Ten Best: PLANETS
Earth Sure, there have got to be billions of planets out there. Trillions, even! But there’s only one with that perfect balance of carbon, oxygen and nitrogen that virtually every single organism on it can’t do without. Worms like it because of all the dirt. Fish like it because of all the water. Me, I like Earth because of its beauty, its convenient location (third from the sun, yo) and because, let’s face it, where else are you gonna go? The moon?
Jupiter Jupiter makes the list because it’s the biggest — two and a half times the size of every other planet in our solar system combined. Also, it’s named after the greatest of the Roman gods, smiter of mortals and deities alike. Here’s a little-known fact: Much of Jupiter’s mass is the gas helium, which I believe means that everyone on the planet talks with a high, funny voice.
Krypton No list of great planets would be complete without props to the home planet of Kal-El, better known to the fanboys as the son of Jor-El, and to the rest of us as Superman. Supes took off from Krypton when he was a baby, just as the planet exploded. Earth’s yellow sun bestows on Superman arguably the best powers of any superhero in the entire pantheon. Which begs the question: What would happen to an Earthling under Krypton’s red sun? Super powers? As if! Krypton was destroyed, remember?
Saturn Saturn makes the list because it is the only planet in our solar system that has bling. Alas, the rings of Saturn, it turns out, consist mainly of ice and debris. And it sounds wicked scary. On Saturn, the winds can reach 1,000 miles per hour, and ammonia rains down from hexagon-shaped clouds in storms that can last for years. The atmosphere is primarily hydrogen, and most of the planet is less dense than water. Bonus: 61 known moons.
The Planet of the Apes Oh, the Planet of the Apes was a terrible place where humans were locked in cages and the apes ran free. Orangutans were the leaders; chimpanzees were the scientists and the gorillas were soldiers. And wait… is that the Statue of Liberty? Damn you all! Damn you all to hell! Seriously, though, the entire film franchise — including the one starring Marky Mark, was based on a French novel, La PlanÃ¨te Des Singes, and the first screenplay was written by Rod Serling, the “Twilight Zone” guy.
Planet Claire “Planet Claire,” of course, was the song off the B-52’s 1979 eponymous debut album that was not “Rock Lobster” (though it did sound strangely similar). It is also the name of a stage musical based on the work of the B-52’s. Not much is known about Planet Claire, except that it has pink hair, all the trees are red, no one ever dies there and no one has a head.
Kashyyk Kashyyk, the home planet of the Wookie race, wears a dense covering of trees that rise miles into the sky and form sort of treehouse villages. The Wookies use the tree limbs as pathways, running along them with their claws extended. The Wookies have at times been enslaved by an intergalactic corporation and the Galactic Empire. And the planet was the site of the Battle of Kashyyk during the Clone Wars, the place where Order 66 was initiated.
Digable Planets In an eyeblink of a moment in the early ’90s, the Digable Planets changed hip hop forever. “We be to rap what key be to lock,” they declared in 1993’s “Birth of Slick (Cool Like That),” a soft-spoken tribute to Miles Davis and another watershed moment in music history with muted horns, stand-up bass and tight percussion. Those guys from Compton may have brought the rage, but this trio brought the jazz.
Bizarro World The credo of the Bizarro World — or Htrea, which is “Earth” spelled backwards — is “Us do opposite of all Earthly things! Us hate beauty! Us love ugliness! Is big crime to make anything perfect on Bizarro World!” So, for example, in Bizarro World, coffee is cold and ice cream is hot! Okay, so it’s pretty stupid, but it cracks me up. Bizarro World is home to Bizarro, the evil version of Superman; the Yellow Lantern, whose power ring does nothing; and Batzarro, the world’s worst detective who wears a “futility” belt.
Klingon Serious Trekkers will point out that there is no planet named Klingon. Rather, the warrior-like race of Klingons originated on planet Qo’noS, which is pronounced “Kronos” by our inferior tongues. According to the Star Trek canon, Kronos is made up of a single large continent and a big ocean. The planet has a severely tilted axis, which causes extreme weather that can shift rapidly. If you ever make it out there, check out the Great Domes.