In Memoriam for Leonard Nimoy

I was going to write something today about the passing of Leanord Nimoy, but then I read this tribute by one of my students and realized I could not write anything better. He gave me permission to reprint it.

By Matthew Daniel Birkenhauer

When I was a kid, I felt like an alien. Still do, really—just better at pretending otherwise.

Like a lot of kids, I loved adventure, and I loved Star Trek. I watched the old VHS tapes till they splattered tape everywhere. I grew up with the crew of the Enterprise—Kirk, Bones, Scotty, Uhura, and all the rest. But most of all, I grew up with Spock.

Mr. Spock was strange, and he knew it. He didn’t think like a normal person. Yet everyone respected his intellect and, ultimately, saw and respected him as an equal. Out of all the crew, I related to him—though I didn’t know why, didn’t analyze it till rather recently.

Leonard Nimoy’s performance as Spock was grave, gravelly, and winkingly wry all at once. He was a hero for me—not just Spock, but the man behind him. I think it’s rather unfortunate he got so few roles after Trek, considering the talent he possessed—just listen to his performance as Master Xehanort in the Kingdom Hearts games, and the way he managed to meld a lunatic snarl with a sly, winking camp.

But I digress. Tend to do that.

I’m not surprised that Nimoy died, to be honest. I knew it was coming—I’d learned about his terminal illness last year. I didn’t expect some miracle to save him, some Genesis Device, some magical Benedict Cumberbatch blood.

But now that it’s happened, it still hurts. Because when I felt bullied, when I felt like an outcast, like an alien, I’d sometimes pop in an episode of Star Trek. And watching Nimoy’s lively, textured performance, I’d remember that this was all temporary. That the Spocks of the world were important. They were loved, aloof and weird as they could be.

Goodbye, Mr. Nimoy. Maybe you changed the world—I don’t know. But at least you changed mine.

Rhysling Nomination

My poem “Marvel Word Problems” has been nominated for a Rhysling Award in the short poem category. The Rhyslings are voted on by members of the Science Fiction Poetry Association. Below is the nominated poem which first appeared in the poetry anthology Drawn To Marvel.

Marvel Word Problems

If Spider-Man can lift 15 tons, can jump over 20 feet, has reflexes 15 times faster than normal, but can’t save the people he loves, how do you measure regret?

If Aurora leaves the convent flying at Mach 3 heading east and her brother Northstar leaves Montreal at Mach 5 heading south but stops in New York to come out, what is the speed of acceptance?

If Black Bolt’s voice caused the death of his parents and cost his brother his sanity, and he wants to tell Medusa, his wife, he loves her, what is the price of a whisper?

If Apocalypse attacks New York at 5:33 and the X-Men save the day at 8:22 and the mutant protests start at 8:30, what time does the hate stop?

If the Scarlet Witch can control probabilities and marry a synthezoid and have children yet go insane and kill her friends in the Avengers, what are the chances of love in the Age of Ultron?

Love is . . .

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Love is like a kitten all cute and adorable and the occasional scratching

. . . but grows into a cat, aloof, haughty, with the occasional hissing.

Love is like cicadas. It comes around once every 17 years, there’s lots of sound and fury, but then it over, leaving an empty, dead husk.

Love is like voting for Mitt Romney. You know it’s silly, futile, and makes no sense, but you just can’t stop yourself.

Okay, so a little pessimistic. 🙂 If you have one, please leave it in the comments! .

Goetta Time

Last night (and overnight) I made goetta. What’s that you ask. Long explanation is here. Short explanation, a dish with German origins popular in the Greater Cincinnati Area and nowhere else in the country. It’s origins are German. Basically a combination of meat and pinhead oatmeal, cooked together, then pan fried. It can be any meal of the day you want. I follow the recipe my mother used which is the one my paternal grandmother used: pork, oats, allspice, broth, and salt. I cooked it overnight in the crockpot.

When I was a kid, goetta was a special treat. Mom would take a pork shoulder (we called it a callie back then) and throw it in a pot and boil it. The meat and broth were then mixed with the oats. It was a treat because before the crockpot, it had to cook eight hours and be stirred constantly so it didn’t burn. So that meant all day stirring and stirring and stirring. When my mom got her first crockpot, we started having it more often since it was a lot easier to make, though still not a weekly or even monthly dish.

It’s been a long time since I made some and every time I do, I think of my mom. I have enough to last a week, so that will be a lot of reminiscing.

The Editing Frame of Mind

I have recently been working on editing a chapbook of poetry celebrating the poets who read regularly at the International Conference of the Fantastic in the Arts. There are nine poets besides myself. Each submitted two pages of poetry for consideration. It was invitation only from a small group of highly published poets. In terms of editing, this is pretty easy. No slush piles. All people I know.

What surprised me in doing this was the completely different frame of mind I had to get into to work on this, even when it was mostly cutting and pasting. I would work for an hour or more on the project and time seemed to go very fast. But I also noticed that when I was working on this, it was much harder to get back into writing my own work and being creative. The mental processes are just that different, at least for me.

So hats off to the editors out there, putting together the journals and books and chapbooks. And if you are being both a writer and editor, more power to you.

More News From Harper Lee

(This is strictly meant as humor and in good fun.)

After the exciting announcement about the sequel To Kill a Mockingbird, Ms. Lee surprised even more people by mentioning that she has been quite prolific in the last several years. She soon plans to release some of her more recent works:

The Thirsty Games

To Kill a Mockingjay

Fifty Shades of Chartreuse.

Classic SF Movies

I was recently asked what classic Science Fiction movies I would recommend. I suggested he start with all the songs mentioned in the song “Double Feature” from The Rocky Horror Picture Show. If you don’t remember those here’s the video. Also, feel free to add your suggestions in the comments!

Double Feature