Saturday, September 8, 2012

Forty-Six Ways Star Trek Changed My Life

September 8, 1966. It's been 46 years since the very fifth episode of Star Trek went on the air. (Not the first one; the fifth one--"Where No Man Has Gone Before" didn't actually air until September 22, assuming my time-traveling sources are correct.)
To celebrate this awkwardly numbered anniversary, I've compiled a list of 46 different ways in which Star Trek--not just the original series, but the entire multimedia franchise--has changed my life, or at least influenced it in some way or another. Strap yourselves in, kids--I'm about to get sentimental, ridiculous, and incredibly esoteric all at once.

1.) I occasionally refer to human beings as "ugly bags of mostly water."

2.) I occasionally wear cologne, making me an ugly bag of mostly scented water.

3.) I masqueraded as Geordi La Forge one Halloween. It was awesome.

4.) I was an avid fan of Reading Rainbow growing up--in no small part because the show was hosted by LeVar Burton--which helped foster a lifelong love of reading.

5.) I know more about fictional technology than I do about my own car.

6.) Much of my time on the playground in elementary school was spent running around pretending I was a starship captain.

7.) I got it into my head that "Spot" is a perfectly acceptable name for a cat.

8.) It is incredibly easy to shop for calendars for me every year. "Do you have Ships of the Line? Yes? Beautiful. Done."

9.) For several months, I was engaged in geeky, philosophical, and religious discussions and debates with the author of "Star Trek by the Minute" that challenged me to think more critically and logically in my arguments.

10.) I missed about an hour and a half of festivities during one of my last cast parties with my theater group to catch the series premiere of Enterprise.

11.) I missed a sizeable chunk of the festivities at PAX East 2010 to meet Wil Wheaton.

12.) My now-wife and I had the perfect way to geek out with the invitations and table markers for our wedding.

13.) I paid a visit to the 24th century.

14.) I bought my first movie tie-in comic book in 2009.

15.) I got a lot of inspiration for blog posts, apparently.

16.) Riverside, Iowa is on my list of places to visit if I ever get the chance.

17.) I chuckle a little bit whenever I hear John Tesh on the radio, knowing he once played a holographic Klingon.

18.) I've learned that the best explanation for irreconcilable continuity errors is usually, "time travel."

19.) Where (in)appropriate, I refer to nudity in terms of Betazoid weddings and dressing like a Ferengi female. Yes, I'm terrible.

20.) I own a Star Trek: The Next Generation mug, which is my mug of choice when having toast and hot chocolate.

21.) On the rare occasions where I drink tea, there's usually only one choice, and it's the beverage that prompted me to drink tea in the first place: Earl Grey, hot, of course.

22.) My phobia of crawling around in ventilation ducts (a phobia that started with Space Quest V, which was also very heavily influenced by Star Trek) got slightly worse thanks to those squeak-burbling Parasite creepy-crawlies in Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force. (Yes, I just used the expression "squeak-burbling." It's incredibly accurate.)

23.) I am computer literate: After haphazardly tinkering with things I knew little about and accidentally destroying my family's Star Trek screensaver, I vowed to teach myself enough about computers to never let such a thing happen again.

24.) The exploits of Captain Proton encouraged me to watch Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe, further expanding and deepening my knowledge and appreciation of vintage science fiction.

25.) I giggle anytime I hear the phrase "recipe for biscuits," which, admittedly, is not nearly as often as I'd like.

26.) I possess a sizable collection of action figures, toy props, and model starships, all of which contribute to the already overwhelmingly geeky d├ęcor of my home.

27.) My bedroom ceiling was once decorated with various tiny Star Trek (and Star Wars) ships suspended from it, amidst glow-in-the-dark stars. Going to sleep at night was about the coolest thing ever.

28.) "The Picard Song" is proudly featured on one of my many mix CDs, and I've developed an unexpected fondness for "Blue Skies," as well.

29.) I've started paying attention to the names of writers, directors, and music composers in film and television. It's so much easier to understand the ups and downs of a franchise once you know the people involved behind the scenes.

30.) I have an improved understanding of the general structure of languages thanks to a crash course in Klingon.

31.) My friends, family, and I have spent countless hours bonding over the episodes and movies we've watched together.

32.) My friends, family, and I are collectively around $3000 poorer for buying me every Star Trek movie and series on DVD.

33.) I managed to turn a hand injury into a training exercise at a young age and learned the Vulcan "live long and prosper" salute while two of my fingers were bandaged together.

34.) Though I enjoy Star Wars, I never got into it the way other people have, in part because it differed from my expectations that Star Trek had set for sci-fi. That's not a "Star Trek is better than Star Wars" argument; Star Trek simply beat Star Wars to the punch.

35.) When my computer starts acting up, I occasionally employ a hint of a Scottish accent and address the computer by name, picking up the mouse and speaking directly into it if I feel so inclined.

36.) I've seen more episodes of Hawaii Five-O than I'd ever expected to.

37.) I've learned how to better analyze difficult situations and see multiple sides to a problem or issue, seeking a greater understanding of a situation before jumping to conclusions and solutions.

38.) Despite all the problems and troubles of our world today, I've been reminded time and again that we can overcome our differences and shape a better future for ourselves.

39.) When I have to suddenly shut off my car's cruise control to slow down for traffic, I refer to it as "dropping out of warp."

40.) When I'm struggling to keep awake while driving, I frequently ask my wife to talk to me, and she'll often ask whether I've heard the story of the three brothers who go to Jo'Kala to sell a giant kava root. (Silly us; we usually mess this up and say "Kalto Province" instead. Duh.)

41.) My wife and I also do our best bug-eyed Gowron impressions at one another sometimes to cheer ourselves up. My wife would like to inform you that she is much better at it than I am.

42.) I've gained an appreciation for clever reuse of props, sets, and archive footage, and have developed a keen eye for spotting such material. Like the cave that's in every episode of Deep Space Nine.

43.) On more than one occasion, I've thrown open my flip-phone like a communicator and started talking with my best "Kirk on a landing party mission" impression.

44.) Beyond the real people I knew, I had a series of role models throughout my youth thanks to Star Trek--intelligent people who had a passion for learning and exploration, loved their jobs, showed compassion to those in need, and sought peace with their enemies.

45.) I think space is incredibly cool.

46.) Growing up, my Saturday nights were always a family event--homemade pizza and an episode or two of whichever Star Trek was on. Even after Voyager and Enterprise went off the air, the pizza tradition continued, and something feels wrong with the universe if I go more than a weekend without it. (The pizza, that is; not the universe, though that's important, too.)

47.) OK, so this list was supposed to stop at 46. But you've gotta have a 47 in here somewhere.


JoeReviewer said...

Ah one of these days I reeeeeeeally need to start getting into the meat of Star Trek. I feel like I have quite a bit of knowledge on the subject though considering I've only ever seen the second movie.

I just need to find a time to watch hours and hours of sci-fi. This could take a while...

Mom said...

When have you EVER crawled around in a ventilation duct??

Flashman85 said...

Joe: Well, you've got my guide to the original Star Trek, and I'm hoping to pick up the pace to get my guide to Next Generation out in time for its 25th anniversary later this month. You can start with a few selected episodes, and then work your way through the rest when you've got the time!

Mom: Well...I haven't, personally, but I see it happen in movies and games all the time.

tmntgrl25 said...

Gotta say, #33 made me legitimately facepalm....then I remembered that my right hand STILL refuses to do the live long and prosper salute to this day. I'm also particularly fond of #5.

So....forgive the question from a terribly uneducated person (only ever saw Star Trek 4...once, at that), but is Klingon an actual language- like someone could legitimately hold a conversation with someone else in Klingon in real life? It's not just...well, gibberish?

Flashman85 said...

tmntgrl25: Hah! So, to answer your question, Klingon actually is an actual, functional language. There are entire books dedicated to teaching the language, and Shakespeare's Hamlet is also available in the original Klingon. :)

A fun story from the set of Star Trek III is that Christopher Lloyd, who plays the main Klingon villain, would actually stop recording and make everyone do the scene over again if he or anyone else misspoke any of the Klingon words. Which I always thought was incredibly cool and professional.