Tag Archives: star trek

Thinking about my birthday …

Thinking about my birthday …

Happy Birthday Boxing Gloves

This morning, I was tickled to learn that Richard Boone, the actor who played Paladin on the late 1950s-early 1960s show Have Gun Will Travel, was born on my birthday.

Richard Boone, Paladin, Have Gun Will TravelBoone’s character, Paladin was a soldier-of-fortune/knight in not-so-shinging armor.

Between jobs rescuing people and otherwise righting ambiguous wrongs, he lived in a hotel in San Francisco, played poker, enjoyed the classics and let loose tidbits about his background as a West Point graduate and former Union Army officer during the Civil War.

On the trail though, he always wore black: black shirt, pants and neckerchief, black boots, black hat, and even a black holster with his trademark silver knight’s chess piece emblem on the side. As a nine-year-old watching him on reruns, I thought he was cooler than cool, maybe even cooler than Bat Masterson because there was something a wee bit dangerous about a character whose only allegiance was to his own code of ethics.

I got to thinking about Paladin and the ambiguity he represented during the height of the Cold War. Here was a man who could be mistaken for an Eastern “dandy,” but brought sensibilities to his tasks as a gun-for-hire that eschewed the easy answers of black and white morality for the grayer tones that teased out the palate of black and white television images.

Having been a kid in the midst of such things as the Cuban Missile Crisis and Kennedy’s assassination, characters like Paladin seemed to make their way through the thicket of issues that pitted civilization versus barbarism as a frame for the collective discomfiture of living under the threat of annihilation while coping with the angst of allowing our humanity to shine through.

Flashing forward what amounts to me to be a healthy lifetime later–the world I grew up in is altered beyond recognition. Watching an old episode is to step back in time to moral choices that seem simple and naive, with ideas about women and men that seem laughable and anachronistic. And yet, we still dither among them; finding ourselves in wars that make no sense, still telling ridiculously offensive jokes that have impossibly made it more into the mainstream.

The outgrowth of Paladin, a mere five years later was James T. Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise, pushing their way into space toward a utopian future that belied the nightmare dystopic visions of such programs as Rod Serling’s Twilight ZoneAnd yet Star Trek‘s utopian ideal did not embrace the spaciness of Kennedy’s call to technological wonderment. Gene Roddenberry’s future (who incidentally wrote 25 episodes for Have Gun Will Travel) was more in line with Thoreau and  Emerson. The ideal was a simple life fulfilled by meeting one’s essential needs as part of a small communal existence based on a natural order of elders leading novices, and where technology, in service to the greater good, remained hidden under the covers of houses which resembled the adobe buildings of the Zuni tribe from the American Southwest, or as malevolent interlopers manipulating the simplicity of natural living.

The Paradise Syndrome, Star Trek

The Paradise Syndrome, Star Trek

Certainly the economics of 1960s television had something to do with the simplicity of Star Trek’s sets, but the visions, not so unlike the western frontier towns of Paladin’s world were also very contrary to 1960s America which was on fire–literally–as part of the daily diet of nightly news. Why not envision a simple communal existence when the alternative was watching entire portions of cities being clear-cut by riots not unlike the swaths of jungle in Viet Nam carpet-bombed by napalm.

Having lived through the extraordinary shifts of the past half century and more: I am amazed to be in a world where marriage has been redefined to allow young men in love to marry other young men; where women box in the Olympics, and on that wonderful show that leaks tears called So You Think You Can Dance intricate Bollywood numbers are standard fare.

To consider all of this and the myriad of stuff that’s happened between my nine-year-old self watching Paliden and catching the second installment of the Star Trek reboot a couple of weeks ago, is to realize that the life I am living and the larger society around me is one that was never particularly anticipated. The 2013 we all thought about in the 1960s had flying cars–and in Star Trek canon would have already seen Khan and his group of genetically enhanced super beings propelled into space in frozen animation.

It puts in mind the thought that no matter our visions for the future whether utopian, dystopic or somewhere in between–we really can’t know what it is going to happen or how one incident or another will cause us to pivot and realign. It is what happened to the world globally in 1914 when Prince Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo and is repeated over and over again as large scale events and tiny happenstance that causes each of us as individuals to move through life in directions we never thought we’d find ourselves in. Sometimes those changes are for good and at other times wreck terrible havoc that may take generations to recover from, if ever.

What I’ve discovered on this journey from then until now is that life is analogous to riding on the back of a truck facing behind. What I can seeing unfolding is only the road as it comes. And while I have plans for the future that will keep me busy for as long as I can stay afloat on this wonderful place called planet Earth–I really never quite know what is going to happen. All I can do is live each day with as much love as I can muster in my heart along with enough good fortune to keep on truckin’ (hat tip for that last bit to my dear friend Pren).

… Peace!

Time marches on …

Time marches on …

Mayan Calandar, Credit: Shamangene.com

We are almost at the solstice which this year is also the alleged end of the Mayan 5,125 calendar cycle. To the “end of the worlders” out there this means an apocalypse of one kind of another marked by the end of time on December 21st and the ascendance of a lucky few on alien space ships among other things …

Oy …

Meanwhile back in normal space/time, gym or no, 100 sit-ups or no, writing a chapter or no, there is no pause button that allows us to step out of ourselves to la-di-da around until we’re ready, willing and able to rejoin the day-to-day.

The Traveler and Wesley Crusher, Star Trek TNG

I for one would love just such a Star Trek type of device–or heck, have The Traveler, Tau Alpha C, come teach me how to freeze time the way he instructed Wesley Crusher.

While not quite ready for another oy, the point is, there is no such device. Time moves on anyway.

The beautiful thing about the season we’re in is that we are entering the time of renewal. Come the solstice our days will grow longer again, and even though we haven’t felt winter’s wrath as yet in any appreciable way, those February snowstorms happen in the light of day. Okay, sure, the cynic might say, “great, just what I need more daylight to shovel out my car from a snow drift,” but heck, why not, Spring will come, eventually.

There’s also the joy of YouTube to keep alive so many of our memories as timeless interludes … or time-wasters perhaps when we are enjoying our past and not making our future?

Hard to say, but since, I am lately a charter member of the procrastinater’s club, I’ve got to err on the side of excellent device for mimicking the pause button even as the calendar marks down the days as painfully as a Chinese water torture … you know, the one that goes drip, drip, drip.

Meanwhile, Ravi Shankar died yesterday. He is another icon of my childhood that my very young, bohemian mother played on our Victrola ad infinitum along side of her Dave Brubeck and John Coltrane albums in the early 1960’s.

It puts me in mind that whatever our magical thinking time doesn’t stop. We move forward whether we’ve made our deadlines or not.  The trick is to get everything done without causing too much damage along the way!


Beginnings and endings …

Beginnings and endings …

Voyager 1 from Star Trek: The Motion Picture

The news that NASA’s Voyager 1 is hitting the edge of our Solar System has struck a huge chord with me. Having grown up in the 1960s, I am, among other things, a true space age baby. I have vivid memories of John Glenn’s spaceflight, the moon landing and took Star Trek for my anthem of what was “out there”.

By the late 1970s when the Voyager program started, I was, admittedly, disappointed that NASA was choosing technological feats of fancy for exploring our galaxy rather than charting a path to exploring Mars, but, Trekkie that I am, did enjoy the continuing exploits of “Vger” which brought my beloved Star Trek crew back into space in Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

Given that I have an actual tri-corder from the original series–that’s TOS to the initiated–I figure I have the cred to speak about it, but it is the actual trajectory of Voyager I at its “end” that is so intriguing.

Voyager 1 at the edge of the Solar System caught in the eddies of the Solar Souther Hemisphere "Winds" and the pull of the "Magnetic Highway":  Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Voyager 1 at the edge of the Solar System caught in the eddies of the Southern Hemisphere “Winds” of the Sun and the pull of the “Magnetic Highway.” Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Apparently, with all systems still go and traveling at 35,700 miles per hour till at least 2020, Voyager 1 has hit a region of space at the end of the Solar System and the beginning of “out there”: interstellar space on the other side. NASA made this momentous announcement earlier in the week noting that the edge of the solar system is shown through remarkable readings, very much like ocean tides that interact between the end of the magnetic pull of our Sun and the next area of space labeled the “magnetic highway.”

Voyager I has been traveling between these two areas of space since July; the tiny space craft that could beaming back yet another round of its remarkable stream of data for us to interpret. As NASA’s Yoyager project scientist Edward Stone put it: “Although Voyager 1 still is inside the sun’s environment, we now can taste what it’s like on the outside because the particles are zipping in and out on this magnetic highway.” (Link to article)

The great “out there” remains a mantra of sorts for Trekkies and other fellow “travelers” who were bitten by the space bug. As with many instances of contending with the unknown, we human beings have a tendency to create fanciful stories and myths of what lies beyond our barriers. Surely Voyager I is in great company when it comes to the dragons that lie beyond the mark of the known world, but that is what makes it such an exciting prospect. This particular border crossing comes with the ebbs and flows of collision between one set of rules and another making it tricky, but once past the gate, the great “out there” offers us a new and wonderous beginning.


Off to Gleason’s Gym …

Off to Gleason’s Gym …


I’m off to Gleason’s Gym today for the first time in a while. PT has been helpful in bringing back a good portion of my range of motion and strength, but I’m about to put all of it to the test when I work the speed bag for the first time.  Since I’m still only at about 165 degrees (should be well past 180), it’ll be an interesting challenge to say the least.

More than anything, I’m looking forward to seeing my trainer, Lennox Blackmore, who is himself coming back from knee replacement surgery!  Talk about the “blind leading the blind,” but given my state of things slugging s-l-o-w-l-y will be just about my speed.

Coming back from any injury is never easy. If I can use mine as a case in point, I will note first off that as savvy as I thought I was about what the surgery and recovery entailed, I truly underestimated how much it would affect my life and how long the process would take.

Setbacks also happen–thankfully not in all cases, but in when they do, as in mine when my shoulder “froze” it may mean adding months to the recovery process.

Losing the use of one’s dominant arm or other part of the body that is intrinsic to normal functioning for several weeks also takes its toll physically as well as psychologically. If one has been very active, the sight of one’s clipped wing or damaged leg is no fun and no matter how many pep talks one gives oneself, there are those moments.

Mine came when my physical therapist demonstrated an exercise on my body that I literally could not do without his help. It was about 12 weeks into the process and there was something so visceral about not being able to do a movement that had seemed so simple that it released the flood gates of pent-up feelings about the experience.

It was certainly a “first you cry” moment, but in the parlance of my grandmother when it’s all over you wash your face and “do.”

Those cathartic moments are likely a component of any recovery process and if they happen, there’s nothing wrong with giving into it until one can shake it off to go back at it the next time. In my case, I was able to do the movement on my own at the next appointment – and I will say it remains my proudest moment in PT.

Unfortunately, we don’t have Dr. Crusher to wave a magic wand on our limbs to heal our ills.

The fact is as great as orthopedic medicine has become the aftermath to surgery entails a bit of a slog to get back to full physical health.

As experiences go, however, it is certainly far from the worst that life has to “offer,” and each bit of progress brings one that much closer to the goal of regained strength and mobility–all it takes is perseverance, consistency and patience!

Warrior for a day …

Warrior for a day …

Amazon Warrior, Tondo of an Attic red-figure kylix, 510–500 BC.

Some days are like that.

Arise with a grimace, fighting one’s way through dreamland to hop in the shower, cat nudged perhaps a little more firmly than intended out of harm’s way so as not to be tripped over and squashed.

Next up the whirlwind of coffee, breakfast, family wakey-wakey-time and out the door for the morning-I-can-do-this grind to work and the why-do-I-have-to-be-here mentality that makes every single interaction a grin-and-bear-it moment.

Usually at such times one longs for a huge heavy bag swaying at the threshold of the entryway to one’s workspace, preferably one that screams do-not-enter there’s a warrior inside ready to pounce with the added bonus of getting in some workout time. Or better yet with a hat-tip to a Twitter pal, a Star Trek inspired intruder alert with a phaser at the ready can also do the trick.

At heart is the sense of dissatisfaction with the state of things or as a friend said yesterday too much time pouring over the news and how the sensibilities that ensue can leave one bereft and in misery. Her response is to play with her four-year-old granddaughter. She fits herself into the lovely sweetness of playing dress-up and the humor of late afternoon cartoons, finding herself freed from turmoil and the heightened alert of thoughts and feelings overwhelmed by too many images of darkness at play in the world.

And it does seem true, we live in a constant assault of images and ideas–not so different from the tales of darkness of old which warned our forebears of what happens at the edge of the world where monsters and barbarians lay ready to pounce. In the post-industrial context of 21st Century “first-world” life, however, our cautionary tales are always among us and our sense of who is and is not a monster is framed for us by warring factions that cast a wide net for our allegiance whether it be social, political, religious, ethnic or some other mish-mash of ideas and constructs that has us all at each other’s throats.

My mother would say that when I’m in the “mood” it means I have my umbrella up against the little black cloud that follows me everywhere. She’d tease me unmercifully until I’d either descend further into my mood with a giant throated “leave-me-alone” or break the spell into peals of laughter.

At this juncture, I’m not certain if that warrior-for-the-day feeling is akin to that sort of umbrella defense, but I am quite sure that those sort of moods take on the cast of fighting the world for a bit of peace–and frankly for a piece of the world that’s free of strife, black moods and something akin to a nasty splinter that takes time to work out.

Nine of Twelve!

Nine of twelve!

Nope that’s not a new Borg designation — rather I am 9 of 12, having finished nine of my twelve classes toward my masters degree.

Having just written a paper on one of the classic Star Trek episodes, I thought it might be fun to link up to a few of the original series coming attractions. They really are a hoot. Oh, and there’s a bit of Picard too!