the humor got a little overdone (Calhoun, you see, has the strangest crew on this side of the galaxy); but the “Then” parts (i.e., Calhoun’s past) were nicely portrayed – Calhoun was such an imperfect young man and he knew it – sort of, but he learned it the hard way. I still think that Peter David’s portrayal of Shelby tended on the Ally McBealish side, but I liked how she had her more sensible moments (in both the “Then” and “Now” parts). All in all, good subway reading.

Postscript (I thought I’d make this a comment, but, nah…): if you’d like, you can check out my thoughts on the previous New Frontier book, “Gods Above”, wherein Calhoun and Shelby deal with Beings who say they’re gods, but sure are mean about it. Thankfully, “Stone and Anvil” ended without the usual cliffhanger – heartwarming/heartbreaking ending. Peter David really ought to give his New Frontier books endings like these more often.

Post-selection Sunday

Bracket time for the NCAA basketball championship, which begins Thursday (or is it Wednesday?) – let the Madness begin!

Some interesting Slate.com reading:

Dahlia Lithwick reviews Ch. Justice Rehnquist’s book on the other closest election in US history (the 1876 one, where Hayes beat Tilden – which led to the end of Reconstruction and somewhere in all that Tilden had his own sex scandal). She posits that Rehnquist’s writing on that subject may actually hint at his thought processes of the Bush v. Gore (S. Ct. 2000) case. She notes:

“And while [Rehnquist] concludes that virtually every time a justice took on some executive function, it proved disastrous—from John Jay’s efforts to negotiate a peace treaty with Great Britain, to Robert Jackson’s yearlong prosecution of the Nuremburg trials, to Earl Warren’s investigation into the Kennedy assassination—he ends, oddly, with a resounding defense of the five justices who took part in the 1876 commission [that gave the presidency to Hayes].”

Hmm. Maybe I ought to read this book – it’s curious that Rehnquist would view the actions of Jay/Jackson/Warren so poorly – each action had such incredible impact on global/American affairs and was only fitting due to each man’s experiences (Jay was a diplomat in an earlier career; Jackson the judge from a country that beat the Germans in WWII; and Warren, a former prosecutor, if memory served me correctly).

“How do you say Pres. Roh’s name?” – Slate.com’s Explainer explains that, despite the Romanization, the impeached South Korean’s president’s name is pronounced “Noh” not “Roh.” No one ever said that transliteration/Romanization of Asian names is easy, I guess.

The latest Bushism gives new meaning to saying “Huh?” toward the things out of the American President’s mouth.

The latest “Ad Report” – Seth Stevenson gives an “A” grade to the Nike ad revolving around an alternate universe where tennis champ Andre Agassi is a Boston Red Sox shortstop (my thought, when I first saw the ad: “What? Andre, how could you?!”); Marion Jones, Olympic track runner, an Olympic gymnast (really odd); Randy Johnson, major league baseball player, a major league bowler (a tall one at that); Serena Williams as a volleyball player (transporting her tennis moves, apparently); and NFL Michael Vick as a NHL hockey player. I’d had to agree with Stevenson – that is an awesome Nike ad (and a scary alternate universe).

NY1.com – cool story about the Second Avenue Deli celebrating its 50th anniversary, with its 1954 prices (for Monday only). That means a $10.00 corned beef sandwich (2004 price) is 50 cents, plus cup of java for a nickel. Hehe.

So it goes…