The name of DC Comics superheroes dating back to the Golden Age. The original Starman was Ted Knight, an astronomer and inventor who created a special rod that harnessed and emitted cosmic energy from the stars. The cosmic rod allowed him to fire energy blasts, fly, and create forcefields. Wearing a garish red, yellow, and green costume, he called himself Starman and patrolled the skies over Opal City.

Years later, his son, Jack Knight, reluctantly took on the Starman name. More comfortable running his antique shop, getting tattoos, and watching old movies, Jack preferred to forego the brightly-colored spandex his dad wore in favor of street clothes, a black leather jacket, blast goggles, and a redesigned cosmic staff.

The current "Starman" comic book is written by James Robinson, who is a damn fine writer.
A movie from 1984. Directed by John Carpenter. Written by Bruce A. Evans, Raynold Gideon, and Dean Riesner. Players: Jeff Bridges, Karen Allen, Charels Martin Smith, Richard Jaeckel and others.

In 1977 Voyager II was launched into space, inviting all lifeforms in the universe to visit our planet. Get ready. Company's coming.

Starman (Jeff Bridges) is an alien that has come to Earth in response to the invitation sent on Voyager II. After crash landing his ship in Wisconsin he finds a house were he takes the shape of Jenny Hayden's (Karen Allen) deceased husband. Starman convinces Jenny to take him to Arizona so he can meet up with a ship coming to pick him up. The crash of a UFO does not go unnoticed by the government. They follow the starman and Jenny, trying to catch them at every turn.

It has been a long time since I've seen this movie. Probably since about the time it came out. I remember thinking it was pretty cool at the time. Although now I just lump it in with all the other movies where a good alien comes to earth and all the government wants to do is capture them and dissect them. Evil government!

Eventually a tv series based on this movie was created but I don't know much about it. I think I only watched one episode.

Just to add to the first writeup re: DC Comics characters called "Starman."

Ted Knight was the first to carry the name, from 1940 to 1950.

There a Starman in 1951 for a year and a day.

Then in the 70s there was another Starman unrelated to Knight. This was a blue skinned alien called Mikaal Tomas, who was suggested to have taken his name from the song from Ziggy Stardust. He defended earth from aliens of his own race but eventually was inhaled by Opal City's 1970s subculture.

Then in deep space there was Prince Gayvn who was called Starman. He used the name to regain his throne, but later died during the Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Shortly afterward, a new Starman was created when a young man in the midwest was hit by rays that made him much more than human, almost on a Superman level. He later died as well, fighting Eclipso.

After the Zero Hour event, Ted finally retired and handed the mantle over to his son David, who was Starman until his death, after which Jack reluctantly took on the role.

Curiously, all men named Starman, even those who took the name in a somewhat random fashion, utilized the same cosmic energy, even if they manipulated it in different ways and means.

Here's an example of the almighty power of imagination in NES world...

The description of Starman powerup in Super Mario Bros. says, in English, that it makes Mario invincible.

I can't remember what company was importing Nintendo stuff to Finland back in the day (Funente, or was it before them? Bergsala? No, can't be Bergsala...) but what was sure about the game translations was that they sucked. Really, really sucked.

Why?

Take the original game in Japanese. Let the Japanese (or the Americans) make their (sometimes amusingly bad) translation to English. You all know where we are at this point - many NES games had pretty bad English translations.

Then expect someone in Europe to get the translation from English right. (Thank God they usually translate only the manuals...)

Not bloody likely!

I don't remember every hideous way the translators abused my beloved language, but I remember some from Mario Kart (which wasn't as bad, because this happened in SNES era): a "pipe" was translated "piippu" (which means an implement used to smoke tobacco, not a green meter-wide tubular thing sticking out from ground), "shell" was "simpukka" (A word meaning the shell of a bivalve, not the shell of a tortoise!)...

...okay, I digress. How did they translate the invincibility?

"Näkymätön".

A word which means "invisible".

Now, while Mario gets the start thing, he becomes invincible, and to mark that he flashes. This is one of the things that can be interpreted two ways: Either the translator did a horrible mistake - if the guy flashes, he as sure as hell isn't "invisible"! - or that Mario's flashing is symbolic (he doesn't really flash brightly, the flashing just means something has happened to him!) just means he is not only invincible, but also invisible. (Remember that in e.g. Mario Kart, using "ghost" powerup makes you invisible - and to mark that, the invisible character flickers!)

So did, or did not, the translator really make a mistake here?

I still haven't found out!

Part of Ascensus Casusque Sigii Sidorum et Aranearum Martis, a project to translate Ziggy Stardust into Latin

Back to Moonage DaydreamForward to It Ain't Easy


Starman

by David Bowie

Didn't know what time it was, the lights were low
I leaned back on my radio
Some cat was laying down some rock 'n' roll — lot of soul, he said
Then the loud sound did seem to fade
Came back like a slow voice on a wave of phase
That weren't no DJ, that was hazy cosmic jive

There's a Starman waiting in the sky,
He'd like to come and meet us
But he thinks he'd blow our minds
There's a Starman waiting in the sky,
He's told us not to blow it
’Cause he knows it's all worthwhile
He told me:
Let the children lose it
Let the children use it
Let all the children boogie

I had to phone someone, so I picked on you
Hey, that's far out, so you heard him too
Switch on the TV — we may pick him up on Channel Two
Look out your window, I can see his light
If we can sparkle, he may land tonight
Don't tell your papa, or he'll get us locked up in fright

There's a Starman waiting in the sky,
He'd like to come and meet us
But he thinks he'd blow our minds
There's a Starman waiting in the sky,
He's told us not to blow it
’Cause he knows it's all worthwhile
He told me:
Let the children lose it
Let the children use it
Let all the children boogie

There’s a Starman waiting in the sky,
He'd like to come and meet us
But he thinks he'd blow our minds
There's a Starman waiting in the sky,
He's told us not to blow it
’Cause he knows it's all worthwhile
He told me:
Let the children lose it
Let the children use it
Let all the children boogie




Stellus

ab D. Bovio

Nescivi quota hora esset, lumina erant obscura
In fidicine me reclinabam
Aliquis musicam ponebat — quam anima, dixit
Deinde sonus magnus conavitur marcescere
Ritu vocis lenti in unda vicum reveniebat
Non ductor erat, sed musica nebulosa stellarum

In caelo Stellus est,
Vellet venire nosque convenire
Sed putat ut mentes nostras disploderet
In caelo Stellus est,
Dicebat ne cadeamus
Nam cogitat id dignum esse
Me dixit:
Puelli id perdeant
Puelli eo uteantur
Omnia puelli saltent

Aliquid egere vocante, ergo te optavi
Hem, mea refert, etiam eum audivit
Ovidium lege — eum in volumine inveniamus
Per fenestram vide, luminem eius possum videre
Si possumus lucere, hodie egrediatur
Patrem tuum non narra, inve timore nos in custodia poneat

In caelo Stellus est,
Vellet venire nosque convenire
Sed putat ut mentes nostras disploderet
In caelo Stellus est,
Dicebat ne cadeamus
Nam cogitat id dignum esse
Me dixit:
Puelli id perdeant
Puelli eo uteantur
Omnia puelli saltent

In caelo Stellus,
Vellet venire nosque convenire
Sed putat ut mentes nostras disploderet
In caelo Stellus est,
Dicebat ne cadeamus
Nam cogitat id dignum esse
Me dixit:
Puelli id perdeant
Puelli eo uteantur
Omnia puelli saltent


Translation Notes

This song was pretty tricky in the translation. In addition to being highly rhythmic, the song's message and the intention of the word choice is important to establishing story and tone. Briefly, it tells about some unnamed youth who, after hearing Moonage Daydream played on the radio, calls a friend and sets out to follow a new star in the skyZiggy Stardust's spaceship. It's unclear whether this is the same youth who becomes one of Ziggy's followers and denies him in Lady Stardust. I like to think that it is.

I found it next to impossible to maintain the original rhythm of the song. This is evident if you look at the refrain: some lines have about half the number of syllables as the English, some twice as many. I quickly reached the conclusion that I'd be better off capturing meaning and the style of speaking than matching rhythm. The style of speaking was difficult, but working from my nonexistent knowledge of everyday spoken Latin, I tried to slip in the occasional hem or the like.

There were a number of references to objects and concepts that wouldn't have been around in the time of the Romans. For example, instead of the speaker leaning back on a radio (line 2), he now leans back on a court musician. "That weren't no DJ, that was hazy cosmic jive" (line 6) becomes "That wasn't a conductor, that was the hazy music of the stars." I went with a literal translation of "blow our minds" (line 9) — Ziggy is now afraid that he will explode our minds.

I toyed with coming up with a new word — bugio, bugire (to boogie) — but decided simply to let all the children dance (line 16).

A particularly fun change was the line "Turn on your TV — we may pick him up on Channel Two," (line 19) which I changed to "Read your Ovid — we may find him in Volume Two." A completely nonsensical change, for Ovid would have had no mention of Ziggy Stardust, unless his coming had already been a myth, in which case it may well have made it into Ovid's Metamorphoses. But that's neither here nor there.

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