Watchin' Scotty Fly

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Memo to Space Corpses: YOU ARE DUMB.

Underneath all the layers of cynicism that have been laid down lovingly like lacquer over my black, black soul, I'm a bit of a nerd romantic at heart. And it always brought a tinge of warmth to my cockles whenever I heard about Roddenberry or some other SF luminary getting their ashes shot into space. Sure, with Roddenberry it might have been more appropriate to mix the ashes in a bottle of booze and pour it over a half-naked actress on a casting office couch, but still. Journey into the great beyond. Huge symbolism. Very nerd romance.

I never looked into it beyond the one-sentence reports that Blank's ashes were, indeed, shot into space. Until now. And it turns out that not only is it all bullshit of the highest order, it's bullshit of the highest order even when compared to our other ridiculous death rituals.

I learned this from a somewhat inaccurately titled E! News headline, "The Search For Scotty's Ashes", in which we learn that the earthly remains of everyone's favorite spherical drunken warp drive mechanic did not in fact make it into space, but instead came down in a mountainous region of New Mexico, and were proving difficult to recover.

My first thought was that this was crazy talk. If you try to shoot the ashes into space, and things go horribly wrong and the rocket crashes, you don't try to recover them. They fall under the Jack Handey Keys In Lava rule. They're just ashes. They're not lost hikers or something. Write off the rocket, call the insurance company, make sure the waivers in your contracts are up to snuff, and everyone MOVE ON.

But the devil, as they say, is in the details. Here's what I learned from the E! article that really drove me up the fucking Jeffries tube. ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!

"It's not like Mr. Doohan's lost. The rocket did hit its landing target, but it's in a very mountainous and rugged terrain. They can't get to it by foot or by vehicle. They have to take a helicopter up there."

Susan Schonfeld, a representative for Space Services, the ash holes who launched the rocket. Which was supposed to come back down. Because that's how their racket works.

When your ashes get shot into space, they go up about 72 miles - to the edge of the atmosphere. And then they come back down. Oh, and it's not all your ashes, it's a tiny symbolic portion of them, which get shot up there with a couple of hundred other symbolic portions of other people who paid five hundred bucks.

Which is, if I even need to say it, fucking lame. From what I understand about cremation, the ashes you get are just a symbolic representation of the body anyway. So then they take a symbolic portion of THOSE ashes, and put them on a rocket which doesn't actually go into space, but just touches a symbolic representation OF space before returning to Earth. At that point, why even bother? Throw some dirt in the air and save yourself the five hundred bucks. Net effect? Exactly the same, except you've got five hundred more bucks.

You know, everyone got mad when Keith Richards joked about snorting his dad's ashes, but at least if that had happened, the ashes would have actually gone up his nose. This is like wetting your pinky, dipping it in the ashes, touching it to your face, and saying you snorted them. And you can only get away with THAT one Wednesday a year, and then only if you're a Catholic with a good sense of humor.

Fuck that. You do not get to say your remains were shot into space unless it was ALL your remains, and they made it ALL THE WAY into space. And stayed there. That's what shot into space means. Leave the semantic quibbling for pharmaceutical ads and attorneys general. Especially if it's James Fucking Doohan.

If you're shooting James Doohan in the space, his ashes don't fucking FLY COACH. Jammed into a rocket with two hundred other dead people, no leg room, no fucking peanuts, and having to share the space with some science experiments NASA couldn't bother with on top of it all. Sure, he was just a B-grade actor milking a famous role for every last fanboy penny, but that still ought to earn him his own rocket. Or at least a window seat.