Saturday, May 18, 2013


I understand that there is some sort of Star Trek thing happening this weekend, or maybe last weekend? Or sometime, I think, and as that sentence shows, I am an expert on all things Trek, owing to my extensive history of knowing about and being experienced in Star Trek.  As just an example of my in-depth experience with Trek, let me tell you that I:

A. Have watched the first 8 minutes of the pilot episode of the original series on Netflix, and

B. Owned, when I was a kid, a Star Trek playset with a "real" transporter.  That having been the days when kids were not forewarned that "real" toys were not actually "real" toys, I was somewhat disappointed to learn that the transporter simply spun Captain Kirk around left him standing in the back of the cardboard box.

C.  Instead of a "Klingon" doll -- these were dolls, not even "action figures" because this was before Star Wars figures became a thing, so boys were still playing with dolls, but they were manly dolls like "Big Jim" and the like -- I had "The Lizard" from the Spider-Man set, and when I asked my uncle (who'd given me the set for a birthday) why I had "The Lizard" instead of a "Klingon," he said "Isn't The Lizard more fun than a Klingon?"

So I am something of a Trek expert, or "Trekexpert," if you will, and I am therefore qualified to do what Whodathunkit!? has been boldly doing since it's inception five years ago: to explore [something something something related to that old Star Trek intro, look it up later]

WHODATHUNKIT?! as always, gets past the usual stuff the "media" covers.  You won't get any flashy shots of sexy celebrities like this:

Not here! WHODATHUNKIT?! never stoops so low as to simply load a post with click-bait photos like

...Chris Pine shirtless.

Nor does WHODATHUNKIT!? simply replay trailers 

like this blog is simply some highly-paid flunky for the Big Studios, taking armfuls of cash to mindlessly flog their latest overpriced piece of 3D drivel.*

*NOTE TO BIG STUDIOS: This blog is more than willing to become some highly-paid flunky for the Big Studios, taking armfuls of cash to mindlessly flog their latest overpriced piece of 3D drivel. And with over 3 readers on average per YEAR I think we can see the value I can bring.  Contact me today!

No, WHODATHUNKIT!? as always, goes for the "story behind the story," peeling away the layers of pop culture like an archaeologist slowly uncovering a weirdly-shaped rock he will later claim is a "dinosaur" even though everyone knows the world was created in 1902 by an occult group working in tandem with Thor, and so "dinosaurs" never existed... in this dimension.  READ YOUR SCIENCE BOOKS!

WHODATHUNKIT!?'s main purpose is to give you, my reader(s), something to talk about at these big events, something nobody else will know, something that will make people pause in awed silence, look at you in wonder, and then edge slowly away in case you are carrying something sharp.  So read these THREE ACTUAL THINGS THAT ARE SOMEWHAT TANGENTIALLY RELATED TO STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS, and feel free to share them as you wait in line at the theaters, or as you sit in the seats waiting through the interminable trailers, or as you wait through the endless credits following the movie to see if the director snuck some clever little closing bit in there.

Let's begin!

1.  The movie has a title, right? What's that all about?

If you are familiar with this movie, you know that the "title" or "Foreword," as movies call it, is somewhat controversial this time around.  That is because traditionally Star Trek movies have no title; in the past, when people wanted to go see them, they would say something like "Me? I'm going to see that..." and then trail off rather than admit they were paying money to see a Star Trek movie.  (NOTE: this rule does not apply to "The Wrath Of Khan," which everyone acknowledges is a  movie so great that it has spontaneously cured blindness in orphans just upon hearing it referenced by Simon Pegg in a blog post).  After producers became aware of this effect, they simply stopped naming the movies, thereby saving millions, if not billions, that had previously been paid to professional movie namers, who were forced to subsist on minimum wage payments from Disney,  which is why that movie was called "John Carter."

Seriously: Consider Disney's recent movie titles.  "Toy Story." "Cars." "A Bug's Life." "John Carter."  If this trend continues, the next big thing from Disney is going to be called "Movie."

Anyway, the controversy about this movie is not just that it has a title but also that the title might not have been properly capitalized.  There's even a Wikipedia page about the controversy, which begins:

There has been much debate over whether the word “Into” in the title of Star Trek Into Darkness should be capitalized

That article summarizes the main arguments for and against capitalizing the word "into" in the title "Star Trek Into Darkness."

The best argument FOR capitalizing it? It seems to me?

Every single source capitalizes it.There is no source which does not capitalize it.
 Which is to say: "All the people involved in making the movie want it that way."

But as a powerful counterpoint to that argument, consider this other argument on the Wikipedia page:

You’re being unreasonable or stubborn.

Hard to argue with that one!

The real problem, apparently,  is that if the word is NOT capitalized that means that "Star Trek" is being used not as an overall title, but as part of a sentence, making trek into a verb and Star into an adverb, and we all know how much everyone hates adverbs!


As noted in this post, Star Trek has long offended grammarians, beginning with when it split an infinitive in its voice over.  You would think that this being 2013 and our world facing serious challenges in the areas of finance, terrorism, health care, ecology, and the like that there would be more important things to discuss.  YOU WOULD BE RIGHT. But because this is the world we live in, we are discussing this, and not anything that actually matters.

WHICH IS NOT TO SAY THAT GRAMMAR DOESN'T MATTER, except it doesn't, because you know what? We English-speakers do not even have an official grammarian.  So how can we say that it really counts if we don't have an official grammarian, is what I'd like to know?

Consider the French.  No, seriously, I know this is America and so we hate the French which is why we set all those Liam Neeson movies in France, to show how terrible the French are, only then we wimp out and make the bad guys some vague ethnicity like "Jrbanik," which isn't even a word, I made it up, which just goes to show how wimpy English is, as a language.  Not as an ethnicity.  English as an ethnicity is pretty tough, I think, what with the stiff upper lip and putting vinegar on their food as a condiment.

Not so with the French, who have L'Academie Francaise, which is the official French authority on how to speak French.  (And here you thought it was your 9th grade French teacher, Mademoiselle Jrbanik. WRONG.)  The Academie, and I am not making this up, is staffed by forty immortals (it says so right on Wikipedia) and together they make pronouncements about the proper way to speak French, pronouncements which, because they come from immortal French Academie authorities are...

...nonbinding.  Well, that was a letdown.  At least we know that France has discovered the secret to immortality, and that they are using it on grammarians.

English, on the other hand, traces all its rules for grammar to

(Are you sure you're ready for this?)

A pamphlet.

Specifically, William Bullokar's "Pamphlet For Grammar," or, as it would be called today: "Pamphet: Into Grammar."  The 1586 Pamphlet For Grammar was the first guide to English Grammar to be written in English, so basically it took 16 centuries for English speakers to decide to write about their language using their language, and with that kind of history, it's easy to understand why we're still confused about whether the word "Into" is an adjective or (as many grammarians contend) "some kind of bug."

If you are interested, you can download the "Pamphlet For Grammar" for free from the Oxford University Computing Services.  I'd have done it but there was a lot of stuff like "agreements" and "things to read that were boring" before I could do that, and there was precious little of this:


2.  I heard this movie is actually just thinly veiled propaganda supporting Obama's secret powers to kill your family with a drone strike while you're watching Dancing With The Stars.

You heard right.

Also, don't talk so loud he'll hear you too late DUCK!

Or, to quote "The Washington Free Beacon," 

Star Trek Into Darkness is actually a crypto-neocon defense of the necessity and morality of drone strikes.

[SPOILER ALERT!] The spoiler is this: did you know that one of the actors in the movie is actually named Benedict Cumberbatch?  I just found that out, and I cannot believe that

A.  There is a person named "Benedict Cumberbatch" and I am only just now hearing about this person, because that is an awesome name, and

B. That person is not a living, breathing, incarnate Dickens character.

I mean, honestly? I have read a lot of Dickens' work* (*about three books, maybe four) and I am certain that more or less every single character in those books was named Benedict Cumberbatch.

Benedict Cumberbatch, notably not asking for more gruel or wheeling Miss Havisham about a bridal chamber while playing at spades.
But about the drones? Apparently Benedict plays a terrorist (who goes by the name of Khan because nobody has any time to think up original ideas anymore and everything has to be a #(@#$*#& reference to our childhoods or we won't go see it) and Kirk gets the order to fly into enemy airspace and destroy him... let me have The Washington Free Beacon, which I am 92% certain runs a daily essay on why pot should be legalized everywhere, tell you:

Star Trek Into Darkness is centered on the hunt for a terrorist played by Benedict Cumberbatch. Early on in the film he blows up a large library in London, killing many people, and then launches an assault on the high command of Starfleet, taking out a number of senior officers (including Admiral Pike, James T. Kirk’s mentor). After the attack on the high command, Cumberbatch flees to an uninhabited portion of Kronos, the Klingon homeworld. Once his location is discovered, Kirk and Spock are given a controversial order: They are to fly into Klingon space, locate Cumberbatch in the uninhabited border areas of Kronos, and kill him with a torpedo from thousands of kilometers away.

Lest you miss the point, the Free Beacon drives it home in the next line:

Sound like anything America might be currently engaged in?

So anyway, I am as anti-random, due-processless-murder-by-done as the next guy -- so much so that I have tweeted my opposition to this, in a bold stance! -- but it might be saying a bit much to assume that Star Trek: Into Iran (as the working title of the movie was, according to inside sources) is a propaganda film put out by the Administration to dull the public's outrage over drone strikes, mostly because the public so far completely lacks any outrage over drone strikes.

At least, the American public.

An Internet poll* (*i.e., completely useless unscientific smattering of opinion from people who spent the ten minutes before and after taking the poll "poking" their friends' cat pictures on Facebook) in February found that the American public largely favors drone strikes on foreign countries, 56% to 26%, which leads me to this important question:

Who were the 18% of the people who voluntarily took an Internet poll on drone strikes only to have no opinion on drone strikes? 

And this important follow-up

Seriously, who are those people and why are they allowed to vote?

Not surprisingly, the results among foreigners, a/k/a "the people most likely to be targeted by drone strikes," were dramatically different, with 100% of respondents muttering from the corner of the bomb shelter that they never did anything to America.

What is also interesting* (*"alarming") is that of the people who favor drone strikes, fully 1/3 think that the drone strikes might be being conducted illegally.

Let me summarize the position of about 1/6 of the country:

Shoot them furriners with bombs, even if you have to break the law to do it.

Or, as Republicans like to say:


Let's go to point three.  Or, to put it more futuristicationally:

Point Three: Into Absurdity.

3.  So what's Benedict Cumberbatch's story? Does he have two middle names, or what?

Bingo.  To be precise, which we must be because he is British, -ish, he is "Benedict Timothy Carlton Cumberbatch," which is the most English phrase ever written, and he is possibly the most British person ever born, considering that not only is he named Benedit Timothy Carlton Cumberbatch, a name that deserved a schoolhouse rock song if ever there was one, sorry Rufus Xavier Sarsaparilla,

but also Benedict Timothy Carlton Cumberbatch -- I'm typing that out each time, not copying it, and my fingers are going to be able to crush brick by the time I'm done -- also he has in the past played William Pitt, Stephen Hawking, and Sherlock Holmes, among this notable roles, so basically Benedict Timothy Carlton Cumberbatch is Great Britain, Incarnate.

(Which, in turn, Free Beacon, somewhat muddies the message J.J. Abrams was commanded to work into his film by Obama, in that now Americans are being subliminally encouraged to want us to shoot Great Britain with drones, which can't be the... OH MY GOD IT ALL MAKES SENSE NOW THAT IS WHY PRINCE HARRY WAS HERE THIS WEEK.)

The secrets and lies go deeper and deeper.  Ready to go down the wormhole?  Consider this actual, SINISTER, phrase from Benedict Timothy Carlton Cumberbatch's Wikipedia page:

His great-grandfather, Henry Arnold Cumberbatch, CMG, was the British Consul General in Turkey. His grandfather, Henry Carlton Cumberbatch, was a decorated submarine officer of both World Wars and was a prominent figure of London's high-society at the time. Cumberbatch is also a distant cousin of astronaut Chris Hadfield, through shared British ancestry

Still not piecing it together? I think the Free Beacon gets me.  But let me spell it out for you:

1. Benedict Timothy Carlton Cumberbatch shares a name with Benedict Arnold, who is history's greatest monster (Revolution Edition).

2. Benedict Timothy Carlton Cumberbatch appears as a man named "John Harrison" in this movie, Star Trek: Into An America In Which Obama Failed To Protect Us From Foreign Threats Because All Democrats Are Secretly One-Worlders."

3.  John Harrison is both the inventor of the marine chronometer, in Britain, and the scion of one of our most prominent political families (no, not the Clintons), the Harrisons.

4.  One of the Harrisons was a president:  William Henry Harrison, who died only forty days into office.  (Or: Forty Days: into Office.)

5.  Another was Benjamin Harrison, who despite being a Republican passed the Sherman Antitrust Act and was the first president to spend more than a billion dollars (a feat that is remembered in the classic rotoscope feature "Benjamin's Millions.")

6.  Meanwhile, Benedict Timothy Carlton Cumberbatch is also a "distant cousin" of KNOWN CANADIAN Chris Hadfield, who even as we speak ...sorry I am behind on my news... just finished orbiting the Earth and repeatedly taking what can only be described as Targeting Photos For Drone Strikes.


Which, I don't have to remind you, is the only war that in which all the major battles were fought after the end of the war. Coincidence? I THINK NOT.

Benedict Timothy Carlton Cumberbatch, giving the traditional and chilling Canadian Battle Cry:


Pat Dilloway said...

I don't think there's any choice now but to nuke Britain and Canada posthaste.

Briane P said...

You said it. Pre-emptive strikes are what the Constitution is all about.

Andrew Leon said...

He's also (or will be) the voice of Smaug.

I have four names.

Andrew Leon said...

Oh, and there is a movie about to come out called Epic, so we're getting close to just Movie.

Briane P said...

You have four names?

I think that's a little irresponsible, when some people in the world can only afford ONE name. Or even a letter. Like that "Q" fellow from James Bond. Maybe you could spare him some... wait a minute, now you've got me talking about England again. YOU ARE PART OF THE CONSPIRACY.

Pat Dilloway said...

One of my sisters has 5 names. So there. I win. Or she does, but she's not here, so I will take the trophy wherever it is.

Andrew Leon said...

I am the conspiracy.

Michael Offutt, "Johnny on the Spot" said...

I stopped reading at Chris Pine shirtless. You need to save those pics until later in the post. At that point my mind is gone.

Briane P said...

I'm going to photobomb you on Twitter with Chris Pine shirtless.