After a three and a half hour ‘car trek’ through the rugged desertscapes of California and Nevada (including former USS Enterprise Captain Chris Pike’s future birthplace of Mojave, see: “The Cage” uncut) I arrived at the Rio hotel/casino around 10 am this morning for the annual Star Trek Convention in Las Vegas. This marked my third STLV convention. Other than the sadly-defunct “Star Trek Experience” that used to inhabit the Las Vegas Hilton, this convention (and the Star Trek Tours in Ticonderoga, New York), this is as close as one gets to living in Star Trek’s universe for a few days.
My room at the Rio wasn’t yet ready, so I left my considerable luggage (3 heavily stuffed bags and a portable ice chest filled with snack foods & drinks) with the bellhop, and went straight to the convention. The line to get wristbands/badges was mercifully short, and they have someone hand out your badge to you in line to save time.
This year’s particular Star Trek theme for the convention was the infamous “mirror universe”, the evil counterpart to Star Trek’s more optimistic, utopian vision of the future. Terran Empire emblems were placed on the TOS bridge set as well as the transporter room photo op area. There was also a large updated version of the Terran Empire logo in the convention lobby itself (the Star Trek Las Vegas convention is deep inside the Rio hotel; past all of the casinos and restaurants).
I made my rounds of the Dealer Hall since I had a few hours to burn till my room was ready. First thing, I went to meet quickly with Aron Eisenberg (“Nog” from Deep Space Nine) to confirm an interview we had planned; now tentatively planned for Saturday.
Later on, I attended a panel of “The Alpha Quadrant”; the video podcast Eisenberg does with his friend and former “Star Trek: Voyager” star Garrett Wang (“Ensign Harry Kim”). These two have a great rapport, and the audience was kept in a near constant fit of laughter as the two mercilessly teased each other over everything from Nog’s more rapid promotion (ouch!) to their Rashomon-like recollections over meeting then-“Deep Space Nine” costar Nicole DeBoer (“Ezri Dax”). The repartee between these two is priceless. You haven’t lived till you’ve heard Wang’s hilarious Kate Mulgrew and George Takei impressions. The Alpha Quadrant not only discusses the stars and their history with Star Trek; it also talks about “Discovery” and even Fox’s “The Orville.” Unlike most other Star Trek podcasts out there, this one is from an insider’s perspective. If you have a chance? Give The Alpha Quadrant a try: thealphaquadrant.com
I attended an onstage reunion of “Deep Space Nine” costars Colm Meaney (“Chief Miles O’Brien”) and his now adult ‘daughter’ Molly (played by Hana Hatae). It was a nice reunion. I still can’t believe that little girl is already 30 years old (!!). Meaney talked about recent roles he’s done (including a supporting role in a new Tolkien biopic), and Hatae talked about leaving show business, only to take a role in a recent independently-financed science fiction film called “5th Passenger”, starring numerous other Trek veterans).
I also ran into author/scriptwriter Marc Scott Zicree (“The Twilight Zone Companion”, TNG S4’s “First Contact” and the “Star Trek Phase II” fan film, “World Enough and Time”; which he wrote and directed). I’ve been a fan of his since I first read “The Twilight Zone Companion” way back in my teens. I’ve also followed Zicree’s work on various TV shows as well. We met while checking in, and again at his table in the Dealer Hall.
I had brought my copy of his TZ book to the convention, just in case (the importance of reading your schedule in advance; you know exactly who will be here!). He signed it, and we agreed to an impromptu interview for this blog (sometime tomorrow), to promote his new space drama, “Space Command”; an original, crowdsource-financed film series that he hopes to sell soon. The film also stars Star Trek alums, past and present, Robert Picardo (the Emergency Medical Hologram on “Star Trek: Voyager’) and Doug Jones (currently playing “Saru” on “Star Trek: Discovery”). I’ve seen the first half-hour of “Space Command” at San Diego Comic Con and was very impressed. spacecommandmovie.com More on this to come; stay tuned…
Also saw a meeting of the two “Qs”; Next Generation star John de Lancie, and Corbin Bernson (formerly of “L.A. Law”), who played a fellow member of the Q Continuum in Star Trek: The Next Generation’s season 3 episode, “Deja Q.” I didn’t see much of this reunion, but some of the discussion that I saw seemed to revolve around the actor’s personal approaches to their respective roles.
I also sat in on an informative panel with Dr. Janet McMullen, a professor with the University of North Alabama, who uses Trek in her communications courses. She drew upon Trek as modern myth, allegory, morality fable, ethical exploration, a means of questioning the reality of our existence, and as a blueprint for more ethical behaviors. It was her first time speaking at a convention about her use of Trek in her classroom and we in the audience gave her much encouragement.
We’re Trek fans…that’s how we roll.
I also ran into (but didn’t get a pic of) “Deep Space Nine” costar Andy Robinson (“Garak” the Cardassian tailor/spy). I told him I loved his Deep Space Nine Garak-centered novel, “A Stitch In Time.” He thanked me with that wonderfully sly voice of his; he still has that bit of Garak-ness about him, but with a far less-threatening smile.
And, of course, there were the cosplayers (I love the cosplayers), the merchandise, and the photo op sets…
For myself, I bought tickets to get a few autographs on Sunday (the last day of the convention). The advance autographs I’ve purchased are for George Takei (TOS’ “Mr. Sulu”), Sonequa Martin Green (“Michael Burnham” of Discovery), Mary Wiseman (“Cadet Tilly”/DSC), Anthony Rapp (“Lt. Paul Stamets”/DSC) and Wilson Cruz (“Dr. Culber”/DSC). I follow Cruz, Rapp and Doug Jones on social media, and I look forward to meeting them soon.
I already got an autograph of “Saru” actor Doug Jones six years ago at San Diego Comic Con 2012. He talked with my wife and I about his career in mime, and posed for a pic with us. Jones is a truly gifted actor, whom I’ve admired for many years from his roles in Guillermo del Toro’s films such as the Oscar-winning “Shape of Water”, “Pan’s Labyrinth” and the Hellboy movies. With his versatile work in heavy prosthetics, he is a latter-day Lon Chaney. Doug Jones’ presence in Star Trek is a real boon to the franchise, as far as this fan is concerned.
Buying all of my autograph tickets for the same day frees me up to do a few interviews and even a bit of cosplay over the next few days. I brought both my “Star Trek: Discovery” exercise cosplay (a DISCO t-shirt, a pair of black sweat pants, athletic shoes) and my “Stone Trek” cosplay (my Flintstones/Star Trek mashup). I can’t wait to give ’em a try in the days ahead.
That’s all for Star Trek Las Vegas Day One’s “captain’s log.” Much more to come in the days ahead…