We used to joke that Michael Parker was a reverse leprechaun, having been born a day before St. Patrick’s Day.
We met on the first day of 6th grade at the now-defunct Luther Burbank Middle School in the Excelsior District of San Francisco. It was just one of those weird moments when two people meet and just start hanging out, being friends.
He, along with Jeff Segal and myself, hung out so much that we called ourselves the Awesome Trio, as middle schoolers are apt to do, nicknaming themselves.
We got split up in high school, with Mike going to McAteer and me going to Lowell, and occasionally we’d bump into each other around the city. Once I saw him at the fire station where he was working, across the street from another friend’s house.
Truth be told, I haven’t talked to him in years, though we remain friends on Facebook.
Happy Birthday, Mike! Thanks for your friendship during our formative years, and throughout our lifetimes.
March 9th, 1967: premiere date of Star Trek episode ‘The Devil in the Dark’.
Dispatched to the mining colony on Janus VI, the Enterprise is tasked to investigate rumors of a strange, subterranean creature responsible for destruction of equipment and the deaths of fifty miners. Kirk and Spock discover a silicon-based life form, a Horta, which lives in the surrounding rock. After Kirk and his Vulcan first officer find the strange creature, Spock performs a mind meld, discovering the reason behind the Horta’s attacks.
This episode holds a special place in my memories because it was the first Star Trek fotonovel that I bought, which means it was one of the first books that I ever bought on my own, with my allowance. I think I got it from Gemco.
It was a great episode, with a really cool monster, the Horta.
I still have an unopened Spock action figure that I picked up last year after that Star Trek concert. Perhaps I should open it.
Glenn Young and I were born two days apart, in the same hospital, and grew up in the same neighborhood for the better part of over 30 years.
We didn’t actually meet until Mrs. King’s kindergarten class. About a couple of weeks into that school year, Glenn was reassigned to the afternoon class, and we didn’t attend school together until we were in Mr. Van Pelt’s Algebra I class in freshman year of high school.
In between that time we’d see each other around the neighborhood, on our way to the corner store or going to or from school. I recall one day when I saw Glenn coming home from the store, arms full of every pack of the 1976 Star Trek trading cards that they had. Or so it looked that way.
Glenn has been my conscious at times throughout the years, helping me through matters of the heart and head, and generally helping me keep sane.
He and I pretty much share most if not all of our interests, from comic books to Star Trek to baseball to Star Blazers.
Glenn fed my interest in tabletop gaming and role-playing games, introducing me to both Star Fleet Battles and the Star Trek Role-Playing Game during high school. He helped me get a job at Gamemasters Distributors in the early days of college.
And we’ve been going to baseball games together for about as far back as the late 1980s.
We’re both avid Barry Bonds fans, having attended most of the significant events of his career as a San Francisco Giant, including milestone home runs, the day he hit his first grand slam as a Giant (vs the Rockies) and the night he hit the 500-500 mark in his career (homers-stolen bases, vs. the Dodgers). We plan to take the trip to Cooperstown the year he gets into the Hall of Fame.
The most interesting dynamic between us is that although Glenn is a Kirk fan and I’m a Spock fan, Glenn is more Spock to my Kirk: calm and collected to my over emotional outbursts.
And as I said about another friend who turned 50, Glenn probably knows me better than I know myself.
Happy Birthday, Glenn. Thank you for telling me what I needed to hear, instead of what I wanted to hear. I have been, and always shall be, your friend. Peace and long life.
February 23, 1967: premiere date of Star Trek episode ‘A Taste of Armageddon’.
On the day I was born, this episode premiered.
On Eminiar VII, the Enterprise finds a civilization at war with its planetary neighbor. Unable to discern any signs of battle from orbit, Captain Kirk leads a landing party to the surface where he discovers the entire war is fought by computer. Even though the war is simulated, citizens who are listed as virtual casualties still report to termination booths to be killed for real. After the Enterprise is destroyed in an attack simulation, Kirk must fight to keep his crew from death.
I always liked this episode, because it was basically a real live war game run by computers. Much like what I’ve been playing most of my life on my computers and game consoles.
This episode includes one of my favorite Spock lines:
Sir, there is a multi-legged creature crawling on your shoulder.
Since I bought the entire series on DVD and later blu-ray, I make a point to watch this episode on or around my birthday.
February 16, 1967: premiere date of Star Trek episode ‘Space Seed’
One week before I was born, an episode of Star Trek premiered that would one day be the catalyst that rejuvenated the franchise.
The Enterprise discovers an ancient sleeper ship, the SS Botany Bay, which escaped from Earth’s Eugenics Wars in the late 20th century. The genetically engineered passengers, led by war criminal Khan Noonien Singh, seize control of the Enterprise and attempt to destroy the ship. (This episode serves as the backstory to the second Star Trek film)
Admittedly, this was never one of my favorite episodes. Indeed, when the first news of the second Star Trek film came out, and that the producers were going to base it on this episode, I had serious doubts about how that was going to work.
Ricardo Montalban was known by me for his Chrysler Cordoba commercial, with the ‘rich Corinthian leather’ seats, and as Mr. Roarke on Fantasy Island. I was totally unaware of any of his other work in TV and film.
The movie itself was a huge success, and still remains as my favorite of all the Star Trek films.
It was also the first film that made me cry like a baby at the theatre. It still makes me tear up when I watch it.
Doubts aside, if it wasn’t for this particular episode, and the foresight of Harve Bennett and Nicholas Meyer, Star Trek may have never reached the popularity it achieved to this day.
And while I say that Star Wars rules my life, I was first, and foremost, a Trekkie.
Second grade seemed to be a time when I had met a lot of people who became life long friends. Another of those friends turns 50.
Jeff Segal and I met under the same circumstances as with most of my friends from Mrs. Sinton’s 2nd grade class: forgotten circumstances. All I know is that Jeff and I seemed to be joined at the hip from 2nd grade through 8th grade. You usually didn’t see one of us without the other around.
I remember the first time he came over the house for dinner, my Mom greeted him and hugged him, and would hug him at any opportunity. Jeff noted later, when we reconnected on Facebook, that he remembered Mom doing that.
We went our separate ways in high school, he going to McAteer while I went to Lowell. We stayed in touch over the years, he came over for a house party that I threw during sophomore year, and later invited me to his wedding in the north bay.
Last time we saw each other was for the above picture, when he and Nelson and I met up for lunch. Jeff was on Facebook for a while, but recently has deactivated his account.
Wherever you are, Jeff, Happy Birthday! Thanks for being a great friend over the years. Hope you’re doing alright.
Nelson Wong and I first met under forgotten circumstances when we were 7 years old, in Mrs. Sinton’s 2nd grade class at Longfellow Elementary School. In 3rd grade we were placed in separate mixed grade (2nd and 3rd) classes, and while we were supposed to attend the same school in 4th and 5th grades, the campus was under renovation for both of those school years.
We were reunited in 6th grade at Luther Burbank Middle (Jr High) School. We then both went to Lowell High School, and then college, he at CCSF, me at SFSU. Eventually Nelson transferred to SFSU as well.
Our post-college careers took us along different paths, though we did keep in touch, until I started working for the Judicial Branch of California, where Nelson had already been working for a couple of years. He was the one who actually recruited me for this job. And we’ve been working at the same place ever since.
Over the years we’ve made a habit of watching Star Wars films together, specifically premieres or at least our first viewings of each film. This started in 1980 with The Empire Strikes Back, though we just planned to be there with school friends and family. This has continued through last month, when Rogue One premiered. We attended our first sci-fi conventions together back in high school, and made a few geek road trips to San Diego Comic-Con and Star Wars Celebration.
Our interest in games are similar, as we played the same tabletop RPGs in high school, and as we later played the same online RPGs over the past few years. We still get together with friends for monthly Games Days, and occasionally play a board/card game at work with coworkers, during lunch.
I sometimes joke that he’s one of the few people that probably knows me better than I know myself. As I get older myself, this may or may not be more true. Memory is the first to go, y’know.
Happy Birthday, Nelson. Thanks for being there for me over the years, and for being such a great friend. The Force is with you, and you are one with the Force.