Bye Bye RadioShack

RadioShack circa 1993
So as many of my fellow dorks are aware, RadioShack is no more. All the rest of you are obviously the reason (where the heck were you?). Yes, while it's true that they are now owned by a random wireless carrier and function as spaces to sell Sprint products, the nostalgic RadioShack of the past is no more. For those who don't know though, RadioShack was like... the number one place to buy capacitors, resistors, dual axis accelerometers, and other thingamagidgets Scotty needed to repair the Enterprise. Trust me. This is a big deal for DIY people. Oh yeah, you could also buy a wide variety of batteries (and have them shipped to your house), antennas, small televisions, remote controls, sound systems, electronic gadgets and assorted do-dads, cameras, short wave radios, 150-in-One kits, and of course, RC TOYS! RadioShack was amazing back in the day and there was no other store quite like it.

Seriously, in the age before plastic touch-screen rectangles ruled the universe, anything "tech toy" usually came on four wheels or two copter blades, and sometimes both. RadioShack was the Disney Land of the local mall to the uber dorks in training, the one place I'd actually beg to be taken to, and I have vivid memories of going in with my folks just to play with all the RC cars they actually let the kids play with. Some of them later mysteriously made their way under a few Christmas trees even (funny how that happens). Now I don't know if it was common practice or not, but I remember almost every toy in the store being "try before you buy." I of course was also very young at the time and maybe my imagination is just acting up, but I remember actually getting a hold on the RC cars and driving them around the store, torturing the customers. I remember being told not to drive them outside the front of the store, although I certainly did try it. In fact, I seem to remember them not being able to be driven outside the store. They had some kind of force-field on the doors or something.

RadioShack indeed had a good run. They started out in the 1920s selling radio equipment. They sent around mail-order catalogs to enthusiasts of the new technology before they began actually manufacturing their own. They set up their first stores to sell their own radio products before they were bought by the Tandy Corporation, and that's when they really took off. People forget that they were one of the major retailers of computers in the 1980's and did a lot through their print advertising in mainstreaming the sale of computers to the average public. People way before my time know them for their TRS-80 computer, which actually came pre-assembled and not in the form of a "kit" (something rare for the time). In the long run, Tandy couldn't compete with IBM and they began restructuring. In the 90s, they shifted more toward retailing consumer electronics. They sold off their computer manufacturing and cut down their product line. Since then they've been trying to compete in the cellular and smartphone market, but obviously not doing so well at it.

I distinctly remember having one of these RadioShack 4x4 Off-Roaders my brother and I probably ended up driving down the stairs one too many times. In any case, it was definitely a truck and it was definitely blue, and definitely had little lights on the top and a strong front grill that probably protected it for at least twenty minutes of slamming into the kitchen chairs.

In the end, it seems even RadioShack knew their glory days were behind them when in 2014 they played up their own nostalgic image in this Superbowl ad where an innocent storefront gets ransacked by an army of 80s pop culture. Noticeable in the backgrounds are the "VCR" and "Boom Box" sections, perpetuating the joke of their retro-ness. Now as a loyal RadioShack consumer through the years (particularly around the holidays) I couldn't be more upset by this twist of fate for this part of my childhood. How will I go on without my "Battery of the Month Club" membership? But as a lifelong dork I am probably more upset about just where I'm going to go for capacitors. Seriously, the LED display went on my stereo and where was I going to go to DIY the thing back to working order? BEST BUY? Hah! In other recent news, the stereo I tried to DIY the display back to working order on is now RIP completely. How poetic.

RIP RadioShack

"I'm a Cartoon!" (The Pagemaster)

This is getting meta...
Here's one of the many facts of my life some people I know will never fail to let me live down... the fact that I looked like the kid in The Pagemaster (the animated one). I remember they first played The Pagemaster for us in "library class" (because in elementary school, even just the name of a room could be a whole class). They rolled out the big four-wheeled cart on the rug and popped in a VHS that blazed somewhere on the screen and probably fuzzed out the speakers ("all about that bass, no tremble" yes) always set to max for some reason. After probably four minutes adjusting the tracking came this bland movie called "The Pagemaster." This was probably around 1995 or so because for some reason I had never heard of it before then, but what did I care? "Yay, no work for the next hour."

Me, the Pagemaster.
I suppose they put it on in "library class" because it's book-related (which now makes me angry there was no "cafeteria class" or "bathroom class" because just imagine the possibilities!). Books were cool until this movie raped them. In any case, the moment Mac gets... mac-n-cheesed... into the fantasy stuff, I started noticing something. It was just a funny feeling. There I was sitting on the floor (the floor was our chair in this school) with my trademarked big round glasses hanging off my face and my dorky dorkatron-ness, and ... quite frankly I didn't see the resemblance at the time. I guess there was a time when I still saw myself as Alan Grant or Indiana Jones. Nope! Turns out I was just the Page Master dork. 

Now I'm not claiming to be Macaulay Culkin, but the resemblance between the 8yo Me and the cartoonized version of Big Mac is downright uncanny. Judge for yourself. My friends certainly did! So, given this coincidence, what did I think of the movie? It was an hour time waster during a slow school day. I'm sure all the teachers got paid. 

Oh yeah, but for those of you asleep in the 90s, the Pagemaster was actually totally awesome and completely not lame, but don't go and watch the movie for yourself or else the movie may prove me wrong. I know the current box art makes the movie look like a Harry Potter clone to get you to pick it up by mistake when you're waiting at the K-Mart checkout, but do yourself a favor and just don't. That goes for Harry Potter as well, which totally ripped this off. Granted, at least the title "Pagemaster" sounds a little bit more badass than your average My Little Pony villain. That should be say something. (And not just that Rainbow Dash is my favorite). 

Basically the plot of the Pagemaster, for all it's cracked up to be, features a worry-wart of a dork played by Mac-Attack himself, in the flesh (though not for long). His father is upset about his son's sissyness and tries to kill him with hammers and nails and the 10 foot heights of a treehouse. So he sends the kid out to get nails. Along the way, our hero seeks refuge in a library because facing a light rain is apparently far more frightening than being kidnapped by Christopher Lloyd. That's right. Angels in the Outfield proceeds to turn Mac into a cartoon because he's "in need of a fantasy." It was at this point the movie does its best to make sure no kid will ever want to read Treasure Island, Gulliver's Travels, Jekyll and Hyde, and Moby Dick (although we all got a laugh out of that one). How do I know? Because I certainly never read any of those books (although I'm thinking of giving a second look at that Moby one). Booko-pomorphic cereal mascots voiced by Star Trek actors spouting bad puns and one liners is about all I know about literature now. Thanks movie. 

And so they go on adventures and face down various hi-jinks as they Dragons-Lair Don Bluth into a coma (or into a courthouse at least). In the end the kid fights a dragon, which was pretty badass... at least at first. That is, it was cool until I... I mean, Mac, got eaten in one fire-breath belch-inducing chomp. "I'm not scared of you!" he says. Oh the irony. The one time in his life he had a right to be ball-less. Oh well. He obviously wasn't going to breed anyway...

Oh wait. In the end, the Pagemaster shows up and Deus-Ex-Machinas Mac back into the real world, teaching him the valuable lesson of facing fears and avoiding Christopher Lloyd and libraries like herpes. The kid returns to the real world without nails. So what was this movie really getting across then? It seems obvious. Never send a guy out to get anything hardware related. This is truth. We go out for nails, we end up lost in a fantasy world, get hung up with pirates, confronted by dragons, learn about our fears, and then always seem to return home with the 12-Amp Sawzall Reciprocating Saw with the 16 blade kit. And no nails. 

Playskool Tape Recorder

Fake radio shows. News and weather. Traffic reports. Sticking the end of the microphone in your mouth and making noises. Even pirated music! All that was great, but seriously... there was never a device better suited to record your burps and farts for posterity.

Needless to say, I had one.

The Lego Movie: A Theological Analysis

The Lego Movie sums up my entire view of life, and my life has come full circle in it. Everything is awesome indeed!

Everyone knows there comes a time when we have to grow up, or at least get bigger, and move on to bigger and better things. Some things actually get better with age too, and Legos are one of those things apparently. Since I put down my last Lego brick, I went off into the world and took up things like "psychology" and studied things like "philosophy" and "theology" and had my big religious awakening, and yet in some all-mystical way all things have come back to Legos for me with 2014's The Lego Movie. So please excuse me while I wax on (and off) philosophically about this rather fascinating movie... but reader beware! Not only is this thing going to be FULL of spoilers, it's also going to probably RUIN the movie for you forever... so only read if you've watched the movie and don't really care if it gets ruined by some guy on the internet. I just like over-thinking things as much as I like under-thinking most everything else, so don't mind me.

Lego love. My fanfic comes true!
Anyways, I first saw the trailer a while back and I knew instantly this was going to be the most awesome movie-going experience ever, or at least since Jurassic Park. I was instatnly reminded of a dream I once had involving a Lego Movie being made about a little Lego guy who works in a movie theater and goes on some great adventure, or something (I forgot). This looked like my dream was coming true, too, because it looked original, and the more I read about it, the more excited I got. Then they released the snips of the guy (Emmet) cruising around Lego City with that "Everything is Awesome!" kickin soundtrack, the "trendy Starbucks" jokes and traffic jams, and I was doubly excited to get in line as fast as possible! This didn't just look like it was going to be a fun laugh-a-minute family comedy to make money on an existing toy franchise. This looked like it was going to have ideas and perhaps even some moments of brillance in it. And I sure wasn't let down. This movie really is brilliant. Let me count the ways the Lego Movie is a masterpiece, and one even more than I could've imagined. And I'm not just talking about that Jungian "duality of man" which is at the heart of the Good Cop/Bad Cop character, but also the theological dimensions underlying that very psychological reality in the "divided heart" inside all of us to begin with... the one torn between good and evil, flesh and spirit, life and death, pain and pleasure... this movie and the Transformers movies (yuck!).

37 dollars?? That is awesome!
First off, what could've been an exercise in product placement, pop culture referencing, pandering eye-rape chasing a quick buck for all involved (where they could've had their 90 minute toy commercial and everyone else could've had their butter popcorn and chuckle for the hour), actually turned into a movie with a fierce sense of originality, character, and one of the most thought-provoking story twists I've ever seen in any movie. Don't get me wrong, there's all that going on to some extent, but the subtlety and connection to the story is ingenious throughout. Batman for instance is not just in the movie to make Dark Knight jokes (although that happens), but actually represents the "hero" archetype, the weak-heeled hero Achilles to Emmet's weakling anti-hero Patroclus (The Iliad bitch!), the former having a sense of hubris that actually keeps him from being the true hero that Emmet, the real hero, actually possesses innately, and who gains his power by donning the "armor of Achilles" symbolized by the boner-ific femme fatale of Lucy, who is "girl power" without being abrasive (and I sure loves me some 'girl power!'). The point is, nothing is quite what it seems in this movie, and this motif will become important in the thought-provoking twist of an ending.

Even the "Where's My Pants?" sitcom is more than just an excuse to squeeze in a hilarious naughty-bit humor line for the kids, but actually poses some rather spot-on satire about how our lowest-common-denominator media zaps away our collective creativity and imagination as a society to render us consumption-based drones, which is exactly the point they're making too! Let's also not forget that the movie that could've so easily been an excuse for Lego to sell its product line exclusively and give us all the sets we already know, actually ends up encouraging indepednent creativity and not "following the instructions" all the time. In fact, it doesn't even take the easy route and say that "following the instructions is bad"... instead, the movie makes the harder but truer point, that sometimes it's GOOD to "follow the instructions" and other times it's GOOD to be creative and make something "Special" of your own. It's about moderation in all things. And it's when these two seemingly-opposed cosmic forces ("order" vs. "freedom"... "legalism" vs. "lawlessness"... to use Biblical language) come together that the movie really hits its incredible philosophical stride... at least in my mind.

Spoilers ahead! I just can't help myself. Aside from all the existential wrangling our protagonist Emmet undergoes, the ending is what really blew my mind. The twist involving the "father" and the "son" is one of the most profound and subtle things I've ever seen in a movie like this, and when it came up on the screen, suddenly the 8 year old me who had gone to the movie purely to be entertained by bright colors, lots of action, pop culture references and maybe the occasional fart joke (not surprisingly absent since they are LEGOs, although "you know what that does to your colon?" does come up) suddenly turned into the college philosophy guy who realized that the movie was bringing out the theologian in him rather than the little kid, and who had never expected such a thing to happen in a movie called "The Lego Movie." In fact, this thing is better than it has any right to be. Let me just try to blow your mind for a second here with the last act of the film, which is done with such incredible subtlety that it's going to increase your own already-high expectations. 

The Holy Trinity
This movie, for all its appropriately fast and fun bombastic proportions in its first acts, is actually a movie of incredible subtlety in the last. Let me just lay it down. Our protagonist Emmet sacrifices himself for the good of everyone else, so automatically we got a Christ-like figure here, and in so doing, the Christ-like figure becomes "assumed" into the heavens as a result where he exits the "matrix" (not everything was as it seemed!) and suddenly sees the world for what it really is. He has passed "behind the veil" to the "Holy of Holies," which is nothing more than the basement of Lego fanatic and his son. Emmet has seen "what eye has not seen" (1st Corinthians) and what does he find? He finds "God" of course.. the mastermind behind everything that was happening in the movie up to that point, both the good AND the evil! Just like God, who even uses evil for the ultimate good of all. But not only does Emmet find "God," he finds a God who is at least two or three persons: a "father" (Will Farrell) who built everything, "orders" it, and lays down the "rules" for his cosmos ("Don't Touch"), and a "son" who expresses his profound mercy and love for his dad's creation and grants "freedom" to its inhabitants. The father represents "judgement" and "order" here (and therefore justice) while the son represents "redemption" and "mercy", and the "love" they come to share together via their creation is the bond that builds between them. Not everything works with the framing exercise, but that's okay.  

Lucifer and the divided man.
Thus everything that happens in our Lego world throughout the movie is not so much about the evil "President Business" and what he wants, nor about "Emmett" and what he wants, or even about "Lucy" "Batman" or "1980's Space Guy"... but all these people are simply pawns or projections in the God-Boy's quest to bond with the God-Dad all the more and the God-Dad to bond with God the Son all the more perfectly via the creation, which both eventually do, proving their Father-Son love for one another. Thus because of what God is (this bond of love), where what is "just" and "ordered" (the "Hands Off!" Old Testament-style father) and what is "merciful" and "free" (the New Testament-style son, who Emmet "bears the image of" in the Lego world) come together in that "hypo-static union" (to use a seminary term), the source of all evil (President Business, who represents Lucifer) is just as much a pawn in the Triune Godhead's plan for redemption in creation as Emmet is (and Emmet even says this much to President Business at the end!). The result is that their creation becomes truly just, truly merciful, and full of love when all these elements "come together" like an... "interlocking brick system," no less... "the living stones" in the Temple of God.

The Kingdom of Heaven
Then we also have these "relics" of the "realm above" sitting around... the "Kra-Gl-e" for instance, the "Polish of Na-il" and the "Knife of Exact-0" or the "Robe of Banda-id" ...things that have made their way into their realm that they can handle and use but can't fully understand or fathom. These are not unlike the relics of spirituality and religion we find in the world around us that we can't fathom but can only grasp in our hands and use for either good or bad (like in the movie). In fact, while everyone, even President Business (who, remember, represents the angel Lucifer, one of God's creatures too), is off making such a big deal out of this "relic" they refer to as the "Piece of Resistence," (which is nothing more than the cap to the Krazy Glue!), Emmett gets to see "beyond the infinite" into the "Holy of Holies" and even remarks (when dad opens the glue drawer) about just how many of these "Kra-Gl-e"s there are! This is the movie's "My God! It's full of stars!" moment (2001: A Space Odyssey).

It suddenly becomes clear that what we make a big deal of down here on earth is really nothing before the infinite. Thus, what we call "religion" here on earth is but a mere shadow of the things to come, of which we can never understand during our ordinary "veiled" existence. And just like throughout all human history, mankind's inability to possess the infinite naturally causes conflict and division which to an all-just God-Dad must seem as silly as a bunch of Legos fighting over the cap to the Krazy Glue! So what we have here is a microcosm of the inadequacy of the human experience of the divine causing problems, yet because the father loves his son, he accepts the son's act of redemption for the sake of the creation and the kid's love for imbuing that unattainable ineffable "special-ness" into the "order" of that creation, and the result is that creation is made all the more just, merciful, and full of love. Thus the end of all things is the idealized "Kingdom of God" ...until the "sister" arrives, but hey, this is just a movie after all, and I always knew Duplos were evil! No girl better be messing up our boys-only zone!

The made up prophesy was true!
But this is the movie's genius... how nearly everything in it is really about our relationship to the divine in our every day life, the "Special" as they call it. Sure the "prophesy was made up, and it was also true!" but there's the rub! It's not so surprising when a prophesy comes true, nor is it surprising when a prophesy is false (both of these outcomes have happened a lot). It's when the prophesy proves to be BOTH true and made up that you know something more is at work here. We are all made "Special"... the son reminds the father just how "awesome" everything the father made is and makes "intercession" for the whole of creation before the throne of the father who created it. So, because all is made "awesome" in the end, and all people, whether creative or not, good or evil, Wild West of Castle, City or Space, Pirate or ... that girly Princess Uni-kitty thing... are all what they are created to be for the glory of the this dad and son, and therefore all are "the special" in their own ways. As saint Paul wrote, "many the gifts, many the works, but the same Spirit in all." (1st Corinthians)

Me watching the Lego Movie!
So lo and behold, I was actually rather amazed by the levels of profound mystery at work in this movie, even more than I was expecting. I have no idea if this is what they had in mind or what, but whoever wrote this thing should get props, not just from the 8 year old me, who is of course very appreciative for the most fun movie-going experience imaginable connected to the Lego world, but also the now-27 year old college-aged me, who also couldn't have asked for a better 90 minute theological exploration of the divine in ordinary life.

"And God saw that it was good." = Everything IS awesome!

Hunting the Wumpus

For those who aren't in the extreme know, the TI-994a was one of the early "personal computer devices" of the 80's and was manufactured by the same people who probably made your high school calculator with all the fancy functions. I say all this in the hopes that 99% of the reading public has probably tuned out by now, so I address the rest just to the brave souls who have a special affinity from their childhood to this ancient device. The TI-994a came with an array of games that my brother and I used to while away the hours with in those early, simple years of ours, and one of our all time favorites among the Burger Times and Parsecs was this little obscure title called Hunt the Wumpus.

Hunt the Wumpus was originally a text-based game going back to the stone age, but the TI-994a had a colorful version of it, designed to bring out our collective caveman instincts. What exactly was a wumpus? It was essentially a giant mouth with legs that liked to lurk in the swamps (not unlike my ex-girlfriend), and you had to hunt it down. You basically started out on a white field and as you moved around the screen, you'd uncover a maze of pathways through the swamps tracking the near-presence of the beast who seemed to like to leave behind giant red circles (also not unlike...). Watch out though, or you could fall into the swamp. Along the way you'd also run into these bat-like creatures who'd I guess pick you up and drop you in random places--usually right into the spot where the wumpus was!

The object of the game was to make your way around in the maze, watch out for the green circles (that told you of the presence of swamps), the red circles (that told you the wumpus was nearby), and fire an arrow in the direction where you thought the wumpus might be based on the trail of his "residue" (I suppose). If he was there, then you won the game. If he wasn't and you fired an arrow, then no matter where he was on the field, he'd kill you. His big teeth would come down on the screen to the tune of Chopin's Funeral March (dun-dun-da-dun...etc) and your goose was cooked (your ASS being the goose of course, and served back to you roasted and glazed). If you fell into the swamp, you'd see a green screen where your little guy plunges into a watery death to the tune of "running your hands down the keyboard."

This game was endlessly entertaining as we fought over turns to hunt down the elusive beast, and the music played a big part in its humorous effect on us. Sometimes just seeing those big teeth come down on the screen and his grinning face was worth getting killed for and that would always crack us up. The game also had a hard mode where the maze wouldn't reveal itself as you walked around on it, but we didn't do that one very much.

It was more funner than Minesweeper. There, I said it.

Lego Pirates Ships

One of the frustrating things about Lego was the choices! We'd get to the Lego aisle and be instantly overwhelmed, wanting it all and coming away with one, but knowing all the while that whatever we came away with wouldn't disappoint, even if it was your standard Renegade's Raft or Battle Cove (both of which I know we had). Every little piece added to the Legoland mythos we were slowly building up in the bedroom. The Lego Pirates were always my favorite Lego system because they had the coolest boats and I was really into boats. Introduced in 1989, the Lego Black Seas Baracuda (pictured) had to be one of the classiest Lego products ever assembled, with its striking red-striped sails and stern-side cabin (complete with little windows), raft, real-working pulley and anchor system, plank (as in, "walk the plank!"), and two canon ports, it really just doesn't get any more cool from Lego (and that's saying a lot).

That was of course until the even more impressive Skull's Eye Schooner came along in 1993. On this one they really outdid themselves, decking it out with all the above (minus extensive stern-side cabin although it's still there), but adding taller masts, black-striped sails, and four canon ports. They even threw in a shark for good measure. So if you were lucky enough to get your hands on the best of the Legoland universe, it was still sure to be the choice of "I want both."

Then there was the more battle-rattled Red Beard Runner, which featured some more movable parts and torn up sails for combat action and functioned as the the pirate's response to the Armada Flagship. For those who don't know, the Lego Pirates system included a few spinoffs with its Imperial Armada and Islanders collections designed to give the pirates some foes to contend with and ultimately some more sets for you to buy to complete the saga. The Imperial Armada were supposed to be the "good guys," but as any swashbuckler will persuade you, the pirates were always the real good guys with the heart for adventure while the Armada was just "the Man" trying spoil the fun. That "man" (so to speak) was called Commander Broadside, the archenemy of the fierce Captain Red Beard, or so we are told. This was the equivalent of Treasure Island on my 8yo me's imagination. 

Many of the Imperial Armada sets had something to do with brigs and jails for the pirates, but they also had their own fleet of ships which weren't as impressive as the pirates of course, like the Armada Flagship (also called the Royal Warship), which only had one main mast and stern sail, one canon, and movable masts for combat, so of course you just had to have both to get any high-seas adventure going. Despite this, just the contrast of the blue-striped sails and feather-hatted, stuffed-shirted soldiers clashing with the patch-eyed reds made this also a must-have, and it's actually not as small as it looks. It was joined by the more striking Imperial Flagship, which had two canon ports and was obviously designed more to go ship-to-ship with the pirates. 2010 apparently also saw the release of an even more impressive Imperial Flagship to rival its pirate archenemy, showing just how much progress they made the first time around. You can't beat the pirates, but you can certainly try!

Tramways and Gondolas

Every couple weeks I search out more and more odd things just to give the couple dedicated readers I (probably) have yet more insights into everything that was quintessential me as I was growing up. Nothing quite says "8yo Me" like the excitement of a gondola ride up a mountain, for the highlight of any trip north to the White Mountains all those Precambrian years of my life was undoubtedly the five minute ride along those waves of cables and towers. 

If I'm not mistaken, I believe Mount Canon was the one with the tramway, which was like a bus-sized lift bringing people to the summit and back, and Mount Loon had the more intimate gondolas, which I liked better. I remember the tramway actually had only one big tower post in the middle doing all the heavy lifting while the gondolas had them marching up the side like a ski lift. Mount Wildcat also had the gondolas, but that was more of a skiing destination, so we didn't ascend that one much. Ironically the biggest one of them all, Mount Washington, is a drive up, which is also the most harrowing ascent of them all for reasons those of us in the know will know! "This Car Climbed Mt. Washington" is a popular bumper sticker up here for all those who've done it and survived. But at least they give you an audio tour guide when you're driving up that is both informative and hilarious to play along the way if you should ever find your front end dangling off a ledge! "Make sure to take this opportunity to view the beautiful vista to your left..." Ahhhh!  

When riding the gondola though, I actually wasn't so much interested in the views my dad was constantly trying to get me to "stare out at." Like most boys, I was way more interested in the mechanism of the actual lift itself, its lonely outpost towers sticking up the blinding-white snow slope like advancing high-tension lines every here and there, that slight "bump-bump" I'd hear every couple minutes, and of course all the waving at the other gondolas passing on the way down. Once at the top, the excitement cooled as we'd enter that Enterprise docking bay, although coming up on it was always a contest of "who could spot it first." "Oh I see where we're going now!" I'd usually spend the whole time at the top just dreaming of the way down, and at the bottom be all like "let's go again!" 

Now all this was rather odd because I had a deathly fear of heights, but something about taking off in one of these guys was more exciting than fear-inducing, probably because I figured if they ever fell off at least the enclosure might break the impact a tad. This love of riding the lift itself (and never the actual skiing experience, for I have never skied) may seem rather trite now compared to all the grandeur going on around it, but you got to imagine what these things were to the proverbial 8yo Me. When these guys came sliding down the line into place and those futuristic doors opened, they ceased being a mere lift device and became Enterprise shuttlecrafts! You step in and it's nothing but "God help us in the hands of engineers!" and "warp speed ahead!" It was nothing but a little futuristic escapism in the great middle of nowhere.