Caturday Trekness

By Phil Plait | April 11, 2009 8:00 am

It’s Caturday, and I’m a Trek nerd, so here you go. And no, I won’t explain it.


Comments (59)

  1. defective robot

    Boy, I’m a Trek nerd and I don’t get it. Then again, it appears to be a reference to the original Trek, which I have to admit that I haven’t followed closely for years…

    Now if it were a Dr. Who thing, I’d have gotten it immediately.

  2. It is indeed an Original Series reference, and it’s hilarious!

  3. pants magee

    oh I get it, cats… love……… nope its gone… How good are pants though?.

  4. Spaky

    It’s more of a caturday Goa’uld, in my most humble opinon.

    “TAU’RI! KREE! Rub your God’s belly and bring tuna fish!” [flash glowing eyes]

  5. Nathan


    Paging Dr Dehner, paging Dr Dehner

  6. Bramblyspam

    For those who really must have an explanation, Gary Mitchell was that officer-turned-god-with-the-silvery-eyes from one of the original Star Trek episodes.

  7. Gemini

    It’s a reference to the original series Star Trek pilot “Where No Man Has Gone Before.”

  8. What does it say about my nerditude that I got this right away? Sigh.

  9. Kathy A.

    Took me a few seconds in Wikipedia, but once I read it all came back to me. Good one, Phil!

  10. It says you’re a nerd who appreciates the classics. Woohoo TOS!

    We’ll just forget the whole “James R. Kirk” thing for the sake of continuity, though.

  11. Even before I read the bottom text, I was thinking “TOS reference? No, too obscure…” Then I remembered it was Phil.

  12. Sadly, I also got the reference right away. I prefer to think of myself as more of a geek than a nerd, though.

  13. ND

    Think pilot episode. Breaking through a barrier, people getting zapped. Eyes start glowing. Gary starts reading stuff really really fast.

  14. DavidHW

    That’s “James R. Kirk” to you, Gary.

    //not to Phil, I bet

  15. Evilcor

    Hey Phil,
    off topic, but you might want to check the Star Formation High Scores again. Last night was a good one for me.

  16. Brian

    (That pilot, not the other pilot.)

  17. ABR.

    Where No Cat Has Gone Before.

  18. Ed

    Very nice. Happily, I got it right away. Had I not, I would have had to turn in my nerd card.

  19. OtherRob

    My geek status is confirmed as I, too, got it right away. :)

  20. RE: Pilot

    Remember, unless you didn’t know it, that WNMHGB was a SECOND pilot, the one that introduced Kirk, kept Spock from the first (The Cage – edited into the two parter as “flashbacks”) and did NOT have McCoy as Chief Medical Officer (one of the problems I have with ‘canon’ in ST:TOS being violated).

    I remember watching The Man Trap (there’s a truly nerd trivia, for those of us old enough to have watched TOS on original broadcast)


  21. Hi. I subscribe to Discover magazine and decided to visit. I like your blog, but I think I’m too old(71) and not quite smart enough. A point in my favor is that I’ve been a Trekker since 1966 and I raised my kids on the moral values of Star Trek. And they turned out pretty good. I’ll drop in from time to time.

  22. Tim G

    I suppose we’ll have to watch the episode.

  23. Calamity Janeway

    Nothing like Trek to kick off a Saturday, thanks. Nice one Tuff Cookie!

  24. no explanations required.

  25. I was confused because I always think of that character as “Gary Lockwood” or sometimes “Frank Poole.”

    And sometimes, when I’m very confused, I think of him as “Ensign Pulver.”

  26. Jeremy

    Funnily enough I just rewatched that episode recently. The wife and I decided to watch everything from the original series through DS9 (and then stop, like sensible people, before Voyager).

  27. The ST:TOS novel Strangers in the Sky (never canon, and eventually contradicted by canon material like the First Contact movie) explained away McCoy’s absence by saying he temporarily left the ship for another assignment on the Aldebaran colony. Explanations I’ve seen for the “R” in “James R. Kirk” include the idea that Gary Mitchell was just mistaken, that Kirk had a nickname in the Academy which began with R, and that the episode takes place in a parallel universe in which Kirk’s middle name is “Riberius”.

    (In an earlier century, people like me had to become rabbis.)

  28. theinquisitor
  29. Gazz

    I knew the reference straight away as I remember looking forward to, then watching the first Star Trek episode and thinking how cool it was their first baddie had the same first name as me, that sold me on the series right from the off.

  30. Anonymous

    Caturday… Phil, do you lurk on 4chan?

  31. MadScientist

    Treknerdery … painful … someone … beam … me … out.

  32. Joe Meils

    The cool thing is, whenever he meyows, he does it in that weirdly amplified, heavy reverb way… (Scares the crap out of the dog, too…)

  33. Darth Robo



  34. Gary Lockwood (and Keir Dullea), along with Phil, were guests at Spacefest in February. Gary tuned 72 while there. The two of them (Keir & Gary) are like a comedy team.


  35. Wes Bowie

    Classic. Love it!

  36. Grand Lunar

    I got it right away too, after I translated the spelling.

    It’d be a good test for fellow Trekkers/Trekkies to see who can get this!

  37. I got it instantly… it is quite funny, both from the perspective of a life-long Trek fan (I don’t remember ever NOT watching Trek in some form or another [born in 84]) and a cat owner.

  38. defective robot

    The sad part is, I remember entering a trivia contest on the opening day of ST2 when I was about 12 and winning a pair of tickets to E.T. because I was the only one there who could answer all of the obscure trivia. And now it’s all gone.

    Should I be sad?

    About two years later, I won a Doctor Who trivia contest because I was the only one who knew the coordinates to Gallifrey. And those are stuck in my head to this day, like some twisted variation on pi memorization.

    Boy, now I am sad.

  39. jeffns

    “Above all, a cat NEEDS compassion!!”

  40. QUASAR

    What’s with that cat? And who is that cat?

  41. Tim G

    Hold on a minute.

    Is that your cat?

  42. CR

    I got it! YAY! I think… (Funny, just when I think I’m over Star Trek, I slip back a ways. Soft spot for the classics, I guess.)

  43. I’m a major Trek geek, but I don’t get it. Then again, TOS is my least favorite Trek series.

  44. Was supposed to be pilot episode of spin off series.. fortunately, it never took off

  45. You know what’s really pathetic? I not only got the reference right away, but I found out that they have a “sequel” to that episode, in comic book form, where the crew of the original series meets the X-Men.

    Even worse, you can download it here.

    There, I’ve just out-geeked all of you.

    That’s not really a good thing, is it?

  46. Geek Goddess

    I got it.

    I need to get a life, though

  47. Improbus

    TOS LOLCAT … Excellent … I Can Haz Antim8tr? I Needz It Fur Timez Experimentz!!! (insert warp engine overload sound)

  48. CR

    @ Michael L
    Spin-off series? Are you sure you’re not thinking of the ‘Gary 7’ episode that came much later? THAT Star Trek ep was supposed to be a pilot for a spin-off series… (GARY Mitchell, GARY Seven: two Garys, but two entirely different characters.)

  49. Christine P.

    I got it. But I yield to the uber-geekiness of Reynold. :-)

  50. Blizno

    Somebody remastered season one of the original Star Trek. Besides using the original film (far clearer and sharper than the TV broadcast resolution), certain bits were redone with CGI. The outside-the-ship bits are superb.
    This episode (Where No Man Has Gone Before) was particularly well served. The scenes when Enterprise enters the energy barrier are gorgeous.

    Why anyone thought there would be any kind of energy barrier at the “edge” of the galaxy is beyond me, but it’s still a fun episode.

  51. !AstralProjectile

    I havn’t given that episode much thought for a while, so just realized that the energy barrier starting as a dot and getting bigger must be a relativistic tunnel-vision thing.

  52. fff

    Since when did Caturday become a thing outside certain websites?

  53. Chanelle

    Weird that some cat’s eyes glow yellow, while one of my cat’s eyes glow very bright green in photos, and our (human) eyes glow red.

    Probably a simple explanation of it, but I’m not that familiar with the structure of cat eyes.

  54. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    @ Chanelle:

    I’m not a biologist but there are two more or less famous facts on eyes that we can check the web for.

    First, the tetrapod (landliving vertebrate) eye is twice backwards, compared to cephalopods.

    The blood supply in vertebrate eyes comes from the front, with oxygen and cooling (due to the light!), so they cover the nerve receptors for light (and especially makes a blind spot where the blood vessels enter the eye).

    And they force the receptors, placed as the 9th or so cellular layer down, to face away (!) from the eye entrance.

    Second, the layer beneath the receptors is usually a light absorbing black (or brown, in humans) layer, to avoid light from destroying light-sensitive biomolecules necessary to feed the receptors and to enhance acuity by suppressing scattered light.

    But despite that cats (as dogs and many other animals) have a reflective layer behind the retina, to give the infalling surviving photons a second chance to reach a receptor. Less acuity, more sensitivity.

    So especially in humans, but also other animals we have a red-eye effect, when we see the brown retinal pigment. And then we have other colors, when reflected in reflective layers of various kinds.

    [At this point I had to check:

    “White eyeshine occurs in many fish, especially walleye; blue eyeshine occurs in many mammals such as horses; yellow eyeshine occurs in mammals such as cats, dogs, and raccoons; and red eyeshine occurs in rodents, opossums and birds.

    The human eye has no tapetum lucidum, hence no eyeshine. However, in humans and animals two effects can occur that may resemble eyeshine: leukocoria (white shine, indicative of abnormalities including cataracts, cancers, and other problems) and red-eye effect (red shine, apparent only in flash photography). […] Cats and dogs with blue eyes (see Eye color) may display both eyeshine and red-eye effect. […] Individuals with heterochromia may display red eyeshine in the blue eye and “normal” yellow / green / blue / white eyeshine in the other eye.”

    I assume green eye-shine could bee a yellow-red mixture (“both eyeshine and red-eye effect”) so your cat is likely a blue eye?!]

  55. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    Oops, I may have gotten the last part backwards – perhaps these are exclusive effects.

    See Wikipedia for odd-eyed cats: “An odd-eyed cat is a cat with one blue eye and one green, yellow or brown eye. […] As all cats are blue-eyed as kittens,[6] the differences in an odd-eyed kitten’s eye color might not be noticeable save upon close inspection. Odd-eyed kittens have a different shade of blue in one eye. The color of the odd eye changes over a period of months, for example, from blue to green to yellow, until it reaches its final, adult color.”

    Nice pictures too, showing a red-eye and green eye-shine young odd-eyed cat.

    So now my hypotheses is that your cat is a sub-adult youngster, not yet reflecting yellow eye-shine.

  56. Chuck

    . . . ‘And sometimes, when I‚Äôm very confused, I think of him as ‚ÄúEnsign Pulver.‚ÄĚ’
    Harold you must be REALLY confused, because Ensign Pulver is Charlie Evans from Charlie X, not Gary Mitchell.

    I hope we’re not the only two people that understand what I wrote :(

  57. Robert Carnegie

    John Byrne just made a short Gary Seven comics series for publisher IDW. (I think he does all of the separate comics production jobs except for colouring – he’s colour-blind – and yelling because the finished pages are late. And not necessarily this time.) Pretty good stuff, I think. I don’t know if there’s (yet) a collection, but I got ’em. One episode is written around the Enterprise’s -other- on-screen visit to the twentieth century. (I said Enterprise, so “Voyage Home” doesn’t count.)

    If you’re aware of the Scottish John Byrne, this is the Canadian John Byrne.


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