|My son Ben (left) and I (right) share a moment with |
actor Sean Kenney (Center) who portrayed a disfigured
Captain Christopher Pike in the classic Star Trek
episode "The Menagerie".
I have been a Trekker since the very first show. In fact, some of my high school friends got really angry with me because I belonged to the Pep Club and Junior Varsity games were played on Thursday nights and I was expected to attend. But when Star Trek was announced, I stayed home to watch "The Man Trap", the very first Star Trek episode broadcast in September 1966 and never attended another Junior Varsity game after that. I was hooked and even made plans to major in biochemistry at the University of Chicago so I could work at NASA's Ames Research Center and search for extra-terrestrial life. But, life dictated another course and I wound up as an educational technologist instead. At least I worked with computers like those depicted in Star Trek and were pure science fiction during its broadcast run.
I watched the first two seasons then got married and didn't see the episodes of Season 3 until Star Trek went into syndication. When my son was born I would rock him to sleep while watching Star Trek episodes aired in the afternoons on the local TV station. As it turns out, Ben, who now lives outside of Chicago, actually went with me to this Star Trek convention. My love of the show must have worn off on him!
I was really excited when Star Trek: The Next Generation (STNG) was broadcast in the 80s, followed by Deep Space Nine, Voyager and finally Enterprise although family responsibilities often interfered with my ability to watch these subsequent shows. I always took a day off from work to attend the opening of each Star Trek movie, though.
I also explored "Star Trek: Federation Science" at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (a traveling exhibit ending in 2002) where I got to beam down to a planet as a member of an away team (My husband said he couldn't believe we stood in line for 2 1/2 hours for that!). I actually got to sit in the captain's chair on Captain Picard's bridge at the Hollywood Entertainment Museum (sadly closed in 2007). Then I jumped at the chance to attend Comdex (a huge technology trade show in Las Vegas) held at the Hilton where "Star Trek: The Experience" was installed (closed in 2008) and got to be accosted by a garrulous Klingon in Quark's Bar! The Klingons must have it in for me because I ran into a couple more at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama, too!
Then in the 90s, I finally had a chance to attend my first Star Trek convention held right here at the Hilton Hotel in Eugene, Oregon! Michael Dorn (Worf) was the featured guest and the Hilton was so packed the fire marshal was having a fit! When Michael Dorn plays Worf he lowers his voice dramatically and, as Worf, he recited the line he delivered in which he professed his love for his half-Klingon wife in a recent episode of STNG and the crowd went wild!
By the time I attended the next convention featuring George Takei (Sulu), I even fashioned a slightly modified version of the Star Fleet uniform featured in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and wore it, although I was too embarrassed to enter the costume competition!
At these Creation-sponsored conventions, there was always something going on - screenings of music videos, bloopers, contests, auctions, etc., The vendor hall was packed and the auctions included some really high-end collectibles. It was a lot of fun and everyone enjoyed themselves even if you didn't spring for the gold or silver reserved seats. Everyone got a chance to meet the keynote speaker. You just might have to stand in line for quite a spell to do it.
Sadly, I was to discover those attributes have become a thing of the past. I found the Chicago convention poorly organized and intentionally engineered to limit attendance - totally baffling to me considering the size of Chicago. Furthermore, Creation Entertainment sponsored two conventions just across the street from each other on the same days - one for "Supernatural", a currently broadcast show in its 11th season with a decidedly younger fan base, and the Star Trek the 50th Anniversary tour. Irritatingly, the Star Trek convention, with many older attendees, appears to have gotten short shrift. Whoever was running the cameras did a terrible job, the microphones and sound systems were erratic and many of the top celebrities like Jonathan Frakes (Commander Riker from STNG) and Brent Spiner (Commander Data from STNG) supposedly canceled at the last minute.
We were told Frakes had to finish directing the last episode of "The Librarians" for this season. I'm sure that had to have been known for some time, but we were not told until the morning of preregistration, probably to prevent cancellations and demands for refunds. Furthermore, although I no longer have access to the extensive list of celebrities purportedly attending the show that I saw prior to my ticket purchase almost nine months ago, I remember it being far longer than the roster of those who actually showed up.
At this convention there was less than a dozen vendors although I managed to find an authentic Tribble complete with action sounds and some collectible Star Trek Hallmark ornaments I'd never even seen before. The auction only included signed photographs or display banners except once when one of the volunteers was draped with various T-shirts (a tactic I remember from years ago). There were no blooper reels or music videos except for an amateurish video submitted by a fan. Apparently, on the convention website they had announced a fan music video contest but only had one taker. I wish I would have seen that. I think I've learned enough about ProShow Gold that I could have put together something!
Autographs and photo ops were all "pay to play" activities charging such "modest fees" as $25 - $100 each depending on the celebrity plus the cost of whatever it is you are having signed.
There were Q & A sessions with the appearance of each guest but "planted" questioners during the Q&A sessions - awfully similar to "reality" show productions. Maybe Creation figured us old geezers were too old to notice.
|A young college woman (Center) dressed as Commander Data in the opening sequence of the Star Trek feature film "Generations". Photo courtesy of "The Chicagoist"|
Other guests included Gates McFadden who played Dr. Beverly Crusher on STNG (being a dancer she looked fantastic by the way!), Marina Sirtis who played Counselor Troi on STNG and Robert Duncan McNeill who played Tom Paris on Voyager. McNeill now wears glasses and I honestly didn't recognize him. He said it was the "Clark Kent effect!"
Nana Visitor (Kiera), Rene Aberjonois (Odo), Armin Shimmerman (Ferengi Quark), Max Grodenchik (Ferengi Rom) and Jeffrey Combs (Andorian Shran) represented "Deep Space Nine". Jeffrey Combs also played many different aliens on DS9, Voyager, and Enterprise.
|Armin Shimmerman, who played the Ferengi bar keep Quark on Star Trek: Deep|
Space Nine explains how a performance on the DS9 set had to be DLP
(Dead Letter Perfect). Photo courtesy of "The Chicagoist"
|Rene Aberjonois played Security Chief|
Odo on "ST: Deep Space Nine" and
Paul Lewiston on "Boston Legal"
Image courtesy of Kyle Cassidy.
|Sean Kenney as Captain Christopher Pike in "The Menagerie".|
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
|An 85-years young William Shatner still with a twinkle in his eye! |
Photo courtesy of "The Chicagoist"