Sunday, September 29, 2013

Las Vegas Star Trek Convention: Day 3 & 4

 


Where has that Mike Cronis been?!


 I've been a bit busy lately and haven't been blogging much.  I've been working on an album, writing lyrics, etc. and it's been a bit time-consuming, plus I've been watching way too much of the #1 Japanese anime, One Piece which has like 700 25-minute episodes, and I'm around 400 or so.  I've harvested a lot from our garden, to include a near-infinite supply of Roma tomatoes, and my vineyard was very productive this year of Catawba grapes, so I've gathered enough (about 20 pounds) to create wine (it'll come out a sweet blush) for Chateau de Cronis vintage 2013.  That process was mind-numbing as I inspected each grape (over 7500 of them) to verify no nasty mold or irregularities were to go in the batch, then crushed each one into a "must".  Fermentation started a few days ago so it can be left to do it's "thing" for a week or so before "racking" into the first sanitized "carboy".  I can expect a gallon from 20 pounds (either six 500 ml bottles or ten 350 ml bottles, I haven't decided.)  My orchard produced some great, baseball-sized peaches, and my bonsai trees I'm starting from-seed are growing as a pair, so I plan on twisting those two for an interesting display if all goes well.  I've been working a significant amount as well.  I installed tinting on "Rosie" the 100th Anniv. Corvette, as well as an 8-ball-like shifter knob (rather tricky, actually.  Not a screw-on procedure) making it an extra "short-shifter".  I also broke-down and got a "Google" phone and joined this century.  I've done a lot with it but I still don't see the big deal.  I guess those new to laptops are overjoyed, but smartphones are definitely geared towards the non-tech-savvy I can see, as a majority of the functions (aka "apps" as executables) I was using in the early '90s with dial-up computers pre-internet via FTP and BBS sites (though not as "conveniently" palm-sized).  Shrug.



  So day 3 in Vegas we decide to make a day of the Convention itself as it's now in full-swing.  We get up relatively early as the schedule is an 8 to 8 arrangement.  The actual area of festivities from our room is impossibly far away and it takes us about 30 minutes to get to anything involving it due to the snaking around and no short-cuts through the casinos and what-not.  I can't express further how very few actual gaming machines are around.  Local casinos like Black Hawk and Cripple Creek have a larger assortment.  Rather unimpressive.  I think casinos in Vegas assume money is to be had elsewhere by way of violently expensive drinks, shows, and meals, diverting their income elsewhere.  Shame all 3 are not of good quality, at best, mediocre, though if you're a po-dunk from Iowa, it's probably pretty nifty.  Me being a well-traveled gent shrug it off as mediocre and a bit desperate. 

  Before we dive-in, we wait in line (as usual) for breakfast at about 7:30 at the only open breakfast place there aside from the "we'll rape you financially """"world"""" buffet (just so as long as "world" in quadra-quotes means American and unauthentic in every way)".  As we line-in for the 30 minute wait of 9 parties-of-two ahead of us (though, again, 40 tables open inside due to incredibly bad leadership) behold, in front of us was George Takei and his "husband" Brad.  Keeping cool, we chatted for about 30 minutes or so, discussing his website, side projects, and Japan (as I had been stationed there, though I mistakenly had told him I was on Hokkaido and not the northernmost part of Honshu near Lake Towada and the Shiriyazaki Lighthouse.  Brad asked about how breakfast was at this place, and I admitted it was "meh".  Pleasant enough, though we drew a crowd in awe as fans occasionally gushed over him in drooling fashion.  This wasn't my first "Takei Encounter".  He's quite personable.  I tried to get Brad involved but he seemed used to the back-seat (ahem) as it were.  I did give a bit of praise here and there for both of various media things, including his fund-raiser of the survivors of the Japanese refugee camps in America that few knew about (I did, though honestly, I think the Japs just slaughtered Americans in Japan, or ate them as sushi.  They were rather brutal in WWII.  Ask a Korean.)

Shiriyazaki lighthouse on the northern tip of Honshu.  Wild horses spot the landscape.
 
  We ate breakfast alone, not with George and Brad so they could have some peace.  On the way out, I caught Brad's attention and made the metsa-metsa hand signal, which he laughed a bit and agreed.  On to Star Trek.



  We browed the dealer area again and I bought a tribble for no good reason and we headed to the convention arena seating area.  It was huge.  I'd say about 400 feet long or so.  Impressive size.  Assigned "Gold" seating was center aisle, though just 3 feet to the side was general admission so by saving $900 we sat actually in FRONT of the Gold ticket holders (though to the side a tad, which was fine with me).  We got to listen to John De Lancie (aka "Q" from Star Trek: Next Generation explain he just finished sailing a ship to Bora-Bora, though he had minimal ability to do so after building is own sailing yacht using sails!)  Later, Star Trek: Voyager characters came out and chatted, and a very bouncy and excited with a ton of insane nervous, cheerleader-like energy, Terry Farrell's Jadzia Dax .  All having amusing and interesting anecdotes.  It's nice to hear these actors (who did these sci-fi shows 25 years ago now!) talk about different adventures.  Most haven't done much since, really.  Most are surprised of the admiration and adoring.  Very few other professions are awarded such attention.  You don't see too many rom-com actors getting such love (ironically). 



  Becky decided we should get a photo-session with William Shatner and Kate Mulgrew even though it was a bit pricey.  Neet.  Both showed up on-stage to chat to a round of applause.  Kate Mulgrew played "Captain Janeway" on Star Trek: Voyager and she's currently in a show called, Orange is the New Black about a woman's prison that's rather popular.  Most of the Q&A was based on the new show to Bill's annoyance.  Shatner had made mention in The Captains (an interview documentary he created a year or two ago on an intimate level) that women should not be in leadership roles to Kate.  She is aware of the 1960's mentality of a "woman's place" and without a moment's heartbeat like a ninja twisted things around in a clever way to manipulate Shatner without him knowing.  She did stunts like this subtlety and expertly throughout again here.  When someone put it on-the-line and asked (rather in poor taste I might add) that if both Starfleet captains were somehow both placed on the Enterprise at the same time, who would be in-charge?  Kate quickly jumped on that and stated, "That would be easy.  I would be.  Kirk would be my Lieutenant." 


   Shatner hadn't heard it because he was formulating an answer but his aide on stage explained what she had said.  He was fuming and mouthed her response incredulously.  Things were getting bad fast.  She had made her strike and it was a killing blow and things were getting dangerously awkward.  She had made her point on many levels and it was sticking hard, then, she announced loudly to the crowd and Shatner, "..yeah, but you're all about the SEX!!!"  This overjoyed Shatner like a magician's flash-powder to the delight of the 10 thousand audience members and he took the free-out-gift she supplied.  Clever, Mulgrew.  Very clever.


Fuck you Capain Kirk


 Before they were done, we knew they were headed to the photo-shoot area so we headed-out a bit early and got about third in-line.  Fifteen minutes later they showed up and we were warned not to be able to give the actors any gifts, but I verified I could give Shatner my USAF Space Command patch (one of them, anyway).  When it was our turn (it's very quick, in-and-out an affair) I was able to quickly explain to Shatner that in the USAF my choices were often governed by how Captain Kirk would handle things, taking a bolder choice and with more risk and bravery.  He was very impressed and indicated he would include me in a speech at Lowell next week.

I like free stuff!  Mike Cronis, you're alright!
  We had also purchased some autographs with both of them online months earlier, but we didn't get the photos yet from the Kate/Bill session, so we waited in line for that after some more Star Trek speakings.  I had my photo signed from Sally Kellerman from the episode, Where No Man Has Gone Before, as she has signed, "To [sic] hot to handle" so I had thought that'd be nice for them to sign both.  I was number 400.  Becky was getting Kate's.  Becky got done pretty early but she lamented it was an industrial affair where you couldn't even say anything to her because it was robotic and fast, organized by the company running it, and it bothered her she was rushed on after an autograph. 






  Now here's where things get interesting.  I thought Shatner could add, "I am." resulting from Kellerman's "Too hot to handle" comment, as if, perhaps he was thinking he was too hot to handle, not her commenting she was in a little flurry of cute big-headedness.  It'd be typical of Shatner to say so, and it seemed (to me) in-character.  So when I finally get up to Shatner after an hour (he'd been signing constantly for that long and was getting obviously cranky) I had asked him to personalize it with, "I am."  At first, he was delighted to see Sally Kellerman's photo, but when I asked him to put "I am." he got very pissed off!  He asked me to repeat what I said (I did) and he grinded with such anger and aggression, "I don't do that SHIT!"  I was dumbfounded.  I had pissed-off my childhood hero!  ACK!  I was devastated!  Yikes!  The company guards surrounding him were ready to pounce.  He then said, "How about I just put, Thank You."  He did so and I was swept aside. 
 
Fuck you, Mike Cronis.  Oh, and thanks for the hundred bucks, bitch.
  Reeling from what had just occurred, I walked away and back to our room as if I had witnessed a 500-car head-on collision with two trains in an epic train-wreck.  I started to consider what had transpired.  It was my assumption he didn't want to seem the fool in some way and that putting "I am" would have been a joke on his expense, or I suspect that's how he took it.  Oddly, and to my benefit, by putting, "Thank You" to Kellerman's "Too hot to handle" arguably creates the same effect.  "Too hot to handle... Thank you."  Hm.  Somehow I had won that transaction and had bested Kirk at his own game, manipulating him to do what I wanted but allowing him to make that choice himself instead of forcing his hand, and I saw that's what Kate had done as well earlier.

Who da masta?
  The rest of the day we escaped to our rooms for a while and tried-out the pool. The thump-thump-thump of the bad top-40 music was not listenable.  It permeated everywhere and our sleeping was affected by it.  No one was enjoying the bass overdose and it was generally vacant.  I tanned lightly for a few minutes and gave up.  The pool bars were empty and no one wanted a dose of modern crap made for tweens.



Pool partay at the Rio, girls!  Yeah!  Frozen slushies!  It's a tween par-tay come TRUE!  Love the top-40!

 We enjoyed a little gambling and Becky won a good amount of cash to pay for our rooms (as usual, she tends to win pretty well on penny-slots, perhaps it's that Midwest-girl knack).  Later, we had tickets to see the Rio's big act, "The Rat Pack" which had impersonators playing the iconic '60s singers (who were in the original and way-better Ocean's Eleven) with Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Joey Bishop and Dean Martin.  We dressed-up a bit for that and pictures were being taken with a vampy Marilyn Monroe.  I thought she was taking tickets and she announced, "Oh, you expect me to read?"  Amusing.  We were told if we wanted floor seats to "take care of Ted" and he'd "fix us up".  Becky had asked what that meant and I explained that "Ted" wanted his palm crossed with a few Benjamins for the floor tables up-front.  We decline the mobster option of greasing his paw with hard-earned cash and sit in the seats we had bought online months earlier.  No one was given even a small table except the dozen floor-sitters (who had to share an average-sized banquet table each).  I thought some good scotch was in order before the show started but a Pepsi ended-up being $12 and their best scotch was Johnnie Walker Black.  I didn't even ask despite a bottom-shelf scotch was their best and a soda was twelve bucks.  Didn't even.

 
  The show was a bit vulgar but pretty good and lasted an hour.  Rather pricey for $100 each.  The show didn't offer any snacks either so we schlepped up to an Annie's Pretzels right next to the BK Whopper Bar and got some pretzel-wrapped hot-dogs and chips and a drink (total cost for all items, $12) and went back to the room to watch a little pay-per-view and call it a night.  We passed some Star Trek clad revelers drinking at a few of the smaller bars in the hotel enroute.  I can only assume they had thousands of dollars for the wells the bar was offering.  I declined to spend $1000 on a Jack and Coke.

Marilyn Monroe impersonator at the overpriced Italian restaurant at the Rio, "Maratorano's".  Note the lack of patrons.

  It was hard to sleep that night with the thump-thump of the closed pool area, but we managed.  Next day was a short one and we got in-line for our Kate Mulgrew photo op.  We had bought it online months ago and we tried to sell it to some of the locals but the one girl who said she wanted it kept no-showing when she said she'd pick up the ticket so we got sick of that and decided to just two-for-one get a photo with her.  It was at the same time as the Guinness Book of World Records was going to host a "most number of people in a Star Trek costume at one time" event a few doors down so we had to hurry to get in.  We got the photo done and I had commented to her that she played Shatner like a fiddle and kept him tamed the whole time.  Her eyes sparkled and she quietly told me, "I have to."  I understood well.  Oh so well.  Becky spent a few minutes commenting she liked her new show which made Kate ecstatic.



  We raced to the closing doors of The Guinness Book of World Records room and I shoved my foot in the door and demanded they wait!  We mashed our way in despite record keepers insisting we couldn't get in, and we were issued numbered cards.  Terry Farrell (aka Dax) was excited and bouncing with a given-costume that she was number 1086 (the last one) though I actually was holding a 1087 card.  Event officials explained to me, "You do realize why Terry has to be the final card holder, right?  I said I did.  She was bouncy and excited and screaming as they counted-down the required 10-minute in-the-room exposure.  It was crowded but not insane.  On-screen, 1086 kept flashing.  It annoyed me because Becky got a 687 card (someone had left) and I had a 1087 (I still have it).  I wanted to make sure I was counted for this big deal, though the record previously was 1060, so it didn't matter if one or two wasn't there.  I just wanted to be counted.  I didn't care I was the last one in (actually Becky was, though given an earlier card).  To my satisfaction, a news article weeks later noted Terry was 1086 but the final tally was 1087.  Win.

You want nerds?  I'll show you nerds.  I'm off-frame on the right.
   We weren't able to pick-up the Kate Mulgrew photo op until the next day but we were headed-out of Vegas at 8am so we couldn't pick it up.  It's supposed to be shipped to us soon though.  We'll see.

Terry Farrel as number 1086 seemingly coked-out and beyond hyper-excited as the countdown reaches zero.

  Overall, the experience had its ups and downs.  Vegas is far more expensive that it ever has been, and the glitz is generally gone.  It's louder than it's ever been, and not as fun, though I wonder if my age has anything to do with it?  I guess if I just turned 21 it'd be a blast, especially if it was my first time, but having gone 4 or 5 times now, it's kinda just blah.  One could find better things to do at that price.  My time in Aruba was far superior on every level and about the same price, as well as several cruises.  Shrug.  I give it a grade, "Meh".


   It was neet seeing all the Star Trek minded folks there.  These are a different breed of smart than the Starfests and Comicons I've been to, more intelligent, more mellow, less of a spastic breed.  Less exabisionists and freaks, more real-world engineers, scientists, and people that make things work.  People that are valuable in society who have a real degree or a real job that's useful on this Earth.  People who if died would be needed and missed.   People of star-stuff.  People with souls.  I'm glad to be one of them.


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