I did post on Facebook about this incredible gift a group of students gave to me. If you missed it, here it is.
A few weeks before the Star Trek 50 in Las Vegas, in late July a former student of mine sent me a message from a friend of hers that she needed to sell her ticket to the event for an incredible price. I explained that my money for August was budgeted, and while it would be cool to go, it just was not in the cards for me. By the end of the exchange, my former student had bought the ticket for me, had contacted several other former students and was in the midst of trying to arrange plane tickets and funding to help cover the cost of a Vegas hotel. I am forever grateful to this small band of students for this incredible gift and what for me is a once-in-a-lifetime, bucket-list event. It was not just the gift of the convention, but it was also the reminder of the gift that I had when I taught these amazing young people. They gifted me with a memory of not just an incredible convention, but with why I taught for over 30 years.
So, on Tuesday, August 2nd, I flew to Vegas for Star Trek 50 at the Rio hotel and convention center. I had not attended a Star Trek convention since the 1990's. The Vegas convention would run from Wednesday, August 3rd through Sunday, August 7. It would be five days of immersion into Trek, but it was more.
There was the plethora of overpriced collectibles and a host of famous and not so famous celebrities selling their autographs, a practice that I think should stop. Yes, I did buy a few mementos including what my wife and I are calling the world's most expensive tee-shirt, but I am glad that I got it. But unlike the conventions that I quit going to, there was an appreciation - a feeling that I felt they had lost when I quit going. As I said in part two, Star Trek 50 renewed my passion.
You see, when you put several thousand Trekkies/Trekkers in one place, you discover something: as a group, we are kind, friendly, incredibly diverse, and are still filled with hope for human-kind. It didn't matter whether what age, race, orientation, or handicap, everyone I saw was truly thrilled to be there. Celebs, famous and not so famous, were, it seemed, genuinely glad that they were there. Celebrities even were out walking through the halls and easily accessible if fans just wanted to talk without paying for a signature. I have been to conventions where the stars are surrounded by an entourage and security going from their hotel room to the panel hall.
At this convention, I got to talk to stars, saw cast members from Enterprise as we both dined at the bar of a hotel restaurant, talked to Robert Picardo about membership in the Planetary Society, told Andrew J. Robinson of Deep Space Nine how much I enjoyed his psychopath in the original Dirty Harry movie as he passed in the hall, thanked Garrett Wang for his hosting work at Denver Comic Con, and even accidentally captured a pic of Brent Spiner as he went past a cosplayer whose picture I was taking. He was not the only celebrity that I saw roaming around the convention halls, either. Celebrities were at ease among these fans. They were clever and charming and had fun at all the panels. Even the often the self-described pessimist, Walter Koenig danced a little jig when he was introduced for his Q and A. I even got to know a fan from Australia, while we talked with John and Bjo Trimble. I told Bjo that I first saw Trek when I was nine and thanked her for saving if for me. She told me that we should start an original series survivor's club.
It was a joyous time. It was almost at times, seemingly magical. What is more, it reminded me of my passion for this series. When I came home, on Monday, August 8th, I had something that for me is an unusual event. I had dreams about being at the convention. In fact, for the next two weeks, I had wonderful dreams about that convention. My family will tell you for me to remember anything about the dreams is quite unusual.
Why Star Trek for these fifty years? The answer is really quite simple and hopefully after three full blogs you'll get why. Trek gives us Hope.