Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Update and Explanation

This is a little message about why I have not been posting much on this blog as of late. I enjoy writing this blog and wanted to share it with others, and thought it would be a great way to practice my writing skills. I decided at the beginning that I would not use it as a means to make money (hence the lack of ads on it), and I am sticking to that. I do not expect to become an overnight sensation. I recognize that I am one of countless Trek fans who write about Star Trek on the internet, and do not anticipate becoming any sort of celebrity. Having said that, I do like having lots of people read my blog and share their thoughts. I like engaging others and hope that people enjoy what I have written, and recent events have put a damper on that.

Even though regular readers are very few in number (I think I have 3 followers, but being small in numbers doesn't mean I do not value you any less), I typically have a few hundred hits per blog post. When I made this blog I had no idea how to attract readers other than putting it out there, so I turned to social media (mainly Facebook and Google). I started with my friends (people I can actually put a face to their name), and then started to join some fan groups on Facebook and Google+. I saw the number of page visits go from a couple dozen to a couple hundred. I continued to write and gradually added a few extra groups. Pretty soon I would be getting around five hundred or so hits per post. I would get a few comments here and there, and I must admit that I enjoyed that. I even had some of my posts exceed 1000 and even 2000 views. This exceeded any expectations I had, and I was getting some good feedback. It helped me polish my skills and I felt that things were going well. 

A couple months ago, I was contacted by one of the administrators of one of the Facebooks groups I belonged to. She informed me that my posts were being deleted because I did not comment on anyone else's posts. She told me that I was spamming the group with my weekly posts. I was a little confused at that, so I asked for some clarification. I was met with a wall of intolerance. I had a different understanding as to what "spam" was than her group did. I asked for some guidelines on what level of participation that wanted from me, to which she ended the conversation, blocked me, and banned me from the group. I suspect she also labeled my blog as spam to Facebook. I was a bit hurt by the situation as I had never intended to break the rules of any group. In fact, I would do my best to learn and to follow the rules of each group. If a certain series or type of post was not allowed in a group, I would not share those posts with them. I felt that their reaction was over the top, unfair, and hurtful. I panicked a bit and worried that I was doing the same in other groups. It caused me a lot of stress (more than it really should have, I admit), so I quit a few of the groups I was in. I reached out to other admin members in other groups, and many of them responded with some good feedback and advice. I then got back to writing.

Sadly, my page views plummeted immediately after this, by as much as 90%. Types of articles that would normally hit 600-800 views were lucky to break 80. I rejoined a couple of the groups I left, and found a couple more to be a part of. Since then, the numbers have only marginally improved. I contacted Facebook to see if being labeled as spam from someone else could affect how often my post was showing up in someone's feed. I have had no reply. When I mentioned this in another group, someone suggested that if I stop posting for a month or so, things would "reset" in a way, and the label of spam would be gone. If I kept posting weekly, it would indeed be seen as spam and nothing would change. I decided to give that suggestion a try and see what happens. 

So what this means to the three blessed souls who still follow this blog is that I will be not be posting anymore articles or episode reviews until late January 2019. This is good for a few reasons, as it will allow me some time to write, as well as have me not feel pressured to keep up with it during a busy time over the Christmas holidays (I'm taking the family on a trip, and likely won't have time over the next couple weeks to do much on the blog anyways). It gives me a chance to reassess the situation and further engage myself in the FB groups I am in. That was one of the changes I made afterwards. I realized that this other group was correct in stating that I did not participate with their group nearly as much. I participated in other groups more, just not theirs for some reason. I committed to give a few more comments and be a better community member when possible. 

So I hope that you will continue to check on this little old blog every now and then and stay with me when I am back. I'll hopefully have some time to renew my energies and come up with some new ideas. I have lots to write about with over 500 episodes left to review, so I do not plan on going anywhere. I'm just taking a needed break. Until Discovery Season 2, live long and prosper my friends.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Episode Review - Blaze of Glory (Deep Space Nine, Season 5)

For those who are new to my episode reviews, you can find the post where I establish my point criteria here.

Overview – Sisko receives word that the surviving Maquis have launched cloaked missiles at Cardassia, an act that could start a war between the Federation and the Dominion. Sisko turns to his former security chief and captured Maquis leader, Michael Eddington, to stop the missiles. Meanwhile, Nog is having difficulty dealing with the Klingons on the station and has to work up the courage to confront them, hoping to earn their respect (and not be disembowled).

Score: 8/10 – The story of Michael Eddington and that of the Maquis are wrapped up here in this episode. It ties up these loose ends before the official Dominion war begins, which thins out the multiple story arcs that are currently running through the series. For Eddington, it allows him a chance to go out in the way the episode title suggests: a blaze of glory. In doing so we see the end of a very complicated character, and it is an end that suits him. Eddington was a traitor to Starfleet, yet he saw himself as being loyal to them and humanity by standing against the Cardassians. In the end, he seems to once again have earned the respect of Ben Sisko. The second story, with Nog working up the courage to stand up for himself against Martok and the other Klingons, adds some comedy to lighten up the tension that the main story builds. Jake provides the moral support for his friend. There is also a humorous scene that gives some of the other characters (Quark, Odo, Bashir, etc.) some screen time.

Relevance – 3 points. The end of Eddington is worth a point. The end of the Maquis is also worth a point, but more because of how it impacts some of the crew on Voyager. When Chakotay receives word of their fate in “Hunters”, he shares it with Torres. She will eventually have to work out those emotions. Finally, the disrespect that Klingons showed Nog was seen before this episode. With Nog finally standing up to them, he ends that little story arc as well. We also hear about the fate of Cal Hudson, who was Sisko’s friend introduced in “The Maquis”. Cal, it turns out, was killed in a skirmish with the Cardassians.

Continuity – 3 points. Story continuity works out fine here. We also have good universe continuity. Character continuity is also a check. To have Sisko put aside his differences and ultimately work with Eddington makes sense. I also found Nog's discovery of courage to face the Klingons, and Martok's response, to fit. Three checks, three points.

Character Development – 2 points. While Nog does get some good development here, he is not a primary character. Jake does get more screen time than normal, but he is little more than a means to advance Nog’s story. No, this story is about Eddington and Sisko. With Ben going on one last mission with Michael, having to put side differences and such, we see him reach some closure. He goes from extreme anger and distrust to begrudging respect and sympathy for the Maquis situation. The closure for the Eddington story includes Sisko’s closure with his former officer.

Social Commentary – 1 point. Going out in a blaze of glory is sometimes the dream of every person fighting for a cause. That is what Eddington was allowed to do, but I am not sure whether that was what he truly wanted. Instead, he likely wanted to be reunited with his wife, Rebecca, and possibly extract some revenge on his former Captain. Perhaps the lesson in this is concerns the idea that sometimes when fighting for a cause, you have to accept that you are going to lose. How you handle losing becomes your defining moment. Eddington was a bit disillusioned that the Maquis were defeated. He knew they had the Cardassians on the ropes once the Klingons invaded Cardassia, and yet it drove the Cardassian Empire to join the Dominion. It was a difficult reality for Michael to see how much the Maquis had lost. When he did come to that realization, he set aside whatever grievance he had with Sisko to rescue as many of his former comrades as he could. Perhaps he decided that to die a hero was better than living as a criminal. I am not sure how much this applies to the average person, but it is something, at least.

Cool Stuff – 0 points. Sadly, for such a good episode, there was not really a “cool” moment. When Eddington goes down in his blaze of glory, he whispers “Rebecca” as his last word. I have to say that while I thought that was appropriate for him, it did not come across as powerful as perhaps was intended. As a Canadian, I thought it was fun that Eddington had a “lucky Loonie”, which is our current nickname for our dollar coin, but fun does not equal cool. As much as it pains me, I cannot give any points in this category.

Rank – Captain (17 points). As far as Deep Space Nine is concerned, the tragic tale of the Maquis ends with the death of Michael Eddington in his “Blaze of Glory”. I find it fitting for such a complicated character that divided many of the fans. Some hated him, some loved him, and some just shrugged their shoulders. As Dax and Sisko mentioned, he was a complicated man, but at least he had some closure to his story. Love him or not, you should at least see how his story ends.

If you would like to read other reviews from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, please click the following link.

If you would like to read an episode review from any of the Trek series, click the following link to get to the series catalog. If the episode you want reviewed has not been done yet, then feel free to request it in the comments and I will see what I can do.