Star Trek: Into Darkness

Spoilers! Spoilers! Spoilers!

So, Star Trek: Into Darkness didn’t go as far down into the “darkness” rabbit hole as I feared it would. It was fun and exciting with lots of explosions and CGI effects (especially the warp trail), and the Klingons finally appeared, briefly. Unlike the previous installment, though, it doesn’t connect with the core competencies of Star Trek. The story only barely takes place in space; much of the time the characters are on Earth or in orbit around it. The characters don’t have many opportunities to show much depth; so the film missed the familiar triangular dynamic among logical Spock and sensual McCoy with intuitive Kirk providing the leadership that holds them together.

It turns out the main villain really is Khan, though his identity isn’t revealed right away and when it is, it’s supposed to surprise us. Khan’s character has been described as “Northern Indian,” Benedict Cumberbatch, the whitest Englishman anybody could find, plays him. After reintroducing Khan, the story takes an interesting twist I didn’t expect, and didn’t dislike, though I have mixed feelings about it. There’s better discussion of it at the A.V. Club than I can offer here.

That the movie recycles Khan’s character and even some parts of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan makes me feel like the filmmakers were abandoning the “reboot” in favor of a “remake” (and, of all the Star Trek movies, Wrath of Khan needs remaking the least). The preceding movie supposedly freed the franchise of its canonical baggage, and I was hoping for something new. At the end, though, the crew finally embarks on its “five-year mission,” providing what Gene Roddenberry always intended: hope for something better in the future.

Glass Yankees

I can’t believe the Yankees— let’s call them the Glass Yankees— are in first place with all their injuries. Even the players replacing injured players are getting hurt. It’s insane. As usual they’ve done a great job of finding spare parts (Travis Hafner, Vernon Wells, Kevin Youklis, Lyle Overbay) and squeezing some extra life out of them, but some of the young call-ups are doing nicely too.

A good part of their first place record is due to their total domination of the Toronto Blue Jays. The Blue Jays, who made a bunch of big deals over the winter, need to beat the other teams in their division if they’re going to make a play for the pennant.

South of town, on the bicycle

It finally stopped raining and warmed up today so I was on my bike this morning. I rode to work on Wednesday, but the terrible weather on the intervening days kept me off for the rest of the week. I took a swing around the south side of town. Some notes:

That derelict barn along the trail deteriorates a little more every year. I believe the architectural style is Johnson County Dilapidated.

A deteriorated red barn in a state of partial collapse.
Dilapidated barn

Terrible weather is great for dandelions. The soccer fields at Kickers Park were yellow with them.

The lawn at a soccer park is yellow with dandelions.
Dandelion field

The sculpture at the Kickers Park reminds me of something you might see at an airport. It’s a reminder that kids of all colors– purple, blue, or orange– can set aside their difference and a joy a friendly game of soccer.

A colorful sculpture of children playing soccer.
Soccer sculpture

I have located Cow Number 457.

A black cow in a pasture with 457 painted on its hide.
Cow No. 457

A couple of men were out grooming the private baseball field on a cattle farm on Sycamore Street. It’s a regular field of dreams.

A man grades the infield on a baseball diamond at a cattle farm.
The Cattle Yard

Bird notes: There were lots of coots and (I think) scaup in a pond. I also saw a meadowark, a couple of egrets way out in some corn stubble, and some kind of sandpiper (solitary?) in a puddle.

Two warblers

I’m trying to remember when I’ve seen more miserable weather in May. Maybe those overly hot spring days in Mississippi. But we’ve gone from fine bicycling weather earlier this week to 40s and all-day rain. It will 90 degrees F in a week.

In the midst of yesterday’s unpleasant downpour, I led my group of fourth graders into the blacksmith shop as part of their tour. There, just inside the entrance was a dying bird. A little tiny one, probably a chestnut-sided warbler according to Roger Tory Peterson.

“That dying little bird,” I thought, “is going to be a distraction to me, these kids, and everybody who walks in this morning.” So I moved it off out of sight. It was pretty sad.

If I had to guess, the chestnut-sided warbler migrated up to Iowa on its way to wherever and got caught in the cold, took refuge shivering in the rafters, and then keeled over onto the dusty shop floor. Anyway, this weather’s a mess; a phenological disaster in the making.

Then again, in the afternoon as I got into my car to go home, I saw a black-and-white warbler spryly attacking the trunk of a tree in the parking lot. I’ve never seen two interesting warblers with so little effort.