Category Archives: Events

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

#DSTE Day 3

 

Late night early morning. That’s how we roll at DST. We are still a bit green in places from yesterday’s Orion look but we head straight to the Excelsior stage where we are hosting our second Cosplay panel with the wonderful Misty Chance (drag queen and Star Trek cosplayer) and Liam Dillon, Star Trek fan and Facebook costume group.

Cosplay Panel

In this panel we highlight the connection between cosplay (grown up talk for fancy dress) and Star Trek. What we discovered is that there is a close link between the two. Cosplay originated at Star Trek conventions (contrary to popular belief that it stemmed from manga/anime and Japanese culture).

We asked each panellist and the audience why they choose to dress up as Star Trek characters and we found and wide array of answers. For Liam, it is a challenge to recreate the styles, to source the material and obtain the details. Misty was blatantly honest and said it was for the attention! Misty has had access to the actors and fans in a unique way because she is more approachable in character than in his normal clothes dressed as Christian.

Sarah and Carole had similar reasons. They joked it’s because Sam makes them! But as we explored it further, they enjoy participating. Like many of us we see others dressed up, we wish we were brave enough because it looks like fun. And eventually we take the plunge.

For myself (Sam) and also our new honorary Trekkie Girl, the adorable Beth the reason was that we enjoy the play element of it. For a moment in our lives we can allow ourselves to get swept up in our imaginations and we are captain of the Enterprise (instead of hoovering or searching for quotes on car insurance!).


We’d like to thank Liam, Misty, Beth and everyone else who was involved at this fun panel.

Also check out Misty’s blog for more details on the construction of the Martia costume.

Continue reading #DSTE Day 3

#DSTE Day 2 pt2 –  Party!

**We are live blogging, please excuse any lapses in spelling, grammar and accuracy**

Last night was the second of the Destination Star Trek Europe parties. This one was themed ‘Quarks bar and casino as was the venue for the official celebration of Star Trek’s 50th anniversary.

The party was held at the Hilton Metropole which was a superb venue and conveniently close to the NEC. You have the added advantage of being able to access the main bar.

The Star Trek Rat Pack performed who were brilliant and hilarious. They had edited their routine for the British audience. For example at Star Trek Las Vegas they sang “you can’t get a good drink at Rio” to “you can only get a good drink in England”

Apparently Chase played before but we were in the queue at the bar (longer than Shatners autograph line!) but we hear she was incredible.

After the performance Walter Koenig cut the specially commissioned birthday cake which featured Kirk, a Gorn, enterprise, Klingon battle cruiser.