Enterprise, Four To Beam Up

Look what Robert gave us!

Enterprise, beam us up

Enterprise, beam us up

That’s us! We look so cute!

Enterprise, beam us up

Little bears have attended OzTrek12.

Connor Trineer, 'Charles "Trip" Tucker III ' on Star Trek Enterprise
Connor Trineer, ‘Charles “Trip” Tucker III ‘ on Star Trek: Enterprise

Oh, no, the bears are here?!?

Gates McFadden, 'Dr Beverly Crusher' on Star Trek: The Next Generation
Gates McFadden, ‘Dr Beverly Crusher’ on Star Trek: The Next Generation

Come over for a photo little bears!

Gates McFadden, 'Dr Beverly Crusher' on Star Trek: The Next Generation
Gates McFadden, ‘Dr Beverly Crusher’ on Star Trek: The Next Generation

Oohhh…. How cute are you!

Enterprise, beam us up

Do you think I can look as cool as the bears?

Robert Picardo, 'Emergency Medical Hologram' in Star Trek: Voyager
Robert Picardo, ‘Emergency Medical Hologram’ in Star Trek: Voyager

How about this?

Robert Picardo, 'Emergency Medical Hologram' in Star Trek: Voyager
Robert Picardo, ‘Emergency Medical Hologram’ in Star Trek: Voyager

The bears still rule!

Enterprise, beam us up

🙂

Cool, new toys!

Enterprise, beam us up

Mr Potato Head, I want to be a Klingon too!

Enterprise, beam us up

I’m a Klingon!

Enterprise, beam us up

Enterprise, four to beam up!

Enterprise, beam us up

The Art of the Bears

The Art of the Bears

Little bears have spent the day at Powerhouse Museum, where, until May, you will find the world premiere of New York artist Nathan Sawaya’s The Art of the Brick: DC Comics, before the exhibition goes off on a world tour.

The Art of the Bears

🙂

The Art of the Bears

Nathan Sawaya said the biggest challenge was building the capes. “A superhero’s cape is meant to be very thin fabric. How do you replicate that with thick plastic bricks? It takes a lot of engineering. I had to learn how capes blow in the wind and how they drape over shoulders.”

Batman and Robin making their way to the Powerhouse Museum 🙂

The Art of the Bears

The Art of the Bears

The enormous exhibition includes 124 artworks, comprising more than a million Lego bricks! All the artworks are based on the DC comic book characters including Batman, the Joker, Wonder Woman and the Green Lantern.

Here are some of them…

The famous first Superman comic cover is re-created for The Art of the Brick: DC Comics.
The famous first Superman comic cover is re-created for The Art of the Brick: DC Comics.

The Art of the Bears

The Art of the Bears

The Art of the Bears

The Art of the Bears

The Art of the Bears

The Art of the Bears

The Art of the Bears

The Art of the Bears

The Art of the Bears

The Art of the Bears

This is a model of the famous Batmobile from the 1966-68 show 'Batman' starring Adam West and  Burt Ward. The car was based on a 1955 Lincoln Futura.
This is a model of the famous Batmobile from the 1966-68 show ‘Batman’ starring Adam West and Burt Ward. The car was based on a 1955 Lincoln Futura.

There is also a model of THE Batmobile.

The Art of the Bears

The Art of the Bears

Sawaya builds the models himself mostly but needed some help on the impressive Batmobile, made of 500,000 bricks. One of his friends helped with the flames and the wheels.

Artist Nathan Sawaya with his interpretation of the Batmobile
Artist Nathan Sawaya with his interpretation of the Batmobile

The Art of the Bears

The Art of the Bears

The Art of the Bears

The Art of the Bears

The Art of the Bears

One of the most arresting pieces is a head of The Joker which used 11,000 pieces of Lego.

The Art of the Bears

The Art of the Bears

The Art of the Bears

Nathan Sawaya, who quit his job as a lawyer in New York to concentrate on his passion full-time, first wowed Sydney audiences in 2009 with The Art Of The Brick.

Girl with a Pearl Earring Sawaya has used 3D blocks to reinterpret famous works of art, such as his version of Vermeer’s masterpiece. He hopes they are an accessible way to talk to children about art history. “A blurred photo of it should look like a blurred photo of the original”
Girl with a Pearl Earring
Sawaya has used 3D blocks to reinterpret famous works of art, such as his version of Vermeer’s masterpiece. He hopes they are an accessible way to talk to children about art history. “A blurred photo of it should look like a blurred photo of the original”
Dinosaur (80,020 bricks) Sawaya’s largest sculpture was designed as a thank you to the children who came to see his first solo exhibition in 2007. “It took an entire summer and nearly drove me crazy. Do you know how many ribs a T rex has?”
Dinosaur
(80,020 bricks)
Sawaya’s largest sculpture was designed as a thank you to the children who came to see his first solo exhibition in 2007. “It took an entire summer and nearly drove me crazy. Do you know how many ribs a T rex has?”
Pop-Up Book  (10 820 bricks) Pop-Up Book is based on a poem that Nathan wrote in 1994 about a princess in a boat in a moat who's in love with a prince in a castle. He built the sculpture in December 2009 to commemorate the passing of Waldo H Hunt, a prolific pop-up-book publisher, the month before.
Pop-Up Book
(10 820 bricks)
Pop-Up Book is based on a poem that Nathan wrote in 1994 about a princess in a boat in a moat who’s in love with a prince in a castle. He built the sculpture in December 2009 to commemorate the passing of Waldo H Hunt, a prolific pop-up-book publisher, the month before.
Solar System  (22 940 bricks)
Solar System
(22 940 bricks)
Detail of Solar System
Detail of Solar System

The Art of the Brick: DC Comics exhibition is the latest in a Lego museum boom that began in Sydney in 2009, when the Museum of Contemporary art showed the Cubic Structural Evolution Project by Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson in the exhibition Take Your Time.

The cubic structural evolution project was a participatory art work in which viewers contributed to the construction of a Lego world. It is a work in which Eliasson encourages a very direct level of engagement. Viewers are able to actively guide their experience of the work as it organically takes shape over the duration of its installation.

The cubic structural evolution project, MCA 2009
The cubic structural evolution project, MCA 2009, on loan from the Queensland Art Gallery
The cubic structural evolution project, MCA 2009
The cubic structural evolution project, MCA 2009, on loan from the Queensland Art Gallery

The Nicholson Museum at Sydney University has hosted three record-breaking exhibitions – Lego Colosseum, Lego Acropolis and Lego Pompeii (visited by little bears).

Pompeii @ The Nicholson

Last year, the Museum of Sydney showcased Towers of Tomorrow, a series of Lego skyscrapers based on the tallest buildings in Australia and Asia. Currently, Towers of Tomorrow is showing at the Museum and Art Gallery of Northern Territory (until 10 April 2016).

The Art of the Bears

Little bears missed that exhibition, but they are not going to miss the current exhibition at the Museum of Sydney, Sydney Harbour Icons, with a Lego Luna Park and nine-metre long Harbour Bridge. Stay tuned!

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

I wonder who’s coming to dinner tonight!

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

Look, a currawong!

Black Currawong
Black Currawong

Sorry Mr Currawong, we don’t have insects and larvae on the menu tonight.

Black Currawong
Black Currawong

Hello Mr Kookaburra!

Kookaburra
Kookaburra

Here’s a bit of ground beef, we don’t have mice, snakes, insects or reptiles on the menu tonight.

Kookaburra
Kookaburra

A butcherbird! Have you considered changing your name on account of your habit of impaling captured prey on a thorn or tree fork?

Butcherbird
Butcherbird

Oohhh, I like rainbows! And you eat seeds! Come over to meet Honey and we’ll give you more seeds.

Rainbow lorikeet
Rainbow lorikeet

This is Honey!

Rainbow lorikeet
Rainbow lorikeet

You have a friend too!

Rainbow lorikeets
Rainbow lorikeets

There’s plenty of seeds for both of you…

Rainbow lorikeet
Rainbow lorikeet

That was fun!

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

All Good Things…

It’s the Orient Express! We’ve been there!

All Good Things

Hmmm, we didn’t see these characters on the Orient Express. This is a strange crowd… a knight in armor, cutting figures in old papers, a farmer, and people building a jigsaw puzzle!

All Good Things

All Good Things

I made Star Trek cookies!

All Good Things

Now we are ready to watch “All Good Things…”

All Good Things

All Good Things

And so here it is — the end of Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG), the television series. When TNG premiered in September 1987, it, as the future of the Star Trek franchise, was the crown jewel of Paramount’s most valued properties. The need for it to succeed as a television show was so great that Paramount essentially invented a new model for getting the show on the air by bypassing the broadcast networks and selling the show syndication style directly to individual stations. A lot of shows were syndicated (talk shows, game shows), but no weekly dramas with the network-caliber production values and costs of TNG. TNG’s reinvented distribution model ensured the show would be on for at least one full 26-episode season. Given how that first season was generally received, one wonders if the show would’ve survived on a broadcast network, at least without some serious tinkering.

But Paramount’s business shrewdness paid off, TNG continued, improved, and became more popular with each season, and by the time the seventh season had arrived, TNG was a better show than the original series. In its seventh season, Star Trek: The Next Generation became the first and only syndicated television series to be nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series. The series received a number of accolades including 18 Emmy Awards, two Hugo Awards and five Saturn Awards. The first-season episode “The Big Goodbye” also won the Peabody Award for excellence in television programming.

In 1994, TNG as a TV series ended at the height of its popularity. But because it was transitioning into a movie franchise, the final episode of TNG could not be the final word for these characters. Indeed, the series finale would have to maintain much of the status quo that was typical of the series for much of its run.

“All Good Things…” was nominated for four Emmy Awards, winning one, for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Special Visual Effects, and was also honored in 1995 with a Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation.

Three timelines converge in “All Good Things…” and they all focus on the heart of the Enterprise – Captain Jean-Luc Picard. The final line of dialogue belonged to Patrick Stewart’s Picard, who intoned, “So, five-card stud, nothing wild… and the sky’s the limit.”

Final scene
Final scene

Sir Patrick Stewart said being cast as Jean-Luc Picard was the most significant thing that ever happened to him (and possibly to Star Trek), in his own words, there wasn’t an area of his life that it didn’t touch, mostly for the better.

Although things could have turned out very differently if he had followed his instincts and rejected a 1987 offer to move to Los Angeles to appear in Star Trek: The Next Generation. He agreed to take on the role of the commander officer of the USS Enterprise only when his agent convinced him the show would probably not succeed and he would be able to return to England after the first season. He admitted he lived out of his suitcase for the first 6 weeks. At the time he had been working regularly with the Royal Shakespeare Company and taking small movie and television roles. When he was cast in Star Trek the Los Angeles Times described him as “an unknown British Shakespearean actor”.

How did a Shakespearean actor end up on the bridge of the Enterprise? It was a fluke. Stewart had been a co-director of an organization that brought Shakespeare and actors to the United States for short residencies in colleges and universities. It was called AIR—Actors in Residence. While in LA during one trip, he read some extracts for a friend, a Shakespeare scholar at UCLA, who was giving public lectures on Shakespeare.

Among those who had signed up for the lectures was Robert Justman, one of the executive producers of Star Trek. He claimed, adamantly all his life — and his wife agreed — that halfway through the evening, when Stewart was reading Ben Jonson and Oscar Wilde and Terence Rattigan and Shakespeare, he turned to his wife and said, “We found the Captain.” Stewart met with Gene the next day and Gene apparently said, “No, no, this is not the guy. Definitely not.” It took Justman six months to persuade Gene Roddenberry that he had his captain.

And the rest is history.

Gene Roddenberry died during the third season of TNG, and that allowed the producers to radicalize a little bit some of the show. Gene Roddenberry didn’t like conflict between the characters, never mind contentious issues. From the fourth season on, there is a little bit more outspokenness, certainly about the captain, Jean-Luc Picard. Some of the most important, significantly weighty episodes came during that time when issues of civil liberties and human rights were explored.

Chain of Command was one of those episodes. Patrick Stewart recalls a touching story…

I’ve had many lovely things said to me over the years, but only very recently, I just stopped to have a chat with these [policemen] and then I went on. And one of them followed me and said, “Can I have a word just alone?” He was a young policeman, red-haired guy. And he said, “I always wanted to be a cop,” he said, “Always, but it was watching “Star Trek” that I knew what kind of cop I wanted to be. Thank you. It was because of you and ‘Star Trek.’” So when things like that happen, it makes you feel immensely proud of what we did.

While Jean-Luc Picard could be a bit pompous and quite a bit more stuffy, Patrick Stewart is nothing like that! Check out his Twitter ‘bromance’ with Ian McKellen from New York! They, of course, met on X-Men in 2000 and have since become firm friends. They played together in “Waiting for Godot” and “No Man’s Land” on Broadway.

Irish pub in New York
Irish pub in New York

Hee, hee!

All Good Things

It’s A Bears World

A Borg cube is popping out of the book!

It's A Bears World

This is Deep Space Nine!

It's A Bears World

Hee, hee! Bride of Chaotica was really funny!

It's A Bears World

Hmmm, this doesn’t look like Enterprise-D.

It's A Bears World

Neither does this ship.

It's A Bears World

There’s trouble with tribbles here!

It's A Bears World

We’ve never watched Star Trek: The Original Series or the original movies, but much of the hoopla this year is about the original series. While we are still debating whether it would be totally irresponsible to take two trips to the US this year, the second one just to attend a Star Trek Convention, we are exploring the Star Trek universe.

Last October we went to see Shatner’s World, advertised as the smash hit Broadway Show.

William Shatner didn’t beam in, but appeared to the familiar orchestral strains of the “Star Trek” theme. Then he soaked up the applause and shut up one of the fans! He had prepared a monologue, and by golly he was going to deliver it with no interruptions from the audience apart from adulatory applause.

“Thank you,” he said when the applause finally died down. “You need an entrance because you put on a few years and a few pounds, nobody recognizes you.”

“Meet my co-chair”, William Shatner said, whereupon a seat on wheels was flung in the general direction of the man who once flew the Starship Enterprise. Such a night for cutting-edge comedy! “My sister had an exorcism”, Shatner observed a bit later on, “but she couldn’t afford to pay for it, so they repossessed her.”

During his 100 minute monologue that flitted between self and self-parody, Shatner traced his life – from growing up in Canada to acting alongside Christopher Plummer to “Star Trek” and “Boston Legal” to his musical career, to his love of horses and motor racing. He did it all dressed in a pair of jeans, a suit coat and an open collared shirt, and used that comforting-yet-strange, overly theatrical, halting delivery.

It's A Bears World

This was a very personal show for such an egomaniacal title, “Shatner’s World: We just live in it” (obviously the bears disagree!), with Shatner taking the audience through his years at McGill University, to playing the lead in “Henry V” at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, to the unhappy Broadway show “The World of Suzie Wong.” He amusingly explained that it was in this critically maligned show that he refined his now oft-imitated, declamatory speaking style as a way of keeping audiences entertained.

We learned about his love of horses, his TV shows, his strange encounter with the famous sign language speaking gorilla Koko, and his collaboration with Ben Folds. Did you know he hates rats? Or that a kidney stone he passed earned $25,000 for Habitat for Humanity?

Shatner illustrated his stories with film and video clips or photographs projected onto a huge globe, set against a black backdrop shimmering with stars. We saw images of Shatner doing Shakespeare in Stratford, Shatner on the bridge of the Enterprise, Shatner joshing with James Spader on “Boston Legal” (one of our favourite series), Shatner delivering a graduation speech at McGill University (saying, “Don’t be afraid to make an ass of yourself”), Shatner staring at horses.

The best clip was an appearance Shatner made at an AFI tribute to George Lucas in 2005. He set it up beautifully, explaining that the hosts of the event had said that the gag would be that Lucas made “Star Wars” and Shatner made “Star Trek”, so all Shatner had to do was come out and people would laugh. “What if George Lucas doesn’t laugh?” Shatner said he presciently asked, before agreeing to do it anyway.

It’s really funny!

You have to like a guy who has every right to his place in the sci-fi hall of fame but does not require any dignity to go with it, unlike the more portentous practitioners of the same art.

Therein — along with demonstrably unabated energy, a love of risk, a perpetual romantic attitude and a determination to tell his own brand of the truth — lies Shatner’s endless appeal.

It was a selective history – no Leonard Nimoy (though Shatner has been writing a memoir about him, “Leonard: My Fifty-Year Friendship with a Remarkable Man” to be published next month), but a dig or two at George Takei, who participated in the Central Comedy Roast of William Shatner. But then so did Nichelle Nichols, who also admitted to despising him, yet she didn’t get a mention. It turns out that most of his fellow cast members on Star Trek found him to be utterly self-absorbed throughout the series, hogging the best lines and giving no support to fellow cast members. Shatner was apparently devastated to discover that his fellow cast members disliked him intensely, even decades after the end of the series. Clearly utterly self-absorbed and completely oblivious! Although not particularly healthy for the others to hold on to those grudges for decades.

William Shatner shows an image of George Takei from the “Comedy Central Roast of William Shatner” during his one-man show, “Shatner’s World: We Just Live In It.”
William Shatner shows an image of George Takei from the “Comedy Central Roast of William Shatner” during his one-man show, “Shatner’s World: We Just Live In It.”

The ubertext of the night was, there is more to Shatner than Captain Kirk. He made sure that if there was anyone left who didn’t know that, they did now!

Still, one can’t ignore the Trekkers. For them, Shatner recalled first seeing the initial pilot of “Star Trek” – filmed without him – and liking what he saw. “It’s filled with aliens and heroes and girls with green paint and tiny bikinis – everything I’m interested in,” he said.

It's A Bears World

Unlike his sneering “get a life” attitude in the past to Trekkers, he revealed that he has now come to terms with its importance to his life, helped by the more prideful attitude of one of his successors in the captain’s chair, Patrick Stewart. Shattner might have been the first captain, but he’s been a poor role model. Patrick Stewart is the captains’ captain, and has helped the other Star Trek captains to cope with their Star Trek persona and the cult following.

There were other sweet memories, too, like the time he signed the lunar module on a trip to NASA headquarters at the Kennedy Space Center in 1968. And he pointed out, humbly of course, that they still love him at NASA. In 2014, William Shatner was honored with NASA’s Distinguished Public Service medal, the highest award bestowed by the agency to non-government personnel. The citation for the medal reads, “For outstanding generosity and dedication to inspiring new generations of explorers around the world, and for unwavering support for NASA and its missions of discovery.”

There were also bittersweet memories, like the time a young boy stumbled upon him at his lowest point – broke and divorced and living in his truck – and asked to see “Captain Kirk’s space ship”. When Star Trek was pulled off the air by NBC in 1969, Shatner’s career – and his first marriage to Gloria Rand – crashed with it. “I was divorced, had three kids to support and was totally broke”, he recalled. “I managed to find some summer work but couldn’t afford hotels, so I was living in the back of a pick-up truck in the San Fernando valley. I rigged up a shower, raised up on stilts. It looked just like a lunar module.”

Finally, he got around to his much mocked recording career, including The Transformed Man, the landmark 1968 album featuring such songs as “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds”. He’s clearly not embarrassed by that or such follow-up releases as “Has Been,” which have achieved a cult following. He closed the show by performing his only song of the night – “Real” from his 2007 album “Has Been.” It was very much like Shatner himself, a little out of date, a little bizarre, but endearing nonetheless.

I wish I knew the things you think I do
I would change this world for sure
But I eat and sleep and breathe and bleed and feel.
Sorry to disappoint you
But I’m real.

William Shatner’s world was a pretty fun place to be for a couple of hours. Of course, the bears world is a fun place to be all the time! 🙂

The Original McDreamy

It turns out there was a McDreamy before Derek… Mr Spock!

The Original McDreamy

In 1967, Isaac Asimov wrote an essay for TV Guide called “Mr. Spock is Dreamy!”, all about the baffling phenomenon of women and girls finding the cerebral Spock sexually appealing — including Asimov’s own twelve-year-old daughter, Robyn. Wrote Asimov, “Through the agency of Mr. Spock, Star Trek has been capitalizing upon a fact not generally known among the male half of the population. Women think being smart is sexy!”

Isaac Asimov was the toastmaster at the 24th World Science Fiction Convention, also known as Tricon, held 1–5 September 1966 in Cleveland, Ohio. At the convention, Asimov’s Foundation trilogy won the Hugo Award for “Best All-Time Series”. Asimov began adding to the series in 1981, with two sequels and two prequels.

Also at the convention, one week before Star Trek started its run on television, Gene Roddenberry was presenting his creation to the general public, promoting the new Star Trek series, as well as presenting to the audience the first two pilot episodes for the series, “The Cage” (uncut original version) and “Where No Man Has Gone Before” (revised version, as this episode was already slated to air). It was there that Roddenberry discovered his knack for showmanship, as he, in complete contradiction to his dealings with studio and network “suits”, quickly established a rapport with the audience, not few of them, such as Allan Asherman, Isaac Asimov (famously shushed-up by Roddenberry when the former turned out to be a bit too rambunctious at the presentation), John and Bjo Trimble, becoming “Trekkers” soon thereafter. Much later Roddenberry admitted to stage fright, “I was nervous, particularly when I saw them watching other films that were shown before, and stomping and laughing.” There was no laughing and stomping during his showing, and Asherman recalled being whispered to by one of the attendees, “He did say this was for television, didn’t he?” Met with a stunned silence, Roddenberry got up and asked, “Is anybody going to say whether they like it or not?” It was then that the applause began and Roddenberry got a standing ovation.

MR. SPOCK IS DREAMY! .:. ISAAC ASIMOV

A revolution of incalculable importance may be sweeping America, thanks to television. And thanks particularly STAR TREK, which, in its noble and successful effort to present good science fiction to the American public, has also presented everyone with an astonishing revelation.

I was put onto the matter by my blonde, blue-eyed, and beautiful daughter, who is just turning twelve and who, in all the practical matters that count, is more clear-sighted than I.

It happened one evening when we were watching STAR TREK together and holding our breath while Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock faced a menace of overwhelming proportions.

Captain Kirk (for those, if any, who are not STAR TREK fans) is a capable hero and a full-blooded human. Mr. Spock is half-alien and is a creature of pure reason and no emotion. Naturally Captain Kirk responded to every danger with an appropriate twist of his handsome and expressive face. Spock, however, kept his long, serene face unmoved. Not for an instant did he allow emotion to dim the thoughtful gleam of his eye; not for a split second did he allow that long face to grow shorter.

And my daughter said, “I think Mr. Spock is dreamy!”

I started! If my daughter said Mr. Spock was dreamy, then he was dreamy to the entire feminine population of the world, for my daughter is plugged into that vague something called “femininity” and her responses are infallible.

But how could that be? Mr. Spock dreamy? He had a strong face, of course, but it was so solemn and serious, so cool; his eyebrows were drawn so outward and upward, and his large ears came to such a long, sharp upper point.

How could he compare with full-blooded Earthlings with normal ears and eyebrows, who were suave, sophisticated, and devilishly handsome to boot? Like me, for instance, just to pick an example at random.

“Why is he dreamy?” I asked my daughter.

“Because,” she said, “he’s so smart!”

There’s no doubt about it. I have asked other girls and they agree. Through the agency of Mr. Spock, STAR TREK has been capitalizing upon a fact not generally known among the male half of the population.

Women think being smart is sexy!

Do you know what this means to me? Can you imagine what a load of guilt it has taken off my back? Can you imagine what a much greater load of vain regret it has put on my back?

But, heaven help me, it wasn’t my fault. I was misled. When I was young I read books about children; books for which Tom Sawyer was the prototype. Anyone else old enough to remember those books?

Remember the kid hero? Wasn’t he a delightful little chap? Wasn’t he manly? He played hooky all the time and went swimming at the old swimming hole. Remember? He never knew his lessons; he swiped apples; he used bad grammar and threw rocks at cats. You remember.

And do you remember that little sneaky kid we all hated so? He was an unbearable wretch who wore clean clothes, and did his lessons, and got high marks, and spoke like a dude. All the kids hated him, and so did all the readers. Rotten little smart kid!

As I read such stories, I realized that because I had known no better I had unwittingly been committing the terrible sin of doing well at school. Oh, I did my best to change and follow the paths of rectitude and virtue, and dip girls’ pigtails in inkwells and draw nasty pictures of the teacher on my slate, and steal a pumpkin—but girls didn’t have pigtails and I didn’t have a slate and nobody I knew across the length and breadth of Brooklyn’s slums had any idea of what a pumpkin was.

And when the teacher would ask a question, I would, quite automatically and without thinking, give the right answer—and there I would be. Sunk in vice again! Talk about a monkey on your back!

There was no way out. By the time I was in high school I realized I was rotten clean through and all I could do was hope the FBI never saw my report card.

Then, somewhere late in high school, I became aware of an even more serious difficulty! I had been noticing for a while that girls didn’t look quite as awful as I had earlier thought. I was even speculating that there might be some purpose in wasting some time in speaking to one or two of them, if I could figure out how one went about it. I decided the place to learn was the movies, since these often concerned themselves with this very problem.

Remember those movie heroes? Strong, solemn, and with a vocabulary of ten easy words and fifteen grunts? And remember the key sentence in every one of those pictures?

You don’t? Well, I’ll tell you. Some girl is interested in the movie hero. She sees something in him she does not see in any other character in the film, and I was keenly intent on finding what that something might be.

To be sure, the hero was taller and stronger and handsomer and better dressed than any other male in the picture, but surely this was purely superficial. No female would be in the least attracted to such mere surface characteristics. There had to be something deep and hidden, and I recognized what this might be in that key sentence I mentioned.

The woman says to her girl friend, “I love that big lug!” Or sometimes she says to the hero himself, “I love you, you big lug!”

That was it! Hollywood was of the definite opinion that for a man to be attractive to women he had to be a big lug. I ran to Webster’s (second edition) to look up the word and found no less than eight definitions. Definition number eight was: “A heavy or clumsy lout; a blockhead.”

It was school all over again. I could manage being clumsy but I could never keep up that blockhead business long. I’d be doing fine for a while, glazing my eyes, and remembering to say “Duh” when spoken to. But, sooner or later, at some unguarded moment, I would say something rational, and bitter shame would overcome me. It was no use; I could never attain that glorious lughood that would have put me at ease with women.

I got married at last, somehow. My theory is that the young lady who married me must have seen that under my suave man-of-the-world exterior, there was a lout and a blockhead striving for expression. So she married me for inner beauty.

Then came television. Remember the husbands in the situation comedies? Stupid, right? Have you ever seen one who could tie his shoes without help? Have you ever seen one smart enough to put anything over on his wife? Or on his five-year-old niece for that matter?

That was one thing all situation comedies had in common—the stupidity of the husband. The other things were the smartness of the wife and the depth of her love for her husband.

These points can’t be unconnected, can they? Anyone can see that the only deduction to draw from this is that wives, being smart, love their husbands because they are stupid.

All I can say is that for years and years I have done my best to be a stupid husband. My wife, loyal creature that she is, has assured me over and over again that I have succeeded beyond my wildest dreams and that I am the stupidest husband who ever lived. She seems so sincere when she says it, and yet I have always had to ask: Is it merely her kind heart speaking? Can she be just flattering me?

And then, then, came this blinding revelation. Here I had been watching STAR TREK since its inception because I like it, because it is well done, because it is exciting, because it says things (subtly and neatly) that are difficult to say in “straight” drama, and because science fiction, properly presented, is the type of literature most appropriate to our generation.

But it hadn’t occurred to me that Mr. Spock was sexy. I had never realized that such a thing was possible; that girls palpitate over the way one eyebrow goes up a fraction; that they squeal with passion when a little smile quirks his lip. And all because he’s smart!

If I had only known! If I had only known!

But I am spreading the word now. It may be far too late for me (well, almost), but there is a new generation to consider! Men! Men everywhere! Don’t list to the lies! I have learned the secret at last. It is sexy to be smart! Do you hear me, men? Relax and be your natural selves! Stop aiming at lughood. It’s sexy to be smart!

Just one thing bothers me. Can it be Mr. Spock’s ears? Webster’s (second edition) gives that blockhead definition as its eighth. Its definition number two for the same word is “ear.” Could it be that when a girl says, “I love you, you big lug,” she means the man’s ears are as big as Mr. Spock’s?

Well, just in case, while I’m being smart, I’ll also let my ears grow.

From Sputnik to Enterprise-D

Another day, another outfit…

From Sputnik to Enterprise-D

Star Trek uniforms have never looked so glittery 🙂

From Sputnik to Enterprise-D

Little bears are busy watching Star Trek TNG episodes. They like the episodes with Guinan or Q 🙂

From Sputnik to Enterprise-D

They are intrigued by the dedication plaque on the bridge of the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-D) (or Enterprise-D) that the starship was launched on stardate 40759.5. That makes it October 4, 2363, in the Gregorian calendar. There are people who work this stuff out.

From Sputnik to Enterprise-D

Is this in honor of the anniversary of the launch of man’s first spacecraft named Sputnik?

History changed on October 4, 1957, when the Soviet Union successfully launched Sputnik I. The world’s first artificial satellite was about the size of a beach ball (58cm in diameter), weighed only 83.6kg, and took about 98 minutes to orbit the Earth on its elliptical path. That launch ushered in new political, military, technological, and scientific and science-fiction developments!

While the Sputnik launch was a single event, it marked the start of the space age and the US – USSR space race and led directly to the creation of National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). In July 1958, Congress passed the National Aeronautics and Space Act (commonly called the “Space Act”), which created NASA as of October 1, 1958 from the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) and other government agencies.

Fast forward to 1966, Neil Armstrong was commanding Gemini 8 performing the first docking of two spacecraft in orbit, and Gene Roddenberry was getting ready to boldly go where no man had gone before. In the mid-1960s, Roddenberry began work on a science-fiction show that he pitched as Wagon Train set in space. His original pilot was rejected by NBC as “too cerebral”, but he was given another chance and in September 1966 the first episode of Star Trek aired.

The series made household names out of characters like Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner), Mr Spock (Leonard Nimoy) and chief engineer Scotty (James Doohan). It also introduced a 1960s audience to handheld communicators, tablet computers and medical scanners, years before they were invented; it also gave us the phrase “Beam me up, Scotty!”, even though that actual line was never spoken in the original series.

Although Star Trek found a loyal cult following, it was canceled in the summer of 1969 after 79 episodes. It was losing a lot of money each week and didn’t have enough episodes to be syndicated. The show was so broke, it reused outdoor sets from The Andy Griffith Show. The Federation may be a Socialist utopia of sorts, but Starfleet’s uniforms didn’t exactly come out of a Replicator. According to producers Robert Justman and Herb Solow, the show’s budget was so tiny, they couldn’t afford to have costumes made by union costume-makers — instead, they had them made overnight by a “sweatshop”, and sneaked the finished costumes in through a back window at the studio.

Since the original series, there have been five subsequent series: The Animated Series (1973-1974), The Next Generation (1987-1994), Deep Space Nine (1993-1999), Voyager (1995-2001) and Enterprise (2001-2005).

All stayed close to a blueprint set by the original series: a 23rd or 24th century starship (or a space station in the case of Deep Space Nine) crewed by men and women tasked with exploring the universe and making contact with alien species.

Every episode of the original series began with this opening narration, narrated by William Shatner: “Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilisations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.”

To fit in with the culturally inclusive, non gender bias image of the show, Patrick Stewart narrates an alternate wording in Star Trek: The Next Generation:

“Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its continuing mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before.”

The Next Generation, the most successful of all the subsequent series, was set almost a century after the original series, and featured Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) and an updated starship Enterprise with a new crew. And a captain comfortable with pink! That makes him Isabelle’s favourite captain 🙂

Patrick Stewart at 75
Patrick Stewart at 75

This year Trekkers are celebrating 50 years of Star Trek. It’s a huge anniversary! There is a massive 50 Year Mission Tour getting under way in the US. The third film in the reboot series, Star Trek Beyond, is due out in July. The reboot series of movies has set up an alternate universe that’s separate from the one Gene Roddenberry created in the 1960s, allowing the creation of all new stories.

Then the US studio CBS has commissioned a new Star Trek television series, which will launch in January, 2017. A whole new strategic direction for CBS is based on this, so there is a lot at stake for Star Trek and CBS. There’ll be another ship and another crew flying through space at warp speed. No other details are known right now. Apart from the fact that they will have to create all new props.

For the 40 year Star Trek anniversary, CBS Paramount Television Studios released the items from its archives for an action by Christie’s auction house, apparently the first-ever official auction of Star Trek studio items. Christie’s estimated the auction would bring in about $US3 million, but the auction house underestimated the Star Trek faithful. Trekkers paid up about $US7.1 million during the three-day auction of Star Trek memorabilia at Rockefeller Center.

Christie’s estimated that a replica of the Starship Enterprise used in “Star Trek: The Next Generation” would command between $25,000 and $35,000. The actual haul? $576,000, paid by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, owner of the Experience Music Project and Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame in Seattle. The piece is on display within the Science Fiction Museum and little bears are going to see it soon 🙂

Other items warping Christie’s estimates were a 60cm Borg cube model and a captain’s chair from the bridge of the Starship Enterprise.

The Borg model, which had intricate black latticework, was expected to sell for $1,500 at most, but one bidder decided it was worth $96,000. It wasn’t us! The captain’s chair, which belonged to the show’s Capt. Jean-Luc Picard, was expected to bring in $9,000, less than a fifth of its actual price: $52,000. This wasn’t us either 😦 Isabelle would have looked good in the chair 🙂