Well, I was hoping to have photos to go with this blog entry but the combined might of my iPad, iPhone and hotel internet just aren’t up to the task. Humph… oh well. As soon as I’m back. Promise.
Day one (Weds. August 2nd).
Got to Vegas around 10 in the morning (3.5 hour drive from home at maximum warp). Checked into the Rio hotel early, and registered to get my badge for the Con. The line for convention registration was virtually nonexistent (yay!), and the crowds seemed slightly less dense overall than last year’s 50th anniversary celebration, but it was still a very enthusiastic bunch.
The Vegas Trek Con is a bit like a mini Comic Con, but with the omnipresent aroma of cigarettes (yech). Nevada has different laws regarding indoor smoking, so whattyagonnado, right? But I’m a non-smoker, so the smell is fairly noxious to me. At any rate, the Con (so far) has been a lot of fun and fairly worth the assault on my olfactory lobes. The multidinous Star Trek cosplayers alone were worth it, let alone some of the other events.
In the dealer hall, I perused the wares for sale, but resisted buying anything; I’m sort of (finally?) outgrowing my once near-obsessive compulsion for collecting…or maybe it’s simply because I’m running out of room! Or I don’t have as many years left to lord over it all. Either or both, I suppose.
In the dealer hall I met actor Richard Herd (China Syndrome, V: The Miniseries, Star Trek, and countless others). I got to ask him about his recent appearance in “Get Out” (2017). He cited writer/director Jordan Peele as a “genius.” As a fan of the film I deeply agreed. I’d met Herd a few other times at other conventions and he’s always nice to chat with.
Dominating this year’s Vegas Trek convention has been the dual (and more or less equal) celebration/anticipation of Next Generation’s 30th anniversary and the arrival of a new Trek, the CBS-All Access series Discovery (coming in late September; coincidentally the same month in 1987 that Next Generation premiered). On the first day (Wednesday) there were four panels for Discovery and I attended three.
The first panel had three writers from the show; Ted Sullivan, Kirsten Beyer (who’s written some of the better Star Trek Voyager novels) and surprise guest Akiva Goldman; Oscar winner and lifelong Trek fan who called working on Discovery a “dream job” (!). The discussion ran the gamut from Doug Jones’ “Lt. Saru” (an alien crewman from a world where his species is continually threatened by apex predators) to revamping the Klingons to make them more relatable, with just grievances against the Federation.
The 2nd panel brought out several members of the cast. Mary Chieffo (Klingon L’Rell), Kenneth Mitchell (Klingon Kol, from the House of original series Klingon “Kor”), Sam Vartholomeos (playing Starfleet ensign Connor) and Wilson Cruz, formerly of “My So-Called Life,” playing the USS Discovery’s chief medical officer Dr. Hugh Culber; who will be one of two characters of a romantic pairing aboard the ship. The other will be Anthony Rapp’s “Lt. Stamets” (ship’s science officer and fungal expert). This will be Trek finally going where no Trek had previously gone…depicting a same-sex couple in a Star Trek series. Cruz was rightly emotional when he said how proud he was to be involved in this show, and that representation truly DOES matter. The other actors reiterated (from their perspectives) the challenges of reimagining the Klingons and of making them deeper, and even justified in their anger with Starfleet. Modern relevance with worries over loss of cultural identity will crop up as well. These aren’t your parents’ two-dimensional space Vikings. It was an interesting panel, and the young cast’s enthusiasm and optimism was contagious. They deservedly received a standing ovation and, as someone said during audience questions, “welcome to the family.”
The last Discovery panel I attended was with makeup/conceptual artists Glenn Hetrick and Neville Page; both longtime industry veterans and both are also judges on the SyFy makeup FX competition series “Face Off” (a series my wife and I enjoy very much). This panel was utterly fascinating and I wish like hell my wife could’ve attended, as this was right up her alley; it dealt very specifically with the art and design of the show’s makeup and props, using computers for the design phase, and 3D printers to make lightweight but incredibly complex costume pieces and props. The thoughtful details woven into the Klingon daggers and combat suits are simply staggering. I’ve seen some of these props and suits in person (see: my blog on San Diego Comic Con 2017) and they are jaw droppingly ornate and beautiful. As Page said, the goal was to make something more akin to ancient Spanish or French armor found in a museum somewhere. In my opinion they succeeded admirably. One final detail on a Klingon thruster suit depicted an upside down Klingon figure (almost Christ-like), diving voluntarily into glorious battle…a shape that ties in with and actually informs the elongated curved delta of the classic Klingon insignia (!). Amazing stuff…
After the panel I hotfooted it over to the rotunda area of the convention and got a chance to meet Page and Hetrick; got a pic with them too! I geeked out a bit and texted it to my wife at home. Again; we’re both huge Face Off fans.
After this, I was too tired (and elated) to sit through the next Discovery panel regarding the comic/novelization tie-ins. I would’ve liked to have seen it, but my arthritis dictated that I get up and move my atrophied ass a bit.
Thus ended a promising day one.
Day 2 began with me preparing to cover a panel for the popular game series, Star Trek Online. This was a favor for a friend of mine at Trekcore.com, and I was glad to do it. So I met with the gaming company rep (Deanna; she was wonderfully accommodating) and I covered the event, along with other press/media from other Trek sites. STO’s big announcement was that Next Generation costar LeVar Burton (Geordi LaForge) was joining the game in its 14th season, beginning in September. There was a small, press-only Q&A that my access allowed me to be a part of, and I asked my friend’s questions as his proxy. It was good journalistic exercise and I may have a chance to do another this weekend, but more on that later…
The rest of today I was armed with my iPhone camera, taking pics like a mad tourist. Took some great cosplay pics, handed out cards for my blog (hey…every bit helps, right?) and went back to see other things I’d glossed over or ignored altogether yesterday. I can’t wait till I have access to my “Big Mac” desktop at home, and can effortlessly attach my Flickr pics to this blog…and I will, I promise. Right now? Well, in Trek parlance, I’m limping by on half impulse power at the moment.
Two other fortunate encounters rounded out my day; the first was running into Discovery actress Mary Chieffo, whom I’d just seen in the Discovery cast members panel the previous evening. We briefly chatted. I wished her and her cast mates luck, and her assistant graciously offered to take our pic together. Standing next to her, I was somewhat dwarfed (I’m short, and she’s Klingon-tall) but who cares? She was kind to an old fan, and I look forward to her Klingon-ing up on Discovery next month! All the best, Mary! Q’apla! << And forgive my Krappy Klingonese (hehe).
My second encounter was with two of the stars, Vic Mignogna and Michele Specht, of the amaze-balls fan made series Star Trek Continues (which ends later this year after an 11 episode run). I unabashedly love this series; not only is it a pitch perfect recreation of the original series, but it is also made with meticulous skill and passion that sets it head and shoulders above other fan series. It is clever and consistently well written. I’d met this cast on other occasions and they treat their fans/supporters like family. In fact, I’ve had little online chats with them and they’re just as magnanimous online as they are in person. So I got a few pics and we talked a bit about the latest episode (written by cast member Kipleigh Brown, from an idea by Mignogna). “What Ships Are For” is an exceptional offering in an already above average series. Shame it’s coming to an end soon. Whenever a new episode becomes available online? It’s like Trekkie Christmas. Vic and Michele? All the best to you both. Live long and prosper!
After that I came back to the hotel room to eat, relax, text chat with friends/family and, well, write this entry…!
Tomorrow is the Next Generation reunion as well as a Q&A with no less than Sir Patrick Stewart (Captain Jean-Luc Picard himself, and Xavier in the popular X-Men movie series).
But I’ll cover that in my next and last entry on Star Trek Las Vegas 2017, coming in a few days (hopefully with photos and links). In the meantime my tired, 50 year old self needs to walk, round up my Fitbit stats for today and set a course….for bed. Engage!