Paramount just released the first official still from Star Trek Into Darkness with a caption that seems to identify Benedict Cumberbatch's mystery villain as John Harrison. But -- and it's a pretty big "but" -- the name "John Harrison" is actually part of Star Trek backstage lore, and not really the name of any Trek villain. Besides the Starfleet technician Harrison played by Ron Veto, the name was used for several random, unnamed onscreen characters (including redshirts) in several episodes -- a placeholder. So, are we being messed with? Is it a case of Trekkie misdirection? Or is this a brand new Star Trek villain? Tor has a few theories that will interest and enlighten. (via Tor)
UPDATE: Movieline's Jen Yamato attended a press event for Star Trek Into Darkness yesterday and has some news on the "John Harrison" character. In case you really don't want to know, I'll leave the information at the link, which also contains some really interesting (and spoilery) theories about some original Star Trek source material that are well worth a read.
Photo credit: Paramount
1. Looks damned good.
2. The trailer makes it look like a straight-up action movie with sci-fi backdrops.
3. Maybe they're so cagey about calling him Khan because it's a British actor in a classic minority role?
Speaking of that particular semiotic snarl, did anyone notice the first time around that Vulcans are now a predominantly British entity, whereas in earlier Star Treks they were Jewish American? Given what happens to Vulcan itself in the rebooted franchise, I wonder if to JJ Abrams, it just didn't seem right to cast Jewish people--and Jewish culture--in the role of "friendly but vaguely sinister aliens."
Whereas that is a technically accurate description of the British.
I'm at Comic-Con for the Pirate Cinema tour. Here's some highlights from yesterday's brief excursion on the floor:
Here's Brent Spiner (Star Trek's Data) doing his greatest party trick: a pitch-perfect imitation of Patrick "Captain Picard" Stewart, including hilarious anaecdotes about how he used this power to sow mischief. Patrick Stewart got his revenge later.
Brent Spiner imitates Patrick Stewart... again. (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)
"Aircraft Carriers in Space" (Thanks, Todd Lappin!)
Has sci-fi affected the way that our navies conduct warfare?
CW: This is a question that I occasionally think about. Many people point to the development of the shipboard Combat Information Center in World War II as being inspired by E.E. Doc Smith's Lensman novels from the 1940s. Smith realized that with hundreds of ships over huge expanses, the mere act of coordinating them was problematic. I think there is a synergistic effect. I also know a number of naval officers who have admitted to me that the reason they joined the Navy was because Starfleet Command wasn't hiring.
Over at Mother Jones, George Takei, who played Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu on Star Trek, shares some fascinating stories about Asian stereotypes in Hollywood, his childhood memories of a post-Pearl Harbor internment camp, and being "quietly out" in the late 1960s. From Mother Jones:
MJ: Did the cast know you were gay?
GT: Most of them knew, but they were cool. They knew what impact it could have on an actor's career. Once I was at work chatting with Walter Koenig, who played Pavel Chekov, and he started gesturing at a group of young extras who were dressed in the Starfleet shirt. There was a gorgeous young guy with a fantastic build and that tight shirt on him and that's when I knew that Walter knew. I turned back to him and he was grinning. He was helping me out! Bill [Shatner] was oblivious. In fact, when he was on the Howard Stern Show, Howard had me call in and chat with Bill. I mentioned Brad and he didn't know who Brad was. Everybody knew! We had a very public wedding. Bill says, "Who's Brad?"
Hey, Trekkies: Google has treated us all to a really fun, interactive doodle to celebrate the 46th anniversary of the network premiere of Star Trek! From today until tomorrow -- September 8, the actual air date in 1966 -- you will get to set your cursors to "stun" and maybe mess with a Redshirt (hint: the worried-looking one shaped like an "e") when you visit Google's main page and start clicking your way into a miniature episode featuring characters from the original series. (The hair on the O-Kirk is glorious, I tell you.) StarTrek.com has an interview with the doodle's creator (and Trekkie), Ryan Germick. Live long and prosper, Star Trek!
Celebrating 46 Years with a Google Doodle [StarTrek.com]
The late actor James Doohan, best known for his role as "Scotty" on the original Star Trek series, left instructions in his will that he wished to be buried in space. His family worked hard to fulfill that wish, and made arrangements with Celestis, Inc., a subdivision of the Houston-based company Space Services that offers "post-cremation memorial spaceflights."
Those remains became part of the payload for a 2008 SpaceX Falcon 1 launch attempt that didn't reach orbit because of technical problems. Each failed attempt was newly agonizing for family members, prolonging their grief and lack of closure.
But today, seven years after "Scotty's" death, SpaceX successfully launched his ashes into space. From the startrek.com website today:
Doohan’s ashes – which also were launched to space in 2008 as part of an unsuccessful mission -- were part of a secondary payload included on the second stage of the rocket, not on the Dragon itself. That payload separated from the capsule at the 9-minute, 49-second mark and is now orbiting, on its own, above the Earth. It’s expected to stay in orbit for approximately a year before descending back to Earth and disintegrating during re-entry.
Wende Doohan, James Doohan's widow, was on hand for the launch with the couple’s daughter, Sarah, now 12. Doohan posted a photo on Twitter and tweeted the following comment early today. “Sarah and I enjoyed watching a beautiful rocket launch this morning - certainly a first for her.” Also, on May 18, Doohan tweeted the attached photo of Sarah at Cape Canaveral with a caption that read “Following Daddy’s footsteps?”
In 2008, just after that last unsuccessful attempt, we shared on Boing Boing a personal account of what the process felt like for Doohan's family. It was written by Ehrich Blackhound, one of Doohan's seven children. Here it is again, below.
Rest in peace, in space, Mr. Doohan. And on behalf of all of us at Boing Boing, our best to the whole family.
Gary Goddard tells the story of the near-construction of a life-sized Starship Enterprise replica in downtown Las Vegas. Goddard successfully bid to build the attraction as part of the 1992 competition to revitalized Vegas's sagging downtown and bring back tourist traffic that had been sucked away by the strip, but the project was scuttled at the last minute when Stanley Jaffe, then CEO of Paramount, got cold feet. The Enterprise was scrapped and replaced by the "Fremont Street Experience," which stands there today.
The “big idea” was building the ship itself at full-scale. That was the main attraction. That being said, we also knew we would have to have some kind of “show” on board. So, conceptually, it was to be a “tour” of the ship, with all of the key rooms, chambers, decks, and corridors that we knew from the movie. There was to be the dining area for the ship’s crew (where you could dine in Star Fleet comfort), and other special features. There were also one or two interesting ride elements that we were considering including a high-speed travelator that would whisk you from deck to deck. But we were really just getting into the show aspects when everything came to a head. During this time, as we were working out the conceptual design and plan, a licensing contract was negotiated for Paramount Studios with the terms and conditions, including a substantial rights payment up front, and on-going revenue participation, all subject to the approval of the Studio Chairman, which “would not be a problem” if the project was approved. As you can see, from the designs we’ve shown here, we got pretty far down the road, with drawings, renderings, engineering studies, construction cost estimates – about $150,000,000 (in 1992 dollars) — we were ready to go. I had Greg Pro working on it, I had Dan Gozee (long time Disney Imagineering illustrator) on it, and we were really into the whole idea. Everyone was excited. This was going to be a world-class iconic project that would become an international sensation from the moment it was announced...
So with everyone in the room, I take Mr. Jaffe through the project. With the art, the plans, the overall concept. After my spirited “pitch” everyone was beaming – everyone except Mr. Jaffe. Mr. Jaffe thanked us for the effort, and he congratulated us on creating a bold concept and presentation, and then went into a speech that went something like this:
“You know, this is a major project. You’re going to put a full-scale ENTERPRISE up in the heart of Las Vegas. And on one hand that sounds exciting. But on another hand, it might not be a great idea for us – for Paramount.” Everyone in the room was stunned, most of all, me, because I could see where this was going. “In the movie business, when we produce a big movie and it’s a flop – we take some bad press for a few weeks or a few months, but then it goes away. The next movie comes out and everyone forgets. But THIS – this is different. If this doesn’t work – if this is not a success – it’s there, forever….” I remember thinking to myself “oh my god, this guy does NOT get it….” And he said “I don’t want to be the guy that approved this and then it’s a flop and sitting out there in Vegas forever.”
Apropos yesterday's post about 1970s science fiction convention costumes, Strephon Taylor sez, "I just saw your post on the 1970's science fiction costumes. I made a documentary on the early northern California Star Trek conventions called "Back to Space-Con", it has a ton of costume footage, I think you will dig it. We have some of the earliest full sound film on the subject. We got contacted by the producers of Trek Nation for our convention footage! "
This feature-length documentary film tells the story of the 1970's Bay Area Sci-Fi conventions called Space-Con. Told by the original organizers and fans. Includes celebrity interviews, costume contests and over 40 minutes of rare convention footage. See the Federation Trading Post in Berkeley and very first Star Trek convention in San Francisco. A real treat for any Star Trek or Star Wars fan. Film stars Bob Wilkins, John Stanley, Ernie Fosselius, and many more.
Actor William Shatner celebrates his 81st birthday today. He is best known for his role in the Star Trek television series and films, but has had a long and wildly varied career that... continues to... boldly go where no man has gone before, one might say.
Captain James T. Kirk was a constant presence in my home, growing up—my dad was a huge Trekkie. I think it's fair to guess that many Boing Boing readers also consider this character, and Shatner's broader body of work, a formative part of their lives as nerds.
I recently attended his one-man-show, "Shatner's World," in Hollywood. It was a hoot. You should catch it when it comes to your town. The fate of Star Trek: The Original Series was closely linked to that of the American space program in the late 1960s, and Shatner tells some wonderful anecdotes about the historic ties to NASA in his touring performance. My favorite? His visit to Kennedy Space Center to see the Apollo LEM up-close, and a funny prank the astronauts and engineers played on him. But I won't blog any spoilers, go see it yourself.
Also, his most recent book, Shatner Rules (2011), might help you make sense of the universe. To the extent that the universe really makes any sense, that is.
Happy birthday, Rocket Man.
Oh, this makes me so sad. Tony Alleyne, the trekkie, club DJ, and "house-modder" who redesigned his British flat to be a faithful replica of the Starship Enterprise? Looks like he may lose it in divorce proceedings. His ex owns the flat, and wants to sell it as "a conventional dwelling," according to tabloid reports.
I did a story about him for NPR way back in 2006 (MP3 Link). I remember him as one of the most cheerfully obsessed Star Trek fans I've ever met (and buddy, I've met a lot of Star Trek fans in my time).
British tabloid The Sun broke the bummer news a couple of days ago, and quoted Alleyne: "To say I'm gutted is an understatement. It is my life's work. I admit there were tears."
Alleyne estimates that redoing the project in a new apartment would cost more than USD $150K.
More from MSNBC, which also covered the tale of Alleyne's epic Trek home when it first made the internet rounds five years ago:
When msnbc TV reported on the apartment back in 2006, Alleyne was about to file for bankruptcy over the money spent on renovations, and said he had hoped to start a business transforming homes for other "Star Trek" fans. Msnbc TV did another segment on Alleyne in 2007 when he was apparently also hoping to sell the tricked-out home, which includes a mock transporter.
"Most people thought I was barmy," Alleyne said at the time. "I mean, you could go spend the time down the pub or in a nightclub or whatever ... I decided to live in a spaceship." He says on his website, which bills him as a "24th century interior designer," that he became hooked on science fiction at age 11.
Croshame's just posted a pattern for making your own crocheted Spock ears, which are both logical and very toasty-warm.
Well, Christmas has come and gone and you’ve already gotten all the fancy stun guns and tricorders and communicators your heart could desire, so why not try out some of that fabulous Star Trek fashion sense with my pattern for crocheted Spock Ears?
I dote on pajamas and bathrobes (first thing I do when I get on an overnight flight is change into a pair of freshly ironed jammies for a good night's sleep -- I call it the "Most comfortable man in the sky project"), and boy, do ThinkGeek's Star Trek robes pluck at my heartstrings. They've got the breast insignia, as well as the piping at the cuffs. A swankier way to lounge, available in yellow, blue, and red, and men's and women's cuts.
(via Red Ferret)
Love this Ian Leino Red Shirt t-shirt design, whose Star Trek insignia bears a frank and unmistakable icon depicting the fate of all redshirts in the landing party.
(via Making Light)
Space Trek is a collection of oblique shots from a certain television series, illustrating "the quiet despair of the Starship Enterprise."