Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Day I. Las Vegas Star Trek Convention

"Stardom is not up to us. We can't control if we become stars. What we can control is trying to be as good as we can be.
The rest is not up to us."

--Denise Crosby
(Tasha Yar on Star Trek: The Next Generation), talking at the Star Trek Convention in Las Vegas, August 6, 2008. She's talking about being an actress, but it applies to everything.

Flying into Las Vegas is like landing on another planet.
The land outside the plane window is red as if it was blasted in a forge.
On the ground, the sun is unforgiving. This could be Vulcan.
If Vulcans lost their minds and gave themselves up to plastic and illogicality.

I was afraid as I rode the shuttlebus from the airport that I was going to hate being here. It's entirely fake, like the outpost city Paradise, in Star Trek V.

One of the first things you see in the Las Vegas Hilton is Star Trek slot machines. (Note my friend the Gorn in the center picture.) I thought, maybe this will be OK after all.

One of the first things you smell is air-conditioned cigarette smoke.

I sat next to Patricia from D.C. We chatted while waiting for Denise Crosby to come on stage, and I started to get in the groove.

Patricia made her costume for Halloween years ago.
The red and black bluetooth device, which looks like jewelry in her ear, is real, not a costume.

We seem to have arrived at the future.

Denise Crosby, "Tasha Yar," the chief security officer on The Next Generation (TNG). She is also Bing Crosby's granddaughter. She was very open and generous.

A boy asked her, "How did you feel when you, I mean your character died?"
She asked for clarification: "You mean, the first time?"

My first Vulcan. Now I know I am in the right place and in my groove, talking with and photographing people. Many costumes I'm seeing are the opposite of "I bought it at Walgreens."

He explains to me in detail the history of the blond Romulan in the "Unification" TNG episodes. I'd wondered how a Romulan could be blond. Turns out she is Tasha Yar's daughter!

Poodles from southern California. Their owner, also in costume, introduced his dogs during the Q&A with Denise Crosby. (She said she loved dogs.)

They are named after Tasha Yar, Data (the android who was "intimate" with Tasha Yar), and First Officer Riker. The man says they seem to enjoy their Starfleet outfits.

I left the conference area for a while, after Crosby's talk. As I walked back, Denise Crosby came walking toward me.

I whipped out my camera and snapped her picture without asking. Obviously her fan-shields were up, and she didn't even glance toward me. I'm sure she's used to it, but I felt I had slipped as a human. I won't do it again.

John de Lancie ("Q," on TNG) on stage. Very dry, very amusing.

He said people ask him to give details of making the show, and it's like asking him about a dinner party twenty-some years ago. He remembers he served Nicoise salad, but people want to hear about going to the grocery store to buy potatoes for the salad--he mimics picking out potatoes ("no, not that one, it's wrong for this salad")--and he simply doesn't remember the details.

Still, it was obvious he liked being at the con. Making television shows isn't fun, he said, there's too much pressure. The fun part is the feedback, when people like it: "And here you all are!" he says, gesturing to the audience.

The Klingon Couple. Awesome.

I asked them for a sentence that captured the essence of being Klingon.
They thought about it for a minute, and the women said.
"Be strong and you will succeed."

She told me she even had it tattooed--"in Klingon, of course"--on her back.
I asked if I could see it, and her partner helped her point it out.

This is Ambassador Scott.

When I confessed I was not familiar with that character, he explained that he is playing himself.

Andorian Ambassadors. Elegant.

I told them the Klingons had given me a statement about being Klingons, did they have a message to our species?

They said no one had ever asked that, but loyalty is central to Andorians.
"Loyalty will bring security," they said.
Further, the man added, "Always pay your debts, don't remain indebted."

I was jotting down their answers in my notebook, and the man asked, "What's with all these questions? Are you a reporter?"

No, no! I said.
And I explained to them and a few other people hanging around that ST had more or less saved my life in high school (nods from some), and I had this year reconnected with ST after 30 years, loved it all over again, and decided to come to my first con and really enter into it. (More nods.)

Any lingering doubts that I was an outsider evaporated when I said the Andorian ambassadors were first seen in The Original Series episode "Journey to Babel."
(Heh, heh, bet you didn't know that. Or maybe you did. You should be here, if you did.)

People are obviously happy to talk Star Trek philosophy and to see and be seen.
I am happy to be among my own. Honored and delighted, in fact.

When I got back to my room tonight, I took some photos of myself in the big wall mirror.

I'm tired. Should I go to bed now, or should I go down to Quark's Bar, where I hear people will be hanging out?

Quark is a character who runs a bar, on Deep Space 9 (DS9).
I'm glad I watched some of all the follow-up Star Trek series. This truly is a universe.

[By the time I finished futzing with this, it's almost 1 a.m. CST, so I'm going to bed, though you know Vegas isn't!)


ddip said...

YEAH, I'm the first one to post a comment! I jumped out of bed before 7 AM this morning and ran down to the computer to log on to see if you'd posted yesterday--and you had!

What a trove of material! And how much fun that people are so open to having their photo taken for your blog. I can sense the thrill of the adventure! Can't wait for the next posting.

fresca said...

Hi, SIster!
It's 6:20 a.m. here and I lept out of bed to see if anyone had written back!
It is a trove of material, just being here, and people seem to like getting their photos taken, I suppose if you go to the work of making a costume, you want it appreciated.
(The costumes of the Klingons and the blue Andorians were more intricate and beautiful than the photos even show.)
This hotel room doesn't give you free coffee, so I'm going out to find some now. Many things are open 24 hours, so that should be easy. Love yoU!

krista said...

Your reportage exceeds all my expectations. This is almost as good as being there.

The most surreal experience I had in Vegas (well, there were several, but this one is easily duplicated, albeit paltry in comparison to yours) was standing under the fake skies of the Caesar's Palace Mall at midnight. Your body will totally think it's 2 in the afternoon, and it's a most odd sensation.

momo said...

Have you had any bloodwine yet? my friend wo is in the casino hotel business (I'm staying with his family) told me his Star Trek in Vegas stories last night.

fresca said...

I don't think I'll haul myself to Caesar's Palace, but thanks for the idea of going outside late at night--I'm going to try it!

No bloodwine yet, but I did buy a bottle of Romulan Ale. I can't wait to hear your friend's stories.... I think I could be having a much wilder time, if I didn't retire to my hotel room to write. And sleep. Alone. : )