Friday, August 11, 2017

"SENSE AND SENSIBILITY" (1995) Photo Gallery


Below are images from "SENSE AND SENSIBILITY", the 1995 adaptation of Jane Austen's 1811 novel. Directed by Ang Lee, the movie starred Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet: 


"SENSE AND SENSIBILITY" (1995) Photo Gallery


























Monday, August 7, 2017

"THE HOBBIT: BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES" (2014) Review

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"THE HOBBIT: BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES" (2014) Review

When New Line Cinema and Warner Brothers first released the news that Peter Jackson would adapt J.R.R. Tolkien's 1937 novel, "The Hobbit" into three films, I had not been pleased. I thought the novel could have easily been adapted into two films or even a single film. Now that Jackson's third film, "THE HOBBIT: BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES", I realized that my feelings had not changed. 

I still believe what I had originally stated . . . an adaptation of Tolkien's novel could have easily been limited to a single film. I believe I would have enjoyed it, considering my feelings for Tolkien's tale. But you know what? I do not regret that Jackson had spread the story into the three films. A single movie or a trilogy, I enjoyed Jackson's take on the story about Bilbo Baggins and his involvement with a group of dwarves under the leadership of one Thorin Oakenshield. But when I learned that this third film would feature a long, detailed conflict known as "the Battle of the Five Armies", I found myself not looking forward to the story's conclusion for the first time, since the release of the first movie. The problem is that I still had memories of the battles featured in the last two movies of Jackson's adaptation of "THE LORD OF THE RINGS" trilogy - "THE TWO TOWERS" and "RETURN OF THE KING". I did not enjoy watching them over a decade ago. And I felt certain that I would not enjoy watching the "Battle of the Five Armies".

There were aspects of this third HOBBIT that made it less enjoyable for me than the first two films. First of all, Bilbo and his traveling companions reached their destination in the last act of the previous film, "THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG". Which meant that the story ceased to be a road trip. With the exception of a few scenes that featured Gandalf the Gray at Dol Guldur and Smaug's destruction of Laketown, the majority of the film was set at the dwarves' kingdom of Erebor and the nearby town of Dale. A bit disappointing. I also found the movie's limited focus on Thorin's company of dwarves rather disappointing as well. With the exception of Thorin and one of his nephews, Kili, the screenplay focused less on the dwarves and more on the other characters - especially Bard the Bowman and King Thranduil. Another aspect of the plot that disturbed me, was that it made a big deal of Thorin's greed in the form of "dragon sickness". Yet, it barely focused on King Thranduil's willingness to go to war against the dwarves for an elven necklace of white gems inside Erebor. Worse, the movie's plot brushed aside Laketown resident Bard's own greed. Yeah . . . I said it. I believe Bard had developed his own greed for some of the treasure inside Erebor. During the movie's first half hour, he made it clear to Alfrid Lickspittle that he had no interested in the Erebor treasure (which he had regarded as cursed) and only wanted aid in the form of food, shelter and medicine from Thorin. Yet, within another half hour, he was demanding some of the treasure for himself and other Laketown survivors. What led to this turnabout in Bard's demands? Why did the screenplay fail to explain it? 

Remember when I had predicted that I would not like the battle sequence featured in this movie? Well . . . I was right. I did not like it. Let me correct myself. I did not like most of it. I found the majority of the so-called "Battle of the Five Armies" ridiculously long and overblown . . . just like the other battle sequences in "THE TWO TOWERS" and "RETURN OF THE KING". Now that I think of it, the movie's battle sequence also reminded me of "the Battle at Hogwarts" featured in the 2011 movie, "HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS - PART II", with the constant number of interruptions that allowed the battle to last longer than necessary. It is only by the grace of God that I was able to tolerate the "Battle of the Five Armies" a bit more than the Helm's Deep, Pelennor Fields, Black Gate and Hogwarts battles. And I will tell you why.

What made the Battle of the Five Armies a little more tolerable for me? One, it had began under unusual circumstances. Instead of a battle in which the Erebor Dwarves fought side-by-side with Men of Dale and the Woodland Realm Elves against the Moria Orcs, Goblins and Wargs; the battle nearly became a conflict between the dwarves and an alliance between the Dale men and the elves over the treasure inside the Erebor mines. But the appearance of an army of orcs, goblins and wargs led by Orc chieftain Azog quickly led to a shifting of alliances. I found that rather interesting. The Battle of the Five Armies may have began with rather odd circumstances, it ended with a good deal of poignancy and tragedy that left me in tears. And I cannot say the same for the battles featured in "THE TWO TOWERS""RETURN OF THE KING" and "DEATHLY HALLOWS - PART II".

I have never read "The Hobbit", so I have no idea if J.R.R. Tolkien had any plans to write "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy around the time when he wrote the 1937 novel. But I have to admire the way Peter Jackson and the movie's other screenwriters - Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens and Guillermo del Toro - set up the events featured in "THE LORD OF THE RINGS" movies, both in this movie and the previous two films. This was especially apparent in moments that featured Bilbo's use of Sauron's One Ring; his eventual reluctance to inform Gandalf about it; Galadriel, Elrond and Saruman's encounter with Sauron, during their attempt to rescue Gandalf from Dol Guldur; Saruman's doom-filled decision to deal with the fleeing and formless Sauron; and Thranduil's post-battle suggestion that Legolas meet with a young Dunedain ranger named "Strider". The movie even ended where "AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY" began - on Bilbo's 111st birthday, setting in motion, the events of 2001-2003 movie trilogy. I have to say . . . good job.

However, what really impressed me about "THE HOBBIT: BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES" was how the screenwriters handled the political chaos that seemed to mark the story. I am not criticizing the story in any way. I just found it rather amazing at how Gandalf's concerns over Smaug, Thorin Oakenshield's past history with Azog and his bout of "dragon sickness" brought about so much political chaos in this story. And I must say that Jackson and the other three screenwriters handled it so well. The continuing romance between Thorin's younger nephew Kili and the Silvan elf guard Tauriel is also handled well in the movie. Their time together seemed less than it was in "THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG". But thanks to Aidan Turner and Evangeline Lilly's performances, there were two scenes featuring the pair that really impressed me - Kili's plea to Tauriel that she follow him to Erebor and their efforts to save each other from the Orc called Bolg. Aside from Kili and Tauriel, one of the most interesting relationships in the movie was that between Bilbo and Thorin. In fact, their relationship has been interesting since the moment Bilbo first rejected Gandalf's suggestion that he join Thorin's companay as a burglar in "AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY". Thorin's bout with "dragon sickness" came close to seriously undermining the pair's friendship that had thrived since the company's escape from Moria in the first film. Which is why I found their reconciliation and final scene together so poignant, thanks to Martin Freeman and Richard Armitage's performances. But the one scene that really left me in tears featured Bilbo's final good-bye to the dwarves that were part of Thorin's quest. I felt surprised by how much I truly grew to like these guys. Even more so than the members of the Ring Fellowship from "THE LORD OF THE RINGS" trilogy.

"THE HOBBIT: BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES" only earned one Academy Award - namely a Best Sound Editing for Brent Burge and Jason Canovas. One technical nomination? One? That was it? No nominations for special effects, costume designs, or editing. There was not even a nomination for Andrew Lesnie's outstanding cinematography, as shown in the following image:

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I discovered that "THE LORD OF THE RINGS: RETURN OF THE KING" received eleven Academy Award nominations . . . and won all of its categories. And I am appalled. Why? Despite its flaws, I still hold "BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES" in a higher regard. Now I realize that I am not the last word on the quality of any movie. But I am entitled to my own opinions. I am sorry, but I simply have a higher opinion of "BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES" than either the second and third films in "THE LORD OF THE RINGS" trilogy. And I cannot take the Oscars seriously if the only nomination they could give this film was for Best Sound Editing.

I certainly had no problems with the performances featured in the movie. Although I was slightly disappointed by the decreased presence of most of the dwarves in Thorin's company, they still managed to give first-rate performances . . . especially Graham McTavish as Dwalin, Dean O'Gorman as Fíli, and Ken Stott as Balin. Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving and Christopher Lee reprised their roles as Galadriel, Elrond and Saruman the White and gave solid, but not particularly earth-shattering performances. I could also say the same about Ian Holm, who returned as Old Bilbo in the movie's final scene and Sylvester McCoy, who briefly appeared as Gandalf's fellow wizard, Radagast the Brown. Two performances in the movie struck me as particularly funny - Ryan Gage as the greedy and imaginative Laketown official Alfrid, and Billy Connolly as Thorin's loud and sardonic cousin Dáin. Lee Pace gave a colorful and fascinating performance as the complicated and not always likable Elvenking of Mirkwood, Thranduil. And Benedict Cumberbatch continued to send chills down my spine, thanks to his exceptional performance as the voice for the malignant dragon, Smaug.

Aidan Turner and Evangeline Lilly continued to generate sparks as the two star-crossed lovers, Kili and Tauriel. I found them especially effective in two scenes I had earlier mentioned. Both Orlando Bloom and Luke Evans gave excellent performances as Elven prince Legolas and Laketown archer Bard the Bowman. For the first time, I also noticed that the pair could have easily portrayed cousins. Honestly. Ian McKellen was excellent as usual portraying Gandalf the Grey - especially in his scenes with Richard Armitage and Martin Freeman. I like to think that the latter made his mark as the reluctant adventurer, Bilbo Baggins. Freeman did an excellent job of developing his character from the prissy homebody to the clever and brave Hobbit. But my vote for the best performance in the movie would go to Richard Armitage for his complicated and fascinating portrayal of the Erebor Dwarf king, Thorin Oakenshield. Actually, I feel that Armitage had been knocking it out of the ballpark since the first film. But in my opinion, two scenes in "BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES" featured his best performances as the ambiguous Thorin - namely the latter's final struggle with "dragon fever" that I found absolutely brilliant and the poignant farewell between his character and Bilbo. 

I cannot deny that "THE HOBBIT: BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES" is my least favorite of the three films based upon J.R.R. Tolkien's 1937 novel. But despite its flaws, I still managed to enjoy it very much, thanks to Peter Jackson's energetic direction, excellent production values and some superb performances from a cast led by Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen and Richard Armitage.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Chicken Fried Steak

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Below is an article about the American dish known as Chicken Fried Steak


CHICKEN FRIED STEAK

For years, I had avoided consuming a dish known as Chicken Fried Steak. For reason that now elude me, I tend to regard it as some dish that was nothing more than a great deal of fat and little meat, breaded and fried. During a trip to a local family restaurant, I decided to give it a chance and to my surprise, I became an immediate fan.

Chicken Fried Steak is basically associated with American South cuisine. Some believe that the dish's name originated with the fact that the meat (actually steak) is fried in oil that had already been used for fried chicken. Others claim that the name originated from the fact that the steak is prepared with the same method for cooking fried chicken. Chicken Fried Steak resembles several European dishes like Austria's Wiener Schnitzel, Italy's Milanesa and Scotland's Collops.

It is possible that Chicken Fried Steak owed its origins to the Wiener Schnitzel. German and Austrian immigrants from Europe first settled in Texas during the 1830s. Many Texans claim that some of these immigrants eventually moved to Lamesa, the seat of Dawson County on the Texas South Plains in the mid-to-late 1850s. The citizens of Lamesa claim their town as the birthplace of Chicken Fried Steak. But it is not the only claim. The citizens of Bandera, Texas (located in the region known as the Texas Hill Country) claim that one of their citizens, John "White Gravy" Neutzling, had invented the dish.

Below is the recipe for "Chicken Fried Steak" from the Cooking Channel website (courtesy Tom Perini/Perini Ranch Steakhouse):


Chicken Fried Steak

Ingredients

Steak:
3 pounds (about 6 ounces each) rib eye steaks, 1/2-inch thick
3/4 cup milk
1 egg, beaten
2 to 3 cups flour
2 teaspoons seasoning salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Canola oil

Gravy:
3 heaping tablespoons flour
2 cups cold milk
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


Preparation

For the steak: Trim any remaining fat off the steaks and, using a mallet or rolling pin, pound out the steaks to 1/4-inch thick. 

Beat together the milk and egg in a shallow dish and set aside. Place the flour in a shallow dish, season well with the seasoning salt and pepper and set aside. 

Cover the bottom of a large skillet, preferably cast iron, with enough oil to reach about 1/2-inch up the pan. Heat over medium-high heat.

Coat the steaks in the egg mixture, then the flour and then add to the pan. Cook until the juices begin to surface and the bottom is nice and brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip the steaks and cook another 2 to 3 minutes more. Be careful to not overcook. Continue this process until all the steaks are cooked, placing the finished steaks on a paper towel-lined baking sheet. 

After frying the steaks, prepare to make the gravy: Let the drippings in the pan sit until the excess browned bits of seasoning settle to the bottom of the skillet. Pour off most of the oil, leaving about 4 tablespoons behind with the brown bits. Add the flour, stirring until well mixed. Place the skillet back over medium-high heat and slowly add the milk while stirring constantly. Cook until the gravy comes to a boil. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with chicken fried steak.

Monday, July 17, 2017

"The Helmsman's Log - 2373 [PG-13] - Part I



I am continuing with the saga of Lieutenant Tom Paris' personal experiences with the Voyager crew. The following focuses upon Voyager's third year in the Delta Quadrant.


THE HELMSMAN'S LOGS - 2373

RATING: [PG-13]
SUMMARY: The third in a collection of Tom Paris' personal logs during Voyager's seven years in the Delta Quadrant. Part 3 focuses upon the ship's third year, 2373.
FEEDBACK: I would appreciate constructive feedback. Thank you.
DISCLAIMER: Tom Paris and all other characters related to Star Trek Voyager belong to Paramount, Viacom, Rick Berman, the Roddenberry family and other Trek producers.

AUTHOR'S NOTES: This covers episodes from the last Season 2 episode, "Basics, Part 1" to the first Season 4 episode, "Scorpion, Part 2".



----------------


Part I


STARDATE 50004.23:

Voyager just had its first battle with the Kazon-Nistrim since entering the Gema system. It wasn't much, considering that we only encountered a Kazon shuttle that managed to disable our secondary command processors. End personal log.


STARDATE 50010.35:

We just sustained another attack by a small Kazon ship. And for the second time, the attack disabled our secondary command processors, before we could finish repairing it. We've endured two attacks and already, Harry is nervous. I don't blame him. I have a feeling that there is a reason behind these attacks on the secondary command sub-processors. And if so, Seska is still alive. Only she could think of a reason to target that particular area. End personal log.


STARDATE 50020.72:

Don't have much time to complete a log entry. Voyager has just sustained a fourth attack by the Kazon. All of the previous attacks have been by sects other than the Nistrim. And they have also targeted the secondary command processors. Now, even the Captain is becoming paranoid. Voyager is no longer in communication range with the Talaxians at Prema II. I don't know. I only hope that the Doc's plan to use the echo displacement works. One last note - I heard from Ayala that Chakotay had a fight with Tiena, before ordering him to secured quarters on Deck 8. Right next door to Lon Suder. They ought to keep each other company. End personal log.


STARDATE 50023.13:

I'm making this log entry from the shuttlecraft, Cochrane. While engaged in a major battle with the Kazon-Nistrim, yesterday, there was an explosion on Deck 8. From Tiena's quarters, not surprisingly. Anyway, I asked the Captain to give me permission to take a shuttle and contact the Talaxians for help. I barely managed to escape. Kazon weapons managed to damage the shuttle. Fortunately, I repaired all of the damages. Now all I have to do is (a klaxon signal) . . . Huh? What the hell? What the hell is wrong now? End personal log.


STARDATE 50026.43:

I've regained control of Voyager . . . with help from Commander Paxim and the Talaxians, the Doctor and get this, Lon Suder. God, what an unlikely bunch we made. Well, except for the Talaxians. Thank goodness Suder managed to avoid capture when the Kazon and Seska took control of the ship, or my plan would have never worked.

As for Suder, the poor bastard is dead. Along with Seska and most of the Kazon. Cullah, his baby and a handful of his men had fled using one of the escape pods. Although the ship's computer is back online, the Doctor's program isn't and we have some work to do. Hopefully, the crew is still alive on Hanon IV. I may be a good holoprogrammer, but I don't know if I can repair the holoemitter systems in Sick Bay. End personal log.



STARDATE 50032.65:

I am one tired man, but a happy one. The crew has managed to survive the latest threat from the Kazon-Nistrim. Well, most of us. Poor Lon Suder was killed by the Kazon. Simon Hogan and Seda Abdalla were killed by some giant land eel on Hanon IV. We held services for all three in the Observation Lounge, yesterday. Suder's body was ejected into space. Seska and the dead Kazon were buried on Hanon IV.

Today, the crew held a party at Sandrine's. I would have remained longer, but I was simply too tired. Megan Delaney invited me for dinner, tomorrow night. I accepted. Everyone offered their gratitude to both the Doctor and me. Doc seemed to be eating up the attention. Me, I just wanted to return to my quarters for some much needed rest.

Before I could leave, B'Elanna waylaid me and dragged me to a private corner. Away from prying eyes, it seemed. She wanted to thank me for saving the crew from the hell of Hanon IV. Of course, she didn't have to drag me all the way to a corner to do that. And I almost said so. Until I looked into her eyes. (Pauses) Wait, what I meant was . . . Okay, I might as well confess. I don't know. When I looked into B'Elanna's eyes, for a brief moment, I felt this . . . I don't know . . . feeling? Electricity? I'm not going to go into some rapture about lost souls bonding and nonsense like that. Let's just say that I had felt . . . goosebumps. And I had to get out of there, fast. Only B'Elanna beat me to the punch. She gave me a quick good-bye and disappeared before I could open my mouth. I had this urge to go after her, but (Pauses) maybe some other time. I need to figure this out. End personal log.


STARDATE 50051.85:

That feeling I had about B'Elanna, a week ago? It was all in my mind. It had to be. I certainly didn't feel anything special when I had dinner with her and Harry in the Mess Hall, this evening. Everything seemed normal between us. (Pauses and sighs) Okay, maybe I'm lying. I practically had trouble breathing all night long. And my eyes tend to linger on her rear end, while we played pool inside Sandrine's, after dinner. I think I better stay away from B'Elanna for a while. I wonder if Megan Delaney will be available for dinner, tomorrow? End personal log.


STARDATE 50078.65:

Another attempt to return to the Alpha Quadrant has gone bust. This time, we have a pair of Ferengi con men to thank. They had arrived in the Delta Quadrant, via the Barzan wormhole. In fact, they turned out to be the same Ferengi who had disappeared some seven years ago. Voyager would have used the wormhole to reach the Gamma Quadrant. Unfortunately, we had to prevent the Ferengi from robbing the citizens of Takar. And once we got the Ferengi aboard ship, they managed to escape through the wormhole. And not before destabilizing the damn thing with a graviton probe from their shuttle. Oh well, such is life. Poor Harry is practically crying in his Leola root stew. End personal log.


STARDATE 50092.82:

Can you believe it? Ensign Freddie Barstow tried to ask B'Elanna out for a date. That kid? Not even Harry seems that green. I'm happy to say that B'Elanna turned him down. Smart woman. End personal log.


STARDATE 50128.51:

I'd never thought I would be happy to get away from Harry. He's been babbling about Tuvok and the Captain's mind meld all evening long. Our encounter with a Type 17 nebula that contained sirillium, led to a resurgence of old memories that Tuvok had suppressed. The only way to help him seemed to be a Vulcan mind meld with a family member or close friend. Namely, the Captain. According to Harry, the meld revealed that Tuvok had once served aboard the U.S.S. Excelsior, under the legendary Captain Hikaru Sulu.

Ever since Harry learned that little tidbit, he has been in a sweat over Starfleet history. Quite frankly, it was a subject that has never interested me. Harry couldn't understand, considering my love of history. Sure, I love history - but only Earth's history, before the creation of the Federation and Starfleet. Unlike many others, I have never found either topic interesting. Especially after having them jammed down my throat for so many years by the Admiral. I think Harry was a bit put off by my attitude. End personal log.


STARDATE 50147.33:

Voyager has arrived at an M-class planet called Akritiri. After establishing the usual diplomatic ties, the Akritirian government gave us permission to enjoy shore leave on the planet's surface. Harry and I have made plans to visit Akritiri, tomorrow, following Alpha shift. B'Elanna agreed to join us. That is, if Engineering can complete the repairs on the EPS conduits on Deck 10. In other words, it will probably be just Harry and me. End personal log.


STARDATE 50165.86:

Akritiri. Huh! Another quaint little alien world, visited by Voyager, during its journey through the Delta Quadrant. Ah, Akritiri! I shall never forget it - with its sophisticated civilization, terrorist bombings and brutal justice system. I still have fond memories of the Akritirian security that interrogated me for two days, before tossing me into some dreary prison.

(Sighs) I can't believe that I survived two to three days in that hellhole! Especially with that damn clamp implanted into my skull. It was bad enough that the Akritirians dumped their prisoners in that damn prison ship. Did they have to force us to endure the clamp, as well? What was the point in stimulating our aggressive tendencies? Cheap thrills, perhaps?

It's funny. When Harry came down that chute, I had no idea that he would end up protecting me. How ironic! A hardened ex-convict being protected by a green ensign, just two years out of Starfleet Academy. If only I hadn't been stabbed by one of Pitt's henchmen. I really don't know what happened after that. Aside from warning Harry to look after himself. I do have hazy memories of us fighting over a pipe, dreaming about Megan Delaney, and Harry warning the other inmates to stay away from me. But other than that . . . nothing.

Thank goodness, the Captain, Tuvok and a few others came to our rescue. Another day in that hellhole and I would have been dead. Kes and the Doctor had informed me that my knife wound had become infected. Poor Harry would have ended up out of his mind, like his friend, Zio. Him and his damn manifesto! He can keep it, as far as I'm concerned.

Harry is still a little out of it, despite my assurances that I don't blame him for assaulting me. I thought a lie would help. Keep him succumbing to guilt and depression. Believe me, I've been down that road before. I also suggested a little feast to celebrate our rescue from prison. Maybe I should invite the Delaney sisters. End personal log.


STARDATE 50168.04:

The feast to celebrate our rescue from the Akritirian prison turned out nice. Harry and I replicated so many dishes that I can't remember them all.

(Pauses) Okay, so I lied about enjoying myself. The evening could have been better, but Harry continued to brood over what happened in that prison. The Delaneys couldn't make it and we ended up inviting B'Elanna to join us. That would not have been so bad, except she spent most of the evening trying to snap Harry out of his funk. Even worse, I had a nightmare, later that night. A nightmare filled with images of both New Zealand and the Akritirian prison. Christ! When will I ever get over this? End personal log.


STARDATE 50188.13:

While delivering my navigation report to Engineering, I found Barstow asking B'Elanna out. Again. What is with that kid? Doesn't he realize that B'Elanna would eat him alive? End personal log.


STARDATE 50199.11:

While traveling through the Fima system, Voyager came across a ship filled with alien colonists. The Enarans. It seems this particular group was returning to their homeworld after spending decades on a colony. Some of the Enarans have never laid eyes on their homeworld.

They remind me of the Baneans in appearance. For one horrible moment, I found myself thinking of Lidell Ren. Fortunately, there wasn't a murderous adulteress in the bunch. They all seemed pretty nice. And we've discovered that they're also telepathic. Since their ship became incapable of traveling at warp speed, the Captain offered them a lift to Enara Prime. In return, the Enarans have agreed to help make our engines more efficient. Like I said, very nice people. End personal log.


STARDATE 50205.39:

Had a very nice time, this evening. The crew hosted a party for our visitors, in the Mess Hall. Harry really seemed to enjoy himself. He spent most of the evening with this Enaran woman named Jessen. I spent most of my time with the Delaneys. The only person missing was B'Elanna. I wonder what happened to her. Ensign Barstow seemed particularly disappointed by her non-appearance. End personal log.


STARDATE 50211.82:

So much for the Enarans being nice. Last night, B'Elanna came storming into the Mess Hall and accused them of genocide. Apparently, an elderly Enaran named Korenna Mirell, had telepathically passed her memories to B'Elanna. It was through these memories that our chief engineer learned about the genocide of the Regressives, another race that used to reside on Enara Prime. Naturally, Jor Brel and the other Enarans refused to believe her. Nor could the Doctor prove that Korenna Mirell had been murdered. Now that we have arrived at Enara Prime, our guests will be leaving this morning. B'Elanna told us that she had passed Korenna's memories to Jessen, Harry's friend. Maybe word of the Regressive genocide will get around, after all.

Meanwhile, Harry and I tried to get B'Elanna to tell us about Korenna's memories. She revealed everything to us - well, almost. Her early recollections of this man, Dathan, seemed suspiciously vague. Which makes me wonder what really happened. End personal log.


STARDATE 50229.72:

I couldn't believe it when I heard the news. B'Elanna had finally given in to Freddie Barstow. According to Neelix, B'Elanna accepted his offer for a game of Parises Squares. Which means they're on Holodeck Two, right now. Playing. And God knows what else. (Pauses) Wait a minute. I take that back. I don't know what made me think that B'Elanna and Barstow would be doing more than playing Parises Squares. It's not like she has any interest in the little worm. Right? End personal log.


STARDATE 50232.56:

I meant to ask B'Elanna about her date with Freddie Barstow. But for some reason, my nerve failed me. Geez! What the hell is wrong with me, anyway? And why in the hell should I care about what happened between those two? Harry thinks I'm jealous. Ha! Talk about a disillusioned mind! What the hell do I have to be jealous about? I'm not jealous of Barstow. I just don't think he and B'Elanna are suited for each other. End personal log.


STARDATE 50252.3:

While Voyager takes on supplies, Lt. Torres and I are investigating some intermittent sensor readings we picked up this morning. End personal log.

STARDATE 50256.16:

After yesterday's excitement, I felt too tired to make a log entry. I feel a lot better after a night's rest. Yesterday took a lot out of me. Got my nerves zapped by a pair of aliens that boarded the shuttle carrying B'Elanna and me. The Doc's program malfunctioned and Kes ended up saving my life. Whew! While crossing the Swarm's territory, I had to push Voyager to a 9.8 warp speed. Didn't help in the end. The aliens managed to beam to the Bridge and I ended up in a wrestling match with one of them. If the Captain and Harry had not reversed the shield frequency polarization to drive off the Swarm, we would have met the same fate as the crew of that dead alien.

I suppose all well that ends well. But one wouldn't think so after being in Tuvok's gloomy presence. It was obvious that he was still upset over the Captain's decision to break precious Starfleet protocols and ignore his advice. I accused him of being rigid and added that he should be thankful that we managed to shave off 15 months from our journey. He reminded me that he had thought an alliance with the Kazon was a good idea, despite Federation principles. He also added that Voyager was at least 70 years away from the Alpha Quadrant. A fifteen-month detour seemed paltry in comparison. Hell, even I couldn't argue with that.

One last thing - I finally learned what B'Elanna thought about Freddie Barstow. In a nutshell, she considered him a mere child who was lousy at Parises Squares. Her remark encouraged me to do a stupid thing. I asked her out for a date. Apparently, she found the idea of a date with me even more ludicrous than one with Barstow. Well, it's nice to know what she really thinks of me. End personal log.


STARDATE 50282.21:

Just had a date with Renlay Sharr. (Pauses) It was okay. We had dinner on the holodeck and later, ended up in her quarters. It was . . . well, okay. All right, so the earth didn't move. But at least I had a nice . . . time. I think. Geez, I better stop before I end up feeling disappointed. End personal log.


STARDATE 50316.52:

Who would have thought that a sighting of a temporal rift would lead to an exciting adventure? Or the chance of a lifetime to see history unfold right before my eyes? Or give me the opportunity to meet a potential soul mate? Okay, maybe I had exaggerated on that last entry. Rain wasn't a soul mate - just a very interesting, beautiful, intelligent, and witty young woman who happened to share my taste in entertainment. (Pauses) Then again, maybe she was a soul mate. Hell, I'm getting ahead of myself.

It was another day in the Delta Quadrant, when a temporal rift appeared, along with a ship from the 29th century. Can you believe it? The ship's pilot was this pompous fool named Captain Braxton. He accused us of being responsible for a major catastrophe 500 years from now. Apparently, he's part of some Temporal Intelligence Agency that Starfleet will have in the future. Our time traveler tried to destroy us, but thanks to Chakotay, we were able to stop him. Both Braxton's ship and Voyager got sucked into the rift.

Where did we end up? Orbiting around Earth. Twentieth century Earth. In 1996, almost 400 years in the past. Tuvok detected more temporal readings from the North American continent - in Los Angeles. To track down Braxton and his ship, the Captain led an Away team that included her, Chakotay, Tuvok and myself, to the surface. That left Harry in command of the ship. I bet that made him happy.

Late twentieth century Earth must have struck the others as bizarre. Off-the-wall. To be honest, I also found it a little overwhelming, but I still enjoyed it. A lot. For some odd reason, I felt at home. We managed to find Braxton near the beach, but before we could question him, Harry informed us that someone had spotted Voyager orbiting above Earth and made contact with the ship. The Captain ordered Tuvok and me to find this person and extract any data. And that is how I met Rain Robinson.

She worked at the Griffith Observatory, in the Hollywood Hills, above Los Angeles. It was Rain who had detected Voyager's gamma emissions and used an old (well, in 24th century terms) SETI communications greeting to contact the ship. When I first spotted the science-fiction movie posters on her office wall, I wondered if I had found a kindred spirit. And when I finally met her, I knew it. Rain seemed a bit reserved at first. Didn't blame her, there. Especially with two strangers in her office. But once I broke down her defenses - at least I think I did - we warmed to each other right away. She's so intelligent and feisty and beautiful. And at the same time, there seemed to be a vulnerability about her. One of a person who had spent many years, alone.

In the end, Tuvok and I used Rain's help to find the person in possession of Captain Braxton's technology - a businessman named Henry Starling. Fearful of being tracked down, Braxton hired Rain to keep an eye on any extraterrestrials - namely anyone from the future. When she realized that Starling had no intention of keeping her alive, Rain helped us kidnapped him.

With a shuttled manned by Chakotay and B'Elanna, we managed to beam Starling to Voyager. We also learned that the Doctor, whose program had been stolen by Starling, could now exist outside a room with holoemitters. And that Chakotay and B'Elanna's shuttle had crashed somewhere in Arizona.

It almost didn't end well. Starling's personal thug managed to beam him back to Earth with 29th century technology. And I also detected the timeship being moved from Chronowerx in a truck. That turned out to be a trick. Starling still had the timeship in one of his labs and he launched it for his own trip into the future. Fortunately, Tuvok and the Doctor rescued B'Elanna and Chakotay from a group of Arizona militia, repair the shuttle and rescue me from the California desert. And we, along with the Captain and Harry, managed to stop Starling from traveling to the 29th century and creating a catastrophe. Once disaster had been averted, Braxton reappeared - this one had never been on Earth - and returned us to the 24th century Delta Quadrant.

The worst part of all this was saying good-bye to Rain. I knew I had my duty to finish. And I realized I had to return to Voyager. But I didn't want to leave her. And I still wish I hadn't. Rain is probably the first woman - maybe the only one - who has ever accepted me for myself. She didn't mind my ”geeky" nature, she shared my taste in horror B-movies, and she's also a great kisser. I had told her the truth when I said that I had never met anyone like her. God, I'm going to miss her. End personal log.


STARDATE 50333.82:

I think I'm getting on Harry's nerves. Or making him depressed. Perhaps, because I've been mooning over Rain during the past week or so. I didn't think it would be so hard for me to get over her. But it has. I've watched "Orgy of the Walking Dead" and "Bride of the Corpse" practically every day since our adventures in the past. Harry suggested I try out his new volleyball program with him. Unfortunately, volleyball has never been a favorite sport of mine.

I've checked Rain Robinson's name in the computer database. After a brief participation in the Eugenics War, she became a prominent astronomer for NASA. She even participated in the Ares program, including John Kelly's famous flight in 2032. Rain married a writer from Mexico named Diego Salazar. They had a daughter and son, before they got divorced after fifteen years of marriage. In 2053, ten years before First Contact, Rain was killed during a bombardment by the then Eastern Coalition. She was 83 years old. End personal log.


STARDATE 50341.96:

Had dinner with Harry and B'Elanna. It was nice. We joked a bit. B'Elanna and I told Harry more stories about our experiences on Earth. I also mentioned the information I found on Rain. Maybe I was imagining things, but B'Elanna seemed . . . I don't know, irritated. Huh. Even stranger was her reaction when I mentioned Rain's husband and children. I wonder why. End personal log.


STARDATE 50347.06:

We rescued three aliens from a ship leaking with radiation. It was also in danger of destruction from a core breach. Harry beamed them to Sick Bay, where they were treated by the Doc and Kes. One of them died. We discovered that they were from a planet called Ilari and Voyager is heading there to deliver the survivors to their people.

Also, Neelix introduced the crew to his new holoprogram. It's a recreation of the Paxau Resort, a popular holiday resort for wealthy Talaxians. It was nice. Sort of. Well, it did seemed a bit too formal for Harry and me. I added a few changes and addition to the program. You know, exotic drinks, Calypso music from Earth's Caribbean region, and more relaxed clothing for the resort's employees. Harry added one special feature - beautiful and scantily-clad females from his volleyball program. He claimed they were the Swedish volleyball team from some past Olympic games. You know, not only has Harry learned to put Libby behind him, I think he's developing a roving eye for the ladies. Good for him. End personal log.


STARDATE 50349.88:

Harry and I found B'Elanna using the resort program. Even I had to admit that she looked great in her blue swim suit. It fitted in all the right places. Ahem! Too bad she brought along that overdeveloped lapdog with her. I thought she had better taste in men than that. End personal log.


STARDATE 50358.7:

Just got back from commiserating with poor Neelix. Poor guy still can't believe that Kes has ended their romance for good. Come to think of it, neither can I. Neelix had thought Tiernan's possession of Kes was to blame for her sudden distant behavior. As it turned out, Tiernan only tapped into Kes' real feelings.

And who is Tiernan? Oh, just this warlord from the 22nd century, who started out as a war hero on Ilari and became a tyrant. His people eventually ousted him and Tiernan's conscience or spirit has spent the past two centuries, using host bodies to reclaim his position as Autarch of Ilari. He was in the body of the Ilarian who had died from radiation exposure, four days ago. Only, once that host body died, he took possession of Kes. Using her body, Tiernan stole a shuttle and reconquered Ilari. Tuvok tried to rescue Kes, but was captured, instead. The Captain, Chakotay, Neelix, a Security team, myself and a few Ilarians eventually conducted a raid on the planet's surface and rescued Kes and Tuvok.

Voyager got Kes back, but Neelix lost her in the end. Poor guy. I know exactly how he feels. In fact, I said so before I told him about Susie Crabtree. End personal log.


STARDATE 50372.46:

There are times I wish I could stuff Harry into the nearest airlock and space him! I think Ensign Kim has romance on the brain. Or maybe sex. Maybe he's been hanging around that volleyball team of his, too long. What in the hell made him think that I'm jealous of some damn holo character? It's ridiculous! Why on earth would I be jealous of B'Elanna's little holostud? He's just some muscle-bound creep who massages her every time she visits the Resort. Might as well be a professional masseuse! End personal log.


STARDATE 50382.83:

Today marked the third time a Starfleet crew witnessed a supernova. The first two supernovas had been witnessed by the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise, under James Kirk's command - Minara in 2268 and Beta Niobe in 2269. Since Astrophysics was one of my majors at the Academy, I would have found the phenomenon exciting. Except, I was too concerned with getting Voyager out of the way of the star's fusion explosion. Still, it was a great sight.

Oh, one last thing - Q paid the Captain a visit in her quarters, later that day. That's right, he's back. And it seems that he wants to mate with her. Yeah, right! I wonder what he really wanted. End personal log.


STARDATE 50387.74:

Once more, Voyager's crew made history. Not only did we become the second Starfleet crew to witness a supernova, we ended up witnessing three of them. All because of the Q Continuum's civil war. The supernovas were side effects of the battles in the war. And we were wrong about Q. He really did want to mate with the Captain. He wanted omnipotent Q baby with human DNA to usher in some kind of new era for the Continuum. And stop the civil war.

The female Q, who wanted nothing more than to prevent her "beloved" and the Captain from procreating, helped Voyager enter the Continuum and stop the war. The Continuum actually resembled a battlefield from the American Civil War of the 19th century. Interesting. I even managed to get the drop on Q's nemesis. With a weapon harmful to omnipotent beings, of course. Frankly, I'm glad the whole thing is over. Both Qs managed to get on my nerves. Especially that female Q. Thanks to her, I have a new nickname - Helmboy. (Pause) Bitch. End personal log.


LOG SUPPLEMENTAL:

I forgot to add that I've decided to surrender and enjoy Harry's little collection of Swedish beauties. Who knew they would turn out to be such great masseuses? Besides, I might as well surrender. I'm not interested in any particular woman aboard ship. And I can't keep brooding over Rain forever. Especially since she is over 68,000 light years away and 377 years in the past. Oh well. End personal log.


STARDATE 50402.58:

I saw that B'Elanna has stopped using her little holostud in the Resort. She didn't have to. Not on my account. All I did was comment that he reminded me of Heller Prisco, a cadet I had known at the Academy. Prisco was known as a body building fanatic who had graduated second from the bottom of my class. It's not that I was comparing the holostud's IQ with Prisco's . . . or anything like that. I guess B'Elanna felt otherwise. End personal log.


STARDATE 50418.35:

Voyager came into contact with a new race called the Tak Tak. Since we're in dire need of foodstuff and dilithium, the Captain decided to trade some of our deuterium for them. She asked Neelix to accompany her to the Tak Tak homeworld. Guess whom Neelix asked to take care of the Mess Hall in his absence? That's right. Yours truly. (Sighs) Why can't I be the bastard that many already believe I am? End personal log.


STARDATE 50428.3:

I hope that Neelix never asks me to temporarily take over his Mess Hall duties again. Especially after what happened. Okay, the whole trouble didn't start in the Mess Hall, but on a mining colony called Garan that had been inflicted by some kind of outbreak. The Doc went on an Away mission to respond to the colony's medical distress call. He ended up returning to the ship with these macroviruses. It seemed they were attracted to his photon light and the ship's biofilters weren't able to detect them. And the entire crew ended up being infected.

Right now, I don't have much of an appetite. Especially after the events of yesterday. I especially don't have an appetite for any of Neelix's food. I guess facing a hungry crowd after burning a pot roast, getting infected by those macroviruses and seeing lavaflies pour out of B'Elanna's neck did the trick.

Speaking of B'Elanna, (Sighs) she's okay, thank goodness. She was the first to be infected after bursting that gel pack in the Mess Hall. I must say - she does have a sadistic wit. Maybe I shouldn't have teased her about Engineering's technical abilities. I couldn't help it. I guess it was my way of (Pauses) well . . . (Sighs) Oh God! I might as well admit it. I was trying to flirt with her. There! I . . . flirted . . . with . . . B'Elanna Torres. That wasn't so hard. Right? Right!

At least one good thing came out of this whole mess. The Captain decided to give the crew a little R and R to recover from the macroviruses. The duty shifts have been shortened for today. I heard that Chakotay and a few others plan to go skiing down a Ktarian glacier. Sounds like my kind of fun, but I plan to join Harry and B'Elanna, elsewhere. Paxan Resort, here I come! End personal log.


STARDATE 50431.53:

We've reached the border of the Nekrit Expanse, and a space station called the Nekrit Supply Depot. It's managed by this alien called Bahrat. Friendly fellow. That is, if one can call an emotionless, rigid nut, who charges visitors a 20 percent charge for trading on the station, friendly. The Captain, Chakotay and Neelix will visit the station. Ought to be interesting. End personal log.


STARDATE 50437.46:

I should have known when Neelix started asking questions about Caldik Prime that something was up. Too bad I didn't act on my suspicions and ask Neelix what was bugging him. If I had, Chakotay and I would have been spared from arrest and imprisonment for murder and trading in illegal substances.

But Neelix had it worse. Not only did his old friend, Wixiban, lure him into trouble, but also blackmailed him into getting a small supply of warp plasma particles from Voyager. Thankfully, Neelix finally found the guts to confess what happened to Bahrat and the Captain. He and Wixiban drummed up a plot to expose the drug trade that flourished on the station. Chakotay and I were finally released. Janeway punished Neelix by ordering him to scrub the deuterium exhaust manifolds for the next two weeks. As much as I feel sorry for Neelix, it's a hell of a lot better than spending the next 50 years in cryostasis suspension. End personal log.


STARDATE 50451.76:

Is it just me or is Vorik being unusually attentive to B'Elanna, lately? (Pauses) Nah! I must be imagining things. Or else Vorik is bucking for a promotion. Don't get me wrong. I like Vorik. He's a lot friendlier than Tuvok. Still, the idea of him and B'Elanna . . . (Sighs) What the hell is the matter with me? I sound like a jealous idiot and I don't have a reason to be jealous. I think my brain cells have gone soft. End personal log.


STARDATE 50460.17:

That little Vulcan worm! I should have known he was up to something! There I was, looking forward to a nice evening at Neelix's luau at the Resort. Hell, I even wore my favorite shirt - my Big Daddy-O Hawaiian shirt. Okay, B'Elanna made a few disparaging comments about it, but I decided to ignore it. After all, I liked it. And I liked B'Elanna's dress even more. She did look stunning . . . and tropical.

B'Elanna, Harry, Vorik and I had made plans to stick together during the luau. Only Harry almost didn't show up, because he was in a sweat over some hologram he had met in the Resort. Would you believe it? He went to Tuvok for advice on how to get over his infatuation. A Vulcan who would only try to get him to suppress his emotions, for crying out loud!

Speaking of Vulcans, that little backstabber, Vorik, managed to reserve seats with a - for B'Elanna and himself only. Hell, I was too surprised to give him a much deserved broken jaw. Come to think of it, I don't know if I have the strength to break a Vulcan's jaw. And how did I spend my evening? Let's just say that with Harry ending up pissed at Tuvok for spending time with that hologram and B'Elanna enjoying a dinner and a view with Vorik, I didn't exactly have a swell time. What a waste of a great shirt! End personal log.


STARDATE 50520.4:

The Captain nearly died from injuries suffered after a shuttle crash. Fortunately, Chakotay managed to keep her alive before he could contact Voyager. We eventually found them and the Doc beamed to the planet's surface to treat her injuries. Thank God he managed to save her. End personal log.


END OF PART 1