Joe Manning tells me that Dover set a record this year: the longest lived fan-run convention without major sponsorship. Dover hasn't sold its soul to Creation or Slanted Fedora or any of the other convention running corporations who's only true purpose is to make money off the deal.
On the negative sode, however, for some reason Vulkon in Cleveland scheduled on the same weekend as Dover. Vulkon usually schedules at the end of May. Well, even though this was a major soponsored event, the rumor is that Dover still attracted higher attendance. Of course, the competition brought our numbers down but even those lesser numbers can be considered a success.
Another negative revolved about the actions of Paramount. It would seem that on Saturday night, a team of Paramount copyright police with court orders decended upon the dealer's room at Vulkon. They shut down a number of dealers for copyright infringement and trademark violations, confiscating stock.
According to IMDB news: "A federal court in Cleveland granted Viacom's Paramount unit an order allowing it to seize bootleg "Star Trek" merchandice sold at sci-fi conventions in Atlanta, Cleveland, Dearborn, Las Vegas, Minneapolis, Orlando, Pasadena, Tampa and Tucson." . . . "The court order allows process servers acting on Paramount's behalf to seize merchandise without having to obtain a local order in each city where the items are being sold."
Someone in Cleveland called down to Dover to warn us that Paramount was on its way to New Philly to launch the same sort of attack.
The dealer's room shut down. Even those who had licensed products or things that had nothing to do with Star Trek closed their doors. Flyers disappeared from hallways. Chaos.
And indignation. Once everything that could be considered infrigement was hidden, people gathered into small groups in the hallway to complain. For as much as we like Star Trek, the general consensus is that Paramount cares nothing about their fans. There are plenty of people out there who would be glad to share with Paramount some of the profits derived from products that Paramount would never dream of making. Klingon swords, weapon replicas, pins, Klingon uniforms, banners, specialty T-shirts, these are things that Paramount would never make but they don't want you making them either. Even when offered a piece of the pie. Like Rome against the Carthaginians, if Paramount cannot have everything, they will salt the fields of creativity so that noone can have it.
Well, once things had callmed down somewhat, some of the dealers reopened without any unlicenesed products. Security was making sure that no one got into the dealer's room without a con badge and attendies were more attentive in the hall.
In one incident, someone was flat out asked if they were from Paramount. They said "yes" believing that that was the proper answer. In the end, they were essentially chased down the hall until they admitted that they had just made up the answer, not knowing what was truly going on.
Near the end, there was a rumor that Paramount had indeed arrived in the parking lot but had gotten no further than that for having heard the less-than-warm reception they would receive. In all honesty, I find it hard to believe that Paramount lawyers who had just exercised their power to leverage the State in a raid for the cause of monopolistic capitalism would be frightened off by a rabble of drunken Klingons. News reports of the court order stipulations suggest that they had no authority to come down to New Philly to do the same thing they did in Columbus.
To get back to Friday night and happier events, QI'Dar made a snausagen costume that was absolutely perfect. For those who didn't read the earlier secion, I suggest you go here and read the whole story. In short, the derrogatory term "Snausagen" refers to those fans who create hybrid personna in a usually futile effort to make themselves more interesting.
In this case, QI'Dar created a costume with the following elements:
- Andorian: Blue skin and Antenae.
- Klingon: Forehead ridges
- Minbari: Head crest
- Vulcan/Romulan/Elf: pointy ears
- Bajoran: Earing
- Jedi: Light Saber
- Feddie: Uniform
- Vampire: teeth
- Hut: Slug-like body
- Polynisian: Grass skirt and lei
- Battlestar Galactica: Cape
I think that's everything. Horrifying, isn't it? And to think there are really people out there that believe this sort of mongrelism actually makes them more interesting. *shudder*
Joe has announced that there will be another Big Ugly Gun contest next year. I won a few years back with the Armageddon 3000 and now have to come up with a new idea.I'm thinking of a sniper rifle. The kind of weapon that could reach out and touch someone from low orbit. (read "Point of Impact")
It's been a few years since I've been at Marcon. Not much Klingon to report except that I was often complimented as being the "best looking Klingon" at the con. Pretty much all of the other Klingons in attendance had headpieces that were not matched to foreheads at all. Knobby brown pieces over white skin with no make-up. Not everyone's willing to spend and hour and a half putting on make-up.
I had bad luck with programming. Nearly all of the programming I wanted to attend was re-scheduled or canceled. Even the twice daily newsletter that warns of impending schedule changes was not very helpful. It sort of wrecks the point of a four hour drive.
And my roommate snored like a freight train. Since I tend to go to bed relatively early because I'm not a party-goer, I was able to sleep before he came back.
In all my years of convention attendance and con-parties, this was the first year I witnessed topless women. Well, that's not entirely true. There has been skinny-dipping at Year Games but here I'm talking about no shirts, walking down hotel hallways. It's not that I'm shocked or offended, they were very nice breasts, it's just that this is my first encounter with it. I suppose my habit of going to bed early has its disadvantages.
One program I was able to attend was with Peter Woodward, not talking about acting or "Babylon 5: Crusade" but talking about Egypt and his experience filming the Discovery Channel's "Beyond the Pyramids" series. I liked that everyone was there because of their interest in Egypt and history and there were no questions about B5. Too few people realize that these people are more than just actors.
I had a chance to talk to Peter about my own pyramid theory which I think is cool enough to take a significant side-trip from anything remotely Klingon..
I start with a way of looking at monuments as machines. These things are devices for serving a specific purpose. Stonehenge was clearly an astronomical calendar, a time telling machine. Today's monuments in Washington D.C. are essentially patriotism machines, structures designed to evoke certain emotions and impressions.
The three great pyramids at Giza are built like many other pyramids throughout Egypt. The shafts and chambers are laid out like so many other tombs; essentially afterlife machines, a mechanism for ensuring the entoumbed's passage into the afterlife. The Pyramids are however missing key elements present in all other Egyptian tombs..
The major element is the writing. Tombs are packed full of carvings and paintings showing what the afterlife is going to be like for the individual. There are scenes of hunting, fishing, eating, spending time with a wife, being entertained by performers, defeating enemies in battle. There are also elements of the Book of the Dead, the detailed instructions and incantations necessary to ensure that the dead can navigate the difficult passage and arrive safely in paradise. And, lastly, there is the name of the deceased. Name recognition, a person's name being remembered forever, is vitally important to immortality.
The great pyramids have none of these. No carvings. No paintings. No names. They are completely bare.
If the Pharaoh was going to actually be buried in the pyramid, where is his name? Where is the story of his life? Where are the previews of paradise? Where is the Book of the Dead, the mechanism necessary to speed him on his way?
Given the construction of the pyramids from the ground up, the interior chambers would have been completed before the rest of the structure was even half finished. There's no excuse for the interior not to be complete.
But the work was never started. The pyramids were never intended for the the body of the Pharaoh.
But the pyramids are a machine. A tomb-like machine clearly aligned carefully with the sky. And it's not just the pyramids. The entire plateau of Giza is a massive scale representation of the constellation of Orion with the pyramids as the "belt" and the Nile as the Milky Way. Of course, in Egypt, the constellation was of Osiris, the God responsible for one's passage into the afterlife.
Now to my theory. The pyramids were a vast religious complex that would ensure that, not just the Pharaoh, but all of Egypt would pass into the afterlife. A sort of generic tomb that would be used by everyone in a symbolic sense, just fill in the blank.
I told this idea to Peter and asked if, in his travels and studies, he had heard such a thing and he said that he hadn't. I find it hard to believe that such an interpretation of the pyramids is a unique and original idea. However, because there is no actual evidence to support this theory, scholars would likely discount it outright and such a theory would probably not be published.
Each year, the Dark Justice has a picnic on the lawn of the Carnegie Science Center of the 4th of July to watch the world-famous Zambelli fireworks from almost directly beneath them. This year was not much different except for the extreme heat. 90+ degrees. The afternoon had a pleasant downpour that helped to cool things off and that wasn't so heavy that we couldn't hang out under a tree for a while.
But now I have a digital camera and a new internet service provider. What that means is more pictures for the website and more space on the website for those pictures.
This year it seemed for a moment that I might be recruited as a judge instead of competing. As a past winner of the SuvwI' pIn'a', I am eligible to be a judge. As it turns out, that was a miscommunication and Kuuriis would rather have me competing.
As usual, I did poorly in the Targ toss. I don't know what it is but I simply can't toss a targ very far. I have similar limitations in the mace battle and Shields and even the sword fight. I had fun but wasn't really in the running for any medals.
I brought my chetvI' and threw in the field. "What's a chetvI'", you ask. Well the chetvI' is a Klingon spear-throwing stick, an Aztec atlatl. In Marc Okrand's language book "Klingon for the Galactic Traveller", he mentions the chetvI' and I got a little intrigued by that because he didn't mention a Klingon word for "bow". Why would the Klingons use this spear-throwing stick and not the bow, while on Earth, the bow became dominant and the atlatl fell out of use? Well, to study this, I ordered one from Thunderbird Atlatl. In working with it, I think I've discovered the reason. While the bow may be faster, lighter and easier to aim and operate, the altatl can deliver a lot more power. For Ice Age humans, this was useful for bringing down large, tough animals like the Mammoth and the Wholly Rhino. Given the tough nature of Klingons and, one would assume, other life on the Klingon homeworld, the power of the chetvI' would be preferred over the ease and simplicity of the bow.
I can't say I sold people on the chetvI but I did teach a few people to chuH (throw) a spear. I've joined the World Atlatl Association and will be competing over the summer.
I got recruited to be a judge for the Romulan Raid. For one, they needed someone because the regular cadre of judges got embroiled in a judging dispute. And besides, my knees are no longer suited to such a thing.
I sang yet again for this year's Cry of the Warrior" although, I must admit, I lied. I sang a stanza from "Degh", mu'vaD je vangvaD maQam wa'loghbe', chaloghbe', 'ach wejlogh. I translated it is "You're just jealous because I can sing and you cannot" but, in actuality, it translates as "We will own up not once, not twice, but thrice for our words and deeds." Considering that most people don't actually say anything in tlhIngan Hol, this failing of translation can be easily forgiven. Enough so to win me a medal yet again.
The big new event for this year was the Grand Melee. Using the pool-noodle swords, everyone was broken into four teams to play Capture-the-Flag. That's 25 to 30 people all whacking the heck out of one another. It was a lot of fun, except for the spears. Someone made a group of spears and it was very difficult to get by their reach. And, in one case, they were used improperly. This kid came at me and swung this thing through a full 180 degrees of arc. Sure, they are padded but with that much velocity connecting the side of my head it literally lifted me off my feet and split my lip. I was not pleased. From my days in the SCA, I was much more familiar with fighting with a shield. Hmmmm. A big cardboard Roman scutum. Several could be made to have a full shield wall. Actually, with the free-wheeling nature of the melee, something smaller would be more effective. A round buckler for punch blocking. Well, we're talking cardboard here so a big wall shield would be just as fast and more effective.
The feast this year was a roast pig. The campground owner was supposed to rent a roaster but that plan fell through so the pig needed to be driven to a BBQ place and roasted there. In the end, it was actually cheaper to do it that way and there was a huge amount of pork. Truly a feast.
I didn't participate much in the Great Lies of Battle, although I did tell a few stories. Most of the time in the evening was in various discussions around the campfire. I related how I though command of the ELINT Fleet was going. In short, it wasn't. There was not a lot of interest and I thought that ELINT, as a fleet, was dead. Perhaps as a division to encourage on-line gaming but not as it's own fleet. I expressed an interest in E-Corps, which seemed to have also fallen into disrepair. In that case, I believed it could be revived.
In a rush at the end, I was able to pull off another second place win in klin zha. We also shared a medal with Twisty and Kerla in the most decorated encampment. It was all their doing as they provided strings of Christmas lights to encircle the camp.
Less than a month after Year Games where I expressed my opinion about the death of ELINT Fleet, Admiral Kuuriis has appointed qurgh to the command of ELINT. Good luck to him. He seems much better suited to the task than I. In the same announcement Kuuriis appointed me to command of the E-Corps. That's what I get for opening my big mouth. Now I must set out to prove myself. My goal, to see that every KAG entity; divisions, departments, fleets, quadrants and ships, are all represented on the Internet with a website.
Visit the new KAG E-Corps website at http://ecorps.kag.org.
Bayer Haunted Trail This year's haunted trail was very disappointing. While we had a reasonable turnout from Dark Justice and Targ members, the public did not show. I couldn't blame it on safety jitters because it was down even from last year, only a month after 9/11. Could it be the economy? Perhaps Bayer didn't do enough advertising. Who knows.
After years of dressing as a Klingon, this year I dressed as an Orc one evening and a Ninja Burger Delivery Shinobi on another. Mostly because it was easier and I had to do the Klingon-thing on other nights and could use the simplicity. In any case, after years of carrying Klingon swords and axes of various types, and carrying them openly without sheaths, this was the first time I was questioned by a county police officer for carrying a sword as part of my costume. And it was sheathed on my back, the absolutely worst place to try and carry a sword because my arm with have to be and additional 6" longer to draw it. It was almost surreal.
It has been a very long time since there as been any sort of Star Trek convention in Pittsburgh. There was supposed to be a Slanted Fedora con coming to Pittsburgh but that fell through. Apparently Slanted Fedora is under investigation for "double dipping", that is charging people twice on their credit cards for ticket purchases. There was a convention in Durham that was going to be canceled but, at the last minute they came to some agreement with the Attorneys General Office and that con was able to go on. Pittsburgh wasn't so lucky and it was not to be. Thankfully, Pittsburgh ComiCon was in town and I dressed up and went to that with a stack of flyers.
I had the absolute worst DVD purchasing experience ever. There was one dealer who had a lot of Hong Kong action and Anime DVDs and I dropped a bunch of money. I got the complete "Excel Saga" series, "Spirited Away" and "Iria". From another dealer I got "Godzilla vs. Megaguiras" and "GMK: All Monsters Attack". Everything was wrong. One Excel disk had the subtitling a paragraph off. Character "A" would speak and then, when Character "B" was speaking, the subtitling for what Character "A" had said a moment before would appear. Another Excel disk was clearly subtitled by a native Chinese speaker attempting to translate Japanese into English. The one Godzilla disk was the same way and the other was clearly a rip from a Chinese DVD. It was copied like a video tape, one track without menus and dubbed in Chinese. The "Spirited Away" was pretty good except that it had a 4 minute hole in it that wouldn't play.
I kept the "Spirited Away" in spite of the problem and the "Iria" was good all the way through, but the rest went back. The experience has completely put me off buying DVDs from Hong Kong. Too many are just of too poor a quality and, in the end, it's worth paying the extra money for the official US release.
This year I was recruited by a good friend of mine to operate a Jail-N-Bail for the Pittsburgh Pagans annual Witches Ball. It was a nice party, even though the attendance was about 30 people, I was able to extort $54 out of them. Not bad for the "market." There was also a professional photographer there and I was able to get a nice picture of me in my new uniform. It's surprising that I've had the new uniform for a year and a half and still didn't have a good picture of it.
I had been organizing with the Lowes theater to have a display set up on the Saturday that "Nemesis" premiered when I found out that there was going to be a special midnight showing and buffet on the Thursday night before. The manager told me that they already had some Trekkers in costume to sort of host the event and, if I or my crew wanted to attend we would have the pay the $25 admission price. I was expecting to see the film for free on Saturday as part of that arangement so I passed on that opportunity only to be contacted a few days later by the Feddies who had gotten the special deal. It turns out that people bailed on them and they needed someone.
Well, that went reasonably well. I pretty much learned that the Dark Justice was the last of it's kind. Essentially, all the other Star Trek ships in the Pittsburgh area have disbanded or faded away. The Galloway, the Crescent Moon, the Gamma Knights, the Guadacanal, and even the Potemkin are all gone. Only the Dark Justice remains as an active ship. As a Klingon I would claim victory but, for Star Trek in general, it is indicative of what has happened to the franchise. With "Voyager" and now with "Enterprise", it simply cannot sustain the same sort of fandom interest that it once did.
And while, on Saturday, I put up an impressive display, my hoped for recruitment opportunity never materialized. People looked at my stuff, I spoke with them about Star Trek in general and Klingons specifically, but aftwards noone who showed an interest or took a flyer followed up by contacting me to join.
|http://www.tasigh.org/kordite/events-2002.html -- Revised: 26 January 2003
Copyright © 2003 Kevin A. Geiselman