Sunday, August 30, 2009

Star Trek in Imax: Beam me up!

About five minutes into the Imax version of Star Trek the other night, there was a moment that was awe-inspiring. It actually inspired me to say "aaawww," though it was probably more an "ooooooo" or maybe "whooooaaaa," as saying "aaawww" would have made people think I was sad or whiny or maybe petting a puppy. Then they would have thought, "I wish that bonehead would shut up." We were, after all, watching a movie at the Museum of Civilization, and I wholly agree with the view that movie-talkers should be tarred and feathered with hot buttery topping and licorice all-sorts.

Anyhow, it was the moment when the boy James T. Kirk, already a rebel, sends a vintage Corvette soaring into a deep canyon. The camera follows from above and suddenly -- "whooooaaaa!" -- the ground falls away a few thousand feet. I jerked slightly forward, as if falling with the Corvette, and almost dropped my $8 popcorn. This is what Imax is for, this physical sensation of being in the film, and that split-second when your body reacts before your brain tells it to settle down, clown.

I saw Star Trek a while back on a so-to-speak normal screen at the World Exchange, and it was great. It gets my vote as the best movie in the Star Trek franchise, with careful casting of new faces in iconic roles, crisp special effects, and some breezily clever explanations for Trekian hallmarks ("All I have left is my bones," says a young and recently divorced Bones McCoy). It also has a story that -- in the context of time travel and Vulcans and tiny drops of "red matter" that can create a black hole faster than you can say "live long and pr-aaiiieeeyyyhhh!" -- seems entirely plausible.

It has its weaker moments, such as when Kirk cites regulations to remove Spock from the captaincy of the Enterprise because the crazy Romulan they're fighting killed Spock's mother, thereby making the pointy-eared son emotionally unfit. Yet the same Romulan killed Kirk's father, albeit years earlier, though that seems a fine line to walk when staging a coup on your boss.

There's also a fundamental similarity to Terminator: both films are about an assassin from the future dropping in to kill someone to prevent future events from happening. There's even a scene when Spock crouches on the teleporter in almost the exact position assumed by the terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) when it arrives on Earth in the first movie of that series. Homage, mayhap?

Not that Star Trek needs to mine other sources for ideas. It is its own template, from which almost every later space TV show or movie has been in some degree cut. That's why it gets the Imax treatment, and a whole new impact.

Star Trek wasn't filmed in Imax, but it has been enhanced and enlarged for the Imax screen, and the results put the stellar in interstellar. When a dozen or so Federation starships kick into warp drive, they shoot like giant bullets of blue light into the wild black yonder. When Kirk hangs by his fingertips over some gaping chasm -- which he does with alarming regularity -- you get a visceral sense of his precipitous position, as if you're strapped into a chair looking down into the abyss.

It's the same Star Trek that played in normal theatres, but at the Imax it somehow has more oomph, more grandeur, more of everything it's made of. It's like turning a space movie up to 11, as the lads in Spinal Tap would say. It's one bigger.

It's hard to imagine a movie less like Star Trek than Rock, Paper, Scissors: The Way of the Tosser: no space, no special effects, no big budget, no famous faces and no pop-culture legend to build upon. It does, however, have that most simple and curious of competitions, the game rock, paper, scissors, which makes eeny-meeny-miney-mo look cerebral.

Our hero, Gary Brewer, is a dedicated tosser, out to win the "RPS" world championships with the unwavering support of his girlfriend Holly Brewer and his enigmatic, idiotic friend Trevor.

Gary is played by Tim Doiron, a former Ottawa resident who also wrote the film and co-directed it with April Mullen, who plays Holly. It's their first feature, and it's been fêted at film festivals in Edmonton, Los Angeles and Britain. They've also scored a distribution deal with Alliance Atlantis, so it's now in

It sometimes has the homemade feel of a first feature, but it's funny and entertaining. There could be less of Trevor (Ryan Tilley), whose character is one-dimensional and too determinedly wacky. There could be more of Baxter Pound, Gary's nemesis on the RPS circuit, irresistibly played by Peter Pasyk as a jumpy man who relishes his power over Gary's self-esteem, openly courts Holly with googled snippets from the Romantic poets, and is absurdly egotistical.

The film is a mockumentary, a mix of real and not real. The camera crew follows Gary in the days before the world championships, as he trains relentlessly, but is saddled by his inability to "toss paper" since his dog died.

It's all very silly, in places hilarious, and overall a good bit of fun.

Read Peter Simpson's blog at

Movie Info

Star Trek plays Thursday through Sunday to Sept. 17 at the Museum of Civilization in Gatineau. For schedules see or call 819-776-7010.

Amazon Exclusive Star Trek Limited Edition Replica Blu-ray Gift Set Surfaces

Online retailer has covertly added a new sku for the upcoming release of J.J. Abrams' Star Trek on Blu-ray Disc.
The new listing is for an " Limited Edition Replica Gift Set" created around the Blu-ray release. Judging by the pictures because there is no written description, the set will include the film on Blu-ray Disc, a large black outer case, a metal or pewter replica of the Enterprise on a Federation logo base, and a certificate of authenticity.

The Blu-ray Disc is expected to be identical to the standalone offering. Until Amazon updates their pre-order page we will not know how many of these were made or the precise contents. The page does tell us the set is selling for $90.99.
Click here to check out or pre-order the Star Trek Limited Edition Replica Gift Set on Blu-ray at

5 Star Trek toys you'll probably find cool [NERD

Never been a Trekkie. In fact, I think I've seen a total of twenty minutes of anything Star Trek related in my life. Five minutes of that is the SNL skit with Belushi as Kirk.

I know Star Trek is a big deal for some people. Whatever gets you to sleep at night.

Here are five moderately interesting Star Trek toys:

Star Trek: The Next Generation Enterprise D Ship- Join the crew of the USS Enterprise for the adventure of a lifetime with this legendary starship! Measuring over 15" long, every detail of the Galaxy-class USS Enterprise, NCC-1701-D is recreated, right down to the separating Saucer Section! Also included are light and sound effects taken directly from the celebrated Star Trek: The Next Generation television series! Make it so!

Star Trek the Original Series Tricorder- After the runaway success of Star Trek's classic-era Phaser and Communicator, boldly go where no man has gone before with this authentic Tricorder role-play replica. Based on the classic 23rd century design, the electronic Tricorder features silver highlights over a black finish, as well as light and sound effects taken from the classic Star Trek series. Also included is the removable scanner accessory perfect for your next Away Mission.

Star Trek - Starfleet Phaser- This classic franchise with over 40 years of history will be back in the spring of '09! The electronic Starfleet Phaser is constructed of vacuum-metalized ABS and makes authentic Star Trek movie sounds when aftivated! The gun barrel pivots horizontally to switch from Stun to Vaporize, with each setting having its own set of lights and sounds!

Star Trek Classic Enterprise - Fly the USS Enterprise outside with advanced R/C controls. The R/C controller is designed to look like the actual Star Trek phaser from the original series and features innovative tilt control steering - tilt the phaser left to turn left, tilt the phaser right to turn right. Pull on the phaser trigger to accelerate. Plug the vehicle into the charger designed to look like the tri-corder from the original Star Trek series and in 15 minutes, youre ready to go. Trekkies and new fans alike will enjoy this unique and exciting R/C flying experience. Requires 6AA batteries and 3AAA batteries (not included).

Star Trek - Transporter Room Playset- Beam me up Scotty! USS Enterprise Transporter Room: Just like in the new movie! This Transporter room appears to ‘transport’ figures to and from remote areas. Now you can beam your action figures in and out and watch them actually disappear and reappear. It’s truly amazing! This highly detailed replica of the Transporter features authentic transporting lights, sounds and effects! Energize!

Speech to Text Coming To iPhone?

According to a patent filing, Apple is working on speech-to-text technology for its iPhone and iPod product lines. Speech recognition could be the holy grail for data entry and retrieval on mobile devices, especially as they continue to shrink in size.

The Baltimore Sun found the patent and has included a diagram of how the system would work when composing an email.

There is a lot of engineering speak in the filing, but I could decipher a few tidbits of info - that and I've seen this stuff on Star Trek so I know how it is supposed to work. It seems the speech recognition module they are working on would be able to not only handle text but non-speech data as well, such as punctuation.

To varying degrees, this has been tried before on mobile devices. The most rudimentary are the voice snippets you can record into your phone for a few of your favorite contacts. One of the better speech tools for phones is by Microsoft and called Voice Command. It is really pattern recognition. You can say "Call Sally Jones at work" and it will search through your contacts and find a name that matches what your digitized voice said and dials the number. You don't have to train it or record her name before you can use it. You can also ask it the time, battery level, signal strength, upcoming appointments and more. It is rather limiting though and there is no way to compose an email with it or tell it to do anything outside of dozen or so tasks it was written for.

I recall one demo by Bill Gates a few years ago where he spoke into a Pocket PC (that is what they were called way back when) and got nearly flawless text recognition out of it, but the trick there was the voice data was converted to digital then sent via wireless to a powerful server which did the heavy lifting. It returned the text to the screen. In the day's GPRS networks, it just wasn't feasible, which is why he was using WiFi. Today with 3G networks, it is more realistic, but you have the issue of who is going to pay for the server to potentially service hundreds of thousands of voices simultaneously?

It seems to me from perusing the patent that the speech recognition module is a separate chip or other such hardware that will be in the device that will be purpose built for this, much like a video card offloads graphics from your compute's main processor. If Apple can pull this off, they will have a huge win on their hands.

I just hope they put an altimeter on it that cuts the module off at 10,000 feet so I don't have to listen to the guy next to me on a cross country flight dictate a research paper into his phone.;jsessionid=1P544IFZ1JHDPQE1GHPCKH4ATMY32JVN

Playable Star Trek Demo will be Available at PA

If you're a Star Trek Online fan who's planning to attend the Penny Arcade Expo in Seattle from Sept. 4-6, Cryptic has some exciting news for you. A playable demo of Star Trek Online will be available at the Atari booth! The game's not even entering closed beta until later this year, so this is a great time to get your hands on Star Trek Online and get an early look at how it plays.

As a reminder, the Champions Online discounted subscriptions are available until Aug. 31 at 11:59 p.m. PDT, and each one comes with access to the Star Trek Online closed beta. If you're at all interested in the superhero MMO, it's a good way to make sure you'll get to try out Star Trek Online later this year.

Hey, Man, Leave Star Trek Alone!

I’m hungover and cranky this morning because someone forced me to do multiple shots of Jaegermeister last night while listening to music blasting at mega-decible levels. I had no choice. My family was hostage, and therefore I had to submit to this torture. I took it like a man.

Anyway, since I’m hungover and cranky and I simply cannot face dealing with political stuff at this moment - and if I read one more glowing tribute to Ted Kennedy I’m gonna barf and that has nothing to do with Jaegermeister - I thought I’d address this really cool article by John Scalzi in which he tells us what he finds wrong with Star Trek.

I like Star Trek. I’m not exactly a “Trekkie” but it’s been a joy from start to finish and now, a joy with the new beginning and new characters of a younger Kirk and Spock. I went to see the new movie with a jaundiced eye. How dare they commit the blasphemy of having someone else play the iconic roles of the Enterprise’s Captain and First Officer? But - it was a damn good movie, much to my delight.

Okay, so kick me. I like Star Trek.

Anyway, there have always been some inconsistencies with the show, and Scalzi points some of them out for us in a good humored way, from the flimsy concept of the first movie (I always thought the whole V-ger thing was a bit lame as well, but, hey I was just glad to see Star Trek back on the screen. And I liked the bald chick) to the rather odd switching of uniforms from movie to movie.

One thing he missed: In the original series the ship would fire its phasers on the bad guys, thus messing up their day. Did you ever notice that those beams of light went different directions, left and right, as they left the ship? How did they ever hit anyone like that? Just asking, and I didn’t care anyway. It was fun. I managed to overlook the fact that every single alien in the galaxy spoke perfect English, too.

Anyway, it’s a fun article, so check it out. In the meantime, live long and prosper. I’ll just be happy to find some aspirin and choke them down with black coffee. Ack.

Journey Through The Music Of 'Star Trek'

James Horner and the late Jerry Goldsmith may both be considered among the most acclaimed composers in cinema, but the two men share another thing in common. They’ve both written music for the Star Trek franchise. In fact, between the two of them, they have composed the scores for six films in the series.

Including the work of Horner and Goldsmith, “The Music of Star Trek” features 16 selections from the franchise, one for each “Star Trek” film and television series. Performed by the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, the album is essentially a musical journey through more than 40 years of one of popular culture’s most iconic mainstays.

What makes the album such an enjoyable listen is the variety of material included. Unlike the Star Wars series -– which relied solely on music by John Williams -– “Star Trek” has shifted composers several times throughout its long and storied history. It’s intriguing to hear how different composers have put their own spins on the franchises, each contributing a slightly different sound. From the now-campy vocalizations of the theme to the 1960s series to Michael Giacchino’s fresh take featured in this summer’s blockbuster reboot, “The Music of Star Trek” truly reflects how the franchise’s music has changed hands just as often as the casts of its television shows.

Nevertheless, despite their stylistic differences, the majority of the tracks pay homage to the most fundamental music of the franchise, namely Goldsmith’s thundering, heroic melody from 1979’s “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” and Alexander Courage’s original television theme. In this way, the series maintains a connection to its roots, keeping the core spirit of Gene Roddenberry’s original vision alive despite the changing times. Although they have expanded on the musical palette of the Star Trek universe, each new composer -– to his or her credit -– has had the foresight to realize that the Star Trek franchise isn’t going anywhere. As a listening experience and tribute to the longevity of the franchise, “The Music of Star Trek” is a perfect testament to that.

The world of Capt. James T. Kirk, Spock and the endless cast of characters that followed in their footsteps has captured the imagination in a way few entertainment properties ever has, and with director J.J. Abrams’ 2009 film likely to spawn a slew of sequels, an entirely new generation is discovering Star Trek for the first time.

More than ever, the door remains open for new composers to join the exclusive club that Courage and Goldsmith pioneered, just as the Enterprise had boldly gone where no one had gone before.

Forgotten dreams of space

Is space travel a lost cause? I would hope not, but reading the articles about the failures of our efforts to return to the Moon by 2020 makes the future appear very grim. The New York Times reports:

Nasa's current plan is to retire the space shuttles by September of next year after completing construction of the International Space Station, then rely on Russian rockets until a next-generation rocket, the Ares I, is ready in March 2015. The agency would then retire and dispose of the space station in 2016 and use the freed-up money to develop the heavy-lift Ares V rocket, a lunar lander and the technology for building a Moon settlement.

The project was never fully funded, and the budget cuts that President Barack Obama proposes would make it impossible to continue the exploration of space. But part of the reason for the cuts is America's general apathy toward space travel.

A website set up to examine possible cuts received only 1,500 comments as of the end of July. The question, "What do you find most compelling about Nasa's human space flight activities and why?" generated just 147 responses.

"The American people have no idea what's going on," said congresswomen Gabrielle Giffords, chairwoman of the House of Representatives subcommittee on space and aeronautics. "The average American does not know the shuttle will go away at the end of 2010."

Space travel has fallen from the realm of pop culture. While the 1950s and 1960s were saturated with news, films, comics, and books revolving around intergalactic heroes, those ideas have faded away in our current landscape, giving rise to fantasies that revolve more around personal wealth than the common good.

A Tom Wolfe's op-ed, One Giant Leap to Nowhere was published in the New York Times during the the recent anniversary of the historic walk on the moon. Wolfe reminisces about how space was covered 50 years ago, noting:

Every time you picked up a newspaper you saw headlines with the phrase, SPACE GAP ... SPACE GAP ... SPACE GAP ... The Soviets had produced a generation of scientific geniuses – while we slept, fat and self-satisfied!

Nowadays, we can barely be bothered to pay attention to the larger workings of the universe. Recently a major comet struck the surface of Jupiter. If it had hit earth we would have been toast. However, that information was buried deep inside the New York Times, an indicator of widespread disinterest. Who cares about boring things like earth's potential destruction via comet?

Wolfe argues that the lack of public engagement in space travel is due to faulty positioning, for many decision-makers, the determination to head to space was about competition and dominance, not innovation. Wolfe opines that Nasa needs a resident philosopher, and points to Wernher von Braun, a German scientist who joined up with Nasa in the 40s, as the last person on staff who had a vision for space, for Wolfe he raised the question of what the space program was really all about.

It's been a long time, but I remember him saying something like this: Here on Earth we live on a planet that is in orbit around the Sun. The Sun itself is a star that is on fire and will someday burn up, leaving our solar system uninhabitable. Therefore we must build a bridge to the stars, because as far as we know, we are the only sentient creatures in the entire universe. When do we start building that bridge to the stars? We begin as soon as we are able, and this is that time. We must not fail in this obligation we have to keep alive the only meaningful life we know of.

In a discussion The Economist hosted on the future of space travel, two sides debated the necessity of continuing to head toward space. The proposer kept his criticism grounded, arguing that "I would rather put a job in rustbelt Pennsylvania than I would another man on the moon," he argued that if space travel were a possibility, private sector efforts would be needed to take us there. However, the opposing viewpoint took a much longer view, arguing that space holds secrets that we need to unlock:

We need to reshape our space efforts away from "flags and footprint" stunts and toward the use of resources of the ocean of space to benefit the environment and economy of the Earth ... Any child in the 1960s could tell you in four words why America was committed to the Apollo programme: "To beat the Russians." The principal reason that we need to explore and utilise the moon can be expressed in these four words: "To save the Earth."

Space has generally been about catastrophe in pop culture. In the 1990s, movies such as Deep Impact and Armageddon discussed space as a nemesis, a hostile force lobbing agents of Earth's destruction. Even the ever-popular Star Wars franchise presents a tense universe, divided and often at war. Only Star Trek presents a more neutral universe, with a multinational, multi-species crew that focuses on travel and exploration instead of intergalactic war. The Star Trek reboot provides an interesting opportunity to re-engage the populace by returning space to the forefront of public consciousness. Let us not forget the story of Mae Jemison, the first black woman to go into outer space. After working in the Peace Corps and as a physician, Jemison was famously inspired to apply to Nasa after watching Nichelle Nichols portrayal of Lieutenant Uhura on Star Trek.

Perhaps actress Zoe Saldana who plays Nyota Uhura in the new Star Trek movie will inspire the next generation of travellers to think beyond the wild blue yonder and to truly master the final frontier.

Star Trek aftershaves, perfumes launched to attract other Trekkies!

Star Trek fans can now avail the brand’s new merchandise that includes aftershaves and perfumes.
One of the three fragrances that are out is Tiberius, which takes it’s branding from the middle name of James T Kirk, the captain of the USS Enterprise played by William Shatner.
According to the creators Genki Wear, the scent blends citron, black pepper and cedar top notes with vanilla, white musk, and sandalwood base notes to create a “casual yet commanding” aroma.
“Tiberius Cologne for men is difficult to define and impossible to refuse. In any universe,” the Telegraph quoted the product website as stating.
Also in market is Red Shirt Cologne, which is inspired by the strong-but-stupid extras who tend to come a cropper on Stark Trek missions.
Its slogan goes: “Smell like the future, because tomorrow may never come.”
And finally, there is the special fragrance meant for Women trekkies called the Ponn Farr scent.
It takes its name from the Vulcan mating cycle.

A particular gift website where the colognes are available states: “Set to stun, these fully licensed fragrances boldly go where no scents have gone before. But they’re not just for Trekkies, they’ve been formulated to smell gorgeous on normal, non anorak wearers too.”
All three scents are available for 29.99 pounds each.

Star Trek Tribbles vs. Guinea Pigs: Side By Side Comparison of the Universe's Two Cutest Most Irritating Animals

Ever notice how guinea pigs look remarkably like tribbles? Tribbles, for those unfamiliar with the Star Trek oeuvre, are small, furry animals that multiply like crazy. How do guinea pigs and tribbles match up pound for pound?

1. Physiology

At this juncture, there is no known tribble anatomy book (at least, not known to me). But there is a diagram of a tribble cross section. They have no visible features except for their fur, which comes in a range of colors. Guinea pigs have noses, ears, eyes, and mouths.

2. Predators

Tribbles are "mortal enemies" of the Klingon Empire. Their natural (or rather, genetically engineered) predator is the "glommer." Guinea pigs are mortal enemies of nobody in particular. Their natural predators are cats, coyotes, owls, hawks, dogs, snakes, and humans (who enjoy them roasted with a cold beer on the side).

3. Disposition

Tribbles purr when held. So do guinea pigs. Tribbles basically eat and reproduce. So do guinea pigs. The longest living guinea pig (according to the Guinness Book of World Records) was almost 15 years old. Did it mellow out as it aged? The longest living tribble was 5 years old (according to this article written by someone with just slightly more time on his hands than everybody else).

4. Locomotion

Tribbles don't move much. I have no idea how they get around. Guinea pigs run fast. Some estimates put their top speed at 37 mph. That is so damn fast, I kind of wonder if there's supposed to be a decimal point in that, as in 3.7 mph?

5. Cost & Collectibility

Guinea pigs cost anywhere between ten and $35 bucks. Curly-haired Peruvian or Himalayan guinea pigs cost a little more. Tribbles, toy ones, cost $29.99. Two actual TV series prop Tribbles from the episode "Trials and Tribble-ations" were purchased at auction at Christie's in the US in 2006for $4,800. The estimated price before auction was $800 – $1,200.

6. Fighting Potential

In a fight to the death, which would win: tribble or guinea pig? My money is on guinea pig, if only because tribbles have no appendages or teeth.

Friday, August 28, 2009

My BluRay Shelf: Is 'Star Trek V: The Final Frontier' as terrible as everyone says?

Boy, when I drop the ball, I really drop the ball.

I didn't mean to drag this series out as far as I did, especially since there's more "Star Trek" movies coming to BluRay soon. But Comic-Con hit, and then real life kept piling other obligations on, and there are things that have to get posted during the week, and I just kept finding excuses to push these articles aside.

Thing is, you guys have made it very clear to me that you've enjoyed these pieces. At Comic-Con, I think Toshi got high-fived every ten minutes by people who walked up and told him how much they loved reading about his initiation into "Trek." The response has actually led me to make notes on something I'll try to kickstart once we finish this "Star Trek" series. Raising a nascent film nerd is a big responsibility, above and beyond all the regular responsibilities of parenthood. More and more, I find myself retreating from fandom as I've known it for most of my adult life. I know it's not a popular or a political thing to say, but I feel like something's gone really rancid in fandom, and in particular, it feels to me like something tipped so that it's more about what people hate or what they can tear down, instead of what people love and what they get excited about. Hanging out with my son reminds me of what I loved about fandom when I was growing up, the unbridled enthusiasm. Even if I don't love the same thing as someone else, I find myself energized by that sort of excitement, and I look to him to recharge my own battery these days.

So when I say that the screening of "Star Trek V: The Final Frontier" did not go well, please believe that we started it with the best of intentions.

[more after the jump]

By far the most maligned of all the films made with the original cast, it's also the one film I've never bothered to revisit after my original viewing of it waaaaaaay back in 1989. I just didn't see any reason. That first viewing was so vivid that it retroactively turned me off to everything else. This was the moment where I just plain tuned out of "Star Trek," and there are several things about my reaction to this movie that seeped into my thoughts about the series and the characters in general. Unfair, perhaps, but "Star Trek V" casts a long shadow.

I can imagine the negotiations that took place before this film got made. After all, Leonard Nimoy had directed the previous two films in the series to great acclaim, and had managed to turn that into a real directing career away from "Star Trek" as well. That had to be eating at Shatner, and I'm guessing he saw this as his chance to assert his personality into the series in a major way and maybe even launch a new chapter in his career as well. And his original ambitions for the film were grand, involving Sean Connery playing Sybok, the long-lost mad prophet half-brother of Spock and a full-fledged SF trip into Dante's Inferno in the third act. But this was the start of Paramount totally low-balling the "Star Trek" films, forcing them to shoot on repurposed sets for "Star Trek: The Next Generation" and re-using ILM shots rather than actually generating new work for the film, and constantly revising and cutting the budget repeatedly.

None of that would matter if the film worked as entertainment, though, and so when I sat down with Toshi, he was still so excited about the four films in the series we'd already watched that I crossed my fingers and hoped that the film would at least play for him.


It sort of blows my mind when Toshi asserts a critical voice at this point. He is only four years old, after all. This is a kid who not only specifically asked me to buy a copy of "Space Buddies," but who has also watched said copy of "Space Buddies" more than once. So on occasion, I would say that his taste allows for a whole lot of terrible right now, like most kids. And that's cool. My job isn't to tell him that he's wrong... it's to make sure that he understands what he's watching, and that it's age appropriate for him. Beyond that, I don't want him to be a mirror of me, so I work very hard to not cue him to react to something.

"Star Trek V" is the most blatant comedy of the series, and it's broad hammy comedy, the sort that makes me gnash my teeth. I've heard "Star Trek" fans defend this as a great film about the core relationships in the series, even if you don't like the plot of the film, but I disagree. This is, by far, the worst character writing involving the original cast for any of the feature films. By far. It sets up these giant bombshells for a few of the cast members (McCoy in particular), but in such an artificial context that I don't buy any of it. Worse, the film can't decide on a tone. "Star Trek IV" worked because it played the entire thing with a wink, but without undermining the stakes of the mission they were on, while this film lurches drunkenly from blatant buffoonery to life-and-death peril to supposed wonder and awe. There's something of an in-joke to the casting of Lawrence Luckinbill at Sybok (because if you can't get Sean Connery, Lawrence Luckinbill is exactly who you should go to instead), since Luckinbill's parents-in-law, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, were the owners of Desilu, the company that produced "Star Trek" in the first place, but that sort of in-joke is just one of the many indications that this film is too cutesy for its own good. How about Captain Kirk climbing El Capitan at the start of the film? Get it? Captain Kirk? El Capitan? OH THE HILARITY!

I've also spoken to people who get really excited by the notion of the Enterprise crew coming face to face with God, and finding him to be little more than a deranged homicidal madman. In theory, that could be interesting, but again... Shatner botches the execution with such ferocity that it almost feels like he was trying to end the series forever. This isn't just a bad movie... it's aggressively, actively awful. It plays like it's mad at the audience for showing up. And the big reveals regarding "God" are so ludicrous, so poorly staged and imagined and executed, that there is no kick to be had, even for the most fervent of athiests.

I watched the entire film this time around, but to my enormous surprise, Toshi did not. About twenty-five minutes into the film, Toshi stood up and looked at me, his angry face firmly affixed. "Daddy, this film gives me a BIIIIIG headache." He stormed out of the office before I could respond, and I had to bite back my peals of laughter until I knew he wouldn't hear me. I figured maybe he just needed a nap or a snack, and he'd come back to it at some point. Later in the evening, when he asked if we could watch something together for a little while before his shower, I held up "Star Trek V" and asked if he wanted to finish it.

"No, Daddy! I tol' you! That film makes my head get all mad. I hate that one."

Yes... that's right. My little "Trek" nerd... the kid who will rewatch the same episode of the "Star Trek" animated series four times in a row if I let him... actually told me to my face that he hates "Star Trek V."

Enough said.

We'll wrap this up this weekend with our attempt to bring Toshi back into the fold with "Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country," and then we'll hopefully use this series as the launch for something ongoing and, if it is what I hope it will be, not just entertaining but also interactive.

John Scalzi's Guide to Epic SciFi Design FAILs - Star Trek Edition

Me: Star Wars design is so bad that people have to come up with elaborate and contrived rationales to explain it.


It's a little much to hope for (or fear) the same result two weeks in a row, but nevertheless I promised everyone I'd point and laugh at Star Trek design, so here we go. I'll confine myself to things in the movies. There are eleven of those, so it's not like this will be a problem.

In Star Trek: The Motion Picture, a Voyager space probe gets sucked into a black hole and survives (GAAAAH), and is discovered by denizens of a machine planet who think the logical thing to do is to take a bus-size machine with the processing power of a couple of Speak and Spells and upgrade it to a spaceship the size of small moon, wrap that in an energy field the size of a solar system, and then send it merrily on its way. This is like you assisting a brain-damaged raccoon trapped on a suburban traffic island by giving him Ecuador.

The Alien Probe of Star Trek IV
star-trek-iv-probe-125.jpgThe programming of this probe is even more simple than that of V'Ger, and could be written in four lines in the BASIC programming language:

10. GOTO Earth
20. INPUT "I can has humpback whalez?" A$
30. IF A$="no" THEN GOTO 40

I'm pretty sure this is not optimal design.

The Borg
Featured in First Contact, these are the most fearsome aliens in the galaxy, and look like the Tin Man on Goth Night at the local leather bar. You don't know whether to fear the Borg or to ask them if they think that upcoming AFI album will be, like, awesome.

Bad design, or awesome? Evidence for awesome: They can very precisely vaporize living creatures -- and their clothes! -- whilst leaving everything else (floors, walls, objects people are sitting on) untouched. Evidence for bad: Inconsistent power output. In Star Trek II, a phaser vaporizes a mind-controlling eel of Ceti Alpha V (also, the Starfleet officer it's inside of -- and his clothes!), but then turns another such eel into a smoky smear. Yes, one can dial down phaser power, but I'm pretty sure you can't actually set a phaser to "smudge."

star_trek_uniforms_125.jpgYou have your choice: Velouresque pajamas and miniskirts (resurrected for the 2009 reboot), burgundy jackets with puffy blouses (Treks II - VI), or progressively unflattering jumpsuits (Treks VII - X). Do Starfleet personnel ever stop what they're doing, look at each other, and ask, "Who dresses us?" They should. But all of the above are at least better than the eye-poking fashions of the first movie. Speaking of which:

The Enterprise of The Motion Picture
It's a deathtrap. The science officer is killed beaming up because the transporter is screwy, the warp engines throw the ship into a wormhole (GAAAAH) and the phasers route through the engines, because, well, who doesn't like a power bottleneck? Now, the Enterprise is newly redesigned and it still hasn't had a "shakeout" cruise, fine. But someone really should have nipped the "let's route the phasers through the engines" design choice in the CAD stage. Also, I for one wouldn't let them beam me up if the words coming out of the transporter technician's mouth were "Guess we'll find out if these work now."

star-trek-holodeck-125.jpgIn fact brilliantly designed (except for the fact that it's a little too easy to override the safety protocols, and, you know, die), but none of the movies ever addresses what anyone who's ever thought seriously about holodecks knows: Given that it's hard enough to get some MMORPG players today to take care of their basic bodily needs with Cheetos and moist towelettes, what's keeping the entire population of the Federation from queuing up the "Roman orgy" recreation, stepping into a holodeck, and never ever coming out again? If you say "they have to eat," allow me to introduce you to the magic of the food replicator.

Red Matter
I'm sorry, I can't even begin to coherently explain everything that is wrong and bad with "red matter." Every time I try I just end up sputtering and gibbering and making plans to beat J.J. Abrams, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman to death with the works of Stephen Hawking and Richard Feynman. Suffice to say that when a deus ex machina looks exactly like Sasquatch's ball gag, you might as well put up a sign that says "abandon all logic, ye who enter here." Or, more compactly: GAAAAH.

Coming clean on "Star Trek"

have seen “Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan” at least a hundred times.

I own three versions of “Star Trek: The Motion Picture”: a VHS tape, a DVD and special “Director’s Cut” DVD, even though it is arguably one of the worst Trek films ever made.

I still get pumped when Commander Riker stares down a Borg ship and orders “Fire!” at the end of the Season Three cliffhanger of the TV series, “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”

I have seen the new movie twice (and counting).

I own two “Star Trek” encyclopedias (yes, they make those) and one “Starfleet Technical Manual” (as if I’m gonna need to change a flat on my starship anytime soon).

The point is, I know my Trek.

That’s part of the reason I recently jumped at the chance to explore the logic (or lack thereof) of a proposed a Starfleet Academy — at N.C. A&T

John Hood of the John Locke Foundation apparently shares my passion.

John announces in his current column that he is ceasing a run of old “Star Trek” titles (or slight variations of them for his columns on North Carolina politics.

John and I once debated on this blog the politics of Trek versus “Star Wars.”

For the record, I’m still right and he’s still wrong.

And I haven’t asked, but I would be shocked if John didn’t have some input into the Civitas Institute’s Trek parody lampooning the Star Fleet Academy idea.

Update: John Hood replies:

"Nope. I was outraged that they didn’t give me a chance to respond, on behalf of my hero Earl Jones."

William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy and others trek across the TV screen in a case of Star Wars

Listen up.
This is of paramount importance.
Especially if you are a Trekkie.
Paramount is about to unleash a universe of “new” releases on DVD that will empty your wallets and length your book shelves.
Smart marketing indeed, since this marketing move comes in anticipation of J.J. Abrams’ "reinvention" of the Star Trek franchise.
But first . . .
On November 17, 2009, the world will go where no one has gone before when the "new" Star Trek debuts.
Bursting with “spectacular action” (The Hollywood Reporter) and “pure filmmaking exhilaration” (Rolling Stone), Abrams’ Star Trek franchise was hailed by critics and embraced by long-time and new fans alike, earning more than $375 million worldwide.
The cast is chock full of young people we never heard of . . . Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, John Cho, Anton Yelchin and Simon Pegg. We have heard of actress-turned-shoplifter Winona Ryder and the original Dr. Spock himself, Leonard Nimoy. Read our candid chat with Shatner here:
Abrams is excited. And why not? The DVD release will bring countless more money into his deep pockets. “I cannot wait for fans of Star Trek to check out the home entertainment release of the film. The behind-the-scenes features on the DVD get a wonderful look at the crazy, hard work and incredible fun that went into making this movie. The cast and crew were truly extraordinary to work with; watching these special features, you'll see why.”
This new Star Trek may not be of paramount importance to everyone, but it is to Paramount. A few weeks before it takes off, they are reaching back and pulling out the old stuff.
Among the bunch: Star Trek: Original Motion Picture Collection (which includes the first six Star Trek films); the Star Trek: The Next Generation Motion Picture Collection (featuring the four Star Trek films starring the Next Generation crew, plus a bonus disc with more than an hour of additional content); Star Trek: The Original Series: Season Two.
Ho hum. The only thing that sounds remotely interesting is that ST:OMPC includes Star Trek: The Captains’ Summit, a 70-minute round-table discussion hosted by Whoopi Goldberg in which William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Patrick Stewart and Jonathan Frakes share candid moments and intimate details about life on the set.
This news leads to a wars among stars. And big-budget sci-fi flicks.
A week or so after the Start Trek invasion, Lucasfilm Ltd. and Warner Home Video hurl out the four-disc Star Wars: The Clone Wars: The Complete Season One. “Live the adventures again and again, and dig deeper into the first season with a comprehensive look behind-the-scenes of the popular animated series!: the hype promise those willing to shell out the suggested retail price of $44.98 ($59.99 for Blu-ray).. Sure, you get four discs containing all 22 episodes from the groundbreaking first season–including seven extended "director’s cuts"–as well as companion featurettes for each episode and an exclusive 64-page production journal.
Supervising director Dave Filoni gushes, “I’m a longtime Star Wars fan, and the same is true for a lot of the guys working on the show . And as a fan, I know that Lucasfilm can be pretty secretive. They’re famous for it. But we’re all so proud of the work that’s gone into The Clone Wars, and we wanted to share some of our production tricks, and open up the vault and reveal our efforts. You’re going to get unprecedented access, to see the nuts and bolts of our series, from concept to finished animation.”
Created and executive produced by George Lucas, the first-ever TV production from Lucasfilm Animation explores the tumultuous time between Episodes II and III of the live-action saga, expanding the scope of Star Wars beyond anything seen in the feature films. With the fate of the galaxy hanging in the balance, the heroes of the Republic–including the valiant Jedi Knights and their loyal clone troopers–fight bravely to repel the attacks of the evil Separatists and their droid army.
Says Lucas: “The live-action saga was just the beginning. The universe is vast, and there are so many more stories to explore beyond Anakin’s fall and redemption. The scope of the war gives us the perfect vehicle for a weekly series, allowing us to look at how the conflict has affected the farthest reaches of the galaxy, including characters, creatures and races we only glimpsed in the feature films. Animation has allowed us to visualize the worlds and characters of Star Wars in all new ways.”

Trek in the Park returns

Trek in the Park, which had a three-weekend run in Woodlawn Park last month, is back -- for one night only.

The Bagdad Theatre & Pub at 3702 S.E. Hawthorne Blvd. will host the one-hour production at 8 p.m. Sunday. Following the performance will be a screening of this summer's "Star Trek" movie.

Trek in the Park is a staging of the "Stark Trek" TV show episode "Amok Time." It's the inaugural production of Atomic Arts, a new Portland theater company.

Star Trek 101: Who is Zefram Cochrane?

In the world of Star Trek, Zefram Cochrane is the first human to successfully launch a space vessel with warp drive, on April 5, 2063. Because the development of warp drive is the Vulcan criterion for establishing first contact with a planet's species, Cochrane's invention launches a new era in human history that leads to interaction with alien species through space exploration.

In Star Trek: First Contact, Cochrane, played by James Cromwell, Cochrane constructs his ship, the Phoenix, out of an old Titan II missile in Bozeman, Montana. This attracts the attention of a nearby Vulcan exploration ship which sends a landing party to the launch site to establish first contact.

The Zefram Cochrane character first appeared in the original series episode "Metamorphosis" by Gene L. Coon in 1967; he was played by Glenn Corbett. In "Metamorphosis" Cochrane has been rejuvenated and kept alive into the 22d century by an interesting entity known as The Companion.

Cochrane said at the dedication of the first Warp 5 Complex on Earth, "This engine will let us go boldly where no man has gone before," in the Star Trek: Enterprise episode "Broken Bow".

Geordi LaForge, Enterprise chief engineer in Star Trek: The Next Generation, attended Zefram Cochrane High School.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Star Trek' boldly comes to the Tech Museum in San Jose

The Tech Museum is boldly going where only a few museums across the country have gone before.

On Oct. 23, the Tech will open "Star Trek: The Exhibition," a show of memorabilia and re-creations of sets from the "Star Trek" films and television series that has drawn big crowds at museums in Detroit, Philadelphia and San Diego over the past year. Tickets are already on sale, and Elizabeth Williams, the Tech's senior director of marketing, said the show will run at least through the Christmas holidays "and could go beyond that if things go well."

"Star Trek" is the latest blockbuster exhibit to come to the Tech, which has been aggressively pursuing traveling shows that fit into its science and technology emphasis. Most recently, the museum saw its attendance skyrocket with "Leonardo: 500 Years into the Future," an exhibit of the works of Leonardo da Vinci.

"Once again, we've successfully endeavored to bring our visitors an exhibition that everyone on the planet — and even strange new worlds — can relate to, learn from and enjoy," said Tech President Peter Freiss. "Housing the exhibition at the Tech Museum is perfectly logical."

To accommodate the "Star Trek" show — which will take up more than 15,000 square feet — the Tech will take over the adjacent Parkside Hall. (The hall is operated by Team San Jose, which is a partner in bringing in the show.)

The version of the exhibition that will come to San Jose is
larger than those that have been installed in other museums, although much of it is currently at the Detroit Science Center. "The producers of the show were very excited when they saw the space they had to work with, which is significantly more than they had in Detroit," said Williams, adding that additional exhibits are being put together in Los Angeles for the Tech showing.

The exhibit will include an authentic replica of the bridge from the USS Enterprise NCC-1701 (that would be the Enterprise from the original TV series), the actual shooting model of the Borg Cube (from the later TV series plus the film "Star Trek: First Contact") and all manner of costumes and props drawn from all five "Star Trek" TV shows and the 11 movies.

There will also be a "Star Trek" adventure full-motion flight simulator for those who want to experience a little warp drive.

And the show will have one new aspect for its San Jose visit: artifacts from the latest "Star Trek" film, which revitalized the franchise earlier this year.

"Many of the comments they got in Detroit about the show were about why the new film wasn't part of the exhibit and why it wasn't part of the historical timeline in the exhibit," Williams said. That gap in the space-time continuum will be plugged in the revised version.

Contact Charlie McCollum at 408-920-5245.

"Star Trek: The Exhibition"

When: Oct. 23
Where: The Tech Museum, 201 S. Market St., San Jose
Tickets: $25, adults; $19, ages 3-17; $22, seniors and college students. Includes admission to the museum. Tech members get 40 percent off. Now on sale; 408-294-8324,

"star trek: the exhibition"

When: Oct. 23
Where: The Tech Museum, 201 S. Market St., San Jose
Tickets: $25, adults; $19 ages 3-17; $22, seniors and college students. Includes admission to the museum. Tech members get 40 percent off. Now on sale: 408-294-8324,

'Star Trek' Dog Costume, Engage!

We stumbled on this mind-boggling 'Star Trek' dog costume earlier today on The Daily What, and just had to share. In the tradition of our friends over at Engadget, we gathered captions from team Switched.

Josh F: "I swear to God if you laugh even a little I will totally bite your #@&*@ ankle."
Chad: "Dog's [sic] die in space"
Leila: "Deep Space K-9: The Trouble with Kibbles"
Warren: "Where no dog has gone before and, hopefully, will never go again."
Tom S: "I went on the U.S.S. Enterprise and all I got was this dumb spaceship suit."
Tom C: "And I thought being neutered was as humiliating as it got."
Dan R: "If you hadn't drank those bud lights, you'd see how dumb this looks for both of us."
Tim: "The perfect accessory for picking up green alien chicks at the park."
Jon C: "Set course for planet dry hump, Mr Crusher. Engage."
Thomas H: Joke's on you, owner. The shuttle bay is full and needs to be evacuated.

ग्लोव इन थे डार्क स्टार ट्रेक Pillows

Geeky pillows are kinda like geeky cakes — they hold a special place in the hearts of techies. But these Star Trek pillows, which were made by ldhenson, are in a league of their own.

Trekkies and techies alike will agree that these felt pillows are pretty exquisite — they are not only made with love by hand, but they actually glow in the dark. Which means you can enjoy them by day, and by night.

see more pics here;

Titan Film Series presents Star Trek

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – The Illinois Wesleyan Office of Student Activities will show the film Star Trek on Friday, Sept. 4 at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. in the Hansen Student Center (300 Beecher St., Bloomington). The show is free and open to the public.

This prequel to the popular Star Trek TV series follows the iconic character of James T. Kirk from the day of his birth to 20 years later when Kirk is a student at Starfleet Academy. The movie brings together the classic personalities from the 1960s, including Kirk, Spock, Uhura, and Sulu, among others as the crew of the newly commissioned USSE Enterprise. Entertainment Weekly calls the movie a “clever and infectious reboot of the amazingly enduring sci-fi classic.”

This Paramount film, directed by J.J. Abrams and starring Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, John Cho, and Simon Regg, is rated PG-13. For more information on the film visit or the Office of Student Activities Web site,

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Star Trek star to receive local award

Famed photographer, writer, musician and filmmaker Gordon Parks' choice of weapons was his camera. As the first black photographer at LIFE magazine, Parks chronicled everything from the Civil Rights movement to gang life to the worlds of fashion and art.

At the sixth annual Gordon Parks Celebration of Culture and Diversity actress, singer and activist Nichelle Nichols, pictured, will be awarded the "Gordon Parks Choice of Weapons Award" at a tribute dinner on Friday, Oct. 9, 2009. It is part of the total celebration, a component of the Gordon Parks Museum/Center created in 2004 by Fort Scott Community College to honor Parks, who is a Ft. Scott native. The full celebration will take place October 7-10, 2009.

Named after Parks' autobiography of the same name, the award seeks to honor a recipient who has excelled in the areas that Parks did and who exemplifies his spirit and strength of character. Previous honorees include actor and musician Avery Brooks, photographer Howard L. Bingham, Elizabeth Eckford and Ernest Green, two of the "Little Rock Nine," and Richard Roundtree, star of the Parks-directed film, Shaft.

Nichols began her professional singing and dancing career in her hometown of Chicago as a young teen. Discovered by Duke Ellington, she was hired to choreograph and perform a ballet in one of his musical suites. As Ellington's lead singer Nichelle Nichols toured the US, Canada and Europe with him and Lionel Hampton before turning to acting.

Her most famous role is that of communications officer Lieutenant Uhura aboard the USS Enterprise in the popular Star Trek television series. In succeeding Star Trek films her character was promoted to the rank of Starfleet commander.

It was in Star Trek that Nichols gained recognition as being one of the first black women featured in a major television series not playing a servant. During the first year of the series, Nichols was tempted to leave the show believing that her role lacked significance; however, a conversation with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. changed her mind. Her susequent role as a female black bridge officer was unprecedented.

After Star Trek, Nichols volunteered her time for a successful project with NASA to recruit minority and female personnel. Those recruited include Dr. Mae Jemison, the first American female astronaut and United States Air Force Col. Guion Bluford, the first African-American astronaut, as well as Dr. Judith Resnik and Dr. Ronald McNair, who both flew successful missions during the space shuttle program before their deaths in the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster on January 28, 1986.

As an enthusiastic advocate of space exploration, Nichols has served since the mid-1980s on the Board of Governors of the National Space Society, a nonprofit, educational space advocacy organization.

Nichols was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1992. In 1994, she published her autobiography Beyond Uhura: Star Trek and Other Memories. She also wrote two science fiction novels, Saturn's Child and its sequel, Saturna's Quest.

She has appeared in The Roar of the Greasepaint-the Smell of the Crowd, For My People, and garnered high praise for her performance in the James Baldwin play, Blues for Mister Charlie. She starred in the touring Broadway hit, Horowitz and Mrs. Washington and Nunsense II. In her one-woman show, "Reflections," which opened to rave reviews, she portrayed 12 legendary female entertainers.

She has twice been nominated as best actress for the Sarah Siddons Award, an award conferred by the Sarah Siddons Society whose intent is to promote excellence in a Chicago theatre production. Her first nomination was for her portrayal of Hazel Sharp in Kicks and Co. and the second for her performance in The Blacks.

In 2006, Nichols added executive producer to her résumé. She also was the voice for her cartoon self in two episodes of the animated series Futurama.

Nichols was cast in a recurring role on the second season of the NBC drama Heroes. Her first appearance was on the episode "Kindred" which aired on October 8, 2007. Nichols portrayed Nana Dawson, the matriarch of a New Orleans family financially and personally devastated by Hurricane Katrina.

In 2009 she joined the cast of The Cabonauts, a sci-fi musical comedy that debuted on the Internet. She portrayed CJ, the CEO and demonstrated her singing and dancing talent.

Tickets for Gordon Parks Celebration events will go on sale September 15. For more information contact Jill Warford at (620) 223-2700, ext. 515,

Live long and prosper" Couple plans wedding on bridge of U.S.S. Enterprise

For any dedicated Star Trek fan, the chance to set foot on the U.S.S. Enterprise would be the opportunity of a lifetime. For Kate Erwin of Phoenixville and Brad Siegel of Denville, New Jersey, the dream experience goes one step further.

On September 13th, Erwin and Siegel will be married on the bridge of the U.S.S. Enterprise at the Franklin Institute, as winners of the Institute's Star Trek Wedding Giveaway. As the couple stated in their contest entry, "Nothing would make us happier than to be able to pledge our lives to each other in the Star Trek universe, among our family, friends, and fellow Star Trek fans."

Prior to hearing of the contest, Erwin and Siegel's dream wedding included a ceremony on the bridge of the Enterprise D in Las Vegas. Unfortunately, their hopes were dashed when the Vegas exhibit closed in September of 2008. Fortune was in their favor, however, when they came to the Franklin Institute earlier this year to see the Star Trek exhibit, unaware that a wedding contest was taking place. "We were actually here checking out the exhibit, and the woman in line with [Siegel] mentioned it to him," said Erwin.

The contest, for which voting was held from July 10th until July 20th, judged contestants on the creativity of their entry, their photo, and their devotion to Star Trek.

Over 25,000 members of the public cast votes to decide the lucky winners, presided over by a panel of

judges that included Star Trek actor George Takei, 6ABC's Matt O'Donnell, WMMR's Preston and Steve, and leaders of the local Star Trek fan club U.S.S. Sovereign.

Erwin and Siegel, who currently reside just outside of Portland, Maine, met three years ago at a Star Trek convention in Chicago and got engaged in March of 2008 when Siegel proposed to Erwin onstage at a convention in New Jersey. Siegel planned ahead of time with convention organizers to have Erwin brought up on stage as the "chance" winner of a raffle.

While onstage, the raffle announcer asked Erwin, who was unaware of the plot underway, to choose the next winning ticket. As Seigel stood up, the 400-person crowd smelled a rat, groaning audibly as he made his way to the stage. Siegel soon won them over, however, when he got down on one knee and proposed to a chorus of over 400 "awws." Naturally, Erwin's answer was yes.

Siegel and Erwin's mutual love of Star Trek began when each of them stumbled across the show while flipping through the channels, bored with other TV offerings. "Star Trek at its best tells classic, timeless stories that speak to many generations," said Siegel. "For me, it all started with The Original Series. When it started in syndication, people rediscovered it." As luck and fate would have it, Erwin was among those who discovered it in syndication. "I happened upon [The Next Generation], and fell in love," said Erwin. "I've been hooked for 20 years now."

Though they share a passion for Star Trek as a whole, Siegel and Erwin have very different opinions when it comes to favorite characters and plotlines. The character that Erwin can relate to most easily is Data, the android from Star Trek: The Next Generation. "There's no judging with him," said Erwin. "He looks at everything through a child's eyes, and because of that he finds the joy in everything."

Siegel, who especially admires George Takei's character, Captain Sulu, praised the recent Star Trek movie for its commitment to Star Trek's original message. "If you're an original series fan, it's hard not to love the Kirk character," said Siegel. "Star Trek began with the relationship between Kirk, Spock, and McCoy, so seeing [director] J.J. Abrams stay so true to the original story was incredible."

While they each have their own favorite aspects of the show, both Erwin and Siegel relish the camaraderie that events such as Star Trek conventions foster. "Suddenly you have ten, 15, or even 20 thousand people all getting together with one common interest," said Siegel. Added Erwin, "There is a collective effervescence that spreads through the crowd."

Unfortunately, "trekkers," as Star Trek aficionados are affectionately called, have in the past been given a bum rap, being labeled as weird or nerdy for dressing in costume and attending conventions. Star Trek costumes, however, are little different than sports jerseys, as Siegel rightly notes. "Have you ever gone to a football game or a baseball game, and you look around to see that everyone is wearing the same thing?" asked Siegel. "It's exactly like that." Siegel went on to point out the ultimate goal of wearing fan gear, which is to show respect for a favorite athlete, character, or team, fosters feelings of unity at any given event.

Because Pennsylvania has relatively strict laws when it comes to who can legally preside over a wedding, finding the right person to perform the civil ceremony was difficult. After some searching, Erwin and Siegel found the perfect candidate in a Buddhist priest from Harrisburg, who performs weddings in a long white robe and shawl. "Her normal look for performing weddings is perfect," said Siegel. "She totally gets what we're trying to do."

Erwin will walk down the aisle in a crimson dress, accompanied by man of honor and longtime friend, Adam Rhoads of Phoenixville. Siegel and his groomsman, Eric Frost, will be in specially made suits from Pierre's Costumer in Philadelphia, tailored to emulate the formal dress wear of Star Trek Nemesis. Guests at the wedding are also encouraged to arrive in costume.

Planning a wedding is stressful, but doing it under the glare of the media spotlight is understandably more difficult. Erwin and Siegel, however, are taking it in stride with both candor and grace. For now, they seem to be enjoying the whirlwind of what they refer to as their "fifteen minutes of fame," which will culminate in their September 13th wedding. As Star Trek's Spock would say, may the happy couple live long and prosper.

Leonard Nimoy keeps on Trekking

In 1965, when a young Leonard Nimoy landed a role in the pilot for a new science-fiction TV series, he couldn't have guessed that his Mr. Spock would become one of television's most memorable characters, or that the show, Star Trek, would become one of the great cultural artifacts of the 20th century, entrenching itself in the global consciousness, spawning five spinoff series and 11 feature films, and giving birth to a community of aficionados that came to define what we call "fandom."

Nearly 45 years later, Nimoy, stopping by Toronto's Fan Expo Canada next Saturday and Sunday, fresh from reprising his Spock role in this year's cinematic Star Trek revival, looks back on his long and prosperous association with the granddaddy of TV sci-fi – and its generations of devoted fans – with affection.

"I'm grateful for (Star Trek)," says the 78-year-old actor, director, writer, photographer, vocalist and poet. "It's offered me tremendous creative and artistic opportunities, and an exciting personal life."

The warm relationship Nimoy enjoys with Trek fandom wasn't always so. When his first autobiography, I Am Not Spock, hit the racks in 1977, many fans reacted to the book's title as a repudiation of Star Trek, an unequivocal diss from their beloved Vulcan. From the fan newsletters to the schoolyards, the word was out: Spock hated Star Trek.

"After Star Trek was cancelled (in 1969), there was no new Star Trek product for years," Nimoy recalls, "but Star Trek reruns were ubiquitous, on at 6 p.m. every night, weekend-long Star Trek marathons, that kind of thing. College professors were doing courses based on single episodes. It was all over the place. At that time, I was asked to write a book."

A chance encounter with a mother and child in a San Francisco airport provided the incident that would lead to that book's title.

"A little boy was marched over to me by his mommy. She said `This is your favourite character on TV!' He just stared at me. She said `This is Mr. Spock!' He just stared."

The awkward exchange inspired the actor behind the character to write a chapter into his work-in-progress that detailed the differences between himself and his iconic creation. That chapter was entitled "I Am Not Spock."

"But," says Nimoy, "I did say, in that chapter, that of all the characters I'd portrayed, I was most proud of Spock and that given choice of any character to play again I would choose Spock. He stood for loyalty, intelligence, education. I wanted to use that title as the title of the book; I thought it would spur discussion, but my publisher advised against it. I fought for it and won ... but I won trouble.

"During this period when there was this great hunger for Star Trek production, I released a book called I Am Not Spock. The thought was, here was Nimoy, rejecting Star Trek. People were reading the title without reading the book! I had a tough time."

That same year, while appearing in a Broadway production of Equus, Nimoy headed down to a cinema in Times Square to catch a new movie.

"I'd heard about Star Wars," Nimoy recalls, "and here was this theatre packed with fans, screaming and cheering. I thought, `This could be the window for Paramount to do something with Star Trek. Next thing I know, I'm getting a call from my agent regarding a Star Trek movie."

With Nimoy's reprising of his signature role in 1979's Star Trek: The Motion Picture, sating his Spock-hungry fans, there followed 30 years of mutual affection. In recent years, though, the veteran of countless conventions had been feeling in the Trek fan community a certain lack of energy and excitement, what he calls a "habitual style" of fandom. That's changed, he says, since the release of J. J. Abrams' new Star Trek feature, in which Nimoy's aged Spock encounters his younger counterpart, played by Zachary Quinto.

"We have, this year, a big shift in the nature of the fans," Nimoy says. "Two things: larger numbers of people are attending (conventions), and second, there are a lot of people attending who have never been involved in Star Trek – new fans.

This new energy in fandom delights the artist who adapted a Jewish priestly blessing into the famous "Vulcan salute" and devised the "Vulcan nerve pinch" as a less barbaric alternative to Captain Kirk's bare knuckles. With the new movie, and the original Star Trek series now available on remastered with upgraded special effects (and thousands of hours of Trek still ubiquitous in reruns), Nimoy sees "the entire Star Trek oeuvre getting new attention" from a new generation of fans.

"In Las Vegas a couple of weeks ago I asked how many people there were at a convention for the first time. Half the room raised their hand. We had a lot of repeats in the past; I was surprised to see so many coming for the first time."

Star Trek - Crossover: McCoy harrasses the Enterprise crew to save Spock and Scotty from Romulans

Michael Jan Friedman writes a readable novel in Crossover, bringing the crew from Star Trek the Next Generation together with Bones as they set out to save Spock from the Romulans. In this adventure, Spock continues his mission to unify Romulans, unificationists seeking to follow the Vulcan way of logic, and takes his followers to a Romulan outpost to seek converts there. It is not long before they are betrayed and sentenced to certain death. However, Spock continues to teach the philosophies of Surak, (the teacher who turned Vulcans from war to logic thousands of years ago), with a surprising result.

Almost repeating events from Star Trek III, Scotty sets out to save Spock, using his knowledge of century old Star Fleet technology to steal a starship from Starbase 178 to help him in his quest. There is something special about the ship he steals but you'll have to read the book to find out. Captain Picard and Admiral McCoy are at odds almost immediately upon the doctor's arrival to the Enterprise and it comes to a head when McCoy becomes impatient with the Captain's diplomatic approach to resolving the crisis. Scotty seems eternally cheerful and talks his way out of being towed home by a Federation captain who happens to be a direct descendent of a former fellow officer on the Enterprise. Later, Scotty provides us with some hilarity when must feign insanity to delay his execution and interrogation by the Romulans, whose techniques are well known to be ruthless. It seems that he hijacks another vessel to escape as far as the Romulans are concerned.

Crossover is a satisfying light read if you're a Trek fan, and if you're missing the old crew, it's fun to see them in action again. This book will hold your attention merely because you just want to know: what's next?

Love: The final frontier

At Alissa Mellis and Justin Gruba's wedding reception, held Saturday evening at the Detroit Science Center, guests arrived to Elton John's "Rocket Man." The bride and groom made their grand entrance to the "Star Trek" theme.


The couple -- huge fans of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" -- won use of the Science Center and its "Star Trek" exhibit for their wedding and wanted the event to resemble a cocktail party of the future.

So guests, about 180 in all, sipped Violet Vulcans, a vodka-and-Chambord combo served in glasses shaped like cones, and Kazons, a rum-and-coconut mix named for a "Star Trek" warrior species.

A few guests dressed the part, including Lori Short, 30, of Royal Oak, who wore sparkling purple eyeliner, silver boots and a flowing sheath dress. She said she was going for a dressed-up "Mad Max" look.

Other-worldly plants and flowers served as table centerpieces. Decorating the bar area were vases full of purple liquid that, thanks to dry ice, created a foggy aura. The tiers from the wedding cake appeared to be floating in air.

Mellis and Gruba, who are both 28 and live in Troy, had a church wedding earlier Saturday. They also had a private ceremony on the bridge of the Science Center's USS Enterprise exhibit. That ceremony was led by an ordained minister in a "Star Trek" uniform.

As for the stars of the evening, Mellis and Gruba looked delighted.

"We're blasting into the future," Mellis said

A Star Trek Wedding Theme

Considering a wedding that is out of this world? Consider a Star Trek wedding theme!

Brad Siegel, 53, and Kate Erwin, 34, are doing it! The couple won a contest and will be married on a mock-up of the Starship Enterprise 1701-D bridge, which is part of a traveling Star Trek exhibit at the Franklin Institute of Philadelphia. What better way to celebrate their love for each other and their love for the Star Trek series?

The couple met three years ago at a Star Trek convention. Although their common interests in Star Trek are generations apart, Siegal being a Star Trek original fan while Erwin is more of a Star Trek the Next Generation fan, they still managed to find enough common perspectives on life to stick together.

Siegel proposed to Erwin during an Star Trek convention in Secaucus in March of 2009. He planned it so that they would both be on stage to receive "prizes" and he could propose to her in front of hundreds of people and fellow fans.

The Franklin Institute contest encouraged entrants to display and combination of romance and geekiness; Seigal and Erwin were totally game for it and how could they not be? Their relationship was founded on Star Trek love!

What could be more romantic and geeky than Siegal asking Erwin if she would " [his] wife … [his] imzadi?" Imzadi is term of endearment from the Star Trek Next Generation's fictional language of Betazoid. Entering the Franklin Institute competition was easy, the couple simply explained how Star Trek and their frequent Star Trek convention visits have helped to weave their own special kind of romance.

The contest was narrowed down to three couples chosen by a panel of judges, including George Takei, who played Sulu on the original Star Trek series. Siegal and Erwin were chosen as the winners after a public vote.

The Franklin Institute will provide a Star Trek themed wedding cake, champagne, and space for the reception. Siegal and Erwin are planning yummy treats for their guests including Klingon qagh, a Star Trek dish of serpent worms that is best served while they are alive, but will likely be substituted with noodles colored red and black with food coloring, as serpent worms are out of season.

They anticipate that their wedding guests will come donned in various Star Trek ensembles to make this wedding totally out of this world!

Trekkie (or Trekker) alert: William Shatner to join Leonard Nimoy at Dragoncon!

Fans of the original “Star Trek” are now falling over themselves twice over with excitement: DragonCon has added William Shatner to its lineup.

He joins fellow “Trek” castmate Leonard Nimoy is already set to appear. And this on top of first-timersPatrick Stewart and Kate Mulgrew.

It’s easily DragonCon’s biggest Star Trek draw ever. Shatner will only be there on Friday, Sept. 4, though. The pair are set to be together at a 10 a.m. session at Marriott Marquis. Nimoy will also do panel appearances at 4 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. Sunday morning. Both men will sign autographs at the Walk of Fame.

“It does my 48-year-old little Trekkies’ heart good,” said Eric Watts, who has been overseeing Star Trek events at DragonCon for 17 years as a volunteer. (Only two people are paid: the office manager and assistant office manager.)

This is the first appearance at this convention for either actor, Watts noted.

Nimoy, he said, has avoided scifi conventions for years to focus on his photography career but since he made that appearance in the latest “Star Trek” movie, he’s had a change of heart.

Trekkies, he said, are happy that the film has re-energized the fan base but wonders if it will last.

Watts’ only worry is about 2010: “How do we top this?”

Most other Trek alums have shown up before at Dragoncon, the most reliable being George Takei, who has been there at least three times.

Dragoncon chairman Pat Henry said he has seen a spike in sales since the Shatner announcement. The 10 a.m. joint appearance, he said, will be first come first serve. He anticipates weekend attendance to be comparable to last year, at 35,000 to 40,000, recession notwithstanding.

For folks who can’t make it in, DragonCon will videotape the session and air it all weekend in the four local hotel rooms. He said he has offered invites to Nimoy, Patrick and Shatner for many years and the stars aligned this year. “I’m excited,” he said.

Nimoy And Star Trek Fandom

A veteran of many Star Trek conventions, fans had settled into a “habitual style” of fandom, said Nimoy. But the rebooted Star Trek has brought new fans into the fold, changing the dynamics of Trek fandom. “We have, this year, a big shift in the nature of the fans,” said Nimoy. “Two things: larger numbers of people are attending [conventions], and second, there are a lot of people attending who have never been involved in Star Trek, new fans. In Las Vegas a couple of weeks ago I asked how many people there were at a convention for the first time. Half the room raised their hand. We had a lot of repeats in the past; I was surprised to see so many coming for the first time.”

Nimoy is thankful for Star Trek and its fans. “I’m grateful for [Star Trek],” said Nimoy “It’s offered me tremendous creative and artistic opportunities, and an exciting personal life.”

There was a time when Nimoy’s relationship with the fans went a little sour, with the publication of I Am Not Spock. “I was asked to write a book,” he said, explaining that the title of the book came from an encounter with a little boy and his mother at the San Francisco airport. “A little boy was marched over to me by his mommy. She said ‘This is your favorite character on TV!’ He just stared at me. She said ‘This is Mr. Spock!’ He just stared”

That encounter was used by Nimoy as a basis for a chapter in the book that described the differences between Nimoy and Spock. Nimoy wasn’t repudiating Spock though. “I did say, in that chapter, that of all the characters I’d portrayed, I was most proud of Spock and that given choice of any character to play again I would choose Spock,” he explained.” “[Spock] stood for loyalty, intelligence, education.”

Nimoy thought it would be a good idea to use the title of that chapter, I Am Not Spock, as the title of the book. “I thought it would spur discussion, but my publisher advised against it,’ he said. “I fought for it and won…but I won trouble.”

“During this period when there was this great hunger for Star Trek production, I released a book called I Am Not Spock,” said Nimoy. “The thought was, here was Nimoy, rejecting Star Trek. People were reading the title without reading the book! I had a tough time.”

Sipping Vulcan cocktails: A Star Trek wedding

Even though the big-budget Star Trek film was one of the hit movies of 2009, the idea of incorporating the classic TV series into one's wedding planning may strike some as a little, well, geeky.

But when Alissa Mellis and Justin Gruba tied the knot at the Detroit Science Center's Star Trek exhibit on Saturday, the event sounded like a sexy sci-fi celebration rather than an exercise in nerd culture.

The couple won a contest sponsored by the museum and decided to design a "cocktail party of the future," complete with Violet Vulcans vodka-and-Chambord beverages, the Detroit Free Press reports.

Exotic plants served as centerpieces, the bar featured a Star Trek logo, and each dinner item was named after a character from one of the show's seasons. Some guests got into the spirit and dressed in shiny futuristic garb.

"Marriage is a journey and an adventure," Gruba said after finding out he and Mellis had won the Detroit Science Center's contest. "Like the voyage of Star Trek we will boldly go into an unknown future together."

Supernatural' Takes Three Portal Awards, 'Star Trek' Surprises

Give it up for "Supernatural," The CW series that once again dominated the Airlock Alpha Portal Awards, sharing honors in what turned out to be a diverse field.

"Supernatural" repeated wins in Best Actor/Television with Jensen Ackles and Best Series/Television, while "Monster at the End of This Book" earned top honors in Best Episode/Television.

Also winning an award once again was the popular fan site in the Best Web Site category.

But this year's Portal Awards, which were voted on through tens of thousands of votes from readers over a 30-day period, didn't come without its surprises. Catherine Tate -- who many had maligned prior to her single season as the companion on "Doctor Who" -- gave that series its first ever major acting category award as she surpassed last year's winner Mary McDonnell of "Battlestar Galactica" in the Best Actress/Television category. In fact, "Battlestar Galactica" went completely empty handed for its final season, its best finishes as second for Best Actress/Television and second for Best Web Production for "Face of the Enemy."

The series, which ended its run on SciFi Channel this past spring, finished as the runner-up in the Best Series/Television category, but its votes weren't even close to that received by "Supernatural."

The only awards "Doctor Who" has won in the past were for Best Episode/Television, which included "Parting of the Ways" in 2007 and "Blink" in 2008. This year, the popular episode "Turn Left" was one of the contenders, but finished as a distant runner-up to "Supernatural."

Michael Emerson took the lone "Lost" award in Best Supporting Actor/Television to repeat his triumph in that category from last year, but beat John Noble from "Fringe" by just 150 votes, the closest of any of the categories. Summer Glau from "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" won the Best Supporting Actress/Television category, beating out runner up Olivia Williams from Joss Whedon's Fox series "Dollhouse."

But "Dollhouse" didn't go empty-handed. Alan Tudyk, from "Firefly" fame, won Best Guest Star/Television for his work in the "Dollhouse" episode "Omega." He beat out a tough Billie Piper from the "Doctor Who" episode "Stolen Earth."

"Sarah Connor" picked up a second award in the Best Young Actor category as Thomas Dekker ended "Heroes'" Hayden Panettiere's two-year rule at the top of that category.

For films, as expected Heath Ledger won Best Actor/Movie for his work as The Joker in "The Dark Knight" while Gillian Anderson from "The X-Files: I Want to Believe" beat out Cate Blanchett from "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" for Best Actress/Movie.

The real surprise, however, came for Best Movie. Although "The Dark Knight" -- the second-highest grossing film of all time -- was thought to be a shoe-in, it seemed that more recent films were fresher on voters' minds, and allowed "Star Trek," the latest film from J.J. Abrams and the 10th of the franchise, to win top honors in that category.

Two non-surprises were in the Best Web Production and the Gene Roddenberry Lifetime Achievement Award categories. As expected, "Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog" easily defeated "Battlestar Galactica: Face of the Enemy" while James Cameron earned more votes than H.G. Wells to take the Lifetime Achievement award.

Here is a list of the winners:

WINNER: Star Trek

to see the complete list click here:

Star Trek - Long-range Sensors Detect Episode List, Cover Art for 'The Best Of, Volume 2' DVD

Star Trek - Long-range Sensors Detect Episode List, Cover Art for 'The Best Of, Volume 2' DVD

Single-disc release coming on November 17th, to tie in with the DVD for the recent film

Yesterday we reported on CBS/Paramount's announcement for a November 17th DVD release of Star Trek - The Best Of, Volume 2. Now we've got new details about this $14.99 SRP release of stories from the original series: the list of episodes included, plus an early look at the cover art. Note, however, that the art isn't necesarily final, and could be subject to change. It looks great just the way we see it, though:

* "Where No Man Has Gone Before" - Some years before, the S.S. Valiant had encountered a unknown energy barrier at the rim of the galaxy. Something had then made its captain destroy his ship. The U.S.S. Enterprise finds the Valiant's disaster record-marker, which reveals that just prior to its destruction the crew had been searching library tapes for any information on psionics. The U.S.S. Enterprise then arrives at the edge of the galaxy, and the same force affects the ship's drives that must have affected those of the Valiant. Kirk notices a strong personality change in his good friend, Lieutenant Gary Mitchell, whose latent psionic abilities have now been heightened... (Season 1)
* "Space Seed" - A piece of one of history's great puzzles falls into place when Kirk's crew comes across the S.S. Botany Bay, an old-style, pre-warp sleeper ship from Earth that contains several bodies in stasis. Amongst these bodies is Khan Noonien Singh, a genetically engineered strongman and one of the great leaders of Earth's Eugenics War of the 1990s. Although he disappeared without a trace then, once Khan is aroused from his long sleep he soon reveals the ambition, strength and intelligence that helped him conquer a quarter of the Earth. Is the Enterprise next? (Season 1)
* "A Piece of the Action" - The planet Sigma Iotia II's last visit by the Federation was by the U.S.S. Horizon ... a hundred years before. Realizing the lapse in monitoring of the planet, the Federation sends the U.S.S. Enterprise to observe the progress of Iotia's population. Beaming down to the planet's surface, Kirk, Spock and McCoy are surprised to see a much different society - an Earth-like 1920s gangster culture - than was reported by the U.S.S. Horizon crew. Bodily seized, the landing crew are taken before one of the major planetary leaders, mobster Bela Oxmyx. Wishing to unite the population under his rule, Bela offers Kirk "a piece of the action" in exchange for the technologically advanced weapons of the U.S.S. Enterprise. Meanwhile, the other lead gangster, Jojo Krako, has his own ideas about being the head mobster... (Season 2)
* "Journey to Babel" - The U.S.S. Enterprise is appointed to transport ambassadors from many worlds to the Babel Conferences. Among those aboard are Ambassador Sarek of Vulcan and his human wife, Amanda...Spock's parents. Keeping peace aboard the ship is complicated for Kirk by an unidentified vessel following the Enterprise, and high tensions running among delegates on board. At a cocktail party, Ambassador Gav, a Tellarite, quarrels openly with Sarek about the admission of Coridan into the Federation. When Gav is later murdered, circumstantial evidence points to Sarek. The strain of such an accusation causes Sarek's already-existing heart condition to worsen, and he has the Vulcan equivalent of a heart attack. McCoy battles with the less-familiar Vulcan physiology to try and correct the damage, and Spock is needed as a blood donor for the operation. But when Kirk is attacked, Spock must assume command of the Enterprise. (Season 2)

Star Trek Cologne

Here is something fun for all the Star Trek geeks out there, now you can smell like Captain Kirk, with these fun Star Trek Cologne’s.

There are three versions available, Pon Farr Perfume, Red Shirt Aftershave and Tiberius Aftershave, so you can buy one for your geeky other half as well.

Have you ever wondered how Captain Kirk pulled all those hot aliens? It wasn’t the lopsided wig. It wasn’t the ham-laden gravitas. And it certainly wasn’t the way he spoke. As. If. Each. Word. Was. Its. Own. Sentence. No people, James Tiberius Kirk was a hit because he smelt fantastic. And so can you thanks to Star Trek Colognes.

If you want one of these fun Star Trek Cologne’s they are available for $49 each from Firebox.