On this day, March 26, in the year 1931, Leonard Nimoy was born. He would have been 85. While he was here, he ruled. Absolutely. Some say he still does.
The great thing about being a closet geek who is the size of an NFL nose tackle–I can get all jazzed up about a tweet like this and nobody is going to say a godsdamned thing about it..this time, a year from now, and we’ll know if my excitement is justified.
“If you’re having trouble understanding the grief over Leonard Nimoy’s passing, here it is: every geek just lost their favorite grandparent.”–John Scalzi
One of the coolest unconventional American cars ever made…the 64 Buick Riviera…and the coolest “pointy-eared Devil” to ever grace the screen. (Continuing my weekend of Leonard Nimoy tribute-themed posts begun here.)
The New York Times did one of the most comprehensive Nimoy pieces thus far.
So, if you haven’t heard–and I hadn’t, until just this moment, Leonard Nimoy has died. He was famous for many things–acting, directing, producing, the old Hollywood trifecta–but for all his accomplishments we all know him for one thing above all: Spock. Yep, Spock is dead, and there’s no reason to write a grand summary of his accomplishments when perfectly adequate obituary-type articles are available here, here, and here. As the hours and days pass, there will be others–dozens, hundreds. Blogs will explode, all of us wanting to say something about this man who, for me, has been a constant media presence in my life since my earliest recollection, despite that fact that the show that made his career, Star Trek, went off the air right around the time I was born.
Nimoy made a great effort to distance himself from the character, and it must have put limits on his career as time passed and, inexplicably, Spock grew from science fiction sidekick to cultural icon, but in the spirit of Shakespeare, which was repeatedly echoed in that show, I think Mr. Nimoy’s protests were a little bit contrived, his ambivalence a little too pragmatic. In American cinema, there are maybe a dozen characters that transcend the screen along with their actors: Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones or Han Solo, Clint Eastwood as Dirty Harry, Arnold Schwarzenhegger, Stallone, Sigourney Weaver as Ripley, but he is the only one who arguably wasn’t the leading man. In the new incarnation, it can be argued that the Kirk/Spock pairing is a buddy movie, but the original show was cut out to be The Captain Kirk Show.
Spock, as it turned out, couldn’t be kept down. Ironically, it was Nimoy’s layered performance of the supposedly emotionless alien who became the heart of the show, and that struggle against his emotions the core of what set Star Trek apart from so many other shows. As Kirk said, eulogizing Spock, “Of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, his was the most–human.” That’s the core of it, right there. Nimoy as Spock became a mirror against which not only the other characters, but any man, was reflected. And if Nimoy didn’t understand that, he died today without truly realizing how great an accomplishment his career represents.
Neko Case has everything. She’s a fantastic songwriter, a phenomenal singer, has a great sense of humor, and–sorry–is super hot in a plain old it’s no big deal casual UN-self-conscious way. She makes a mean borscht, lives on a farm with about 24 pianos in the barn, and is pretty much Queen of The Galaxy. And I can prove it:
I can remember playing Star Trek when I was awfully small, maybe 6 or 7, with my friend Dan, who was Spock to my Kirk. Every once in a while, this weird kid named Jimmy McKelvy visited his grandparents on the next block over and he would play Bones–he had this awesome Phaser toy that fired little plastic disks that I’m pretty sure would have blinded one of us. Jimmy was a soft little kid–soft spoken, softly built, and from some other town. He made us a little uncomfortable, but he had that Phaser.
Everyone knows Star Trek, but not everyone knows the show that was actually my gateway vice into the world of Science Fiction, the one that set the seed that wouldn’t germinate until my mid-twenties, after too much time in musty lecture halls studying Literature–with a capital “L”…you know: Lit-or-ah-chore.
That was U.F.O. Remember it? A lot of folks don’t. Brought to you by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, the folks who made marionettes into action heroes in shows like Thunderbirds, (the hilarious Team America: World Police is a Thunderbirds parody by the creator of South Park), UFO was a cross between a soap opera and some pretty edgy (for television arond 1970, anyway) and occasionally dark Sci-Fi. It revolved around a secret military outfit called SHADO that was leading the clandestine struggle against an ongoing Alien invasion. The effects were primitive, but the models were cool and remain influential after more than 40 years, the stakes were high, and…the lunchboxes were the best ever.
I wanted one. I desperately wanted the U.F.O. lunchbox, but my mom called No Deal. My mom is a sweetheart, but she tends to give people things that she wants them to have, rather than the things they want to have or more specifically, the things she’d want to get if she was you. A few years ago, for example, when the RZR scooters with the skateboard wheels were cool, my kids wanted them for their birthday. Mom had her own ideas, because scooters were very different when she was a kid, so she bought two of these:
I wanted the U.F.O. lunchbox. My mom always loved Charlie Brown–she’s a lot like Charlie Brown, actually, and she bought me Snoopy. And Woodstock. Snoopy and freaking Woodstock, and not even in metal. I got bright, yellow plastic. Several girls in my first grade class had the same lunchbox. Snoopy. Jesus, Mom–really?
Tell me that’s not the greatest lunch box ever. I still want it.
There is a great fan site for this series:
And this is pretty cool, too:
And don’t buy this for your little boy–it will not only scar him for life, but turn him into an Adult Onset Science Fiction Junky. You don’t want that. Trust me. I own the complete DVD box set.
Seriously. I still haven’t forgiven her.