Well, this isn’t the blog post I thought I’d be writing when I woke up this morning. On my way to work this morning I was informed by friends that a longtime Star Trek and role playing friend, Roger Taylor, had been found dead in his apartment. He had been having heart issues lately and when he hadn’t responded to his ex-wife’s attempts to reach him, she went over to his place to find he had passed away.
I’ve mentioned Roger a couple of times in past blog posts, recently when we had worked together on homebrewing the Star Trek Adventures stats for an alien race called The Tarn. Roger had run several RPG sessions for various friends including a lot of Star Trek by Decipher. He had homebrewed several items for the Decipher Star Trek RPG, Star Trek Adventures, Serenity and several other games. I even discovered that one of his early adventures he wrote was ported over to the Far Trek system. When we were not joking around or talking about our Star Trek organization, we were talking about games.
I first met Roger when he was working at a security guard at an IT company I was working for around 2008. I could often sneak down to the security office while on a lunch break and talk with Roger about common interests. He loved the fleet of Star Trek, Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica ships that I had set up on my desk. I think we knew we were going to be friends when we realized how much we both had a warped sense of humor. When we were discussing the (then) proposal by Madonna to remake Casablanca with a modern twist, my not-so-innocent mind altered one of the famous lines from the black and white movie. “Of all the S&M bars in the world, she had to walk into mine.” Roger was laughing so hard that he practically forgot to breathe. He would bring up this line at random times just to get a chuckle out of me.
Roger joined Starfleet Command’s Seventh Fleet and with his Star Trek knowledge and organizational skills, quickly moved up the ranks. He started a chapter-in-training which eventually became the full chapter, USS Essex. As a US Navy vet, he had served on the real life USS Essex.
He also loved baking, a pet songbird called Charley, military history (another common interest), building models, playing video games and writing. A phrase I picked up from a common friend for a situation like this was “May his/her memory always be a blessing.” I will have many memories that I will look back on when thinking about Roger. I’ll roll some dice for you in your honor soon.
To Roger’s family, I’m deeply sorry at this time. Heidi, thank you for telling me that Roger cared for me and held a lot of respect for me. I choked up a little bit when I read that message. Roger’s family has set up a GoFundMe page to help with funeral expenses. If you can, please donate.
I get a lot of ideas in my head. I mean, a lot of ideas that I’d like to see come to fruition. They rattle around my head, and if I’m smart, I put them on paper so that I can remember them later. Role playing adventures, story ideas, blog posts, homebrew ideas and more. Being creative is a natural high for me. I also love seeing creativity in others. When I see what others have done, it encourages me to do more. Especially if I believe that I can improve upon an idea and share it with everyone.
Getting these ideas started is usually the first hurdle to overcome. Sometimes I’m over-thinking things. Do I have all of the pieces in place? Do I have the time to complete a project if I have other irons in the fire? Certain things can freeze me into place. So getting started is a big step.
Once I’m on the road, I need to stick with it until I’ve reached completion. Seeing half completed items on my plate only discourages me from completing or starting a project. Sometimes it feels like I’ve got them all hanging over my head. If I run into an issue, find away to resolve it. In the photo above, I am holding a 136 page fanzine that I’ve just completed for my Star Trek club, Starfleet Command’s Seventh Fleet. You don’t know how happy I am to have this done since this idea has been more than a year in the making.
This Seventh Fleet Annual is a fanzine that displays the “best of” art and articles from various Seventh Fleet chapter newsletters and blogs. There has been a lot of creativity within the fleet and I wanted to put it an outlet. Why do this with a fanzine instead of a fleet newsletter? I look at club newsletters as windows to the past. To borrow a line from Galaxy Quest, they are the historical documents. I’ve collected hard and soft copies of newsletters not only from Seventh Fleet chapters, but other fan clubs as well. This includes several newsletters from Star Trek fan clubs going all the way back to the 1970’s. Seeing things through the eyes of the fans that have come before me is very intriguing. What challenges they had to go through at the time. Not only to get a newsletter published, but to keep their fandom alive. I’ve seen how a chapter newsletter helps the chapter become stronger. Every time a new issue is released, it tells members and recruits that the chapter is thriving and growing. It makes the chapter stronger. So, creating a fleet newsletter could be a detriment to chapter newsletters, and in turn, the chapter itself. Members would be moved to submit items to the fleet newsletter instead of their own chapter publications. So I felt that having a competing newsletter would weaken the chapters, which in turn would weaken the parent organization. Instead, the fleet should be supporting the chapters. So the idea of a once-a-year annual highlighting some of the gems created by members would help the chapters, and in turn, the fleet.
Now I’ve edited newsletters for a variety of special interest groups that I’ve been involved with in the past. However at the most they have been up to 32 pages. A fanzine is much, much larger. When I discovered that I had the tools, but not the know how, I set out to learn some additional tools that the word processors provide. I am very grateful to the various instructors who have shared their knowledge in YouTube. Just watching someone do what I wanted to do on video, got the ball rolling for me. Since I had poured over decades of newsletters from various chapters, I already had a good idea on which submissions that I wanted to use. Once I had momentum, I didn’t want to let it stop. Within several days I had a rough draft that I could show to my wife who has always been a second pair of eyes for me.
I would also like to say that I love the cover. I commissioned it from my college kid studying art. She provided several preliminary sketches showing different interpretations of the cover idea. From this, I was able to narrow it down to the one that looked the best. Then she spent quite some time getting all of the details right. Seeing this process first hand gave me a better appreciation of how artists work when creating their artwork.
Once I had everything done, I sent over the document to a local printing company in my neighborhood. One I had used for several projects before. So when I gave them a heads up that this was coming through the pipeline, they were ready. Within a day I had the first prototype in my hands. Not only am I excited to see what my fellow members of my Star Trek family think of this fanzine, I’m also on an emotional high from completing a project. A burst of energy that I want to put into the next project. I’m typing up this blog post not only to re-affirm my thoughts now, but giving me an opportunity to re-read these thoughts again the future if I ever feel discouraged. Look what can be done. Look at what your efforts have produced.
Let’s see what can be created. Let’s see what can inspire others.
Today I had an opportunity to do something that I haven’t had a chance to do in a while. Mine an episode of Star Trek for trivia and quotes.
As most of my readers know, I am the Commander-in-Chief of a Star Trek parent organization in the form of a “Fleet”. Before I was asked to take a position in the admiralty, I was the Captain (chapter president) of a local chapter. Part of our job was to prepare the members to go up in rank as much as they wished. The higher the rank, the more they were willing to serve. In Starfleet Command’s Seventh Fleet, guidelines have been set for going up in rank from Crewman 3rd Class all the way to Captain. This is different from other organizations that I’ve observed as they leave the lower ranks up to the decision of the CO and only provide guidelines for the higher flag ranks. One of the items to accomplish for a rank advancement is passing off a merit sheet. This is a short 5-20 question document with trivia based on a wide variety of subjects (general trivia, specific trivia about an episode, race, ship, etc., Star Trek quotes or production history, real-life science, specific episodes or movies, etc.) Some examples of these merit sheets can be found on the websites of individual chapters. One of the things I noticed as a Captain is that some members didn’t know what merit sheet to take next. So I decided that I was going to make a merit sheet for each episode of Star Trek. This way I could ask the member, “what is your favorite Star Trek episode?” Once they responded, I would give them the merit sheet for that episode and suggest that they just sit down, watch their favorite episode and fill in the answers to the questions.
Yes that goal may seem daunting now with new episodes coming out all the time on Paramount+, but at the time Enterprise was the last series that had been released. So I started on the project and I got pretty far. I completed all seven seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation. I’ve been able to get through the first 4 1/2 seasons of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and I’ve done a hand full of episodes from the other series. I would plop in a DVD on my computer, pull up Memory-Alpha, and watch an episode. If something that sounded like a trivia question would come up, I wrote it down. Eventually I’d come up with 20 questions and the merit sheet was ready to go for use.
I also “mined” the episode for quotes for use on the Daily Star Trek Quotes twitter account that I run. Sure, Memory-Alpha had some quotes listed in the episode entries. But there was a lot more that didn’t get posted to MA. Since I was watching the DVD with the closed caption turned on, I could easily rewind the episode and make sure I got a quote that sounded good written down for use. I would later add these quotes to a spreadsheet broken down by series, episode and who said it. So far I have over 7,500 quotes in this spreadsheet from The Cage to the latest episodes of Lower Decks. I’ve been able to post quotes for an actor’s birthday that has even impressed the online fan clubs of those actors.
I had a system down. I had to watch the episode alone because I was doing a lot of stopping and rewinding to make sure I had the details and quotes correct. A standard 45 minute episode could get mined for trivia and quotes in 60-75 minutes. Some days I could knock out an entire four episode DVD.
As with most fandom activities, real life got in the way. There were days that I wanted to focus on another relaxing event such as spending time with my family, reading, writing or gaming. I also decided to return to college to earn my bachelors degree. Something that I’m very glad that I did, but soaked up a lot of time. While I was able to get an episode or two down, I wasn’t on the roll that I had at my peak.
On Friday a weird moment came up where I had some free time so I decided to mine an episode for the first time in a while. However instead of using a DVD, I used my Paramount+ streaming service and watched the DS9 episode “Hard Time”. First, I have to commend Colm Meaney for his excellent acting in this episode. This was one of the “O’Brien suffers” episodes where O’Brien is dealing with the effects of PTSD. It reminded me why this was one of the episodes of the series that I enjoyed the most. It didn’t have a ton of action, but the character building was intense.
I will say that the rewind options on the streaming service were not that good. I really wish there was a “back 10 seconds” option like I’ve seen on other services. The closed captioning was also not up to par with what I was use to from the DVDs. It almost seemed like an after thought. I use the CC to make sure I’ve got spellings of the unusual names correct for the merit sheet. It was nice to have the episode at my fingertips. I may check the series on other streaming services that have DS9 to see if the tools and closed captions are better. I want to get as many of these merit sheets done as possible so that members of the Seventh Fleet have options to help them with their rank advancements. Plus it’s a little fun for me as well. Re-watching an episode is something I always enjoy.
I’m really glad that technology is assisting me with my fandom.
While I was there, I was able to get some additional photos for my online photo gallery. I was also able to obtain some new Battlestar Galactica and Star Wars autographs for my autograph collection. Spending time with Larry Nemecek and John Eaves was a highlight of the convention. I was even interviewed by Salt Lake Magazine in one of their FanX video reports. The video is posted below.
Some of the additional good things included how most people were following the health guidelines. Watching the attendees from the booth I’d say that 99% of the people were wearing masks. Hopefully enough people will take steps to make the conventions next year a safer event. I also really loved the wider aisles that were mapped out on the vendors room floor. While the con was still crowded (I was told that more tickets were sold for 2021 than 2019) it wasn’t crazy sardine packed on the vendors floor. I really hope that FanX keeps the wider aisles for future years.
I’m going to go a little bit on a soapbox here. I really think that autograph prices are getting way too high. There were several guests that I ended up skipping because I didn’t want to pay that much for a signature on a photo. I think that managers hear the term “Comic Con” and automatically hike the prices up by 30-50%. It also bugs me that the autograph prices are not advertised before the con so I can budget ahead of time. The con website posts the photo op prices, but the autograph prices are always listed as TBA. When I show up and find out that someone wants $90 for an autograph that I didn’t plan for in advance, I turn it down. Speaking of photos, what is the deal with charging for a selfie? Yes an autograph creates a value on an item that can be resold, so I can understand a guest charging for that. But you can’t really re-sell a selfie. All of the selfie-style photos that I have posted on this website were obtained without extra payment. While they are kewl and I thank the guest for posing with me, I don’t see myself paying for a selfie. If I wanted to pay for a photo with a guest, I’d get a professional photo done. End of rant.
After not being able to attend a convention for two years, it was good to see my convention friends and geek out. There are a certain number of people that I only see at these events. It was good to see who had kept themselves safe. I hope that things will get better so we can continue to have more events and conventions. The new uniform worked great and I may pick up a few more from that manufacturer.
Here are some of the photos that were taken at the con.
Wednesday, September 8 2021 was the 55th Anniversary of the Original Star Trek premier on NBC with the episode The Man Trap. Star Trek fans have been celebrating this date as Star Trek Day. There were several events that happened on this date including several series announcements for Star Trek: Prodigy, Star Trek: Picard (season three confirmed) and casting news for Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.
My friends from The Thermians from Utah Galaxy Quest fan club (hat tip to Frank and Roxanne) reached out to me to see if I wanted to be interviewed by Lara Jones the host of RadioACTive on Community Radio KRCL 90.9 FM. I had a great time talking by Zoom with Lara and we probably could have talked for several hours about Star Trek, Stargate, Star Wars and Doctor Who. But unfortunately I wasn’t the only guest scheduled for the hour long program.
Here is the link to the RadioACTive September 8th show notes with a recording of the interview. There is a brief introduction about Star Trek Day at the beginning followed by an interview regarding the Utah Greek Festival. Then the section with my interview starts around the 27:39 minute mark. After the interview I realized I mistakenly stated David Allen Stiers instead of David Ogden Stiers from MASH fame (I’m horrible with names). There is a little bit of electronic garble from the zoom connection, but other than that I thought the interview went pretty well. I was able to talk about Starfleet Command’s Seventh Fleet, what Star Trek meant to me and why am a Treknologist and she even mentioned this blog. Playing Star Trekkin by The Firm was a nice touch to wrap up the interview.
This isn’t the first time I’ve been interviewed. Back in the early 90’s a roommate was an intern at a local talk radio station and he got me on the air with a host to talk about Star Trek. I really hope I can find the tape recording of that interview as it now contains the voice of a friend who has long pasted on. I’ve been interviewed by magazines and local newspapers. Dan Pope of KTVX Ch 4 has interviewed me at FanX and I’ve been down to the Ch 4 studios for a cosplay special.
Thank you Lara Jones and KRCL 90.9FM for the opportunity to talk about Star Trek. I hope you all had a happy Star Trek Day. Live long and prosper.
So I got involved in a discussion on a Stargate fandom page online. The topic was the much debated Stargate Universe series. Some people stated that they liked it, others (including myself) stated that we didn’t like it. The conversation was going pretty well until someone posted the following “You are not a true fan of Stargate unless you’ve watched all of Stargate Universe.” Now this was a statement that I really had to respond to as I’ve heard this “True Fan” comment before and it bugs me a lot. Rant Mode On: I think this meme said it best.
As most of you know (or have probably guessed), I’m a fan of a large number of science fiction and fantasy franchises. And there are some shows that I have not found entertaining. I could never get into the Buffy and Angel series no matter how hard I tried. It seemed like every time I sat down to give The X-Files a chance while it was first airing, it turned out to be the episode of the season with the most blood. There are other series, movies, comics and books that I just couldn’t get into. Some I will talk about in future blog posts.
Even in my favorite franchises, there are stinkers. I’ve only seen the last episode of Star Trek: Enterprise once. And I only plan to watch it once again (to mine it for quotes and trivia questions) before I avoid it at all costs afterwards. If someone would have had the misfortune of having that episode be their first introduction to the Star Trek universe, I could understand why they may not like Enterprise or even Star Trek itself. They get to decide what they are fans of, not me nor anyone else.
Using the term “True Fan” is a form of Gatekeeping. Gatekeeping, in the fandom/hobby sense, is allowing only those the “true fans” deem worthy to join them in the fandom. They may use this to keep fans of a certain series in a franchise out of their club/social media group/etc. (i.e. “You can’t be a true Star Trek fan if you like Star Trek: Discovery), or they may use this to keep certain players out of their games (i.e. “You can’t play in our Battletech game with papers figures, you have to only play with painted figs). A note on this last one. A sanctioned tournament for a miniature or card game requiring certain items to use in the tournament is a method of marketing and sales, not gatekeeping. And one I see in cosplay groups is, your cosplay isn’t worthy of inclusion. Really? With how much time, energy and effort goes into cosplay you are going to get upset because it’s not “screen accurate”? Someone who puts their heart into their fandom doesn’t deserve to get it crushed.
Gatekeeping by “true fans” makes the base of participants smaller and could kill our fandoms. You never know what was someone’s introduction to the fandom or hobby. While I was manning the USS Ticonderoga recruiting booth during the opening weekend of Star Trek: Into Darkness, a new fan came up to me and stated that the previous Star Trek film had inspired him so much that he went and watched all of the original Star Trek television series. He was now a fan of the franchise itself and was checking out the other shows. Had he been talking to a “true fan”, he could have been discouraged by the belittlement and not checked out the rest of the universe that awaited him.
It’s not just geeky movies and hobbies that his plagued by this. I’ve seen this same “true fan” mentality in sports fandom. “You can’t be a true fan of the (insert team name here) unless you can name a player from their 2009 championship run.” As our Dwight meme says above: “False!”
Now when someone asks a question like “Is the new Superman & Lois television series any good?” I usually respond somewhere along the line of “I’ve enjoyed it.” If I found that I haven’t been a fan of a series, I state that it is something I haven’t enjoyed. If someone says they enjoyed a series that I have not, then I’m glad. Not everyone has to enjoy what I enjoy. I request the same respect in return. The “I’ve enjoyed it” answer is also how I avoid the bait posts where someone is trying to start an opportunity to troll fans of a series.
So to recap, if you were to say to me “I’ve only seen a handful of episodes of the anime Cowboy Bebop and enjoyed it, am I a fan?” my answer would be yes. If you asked if you wanted to cosplay as a gender-bended Robin Hood and his band of thieves in the Sherwood Forest, would I consider you a fan? My answer would still be yes. “I really like Real Salt Lake because they are a local team.” I’d say welcome to the fandom. Would I shun you if you only wanted to play Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition? No, I would not and I even might ask if there is an opening in your game. You get to decide if you are a fan of something, not these “true fans.” Enjoy what you want to enjoy and don’t let anyone tear you down for it.
Now to get back to the Stargate Universe discussion. I really enjoyed the original Stargate movie ever since I first saw it on opening weekend. It took me a while to get a chance to sit down and watch Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis, but I enjoyed them both to the point where I call myself a fan. Because I had enjoyed both of these series so much, I took the opportunity to get season one, disk one DVD of Stargate Universe from Netflix (this should tell you how long ago this was) and my wife and I watched the first five episodes. There was one good episode in that first set (it was about time travel). I liked the nerdy kid who’s name I can’t remember. I really wanted to follow Samantha Carter in command of the USS Hamond and see her adventures. And I thought the concept of being trapped on a living spaceship not under your control sounded interesting. But I found the writing in SGU horrendous. The acting really wasn’t up to snuff despite some good names on the acting list. The use of the tech to switch bodies to go back to Earth and spy on your ex-wife was dumb. It was dark, dreary and depressing and was practically a soap opera. Talking into the floating camera things was too much like how reality TV show contestants would react to a camera between dramatic takes (a major turn off). And the scene where some woman is talking to her floating camera making a message for her husband, and then forgets to turn it off while she cheats on him with another member of the crew really made me roll my eyes. I think I realized this show wasn’t for me when the lead scientist and the lead military guy was fighting in the fifth episode and I turned to my wife and said “I don’t even care who wins this fight.”
Now if you are a fan of Stargate Universe. Good for you, I’m glad you enjoyed it. Some of the SGU fans in the discussion stated that it got better in season two and encouraged me to sit down and give the series another try. I could see myself doing this once I’ve gotten all of my other catch-up and new watching completed. I’m really enjoying Superman & Lois and I watch it every week. WandaVision was another series I had to keep up on. I need to finish my first watch through of Farscape (yea I missed it when it first aired) and someday I’ll watch all of the episodes of Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda. There are a ton of shows in my streaming lists and interests that I want to watch. And that doesn’t even count the number of books and comics I want to read or games I want to play. Bottom line is that SGU is really down on the priority list. So yes I’d give it another try if my list has been completed, but that will not be for a very very long time.
I think I’ve said enough to end this rant. If you are still reading, thank you. Just remember, you decide what you are a fan of, not other people and not those who gatekeep with the term “true fans”.
Every year the Star Trek fan club, the USS Ticonderoga, holds a Mugato Gift Exchange (think White Elephant Gift Exchange, with a Star Trek animal replacing the word elephant) to celebrate the various holidays that happen this time of year (even Wookie Life Day). This was a very popular event and had a large number of attendance for this Star Trek family. However, with how 2020 has treated us, the Captain of the Ticonderoga made some changes to event. Since we couldn’t get together in person, the White Elephant format was dropped and replaced with a “Secret Santa” format.
The new name for this year was the “2020 Can Die in a Fire” long distance Secret Santa gift exchange. Participants signed up in advance and random Secret Santas were selected a head of time. If they were purchasing something new the limit was $10. If they were re-gifting something or creating something of their own, then the limit is what they wanted. The gifts had to be to their victims before the regularly scheduled Ticonderoga meeting. Since the meeting was being held by video conference, everyone would get a chance to open up their gift with everyone watching.
When I first heard of this idea, I was worried about the distance involved. Some members of the club live in different counties. I am pleasantly surprised that everyone who participated made it (mostly) work. I understand some gifts were late and I hope that they have made it to their intended recipients.
At the meeting I was overjoyed at the person who opened up my gift. They had a big reaction to the Mugato present. I can’t say anything more about that otherwise I’ll end up giving away who my victim was.
The gift I received was the Klingon Meal Kit seen in the photograph above. I don’t know if that is what my Secret Santa was calling it, but one of my kids blurted it out while I was opening the gift and the name stuck. I hope you can see the detail that went into this home made gift. Home-made Klingon Bloodwine labels were fixed onto glass bottles of special cherry cola (I can’t tell what the original brand was). Another label was attached to a package of black rice noodles advertising “instant gagh”. It was accompanied by a bottle of premium fish sauce, which is something I’ve never tried before. I really love the effort this warrior cook put into the kit. It is truly with honor, well done.
So the next question I ask myself. Am I going to consume the items in this gift or keep it as a memento? I’m really curious how the “instant gagh” would taste and I am a fan of cherry colas. 15+ years ago I purchased the special limited edition Heinz Ketchup which had the special labels on them. It had a quote from William Shatner stating “Fixes burgers at warp speed.” However I did not empty the container and it got nasty looking. I threw it away this year when we were packing to move. I’m not certain how to keep these items in a collectable value so I may just break down and eat the gagh and try one of the bloodwines. If I do, I’ll report it here on the Blog of Holding.