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Sam and Carole are the Trekkie Girls

SF BALL 23 – Review, Gates McFadden, Patti Yasutake and Larry Nemecek Interviews

This year we were delighted to experience a bit more of what the SF Ball has to offer. Having previously only been able to attend for a day, the new ticket options meant we were able to experience the much talked about Saturday night cabaret.

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It also allowed us to immerse ourselves in a different type of convention. We are admittedly more accustom to large scale events and some purely fan led events. We feel the SF Ball sits in it’s own special category. As the Borg would say “It is unique”. The organisers are clearly fans, of that, there is no doubt. But there is a professionalism and reputation (from both customers and the talent) which has made this event last for over two decades. There’s a passion for the event’s success, it’s value and for the charity it seeks to raise money for – The Teenage Cancer Trust.

Many have told us that it is the last ‘traditional fan led convention’. Where fans would take over a hotel for a weekend, play games, watch episodes and geek out together.

We got the vibe that this was more of a social experience (we LIKE this!). At large conventions our feet do not touch the ground, we run from stage to stage to photo ops to autograph queues then bar queues! And we love those style conventions, we see lots of guest stars in one place, we get to see them interact with each other etc (we LOVE this too!). But we also loved the chilled out nature of the SF Ball. It’s not manic, the Grand Harbour Hotel is a superb venue. And we totally abused the 25% discount at the bar (remarkably that included Champagne so we probably ruined that!)

The Ball

We set off Saturday afternoon to give ourselves plenty of time to get ready, chill out and get ready, plus celebrate Carole’s engagement and Sarah’s birthday before we went down. We live in the town next to Southampton, so not a long drive but it took us nearly two hours. An hour was spent in traffic within viewing sight of the hotel!

Our hotel room was spacious with a view of cruise ships. We’d 100% recommend staying here. But we always recommend staying in the event hotel for any convention…unless it’s particularly horrendous!

We head to the bar and catchup with friends. We love that where ever we go in the world we always see similar friendly faces.
The theme for the ball that evening was Game of Thrones. Only Carole has earned that geek card though. The room was dressed in a winter theme (winter is coming btw).

After a delicious three course meal, Chris Barrie (Rimmer, Red Dwarf + Mr Brittas, The Brittas Empire) takes the stage and delivers the cabaret, telling anecdotes from his time of Red Dwarf, The Brittas Empire and Spitting Image.

Then its party time! The dance floor comes out, the bubbles start flowing and we’re free to mingle with the guests. At the bar we had a lovely chat with Patti Yasutake who is honestly the sweetest person. We were kindly given the opportunity to interview Chris Barrie but we politely declined as we are only  Star Trek bloggers and didn’t want to waste his time even though we’d love to chat to him. But, the beauty of the Ball means even though there are fewer guest stars, you have the opportunity to have a more intimate experience with them. So we plucked up the courage and bought Chris a drink! He was a real gent and chatted away to us about his time on TV and everything else!

The rest of the night was purely geek heaven. Chatting away with Larry Nemecek and Andrew (one of the SF Ball Organisers) about everything Star Trek, including a thorough discussion on how Spot got from Data’s quarters to the Cargo bay in Generations. This opened up a minefield of other debatables such as where is Data’s quarters? Andrew thought they were in the drive section. But a tweet out gave the response they were on deck 2. But that’s right under the bridge!? There’s no windows so it’s got to be in the middle somewhere? Answers on a postcard to Utopia Planitia please.

 

We called it a night at silly o’clock in the morning which was silly as we wanted to be up for Larry’s talk at 10am. We made it….just!

Larry Nemecek

Larry gave an all encompassing look at the 50 year phenomenon that is Star Trek and spoke more in depth on the fan favourite subjects such as Fan Films (looking at you Axanar!) and Discovery. Larry is able to provide a unique insight to life behind the scenes on Star Trek. If you’re ever at a convention and he is a guest, be sure to say ‘hi’. He is super approachable, always has cool stuff to show you and even sell you. Larry is also married to Janet Nemecek who worked as a script coordinator on Voyager and First Contact. Janet often attends with Larry and is a joy to talk too. If you find getting to conventions difficult then you need to check out Portal 47, a monthly ‘mini con’ where you can hear all Larry’s stories, ask questions and talk to guest stars.

Straight after Larry’s talk we headed up to the posh suite on the top floor to interview him. Which was funny because we have had the privilege of spending lots of time Larry and we have never got round to doing a video interview. It was conducted at warp speed!

Gates McFadden and Patti Yasutake

The talk with Gates McFadden and Patti Yasutake was one we had been looking forward to and we weren’t disappointed. One thing we have always appreciated about Star Trek is how it portraits the ‘lower ranks’. Ok lets put the red shirts aside for this. In TNG we saw how much the senior crew respected those who served under them. From what we have observed this relationship seems to be mirrored between the actors and the crew. There’s a line in Time’s Arrow when Data tells Guinan that ‘served together on a starship”. The language indicates equality and respect for Guinans job and function on the Enterprise.

Nurse Ogawa was one of the first regulars we recall . Her developing relationship with Dr Crusher over the series allowed us a brief insight into the personal lives of the crew. It gave the Enterprise more depth and community. … Ok we were chuffed as Tribble to see them both together!

Whilst Gates and Patti took the time to answer many audience questions it also felt like we were able to enjoy the company of two friends catching up. They had a great report sharing anecdotes of their time on TNG. We even learned some new things!:

After the talk we were ushered into the posh suite again where we teamed up with our friend Jon from Visionary Trek to chat with Gates and Patti who were an absolute joy!

We owe a massive thanks to Andrew for holding the Camera this long!

We spent the rest of the event checking out the vendors, catching up and drinking the bar dry…of Diet Coke and Earl Grey Tea!

Overall a thoroughly enjoyable evening and day. Stay tuned to see our interview with the SF Ball Team for more insights into this fab event.

Highlights: Seeing Gates and Patti together and thanking them for being role models.

+ Seeing fans do extraordinary things to raise money for The Teenage Cancer Charity such as shaving their heads and Neil Carpenter who is committing to run 1701 miles this year! 

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SF Ball – Saturday Night Offer – We booked!

We are super stoked about this. The SF Ball have released a new offer to purchase tickets to the Saturday night banquet and cabaret for just £50. This is a bargain when you look at what it includes:

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  • Gala dinner on Saturday 4th February at the Grand Harbour Hotel in the presence of stars from Star TrekGame Of ThronesDoctor WhoRed Dwarf and many more;
  • Professional Cabaret provided by Chris Barrie, best known as Arnold Rimmer in Red Dwarf and Gordon Brittas in The Brittas Empire;
  • Money Can’t Buy raffle for the chance to win one of the amazing items not available anywhere else;
  • Fancy Dress competition, with prizes for the best costumes;
  • … then dance the night away to round off a very full evening.

 

As we have stated before we have difficulty getting to the whole weekend and we’re always most gutted about missing out on the Saturday night party. But this allows us to join in. Plus we’ll be there all day Sunday too.

If you haven’t booked yet, you can do so here

We’re local to the area so if you need any advice about the location – give us a shout!

SF Ball 3-5 Feb Southampton with Gates McFadden, Patti Yasutake and Larry Nemecek

It’s approaching February which means time for the fabulous SF Ball! Despite being right in our backyard – The Grand Harbour Hotel, Southampton 3-5th February –  it’s always the hardest for us to attend!

But this year will be there on the Sunday (Carole and Sarah for sure. Sam, if she hasn’t left on her away mission!)

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And with a Trektastic lineup it’s not one we want to miss.

We were sold when they announced Gates McFadden (Dr Beverley Crusher) but then they announced her number one Patti Yasutake (Nurse Alyssa Ogawa).

Then for added Trek-goodness our friend Larry Nemecek (Trek Continues, Trekland, Portal 47, Trek know-it-all) is also in attendance. He is a must see for for enthusiasts who enjoy hearing all about behind-the-scenes stories.

If you’re a fan of the new Star Trek films you’ll want to meet Dave Freeman who is the Concept artist for the movies.

Best bit? The SF ball is a Not-For-Profit organisation run by unpaid volunteers who donate money raised to the Teenage Charity Trust.

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Continue reading SF Ball 3-5 Feb Southampton with Gates McFadden, Patti Yasutake and Larry Nemecek

Why Star Trek and it’s Fans will be different in 2017. And how we will adapt.

There’s an internet meme doing the circuits that beautifully demonstrates the impact that 2016 has had on the many of us. 2016 has been one for the history books in both regards to current affairs and Star Trek.

2016

Let us focus on Trek. The TL;DR is a mixed bag, mostly epic. The year began with the best announcement ever. A new Star Trek series announced, Star Trek Beyond was released, the tragic passing of Anton Yelchin and a global celebration of Star Trek’s 50th anniversary.

For us, our love of Star Trek has taken us to Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Birmingham, met more friends, old and new and sparked that feeling of ‘newness’ regarding Star Trek that is reminiscent of the 1990’s.

But Star Trek is all about looking forward.

Here’s what we think will make Star Trek and it’s fandom feel different from it’s previous incarnations;

Social Media

Star Trek Enterprise ended before Facebook and Twitter went mainstream. Sci-fi fans are all about live streaming, interacting with fans and filling the void between episodes. In recent years the SM team at Star Trek have upp’ed their game, nonetheless we look forward to banter and memes galore!

The crew and cast have an important role to play in this too. For other incarnations we have relied on books and post-production interviews to learn about the goings-on, the gossip and internal insights. Eager fans hang on to every tweet Rick Burman posts to get a further glimpse of what life was like on the set of TNG.

We’ll have this live. Already a twitter storm has blown up with the changes effecting Bryan Fuller’s stewardship. Whilst well managed internally, it’s the friends-in-the-know, associated to the inner circle who often provide the really juicy stuff. A bit like how William Shatner always announces himself as headlining a convention before the official announcement. He doesn’t have to tow the corporate line so much!

Events

Star Trek has a good grip on its merchandising and licensing but looking back over the past few years an area they have locked their targets on is Conventions/Events. This was once the realm of the fans and it was geek privilege to organise them. I can’t find the source but some time ago I read a news article that young actors today are hoping to get a genre role just to get in on the convention circuit. Many actors can make more money in one weekend than they can filming for a week. And large scale convention organisers don’t have it bad either.

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Rightly so Star Trek have been charging organisers a license fee to host these events to protect the brand (and the latinum!) It has made sense to contract out the organisation of events to companies with the expertise to do so, but given how immensely popular comic con style events are becoming, we wonder whether networks will begin to look to run these ‘in house’ and cut out the middle man? They already have the PR machine, the studios and most importantly, access to the talent.

Fans finding their niche

There are record high numbers of Star Trek fan blogs and podcasts and this is surely set to boom once Discovery hits our screens. Not everyone is going to listen to 30 different episode reviews each week.

It won’t be long until each outlet finds it’s speciality, whether it be twitter presence, interviews, book reviews, insights, rumour etc.

Which bring us on to the Trekkie Girls!…!!

We have an interesting year ahead and there will be some changes. I (Sam) and my family have decided to go travelling for a year! My husband had enough of corporate life so quit his job and we are taking our 2 year old Jean-Luc on an epic away mission! (We aren’t like 7 of 9’s parents – honest!)

I’ll still be blogging from wherever we are and I’ll be video linking with Carole and Sarah for our vBlogs.

I’ve even got some ‘must go’ locations for Trekkies on my list! So we believe it’s an improved service from us from a more international arena!

Happy New Year!

tlhIngan maH!

Star Trek Discovery’s latest casting – three Klingons – gives us the impression that there is a helluva story arc in development.DSC_Klingon.jpg

We welcome all the new additions to our Trekkie collective! The new cast must all be looking at there twitter notifications and it looks like this….

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In addition to Doug Jones, Anthony Rapp and Michelle Yeoh who were announced recently, yesterday Chris Obi, Shazad Latif and Mary Chieffo were also added to the lineup. For character info and bio’s see the Startrek.com article.

The bit that intrigues us is the Klingon wording on the image.

We took straight to deciphering it but it’s been more tricky than anticipated. Some bits are straight forward however the font looks new so there’s an element of interpretation.

Over the five hours we spent picking it apart (and searching the house/garage/loft for the Klingon dictionary) we have changed our minds on it a bit.

 

The first word is giving us the most difficulty. Is the first letter in the first word ‘r’ or ‘gh’ ? At first we thought it was ‘r’

This makes the word either ghetwI’ meaning pretender although this could mean ‘role play’ – not necessarily meaning deception.
Or it could be retwI’ which from a bing translate shows as ‘time period ago’. But we can’t find anything more official to back that up. What do you think?

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Thank you to @boleon74 for sending us this alphabet in different fonts for reference!

The second word appears to be luwIvlu’ta’

This is where I confess that I have attempted to learn Klingon many times!! (unsuccessfully, obviously). But words this long with apostrophes need to be broken down. I learnt that from trying to translate a Klingon drinking song!

lu is a pre-verb (is that the right term!?) so refers to who is doing the action, he/she/they

wIvlu’ is the verb in the middle of the word, this means to choose.

ta’ means done

Therefore I believe luwIvlu’ta’ can be translated as ‘they have chosen’ 

The next word qul is easier to translate as there are less symbols and it a well used word in the Klingon language ‘fire‘.

The last word we thought we had translated as ‘play’ but when we looked at other letters we think we got h and y mixed up. We think this says yIchu’ which can translate as engage. That’s a much more fitting word for the Trek universe!

Now it may be that this phrase was translated a day ago and is well reported already but we have been purposely ignoring because  we’re having lots of fun trying to work it out for ourselves!

That said, we work better as a collective so we’d love to hear your feedback. Are our translators working correctly? What do you think they are trying to tell us?

Our hunch is that it’s something like ‘some time ago, they chose to fire. Engage’ or ‘they chose to engage in fire’ or maybe even ‘the pretender chose to engage in fire.’? Depending on how we feel about that first letter?

It isn’t exactly leading us on a wild chase to Qo’noS and back but it could be a tag line to the show or a hint about the Klingons involvement. Either way, we want to know!!

PS. If you don’t follow Star Trek Discovery on Instagram, you should! They have been releasing announcements before their twitter and Facebook accounts. Not by much, but hey, we’ll take it! @startrekcbs