Friday, February 27, 2015

Star Trek: The Lost Episodes with the Ridiculous Cast

We couldn't get the channel from Pittsburgh that always broadcast the original Star Trek with our cheap antenna, but as I watched the show in bits & pieces over time, I learned the show's backstory, who the characters were and became absolutely fascinated by the obvious disconnect of traveling millions of light-years (knowing this word would certainly make me SO cool, the kids in class would have to stop calling me computer brain and then quit beating on me), and how the doorknobs and hinges on alien worlds had an eery resemblance to the ones we used on Earth.

Each year, my mother had inservice meetings at the school where she worked as a Title I Teacher's Aide every summer in the 2 weeks just before school began, so my sister and I were always treated to a mini-vacation of going 4 miles out the road from our farm and into "the 'burbs"to spend every day from 7:00 to 4:00 with Aunt Betty, my mother's sister, and our first cousin, Wray.

Since he was a huge Star Trek fan and had babbled incessantly about the show, we decided to watch it and see what all the fuss was about.

Star Trek, the original cast on the Bridge of the Enterprise, NC-1701
After one episode, we were hooked, so each day after the show was over, we'd all go out into their big yard beneath the beautiful, old sweeping Maple tree, with the humongous flat, round rock that was about a foot off the ground, enabling us to stealthily warp through space without the neighbours being any the wiser, and we'd reenact all the episodes with Wray as Captain Kirk, natch, my sister Jeri as Chekhov, and myself as First Officer Spock.  Mostly because I could do the cool hand thing if I taped my fingers together.

The problem came, however, in choosing our missions.  We quickly learned the logistical nightmare of picking a mission whose bad guys posed the biggest threat to the existence of all mankind, and in one that had minimal violence so we could dock in the Shuttle Bay and still get back to Earth in time for the afternoon snack and The Munsters at 3:30.

My uncle did carpentry (he'd built their gorgeous home that had natural hardwood floors in every room) along with being an electrician, so was always building things in his abnormally-clean basement, and therefore a supply of the soft, White Pine 2x4s were always plentiful.  We'd take the hacksaw and cut the scraps down to about 4-6" in length, then draw the dials on them with black and red magic markers, always complaining that if it hadn't been for the ridges in the wood blocks, that artwork would have been worthy of hanging in a museum, so accurate was it.

Yeah, you know where I'm going with this: after the artwork and embellishments, we had our own personal, functioning phasors!!  Of course, we'd have to make our own sound effect noises, but since we'd smartly drawn on a volume knob, this meant we could then manually adjust the volume (even then we didn't fully trust technology)--a feature we knew none of the other imaginary space explorers had.  And in spite of them being horribly accurate, Captain Kirk always seemed to die numerous times in each episode by getting himself shot, then falling out the windows of the Bridge, which would fling him into space where we'd inevitably have to beam his pathetic ass back to the Bridge.  And this always happened because Chekov and I never could seem to kill the Klingon bastards before they shot first.

This ineptitude usually garnered us a stern lecture from the Captain, followed by a temper tantrum that required interjection from the Director, resulting in an afternoon nap (it must have been more stressful than we knew to be the Captain).

When his diva-ness had awakened and the crew fortified with Mayonnaise, Cheeze and Pickle sammiches on white Wonderbread, we'd all suit up again by taping on our paper communicators, crying, "Once more unto the breach!", the director slash producer being heard to screech out the door behind us, "And don't get your pants dirty!"

We learned one of life's harshest realities that summer:  Some people just have no appreciation for true space exploration.

We lost an icon today.  And while the show aired long before I was born, I can still feel its effects on my life.

Nimoy, you and Roddenberry were responsible for an entire generation of dreamers, some of us going on to careers in which we get to reach for and touch the stars daily.  THANK-YOU, sirs, for trailblazing a path into the Heavens, helping others, if I may borrow the phrase, boldly go where they've never gone before.

It mattered not that you weren't a real Astronaut by vocation or training--you traveled; met new alien races; fought many-faced and silver-jumpsuited creatures; held your logic and diplomacy intact in some of the most harrowing situations; had your mettle tested regularly and always passed; went through the lives and deaths of probably 75 red-shirted ensigns per year and still never saw the next one coming; worked best under stress; loved your ship and her crew; were loyal to the Prime Directive with your life; had your atoms disassembled and reassembled in the transporter, and lived anew each day enough for all the Astronauts and those like me who only dreamed of becoming one.

This might have been a heavy burden, had it been a lesser Human/Vulcan hybrid, but you handled it with Grace, and of course, logic, in that beauteous and stoic way that somehow managed to still pull us in and melt us with admiration, empathy, and yes...even love.  You made it seem as if you were born to it all along.  And in some ways, I guess you were.

Your presence here will be sorely missed, but we can take joy in knowing that another star will shine with a lot more energy and apparent magnitude tonight in the Universe.

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