Tagged: Star Trek

Happy Hallowe’en, Trekkies!

I’ve always said:  Hallowe’en encourages the inner drag queen.

I rarely get dressed up for any occasion, my wardrobe limited to t-shirts, ragged-ass jeans and a fleece sweater to keep the chill off my aging bones.

But this Hallowe’en coincided with the birthday of a dear friend of ours. A costume party was the celebration of choice, its theme “the Sixties”.

Several different ideas passed through my mind, but then Sherron discovered a couple of sweaters in a thrift shop and, well, we were off.

Happy Hallowe’en to my fellow Trekkies.

 

Photo: Karen Williams

Setting the bar high

What are your goals as a writer, as a creative person?

This question has been much on my mind for the past while.  I’ve been accused of being an “elitist” and what have you because I insist that if you write for the purpose of making money, seeking fame and fortune, you are little more than a whore.  I have also been pretty clear that I have no interest in pursuing some big, fat publishing contract, nor do I give a tinker’s damn whether you’ve won a Hugo, an Edgar or the fucking Nobel Prize for that matter.  Baubles and trinkets.  Bullion and bullshit.

Kids, I’ve been offered the chance to write franchise novels (“Star Wars” or “Star Trek”) and told the agent involved to shove it.  As far as I’m concerned, you do something like that, “sharecrop” someone else’s universe, you are off the artistic roll call.  (Thanks, Bill, couldn’t have said it better myself.)

I don’t go to conventions, suck up to editors, try to flog my work to them like a door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman.

I don’t shill myself by teaching writing workshops—such ventures help spread the abhorrent lie that good writers can be stamped out like fucking cookies.  I’ve written about that in more detail here (the more delicate among you may have to avert your eyes at certain points in the essay).

Okay, so that’s what I don’t want…but what is my greatest aspiration as a writer?

To be the best.  To push myself to the limit and produce work that breaks new ground, written in language so finely wrought it’s like reading through a score by one of the great classical musicians.  Note perfect.  I want to be held up there with the finest authors in the world and not be found wanting.

I have no interest in being average.  A “decent” writer.  Ugh.  Better to be forgotten than instantly forgettable, which pretty much sums up most of the books being released these days.

Because I have chosen to go the indie route, I have automatically rendered my writing suspect in many people’s eyes.  If I’m acting as my own publisher and printer that must mean my stuff is no good, rejected by mainstream places because it fails to meet their exalted standards.  Which automatically begs the question:  have you been in a book store recently, seen the kind of shit the traditional publishers are spewing out like a drunk’s partially digested lunch?

I expend an incredible amount of time and effort revising and polishing my work—my novel So Dark the Night took over three years to write (not including the research that preceded it).  And I’m a full time writer.  Imagine that.  Day in and day out for 3+ years.  (Shudder)  But I knew I had a wonderful book, was confident that once it was finished and released, people would love it.  And I was right.

But, again, because I’m not a self-promoter, I think I’ve hurt sales of both my novels.  I even resisted sending out review copies, partially because I knew that no matter how good the books were, how professionally executed and bound, there would still be the stigma of the indie/self-published label.  This despite a professional writing career spanning over 25 years, many publication credits, anthology appearances, critical raves.  I haven’t sent copies to some of the famous authors I’m acquainted with, seeking their praise and approbation.  There’s just something within me that balks at the notion.  I want my books discovered, not read because of some kind of viral ad campaign.

So Dark the Night and Of the Night are superb literary efforts.  They are sprinkled with genre elements (mystery, horror/dark fantasy) but they are intended for an intelligent, discerning mainstream audience.  They have enormous cross-over appeal thanks to winning characters, snappy dialogue and homages to film noir, pulp fiction, and cult cinema and TV.  Fans of Paul Auster, Jonathan Carroll, Nicholas Christopher, David Mitchell, Philip K. Dick and Jorge Luis Borges will find a lot to like in both novels.

What they won’t find is the kind of incompetent, derivative, semi-literate drivel that is prevalent both in the self-published world and, as I’ve just related, on the traditional publishing scene as well.  You wanna read the next Stephanie Meyer or Dan Brown or J.A. Konrath?  I’m sorry, you’ve come to the wrong place.  I’m a real writer, boys and girls, I seek to create ART.  I want to destroy your preconceptions and offer you prose that is exciting, intoxicating and pitch perfect, right down to the placement of commas.

I want to be the best writer in the world.

There.  I’ve said it.

It’s a pipe dream, of course, there’s no such thing.  But for me, the bar is raised to the highest possible peg and I won’t lower my expectations for any market niche, slot on the bestseller list or dollar figure you can name.  My literary heroes are men and women who slaved away tirelessly, selflessly, stubbornly, refusing to conform to the whims of agents, editors or readers.  Iconoclasts and artisans, defending their work, their legacies, with the ferocity of pit bulls.  Facing penury, enduring lives of desperation, anonymity, pain and hopelessness, yet never forsaking their vision or abandoning their ideals.

With role models like that, it’s impossible to even entertain the possibility of selling out.

My idols would never forgive me.

“Robot Boy” (1969-70?)

The show was called “Robot Boy” and I’m hoping at least some of you remember it.

Each episode was six or eight minutes long—it was really just filler so you never knew what time it would run.  Anywhere from 6:30 a.m. Saturday morning until the “Star Trek” theme music cut in at 10:00 sharp.  It’s possible the show was produced out of the nearest TV station, which was in Yorkton, about seventy miles away (the only channel that came in clear).  “Robot Boy” had that really home made look, the production values pretty shabby.  But I didn’t care.  I was an avid fan.  Hated it when I missed an episode, just about inconsolable for the rest of the weekend.  Yeah, even then I was a bit of a diva.

The premise was stupefyingly simple:  Robot Boy (really just a cheap, windup toy) is insatiably curious and one day wanders away from the safety of the toy box to seek adventure in the great, wide world.  But unfortunately he soon gets lost and embroiled in various unfamiliar situations, trying to logically decipher what’s happening with his tiny robot brain.  Some of the conclusions he reaches are hilarious, way off the mark.  He’s totally naive when it comes to things that go on in real life.

There are shots of Robot Boy shuffling slowly down the sidewalk, going about 50 feet an hour, gigantic human shoes stepping over him, nearly knocking him into the gutter, legs moving past in the background, everyone oblivious to the lost little robot creeping through their midst.

My favorite episodes, the two I have the clearest memories of:   Robot Boy is menaced by a ferocious dog…but interprets its behavior as a warning and thanks it profusely while the dog strains to reach the tin figure, just an inch or two out of reach.  And there’s the episode where Robot Boy gets accidentally locked in a supermarket overnight and wanders up and down the aisles, admiring all the “exhibits” in the “museum”.

I Googled “Robot Boy” and found a few bloggers who reference the show.  There’s even a loose association of people who post on forums, swapping old news and rumors.  The main problem is there were only ten or twelve episodes of “Robot Boy” that were ever aired and no copies in any form seem to exist.  Which gives even more weight to my conjecture that the show was locally produced.  Maybe at one time it was even shot on videotape.  But those tapes are long gone or erased and reused.  There are still photos, grainy, not entirely convincing, their provenance unclear.  Forum members are divided, the rhetoric sometimes heated.  People are touchy when it comes to nostalgia.  Some have gone to all the effort of building scale models of Robot Boy, their attention to detail bordering on the obsessive.

I made mine out of cardboard boxes I found in the garage.  I was seven years old and the ugly duckling of the family…but when I slipped inside my cardboard costume I became Robot Boy.  My other life forgotten, my human existence shed like an itchy, constricting skin suit, too tight in the crotch.  The boxes smelled of apples and old newspapers.  I hung my arms out holes I cut in the sides.  Hands instead of pincers and an aluminum pie plate taped to the front, the dial sketched in with black marker.

I kept it in the basement, away from prying eyes.  In a cubbyhole by the furnace, where my sisters would never look.  My alter ego and guardian angel.  Big and blocky and comforting.  Made of indestructible metal.  Powered by atomic cells.  An obedient, loyal friend, willing to endure anything for me, even long hours in the dark.  I loved him and he loved me.   We understood each other.  And when “Robot Boy” was canceled, I grieved and felt a genuine sense of loss and betrayal.  I went down and I kicked the hell out out those boxes, kicked them to pieces.  They never showed re-runs and I wouldn’t have watched them anyway.  Robot Boy was dead to me.  That part of my life was over…

*************************************************************

This is blog posting #150 and, well, I wanted to make it something special.

I trust you enjoyed this trip down memory lane.

Feel free to share your thoughts, on “Robot Boy” or other relevant matters.  Here’s hoping for a great year ahead in 2011 for one and all.

“They’re tearing down Baker Street!”

Well, cinephiles, the news isn’t good.  An article penned by Neil Smith for the BBC website previews some of the big releases and most-hyped films of 2010 and it’s enough to make any serious film-goer weep in despair.

“The prevailing trend, ” Mr. Smith concludes gloomily, “is towards established film titles from yesteryear given a hi-tech makeover.”

So we can expect more updates and reinventions, the character names familiar but the faces different, with a budget rumoured at around a hundred mill.  Let’s see, just off the top of my head I recall movies based on “The Dukes of Hazzard”, “Get Smart”, “The Avengers”,  “Miami Vice”, “Bewitched”, “Charlie’s Angels”, “Starsky & Hutch”; in terms of remakes there’s “War of the Worlds” and “Day the Earth Stood Still”, “3:10 to Yuma”, “The Pink Panther”, “The Longest Yard” and, coming soon to your theater, a nastier rebooting of the “Nightmare on Elm Street” franchise.  We have sequels and prequels…and even the great Ray Harryhausen isn’t immune to pale imitation:  the new “Clash of The Titans”, helmed by Luc Besson protege Louis Leterrier, premieres in Canada in March.

And it would be negligent of me not to mention the highly anticipated “A  Team” movie, which promises to be even better than the original series.

Sweet Jesus.

I’ve written previously of my absolute loathing for JJ Abrams’ take on “Star Trek”.  I thought it utterly vapid, not to mention incoherent.  “Star Trek XI” barely bothered paying lip service to the original, JJ resorting to bottom-fishing Leonard Nimoy in a vain attempt to lend the abomination some small measure of legitimacy (he failed).  The mega-success of that film bewilders me–is the government putting something in the drinking water to make us dumb?  Was that crazy guy  standing behind me at Tramp’s Records down in Regina right and the H1N1 vaccine is a plot by Barack Obama to enslave our minds?

Let us not forget (I certainly can’t), the top grossing film in 2009 was, wait for it…”The Transformers”.

And (the good news just keeps coming) if the present trend continues, Jimmy Cameron will easily top his “Titanic” tally, “Avatar” already pulling in over a billion bucks from people who like their movies big, loud, pretty and predictable.

I get a monstrous headache when I ponder what all of this bodes for the future of film.  Have we reached the creosote at the bottom of the barrel or–

Holy fuck, the Rock as a hockey enforcer and (ulp) tooth fairy?  You gotta wonder what the pitch was like for that one.  And if the guy who gave it the green light was over-medicated that day.  Maybe it was a total whim, a desperate writer, his ideas shot down one by one, goes for broke and tosses out the first stupid thing that comes to mind.  “There’s a hockey goon, see, and he’s somehow cursed and has to take over as tooth fairy…”

But what’s a budding screen writer supposed to do?  Nobody’s buying “high concept” these days and who wants to wait around three or five or ten years to get funding through some indie?  Fuck that.  Everyone knows a writer’s life blood is development dough.  Milk that tit dry, baby!  And all but the terminally moronic have heard the news:  producers and film execs aren’t looking for anything original or different and any agent who wants to keep his “A List” contacts isn’t going to champion a script that’s literate, low-key, thoughtful and utterly lacking explosions and eye-catching CGI effects.

Not when there are old ideas still to be resurrected, a rich vein of nostalgia to be ruthlessly exploited.  By wunderkinds like Abrams and Zack Snyder and Michael Bay.  Comic book fans and video game junkies.  They don’t read anything that doesn’t come with colour illustrations. Not the sort who are interested in niceties like character development and well-rendered, believable dialogue, silences that speak volumes.

And apparently neither are you.

Yeah, you.

You’ve seen many of the films I’ve just named, haven’t you?  And when the end credits rolled, you didn’t feel the slightest bit enlightened or ennobled by anything you’d just seen in the preceding 104 minutes.  You know what you’re doing, don’t you?  You’re padding the box office receipts of garbage films, encouraging the Hollywood mill to churn out yet more garbage.  Charmless, superficial, derivative drek.  Berke Breathed, that old curmudgeon, wrote about the sensawunda that is missing from films these days and I couldn’t agree more.  Two hundred million bucks worth of state of the art special effects don’t amount to a hill of horseshit if your story is thin, trite and cliched.  Sorry, Mr. Cameron.

But most film-goers (apparently) couldn’t care less.  So what if “Cloverfield” was just a tarted up “Godzilla” flick?   Big deal if “300” is historically inaccurate.  They lined up in the driving rain for an hour to see “Star Trek” and will happily, uncomplainingly plunk down forty or fifty bucks when the “special ultimate limited edition” of “Avatar” is released this summer, with hours of bonus footage and deleted scenes and alternate endings and–

Okay, sorry I’m coming across so smug and morally superior.  After all, Mr. Trekkie here just had to see “XI”, didn’t he, even if it was only to confirm it was as bad as I feared (actually, it was far worse).

But that was an aberration.  Something completely out of character for me.  Usually I resist the blandishments of the ads and trailers and ignore the well-meaning twits who say “well, I thought it was different from the usual stuff”.  People inured to the eye candy and mindless, adolescent shite that pollutes theatres and the “New release” section of local movie stores, reducing a once-great art form to utter pap.

The “Star Trek” movie was merely confirmation of what I already knew.  I don’t fit the demographic of contemporary film-goers.  I have pubic hair and a real job; a life.  I left that movie feeling like I’d been swindled by a particularly graceless and inept con man.  The plot was ridiculous, it made no sense and, again, it made gazillions.  I just don’t get it.  These films, the remakes and sequels that show up week after week, are completely devoid of personality and any nuances or dashes of fine detail are entirely computer generated.  What’s the appeal, folks?  Why are you so averse to films that make you think?

Fuck the new “Sherlock Holmes” film, even if Guy Ritchie is directing.  Especially if Guy Ritchie is directing.  Here’s a guy with some talent (“Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels” and “Snatch”), participating in the utter rubbishing of one of the great characters in English literature.  I’m a fan of the stories, I’m a huge fan of Jeremy Brett’s sublime interpretation of the master detective and I will not be seeing this new version.  Transforming the cerebral sleuth into an action hero is an act of artistic heresy.  For his crimes against the canon, Ritchie should be burned atop a pile of Madonna albums.

Okay, Mr./Ms. Average film-goer, here’s what I want you to do.  I want you to repeat after me:

I am hereby declaring myself immune to hype and vital marketing campaigns; I will sneer at the latest franchise film, scoff at the laughably glowing reviews it receives from idigdumbmovies.com or KCLR Radio Topeka.

“The #1 Movie of the Summer!”

“The motion picture event of the year!”

“The Best Movie Ever!”

Sorry, we’ve hear that before, haven’t we?

It’s been many years since I’ve been the slightest bit interested in partaking of the latest “must see” film.  I avoid the new stuff, instead plunge into the stacks, the “catalogue” movies.  Making forays into Saskatoon and pillaging their main library.  Finding films and checking them off my list.  Old noir, classics of every genre, every era.  The kind of titles that are gradually being weeded out of local rental shops to make space for 50 copies of “Spiderman 6” or an entire wall devoted to the “Laverne & Shirley:  The Movie”.   And I use the wonders of technology, go on-line and track down the movies I’ve heard about, yearned to see for years, decades:  Murnau and Fellini and Dreyer and Clouzot; foreign and silent films, cult curios, visual melodies and meditations assembled and spliced from the zeitgeist.

It’s hard to turn up Monte Hellman films these days (try it sometime)…good Lord, someone’s selling some old Herzog flicks on eBay…and here’s my hero, Orson Welles, snippets from “Filming Othello” broadcast on YouTube .  I watch them all and then seek out the Micheál Macliammóir film diary Welles alludes too.  It’s wonderful , as well.

Recently I secured a copy of the remastered Criterion edition of “M”.  And it’s high time I watched my VHS copy of King Vidor’s “The Crowd” again…

There is more craft, thought and artfulness put into either of those efforts than any flick released in the past ten years.  Maybe longer.  Isn’t that something?  And they’re both at least 80 years old.

The auteurs like Lang and Vidor have died off or grown old.  That image I have of Kurosawa, lying in his coffin, one of his longtime collaborators putting flowers between his toes to hide the bits blackened by frostbite.  From the years spent outside, stalking about cold sets, making sure everything was exactly right.  Now that’s an artist.

The new kids have it easy.  They don’t even have to go outside.  Green screen the actors and add in the sets, backdrops post-production.  Perk up the tits on the leading lady while you’re at it, will ya, boys?  The present breed write with laptops, instead of their hearts and souls.  One eye on the box office, ever eager to please their corporate masters.  Up to and including shooting a new ending for their labour of love, should a test audience of retards grade it too low…

Stardate 29.04.09

star-trekWell, I couldn’t let an opportunity go by without referencing the upcoming Star Trek movie.  The franchise is hanging on this one, boys and girls; the Next Generation sputtered out after the woeful “Nemesis” and nothing that followed appealed to anyone other than hardcore fans.  A drastic re-tooling was in order.  That’s why the guys in suits chose J.J. Abrams to carry the torch.  A guaranteed crowd-pleaser.  Hell, that Lost show made buckets of money–as a gun for hire he comes with a pretty high rep.

Abrams has been around awhile, longer than I realized.  And he hasn’t always been a golden goose either.  He receives a brief mention in Richard E. Grant’s film diary With Nails.  Grant runs into him at some Hollywood gathering and  with his acute perceptiveness, describes J.J. and his cronies thus:  “Meet a twenty-four-year old screenwriter called J.J. who wrote ‘Regarding Henry’, has a three-picture deal, and talks real fast, as do his friends, all of whom seem young, ruthless and rich.”

Hmmm… “ruthless and rich”.  Not “gifted” or “witty” or “intelligent”.  Ruthless and rich. And “Regarding Henry”?  Remember that turkey?

kirkBut all will be forgiven if J.J. can revitalize the old gal, make it contemporary without abandoning the campiness and charm of the original show; I’m a retro nut and I’m worried the writers (one of them the “genius” behind “Transformers: The Movie”), will bury the story under CGI, comic book level dialogue and stock characterizations, while bending as far as possible to meet the abysmally low expectations of the fan boys/girls.

End of rant.

Now, as you’ve likely guessed, since my last post a couple of weeks back I’ve been working, plugging away on new material and prepping old stuff for revision.  Beginning to gear up…there’s something about the summer that gets my creative energies revved up to full throttle.  I can’t explain it.  While the rest of my family is off traveling or out at the beach, I’m up in my office, sweating buckets, scribbling like mad.

With the coming of warmer weather this month, something clicked into place and I’ve been at it for long stretches, working on–well, I can’t say yet.  You know me.  Like to play it close to the vest.  Might show it to Sherron later on this week but until then–shtum.

So I’ve been working hard and every so often scrambling down the stairs to watch a period of hockey–it’s the Stanley Cup playoffs, doncha know–before rushing back upstairs to work some more and then back downstairs to check the score, watch highlights, never missing Don Cherry…

cherry

I’ve been a Boston Bruins fan for nigh on forty years–oh, yes, my children, the big, bad Bruins and I go wayyy back.  Watching old footage of Bobby Orr still brings tears to my eyes.  And this year…well, the boys had a terrific regular season and then they destroyed the Habs in four straight games.  I hardly dare wish for anything else.  Must not tempt the hockey Gods to turn on the B’s like some blind Greek guy with a taste for older women…

It’s a pleasure to watch players like Marc Savard and I love that Lucic kid.  Wideman is an under-appreciated talent and Tim Thomas has been good when called upon.  But if that idjit Phil Kessel doesn’t stop with the lookit-me-dangle-all-by-myself-I’m-Jason-bleedin’-Spezza lone man dashes up the ice (which, inevitably lead to odd man rushes the other way), I’m going to end up kicking the front of my television set in.

Sorry, had to get that off my chest.  It’s just that one commentator described Kessel as the Bruins’ best player during the Montreal series and I just about swallowed my beer mug.

kesselOkay, I admit it, I picked New Jersey and San Jose to make the final this year.  Tells you what I know.  Yeah, and now watch Kessel go on to win the fucking Conn Smythe Trophy.

Okay, besides  work and the odd period of hockey, I’ve also somehow managed to squeeze in a fair amount of reading, lotsa music and even a movie or two.  Part of that whole getting-some-balance-in-my-life thing I’ve been working toward.  With mixed results (hey, but at least I’m trying!).

Read John Fante’s 1939 novel Ask the Dust and absolutely loved it.  Set in 1930’s Los Angeles, the story of Arturo Bandini, aspiring novelist, come West to seek his fame and fortune.  I described the book elsewhere as a cross between Nathanial West (Day of the Locust) and Knut Hamsun (Hunger).  I photocopied  two pages and glued them into a “Book of Commonplace” I keep of favorite quotes and excerpts.  I also hand-copied these sentences:

Over the city spread a white murkiness like fog.  But it was not the fog:  it was the desert heat, the great blasts from the Mojave and Santa Ana, the pale white fingers of the wasteland, ever reaching out to claim its captured child.

fanteHere’s a piece from Salon.com that talks about  about Mr. Fante’s life and work.   Definitely a book–and an author–worthy of rediscovery.

In terms of movies, Sherron and I puzzled our way through David Lynch’s ultra-weird “Mulholland Drive” and I’m nearly done watching the second and final season on the 1967 TV series, “The Invaders”.  Fun to slam down one or two episodes with a stiff glass of scotch after a hard day of writing.  That’s my method for stress relief (patent pending)…

Lots of time in my office means lots of tunes playing too…and, as of yesterday, that includes Bob Dylan’s latest, Together Through Life.  Not sure what I think of the new one yet.  Maybe give it a few more listens before I decide.  It lacks a cut with the mythic, spiritual power of something like “Man in the Long Black Coat” or, from  Time out of Mind, the searing and entrancing “Highlands” (all sixteen-and-half minutes of it).  Some good songs, especially “Beyond Here Lies Nothin'”, “My Wife’s Hometown” and “It’s All Good” and I like the Tex-Mex flavor but I wouldn’t count Together Through Life in the front rank of Dylan’s body of work.  Not by a long shot.

godPlenty of instrumental, ambient stuff pouring out of my speakers:  Explosions in the Sky, God is an Astronaut, the soundtrack of “Mysterious Skin” (Harold Budd and Robin Guthrie collaborating).  Old Tangerine Dream (“Atem”), Mogwai and NIN’s “Ghosts I-IV”.

The perfect accompaniment; the music transports me to a place beyond physical laws and temporal constraints.  In this undetermined location I can work without distraction, removed from obligations and duties.  That door over there opens on nothing, the backdrop outside my window cunningly executed but, upon close inspection, reveals imperfections, chips in the paint and swirls left by careless brush strokes–

The artifice holding, for now, but I keep the door closed and the blinds mostly drawn.  To maintain the necessary illusion, preserve it through a combination of higher physics, prayer, alchemy and the judicious use of duct tape, when all else fails…

door

“Ship Building” (Apologies to Elvis Costello)

trek1

I’m a Trekkie.

Fuck.

I realize I just cost myself a lot of cred with my hard core readers, the ones who expect me to be a cynical bastard 24/7.  But I can’t help it.  If I was ever in the same room as William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy or Nicholas Meyer, I’d probably swoon.  Ridiculous.  Stupid.  But there it is.

I spent all afternoon–that’s right, all afternoon–putting together a model of the starship Enterprise and I’m feeling positively giddy as I look at the end result of my endeavors.  Okay, it’s not perfect.  It’s been thirty years since I put together a plastic model kit; I took one look at the instructions and howled for my son Liam to come and help me.  Liam is a genius at Lego or, really, anything that requires assembly.  He put together our barbecue when he was eleven because I went into a stuttering rage and had to be restrained from smashing it into its component atoms.  True story.

I have a terrible temper.  Murderous.  Especially when it comes to recalcitrant objects.

Liam very patiently lent his assistance to assembling the kit.  To his credit, he insisted I do all the work, he just supervised to make sure I didn’t end up splashing the fucking thing with gasoline and setting it ablaze.

trek2I screwed up, no question.   Supposedly the snap together unit (from Polar Lights)  was  “Skill Level 2, For Ages 10 to Adult”.  Ten?  Maybe a ten year old Stephen Hawking.  I chose mismatching engine nacelles and my spray paint was too old, my hands shook too much and I didn’t have the right colours so had to mix and match but, y’know, I got the thing together and got to spent three quality hours with my oldest son.

It brought back a lot of memories for me too.   From the time I was eight or nine years old, I loved watching “Star Trek”.  Every Saturday morning at 11:00 a.m. (after Bugs Bunny), I’d be in front of the TV, ready to watch the latest exploits of the Enterprise crew.  And, later, me and my buddy Brent would buy and build the AMT models; his were always so much better than mine (fucker had a lovely  touch) but I forgave him.  His Klingon battleship was gorgeous (except he kept dropping it and breaking its long neck).

Scan-read William Shatner’s autobiography some weeks ago and was somewhat surprised to learn that he and Nimoy didn’t become friends until long after the series was over.  Gene Roddenberry doesn’t fare well in Shatner’s account–in fact, the Great Bird of the Galaxy turns out to be a first class asshole.  Sigh.

Ah, well, so Gene wasn’t a nice guy or a good writer or faithful husband…his initial concept of a “wagon train to the stars” was a good one and he was fortunate enough to secure three leads who, despite their disdain for each other, created a rare chemistry on-screen.

Whenever I’m in a bad mood,  I crack in “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan”.  It’s by far the best of the series and a terrific movie, by any standards.  Lots of action, suspense…and a death scene that makes my eyes sting every time.

Trek‘s message, however crudely delivered, was a positive one, humans using their ingenuity and courage to overcome obstacles, revealing  the very best qualities of our species (while not shrinking from portraying the absolute worst).  It’s a theme that resonates, not just with kids but with grownup kids too.  Human existence need not be nasty, brutish and short.  We can aspire to reach the stars and use the enormous mental capacity that we’ve been given to achieve great things.

Shatner was a shit, Nimoy a drunk, Roddenberry…well, no need to speak further ill against the dead.

But what they succeeded in creating, together, transcended all of them and for that we can forgive them their flaws and foibles.

They lived long and they prospered…and by accident or design, succeeded in creating a legendary series that is still relevant, still entertaining (especially if you like camp) and still capable of instilling joy in the heart of a 45 year old man with a bent back, stiff fingers and irritable bowel.

And that’s saying something.

trek3