Own A Piece of Me Courtesy of Etsy

There’s a new shop on the block over on Etsy, Ged’s Art Depot. I’ve been thinking about selling some of my artwork online for years but kept putting it off month after month, year after year. No longer.

Like most artists, it takes time to build the confidence needed to put your creations out there for others to own. It’s quite possible I’ll sell only a handful of these prints of my work, but that really isn’t the point. The point is to keep pushing myself to create, to express myself and give me an incentive to keep producing the kinds of stuff I would personally like to own. Naturally my work centers around science fiction and popular culture because those are the things I personally love most, but I don’t intend to limit myself to those topics.

For now, I’m offering a small collection of hand-drawn pieces that I created on my iPad Pro with my Apple Pencil. Every one was lovingly crafted by me to capture some aspect of the subject, the play of light on unique materials, the exacting details of a fictional device or the feeling of nostalgia of a favorite toy from childhood.

I’m also trying to make these items as frictionless as possible. They arrive to you signed, framed and ready to be hung in your home or as a special gift for that geeky someone in your life. For now I can only ship to the United States but if things take off I may expand to include international shipping. One step at a time however.

Now through November 30th I’m offering a 10% discount to help celebrate the launch of my Etsy store. Click here to take advantage of the discount when ordering.

Warp on over and check out my listings. Hopefully you’ll find something there that sparks the kid in you. Perhaps a drawing that brings a smile to your face or evokes a special childhood memory.

I also want to offer a thank-you to everyone who’s supported my efforts over the years to get me to this point. I’m blessed with wonderful friends, some with cool Etsy shops of their own, talented peers and some of the best Twitter followers anyone could ever ask for. I appreciate all of your support more than you realize and can’t wait to see where all of this support takes me. Let’s do this.

One Perfect Shot: Star Trek’s ‘The Squire of Gothos’

There are so many omnipotent aliens in Star Trek it’s hard even for a Trekker like myself to keep track of them all. One of the very first such super-beings Kirk and company encounter is Trelane of the planet Gothos. Trelane snatches Sulu and Captain Kirk from the bridge of the Enterprise to lure the crew to the planet and pick their brains about humanity’s barbaric nature. Trelane’s been observing Earth for some time but due to general relativity, he’s been spying on historical events some 900 years in the past.

Trelane is played with gleeful delight by actor William Campbell who would go on to play the Klingon Captain Koloth in the iconic original series episode ‘The Trouble With Tribbles’. Years later Campbell reprised his role as Koloth in Deep Space Nine’s second season episode ‘Blood Oath’, becoming one of the few actors to portray the same character on both the original series and on one of the spin-off series. According Memory Alpha, Campbell described his role on DS9’s ‘Blood Oath’ as his most difficult acting job, but one he would have liked to have had the chance to play again.

Watching Trelane prance around, tormenting the crew and ultimately even putting Captain Kirk on trial, one can’t help think of yet another mischievous being that tortured the crew of a different Starship Enterprise, namely Q.

Trelane might easily be mistaken for the younger cousin of Q, played brilliantly in Star Trek: The Next Generation by John Delancie. All the Q hallmarks are on display – limitless power, poor impulse control, even cosmic temper tantrums! Delancie even theorized in an interview that Gene Roddenberry drew inspiration from himself and Trelane when he created Q.

The apparent similarities between the characters draw to a close at the very end of the episode. Trelane has Kirk trapped and is about run our dear Captain through when we suddenly hear the voices his “parents” calling out to him. It turns out Trelane is just a mischievous boy who’s tortured his playthings a little too much and must be punished. Time to come in for dinner, Trelane! They apologize to Captain Kirk and send the Enterprise on its merry way.

Our one perfect shot comes as Kirk tries to size the alien up before him and decide just what he’s dealing with in the flamboyant ‘Squire of Gothos’.

Next up is one of my all-time favorite episodes of Star Trek, the iconic ‘Arena’ where Kirk fights for his life (and gets his tunic torn yet again) battling a walking, talking, hissing lizard.

Check out the entire series of perfect Star Trek shots to date.

Star Trek LCARS Wallpaper 2021

iPhone lock screen showing the Star Trek LCARS 2021 wallpaper

It’s been over six years since I released my original Star Trek LCARS wallpapers for iOS and today I’m happy to report yet another update for all you geeky Trek fans out there.

LCARS 2021 brings Star Trek’s futuristic user interface, designed by Michael Okuda, to modern iPhones. What’s more, I’ve done my best to future proof the wallpapers so when Apple adjusts the position of lock screen elements like the date, time, flashlight and camera buttons the wallpaper will fit properly and still look great with a minimum of setup.

The wallpaper re-design is inspired by Picard, the TV series that debuted last year on CBS All Access (soon become Paramount+). Season 2 of Picard will hopefully debut in late 2021 and so I wanted release this so fans could enjoy it prior to the premiere.

I took visual cues from on-screen elements such as button shapes, typographic refinements and the cooler color palettes seen in the show. The result feels more modern and looks great on the latest iPhones which is sure to put a smile on the face of any Star Trek fan.

I’m providing LCARS 2021 in two downloads that should cover all of the modern iPhone screen aspect ratios available today. There are subtle design differences so be sure to choose the right wall for your particular device:

• iPhone SE, 7, 8 & 9 – Picard LCARS
• iPhone XR, X, 11 & 12 – Picard LCARS

Select the download link of your device above to view it and then tap and hold on the image in Safari to save it to your camera roll. Next, view it in the roll and tap the sharing icon > Use as Wallpaper. Be sure to pinch out on the image and adjust vertical position if needed and finally turn perspective zooming OFF, tap Set and select Set Lock Screen to finish.

Want More?

If you’re looking for the full Montgomery Scott, then head on over to the Iconfactory’s Patreon account. When you subscribe to the Superheroes level ($10) a month, you’ll not only get two additional color ways (Next Generation + Star Trek: Lower Decks) of the iPhone wallpaper but you’ll also get snazzy, expanded iPad versions in these three color ways.

iPhone lock screen showing the Star Trek LCARS 2021 wallpaper

The iPad walls also comes with three, fun content variants to help turn your device into that Starfleet PADD you have always dreamt about.

I hope you enjoy these latest and greatest updates both here and over on Patreon. Please consider subscribing if you are inclined, we want to keep making kick-ass wallpapers for years to come and your generous support helps make it so.

Engage and enjoy!

One Perfect Shot: Star Trek’s ‘The Galileo Seven’

Back in 1967, fans of Star Trek were a little more than a dozen episodes into the new series and were craving to explore stories about one of their favorite new characters – the logical and enigmatic Mr. Spock. They got their wish in The Galileo Seven which thrust Spock into the command chair with his fellow Enterprise crew members in tow.

Kirk sends a shuttlecraft with a crew of seven to explore the Murasaki 312 quasar (re-rendered in spectacular fashion for the 2007 series remastering) when they are pulled off course and crash land on Taurus II, a lone planet at the heart of Murasaki 312. The planet is inhabited by a species of giant, “cave-man”-like humanoids who have a penchant for being just out of focus and throwing huge spears. Spock must solve problem after problem to try and save those under his command, all while dealing with an insubordinate junior office named Lt. Boma and of course the ever-cantackerous Dr. McCoy.

‘The Galileo Seven’ is notable primarily because it gave Leonard Nimoy center stage for the first time in the original series, something the actor later admitted he struggled with on the set. William Shatner’s Captain Kirk is sidelined from the main action, leading the search and rescue from his comfy chair on the bridge of the Enterprise. Meanwhile Spock, McCoy, Scotty and the rest of the shuttle crew are literally fighting for their lives back on Taurus II.

This was one of those episodes that kept me up late at night as a kid. The shadowy monsters, always lurking just out of sight of our heroes pushed all my fearful Bigfoot buttons as a boy. The fact that we never got a clear look at the creature’s faces only heightened the effect and was a happy accident during production. Special effects master Wah Chang created the ape-creature makeup to be shown on camera but it was considered by censors to be too grotesque to show in close-ups and so our imaginations are left to run wild.

Spock and crew examine the dead and hidden body of Latimer

Apparently the censors were working overtime for this episode because the scene where Latimer is killed was considered too gruesome and an additional mist effect was added to obscure the giant spear protruding from his dead body. How times would change.

This episode also marks one of the first occurrences of a VIP coming onboard the Enterprise and seriously mucking things up. Galactic High Commissioner Ferris joins the ranks of Robert Fox from “A Taste of Armageddon’, Commodore Matt Decker from ‘The Doomsday Machine’ and Richard Daystrom from ‘The Ultimate Computer’ as people who just don’t know how to quit when standing on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise.

Our one perfect shot comes as Scotty, McCoy and the surviving crew of the Shuttlecraft Galileo do their very best duck and cover impression while Spock tries to methodically deduce why his Vulcan logic has not only failed to rescue them but also harbor resentment among the crew.

Next up Kirk and company meet the enigmatic, omni-powerful being Trelane in ‘The Squire of Gothos‘.

Check out the entire series of perfect Star Trek shots to date.

iPhone X Wallpaper Updates

iPhone X lock screen showing the Star Trek LCARS wallpaper

If you’re the proud owner of a slick new iPhone X then I have some good news. I’ve updated three of my lock screen wallpapers for the new device and boy do they look great. The iPhone X’s new OLED screen means blacks are truly black resulting in a stunning appearance for lock screen designs like my popular Star Trek LCARS wallpaper. The design also seamlessly blends with the device’s bezel to create a fun Next Generation feel in your hands. The LCARS lock screen even comes in four variants so there’s lots options to try out.

I’ve also updated my Twin Peaks and Pokéwall wallpapers as well so be sure to check them out too. I’ll probably update the others (Westworld & Cosmos) in time but for now these three updates would make great additions to any iPhone X lock or home screen. Enjoy!

Gif vs Jif: One Is My Name, The Other Is Not

Recently Apple released a new iPhone commercial and aside from the usual cool technology on display, the internet’s big take-a-way was that Apple came down on the side of the age-old debate of how to pronounce the image file format acronym Gif. According to Apple it’s pronounced with a hard G and that really surprised me. I realize the debate about what is “right” when it comes to Gif vs Jif will rage on for years, but Apple has a tendency towards respecting the rights and wishes of content creators and in this instance they have clearly failed.

Back in 2013, Steve Wichita, the creator of the Gif format supposedly settled the debate once and for all and told the world that the name is pronounced like the peanut butter. Regardless of how you personally feel about context or syntax or any other factor, Wichita’s wishes, at least to me, are the deciding factor.

I’m reminded of a scene early in Star Trek: The Next Generation when Dr. Pulaski pronounces Cmd. Data’s name incorrectly. Both pronunciations are technically correct, as is the case with Gif vs Jif (at least according to Webster’s Dictionary), but only ONE way represents Data’s actual name. When you choose to pronounce Gif with a hard G, you choose to disregard the wishes of the format’s creator, and that’s the main reason why I say Jif instead of Gif.

A Good Day to Dye!

Star Trek's Worf in rainbow gay pride uniform

Yesterday the Supreme Court of the United States, in a 5-4 decision struck down gay marriage bans in 14 states effectively making it legal for gay and lesbian couples to finally marry throughout the nation. The announcement sent ripples of rainbow-colored hope throughout the country and on social media. The hashtag #LoveWins quickly spread through Twitter and Facebook and people started updating their online avatars with the bright colors of the gay pride movement in a show of solidarity that I won’t soon forget.

I created the fun image above to help celebrate the historic announcement. Star Trek has always meant so very much to me, and like millions of others who grew up enjoying its themes of peace, diversity and tolerance, the image of proud, honorable Worf standing with his brightly colored rainbow uniform just seemed perfectly appropriate. I also love a good pun and hence I made it sew (see what I did there?).

On a more serious note, the momentous events of this week still have me in a hope-filled, optimistic daze. Obamacare being upheld for some 6 million Americans who rely on it for health insurance was much welcomed news but then the Supreme Court finally recognizing gay people’s right to marry was the proverbial icing on the cake. This has been a long, long time coming and there are some who didn’t think it would happen in their lifetime.

For opponents, the SCOTUS decision on gay marriage represents an unlawful power grab that defies the Constitution, but for the majority of the nation and the court, it represents just the opposite. The Equal Protection clause of the 14th Amendment guarantees that all US citizens are to be treated equally from state to state. Justice Kennedy’s closing paragraph stands as a pillar of legal and moral truth that gave me goose bumps when I read it:

“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.”

In their decision, the court didn’t construct a law giving gay people the right to marry, they simply struck down the state laws that were keeping Americans from being treated equally under the Constitution. They re-affirmed gays rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness that the rest of us sometime take for granted. For the religious-minded among us, the court was reminding everyone of the age-old proverb, do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Return kindness with kindness. Respect with respect and love with love. What a wonderful time to be an American. Today is indeed a good day to dye.

You Will Adapt Your User Interfaces to Service Us!

picard_firstcontact

Everywhere you look, more and more people feel they are entitled to something they’re not. I and others have written about the obscene level of entitlement some users feel is owed them when they download apps from the App Store, and to be sure this is still a huge problem today. Lately however, I’ve been observing another form of app entitlement and honestly, it has got to stop – iPhone 6 Plus users who think all interfaces should be designed to both fit their jumbo phones AND still allow one-handed use.

When Apple introduced the iPhone 6 Plus and it’s enormous 5.5″ screen, it clearly filled a much-needed gap in the iOS universe. Users had been clamoring for more screen real estate for years and when it finally arrived, they rejoiced. Over time however, these users have developed a sense of entitlement that the apps they run should place all controls at or near the bottom of the screen where they can be reached by the thumb. Sorry, but like Captain Picard in First Contact, I’m drawing a line in the proverbial sand. No, iPhone 6 Plus users don’t get to dictate interface design for the rest of us.

Like it or not, buttons at the top of the screen are not going away any time soon. Developers need every bit of screen real estate to logically lay out controls consistently across a host of device ranges and configurations. From the tiny iPhone 4 to the popular iPhone 6 and the iPad there’s a method to our madness. It might seem like a great idea if every single button, tab, actionable element and control were within thumb’s reach, but that simply isn’t possible, nor is it actually desirable.

When Apple developed iOS, the experts charged with designing its interface laid out regions of the iOS screen for specific interactions. Since the entire navigation stack generally flows from left (where you were) to right (where you are going), the button for closing or going back a level is at the upper left. Creation of new content or taking action on that content, like adding a calendar event or sending an email or a tweet, is usually found at the upper right. Tab controls can be either at the top or the bottom, though generally they are usually found at the bottom. In this way, a user who picks up an iPhone 4 has a reasonable expectation that similar types of controls will appear in similar places when she picks up an iPhone 6 Plus. This helps maintain usability and UI consistency for all apps, not just those that run on jumbo phones.

screencontrols

There are ways that developers can help facilitate one-handed use when it’s appropriate. The swipe to go back gesture is a great innovation Apple introduced back in iOS 7 and is a thumb-saver on larger phones. Many apps no longer require you to reach up and tap “Back” to go back, you can simply swipe from the left edge of the screen to navigate back one level. Apple also implemented Reachability (double tap the Home button to lower the entire screen temporarily) to help reach interface elements at or near the top of the screen. But for some users, these gestures are simply not enough. The thing they forget is that by opting for a large device they gained a huge, highly readable screen but they also sacrificed some level of UI convenience. iPad users have been dealing with this trade-off for years, that’s the nature of the beast, like it or not.

When I first heard about the rumored existence of the iPhone 6 Plus and its huge screen, I wondered how Apple would reconcile its long-held tenet that one-handed use reigned supreme with that of it’s upcoming larger device. Apple even built an entire marketing campaign around the advantages of smaller iPhones vs their larger Android counterparts. But when the Plus was released, Apple quickly abandoned that philosophy in order to sell millions of 6 and 6 Plus’. Funny how that happened.

The problem with these users is that they often think like the Borg – they want the best of both worlds – larger screens and an interface that lets them use every app one-handed. As someone who designs for the screen, I’m here to tell them that until humans evolve longer thumbs that simply isn’t possible. At some point (iOS 10?) Apple may come up with a completely new interface paradigm for iOS, but in the meantime it’s best if they start dealing with reality. Whether it’s assimilating Starfleet personnel or playing with your apps, sometimes you just need to use two hands.

Mr. Spock and I

So many wonderful things have already been written about Leonard Nimoy on his passing this week. I’ve been awash in stories about his life, his contributions to our popular culture and his humanity, but I keep coming back to what he’s meant to me these many years.

I could write a book about Leonard’s portrayal of Mr. Spock but I’ve decided to record my thoughts in audio form instead. Just a couple minutes to try and summarize why I loved him so much, on saying goodbye and an amazing, chance encounter I had with Nimoy as a teenager, growing up in New England. This life-long fan will miss him dearly.

One Perfect Shot: Star Trek’s ‘Shore Leave’

ops_shoreleave_full

Some of my favorite episodes of classic Star Trek feature plots that venture from science fiction into the realm of the surreal. The series wasn’t afraid to take chances with stories that seemed strange and fantastical, even for Star Trek’s standards. Episodes like The Savage Curtain, Catspaw and Shore Leave all feature elements that, at least initially, can’t possibly make any sense adding an air of other-worldliness that was Star Trek’s hallmark.

When the crew of the Enterprise survey a lush planet in the Omicron Delta region, the place quickly presents itself one of those “strange, new worlds” Kirk highlights in the show’s opening narration. McCoy spies Alice and the Rabbit from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Sulu finds an ancient Colt revolver and Captain Kirk meets Finnegan, an upperclassman who tormented him endlessly at Starfleet Academy and a long lost love named Ruth. Both people from Kirk’s past can’t possibly be on this planet far from Earth, yet here they are in all their nostalgic glory.

Things get even more bizarre for the landing party when Don Juan shows up and Doctor McCoy is seemingly killed by a dark knight on horseback. The crew eventually discovers the entire planet was constructed so that its creators could come and visit and live out any fantasy they choose simply by thinking about it. One of the planet’s caretakers appears at the conclusion of act IV (accompanied by an alive and well McCoy) and suggests that with the proper precautions, their playground planet could just be what the exhausted Enterprise crew needs to relax.

I love many aspects of Shore Leave, especially how this episode set the stage for the creation of the holo-deck in Star Trek: The Next Generation – a place where you could go and magically experience anything you wished in an instant. The playground planet featured prominently in another episode of Star Trek: The Animated SeriesOnce Upon A Planet, and as you might expect, the crew encounters difficulties then as well.

Our one perfect shot from Shore Leave comes just as Kirk discovers his old adversary, Finnegan, leaning boyishly against a tree. The fantastic nature of his appearance, how director Robert Sparr decided to present him to the audience is wonderful. I always wished we had learned more about Finnegan, perhaps in J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek reboot, but alas, that never materialized.

Next time Spock gets his first taste of command under extreme circumstances in ‘The Galileo Seven‘.

Check out the entire series of perfect Star Trek shots to date.

One Perfect Shot: Star Trek’s ‘The Balance of Terror’

The crew of the Enterprise gets their historic first look at the enigmatic Romulans as Kirk is called to defend a string of Federation outposts along the Neutral Zone. A mysterious ship that seems to posses the power of invisibility has been staging sneak attacks and it’s up to Starfleet’s finest to track it down and destroy her before the Romulans start an all-out war.

The Balance of Terror is notable for a number of reasons, but my favorite is that it introduces us to actor Mark Leonard as the Romulan Commander. Star Trek fans will of course know that Leonard went on to play Spock’s father, Sarek in ‘The Journey to Babel’ as well as in a number of other episodes of Next Generation and the movies. Our one perfect shot comes during the stealthy deep space battle between the Romulan Bird of Prey and the Enterprise. The battle itself was patterned after popular on-screen WWII U-Boat conflicts made famous in such films as 1958’s Run Silent, Run Deep.

I just love the look on the Romulan Commander’s face as he realizes he’s finally met his match in Captain James T. Kirk. The two Captains circle and spar like caged tigers, employing every maneuver and trick in the book to try and best each other and the result is one of fans’ top-rated Original Series episodes. The Romulans would return time and time again in episodes like ‘The Enterprise Incident’, but for my money, their first appearance was also their best.

Next time the crew of the Enterprise takes a holiday and gets much more than they bargained for in ‘Shore Leave‘.

Check out the entire series of perfect Star Trek shots to date.

One Perfect Shot: Star Trek’s ‘The Conscience of the King’

The Enterprise is called to Planet Q by Dr. Thomas Leighton, a research scientist and friend of Captain Kirk. Leighton’s suspects Anton Karidian, the leader of a Shakespearean acting troupe currently on the planet, is, in fact, Kodos “the Executioner”. Kodos was the former governor of the earth colony Tarsus IV, and was responsible for the massacre of over 4000 people—including members of both Kirk’s and Leighton’s families—20 years before. Kirk decides to take the traveling troupe of actors onboard and try and discover if Karidian is truly Kodos.

Our one perfect shot comes as Karidian performs Shakespeare’s Hamlet on board the Enterprise, as he peers out from behind the metaphorical mask he’s been wearing for the past twenty years. ‘Conscience of the King‘ is a wonderful dramatic episode of Star Trek, one cited by writer and BSG creator, Ron Moore as one of his all-time favorites. There’s a great deal of allegory in the writing and its connection to Shakespeare which makes it all the more compelling as a murder mystery.

Our next episode cleverly brings the deep-sea submarine hunts of WWII to outer space in The Balance of Terror.

Star Trek: Next Gen Wallpapers for iPhone 6

UPDATE: Four new variants have been created for Apple’s new iPhone X. The device’s OLED screen means the LCARS design blends seamlessly into the bezel like never before. So much fun!

If you enjoy Star Trek as much as I do then you’ll love these free, Next Generation mobile wallpapers I designed for use with iOS. I’ve updated my original LCARS Star Trek lock screen for the brand new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus so you can be the geeky envy of all your friends. For those of you still running the smaller iPhone 5, don’t worry, there’s even a version here for you!

I’ve been a huge fan of Star Trek Production Designer, Michael Okuda since day one and this project was my way of saying “Thank you!” for the wonderful, futuristic operating system that Next Gen fans know and love as LCARS. With the iPhone 6 Plus approaching the size of actual padds from Next Gen, it only made sense to bring this amazing aesthetic to the palm of our hands.

How to download and apply the wallpapers on iOS:

1) Click to view the wallpaper that best fits your device:

• iPhone 5 Series (iOS 8 & 9) – Original / TNG Colors / Janeway Alt / Janeway TNG
• iPhone 6 (iOS 8 & 9) – Original / TNG Colors / Janeway Alt / Janeway TNG
• iPhone 6 Plus (iOS 8 & 9) – Original / TNG Colors / Janeway Alt / Janeway TNG
• iPhone SE Series (iOS 10) – Original / TNG Colors / Janeway Alt / Janeway TNG
• iPhone 7 (iOS 10) – Original / TNG Colors / Janeway Alt / Janeway TNG
• iPhone X (iOS 11) – Original / TNG Colors / Janeway Alt / Janeway TNG
• iPhone Xs Max (iOS 12) – Original / TNG Colors / Janeway Alt / Janeway TNG

• Windows Phone – Original / TNG Colors
I don’t own a Windows Phone and make no promises about how this version will work for you. These are provided as is!

2) Tap & hold on the image in mobile Safari & save it to your photo library

3) Open Photos, view the image then tap the Share button in the lower left

4) Scroll to the right in the Share menu and tap Use as Wallpaper

5) Pinch Zoom OUT on the image to size it exactly to the screen. You want the date to be vertically centered within the sub-horizontal bar near the top.

6) Turn Perspective Zoom OFF

7) Tap Set > Set Lock Screen

That’s it! Sleep/lock your iPhone and the next time you activate it, you can pretend you’re Captain Picard himself receiving an important message from Starfeet Command. I hope you enjoy this fun treat & help spread the word via Twitter and Facebook. Engage and enjoy!

UPDATE: I’ve added 6 new variants of the lock screen for iPhone after a request from @keydiehhurst. Available in both original and TNG color schemes, these variants address the communique to fearless Captain Kathryn Janeway in the Delta Quadrant. Safe journey, Captain!

UPDATE 2: I’ve added 8 new iPhone SE & 7 variants for use with iOS 10. The lock screen in iOS 10 has moved controls around so the wallpaper had to change to accommodate the new design. Hope to add iPhone 7 Plus variants soon.

UPDATE 3: I’ve added 4 new iPhone X variants for use with iOS 11. The lock screen in iOS 11 puts controls in a different place plus the tall format of the iPhone X means the wallpaper had to change to accommodate the new design.

UPDATE 4: I’ve added 4 new iPhone Xs Max variants for use with iOS 12. This iPhone is freakin’ huge so the placement of the controls, date bar and message block all had to be adjusted again. The Max is about the size of a small TNG PADD!

Uhura’s Mysterious Armband

You have to understand, I have seen every episode of the original Star Trek series dozens of times so when I spot something I’ve never seen before it’s like receiving a wonderful, geeky present. I recently came across startrekhistory.com, an amazing repository of original Star Trek deleted scenes, unseen photos and production resources. There’s an entire section of the site dedicated to the construction of the original 11-ft model of the Starship Enterprise that no Trek fan should miss. There’s also a section devoted to deleted scenes and visual miscellany, one of which comes from the classic episode The City on the Edge of Forever – Uhura’s mysterious black armband.

I must admit that even after nearly 40 years of watching Star Trek, I had never seen this costume element before. The band is worn on her left arm and is only shown in the opening sequence. What is it? Why is it there for only this one scene? Is it simply a goof or something else that we never got to see? The authors at StarTrekHistory theorize it might have been a velcro strap that Uhura could attach her famous ear piece to when not in use, similar to how the crew wore their phasers and communicators. That theory sounds pretty plausible to me and since it never appears in any other scene in the original series, we’ll probably never know. Tiny details like Uhura’s armband may seem like minutia to the uninitiated, but to life-long Star Trek fans like myself they bring nerdy joy. I LOVE that even after all this time, I’m still discovering things about Star Trek I never knew. Utterly fascinating.

One Perfect Shot: TOS’s ‘The Menagerie Pt. I & II’

There are a few shots from the original series that fans like myself consider highly iconic. Today’s one perfect shot from the two-part episode The Menagerie is one such image. The shot features a medieval-looking castle on the planet of Rigel VII where Captain Pike (in the foreground) is forced to fight a large, hulking Kalar. This wonderful frame features a matte painting by artist Albert Whitlock that was actually improved for the re-mastered version of the original series.

The Menagerie’s skillful use of scenes and elements from the original, un-aired Star Trek pilot, The Cage, was Gene Roddenberry’s way of taking some of the pressure off the show as the schedule of the original series started to slip from week to week. By creating essentially a “flashback story” with a dramatically shorter script (just 64 pages long, shorter than the scripts for most single-part episodes), Roddenberry was able to give the production and writing teams crucial time to get back on schedule with NBC for episodes currently in production.

The castle would again be re-used in season 3’s Requiem for Methuselah as the lavish home of the immortal recluse Mr. Flint. When the re-mastered version of Requiem aired, the original shot from The Cage was replaced by an all-new, CGI version of Flint’s home on Holberg 917G.

Next up, Captain Kirk discovers the play’s the thing wherein he’ll catch The Conscience of the King.

Star Trek: The Next Generation S7 on Blu Ray

All good things must come to an end (see what I did there?) and such is the case with the high-definition conversion of Star Trek: The Next Generation on blu-ray. The final season 7 has just been announced and to geeks like myself, this is positively great news. Not so much for the episodes in S7, but hopefully because this means CBS will be that much closer to starting work on HD versions of my favorite Trek series – Deep Space Nine. All kidding aside, there are some great stories in season 7 including ‘The Pegasus’ ‘Attached’ and of course ‘All Good Things’. This final set also promises to be chock full of cast extras that should be worth the price of admission.

Head over to Amazon to pre-order your copy of Next Generation, season 7 on blu-ray today. Yes, this is an affiliate link and yes, I’d really appreciate it if you pre-ordered from my blog. Thanks for your support! 🙂

‘Star Trek’ Actress Arlene Martel Dies at 78

This past week has been tremendously sad as we’ve lost several notable stars of the big and small screen. Arlene Martel, who Star Trek fans will remember for playing Spock’s Vulcan bride, T’Pring in “Amok Time,” died on Tuesday, August 12, 2014. She won’t be recognized by nearly as many people as Robin Williams or Lauren Becall but to Trek fans like myself, she holds a special place in our hearts. I’m not afraid to say I had a huge crush on Martel as T’Pring as a boy and although she appeared in other TV series including Hogan’s Heroes, Bewitched, The Wild, Wild West and Battlestar Galactica (1978), I’ll always remember her as the coldly logical vulcan who managed to outsmart even Spock. Rest in peace, Arlene.

One Perfect Shot: TOS ‘The Corbomite Maneuver’

Back in 2006 CBS Home Video began airing the first episodes of Star Trek: The Original Series in their newly re-mastered format. These episodes featured improved CGI effects, HD picture quality and professional sound mixing and have become my absolute favorite examples of how remastering a classic property such as Star Trek, should be approached. Mike Okuda and the team at CBS focused on creating visuals that enhanced the originals; more realistic planets, more detail on the Enterprise and beautifully rendered alien landscapes. The team produced the kinds of shots the original show creators would have used themselves if possible. The remastered original series is a testament to restraint and good visual design and if you want a great example, look no further than ‘The Corbomite Maneuver’.

Our one perfect shot features the Enterprise dwarfed by the Fesarius, the flagship of the “First Federation”, an immense ship of size and power. Captain Kirk and crew make first contact with Balok, commander of the Fesarius and employ a cunning bluff to avoid certain destruction. As a kid, this shot of the Enterprise and Fesarius always gave me chills and the newly remastered version adds a definite sense of wonder and awe. The detail on the surface of the Fesarius is now geometric in nature and the entire ship seems to pulse with limitless energy. I also love how we can see some of the internal structure of Balok’s craft which takes visual cues from geodesic dome designs like EPCOT’s Spaceship Earth. The re-mastered special effects in The Corbomite Maneuver are impressive, beautiful and purposeful which adds up to the perfect combination for one perfect shot.

Notably, the other shot I considered for this episode depicts one of the most iconic (and low-tech) aliens from the entire series, the puppet of Balok’s alter ego himself. Created by production designer Wah Chang, this supremely alien character could have easily been replaced with a CG version of the primitive puppet, but Okuda and team wisely let him stand in his original form. Chang’s original concept sketch for Balok is wonderful and his depiction on the small screen was often featured in the closing credits of Star Trek episodes each week. I almost chose Balok for this episode’s one perfect shot, but in the end the beauty and attention to detail of the remastered Fesarius won out.

Next up, Spock kidnaps the Enterprise in a bold attempt to help his former Captain in ‘The Menagerie Pt. I & II

One Perfect Shot: TOS ‘Dagger of the Mind’

While on a routine cargo drop to the Tantalus Penal Colony, the Enterprise takes on a stowaway, the violently insane Dr. Simon Van Gelder. The episode’s one perfect shot depicts Spock preparing for the series’ very first Vulcan mind-meld while Dr. McCoy looks on. This shot is quintessential original series Trek – the concerned look on McCoy’s face as Spock is hunched over in deep meditation speaks volumes about the two’s relationship with each other. They team up to perform a risky procedure in the hopes of uncovering what’s really happening at Doctor Tristan Adams’ institute of horrors, and manage to save Jim in the process. Dagger of the Mind is one of the very first episodes I remember loving and remains a personal favorite to this day.

Next time Kirk demonstrates to Spock poker’s advantages over chess in ‘The Corbomite Maneuver‘.

One Perfect Shot: Star Trek’s ‘Miri’

In the entire history of Star Trek, episodes that feature stories centered on children are some of the weaker installments, but season one’s ‘Miri‘ is the exception to the rule. After responding to a planetary distress call, the Enterprise landing party contracts a virulent disease that will quickly kill them unless a cure can be found. All of the adults, or “grups” as they are called have died leaving the children or “onlies” behind to fend for themselves. When the children enter puberty and start to become adults, they too contract the disease and eventually die a painful, violent death. The onlies distrust all grups and steal the landing party’s communicators, cutting off contact with the Enterprise along with any hope of finding an antidote. Kirk must convince one of the eldest onlies, a girl named Miri, to help him retrieve their communicators if they are to survive.

The episode’s one perfect shot is of the title character, Miri, as she spies on Kirk, Rand and the rest of the Enterprise grups desperately trying to isolate the disease that wiped out her entire planet. Miri is played wonderfully by actress Kim Darby who went onto star in a number of other TV and movie rolls including the original True Grit with John Wayne, Better Off Dead and Don’t Be Afriad of the Dark. I love this shot of Miri half-hidden behind a doorway as she tries to decide if the adults from another world have come to help or hurt her and her friends.

A sad production note: I learned while researching this episode that after filming was complete, at the friday-night after party for the cast, actress Grace Lee Whitney was sexually assaulted by a member of the show whom she only identifies as “The Executive” in her autobiography The Longest Trek: My Tour of the Galaxy. Horribly, she was fired from Star Trek soon afterwards and didn’t appear in the franchise again until the feature films. I shutter to think which Executive could have done this to her, but no matter who it was, it surely is one of the darkest footnotes in Star Trek’s long history.

Next time Spock prepares a historic first in the series – the Vulcan mind meld in ‘Dagger of the Mind‘!