Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Space Mountain Leads to the Universe

I know that my passion in movies began in 1992 when I was 7 years old, and copied by hand onto a sheet of white posterboard a review of the animated movie Bebe's Kids. I saw my first movies when I was 5: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Jetsons: The Movie, which must have also had a part in it. When we had Jetsons: The Movie on VHS, I watched it over and over again, rewinding just before the main title sequence to hear those suddenly-orchestral notes of the theme song, and rewatching that artsy sequence while Judy Jetson (voice of Tiffany) sang. My then-interest exploded into a passion in middle school, when I spent summers watching as many movies as I could check out from the library, going back every week for more, and reading every movie history book I could find. Though my passion is muted now, and I'm much more choosy about what I watch, I still love movies.

I know that my passion for aviation stems from my parents taking me to Orlando International when I was toddler, to watch the planes take off and land. The passion remains, though no longer with a career trajectory.

I don't know where my passion for the presidents comes from, nor my passion for the Supreme Court, though I think the latter partially stems from my maternal great-grandfather, a good lawyer. It must have been somewhere in the genetic structure, though I will never go as far as him. I merely have an interest in legal proceedings, especially those of the Supreme Court and lower courts. That's all. I willingly read opinions of the Court, learning what I can from them and trying not to get fouled up by some of the terminology and legal references. It's more for me to learn, which I always like.

Over the past five days, my lifetime goal to read all the Star Trek novels ever published has gone ahead full force. I've read Star Trek 2 by James Blish, an adaptation of a selection of Original Series episodes; Star Trek Vanguard: Harbinger by David Mack (which has, according to Mack himself who answered my e-mail, an oblique tribute to Gilmore Girls by way of the residential area of the Vanguard space station being named Stars Landing (the town in Gilmore Girls being Stars Hollow). This after I e-mailed him, wondering if the names of the security guards of the landing party on Ravanar IV, Luke Patterson and Scott Danes, were a playful reversal of the names of Scott Patterson and his character Luke Danes. Mack told me that at the time he wrote Harbinger, he and his wife were watching old episodes on DVD, and new episodes on TV, and it remains one of his favorite series); and Star Trek Titan: Taking Wing by Michael A. Martin and Andy Mangels, which I excitedly ordered as soon as I read about it because in this series, First Officer William T. Riker of the U.S.S. Enterprise is now Captain Riker of the U.S.S. Titan. I haven't seen all the episodes of "The Next Generation" yet, but Riker is quite possibly my favorite character of the series. So this suited me perfectly.

And then Meridith recently brought home from the school library Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Emissary by J.M. Dillard, which she found on one of the "Discard" shelves in a cabinet under the magazine display. She asked if I was going to read this particular series and I told her, "I'm going to read everything."

In those same five days, I ordered from Best Destiny by Diane Carey (about a soon-to-retire James T. Kirk thrust back into his past when he goes to a distant world called Faramond); Star Trek Starzgazer: Gauntlet by Michael Jan Friedman (28-year-old Jean-Luc Picard as captain of the Federation starship Stargazer, before he took command of the Enterprise); Star Trek 3 by James Blish (more episode adaptations); Star Trek Vanguard: Summon the Thunder by Dayton Ward and Kevin Dilmore (the second of that series); Star Trek: Vulcan's Soul: Exodus by Joseph Sherman and Susan Shwartz (Romulan Star Empire attacked by a new enemy called the Watraii, bringing together the Federation, Romulans, Klingons to try to fight it); Encounter at Farpoint by David Gerrold (adaptation of the pilot episode of "The Next Generation," and I should start reading that series of novels already); Star Trek Titan: The Red King by Michael A. Martin and Andy Mangels (the second of that series); and Articles of the Federation by Keith R.A. DeCandido (inside the Federation government).

Besides all this, I also want to watch every episode of every Star Trek series. I could do that now, what with "The Next Generation" regularly on BBC America and one or two other channels, and I'm sure I could find the Original Series somewhere on TV, but for now, it's one or the other, since I'm also shrinking my Las Vegas book stack ahead of getting a library card in the Clark County Library system. I'd rather get deep into many of these book series right now.

The cause of all this is Space Mountain at Walt Disney World, those star maps seen upon entering that building, the space music compositions heard while walking quickly through part of the empty line (I have all three as mp3s and listen to them often), looking up at the ceiling of Space Mountain and seeing those projections of asteroids and space rocks and shooting stars, and the ride itself, in seeing Mission Control on the way up, and seeing the model of that rocket ship when riding the Tomorrowland Transit Authority, which passes under the rising part of that track. I was entranced by all this and have never forgotten it. I know that this is what led to my curiosity about Star Trek and my desire to read all the novels. The outer space of Space Mountain can only go so far. Star Trek in all its variations goes much farther. And while I drive throughout Las Vegas and explore absolutely all that the Las Vegas Valley offers, I want to explore the entire Star Trek universe.

It's appropriate that my deep love of Space Mountain led to seeking out adventures in the Star Trek universe, being that my undying love for Walt Disney World made me who I am today, open-minded, always in pursuit of fun, taking pleasure in so many things each day, and led to my love of Las Vegas, which embodies all three.

One of these days I'll figure out why I'm passionate about the presidents. There has to be answer, but I'll think about it as I read more of those books, and write my presidential history books, and visit those presidential libraries. The answer might spring from any of that.

Places to Go, History to Study, People to Meet, A Country to Crisscross

A Floridian friend of mine is going to New York this weekend for her cousin's wedding, and once I shrugged off the envy I felt, what with The Strand in Manhattan, with its 18 miles of books, and the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum upstate in Hyde Park, I thought about all the states I must visit, mainly for the presidential libraries and museums they contain. It's quite a list:

The Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum in West Branch, Iowa

The Harry S. Truman Library & Museum in Independence, Missouri

The Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library & Museum in Abilene, Kansas

The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston (I also want to try New England Clam Chowder in the New England region, and I read about the Union Oyster House, also in Boston. I want to go.)

The Lyndon Baines Johnson Library & Museum in Austin, Texas (It'll be my first time in Texas since August 2003 when it took two days to drive through on our way to Southern California. I don't remember much of it, except the heat)

The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library & Museum in Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids, Michigan (I would like to see the Library, too, so I'll make time for that when I'm there)

The Jimmy Carter Library and Museum in Atlanta

The George Bush Presidential Library and Museum in College Station, Texas (I'll either spend a few days in Texas to cover the Johnson and Bush presidential libraries, or make separate trips. I just never imagined going back to Texas for anything, yet there'll I'll be for these)

The William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum in Little Rock, Arkansas (Especially important to me since I grew up during the Clinton Administration and want to see what I didn't pay a great deal of attention to then)

The George W. Bush Presidential Library at Southern Methodist University in Dallas (This will probably be open by the time I embark on any of these trips, and I've got a lot of thinking to do about Texas. Cover it all in one shot or separate trips? I first hope to earn enough money at my full-time job, and from freelance work I want to pursue after moving to Las Vegas, and I'll think about it further when I feel financially comfortable enough to start planning these trips)

And then there's others not run by the National Archives:

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois

The Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center in Fremont, Ohio

The William McKinley Presidential Library and Museum in Canton, Ohio

The Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library in Staunton, Virginia

The Calvin Coolidge Presidential Library and Museum in Northampton, Massachusetts

I'm disappointed that there isn't a library for William Howard Taft, considering that he was President of the United States for one term, then eventually Chief Justice of the United States, and responsible for the Supreme Court building as it looks today. His life should be a museum as well.

And, of course, I want to travel throughout New Mexico, triggered by reading The Secret of Everything by Barbara O'Neal. I want to see the entire state, just like I want to with Nevada. And I also want to go to Washington, D.C. to see the White House, the Supreme Court, the Library of Congress, and the National Archives building. Seems appropriate.

For now, before these extensive travels, I'll have Las Vegas to settle into and get to know intimately, and ransack the Nevada history sections at my future local libraries. Nevada (not just the Las Vegas Valley) gives off the feeling that you can try anything, and you should. I intend to. I'll grow my roots, I'll do research for the books I want to write, I'll visit all the casinos, I'll experience the Smith Center, I'll drive through Henderson and Summerlin often and stop at the shops that interest me, I'll attend a few UNLV Rebels basketball games, I'll go often to the Pinball Hall of Fame on East Tropicana Avenue, and more. I'll finally physically live the way I do in my heart and mind. It'll start with the Las Vegas Valley and it'll eventually extend to the rest of the United States.