Join 3,557 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Butterfly in the Sky...
January 28, 2009 9:02 AM   Subscribe

If you ever watched Star Trek: The Next Generation or Reading Rainbow, you know Levar Burton. And for years, all you've wanted is his signature. Well, if you have a child in kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, or 3rd grade, now you can. Every entrant to the Reading Rainbow Young Writers and Illustraters Contest receives a signed certificate from Levar Burton, whether their work is terrible or awesome. Get your kids writing now, deadline is in March. But you don't have to take my word for it... Previously
posted by Deathalicious (68 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
If you never wore a comb headband over your eyes in front of the mirror and pretended to be Levar Burton, you have failed at human childhood.
posted by resurrexit at 9:07 AM on January 28, 2009 [40 favorites]


Second that, resurrexit.

Ooh, I have a 3rd grader I can exploit for this purpose! Other people's kids are awesome.
posted by annaramma at 9:11 AM on January 28, 2009


@levarburton

On twitter. I don't follow him, but he is fairly active and responds. Could also be a total hoax, but well done if so.
posted by cjorgensen at 9:11 AM on January 28, 2009


In my teens, I used to reenact that Jame Gumb scene in front of the mirror.
posted by gman at 9:11 AM on January 28, 2009 [4 favorites]


Do you have to be a child to enter this?
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:13 AM on January 28, 2009


Really? I'm that old because I think of Kunta Kinte when I see Levar Burton? Dang it.
posted by NoMich at 9:13 AM on January 28, 2009 [6 favorites]


I was going to mention Twitter.

Whenever I think about Rainbow Tables my mind navigates his career and a little part of me hopes his visor does the computation. Which is pretty weird.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 9:16 AM on January 28, 2009


Wow. There was a recent thread on fark.com about some dipstick who went a bit loopy - drink drive, resist arrest, attack police dog kind of deal. His name was Lavar Toosweet McKiernan and in the comments were pix from Star Trek: The Next Generation and what looked like a kids TV show.

I was all "the fah?" Problem solved! Thanks, Deathalicious.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 9:16 AM on January 28, 2009


Damn it ! now I wish I had kids.
posted by SheMulp AKA Plus 1 at 9:16 AM on January 28, 2009


If you never wore a comb headband over your eyes in front of the mirror and pretended to be Levar Burton...

That wouldn't make any sense. A better idea would be to wear a comb headband over my eyes and pretend to be a slave in the American South.
posted by DU at 9:21 AM on January 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


NoMich: "Really? I'm that old because I think of Kunta Kinte when I see Levar Burton? Dang it."

Honestly, this was like saying "If you ever rented Give My Regards to Broad Street or read about his messy divorce from that gold-digger, you know Paul McCartney."

People, he did something even more noteworthy than TNG, OK?
posted by Joe Beese at 9:22 AM on January 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Uhh....just realized the the context for my joke isn't spelled out in the post. LeVar Burton was in Roots before he was either of Star Trek or Reading Rainbow.
posted by DU at 9:23 AM on January 28, 2009


Ooh, I have a 3rd grader I can exploit for this purpose! Other people's kids are awesome.

I was just about to call my sister and tell her about this contest so I could enter my nephew, and seeing how he has never seen reading rainbow or star trek then maybe he wont mind letting auntie keep the certificate... then I thought 'that's terrible and I am a bed person' and then I thought 'i will just wait for someone else on metafilter to do it then I wont be the only one and i will feel less guilty' thanks annaramma!
posted by SheMulp AKA Plus 1 at 9:25 AM on January 28, 2009


People, he did something even more noteworthy than TNG, OK?

You lie! He was never in Deep Space Nine! Check the wiki!
posted by Greg Nog at 9:26 AM on January 28, 2009 [6 favorites]


I went to high school with his niece, and he was the guest of honor at our graduation. Genuinely funny and down-to-earth guy.
posted by Christ, what an asshole at 9:27 AM on January 28, 2009


Slightly related re: Sci Fi / Kids TV presenter crossover.

The chap who played Senator Amidala's chief body guard in Star Wars is a long running presenter on Australia's Play School [which has been shown 5 days a week for an amazing 33 years or so!]. He's also "a man of colour" FWIW.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 9:27 AM on January 28, 2009


gman you are a sicko. I'd fuck you.

Anyway, time for a song!

And he shall be Le-var!
And he shall be a good man!

And he shall be Le-var!
He's a TV science-man!

And he shall be Le-var!
Shove a phaser right up your can!

He shall be Leee- Vaaarr!
posted by Mister_A at 9:28 AM on January 28, 2009 [5 favorites]


I'm pretty sure the Reading Rainbow theme song is going to be going through my head all day now.
posted by SpacemanStix at 9:31 AM on January 28, 2009


Just because Roots was more critically acclaimed doesn't mean it was more noteworthy. If you saw ST:TNG and Reading Rainbow, you absolutely know Levar Burton.

Also, when Roots came out, I was zero years old. All I know about the series I know from reading old copies of Doonesbury.
posted by Deathalicious at 9:31 AM on January 28, 2009


I'm pretty sure the Reading Rainbow theme song is going to be going through my head all day now.

Levar Burton, singing the Reading Rainbow theme song.
posted by Deathalicious at 9:32 AM on January 28, 2009


Damn. I don't have kids... and no nieces or nephews in the age bracket...
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 9:33 AM on January 28, 2009


Always happy to be of service SheMulp AKA Plus 1.
posted by annaramma at 9:38 AM on January 28, 2009


He's actually one of my favorites on Twitter (along with Greg Grunberg). He also has one of the coolest tattoos I've ever seen.

I'd totally do this if I were still 8.
posted by cmgonzalez at 9:38 AM on January 28, 2009


Oh man. I grew up on Reading Rainbow, and later saw TNG. I was so excited when he posted on Twitter on Inauguration Day ... this is awesome. Thanks, Deathalicious!
posted by spaceman_spiff at 9:40 AM on January 28, 2009


Deathalicious: "Just because Roots was more critically acclaimed doesn't mean it was more noteworthy."

Well, 9 Emmys are nothing to sneeze at. But I was thinking more of:

It received unprecedented Nielsen ratings with the finale still standing as the 3rd-highest rated US program ever, behind the series finale of M*A*S*H and Super Bowl XLII.

That's cultural dominance on a scale no work of entertainment could hope for today. Seinfeld and Titanic combined wouldn't come close.

Though it would be amusing to see it try. "So what's the deal with icebergs?"...
posted by Joe Beese at 9:42 AM on January 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


@levarburton

On twitter. I don't follow him, but he is fairly active and responds. Could also be a total hoax, but well done if so.


Nah, he's the real deal. @wilw and he tweet back and forth semi-frequently.
posted by EarBucket at 9:43 AM on January 28, 2009


MetaFilter: Seinfeld and Titanic combined
posted by DU at 9:43 AM on January 28, 2009


LOL Illustraters.
END COMMUNICATION
posted by Mister_A at 9:49 AM on January 28, 2009


Neilsen, schmeilsen. A lot of people saw Roots all at once, thirty years ago. I'll bet a perpetually syndicated series like ST:TNG (or Seinfeld), or a long-running one like Reading Rainbow, would be seen by a hell of a lot more people and have a much larger impact on popular culture.

P.S. Bats use echolocation to find insects and fruit. People like bats. Bats are dangerous.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:49 AM on January 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


@EarBucket Nah, he's the real deal. @wilw and he tweet back and forth semi-frequently.

And they just recently coaxed @BrentSpiner into Twitterdom.

Now, @georgetakei on the other hand -- jury's still out on that.
posted by RavinDave at 9:54 AM on January 28, 2009


Am I the only one who's going to use my non-dominant hand to imitate the look of child-like penmanship?
posted by filthy light thief at 9:57 AM on January 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


People, he did something even more noteworthy than TNG, OK?

Yeah, for real. Reading Rainbow. I'm not exaggerating when I say LeVar Burton got me interested in books and made me want to move to New York when I was seven (I did it too, dammit!). Bear with me, and this time, please DO to my word for it.

It was all due to an episode he had about rooftops. We had a flat roof in LA and my dad let me go up there a couple times for a picnic, which was a huge treat. All of a sudden, LeVar comes on Reading Rainbow and has an ENTIRE episode devoted to New York Rooftops. That Episode is etched in my head pretty deep. They read from Faith Ringgold's boo Tar Beach. It talked about a girl who would lie on the roof with her brother, fly above the city and wear bridge lights like a giant necklace. The episode ended with a montage (set to, what else, Up on the Roof) which showed all sorts of people eating, goofing off and chilling out on their rooftop (one dude played a saxaphone, HOW COOL IS THAT?!!).

I saw that episode of Reading Rainbow and FLIPPED OUT! I ran up to my native New Yorker dad and asked, "They really do that? They have picnics and play on the roof ALL THE TIME in New York City?!" He affirmed it was the truth. When we finally visited there, I insisted we go on the rooftop of more than one apartment of friend we were visiting. From that day on, I was determined to move to New York City. When I looked at colleges, I pretty much stuck to New York. It was totally worth it, and I credit LeVar Burton fr showing me how amazing New York was at a young age. Mr. Rodgers never made me want to move to Pittsburgh, and I was somehow too sheltered to realize Sesame Street took place in New York, but Reading Rainbow pulled me to that city.

Anyway, my favorite moment with LeVar Burton recently was this.
posted by piratebowling at 9:58 AM on January 28, 2009 [19 favorites]


ARGH! I want his autograph! WEAK!

(I don't have kids)
posted by Bageena at 10:06 AM on January 28, 2009


Obligatory suggestion for the terrible link you tactfully skipped over.
posted by sloe at 10:07 AM on January 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


My kindergartener is going to enter this contest, and he is going to crush the other kindergarteners by a score of 100-0! And if he doesn't I will repeatedly toss the basketball at him and ask him if he's going to cry!

/Great Santini
posted by Mister_A at 10:09 AM on January 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Bats are very, very, very cool. Bats live in South America. Some bats are nocturnal. Some bats are shy. Vampire bats suck blood.

by Celina


Made my day.
posted by parmanparman at 10:17 AM on January 28, 2009


I like bats like vampire bats. They are cool. I like vampire bats. They fly fast with echolocation. I like vampire bats. They hang upside down.

I'm not the kind that sees anything semi-coherent as some kind of slam poetry, but this is.
posted by cmoj at 10:21 AM on January 28, 2009


Cool bat drawings or not, any link consisting of the word "awesome" should not go to a page filled with Comic Sans.
posted by exogenous at 10:34 AM on January 28, 2009


I once waited on Levar Burton at Pizza Hut. Super nice guy, good tipper. Likes thin crust.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:43 AM on January 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


I watched both Reading Rainbow and Star Trek as a kid, but I never picked up on how the same guy was on both shows.
posted by dunkadunc at 10:53 AM on January 28, 2009


If you want to really drive someone crazy, set their Macintosh system sound (or their incoming IM sound, or their incoming text message ringtone) to the little "You Don't Have To Take My Word For It" tune.

Dun nuh NUH!

Every time they hear it, they get angrier and angrier.
This means that every time you hear it, it gets funnier and funnier.
posted by Spatch at 10:56 AM on January 28, 2009


I can't believe he still does this!

I have one of those signed certificates! I entered this contest when I was in 3rd grade, nearly 15 years ago. I didn't win, but mine was, naturally, one of the awesome entries. Except for the illustrations...
posted by bibliophibianj at 10:57 AM on January 28, 2009


Does he really and truly autograph all of these with his very own hand?
If so, I'm off to round up my little guy, who needs something to do since we're iced in today...
posted by Dr. Zira at 11:16 AM on January 28, 2009


After the episode where he's a short order cook, I made myself a spaghetti sandwich. It was not good.
posted by spec80 at 11:17 AM on January 28, 2009


piratebowling: That is awesome. Ya gotta love things like that.
posted by prototype_octavius at 11:31 AM on January 28, 2009


If you want to really drive someone crazy, set their Macintosh system sound (or their incoming IM sound, or their incoming text message ringtone) to the little "You Don't Have To Take My Word For It" tune.

Dun nuh NUH!

Every time they hear it, they get angrier and angrier.
This means that every time you hear it, it gets funnier and funnier.


You know, I've tried similar, and it's not like my g/f is gifted with a saintly level of patience. But somehow she tunes out whatever inane sound scheme I've stealthily inserted into her laptop and instead it eventually bugs the living hell out of me, usually from 1-3 rooms away, till I am forced to remove it to preserve my own sanity. YMMV.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:33 AM on January 28, 2009


He was on a recent episode of TWiT and explained all the Twitter stuff, and talked about tech gadgets.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:35 AM on January 28, 2009


But somehow she tunes out whatever inane sound scheme I've stealthily inserted into her laptop and instead it eventually bugs the living hell out of me, usually from 1-3 rooms away, till I am forced to remove it to preserve my own sanity.

The tables have turned... and the hunter becomes the hunted!

Are you sure you're not living in a situation comedy?
posted by Spatch at 12:03 PM on January 28, 2009


The youtube clip on his homepage was removed for copyright violations. Does the Guild know that he is encouraging the piracy of video recording?
posted by dithered at 12:34 PM on January 28, 2009


LeVar Burton and Wil Wheaton both need to join MeFi.
posted by infinitewindow at 12:44 PM on January 28, 2009


I used to have a lot of personal contact with Levar Burton through my job a few years ago. He is a top notch human being with a genuine sense of respect for people and a commitment to social responsibility. Knowing him made me want to be a better person.

Here's one of the things he's up to recently:


The Science of Peace
posted by mrmojoflying at 1:05 PM on January 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Who the fuck is Kunta Kinte? Are you talking about Toby?
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:08 PM on January 28, 2009


I would just like to say:

Level Three Diagnostic
posted by mattoxic at 2:14 PM on January 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


There was an episode of Reading Rainbow where they visited the Star Trek set and showed the makeup artist turning someone into a Klingon. That's when my little geek self put two and two together and squealed, "LEVAR IS GEORDI!!"

I want to see that episode again.
posted by bristolcat at 2:27 PM on January 28, 2009


My son has decided to enter the contest with an entry called "How Nuclear Bombs Explode."
I fear this will not end well.
posted by Dr. Zira at 2:57 PM on January 28, 2009


Does the Guild know that he is encouraging the piracy of video recording?

Of Calamitous Intent??
posted by dunkadunc at 3:26 PM on January 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Anyone familiar with the Orb's Little Fluffy Clouds? The voice of the interviewer at the beginning that says 'What were the skys like when you were young?' - Levar Burton.

He's everywhere
posted by JustAsItSounds at 3:29 PM on January 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


Thank you JustAsItSounds.
I've always wanted to know what that song was because OMG that sample bugs the ever living shit out of me.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 5:18 PM on January 28, 2009


I watched both Reading Rainbow and Star Trek as a kid, but I never picked up on how the same guy was on both shows.

There's an episode of Reading Rainbow done from the set of Star Trek: TNG where Burton walks around and shows how all the special effects are done. Which I have been desperately trying to find for the last fifteen years or so.

If anyone has it, I might pay good money. The kind with four edges and smells like legal tender.
posted by thecaddy at 7:14 PM on January 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


There's an episode of Reading Rainbow done from the set of Star Trek: TNG where Burton walks around and shows how all the special effects are done. Which I have been desperately trying to find for the last fifteen years or so.

Oh, I loved that. I'm sort of shocked it's not around the Internet. I remember distinctly: they show the engine bay, and it's totally silent, and Levar explains how they add the sounds in after.

Totally blew my mind when I was four.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:24 PM on January 28, 2009


Heh heh! We have two of his signatures from two years of daughter's entries. On the down side, considering all entrant get it, I guess that means that his signature will never be on Antique Roadshow....

wife of 445supermag
posted by 445supermag at 7:27 PM on January 28, 2009


Ur, that is, "considering all the entries the contest gets"

wife of 445supermag
posted by 445supermag at 7:28 PM on January 28, 2009


Cool! I have one in first and one in third grade, and they both grew up watching Reading Rainbow.

They didn't pay too much attention to the show until LeVar had on Pete Seeger singing Abiyoyo. It was one of those stories they used to have me read over and over--I think because it helped them face their fears of scary monsters in the night. They watched the show with a lot more interest after that.
posted by eye of newt at 9:35 PM on January 28, 2009


PhoBWanKenobi, that episode is on the Internet..

Part 1 .. Part 2
posted by fireoyster at 11:58 PM on January 28, 2009 [4 favorites]


The voice of the interviewer at the beginning that says 'What were the skys like when you were young?' - Levar Burton.

HOW DID I NOT KNOW THAT
posted by flaterik at 12:08 AM on January 29, 2009


OK OK, Levar Burton anecdote time:

Years ago (years, I tell you), I was working as a retail whore / cashier at the Urban Outfitters in Toronto. We were having a store sale, which was total pandemonium. In typical U.O. style, some things were marked down so severely that middle-aged mothers were beating each other up for the last item in their size; some items were only marked down for certain styles or colours, and not for others; and, of course, sales signs were "migrating" around the store and customers came to the cash register insisting that they had picked up that brand new pair of Sevens jeans under a 50%-off sign.

So, amidst all of this, Levar Burton comes to my cash with two overdyed, 1x1-rib tank tops. I ring them up and tell him the total, and he says the total isn't right. We look at the receipt, and it shows that one of the tank tops was marked down to 10 dollars or so in the system, and the other one was still around $14. I check with the guy from menswear and he tells me that only two colours from those tank tops are on sale, and the rest are still regular price. I go over to check that the sale sign was clear about it, and the sale sign says "sale on brown and grey only" (or something like that, I can't remember the colours involved.

Levar is having none of this, and argues with me to bring down the price. Of course, at Urban, cashiers have pretty much no control over these sorts of things and there's a "fire first, ask questions later" policy on cashiers changing prices on things, so there was no way I could budge on it. He demanded to speak to a manager. The manager came over and told him that the price was the price (although she said it in a nicer way), and he finally, grudgingly accepted the price for the tank tops.

"Cash or charge?" I say.

"Charge," he says, handing me his credit card.

His credit card was a platinum American Express card with the following embossed inscription:

LEVAR BURTON
INTERGALACTIC SOLDIER

srsly.
posted by LMGM at 6:10 AM on January 29, 2009 [5 favorites]


Hey, thanks---I just took thecaddy's word for it that it was hard to find.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:41 AM on January 29, 2009


Fireoyster, you are now my favorite person in the world. Thanks so much.
posted by bristolcat at 11:34 AM on January 29, 2009


« Older How will Alzheimer's researchers ever reconcile th...  |  1983 Macintosh Dating Game sta... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments