6 Oct

In This Style 10/6”…are you Mad as a Hatter?

Mad Hat­ter Day is every Octo­ber 6th.  Why, you may ask.  In Alice in Won­der­land, the Mad Hatter’s hat (illus­trat­ed by John Ten­niel) has a slip on it that reads “In this style 10/6.”  This means the hat cost 10 shillings and six­pence.  In 1986, some seri­ous­ly bored com­put­er peo­ple in Boul­der, Col­orado cel­e­brat­ed a day of silli­ness.  The Mad Hat­ter char­ac­ter is known for being sil­ly, but did you know that he prob­a­bly just had mer­cury poi­son­ing?

from ALICE'S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND, by Lewis Carroll, with illustrations by John Tenniel. Macmillan and Co, London, 1898.

Mad Hat­ter Disease/Syndrome is chron­ic mer­cury poi­son­ing among hat­mak­ers whose work involved pro­longed expo­sure to mer­cury vapors.  The neu­ro­tox­ic effects includ­ed tremor, patho­log­i­cal shy­ness, and irri­tabil­i­ty.

Right you are Alice!

Right you are Alice!

 Man­u­fac­tur­ing felt hats began in 17th cen­tu­ry France and spread to Eng­land by the end of the cen­tu­ry.  Mer­curic

Danbury hatmakers

Dan­bury hat­mak­ers

nitrate was used to treat the fur of small ani­mals for hats.  By the Vic­to­ri­an era, hat­ters’ con­di­tion had become prover­bial and pop­u­lar expres­sions arose like “mad as a hat­ter,” “hat­ters’ shakes,” and “Dan­bury shakes.”  In Amer­i­ca, this ter­ri­ble prac­tice con­tin­ued until 1941 when mer­cury poi­son­ing in the hat­mak­ing indus­tries of Dan­bury, Con­necti­cut was exposed.


Yes, this hol­i­day has dark roots.  But now it’s fun!  So those com­put­er peo­ple I spoke of, well they announced their day of silli­ness on com­put­er net­works and Mad Hat­ter Day became more pop­u­lar.  In 1988, it was first rec­og­nized as a “hol­i­day.”  


Baby’s hats…contaminated with high lev­els of mercury…I’m sure that worked out well for those babies lat­er in life.

At Kards Unlim­it­ed, we have tons of sil­ly stuff so you can cel­e­brate being sil­ly (and that oh so sil­ly mer­cury poi­son­ing) in style.  We have Mad Hat­ter hats, jew­el­ry, even pass­ports to Won­der­land.  And for the purest, we have The Adven­tures of Alice in Won­der­land with orig­i­nal illus­tra­tions by John Ten­niel.  

We sell this!

We sell this!

I know this is post­ed a bit lat­er than 10/6, but hon­est­ly, you can be sil­ly any day of the year!!!

3 Oct

What’s Your Story Morning Glory?

In 1973, a jour­nal­ism teacher and a few neigh­bors from Jones­bor­ough, Ten­nessee rolled an old farm wag­on into Cour­t­house Square and told sto­ries around the wag­on.  This mod­est fes­ti­val changed Jones­bor­ough forever.  It has been rec­og­nized as the first pub­lic event devot­ed to sto­ry­telling.  In 1975, the Inter­na­tion­al Sto­ry­telling Cen­ter was found­ed and a grow­ing cul­tur­al move­ment began.
Sto­ries are the foun­da­tion of cul­ture.  They can enter­tain, share his­to­ry, spread knowl­edge, per­suade, advance a cause, teach, or impart a dream of a bet­ter future.  Peo­ple need sto­ries to make sense of the world.  Sto­ry­telling is a

Doesn't that microphone look inviting....

Doesn’t that micro­phone look invit­ing.…

pow­er­ful tool for effec­tive com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

In 2002, a new cen­ter cam­pus opened.  It is the first facil­i­ty devot­ed exclu­sive­ly to sto­ry­telling.  Each year, Storyteller’s Week­end is free and open to the pub­lic.  The mis­sion of the Inter­na­tion­al Sto­ry­telling Cen­ter is to enrich MaryBMartinStorytellingHall_Esto-513x302lives through sto­ry­telling, whether by cap­tur­ing and telling their sto­ries, lis­ten­ing to oth­ers, or using it to pro­duce pos­i­tive change in the world.  They desire to build a bet­ter world, health­ier com­mu­ni­ties, more effec­tive work­places, and bet­ter schools.

Though Jones­bor­ough is the sto­ry­telling cap­i­tal of the world, it is not the only devot­ed sto­ry­telling enti­ty.  Ted Talks and The Moth are both orga­ni­za­tions that reg­u­lar­ly give talks in Pitts­burgh, so you don’t have to go all the way to Ten­nessee to hear some good sto­ries.  Before tele­vi­sion we read books, and before we read books we told sto­ries aloud.  It is high time we get back to our roots and tell decent, mean­ing­ful sto­ries.


Cel­e­brate Storyteller’s Week­end this mon­th by sit­ting around a fire pit telling sto­ries among friends and roast­ing marsh­mal­lows!

27 Sep

Who Loves Banned Books? We Love Banned Books!

Sum­mer is unfor­tu­nate­ly com­ing to an end, but you know what that means: Banned Books Week is upon us!!!  This year, you can cel­e­brate the free­dom to read from Sep­tem­ber 27 until Octo­ber 3, 2015.  Libraries, book­stores, and schools through­out the coun­try observe this mag­i­cal week that draws atten­tion to cen­sor­ship.  Not only does it teach us the impor­tance of our first amend­ment rights, it also high­lights the dan­ger that exists when restraints are imposed on the avail­abil­i­ty of infor­ma­tion in a free soci­ety.


And banned books week isn’t just for Amer­i­cans; Amnesty Inter­na­tion­al cel­e­brates by high­light­ing indi­vid­u­als who have been per­se­cut­ed because of writ­ings they pro­duce, read, or cir­cu­late.  They draw atten­tion to human rights vio­la­tions and the price peo­ple pay for express­ing con­tro­ver­sial or anti­so­cial views. 


This year the Amer­i­can Library Asso­ci­a­tion is focus­ing on Young Adult books.  Accord­ing to Judith Platt, the chair of the Banned Books Week Nation­al Com­mit­tee, “Young Adult books are chal­lenged more fre­quent­ly than any oth­er type of book.  The­se are the books that speak most imme­di­ate­ly to young peo­ple, deal­ing with many of the dif­fi­cult issues that arise in their own lives, or in the lives of their friends.  The­se are the books that give young read­ers the abil­i­ty to safe­ly explore the some­times scary real world. This Banned Books Week is a call to action, to remind every­one that young peo­ple need to be allowed the free­dom to read wide­ly, to read books that are rel­e­vant for them, and to be able to make their own read­ing choic­es.”


It’s a week that cel­e­brates auton­o­my and free­dom of expres­sion (some of my favorite things)!  You can cel­e­brate by going to your favorite book­store (Kards Unlim­it­ed, obvi­ous­ly!), or library; or par­tic­i­pate in a “read out” by read­ing pas­sages from your favorite banned book.  There are tons of ways to cel­e­brate!  Come to Kards Unlim­it­ed and we’ll rec­om­mend our favorite banned books.  We also have book­marks and bracelets with a banned books the­me.  


Did you know that the dic­tio­nary is banned in cer­tain US states because of inap­pro­pri­ate words like “penis” and “oral sex”?  Seri­ous­ly?  They banned the dic­tio­nary?  That kind of cen­sor­ship and youth baby­ing is atro­cious.  Here are some quotes about cen­sor­ship by some free-think­ing mas­ters:


Cen­sor­ship is telling a man he can’t have a steak just because a baby can’t chew it.”-Mark Twain


It’s not just the books under fire now that wor­ry me.  It is the books that will nev­er be writ­ten.  The books that will nev­er be read.  And all due to the fear of cen­sor­ship.  As always, young read­ers will be the real losers.”-Judy Blume



If all print­ers were deter­mined not to print any­thing till they were sure it would offend nobody, there would be very lit­tle printed.”-Ben Franklin


There are worse crimes than burn­ing books. One of them is not read­ing them.”-Joseph Brod­sky


If librar­i­an­ship is the con­nect­ing of peo­ple to ideas…it is cru­cial to remem­ber that we must keep and make avail­able, not just good ideas and noble ideas, but bad ideas, sil­ly ideas, and yes, even dan­ger­ous or wicked ideas.”-Graceanne A. Decan­did­io


Books won’t stay banned.  They won’t burn.  Ideas won’t go to jail.  In the long run of his­to­ry, the cen­sor and the inquisi­tor have always lost.”-Alfred Whit­ney Gris­wold


Yes, books are dan­ger­ous.  They should be dan­ger­ous — they con­tain ideas.”-Pete Haut­man

And…Dave Pilkey, the author of Cap­tain Under­pants, has some things to say about cen­sor­ship.


Here are some, though def­i­nite­ly not all, of the banned and chal­lenged books Kards Unlim­it­ed car­ries:

Loli­ta-Banned in South Africa, France, UK, Argenti­na, and New Zealand for being obscene. (Banned in 1955)

1984-Almost banned by UK and USA in the 1960s dur­ing the Cuban Mis­sile Cri­sis; banned by Sovi­et Union in 1950, as Stal­in thought it was a satire of his lead­er­ship

Lady Chaterley’s Lover-Tem­porar­i­ly banned in US and UK for vio­lat­ing obscen­i­ty laws (Banned in 1929)

Franken­stein-Banned in apartheid South Africa for obscene and inde­cent mate­ri­al (Banned in 1955)

50 Shades of Grey series-Banned in Malaysia for con­tain­ing sadis­tic mate­ri­al deemed a “threat to moral­i­ty.”  (2015)

Diary Of a Young Girl-Banned in Lebanon for por­tray­ing Jews, Israel, and Zion­ism favor­ably

Catch-22-Banned in sev­er­al US states. (cur­rent­ly)

Brave New World-Banned in Ire­land and Aus­tralia because of ref­er­ences to sex­u­al promis­cu­ity (Banned in 1932)

Ani­mal Farm-Although it was com­plet­ed in 1943, no pub­lish­er would print it due to its crit­i­cism of USSR (an impor­tant ally of Britain dur­ing WWII).  Also banned in com­mu­nist coun­tries and USSR.  (Final­ly pub­lished in 1945)

Alice’s Adven­tures in Won­der­land-Banned in province of Hunan, Chi­na for por­tray­ing anthro­po­mor­phized ani­mals act­ing as humans.  The cen­sor Gen­er­al Ho Chien believed attribut­ing human lan­guage to ani­mals was an insult to humans.  (Banned in 1931)

25 Sep

The Karaoke Bars are calling because it’s One Hit Wonder Day!

The sweetest revenge.

The sweet­est revenge.

One Hit Won­der Day was estab­lished by music jour­nal­ist Steve Rosen in 1990 to pay trib­ute to those who tech­ni­cal­ly didn’t even have their five min­utes of fame, because most one hit won­ders are less time than that.  Cel­e­brate by lis­ten­ing to an artist that con­tribut­ed one enor­mous­ly suc­cess­ful song, and not much else, to human­i­ty. Or go to a karaoke bar and show your love by singing a painful­ly heart­felt ren­di­tion of “I Touch Myself.”  Peo­ple will either sing along with you, or leave.  Good luck! 

Everyone knows what song this happened to!

Every­one knows what song this hap­pened to!

I total­ly thought I was up on my one hit won­der knowl­edge.  I thought I would know all the bands and songs.  As it turns out…I do not.  I failed mis­er­ably, aside from the few songs on mix CD’s expert­ly curat­ed by my broth­er in the ear­ly 2000s.  I played those CD’s from mid­dle school well into my high school days on my Sony Walk­man and it baf­fles me that I have to look up the artists, but I remem­ber the song lyrics by heart.  Because they are just that catchy and mem­o­rable.  

Oh yes...this was the one.   So sleek.

Oh yes…this was the one. So sleek.

And all those argu­ments about whether or not ‘Don’t Wor­ry Be Hap­py’ was sung by Bob Mar­ley can final­ly be put to rest; it wasn’t.  And did you know that Chum­bawamba was orig­i­nal­ly an anar­chist band?  They were actu­al­ly quite good before they sold out.  Seri­ous­ly check out “Time­bomb,” their tal­ent was wast­ed on ear­ly 1990’s ravers, so sad.  They fed into the sys­tem they want­ed so deeply to change.  It’s the nature of the beast.  But let’s not be angsty, we love all music!!!!  So let’s cel­e­brate all the bands, decades, and one hit won­ders to grace us with their pres­ence, how­ev­er fleet­ing.  

Yep, that's a pretty anarchist song title.

Yep, that’s a pret­ty anar­chist song title.

And here’s a list of One Hit Won­ders! Enjoy!


-Los Del Rio–’Macarena’  (Call­ing all 90’s kids!  Watch this!)
-Lou Bega–’Mambo #5’
-Soft Cell–’Tainted Love’
-Sir Mix A Lot–’I like big butts’
-Vanil­la Ice–’Ice Ice Baby’
-Blind Melon–’No Rain’
-Tag Team–’Whoomp! (There it is)’
-4 Non Blondes–’What’s Up?’
-Eddy Grant–‘Elec­tric Avenue’
-Aqua–’Barbie Girl’
-Bil­ly Ray Cyrus–’Achy Breaky Heart’
-The Waitresses–’I Know What Boys Like’
-House of Pain–’Jump Around’
-Min­nie Ripperton–’Lovin’ You’
-The Weath­er Girls–’It’s Rain­ing Men’
-Falco–’Rock Me Amadeus’
-The Cardigans–’Lovefool’
-Frankie Goes to Hollywood–’Relax’
-The Verve–’Bittersweet Sym­pho­ny’
-Mod­ern English–’I Melt with You’
-Mered­ith Brooks–’Bitch’
-Star­land Vocal Band–’Afternoon Delight’
-Buster Poindexter–’Hot Hot Hot’
-Devo–’Whip it’
-Wild Cherry–’Play that Funky Music’
-Sug­arhill Gang–’Rapper’s Delight’
-Deee-Lite–’Groove is in the Heart’
-Lita Ford–’Kiss Me Dead­ly’
-Nor­man Greenbaum–’Spirit in the Sky’
-Baha Men–’Who Let the Dogs Out?’
-Men With­out Hats–’The Safe­ty Dance’
-The Knack–’My Sharona’
-DiVinyls–’I Touch Myself’
-Psy–’Gangam Style’
-Bob­by McFerrin–’Don’t Wor­ry Be Hap­py’
-LEN–’Steal My Sun­shine’
-Wheatus–’Teenage Dirt­bag’
-The Buggles–’Video Killed the Radio Star’
-Afroman–’Because I Got High’
-The Vapors–’Turning Japan­ese’
-Lipps Inc–’Funkytown’
-Bob­by Day–’Rockin’ Robin’
-Nena–’99 Luft­bal­loons’
-Toni Basil–’Mickey’
-The Archies–’Sugar, Sug­ar’
-Dexys Mid­night Runners–’Come on Eileen’
-Right Said Fred–’I’m Too Sexy’

22 Sep

Dear Diary.….

Sep­tem­ber 22, 2015

Dear Diary,

Today I want to tell every­one about Dear Diary Day!  Each year, I tell myself that I am going to keep a writ­ten diary, and each year I fail.  Well, not this year!  I have plen­ty of jour­nals and they’re going to feel the wrath of my pen pret­ty damn soon.  So, to cel­e­brate Dear Diary Day, here are four quick and easy steps to fol­low:

1. Acquire a jour­nal (or a stack of loose­ly sta­pled togeth­er papers flipped upside down and backwards…the prin­ci­ple is the same though.)
dear-diary-300x2682. Acquire a pen (or a pen­cil, if you’re one of those peo­ple.)
MjAxMy02Y2Q5NWZkYTg4ODEyNDJj3. START WRITING (believe it or not this is the trick­i­est part, prob­a­bly because in Amer­i­ca we’re bred to con­sume, not to create…it’s sad real­ly.)
images4. Stay the hell away from your social media pro­files!!!!  (A jour­nal helps you be more your­self.  You explore who you are.  Rumi­nate, if you will.  Social media will NOT help with this.  What do you want to leave behind for your kids?  A social media pro­file that’s almost as well groomed as a Victoria’s Secret mod­el, or a diary/journal/stack of crum­pled nap­kins that tru­ly show who you are, or were, at a speci­fic time.  We all change so much year to year.  I guar­an­tee your future descen­dants will want it, they will want it more than most things you could leave behind.)

20 Sep

National Dog Week!! Puppies Everywhere!

Basket_Of_PuppiesGuys. Nation­al Dog week is hap­pen­ing. Specif­i­cal­ly, it’s hap­pen­ing Sep­tem­ber 20–26.

I love dogs. In my mind, all dogs are pup­pies. Peo­ple get upset with me some­times because I say some­thing about pup­pies, and they’re all like, OMG, new­born baby dogs?!? And I’m like.…. No. Just reg­u­lar dogs. but I call them pup­pies.

I think it’s because peo­ple get real­ly extra excit­ed about the idea of hang­ing out with a goofy, wig­gly, fur and kiss­es machine. But see, I get that excit­ed about ALL dogs. They are all wig­gly and won­der­ful and GAH! so much love.

0aedf75071a7461549442fb532fec1bfSo, I’m going to be work­ing a bunch dur­ing Nation­al Dog Week, and my hope is to see as MANY pup­pies (dogs) as pos­si­ble!

Shadyside is very pup­py friend­ly. You can go into most of the store with your fur­ry friend, ours includ­ed! And for Nation­al Dog Week, we will have treats for any pup­py that stops in to say hel­lo. (or woof.)

We will also be col­lect­ing pic­tures of pup­pies in our store! Do you have a pup­py that loves Kards Unlim­it­ed? Send us a pic­ture of your snug­ly pooch and we’ll make them famous! (Well, as famous as they can get by hav­ing their pic­ture shared on our social medi­as.)

Hap­py Nation­al Dog Week! We wish you lots of snug­gles. <3

12 Sep

Roald Dahl Day is September 13!

For being remem­bered as the great­est children’s sto­ry­teller of all time, Roald Dahl had a some­what trag­ic exis­tence.  His child­hood was per­me­at­ed by loss (a sis­ter and a father), as was his adult life.  He spent his child­hood away at board­ing school where he suf­fered abuse.  He was in WWII and rumored to be a James Bond type spy. Despite a some­what trou­bling life, it was filled with love.  Ralph Wal­do Emer­son once said, “To laugh often and much; to win the respect of the intel­li­gent peo­ple and the affec­tion of chil­dren; to earn the appre­ci­a­tion of hon­est crit­ics and endure the betray­al of false friends; to appre­ci­ate beau­ty; to find the beau­ty in oth­ers; to leave the world a bit bet­ter whether by a healthy child, a gar­den patch, or a redeemed social con­di­tion; to know that one life has breathed eas­ier because you lived here.  This is to have suc­ceed­ed.”  Well, Mr. Dahl, you have suc­ceed­ed.  More than most peo­ple, you have suc­ceed­ed.


Thir­teen Facts to Cel­e­brate Roald Dahl’s Life and Birth­day on Sep­tem­ber 13th:


  1. A high rank­ing church offi­cial once said that although Dahl’s young daugh­ter who passed away was in Par­adise, her beloved dog Row­ley was not.  Dahl stat­ed, “I want­ed to ask him how he could be so com­plete­ly sure that oth­er crea­tures did not get the same spe­cial treat­ment as us.  I sat there won­der­ing if this great and famous church­man real­ly knew what he was talk­ing about and whether he knew any­thing at all about God or heav­en, and if he didn’t, then who in the world did?”
    Okay cranky church man, we all know all dogs go to heaven!

    Okay cranky church man, we all know all dogs go to heav­en!



  2. Dahl acquired a tra­di­tion­al Romanichal gyp­sy wag­on in the 1960s, and used it as a play­house for his chil­dren.  Lat­er, he used it as a writ­ing room.  Um cool and mag­i­cal, just like he was!!!!
    Well doesn't that look magical!

    Well doesn’t that look mag­i­cal!



  3. In the 1960’s he wrote screen­plays.  He even began adapt­ing his nov­el Char­lie and the Choco­late Fac­to­ry.  Much like all artists, he failed to meet dead­li­nes and some­one else was given his project.  He even­tu­al­ly dis­owned the film entire­ly stat­ing that the movie put far too much empha­sis on Willy Wonka and not enough on Char­lie.  He was infu­ri­at­ed with the plot devi­a­tions.  I won­der how he would feel about the Tim Bur­ton ver­sion.
  4. Dahl’s moth­er, Sophie, used to tell him tales of trolls and oth­er myth­i­cal Nor­we­gian crea­tures.  His nov­els were inspired by his child­hood.  He was an avid read­er, lov­ing ghost sto­ries and tales of hero­ism and tri­umph.  He said of his moth­er, “She was a great teller of tales. Her mem­o­ry was prodi­gious and noth­ing that ever hap­pened to her in her life was for­got­ten.”
  5. His auto­bi­og­ra­phy Boy: Tales of Child­hood detailed the abuse he suf­fered in board­ing school.  Is there any­one that ever had a decent board­ing school expe­ri­ence?  Judg­ing by mem­oirs, I’d say no. 
  6. In 1960, his four mon­th old son, Theo, was severe­ly injured when his pram was hit by a taxi.  Theo suf­fered from hydro­cephalus.  Sub­se­quent­ly, Dahl involved him­self in the devel­op­ment of the “Wade-Dahl-Till” (WDT) Valve.  This WDT Valve was a device to alle­vi­ate this con­di­tion.  It was suc­cess­ful­ly used on thou­sands of chil­dren world­wide.  
  7. In 1962, his daugh­ter Olivia died of Measles and encephali­tis at age sev­en.  He was wracked with guilt over her death.  He felt as though her death was avoid­able and became a pro­po­nent of immu­niza­tion. (Hear that anti-vaxxers?…Roald Dahl HATES YOU!!!!!)
  8. His grave is at St. Peter and Paul’s Church in Great Mis­senden, Buck­ing­hamshire, Eng­land, where chil­dren con­tin­ue to leave toys and flow­ers.
  9. He served in the RAF dur­ing WWII.  Dur­ing one flight, he couldn’t find an airstrip and attempt­ed a land­ing in the desert.  The under­car­riage hit a boul­der and he crashed.  He frac­tured his skull and was tem­porar­i­ly blind.  Luck­i­ly he dragged him­self out of the wreck­age before the plane burst into flames.  His first pub­lished work is about this crash.
    Roald Dahl and Ernest Hemingway...29 May 1944, London, England, UK --- War Correspondent Waits for Invasion. London, England: Ernest Hemingway (right) walks a London street in the company of an RAF officer. Hemingway is in England and awaiting the opening of the second front. The luxurious foliage decorating his jaw is there on his doctor's orders. He has been forbidden to shave it off for two months. --- Image by  Bettmann/CORBIS 


  10. In 1920, Dahl’s old­er sis­ter died of pneu­mo­nia, fol­lowed weeks lat­er by his father who died whilst on a fish­ing trip in the Antarc­tic.
  11. In 1983, Dahl reviewed Tony Clifton’s God Cried, a pic­ture book about the 1982 Lebanon War.  It depict­ed Israelis killing thou­sands of Beirut inhab­i­tants by bomb­ing civil­ians.  Dahl’s review stat­ed that the book would make read­ers “vio­lent­ly anti-Israeli”, writ­ing, “I am not anti-Semit­ic. I am anti-Israel.” 
  12. He was named after Roald Amund­sen, a polar explor­er and nation­al hero in Nor­way.  
  13. Dahl’s writ­ing influ­enced film direc­tor Tim Bur­ton who was impressed by his “mix­ture of light and dark­ness, and not speak­ing down to kids, and the kind of polit­i­cal­ly incor­rect humour that kids get.”

Thank you Roald Dahl.  Thank you for the beau­ti­ful sto­ries I love to redis­cov­er.  Thank you for not talk­ing down to me.  Thank you for the macabre, and your dark sense of humor.  Many peo­ple don’t think chil­dren can han­dle real life issues, so they shield them from death, despair, and tragedy, but hon­est­ly, the­se peo­ple aren’t doing their kids any favors.   Kids are per­cep­tive and can han­dle more than peo­ple think. 



8 Sep

Star Trek Day 2015!

SpockNimoyThis day is here­by ded­i­cat­ed to Star Trek.

If you are in any­way informed about Star Trek, you should know that this show isn’t just about Sci­ence Fic­tion. It’s about human­i­ty, evo­lu­tion, hope. Look guys, I know that you’re may­be expect­ing a fun lit­tle dit­ty on how cool star trek is, but I’m going to get a lit­tle seri­ous. Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek was, in its time and pos­si­bly even today, Far Before its Time.

Let me tell you this sto­ry that gives me chills every time I think about it: Once upon a time, Nichelle Nichols. who plays Lt. Uhu­ra (in the orig­i­nal series), resigned from the show. A few days, she changed her mind (thank god) because she got a pep talk from an Amer­i­can Hero.  Mar­t­in Luther King, Jr. saw her at an event and told her he was a huge fan and why her role was so very impor­tant.  In an inter­view, she recounts, “he was telling me why I could not [resign]. He said I had the first non-stereo­typ­i­cal role, I had a role with hon­or, dig­ni­ty and intel­li­gence. He said, ‘You sim­ply can­not abdi­cate, this is an impor­tant role. This is why we are march­ing. We nev­er thought we’d see this on TV.’”

gene-roddenberryGot goose­bumps? I do. Luck­i­ly she took his word and went to Mr. Rod­den­ber­ry the very next day to take up the role again. When explain­ing her rea­sons to him, she says, “He sat there and looked at me and said, ‘God bless Dr. Mar­t­in Luther King. Some­body does under­stand me.’”

After Star Trek was can­celed, Nichols vol­un­teered  as a recruiter for NASA, suc­cess­ful­ly recruit­ing minori­ties into the space pro­gram. She helped get the first wom­an into space, as well as the first African Amer­i­can. And it was all because she was on this one Sci­ence Fic­tion show.

Look I don’t care about whether you think that Star Trek is cheesy and campy. It kind of is. But it was also a move­ment.

Uhura_and_Kirk_kissStar Trek had the first inter­ra­cial kiss on TV, between Shat­ner and Nichols. And they knew it was a big deal, so much so that they active­ly flubbed every scene filmed with­out the actu­al kiss so that they edi­tors had no choice but to include the kiss on the show!

In sea­son one, some of the men in the back­ground wore skirts. Because Rod­den­ber­ry and his team fig­ured that was the most log­i­cal pro­gres­sion of equal­i­ty between the sex­es.

Rod­den­ber­ry envi­sioned the first offi­cer being played by a wom­an. That was a lit­tle too far for the exec­u­tives, so they put the Alien, Spock got the role.

There are just a few ways that Rod­den­ber­ry tried to change the world through the mag­ic of Tele­vi­sion. We should all demand such excel­lence from our mod­ern TV shows!

On a lighter note, here is a fun fact that has noth­ing to do with chang­ing the world: Nei­ther Shat­ner nor Quin­to could make their hand do the quin­tes­sen­tial Spock ges­ture, the Vul­can salute. Shat­ner resort­ed to fish­ing wire, while Quin­to had his fin­gers glued togeth­er.