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Report on Star Trek Con, Las Vegas 08

The Creation Star Trek Con - Las Vegas 08 was fantastic!
The last time I went to a con was in the 70s in NYC, back in the days of Xeroxed fanzines and collating parties. Am I dating myself or what?
Anyway, I had a such a good time, I was grinning non-stop. It was hard to wipe the smile from my face when I got back -- I had to really work to put on my New York mask.
For a very long review and link to my photos, read more.
First of all, the best thing about the Con was all the great people -- no, friends -- I met. First there was Madzilla from here at LJ. She made great LJ badges for us, with our screen-names and avatars. She came all the way from England for the Con, and I’m so glad she did.
Another friend from LJ was Sharpslass. Her input helped me decide to go to the Con, for which I’m eternally grateful.
UFP0275, sorry I didn’t get to see you more. Maybe next time!
Just need to quickly mention a few more people, because you guys really made the diff between a good time and a great time. Rick and George, Jim, Karen, Bones, and especially Chet and Nick. (More about them later.) You made me feel like I was at a party of good friends. Thanks!
OK, on to the report!
Tuesday, August 5
After pre-registration, the first event was the Chocolate Party on Tuesday night. It was an inauspicious way to begin, to say the least. Actually, it was a disgrace.   The room looked pitiful. No décor, nothing to make it feel or look special. None of the glamour of a low-level corporate holiday party.  Just a plain, drab, small room.  The food was set on one table directly inside the door, so people bunched up as soon as they entered, instead of being spread out at stations around the room. 
The chocolate offerings were hersheys-like syrup for dipping pound cake, pineapple and melon; spongy mousse and some other rather un-exciting offerings. No chocolate fountain, no truffles, no dipped strawberries, nothing interesting. At the bar, there was no Godiva or the like to create chocolate martinis, which would have been creative. And the “entertainment” was rudimentary -- one guy doing what felt like an off-the-cuff trivia contest. If it had cost 20 bucks, it might have been OK. For the price of $80, it was an insulting rip-off.
Nonetheless, I ended up meeting some fellow fans and having enjoyable conversations – no thanks to Creation. It was about the same experience as if they had just set aside an unused room for us as a gathering place. Not the best of beginnings.
Wednesday, August 6
There was a Hollywood Lunch with De Lancie, Crosby and others which I didn’t attend. For a more complete report, check out TrekMovie.com or other sites.
Susan Gibney (Dr. Leah Brahms from TNG), Barbara March (Lursa, the Klingon sister from TNG and DS9 and Generations) spoke. They were both warm and engaging.
Robin Curtis (Lt. Saavik in III and IV; Tallera in The Gambit in TNG). A little ditsy, but she told a great story about getting divorced from her husband in Hollywood, moving back to where she’d grown up in upstate NY, and buying a house that needed a lot of work. She ended up falling in love with her plumber and marrying him! Even better, she’d gotten out of show business when she had kids and now needed to get back to work. So, she became a real-estate agent! Yes, sir, that’s the true American dream: The poor young actress from Hollywood manages to leave Tinseltown, move to upstate NY, marry a plumber and finally achieve her dream and become a real estate agent! Actually, I love this story -- it’s so Overboard.

I missed a few speakers, then heard Denise Crosby (Tasha Yar). Many people asked her about her decision to leave – she must get sick of that. She spoke of being the only actress to be killed off twice, and, in response to a question about the new movie, suggested that it would be a bit much to resurrect her three times.
Carel Struycken – who? – Lwaxana Troi’s Mr. Homn, of course. Did you know that he played Lurch on the Adams Family? I didn’t. He was very funny, even without makeup.

John De Lancie (Q) was next – urbane, witty and entertaining. He mentioned how gratifying it is to be a god.

I skipped the Celebrity Bingo Champagne Bash, and feel this was probably a good call, given the lameness of the Chocolate Party. Did anyone else go and feel differently?
Thurday, August 7
I didn’t take any photos of the dealers’ room; you folks know what it’s like. I wasn’t really looking to buy a lot of stuff, but I did promise to bring home something for my daughter Sarah, eleven, who was bummed that she couldn’t come. I got her a few tribbles and a transporter/disappearing mug. I bought a couple of photos. But I also got some beautiful jewelry – not Star Trek or SF in any way. Look at this cool necklace:

The most interesting thing in the dealers’ room this time, I think, is a few things that are not yet available. Coming next year is a R/C (radio-controlled) fly-able Enterprise from Tyco/Mattel. The cheap version only goes around in circles, but the $70 version is fully-controllable with an extremely-cool touch-screen control which is a TOS communicator. Here, check this out:
Also coming up soon, in spring of ’09, I think, is a Scene-It? Star Trek DVD game and a Star Trek hand-held 20Q (like the Harry Potter one). Those are things that Sarah – and I! – would definitely like!
Thursday morning I ventured out to explore some of the other hotels and the strip, which I won’t bore you with. I returned for Max Grodenchik (DS9’s Rom), who was a riot. Continuing the comedy was the amazing duo of Brent Spiner and Marina Sirtis (Data and Troi). What a vaudeville act those two are! They could definitely take that show on the road. I’m kicking myself that I didn’t tape anything – I got intimidated by all those warnings about it.

Majel and Eugene Roddenberry were up next, and what I loved here was the sub-text. Majel is getting on there, but she’s still a sharp, powerful woman – a Grande Damme. Gene was talking about all his projects first, with his partner, then they brought out Majel. The family dynamics here were extraordinary – no, actually, they were absolutely ordinary, in that they were so typical and easy to relate to. Gene was trying to “handle” Majel for all he was worth, and you could tell he thought she was ready for the Alzheimer’s ward. She thought he was a young punk for trying to manipulate her, and wasn’t having any of it. She was proud to show she was a strong as ever. For instance, after Gene had gone through all the Star Trek-related projects he’s spinning as hard as he can, someone asked Majel if she thought there would ever be a new Star Trek series on TV. “No,” she replied bluntly. “Star Trek is dead.” (She meant as a television series.) You could see Gene turn pale and he leapt in to back-pedal that answer as fast as he could. Here he was, trying to weave some Star-Trek enterprise for himself (sorry!), and she’s there pulling the rug out from under him. Now, I don’t know anything, obviously, about how Majel’s health, how she’s doing and whose view of her mental acuity is closer to the truth, but it was fascinating to watch.

Garrett Wang (ENT’s Harry Kim) was next. He spoke about Asian stereotyping and how liberating it was to play the bad guy in that online Star Trek thing that I haven’t seen yet, something about The Gods...? Someone help me here!
I really wanted to go see Mike and Denise Okuda, the amazing graphic designers whose interviews on the DVDs I gobble up. Unfortunately, they were on opposite Max, who I’d wanted to see, too. What kind of fun job must that be, huh? I watch those interviews and daydream about my alternate-reality life, where I’ve become either a graphic designer for Star Trek, working for Industrial Light and Magic, etc. I know, I know – it’s not all fun, it’s got to be incredibly high-pressure, long hours and extremely hard work, but still – at the end of the day, how cool must it be?
Thursday night was my night for the Star Trek Experience party. That was fantastic. I’d never been to the Experience before, and it’s such a shame it’s closing. I can’t believe the timing of its closing, too – right before the movie? If JJ Abrams succeeds in revitalizing ST (let’s not get into that discussion, shall we?), then there could be a resurgence of interest. You’d think they’d at least wait to see what kind of uptick the movie produces before closing it. Dominic Keating & Connor Trinneer (Trip and Malcolm from ENT) did a Brit-style comedy routine downstairs, and Nichelle Nichols (Uhura) sang beautifully upstairs.
Here are a few pix.

What's left of the Warp Core Breech.

The only Cardassian I saw all week!
Friday, August 8
My first up was with Jolene Blalock (ENT’s T’Pol). You know, you see her on the TV and think, (Pauline Poundstone voice here), my, she’s attractive, but you figure, what with the makeup and the lighting, she probably doesn’t really look like that. Well, let me tell you – she is so gorgeous I was amazed. And, here, let me ‘fess up to my own sexism and cattishness: I was totally surprised at how intelligent and well-spoken she was. (You know how it’s so prejudicial when white people say that someone who’s black is “well-spoken,” like it’s a big surprise? Well, I guess I need to be slapped down here, too.) She was warm and witty and struck me as very intelligent, and I’m a bit of a snob about that. So, bad on me for being surprised. The photos I got of her don’t do her justice.
At that point, I figured I’d taken so many photos that I wanted to switch memory cards. I rarely have to do that. I usually take a day’s worth of photos and download them immediately to my computer and wipe the card clean. So I don’t change cards very often. Well, I couldn’t get the new card in. It seems like it would be simple, but I just couldn’t do it. I figured I must be doing something incredibly stupid, so I went up to the room and downloaded the manual for my camera. The instructions read, “open door, insert card, push, close door.” I kept trying but it wouldn’t go in all the way. I felt like an idiot. The next day was my big DS9 day, and I wanted to have plenty of memory. (In fact, I had run over to a Kinko’s next door [where I met “Bones” Rodriguez, writer of “Captain Kirk’s Guide to Women” and nice guy] to buy a new 8-gig card just for this purpose.)
I was desperate. I went back down to the main floor. What should I do? Should I just look for someone with a digital SLR and stop them and ask for help? Suddenly, I got an inspiration. The young, cute, geek guys at the R/C Enterprise, Scene-It and 20Q booth would know! I went to the dealer’s room and begged them to help me. They couldn’t have been nicer. They figured out that when my card was inserted, it needed a final, gentle little push at the end to click it in. I thanked them profusely and returned to my seat. 
I turned on the camera. Card Error! Card Error! Oh, no! Without a memory card, the camera is just a paperweight. I ran back to them. One of them (sorry, guys, I don’t remember who), peered inside and told me I had a bent pin. I must have bent it when I was trying to jam it in. I went into full panic mode. They reassured me that it was easy to fix if you had a good light, a tweezers, sharp eyes and a steady hand. I assured them that I had none of those things. They advised me to ask the concierge to find a camera repair shop for me. 
I ran to the front desk. The concierge found a shop, but they were closing in fifteen minutes. Oh, no! I ran for a cab and stared at the minute hand on my watch. We got there with maybe two minutes to spare. The guy fixed the bent pin and didn’t even charge me. The cab guy waited for me, even though I think he was at the end of his shift. Problem solved. I swear, if I had had a non-working camera for Saturday, DS9 day, I would have been an extremely unhappy camper.   I am so grateful to everyone, but especially Nick and Chet, my heroes, the cute young geek guys at the dealers’ room.
Whew! Was I relieved!
Saturday was my big day. I had an 11:00 photo op with Siddig, a 12:00 lunch with five DS9 actors, a 2:00 autograph (Siddig again, ‘natch), and all the DS9 guys to speak from 3:00 on.
The photo op – they should have had a stool for me to stand on! Let’s just say, Siddig photographs well. Me..., well, not so much. I guess there’s a reason he’s an actor and I’m not. ;)
Oh, the lunch was fantastic -- maybe the highlight of the Con. They were all so personable, so approachable, and actually seemed like they were enjoying themselves. I had been joking that the lunch would be like a Disney Character Breakfast for grownups -- you know, where Mickey & Co. come to each table and wave – except that Mickey doesn’t have to say anything, and these poor guys would have to actually talk and pretend they were interested. But you know what? It wasn't like that at all.
Auberjonois told about being away from home for three months doing a play, and coming back  to a list of chores that his wife had saved up for him --- doesn’t he have People for that? – and meeting his newest grandchild who'd just been born. He said he was exhausted from bathing them and playing with them the night before.
Combs engaged us each in conversation about the most trivial things, but was warm and seemingly focused on the moment. Max was a riot -- a New York boy heart and soul. And Sid was energetic, really funny, looser than I would have thought and just a delight. I am so much kicking myself over not recording it, because I have the memory retention of a sieve. Maybe Sharpslass will help me remember more details.
After lunch and the autograph at 2:00, I went into full photog-mode. Maybe one-third of all the pictures I took are posted here:
I took so many Siddig shots that even after I tried to cull them out, I still had 40, so I split them into two sets. The ones I thought were best are in the main set, Siddig at the ST Con, and the others I put in one called, “For extreme Siddig fans.” Feel free to check them all out if you want, but be sure you have food, drink and emergency supplies before you do. (If you feel so inclined, you could be more brutal than I was able to be, and tell me which ones I should trash.)
Saturday evening was the Las Vegas Symphony playing Star Trek orchestral pieces from all the different movies and series. It was interesting to hear them all back-to-back and see how each different composer approached the theme.  A very classy way to end, for me.
It was the end, because I had to leave at 11:00 Sunday morning, the next and last day. I missed all the VOY and Spock stuff, but, what can you do? How was it?
So, that’s my Con report. Great fun. I’m already signed up for next year – with Sarah. Hope to see you there!
Addendum: My flight, which was supposed to take off at 1:40 and arrive at JFK/NYC at 10 pm was delayed and delayed. I ended up getting home at 3 am. I could have easily done the last day after all, and still got home at the same time – or earlier! *sigh* 


( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 13th, 2008 07:50 pm (UTC)
LOL! Hey, we probably ran into each other in the '70's! I attended a lot of the New York cons. We'll have to met up sometime.

I wish I could have gone to the ST Experience. I've wanted to since it opened. The sad thing was I had a lay over in Vegas when I flew back from seeing Dethklok at UC Berkeley last Novemeber.
Aug. 13th, 2008 09:16 pm (UTC)
Hey, maybe we did meet back then! The question is, even if I met you now, would I remember? I suffer from CRS, you know -- Can't Remember Shit.

I see you're local to me -- NY, right? We could easily meet. Shoot me a message sometime if you're interested. I'm always up for New York. Dim sum, perhaps? Or sushi? Name the food, I'm there. :D You'll have to enlighten me about Dethklok (sorry, I'm sure I spelled it wrong).
Aug. 13th, 2008 11:40 pm (UTC)
Either that or we can bitch about why DS9 doesn't get the respect it more than deserves!

Okay, will have to think about a spot. If nothing else, the Ren Faire up at the Cloisters is Sept. 28th I think this year. or the 23rd. Whichever one is a Sunday. Gotta check the calendar again. But it's a thought and a lot of fun.

Let me know if you have a schedule when you can come in. If the Ren Faire is a go, I can met you where ever you come into the city and take you to the Cloisters.

Edited at 2008-08-13 11:40 pm (UTC)
Aug. 13th, 2008 10:44 pm (UTC)
Yay, great write up! I started mine at the airport and will be posting it in blocks of a day at a time (cos it is looooong), so will post a list of links when I'm done. :)

However, my pics are all up: here.

My panel ones are a bit rubbish but considering I only have a little snapshot one some of them came out OK. :)

Sorry I didn't get to say goodbye properly! It was great meeting you, and I shall of course see you there next year - but of course we'll both be around on here until then. :D

Oh, and you asked about a couple of bits - Garrett Wang was in Star Trek: Of Gods and Men - which I actually didn't know. I knew Tim Russ directed it and Walter Koenig and a bunch of others were in it but not Garrett.

The bingo party was actually pretty good, and Carel and Robin were fun callers. The prizes were AMAZING, loads of autographs (including the five captains set and some rare ones), ship models, t-shirts, hundreds of dollars of gift certificates ... next year they've said they might give smaller prizes to everyone at the winner's table instead of letting only five people walk away with aaaaall this stuff.
I'm ... not sure it was worth - what, 80, 90 dollars? But would have been had you won the prizes.

I had forgotten about the lameness of the choc party because I was so incredibly tired. Hehe.

I missed half of Marina and Brent's panel due to photo ops. Argh! The bit I did see was wonderful though. Those two are a hoot. On Sunday Brent 'invaded' Michael Dorn's panel (I think that was Sunday...). I'll be putting it in my write up. :)

And I was delayed getting home as well. Seems to be the trend!

I loved the Experience party, and going on the rides after helping out with that Warp Core Breach was - interesting. It made assimilation a bit more pleasant. :)
Aug. 13th, 2008 11:38 pm (UTC)
Oh, I love your photos of the Experience! I didn't really get any good ones, so I was glad you got such good ones. I showed them to Sarah.

"Of God and Men" -- yes! -- thank you!

It was really great meeting you! Glad you got home OK. You must still be exhausted.

Looking forward to reading your write-up!
Aug. 14th, 2008 05:20 am (UTC)
Hey, I just looked at your pics, and I didn't know how to comment at Flickr, so I thought I'd leave a comment here instead.

I'm so glad you took a picture of the Captain's Lounge upstairs at the Experience! I've always wondered what they had upstairs!

We took a lot of similar pictures of the Experience -- knowing it would be my last time there, I took a lot. I haven't posted them yet, but if you're interested my convention pictures are here.
Aug. 13th, 2008 11:40 pm (UTC)
Sounds like you had a blast!
This is Bones Rodriguez, Author of Captain Kirk's Guide to Women,
(http://www.KirksGuide.com), and I had a blast too!

I was working HARD that weekend, getting my book out there and doing the stand-up show so I actually missed a lot of the speakers. However, it is always so much fun to chat it up with everyone, and see all the people. I'm really glad you got the card you needed!

I made a youtube profile for my book, and I JUST finished (like a minute ago) a video of the weekend too:

I hope to see you again soon:

Bones Rodriguez
Aug. 13th, 2008 11:52 pm (UTC)
Looks like a lot of fun. Thanks for sharing, especially the pictures. You can't have enough pics of Siddig, though I hate the beard on him. It's not until I see him next to other people that I realize how very skinny the man is. It's not an exageration to call Bashir delicate. lol
Aug. 14th, 2008 01:50 am (UTC)
Yeah, I was really struck by how thin he is, too. And he's got that very long torso. I forgot to mention some of the stories he told, but here's one. He said that in the first few episodes (I'm not sure if this continued or not), they had him wear a fake chest -- a double-set of undershirts, padded -- to fill out the uniform. LOL!
Aug. 14th, 2008 02:00 am (UTC)
Oh, yeah, and the beard. The "scruffy Bashir" look. (Or the Arab terrorist look, a la "24.") He definitely looks completely different with or without the beard. At first, I hated it, too, but I've gotten a bit used to it, from seeing all the recent picture of him -- he always seems to have it now. And don't forget, the show was, what, fifteen years ago or so. He was 28 when he started on the show. I guess I look somewhat different now than I did fifteen years ago! Maybe he thinks he looks too baby-faced, even now, without the beard. At least his hair wasn't really long. I've seen that look on him, and it's not pretty. [snort]
Aug. 14th, 2008 02:09 am (UTC)
That is so funny. Noe that you mention it, his chest does look a little puffy. :)

Aug. 14th, 2008 05:06 am (UTC)
Thanks for the report. Makes me all nostalgic. It was a fun weekend. I had to go home on Sunday too. I kind of wanted to see the two Spocks together on stage.

Oh, boy, don't get me started about the closing of Star Trek: the Experience. I've been going since they opened ten years ago, and I've been going to the conventions there the past four years. I literally cannot imagine going to Las Vegas without the Experience. I mean, that was the thing that got me there in the first place!

Weren't Brent Spiner and Marina Sirtis hilarious? I saw Brent last year, but I never saw Marina before. She's a crack up. lol.

You know, I saw someone dressed up as a Cardassian on Saturday (costume day) -- see my pictures. It's kind of hard to tell in the picture, but that's a Cardassian. It's too bad they never had any actors portraying Cardassians at the Experience.....

Edited at 2008-08-14 05:07 am (UTC)
Aug. 14th, 2008 06:56 pm (UTC)
Aw man I'm so jealous. I wish I wasn't broke so I could go see the stars too. Brent Spiner... aw man.

Thanks for all the awesome pics. A great consolation prize. :oD
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )