Into my Bookshelf: The Invisible Man

Welcome back to my bookshelf!

As far as classic monster tales, H. G. Wells’s The Invisible Man is easily my favorite, and surprisingly under-read. Griffin is up there with Dracula and Frankenstein (I vastly prefer him to Frankenstein), but in spite of the incredible number of reimaginings of the story through time, if people have read any Wells, it’s usually not this one.

One thing I can figure is that Griffin has a little bit of Dr. Jekyll in him. Because the story of Dr. Jekyll is so well-known, perhaps The Invisible Man has fallen by the wayside a bit. A man taken over by his experiments?

On the other hand, Dr. Jekyll is not a sympathetic character, but inherent in the type of experiments he does, he’s not a bad one, either. We come to think of Dr. Jekyll as “good,” regardless of what he was before he split himself, and it’s the bad part of him that takes over. Because we call it by a different name, it’s easy to pity Dr. Jekyll.

Griffin, the scientist so obsessed with optics that he discovers a way to turn tissue invisible, and does it to himself, isn’t a terribly sympathetic character. He’s ambitious, brilliant, and throughout the book he becomes a bit power-mad and megalomaniac. Which is fine, for a monster, but anything good about him is buried by the mania brought on with the possibilities of his new condition. He wants to enact a Reign of Terror, killing and pillaging. The usual.

And because we still think of him as the same person, because he’s not split himself in two, we don’t have sympathy for Griffin. Yes, it’s not easy being invisible, but killing for fun?

Really, though, Griffin is very much the same as Dr. Jekyll. The condition he puts himself in brings out the worst in him. Power corrupting, after all. His invisibility, like Dr. Jekyll’s experiment, unleashes the darkest parts of him, frees him to act on his base impulses. If we can pity Jekyll, we ought to be able to pity Griffin.

To be honest, I’m not certain we should pity either one.

At the end of the book (not all versions, but in the book), the tramp, Marvel, that he works with in the first part of the story, has all of Griffin’s notes, but he’s incapable of understanding them. This is a beautiful touch, like all the best horror stories. The truth, the formula, is still out there, waiting for someone intelligent enough to stumble across it and unleash the horror of the Invisible Man all over again.

It doesn’t sound spooky, perhaps, but after reading Griffin’s spiral into madness, it’s sufficiently spooky, especially if read in dim light, as all horror stories ought to be read.



Into My Notebooks: Star Trek Flip Book

Hello, and welcome back to my notebooks!

Today we’re talking about more of my notes for my Star Trek fan fiction, and I’ve actually completed this notebook as far as what it will contain for this project, so it’s the most up-to-date record for my fan fiction project.

Previously, I included in one of my notebooks a list of episodes to be covered in chapters. This flip book, as I’ve called it, is actually a sort of legal pad that I used to keep track of the chapter titles for each story. I have a separate notebook, which I won’t include in depth because it’s literally just a list, which has all of these chapters written out in order I plan to publish them, and there’s twenty-seven pages of it in a college-rule spiral, if that gives you an idea.

This flip pad is a Mead 6×9 in. “ruled writing tablet”, 100 sheets. According to the front, it fits in no. 6 3/4 envelopes. Like much of my stationary items, this was inherited from a sibling, so there’s pages torn from the front that I never wrote in, and four pages written on in pencil were loosely stuffed in the middle, probably those very same pages. I’ve taken them out and tossed them since.

I’ve got thirty pages written on in different colors, so I’ll just take it story by story here.

“Crossing Borders,” the TOS story, has two pages, with a list of 65 chapters, all written in black ink.

“Wanderings,” the TAS story, is a single page written in black with 25 chapters.

The next page has the titles for the stories based on the films, in order. This includes the classic and TNG films, not the modern films. Apart from the first film, they’re all going to be oneshots, so there’s titles written, in turquoise. The first story, “To Go Again,” covers the original film and is divided into three chapters. This is outlined in black.

“Continuing Legacy,” the TNG story, is written in turquoise over three pages, with 121 chapters.

“Cold Start,” the Enterprise story, is written in turquoise over three pages, with 87 chapters.

“Furthest Reaches,” the DS9 story, is written in turquoise over four pages, with 155 chapters.

“Severed,” the Voyager story, is written in turquoise over four pages, with 130 chapters.

I’ve got a oneshot written in turquoise on a page to itself, which is a transition from “Cold Start,” tying it more firmly to the OC from “Crossing Borders.”

Then I’ve got two pages of “Academic,” outlined in turquoise, for 64 chapters. This story is about the Academy years of Xebel, the son of my TOS OC, father of my TNG OC – the tie between the two sections, if you will.

“Shadows of History,” outlined in turquoise on a single page, is 21 chapters of Xebel’s brief serving on the USS Enterprise-B, before he serves on the station where he meets his wife and raises his children.

“A Logical Emotion,” written on a page by itself in turquoise, is a oneshot about Xebel’s courtship and marriage.

“Buckingham Women,” is two pages, 66 chapters, begun in turquoise but mostly written in pink. It’s the story of Xebel’s four daughters, and their distant cousins (raised as close cousins) in their time at the Academy – which all seven girls attend. As Sophie is the main focus of my TNG story, Daphne is the focus of DS9, Evodia is my focus in Voyager, and Cynthia is a prominent fixture in Voyager’s Pathfinder episodes, this is a valuable precursor to those characters.

“In an Instant,” is a single page, 20 chapter, pink outline for a story of Daphne’s time at the Medical Academy, and her friendship with Julian Bashir.

“Naturally,” is a oneshot listed on a page by itself, in pink. This is the story of Cynthia’s relationship with Barclay that isn’t covered in the Voyager scenes with Pathfinder,  supplementary if you will.

“Put Right,” is an outline on a page by itself in pink. 30 chapters, this story is a dual-plot story, telling the story of what becomes of Daphne and Evodia after Voyager returns. It begins upon Voyager’s arrival back at Earth and ends with both sisters are married and beginning families.

“Unique” is the story I started all of this for, ironically, and it’s a single page outline covering 25 chapters in pink. It’s the story of the daughter of the OC from the TNG story, Sophie. Parts of the plot are based on the video game, Star Trek Online, but it’s been molded and reworked given my earlier story and my own vision of how it would happen. And simplified, honestly, because there’s way more going on in the video game than I could work neatly into a story.

Finally, the oneshot “Family” is listed in pink on a page by itself, as a sort of epilogue to the series. This shows not closure exactly, but shows what becomes of some of the characters down the line.

Yes, this will take me a very long time and a lot of organization to pull off. Considering I’ve only got almost fifteen chapters of “Crossing Borders” finished, there’s a long way to go.

Still, as you can see from the large and lengthy notes that I’m keeping for the project, meticulous planning and careful records can make any project seem possible. Big, but possible.



Into My Playlist: Boys of Summer

Hello, and welcome back to my music!

Today we’re covering another cover of a song: “Boys of Summer,” originally done by Don Henley.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the Don Henley version of this song. Someday, I will purchase the Don Henley version of this song. But the version I currently own is The Ataris version of the song.


When I was maybe eleven or so years old (I was pretty young) I bought my first stereo. Nothing fancy or expensive, just speakers, a CD player, and a radio. I bought one CD (Country) to go with it, and then collected CDs from there. I have since bequeathed that stereo, which still works wonderfully, to my little brother, but when I first got it, I was looking for a radio station.

And I first began to listen to rock music.

Songs that are now “old” were brand new then, and even the ones that were covers of much older songs, like this one, were still brand new to me. And I forever recall that young, musically naive moment of my life in conjunction with these covers, notably, this one.

The Ataris version is a fairly faithful cover rendition, which I appreciate. The instrumentation is different, which amps up the sound a bit, but this is more in keeping with the sound at the time when it was made. More of a post-grunge sound.

There is only one significant lyrical difference. Instead of “I saw a Dead Head sticker on a Cadillac,” this cover version says, “I saw a Black Flag sticker on a Cadillac.”

Not a huge difference, except again, a sort of generational update. When I first heard the song, it was literally brand new, on its first play on the Portland radio station I was experimenting with. I don’t remember what the station was now, but I do remember the radio host pointing out this line when he compared it with the Don Henley version (I had never heard of Don Henley, so that meant nothing to me), and he said that it was the prerogative of The Ataris to update something small like that, make it relevant to their listeners.

This was a strange concept to me, because I had – to that point – always valued the most accurate copy possible in covers, in book-to-film, etc. A few years later, I would grow to understand why a slightly personalized artistic interpretation is good, and how it can still be faithful by becoming something new. At the time, my mental development was simply not ready for this sort of thinking, and this simple statement by the radio host blew my mind.

I think of that every time I hear this song, in either version. Now I know who Don Henley is. I know what Dead Heads are (ah, how young and naive I was), and I’ve heard so many cover versions of so many songs that I actually can appreciate the cover as an art form.

I think I can safely say that this version of this song – while in many ways simply a suitable cover version of a good song – was a seminal moment in my artistic development, and in many ways changed the way I look at art forever.

All thanks to a radio host I don’t even remember the name of on a station that I couldn’t find again if I tried.



Into My Bookshelf: God is Not a Christian

Hello, and welcome back to my bookshelf!

Today we’re talking about Desmond Tutu’s God is Not a Christian. This book was a coursebook for my History of Christianity course in undergrad.

I can’t stress how fabulous this book is. It is filled with religious musings of the brilliant Desmond Tutu on the nature of religion, Christianity, and what it means to be a Christian in a world where so many religions exist.

In a talk he gave in Birmingham, UK (my favorite city in the world), included in the book, he brings up the point that for so many of us, what religion we follow is an accident of birth. We are usually raised in the religion of our parents, and if we switch, it is often to the predominant faith of our friends, neighbors, or culture. In some places, certain religions are enforced by the state, or illegal to practice within a nation’s borders.

He talks in that same section about how insulting it is for Christians – as so many do – to say that practitioners of other faiths are just Christians without knowing it. If you’re a Christian, how would you feel, knowing that Muslims or Jews were sitting around somewhere saying that you Christians were really of their faith, but just didn’t know it?

The essential point is the things that Christians hold the most dear – God, the Spirit, divine love and mercy – exist outside the realm of Christianity. They were around before Christians ever came to be. Christians, like other faiths, don’t have a monopoly on divinity, and  if you are truly a Christian, that requires respecting the faith of others on their terms. They believe what they believe no less than you believe what you believe.

I think the critical thing he gets at in this book is something I remind people constantly: spirituality is universal and divine, but religion is man-made. Even if you believe that those who created your religion were inspired by God, you have to concede that man is flawed, and if you look back on the history of whatever your religion is, those men running things have made choices that clearly were no inspired by God. Let’s not forget the Pope Pius XII had his actions in regard to Hitler, just to name one that could be nearly universally agreed upon. If we look at our religions rationally, they are flawed.

And yet, people haven’t left the Catholic church in droves because of Hitler, or the Crusades, or things like that (although I do know someone who didn’t let his children be baptized into it for the stuff with Hitler, but that’s a rarity). I didn’t see a mass exodus from the Muslim faith after 9/11, and the comparisons could go on.

The fact is, while faith is important to everyone, the really critical things in Christian faith are love, forgiveness, mercy, grace – things where doctrine and the beliefs of the other people around you are irrelevant. You care for your own soul, and that includes loving everyone, all of God’s creation.

The fact that Desmond Tutu had to say that, the fact that it isn’t just a given, is the part where we should all be looking inside of ourselves. Because no matter what our spiritual and religious beliefs, there is no reason not to love our neighbor.



Into My Notebooks: Star Trek Notebook Again

Hello, and welcome back to my notebooks!

We’re back with my Star Trek fan fiction project notebooks, and I don’t have a nickname for this one, since it’s general notes out of sequence from the rest of my notes.

We’ve got another of those Top Flight single subject college-ruled 70 sheet notebooks that I’m so fond of. This one’s blue, and was originally (my label tells me) for my French 33 notes. I don’t actually recall taking notes in that class, but apparently I did, because the first page has a list of companies that are French (Bugatti, Citroën, Peugeut, Renault, Chanel, Dior, Givenchy), and notes about the differences of stereotypes of the French and les québécois (in French, naturally).

Then the notebook had a brief life as notes for my jobs for Claremont Sports Connection – the one club I was in for college. Page two are notes on my jobs for the second annual Sports Industry Day, which was basically price-checking various components of the folders we were handing out on the day, from printing costs to where to buy the folders.

Then I must have brought it back to french class, because I have verb sets for the next three and a half pages. At the bottom of the next one, I have a list of people I was considering getting things for if I did study abroad. It’s a long list. Needless to say, my final list was much shorter.

Then I’ve got another page of French notes (apparently I did more in that class than I remember…)

Then I have this little flash-fiction piece that I don’t remember writing:

Wisps of smoke were sucked up into the prevailing fog, invisible to anyone around to see. Anyone who might have noticed this was dead. A single pair of eyes pierced the fog, a mist so thick and heavy that it hid from those eyes what secrets lay on the forest floor: blood, bones, flesh. Fog could cover the sight of the massacre, bu tit could not cover the scent: of metallic blood and putrefying flesh, of scorched skin and hair and wool and earth.

The wolf’s paws fell on ash as it surveyed the clearing caused by fire. The smoke had burned out almost entirely. not a single living presence could be sensed.

Beauty can be seen in the right sort of death, awe in all death. But this, this was not death. It felt closer to oblivion.

Snow would come, and perhaps in spring it would begin again.

I’m not really sure when I wrote this, because as I said, I don’t remember writing it. However, as I have a short story that has a similar mindset to this (without the wolf) that’s longer and (I think) better, I doubt I’d ever do anything with this piece except maybe cannibalize it for parts. I’m not sure that isn’t what I did already.

From here I actually have ten pages of a draft outline for my six generation Harry Potter fan fiction, the full outline I discussed in a previous post.

At present, only the next three pages are Star Trek. They’re notes on where my fan fiction series goes after the events of DS9 and Voyager, with what is essentially a list of plot points, some only a line jotted down, some a paragraph that takes up a third of the page. I also have a list of people who are actual characters from other Star Trek series who will make significant appearances or important mentions in this story.

Why do I list this as a Star Trek notebook while there’s only three pages thus far? Because that’s currently what it’s in use for, and likely will be its use for the remainder of its life. But this is the typical life of one of my notebooks, mixed and matched and used and abused. Thought that might be interesting to see.



Into My Playlist: Bluebird

Welcome back!

I’ll preface this by saying while this is currently the only Christina Perri song I own, “Bluebird” is more an acquisition of opportunity.

There was a time in my life when I trolled the iTunes free releases, and the super-discounted songs. “Bluebird” was released as a free song during this period, so I snagged it because I had fallen in love with “Jar of Hearts” on the radio and figured there was a good chance I would like this one.

And to be fair, I do.

It’s about losing someone, though, and someone you aren’t ready to lose, and then their moving on with someone you both know. And like so many songs on my playlist that are sad, in spite of a lack of driving beat, this manages to be remarkably – for lack of better word – chirpy.

Christina Perri writes a good song, and this one tells a very good story. I think my issue with this song at the moment is that I always really liked it, but didn’t love it, and I maybe over-listened to it. So lately I only listen to it when it pops up on my “play all” shuffle. I still enjoy it, but I never feel the urge to listen to this song. And thinking back, I don’t think I ever did.



Into My Bookshelf: Treasure Island

Welcome back to my bookshelf!

Like so many children, I wanted to be a pirate.

This started young. I had a little pirate action figure set complete with ship and skull-shaped island (I’ve since leased this, if you will, to my niece to play with when she visits her grandmother’s house). Peter Pan was one of my favorite childhood stories, and Hook and Smee my favorite Disney villains (apart from Scar, admittedly, but you never forget your first). When Disney came out with Captain Jack Sparrow and updated my always-favorite ride, Pirates of the Caribbean, needless to say I was in hog heaven.

But even if I weren’t a literature fan, I would have all of this owed to Robert Louis Stevenson, a Scottish author from the late 1800s.

If you read Treasure Island, or watch one of the many television or film versions (seriously, take your pick, there’s so many), you might roll your eyes and think it’s cheesy. A stereotypical show if pirates, with X marking the spot on an island where treasure is buried, and a peg-legged pirate with a parrot on his shoulder. I mean, that’s in every poorly conceived pirate story, right?

Where do you think those stereotypes came from?

As many great novels from this era, Treasure Island was serialized, and Robert Louis Stevenson released it in segments to a magazine (or maybe a literary journal, minor distinction, and I’ll admit that I haven’t carefully researched this; I just happen to know it and I don’t remember why). In those segments, he not only told an adventurous tale that young boys could play with and relate to as a coming of age story, but he literally wrote the book on over-the-top pirate lore that has become canonical, thanks to many Disney imaginings of pirates since based on this original brilliance.

It’s important to remember when we read old books that we’re reading the baseline. Classics aren’t classic necessarily because they’re any better than what we have today. Some things are classic because they did something significant first. Treasure Island formed the conception of pirates in the way Ivanhoe romanticized the Crusades and chivalry for future generations to play with, but it did much more than that.

Apart from crystallizing my pirate obsession as a child, this novel also presented me with a story that creates almost an antihero in Long John Silver (who has his own seafood chain because he’s that cool). Unlike many children’s books, of the era or of our era, good and evil aren’t so clearly delineated. Like our modern Jack Sparrow, Long John Silver makes you wonder if up is down on many an occasion, and this resonates with children, even if we adults don’t want it to.

The world isn’t black and white, and even though children seem to want it to be, this isn’t natural to them. They think it’s that way because we present it in that way to them, but they are remarkably perceptive about the complexities of life. They know that things aren’t always fair in the numerical sense, and they know that right doesn’t always win. They also know that the “wrong” choice often looks very tempting, reasonable, and even good.

It’s this moral complexity that Robert Louis Stevenson appeals to in children when he writes this book, and generations of young children (admittedly mostly boys) were just as captivated as I was by a story that tells it like it is while still capturing the imagination with adventure, puzzles, and a world where rules are a little bit more flexible.

Because seriously, who didn’t mark the spot with X?

(If you didn’t, shame on you.)