Sunday, March 1, 2015

Thanks for the Ride Mr. Nimoy

                                           Astronaut Terry Virts gives the Vulcan salute while 
                                          passing over Boston (where Leonard Nimoy grew up)
                                         on the International Space Station.

On Friday, February 27th, actor Leonard Nimoy passed away at the age of 83.  There has been a cacophony of grief on the Internet, as fans of his beloved Star Trek character Mr. Spock express their dismay.  The half human Vulcan who asked us to Live Long and Prosper is not gone, and never will be.  The man that created that amazing character, and made him real for all of us, has passed on to the stars.

What can I possibly write about this that hasn't been written already?  I don't believe I can really add much more to the conversation.  My favorite episode of Star Trek was "Amok Time".  There are probably a million people around the world who could say the same.

At the end of the day, I think our best tribute to mark Mr. Nimoy's passing, is to make it personal. So in this post I'll share my favorite Star Trek memories, so we can see what an impact the TV show, and by extension the man, had on my life.

The first appointment television show I ever had was Star Trek and it was because of my Dad.  He was fascinated by the space program and ST gave us a vision of what the future would be like when humans traveled to other galaxies.  Of course Spock was our favorite character.  His cool, dispassionate demeanor rose above whatever challenge the crew of the Starship Enterprise faced.  To a shy geeky kid in the 60's, Nimoy's Spock made me think anything was possible.  I remember watching with my Dad, so long ago I'm not entirely sure we even had a color TV yet.  We probably did, because I have a distinct memory of the brightly colored blue velour shirt Spock had.  I wanted one so bad. I remember fashioning a little phaser and communicator out of wood so I could recreate scenes from the show with my friend Sharon. By the way Sharon, I apologize for always making you be the "Gorn" while  I got to play Spock or Kirk.  Little did we know while we were playing, that one day we would all have our own real "communicators" in our purse.  Mine's an Apple 6+. Back when the original NBC Star Trek was still on the air, I bought Leonard Nimoy's strange and wonderful album (see below).  There was a spoken segment on the record that I read for a oration contest at Kings Elementary school next door.  I read it in a flat, emotionless voice just like Spock.  It must have been hilarious, but I won!  Anything can happen when you are inspired by Leonard Nimoy.

My First Job After College
What happens when you spend a life loving a TV show like Star Trek?  Why, you grow up to get a job at a television station, of course! In my case, it was the incredible independent station KTLA in Los Angeles.  It was there I met my dear friend, and fellow Star Trek addict, Lisa Mateas.  Some of you may know her as TV writer extraordinaire and the founder of The Flaming Nose.  Ms. Mateas and me bonded instantly over our shared adoration of all things TV, Star Trek and in particular Spock.  We were young, ambitious and very very weird when it came to our geeky sci fi passion.  This was before the Internet, back when Pterodactyls still flew through the smoggy skies of L.A.  We wrote pounds and pounds of silly scenes and imagined scenarios involving the crew of the Enterprise.  Spock was always the romantic lead.  We invented a new character called Bip the Space Boy.  I have an entire cardboard box filled with these shenanigans.  Jesus H. it was fun to work back in the day before email made slaves of us all.  We actually had time to let our imaginations roam free.  It didn't roam very far however,  as most of our passionate missives circled right back to Spock and what he could possibly like to eat for lunch. Also why he wanted to marry me. For some strange reason. :)

Star Trek: The Next Generation
Not the TV show....the son of Jane K.Collins.  So back when my only son Tommy was just a 5 year old kid, I decided I was going to initiate him into the Trek life.  What better way to do it than to travel to an actual Star Trek convention in nearby Pasadena with my older sister Georgette, who was on a mission to buy Tribbles.  It was a magnificent convention, with thousands of attendees dressed in full costume.  The Klingons were particularly realistic with their bony heads, leather uniforms and giant platform boots.  Tommy was absolutely terrified of the Klingons.  We watched a couple get married in full Star Trek dress uniform in one of the conference halls.  We saw and coveted a LOT of merchandise.  Right before it was time to leave, the young Tomster was given a choice between a huge inflatable Enterprise space ship or a Phaser.  He couldn't have both.  This Sophie's choice Star Trek conundrum resulted in a catastrophic meltdown that only ended when we threatened to give him to a Klingon.  Extreme parenting, I know.  But the important thing is, it didn't ruin Star Trek for him!  He's a fan to this day, thank God.

Best Mother's Day Weekend Ever
As living proof that the convention did not cause irreparable damage to my spawn, when he was older we planned a fabulous date for Mother's Day weekend in 2010 to go see the new J.J. Abrams move "Star Trek".  We saw it the day it opened at a Friday matinee.  Tommy brought a college classmate, a Korean guy who spoke very little English. We were all crazy with excitement.  I remember sitting in the dark theater as the opening credits started to roll.  Tom and I held our hands up to the screen in the classic Vulcan salute and whispered "Live Long and Prosper".  Oh yes, we were getting our Geek on big time.  I looked over at his friend and he was giving the LLAP salute too!  To this day I'm not entirely sure if the pal knew what he was doing, but OK fine, he was willing to play along.  A few days later Tommy came over to my place so we could hang out for Mother's Day.  As soon as he walked through the door he said, "Mom,want to go see Star Trek again?". My response, "I thought you'd never ask!".  Off we went.  Man, that was a great weekend!

So many memories, all spectacular.  I have a pair of plastic Vulcan ears in a storage container somewhere in Sunnyvale California.  Oh how I wish I was wearing them now. Over the past few days, I've read hundreds of beautiful tributes to Leonard Nimoy.  He touched so many lives.  His NY Times obituary has over 1,000 comments, and people are still writing in.  Most are personal, just like this post.  What Star Trek meant to them...what Spock meant to them...the time they met Leonard Nimoy and what a gracious lovely man he was.  

Thank you for your artistry Mr. Nimoy.  We are all changed for the better because of your creations.  From this point on, when we gaze up at the stars, we will think of you there.  We will never forget you.  

I'll end now with a challenge to everyone who ever loved Star Trek, Spock or Leonard Nimoy to keep the memories coming.  Post them online, email them to your friends.  We know this series changed the world.  Just ask NASA. Literally. Changed. The. World. Keep it alive forever everyone.

Saying good bye with my favorite picture of Shatner and Nimoy, chowing down on something delicious as they take a break on the set.  Even out of character, you can see the friendship they shared...on screen and off.  They were, and always will friends.


Lisa said...

What else to say but "beautiful" and that is ALSO my favorite photo of them, btw! Wonderful memories of a lifetime filled with Star Trek. My sister Karen and I -- don't remember what year, long ago -- wrote a hilarious homemade Trek script one summer sitting around the table in the den. Of course I still have it. Hand-written, about Spock marrying Dr. McCoy's daughter. My dad would come home from work look at us and say "You're STILL sitting there?" Many great memories of you and I grokking Spock in those days, and why WOULDN'T Spock want to marry you?? The most important influence on my life, perhaps, that show and Mr. Spock. xoxoxoxoox

siobhantg said...

Blown away

David Hofstede said...

This was really wonderful. And it's nice to think the Mr. Nimoy was aware of the impact his talent had on so many lives. That's just one of the things that is so great about the conventions - it gives the fans a chance to say thank you.

Toby O'B said...

I could feel the love you had in every paragraph. My favorite anecdote was about the Tomster threatened with a life among the Klingons.

I'll have my tributes up tomorrow at Inner Toob. I didn't want to take away from my celebrations of Robert Conrad's life on his 80th birthday.....

Mitchell Hadley said...

Excellent writeup - I love reading about how people have been personally touched by someone, even if they never met.

Scott said...

"The first appointment television show I ever had was Star Trek and it was because of my Dad."

This! And me too. Star Trek was my first appointment television and my dad was gaga over it. He totally got us into it. In fact, when we lived in Bayside and our "weekend" house was in Warwick (sounds like we were much richer than we really were, trust me), my dad rigged a harness to put our new-fangled 7" Sony black & white TV set on the front seat, facing the back seat so my sister Amy and I could watch on Friday nights as we "drove up to the country." This was the season that NBC moved Trek to the dead zone, a year before we moved to Warwick, where we would watch reruns with bad reception on Channel 11 LOL. Memories.

Scott said...

Oh, and p.s. - I LOVE this write-up Jane. LOVE it.

AmyG. said...

Bravo Jane! So many wonderful memories. You wrote a very moving and heartwarming tribute. I think of Warwick as ground zero for our Star Trek years. I only recall watching the series in the downstairs room of our house there. That's one of the many reasons I will forever remember Warwick with love!

Scott said...

Yes Amy, because IIRC, that's where our only color TV was parked, a GE 12" set from the late 60s. I totally remember being in the downstairs den, with the TV to the right of the fireplace.

Tom Gurda said...

What a lovely article about family and Trekies - well written and entertaining - props to Jane Collins for writing this piece - thanks for sharing!