The Left Side Of Paradise.

Being completely fair, there was no sriracha or white zinfandel.

Above, we have two panels drawn on my clipboard, while on a weekend vacation in the Santa Ynez/Santa Barbara area. What’s nice about these places is that they are the opposite of big cities. Although I thrive in big cities, it’s pretty necessary to have a change of scenery and pace once in a while. Something completely different. I couldn’t live in small towns like Los Olivos, for instance…which actually has only a few streets, but going to a place like that automatically removes the stresses of basic, everyday life in the modern world.

That’s why I went with the reference of the Star Trek episode, “This Side of Paradise.” A first season episode, and one of the better ones, it really outlines Trek’s complex relationship with the idea of hippies. The show never seemed entirely comfortable with the youth movement. This would be much more obvious third season’s dire The Way to Eden, but the show’s sense of unease is quite palpable here, as Kirk finds himself trying to deal with a crew that have sampled some mind-altering vegetation and are now embracing free love. That’s pretty much the plot.

This Side of Paradise is very clearly about the hippy movement. The colonists on Omicron Ceti III couldn’t embody the movement better if they tried. They live on a farming planet which produces enough food to sustain them. They’ve also stumbled upon a way to enhance their mind, using all-natural spores, using what Spock would describe as “a happiness pill.” They might use spores instead of mushrooms, but the colonists are clearly meant to be under the influence of something similar to LSD. They offer a world that is no longer slavishly devoted to technological advancement, where there is no larger machine for the people to serve. In a way, their philosophy is quite regressive, as they episode explains, “Our philosophy is a simple one, that men should return to a less complicated life. We have few mechanical things here. No vehicles, no weapons. We have harmony here. Complete peace.”

He’s not exactly wrong. The whole point of my weekend was to get away from the grind of the modern world. I think it’s good to do, once in a while, for a very brief period of time. Much like Captain Kirk, though…I also think that there’s a time and a place, and you have to eventually get back to your responsibilities.

It’s Monday, and I’m already back…but still being on vacation, I really don’t have that many responsibilities. That’s a good thing, of course. A whole lot of the time, people think that so much of the world relies on THEM in order to keep things running right. At work, at school, etcetera. In reality…things go on without you. Maybe more efficiently, maybe less. It has taken me a really long time to grasp that fact, despite the fairly regular long vacations.

People have been asking me about the principal situation at the Edu-Mountain. School and work people, that is. My answer has been more or less to shrug my shoulders. The district will find someone, and from there, we will see what happens. All the interference in the process at my old school site still added up to getting a straight up Darth, who had to be removed from his position after thirteen months. Would things have gone differently, without intervention? Probably not…no too many people even applied there. Still…I realized that these things can go on without me…I don’t have to borrow a cup of trouble to still be about the things that I am about.

That’s different from being “uninvolved.” It is taking more serious consideration of the things that you have to be involved in, the things that need time and attention, because you can only do a few things really well. There are only so many hours in the day, after all. Especially now…I have to pick the political and educational causes that matter to me most, and pursue them hard, trusting other will deal with the remainder. These days, there are SO MANY issues, that’s the only way to go, and do things well.

In the episode, “This Side of Paradise,” the big concern about the alien spore infested colonists is that in three years, they haven’t done anything. They produce enough to sustain themselves, and they are happy, but that’s all. They just kind of hang around their planet, farming. Spock explains, “The plants act as a repository for thousands of microscopic spores until they find a human body to inhabit.” A colonist adds, “In return, they give you complete health and peace of mind.” It would be easy to make them evil and villainous, but “This Side of Paradise” resists the temptation. They seem genuinely peaceful, and Kirk’s destruction of them seems almost cruel. “You said they were benevolent and peaceful. Violent emotions overwhelm them, destroy them.” Kirk and his crew essentially hate an alien life form to death.

See…that’s why Cap can’t be affected by the spores. It’s not her nigh invulnerability, or the fact that she doesn’t need to breathe. In both panels, she is pretty mad, constantly, about NOTHING. Those alien spores wouldn’t last two seconds in her system.

It’s also worth noting that fairly frequently, Captain Kirk rolls up on an idyllic, peaceful culture…but since they aren’t making “progress” by his standards, he pretty much ruins it. This is one of the higher profile cases of that, since Kirk actually can’t stay happy or satisfied for more than five minutes in the episode, destroying the alien spores pretty handily. He then in turn ruins his best friend’s happiness, busts up his new relationship, and then pretty much destroys the colony.

You do NOT take Kirk on vacations to places that you LIKE.

Being in central California, I obviously saw the inside of a few wine tasting rooms. Less than usual, because there were just other things to do. Still…I’m now seeing a whole lot more white wines on these lists, which I’m not really fond of. That’s why midway through, I started drawing Cap disgusted, in Panel One….and initially, THAT was going to be a cheap shot at white zinfandel…which I didn’t actually see.

Also, white zinfandel is actually a rosé, not a white wine….and I don’t dislike rosé. So…really, it’s an uncalled for cheap shot that I stuck with in Panel Two anyway.

It’s fun to take cheap shots at white zinfandel, and being fair about it, I have no idea why. So…I looked it up. White zinfandel is maligned by some wine enthusiasts because it has a reputation as the wine people drink when they don’t actually like wine. It’s often made with relatively low-quality grapes and blended into a consistent house style that can mask the types of grapes it’s made from and where the grapes are grown. It’s also on the extremely affordable end of the wine-cost spectrum, which some people will only see as “cheap.” The reasons you may enjoy it (its fruit-punch flavor profile and appealing sweet finish) are exactly what turn off some “wine lovers.” Sweetness can take the edge off of a simple wine, but it can also mask a wine’s nuances, if it has any.

So there. These trips often result in small wine and grape book reports, and there’s the one for this one.


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