Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Continuing Adventures

See? No sooner do I finish moaning that I've got nothing to write about than I come up with a couple of things to share.

First up: between the end of summer jobs and return to grad school, my girls closed their summer with a road trip through the southeastern United States. Ideally they would've taken a month, pointed their car east and toured the continent. However, since they and their former roommate Harminder only had 12 days, they flew into Kansas City and rented a car to drive to Memphis, down the Mississippi River to New Orleans, across to Orlando, then up the coast to Washington D.C. before flying home from Baltimore--99% places they'd never been. Luckily, they finished a week before Hurricane Irene arrived, and had a wonderful time.

Which is all prelude to this picture my girls took just because they knew what a thrill it'd be for me: Robin and Laura with the USS Enterprise in the Smithsonian Museum's National Air and Space Museum.

How cool is that? How cool are they?

That's the actual 11-foot model used in the original "Star Trek" series. What a beauty! In my opinion, the Enterprise is the most iconic, convincing, well-designed fictional spacecraft in film or TV history, especially for its era (second best: the Eagle ships from "Space: 1999"). The old girl was in sad shape by the time the Smithsonian got her, and the quality of her restoration is controversial in rarified Trekkie circles. She's actually been restored a few times; the first was supervised by the ship's original designer Matt Jeffries and from what I've seen was well done. I think the museum's subsequent restorations were well-intentioned but ham-handed. In particular, the modelmaker hired to repaint it in 1991 went nuts with his airbrush, adding color, texture and seams absent in the original. The Enterprise had a deliberately smooth hull (Jeffries said he figured an interstellar vessel would be built so all its critical components could be accessed from the inside), and the lumpy-plated-weathered style of spaceship modelmaking didn't come into vogue until Kubrick's "2001" and especially "Star Wars." Still, I appreciate the photo a lot and must make this pilgrimage myself someday. I hear the Smithsonian has one or two other trinkets worth a look as well.

Too much? Just remember, this is the kind of brain clutter that got my name in the acknowledgements of a "Star Trek" book, so go ahead and mock.

No, really, go ahead. I deserve it.

Second up: speaking of arrested development, a lot of people are posting the video below and I like it enough to do the same. It's an animator's re-creation of the old Jonny Quest cartoon's opening credits done in stop-motion animation. Key point: this isn't CGI, but actual models sculpted and shot against real backgrounds, all built by Roger Evans and his crew (although those photographic elements were then composed in Photoshop, making it partly CGI, I suppose). He worked on it over a couple of years. Even if you're not of a certain age that remembers Jonny Quest, I think you can appreciate the love and skill involved. And what great music!

Third up: This is for my girls. Fifteen seconds previewing the upcoming second series of the BBC's modern take on Sherlock Holmes, which we very much enjoyed together. The 21st Century Holmes is an Asperger's candidate addicted to nicotine patches instead of cocaine who taps the Internet to supplement his formidable brain while Watson records their adventures for a blog. I guess Holmes and Watson survived last season's cliffhanger with Moriarty after all. Coming up: maybe "Hound of the Baskervilles?"

Now I've got to get back to work. And, don't lie, so do you.


1 comment:

R said...

Very cool Jonny Quest rendition! I still know that theme song by heart. Super excited about the next season of Sherlock too! I haven't seen that preview before. They didn't finish filming in time to release it in the UK on their stated timeframe (should've come out in August) so we've been looking around for as many sneak-peeks as we can find to tide us over. After all, it'll take even longer for it to be released in the U.S. It's looking like it'll come out some time in May at this point...