Archive for the ‘Star Trek’ Category

Mom, Up With The Stars   7 comments

Glamor Mom

So there I was, a little kid, really, laying on my stomach on the living room floor.   That’s how the small set viewed television, at least back then, when TV sets weren’t flat screens but part of the furniture.  This show, Star Trek, was on and Mom was glued to it.  Only a few years later, she’d do the same with Tom Baker’s version of Dr. Who.

Every Saturday afternoon, she’d turn on Channel 17 in the kitchen and watch whatever horror movies they happened to play.  I’d turn on the set in the living room and watch from the couch.  Mom peeked up from the ironing board, giant pot of dinner or pile of something she happened to be tending to at the time, and me, well, I’d be there, glued in stupefied fascination over the ridiculous plots.  I mean, come on.  A giant moth taking over a city?  I never could get used to lips not moving in sync to the voices that never quite seemed to match up to the person speaking them.

Still, countless Saturday afternoons with Mom went by, watching an enormous man tangle with electric wires as his former girlfriend implored him to stop, or yet another man shrunk down shorter than the grass he hid in contemplating the stars.  Why were the victims generally men?  Sure, occasionally you had the disfigured, angry woman out to kill whomever did this to her, but on the whole, it was some luckless fellow falling down a hole, getting sprayed with a mysterious liquid, blasted by X/gamma/nuclear/unknown rays and having his soul wrenched from him as his body contorted/transformed/vaporized into an unrecognizable mass that wreaked havoc in the nearest city…and always a city.

Mom’s fascination with this stuff naturally influenced mine, except I developed a liking to those story lines that involved spaceships, aliens, misguided off-world adventures, and the like.  I still think one of the best vintage sci-fi films is The Day The Earth Stood Still (the one that stars Patricia Neal and Michael Rennie), and so did Mom.  Klaatu had it going on, and I thought he should have taken Patricia Neal with him, maybe the kid, too.  That would have been a good story.  Neither Mom nor I didn’t think much of the remake with Neo, but it did have its merits.

What Mom didn’t find to satisfy her thirst for science fiction adventure, she found up in the evening skies, when she was so inclined to peek at them.  By the time I was in the sixth grade, I spent many an hour glancing up at them and I always told her what I saw, even showing Comet Kohoutek to her (a MAJOR disappointment).  Occasionally a planet might wander by or an eclipse might occur.  Come to think of it, my first total eclipse of the sun was shared with Mom, back in the 1970s.  How amazing that in the afternoon all the lights went on in the street, the birds stopped singing and a few bright stars appeared as the sun played coy with the moon.  We stood outside, afraid to look at it but in the end taking a quick peek during totality, gasping at that miracle of nature.

As years went by, my mother never lost her love for stuff not readily explainable, either via television or the movies.  Once, she and my father even saw what they believed to be several UFOs flying over the coast, where they lived.  That confirmed their belief by hundreds of reports the next day, covered both in the paper and on the morning news.  We watched as the real Enterprise went piggyback on a plane, then as all the space shuttles, SkyLabs, ISS and anything else that left this planet went up and aided the Earth’s population, scientific and otherwise, to explore whatever lie out there and beyond.

On May 24, 2014, my mother went up there in the heavens to become one with the stars.  I’d like to think she currently resides there, since she took so much interest in them.  She had a very peaceful journey, laying down to take a nap from which she never awoke.  There was nothing truly wrong with her, said the doctor, apart from it was her time.  Mom had 85 action-packed years and I’d like to think they were all incredibly interesting ones.  She leaves behind her family, terribly sorry to see her go and missing her every day.

I couldn’t write a single word of this blog until now.  Nothing came to mind.  Then, just like magic, the memories of how I’d laugh and joke with Mom over those vintage Saturday afternoon sci-fi groaners we used to watch together popped into my mind.

I’d like to think Mom put that there.

Bye, Mom!  I’ll see you in the stars…

Aliens, Mad as Hell   Leave a comment


I’ve come to notice that one thing many aliens have in common:  they’re angry.


Now, I’m not talking all sci-fi films or TV series.  In fact, some are really quite friendly and helpful.  Paul, Alf and E.T. made good friends and lifelong connections with their earthling counterparts.  And a quick look at Star Trek/Wars/Gate will tell you that there’s a bounty of otherworldly types just itching to make nice with us inferiors.

But then again, how many baddies have you come to enjoy over the years?

Let’s take, for example, the Borg.  They’re a pretty economical lot.  If you ask me, they become part of a collective, kind of like communism in its most evil form twinned with just plain communes.  They readily adapt to any situation, yet they clearly enjoy being together.  One could argue it’s the system making them relate to each other so well, but they’re so anxious to turn complete strangers into buddies that they readily adapt the most innocent of bystanders, hook them up to machine-like apparatus and get them angry enough to kill anyone the collective doesn’t like.


Now, here’s what I’m talking about:  Mars Attacks!

These guys made no pretensions, minced no Ack! Ack! to their sworn enemies on Earth.  All they knew is that they looked humble and willing for about twenty seconds, let us earthlings make fools of ourselves and then wreaked utter destruction.  Heck, they even brought down Jack Nicholson!  Yet it was a simple yodel that brought them to their knees and made their gooey green brains blow up like bubble gum in a microwave.  Don’t tell me you didn’t get the parallel between that and germs in War of the Worlds.

Yet, for all the seeming variety out there, we keep coming back to this stereotype:


Now, this guy’s pretty cool and the star of his own film, Paul.  But really, he is indicative of the stereotype.  If anyone says they’ve seen someone that didn’t look like they belonged here on Earth, went finger-pointing up a section of the anatomy not commonly known for engaging positive thoughts, and generally dug around in someone’s insides uninvited, it would be similar to the person/thing above.

I’m asking: where did this image come from?  Where did it originate?  Is this the one imprinted in our brains that makes us react when we think we’ve seen something that doesn’t quite belong to our planet?  Is this vision of an alien comforting to us, as in if we see something just like this, we’ll know to run (if we can)?

Will it angry with us?

Will be have the courage to ask why?

Will it accept a box of chocolates and a bouquet of flowers to kiss and make up?

But first, I’d like to know what it is that we did in the first place…



Uniformly Fashionable   Leave a comment

I’d like to know this:  who comes up with the uniforms for all those space missions out there?  I mean, once we’re out and about in galaxies afar, does anyone really care whether or not our outfits match?  Or that they’re in uniform?

Take, for example, this example:


Space: 1999 publicity shot

The color palate is beige with a touch of red and a slap of mustard, reminiscent of a hot dog bun with ketchup and mustard.

Now, compare it to this:


Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan publicity shot

This is a riff off of the above, except we’ve gotten rid of the ketchup and replaced it with relish and chafing dish pan.

Both are going for the comfort angle, because, as we all know, traveling in either a ship or moon requires it.  Take a closer look at both casts.  S:1999 pose as if they own the look; STII gaze embarrassingly off into the distance.

images-3 images

And these two for women:  for whose benefit are these impossibly short hemlines?  Even sitting’s a chore in these, a constant battle between modesty v. duty.  Sure, Kirk’s going to throw down his pen and say, “Say, can you pick that up for me?” as he gives his best lecherous stare.  And the hair – if you’re fighting Klingons, who’s got the time to fuss with such an intricate do?


This drove me nuts:  why is it open?  Does it allow for more comfort, sort of like opening the top button?  Does it show that an officer has his guard down, or up during battle and needs to breathe? How do you keep it closed, anyway?




And speaking of dresses, Picard in his literal dress uniform.  Note the look of defeated resignation in his face.  I’m sure he’s thinking: Magenta?  REALLY?  This would have been much chicer in grey…


ST: Enterprise publicity shot

Although purple wouldn’t have been my first choice, kudos for at least some consistency in the uniforms.  At least T’Pol has coverage, albeit rather snugly.  She’s shapely, so she pulls it off well.



STSG: Nemesis publicity shot

Finally, I have to admit, the above is the most professional and utilitarian of all uniforms in the ST series.  Why, oh why, didn’t they just go to these in the first place?  Guess it takes many tries before you get it right.



Left in the Dust   Leave a comment


Opportunity.  Credit: NASA


There’s a really hard worker out there, a senior citizen by many standards, who labors daily to investigate new discoveries and justify employment.  It’s a familiar circumstance, as anyone who’s been to McDonald’s lately and notices the grey-haired workers slinging burgers behind the counter.

Except this time, we’re talking about a enterprising, determined robot named Opportunity.

NASA’s ten-year-old scrappy little fella keeps plugging away, searching through the red dust looking for, well, new opportunities.  And like many senior citizens out there, he’s survived wretched conditions: blazing heat, frigid winters, uncertain circumstances, life out in the open without so much as a complaint.  Somehow, someway it’s continued to plug away at the only job it has ever known, and that’s reporting its findings back to the scientists who record its reports and disseminate whatever they contain in the name of research.

Those days might end a whole lot sooner than anyone thinks.  The 2015 NASA budget has been slashed, with zero funds for our Earthern expatriate.

What’s becoming of America and its intrepidness?  I mean, really?

I’m not really a political person, but when I see opportunities lost (and this isn’t a pun) such as the one on Mars, I feel a bit more of our prestige going down the toilet.  We should be proud that a robot as resilient as Opportunity still continues to operate. as we almost certainly are with Voyagers 1 and 2.  And yes, there are plenty other missions slated for Mars, including manned ones.  But why quit an Opportunity now, when there’s still so much to be gained?

Our nation once threw itself into the space race full tilt.  Those days have ebbed, but the drive to encourage and educate young scientists isn’t fostered as diligently as it once was, or should still be.  I find this ironic, since we seem to be heading into second golden age of Sci-Fi.  With all the interest in what’s going to unfold in the future, shouldn’t we take a little hunk of our past and keep it going?

Though we’re gaining ground of what sort of planet Mars truly is, it’s become a group effort among nations.  Everybody who’s industrialized seems to have their eyes set squarely on Mars, for science and the inevitable drive for profit.

Which leaves me to wonder: is America up to the challenge anymore?  Does America really care about its space legacy?  Has it lost its imagination about how far we can go?

I sure hope not.  I’m still betting Star Trek is a chronicle of the future, sent back to us here in the past, just like ST IV: The Journey Home.

Posted April 10, 2014 by seleneymoon in Space Missions, Star Trek

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Out and About in Subspace   Leave a comment


I’m glad BBC American plays “Star Trek: The Next Generation” regularly.  Though I don’t watch it every night, I do see it often enough to revisit my favorite episodes.  Still don’t get why Tasha Yar had to die, although I wondered what it must have been like to get busy with Data.  Wesley Crusher was a sniveling boy-man who eventually wound up on Eureka! as a sniveling man-child.

But I digress.

Geordi La Forge often began episodes of ST: TNG with a situation arising in subspace.  When this series first came on in 1987, I never questioned what that could be.  My neighbor Ira and I often sat in front of the television with a selection of Chinese takeout strategically placed on the coffee table, allowing us to view the show and feed without having to look down.  Later, as I moved into a tiny Manhattan flat, my ritual continued (alas, without Ira, who married and moved on to other things).  It slowly occurred to me that I had absolutely no idea what what subspace is and how one could access it.

Subspace, in the strictest sense, is defined as a hypothetical space-time continuum used for communication at a speed faster than that of light.  However, a visit to the Star Trek wiki provides this explanation:

“Subspace is an integral part of the time-space continuum, distinct, yet coexistent with normal space. Subspace and normal space are confluenced together. However, in some regions an interfold layer forms between the two realms. Subspace has an infinite number of domains. Geordi La Forge compared it with “…a huge honeycomb with an infinite number of cells”.

Tetyron particles are a form of subatomic particle which can only exist naturally in subspace. If they are released into normal space, they exhibit erratic properties. This can only occur when the fabric of subspace comes into contact with normal space in some manner.

Some species, such as the solanogan life forms were indigenous to subspace.”

An important note follows the above definition:  “Exactly what subspace is has never been revealed on screen, though many theories, both fan-based and scientific, have been put forward. Explaining subspace would be hard, since it is used as a solution and cause of various problems throughout the series. It is implied to be the medium through which faster-than-light travel and communication is possible, similar to hyperspace.”

TNG wasn’t the only series benefiting from subspace.  The entire “Stargate” franchise liberally used this as a plot device, as well as the phrase “beam me up (or somewhere).”  This might be explained as homage to ST’s creator.  Though I don’t remember the exact episode, one character says to the other, “Don’t tell me you haven’t worshipped at the altar of Roddenberry.”

This leads me to believe the following:  Good writing and plots don’t necessarily involve complete and scientifically accurate explanations.  Just go with it and see where it takes you.  Otherwise, you might wind up in a subspace inversion, and that’s nasty.

Posted March 8, 2014 by seleneymoon in Star Trek

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