Tagged: Leonard Nimoy

Ed Catto: Spellbound by Batman

When Leonard Nimoy died, several comic conventions paused for a moment of silence as fans offered up the Vulcan salute. Those were lovely gestures as the nerd community showed how beloved the actor, and his signature role, was to them.

I wish that Batman’s Adam West had a signature gesture like that. A hands-on-hips pose means Superman. The Vulcan salute embodies all of Star Trek’s mythology. Television’s Wonder Woman had a spinning motion (it enabled her to change from her meek self into her heroic costume) that we of a certain age remember. Iron Man kind of owns that punching-the-ground-while-crouching pose. But TV’s Batman really could’ve used an iconic pose.

Perhaps it would be holding a bomb, with a lighted fuse, above one’s head? Perhaps that silly/sexy Batusi dance move, evoking a bat’s eyes and ears? Somehow they just don’t seem right. But he had something better.

The past weekend, the Batsignal was shining onto Los Angeles’s City Hall. And the folks behind it knew their stuff. This Batsignal was the version of the Batman emblem that Adam wore. The L.A. Times showed the crowds and the entire affair looked impressive.

Everyone seems to have an Adam West story to share. I have a few too. I was really struck by how kind and sweet the stories were. To his credit, Adam West seemed to be able to instantly understand, and respect, the different connections that fans had with his TV alter ego.

As Mark Evanier, and others, reminded us, Adam West was an actor and Batman was just one part he played. Kudos to MeTV for recently running episodes of 60s western and science fiction TV series featuring Adam West appearing in other roles, before running the very first two episodes of Batman.

And in many ways, playing Batman damaged his career. He was typecast and couldn’t get other roles subsequent to the series’ cancellation. It wasn’t until years later that he was able to figure it all out, with the help of his enthusiastic agent, Fred Westbrook. They found ways so that Adam could finally reap the financial benefits of his all-too-brief superhero years.

Sadly, Fred recently passed away too. He was an agent with a real respect for his clients. He was clearly a fanboy, but he used that drive to create engaging and profitable projects for his clients. Like Adam, Fred was a great guy too. And boy, did he love TV game shows. I don’t know if he was the nation’s biggest expert on TV game Shows, but it seemed like that to me.

I fell under the spell of Adam West’s Batman TV show, but it quickly translated into a love of comics. For many fans, seeing some of those covers we saw as kids bring indelible memories front and center.

Viewing these comics is like winning a ticket for a time machine. I’m immediately transported back to Pauline’s, the newsstand that was so close to my grandmother’s house. My dad would treat us to one treasure there (I’d always choose a comic) after our Italian Sunday Dinner each week.

Detective Comics #358 is that kind of a comic for me. There’s something about those DC silver age covers with red backgrounds that bring out the six-year-old in me. This issue features the debut of Batman’s unforgettable foe, Spellbinder!

What’s that, you say? Did you forget him? Yeah, well, I guess that’s understandable.

I think that everyone who read this story forgot about it. It’s not that it’s so bad. It’s just so bland. The Spellbinder is a bank robber with a gimmick – he can hypnotize people. And like a fairy tale, the Spellbinder fools Batman three times, until the Darknight Detective finally figures out how to defeat him.

But that cover – wow! As a kid, I had thought this would’ve been the battle of all ages! It’s all about wild colors and an undoubtedly an epic battle about to be waged. I certainly expected to see Spellbinder pop up in an episode of the 60’s TV series, but he never did.

I wonder who could’ve played Spellbinder on TV?

Holy Fashion Faux Pas! What a mishmash of colors and patterns. If it were published today, Tim Gunn would have a fit. Oh, and I’m not even talking about Spellbinder’s costume. I’m talking about those clashing Detective Comics and Batman logos. Spellbinder’s nutty costume is an absurd thing of beauty… and doubtlessly it struck fear into the hearts of comic artists everywhere. In fact, no one would draw him again for years.

My copy of this comic is really special. It’s the file copy of longtime Batman editor, Jack Schiff. In those pre-internet days, publishers kept old comics on file for easy reference. Curiously, by the time this comic was published, Schiff was no longer editor on the Batman line. But he sold his file copy collection to Tim Ash Gray of Ithaca’s Comics For Collectors back in ’92, and Tim sold them to fans.

This issue is overflowing with nostalgic treasures, including:

  • More Superheroes – There’s an Elongated Man back-up (with some sharp Sid Greene art for a change) and Superman fights for Unicef in a one-page adventure on the inside front cover
  • Lots of Toy Car Ads – Geez, if future archeologists study this comic, they’d come to the conclusion that little boys in the 60s only read comics and played with toy cars. Still, one these ads showcases artwork from beloved DC artist Murphy Anderson.
  • It’s not the first time Batman fought villains on a building and certainly not the last. After the memorial service, the skyscraper battle now makes me think of the LA tribute to Adam West and the Batsignal shining on L.A.’s City Hall.

So many of us are willingly spellbound by Batman. There are a lot of good things about that. Like a long train, we all jump on at different points. That’s kind of special too. For me, it all started with that TV series and Adam West.

Mindy Newell: For The Love Of Spock And Stingrays

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“…More importantly, the personal touch provokes some bracing moments that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise. It’s one thing to have Neil DeGrasse Tyson or various NASA technicians talk about how they were inspired by Spock – or even to have Trek-loving actors like Jim Parsons and Jason Alexander say that they sympathize with stories of Nimoy staying mostly in character when his show wasn’t shooting. But only Adam Nimoy could comment knowledgeably about what it was like to have a drunken argument with Leonard Nimoy and then walk out into a world where images of Mr. Spock were impossible to avoid. The best scenes in For The Love Of Spock are the most conventional, featuring famous folk praising a pop culture legend. But the scenes that most linger in the mind are more like the one where the director confesses his complicated feelings about his father to another Spock, Zachary Quinto. It’s moving to know that even Nimoy’s son is as in thrall to an icon as the rest of us.” – Noel Murray, AV Club.com

“Leonard Nimoy was an artist who defined a timeless character.”Andy Webster, New York Times

“The 1963 Corvette received a major restyling, new mechanics and a new name: ‘Stingray.’ Zora Arkus-Duntov convinced the brass at GM to include independent rear suspension on the ’63 because he convinced them he could sell 30,000 cars if they had it. The passenger compartment was still kept far to the rear of the car to allow the engine/transmission to sit behind the centerline of the front wheels. This allowed for a better weight ratio (47/53) that improved handling. The ’63 Corvette included new twin headlights that are hidden behind an electrically operated cover. This added to the aerodynamics of the car when the headlights were not in use. The fastback coupe was also new; it included a fixed roof with a large back window that was split down the center with a body-colored bar. (This bar was very controversial and was removed in 1964, making the ’63 very unique.) The car now had recessed non-functional hood lovers. Front fender louvers and ribbed rocker panels replaced the coves on the earlier models. The coupe also has lovers at the back of the side windows. The dash has circular gauges with black faces and the earlier models have storage space under the seats. Air conditioning, power brakes, and power-assisted steering were now available options.• Total 1963 Corvette Stingrays Built: 21,513 • Convertibles: 10, 919 • Coupes: 10, 594” – www.vettefacts.com

So, whass up, people? Sorry I wasn’t here last week, but a big thanks to Editor Mike (Gold) for the very funny piece he posted in my absence. Only laugh I had about Thanksgiving this year – nope, Turkey Day was not fun.

And what did I do the rest of the weekend, besides recover from my intestinal woes? Which really didn’t end until Monday morning, when I woke up “bright-eyed and busy-tailed” and really bummed out over what could have been a great four-day holiday from work?

Well, for one thing, I watched For the Love of Spock on Amazon Prime. A documentary originally intended to celebrate the much beloved Vulcan as part of Star Trek’s 50th anniversary celebration, Adam Nimoy – son of Leonard, originator of the idea, and director of many acclaimed television shows including Star Trek: The Next Generation, Ally McBeal, Gilmore Girls, and NYPD Blue – expanded the project into a love sonnet to his father and his long, successful careers as an actor, and later, a photographer. In order to do both the film and his father justice, Adam sought crowdfunding in June 2015 in order to raise enough money to meet the licensing fees needed to use clips, stills, and archival footage from Paramount Pictures and CBS. The month-long campaign on Kickstarter grabbed attention, and by the end of the month (June 2015), Adam had raised $662,640 from 9,439 lovers of Spock and Leonard from around the world.

Was it worth it? Are you kidding? Im-not-so-ho, it’s worth every cent. It’s just a totally wonderful movie, with interviews from William Shatner, Nichelle Nichols, Simon Pegg, J.J. Abrams, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, and many others, including Leonard’s brother, sister-in-law, his daughter and grandchildren. Adam himself pulls no punches, talking about the raucous and rough relationship he had with his father until, in adulthood, the two men found their way back to family and love. (Adam directed his father in the remake of the classic episode, I, Robot on the revived Outer Limits, which ran from 1995 to 2002 on Showtime, SyFy – God, how I hate that spelling! – and in syndication.)

Seriously, people, devote a little more than an hour and watch this!

Hmm, what else?

corvette-mustangI read Mike Gold’s column about Patton Oswalt with interest, being a fan of The Goldbergs (Wednesday, ABC) and knowing that Mr. Oswalt narrates the show, playing the writer and creator Adam Goldberg as he tells the story of his family. I then clicked on the link within Mike’s column to take me to Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee and Jerry’s cup of joe with Patton – and you’re right, Mike, Mr. Oswalt’s Death of Superman is an absolutely fabulous idea!!! So much better than Doomsday – though after rewatching that monstrosity on HBO last week, part of my face-in-the-toilet Thanksgiving weekend (as if I wasn’t suffering enough) I do have to say that the best part of the movie, the only part that got me hooked and made me forget my woes were those last minutes as Wonder Woman fought the creature. Oh, right, Superman and Batman were there, too.

Anyway, then I started browsing CICGC, ‘cause I haven’t been on the site for a while, and watched Jerry have coffee with Barak Obama at the White House. Jerry calls him “the coolest President ever!,” and you know what? Just to see Barak behind the wheel of Jerry’s 1963 Corvette Stingray – the coolest car ever!!! – well, “I’m hip, bro.”

Can you even imagine President – God, how I shiver as I type this – Donald J. Trump behind the wheel of the coolest car ever!!!

Yeah, I can’t either.

 

Ed Catto: The Mission of Star Trek – Mission New York

star-trek-mission-pix-3-cosplayers-atb

idw-john-bryne-stmnyFans, creators, actors, historians, licensees, NASA and even the United States Post Office celebrated Star Trek’s 50th Anniversary last week at Manhattan’s Javits Center during Star Trek: Mission New York. This convention was a triumph of Geek Culture and how one man’s vision inspired so many others to create one of the most successful and enduring entertainment franchises.

Star Trek fandom has always been passionate and vocal. They’ve banded together to keep the Enterprise flying and have been holding conventions since the 70s. This convention, created by Reed Elsevier’s ReedPop division, was held in the same location as their New York Comic Con. That’s become such a behemoth that, by comparison, Star Trek: Mission New York seemed to embrace a more intimate vibe.

There are benefits to a smaller convention. This was so much easier to navigate than New York Comic Con. There were shorter lines and no crushing crowds. Fans were in a better mood. But try as I might, my observations of this show are undoubtedly influenced by other trade shows and fan-focused shows. And there were a lot of shows this past weekend. Convention expert Rob Salkowitz analyzed the “so many nerds, so little time” phenomenon for Forbes.

star-trek-con-4lPanels: Where the Fans Are

The heart and soul of the convention seemed to be in the panel rooms, even more so than at a conventional trade show or comic con. These panels allowed fans the opportunity to explore the many niches of Star Trek in intense and personal ways, despite sitting in a room with 400 other people.

When I left for college, my dad suggested that it would be wise to join a group or team as a way to break down the overwhelming scope of the university. He was right – and the advice would have been appropriate for Star Trek fans that weekend.

A few of the most fascinating panels included:

  • The Women of Star Trek Reflect on 50 Years – Star Trek actresses candidly discussing the difficult choices they were, and are, often forced to make
  • The Lost Years: Treks that Never Were A panel that explored the strange but unproduced worlds of scripts, movie concepts and series that never made it onto the screen
  • Writing for Star Trek, where David Gerrold, you may know him as the writer of the classic episode, The Trouble with Tribbles (now back in print through ComicMix), passionately encouraged would-be Star Trek writers to create their own books, with their own characters and their own universes
  • Leonard Nimoy: A Tribute provided great history, including photos of Nimoy with Adam West and in costume as the Grand Marshall of a local parade
  • Star Trek: The Roddenberry Vault panel, teasing unseen footage. More on this in a bit
  • A stage reading of Star Trek IV, which I enjoyed more than the actual movie… and I like the movie

gerrold-chekov-stmnyCosplay

Creative and clever cosplay clearly was a theme at this show. Pattern manufacturer Simplicity’s booth spotlighted their licensed Star Trek patterns, but the real creativity was with the fans. Some highlights:

  • A medical student designed and sewed an elegant starship dress
  • One clever fan appeared as an animated Nurse Christine Chapel, who’s arm was miscolored for just a few frames in the Star Trek Animated Series episode The Lorelei Signal
  • A fan dressed as Lt. Uhuru in the toga-esque outfit worn for TV’s first interracial kiss

The cosplay contest on Saturday night also included brilliant pop culture mashups like Khan-ye West, Kim Cardassian, and Ensign Trump, complete with his “Make the Federation Great Again” political sign.

vulcanThe Show Floor

The exhibition floor offered an eclectic group of booths and activities. On one end, NASA’s huge booth helped fans understand upcoming space exploration, (like the Tess satellite) while on the other end, the U.S. Post Office sold the new Star Trek stamps.

In between there was a mix:

  • Comic publisher IDW was there with creatives who were signing comics. The legendary John Byrne made a rare convention appearance to sign copies of his recent photoplay Star Trek
  • Eaglemoss was selling individual Starships and Starship Dedication Plaques from their Star Trek Starships collection. Many sold out quickly. The steady crowd of fans at the booth kept me from speaking to my friends at Eaglemoss crew too much.
  • Likewise, rabid fans kept the Titan booth busy, as they also sold out of many of their products. Their new coffee table book Star Trek: 50 Artists 50 Years, was gorgeous. I had loved the exhibit that the book is based upon when I saw it in downtown San Diego during July’s Comic-Con.
  • The Smithsonian touted their Star Trek documentary, but somehow that seemed like an assignment a teacher would give you, rather than something fun you’d find on your own. But I’m clearly not giving it a chance and I haven’t seen the documentary yet (it debuted September 4th).
  • Microsoft’s Star Trek: Bridge Crew offers an amazing virtual reality experience for fans. The reality of the long line, however, discouraged me from taking part of it.
  • Star Trek Timelines is an immersive game that spans the many Trek franchises and, for the vast majority of users, is free. A very patient but energized (I mean that in the non-Trek sense of the word) staff helped fans play the game on the mounted iPhones and tablets – and gave away a lot of prizes.

reliant-eaglemossThe Son of….

Rod Roddenberry is the son of Star Trek Creator Rod Roddenberry. Rod carries on the business side of the work that was established years ago as his father, with prescient insight, kept many of the licensing rights.

Rod’s an affable guy. He’s warm, humble and friendly. And he announced an astounding project. It turns out that his father maintained a warehouse full of dailies and outtakes from the original series. Gene Roddenberry had gathered up everything that was on the metaphorical cutting room floor and preserved it. Working with Roger Lay, Jr., Rod and the new team have assembled these treasures in the Star Trek: The Roddenberry Vault, on sale later this year.

star-trek-con-3rA Few Stumbles

For every Wrath of Khan or ST:TNG, there’s a Nemesis or a Star Trek: Enterprise. There were some shortcomings with this convention too.

After 50 years of merchandise, collectibles, comics and books, I was disappointed that there weren’t any dealers selling those treasures in any meaningful way. I had gone into the show on the lookout for vintage Trek comics and books but left empty handed. I wanted to see things like Topps cards, Ben Cooper Halloween outfits and 70s Star Trek guns that fired little plastic disks. I hadn’t planned on buying any of those things… but you never know.

My frustration was compounded when I asked the woman in the information booth if there were any dealers or back issue sellers. She informed me that she “had no idea” but that I “was welcome to wander around the exhibition floor” to try and find what I needed. I was, quite frankly, stung by the impoliteness and uselessness of that suggestion. That’s not the Reed Expo Customer Service that I remember.

The whole exhibition floor was a bit underwhelming, but on the other hand, it seems that companies with product designed for fans sold a lot this weekend. There wasn’t a crushing competition for consumer dollars.

Years ago, I had enjoyed a Star Trek novel now and again, so I was really surprised how unwelcoming the Simon and Schuster booth was to new or in my case, lapsed, readers. I went to that booth planning to purchase a book, but after a sour experience, I decided against it. My to-read pile is tall enough, anyways.

And there’s so much more going on in the “world” of Star Trek fandom that I wish was front and center at this convention. I wanted to learn more about the many Trek podcasts, the high quality fan-films and the boom in impressive fan artwork.

star-trek-con-2Box Office? What Box Office?

Last week, The New York Times had a front-page article on changing movie going habits and this summer’s box office sequels that didn’t become hits. I was surprised to see Star Trek: Beyond on that list. I had thought it made its money back and I had enjoyed the picture. But maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised – the faithful superfans at Star Trek: Mission New York had all but ignored that movie.

The Next Frontier: 50 More Years

What’s the real magic of Star Trek? Is it the hope for an optimistic future? Is it the smart science fiction? Is it the ripping yarns? Is it really just the story of a guy and his buddies? Who knows? I’ll leave it to deeper thinkers to sort that all out. All I know is that Star Trek fan culture is thriving. It’s a robust intersection of fandom, commerce & entrepreneurialism. And that a good time was had by most at Star Trek: Mission New York.

 

Mindy Newell: Star Trek – Beyond Tribute and Redemption

Star-Trek-Beyond-2

Kirk: We make a good team

Spock: Yes, we do.

Bones: We could be mauled to death by an interstellar monster!

Kirk: That’s the spirit, Bones.

Considering today is Monday the 25th and Star Trek: Beyond came out only three days ago, how much can I tell you about it without doing the dreaded HERE THERE BE SPOILERS dance? Hmmm…let’s see….

Did I like it?

Yes.

Did I luvvvvvvvv it?

Well, that’s hard to say. If you had asked me that last night as I was walking out of the theatre, I would have said, “No, I didn’t luvvvvvvvv it.”

Meaning that I didn’t want to turn around and immediately buy another ticket, ‘cause I’m too honest to just stay in my seat and wait for the next show, and besides, with my luck, I would have gotten caught by that one guy or gal in the whole wide world who has the thankless job of cleaning up after all us movie slobs between showings and who takes his or her job seriously enough to throw me out or hand me over to the theater manager. The way I wanted to do when I first saw Raiders of the Lost Ark or the original Star Wars or The Empire Strikes Back or, come to think about it, the first J.J. Abrams Star Trek reboot back in 2009.

However, as I was talking about the movie while playing and cavorting in the pool this afternoon with grandson Meyer, daughter Alix, and son-in-law Jeff, I realized that while I didn’t luvvvvvvvv this third entry of the rebooted Trek universe, I definitely do want to see it again, because:

1) Chris Pine is simply becoming more and more handsome. In fact, before sitting down to write this I watched the Wonder Woman trailer – the one unveiled at this year’s San Diego Comic Con – just to feast my eyes on those amazing blue eyes.

Ahem No, not really. Let me try that again.

1) Chris Pine is inhabiting the character of James Tiberius Kirk more thoroughly with each film, allowing us to follow and appreciate the growing maturity of the young(est) captain who sits in the command chair of the Federation’s premier starship, all while never losing the charm of the boy inside;

2) Zachary Quinto and Karl Urban, as Spock and Leonard “Bones” McCoy respectively, still frankly fucking amaze me with their dead-on interpretations of the First Officer and the Chief Medical Officer of the starship Enterprise as we knew and loved them in the “before” time. It’s not only in their acting skills that totally get the quirks and mannerisms of the Vulcan-Terran hybrid and the “old country doctor,” but also in their spoken intonations and, yes, the very sound and timbre of their voices. How do they do that?

3) Speaking of the Euclidian – or is that Isosceles? – triangle that is Kirk, Spock, and McCoy…it’s all there. The wrangling, the bemusement, the annoyance, the loyalty, the friendship.

4) And with regards to that triangle… two sides, Spock and McCoy, are more cantankerously and crabbily thrown together than ever before, giving us the chance to revel in their ornery, and yet loving relationship.

5) Yes! Finally! Hurray!!!! The women of Star Trek get their due!!!!! Communications Officer Lt. Nyota Uhura (Zoe Saldana) has more screen time than ever, and she kicks ass, not only physically but also emotionally and with smarts. Not to mention Melissa Roxburgh as Ensign Syl. Yeah, she may be a “red shirt,” but she’s not simply disposable. And then there is Sofia Boutella as Jaylah, the woman who becomes the crew’s ally. Yeah, she kicks ass, too. But here’s a word that I haven’t seen in any of the media review. She’s adorable. As in, I adored her relationship with “Montgomery Scotty,” which lead me to…

6) Simon Pegg, as the Chief Engineer, is once again simply wonderful. (And by the way, he co-wrote the Star Trek: Beyond with his writing partner, Doug Jung, ably Robert Orci, Patrick McKay, and John D. Payne.)

7) Although I do have to say that John Cho, as Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu, does get a bit shortchanged this time around, in what I thought was a great addition to the character (not to mention to the franchise), it’s established that not only is Sulu gay but that he and his beloved are parents to a little girl. I also think it’s an absolutely wonderful tribute to George Takei, who has been in the forefront of gay rights since he first came out; Mr. Takei was one of the first to marry his partner when California finally voted in the legality of same-sex marriage. The funny thing is, Mr. Takei objected to this “change” in Sulu’s character. That seems odd to me…

As for the reasons I didn’t luvvvvvvvv STB, well it comes down to…

1) Idris Elba.

No. Not the actor. He was, as usual, pretty damn fantastic, especially – nope, not gonna go there. Not going to get all SPOILERY.

In fact, I can’t really get into why Mr. Elba, or, rather, and more specifically, his character, bothered me without getting all SPOILERY.

So I’m just going to have to drop it for now, until (I assume) Art Tebbel and/or Vinnie Bartilucci or someone here at ComicMix gives a more, uh, thorough review.

Until then, live long and prosper.

However…

One thing I did truly luvvvvvvvv, immediately luvvvvvvvved: The honor and respect and love given to Leonard Nimoy, both within the movie itself and in the credits. And the saddest thing about Star Trek: Beyond is the passing of Anton Yelchin. Stay for the credits. You’ll see what I mean, and you’ll “hate” it, too.

Finally…

Alexander Courage’s theme gets me every time!

Mindy Newell: IDIC*

“Oh, my. The simplest would be to say, ‘Languh yoren osta lebn.’ It’s a typical Yiddish expression. Parents say it to their kids. It means, ‘You should live many years’.” • On the Jewish roots of “live long and prosper”

“There was a very small crowd – miniscule compared to the crowd that he gathered later – at a private home in Los Angeles. And we were standing on the back patio, waiting for him. And he came through the house, saw me and immediately put his hand up in the Vulcan gesture. He said, ‘They told me you were here.’ We had a wonderful, brief conversation and I said, ‘It would be logical if you would become president.’“ • On meeting Senator Barak Obama during his first Presidential campaign

“I have been, and shall always be, your friend.” Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan

On the wall to the right of the corner in my bedroom where my computer is set up is a plaque given to me for my birthday by daughter Alixandra when she was in high school. It reads, in emboldened and etched script:

STAR TREK: TO BOLDLY GO WHERE NO MAN HAS GONE BEFORE

It’s a picture of Commander Spock of the U.S.S. Enterprise, NCC-1701.

It’s a totally fangirl-geek-nerd piece of cheap convention claptrap, for which she probably overpaid and with no monetary value whatsoever in the collectibles market…

And I love it.

I love it because it’s from my daughter.

I love it because it tells me every day that my daughter gets me, that she got me then and always will.

And I love it because it’s a marker that some things do cross-generational barriers, that, to paraphrase John Ostrander’s eloquent words from his column here yesterday, it helps me to remember the past, to appreciate the present, and anticipate the future.

Languh yoren osta lebn, Mr. Spock.

And may your katra be with God, Mr. Nimoy.

*Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations

 

John Ostrander: Death and Vandalism

Writing a weekly column can be a funny thing at times, especially when you wait until the last moment to do it. Not only does it irritate your editor but the blamed thing can morph from its original topic. Such as this week. I started with one topic and then found two others that I wanted to comment on as well. I think I’ve found a connection within all three; let’s see if I can make it without stretching too much. Wish me luck.

We’ll start with the death of Leonard Nimoy, a.k.a. the original Mr. Spock in Star Trek. He was 83 and died of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Spock was an iconic character not only on Trek or in science fiction but around the world. “Live long and prosper” was his signature phrase and his cool, logical, and scientific manner created an army of fans, me included.

My friend Lise Lee Morgan and I met Mr. Nimoy in person many years ago in a guest suite at a Star Trek convention. My friend Stuart Gordon had got us the opportunity and Mr. Nimoy was charming, engaging, and enthusiastic about Stuart. I liked him even more than I liked Spock.

How significant was Nimoy’s passing? He got a eulogy from Buzz Aldrin, the second man to step foot on the Moon. President Obama released a statement saying “Long before nerdy was cool, there was Leonard Nimoy, the center of Star Trek’s optimistic, inclusive vision of humanity’s future … I loved Spock.” Come on. How cool is that? Any of us should wish to have a life with as much impact on the world.

On the other side of the coin there’s the report of author and blogger Avijit Roy being hacked to death with machetes by Islamic extremists. Roy was a native of Bangladesh although he lived in Atlanta and he was attacked as he left a book fair in the Bangladesh city of Dahka. He was there to promote his book The Virus of Faith. A fan of Bill Maher’s harsh view of Islam, he was critical of all religions and especially Islam and that made him the target of death threats by Moslem extremists. Ansar Bangla-7, an extremist group, has claimed responsibility for the death.

The third item catching my eye was the destruction of ancient artifacts in a Mosul museum by members of ISIS. The items dated back thousands of years, from the Assyrian and Akkadian empires. The vandals’ justification was that the statues were by polytheists and therefore an affront to their skewed notion of Allah. This ignores the fact that the art was part of the heritage of us all and they were only the current custodians. They did not have the right to destroy them. Sadly, such iconoclasm has a long and pernicious history.

So … what unites these three events? They underscore the importance of art, of literature and – yes – of pop culture. A writer is killed because of ideas that he espouses, artifacts are destroyed because of what they once represented, Nimoy’s death is remembered because of a part he played on TV and in films. All this underscores the importance of art, its power, and the threat it poses to the close-minded.

It makes us remember the past, question the present, and bring hope for the future. Pop culture, which we celebrate here, is a huge part of all that. It helps define who we are and tells us who we were and points to what we could be. It reflects our passions and our interests. It questions what we are told and that’s why extremists of all stripes want it destroyed or controlled or obliterated or killed. The violence, the extreme nature, of their actions tell us how real the threat is to them. That tells us how powerful it is. Art is dangerous. Pop culture is or can be or should be dangerous.

Leonard Nimoy, as Spock, exemplified all that. That’s part of the reason his passing affects so many. He made an indelible mark on the world. We should strive to do the same.

Live long and prosper, y’all.