Thursday, April 03, 2014

Book Review - These Are the Voyages: TOS 2, by Marc Cushman




            As with Volume I,  here’s a primary resource from this date forward.  It’s for anybody who wants to know about the original STAR TREK.  

            This book plunges to DNA-depth into Season Two, from plot outlines and early drafts to casting and post-production; from Nielsen ratings to fan actions and reactions.

            It’s full of excerpts from hundreds of books, articles, and maybe a hundred interviews with the crew and the cast, guest stars, and creators.

            Marc Cushman started these labors of love decades ago, encouraged by Gene Roddenberry and Bob Justman, who gave him access to personal and studio files.  Cushman went through the  raw materials and lays out about a gazillion bits of new or perhaps-forgotten info.  Just about everything about Season Two of STAR TREK is covered in here; it will engage and fascinate you! 

            You really must read this book, if you love STAR TREK.  It’s also a deep depiction of TV production in the 1960s, and the typical “establishment” mindset of NBC:  “My mind is made up, so don’t confuse me with the facts.”  Some of the things NBC had made its mind up was that STAR TREK was a kiddie show whose budget could be systematically pared with no detriment to what was onscreen.  There are numerous memos laying out the network’s desire for stories on exotic planets; but would they authorize sufficient money to pay for those faraway, strange-looking places?  Perish the thought.

            You’ll read this book with the kind of wonder you feel when you think about your grandparents having survived the Great Depression.  How could so much have been accomplished, given so few resources?  In STAR TREK ’s case, much of it was inspiration or (dare I say?) genius.  In an example of the “new planets” dilemma, why not keep the “sky” on the planet set a neutral color, and paint the background with light?  Sounds simple -- yet it hadn’t been done on television before.

            Cushman gives us wonderful personal reminiscences and technical details; reflections from the present day, and specific newspaper articles from the times.  We get the genesis, development, and final disposition of every episode, and other chapters that discuss creators, fans, and other topics

            You really need to dive into this book, if you care about the Galaxy the Great Bird created.

           You can find the book at its publishers' website here.  If you look for it on Amazon, they say it's not yet available.  Also, Amazon shows a different cover image from the one above, which was sent to me by the author labeled "FINAL."

UPDATE:  This is the absolutely FINAL FINAL cover image, according to Marc.  It's also the one shown on Amazon:

 

           READ THIS BOOK!

            TRUTH IN REVIEWING:  I am one of the editors of this book.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Magnetel, the Game That's Swell! From Mattel!




I was about nine or ten when we got a Magnetel.  It was a pretty neat game.  You could play pool, bumper pool, and such.  The yellow and black discs were magnetized so you could also hang them on your car's dashboard or your mom's fridge.





A few weeks ago I got out the ol' friend and introduced it to a new generation.  Jazra and I played a few games for old times' sake.




Beware the Magnetel Pool Shark!

One of the neatest things about Magnetel was the spring-loaded cue sticks.  Especially because you could stand it on one end, pull down the housing, and let loose.  The compressed spring would make it shoot up into the air a foot or so.  Instant rocket!




And here are the instructions.

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