Saturday, 28 February 2015

Leonard Nimoy, Spocktoberfest, and how I survived middle school ...

Original Star Trek episodes, 1966-1967

The wonderful Leonard Nimoy died this week: poet, musician, artist, and of course, actor. I rarely get too involved or swept up in celebrity lives, celebrity deaths, and I've never posted about an actor before, but this is my blog. My party.
So ... a few thoughts about Leonard Nimoy.

The truth is, Mr. Spock was my secret ally all through middle school. I was the youngest by a few years in a gifted class (I'd skipped a grade), and it wasn't easy being 11 years old when everyone else was 13. I'd get home after school each day and lose myself in Star Trek re-runs on TV (no youtube or internet in the late 1970s). As the only alien on a starship, Mr. Spock knew how it felt to be an outsider, and so did I. He was my hero, the first one I ever had.

Star Trek was my secret obsession until I went to university and discovered that I wasn't the only person who loved it. My friends and I went to our share of opening night screenings of Star Trek movies, and although I never attended a conference, I did scare the neighbourhood one Halloween when I dressed up as a Borg (that was a great costume).

I was a devotee of The Next Generation in the 80s, and wrote two screenplays for that series (both rejected). Somewhere around that time, I also bought this tricorder case filled with DVDs of the first season of the original series, pictured here.

In homage, I wrote and performed a hilarious song for Mr. Worf called Klingon Love Affair, which I still dust off and play for close friends now and then. Here's the first verse: Love your forehead/gives me chills/your halfway back, wild hair/lock me in your crushing grip/it's my Klingon Love Affair. Ready photon torpedos, Mr. Worf ...  campy and fun and that's enough of that! You get the idea.

In the 90s, my friends and I went to "Spocktoberfest" in Toronto a few times, to watch The Chumps spoof episodes of the original series and laughed until it hurt, although the pints of blue Romulan ale probably helped.

When I heard last week that Leonard Nimoy was in the hospital with "chest pains," I decided to watch the new J.J. Abrams ST movie, Into Darkness, which I hadn't yet taken the time to see. It was thrilling! Zachary Quinto makes a great Spock, and his moment on screen with Leonard Nimoy was a wonderful hall of mirrors, looking into the future, into the past, into the future, and so on. Due to the magic of Netflix, my 17-year-old son is methodically watching the entire Star Trek franchise. It's good to walk into the basement (where his bedroom is), with an armload of laundry and hear Patrick Stewart's silky voice arguing with Q.

But until hearing of Leonard Nimoy's death, I hadn't spent much time thinking about Star Trek in recent years, it's just been a constant in my life, always there in the background. Now I will. Like the night I watched the original airing of Arena in 1969 (I was 5 and I still remember it), I'll spend some time in the weeks to come, getting inspired on the bridge of the Enterprise with my alien ally and lifelong hero. I'm hopeful that ST will continue to prosper and inspire future generations, like it did me. I have no doubt it will. Truly, LLAP.

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