Star Trek Mission Chicago – 50th Anniversary Report, Part 2 (Saturday)

I began my Saturday by taking it easy, sleeping in, and watching Netflix.  Once I walked across the street to the convention, I inquired as to whether the line for the Gates McFadden photo op had started and it had not.  I went to get a drink at the Starbucks where I found a TNG Starfleet Operations Division officer complaining to a barista that they ought to have ordered more cheese danishes knowing their was a convention this weekend.  The poor officer is used to the replicators aboard the Enterprise, no doubt.

I then went to meet Gates McFadden at her booth.  She told me that I was the third librarian she’d met this morning.  Librarian Trekkies for the win! I then did a bit of shopping, buying some action figures that my collection lacked.

I went back to the line to discover it had already formed and gone through – in a matter of thirty minutes – fasting moving line ever!  So, I was placed at the rear of the Marina Sirtis/Gates McFadden duo photo op.  When I made my way for the photo op with Gates McFadden, they asked Marina Sirtis (who I’d have numerous photo ops with in the past) to step aside, Marina jokingly chastised me for being late to the photo op.

I was so excited about this photo op.  I’d never been able to attend a convention that Gates McFadden was at.  As a child, I remembered watching her as the very serious, professional, strong Dr. Crusher and always considered her a positive role model.  In my excitement, I cheesed (smiled) too hard and gave myself a double chin.  That’s what I get for my excitement, no?

After the photo op, I went back to my seat to await the arrival for William Shatner.  In the meantime, I watched the No-Minimum Auction and realized many of my fellow Trekkies must be rolling in dough.  At 1:50pm, William Shatner came on stage.  In introducing himself, he related a lengthy but comical tale of his last time in Chicago, the previous year when he was supposed to begin a motorcycle ride across the United States to benefit the American Legion. There were all sorts of issues that came up, the bike not being ready, then when it did arrive late, it didn’t work, and then finally having to rent a Harley instead.   He also said it was amazing to be standing there on Saturday to discuss work he’d done 50 years earlier, but it was also a bit embarrassing as he was so handsome back then and now people don’t even recognize him.  Surely he must’ve been joking.  Who didn’t recognize William Shatner?

Afterwards, he took questions from the audience, some of which I don’t remember but there were some funny highlights such as when someone asked him whether he’d ever asked any of his co-stars what they thought on a certain topic, he replied, “If I was going to ask my co-stars anything it would be why do you hate me.”  At the age of 85, he still doesn’t know? That gave us all a good laugh.

He was also asked about whether his career with Star Trek had afforded him the opportunity to meet and interact with the greatest minds in science.  In response, he told us about a meeting he’d had with Stephen Hawking, who had to use a special machinery to speak.  Mr. Hawking’s favorite Star Trek episodes were those that featured black holes.  Despite the length of time necessary to speak through the machinery, Shatner said they had an interesting conversation about physics and Star Trek.

Towards the end of Mr. Shatner’s time on stage, an attendee asked William Shatner what makes him feel young.  His answer was his busy schedule and then (jokingly) his wife.  He has book that will be released in October (Zero-G), he’s on the TV show Better Late Than Never, is working on a documentary, and making appearances outside of the US on a regular basis.  He has a busier schedule than I do at the age of 39!

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After his panel discussion was over, he sang the winning entry of the lyric contest along with a live band … and Supernatural actor Misha Collins!  The Supernatural convention was happening just a few blocks away and either Creation Entertainment set this up, or Misha Collins is a Trekkie and/or friend of Shatner’s. I realized later that Collins was the last person to ask him a question from the audience – no wonder the question sounded so bogus and confused Star Trek and Star Wars!!!!

Immediately following this musical performance, was the costume contest!  One of my favorite parts of any convention.  My favorite costumes are below:

 

The children were, of course, my favorite.  Look at that little Klingon and little Deanna Troi!  All of the children were winners.  Nautical Data won first place, as the female cosplayer portraying him should have!  The Gorn and the Vulcan High Priestess were among my favorites, as well.  But, all those I photographed did a great job with their costume and makeup!

After a lunch break, I visited Marina Sirti’s booth where I learned that Pride and Prejudice is her favorite novel and that Harry Potter isn’t a good answer for your best novel. After complaining that I was making her feel old, I pointed out her skin looked fabulous and that at 39 I had sun damage all across my face.  She had none!  She then told me how to reverse the damage.  I’M NOT GOING TO SHARE THE SECRET. I SHALL BE HAWT AND SEXY LIKE MARINA AND YOU WON’T.  Anyway then, I returned to the convention to see Gates McFadden on stage.  The live band started playing ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ by Nirvana and to my delight (and most everyone else’s) Gates entered the stage and rocked out to the entire song!  I’d already known Gates was a huge Rage Against the Machine fan but it appears she’s also a big Nirvana fan.  This made me smile beyond comprehension, really.

As she took the microphone, she seemed to remember smartphone technology and admonished everyone that she hoped not to see this on Twitter should she come to regret it so I will not post any of the still photos of her dancing.  However, here are some other images of her below for you to enjoy.

Is it just me or is she still a stunning lady?

Gates had a bevvy of questions from the audience and I learned some quite interesting things.  She was the choreographer of the movie Labyrinth and Henson had quite a long and chaotic interview process for her before she got that position.  She jokingly said that she got to meet Kermit the Frog and really like him as he was a good listener. She spoke briefly about David Bowie and her impressions of him from working with him on that film.

When she was cast on Star Trek: The Next Generation, they tried to make her look older for the part of Dr. Crusher so that she would look closer to the same age as Patrick Stewart.  She was adamant that Dr. Crusher should be portrayed as a full character, not just a two dimensional supporting role.  She had nothing to say but wonderful things about her fake son, Wil Wheaton and how amazed she was at his talent, even having seen Stand By Me, prior to his being cast in the role of Wesley Crusher.

While on stage, she also referenced those she had met, including librarians and I was so pleased because I knew I was one of them.  She said it’s an amazing feeling to have served as a role model to young women and to have them come here to visit here and tell her that.

When asked what her favorite episodes were, she mentioned The Host, because it really questioned what it means to love another person and how we need to break barriers in our acceptance of other’s love.  This was one of the highlight moments of her time on stage for me personally, as TNG on numerous occasions had broached the topic of bisexuality, homosexuality, and transgender issues and this episode was definitely one of those.  As a major LGBTQ ally, hearing her speak on this issue, even obliquely was giving a nod to all those in the audience who valued the message of Star Trek and felt it was a safe place for them.

After she left the stage, I waited for my autograph by William Shatner.  I’d brought the book Leonard: My Fifty-Year Friendship with a Remarkable Man for him to sign.  And, here is my confession, I’ve not been a big fan of William Shatner’s.  I’ve always thought his post-Star Trek work was quite funny and while he was on stage, he definitely knew how to get laughs.  However, I’ve heard a couple of his co-stars say the things he did on set and it always bothered me.  That’s why I decided to have him sign that book.  You see, I dearly love Leonard Nimoy and since he’s written this book about his friendship with Leonard, I thought it a wonderful homage to both of them that he should sign it.  I was very pleased when I got my autograph and the genuine smile that Mr. Shatner gave me may have slightly lessened my opinions of him.  Thank you, Mr. Shatner.

The last event of the night was Klingon Karaoke.  I ran to dinner so that I could make it back in time.  There isn’t much to say about Klingon Karaoke other than it was a hoot to see people in costumes dancing to others singing – especially the Klingons.  I got up for only one song – Stand By Me – with a couple of con friends.   By the time I got back to the hotel room, I was exhausted.

Coming Soon….the convention report for the final day.

-The McNabbist

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