Friday, February 05, 2010


Have headache, can't form sentences, will be either short post or strange post.

Recently went to local planetarium. Vivid memories of being eight years old. Fantastic.

South Star Ball. Don't know what that means. Southern sky? Southern hemisphere? Don't care. Cool.

Cosmos-oriented exhibit. Half-moon! Mounted on wall! Lights up when touched! (Not true of real moon.) (So I am told.)

Inside dark tunnel of dated alien planet landscapes. Best part of planetarium.

Jupiter? Probably seen from one of its gaggle of moons? Is it gaggle of moons? A clattering? An unkindness? Hmm. An Unkindness of Moons. Good name for a bad poem.

Flash in dark tunnel ruins mystery. No more flash.

Don't know what this is. Before application of Enhance Creepiness button in Photoshop, the big round thing was red. So, possibly Mars. Or a moon seen from a planet that has an earthlike system of erosion that would create that apparent rock formation. Or an early concept drawing for Armus, strange goopy murderer of Tasha Yar. It's good to remember Tasha Yar every so often. Keeps things in perspective. How did those complete sentences get in there? No more complete sentences. But really, can you have erosion without an atmosphere? What other planets have atmospheres? I think I knew more about this when I was eight. That's disappointing.

Caption for this one: "We are not alone." Vision of future and/or alien life not updated since 1968. So cute.

While in tunnel, listened to teenager tell blatant lies to sibling. Not only blatant, but poorly sold. "Hey, I've been to Jupiter. Yeah. It was great." It was great? You went to Jupiter and it was great? Clearly Jupiter was wasted on you. Also: "Oh look, a quasar. Did you know they invented quesadillas? It's true." No. It's not true.

Next! Stained glass. Sciencey stained glass. Better than Tiffany.

Accompanying plaque:

Dante is so critical. EVEN BEATRICE LOOKED AT THE GROUND SOMETIMES, DANTE. Headache makes for sensitive Simon.

Planetarium exhibit over. Wave goodbye.


Ivan said...

I am sorry for your headache, but you have no idea how much I adore this post.

and you're right. It is good to remember Tasha Yarr every once in awhile.

Simon said...

I think about Tasha Yar more often than may be normal. It must have made a huge impression on me at a young age.

Matthew said...

I completely missed the lies being told in the star tunnel. Of all the planets to lie about going to, Jupiter would not be my choice. Saturn, definitely. Venus, possibly. Jupiter, no.

Maeve said...

I must know: What sort of impression did Tasha Yar leave on young Simon?

Simon said...

Ooh! Time to talk about Tasha Yar! I've been waiting so long.

It's been quite a while since I've actually seen an episode with Tasha in it, but as I recall, she was kind of a precursor to later kick-ass women on tv, like Sidney Bristow, and, though I never liked the show (SORRY EVERYONE), Buffy. The other female main characters on TNG were all in caretaker roles, but Tasha was always going on away teams and whatnot. But mostly what I remember is her death, I think because it was so unexpected and unprovoked and just plain stupid for someone of her caliber, and in that way strangely realistic. (Pit of goo aside, obviously.) It reminds me of the line Salman Rushdie repeats in Shalimar the Clown, when whole villages in Kashmir are needlessly murdered: "Their lives were not their fates." This is also true of Tasha Yar.

I have just connected Star Trek and Salman Rushdie. High five!

Maeve said...

They did make it exceedingly clear on the show that Tasha was only as tough as she was because she'd grown up on a planet defending herself against rape gangs. While I agree that it was essential (as well as interesting) in the 1980s to be getting women on TV in roles other than "caretaker" (and I like that term), Tasha Yar was always distinguished as strong because she was broken. And I think that is what, in part, turned me off to her. Because it suggests that you have to have something wrong with you before you can be a powerful woman.

Now, this really isn't all that different from the characterization of Starbuck in the new Battlestar Galactica. (Have you seen that, by the way? I remember telling you about it when it was first on, but I know I sounded like a nutcase, cause no one else watched it then. Everyone has watched it now. Validated.) I'm not sure exactly what the difference is, that makes me okay with Starbuck and not okay with Tasha Yar. Maybe it's that there are other strong women to choose from in BSG, so she is less a Model For Our Daughters and more a flawed personality who will be interesting to observe in certain situations.

Simon said...

Hmm. That was not exceedingly clear to me as a ten-year-old. I don't remember her backstory at all. I want to say that no character, male or female, should have to be broken before they can be powerful, but now that I think about it, that's a fairly common, if second-rate, way to account for someone's strength. It's as if no fictional person can simply be born strong, but has to be transformed from helpless to strong by some particular (usually tragic) circumstance. I think it does a bit of a disservice to Tasha's character, making her regrettably one-dimensional, but if that's what the writers gave us, then that's all I've got to work with. At least her response to her past wasn't to curl up and die.

I don't think I've seen BSG since Vassar. I remember watching a few episodes (maybe even a couple with you), but then I never got into it because I wanted to catch up first. Which I will someday do! But from what I have seen, I wonder if you have an easier time accepting Starbuck's characterization because it's more complex. Again, it's been a long time, but I don't remember early TNG having especially fully realized characters. As much nostalgia as I feel for it, the tv I liked in the eighties is much less sophisticated than the tv I like now. Tasha was definitely a type: the Surprisingly Bold Female. I'm willing to bet Starbuck's being a person is prioritized over her being a woman.