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I'd Rather Be Trekking

Long Summer Nights With Dad

Dude, in the 80s, my favorite part of school was summer. Yes, three months of being a kid, playing endlessly and dreading September. The end of summer brought school back into my life. Yes, it was a chance to catch up with old friends and hear about the fantastic trips they took on the break. But my family never really had much money and I ended up hanging out with my grandparents.

2-49ers-1984-super-bowl-xix-champions-coke-bottles-from-7-11-americanlisted_316096931984 was one of the few exceptions. We had the money to go on a trip. And trip we did. We drove up and down California and had ourselves a good time. We went to Sacramento, where we went to a train museum. I can recall San Francisco and getting a bottle of 49ers Coke from a 7-11. This was a collector’s bottle and I kept it until 2008, when I gave it to my future wife, a true dyed-in-the-wool Niner’s fan. This family outing also brought us to Yosemite, where we camped and I got a stone keychain to commemorate the event.

No matter if we went somewhere or not, I always loved Summer.

Summer has its own vibe and scent.

It is a time to be a kid. Or to remember what it was like to be a kid as one grows older.

It is a time of play and limitless energy and thinking about the future.

Most importantly, it is a time to stay up late and see what life is truly like for adults.

I think my usual bedtime was around 8:30 or 9 pm. But in the summer, oh dude, I went to bed at Midnight or later.

My Mom disappeared around ten, sometime after my Dad would get home.

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The paper my dad worked for

My Dad worked for a newspaper and ran what was called a Boy Crew. These were the teenagers who went door to door, gave out that day’s Evening Outlook, and tried to get the homeowners to subscribe to the paper. My Dad was pretty motivational and he was successful at what he did. He recruited kids out of the Culver City projects, mostly Mexicans, Blacks and Egyptians. He had kids with names like Henock, Tamer, Mika and (this was my favorite) Nimrod. Seriously, Nimrod. He also employed one go-getter named David Yashir. David was ambitious and wanted to be the top sales guy. His parents had come to the States in the 70’s or 80s, having to fight to get out of Iran.

The kids from the Projects worked to try and support their family. And, for themselves, to get a pair of top sneakers from Nike or BK.

My Dad would leave for work around three, pick up the kids and they’d canvas various neighborhoods. It was some sort of rotating schedule for areas. My Dad would then drop them back in the Projects after sundown and get his white ass back home. The kids called my Dad: Dan the Van Drivin’ Man. If I have to explain this, someone isn’t paying attention. His name is Dan and, yes, he drove a van.

When my Dad got home to the apartment on Centinela Avenue, it would be ten or later. He’d come home, eat dinner and turn on the TV to unwind.

enterprise-finger-tattoosFor years and years, the 11 pm slot on KCOP-13 was STAR TREK. My Dad, being born in 1950, was at the right age to be in the first generation to discover TREK in 1966. He wasn’t one of those crazy fans, like me. He was what was called a “casual watcher”. You know, a person who could watch the show now and then and not get caught up in living the TREK LIFE. Wouldn’t that make a great tattoo across my shoulders: TREK LIFE. I’d get it in Prison Cursive.

So, there we were, father and son, bonding over STAR TREK.

TV 01He’d sit on the couch, slumped over the arm rest. He’d usually be in a white undershirt and his boxers. I’d be in my PJs, whatever those were, and on the couch, I’d lay on my stomach and stare up at the 13 inch TV that rested atop my Mom’s vintage Singer sewing machine. Yes, it had antennaes and manual dials and no remote control. It didn’t matter, the signal came in clear and it was a joy to watch.

At times, my Dad would comment on something in the episode, usually at something unbelievable. Or he’d laugh at something funny. I probably took my cues from him.

There would be times, a lot of times, when I’d look his way and see him sleeping.

I’d shake him and say, “Wake up.”

“I wasn’t sleeping.” He’d say. “Just resting my eyes.”

If I woke him too often, he’d get up and stand in front of the room heater… and fall asleep standing up. He’d sway forward and backward, but never fall. He’d stand with his hands behind his back, like he was at ease in the Army. His head would bob, and then he’s startle back awake… just to start dozing again.

When TREK would finish, I’d wake him and say I was going to bed.

He’d usually sit back on the couch. From my bed, I could see him fall asleep all over again.

He was my buddy through “The City on the Edge of Forever” and “The Trouble with Tribbles”. Once I owned some of the TREK movies, like 2 & 4, he’d come and watch for a few. He only saw THE VOYAGE HOME with me and my Mom in the theatres. And, as years went by, I can only recall seeing two other movies with him in the theatres: “Basic Instinct” in 1992 and “The Simpsons Movie” in 2007.

basic-instinctNow, “Basic Instinct” was not a family movie, and we didn’t know that. There’s nothing like Sharon Stone’s interrogation scene with your parents tight next to you when you’re 15… and it’d Easter Sunday. He is Risen! And, at my biologically insecure age, He wasn’t the only thing risen that Easter. When the movie ended, we all quietly decided never t speak of this moment again. Ever.

When we saw “The Simpsons” in 2007, it was when I was living with him. My wife Allison had asked me to leave so she could find herself. Six weeks later, she asked me out to dinner. I thought we were dating to rekindle the marriage. I had a sandwich and, for dessert, she served me a big helping of divorce.

I had to live with my Dad for over a year during the most painful time of my life. He alternated from being supportive to giving unsolicited advice. I was a raw nerve and miserable most of the time. I started to exercise for the first time, developing a love of running, and losing 60 pounds to become healthy.

It would be an understatement to say that things did not end well. This is a blog about STAR TREK, so I will not get into the specifics of what happened. I was kicked out of his house, and very hurt at the way it was handled. The last time I spoke to my Dad, in 2008, he yelled at me over the phone, made threats and told me I had to go. I went.

I am conflicted about re-starting our relationship. I have reached out, so has he. He wants a phone call. I still remember our last time on the phone and it’s hard for me to want to make this happen.

He is a part of my life, especially my childhood.

No matter how things went for us in the last decade, I still have my memories to hold on to. I have some good times. Not a great deal, but just enough to know that the time we spent together was important to both of us.

I will always smile when I think of those long summer nights watching STAR TREK with Dad. It taught me to spend time with my own kids, even if it’s watching shows I don’t want to see. And my kids humor me when it comes to STAR TREK. They’ll watch from time to time, but they don’t like it. They are more like casual watchers. Maybe these things skip a generation.

NEXT TIME: Capturing a dream.

Trekkie vs Trekker

Dude, I don’t think it matters much anymore. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that anything goes when it comes to this. You know why? Because some of us took it back.

Okay, so what am I on about this week?

The age old debate, the thing that’s been on all of our minds since Time began (in 1966). If you are a fan of STAR TREK, is it proper to call you Trekkie or Trekker?

I know people who are offended no matter what you say. Those people are called STAR WARS fans.

I know what most of you are thinking: Chris, this issue is too big for you. Let the cast of THE BIG BANG THEORY take it on, they’re professionals.

I have been a pro Trek fan since 1982. I can handle this.

To really understand this controversy, let’s take a look back.

The year was 1966. LBJ was president. A dozen eggs cost 60 cents. “The Wild Angels” was the biggest movie of the year. And STAR TREK was on the air and in its first season. The fans started to watch. And then they gathered. And they started to write fan fiction. They called themselves Trekkies, this first generation.

In fact, through the Seventies, fans and those outsiders referring to the fans decided on Trekkie. It was perfectly acceptable. The Great Bird of the Galaxy, Mr. Gene Roddenberry, lovingly referred to the fans of his show as Trekkies.

So far, so good. No controversy.

Then the Eighties hit. I was part of this group. I can remember revealing my Trekism and having someone ask, “Oh, you’re a Trekkie.” It was a label, and not said with love. It was a accusation. It was a label applied by those who didn’t understand STAR TREK, didn’t want to understand it and, sought to belittle the fans.

Trekkie started to mean those “weird people” who dressed up and went to the conventions.

stlv-2014-survival-guideTrekkie became synonymous with grown men and women who still lived with their parents.

 

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This did not help Trekdom

Trekkie was the crowd before William Shatner on SNL when he urged them to, “Get a life.”

 

Trekkie became a bad thing to people like me. The fans who never knew that we called ourselves Trekkie and were proud of it. Being labeled made me automatically want to rebel, and claim the title of Trekker.

So, in the late Eighties and early Nineties, I was only known as a Trekker.

Trekkies? Those people were weird. I wasn’t one of them.

The rest of the 1990s were like this for a majority of the fans. Maybe not those who were lucky enough to be on the bottom deck when the show aired. They were still proud to call themselves Trekkie. I was ashamed to.

By the end of the 1990s, a strange thing started to happen.

Groups of people labeled in a specific way — chief among them, the gays and Blacks — started to claim derogatory labels. They would call themselves by a name others mean for belittlement. They embraced this retro thinking, and used the words to take the sting out of the insult.

It was almost a challenge. “If we take your title, what’ya gonna call us?”

The older I got, the more I read about the earlier part of the STAR TREK Movement. I realized that the original generation called themselves by a name that evolved to become derogatory by the time the next generation arose (pun intended?).

I got kind of excited. When I started to use Twitter and other social media, I started to (almost ironically) identify myself as a Trekkie. I realized that when I gave myself that label, I was going back to the roots where it came from. While, chronologically, I wasn’t a first generation Trekkie, I could still call myself that. I even got a Trekkie shirt for Christmas from my non-STAR TREK loving wife. I took it and wore it affectionately. FULL DISCLOSURE: I am wearing a ROGUE ONE shirt as I write this. FULLER DISCLOSURE: I am wearing my Trekkie shirt as I edit this.

So when it comes to Trekkie vs Trekker, it all depends on your point of view.

Are you looking at the name as someone looking down on you? Are you going back to the beginning? Are you claiming your own identity and saying, “To hell with everyone else”.

As always, I’d like to hear for the readers on this. Drop me an email.

 

NEXT TIME: How my Dad got me in to STAR TREK.

Star Trek Beyond

Dude, for the past twelve weeks, my life has been defined by the STAR TREK films. They are like anchor points in my life. Some even share a theme with events in my life. Like how the 2009 STAR TREK was a reboot, and Julie, my wife, has been like a reboot to me.

Unfortunately, BEYOND is something of a metaphor for things in my life at the moment. I am not gripping or trying to make people feel sorry for me. On the contrary, I am trying to be an impartial observer in my own life. Along the way, I am trying desperately to figure myself out. I have enjoyed sharing memories. In a way, I have relived those moments, from the 80’s to today (great, now I sound like a radio station).

But the purpose of this wasn’t to just revel in STAR TREK. It was to find myself.

I turned 40 last year, when TREK turned 50. TREK might always be older, but it will definitely outlive me. I cannot say that I am going through a mid-life crisis.

Oh, no, that would be too predictable.

No, I deal with something else entirely.

I say that BEYOND is a bit of a metaphor for my life. I feel that I am beyond depressed, beyond unhappy, beyond hope.

I have severe moments of thinking the world at large, and my family specifically, would be better off without me. There are lots of ways that I think I could it. But I keep coming back to one image in my head: Driving my work truck off a cliff. Or into something solid on the side of the road. No matter the scenario, I only see myself doping such a thing in my work truck. Maybe it’s my way of blaming the company for these feelings of hopelessness I feel.  Maybe I just want to take their property with me. I’m not sure what any of this means.maxresdefault

I did not see BEYOND in theatres last year. I was too busy working.

Back in 2015, I became an exterminator. Now I am stuck in that profession, far from passionate about what I do. I drove past the PA turnpike office on the way home from Washington. I have passed this structure hundreds of times since I joined the pest experts. I thought, This building will never age like a person. It will also outlive me, I am sure. I will continue to drive past it, over and over, and I will get older. And then, one day, I will stop driving and it will still be there.

So, in 2016 when BEYOND was getting criticized left and right, I was busting my ass trying to take care of my family. The Summer is a brutal time for pest technicians. You are busy with your regulars and all the extra services that come up. You get home just in time to go to bed. There are weeks when you work six days, instead of the regular five. You run so fast you cannot catch your breath. You do all you can to stay on schedule, even if it means feeling stomach acid threaten to overtake your throat.

So, BEYOND came and went. I had to catch it on DVD later in the year.

Even that was a feat. I started it, watched 30 minutes and had to put the kids to bed and the get ready for the next day. A few days later, fearing I didn’t remember what I had seen, I watched it over. I got an hour into it and used an hour the next day to finish it. As I write this, I am watching BEYOND for the third time.

As the movie starts, Kirk complains about days blending together. If this angle had been played up more, it might have developed into a plot about depression.

Yes, I have days where I think I want to take my company truck over a cliff. Or crash into oncoming traffic (completely unfair to the other life you selfishly impact). There are days when I don’t want to get out of bed. I think about calling in sick almost daily. I dread the ringtone of my company phone.

Now, here’s a little twist.

I honestly love the people I work with. My manager Mark is the best and ranks up there with the people I have worked well with. The company is a great place to work. But I hate the job. I have problems in other areas.

Lately, I have felt that time is getting shorter. I have been fighting some internal problems that my doctor has yet to identify. When I wake up, I am up for the day. I rarely sleep peacefully, or for the duration of the night.

Because I felt that the end of the story may be coming, I got this idea. I thought, Why not leave a record of who I was? The result: You are reading it. I figured my kids will have access to it as well, so they will always have pieces of their father to sift through.

They will know what I nerd I was. They will know what a joy they have been in my life. They might not like STAR TREK, but they will know what made their father tick.

This does not mean I am ready to die, sock it in or call it quits. Do not misunderstand. I have no courage to end my own life. God will take me when it’s my time.

Perhaps I can take another lesson from BEYOND.

This was a flick from the director of “Fast and Furious”. As soon as it went into production, the critics were all over it, canvassing it with negative reviews. It was panned in the press before Frame One was shot. Unfortunately, once the movie was done, Paramount didn’t exactly release the greatest trailers.

After the death of Leonard Nimoy and Anton Yelchin, I wanted to see it out of respect for them. And, I’m a huge Simon Pegg fan. If he had only made “Shaun of the Dead”, I’d have been a fan forever. But add to his success “Spaced”, “Hot Fuzz” and STAR TREK, he has definitely cemented his place in my heart.

I heard all the bad press. I stayed away from the theatres. My friend Matt even texted weeks after the movie’s release to ask if I had seen it. I said I hadn’t. He said he hadn’t. I still don’t know if he saw it or not. I should text him.

So, BEYOND came and went. My life and morale felt like it was on an ever-downward spiral. Nothing worked to break me out of this funk.

And then I saw BEYOND.

No, it didn’t defeat my depression.

But I watched it and wondered, Why was this so panned?

What I learned was: Things aren’t as bad as they seem.

BEYOND is a great addition to the TREK Universe. I feel it’s a superior movie than INTO DARKNESS. It felt like a great TREK episode. Not that this movie was great. But there’s a quality about it that captures the original series. Finally, Spock and McCoy get to spar off while marooned together. Spock curses! The Kirk and Chekov plot is terrific and has those two characters together more than the Original series. The destruction of the Enterprise isn’t as tragic as in THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK.

There are moments in the movie that feel false. At least they didn’t take whole sections of THE WRATH OF KHAN, switch characters, and repeat what had come before.

Kirk’s motorcycle scene is executed well and brings new life to this genre. This isn’t just an action movie, but those moments are welcome.

I especially love the acknowledgement of Nimoy’s passing and the sentimentality of Spock Prime’s personal items. I stood up when I saw the picture of the original Enterprise crew.

This was not a perfect TREK outing, but I do have high hopes for the next one. I heard a rumor that JJ Abrams and his company signed Chris Hemsworth to reprise his role as George Kirk, Jim’s dad, killed in STAR TREK (2009). If they can develop a kick ass time travel story that’s also a father-son story, I will be delighted.

Who knows when that will be released. The production of these things seem to be erratic.

But whenever it comes out, I will be there.

For all I am going through, the one thing I try not to lose is hope.

UPDATE – I did text Matt about BEYOND.Matt Beyond Text

NEXT TIME: Time to take a stand. Trekkie or Trekker?

Star Trek Into Darkness

Dude, 2013 was not the best year of my life. It was the year my wife and I were between children. I was stuck in a job that I didn’t like, but allowed me plenty of time to read. As it turned out, my wife and I were deep in debt. So much so that the only way out was to declare bankruptcy. Oh yeah, and STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS was coming out.

2014-11-16-uktvsherlockbenedictcumberbatch5_1Now, I like Benedict Cumberbatch. First off, his name is just plain fun to say. I discovered him when I saw “Sherlock”. I’ve been a fan of Martin Freeman since “The Office” and, of course, “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” (better than people want to give it credit for). I tuned it to see Freeman, but was very curious about the guy playing Holmes.

Then Cumberbatch started showing up in movies. For me, TREK XII: THE WRATHIEST KHAN EVER.

Oddly enough, I didn’t care who Cumberbatch was playing. I wanted to see more of this new cast. Pine, Quinto, Urban and the rest. The first reboot pic was done so well, I sincerely wanted more. Even if this had not been a TREK film, I would have been a fan of this Universe.

Now, at this time, I was the father to two children. Jaxsen was born in 2009, his brother Greysen in 2012. Greysen came on the heels of a miscarriage and this pregnancy was especially difficult on my wife, Julie. She will tell you that, two days before we went in for the C-section, the power in our neighborhood went out during the heat of the summer. She was miserable until the air conditioner came back on.

With having two mouths to feed, money became very tight and then almost non-existent. I worked two jobs and put in around 55 hours a week at the two. As a merchandiser for Kraft and P&G products, I made visits to grocery stores. When the manager didn’t want to see me, I’d tidy up the shelves of product, work back stock, and then go read in my car until my time was up. Not the hardest job, not the best paying either.

And then, on the weekends, I was a merchandiser for Pepsi. I slung the product to the shelves. This paid very well, but I was frustrated that I couldn’t do it full-time. Pepsi is union and it’s difficult to advance. I tried several times for a full time position, but never succeeded.

bankruptcy-005So, money became scarce with the mouths to feed and car payments to make. We declared bankruptcy.

The morning we had to sign the final papers, my wife had her friend Deb watch our two kids. I was grateful that we didn’t have them running around our feet while we talked with our lawyer.

When we finished, my wife surprised me with an AMC gift card and told me her plan: Deb agreed to watch the kids all day, freeing us to go see ST INTO DARKNESS.

This was the first movie since “Shrek Forever After” that I had been able to see in theatres. We did it up right — drink and popcorn, Julie even smuggled in M&M’s for me and Hot Tamales for herself.

We got our tickets and took our seats. It was the middle of the week, so there were not too many people in the theatres. And then an announcement was made: The projectionist had accidentally loaded the 3-D version. We could stay without having to pay for 3-D.

Julie said, “I’ll try.”

She doesn’t do well with 3-D, it gives her a headache.

But she agreed to try for me. I knew if she couldn’t handle it, we could leave and ask for our money back. I felt the pangs of disappointment start in, but it was for no reason. We managed to stay for the whole movie.

This was my first 3-D movie, I was glad it was a TREK movie.

I liked the movie for what it was, and kept trying not to compare it to “Space Seed” or TWOK. Then again, I had had many years with TWOK, could quote all the lines, and was very personal to me.

For two hours, this was a great diversion from my own life. From the jobs I rarely got a break from. A break from my own frustrations and shortcomings.

See, I hadn’t been writing on a regular basis. I’d start a story and then not see it through. I kept reading.

starlog1insetI was doing research for a project that I also didn’t complete. It required me to read every issue of STARLOG Magazine I could get my hands on. I got a hold of 224 and was committed to reading them all. I wanted to be known for science fiction, but not STAR TREK. I needed to rediscover what SF was, beyond TREK and STAR WARS.

The project I was working on was rendered useless. However, I came away with a solid education into SF. I had known Issac Asimov and AC Clarke. But now I had discovered Tiptree, Clements and Ellison, among others. I read interviews with writers who would turn out to be one-hit wonders, but were super-hyped at the time. I learned so much about TREK, it was almost criminal.

220px-themanwhofoldedhimself281sted29Among the articles in the informative pages of STARLOG, I found a regular column that David Gerrold wrote. Gerrold is the writer of “The Trouble With Tribbles”, as well as the writer of my one of all time fav books, “The Man Who Folded Himself”. I found his writing about writing to be inspiring and took a lot of it to heart.

Not all of it? You ask.

No, I say.

As writers, we are all different. What works for you might not work for me. So, I took what I liked and needed. I’m sure the rest of it is still on a shelf in the back of my brain. One day, I guess it’ll be let out.

I also have to give a huge shout out to Julie, my wife. She engineered me going to see STID in theatres. She took care of everything, out of love. This was the only movie that year I got to see in theatres. Compared to the fact that I used to see a movie a week (thank God for dollar theatres), seeing one every few years was like torture. It was very much worth waiting for. It was super sweet of Julie to be so considerate towards me.

Three months later, we moved out of our home of five years to get away from our landlord.

A few days after that, my 1.5 year old toddled over with a note that read, “Mommy says I’m going to be a big brother.”

It was September 11, 2013, I was going to be a father for a third time.

As much as I love TREK, finding out I was going to be a dad one more time was even better.

 

NEXT TIME: We will find hope in the impossible.

The Reboot of All Reboots

Dude, in 2009 THE star trek Universe went through a major reboot. The writers found a way to respect what had come before while moving forward with new adventures for Kirk, Spock and McCoy. It was respectful, touching and signaled a new era in TREK. We met people who were new, yet familiar.

Likewise, I paralleled what was happening in STAR TREK.

My life had been rebooted in 2007.

Just after Christmas 2006, my wife Allison was very distant. I tried to reach her emotionally, but nothing worked. I gave her space to work through her issues. I even g that I could move out so she’d have time to focus on herself. So, I moved out.

Six weeks later, she emailed me and suggested e go to dinner.

I was thinking this was reconciliation. I thought I was dating my wife. Turns out I was dating her… for the last time. Before we could get to dessert, while we were in a crowded restaurant, she told me divorce was the only path possible.

I asked why.

“I can’t explain it. It’s very personal.” She said.

You know, the life we created together was personal to me as well. If she was moving on, I figured I was at least entitled to a Post-It note worth of information. That never came, but she did leave clues that told me what was going on.

So, my mid-2007, I was divorced. We left a few things dangling, like what we’d do to the condo, but we were no longer together.

I lived with my Dad during these times. Oddly enough, he was divorcing my Mom and I felt a lot of resentment towards him. He tried to console me through what I was experiencing, but he had no idea what it felt like to be left behind and cut loose.

So, imagine this. I moved back into the condo as a way to escape my Dad.

And then on October 6, 2007, I was running errands when I was in a car accident bad enough that it could have taken my life. How bad? The driver who hit me didn’t get out of his car because he assumed I was dead, that’s how bad.

When the fire department showed up, they declared me the luckiest guy of the week. I knew I was blessed. The fire fighters then set to cutting me out of my Saturn and prepping me to be airlifted to the hospital.

Yes, it was bad.

I was the one who called 911.

I also figured out what kind of shape I was in in the time it took the fire department to get to me. My right foot was jammed between the gas and the brake. I had a pain in my ribs and knee. My left hand had been cut when the driver side window shattered.

So, I took a helicopter ride to the hospital and then called my parents to come and get me. This was when my parents were starting to reconcile. Oh yeah, and it was my Mom’s birthday.

It would turn out that I needed to be off of work for three weeks and go to physical therapy. During this three-week span, I started to reconnect to STAR TREK. I had been trying to reconnect since 2005. But this time, I was different.

I hit on an idea for a TV show that I called “Star Trek: Call to Destiny”, about the early life of James Kirk and his ride through the Academy.

It was then that I started to research things and found that JJ Abrams would be covering Kirk’s early years in his TREK reboot, due in 2008. I scanned the imdb credits, they listed George and Winona Kirk. I got excited that this detail was correct.

I did not know, at this time, that the flick would take place in an alternate timeline.

I got more interested in researching the JJ Abrams TREK than my own. I also instant messaged my friend Matt.

Now, Matt had joined the Army Reserves a few years prior and he was in Iraq. IM-ing was the only way to communicate. He let me know he was there for me about the divorce and sorry to hear about the accident. Other than that, we talked TREK back and forth.

The wounds from the accident healed, I got into shape and I bought a Mustang. That was the car I drove when I met Julie in 2008. Six months after we met, we were married on a beach in Aptos, California.

I moved from Lancaster to Phoenix, Arizona. She had intentions of going to Pitt in Pittsburgh and I would go with her. Three months after I moved to Phoenix (And found a great hole in the wall Chinese take-out that I adored), we moved to Pittsburgh.

The Plan: We’d bpth get good jobs, she’d go to school and then start her career. We could start a family once we were established.

Sigh. You know how plans go.

Julie went to California when her sister gave birth. She took a look at her nephew and started talking kids with me. Long story short: My son Jaxsen and his cousin Brady are less than ten months apart in age. Yeah, we moved fast and I still believe that was a God intended.

My wife was a flight attendant with US Airways. I became a manager at Petco.

And two weeks after we found we were going to be parents, I found myself in an AMC Theatre at the Waterfront. Julie was next to me. This was the first movie we saw together in Pittsburgh.

Now, Julie is not a Trekker, Trekkie or TREK fan by any stretch of the imagination. She went to the theatre with me because I needed to satisfy my curiosity about what the hell JJ Abrams was up to.

Turns out he was up to something spectacular.

My fondest memory of seeing STAR TREK was that within ten minutes, Julie was bawling. She’s not a Trekker, not a crier, either. But there she was, like Spock’s death from TWOK was playing out.

It was the birth of Jim Kirk that got to her. She was pregnant, watching as a boy was being born that would never have his father. One thought led to another, which led to tears.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I am watching the movie I’m writing about. In case you’re interested, I’m up to Tyler Perry’s Tyler Perry.

At the end of the movie, Julie turned to me and said, “That was pretty good. I’d see another one like that with that cast.”

I am sure she came to regret saying that.

To me, that was an open invitation for us to go and see all the TREK movies as they came out. After all, this cast was the only cast there might ever be going forward, barring some CGI advances or a reboot of the reboot (which is always possible, look at “Spider Man”).

In the same way that JJ Abrams brought STAR TREK back to life, I feel like Julie did that for me. She rebooted my life. For me, she is the last such reboot – we are both committed to this.

By the end of 2009, I was the father to a healthy baby boy. And to the delight of any TREK fan, my son was born on Nichelle Nichol’s birthday.

For the first time in a decade, I was anticipating the next TREK film. I was excited that I had a family and a wife who didn’t mind seeing a TREK movie with me.

Ah, Heaven.

NEXT TIME: KHAAAAAAAN!!! AGAIIIIIIIN!!!

The NEMESIS of Isolation

Dude, in 2002, I totally missed seeing NEMESIS in theatres. Turns out I didn’t miss much. Now that that is out of the way, here is what the release of that movie did in my personal life.

First, here’s what happened in the millennium between INSURRECTION and NEMESIS.

Towards the end of 1999, I got married, went on a honeymoon and found myself stuck working at Target full time and hating the fact I was a cart attendant. This was before they had the motorized cart collector. I had a rope with a hook and some serious upper body strength. I came to Target just before Thanksgiving 1999 and stayed until October 2000. I was one of a handful of seasonal help to make the cut and keep my job. Everyone else was dismissed on New Year’s Eve — Yes, the famous one: Y2K.

I had been working at my favorite used book store, Best Books, and Penguin’s at the same time. I got back from my honeymoon to find Best Books was closing in a month. I still had Penguin’s

Nick Poindexter, the owner of Penguin’s, said he was buying the pizza parlor in the shopping center and selling the space Penguin’s occupied to the children’s dentist next door. Did I want to go with him? No, was my thought. I’d stay at Target, rise to the position of manager and then rule over the district. I would do this to support my family.

It turned out that the rise from Cart Attendant to Manager took a long time.

Allison was tired of working at Burger King and put in her two week notice without a lateral move strategy. Sher talked with me first and I agreed she needed to get out of there. She found a job typing up postcard. The faster you typed, the more money you made. Especially if you could type without mistakes.

In early 2000, Penguin’s closed.

I needed more than Target.

I became the manager of a Blimpie’s sandwich shop. The owners were nice, but never trusted me, ran the store with a tight fist, and made me sick to my stomach. Plus, I worked forty hours at Blimpie’s while maintaining a 32 hour a week schedule at Target. Within three months I was burnt out and Allison professed, tearfully, how much she was missing me.

One day, before a shift at Blimpie, I brought in my uniforms and quit on the spot. I felt relieved.

In September 2000, my father in law, Tom, made a connection to get me an interview at the Michael’s Arts and Crafts warehouse. For the Loss Prevention & Safety department. I hired in on Graveyard and worked for the Distribution Center for the next eight years.

Throughout my employment, I continued to write my brains out.

When NEMESIS was announced, I was somewhat indifferent to TREK.

You see, in late 2001, Allison was no longer sure of our marriage and she moved out. I went crazy trying to stay busy and not think about the dreaded D-word. I was 25 and looking divorce squarely in the eye. I hated it with a passion. My vows were “until death do we part”. While I felt like I was dying inside at the prospect, this did not count enough to uphold those vows.

So, in September 2001, about two weeks after 9/11, Allison moved back in with her parents. Our one bedroom apartment never felt so large.

I did go nuts. After working at Michaels all night, I’d come home at 7 AM, trying to learn new chords on my electric guitar and eat beef jerky and waffles (breakfast of champions) while watching pirated movies I downloaded. I would sleep for nine hours, and then try to wake up and act normal.

I told no one that Allison was gone. I couldn’t. If I had admitted it, it would have made it real. I could not handle that.

I did watch “Broken Bow”, the two hour premier of STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE. I started to VHS those eps and watch them on the weekends at the guard shack at Michaels.

By New Year’s Eve, Allison and I had been dating and I asked her to move back in.

She did.

The madness was behind us. We could move forward. For now.

So when I heard about TREK X, I didn’t care. I was trying to re-invent myself as a writer and husband.

Then one day, while on my lunch break at Michaels, I thought, “The best time in my life was when I wrote for THE Q-CONTINUUM. Why not do that again?”

So, I did.

And I covered the story of NEMESIS as well as the critical reception. I started to notice that the press was not kind towards this movie and started to release reviews before the movie came out. I was concerned that the bad press might kill the franchise.

Q NemesisThe first issue of Volume 4 came in early December 2002, just about two weeks before the movie came out.

Like THE MOTION PICTURE, I did not see this movie in theatres. Now, this was a precedent. I was too young to see TMP in theatres. I can accept that. But NEMESIS was the first movie I chose not to see in theatres. And this was the first time in my 20 year history with TREK that I consciously made this decision.

I did it because I was happy to be with Allison. I feared that, by showing my true TREK nature, she’d leave me again. I felt this even though TREK was not a factor when she moved out in 2001. I had made an effort in our short marriage to keep TREK in the background, to enjoy it casually and not to talk about it. To keep my marriage strong, I shut out a part of my life and tried not to let it bother me.

So, NEMESIS came and went.

Amazing QI continued to make this new Q-CONTINUUM for a total of 18 new issues. I had a tribute to the Columbia disaster, an all “Back to the Future” issue and a new thing called “The Amazing Q-Stories” (AQS). AQS was a throwback to the old pulps, which I had always loved. These were original stories, centering around Riker, Troi and their crew on the USS Titan. I had this great design to capture the throwback feel. The Titan series lasted eight issues. And then Q-18, the last one.

I knew it would be the last one.

I started to hit a wall writing the stories.

I thought about publishing the original screenplays I had been writing, publishing pieces of the first drafts to get feedback, etc.

And then I scrapped the whole idea, believing it was a cop out. The Q had almost always been about STAR TREK. I didn’t want to dilute it with my screenplays “Ruby Clocks” and “Timely Comfort”.

See, 2003 became a pivotal year in my writing.

I took two weeks off from work, read non-stop and re-invented myself as a writer. I refocused from STAR TREK to original works. I thought, What do I want to be known for? The answer: Time travel and poignant stories.

So, “Ruby Clocks” was about time travel and drug addiction.

“Timely Comfort”, also about time travel, explored mortality and legacy.

Not STAR TREK.

And this is the course I ran full steam ahead on for years.

I had put STAR TREK behind me. Again. I thought I had to, to save my marriage and to be loved by my wife.  I couldn’t be that STAR TREK guy. I just had to be me: A guy in Loss Prevention & Safety, on course to get a condo and a future with Allison. I could see a day with kids. I could see far into the future. And it seemed as if this future were possible, as long as I didn’t go back to who I used to be. You know, that STAR TREK guy.

I attended to my marriage and things were good. For a while.

NEXT TIME: Space is disease and danger wrapped in darkness and silence.

I Have No Quirky Title for INSURRECTION

There was going to be a new STAR TREK movie. Written by Michael Piller of “The Best of Both Worlds” fame. Directed by Jonathan Frakes, who had hit a home run with FIRST CONTACT. How could this movie be anything but great?

It was 1998, two years after FIRST CONTACT. My life had changed DRAMATICALLY.

Seriously.

I was a Trekker who had a girlfriend.

Mission Accomplished.

Hoist the flag and call this turkey done, I was in love.

In late 1997, I had a crush on a woman named Tracy Wilkerson, one of my regulars at Penguin’s Frozen Yogurt. She thought I was cute. I thought she had a great smile. Oh, she was six years older than me.

Tip of the iceberg.

Did I mention she had three kids? And an ex-husband who was not yet her ex?

But she liked me and she drove. I was twenty-one and did not have a license. You can get around Lancaster pretty easily without a car. I had a bike, so whatever.

Tracy and I spent an obscene amount of time on the phone. We talked and talked. We spoke about life, her kids, the situation with her abusive husband and various things in between.

We went on one sort of awkward date and were due to have another seeing ALIEN: RESURRECTION.

The date was December 5, 1997. Russ was taking me to my date. And then we were hit by a car in front of Circuit City and I couldn’t’ make it. There were no injuries, but Russ’s faithful Dyhatsu was totaled. We missed that car, Russ had had so many accidents in that thing. But this one, against an old lady in a boat of a car, killed the teal colored warrior.

Not long after, racy and I broke up before we ever really were together.

Through January 1998, I was mourning the loss of a potential relationship.

I listened to Sheryl Crow’s self-titled album over and over. When I needed something harder, I bought “Jagged Little Pill” by Alanis and listened over and over, playing pinball for hours on my computer.

Every day is a winding road.

I oughta know.

Sigh, I missed Tracy.

One night, in my madness, I logged onto the internet via Prodigy and put myself on one of Yahoos dating boards. I found profiles from about three women who were in my area.

One woman, Allison Patricia Thomas, would change my life.

On February 1, 1998, she responded to my post. We shared some pics and then we emailed like crazy. We were burning up the internet.

Two weeks in, she wanted to meet me. I told her to drop by after Penguin’s closed one Saturday.

Funny story.

Riding my bike to Penguin’s every day, I drove past a Carrow’s and a Burger King, passing a teal colored Geo Metro. Little did I know that the Geo belonged to Allison. She worked at the Burger King that was oh so close to Penguin’s. We never crossed paths, at least not that either of us every remembered.

I can still remember that February night perfectly. We walked while I closed the yogurt shop. There was endless energy between us. We talked about everything. She even drove me and my bike back home. And then we talked in my parent’s garage for like two hours. She left, but called me once she got back home. It was at least another hour on the phone with her.

Within a few weeks, it became apparent that we were in love. She told me first, through a note she wrote while in her college class. She said it was inevitable we would be married and she would become Mrs. Chris Carlisle.

She was not a STAR TREK fan.

By the time I saw INSURRECTION in theatres, I had a wedding ring in my pocket. I proposed to Allison that Christmas day and she said “Yes”. I expected no less, but was still nervous as hell when I got down on one knee.

I do not remember commercials for INSURRECTION. I do know I saw the flick in theatres with my friend Russ.

I also know that, giving my status with Allison, I started to not care so much about STAR TREK.

I started skipping eps of DS9 and VOYAGER.

I can recall getting together with Russ to watch a DS9, and leaving the room to talk with Allison until the show was over. Russ was pissed, and I don’t blame him for that.

I did at the time. If he had been in a relationship, I would have hoped it would have taken precedence over TREK. As it turned out, he was in a relation with Edith, a girl we both knew from Penguin’s. I started hanging out less and less with Russell to be with Allison.

My newsletter, THE Q-CONTINUUM finished in 1996 when Bradford J. Baumann got married and moved away. I had no outlet for writing TREK, so I switched up to developing original ideas.

After I met Allison, I started to write heavily. I started to submit original stories to magazines. I got shot down, but I was trying.

I was even inspired to write a series of short stories, all with the same title: “All the Lights Are Yellow”. This came after Allison drove home and said, “A funny thing happened. When I was driving, all the lights were yellow.” And then we probably talked for another hour after.

So, I now started to see my friends less and less as I fell more and more in love. It was not long before Russ blew up at me.

Russ and I had, more or less, spent some time together every day for a few years. When he had errands, I’d cruise with him because I could. We’d pick up pizza at his Uncle Mike’s Round Table Pizza and talk TREK. During these conversations, I started to feel like I was getting hazy about TREK.

Of course I started spending more time with Allison. Never once did I ever get laid with STAR TREK.

When I wasn’t with her, I wanted to be. We became inseparable. Like when both sides of Kirk were rejoined in “The Enemy Within”.

Have I mentioned yet that Allison was not into STAR TREK? And I realized it was something she would never be into.

So, I started to distance myself from TREK as well.

I only vaguely remember seeing INSURRECTION with Russ. I liked the movie, but felt like it came up short.

I can recall Allison saying, “I haven’t seen a bald man in 300 years.” I was shocked she could quote a line from the new movie. She said it when we were spending the day at Knott’s Berry Farm. I probably smiled the rest of the day, believing she had heard the line and quoted it to make me happy. She told me she heard it in an interview

When INSURRECTION hit VHS in 1999, I bought it.

I still read the occasional TREK novel.

But I no longer had the compulsion to sit for hours and binge watch.

I had no idea what was happening on VOYAGER or DS9.

By the end of 1998, I had a wedding to finance and a future wife to think about.

This would be the first time that I believed that STAR TREK was well behind me and I was moving forward in another direction.

NEXT TIME: Shinzon!

Don’t Touch… Unless You’re Making FIRST CONTACT

penguins-yogurtDude, 1996 was the year that my Mom had all kinds of problems with her gallbladder. I was working as the manager of a Penguin’s Frozen Yogurt in Lancaster, CA. And STAR TREK: FIRST CONTACT was looking better and better with every new commercial and trailer.

In the two years since GENERATIONS, I dropped out of college, watched Daniel and Matt go on to high school and withdrew a little from the science fiction club at Antelope Valley High School.

hp-comp
A facsimile of my HP Pavilion

1996 was the year I bought my first computer. I brought Daniel along with me to ask tech savvy questions, and my last bought with computers had been around 1993. That experience went something like this:

 

DANIEL: What kind of operating system does this one have?

GUY AT BEST BUY: It runs Windows 5.

DANIEL: Would it be possible to turn it back to Window 3.1?

GUY AT BEST BUY: Uhhh…

ME: He’s kidding.

DANIEL: I know Windows 3.1, I can help you with things. But I don’t know Windows 5.

Needless to say, I bought the computer, scanner, printer and a few games (of course there were STAR TREK ones, did you even have to ask?). Despite the fact that Daniel didn’t know Windows 5, I still managed to muddle through and figure it all out. Being a graphic interface, it was not hard to learn.

I do remember this. The Sales Guy at Best Buy said that the hard drive was huge, 1.6 gigs, and I would never be able to fill it up. [Insert laughter that grows more sarcastic with age]

I now have files of this size, which I store on a five terabyte hard drive.

Back to 1996.

brother-word-processor
The Brother word processor that, you know, processed words

With my own PC, I was in business to transition from the Brother word processor I had to this new HP. And I did. I discovered MS Publisher, my favorite and most flexible programs for desktop publishing. I experimented with what I could do and had a blast.

 

So, the Q-CONTINUUM would be published on the computer. It gave me lots of time to get to know how Publisher worked and create a format I liked.

One of the first projects to tackle was to cover FIRST CONTACT.

I also managed to get on the internet via America On Line. This was good for researching STAR TREK, as well as finding porn. This was dial-up, where a pic of a naked lady might take three minutes to open.

Now, I had also dropped out of college.

I went to this school of higher education with the idea that a degree in English would make me a better writer. In honesty, through most of my college experience, I was frustrated. I didn’t need to know the mechanics of English, I was to be a creative writer. What I didn‘t know what that there was a creative writing program available. If I had known that, I might not have dropped out.

And I didn’t tell my parents that I dropped out.

Instead, I got on my bike and headed towards the park that was between where we lived and the local college. That’s right, I couldn’t even make it at a junior college.

I had been working consistently for a while, and could put my money towards the TREK novels I loved so much. That, and buying the CDs from the Beatles Anthology. My time in the park was about reading TREK, listening to the Beatles and writing for THE Q.

Daniel and Matt had gone on to high school. I didn’t have as much contact with them as I wished. I hung out with Russell a lot and worked at Penguin’s. My time in the park was to recharge my creativity… and to fake still being in college.

See, going to college meant I could live at home for free and still be on my parent’s insurance. I even faked a college transcript (thank you  new computer and Ferris Bueller for being tools and inspirations) to make sure the insurance didn’t run out.

I don’t remember the exact time I came clean about not being in college. It might have been around the start of the Fall semester when I told my parents I wouldn’t be going back, that I would work full-time. This is probably the first time I admitted I dropped out before I told my parents.

At this time, I had STAR TREK to focus on. There was a new movie coming out and I wanted to be as informed as possible, so I could write about it in THE Q. My whole life was STAR TREK.

In hindsight, maybe this immersion into TREK was a form of self-protection. College was not what I thought it would be, it was boring and I felt disconnected with my core classes. My parents were struggling to get by. They fought from time to time. My Mom was having health issues related to her gallbladder. I liked my job at Penguin’s slinging yogurt and talking to all the customers who came in. I ran errands with Russ and, on occasion, we’d sit at his Uncle Mike’s Round Table Pizza and talk for hours about TREK and SF in general.

round-table-pizza
Uncle Mike’s Round Table Pizza & TREK Talk Festival

See, Russ was a guy who went deep into TV and Movie SF.

 

I was pretty much strictly STAR TREK and, on occasion, STAR WARS (more on that at another time).

Russ was instrumental in getting me into BABYLON 5, THE X-FILES, SPACE: ABOVE AND BEYOND, and a few others. What others, you ask. SeaQUEST, for one. As of this writing, I don’t recall too many others. I do know that Russ owned two VCRs and had them going at any given time. He collected TV shows and I was fortunate enough to benefit from this.

So, we’d sit at the pizza house and eat slice after slice while talking about the dream teams we’d have on our starships if we were the captains. I was always a CLASSIC TREK fan, while Russ opted for all the shows that came after. We sometimes clashed, but to each his own. Good times.

So, my typical day was going to the park (to fake being at school), run around with Russ and then go to Penguin’s for the closing shift.

My time at the park was usually productive. I’d write articles by hand for THE Q and then read. This was time to dream and to think about things in the realm of TREK. Because I was going through a Beatles phase to boot, I rewrote Beatle songs, ala Weird Al, themed around TREK. Shocking, I know. Think of rewriting “Eleanor Rigby” to be about “Jennifer Sisko”.

And then I got a shock. My friend and SF Club Advisor at AVHS, Bradford J. Baumann, the greatest teacher a boy could ever have, was getting married and leaving the school. He’d leave at the Winter break. This meant that THE Q would be no more.

So, I did what all good TREK editors/writers would do, I did everything I ever wanted to.

q-1-vol-3Nearly all the issues were about FIRST CONTACT. I counted down to this movie as if it were an event. I conducted interviews with Zefram Cochrane. I wrote about the development of warp speed. I had Commander Riker profile director and actor Jonathan Frakes.

When FIRST CONTACT hit theatres on November 22, 1996, I was among the first to see it in Lancaster. My Mom dropped me off at the theatre early that day, she had a checkup for her gallbladder. I sat in the crowded theater and anticipated the movie.

For the first time in all my TREK outings, I had gone by myself.

No Matt, Daniel, Russell or Mom.

It was my Mom who had been with me during THE WRATH OF KHAN and all the way up to GENERATIONS. She told me she wasn’t a fan, but became a fan because I was so passionate about it. My Mom, who put up with endless thoughts about STAR TREK and the future and all the things I had written. My Mom… was not with me. No one was with me.

I sat through the previews and the start of the movie.

And then she was there, my Mom, pushing past people in the aisle I was in to sit in the empty seat next to me.

Her doctor’s appointment had gone well. The homeopathic flush she did got rid of the stones in her gallbladder and the Doctor had said she was in great health. She beat a path to the theater and kept me company as the Borg traveled back in time and tried to assimilate the past.

great-wallAfter the movie, we went to this great hole in the wall Chinese restaurant, the Great Wall. I had the usual, kung pau chicken. Yum.

Chinese food and STAR TREK, two great tastes that take great together. Those two things were, and still are, my greatest weaknesses. You want to give me a great day? Take me to Panda Express and then join me in a mini-TREK marathon. I’m serious, orange chicken and all the TNG eps with the Classic cameos sounds like a great day to me. How about mandarin chicken and every other Q episode? I know! Any two items from Panda and all the series finales, chronologically, starting with ENTERPRISE.

Yes, I have given this some serious thought. I do now all my kid’s birthdays and allergies, so don’t judge me.

As growing up goes, this would be the last TREK film I’d see in theatres with my Mom.

We had a good run, from 1982-96. From me being a six year old to turning twenty.

As this series proves, so far, seeing the TREK movies had a tremendous impact on my life, my point of view. I enjoyed this time with my Mom very much. She supported what I liked and came along for the ride. When I saw STAR TREK (2009), I was living in Pittsburgh, some 2600 miles from my Mom in Lancaster, CA.

But she saw it in theatres and we talked about it here and there.

In 1996, I did not know this would be the last TREK film we’d see together. Neither did I know that we TREK fans were half way through the NEXT GEN movie’s we’d ever have.

But oh, how my life would change over the course of the next two movies.

NEXT TIME: I haven’t seen a bald man in three-hundred years.

Generations II: Generations Harder

Now, most of the TREK movies have one thing in common – I see them once or twice in theatres and then buy the VHS/DVD/CHOOSE YOUR OWN FORMAT.

Not the case with GENERATIONS.

Now, don’t go jumping to conclusions about things. Like, maybe I’m crazy or something.

 

stubs.jpg
Artists rendering of seeing GENERATIONS 13 times

I saw GENERATIONS thirteen times in theatres. No, not a misprint. 13. See, I used numerals in case you thought auto correct screwed me.

 

Now, here’s an even nerdier admission — yes, it gets worse. Four of those thirteen (13!) times was on the same day.

Matt and I, having little money, made a day of seeing GENERATIONS at the dollar theatre. After all, each showing only cost us a buck a piece. If it makes the story any better, we did not set out to do this. It just happened, like the Miracle on the Hudson, or Marisa Tomei winning an Oscar.

We saw it the first time that day with lots of energy, quoting the movie and really watching it in every detail. The second time, we still had energy and the movie passed quickly. We took a lunch break at the nearest McDonald’s and then figured we’d see it again. The last two times, the movie passed slowly and we were a bit indifferent. We started talking about other things.

But still, seeing GENERATIONS four times in one day is better than… Well, seeing NEMESIS four times in one day.

 

kirk-picard
The scene Matt and I quoted the most.

I would eventually see GENERATIONS again and again, with my Mom and Matt, Matt again, I think Russell and again with Daniel. That was when I counted the stubs — yes, I kept the stubs to see how far the madness would go — and found I had seen the flick thirteen (13!) times.

 

When it came out on VHS, I rented it for my birthday party that year. And I tried to record it from one VCR to another. This didn’t work because of the protection on it. But, Matt and I watched it another two times.

From November 1994 to the Summer of 1995, I wrote a lot about GENERATIONS, still devouring “Inside Trek” by Ian Spelling in the Sunday paper, to reading William Shatner’s “Star Trek Movie Memories”. I was obsessed. I even bought the script at a convention.

Looking back on it, it was a pretty amazing time, this span between 1994-97. I met three people who would become incredibly close friends. I started writing on a daily basis, writing articles because I was committed to, and goofy short stories as a diversion, to keep creativity alive. I kept up on the latest news in TREK. I had people looking up to me as a TREK guru. I was also trying to crack the TV market by writing a spec script for DEEPS SPACE NINE. As I usually say, that is also a story for another time.

While there was a bit of an obsession with GENERATIONS, I started to hear about TREK VIII. So, for the next two years, that took over everything in my life. And that is the next story I have to tell.

NEXT TIME: Assimilate this!

*   *   *

This is a reprint of an article originally published on Nov 18, 2015, for the anniversary of the release of STAR TREK: GENERATIONS.

“They Say Time is the Fire in Which We Burn”

Time is a strange and funny thing. It can be long, it can be short. It can feel longer when we need it to be short and vice versa. This was all brought about by the facts that STAR TREK: GENERATIONS was released 21 years ago today. This was a significant event for several reasons. One, it was a STAR TREK movie, one that I had followed and eagerly awaited. Ask my friend Matt, who helped me record the trailer off of E! and then break it down into a script. We were nerds and we loved to quote the lines well before it came out. We speculated on how the story would flow. We lived for images that might reveal some secret story point.

Two, I met my friend Russell because of GENERATIONS. Not long after I graduated high school in 1994, my friends Matt and Daniel, along with their teacher Rick Burke and his wife Christy, tried to get onto the Paramount sound stages where the movie was being filmed. Rick and Christy had already been and had a contact in security at the studio. That contact wasn’t there on the day we went. To say we were disappointed is an understatement. However, I did get to get on the Paramount lot. The very same parking lot that was flooded out for the end of STAR TREK IV: THE VOYAGE HOME. The other cool thing about being on the lot was going to the company store. I bought a GENERATIONS hat there. Some months later, I wore it to college. Specifically in my bowling class. This led to a long friendship with Russ, who saw my hat, told me he was a Trekker and invited me to be on his team. For all the semesters I took bowling, I don’t think I was ever on a team without him. Which was good, he’s a good bowler and I wouldn’t want to go against him. I don’t know what the name of that team was, but we did form teams that were SF orientated, including the Dominion and the X-Files (X for strike in bowling).

Three, I saw the movie on the preview night, the night before it opened everywhere. I was there with Russ, either Dan or Matt and Richard. Richard was one of Matt’s friend’s from middle school. I was the only one wearing a GENERATIONS t-shirt, bought just hours before at Suncoast Video at the mall. I was so excited, it was ridiculous. But I was also almost reluctant to see the movie, as I knew it ended with the death of Captain Kirk. This was the worst idea in the history of movies. Kill Captain Kirk? You can’t kill a legend.

And yet they did. For all the years that Kirk had been on the bridge of his ship, he was now killed by a bridge being on him. His last words, “It was fun… Oh my.” Fade out on a thirty year legend.

I sat in the theater stunned. The movie had been fun to see with an audience. We all laughed and cried and threw popcorn at the screen together.

 

The one line that stood out the most to me was the line, “Fire is the time in which we burn.” My friend Daniel would become fascinated by this time, quoting it for no reason.

And now Daniel is gone. Dead at the age of 32.

Gone also is my brother-in-law Tim. He was also a Trekker and I spent far too little time getting to know him. But he was a good man, fun. He was the first to ask what he could do for you. At the age of 46, he was no more.

I have not been in the same room with Matt in a decade. Russell and I haven’t talked in seven years. I live 2650 miles from where I saw the movie, and am 21 years away for all that.

In some profound, unexplainable way, GENERATIONS still binds us. I could text Matt a line from the movie, and I bet he’d smile. If I had nothing else to talk to Russ about, I could always talk STAR TREK, I can watch GENERATIONS and be brought back to that day. As in the movie itself, there is a Nexus-like force to that movie that just feels right. It is a form of time travel. I can watch the movie and be transported back to those good vibes in 1994. And then I watch the newer bonus features and am shocked that Riker is so old! And Patrick Stewart is slow to talk.

Time has passed. My friend and my brother-in-law are gone from this Earth. Time is the fire in which we burn.

And yet, it is the place we live. I have three children and a wonderful wife. I have a demanding (but sometimes rewarding) job. I am a published writer and run a publishing company. Time is a double-edged sword. No one has lived a life free of pain and loss. Anyone who has, hasn’t really lived. Or loved. Hopefully, there are more good moments than bad in life. A good life is one well lived.

Here’s to you, my friends and family. You’ve all shaped me into what I have become.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have an appointment in the 23rd Century. Engage.

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