Thursday, February 23, 2012


Today Majel Barrett-Roddenberry, the talented and lovely First Lady of Star Trek, would have turned 80 years old.
Majel was involved with every incarnation of Star Trek since the original series, starting out playing "Number One", the female First Officer in the pilot episode. We know and love her firstly as Christine Chapel, the head nurse on the Enterprise in TOS. Poor thing, always the target of Spock's Vulcan freakouts. Don't feel bad Christine, we all feel that way about Spock. And we like your Plomeek soup.

Then there was the glamorous and tragic Lwaxana Troi on TNG and DS9. A well played, complex character; kind, lonely, brash and full of life, keeping even the most stoic guys on their toes.

And of course, the computer voice. The beloved sound of our favorite computers of the future. A voice which will always remind us of space exploration and peace and hope and adventure.
And we shan't forget her lifelong role as the devoted wife of good old Uncle Gene.

Whenever we miss her, all we have to do is watch Star Trek. Any Star Trek, because she is in it, everywhere, literally and figuratively.

Happy Birthday Majel! We hope you're hanging out in some parallel universe with Gene, having space martinis and laughing at all the illogical humans.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Captain's Log: Star Trek Music Review - FIVE YEAR MISSION

It isn't every day you think to yourself "There should definitely be more music based on Star Trek." And it isn't every two days after that that a friend says "Hey look, here's a band that's doing a song for every episode of The Original Series." And it isn't every three months later you still haven't listened to anything else since you downloaded said band's albums. You with me? This may be less of a "review" than a gushy recommendation or whole hearted endorsement.
Five Year Mission is five guys that thought The Original Series "rocks so hard" that every episode deserves it's own tribute song. I tend to agree, but as a full blown music snob, I must admit I was skeptical. Or, at least I figured it would just be the kind of thing you hear once and enjoy a laugh because you get the Trek references. Then you move along, scurrying on back to your obscure post-punk bands no one's ever heard of. But I soon figured out these guys are much more than just a couple of geeks with a Casio and a Macbook. 
The first 5YM song I heard was "The Naked Time" from their first album, Year One. I dare say it's more than just a cute song about Mister Spock losing his Vulcan cool, but a brilliant pop song, and perhaps even a well done homage (not a rip-off) to The Cure's "Boys Don't Cry", whether or not that was intentional. Another gem from Year One is "The Man Trap". I defy to you listen without either dancing or singing along to the chorus. (I do both.) This album was the first thing I ever downloaded from iTunes, and it was worth every penny, a zillion times over. Seriously, I haven't been that excited about a new album since I got my first Nirvana CD in the 90s. Lucky for me, I showed up to the party when Year Two was about to be released. A week later I'd downloaded my very second album from iTunes, fully prepared to be disappointed, I mean, it couldn't be as good as Year One, could it?
Oh, it could be, and it is. It might even be better.
Year Two starts off with the masterfully poppy "Galileo Seven" that draws you into heart-felt sing-a-longs reminiscent of what one might expect upon hearing "Livin' On A Prayer" in a bar at 1am. The comedic, fun, "Space Seed" (KHHAAAAAANNNN!!!) and "Arena" challenge you to listen to them on your iPod in public and try not to walk around with a big idiotic grin on your face. The hilarity is balanced by beautifully written songs, like the tragic "City On The Edge of Forever" or the appropriately dramatic, artfully done, Radiohead-esque "Devil in The Dark". The sweet, adorable song for "The Alternative Factor" is almost a non-traditional love song, an incredibly creative take on the episode and it's undertones. I could go on, I could say something about every song. (Dammit Jim, I'm a Star Trek fan, not a music reviewer!) But I think you should just go download it for yourself, or order the CD from 5YM's website. (I am in no way affiliated with them, their music just makes me happy.) It's one thing to watch a video or two online, but there is something in listening to the whole album in it's entirety, seeing the episodes playing in your brain, with an incredibly fun, original soundtrack.
These guys get Trek, they get it's silliness, it's camp. What they also get is how damned awesome it is, and you can feel it in the songs, there is a deep respect for the show and the characters, and also a healthy appreciation of the obvious tongue-in-cheek aspect of writing songs about Star Trek. The only reason not to listen to these guys is that you'll never be able to watch TOS again without thinking of their songs. I certainly don't mind it myself. I'm not ashamed to admit, even as a self proclaimed music snob, I haven't listened to almost anything else in months, I'm still not tired of it, and can't wait for Year Three to come out.  

Find them on:

Favorite 5YM song, awesome video.

The Scale of the Universe

Here's a link to an interesting interactive site that puts the scale of the universe into perspective. It goes from the smallest known particles all the way up to the edges of space as we know it. Seemed like a logical thing to share with Trek fans (whose heads are in the stars most of the time, anyway).
*oh, and you just have to deal with the annoying ad at the beginning. It's worth it.
The Pillars of Creation Nebula

Friday, January 20, 2012

Happy Birthday, De!

Jackson DeForest Kelley January 20, 1920 – June 11, 1999

He was a good southern choir boy turned enlisted man, turned actor. He was a romantic, and lifelong husband to Carolyn Dowling. He played villains and cowboys and medics, and he was even offered the role of Mr. Spock. (yeah that's right) But to us, he has been and always shall be our beloved doctor, The Good Doctor, Bones McCoy. Some of the funniest and most wonderful moments in Star Trek over the years were his, including his cameo in the pilot episode for The Next Generation. He was always a perfect foil to Spock's Vulcan logic, and a constant confidant to our Captain Kirk. What would they have done on the Enterprise without his hypo-spray and humanity to keep everyone alive and sane? And Bones always knew when a man needed a drink more than a prescription.
De's portrayal of Dr. McCoy inspired many Star Trek fans to become more like his character and go into medicine, and he was quite proud of that fact. He had always wanted to be a doctor in real life, and was glad that, at least on Star Trek he became the best known doctor in the galaxy. De was the oldest cast member in Star Trek, and perhaps the most loved, it seems he never had a sore moment with anyone who was involved in the show. In his later years, he explored his love of poetry and art, and even wrote three poems about Gene Roddenberry. He loved his work, and we love him for it. As he said to William Shatner from his deathbed "Let's make just one more Star Trek movie! I sure miss making those movies!" (Dammit Jim! Don't cry!)
So here's a salute to the late great DeForest Kelley and the old country Doctor, "Bones" McCoy. Are we having mint juleps this evening? You bet your pointed ears we are!

My favorite toast, a' la Dr. McCoy: "To whatever you want the most." (as said to Dr. Miranda in "Is There No Truth In Beauty?")
"He's really not dead, as long as we remember him."
-Dr. McCoy, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

We remember you, De! Happy Birthday! You are missed!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Le Interview: Meet your Captain and First Officer!

To begin the epic journey that is sure to be our blog, we’ve decided to post a little Q&A about ourselves and our Trekkery, just so you can get to know both us and our interests better.

What makes you the Captain/ First Officer?
D: When I first watched Trek I wanted to be Mr. Spock so badly I cut my bangs and started trying to be more logical. At some point I realized I am way more like Captain Kirk; brave but emotional, and I like to be in charge. I definitely would have cheated my way out of the Kobayashi Maru and I am very good at batting my eyelashes and using charm to get out of trouble or get things done.
V: I suppose I’m First Officer because I’ve got a bit of a logical streak going. I’m a very pragmatic and analytical person in many respects, though not so much about the emotional suppression. I’m given to doggedly researching things that capture my interest, can at times be dry and sarcastic, and am currently perfecting my eyebrow quirk.

What is your earliest memory of Star Trek?
D: I had a friend in high school who had a black and white Star Trek poster in her room. She had drawn a heart around Spock's crotch and there was a lipstick kiss mark right in the middle of that. I didn't get it then, but I do now.
V: I remember being about seven or eight and watching a few episodes of Voyager with my dad. That was my first exposure to the show itself. Also, one of my childhood friends had life-size cutouts of Spock and Picard in her basement, too, and I remember seeing those and sort of knowing what they were from.

What did you think of it up until you became active viewers?
D: I guess I didn't think anything of it. Maybe something on the negative side, like "oh please how geeky." Well, look at me now.
V: I think I saw it the way lots of people see it- something that carries a veneer of “geek”, and was never interested in watching any of the series. I knew my dad had watched, but it just wasn’t something I thought about. I’m ashamed to admit that when another friend of mine told me how she had knocked basement-Spock’s head off with a Frisbee, I laughed.

What made you decide to start watching in the first place?
D: Science! I started studying Earth science and had to embrace a whole array of new, nerdier stuff. I started following all these science blogs and reading Carl Sagan's books and things like that. I kept seeing Star Trek references everywhere... I didn't get them, and felt left out. So one day I said to my husband "Can we watch Star Trek?" and you should have seen the look on his face. Obviously he thought he'd never hear that come out of my mouth.
V: Ok, this is embarrassing. It wasn’t a friend sitting me down, and telling me that I couldn’t miss this epic show. It wasn’t the influence of reboot (I’d seen that before I watched any TOS, and it never inspired me to watch). It was Ke$ha. No, really. I saw a fanvid that brilliantly combined “Tik Tok” with clips from TOS, and I thought, well, they look like they’re having fun, I wonder what this show is really all about? So I watched the first few episodes, was completely hooked, and watched the rest of the series in about a month.

Why The Original Series?
D: TOS is the first thing I watched, because it's the first Star Trek, you know, the Original. It has been and always shall be my favorite.
V: Mostly because it looked more entertaining. I knew who Mr. Spock was (duh), and I wanted to get to know the rest of the crew.

What were your first impressions?
D: Honestly, at first I just had an enormous mad crush on Mr. Spock. That kept me watching until I fell in love with everything about the show.
V: My very first impulses were to laugh both at the camp value of the show, and the total lack of political correctness in some situations.

What made you keep watching?
D: By the time season two gets going, the characters are all developed and the relationships between them are just so wonderful, I couldn't watch anything else.
V: If the show’s appeal to me had been solely kitsch, I would have stopped watching very quickly. What happened was that some strange force took over, and instead of watching for the pure hilarity, I began watching for the characters and their conflicts and relationships, and for the compelling story-lines, among other things. That, and it’s just good entertainment!

Where would you say you’re at now, obsession-wise?
D: I've considered naming my future child James Tiberius. I'm not joking. Do I have to say anything more?
V: Let’s see. I have a Star Trek blog with my platonic space-wife who I met through our mutual love of Star Trek. You know the trivia book, “Obsessed With Star Trek”? I know almost all the answers in the TOS section. I have spent my free time researching Trek’s history and reading scholarly articles concerning its fandom. I can greet and respond in Vulcan, I own clothing with Spock’s face on it, and I have numerous Trek books and comics. How’s that?

How has Trek directly affected your life?
D: On the one hand, it has made me less productive in other areas of my life. For instance, working on this blog instead of doing something else. Or not paying attention in class because I'm thinking about Star Trek. Or looking up really nerdy trivia on Memory Alpha. Or, well, watching Star Trek.You get the idea. However, I met V, (First Officer here and completely amazing person) I smile more often, and life is generally way more fun.
V: First off, I have met Dion (the Captain to you), one of the most awesome people you or I will ever come into contact with. It has reinvigorated my long-dormant creative side, and has encouraged me to appreciate and further explore the realm of science. It has made me both aware and part of a network of intelligent, interesting people, and has generally enriched my existence. Yeah, I've procrastinated on a lot of actual work due to Trek nonsense, but at least now I understand all the references in other shows/movies.

What do you think makes this show so universally adored?
D: This is a hard one, because right here I want to start listing everything that is great about Star Trek and obviously I could go on and on. I say it's not just a show; because of all the different series, a universe was created. If it had only been TOS, I'd say well, people love the characters. But each series is so different, and they're all held together with elements that create the whole picture, the Star Trek universe. And that universe contains something quite magical, I can't really put my finger on it.
V: It makes people hopeful about the future, to be sure, but it also provides a form of intelligent escapism that I think lots of people appreciate. It’s got relatable elements from every facet of the human condition, from trying to reconcile inner conflict to fighting injustice to interacting with people and cultures different from your own. There’s really something for everyone! Not to mention epic fight scenes.

What would you say is the number one reason for your continued devotion?
D: I don't know, man. I can't imagine life without it now.
V: There’s just something about this darn show that just gets under your skin. Even though I’ve watched every episode and every movie with the original cast, there’s more to learn and understand, more to analyze, more to research- with Trek, the fun never stops!

Any favorite quotes that you can think of off the top of your head?
V: “This can either be a taxi or a hearse.” –Unnamed Thug, “A Piece of the Action”

Finally, care to direct a comment to those who might scoff at Trek?
D: Sssshhhh just watch, resistance is futile. And if you CAN resist, you're not who it's for anyway.
V: Just sit down and watch. You will understand. You will join us.

If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask in the comments section!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Happy Birthday, Nichelle Nichols!

First Officer's Log

Today, Nichelle Nichols turns 79, and we celebrate with her a life full of accomplishments, and the hope for many more to come. Nichelle has done so much that it would take forever to type it all out, but suffice it to say this woman is a true hero, and not just for Star Trek fans. She inspired a nation to imagine a world where all people were equal, at a time when equality was something that had to be fought for. Her determination and strength in the face of discrimination made her a role model that touched the lives of thousands of people over decades. Her dedication to education and space exploration, especially with NASA, helped to spread knowledge and provide opportunities in the field for those who may not have had them otherwise. She's an amazing woman, and while we love her as Uhura, we love the courageous and kind Nichelle even more.

You should give a listen to this interview of Nichelle by Neil Degrasse Tyson on his radio show "Star Talk". It touches on topics like her NASA involvement, her time on Star Trek, and her encounter with Martin Luther King, Jr! She's a charming and interesting woman, and you can really get a sense of that in this series.

An iconic Uhura photo. Gorgeous, as usual.
Nichelle discusses NASA's Space Shuttle program with students.
Apparently, Nichelle has always been very gracious and appreciative of fans. We love you, too!