First Time I Picked Up The Telephone I Fell In Love With Your Ringing Tone
Light blogging these last few weeks, which simply means things have been going smoothly, with no little bumps nor dips in the road, so-to-speak.
Looks like we're going to get a bit of an Indian Summer after all this year: here we are, post Equinox, and the daytime temps are staying in the mid-to-upper 70's for a few more days before dipping down into the mid-60's for the weekend. No complaints, even though the few brief days of cool/grey/wetness were a welcome respite. They'll be back again soon enough, no doubt about it.
One of the reasons I've been lax in posting is that I've been working to get a new show up-and-running:
Opens Friday, all the details can be found here. If you're in this neck of the woods, you definitely want to see this - more than once, since it's a completely different show every night.
Finally, Happy Birthday Shout Out to C.H! Sorry I missed the partay!
And in case you were wondering, it is in fact quite possible to circumnavigate Lake Washington on a motor scooter without going onto an actual freeway, although using only the roads that follow closest to the lake shore is probably not the most efficient means for doing so.
Still, if you have about two and a-half hours to burn on a sunny September Sunday afternoon, it's not a bad way to go.
Well, the 40th Anniversary Star Trek Gala Celebration has come and gone. Last evening's Main Event was a sit-down banquet featuring roughly 250 celebrities, sci-fi fans, Hollywood industry types, with a smattering of actual rocket scientists, and at least one bona fide Internet Gazillionaire in attendance. I was seated with a very charming elderly couple from Canada, the wife whom we learned is the cousin of one Martin Cooper, who you can either credit or blame, as you will, for inventing the portable cellular telephone. Also at my table was a couple who brought their teenaged daughter, whom they had named after a character from a "Star Trek" episode (although I forget which one); as well as a very nice young woman, a fundraiser for the local ACLU chapter, and her neice, an attorney. It should be noted that none present at my table came in costume, but more-or-less (with me definitely on the "more" end of the spectrum) observing the formal dress code "suggested" by the event organizers.
Although I didn't go in for the full-immersion experience this weekend, having an actual life, not to mention other social obligations, I think I got enough of a "taste" of how these things go to make a few notable observations. Firstly, although they kept emphasizing this was NOT a "convention", I for one, not having any basis for comparision, would be hard-pressed to delineate what about this event would differentiate it from such, except perhaps in terms of sheer size. It's my understanding that a typical Sci-Fi convention can draw on the order of several thousand attendees, while this event was strictly limited to, at most, a few hundred. But, otherwise, it seemed to have all the requisite trappings: lots of the faithful showing up in costume; an endless procession of both major and minor celebrities with whom one could (for a "nominal" fee, naturally) have ones picture taken or who would autograph various and sundry marketing paraphenalia; a set schedule of speakers sessions focussing on such arcana as, "The Soul of 'Star Trek'", "The Age of Space Tourism", and "Four Decades of Fandom"; screenings of several fan-produced films; and of course, "the dealers room", where those fortunate enough to still have disposable income after paying as much as $1,000 for the three-day conclave & special events could purchase the obligatory props, jewelry, photographs, models, etc., etc. (Please note: my total expenditure for the Friday session, the Gala and the Banquet came in at $255).
Frankly, the organizers might have been shy about calling it a duck, but from my perspective, it sure walked and quacked like one would imagine such a waterfowl would do.
The most interesting thing about the whole shebang, so far as I was concerned at least, was the very curious and strange relationship between the fans and the performers themselves, and how it plays out under these kinds of circumstances.
The typical fan tends to fall into one of two distinct categories, the first and foremost being the True Believers: the ones who dress up in the costumes and treat the actors with the sort of adulation generally reserved for political or religious leaders; and secondly, the Inspired, those who, while no less respectful of the performers talents and accomplishments, tend to view them, not as being inherently worthy of adoration for their own sake, but because of the example they have set that these fans have applied to their own lifes and ambitions. The former admires the performer simply for being the character, while the latter admires them for having brought some personal quality or trait to their depiction of the character.
One easy way to spot the difference between the two groups (aside from dress): the uberfan willingly stands in long lines, and pays exhorbitant amounts of money for an autograph or to have their picture taken with one of the celebrities, while the other group simply catches said celebrity in a candid moment, makes some brief expression of how they inspired them in their own life, and then asks to have their picture taken, or to have their program signed.
The performers themselves seem to take both types equally in-stride. They seem to have an innate recognition (although probably formulated over several decades of repetition) that the most fanatical fans have made their success possible in large measure, while by the same token, the less exhuberent fans tend to communicate how the performer has served as a role model or inspiration, thus lending credibility and relevence to their position. So, on the one hand, they give validation to one type of fan, and receive validation from the other. Yet in both cases, there is some basis for a transactional relationship: in one it's simply exhanging currency for access, while in the other the medium of exhange is on the order of a personal testimony to the performer's ability to inspire others to achieve personal goals.
Like I said, its an interesting phenomenon to observe, and makes me a bit curious as to whether anyone has actually made any sort of formal analysis of these types of transactional relationships, because, although I think some of the individuals involved probably have some awareness as to exactly how all this plays out, there seems to be a lot more going on than most appear - on the surface at least - to acknowledge.
And for the record, apparently I don't fit into either of these categories, seeing as I neither paid for, nor asked for any pictures or autographs - although, as someone "in the industry", I'd like to rationalize that as professional courtesy, nothing more.
Oh, and in case all this heady commentary has you wondering - yes, I enjoyed myself immensely.
I always thought opera was the Klingon musical genre of choice, but apparently, some are into HardCore as well, as the evening's entertainment at the "Star Trek" 40th Anniversary Gala atop the Space Needle will attest. One notable similarity to earth-based Heavy Metal music: the lyrics are equally unintelligible, even granting that they're being "sung" (shouted more like) in a foreign language.
Another Observation: When put in a room together with food and booze, the industry types will immediately head for the bar, while the Sci-Fi geeks will descend on the dessert buffet like a horde of locust-like aliens. Also, the "one person, one dessert" rule doesn't seem to apply in these situations, which would explain why the average S-F geek tends toward the portly side.
(Well, technically they were blue urban skies, but you get the drift.)
With the passing of Labor Day Weekend, and our annual Artsy-Fartsy Community Fest now behind us, summer in the Upper Left Hand really is drawing to a close; although according to the weather forecast, we've still got a few good days left in store before the weather pattern transitions to our nine months of soggy grayness.
Not much on the news front: Mr. laptop was down-and-out for a couple of days due to a crashed harddrive, but is now back to work with a 40 Gb drive (up from its factory installed 10Gb), plus an additional 512 Mb RAM, thus quadrupling storage & tripling memory access - almost like having a brand new machine! I was always under the impression that laptops, unlike PC boxes, were inherently non-upgradeable, but fortunately that seems to be a fallacy perpetuated no doubt by laptop manufacturers who don't want you to know that for a measely $250 you can get several spiffy upgrades to your current portable, instead of plunking down $1,000 + for a new machine. Boo on them - yay to Seattle Laptop!
And yes, I did attend one day of Bumbershoot, yesterday, where I spent a full 12 hours immersed in the sights, sounds & smells of 80,000 or more locals wandering aimlessly through the Seattle Center grounds, taking in a musical act here-and-there (Steve Miller, English Beat, Rocky Votolato, Izabelle), several live stage performances (John Moe, Matt Smith, the incomparable Reggie Watts), as well as our dearly beloved Annex Theatre's "A Very Special Bumbershoot Edition" of "Spin The Bottle". Finally left at around 11:00 p.m., after a long day of wandering, listening, sitting, standing in a couple of long lines for things I never even got into (and according to a couple of reports was lucky to not have done so), my feet sore and my stomach full-to-nearly-bursting from eating way too much county fair fare.
A lot of long-time 'shooters continue their now annual ritual of complaining about the ever increasing commerciality of the enterprise, along with the escalating ticket prices (many of these same people, in typical geezer fashion, lament "the good old days" when it was a free event, which is hasn't been for something like 25 years), the dearth of local artists (which, admittedly has occured to a certain extent on the music front, but has been compensated for by increased booking of local spoken-word and theatre, which incidentally wasn't even part of "Seattle's Annual Arts Festival" until a couple of years ago), and the fact that they now have to wait for hours in line with the hoi-polloi from the 'burbs instead of being able to sashay their way into the limited seating venues on five minutes notice, like they used to be able to do (although when exactly that may have been remains a mystery, since, in my 20 some-odd years of on-and-off attendance, the lines have ALWAYS existed).
But for me at least, one of the attractions of Bumbershoot has always been the opportunity to expose oneself to acts one might not normally go out of ones way to see otherwise. Sure, it's great to see the old fuddy-duddy headliners playing once again to huge, stadium sized crowds bordering on five figures (and for what it was worth, Steve Miller can still play and sing as well as ever), and yes, perhaps it's even worth it to stand in long lines for the likes of a David Cross or Upright Citizens Brigade or even Mike Daisey, but these are the exceptions rather than the rule for an event where you can just wander around at your leisure, take in a bit of something on one outdoor stage, stay if you like it, or wend your way through the crowds to another in search of something more to your taste, or, more importantly, something completely new and different.
So, complain away you old urban foggies: I'll be back again next year to mix it up with the eastside families who only come to Seattle once a year, the herds of teens doing their last bit of summer break social grazing, and the geriatric hippies who use Bumbershoot as an excuse to haul out the moth-eaten tie-die and love beads one more time.