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Today, for no discernible reason, I remembered a treasure of my childhood–a Star Trek coloring book from the 1970s for the awesome (but often-overlooked) Star Trek animated series which had Leonard Nimoy, William Shatner, and the rest of the original cast voicing the characters.  By its very nature, the animated series allowed for a much broader variety of strange alien lifeforms and mind-shattering outer space hijinks (which meant there were Kzinti and Phylosians and whatnot running around).

The coloring book (which my father brought home to cheer me up when I had a bad ear infection) was similarly awesome, with whole pages dedicated to crazy aliens. There was one particular 2 page spread with an entire alien ecosystem (!), which I often stared at longingly. But there was a problem: my 5 year old self did not have the fine motor control (nor the other requisite tools) to color these magnificent images in the fashion which they deserved. I tried coloring a lesser picture of some redshirts and junior officers, and it turned into a disaster of jagged mustard, orange, and puke colored wax expressionism (remember this was the 70s). There was no way I was going to deface those incredible alien worlds with such raw artistic incompetence.

“Captain, I very much fear that the ship is taking on unsustainable quantities of magenta. Also, our enlisted personnel have been bisected by a ‘goldenrod’ line”

So I didn’t color my favorite coloring book and I waited to get good enough to be worthy of it. But, alas, by the time I reckoned myself to be sufficiently talented to properly color the best pages (2009, maybe?), the book was long gone. I would like to make a joke about that janky seventies newsprint turning yellow and brittle over the decades, but I think my mom threw it away back in the day because I wasn’t using it (also, she not-very-secretly disliked Star Trek for reasons unknown & unfathomable). But even if the book had somehow survived up until now (when I finally have the French gauche and 300 sharpened Prismacolor pencils necessary for the assignment) would I color such a thing? Of course not! I can draw my own alien planets (and, cough, perhaps the illustration quality of this book does not entirely warrant the enthusiasm I had for it as a child).

But the seventies Star Trek coloring book is still my favorite coloring book and, in retrospect, its lessons might outstrip the (treasured and hard-won) lessons of the coloring books which I did color. For not only did it teach us about exploration, equality, and the boundless strength of the human (and Vulcan…and Edosian) spirit, the coloring book also taught lessons about living life NOW, not in some abstract future where everything is perfect. Would I have been happy with the job I did coloring the Phylosians or Captain Kirk holding a paring knife? No, of course not! No matter what decade it is, I am never satisfied with my artwork no matter what form it takes. But at least I would have had the pleasure of confronting the challenge and learning from it and moving on. Now it will forever be trapped in the past, uncolored (unless I somehow find the images online…or buy an adult Star Trek coloring book…or go to a website where you can color this online right this moment). Sigh…

What really worries me is whether I have actually learned this lesson or whether I am leaving the best part of life to be lived on a day which never arrives.

You could change course NOW though

branch-of-red-orange-leaves_medium

Right now autumn colors are just hitting their brilliant peak in Brooklyn. Today, while I was running an errand, I saw a tree which had turned a perfect combination of bright orange, rich pink, and crimson. Unfortunately, I don’t have a photo of the lovely tree (since I didn’t have my camera phone on me) but the color of its leaves was sublime. I ran home to look at the big list of color names to find this exquisite otherworldly hue—which seemed like it came from some paradise or celestial realm—and I was appalled when I discovered the name was “outrageous orange.”

Outrageous Orange

Outrageous Orange

The mystery to why the name was so jejune was promptly solved when I looked over at the source of the name: “outrageous orange” was a name conceived by Crayola in 1972. Crayola crayons are magnificent products, but they are marketed to children. The silly alliteration and facile name are thus explained. In fact, the color was renamed “ultra orange” in 1990 (which hardly seems like an improvement).

I feel like I remember this crayon from my own 70's childhood

I feel like I remember this crayon from my own 70’s childhood

Whatever the name, the color is exquisite, and perfectly evokes sunsets, autumn leaves, and slowly cooling magma. We need more words for beautiful bright orange tones other than “orange” but I’m not sure I am going to go around talking about “outrageous orange.”

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