There's no denying that this photo of President Barack Obama and Nichelle Nichols — Star Trek's original and definitive Lt. Uhura — making the Vulcan salute in the Oval Office is just plain cool, whatever your politics may be.
While it was apparently taken on Leap Day, Feb. 29th, Nichols only shared it via TwitPic on Apr. 4th.
I met Ms. Nichols in passing once, at a comics and sci-fi convention in 1989 or thereabouts. Never much for autographs, I'd still wait in line to see an actor, writer, artist, etc. on occasion just to say how much I admired his or her work, and in this case a cousin of mine with whom I was attending the con wanted to see if Nichelle would mind taping a little "stinger" for the radio station where he was working — you know, something like "This is Nichelle Nichols, Lt. Uhura of Star Trek. Whenever I'm orbiting Philadelphia, I set my hailing frequencies to 93.3 WMMR."
Nichols gave a talk at the con that included her familiar anecdote about speaking with MLK in 1967: She was debating leaving Star Trek because Uhura had so little to do, but Dr. King impressed upon her how powerful it was for young black children simply to see a proud African woman serving aboard the highly integrated bridge of the starship Enterprise.
What a difference 45 years can make...
The variant cover above to Archie #636 reflects the latest spin on Archie Comics' 70-year-old franchise. In recent years the publisher's flagship character has married both of his longtime ladyfriends, Betty and Veronica, in competing daydreams / parallel universes (as I wrote in late 2009 and in 2010), as well as welcomed openly gay hunk Kevin Keller to Riverdale, started up a romance with Valerie of Josie and the Pussycats, and mined fertile ground at the crossroads of marketing and creativity in other ways (as I mentioned earlier in 2009).
Now it's been announced that the newest possible future of Archie Andrews', in which he weds Valerie in a multi-part story from writer/artist Dan Parent, will be followed by a switcheroo that's, um, engendered by Salem — the magical cat who keeps company with everyone's favorite teenage witch, Sabrina. Tania del Rio, who recently concluded a long run on a different approach to Ms. Spellman, wrote the story, to be penciled by the artist Gisele and inked by Rich Koslowski. The standard cover to Archie #636, viewable at the Archie Comics website, previews the "boys vs. girls" plot, while the variant (drawn, like the regular cover, by Gisele) riffs on a classic Archie image by showing "Archina" flanked by the transformed Veronica Lodge and Betty Cooper, now Ronnie and Billy; the issue is scheduled to hit comics shops on Aug. 22nd and newsstands a couple of weeks later.
One can only assume that the constant press drummed up by Archie Comics' content these days is a welcome antidote to the press resulting from its internal politics. The family-owned company was profiled Apr. 15th in a New York Times article written by Robin Finn and accompanied by spot illos drawn by Mark Matcho mimicking a more vintage Archie style. Archie co-CEOs Jon Goldwater and Nancy Silberkleit have been trading accusations for some time now, with Silberkleit barred from the offices.
I apologize if you've only recently managed to get the infectious Gotye track "Somebody That I Used to Know" out of your head and I'm putting it back on constant rotation. The song has been everywhere lately — up to and including Saturday Night Live, where its music video starring Gotye and guest vocalist Kimbra was parodied in an SNL Digital Short with Gotye, Andy Samberg, and Tarran Killam.
Gotye was born Wouter "Wally" De Backer, and his nom de musique is pronounced "go-tee-yay" after Gautier, the French version of his given name, which his mother called him according to Ouikipidié. The innovative spelling would probably work a lot better if Kanye West weren't around and/or if his name were pronounced "kay-nee-yay" instead of "kahn-yay". If you can fault his phoneticism, however, you certainly can't fault his musicality; the mood and instrumentation of "Somebody" remind me of David Bowie's haunting "Ashes to Ashes" off Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) in the best way, mashed up with Peter Gabriel and a smidgen of Fleetwood Mac.
Among the cover versions of "Somebody" unleashed this year were performances on The Voice and American Idol, as well as a much-hyped duet on Glee, but, perhaps predictably, my favorite by far is the a cappella rendition from The Sing-Off champions Pentatonix uploaded to YouTube on Feb. 6th — because it both does more than mimic the original and sounds awesome.
This edition of Week Links, probably the last for a while, concludes with a video clip posted on the Team Coco website Apr. 19th, presumably from the previous night's Conan, whose title says it all: "Nick Offerman from Parks and Recreation Reads Tweets from Young Female Celebrities".
Live long and prosper, everybody!
Archie cover © 2012, and Archie logo/characters TM/®, Archie Comic Publications.
Other images and their contents, as applicable, are the property of their respective rightsholders. No infringement is intended or implied.