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Now

Now

Well it’s been 11 years since the release of Desaparecidos first, and only, album ‘Read Music/Speak Spanish’ so it has been a fair wait to see them perform on those shores. Now that I have grown oh so much in that space of time, have I matured too much to still enjoy the angry, quivery wails of Conor Oberst and company*?

Entering Glasgow’s Arches to the echoed bombast of support act We are the Physics, coming across as a shoutier and angrier version of the Futureheads. There were some good tunes there but not enough to keep me from heading bar wards for the remainder of their set.

Positioning ourselves left of centre** in preparation for the main act arriving, I must admit that the song selection on the PA (Fugazi, Far, etc.) which seemed to get everyone in the mood and the mind-set of 2002. Kicking right into ‘Greater Omaha’ without any necessity for a grand introduction the band looked like they had something to prove and the set continued this way for the next 50 minutes. The set was scattered with the newer entries in the bands catalogue with ‘Backsell’ showing to be a highlight of the entire evening. If the new tracks are anything to go by then Desaparecidos have taken their jackhammer, youthful frenzy and honed it further into adulthood where nothing has been lost in the transition, if anything it is further enraged***.

Then

Then

Crowd interaction remained at a minimum except for drummer inciting some unison hand clapping. No one seemed bothered though as we had all patiently waited some time to hear these songs live, testified by the reaction from the crowd for ‘Survival of the fittest’ and ‘Mañana’****. After the band played everything in their repertoire they exited looking very happy with the reaction they had created in the crowd. Alas no encore*****, much to chagrin of the stationary audience who had to be escorted out by security in the end.

So was it worth the wait? After seeing Bright Eyes a couple of times in their heyday I don’t tend to revisit those records that much anymore, they just don’t mean the same thing to me that the use to. Desaparecidos on the other hand have been a mainstay in my record player for those 11 years this wasn’t really a nostalgia trip but just seeing a band that are as still relevant to me when I first heard them******.

*You fucking kidding, course not!

**The company I was with was scared of a mosh pit occurring.

***They have aged pretty well too…

****’Survival’ being a personal favourite.

*****What else were they gonna play? A cover?

******Yes it was worth it, I need to stop being so damn poetic in these things.

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Colin MacNeil Judge Dredd

Due to the recent resurgence of interest in the character of Judge Dredd*, thanks to the recent reboot of the franchise with Dredd 3D hitting our screens** and the back catalogue of stories presented in 2000AD being published in compendiums, the patrons of the Glasgow Film Festival were treated to a conversation with his creator John Wagner & famed Dredd artist Colin MacNeil.

051

Arriving sharpish at the Glasgow CCA to find that a large queue had already scurried into the auditorium, disappointingly there seemed to be more than enough room for everyone and that this was far from a sold out event***. Greeted by our host John McShane who explained that the set up would be the usual for these events (he asks questions for a while and then it’s open to the floor), we welcomed on stage the men we were here to see.

What we were treated to was a bit of history on the character, the situations that he has found himself in and the inspiration behind these creations, as well as Wagner’s tendency to argue with his employers. Of course the subject of Dredd 3D took up a large portion of the conversation, covering the Stallone incarnation of the character…

 “I can’t say a bad word about Sylvester Stallone, the film would not have been made without his involvement, but because of his involvement this led to the problems with the movie”.

 …to Karl Urban’s**** portrayal. This led to the gentlemen stating their favourite incarnation of the world they have created to be the fan film ‘Judge Minty’ – which was being shown a couple of days later*****. However, the discussion on movie adaptations of the character led to the revelation from both men that they do not really watch films, the irony of which was lost on no one.

Judge Dredd was not the only topic of conversation, John Wagner’s ‘A History of Violence’ was covered in detail, both the comic and the Cronenberg adaption, Colin MacNeil’s inspiration for his visuals and working conditions, and other related 2000AD characters. This heralded the questions from the floor, which covered the recent American comics’ adaption of the character…

“I haven’t read it, is it as bad as the DC version?”

 To the recent indication that Dredd may be gay…

 “It doesn’t matter!”

053

Once several questions had been attended to, we were at the end of our event with the points of our attention doing some signage for afters******. This was a fascinating discussion with some nice revelations on the films and how the comics were written/drawn, but not too much focus on the Judge himself, as we more or less know everything we need to know about him through 30+ years of reading his cases.

*He is a hard bastard, what’s not to like?

**All 10 people that saw it in the cinema.

***Due to a general lack of interest in British comics or the quality selection of alternative events at the GFF?

****Eh, fucking ace!

*****Nae time off to go and see it.

******Later moved to the café due to other performances taking place.

Ted Leo

On my second expedition to Glasgow in a week for the punk music selection offered by the Celtic Connections festival, I found myself running to Glasgow’s ABC venue from the train station. This was due to receiving the knowledge that Ted Leo* would be on at a sharp 7.30pm. Luckily due to a recent bout of health consciousness prompting some running on my part prior to today, I entered the auditorium as the first song of Ted Leo’s set was finishing.

Getting myself to the front of the stage proved to be no great achievement as the audience was meagrely populated at this early hour**. Despite appearing with a lack of his backing band the Pharmacists, Ted Leo still had all the impact that I expected as he remained an enthralling performer despite flying solo on a rather large stage. He treated the audience early to his ode to Glasgow ‘A Bottle of Buckie’ followed by ‘Bottled in Cork’*** from his last release ‘the Brutalist Bricks’. As a gift to those who arrived early; our headliner Aimee Mann joined Ted on stage to perform a couple of songs from an untitled EP that they have collaborated on. A bit more country influenced than usually expected from Mr Leo, it was an interesting detour in the set with ‘The Gambler’ proving to be a highlight of the whole evening. Previous to Aimee Mann joining our support act, an in the know member of the audience shouted a polite request for the song ‘Timorous Me’ which was initially refused due to limited time. Upon pondering his response before heading into the next song, Ted Leo returned to address the audience member and stated that his request would be the song that finished his set which was the case****. A real treat for those that got there in time, and judging by the decibel level of applause I was not alone in discerning that.

Next up in our speckled evening of entertainment was Amelia Curran, who presented what would be more in line with the music presented usually, be Celtic Connections. For the next half an hour or so we were plied with whiskey soaked tales of love, and with the announcement mid-way through that we were hitting the ballads, the loss of that very love. Everything was well written, impeccably (if a little endearingly shyly) performed and Ms Curran was a charismatic character. However it just didn’t grab me wholly and in such an over populated bare bones market of singer songwriters’ oot there I would say that being grabbed was fairly essential*****.

Aimee Mann

Now for the closure of our adventure in Glasgow, Aimee Mann & band****** arrived on the platform. Despite the relatively low keyness of her music, Aimee Mann certainly has presence and was the focal point throughout the set. After the obligatory opening of relatively oldies, Mann forewarns the inclusion of new material from this point on. She admits this is a precarious move as explained by an anecdote involving her brother stating that no one goes to a gig to hear the new material*******. Ironically, things really come alive when she plays her biggest hits ‘Save Me’ and ‘Wise Up’ from the Magnolia soundtrack followed by a pleasant cover of ‘One is the Loneliest Number’. This more or less sets the template for the rest of the show, a solid mixture of old and new, finishing up with ‘It’s
Not Safe’
. Returning for an encore that ended the evening with ‘4th of July’, but not before Ted Leo re-joined her onstage for some Thin Lizzy noodling. To come clean, I wasn’t too au fait on Aimee Mann’s back catalogue, but I had read that she was a rather stand offish and cold artist. I did not get that from her this evening. I was entertained throughout and found that when she really comes alive is when things get really quiet.

*The main reason that I was going to this show.

**By gig standards anyway.

***Are we all drunk or something…?

****Jolly nice if you ask me.

*****Even Bon Iver went all E-Street on us.

******Do you ever get the fear when you see a band that looks like they have just stepped out of that move ‘Almost Famous’?

*******Depends on the artist I suppose…

Hamell on Trial

Another Celtic Connections is upon me and one of the required viewing gems is Mr Hamell of Hamell on Trial playing at Glasgow Oran Mor. I wasn’t quite sure of the set-up as Celtic Connections tends to throw a few curveballs each year* to fuck your expectations up a little. For a festival that brings together folk, country and world music genres to the fore, I always seem to end up at a punk gig** and tonight was no different…

Upon entering the venue support act Lach was already on stage*** regaling the audience with twitchy folk rock goodies. Looking like a cross between Christopher Lloyd and Elvis Costello****, he was treating the sparse crowd to some jokes and banter which wasn’t fully connecting with the audience. This seemed more than apparent to the man himself thus audience interaction was shunned for the next few numbers. However, as the venue began to fill up with late arrivals, Lach was greeted with a friendlier and louder response – a highlight being his shout out to the Kiss army*****. Sadly as Lach was hitting his stride and audience appreciation grew, time was up.

Strolling onstage to rapturous applause looking like the bastard son of Fu Manchu if he had made a cultural visit to Syracuse, New York, came Hamell on Trial. Opening with ‘Glad You’re Gone’ and continuing on for a couple of numbers before we were promised by Mr Hamell himself that there would be no jokes or stories, instead we would be treated to an evening of interpretive dance with the finale involving the sight of our main act in a thong******. Mr Hamell is not a man to keep his promises…Continuing on, we were diverted with an ode to Mr Hamell’s 1937 acoustic guitar, which by the man’s own admission he wields like a Tommy gun, which I can confirm is the truth.

Hamell has always seemed to me to be an artist who moves with the times, not particularly his style of music, but in terms of mood and feeling. He provides a document of what the collective are feeling and offering possible solutions that only a man who has lived his life according to punk rock can. Hence a lot of this evenings set list focused on highlighting tracks from his new album ‘The Happiest Man in the World’*******.  After the midpoint in the set the audience were treated to a double whammy on the effect of the economic recession on the working person. ‘Jennifer’s Stripping Again’, explaining the measures people will take to keep things going. This was followed by ‘Richards Got a Job’; displaying some hope and that if people keep trying things might be alright.

The rather diverse characters******** in attendance lapped it all up, especially when the floor was open to requests. I am surprised he was able to make any of it out due to the barrage of ineligible cries*********. Obeying those that he could comprehend & finishing the evening with two tracks from his beloved album ‘Choochtown’ (When Bobby Comes Down and Choochtown) left things on a really fucking high note. Not exactly a Celtic evening but Hamell on Trial made a connection with everyone who turned out.

*Or the Scottish equivalent of that saying.

**Hey, I am not closed minded, kay!

***At 7.35pm you can’t say Celtic Connections aren’t prompt.

****If they both went into that machine in Cronenbergs ‘The Fly’.

*****Kiss rules Motherfucker!

******Say what you will, I would clearly have remembered it.

*******It’s pretty tidy.

********Dead Kennedy beanie hatted gents next to those in full tweed suits.

*********I did shout for Coulter’s Snatch, but was denied… yes it is a song.

"Admit it...I'm the pornography that gets you hot!"

“Admit it…I’m the pornography that gets you hot!”

Brian Yuzna? He’s the fella who caused the screen to drip with fleshy fluids as the bodies of the rich and privileged turned to playdoh whilst writhing like dying worms on fancy carpets in Society, right? Tell me more.

Mystery, intrigue, secret societies and soul-selling to Satan? As a fan of Dennis Wheatley’s tales of the black arts and orgiastic revelry – yes, I would be interested in that.

Wait, what’s that you say? It has Jeffrey Combs in it? As a fan of his Lovecraftian dabblings and admirer of his ‘little brother of Bruce Campbell’ good looks, you can consider this potential viewer well and truly sold on this Faustian-pact-wrapped package.

Jaspers, institutionalized post first hypnotic killing spree, draws smiley faced devils on the walls while psychiatrist Jade de Camp tries to reach him via the medium of Bach and Death Metal...

Jaspers, institutionalized post first hypnotic killing spree, draws smiley faced devils on the walls while psychiatrist Jade de Camp tries to reach him via the medium of Bach and Death Metal…

Fragile shell of a man John Jaspers (Mark Frost) is haunted by the brutal killing of his girlfriend at the hands of ragtag gaggle of thugs. On the brink of suicide, he is offered the chance to exact bloody revenge in exchange for his earthly soul by a sinister black-clad, white haired gentleman. In his haste, Jaspers fails to realise that following his wave of vengeance, he will forever be bound to do the bidding of a master with a candyfloss barnet – as a wolverine claw wearing agent of death. Caught and imprisoned – with no memory of his actions – Jaspers is befriended by Dr de Camp (Isabelle Brook) who aims to unlock the doors in his mind through her work in music therapy. But Dr de Camp has her own demons, haunted both by the loss of her father and terrifying sexual abuse at the hands of  ‘the Smooth Man’. When the cd player becomes too much to bear, Jaspers remembers everything, and heads for his candyfloss boss.

Look at the size of that sausage...

Look at the size of that sausage…

Rebelling against his fate, Jaspers is despatched of, and safely stored six feet under.

Wings? Cape? Stained sheets?

Wings? Cape? Stained sheets?

Only the thing is, the moon is in conjunction with…something, and the stars have aligned with…summat else, reawakening the body of John Jaspers as the superhuman demon Faust! To quote the old Always Ultra ad – Now with Wings! That look disappointingly like some moth-eaten curtains found at the bottom of a recycling bin. The rest of his bare muscled body looks alright though…in the right light. Watch out, candyfloss Mephistopheles, he’s coming for you! And your cult of followers that seems to include everyone but slightly sleazy detective Dan Margolies (Combs).

Oh, wait...scrap that.

Oh, wait…scrap that.

The ropey wings are not the only low quality thing about Faust, unfortunately. The film suffers from a sprawling plot that involves far too many flashbacks, a host of characters with no explanation or grounding, and often seems more than a little confused. The usual disgusting effects of Yuzna don’t seem to bear any resemblance to the good work of his past filmic visions; they just seem revolting and occasionally shoddy.

Candyfloss Mephistopheles turns his treacherous concubine into a giant mammary gland

Candyfloss Mephistopheles turns his treacherous concubine into a giant mammary gland

Which would be entirely forgivable had I cared about – or maybe just known – what was going on. Or the women involved weren’t relegated to nothing more than vessels for sex or torture. Not just the women, I suppose. Margolies does get ripped apart by some giant hellbeast snake before birthing an even bigger snake; that can shoot lasers from a pentagram on its head. Or, wait, is said beast the product of candyfloss Mephistopheles ripping out his ex-concubine’s innards and trying to impregnate a virginal doctor who suddenly realizes the identity of her childhood abuser?

The smooth man...I'd have said 'slimy', but there you go.

The smooth man…I’d have said he’s more ‘slimy’, but there you go.

What the hell is going on? Have the planets aligned? Did they have enough sex? Have the gates of hell opened?
Why is everyone dead?

Candyfloss Mephistopheles's laser beast goes postal.

Candyfloss Mephistopheles’s laser beast goes postal.

Faust: Love of the Damned ultimately throws too much shit at the wall, and none of it sticks. It passed the time, but remained entirely forgettable. While it was still playing.

"The Human Adventure Begins"

“The Human Adventure Begins”

E: And so the Brassneck adventure begins; 11 films beginning with – from what I remember – the one that moves on thrusters instead of warp speed. I was informed by MG that I have the responsibility of explaining the plot of this mess. Think work reunion based on the purpose of solving a filing issue but, dear God, they have installed a new operating system and no one likes the smug bastard kid explaining it to them. This filing issue though may cause the destruction of Earth and the Federation as we know it – confused? You will be when it seems like this is set 5 years after the original series…

Twenty minutes of a ship docking, yesterday.

Twenty minutes of a ship docking, yesterday.

MG: Also known as “Wow! They really like their slow-motion, eh?”

E: OK – you would think that if the Earth was really in danger from a blue cloud that there may be a bit of urgency to proceedings. Not in this film, it is Star Trek and a certain level of decorum must be followed! We shall be treated to 5 minutes of Kirk lusting over the Enterprise in full knowledge that he is gonna steal this pretty bitch from that smug young lad’s hands.

Less cloud, more mad-cunt electrical stormbringer of doom

Mysterious cloud formation causing havoc in space. Less cloud, more mad-cunt electrical stormbringer of doom.

MG: Ooh! It’s those fellas with the Cornish pasty heads and the fabulous facial hair! Klingons. That’s the ones. I like them. Ah shit. They’ve been annihilated already. By a cloud? Poor bastards. Time for our hero Jimmy Kirk to get all misty eyed over the Enterprise, breach the old girl’s bridge once again, and set off to investigate this killer Cirrostratus. But Jim, you shouldn’t have to deal with ethereal, cotton candy-looking “unknowns”, uppity young Lego-haired captains and faulty deathtrap transporters alone…HELL NO! It’s time to reassemble the rest of the fellas, grab that cranky, medallion-sporting, bearded Bones by the balls and do this shit!

Crazy bastard bearded Leonard 'Bones' McCoy, rocking some fine hobo-Travolta chic

Crazy bastard bearded Leonard ‘Bones’ McCoy, rocking some fine hobo-Travolta chic.

E: Ladies… enjoy.

MG: Get him out of that baggy John Travolta suit and into those fancy Starfleet babygrows! On second thoughts, no. Scrap that. Reverse. Get everyone else out of those god awful “package caressing” onesies and into McCoy’s futuristic disco-shaman garb. Safer on the eyes and minds of all concerned.

Where are YOUR eyes drawn to?

Where are YOUR eyes drawn to?

E: Ladies… eat it up (Gents we have to wait till Star Trek 5 for this kind of eye candy).

MG: Yes, Jimmy. Don’t forget about your old Vulcan buddy, Spock. He’s kicking about his home planet looking a wee bit forlorn, sporting some beautiful jewellery and a suave-ass fashion-forward Freddie Mercury haircut. He’s also worrying about that cloud. Yes. That one. The wispy sod that fried the meat and potato of the Klingons like a malfunctioning grill would cremate your 3am post-pub cheese on toast. Again, poor bastards.

E: And this is the point where I felt Kraftwerk or Neu may have been a better choice for the score. This segment shall be titled – I shouldn’t have taken that hit of acid before I breached the orifice – cue Leslie Philips… “Ding Dong”.

Spock goes all 2001 on our asses, while "penetrating the orifice" of a sentient vessel.

Spock goes all 2001 on our asses, while “penetrating the orifice” of a sentient vessel.

MG: Having not seen this since somewhere around 1985, the overall highlight of Star Trek: The Motion Picture for me is without a doubt the forced arrival of an unhappy Bones. But the moment that had me shitting myself with space-geek glee was the reveal of the mind behind the sentient spacecraft powering the cretin cloud…oh my fucking God. OH MY FUCKING GOD. IT’S THE FUCKING VOYAGER!

HOLY SHIT!

HOLY SHIT!

E: “MY GOD – I should have brought the polish, how we will know what we are dealing with here”. So it has come to this, THE BIG REVEAL. Did they blow the budget on too many shots of the Enterprise, or Deckers hair products? To be fair though, I wasn’t expecting this.

Lonely V-Ger...like us all, he's searching for the meaning of life.

Lonely V-Ger…like us all, he’s searching for the meaning and purpose in his life.

MG: Poor little Voyager…lost to a black hole, continuing his mission to seek information from all sources and relay it back to earth. Akin to those Bee Gees, he just gotta had to get a message to you his creator. Alas – with NASA being a long dead endeavour – wee Voyager receives no reply. Abandoned by God/daddy, it’s no wonder he experiences some form of existential crisis. Just a shame this robot’s crisis takes the form of attempting to destroy the Earth, like a spoilt child who has just been informed there’s no Santa Claus.

“Spock. This child is about to wipe out every living thing on Earth. Now, what do you suggest we do….spank it?” – McCoy

E: I will try and get this down as clearly and succinctly as I can. The probe Voyager 6 (Science is cool kids) lost contact with Earth several hundred years ago. The reason for this is that it fell in/was sucked in/was pulled in/ into a black hole where it emerged in another galaxy. It just so happened to crash land on planet where the population was entirely made up of machines but, you know, better ones. They repaired the ship in order to help it to complete its mission – to gather information on the galaxy or something like that. As it gathered vast amounts of knowledge this led to it becoming self aware and… I give up, watch the fucking film! End of; Decker melds with V’GER helping it to answer the question of who it is and to evolve i.e. disappear. Kirk and that are fine – cue end.

MG: Now this, this here, is where I get lost. Voyager needs to “evolve” in order to pull his breeks up and make it out of his Dark Night of the Soul (ie temper tantrum) and leave Earth alone. Cue lots of meaningful stares, sacrifices to a greater good and a swirly lightshow. I have no idea what just happened. E? What the fuck is going on? This is mental. Can we stick on Wrath of Khan?

Once more, for good luck. The LOVE doctor.

Once more, for good luck. The LOVE doctor. “Jim, you bastard! I can tell from that smile you’ve had the last of the Viagra!”

E’s Final Verdict: I may be being a bit harsh on the old girl but it is really quite boring. As with any Star Trek film, it has its moments, due to the gelling of the cast which I still find rather incredible since they only worked 3 years with each other on telly. From what I have heard the Directors Cut makes more sense with its finale; but the idea of this film being longer scares the shit out of me. Some nice set pieces but 50% plus of the scenes make no sense or are far too long – not a good start.

MG’s Final Verdict: So the even numbers theory is already proving correct? Ah hell. It’s all about DeForest Kelly as Bones for me anyway.

Metal dudes can go out during the day.

Metal dudes can go out during the day.

Due to the potent cocktail of limited funds and an extraordinary liaise faire attitude  I had not ventured to see Cult of Luna, playing Glasgow’s Ivory Blacks, in around 10 years*. Touring on the back of forthcoming release ‘Vertikal’, their 4th album since I last saw them (6th in total). I came to the hypothesis that things would have changed substantially… I was wrong but as it turned out that aint no bad thing**.

Arriving in the densely occupied venue to the sounds of support act Humanfly, me and my partner in crime headed immediately bar wards*** before nestling in between some dashingly tall gentlemen to watch the events on stage. Humanfly were perfectly enjoyable; mashing a mix of metal, prog and alt. rock, which reminded me of Cave-In circa their Jupiter album.

Once the stage had emptied we fuelled up on beer before an endurance test of Adam Richman proportions took to the stage. Her Name is Calla were the next band on, what followed was a lengthy 30 minutes where we were treated to 5 songs that went nowhere. Channelling Radiohead Pablo Honey era if Radiohead had spent all their time at the art school, smoking too much weed, listening to Yes records and coming to the conclusion that violins are fucking rock and can carry a 10 minute rock song****. Yeah, 30 minutes of despair where it seemed that the bright spark idea that long automatically means epic, was unfortunately cunting deluded. To be honest I was more angry with myself… It only dawned on me that I could go out for a cigarette during the 2nd to last song…

Next, thankfully, the overhead lights dimmed to reveal a Michael Mann-esque blue haze stage as the Swedes walked on to the backing of new album opener ‘The One’. Considering that the venue was packed oot I and the good lady were watching a platform of heads moving around with the occasional torso for good measure*****.

This is where the modest but rather exceptional lighting work from the stage came into play. The blue haze was mixed up to compliment the music  which was exemplified as the audience was aurally assaulted by the music whilst simultaneously the same being done by the blinding white lights, working particularly well with ‘Finland’. This gave proceedings an oddly cinematic quality, where you could easily imagine the music being used to soundtrack a silent movie. No surprise then that Fritz Lang’s Metropolis was an influence on the new record ‘Vertikal’.

The evening consisted largely of tracks from this very album. From the sounds of it the band have continued to progress down the post-metal route with the vocals being less of a central component than before. Despite this there was no let-up in the music’s ferocity, it just felt that there was a bit more breathing room now. The biggest roars from the audience came late in the evening with the ‘Owlwood’ before ‘In awe of’ brought the night to a swift encore-less close******.

It took a good few days for my hearing to recover & I have begun to investigate the back catalogue, before purchasing the latest*******. A mighty evening which exceeded the memories of the last occasion when I was a hardcore/metal obsessed lad. It did get me wondering why the band has not achieved greater success than their peers such as Pelican, Isis, and Mogwai etc. Is it the vocals? Too metal for the post-rock crowd? Either way they are up there with the best!

*Supporting Dillinger Escape Plan at the Glasgow Cathouse.

**If it aint broke…

***It was a Saturday ok, and we were in Glasgow!

****If you can call it a rock song.

*****Can you really say you saw a band live if you can’t actually see them?

******If they did it would probably be about a ¼ length of the main set.

*******How old school!

Not our words, the words of William Shatner. Make of them what you will.
We have no idea.
As one of our ‘special events’, Brassneck is boldly going on a journey to find out if the even number rule of Star Trek films is correct, without the rose-tinted spectacles of childhood hindering our view.
Yes. That’s right. We’re gonna rewatch all the Star Trek cinematic outpourings and report our findings.

"Please Captain, not in front of the Klingons"

“Please Captain, not in front of the Klingons”