Pros and Cons

Hey, I’m back! Anyone miss me?

I’ll try to ignore the cries of “you were gone?” and “who?.”

Anyway, I just got back last night from visiting friends and attending the Shore Leave 27 convention, and hoo boy, was it a blast. I got to see and hear my favorite author, two of my favorite redheads from sci-fi, attend some wonderful events, and spend way, way too much money at the dealers’ areas.

For those not interested in the least, I’m stuffing the majority in the Extended Section.

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First off, it’s amazing what sorts of videos and DVDs show up for sale at conventions. The selection MIGHT be slightly less than a really good video store, but the chances of finding the most esoteric stuff are incredible — as long as you don’t look too carefully for signs of legitimacy. Bloopers, unaired pilots, oddball collections, everything. I was sorely tempted by several (a collection of fan-made comic-book films, including the incredibly professional-looking “Grayson,” which I’d cheerfully pay money to see completed, and a complete set of “The Tick” animated series, as well as the legendary “Star Wars Episode 1.1 — The Phantom Edit”).

Some of them seriously stretched the credibility of the consumer. For example, I have considerable difficulty imagining that a peeping tom with a video camera just HAPPENED to catch Britney Spears and Anna Kournikova in flagrante delicto with each other in a hotel room.

Several of the authors of this book, including the aforementioned Peter David, held a panel to discuss how it came about, and how writing for a shared universe like Star Trek works. It was lively, educational, and entertaining. I wanted to ask a question (“Whose decision was it to NOT invite Diane Carey to participate, and where do I send the thank-you card?”), but didn’t work up my nerve.

Later, Peter David held his own little talk. He fielded questions, plugged his upcoming books (the man is DISGUSTINGLY prolific), and read the script to his upcoming “Spike” comic book one-shot. PAD (as he goes by on-line, from his initials) once again proves himself the master of making obscure connections and running with them into places one would never imagine. (In one of his earlier Star Trek books, he realized that the Planet-killer from “The Doomsday Machine” would make an ideal weapon against the Borg; in another, he had Captain Jean-Luc Picard praising Starfleet Academy. When asked if he runs it, he says “I could never see myself running a school for such gifted youngsters.”

I missed one of the two main reasons to attend the convention — the costume contest — but I did make it the “Mystery Trek Theatre 3000” event. And lord, what an amazing thing that was.

It started off with Peter David and two other Trek authors playing out a version of “Sith Apprentice” like many have seen online. PAD, playing Sideous, was rebuking his two apprentices. (“Dooku, you got your ass kicked by a Muppet! And Anakin, if you EVER have children, I hope they’re every bit as whiny as you are. Now, why were you late?” “I was down at Toshi Station picking up power converters!”) After a brief shtick where one of them feigned disgust with mocking Star Trek now that there’s no more Star Trek on the air, they “agreed” that Star Trek would be spared this year. Instead, they would give the full “Mystery Science Theatre 3000” treatment not to a Star Trek show, but instead to “Alexander The Great.”

No, NOT that one. THIS one.

Oh. My. Lord. How howlingly bad. And, as they pointed out, it was considered “unairably bad” back in 1964, when it was made. It only made it to the air in 1968, when both William Shatner and Adam West were practically household names from “Star Trek” and “Batman.” And somehow these sick, twisted writers managed to get hold of a very poor copy of it. And were they brutal. A few lines stick out:

(During the big battle scene) “Unleash the stock footage!”
(Alexander (Shatner) greeted by his princess on his return with “I thought you’d never come!”) “Boy, if I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard THAT!”
(Alexander leaping on his horse) “I see Athens, I see France, I see Shatner’s underpants!”
(Greek soldiers marching to battle) “We’re men — MANLY men! — in skirts!”

I thought I’d hurt myself laughing. It was savage, it was merciless, it was hysterical.

That does it. I gotta go again next year. And maybe I’ll just rent a car next time and attend as much as I can.

And I still wish I’d bought the T-Shirt that said “English doesn’t borrow from other languages. It follows them dark alleys, knocks them out, and goes through their pockets for loose words.”

Update: Several people have commented on Peter David’s politics, and judging him from them. Trust me, I know ALL ABOUT his politics. But he doesn’t let them interfere with his writing, so I won’t let them interfere with my appreciation of his writing. He’s one barking moonbat who knows how to spin some incredible yarns.

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  1. Ian July 12, 2005
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  9. fatman July 13, 2005