December 15, 2013
It's hard to believe almost half a century has passed since Kirk, Spock, and the crew first set forth on the Enterprise. I can remember picking up a copy of TV Guide in a supermarket and reading about the new SF show while I waited in line to check out. The story mentioned that Leonard Nimoy would be playing an alien, and they'd doctored his ears. I shook my head and wondered how they could be so dumb. I hadn't seen a good SF TV series since Twilight Zone, and this one was obviously also going nowhere.
A month later I was addicted, and Spock had somehow become a brilliant creation.
I gradually came to realize that the power of the series didn't have much to do with Klingons or Romulans or other dangerous aliens. It was simply that the cast and crew were able to create a place where I wanted to hang out. That they provided characters with whom I wanted to spend my time.
Consequently when a group of local enthusiasts decided to recreate that far future culture, I got interested. They assembled sets that rivalled the ones on the TV series. They created new film adventures that I loved watching. The starship Farragut is now based in Kingsland, GA. I stopped by last weekend during a festival, said hello to some of the crew, and visited the bridge. I enjoyed a couple of the films, and stopped by the transport deck just in time to hear someone complain that it looked great but that it wasn't working. The experience recaptured the feeling of that earlier era. More details: http://jacksonville.com/opinion/blog/400820/dan-scanlan/2013-10-25/navy-and-star-trek-join-hands-across-galaxy-and-georgia.
I should mention that I actually had the opportunity to talk with Nichelle Nichols at Mile-Hi Con about ten years ago. If I'd been captain, she'd have been my first choice as comm officer. Though Jack Tiberius McDevitt seems like a stretch.
My Star Trek experience is similar to the way I've reacted to Sherlock Holmes. The cases are interesting, but the aspect of the series that I love is sitting in at 221b Baker Street while Holmes and Watson talk. I suspect that's generally true of successful literary characters: It's not so much watching them in action, as just being around them and seeing their human side. You want to watch Holly Golightly on the road, or relax with her at a quiet restaurant?
"Ladies and gentlemen, Lux presents Hollywood." Throughout the golden era, that was the introduction to the Lux Radio Theater, which brought popular movie adaptations to radio. It was a one-hour show at a time when most programs ran thirty minutes. They usually brought the stars of the film into their studio to repeat their roles.
The Golden Isles Arts and Humanities Association has been recreating the shows as stage performances. Audiences watch the actors perform their lines from a script. We see the commercials, promoting Ned Cash Jewelers in Brunswick, watch the sound effects being delivered, and generally get transported back in time.
They staged It's a Wonderful Life Friday evening. If you're wondering about the quality of the show, it still broke me up. They are also performing A Christmas Carol.
I rarely read books with magical themes, but I recently came across Bruce McAllister's The Village Sang to the Sea. The action is set in the small Italian coastal town of Lerici, where Percy Bysshe Shelley drowned and where, possibly, his wife Mary conceived of the idea for Frankenstein.
Bruce seemed so connected to the town and its culture that it was hard not to wonder whether the adventures of Brad Lattimer, the young teenager living there with his American parents, did not reflect events in his own life. And I know, there are no ghosts or witches, but maybe that's the point.
It's an emotional ride.
We watched Loch Ness last night. The film is from 1996, and stars Ted Danson and Joely Richardson. We didn't expect to last more than fifteen minutes before we switched over to something else. Monster movies are always the same, an overgrown creature charging around gobbling down the extras, while the protagonist looks for a way to take it out. But we like Danson, so we thought we'd give it a chance.
What we got was a film that moved onto my relatively short list of exquisite SF movies.