Monday, July 18, 2011

Trek (Daily Photo 7.16.11)

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Nik and I went to a Star Trek convention, our first. Believe it or not, it was on both our lists of things we should do before we die. You never know when that'll be -- so on Friday when I found, purely by accident, that there was a convention in Cambridge this weekend, we jumped at the chance.

We don't dress up or put on fake ears, as you can see, because that's just not our bag. The closest I got to it was wearing my Blue Demon Jr. luchador T-shirt, which is no big deal because I wear it all the time anyway. We're seen here with Jeffrey Combs, an actor who's played nine different characters on various Star Trek series, including some of our favorites. You can also see him in "Re-Animator," "The Frighteners," and "From Beyond," sucking someone's brain out through her eye socket. He's a very pleasant fellow.

I feel like I have to explain why we went to a Star Trek convention for some reason. Mostly because the trope of "the Star Trek convention" is pretty fucking hoary and conjures up images of thick-spectacled virgin weirdos with no ability to distinguish fantasy from reality congregating in deeply nerdtastic obese throngs and arguing over how many Klingons can dance on the head of a pin. I'm aware of that stereotype. So are they. Look at these people. They must know on some level this isn't how people usually dress day-to-day. What do they give a shit? They're having fun. That's great. I like to see people enjoying something in life for a change.

I'm a Star Trek fan. Nik made me one -- she introduced me to the shows, so I thank her for that. I know quite a bit about the series, although she knows much more. It's a great show. Star Trek is one of the only depictions of future society where the human beings haven't annihilated themselves or ruined the planet somehow -- and in fact they've used science to cure humanity of the plagues of superstition, religion, war, racism, greed, famine, and want. That's nice. I'd like to think maybe people will get there someday, and evolve into something better than we are now.

But that's just the show. Nik and I wanted to go to a convention because people in unique subcultures fascinate the shit out of us. I want to study everything about them and why they do the things they do. I want to learn every goddam thing there is to know about them. If they wear costumes, I want to see the costumes and learn if they made them themselves or if they were bought somewhere, and why they wear the specific colors they wear, and why they identify with certain fictional Star Trek races and not others. I'm fucking starving for information. I'm also paralyzingly shy, so I have to glean this information by eavesdropping and silently observing. But still, I want to know how many conventions they've gone to before this one, and see what they spend their money on, and why. Example: there were some massive 10-foot vinyl banners hanging in the convention hall. We found out that they'll all be autographed by the actors present and auctioned off to attendees. That fucking fascinates me. I had no idea. So the people who put on the event sell off the same decorations they made advertising the event to the people who went to the event. It's like recycling. Efficient! It's almost like every convention is like a going-out-of-business sale -- it's like going to a tent sale and then they sell everything in the tent including the damn tent. And it just inflames my curiosity more. Who buys these 10-foot vinyl banners, and why? Where do they display them? In their homes? Do they hang them in their garages? Do they have special rooms dedicated to Star Trek stuff? If so, what else is in there? What do they do in these rooms? What do they have, and what do they need? How did it start? How will it end? Listen: People are entire universes.  How can you get bored?

Part of the convention involves merch. It's astounding the range of merch there is, from paintings to toys to old board games to clothes, and how much people spend on it. We sat in on an auction and watched people bid big bucks for simple signed photographs. We were flabbergasted. Then Nik said, "I've spent $80 on a marathon." Different hobbies, I guess.

These, for example, appear to be props -- I don't know from where exactly. But that phaser (the thing with the gold handle) was going for $200. It was also heavy as hell, and appeared to be made of metal.

I have yet to understand the motives behind making or owning commemorative dishware. But someone likes it, because they keep making it. My grandmother owned a commemorative dish with John F. Kennedy's likeness on it, in almost exactly the same pose as Spock here.

One highlight of the convention was a trivia game, with winners getting hundreds of dollars in gift certificates. There were three rounds, and after sitting and watching the first round, Nik & I didn't dare go up to try out for the others. The questions were fiendishly difficult, even the "easy" ones. I was way out of my depth. And for people who think Star Trek is just for dorky guys, two out of the three trivia winners were women.

We had fun, although since we don't collect the merch or autographs I can't see us going back month after month or what have you. Going this time was good. We heard a few actors speak, and they didn't really say a whole lot. What can you say about a job you had 10 or 15 years ago? They're game enough to answer people's questions and make chit-chat about what their experience was like, but it's clear they're really there to give the fans a dose of nostalgia. We're still extremely curious about the phenomenon and the people who attend these things. This was only a tiny convention -- there's a major one happening in Las Vegas in August, with dozens of actors and probably thousands of fans, people in costume. We can't go, but if we ever did hit another convention we'd do a Vegas one. We've seen a regular convention, so now we have to see what the big one is like.

1 comment:

funderson said...


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