Wednesday, 15 September 2021

yesteryear

First broadcast on this day in 1973 in most markets as Season 1, Episode 2 of Star Trek: The Animated Series—with the exception being Los Angles where George Takei was running for public office and this programme which did not feature his voice-acting was substituted so as not to run afoul of equal-air-time clauses—this classic was authored by D. C. Fontana and for its elegant handling of fractured time-lines is considered among the best episodes of the series. Captain Kirk and First Officer Spock return to the Enterprise after conducting a series of time travel excursions with only to find that they have somehow altered the past where Spock never joins the crew and must repair the time-line.

Wednesday, 8 September 2021

season 1, episode 1

Though first broadcast in Canada two days before and being the sixth filmed instalment in the line-up, “The Man Trap” airing on this day for US audiences on this day in 1966 is considered the franchise’s premiere, picked among the other more establishing plots due to its theme and inclusion of alien monsters.
Informing The Next Generation’s Season 3, Episode 3 (“The Survivors”) with the homesteading Kevin and Rishon Uxbridge who want nothing to do with the Enterprise’s offers of assistance or rescue, the inhabitants of M-113 operating an archaeological research operation shun visitors. The last members of a dead civilisation hungered for salt which they extracted from several red shirt ensigns with deadly consequence and roamed the corridors of the ship for more. Several mid-twenty-third-century salt-shakers were designed and intended as props but fearing that twentieth century viewers would be confused, the vials and containers instead became regular items in Doctor McCoy’s sick bay, his decade-old history with one of the interlopers forwarding the plot.

Thursday, 6 May 2021

the veldt

Bringing holographic interface closer to the immersive level of experience to be had aboard the holodeck, we learn via Slashdot—aptly illustrated with a tiny dogfight, the exchange of phaser fire and photon torpedos, between a Federation starship and a Bird of Prey—researchers at Brigham Young University, building on past successes, have created free-floating images with lasers that do not need a display. Instead taking advantage of the electrostatic effect and Brownian motion, miniscule particles are illuminated creating the illusion of permanence and untethered projection, the objects drawn in space with the viewer able to perceive them as if they were tangible objects.

Thursday, 15 April 2021

monster maroon

In light of a recent revue of Starfleet and other in-universe uniforms and fashions (previouslysee also), we have the opportunity to eulogise a prolific producer of stage and screen and costume and set designer in the recently departed Robert Fletcher (*1922 - †2021) who created ensembles for major ballet troupes and opera companies in addition to television and film—including four of the original cast Star Trek movies that gave command and senior staff those signature dress uniforms, referred to by the title (c. 2280). Having won several Tony and Saturn awards, Fletcher’s design archives were donated to Harvard University and are conserved there.

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

i like the cut of your jib, sailor

Via the always outstanding Miss Cellania, we are directed to a revue of four centuries—allowance for temporal anomalies—of Starfleet uniforms and Star Trek fashions that have been integral to the franchise and all its iterations since inception, eliciting strong opinions and favourites among the seasons’ wardrobe and livery. The pictured crew member wearing a skant is pretty forward looking for the 2350 of 1987.

Monday, 5 April 2021

first contact

According to the fictional timeline of the Star Trek continuity, on this day in 2063 (the same day as, according to some calculations, Noah’s Ark came to rest on Mount Ararat in 348 BC), Zefram Cochrane conducted his first successful test flight jumping to warp speed. This energy signature caught the attention of a passing Vulcan survey ship, whom generously helped humanity to integrate into a suddenly much larger and varied Cosmos. The character himself is first encountered by the crew of the Enterprise (Metamorphosis, S2, E9) while ferrying a peace-negotiator, Federation Commissioner Nancy Hedford, to medical facilities for emergency intervention on board a shuttle craft. Their ship is drawn to an asteroid with an M-Class artificial atmosphere that also dampens their sensors and communication systems and discover that a human calling himself by the name of the revered inventor “of Alpha Centauri,” who disappeared a century and a half earlier under mysterious conditions but presumed dead and to have gone out in a last blaze of glory on a rocket mission at an advanced age, and an entity of pure energy that Cochrane refers to as the Companion, who intercepted Cochrane and restored his youth. In front of company and apparently not having brought it up previously in the past decades of living together, the Companion makes his overtures to the human known, expressing an unrequited love that Cochrane rebuffs rather forcefully. The Companion merges with the dying Commissioner Hedford, restoring her health, and presenting to Cochrane in a more lovable albeit mortal form. The shuttle is allowed to leave with assurances from Kirk and crew that they will keep the asteroid’s secret.

Thursday, 18 March 2021

have you dug his scene?

Via Things Magazine (lots more to explore in this edition as well), we learn the recently departed actor Yaphet Kotto (*1939 - †2021), known for his roles in Alien, The Running Man, Doctor Kananga in the Bond movie Live and Let Die, starring in the long-running television police procedural Homicide: Life on the Streets and for turning down the offer of the part of Jean Luc Picard in TNG, also can sing and recorded a few singles.

Wednesday, 17 March 2021

hypospray or mister x

Via Waxy, here’s a nice survey of jabs and vaccination campaigns as portrayed in film and television, including classics like the Star Trek TOS episode Miri, biopics of Louis Pasteur and Edward Jenner, and a multiplicity of Simpsons episodes like the December of 2000 show “The Computer Wore Menace Shoes” wherein Homer’s alter ego creates a conspiracy website (after his first, innocent attempt failed to draw interest) that unfortunately speaks across the decades. As punishment for being too clever, Homer is imprisoned on an island for people who know too much. Seriously, get your shot and protect yourself and others.

Tuesday, 2 March 2021

1972-012a

While perhaps not as celebrated as its more charismatic follow-on missions of Voyager 1 and Voyager 2, Pioneer 10, launched on this day in 1972, was the first space probe travel beyond the asteroid belt and went on to study Jupiter and became the first object to achieve escape velocity to leave the Solar System and wander the interstellar medium. As foundational as the mission was, the Pioneer programme is overshadowed by its successors partly as it went silent in 2003. Designed by Carl Sagan, Linda Salzman Sagan and Frank Drake, Pioneer and its sister probe bear the pictured plaque, should it ever be discovered by intelligent extra-terrestrials. If left undisturbed (canonical Star Trek has Klingons destroying it as target practise), Pioneer is on a trajectory to pass the star system Aldebaran in Taurus in about two million years, which is believed to host a super-Jupiter exoplanet.

Tuesday, 9 February 2021

6x6

bohemian to brocore: a non-exhaustive list of aesthetics—via Things Magazine 

billions and billions: a picture of the night sky that contains a petabyte of data 

fairy wren for scale: an ornithological chart comparing the diversity of body-size among our feathered friends

https://jeffreycombs.tumblr.com/post/622945915961065473/1-second-of-every-star-trek-tos-episode-enjoy
the hook shot: a fun and welcome example of chindลgu, the Japanese art of unuselessness 

satana lero wapezeka ndiwe edzi: the musical stylings of Gaspar Nali 

the city on the edge of forever: pictured also courtesy of Things Magazine, one second from every episode of Star Trek TOS by the franchise’s frequent guest star

Monday, 1 February 2021

memory alpha or first recorded use

Our thanks to the always outstanding Everlasting Blรถrt for referring us to the Historical Dictionary of Science Fiction that gives the etymology of words and phrases in the genre and expounds on their earliest citations (see also for general use). Unobtanium, for instance, predates Avatar by a half a century, first in print as a bit of industry jargon that researchers working on the noses of intercontinental ballistic missiles sought after in 1956. Warping space-time as a means of travel dates back to 1936 J. Williamson’s short story Cometeers. Before Chewbacca, in Lucas’ dystopian directorial debut THX 1138 there was the line: “I think I ran over a wookiee back there on the expressway.”

Saturday, 30 January 2021

pigs is pigs

The Friz Freleng short first released on this day in 1937 relays the seemingly insatiable gluttony of one Piggy Hamhock (Porky’s brother, though last seen in this cartoon) and the hardship it has caused the family.

Falling into a food coma after receiving chiding and warnings from his mother that he needs to reform his eating habits, Piggy has a fugue-like dream that he is lured into the laboratory of a mad scientist, who subjects Piggy to a force-feeding by a tireless machine. Piggy waddles away but on the way out the door, takes a drumstick, which proves too much. Awakened from the dream, Piggy is relieved that he is back home and unharmed but devours breakfast without restraint—apparently none the wiser for his experience. Though Freleng’s cartoon shares the same name it does not tell the same story about a rapidly reproducing pair of guinea pigs whose numbers soon grow out of control from a 1905 Ellis Parker Butler work—which went on to inspire a Disney animation in 1954 and the 1967 “The Trouble with Tribbles.”

Monday, 25 January 2021

6x6

hair flashes: some MidCentury styling tips from the British Pathรฉ archives  

salvator mundi: an inconspicuously missing five-hundred-year old copy of the world’s most expensive painting (previously) found in a wardrobe in Naples  

home edition: a meditative Tiny Desk Concert from pianist Max Richter  

elevator pitch: Michael Dorn’s suggestion for a franchise series from the point-of-view of the Klingon Empire sounds intriguing  

mpaa: a brief history of the PG-13 rating for US box-offices—see also 

 boneshaker: antique footage of cyclists in the days before suspension and shock-absorbers

Thursday, 14 January 2021

the ayes have it

First installed in January 1973—another very pivotal month for America with the Oil Crisis, the drawdown from Vietnam, Richard Nixon’s second inauguration and the Roe v. Wade decision in the US Supreme Court—we find, via JWZ, that little has changed and the US House of Representatives’ electronic voting system (relatedly) very much preserves its original Star Trek: TOS aesthetic (see also). Forty-seven stations are spread throughout the chamber—they’re not on the backs of all seats and members can cast they vote at any one of them, using an ID card they carry.

Monday, 7 December 2020

8x8

ัะฐั€ะฐ́ั‚ะพะฒ-2:some urban spelunking leads to a Soviet computer graveyard (previously) with some early machines thought lost to the ages 

indented writing: this case of an invisible will recalls some more recent forensic intervention to retrieve the words of a blind novelist 

parallel dimensions: one-hundred twenty-five artists render different computer-generated environments on one basic template of a character walking towards a mountain  

starfleet bold extended: the typography created for Star Trek: The Motion Picture (see previously, premiering on this day in 1979)

 : the real-life Queen’s Gambit in Georgian chess champion Nona Gaprindashvili  

the panoply of digital phrenology: the coming subprime attention crisis and the bursting of the ad-serving bubble  

petroglyphs: more on the amazing expanse of pre-Columbian art discovered in the Amazon 

ฮบฮฟฯ…ฮผฯ€ฯ‰ฮผฮญฮฝฮฟ ฮผฮต ฮบฮฟฯ…ฮผฯ€ฮนฮฌ: exploring an abandoned factory in Patisia Greece

Wednesday, 18 November 2020

mudd’s women

Via Boing Boing, we enjoyed this appreciation of the signature costuming and stylish, imaginative apparel of Star Trek TOS and this fashion show of some of the greatest alien accessorising—see also from a very different paracosmThe whole revue is worth checking out but we especially like this scene from “The Gamesters of Triskelion” from the second season—wherein the core crew of the Enterprise are abducted and made to do gladiatorial battles for the entertainment of energy entities, the Providers. At the bidding of the master, drill thralls Tamoon and Shahna are attempting to train Uhura. The outfits from “Amok Time” are pretty fantastic as well.

Monday, 26 October 2020

inkubo

Considered lost for decades only for a copy to re-emerge in 1996 in a film archive in Paris, the horror movie by Leslie Stevens with cinematography by Conrad Hall (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Cool Hand Luke, American Beauty), starring William Shatner and Milos Milos (*1941 – †1966, the titular incubus and in life the lover of the estranged wife of Mickey Rooney and died in a murder-suicide pact), had its debut on this day in 1966.

Months before Shatner would begin his work on a television series filled with other constructed languages including Klingon which has also become a fully-formed and informed language in its own right, this cinematic experiment was only the second wherein all dialogue was in Esperanto. Though dubbed versions were prohibited, the creator’s use of the auxiliary language was not to make a single cut for all international markets but rather to convey an atmosphere of other-worldliness—Esperanto speakers disappointed with representation of the language by the actors’ poor pronunciation and the script’s grammatical failings. The setting is a pilgrimage destination, a village called Nomen Tuum (“your name”) with an enchanted well that can heal and enhance one’s looks—attracting a rather vain and corrupt patronage that crowds out those legitimately ill. In turn demons are drawn to pander to those who would treat this miraculous place as a beauty parlour and recruit them for the side of darkness. First shown at the San Francisco Film Festival and screened to a group including those above Esperanto enthusiasts and the scandal of Milos prior to release, the only willing distributor was in France, which premiered the film in November. Watch the whole film here or see a clip below.

Tuesday, 29 September 2020

king of rods

Brilliantly a clever graphic designer and Trek fan took advantage of the correspondence between the classic Thoth tarot deck used for divination—the twenty-two card Major Arcana (Greater Secrets) plus the fifty-six suite Minor Arcana (Lesser Secrets) –and the seventy-eight episodes of the Original Series creating a custom deck with a fortune-revealing homage to some of the franchise’s most memorable, founding characters. What’s in the stars for you? Much more to explore at the links above.

Tuesday, 15 September 2020

pon farr

One tune that I keep in my mental play-list, like the Tetris song or the Night on Bald Mountain or any number of Sophisti-Pop melodies, has been the scherzo that is the Star Trek fight motif. Composed in 1967 by Hollywood arranger Gerald Fried in first for the episode “Amok Time” airing on this day in that year in which Captain Kirk indulges the mating rites (the incidental music sampled from, informed by Igor Stravinsky’s 1913 riot-inciting symphony) of his otherwise completely logical first officer, Mister Spock, by defending his insubordination in diverting the ship’s course to Vulcan to spawn as it were and fulfil the obligations of his arranged marriage, both for biological and societal reasons.
Spock’s betrothed T’Pring has fallen in love with another during his absence and invokes her right to a ritual duel, the kali-if-fee, between Spock and a pugilist of her choosing, which to the surprise of all assembled is Kirk, who agrees to enjoin in hand-to-hand combat despite Spock’s warning against it. After accepting his role as champion, Kirk learns that it a duel to the death. In order to level the playing field, Doctor McCoy convinces the referee, the overseer to allow him to inject Kirk with a compound to counteract the thinner atmosphere of Vulcan. It is permitted and the fighting ensues, underscored by Fried’s incidental music called The Ritual/Ancient Battle/Second Kroykah.
Fried also scored numerous other television programmes (the episodes to his credit are quite extensive) including Gilligan’s Island and created the signature leitmotifs for the characters. Kirk is beaten down and McCoy pronounces him dead and the two beam back to the Enterprise immediately. Spock renounces T’Pring, released of his obligations, who then explains her strategy, afraid of losing her beloved in battle to Spock, she chose Kirk as her second in order to ensure she gets her choice regardless of the outcome of the challenge. Spock compliments her flawless logic and issues a warning to T’Pring’s new mate that “having is not so pleasing a thing after all as wanting,” giving the Vulcan salute and motto of “Live long and proper” for the first time. Expecting to be charged for killing the captain, Spock returns to face justice and is visibly relieved to find Kirk alive and well and merely drugged by McCoy to simulate death in combat.

Wednesday, 26 August 2020

pips

Pulling rank and questioning the leadership hierarchy proposed for the US Space Force, actor William Shatner expressed a bit of consternation to the new service branch over the plan to designate a commanding officer as a colonel and not a captain. Space Force has declined to respond so far, pending legislation that as it stands runs counter to a long maritime tradition, not to mention several decades of firmly ensconced franchise canon. Shatner hopes that the matter is at least up for debate and discussion, and some lawmakers are siding with him.