50 Years of Influence

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In 1996, Mattel released this Barbie and Ken set to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Star Trek. These were the first dolls I remember longing for.

This past weekend, my boyfriend and I went to see Star Trek: The Ultimate Voyage. This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the show and this production was, essentially, an array of selected clips from the shows and movies projected on a giant theater screen while a live orchestra played iconic Trek music. For me, this was a very moving experience. For an idea of what this was, I’d like to share this video put together by benandbarry on Youtube (I’m very impressed by the smooth transition in editing here, this is actually multiple pieces of the production spliced together):

Star Trek was something that I grew up with. My father was a Trekkie and would always watch it, pointing out the ways in which science fiction has a habit of becoming science fact. The Next Generation (TNG) first aired in 1987, when I was only 2 years old. With the quick succession of TNG, Deep Space Nine (DS9), and Voyager, you could say I literally grew up with it. While the major drawing factor for my father was the technology, I was drawn in and deeply affected by the rich social and philosophical lessons the episodes and films had to offer. These lessons helped to guide me and shape my worldview. There were two characters in particular that I looked up to:

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Captain Jean-Luc Picard and Mr. Spock. Picard’s words of wisdom and diplomacy modeled the kind of person, the kind of leader I longed, still long to be. He was firm and fair. He took his commanding role seriously but without being power driven. He lead by example, respected order and law but did not falter in instances where that order and law worked to the detriment of the populace. In his words, “the claim ‘I was only following orders’ has been used to justify too many tragedies in our history. Starfleet doesn’t want officers who will blindly follow orders without analyzing the situation” (Redemption II, 1991). There was an excellent piece written by Alex Knapp in Forbes in 2012 that does a great job capturing the ways in which Picard was a great leader.

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Mr. Spock’s intellect, logic, and, most importantly, control over his emotions, were characteristics that I wanted for myself. During the often turbulent years of my childhood, and even during trying times of my adulthood, I would have given anything to maintain the calm and emotion-free state of a Vulcan. But Spock was not fully Vulcan, he was half Human. Because of this, there are times during which you can see him grappling with emotions that, I wager, present themselves more strongly within him than within a full Vulcan. “I have a human half, you see, as well as an alien half… I survive it because my intelligence wins out over both…” (The Enemy Within, 1966).

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Halloween 1997. Seeking to emulate both of these role models as a TNG era Vulcan Captain.

With a nod to the roots of this blog, I feel I would be remiss if I neglected the wardrobe. Yes, I own an array of Star Trek tshirts (you can read a previous bit about tshirts here) and I also own a uniform inspired hoodie complete with insignia and rank pips. In the film, First Contact, Picard says to Data, “…touch can connect you to an object in a very personal way. It makes it seem more real.”  Indeed, in a similar way, wearing that uniform-hoodie does make me feel a certain connection to these characters and those traits that I admire. And is it any surprise that one of the first outfits I made for my Lammily doll was a Starfleet uniform?

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Trickster Crow at 3rd Thursday Art Show

Three days ago, I was at the Third Thursday Art Show in Springfield, IL. It’s quite possibly my favorite function on the planet. Every month (the 3rd Thursday of each month, thus the name), local artists from in and around Springfield gather together to show their art, mingle with the public, and generally have a good time. There are live bands at every show, which adds to the atmosphere and, I think, brings everything together. It’s inspiring how the local arts community is close knit and supportive of each other. I’ve even been known to sit at a table and sew on some easily portable project at these events…

Elizabeth Ross' wonderful 3T cozies...

Another great thing about these shows, is that the range of art is not just limited any one medium. While paintings are more common (and there are some very talented painters in Springfield, IL), I have also seen some knitting and crochet on display. Elizabeth Ross made some very cool crocheted hats, potholders and drink cozies. :::throws fist in the air playfully:::  Textile/Fiber Represent!

And so it was, while I was sitting at a table, listening to the live music and soaking up the awesomeness of this atmosphere, that I witnessed what was quite possibly the coolest display of live costume/ theatre art I’ve seen with my own eyes to date. There was no warning and no introduction. He just showed up, passed through, and disappeared without a sound. (I’ve heard a couple people mention a flyer or something about it, but I never saw it.) He was, Trickster Crow.

"The Trickster Crow meets Jeff Williams as Felicia Olin looks on under Ryan Sponslers's latest painting." Photo and Caption Quote credited to Ted Keylon

He (or possibly she, as I’m unaware of the identity of the person behind the beak) slowly and silently made his way through the crowd, handing out sunflower seeds. I later found out these were “seeds of knowledge” that he gave unto anyone that would have them. (I’m now happy to say I ate all 3 of the seeds he gave me.)

Not only was this a very cool, mysterious experience. But, I am in complete and total appreciation of the costume. I do not know who made it, but it’s amazing! I love all the symbolism and representation.. crows and ravens carry this kind of sense of dread, but they are intelligent and being creatures of the sky, they can see everything and so even have a slight foresight. Also, he’s wearing a trench coat. Trench coats also have this association with mystery and danger… you find classic detective characters wearing them, I recall David Boreanaz’s character, Angel -a vampire- wearing one, and then there is the trench coat mafia. Fear of the Unknown, Foreshadowing, Intrigue, Mystery, Danger… so many concepts and feelings are tied into this work…  and then the total surprise of it which left art show attendees talking about it afterward. Trickster Crow, you have my awe as well as my utmost respect and recognition.