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.
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.
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!
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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.