Trekkies Will Buy Anything that says Star Trek…

November 12th, 2008

A craft project for a rainy afternoon.


  • A transparent light switchplate or outlet cover. You can probably find them at a craft store or possibly a hardware store. They’re generally sold with the idea that you put a piece of wallpaper inside so that you’ll have a wallplate which matches your wallpaper.
  • Your imagination

The steps:

  1. Using your favorite graphics program, create an LCARS display the same size and shape as the wallplate. Be sure to leave a blank area the size and shape of the hole(s) in the wallplate. This will be your insert for the wallplate.
  2. Print out your insert and using a sharp pair of scissors, or an X-acto knife, cut out the holes to match the wallplate.
  3. Install the wallplate on the appropriate wall switch or power outlet.

Total cost, less than $5.

Or, you can visit Think Geek and buy the same thing for $17.99 plus shipping, thus proving the somewhat cynical claim that Trekkies will buy absolutely anything if you put the words “Star Trek” on it. But hey, the Think Geek version is “Made by Eugene ‘Rod’ Roddenberry” and therefore qualifies as licensed merchandise.

Full Disclosure: About 15 years ago, in the dealers room of a local con, I bought both a switch plate and an outlet cover with LCARS-style graphics on them. So on the one hand, yeah, apparently I’m that much of a geek. On the other hand, my two wallplates combined cost less than $20….

Dancing with the Star Wars Stars

November 8th, 2008

It’s amazing how much they’re able to move around in those costumes. Particularly that last group.

The Demise of Sudden Death

November 7th, 2008

I’ve been confused by “Sudden Death” for a while now. It’s only been in the past year that I’ve understood how the term applies to football. Until this evening however, I could never tell you whether Sudden Death the musical comedy act was one person or several.

It turns out that the answer has evolved over time, but it no longer matters. Apparently I’m not the only one who’s been confused and as of October 21, the name Sudden Death has been retired. Devo Spice, who’s been performing solo as Sudden Death will now be performing as himself.

The announcement doesn’t mention whether he’ll ever team up with Scary, Baby, Ginger, Posh and Sporty.

Deja Vu

November 7th, 2008

I’m not entirely certain why I decided to rent Deja Vu. I don’t have anything against the Murder-Mystery or Drama genres, but the description from Netflix wasn’t something that would normally seize my attention: Déjà vu — that powerful but fleeting sense that you’ve been here, or met someone, before. ATF agent Doug Carlin (Denzel Washington) finds himself dogged by that feeling as he investigates a bombing on a New Orleans ferry. Should he shrug off the unsettling sensation, or can it help him unravel the clues he needs to save hundreds of innocent people from disaster?

It’s a fairly accurate description, but not the sort of thing that would usually get my attention. For whatever reason, I decided to take a chance on it and added the movie to my rental queue.

The movie started off slowly, but that didn’t last long. Doug Carlin (Denzel Washington’s character) is an agent of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms who is assigned to investigate the bombing of a ferry in New Orleans. His talent for quickly figuring out the details of the bombing is recognized by an FBI team assigned to the case and they recruit him to help out.

The surveillance technology being used by the FBI is the first Sci-Fi twist to the movie, but the plot twist has its own twist that results in the storyline doubling back on itself. The resolution is a little bit of a cliché, but done in such a way that it’s quite enjoyable and even the loose ends you hadn’t thought of end up being tied-up.

Support Your Local Starship

October 19th, 2008

I’m not entirely certain of it, but I think I spotted John Broughton (Captain Jack Carter of Starship Farragut) at Home Depot last night. I’ve known for a while that Starship Farragut is based in Maryland, but my assumption has always been “somewhere else in Maryland.” This may have been an incorrect assumption.

It took me a few moments to put a name to the face, by which time he’d headed off into the aisles. Too late to check whether it was really him, but it was plenty of time for whimsical notions to pop into my head of a starship in need of emergency repairs with no time to wait for the usual bureaucracy. (“Neutron baffles? They’re on aisle 85, right next to the weather stripping.”)

It was a chance encounter, but it started me wondering how they were coming along with their latest efforts. They’ll be premiering two vignettes from their Crew Logs series “Just Passing Through” and “A Rock and a Hard Place” on November 22, 2008 at the University of Maryland’s Hoff Theater.

That’s great news and I’m looking forward to seeing the new installments, but looking through their site, I happened to run across their FAQ page and the first question gave me a guilty start: How can I donate and/or help out with Starship Farragut?

I don’t know too many fans who wouldn’t like to appear on screen. It would be fun to point your friends to a web site where they can watch a “Star Trek” episode. But that question got me to thinking.

Fan films are in a difficult position. Making even a bad movie costs some money to build the sets and props as well as the materials for the costumes. And if you don’t know anyone willing to donate the time for the editing and effects, that can cost you some money too. Farragut’s episodes are among the better fan films, so their costs are undoubtedly even higher.

And unfortunately, fan films (at least, the ones based on existing TV shows and movies) aren’t allowed to sell their final product. All they can do is give it away and with the economy in the tank right now, that has to be getting harder.

When I’ve seen the Farragut crew at conventions, they’ve always been a friendly bunch and I’ve frequently come away with DVD copies of their latest episodes. In return, I’ve made sure to tell various friends and interested family members about their project (plus the occasional mention here). But perhaps a more concrete show of support might be in order.

I’ll undoubtedly run into members of their group at one fannish event or another in the not so distant future, and I know they build their own sets.

I wonder if they might have some use for a Home Depot gift card? 🙂

Remember the Games People Play

October 16th, 2008

Thanks to Netflix, I’ve been enjoying the second season of Eureka. The general premise is that there’s a town of geniuses living in a secluded part of the Cascade mountains, working on a variety of experimental research. Each episode is a mystery, generally centered on something going astray with one of the experiments.

So far I’ve enjoyed every episode I’ve seen. “The Games People Play” was no exception, though I did find it a little predictable. The first time someone disappeared, it seemed properly mysterious, but by the time they were re-examining the medical results I was expecting Carter to conclude, “If there’s nothing wrong with me, maybe there’s something wrong with the universe,” as Beverly Crusher did in ST:TNG’s “Remember Me.” (Add in a touch of “Better than Life” and the parallel seems pretty solid.)

I still enjoyed the episode, but I hope there aren’t parallels with too many other shows I’ve seen.

Evil League of Evil Now Recruiting

September 29th, 2008

It would appear that Dr. Horrible is currently recruiting for his new Evil League of Evil.

Interested evil-doers have been invited to submit video applications. An assortment of sample applications can be found on Dr. Horrible’s site.

By Google’s Command

September 28th, 2008

I’m a bit embarrassed I hadn’t noticed this before.

The icon for Google’s new Chrome web browser features a sort of beach-ball thing with a circle in the middle. It looks a little like a robotic eye.

Chrome eye.

They’ve included that eye in the logo on the download page.

Chrome eye.

On the new Battlestar Galactica, the human-appearing cylons are frequently referred to as “skin jobs.” The more classically robotic centurions are occasionally referred to as “chrome jobs.” These so called “chrome jobs” have only one eye.

One eye. Robotic. Chrome.

Do you suppose Google is being run by Cylons?

2008 Browncoat Ball Open for Bids

September 4th, 2008

The Browncoat Ball Oversight Committee is currently accepting bids from groups wishing to host the 2009 Ball. Details are available [PDF] on the Chicagoland Browncoats website, but an important item to note is that bids are due by September 14. (Short notice I know. The first email I saw about this — on an established Browncoat mailing list — arrived yesterday. But hey, who needs lead time? This is all about the thrilling heroics!)

Past Browncoat Ball host cities:
2004 Chicago, IL
2006 San Francisco, CA
2007 Philladelphia, PA
2008 Austin, TX

Scriptusphobia (Fear of Writers)

September 3rd, 2008

During a recent convention, I was one of the hundred or so people who went home with a “Convention Special” publication from Pocket Books, containing the first chapters of three upcoming Star Trek books: Greater Than The Sum by Christopher L. Bennett, Kobayashi Maru by Michael A. Martin & Andy Mangels and Destiny Book 1 — Gods of Night by David Mack.

Reading through the chapter from Kobayashi Maru, I was somewhat amused to find Captain Archer reflecting on some apparently hard-nosed superior officers. Admirals Gardner, Black, Douglas, Clark and Palmieri.

I’m not sure about the other four, but my guess is that “Admiral Palmieri” is a reference to Pocket Books senior editor, Marco Palmieri. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to learn that the others Admirals are also employed by Pocket. (And for the record: I’ve met Marco; he struck me as fairly easy to get along with. Which is probably how he ended up being “picked on.”)

It’s not the first time I’ve run across this sort of thing. In How Much for Just the Planet? a group of John Ford’s characters encounter a Lieutenant Crispin whose first name is later revealed to be Ann. Surely that was a reference to his fellow writer, Ann C. Crispin.

And that’s where I start getting scared. I know a handful of Star Trek novelists well enough that when we see each other at conventions, the conversation goes into areas other than books. Some of those conversations have been memorable (particularly in regards to The Shovel).

Some of them have been known to mention convention attendees in their books.