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Friday, February 27, 2015

The Conscience of Star Trek

Leonard Nimoy passed away this morning.

I'll just let that sink in....

I'll admit, when I was first told, in the parking lot of the school by my friend, Cameron, who ran out of his office to tell me he just saw it on Facebook, I didn't have much to reply. I knew he was ill. I knew he had been rushed to the hospital earlier this week. The last time I saw him at a convention he looked frail. It wasn't unexpected.

When I got home, and had a few minutes to look at the internet, and read the numerous texts, tweets, and Facebook messages sent to me it really sunk in. I read the NY Times piece. I read Star Trek Continues tribute. My friend, Genevieve, was very shaken, and her posts and texts pricked my heart. Then I watched this YouTube clip and that's when I lost it.

Leonard Nimoy could not shake off the iconic role of Mr. Spock. The fame he garnered through Star Trek afforded him (and his cast mates) opportunities to write books, direct movies, record albums, publish his photography and even write poetry, yet he would forever be tethered to that character. He eventually accepted that, and wrote in one of his books, “In Spock, I finally found the best of both worlds: to be widely accepted in public approval and yet be able to continue to play the insulated alien through the Vulcan character.”

I read that Gene Roddenberry once called him the "Conscience of Star Trek." I'm not sure about the context of that statement, but I can imagine that it reflected positively on Mr. Nimoy's personal character.

Mr. Nimoy had an opportunity that his other cast mates did not. He was given a role in the revived Star Trek film franchise, and was able to personally pass the character torch on to his successor in the role, Zachary Quinto. What an honor for the younger actor to not only learn about the roots of the beloved character from the man who shaped it, but to act alongside him as well. 

I met Mr. Nimoy at the Star Trek Las Vegas Convention and he was a gentle soul. His signature graces my movie teaser poster, alongside many others.

While the internet explodes this weekend with the tributes, homages, and memorials, I will be watching Star Trek---The Original Series and The Voyage Home film. I might even bite the bullet and watch Star Trek 2006 and try to ignore the lens flares. 

RIP Leonard Nimoy. You will be missed.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

First Con of the Year is Now a Memory

Treklet and I went to our second Gallifrey One last weekend. 
While I consider this to be one of the better run conventions that we have attended, and at a reasonable ticket price for all we get, the accommodations and food were outrageous. 

We were unable to book a room at the convention hotel (LAX Marriott) again, so we stayed a short walk away at the LAX Hilton. It was a nice place, but I MUST remember to bring my own pillow next year! Parking fees and taxes bumped our bill up by about 50% of the base room rate for two nights.. from $210 to $318! We brought our own food, and only bought one meal, which was greatly overinflated in price.  We had a veggie burger, a Greek salad, and one cocktail at the Marriott's cafe and the bill was $44 plus tip! Crazy, right?

OK, enough ranting about the cost of conventioning near the second busiest airport in the country...

We arrived Friday in time to drop our car off at the hotel and store our luggage before the Eve Myles interview. Wow, she was hilarious. To no one's surprise, she dished on John Barrowman exposing himself on set and other antics. She was animated and fun and cute and, well, nothing like her character on Torchwood!

After that, we browsed the exhibits, tables and vendors and Treklet started her badge ribbon collection. We were pleasantly surprised to run into our friend Nathan Adams, who had just purchased a Jayne hat. Isn't he adorable in it? 

We also found Huston and had a nice visit with him. Treklet liked the prop replica table, and had a great chat with comics illustrator Christopher Jones, who gave her a signed Flash pic and some drawing tips. I got Eve Myle's autograph on my Torchwood cast photo. She was beautiful in person, and very nice to us. 

We separated for a while so I could go to the Naoko Mori and Burn Gorman interviews. Of course, Naoko independently confirmed everything Eve said about Barrowman! LOL 

Unfortunately, Alex Kingston canceled her appearance. Since I didn't think Treklet would know anyone else at the reception I had purchased tickets for that evening, we decided to get a refund. That refund paid for our dinner out and all of our autographs, so I think it was a good choice. 
Sometime on Friday we snapped this selfie with Huston Huddleston, sporting his seemingly only outfit. I'm a proud backer of the Hollywood Sci-Fi Museum Kickstarter, and I have that same shirt and hat! I MUST wear it to my next con! Learn more here:

Back at our hotel we munched on snacks and watched some Torchwood on my iPad and were asleep pretty early. This is definitely not a party con for me! I know there are a lot of shenanigans in the evening and well into the wee hours at Gally, but I really enjoy this con with Treklet.

Saturday morning we had breakfast in the room from our stash then hit the fitness center before heading back to the Marriott. We had a full day scheduled. I enjoyed listening to a panel called Getting the Science Right. The panel members were David Gerrold, Gillian Horvath (writers),  Robert Smith (writer and biomathematics professor, and Craig Miller (writer). The next panel I went to was Sustaining Television with writers and web developers Hayden Black, Arnold Blumberg, Richard Dinnick, Len Wein and Deric Hughes.  I found it very interesting!

Something that Gally offers is the opportunity to participate in kaffeeklatsches. What's a kaffeeklatsch? It's a small group of 12 people sitting around a conference table with a writer or celebrity drinking coffee (or tea) and having a discussion. The kaffeeklatsches are FREE. How cool is that? (Creation would charge you $100 for that, am I right?) 

We were able to do two--the first with David Gerrold, in which he did most of the talking. I learned quite a bit about the man who wrote The Trouble With Tribbles (which never came up), his body of work, and his strong opinions on certain topics, which may or may not have included Star Trek TNG and Gene Roddenberry. 

The second kaffeeklatsch was with writers Deric Hughes (Warehouse 13 and Beauty and the Beast) and Gillian Horvath (Highlander). This was a true discussion, in which everyone got to participate and ask questions and make comments. We talked quite a bit about advertising in the DVR/Web age and internet and social media tie-ins. 

Larry Nemecek
I missed every other interview and panel after that. We spent some more time in the vendor room chatting with Larry Nemecek (and taking yet another SFMom-Larry con pic--what is this, like our millionth?) and Gene Turnbow from Krypton Radio (which I am listening to now as I type this). 

We hung out some more with Nathan, Treklet got her Hollow Earth book signed by John Barrowman, and I got my torchwood cast photo completed with Burn Gorman's autograph. We also placed some bids on some beautiful stoneware pieces at the art show. 

Michele Specht and I look nothing alike at a Who Con! 

I greeted Michele Specht at the registration table when she ::finally:: arrived and we snapped some selfies. ----->>>>

We were able to watch about half of the Star Trek Continues screening of Fairest of the Them All before our Reception. You can watch it here: Star Trek Continues Episodes

We headed up to room 1701 (how cool is that?) where our name was checked off the list and we were each handed a Torchwood cast photo and two autographed photos--one of Nina Toussaint-White (Mel in Let's Kill Hitler) and one of Siobhan Hewlett (Harriet Derbyshire of the Torchwood Institute). We were then assigned to a group and told to help ourselves to as much wine and soft drinks as we liked. 

Soon, celebrities started arriving and visiting the groups in rotation. We got to visit with Dan Starky (Strax the Sontaran), Ellis George (Courtney Woods in Series 8), Ross Mullan (many roles incl Teller in Time Heist, the Silent, Ice Warrior), Burn Gorman (Owen Harper, Torchwood) and John Barrowman (Captain Jack Harkness). Ellis was energetic and fun! Dan was interesting and sincere. Ross was comfortable and relatable. Burn was friendly and brought his own beer. John was wonderful and gave Treklet a lot of attention. It was a great 90 minutes, although I think they could improve the experience by holding it in a ballroom downstairs with tables and chairs!

After our reception we hung out for a little while with Michele and Chris Gore, too. Treklet was starting to feel poorly, so we headed back to the Hilton early, where she wanted nothing more than to sleep. Uh-oh...

Sunday morning she woke up feeling better, but it wasn't to last. We packed up, checked out and went to the Marriott. There were some scheduling changes, so we spent the first hour or so watching the most recent Christmas Special on the big screen. It was wonderful that way! At 11:00 we had to go to the voice auction to see if we could secure the items we previously bid on.   I was able to help her a bit financially with one item that she won, but everything else we had our eyes on got too pricey for us. 
Treklet's souvenir from the art auction
Stoneware piece from Peri Charlifu
check out his work here:

As the 2-hour auction event wore on, Treklet deteriorated. She felt hot to the touch and had a panicked look on her face. She just wanted OUT. I paid for her piece and we headed straight to the car. I found an Advil in the luggage and took her straight home. She's been sick with the flu ever since. I just hope she didn't infect any of our friends that we hung out with---or me, who slept next to her! 

I didn't even know I knew these guys when I took their picture! It's Darnell Davis and Anna Yeutter!

Old School -- and he didn't delete me!

Star Trek Continues screening!

There were quite a few Missy cosplayers this year!

cutest Dalek ever
Captain Jack Hart
well done!

Officer on the Bridge!
Ha! Nathan crossed the streams....

lovely...I'd wear this anywhere

Crocheted Dalek

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Get a Piece of the Action!

Have you checked out Star Trek Continues yet?

So far, there are three episodes and three short vignettes available to view for free. I suggest you watch them ASAP because your life is not complete until you do.

This isn't just any fan made Star Trek project. This IS Star Trek. It's all done by professionals--from the writing, to the acting and everything in-between. The sets are perfect replicas of the Original Series. There has been meticulous attention to detail on the lighting, the makeup, and the costumes. Our beloved characters have stayed true to their original inception and new crew members have strong, positive attributes.  

What really makes this series stand out is the writing. The essence of Star Trek shines through in all three episodes thus far. One of the main reasons that most Trekkies love Star Trek is it's ability to shine light on the human condition and socio-political issues, while providing hope for our future. There is no post-apocalyptic despair in Star Trek, only a positive vision of a future where equality, exploration, and peace are the ideals that drive the Human Race.

I have had the honor and pleasure of spending time with some of the actors, directors and writers of Star Trek Continues. Each is passionate about the project, and determined to produce the best Star Trek possible. They have given of their time and their talents for no profit, as they must, because they are not officially licensed by CBS, who owns the television rights to the franchise. On the plus side of this situation, they are not beholden to any corporate overseers or advertisers and are free to adhere to their own convictions about what Star Trek is.

I am happy to announce that filming of Episode 4 has begun. Classic Doctor Who fans will be thrilled with the casting of Colin Baker (the 6th Doctor) in this episode. I can't wait to see it! Here is a pic that Colin posted to Twitter a few days ago:

It is quite expensive to produce a show of this high quality. At first, STC was almost completely and lovingly funded by Producer/Writer/Director/Actor Vic Mignogna (who is brilliant as Captain Kirk, btw) and his production company. A successful Kickstarter campaign (Kirkstarter 1.0) helped fund more.

Kirkstarter 2.0 has just launched, with the purpose of keeping the mission going.  True Trekkies are hungry for more! There is a great video on the Kirkstarter page with several film professionals singing STC's praises. Please check it out and donate if you can! Kickstarter 2.0

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Coachella Valley Days 2 & 3

We had a pretty chill day on Tuesday. Sophia made crafts at the resort rec center while I did an exercise class in the pool. We went to lunch at Native Foods Cafe in Palm Springs and absolutely fell in love with the place! Yes, everything on the menu is vegan, scratch made, and organic when possible, but besides that, it was some if the tastiest food we've ever had! I had African Peanut Soup and Ensalada Azteca with a watermelon drink. Sophia had "chicken" nuggets & fries with lavender lemonade. We shared a ginger pie and an oatmeal creme pie, and it was too much to finish.

From there, we drove to Shields Date Gardens in Indio so I could stock up on a variety of dates. We picked up a few other specialty items to try there as well. Sophia is looking forward to trying the date syrup on her morning waffles. We stopped at The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf on the way back to our condo and relaxed with some seasonal coffee drinks, made with almond milk, of course.

We were at the resort only long enough to change into some warmer clothes before heading back to The Living Desert for their Wild Lights display. There were zillions of lights and the park looked beautiful, but we discovered that we are weather wussies. It was 56 degrees and we were freezing! We are official Cali Girls. 

We got to meet an opossum, an African hedgehog and a tarantula.  I passed on petting the spider, but my animal-loving darling daughter did it. 

When we couldn't stop our teeth from chattering any more, we headed to Yardhouse in Rancho Mirage. Sophia loves their Gardein buffalo wings and I love their spicy roasted cauliflower with tahini sauce. We also shared some chilled edamame, roasted Brussels sprouts and hummus. We took the leftovers with us and ate them for breakfast. 

We ended the evening playing the longest game of Crazy Eights ever. I was so tired that I'm not even sure who won. 

Wednesday morning, after finishing off the Yardhouse leftovers, we checked out. I had promised Sophia one game of pool at the red center, and the. We were on our way to the Indian Canyons. 

We timed our arrival to catch the ranger talk at the Trading Post. He was a handsome Apache with a Mohawk and long salt and pepper braided ponytail. He taught us about the Agua Caliente Indians, the canyons and history, and answered questions. He also told us this riddle:  when an Indian lights up a cigarette, what is he about to do? (Answer at the end)

We slathered on some coconut oil, grabbed our binoculars & water, and headed down the path to the Palm Canyon trail.  I shared my knowledge of the desert plants and their specialized adaptations and pointed out some geological highlights. Ha! There are always homeschool opportunities with us!

We were in the canyon for almost two hours and ready for lunch when we returned to our car. I had picked out another vegan restaurant to try, but we both just wanted to return to Native Foods. This time I had blackened tempeh tacos--the best tacos I ever had--and super slaw. Sophia had a bacon cheeseburger (seitan) and we shared a peanut butter parfait. I bought one of their cookbooks and we WILL travel to Encinitas soon to enjoy anotheR Native Foods meal. 

We spent the next two hours walking along Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs and browsing the shops. We picked up a few small gifts for Christmas and enjoyed another coffee treat at The Coffee Bean And Tea Leaf before heading back up the Pines to Palms Highway. 

It was a short trip, but we enjoyed ourselves. We hope to find time to return before Spring and ride horses in one of the canyons. We love the Coachella Valley!

 Answer to the riddle:  He is about to text.   DO YOU GET IT?

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Late Fall in the Desert

Our 3-day visit to the desert started out brilliantly! We took our preferred Palms to Pines route to the Coachella Valley and stopped at the overlook on Highway 74. Sophia stepped over the low wall to retrieve a recyclable bottle and called out to me, " Bighorn Sheep, Mom!" 

I made my way downslope to her and sure enough, right before my eyes was a pair of the magnificent animals. One looked up at me at the moment I focused my phone'so camera on it, and then I was able to capture them in a short video in my phone as they grazed on the native shrubbery. I have been visiting the Sonoran Desert for over 30 years and have never seen a Bighorn in the wild, despite countless hikes off the beaten track, and here were two of them, between ribbons of busy highway!

We shared our find with a couple of other travelers who were taking in the view from above. They scrambled down to meet us and we're thrilled at the sight of the pair of sheep making their way across the slope. Once the sheep were out of sight we filled a bag with recyclables then drove the rest of the way down to the desert floor. 

We made a quick stop at the Visitor Center then continued to our first destination, The Living Desert. We ate lunch there, let some goats, fed a giraffe, and saw many desert animals from around the globe. They had a new female Endangered Mexican Wolf that was recently introduced to her potential mate and we watched her explore her new habitat and chase the male around while whimpering.

We checked into the Welk Resort around 4:00 and Sophia went for a swim before dinner. What a dinner it was! I researched vegan restaurants in he area online before we came. The first one on my list was India Oven. It was a small, clean, place with a menu to satisfy everyone. We opted for a full meal platter to share, plus an order of vegetable pakora and channa masala. The platter consisted of a large samosa, basmati rice, garlic naan, Indian pickle, daal maharani, kidney beans and bell peppers..all. Old and delicious. I asked for the channa masala medium, but that was a mistake. It was much too hot for Sophia--it tasted sweet and delicious and then suddenly--I WAS BREATHING ACTUAL FIRE. we left feeling very full.

Back at the condo we watched Guardians of the Galaxy, then hit the sack early. 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Where did my love of Sci Fi Come From?

I've been asked many times why I am a Trekkie and why I love  Sci-fi.

There are actually 2 very different answers to these questions.

I don't know when I first started liking science fiction, but I know what happened to seal my love for it: MUSIC! It was the 1976 and my eyes were filled with a cute guy who filled my ears with Rush 2112. It was true love (the album, not the guy). The rock opera about a future society touched my imagination, even as the music moved my spirit. The next guy (a longer-term relationship) was also a Rush fan, and expanded my horizons with Alan Parsons' I Robot and Black Sabbath's Iron Man, and then there was Hemispheres. A few years later I even counted Thomas Dolby's She Blinded Me With Science and Billy Thorpe's Children of the Sun as favorites. Of course I also loved Elton John's Rocketman and David Bowie's Major Tom, but I think the love affair began with Rush (Sorry Robert Plant...I swear I'm still all yours).
I cleaned a lot of weed with this album jacket back in the day...and I did a pretty respectable Geddy Lee impression, too!

I had a remote control Lost in Space Robot when I was a kid. Sure wish I had it now!
I know that I watched Star Trek, Lost in Space and The Jetsons as a kid, but I also loved The Monkees, Gilligan's Island, Bewitched and I Love Lucy. I can't really remember being Sci-Fi focused. I read the usual little girl books in grammar school: The Laura Ingalls and Marguerite Henry books as well as the mystery series that was in stock at our school library. I don't remember reading science fiction as a child.

I do remember being extremely excited when I went to see a movie and saw a preview for Star Trek the Motion Picture. I do remember going to Star Wars (That's all it was called back then!) in the movie theater with my boyfriend when I was in high school. I probably even liked it back then.
I remember sitting on the edge of my seat during Alien. I don't know why, but I hate admitting that I don't think I ever saw any of the Apes films in the theater, but I know I watched them on TV.  When something like Westworld or Twilight Zone came on while channel surfing, I'm sure I stopped turning the dial (yes, we had to get up off our butts to change the channel back then). When our local PBS station started playing Doctor Who (Tom Baker, the Fourth Doctor) on Sunday nights, it became a tradition. By then I was in college.

Now, why am I such a hardcore Trekkie? Star Trek does what much of science fiction does, but it does it in a special way. The original series broke many rules, knocked down many barriers...all while thumbing it's nose at censors and network executives that didn't even realize it. Or did they? Think about all that Mr Roddenberry and his team got away with! Interracial integration, women and minorities in positions of authority, interracial and even interspecies intimate relations. They tackled social issues like racism, slavery, social strife, and war. Sure there was some inconsistency, but there were also many different writers, and our own society was in a strange state of flux during the production years. There were some brilliant episodes, and some campy ones, but the point is, subjects that were normally taboo were included in the series, and social commentary was often snuck in because the setting was a fictional society on a fictional planet. Rush did the same thing with songs like The Trees, and, well, most of their music.

I just read Clockwork Angels, by Neil Peart and Kevin Anderson, which tells the story of Rush's album of the same name in a beautifully illustrated (by Nick Robles) graphic novel. I can't help seeing a parallel between this story and some of what Star Trek was telling us. "What do you lack?"
The Watchmaker loves us all to death
(By the way...I'm still waiting for a 2112 Movie! Someone needs to make this happen...or at least a graphic novel!

Star Trek is not unique in it's ability to spawn questions about our own society and beliefs. I just love the way it does it.

Oh, and Captain Kirk.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Amazing Spiderman 2 wasn't even on my radar. Probably because of the last series of Spidey films, I was never a Spidey fan. MacQuire's Peter Parker was a total wuss. I knew so little of this film going in, that I didn't even know Orci and Kurtzman were the EPs and writers for the film. That alone would have kept me out of the theater.
Well, shut the front door! I was pleasantly surprised. I enjoyed the film! I felt there was a good balance between action and story (rare these days) and I have no major complaints with the writing. I liked the production design, FX and the acting was top class. I thought Sally Field was powerful and her Aunt May in tears gave me mom feels. Andrew Garfield played a warm and personable Parker, who was written well.
My brain only distracted me briefly wondering a) does Spidey leave sticky webs hanging all over the downtown buildings? (eeww), b) where did Electro get that rubbery suit and how did he get it through the conduit? and 3) Why does Max have a huge gap between his front teeth and Electro doesn't?
Without being spoilery, I just gotta say that I thought about what happened in the clock tower in my head as a "would be a better ending if....." and then that actually happened.. WTH?! I agreed with THOSE writers' choice? Amazing.
Also, I noticed the glaring Star Trek Easter egg, but didn't get why it was there. As soon as the credits rolled and I saw the writers' names I KNEW why....