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Friday, December 19, 2008

The Friday Briefing -- And here we are, the last Friday before the Winter Solstice, Christmas and Boxing Day. Next week is packed with significant days for many people. Whatever day you're celebrating (or, heck, all of 'em), I hope you're enjoying a happy and healthy holiday season. Here are a few notes...

Majel Barrett-Roddenberry died this week; the actress who played Number One in the original Star Trek pilot episode "The Cage" went on to also play Nurse Christine Chapel and the voice of the computer on the original series, numerous roles on the animated Star Trek and the domineering but loving Lwaxana Troi (Deanna's mother) on Star Trek: The Next Generation.

I've been revisiting a lot of Star Trek this year, I guess in anticipation of next year's JJ Abrams-directed movie, which coincidentally will feature Barrett-Roddenberry's last acting performance, as the voice of the Enterprise's computer. My reignited interest in Star Trek has been more or less limited to the original 1966-1969 series, because the older I get the higher I regard what Gene Roddenberry, William Shatner and the gang accomplished in those brief years. It's caused me, too, to reevaluate a lot about the original series, and to appreciate far more the contributions of people like Barrett-Rodddenberry and the others who contributed to the genuine sense that Enterprise was an enormous vessel filled with hundreds of working professionals, Nurse Chapel just one of them.

Her two best showcase episodes were "Amok Time," in which her feelings for Spock kicked off the entire plot of one of the best episodes of the series, and an even better episode for Chapel, "What Are Little Girls Made Of?" I recently re-watched that one, and it is a real gem of an episode, in its quiet way. Barrett-Roddenberry's best acting performance in all of Trek is probably in this episode, in which the Enterprise finds her former love Roger Korby and a couple of very strange assistants of his. Added Trek-value: the episode also boasts one of the show's trademarks, a dual-Kirk scene. How Shatner must have loved those episodes.

With Majel's death, we lose yet another original series cast member, following James Doohan and DeForest Kelley's deaths. As a lifelong fan of the series, and a growingly unapologetic one, I can tell you that I feel each loss personally. An era has passed, and will never come again, no matter how successful (as art or commerce) the Abrams movie is. And I hope it's a huge hit and a blast to watch, but now it will be even more bittersweet to hear the voice of the ship's computer this one last time. Goodbye, Mrs. Roddenberry, and thank you.


Earlier this week, I received a copy of 1977's Smithsonian Collection of Newspaper Comics. This enormous book collects hundreds and hundreds of pages of classic newspaper strips (Gasoline Alley, Flash Gordon and dozens more), and is something I've wanted to have my own copy of for a long, long time. It was nearly intoxicating browsing through its pages, and the combination of its size (allowing a good view of much of the art it contains) and pertinent but brief text material make for an excellent presentation of the material. There's good reason why it is considered a key anthology in the artform of comics, and I'm thrilled to finally have a copy.


My posting here has been light the past couple of months and I do apologize for that. I am posting regularly at iTaggit, and I definitely want to get back to a more regular and reliable schedule here. Next year represents the ninth anniversary of Comic Book Galaxy, and history tells me that even if circumstances get in the way of things for a week or a month or a few months, sooner or later I always seem to get back into the swing of things. I'm as excited as ever about comics, I can tell you that. The news about Yoshiro Tatsumi's A Drifting Life this week has me positively giddy. Look at that picture. And it's coming in April, early enough that the end of the world may not get in the way of me reading it. Star Trek doesn't hit theaters until May, so that's more iffy, but I am trying to stay optimistic.

Seriously, things look very dark for the year ahead, and I have nothing funny or insightful to say about it. I wish people like Jim Kunstler had been wrong about oil scarcity and the catastrophe of an automobile-obsessed world. I wish I had been wrong about George W. Bush being very, very bad for our country and the world. I wish we could go back in time 8 years or 25 years or 50 years and tell people how their foolishness and arrogance squandered the post-war potential of America and shattered millions, soon likely billions, of lives. More than anything, I wish we had more than hope to count on as we say goodbye to 2008. And goodbye to a lot of other things. Maybe that's why I've been looking back to Star Trek so much this past year; in 1966 it was possible to believe one day mankind would overcome its own worst instincts and take to the stars, the races united and working together toward a better world, a better universe. As we stare down a very bleak 2009, it's hard to believe a year from now we'll have the luxury of doing anything more than struggling to survive; and it's impossible to believe we'll have the time, money or resources to talk about comic books, or old TV shows, on the internet.

I hope I'm wrong.

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Blogger Comics007 said...

I hear you on how the world seems to be going to hell, but these constant pessimistic "end of the world" updates are not only depressing but contributing to the problem. We all need to try and have some hope and faith in this country. Yes, the Bush Administration shit all over America for 8 years but they're finally going to be GONE and a new EDUCATED team of experts will take the reins. Granted it will take years just to undo Bush's fuck-ups and we should not excpect any drastic miracles. But lets try to stay as upbeat as possible (without falling into idealistic fantasy) and acknowledge the areas that we can likely expect some progress. Iraq will be wrapping up, stem cell research will be allowed to flourish, global warming will get the attention it deserves from Washington, Obama's top notch economic team is bound to be effective on some level... there are many things to look forward to in 2009. We're in a deep hole, but at least now we have some rope. Let's not hang ourselves with it.

21 December, 2008 15:16  

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