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Yeah, but not too personal
Last Thursday I got back from the Star Trek Cruise, which was a lot of fun. There are panels with actors, science talks, episode viewings (some with commentary by the actors), a few shows/productions done by the actors that aren’t Trek related, trivia contests, themed karaoke nights, and various game shows with the actors.
The latter was my favorite, I think. There were two showings of Jeopardy! (the Stardust Theater on board can only seat about half the passengers, so they’re split into two groups), with contestants Wil Wheaton and Jason Isaacs doing both shows, and Jonathan Frakes and Robert Picardo doing one each. The questions weren’t Trek related, but had some themes running through them (for example, the “Potent Potables” category the show usually had was replaced with “Quark’s Bar”). Wil, I am happy to note, won both shows.
But it was the comments and asides that were so much fun. The actors obviously like each other, and the gentle fun-poking and needling were very funny. It’s really very nice, as a fan, to see them interacting and playing with each other. Many meals were shared, and it was fun to watch the TNG folks talking about their recent work, politics, and just life. The behind-the-scenes comments during the panels were really engaging and interesting, too.
[You never know who you’ll run into when Star Trek is involved. Qapla’!]
Speaking of which, I want to give special notice to Mary Chieffo, who plays the Klingon L’Rell in Discovery. Why? Because she’s terrific. She wasn’t a Trek fan to start with — it’s not that she didn’t like it, just that she didn’t watch. When she got the role she flung herself into it, watching all the shows’ Klingon episodes, learning the lore, and basically just grooving on it. Now, she’s all in. I mean it. She knows how it all works, and several fans gave her gifts — two friends of mine on the cruise (Hi Mo and Mo!) 3D printed a communicator Delta badge with a Bat’leth under it, and gave it to her. She was overwhelmed, and wore it many times during the cruise.
I also got to hang out a bit with Rekha Sharma, who played the short-lived security officer Ellen Landry on Discovery (and was on Battlestar as well), and she is also warm and fun. I was also delighted to meet Erin Gray — Wilma Deering on Buck Rogers! — and found her to be super nice and everything you hope actors are really like but sometimes don’t find. She’s an agent now, representing a few folks I know, so it was cool to be able to spend some time with her.
So yeah, duh, I’m a fan, and being able to meet the actors is cool, but it’s the other fans on board that make the cruise. Everyone is so nice, so open, so friendly, so supportive — it’s like being in another world where so many of our differences fade to unimportance, and what bonds us comes to the forefront. I’m pretty low level when it comes to the guests on board, but everywhere I went I had people talking to me about science, asking questions, genuinely and openly curious and wanting to know more. I saw the same thing with the other science guest (astrophysicist Erin Macdonald), too. I love seeing more science at scifi events! I think the fans do, too.
[A fan made Trek-themed cruise poker chips! Amazing.]
The next cruise is in March 2020, and will be a Voyager reunion, which should be a ton of fun. They’re still booking celebs, and it’ll be a while before the science and music guests are booked. I’d be thrilled to do it again. It reminds me that many, even most people are basically good, that diversity is strength, and that stories are more than just fun distractions — they bind us together, give us hope and inspiration, and sharing them makes us more human.
Follow o’ the Letter
Someone you should follow on social media
Speaking of which…
If you’re a Star Trek fan then you may know the name Chase Masterson. She played the “Dabo girl” Leeta on Deep Space Nine, a role that started out as a minor one, but was expanded in large part due to Chase herself.
I met Chase at a WorldCon in LA many years ago, and at first was charmed just to be able to talk to an actor from Trek, but very quickly realized that she was quite simply a terrific person. Warm, big-hearted, quick-witted, and really a lovely human being.
[Chase Masterson and me at the Star Trek Las Vegas convention in 2017. She’s holding a balloon phaser with an LED in it — yes, seriously — that someone was giving out at the con. Credit: Phil Plait]
She also puts her time and energy into righting a lot of social wrongs. She is the founder of Pop Culture Hero, a group dedicated to stop bullying and social injustices. She’s a mentor at Homeboy Industries, helping gang members (!) break free of that life and get back on their feet.
One of her projects right now is creating comic books for hospitalized kids to help support mental health. It looks great, and there’s a Kickstarter to fund it. They’ve already made their goal, but could always use more money to distribute them more widely. This is really important, so please kick in what you can.
[The cover art for the comic book.]
Chase is also a singer, does voice work (she plays Vienna Salvatori in an audio Doctor Who spinoff series), and is just an all-around great person. It makes me happy just knowing she exists, and your life will be better if you follow her on social media like Twitter, her website, and her fan group on Facebook, too.
What I’ve recently written on the blog, ICYMI
Monday Jan. 7, 2019: Why do some impact craters have rays?
Tuesday Jan. 8, 2019: Overlapping galaxies
Wednesday Jan. 9, 2019: Astronomers pew-pew their way to super-sharp images
Thursday Jan. 10, 2019: The feathery, dusty, and spectacular tail of Comet McNaught
Friday Jan. 11, 2019: Pale, dusty dots
You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org (though replies can take a while), and all my social media outlets are gathered together at about.me. Also, if you don’t already, please subscribe to this newsletter! And feel free to tell a friend or nine, too. Thanks!