Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Guinan

Today is Whoopi Goldberg's birthday.

Did you know that Whoopi Goldberg was so inspired by Nichelle Nichols' performance as Lt. Uhura in the original Star Trek series that she wanted to play a character on Star Trek: The Next Generation?  She reportedly watched Nichols on Star Trek as a child and called to her mother, "Come quick! Come quick! There's a black lady on TV, and she ain't no maid!" Nichols was the first African-American woman to play a non-stereotypical role on a popular TV show in an era where most minority actors were cast as maids or servants. The character Guinan was specifically created for Goldberg based on her desire to play "anything" on the show.


Guinan is a bartender and waitress in the Enterprise eating area. This profession is perfect for a character who belongs to an alien race of "listeners." She is an El-Aurian from the planet El-Auria—the root word from which we derive the word "aural"—and is hundreds of years old with an awareness that transcends the space-time continuum (she can sense alternate universes). Guinan is usually shown giving timeless advice and emotional support to those who come to utilize her role as an informal counselor on the ship (the formal ship's counselor is the Betazoid Deanna Troi).

Whoopi Goldberg is equally as inspirational as Nichols because she played an intelligent character on a science fiction show, a genre that is usually pretty stereotypical and geared toward white men.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Welcome, Fall: An Update

It's my favorite time of year. Something about the textbooks, coffee, the hustle and bustle of a semester well underway, and the first signs of cool weather (a welcome relief to us Floridians!) are all energizing to me. Plus I get to look forward to my birthday and Thanksgiving, and the first buzz about the coming Christmas season is in the air. But this semester, instead of textbooks and depressingly cynical psychology fluff classes, I'm hearing violins and seeing a conductor's baton. I went back to school for music as a second Bachelor's. I realized that although I want to do counseling at some point when I'm older, music is my passion for right now. I'm enjoying it!

There have been a lot of exciting things happening this fall. Today is general election day. My husband and I voted together and then went out for gelato to take advantage of the $1 off discount they were offering to people sporting an "I Voted" sticker. I still don't understand the people who won't vote. I understand their cynicism, but not their brash rejection of a right for which we should be very, very thankful. Compared to most countries in the world, we are extremely lucky that we all have a voice in politics and that our ability to vote is consistent. I voted for Mitt Romney even though I don't like him that much (I didn't like McCain either), but I don't care as much about the Presidential election as for congressional elections. I voted Connie Mack for U.S. Senate.

I'm also really, really late on showing you guys my Halloween costume. I had the idea to make this for a Star Trek convention that I didn't end up going to because I had an orchestra concert that weekend, then I decided I wanted to do a class project on Nichelle Nichols for African-American Literature because she is such an inspirational civil rights figure (there may be a blog post coming about that later). I wore it for the class presentation, but not for Halloween, because on Halloween I got stranded at school with a migraine—then my husband handed out candy to kids without a costume on. It was an anti-climactic Halloween.

My Uhura costume.

See the resemblance? Obviously I made the skirt longer and wore tights instead of hose, because wow. And no, I am not doing my hair in a beehive, unless I'm feeling really 1960s.

Nichelle Nichols as Uhura

This was my first time making something without a pattern. There are a lot of mistakes in it that I can learn from, even huge mistakes that would never pass as wearable for anything but a costume. I made it in one night until 2 in the morning, so at a certain point I stopped caring whether I was doing something inside out or not. The only thing I regret is that even though I measured and added seam allowance, it's still too tight (noted: add more than more than you think is needed), and with the skirt I just...cut it. I don't know. It's not the right shape. Did you notice the "tricorder" purse? It's functional. But that happened around 2 am using scraps.

And even college students love fall baking! So far I've made apple pie, pumpkin pie, caramel pie, pumpkin coffee creamer (I'd rather buy the stuff), pumpkin cream cheese, and apple butter with biscuits. Next up: chicken and dumplings—when the temperature drops to lower than 70, that is! Since I've been back in school and I have a long commute, I've been trying to cook every day to resist temptation to spend money on eating out. It worked for the first month and a half, but it takes time and energy and you feel like you're constantly cleaning the kitchen. Or burning things in the slow cooker because you're consistently gone for more than 10 hours at a time. That's the worst. But here I am trying so hard to be an awesome wife, and sometimes "awesome" means bringing home Taco Bell. Who knew!

Tonight we get to find out the voting results. I'll be on Twitter and eyeing the Washington Post. We're not really TV people unless we're watching ye olde Star Trek.