Now to catch up with my zine projects (yes, I’m hard at work on “Dark Fire” # 2), email and LJ.
Just this last weekend (Sept. 8 - 10) I drove to Sacramento, California to see William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy at their appearance at one of Creation Convention’s 40th Anniversary Star Trek conventions.
I’ve had the chance to see Bill and Leonard on stage together once before (at the James Doohan tribute in LA the summer of 2004). The energy when the two of them get together! They are so clearly such good friends! It was pure pleasure watching the two of them interact with each other. Plus, they are just so *funny*!
When they first got onto stage together (they had each spoken separately prior to that), Bill made a joke about his own clothing, and Leonard offered to give him the shirt off his back. Bill urged him to do just that, and asked the audience if they’d like to see Leonard take off his shirt. Much applause. Then Bill said to Leonard, in a low voice, “I really want to see your lean, sinewy body.”
Great audience response to that, too. I just love the way the two of them are so comfortable playing to the K/S people in the crowd. OTOH, I always hate it when fans insist on bring slash to the attention of actors, but I’m also surprised when some fans still insist Slash Must Die! Because What Will The Actors Think? Because, that is such old news.
With Nimoy and Shatner, they’ve both known about slash since the 1970s. I’m one of the associate editors on a zine project exploring the history of K/S fandom. I’ve interviewed several people who were active in Trek fandom in the 1970s, and one of the things that has come up was how early and how often people opposed to slash managed to bring it to the attention of Shatner, Nimoy and Roddenberry. (One of the first times slash was brought to Shatner’s attention was on a late 1970s NYC area television talk show! The host had taken questions from the audience – and that was one of the questions one fan asked.) William Shatner had a wonderful answer. He and Nimoy always handle these questions very well.
Back to the Sacramento Creation Con. Another favorite story: William Shatner describing how one day, to save time, he put his (movie) costume on at home and drove out to the film’s location, driving at top speed all the way. When a highway patrol officer stopped him, he got out of the car – in costume – and told the officer he was Captain Kirk and was flying his spaceship. A funny encounter followed, ending with the highway patrol officer telling him to “Live long and prosper”. (Armin Schimmerman also had a story about what happens when you go off set still wearing costume and makeup.)
I won’t even try to describe anything else they talked about because a woman I know, who brought along a steno pad and a pen, took down every single word they said. The transcript will be published in the next issue of the K/S Press.
Nimoy and Shatner are great at riffing on questions from the audience. The more uber-geeky the question, the better their schtick. Can I say again what fun it is to watch the two of them together? *sigh*
And speaking of uber-geeky, there’s a good reason Creation Convention was the model for William Shatner’s (in)famous “Saturday Night Live” “Get a life!” skit. It’s absolutely unbelievable some of the incomprehensible questions some audience members ask
I remember watching that “Saturday Night Live!” episode with several friends in San Francisco when it first aired. We were all veterans of Creation Convention, so when that skit aired we all howled with laughter. Particularly since the emcee in that skit was, as I recall, modeled on one of the Creation Convention owners.
(My favorite skit on that episode of SNL was the one where Shatner sent up his “you’re so vain” image. The skit is about a man and a wife, getting ready for a fancy cocktail party. The wife is busy dressing, but Shatner’s character spends the entire time admiring himself in a mirror, telling his wife how lucky she is to have an Adonis like him, etc. Meanwhile, the long-suffering wife rolls her eyes and finishes her makeup while he’s still in his underwear, striking poses and admiring his own rear end) That man is so good at laughing at his own image.
Michael and Denise Okuda did a presentation on the re-mastered Classic Trek episodes. The Okuda’s were very enthusiastic – very passionate! about the remastered Trek They are very focused on absolutely keeping to the spirit of the original show. They compared it to George Lucas redoing the effects in the first Star Wars trilogy.
I wish I had been at Shore Leave three years ago! That was the year that a remastered version of “The Doomsday Machine” was shown to convention attendees. I remember hearing that that episode was a “test” to see if, indeed, getting rid of the old, dated effects and replacing them with state of the art effects would “work”. Everyone who saw the remastered “The Doomsday Machine” at that convention loved it!
Here’s some clips from the remastered “The Doomsday Machine”
Now, I know some people are skeptical or upset about the purity of redoing the Trek effects, but from what I’ve seen, everything looks seamless and very, very good. Myself, I’d dearly love it if they could CGA in a realistic looking Gorn (like the one they did on “Enterprise”), as well as a mugato, a rock-creature, that pancake-vomit thing that bit Spock in “Operation: Annihilate”, a salt vampire, and any other rubber-suited aliens I’ve forgotten about. (But please, no bumpy-forehead Klingons…)
Then again, I do know this is a slippery slope, and Connie Willis once wrote a cautionary tale about just this sort of thing. I forget the name of her story, but it involved some poor schlub whose job was to go back and re-edit old movies to make them fit with whatever current morès were in style. (i.e., getting rid of all the cigarettes from classic movies). How much tinkering is OK and how much an outrage? Well, that's a question for other days.
We’ll see soon how this works out – the first episode, “Balance of Terror”, will show in LA this coming Sunday night (KNBC Channel 4, 12:05 am – well, technically, it’s airing on Monday morning.)
Bill and Leonard were there on Sunday. On Saturday, they had other guests. They had Sean Kinney who played Cpt. Pike in the court-martial scenes in “The Menagerie”, Don Marshall who played Lt. Boma in “Galileo 7” and Charlie Brill who played Arne Darvin in “The Trouble With Tribbles” and also in DS9’s “Trials and Tribble-ations”. Now, I couldn’t imagine that Sean Kinney would be all that interesting a guest, but he turned out to be a fascinating person. And Charlie had tons of funny stories! I particularly liked the one about how one of the DS9 people ran into him in a deli and was inspired to come up with the concept for “Tribble-ations”. There was another guest who played a small role on a few DS9 episodes, but I’m spacing on his name. Don Marshall mostly answered questions about “Land of the Giants”; a show I’m unfamiliar with.
Armin Schimmerman, representing DS9, was also there on Saturday, and, as always, was tons of fun. Aside from Quark on DS9, he also played Pascal on “Beauty and the Beast” and Principal Snyder on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”. I enjoyed him in all three of those roles. He said he enjoyed playing Snyder the best – with Pascal, he was just starting out in TV, and as for Quark – well, Snyder didn’t involve tons of heavy makeup. He had lots of great stories, including describing how, the day of the Los Angeles Northridge earthquake in 1994, he left the DS9 set in full makeup to get home to his wife, and had various strange encounters on the way.
They introduced Armin by first played a Quark music vid, to “Master of the House” (from Les Miserables). I don’t think you could have come up with a song better suited to Quark. I’ve had it running through my head ever since.
Here’s some lyrics:
Sit yourself down
And meet the best
Innkeeper in town
As for the rest,
All of 'em crooks
Rooking their guests
And cooking the books.
Seldom do you see
Honest men like me
A gent of good intent
Who's content to be
Master of the house
Doling out the charm
Ready with a handshake
And an open palm
Tells a saucy tale
Makes a little stir
Customers appreciate a bon-viveur
Glad to do a friend a favor
Doesn't cost me to be nice
But nothing gets you nothing
Everything has got a little price!
There was an interesting synchronicity between something Bill had to say, and something Armin had to say. They both discussed the tug between staying true to your creative vision, versus compromising with TPTB.
One of my favorite DS9 scenes is the “root beer” conversation between Quark and Garak in “The Way of the Warrior”. Armin said that the scene had originally been written entirely for laughs. But when he and Andrew Robinson (who played Garak) got together to rehearse, they decided to use the whole “root beer” conversation as a metaphor for the Federation; to use that conversation as a coded way of describing how they, as outsiders, as “two Machiavells”, as Armin described them, felt about their views on Federation hypocrisy.
The director insisted they play the scenes for laughs. They refused. The director called in Ira Behr, who had them play the scene both ways. Behr then told the director to go with Armin’s way.
Good for Armin and Andy. I still remember that scene, after all, and I remember it precisely because of that subtext.
Bill’s story involved “the search for God” in ST5, and his ideas, versus Paramount’s ideas, on what they could/could not say about religion and the nature of God.
Other highlights: I generally don’t “do” costume contests, but there was a woman there in an amazingly authentic Uhura costume who really knew how to play an audience. She won first prize, and she well deserved that prize.
Fan highlights. watergal spotted me as soon as I entered the hotel on Friday – I was still pretty roadburned, and not particularly coherent, but she fortunately overlooked all that. (smile). That night, we got together with “K” and “C”, as well as “Y”, a fan from Japan, for fannish conversation and to watch some wonderful K/S music vids. We also watched The 25th Anniversary video of Bill and Leonard. We were so rowdy we had to leave the first room we were in, because the next door neighbor complained. So we carried on in my room.
Saturday, I caught up with “J” and her friends from England, and ran into several other people I knew from the Bay Area.
Junglekitty had a party in her room that night. Coincidentally, her room was right next to mine, so at least we didn’t have to worry about one neighbor complaining about the noise…!
Junglekitty is, to put it mildly, quite taken with William Shatner, and so we watched several Shatner items. The best was an interview he did for a really stupid talk show called something like “Out to Lunch”. (Truer words were never spoken.) He was on the show to promote his book “Get a Life”. The premise of the show was that the hostess and a guest would meet at an LA-area restaurant, doubtless to promote both the guest *and* publicize the restaurant. The hostess, who had maybe three functioning brain cells, refused to actually eat anything, despite the premise of the show. Bill kept on trying to persuade her to eat something, but she kept pushing the food around on her plate. Bill also kept coming up with some really sly double entendres, which sailed right over this woman’s head until she was well and truly in his trap. Too funny. Poor woman.
Junglekitty also showed the “highlights” (lowlights?) from Shatner’s 1970s film “Impulse”. Now, I remember paying something like 75 cents to see that movie in the theater when it first came out and feeling ripped off at the time, and trust me, that movie hasn’t improved with age. Then again, at Junglekitty's party, we weren't watching it for the plot...
On Sunday, because most of us had purchased our tickets at different times, we had different seat numbers, so most of us were sitting alone. I had general admission, not an assigned seat, but because I got in line early I got a good seat on the aisle, in line of sight of the stage. And, half an hour before the Sunday show was due to start, I spotted “S”, a friend who I hadn’t known was going to be there. “S” lives in the Sacramento area, and came to the convention on Sunday on the spur of the moment. We had a great chance to catch up a bit before the show started, and, during the show, it was wonderful sharing our reactions to everything Bill and Leonard had to say.
I want to thank “K” again for letting me ‘borrow’ two of her autograph tickets – she had other tickets – so I could go through the autograph line and see Bill and Leonard up close. (I had her chosen item autographed and gave it back to her once the session was over.)
Most people were staying over until Monday, but I had to go to work, so after the autograph line I got in my car and headed home. Traffic was light, so I made it back to LA in six hours flat, “flying” all the way. A truly wonderful weekend.