Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Life, but not as we know it
A visiting scientist claims to have created an artificial life form.
“You mean like the replicants in Blade Runner?” I ask.
“Er no,” he replies sheepishly. “We’ve constructed the complete genome for a bacterium. The next stage is to manufacture a host cell for it.”
I try not to show disappointment. A microbe wriggling at the bottom of a test tube doesn’t sound very impressive, but just think of the applications – an exciting new disease, perhaps, or a food supplement that helps you pass wind.
“Excellent work!” I exclaim. “Things should progress quickly once you’ve notched up your first bacterium. Insects within a year, mammals within two and your own personal manservant shortly afterwards. Dr Frankenstein will be a fool to you!”
He mumbles something into his beard and I make my apologies and leave. He can discuss the finer points of his breakthrough with the other guests.
Now that I think of it, the replicants in Blade Runner weren’t that great anyway. They did enjoy a few years of life in the fast lane, but where was their spiritual contentment? No wonder they ran amok when confronted with their own mortality. One thing I never understood was why they were made indistinguishable from normal humans. All that time and energy spent hunting them down could have been saved by the simple expedient of giving them an extra nostril or pointy ears. I’m not saying that the boffin who designed them deserved to have his head twisted 180 degrees by one of his own creations, but there was an element of poetic justice in the manner of his demise.
Speaking of pointy ears, did I tell you about the time that Leonard Nimoy visited the safari camp? No? Well I’d better fill you in now then. The entire tour party consisted of Mr Nimoy and his entourage, so he didn’t have to hobnob with strangers. Before you accuse him of being snooty, just imagine what it must be like to go through life with people constantly addressing you as Spock. He must have been sick to death of getting the four-finger V-sign or being asked to pinch someone’s mother-in-law in the neck. We were under strict instructions not to mention anything to do with Star Trek unless Mr Nimoy first brought up the subject. Fortunately, he did bring it up in a passing reference to Nichelle Nichols’ underwear. This allowed me to slip in the following pertinent question:
“How do you explain the popularity of Spock, Mr Nimoy?”
He raised one eyebrow in the style of the great Vulcan logician before answering. “Mr Bananas,” he said slowly, “Spock was so square that he was cool.”
I nodded silently as if I understood his enigmatic assertion. Weeks later, after much pondering, I saw it as possibly the most profound remark ever made by an actor who played an alien in a science fiction show. Of course he was right! My mind went back to an episode of Star Trek in which a bunch of space beatniks hang out in the
Big Daddy Kirk’s got a burr up his ass
But when Spock comes along, they revere him as a deep guru figure, listening in rapt devotion as he strums a soulful tune on his Vulcan banjo. You can bet those hippie chicks would have been queuing up for a night of pointy-eared lurve if Spock had been remotely interested.
I was so impressed by Mr Nimoy’s insight that I related this anecdote at the Annual Simian Convention.
“So square that he was cool!” cried a cheeky monkey. “Isn’t that the secret of your appeal, GB?”
I couldn’t make up my mind whether this was a compliment or an insult, so I gave the monkey a coconut and tied a knot in his tail at the same time.
Labels: artificial life-forms, Blade Runner, Kirk, Spock
Geez, an ape who quotes Star Trek (TOS no less) and has met Spock. Does that make me square too that I find that cool?
I think Spoc's appeal to the ladies was his total lack of emotion, enthusiasm and interest in them. This appeal is the most powerful, as proven in Peter Cook's 1967 documentary Bedazzled:
Liv: Next time I go on a field trip, you'll be the first one I ask to be the cute female assistant.
Secret agent: You could also ask the scientists to make you a cute girlfriend, but would your parents let her stay in your room?
Kieran: Spock was like that most of the time, but don't forget 'pon far'. A Vulcan man in season can ravish a woman to exhaustion.
Lord Likely: And I would pay good money to see the creature wrestle with your manservant!
Eve: You are too kind, my dearest. My brain is full of guacamole and embarrassing incidents that haunt me.
Kynoord: I try to be measured in my punishments. A knot in the tail can easily be untied.
Louche: As do you, my debonair friend.
Spock was working (have I just turned into Tyra Banks) that look like no other alien.
And, unlike Kirk, he never looked like he might need a truss to even out the bumps.
He was an intergalactic style icon.
High praise. Sort of like, "Sherman is the greatest commentator from Missouri on this site."
As for Spock ... do we know whether or not he was ... erm ... equipped to indulge in 'lurve'. I know he had the pointy ears - I'm just wondering if he had pointy parts too? x
I think the possibilities for an artificial life form are endless. I'd invent a creature that got pleasure from vacuuming, sorting socks, and chopping onions. What are the chances they will create anything so useful, though? About nil, I would imagine.
Mutley: I was a performer, not an actor, but your encouragement is nevertheless appreciated. I was once offered a part in a film, but declined because they wanted to shave my rump.
Misssy: I think he was referring to Spock's personality rather than his attire. A human who behaved like Spock would very anally retentive.
Nursemyra: The coconut is easy but the tail would take some knotting. I'll give it go though.
Randall: A higher honour than you might imagine. A Mr Thaddeus J Culpepper from Missouri once left a comment here which in no way matched your own.
Kitty: No need for embarrassment, but worth seeing if you like visually impressive movies. Directed by Ridley Scott of Gladiator fame and more realistic than that movie.
Mary: Did you fantasize about having a mind-meld with him? Imagine having a lover who could read your mind! I would like to be able to deliver his knockout neck-pinch.
And as for that knock-out neck pinch -- I would still give my eye teeth for that.
Man, he is going to be one confused monkey
Now let get back to the lt's knickers !!
Btw I would like to hear the rest of the insulting rock ballad because the first line is quite fascinating.
Coming to terms with your fate is always difficult, rather like being the man in the B-52's and suddenly realizing that you can't sing.
Mary: Are we talking smouldering kisses on the lips here? That'd be quite a big deal for Spock.
Mr Guru: Monkeys are not that innocent, Mr Guru. They know there's a price for cheeking a gorilla.
Beast: Thank you, Beast. I promise I'll have a lot more to say about knickers in my next post.
Panu: I'm not sure what you're longing for, but I admire the depth of your passion. I wish I knew more of that song myself. The episode was called Way to Eden. Let me know if you dig up anything.
Joanne: Hahaha! That's a very sweet question. Did you think I was being too harsh? A gorilla can't allow a monkey to cheek him without penalty. The knot was later untied and did no lasting damage.
Mr Boyo: Poor chap! I definitely saw him play the murderer in an episode of Columbo. He reminded me of Spock.
With regard to "Bacteria" that is probably the only culture some people have.
"It's Five O'Clock somewhere".
Mr Nimoy had a hit song at one "point" in his career, a little ditty called "Bilbo Baggins"
It can be seen here..
Oh, and should I ever find you flirting with my medical assistant again, I will hunt you down and shoot you like a common Baboon.
Lady Daphne: I agree, one should only mimic if the intention is to mock. Steve MacQueen, peace be upon him, was revered for his bad boy image.
Tarf: It that how the term 'square' arose? How inventive humans were in the 1960s.
Hitch: Jealous of a gorilla? Mr Nimoy must bitterly regret doing that song. Here is a clip of him from the very episode I mentioned.
Emma: All creatures need pain to avoid injuring themselves. The only way to avoid guilt is to live on tofu, vegetables and insects, which don't mind being eaten.
Jahooni: I say "Ride a cock-horse to Banbury Cross".
Ms Ubermouth: You should have asked him to pinch your neck. It might have felt good.
Ms Naughty: I bet you liked geeky guys because they were so horny from not getting laid very often!
Those "hippies" sure look awe-struck. I don't remember the episode. Is Spock doing, "here's the church, here's the steeple"? Ask him if he ever comes round again, would you?
Natalia: Open-toe sandals! There are men (and women) whose mouths would water on seeing you in those. I'm assuming you've got pretty toes.
Beenzzz: Another Spock groupie! Is it the icy cool logic that turns you girls on? I wonder if Mr Nimoy cashed in on this adulation.
Hitch: I'm glad you found something to reassure you that you're more attractive to women than a gorilla!
Poetikat: Haha! I think Spock is saying something profound like 'One', which they all repeat. One is a big number in the space hippie scene.
Not much of a sense of humour, though. Never even *ask* them about their mother, for example, let alone crack a boys-together-heyyyy joke.
I think the main design flaw with replicants was that they generally worked much better than people (and almost as well as apes). Humans are generally quite bad at socially accepting anything that's clearly better than them. (See: science fiction, all of).
This is why WWF and Reality TV are so popular.
I wonder if you may have seen Captain Jean-Luc Picard when he was on "Extras" with Ricky Gervaise and he asked why, if Gervaise was unmarried, stayed alone and had no girlfriend, he had never seen Star Trek (Classic or Next Generation)
My laughter was only slightly spoiled by the thought
All did these beatniks of space mad in the USA, make us swallow grass snakes or of the snake with twaddles?
Retorting on our premises they exist make of the policy of wire father,
though they resemble unicellular beings, they do not reproduce in test-tubes,
one recognizes them with their well hung language and they have the long teeth.
I was a bit annoyed at him when I went around back the convention hall to shake his hand as he went to his limo, but he waved off the ten or so people (none apparently fans of the show) and went right to his vehicle. I can't say I would have done it differently, considering he's a busy man and hobnobbing with the common man leads to all sorts of bacterial transmissions, but it bugged me at the time.
Now George Takei, I bet he would have chatted.
Number 2 : I was never a Trekkie either (please don't slay me) although i did watch a few episodes as a wee child. Nevertheless, Mr Spock's words are indeed genius
And i do think the little monkey was paying you a compliment Mr Bananas :p
Mikeachim: You've got a point. Before Rutger dies he says: "All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in the rain." The soul of a poet.
Dr Maroon: Always glad to cheer you up, Dr. That joke by Fatty Gervais only worked because Next Generation was brilliant and made the old series look tacky. Data outspocked Spock, Picard outkirked Kirk, and as for Crusher and McCoy, need I say more?
Crabtree: Ooh la la! You conjure phrases like a magician, Monsieur Crabtree. "Snakes with twaddles", "well-hung language". C'est magnifique!
Chrisv82: Funny how the respect people have for a character carries over to the actor in real life. He must have thought you were crazy trekkies who wanted to talk pon far.
Upset waitress: Yeah he was a vegetarian and a pacifist unless severely provoked. A lot like us gorillas, come to think of it. Was the neck-pinch thing a turn-on for you?
Sabrina: Blade Runner is one of the greatest sci-fi films ever made. I had never heard of the movie when I happened to see it on TV. After watching for 5 minutes, I knew it was something extraordinary. If you had spoken the monkey's words, I would have given you a coconut and pinched your cheeks.
Saintly Nick: Why thank you, sir!
The other Dave: According to wiki it was nominated for two Emmy awards.