A Wall of Books Part 06: Organization

2008-01-31 Bookcase
I am moving to a new apartment in my building about 6 weeks from now. This affords me the rare opportunity to fix my library.

I have more than 530 books scattered across 8 or so book cases around my apartment. They are almost organized. By that I mean I have about 10 different organizational systems that I've applied to my books over the years, and elements of all those systems are still in place.

I tried arranging them by genre, author, work/non-work, fiction/non-fiction, size, to read/already read, literature/guilty pleasure, personal era in which acquired, and more.

Since I now have to take everything off the shelves and move the shelves, I can try to enforce some organizational schema.

So, I'm asking my fellow book junkies for help. How do you organize your personal library? And does it work?

And should I even bother trying?


Three hours to water the plants

2006-09-02_Genovese Basil 01

It took me three hours to water the plants tonight. Sure, there's a lot of them, but it shouldn't take more than 30-45 minutes to take care of it.

The problem is a series of bright shiny objects. Or activities. Or projects. Or the Internet. It seems I keep getting distracted.

I went to the herb garden to turn on the lights. Then I decided I needed to pick up the plant debris because the land lord is coming over tomorrow to take a look at the apartment.

So I took care of the debris and decided it would be easier to get the plants done if I moved some of the boxes in the living room. So I did that.

But of course, I can move some more computers into one of those boxes. So I took care of that.

A new computer needs to go in the travel box. So I went upstairs to get it. Then I realized I needed to install Office on it. I started to look for that with little luck.

Then I looked at the plants and remembered I was watering them. I got the can and brought it to the kitchen to fill. Of course the sink had dishes so I had to load the dishwasher.

I put the watering can in the sink, filled it and shut off the water. Then I realized the toaster was in the middle of the stove. So I straightened that out, then took out the trash. I decided to grab some trash from upstairs and saw the new still Office-less computer up there. I brought it down, packed it away, and then took the trash out.

I saw a few books on the counter next to a pile of CDs and took them and the CDs up stairs. I went through the CDs and found Office, and my 3G card software, which I needed to install on another machine.

I started that process when I realized I still had a full watering can in the sink. And things pretty much continued in the same vein.

I finally got the plants watered and my books indexed. But they're still sitting next to me up here in the office.

And I still don't know what to blog about today.


If you're a fan of the 70s...

...be sure to check out the RollerBlog. RollerKaty, a Seattle area blogger, is obsessed with the decade some would choose to forget.

I'm not sure if I found her blog or she found mine, but I know Entrecard was the key.

Regardless, her blog is all about the music, movies, TV and pop culture of era that gave us everything from Disco to Skylab to Neil Diamond.

And she did a groovy job 70s-izing my logo.


The Eskimo takes a holiday

When I reached Gate E11 at the Dallas airport today, I smiled. Waiting outside the window, ready to whisk me off to Seattle was the Alaska Airlines Starliner.

The Starliner is a 737-800 (tail number N569AS) that Alaska painted with one of their vintage liveries. I first wrote about it early last year, and today, I got to fly on it.

The inside isn't too much different from any other 737-800 in Alaska's fleet, but does have a history of the airline and some pictures on the overhead bins in coach.

I always enjoy flying the planes with special paint jobs, even though I know it's the same as any other plane. It's still very cool to pick our a particular aircraft and say I've flown on it before.

If you want to see some great pictures of the Starliner, you can find then here on Airliners.net.

Or you can look at the lousy photo's I took earlier today.

2008-01-27 Starliner in DFW

2008-01-27 Starliner in DFW (1)

2008-01-27 Starliner in DFW (2)

Regardless of who takes the pictures, it's a beautiful bird.

Elevators in process

Last week, I stayed at the Hilton across the street from the Orange County airport (SNA). The hotel, located on MacArthur BLVD is quite nice, and the rates are reasonable for a full service property.

They've been remodeling for quite awhile now. The rooms are updated, the bedding is improved, and the lobby is a shocking white color that is probably supposed to be cool but instead comes off as trying to hard. They've done a nice job.

Now, if only they would finish the elevators...

2008-01-23 Hilton SNA Elevator

2008-01-23 Hilton SNA Elevator (1)

They ran fine but it's a bit disconcerting to ride an elevator under a construction lamp, surrounded by tattered foam core, while watching the shaft zip by through square holes cut in the sheet metal.


2 to 1

It will come as no surprise to most people that I am not much of a sports fan. I don't often watch games on TV, but I do enjoy going to actual games from time to time.

On Wednesday night I went to a hockey game with some coworkers. We had a luxury suite that was fully catered and a great view of the ice. And that's where I watched the Ducks lose to the Redwings by a score of 2 to 1.

The action on the ice had me screaming on my feet throughout the game. The first period was especially heated when it seemed a new fight broke out every time the puck hit the ice. In theory, fighting is a bad thing. It's not good for the sport. Professional athletes put themselves at unnecessary risk of injury. It sets a bad example for kids.

But at the arena, the fights are AWESOME. The tension and excitement is palpable. In the crowd you feel the waves of energy crest as the players throw down their gloves.

When they actually played hockey, that too was amazing. The speed and physicality of the game was simply amazing, and I had a much easier time following the action than I expected.

And somewhere along the line, I became something of a Ducks fan. I'm not sure how long that will last, though.

It was quite different from the last time I went to a game at the Pond.

I was there about 7 years ago in another luxury suite for another work function. I knew nothing about the sport except for what I learned growing up -- make fun of the Rangers. That didn't help me much at this game, though.

That game also featured the Ducks versus the Redwings. And again the Duck lost. The atmosphere was different though.

That game was before the Ducks won their first Stanley Cup and their fan base wasn't as strong. When you looked out on the crowd filling the seats, it was a sea of red. The Detroit Redwings fans were out in force, practically turning the arena into a Detroit home game.

This time, though, the Redwings fans were more subdued. There was still plenty of Redwing paraphernalia, but the Ducks fans were clearly the alpha-fanatics now.

Like any sporting event, every break in the action had a sponsor. They gave away tacos, salads, zamboni rides, and just about anything they could thinks of.

I doubt I'll be a regular, leaning up against the boards to catch the random flying tooth, but the occasional game is a great way to spend an evening.



Today is my second Blogaversary. It hardly seems like a year has passed since I started Cromely's World, and yet it's been two years and 685 posts.

Here is my first post.

And here is my first Blogaversary post.

I started blogging so I could write about something other than work. I needed to exercise some other parts of my brain. In the process I've met some fascinating people on line, and I've become a more attentive reader.

I set a personal goal to write 5 out of every 7 days (71%) when I started. In the past year, I posted on 314 out of 365 days (86%). Some days it's though, but that simply rule kept me disciplined.

The past few months have been amazing. I went from an average of 10 visitors a day in January 2006 to an average of 100+ visitors a day this week.
I drew the extra traffic by participating more actively in Entrecard and Blogcatalog. I tried other services, such as Blogexplosion and BlogRush, but they just didn't give me the traffic I wanted.

My ongoing challenge will now be to manage my content and links. My Favorite Posts section was too long and outdated so I updated it in December. I removed a bunch of links and replaced them with "Best of 2006" and "Best of 2007" links.

Many of my posts are part of an ongoing series (Shatner-Palooza, Book Reviews, etc), so I tried to make them more accessible.

I'm thinking about removing my limited blog roll from the sidebar. I don't use it. Instead, I rely on the feeds from my favorite blogs, and I display that feed in my sidebar. This way my readers can visit my favorite blogs by first getting a sample of the content. And it's always updated. At this point, I can also tell which blog a post comes from by just reading the head line. I'm may expand this feed. What do you think?

Above all, I hope I've kept my content useful, interesting, or humorous to a few people.

And I look forward to another great year at Cromely's World.


Panic at the Fed

From CNN:

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Even though the Federal Reserve slashed its key federal funds rate by three-quarters of a percentage point in an emergency meeting Tuesday, Wall Street is still betting that the central bank will lower rates again next week.

The Fed will hold a two-day meeting that wraps up on Jan. 30. And according to futures listed on the Chicago Board of Trade, investors are pricing in a 100 percent chance of at least a quarter-point cut, to 3.25 percent, and a 66 percent likelihood of a half-point cut, to 3 percent.

"There is a legitimate chance of another cut next week. The Fed wants to stay in front of things and at this stage, they'd rather err on the side of having rates be too easy than too restrictive," said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer with Harris Private Bank.

... More

I haven't been too worried about the economy. Sure, the markets have been falling, but that's what they do. They move one step backwards and two steps forward. Especially since we've seen a run up in recent months, it's to be expected. Perhaps the economy could use a recession to reset itself and prepare for stronger growth in the future.

Further, I'm in the market for the long term. I've got some time to recover from any losses.

But then the Fed cut rates. Now, I'm am not so sure.

There is a fine line between bold moves to demonstrate leadership, and flailing panic.

Cutting rates by an amount not seen in 15 years, and doing it a week before you were planning to cut rates anyway, strikes me more as the latter.

Further, out latest economic woes occurred in part because it's been too easy to get credit. The country's consumer economy is balanced precariously on mountains of credit card debt that has in recent years been turned into mortgage debt.

People who historically could not have gotten mortgages for normal priced homes were able to get short-term cheap mortgages on absurdly priced homes.

Now, as the country starts to wake up with a hangover from the heady mortgage and credit card policies on the recent years, what does the Fed do?

Does it have the country eat a healthy breakfast?
Does it have the country drink a bunch of water?
Does it make us pop a couple of aspirin? ]
Does it crack open a packet of Alka-Seltzer?


The Fed has the country slam a bottle of Tequila.

You know, if a big part of our problems were caused by too much cheap credit in the economy, maybe, just maybe, dumping a whole bunch more cheap credit into the economy, might not be the best long term solution.

On the other hand, may the credit card companies will start sending me 0% balance transfers again, and I once again play at credit card arbitrage.


Cold Snap in Seattle

When I was a kid, I always wanted the house to be warmer, despite my father's complaints about all the Iranian oil we were consuming. But things are a bit different now.

I enjoy the winter weather (what little we have of it) in Seattle. In the six years I've lived in my apartment, I think I used the heater once. For most of the winter, the indoor temperature is between 55 and 63 degrees, and I'm quite pleased with that.

"Don't you get cold?" you might ask. Well, I have sufficient personal insulation, and I can easily supplement that with fleece and thick socks during the day when I'm working.

In the evening, I can pull over a couple of blankets on the couch and watch TV. When it's time to go to bed, I can simply crawl under five or six layers of assorted quilts, comforters and afghans. If it gets really cold, I'll close a window.

That's not a bad way to spend a few months. Unlike the summer heat, I can actually do something about the January chill.

My GF also likes her apartment chilly. Which is good, because her apartment is often 5 degrees colder than mine. Tonight, after dinner, I could actually see my breath in the air. So how do I keep warm down there?

Simple. That's where we have the Nintendo and Guitar Hero. Spending a couple hours trying to 5 star Slow Ride and Barracuda on Easy (I know, I'm pathetic at this game) is enough to keep anyone warm.

So I'm hoping that in a couple weeks Puxatawney Phil has a major panic attack and slips into unconsciousness. That should get us a few more nice months.



Bernie is a stubborn animal. He is not about to let anyone else's actions interfere with his own happiness. And I admire him for that.

Here he is:

2007-12-25 Bernie (20)

He decided he wanted to nap in that box. It didn't matter that he's too big for it. It did matter that he spilled out over the edges of it. He made his decision.

Of course I couldn't just let him be. When I walked passed him, I would pour him out of the box and on to the couch. Bernie would lift his head up, blink slowly and gradually assess the situations. Then he would sleepily climb in back into is card board box. We kept up this routine until I left town. I guess that means he won.


War on Paper 01: Fujitsu Scan Snap S510

My mother gave this scanner for Christmas. Due to my travel I haven't had a chance to set it up until tonight.

I will do a more detailed review in a few weeks, once I get to know it better, but my early opinion is that it is awesome.

It took about 45 minutes to install the software that it comes with, but it makes up for that with how fast it chews through scans. This is by far the fastest and most flexible document scanner I have used. It's much faster than my most recent stalwart, an HP Officejet 7130xi. And the Fujitsu doesn't jam like the HP does.

There are some quirks about the software I have to understand betters, but it does scan directly to the industry standard PDF format, minimizing the chances I'll scan my documents to a format that's unreadable 5 years down the road.

I expect this small scanner to be a valuable ally in my ongoing war against, paper. Thanks, Mom.


The value of music

My GF is a huge Radiohead fan, so I've been hearing about their latest album for ages. The band made news last year when they decided to make it available on line, and people could choose to pay whatever they wanted for it.

It looks like the band made more money on this model than if they went through a traditional record label.

In last month's Wired, David Byrne interviewed Thom Yorke (Radiohead's lead singer) about this new model.

It turns out the gambit was a savvy business move. In the first month, about a million fans downloaded In Rainbows. Roughly 40 percent of them paid for it, according to comScore, at an average of $6 each, netting the band nearly $3 million. Plus, since it owns the master recording (a first for the band), Radiohead was also able to license the album for a record label to distribute the old-fashioned way — on CD. In the US, it goes on sale January 1 through TBD Records/ATO Records Group.

It's an intriguing business model.

As for my GF, well, she skipped the name your own price download and bought the limited edition collectors' set.


Delays and more

I'm sitting at Gate L2B at ORD (Chicago O'Hare airport). It's 7:12 PM and I'm waiting for my 3:35 PM flight to Seattle (AS 23) to start boarding. Right now, we are due to leave at 9:05 PM, after a 5.5 hour delay.

The delay started out as a two hour weather delay. Due to pending snow in ORD, Air Traffic Control wouldn't let our in bound plane take off from SEA (Seattle). When it finally arrived, they discovered something was wrong with the engine and put us on a mechanical delay. Personally, I'm not sure what the big deal is with an engine problem. After all, there's another one right on the other wing.

Of course they couldn't find the part here. They started calling around because it's not something that NAPA typically stocks. They finally found at part at MDW (Midway, the airport on the opposite side of Chicago). I'm guessing they got the part from SW (Southwest Airlines). Now they are driving this part from MDW to ORD. Through Chicago traffic. At rush hour. Good luck, guys.

But, after all, it's ORD. It's an extremely reliable airport. Your flight is guaranteed to be late. It's just a question how late. if you are flying though ORD, you should just accept it.

This lateness is not just about the flights though. The decorators are also delayed, which would explain why the Christmas decorations are still up in the K terminal.

2008-01-17 ORD Decorations

While the delay is annoying, it's not the worst thing to happen to me today. Things got off to a rough start.

Now, before I go on, I'm going to recommend that those of you who have a weak stomach or are squeamish about blood click away. You will not be interested in the rest of this post. I'm fine. I'm uninjured, but if you don't like to read about those sorts of things, don't. I won't mind. Seriously. You won't hurt my feelings.
Are you sure you want to keep reading? It gets kind of nasty.
Okay. You are an intrepid interneter.

There are a lot of ways to wake up at 5:30 AM in a hotel. You can use your hotel alarm clock. You can get a wakeup call. You can use an alarm clock you brought from home. You can use your watch. You can use the timer on the hotel TV. You can even use your cell phone alarm.

But none of them are quite as effective or as unrecommended as waking up with a mouthful of your own blood.

You know how hot water heaters start spilling water out through a safety valve if there is too much in the system? I think that's what happened to my circulatory system. It seems to have overflowed.

Some where high up in my nose or sinuses, a blood vessel apparently broke. I don't know why. i felt fine the night before, and because of my flight schedule, I though I might actually get a full 8 hours of sleep. Then I got my 5:30 wakeup call. I woke up, coughed and felt something wet on my arm. I knew that wasn't good, and turned on the light. Then I saw the blood on the pillow from my nose and what had come down the back of my throat and out my mouth. I was mildly annoyed and still half asleep when I grabbed some tissues from the nightstand. They started to soak up some of the bright red liquid (from a tiny artery, I guess) and quickly became useless. I stumbled to the bathroom to assess the damage and contemplate my next step.

I stood in front of the sink and tried using tissue to slow the bleeding. At this point it was coming out in large fast drops that were splashing all over the sink and the little hotel shampoos. I've never had this happen before, and quickly abandoned the paper products, and turned to the cotton ones. I'm sorry Hilton. I grabbed a hand towel not so much to stop the flow as at to contain the damage.

By now, I was also spitting out blood that was coming from my sinuses. It spattered all over the sink, shelf above the sink, floor, bathmat, and toilet. It coagulated in the sink forming this weird gelatinous goo that wasn't washing down easily. I found a clean spot on the towel and leaned over the tub where I figured I would do less damage due to the larger target.

After about 20 minutes, the flow hadn't really stopped, but I had an effective blotting/capture system in place. My higher brain functions had come on line and I was out of bare survival mode. I began contemplating my next steps and whether I needed medical attention. I decided to give it a couple hours and if the problem didn't go away, I'd ask the front desk to call their house doctor or paramedics.

Since it was forming that goo in the tub now, I knew I did not have a clotting problem. Since it was bright red, I assumed it was arterial and full of oxygen. I figured my body would probably heal itself given enough time.

Now at this point, I pulled the towel away, since my nostril felt clogged. With it came a thick plug of this goo, which was a nasty mix of mucous and clotting blood. I dumped that in the tub and the flow started again. I put the towel back to my nose and tried my other tried and true nose bleed technique.

I leaned my head back so gravity would not encourage the bleed. When I was a kid, this always helped. This time, it did not. Instead the blood flowed straight down the back of my throat. That was not the result I was looking for.

I tried stuffing tissues under my upper lip, another tried and true technique. That did not stop the bleeding. Instead it just made a ramp so when blood flowed out of my nose it could jump further an spatter in new places in the bathroom.

So I continued to close off my nostrils with the towel.

Since I was out of ideas, there were only two paths to choose. Call an ambulance, or wait it out. I wasn't in any pain; this was really just annoying. Sticky, wet, and annoying. I chose to wait it out since I had not yet become woozy from lack of blood. So I got dressed, and undid the dead bolt from the door. I figured this way, if I passed out, housekeeping could still get in and find me.

Then I started taking notes on my condition and writing out a timeline of these events. I wrote about what was happening and at what time. I wrote about the rest of my condition (height, weight, no known allergies, not on any medications, etc). I included my health insurance information and emergency contact numbers. I also finished packing my bags so if I did get taken away in an ambulance, the hotel could easily store my belongings.

I also decided to remain close to the floor. I didn't feel faint or dizzy but I figured if something takes a sudden turn, at least I won't have far to fall.

And I kept going back to the tub to cough up more of this excessively sweet and salty syrup. And to remove the occasional mucous/clot plug.

After an hour and a half, I though I might be feeling a little light headed, but the flow had definitely slowed down. By 7:15, I could retire the towel and rely on tissues. By 7:30, the incident was basically over.

I think there is still some leak in there someplace since I've been sneezing out some blood today and coughing up clotty phlegms every few hours. But over all I feel fine. I was a little light headed much of the day, but then had lunch at the airport and that helped.

I guess it's like the ham sandwiches and cookies they give out at blood drives. But I didn't get a cute sticker for my donation to the Chicago sewer system.

I'm glad my flight is delayed, though, it gives my body more time to make repairs before I have to contend with dry cabin air and changes in cabin pressure. Just in case, I have extra tissues and a stolen wash cloth in my carry on.

The final casualties included probably a pint of my blood, one pillow, three pillow cases, a bed sheet, a hand towel, possibly a bath mat and the good day the house keeper may have been having that day. I did tip them well for the mess they have to deal with.

The bathroom looks like something right out of CSI. I can just imagine the scene. Delco is looking down at the mess and says, "What do you think H?"

Horatio Cain hold on to his sunglasses. "I think someone nose what happened. And soon," he pause to put on his sunglasses, "so will we."

I do have pictures of the scene. I don't know why, but it seemed like a good idea at the time. I'm not sure why I want to remember this though. It was just odd, random, and messy. It's not how I wanted to start the morning.

So. How was your day?


Portillo's and Cheeseburgers

I've been in Chicago for the past few days, and today we went to lunch at Portillo's. I'm told this place is a Chicago institution. As my colleague Eric pointed, you can recognize a Chicago institution by the Al Capone quotes carved into the wall.

The bacon cheeseburger was as excellent. I knew I was in for a treat when I pulled it out of the bag.

2008-01-16 Portillos

You know you're in for a treat when the bacon is spilling out of the container.


Mandalay Revisited

Last week I spent 5 nights in Las Vegas working CES. It is a thoroughly exhausting show. Fortunately, I had a decent place to get some sleep -- the Mandalay Bay.

Two years ago, when I last commented on this property, it had really gone down hill (What?! No bath salts?!). Since then they have remodeled.

The cleaned the halls and redid the rooms in a darker, more subdues color scheme. It's a pretty nice look. Previously they were going for a light, tropical, airy, and wicker-y look. Now, they've gone for a cooler look with darker colors and more comfortable furnishings.

The bedding is also new. It's soft, supportive, and comfortable. They replaced the fuzzy old TVs with flat panel, high definition TVs. They even included HD channels.

My king, non-smoking room had two chaises - one that's left handed, and one that's right handed. It was little difficult to type on the computer while reclining on the chaise, but I suppose Vegas resorts aren't exactly focused on business use. Even so, it was surprisingly comfortable.

The rooms even had clock radios that dock with an iPod. And they even fixed the issue with the hot water in the shower.

The internet connection was spotty, and I couldn't get a decent connection on my Sprint EVDO card. There were nights I was desperately internet deprived.

The had some funky looking lamps, but the odd thing was the change to the bathroom. They cut a hole in wall above the bath tub and installed frosted class.

So now, I'm looking forward to my next CES just so I can stay at Mandalay Bay again.

The white balance in this pictures is terrible, but it should give you an idea of what the rooms look like now.

2008-01-10 Mandalay Bay room (1)

2008-01-10 Mandalay Bay room (5)

2008-01-10 Mandalay Bay room (6)

2008-01-10 Mandalay Bay room (7)

2008-01-10 Mandalay Bay room (8)

2008-01-10 Mandalay Bay room (11)

2008-01-10 Mandalay Bay room


Book Review 20: Beyond Uhura -- Star Trek and Other Memories

I derive great person satisfaction from getting to know some of the fans. I've heard woman say, "I came to this convention just to tell you that because of Uhura , I'm a physicist," or "Thanks to Uhura's inspiration I was able to handle the military," and so on. Having met and spoken to tens of thousands of them, I can attest that none of them need to "get a life."

Page 204

We conclude Star Trek Book Week with Beyond Uhura: Star Trek and Other Memories by Nichelle Nichols. Special thanks to Jon Clarke at Not in My Book for loaning me Star Trek Memories, Star Trek Movie Memories, and I Am Spock

Nichols has had a fascinating career, starting as a singer and dancer before moving on to acting. In the 1970s she became less of an actress and more of a consultant, developing educational materials and working with NASA to help recruit qualified women and minorities into the astronaut corps. Her involvement with the space program seems genuine, and not just an attempt to stretch our her Uhura fame.

Her book gets off to a bit of a slow start. The first 80 pages or so cover her childhood and early career. There are a lot of important anecdotes and facts in this section of the book, but the narrative isn’t terribly compelling. It’s mostly a case of this happened, then this happened, then this happened, etc. While there’s great material in there, the story part of it is lacking.

But after the first part of the book, thinks get much better. While the book remains largely chronological, the narrative is more compelling and it becomes easier to read. I became much more invested to the stories Nichols tells.

Nichols talks about her relationship with Gene Roddenberry, the significance of Uhura’s role, and William Shatner.

Nichols grew up in a supportive household with strong parents. Her personal integrity and courage undoubtedly comes from them. She’s tells the story of her grandparents’ racially mixed marriage and of her father standing up to Al Capone.

Her parents wanted their children to work hard and be the best at whatever they chose to do.

No matter what our interests, our parents always made sure we had whatever we needed to excel.

Page 36

My parents' progressive attitudes extended to religion, as well. Every Sunday morning, all the children were obligated to attend church…the denomination didn't matter as much as the fact that you were in God's house. As my father often said, "God and church should be about loving and living with all people. You are going to pay your respects and tithe your time to God, not to the minister or the priest. It's there for you to set aside an hour to celebrate God and life, to give thanks for who you are and where you are. It doesn't matter what the philosophy of that particular church is.

Page 36-37

Such an approach worked well with Nichols, who early on wanted to be a performer.

By the time I was five, my destiny appeared set, at least as far as I was concerned: I would be on stage. My mother told me that after only a couple of reads, I could memorize reams of poetry, which I would not merely recite, but dramatize, with great flair. Of course, my first love was singing, and my "concerts" were anything but impromptu. If you wanted to see my show, you had to sit down and be quiet. As I grew older, I developed a diverse repertoire (which was subject to change depending on my latest fixation), and designed an act that opened with a slow torch song, followed by something up-tempo, with maybe a skit or two I'd written and rehearsed to perfection. Naturally, I always saved the best for last, and when it was over, I'd take my bow, blow kisses, and walk off to wait for the requisite applause to peak before I returned for my encore. But no second encore: Even then, I knew to always leave them begging for more.

Page 29-30

Nichol’s desire for success bore fruit early on and while a teenager she was already stage performer in Chicago. She grew up fast.

However, for someone who never wanted to be a child, and more importantly never wanted to be treated like a child, working among adults, meeting adult responsibilities, and making adult money made me mature beyond my years.

Page 47

While her childhood was not perfect, she did develop tremendous personal strength and the courage to do what she felt was right. Early in her career, she took jobs that her agent had not properly screened, and she had to deal with the consequences. She describes the sticky situation of getting out of a deal with a mob run club in Wisconsin, and how refused demands to switch to a career in prostitution.

Where the book begins to come to life is when she tells the story of her worst gig in Canada. Nichols had long avoided male-only lodge events, but ended up at one anyway. On the drive back, on the attendees beat and attempted to rape her. She fought him off. Then she took her complaint to the police and returned to Canada months later for the trial. The attacker told her that no one would believe a young black woman singer from out side the country, against his word. It might have been easier to let it go, but Nichols was committed to see justice done.

It did cost her, though. And that incident prompter her to focus more on her local career.

When I force myself to think back to this, however, I cannot simply "remember." Instead I become a horrified spectator who sees it all as if for the first time yet is powerless to make it stop. After that night, my days on the road were over.

Page 92

Nichols also stood up to prominent people in her industry. After landing a part in a show that would have helped her career as a dancer, she joined the cast for blisteringly condescending orientation speech by the director/star. Nichols was not willing to put up with it.

"Pearl, I'm really proud you want me in your show, but I've decided to stay in L.A. and work on my own singing career. I hope to be a star someday, like you."

My knees grew weak as I braced myself for her blistering reply. Instead, she looked at me and softly said, "That's beautiful dahlin'. That's the way to do it." Smiling, she put her arm around my shoulder and said, "You got class, honey. You gonna make it, and you got a friend in Pearlie Mae. Don't you forget it!"

Page 100

Just as her career was starting to take off, she was offered a contract with MGM. The catch was, the executive who offered the contract expected Nichols to sleep with him.

I stood up, barely knowing how I forced one foot in front of the other, and walked out, slamming the heavy door behind me. Once glance through th eouter office told me that the secartearies has heard us or had been through this many times before; probably a little of both. As I strode angrily by, not daring to look at anyone, one of them said softly, "God bless you, Miss Nichols."

Page 136

But it doesn’t end there. Nichols wasn’t about to be chased away by anyone. She ran into her agents on the way out of the building and told them what happened. They wanted to take her to lunch to talk about it and figure out their next steps.

"Where would you like to go?" they asked.

"The MGM commissary," I replied.

…Apparently word of Mr. X's rebuffed proposal had spread across the lot like wildfire, and as we walked through the commissary to our table, I could feel all eyes on me. I walked though with my head held high. No matter what I'd lost -- and believe me, I did lose -- it would be his shame, not mine.

Once we were seated, several producers, directors, and agents came over to me commend Hy, Harry, and me, their incredibly brave client. Soon the news was all over town, and before long independent producers, some of whom hated Mr. X, hired me for their films. The industry has its own way of meting our justice.

Page 136

Nichols also resisted the ever present Hollywood pressure to drop weight. Bill Theiss, Star Trek’s costume designer insisted the women lose weight, even suggesting diet pills in some cases. Nichols would not change for him, though.

Theiss had a fit whenever the script called for a curvaceous actress, especially when that meant fitting her into something sexy. Judging by some of those revealing outfits, you might deduce that Bill Theiss enjoyed working with the female form. Hardly. He could be seen wandering about the se muttering, "All those curves! All those bulges! Oh, God…" In fact, Bill Theiss preferred girls who looked like boys. Periodically he would tell me that he wanted me to lose weight, even though I was a perfect size 8 and in excellent shape. "It's impossible. No matter how much weight you lose, you'll never lose those." I came to suspect that Bill Theiss considered having a butt and breasts signs of genetic inferiority.

Page 169

Like many Star Trek cast members, Nichols had worked with Gene Roddenberry on earlier projects. She knew him from her work on The Lieutenant. She met him early on but got to know him when he engaged in one of his famous practical jokes (which today would likely raise HR concerns over a hostile and sexually charged workspace, but that’s another matter).

It wasn't easy, but I almost managed to forget about the stranger until I felt him push up against me. That was it: I didn't give a damn whose obnoxious relative he was. " I spun around with an upraised fist and came within an inch of socking him right in the nose when I noticed something else very odd about him. …

"Mr. Roddenberry!" I screeched.

"Cut!!" Vince shouted.

Oh, God! I've ruined another scene, I thought. I'll never work in this town again. As I waited for Vince to devour me, I heard the cast and crew break into laughter as the creep yanked off his big fake nose and red wig and became Gene Roddenberry. This was my first -- but not the last -- experience with Gene's elaborately planned and carefully executed practical jokes.

Thus began my long and fascinating relationship with the man who would come to be known as the Great Bird of the Galaxy and who would change my life.

Page 126

Obviously, Star Trek would never exist without Roddenberry. He gave birth to the concept, and pushed through all the obstacles the studios though up in his path. Nichols and Rodenberry were romantically involved before Star Trek began. While that relationship ended before filming the series began, Roddenberry and Nichols remained close, and supported one another throughout the following decades. But there was no separating Rodenberry from Star Trek.

As he explained in an interview published in The Humanist just a few months before he died, "Understand that Star Trek is more than just my political philosophy. It is my social philosophy, my racial philosophy, my overview on life and the human condition." You could no more separate who Gene was from what he thought and believed than you could take a slice out of the sky. They were one. That was Gene.

Page 14

In a world of phasers, transporters, dilithium crystals, and Dr, McCoy's amazing arrays of instant antidotes, ultimately the outcome relied on human beings doing the right thing.

Page 198

Through the years, so much has been said and written about Gene. Perhaps because he was so complex and intense, and so stubborn in his beliefs, he inspired very strong emotions in others. If you liked him, you loved him, warts and all. Those who didn't tried to destroy him, in life and in death.

Page 128

One thing that is evident form the various books I’ve read is that as brilliant as Rodenberry was, he seemed to have the maturity of a junior high school student. That’s demonstrated in the various practical jokes he played (often using a semi-naked woman to put someone in an awkward situation). That quality may be the reason Star Trek even got on the air. There are few people as convinced they are right as teen agers are. That sheer stubbornness is the key to his success and probably the reason he was ultimately pushed out of the franchise.

But that immaturity is evident in how he ended his relationship with Nichols. He picked her up and instead of taking her out on a traditional date, he took her to meet Majel Barret (the other woman he was dating) at her house. At the time, Rodenberry was still married to someone else.

But I also knew that he wanted what he wanted, and it was conceivable that we might continue in this triangle indefinitely. I loved Gene, but the situation was simply untenable. Maybe it was my ego, maybe it was my commitment to my career -- I don't know. What I did know was that Gene had placed the decision in my hands, and there was no choice for me but to end our romance. Out of deference to Majel, who I soon realized was dedicated to Gene above all else, and for my own salvation, I could not be the other woman to the other woman. And so I fled. Typical of Gene, however, he could not accept my rejection of him.

"How can you do this? How can you just walk away?" he asked me several times. Granted, it was not easy. It broke my heart. But it sure as hell was not the end of the world for me, either. How I could and did go on with out him is something Gene never quite understood.

Page 133

But neither of them held a grudge and soon Nichols joined the cast of Star Trek.

By having to report to the studio so ungodly early each day, we got to know each other quite well. Leonard Nimoy and I were always in the make up chairs first, since our characters required more intricate make up than the others. Leonard was, and is, a thoroughly charming, ethical, and thoughtful man. Grace Lee Whitney, who played Yeoman Janice Rand during our first season, was warm, vivacious, and hilarious, while DeForest Kelly (whom we called Dee) was every bit the proverbial southern gentleman. Jimmy Doohan was jovial and friendly, if a bit blustery at times, and Bill, who had a weird sense of humor, would hold forth and regale us with some stupid story. We'd all laugh because the stories were so stupid, but Bill, who thought they were hilarious, laughed the whole way through, sometimes so hard he couldn't finish telling us anyway. Gregarious George Takei, ever the bon vivant, invariably strode in at seven A. M. with an inexcusably cheery "Good Morning!" to which we would all growl menacingly, "Shut up, George!"

Page 154

Nichols and Rodenberry worked to develop the Uhura character. Putting an African woman on the bridge in a position of authority and as an equal with the men was an unusual move in television of the 1960s, and, while she didn’t know it at the time, Nichols would come to learn just how important her character was.

Whoopi Goldberg spoke at Rodenberry’s funeral.

In her eulogy, Whoopi remarked that twenty-five years before, she was a "kid from the projects" who saw in Star Trek's Lieutenant Uhura "the only vision [of] black people in the future."

Page 13

Unfortunately, due limitations imposed by the studios (and various script revisions) Uhura wasn’t developed on the show as deeply as initially intended. The character had a lot more responsibility than we ever saw on screen.

According to the "biography" Gene and I developed for my character, Uhura was far more than an intergalactic telephone operator. As head of communications, she commanded a corps of largely unseen communication technicians, linguists, and other specialists who worked in the bowels of the Enterprise, in the "comm-center." A linguistics scholar and top graduate of Starfleet Academy, she was a protégée of Mr. Spock, whom she admired for his daring, his intelligence, his stoicism, and especially his logic.

Page 145

The continual script revision process was frustrating for Nichols however. Initial drafts would give Uhura a prominent role, but here part would gradually be chopped down and her lines cut.

Nichol’s got so frustrated she actually quit the show. That night, however, she met Martin Luther King Jr. at an event and mentioned her plans to quit the show. He asked her to reconsider.

"You must not leave. You have opened a door that must not be allowed to close. I'm sure you have taken a lot of grief, or probably will for what you're doing. But you changed the face of television forever. You have created a character of dignity and grace and beauty and intelligence. Don't you see that you've not just a role model for little Black children? You've more important for people who don't look like us. For the first time, the world sees us as we should be seen, as equals, as intelligent people -- as we should be. There will always be role models for Black children; you are a role model for everyone."

Page 165

Adding to Nichol’s frustration was that she wasn’t even officially part of the cast. Rather than being under contract to the show, she was instead a day player. The studio objected to Rodenberry hiring her. So Rodenberry brought her in everyday anyway. It took Nichols a while to realize just how Rodenberry was helping her out.

Further, quite frankly, I resented being one of the first actors on the set each day and among the alst to leave. Whenever and assistant director remarked lat in the day, "Stick around, Nichelle. We may need you for Bill's closeup," I felt like the scullery maid. It was only after endorsing a few paychecks that I began to see the method to Gene's madness. Theis was Gene's way of getting back at the suits in the front office. Not only did Gene get what he wanted, he made sure they paid -- literally and dearly -- for it.

Page 148

No discussion of Star Trek would be complete without talking about Shatner, however. And Nichols had much to be frustrated about in dealing with him. At times, she felt great compassion for him. She praises him for how he helped her after a car accident. And she recognizes how much he was hurting when he went through his divorce.

We sat facing each other, knee to knee, holding hands and softly crying. In rare moments like these, Bill was like a little boy shouldering the problems and emotions of a man. In him that evening I saw love and tenderness, and I felt tremendous compassion for him. And love.

Page 158

And, of course, Nichols tells the oft repeated story of how Shatner stole Leonard Nimoy’s bike. I think this story appears in every Star Trek book. Nichol’s add a little more depth to the story, though. She’s not just making fun of Nimoy or Shatner.

We were so jealous of him having a bike, yet none of us ran out and got one of our own. We didn't want to be copycats. Besides, it was more fun to trash Leonard for being smart enough to have a bike than it would have been to join him.

Page 178

Nichols enjoyed popping Shatner’s ego when he got to big for himself. Shatner talked about an acting gig he had in the 50s where the schedule was adjusted o accomdate a well know mobster. Shatner would not disclose who it was, thinking he was the only one to have dealt with such an exciting and dangerous situation.

Bill clearly relished keeping such a fascinating secret.

"Oh, Bill," I piped up calmly. "You mean Frankie Balistrieri."

Bill spun around and demanded, "How the hell would you know?"

I arched one brow conspiratorially, kissed me fist, and replied, "Simple. Frankie Balistrieri is my godfather."

Page 73

But as the third season of Star Trek rolled around, Nichols tells how Shatner claimed more and more authority.

Without anyone's consent, Bill Shatner stepped into the role, bossing around and intimidating the directors and guest stars, cutting other actors lines and scenes, and generally taking enough control to disrupt the sense of family we had shared during the first season.

Page 185

The rest of the cast, obviously objected to Shatner’s behavior, but there was little they could do about it.

George Takei often stated, "Bill is not going to be satisfied until we're all gone and he gets to do all our parts," then proceeded to imitate Captain Kirk, delivering all our trademark lines: "Hail! Ing! Fre! Quencies! O! Pen! Cap! Tain," "Fas! Cin! A! Ting!" or "He's! Dead! Jim!" We would all squeal in painful laughter until tears rolled down our cheeks.

Page 187

And Shatner seemed clueless in how the other cast member felt. He simply did not appear concerned with them. Several years after Star Trek ended, it was brought back as an animated series. The studio initially planned to hire just Shatner and Nimoy for the show, and replace everyone else with other voiceover actors.

Bill saw nothing wrong with this plan and agreed to do it. Leonard, however, asked, "Where are George and Nichelle and the others?" When he was told they did not have us, he replied, "Well, then you don't have me."

Page 205

Despite her frustrations with Shatner, Nichols can still find good things to say about Shatner. She began to appreciate him during the movies.

While working on Star Trek V: The Final Frontier I discovered something about Bill Shatner: He was a wonderful director to work for. Supportive, encouraging inspiring -- Bill turned out to be among the most respectful directors I've ever worked with. Even Jimmy Doohan, whose dislike of Bill is quite well known, admitted that he was terrific in the director's chair. Ironically, Bill became more of a human being than he'd ever been as an actor. I realized that what drove us all crazy about him when he was acting was that he was directing.

Page 279

But even as Nichols was beginning to respect Shatner, he was undermining that respect with his book Star Trek Memories. While Shatner’s book is a great history of Star Trek, Nichol’s says that he got plenty of stuff wrong.

To begin with, Shatner claims in his book that the interracial kiss between Kirk and Uhura in Plato’s Stepchildren didn’t actually happen. Nichols says it actually did happen. They shot a bunch of takes and filmed the scene both ways. But the next day, the cast and crew watched the various takes of the scene.

And I'd like to set the record straight: Although Kirk and Uhura fought it, they did kiss in every single scene. When the non-kissing scene came up, everyone in the room cracked up. The last shot, which looked okay on the set, actually had Bill wildly crossing his eyes. It was so corny and just plain bad, it was unusable.

Page 196

Nichols is angry at Shatner for his book and spends several pages discussing it. She felt betrayed by the way he handled it and was upset at his arrogance and obliviousness to the cast.

I was more than upset by Bill's book. No wonder he didn't offer to let me review my comments, as he'd promised. I gather he didn't want me to know his book contained pages of my allegedly direct quotations, virtually all taken out of context. His attitude toward Gene and the rest of the cast -- with the exception of Leonard -- was patronizing, and his take on a number of events, particularly the interracial kiss, was just plain wrong. I did not, as Bill claims, raise a big fuss. And we did kiss. I could go on point by point, but suffice it to say this is my rebuttal to his distortions and outright lies.

Page 308

Just as fascinating as Uhura’s Star Trek career is her post Star Trek career. Throughout the 70s and 80s she worked with various federal agencies promoting the space program and astronaut recruitment. She brought not just celebrity status, but a true commitment to her cause. And she brought her own expertise.

The book does have some flaws. In addition to the slow way it starts, Nichols has a tendency to name drop. Of course she has to talk about other famous people because of the influence they had on her life and career. But she has a tendency to talk about how she met a person, what they did, and then give their name. I don’t have a problem with the stories; it the structure of those stories.

As she recounted having toured Russia with the show as the lead dancer, I remember thinking to my self, Sure, and I'm the prima ballerina of the Bolshoi. Yet she has such stature and eloquence, and a peculiar grace, that by the time Hermes Pan and his entourage finally showed up, I didn't care what the truth was. Her name was Maya Angelou, and we began a close friendship that continues to this day.

Page 95

After my [voice lessons], as I descended into the lobby, I'd look across and wave at the young woman ascending in the other elevator, his next student. Her name was Barbara Streisand. That was not the first or last time our paths crossed, though.

Page 109

For some reason I find the structure off putting. It reminds me of the “Theater Stories” sketches on Saturday Night Live in the 80s.

Nichols also throws in Star Trek references through the text that just seem a bit force. The section dividers in the book are Star Fleet Symbols, for instance. And there are references like these:

Usually with Kyle [Nichols’ son], all you had to do was explain it once. His grasp and love of logic was positively Vulcan.

Page 60

For six months I reorganized the filing system, learned bookkeeping, and mastered the switchboard. (Are you surprised?)

Page 63

Such asides may be more natural in conversation but in the text (especially at this point in the book) they just seem a bit awkward.

Those are personal preferences, however. Nichols book is great story of a strong woman making her way in show business and helping to transform the landscape of television. Her book is especially interesting when read side by side with Grace Lee Whitney’s book, since they both cover slightly different aspects of the same industry and time though a different lens.

I gained new respect of Nichols after reading this book.


Book Review 19: I Am Spock

Do I miss Spock?

No, because he's a part of me. Not a day passes I don't here that cool, rational voice commenting on some irrational aspect of the human condition.

Page 332

Nimoy wrote this book approximately 20 years after he wrote I Am Not Spock. And a lot happened in those 20 years. Star Trek’s popularity grew to phenomenal levels. Seven movies came out featuring the original cast. Nimoy became a well respected film director. And everyone involved got a bit older.

While his previous book was a great meditation on what it meant to be an actor and have such a strong relationship with a character, this book is more history focused. Nimoy still creates short dialogues between himself and Spock, but he seems more at peace with it. In this book we get a more professional, more mature, and less petulant film professional. In the previous book, we hear from an ACTOR committed to his craft and struggling with the deep identity questions of where the actor ends and the character begins.

For the first third of the book, Nimoy covers familiar ground. He talks in detail about his time on the original series and about his time on Mission: Impossible. While many of the stories he tells are the same, his tone and approach reflects his success later in his career. He also seem more comfortable with his relationship to Spock. He has accepted much of the struggle he described in his first book. Later in the book he details his experience with the Star Trek movies and his own directing career. He spends less time talking about his photography in this book, as well.

That’s not to say this book is better; they are very different. Readers who enjoy an indepth character study, or meditation on the actor/character dichotomy will prefer the first book. Those who are looking for a more straight forward narrative or history of Nimoy’s career will enjoy the second one. They are both worth reading, however a reader may not want to go through both books back to back. Putting a few months between them may make the second book feel less redundant.

Nimoy did take some heat for the title of this first book. He discusses it early on in I Am Spock.

But I made an enormous mistake in choosing the title for the book. I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my lifetime, but this one was a biggie and right out there in public. Perhaps it wasn’t quite as bad as Roseanne Arnold singing the “Star-Spangled Bagger” off-key, grabbing her crotch, and spitting in a stadium full of baseball fans, but mine did start a firestorm that lasted several years and caused a lot of hard feelings.

Page 6

Nimoy takes full responsibility for the unfortunate title. His publisher opposed it, and wanted a more positive title. But Nimoy insisted I Am Not Spock was what he wanted to call it.

I won that argument. And I’m sorry now that I did, because I was completely wrong.

Page 7

Throughout the book, Nimoy brings talks about things that help keep him somewhat humble. He freely admits his mistakes.

At a recent Star Trek convention, a teenage girl asked the questions, “How did you prepare for what happened to you when you became famous?”

My answer? “I didn’t.”

…I was so naïve, I didn’t even bother to change my phone number….

Page 78

In an oft-repeated story, Nimoy talks about when he and William Shatner had the privilledge of riding in the Rose Bowl parade during Star Trek’s first season. As they rode amidst the enthusiastic fans, the announcer’s voice came over the PA system:

“And here come the stars of Star Trek, William Shatner and Leonard Nimsy!”

Page 80

By the mid-eighties, Nimoy was an established director and producer. The studios thought he would be a valuable addition to the team behind Star Trek: The Next Generation. Nimoy, however, didn’t think a second Star Trek series would succeed.

While my argument sounded perfectly rational at the time, my ego was certainly involved. When I said to Mancuso and the assembled execs, "How can you hope to capture lightening in a bottle?" part of me was really saying, "How can you ever hope to do i do it without us?"

You know, crow isn't so bad. It tastes rather like chicken."

Page 325

Part of his humility may come from being in Spock’s shadow. While I Am Spock isn’t as focused on the Nimoy-Spock relationship as I Am Not Spock was, the relationship between the two is still important. In one of his conversations with Spock, Nimoy expresses his amazement at how they came to be so closely associated. Spock is not impressed.

Spock: Hardly. Because with each passing moment of your life, one event precipitated another; which made each subsequent occurrence more probable. For example, by moving from Boston to Los Angeles, and working hard to perfect your craft, you increased your chances of a successful acting career by a substantial margin, from 1, 736,534.2 to 1, to 351,233.82 to 1 – just as, by attending Starfleet Academy, I increased my chances of serving aboard the Enterprise. As your own Miguel de Cervantes said, “Diligence is the mother of good fortune.”

Page 4

Nimoy also described the Spock-McCoy relationship in greater detail. He compares it to an Abbott and Costello routine:

McCoy: (frustrated) Now wait a minute, Spock! When the first baseman gets his paycheck, who gets the money?

Spock: It is only logical that he should do so, since he provided his services.

McCoy: Who did?

Spock: Precisely, Doctor. “Who” did. “Who” receives the money.

McCoy: Are you trying to confuse me, you green-blooded son of a --!

Spock: Control yourself, Doctor.

Page 41-42

I can’t see the Nimoy of the early seventies making quite the same comparison. He took things more seriously. During the show, he often fought with producers, directors, and writers to make sure Spock was handled appropriately. Some people considered him hard to work with as a result, but Nimoy felt he was just doing his job.

Perhaps as this point, I should explain further why I thought it was my responsibility to look after the character. You see, after a television series has been on the air for a period of time, the staff will undergo a good deal of turnover….So the actor is ultimately “the keeper of the flame” for his or her character. It often falls to the actor to point out to incoming producers and directors and inconsistencies in the character, because the staff may not be familiar with what’s gone before. Therefore, if the actor doesn’t take on the responsibility, a character “drift” is likely to take place, and not necessarily for the better. So, felling as strongly as I always have about the development of character, I felt I was responsible to protect Spock from disintegration.

Page 121

Despite assertions by many in the 70s, Nimoy did not hate Spock.

And, frankly, I missed Spock. I missed him during Mission and afterwards, until 1979 when we filmed the first Trek motion picture. I’ve never been totally free of mental “echoes” of Spock…from time to time I’d here his voice commenting quite logically on a particular situation.

Page 132

Despite Nimoy’s personal feelings, those public perceptions would influence the Star Trek movies. Nimoy was initially reluctant to participate in the first movie, but not because he hated Spock. There were major script issues.

There were two problems. For one thing, the story simply wasn’t very good.

For anther, Spock didn’t appear in it.

Page 159

But he still wanted to be part of it. And even if he didn’t, he certainly didn’t want to be known as the only hold out.

Because, in the end, I also realized that I had no desire to face the public reaction if it were announced that I was the lone hold out from the original cast. I'd already weathered one firestorm with I am not Spock, and was in no hurry to kindle another one.

Page 164

But even when Nimoy came on board, the movie didn’t get any better. It was boring to watch, and, apparently, it was just as boring to make.

Once filming commenced, it seemed like we actors stood forever on the bridge of the Enterprise, staring at a blank screen, which later would be filled with wondrous special effects. The work was very tedious, and frankly, not much fun. What was this gloom? This depressed atmosphere? This lack of attack, fun, élan?

I think it came out of a sense that we were doing something Historic and Important. Somehow, although the TV shows depended heavily on the day-to-day energy of the creative community -- writers, directors, and actors -- the movie seemed to have been taken out of our hands. And our energy was sapped by an unwarranted reverence. We were passengers along for the ride on a voyage we could never quite fully manage or understand.

Page 168

Star Trek V is the second worst Star Trek film, and it, too, suffered major script problems. William Shatner directed this film and tried to hobble together the script, but it was doomed from the beginning.

I immediately sat down with Bill, and said, "Let's talk about Spock. I've got some problems here. For one things, my character has no function in the script."

"How does he further the plot?"

Bill said, "Don't worry about it. We'll think of something…"

Page 300

Even with numerous rewrites, the script and story remained weak. I believe this was the cause of Star Trek V's woes at the box office.

It certainly had nothing to do with Bill's abilities as a director, because he shot the film as efficiently and cinematically as any number of talented directors might have. ... The problem was in the execution and design of the screenplay; what was on the page is what he shot. He was riding a bad script, and as I've said at other times and places, when you're riding a bad script, there's not much that can be done to salvage a film.

Page 302

Nimoy lets Shatner off too easily on this film. He may have done a fine job directing, but Nimoy seems to gloss over Shatner’s own role in crafting the script. Shatner goes into detail on this in his own book.

But Nimoy and Shatner are friends, and Nimoy like to tell good natured stories about their relationship.

I got into the habit of having my coffee in the car, and my bacon-and-eggs sandwich with a thick slice of onion in the make up chair. While Freddie [Phelps] applied the ears, I ate. He and I would have a nice quiet conversation until 7 – when Bill Shatner arrived and all hell broke loose.

Page 46

They would then go into a series of massively absurd puns.

Thus the famous neck pinch was born, in part because of Bill Shatner’s talent for fainting on cue.

Page 59

Now, in that particular scene, Kirk greeted McCoy with the line, "How many fingers and I holding up, Bones?" while raising his hand in the Vulcan salute. But Bill had the same problem as Celia Lovsky in "Amok Time" -- he simply could not make his hand form the necessary shape. (Let's face it -- Bill's just not Vulcan!) We finally had to help him out; we lined the sides of his rebellious fingers with double-sided tape, then tied them into position with a piece of fine monofilament fish line.

Page 232

Nimoy also tells other behind the scenes stories from the movies he directed.

May fans have wondered why Kirstie didn’t reprise her role as Savik. It came down to money. Her agent simply asked for too much.

And he quoted a price that was so beyond our reach that it left me slack-jawed. I'm sure neither he nor Kirstie realized it, but the salary he wanted for her second Star Trek appearance was higher than what was being paid to De Kelly after seventeen years!

Page 225

When he crafted each film he directed, he wanted to make sure each character was important.

Because of this, we worked very consciously in Star Trek III (and would again in Star Trek IV) to define special moments for each member of the Enterprise bridge crew. Each one had a task to perform that would ultimately lead to Spock's return. In part, I think I was influenced by my experience in Mission: Impossible, where each character had a specific job to complete in any given adventure.

Page 224

This is in stark contrast to the way Shatner developed Star Trek V, where he had everyone turning against Kirk, and leaving Kirk the only hero in the movie, at least in the early drafts.

Eddie Murphy was almost in Star Trek IV (the one with the whales). For a number of reasons that Nimoy details, it didn’t work out, but not because Murphy disliked Star Trek. In fact, he was a huge fan.

When, contract in hand, the studio execs arrived at the New York studio where Eddie was rehearsing, they had to wait. Why? Not because he was working. No, Eddie was glued to the tube, watching an episode of Star Trek, and refused to be distracted. The guys from Paramount had to sit and wait until the final credits were rolling to the brisk strains of Alexander Courage's end-of-show music. Only then would Eddie sign the contract and take his million dollars. The man had his priorities.

Page 247

Nimoy talks in detail about his non-Star Trek films and especially his work on Three Men and a Baby, including some of the tough editing decisions. In one scene towards the end of the movie, a horse is supposed to stay tied up outside, while the characters walk into a building. Unfortunately the horse did not stay tied up and decided it wanted to come inside, too.

It was hysterically funny -- we were all roaring on the set -- and the camera operators managed to capture it all on film. I was sorely tempted to use it, but it was unfortunately irrelevant to the film, so I let it go.

Page 281

There are other stories of Nimoy’s career that help to flesh out the picture of who is Leonard Nimoy. But there is no getting away from the deep bonds between Nimoy and Spock. Nimoy now accepts this in a way he didn’t in the early seventies. The maturity and depth here makes this a very different story from the one he told in I Am Not Spock.

I Am Spock may not be as much of an intellectual endeavor as the more philosophical I Am Not Spock was, but it is fascinating in its own right. To learn more about acting, read the first book. To learn more about Star Trek, the movie making process, studio politics, and Leonard Nimoy’s life, read this book.

Better yet, just read them both.