Happy Trails: Leonard Nimoy, 1931 – 2015

Are you sitting down? Sit down. Are you wearing a hat? Take it off. Do you have a catheter? Plug it in.

Leonard Nimoy, whom most of you probably know best from the original (O.G.) 1960’s Star Trek, passed away this morning. He was 83. He had been hospitalized for the last couple days with chest pains related to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Don’t smoke, kids.

Writing this post is really quite a strange, detached kind of feeling, for despite seeing the news earlier this week of his hospitalization and therefore being kinda-sorta-almost steeled towards this possibility, it never really felt like the kind of thing that could actually happen. I’ve been watching this guy on and off basically my entire life. That should’ve made the guy immortal. Y’know? He should be running on a beach somewhere with Sean Connery as we speak.

young leonard nimoy
Mr. Nimoy as an impossibly young man

Nimoy had a long and storied career before and after Star Trek. From the scratchy black-and-white westerns that seemingly everyone on the original Trek cast appeared in at one point or another, to the pointed ears that made him a household name, to authoring books in rebellion against (and later in acceptance of) the role that made him most famous, and standout roles on shows like Fringe.

Then there was all the stuff I’m sure he’d rather forget. The Bilbo Baggins song is one such example, part of an album produced during a period in the entertainment business when just about everyone was contractually obligated to moonlight as a singer regardless of interest or skill. Mr. Nimoy was arguably more successful at it than than Shatner at least.[ref]Common People notwithstanding.[/ref]

leonard nimoy sideburns
You wish you could rock sideburns like these.

Better oddities include guest spots as himself on both The Simpsons and Futurama, and more than a few voice credits in video games, from the modern classic Civilization IV to Yoot Saito’s bizarre Dreamcast curiosity Seaman.[ref]Apparently he was even in a recent Kingdom Hearts game, which wrinkles my brain in ways I never thought imaginable.[/ref]

His final appearance was a brief return to Spock in 2013’s Star Trek Into Darkness, and while the film may not have lit the world aflame, his presence was never not welcome. And if some neckbearded Trekkie says anything to the contrary I will fight them against a reddish-purple backdrop to the music from Amok Time. Fact.

If anyone would like another dose of weekend homework, try the aforementioned Amok Time, plus other Spock highlight reel episodes from the original series such as The Galileo Seven. If you’d like to experience a Spock episode at the opposite end of the quality spectrum, grab a bottle of gin with some green food colouring and brace yourself for Spock’s Brain. The movies will probably hit too close to home right now, but Wrath of Khan, Search for Spock, and Voyage Home are all great for the character. Cap your evening off with the Unification two-parter from The Next Generation if you’re in the mood for something more modern. All are available on Netflix and probably those clicky-clacky “library tapes.”

It’s going to be weird for a while going into this new, post-Nimoy world. If you’re feeling just as uneasy, take solace in the fact that he’s only the third actor from the original Star Trek’s regular cast to pass away so far.[ref]Contrast that statistic with fellow television sci-fi staple Babylon 5, which has lost more actors in 20 years than Star Trek has in 50.[/ref] It would be difficult to live a life longer and more illustrious than he did. His impact was considerable for a “mere” actor and entertainer, which ensures that in some small way, maybe he really is immortal.

A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP

wrath of khan gif

As it happens, Caffeine-Fueled lost a member and fellow Star Trek fan not long ago to heart failure at the crazy young age of 29. If by some chance it turns out that there’s no truth at all behind that cold, scientific Vulcan logic, then perhaps Mr. Nimoy and Parallax are both out there somewhere, taking a look around.

via The New York Times; image credits and general inspiration to TrekCore, various Tumblrs, and TVIV

Random Stabs at Activity + The Talking Heads

Nevermind us, we’re just fiddling around, sleep deprived, thinking of things to do with all this internet real estate. Have a song while you wait for whatever it is we’re doing.

If, in fact, we’re doing anything at all.

Anything at all.

Anything at all. Aside from testing different post formats perhaps.

The design you see around you also isn’t necessarily permanent. Just seemed like a cleaner and more modular alternative to what we were using before. Everything you see is likely to change eventually, as always. “New layout. Must be a Thursday.” I never could get the hang of Thursdays.

Carry on then.

Weekend Homework: Suikoden Edition

suikoden 2 cover

This week saw the long overdue release of Suikoden and Suikoden II on PSN in all remaining territories, bringing to a close a 15-year availability drought for these games throughout most of the world.

Suikoden has been mostly inactive for several years having not seen a new installment since 2012’s tepid Tsumugareshi Hyakunen no Toki, which was relegated to the ailing PSP and never even left Japan. [ref]CF’s own John Layfield took this bullet for us with his import review, here.[/ref] The last central game in the series was 2006’s Suikoden V. It’s been a pretty rough road since then.

One big reason why we’re all still pretty bummed about the conspicuous absence of fresh Suikoden falls squarely on the strength of those first two games. [ref]More reasons include too many loose ends to count, but that’s a subject for another day.[/ref] Suikoden, while sporting more than a few frayed edges 20 years later both visual and mechanical, is still far better paced compared to most modern RPGs and is still well worth the five dollars and couple dozen hours necessary to play it to completion.

Suikoden II is the real gem in this conversation, however. Most of the biggest problems with the original game were resolved and the rest improved upon greatly, to the point where jumping back to play the first Suikoden after Suikoden II is a rather painful transition, despite how similar the two games appear on the surface. Suikoden II’s streamlines, speeds up, nips and tucks its way to greatness, even before you factor in its genre-leading storytelling. [ref]This combination of quality, rarity, and relative obscurity, kept eBay prices for physical copies well above $200 for most of the last decade or more.[/ref]

Developer/publisher Konami has been notoriously cagey about the current state and future of Suikoden for the last few years until some fairly recent developments tipped the scales a little, such as their frequent livestreams on Twitch. Even more props might be due for the Suikoden Revival Movement; without their efforts, it’s entirely possible that these releases wouldn’t have happened at all. A rare success story in an era of countless online petitions that tend to go nowhere.

Your assignment:

Simple! Just give these games a shot. One, or both, in whatever order you feel like. Release order is of course preferable if you intend on giving Suikoden your full attention, but for the uninitiated or the uncertain, Suikoden II is probably where the franchise really begins to put its best foot forward and so it carries my strongest recommendation for that reason. [ref]And this is despite several very noticeable bugs, too. Be sure to push all the gates you see.[/ref]

Want some bonus credit? Go drop a Like on the SRM page linked above. Maybe tell a friend or two. Read an LP of the PS2 games that aren’t on PSN yet. Write some fanfiction about Gengen’s debilitating chocolate milk addiction. Cosplay as one of the flying squirrels. Y’know, ordinary fan stuff.