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02 September 2007 @ 02:17 pm
Orion Slave Girls of the Planet Hilton!  
So, a couple of weekends ago (August 9th - 12th) I boldly went where many Star Trek fans have gone before:  The Las Vegas Star Trek convention at the Hilton Hotel.  What a long, strange trip it was.

For the three of you that didn't know (I've been crowing about it a bit), I started nursing school on the 20th.  To commemorate that accomplishment, I embarked on the Trek Nurse Tour of 2007.  What this meant, exactly, is that I purchased only 2 autograph tickets (each sold separately!): one for Louise Fletcher, the portrayer of arguably the most famous fictional nurse of all time (Nurse Ratched of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest); and one for Patti Yasutake (Nurse Alyssa Ogawa, ST:TNG).

When we (Tiff and I) first arrived in the gigantic ballroom outside of the lobby outside of the main theater (yeah, it didn't make much sense to me, either), we saw a very long line of people and, predictably, no signs.  As we got into line, I commented that the human capacity for queuing up for no reason never failed to amaze me.  It didn't disappoint this time, either.  Most of the people in that line didn't have to be in it and it took two different convention wranglers to explain that.  The line shortened, but not by much.  Then the guy behind us in line said something horrible:  "Louise Fletcher canceled."  What??  But I came all the way from NC to see her!  I have a special 8x10 from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest for her to sign!  DAMMIT!  But I sucked it up and continued to stand in line, looking at my cell phone every 30 seconds or so because I was on a tight schedule. 

Now Patti was the opening act on Thursday morning, along with Suzie Plakson (K'Ehleyr, Dr. Selar, etc.) and Scarlett Pomers (Naomi Wildman, ST:VOY).  As I said above, I had brought an 8x10 of Nurse Ratched for Louise to sign but I had nothing for Patti to sign--which meant I had to run screaming through the dealer's room between getting through that unending line and the opening act, a very narrow window of time consisting of approximately 10 minutes less than I had.  However, with the assistance of a very sweet t-shirt vendor, I managed to get my pic of Patti and back into the main theater in time.  When I got there, I learned two things:  Tiff is an excellent seat-getter (:D) and Scarlett Pomers was not going to appear until later that afternoon because she had "hurt her foot".  (Let me open my Vegas-to-English dictionary and see what the translation is...hmmm...here it is!  "Hurt her foot" is equivalent to "Spent all night drinking and all morning regretting it.")(Of course, I jest.)

Anyway, I won't recount how wonderful the speakers were here when Tiff has done it so much better here.  I will tell you that I think Patti Yasutake is now one of my new television stalkers.  After Suzie and Patti spoke, TPTB split them up to tables tucked behind curtains on either end of the stage for the autograph signing portion of the day.  By this time, Scarlett had arrived so she and Suzie were on the right side of the stage while Patti was on the left side.  The line for Patti was much longer than I expected, which sounds horrible, I know.  I loved Nurse Ogawa on TNG and always wanted her to have more lines, more relationships, but I didn't think many other people felt the same way.  Still, she probably had less than 200 people to sign for.  Which was good for her hand, I'm sure.

A little background on me and getting autographs: the stupidity that comes out of my mouth/from my actions is directly related to the depth of my devotion to the character/actress.  For example, when I got to the front of the line with Patti, I simply told her that I was starting nursing school in 10 days and how much this meant to me.  She wished me good luck and I went my merry way.  In 2001, when I attended a Farscape convention in NY and got to the front of the line with Claudia Black and she admired my Aeryn Sun t-shirt after signing my photo, I thanked her, burst into tears, and ran off the stage, hearing her ask behind me "Oh my gosh, is she all right?"  Yeah.  This is why I will never be allowed within 1000 feet of a Jeri Ryan autograph line.  Or Diane Neal, for that matter.  Anyway...

So while I was in line, Tim Russ (Tuvok, ST:VOY) spoke on stage and I must confess to being less than impressed with him except for his children's book project, which I thought was very cute.  Otherwise, he was kind of ho-hum.  Plus, I was too excited to actually be meeting Patti, so I wasn't paying strict attention.  After I was through in the line, Tiff and I decided to visit the vendor room to see if Suzie Plakson was at her booth.  And hooray!  She was!

This woman was utterly and completely lovely.  She was speaking to her assistant, a very nice young man who was very knowledgeable about Suzie and her projects and whom we had spoken to the first time we made the circuit of the room.  Then she was all about us.  In addition to photos from her various characters, she had for purchase her new CD (which I bought) and some lovely polymer clay figurines which she had personally made.  I complimented her on them and said that I, too, worked with polymer clay and she said I should check out her website to see her others and asked me about my projects and then thanked me for stopping by and shook my hand.  She was so wonderful.  I have always loved her and now that has only increased.  Very classy, very personable, very talented woman.

Tiff and I had planned ahead and had brought our lunch, which we ate in silence and comfort in her car in the parking deck.  I enjoyed that a lot because I had been very sick for the six weeks leading up to this trip and I was still feeling poorly and the rest and quiet and the easy conversation with Tiff all helped to rejuvenate me.  Plus, the leftovers were fantastic!  My favorite pizza and wings from Vegas!  Yum!

When we got back to the theater, we caught the end of Catherine Hicks' time on stage.  Now, I liked her in Star Trek IV as Dr. Gillian Taylor and I'd seen a few episodes of 7th Heaven.  Ms. Hicks seemed like a very nice, very gracious person.  I was glad to have seen a little bit of her talk. 

LeVar Burton was next and he was hilarious.  Like someone I would like to just sit around a table and chat with.  His humor was more sexually charged than I would have expected from him, but he was so warm and genuinely happy that it balanced it all out. 

Then came Gates McFadden.  I have to tell you, I was worried about her appearance.  I had seen her years and years ago in Charlotte, NC right after she came back to TNG and she seemed bitter and unhappy at that time.  Nothing could be further from the truth this time.  She was absolutely gorgeous, funny, warm and open.  She seemed so happy in general and so happy to be at the convention.  She talked about so many wonderful things, like her theatre company in France and funny stories about being recognized and her theories about Dr. Crusher and her relationship with her son.  I enjoyed her immensely and was truly glad I had gotten to see her. 

After Gates, Tiff had a while to wait until she could get in the Gates McFadden autograph line and I had a while before I had to go save Tiff a seat in the Wil Wheaton talk, which was being held in another, smaller theater.  I was starting to feel badly with a headache and chills and exhaustion that was seriously making me wonder if I could make it to the end of the night.  I decided to visit the vendor's room again, just to get some air and see if I could warm up.  I was wandering the aisles, looking at various paintings and artwork displays when I practically ran right into Patti Yasutake!  I mean, almost ran into her physically.  I apologized and she smiled and I probably blushed and we went our separate ways.  I continued to feel progressively worse and after another circuit of the room, decided to find a bathroom.  Locating one in the back of the vendor's room, I headed toward the door.  Just as I reached it, Patti Yasutake came out of it!  We had to brush by each other to get through the door. 

After finishing in the bathroom, I went back to the theater to go over the plan with Tiff again to make sure I was on the same page with her.  I also told her about my "close encounters of the Ogawa kind" and she laughed.  Finally she got called into Gates' line and I left to go find something hot to drink before staking out seats in the Wil Wheaton theater.  There was a little food/drink cart in the ballroom and they sold hot chocolate, which I thought would perk me up and warm me up at the same time.  As I was getting in line, I passed a couple at a table, not paying them any mind until the woman spoke and I looked and it was Patti Yasutake!  O_O  It was then I decided she was truly a television stalker.  LOL

I spent my time in the James Doohan theater (their name for it) drinking very hot cocoa and watching a lesbian with a Timbuk 2 messenger bag in the row in front of me.  I also texted Tiff to get updates on where she was in line back in the other room.  Seriously, what did we all do without cell phones before?  Half of this trip would not have worked had we not had our cells with us in the theaters.  It boggles my mind that I was born in a time without cell phones.  It does. 

Anyway, seats began filling up but I wasn't too worried.  After all, this was Wil Wheaton (which was misspelled on the slide on the projection screen on the stage, which I thought was just terrible of Creation.  I mean, it isn't as if his name hasn't ALWAYS been spelled W-I-L.) 

Let me give you a little background here.  I was 17 years old when ST:TNG started and I had not been the biggest fan of ST:TOS growing up.  I hated Kirk, loved Spock and Sulu and Bones, and hated the special effects.  The first sci-fi I remember seeing was Star Wars at the tender age of seven and that blew TOS away in my mind.  In other words, I didn't hold out much hope for ST:TNG when it started.  In fact, I missed the opening two-part pilot episode completely (and haven't seen it to this day) and began my relationship with TNG on the episode "The Naked Now".  I fell in love with (in order) Tasha Yar, Beverly Crusher, and Captain Jean-Luc Picard.  I loathed (in order) Will Riker (whom I recognized as the nod to Kirk immediately) and Wesley Crusher.

Why did I loathe Wesley so much?  I could give you all sorts of reasons and none of them would be accurate.  They only tell part of the story.  I only remember that in addition to all the academic reasons I had for hating the character, it was also cool to hate him in certain circles.  In fact, I had a bumper sticker that said "Member of the Society to Turn Wesley into a Styrofoam Dodecahedron".  I had no car to put it on, of course, but I loved that bumper sticker.  I think it was a sort of trickle down effect...  I was an unpopular geek in high school and hating Wesley allowed me to partake of that savage "Lord of the Flies" type pecking order that all high schools have. 

Later in life I heard from other Wesley-haters that Wil Wheaton was...well...kind of a dick in real life.  I'm ashamed to admit that I believed them because it should have been perfectly obvious to me that those people's opinions were colored by their own hate of the Wesley character and also by Wil's reaction to hatred literally being spewed upon him for the faults and foibles of a character he had no control over.  What's that saying?  "If only I had known then what I know now?"

So I was going in to this talk with less than stellar expectations.  I knew, intellectually, that Wil had become known for his writing and such, but I just didn't care.  I was cold and didn't feel well and I had (OMG, I am so old!) 20 years of hatred for Wesley built up in my cells.  So when I noticed that I was holding onto the only open seat in the theater (for Tiff, who was reporting that she'd be 10 minutes late for the talk), I sat up and took notice. 

Let me be perfectly clear about this:  WIL WHEATON WAS THE HIGHLIGHT OF THE ENTIRE CONVENTION FOR ME.  Period. 

He started off reading from his latest book, The Happiest Days of Our Lives, which he said should appeal to anyone who grew up during the age of the Star Wars Action Figure.  He, in fact, read a piece entirely devoted to that concept and tears crept into my eyes because here was someone who not only got "it" but had written about "it".  Written so well about it that I remembered my own forays into the lauded Action Figure aisles over the years with such amazing clarity that it seemed that I was back in 1979 again. 

He read another piece from that brilliant book and then read from one of his reviews of ST:TNG.  He's been going back and watching the episodes with 20 years of maturity and clarity under his belt and has been reviewing the episodes on his blog.  He had collected a few of them in a print version and he read the review of "Justice", which was the episode about the Edo.  Fun-loving Aryans who enjoy large-scale orgies and across-the-board death penalties?  If you recall, Wesley crushed some flowers and was sentenced to death.  Wil's review covered the plot, the backstory, and the analysis and reminded me of the reviews I used to do for Law & Order: SVU.  Funny, snarky, irreverent and, well, his was so much better than mine.

In short, I was enthralled. 

I was also deeply upset that I had ever hated this man, the boy he was, or the character he played. 

When the talk was over, the room gave him a thunderous standing ovation.  He moved directly to the autograph table where he was also selling his books and I immediately forked over the last of my remaining cash to Tiff, who had an autograph ticket, and begged her to get me a copy of his book.  Since I had to wait for her to get through the line, I found a spot in the seats where I could watch him signing and talking to people and Tiff and I spent the time texting back and forth from about 200 feet away.  During that time we found out that Wil was going to be in the vendor room the next day.  I hoped I would get a chance to see him a little more up close but since Tiff managed to get my book with autograph, I didn't think I would be getting into his line the next day.  How wrong I was...

We slept in Friday morning because I was exhausted and because there wasn't anything that we were burning to see at the convention at that time.  We still ended up getting to the convention earlier than we had planned, even after going out to lunch first.  That morning I had had an email exchange with my friend Sheila back home and she had asked me to bring her a toy from the convention.  Back in the day, she took me to Raleigh to see Marina Sirtis in person.  This was before the convention organizers charged for autographs and poor Marina ended up missing two planes and signing her name over 3,000 times.  Talk about feeling guilty!

Once at the Hilton, we headed straight for the vendor room so I could fulfill my promise to bring Sheila a toy.  After a listless circuit around the tables--stopping to gape at the Terry Farrell photo op line, which was mammoth, and Wil's table, which had a healthy line itself, and stopping at Suzie's table again so Tiff could get her to sign the collectible card--I suddenly realized I had no idea who Sheila's favorite TNG character was.  So I texted her at work and she texted back: "Just because you hate him so much, Wesley!"  And suddenly I knew what I had to do.

We got in Wil's line and I bought one of the TNG review chapbooks for Sheila.  I handed it to him, asking him to sign it "To Sheila.  She doesn't hate me anymore!" and that I'd explain that in a moment.  After the transaction, I told him that I used to be a Wesley-hater and that I no longer was.  I told Wil he was a fabulous human being and told him I was sorry for being one of those people.  He shook my hand and thanked me and smiled that boyish smile that hasn't changed a bit since he was a kid.  Then I got a cell phone pic of Tiff with him because she was in line behind me buying one of the books she didn't already own. 

So I challenge all you Wesley-haters!  Go read Wil's work, whether it is his blog or the articles he writes, his books or his reviews.  This man is an incredible human being who loves his children and his wife with a heart as big as the Sun, who puts his heart and soul into his work and his play, who not only gets what it was like to grow up in the Star Wars era but himself lived a dream that we could only daydream about while doodling on our Trapper Keepers.  Think about it: Wil Wheaton, at 15, was part of the best crew the Enterprise ever had.  He couldn't help the writers and what they did to Wesley, what they made Wesley.  And in the end, it doesn't matter what Wesley was.  The point is that while we were drudging our way through our various high schools, trying to stay one step ahead of the bullies and the mid-terms, gathering around our TVs once a week "to boldly go where no one has gone before", he was there, living it.  On the bridge with Patrick, Brent, Jonathan, Marina...  He was just exactly where all of us wanted to be. 

::blinks::  ::climbs off the soapbox::  Ahem.  Anyway.  I like Wil Wheaton.  Yeah.

So, after all that, we ended up back in the main theater to see the BORG WAR trailer, which was okay.  Then we sat through DC Fontana, who was very interesting, discussing her days as writer for TOS and the challenges she faced as a female sci-fi writer back then.  Then we sat through the mind-numbing torture that was those two Enterprise stars, Dominic Keating and Connor Trinneer.  I do not recognize Enterprise as part of the Star Trek franchise and completely wrote them off on the basis of their theme song and T'Pol's outfit alone.  Star Trek theme songs DO NOT have words and Vulcans from that era DO NOT wear cat suits.  I hate cat suits.  Even Seven of Nine's.  Especially Seven of Nine's. 

Anyway, after that torture was over and the fangirls for Enterprise left, we got to see Terry Farrell, the lovely Jadzia Dax.  I found her charming and painfully honest, a little shy and a little opinionated.  A complex woman if ever there was one.  She obviously loves the fans, though, and the time she spent as Jadzia Dax.  And that was wonderful to see.  Her little boy is three now and he's going to have fun watching his mommy fighting alongside Klingons one day.  Yes, he is.

After her talk, poor Tiff had to wait until everyone else in the world got Terry's autograph before she could get hers.  I went back and forth between the vendor room and the theater, spending time looking for more stuff to buy, stalking poor Suzie's and Wil's tables and wandering past Virgina Hey's table (Zhaan from Farscape), hoping she was doing okay.  Finally, Tiff got through the line and we went home, jazzed once again by all the Trek.

Saturday, we were supposed to get up early to go see Nana Visitor and Rene Aubergenois but that didn't happen.  We slept in again and had lunch and then went to the main theater to see Jonathan Frakes and Brent Spiner, who were just as funny as they could be (and just as gay, too, in Brent's case).  And then there was a video salute to Kathryn Janeway followed by the arrival of Kate Mulgrew.

How do I describe Kate Mulgrew?  fewthistle, darling, she's exactly as you would have imagined her.  Larger than life and every inch the perfect diva.  Jonathan and Brent brought her out to thunderous applause and then each of them got on their knees and kissed her hand before retreating off the stage and you could tell that that was completely ad-libbed by the guys and completely expected by Kate!  LOL  She told us a little about what she's been up to lately (Clytemnestra!), about what her children are up to ("My youngest is an actor in New York which, of course, means he's driving a taxi."), what her husband was up to ("And my husband's in Cleavland, so everything's perfect. [audience laughs]  Oh, no!  Not that it's perfect that he's in Cleavland though I could see how you could misconstrue that.  Ahahaha!").  She was absolutely the Queen of Everything She Surveyed.  At one point, a little 8-year-old girl got up to ask her a question and Kate decided she wanted to steal the little girl's voice and mannerisms because she was so preciously innocent.  She stood on stage actually perfecting the voice of an 8-year-old!  Totally in process all the time!  And let's not even mention how she channeled Katherine Hepburn right on that stage!  I have to admit that I was very worried about seeing Kate.  I thought she might be too this or too that.  She was, instead, too EVERYTHING and somehow that balanced everything out.  I don't know why, but it did.  She was, to put it simply, just delicious.  Rich and velvety, like a decadent chocolate dessert.

After Kate, there was the First Family of DS9:  Avery Brooks, Cirroc Loftin, and Penny Johnson Jerald.  I have to admit that I stopped watching DS9 after the close of the second season and I didn't know of Penny's character at all.  However, she was just wonderful to watch and listen to on stage.  And Avery should be a reverend somewhere!  That voice and that philosophy of life!  Amazing!  Cirroc was a little awkward but only because he felt strange being lauded for something that to him was so much fun!  Their talk was a nice way to end our day and a nice way to end our convention as we decided to skip Sunday altogether.

And there it is!  The story of my trip to Las Vegas to attend the biggest Star Trek convention there is.  I hope to go back sometime.  I also hope to go to Dragon Con more, since they see fit to have people like Erin Gray, Lori Petty, and Elisabeth Rohm at their conventions. 

Live long and prosper, lovelies!

My State of Mind: accomplishedaccomplished
What the Voices in My Head Hear: VAST
per aspera ad astra: i'm listeningamazonqueenkate on September 2nd, 2007 06:40 pm (UTC)


I am as green as your background, woman. JUST. THAT. GREEN.
seftiri: seven of nineseftiri on September 2nd, 2007 07:34 pm (UTC)
It was much fun, I agree. :D
ralstralst on September 2nd, 2007 07:23 pm (UTC)
Your Claudia Black autograph story is priceless.

I never disliked Wesley or Wil, despite the overdone boy-wonder-ness of it all, especially towards the end. But I'm happy to hear that he's a nice guy - there's always a sense of relief when you find out the people you watched, so avidly, during your younger years really were good people.

I'm not so sure about diva Kate, mind you.

Are you still thinking of organising a Vegas trip for VJB's ninth anniversary? Because, depending on exactly when that is, I'd love go.

Oh, and in case I forget to say this in a fortnight's time, good luck with nursing school.
seftiri: Nigella EMseftiri on September 2nd, 2007 07:38 pm (UTC)
Diva Kate was an experience, that's for sure. LOL

I'd love to have something there in February or March of 2009 (that would be near the ninth anniversary, which is February 17th, 2009). March only because of school...I could plan it for my spring break that year. LOL

And thanks for the good luck wishes!
Tiffany: comic ds red robot + piekid = <3piekid on September 2nd, 2007 09:20 pm (UTC)

If any readers out there want the links for Wil (and you should if you don't): Website and old blog, current blog, reviews

Yay for conventions, we need to go to more now. I've decided that things like this are the reason I bother with a job (besides the obvious living expense). Conventions, Shakespearean and Renaissance festivals... events like those are what I call fun. I don't call LINES fun.

YAY Cubs! (Totally random but they're finally winning...)
Tiffany: comic dbc skully one of those dayspiekid on September 2nd, 2007 09:22 pm (UTC)
Oh, and you got the link to my journal wrong!

seftiri: C/O Yayseftiri on September 2nd, 2007 10:08 pm (UTC)
Yay Cubbies!
Katie: Abby nerdsoracledelphi617 on September 3rd, 2007 01:43 pm (UTC)
Yay for the Trek-ness!!!!! It's awesome that things worked out so very well for y'all. :D

And gosh, isn't Kate just a trip? I loved watching her onstage!

Did Dominic Keating do his ode to the Enterprise theme song? Last year that might have been my favorite part because it was sooo snarky and bitter! Of course, they might have specifically asked him not to do it again...
sister_mary_grammatica: communion winesr_m_grammatica on September 3rd, 2007 02:53 pm (UTC)
I hated Wesley Crusher, too. AND Will Riker. Eeeww. Here are my loves: Dax, Kira, Seven, Kathryn, B'Elanna, Uhura. Sigh. I'm delighted to hear that Kate Mulgrew was so fabulous. And, really, would she be anything else?


shayshaych_03 on September 4th, 2007 12:27 am (UTC)
sounds like you had an absolute blast :) and i hope nursing school is at least as much fun :)
tulliolustulliolus on September 11th, 2007 02:52 am (UTC)
I hate to post a "me-too", but it sounds like lots of fun and I'm extremely jealous, just like everyone else.

I wonder if we'll be seeing Kate Mulgrew's son in the L&O universe any time soon? Every other actor in New York seems to have been in it at one time or another.