Friday, April 27, 2007

Obsessions about Nuptials

It’s three weeks before the wedding, and I am obsessing about wedding rings.

This is a delightful event for someone with OCD. I am not obsessive compulsive, or at least I haven’t been diagnosed. I don’t rub out spots for 10 hours, or wash my hands incessantly. But I have….tendencies. Doesn’t everyone?

So I’ve been looking at everyone’s ring finger. Seeing what they have. What do they sport. People who are married who don’t wear rings get a raised eyebrow, sort of Spock-like.

But I’ve been doing less of that lately. I don’t have to obsess about rings. There are so many other things to obsess about!

Today it was wedding cakes. I have already ordered the cake. It’s two different flavors with yummy icing. But, still, I wonder… So when I was at the San Francisco Ferry Building today, I looked at some shop’s mini cakes. I was tempted to go right into Taste Test right then and there, but my travel mate might have reminded me that we hadn’t walked enough to go that route. I’m not sure if the Boston Marathon would’ve qualified us. But they were soo cute!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

It's a Bit of a Stretch

I posted a goal on 43things about three weeks ago that I'd lose 10 pounds by April 15th. I didn't make it, but I blame it all on my back.

I was doing well intake-wise, but I couldn't exercise. Every time I moved one leg in front of the other, the muscles in my lower back would scream. So I rested it for three weeks. I cancelled the walk yesterday with George, but today I found myself with two hours before lunch with the boys. So I hit Lake Merritt.

My back didn't hurt at all as I started down the trail. Well, other back muscles hurt, the usual suspects, but not the ones that bothered me in recent past. So I was quite pleased with that.

Oh, how I miss the gains I made when I first started walking every day right after I retired! I joined a weight-loss group, watched my caloric intake, and walked either Lake Merritt or the San Leandro Marina, depending on the weather. (If it was warm, I would shun the lake's heat and go for the cooling breezes of the marina.) In those days, I was listening to a lot of audiotapes to kill the monotony of the hour-long walk. Jack London, Memoirs of a Geisha, tales of a veterinarian in England. But that was before my iPod. Now, I listen with glee to podcasts.

And today I was catching up on Battlestar Galactica. Today's podcast was a bit longer than the walk itself, a fan-attended meeting where Ron Moore meets his fans and his detractors. I was just getting to the part where I found out which characters were part of the Final Four (Cylons), when my achilles tendons started thumping like mad.

I had to stop and do some stretches with the bench along the lakeshore. It eased up a little, but not a lot. And that reminded me of a friend who asked recently, why do something that hurts? If you've ever done leg stretches, you know they hurt. But the idea is that they'll hurt less when you've stretched and warmed up those muscles.

I recently got a rope (through the internet) that allows me to stretch my leg muscles before I leave the house. I used to do it every day, and it really helped with work, but lost the rope in the 2000 move. Now that I've got that rope, I hope to keep up the stretches of calf muscles, hamstrings, and Achilles. These are my nemeses, the obstacles to walking regularly.

I have two charitable walks, both 5Ks, this weekend, the one for the March of Dimes on Saturday, and the one in support of Darfur on Sunday. I had better stretch before I go.

As it turned out, I was in constant pain for the first third of my walk today, but as the muscles eased up, warmed up, and stretched out, the pain went away. The last third was sheer pleasure. As I was listening to Ron Moore tell us about the 4th season, the walk, and the pain, was over.

Friday, April 20, 2007

FedEx it to Malta, please, all for $1.98

EBay has always been a little adventure, most of it good, but some of it a pain in the ass.

The pain very often comes when buyers want a different kind of shipping than advertised. I always tell them in my auctions exactly how much the shipping will be to U.S. destinations, Canada, and other international destinations, all by common mail service. Some want insurance, some want FedEx or UPS, some want signatures on the other end, just so they can be sure to get it and that it's not too destroyed. Many have reported angry federal workers posing as courteous postal workers who love to fold up their mail as destructively as possible and shove it into their boxes.

I bought a new digital camera a few weeks ago. It does everything my previous Kodak camera did, even with the 10 times zoom, but in a smaller package. So I thought I'd list the 3-year-old Kodak on eBay. I didn't exactly do it right first time out of the box, but thanks to the easy-to-use "revise" button, I could add some things. I didn't predict, though, that within hours of the posting, it would already have bids. I guess that's in response to the $9.99 start price. (I paid $300 for the $400 retail camera three years ago.) Once the item is bid on, you can't change things in the auction; you can only add. So when I figured out I had the charger and the battery, and they were no good to me separately, I added those on.

Seven days later, the camera that I thought I'd get $20 for -- I mean, how do you know how a used camera is going to perform? -- sold for $113. The guy was in Malta. I had estimated $20 for shipping to international destinations other than Canada. I thought that would be high.

Then started a series of emails back and forth about shipping. Can you ship it FedEx? He wanted a tracking service and signature required. I said no, I don't do FedEx, as it's too hard to get to, but I will do UPS. So, before he answered, I went down to my local UPS store, where I receive all my mail (so it wasn't really out of my way), and asked Charlie for an estimate. I didn't have the address, but I figured "Malta" would do it. Charlie gave me an estimate of $167. Can you believe that??!

Obviously the Malta guy turned that estimate down immediately, and started refiguring how we could do this so that he could still be assured of delivery. He sent me $13 extra on PayPal "for all my trouble." "Please insure it if you can," he added.

I hate postal insurance. I've been doing business on eBay since the mid-'90's, and it's nothing but a hassle. So I don't advertise that as an option. Some eBay sellers demand it, which seems foolish. In fact, some demand it, get the money, and then don't use it, swearing that they'll make it up to the person if they receive it damaged or don't receive it at all.

Insuring with the U.S. Postal Service is like self-flagellation. You pay the money, but when it comes time to claim it for damaged merchandise or lost merchandise, you're in trouble. The post office will not believe the item was lost, and will ask you to wait months before you make the claim. They may not approve it even so. If it's damaged, the guy in Malta would have to ship it BACK to me because only I could make the claim! He would also have to include the damaged packaging so that I could include that when I filled out the voluminous paperwork. And then they would probably also insist on proof that the camera was worth $100, which I don't have. So I try to discourage anybody from insurance, but sometimes they just don't listen to you. So I either say yes or no, depending on the value of the item.

This time I said yes. The total shipping to Malta with insurance was $27. Let's hope it makes it.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

If the Suit Fits...

You know that scene in Casino Royale where Daniel Craig’s rugged blue-collar Bond says he doesn’t need a tailored suit? Then he tries one on and can’t stop looking at himself in the mirror, clearly pleased with the look?

That was me today. He put the suit jacket on me, a cool slate blue with subdued white stripes, and, man. Kill me now. The fleeting thought of, gee, just think how good I’d look if I’d lost that 70 pounds in the last week. Or if I was just 5 inches taller. But a good suit hides a lot of things (okay, maybe not that many, but a lot).

This was my first time ever having a sales associate who knew what he was doing take me into his professional arms and outfit me. And then bring a tailor in to mark the suit for alterations. The sales rep, Joe of Wilkes Bashford, kept saying, "I want you to get a suit you're comfortable in, and one you'll wear more than once." Hey, good idea.

There’s only a month left before the wedding, not enough time to start from scratch or get other off-the-rack pieces from other places. Nope, Joe had to do his magic in this store. Hey, who knew?

And who knew it was so involved, that it would take so long? It’s a matter of what colors work with my skin, for God’s sake, with my height, with my hair (!). When he asked what color, I said, “Well, my instructions are gray. Dark gray. Well, she said ‘gray’, and I added ‘dark.’” When Maryann interjected “black?”, Joe frowned and shook his head. “Not black.” Gee, that would’ve been my first choice.

I tried on a dark gray wool suit jacket that was just divine, but it was a tad too small and he didn’t have another. So then I tried on gray pants with white stripes, and although they fit well, they screamed white stripes. Maryann and I agreed that we didn’t like that pair. (Nobody seemed to care that the legs were 10 inches too long, and I keep tripping on them or walking on this fine material.)

Then we went to the shirts. First a tuxedo shirt….I can’t button it because, gee, where’d the buttons go, but he wanted to see how the neck fit. Then he gave me a pink shirt with buttons, but it was too large – and Maryann said pink is good! And he said, no, no, not a pink shirt. The tie will be pink.

Tie? I’m not wearing a tie. I told Maryann months ago, no tie. I…am…not…wearing…a…tie. Too masculine. Never have, never will.

So, another shirt -- “gee, you have a small neck” – and finally we got the right fit. It has French cuffs. I’ve never worn French cuffs. I don’t really like them. God, they’re big. “Don’t worry,” Joe assures me as we bond over this very long process. “When you put on the pink knots, everything will be brought together.”

And then he brings me a dark blue suit with muted white stripes, and matching pants (whose legs go on forever), and….yeah. That’s just right. The shirt works, too. So I try the whole ensemble on….and I feel like Bozo. I’ve got pants that are too long, a white shirt that is ludicrously too long in the arms, French cuffs that keep coming out of the jacket, a suit that bulges at the bra level…and they both think it’s a great look. Then we add the pink tie…and it kinda works. What a nice texture. What a beautiful, popping pink. I have to make a decision. It looks really good on me. The exquisitely dressed tailor comes in with his pin cushion (really), and marks the suit in all the bulging spots. In the meantime, Joe is shouting, “Pink knots!”

Next, the shoes! What an ordeal this is turning out to be. I get redressed and we go back down to the main level where all the real people are. He asked me what size I am. 9 Medium – so he turns to the shoe guy. (There are so many experts here, with thinly defined areas of expertise. Very welcoming, very friendly. And at one point, even Mr. Wilkes Bashford came in to shake my hand and welcome me.) The shoe guy says that the equivalent is a size 6 in a men's, and the sizes don't go down that small. So Joe thinks, my God, we have to get her some women’s shoes. Apparently this is quite a reach for him! I think he’s afraid of getting a feminine look which will go against the look of the suit and tie.

The woman salesperson -- very nice, very elegant – brings me these gorgeous, black, handmade Italian boots. The boots were cut off just above the ankle, and my slightly shorter black pants barely covered them. “No, no,” Joe says, “That’s all wrong.” My, God, Joe, these are beautiful shoes! They really are works of art. “I want lace-up.”

So she brings out the same sort of shoe, only with laces. Black. Smooth leather. Very long and narrow toe. The most form-fitting shoe I have ever worn in my life. In fact, I think it’s alive.

The heel is about 1.5 inches, more than I’d been wearing. Uh oh, say Maryann and Joe in concert, the pants will be too short now. Joe tells me to try the pants back on with the shoes. So I go into the dressing room, again with pants that are way too long, and put on the shoes, trying to keep the pants from falling all around them. I come out. We all agree after I prance back and forth, trying desperately not to trip, that these are the shoes. Well, at least they’re cheaper than the men’s shoes. We have to bring the long-suffering tailor back to re-measure and re-mark the pants. What's kind of amazing to me in this whole process is that I was never measured, just marked.

It’s belt time! I won’t bore you with the details, but, man! That process took a long time, too! With the help of another very nice male sales associate, we agree on a belt with a small silver belt buckle. Very stylish.

It’s over. Three hours of people fretting over me, three hours of trying things on and off, things that weren't really meant to fit me in the first place. I need dinner, fast.

I have never in my life been so pampered. And pampered in a non-judgmental, helpful way. The wool in the suit felt so smooth against my skin. The leather of the shoes was like baby's skin. The wine he offered us helped the pampered feeling. When I was working, this kind of thing, shopping for clothes in this way, would have helped tremendously in a process I learned to dread.

This is the last piece of preparation for the wedding. I just have one question:

What are pink knots?

Monday, April 16, 2007

The Grand Slam: The Vulcans, the Andorians and the Star Trek Fans

One reason you go to the Grand Slam is to see the people there. It’s not so much people watching, although there’s that, too. It’s more to see the people you have a nodding acquaintance with, and the people with whom you share this wonderful obsession.

I immediately saw someone I knew (besides the usual Creation employees I always say “hi” to): JoBeth. I first met JoBeth back in the mid-nineties when I went to Lunch with the Doctor, the second such event but the first for me, where we got to meet Alexander Sidding (Siddig El Fadil at the time), get autographs and ask questions. Gayle, the coordinator of the event, found out I was meeting friends at Disneyland, which was right next door, and asked if I’d take JoBeth with me. I had never met her before, but any friend of Gayle’s is a friend of mine, so we brought her along with us. JoBeth was a school teacher back in Texas, but now she’s a college professor. She’s an avid amateur photographer, and her digital SLR with huge flash is something to behold. She always takes the best photos, in large part because she usually has the best seats, right down front, and is very generous in sharing them with the Star Trek newsletters.

I asked her on Friday if she could send some to Carol for the Far Beyond the Stars newsletter, as I knew my photos would be horrible because my seat is so far away. She instantly told me she’d send me a disc with photos on it. Who do you want? Well, actually, all we need is Nana, I said. So I wrote my address and email on a business card for her, and she promised to send about 100 photos. Talk about overkill! But that’s what we do here.

On Friday night, I saw Gayle Lynn, whom I had seen at many a function. She originally headed the Philip Anglim fan club. Philip was a tremendous actor, starring on Broadway in The Elephant Man before he guest-starred for several episodes as Vedek Bareil on Deep Space Nine, but now he's retired to a farm in Virginia. Before that there was a charge of stalking against Gayle Lynn concerning some other star, or at least that’s what I had heard from several sources. That night when I gave her a hug and asked her how she was, she replied, “I’m….all right, I think. Yes. I’m fine.” (She always was a trifle dramatic.) When I asked what happened, she said she had been assaulted that morning by a homeless person, who threw a rock at her for no reason. She was still shaken up. The others I sort of recognized, and sat with them for the cabaret performance. When we saw that so few of the Gold section people showed up for the cabaret, we moved up a bit.

When Marc Alaimo gave his Shakespeare talk, he invited three fans to join him on stage. The woman right in front of me tentatively raised her hand. I whispered, stand up! She did and was chosen. She ran to the stage. Maybe she’s a budding actress? They were all asked to read from the Hamlet speech, and Marc would help. She read her lines beautifully, and it turned out that her son was studying Hamlet in school that very week. But I noticed that none of her friends were taking photos, so I took several. When she got back to her seat, I offered to send her the photos if she’d write her email address down for me. She was delighted.

There were some terrific costumes about, but fewer than in previous Grand Slams, during its glory. Truth is, the Las Vegas convention has taken over the grandeur of Star Trek conventions, grandeur that used to only belong to the Grand Slam. That’s why they added “Sci Fi Summit” to the name, so people would know it’s no longer about Star Trek. The Las Vegas one is totally devoted to Star Trek. The Cylon I saw out in the courtyard never showed at the costume competition.
And the little kid dressed as Spock wasn’t there, which is really too bad, as he would’ve taken home some neat prizes. The Andorian woman won the competition, but almost didn’t make it, as they started the durn thing a full half an hour earlier than announced.

When I attended the Battlestar Galactica charity breakfast on Sunday morning, we had to wait in line in the freezing shade for half an hour before they opened up. The security person told me that the keys they brought down to open the place didn’t work at first. The man next to me in line had his son with him, and was cheerfully complaining about the fact that they missed two photo ops with some stars because they had too much to do. “I put it all on a spreadsheet,” he told me, “and we still missed them.” Walter Koenig was grumpy about it – “He was kind of a jerk” – but George Takei, as predicted, was very nice and accommodating when they showed up a few minutes late. Apparently he and his son had Gold tickets, but decided to also go for many photo ops and autographs. That sounded so familiar to me that I had to smile. Creation used to include all the autographs, but they no longer do. And now they’ve added photo ops – gosh, we used to have photos taken of us with the stars when we got the autographs. Now that you can no longer do that, it’s really quick getting 500 autographs in. It used to take hours before.

At the breakfast, I saw Julie Caitlin Brown standing by the wall, which I thought was very peculiar. I used to be involved in Julie’s fan club in the ‘90’s, and even helped her with her autograph session in Sacramento one year. She was a very versatile actress, 6’ tall (which was called for in some of her roles), acting on Star Trek’s Next Generation and Deep Space Nine (one role each), and had a recurring role on Babylon 5 as Na’Toth, G’Kar’s assistant. She quit the latter role when she demanded that the producers sign a legal document promising to provide free plastic surgery if and when the makeup caused damage to her skin. The glue of the prosthetics was already causing damage; Michael Dorn’s problems were already well known. They refused, and she quit, and had problems after that getting roles as aliens.

I saw Julie again when I stepped up to get Katee Sackhoff’s autograph, whom I wanted to see and say hi to (not knowing the breakfast would afford me that opportunity). She was sitting with Katee, and when I arrived at the front of the line, she recognized me instantly. I asked her, “Are you representing talent these days?” and she replied, “Oh, I’ve been doing this for 12 years now!” Good for her. Her aggressiveness, I’m sure, will pay off. I saw her later escorting Kate Vernon, who played Colonel Tigh’s wife on Battlestar, so I’m sure she represents her, but I’m not sure if she’s managing Katee. That would be a real coup if so.

I landed a fantastic seat, I must say, for the convention. I monitor the Creation website on a daily basis, looking for when the convention I want goes to the reserved seats instead of just the premiere Gold. I no longer want to pay $500 for the seat, and I don’t “need” the autographs any more. My seat was right behind the Gold, and I was on the aisle. I would sneak up several rows, kneeling in the aisle (along with several other fans) when an actor would arrive on stage, and try to get a better photograph, scramble to my feet, then come back to my seat, usually to find my seatmate had moved over so she could get a better shot. Everybody in my row was very friendly, though, and it wasn’t a problem. Sometimes you’d come back after looking in the dealer’s room to find some other non-reserved person sitting there, but I’d just tell them to move over until the rest of the row showed up.

The young woman immediately next to me only came to two events, making it even less crowded in our row: James Marsters and the Battlestar panel. She was definitely younger than the rest of us, and seemed to know people in other parts of the auditorium. I kind of wonder, though, why she would pay for this reserved seat if she didn’t use it, but maybe she found a way of sitting with her friends.

I have to say that, and this didn’t used to be true, meeting the people who share your passion and talking with them, even if briefly, is one of the great highlights of convention life. I have really missed it.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

The Grand Slam: The Frakkin' Charity Breakfast

Battlestar Galactica Day at the Grand Slam

The woman next to me asked me if I’d ever been to one of “these breakfasts.” Oh, sure, I replied, maybe 10 or 20. I didn’t tell her this, but the breakfasts are either very bad or very good. The one time Hudson Leick came to visit us at our table and sat in the middle of it, right on top of the table – well, that was a very good one. At other breakfasts, however, the food buffet runs out or is cold, or, worse, the stars spend too much time at other tables and you don’t get to see them, talk to them or get photos. And, another bad thing, most of the time you just sit there for an hour or more with nothing to do but wait.

This was a very good one. The food wasn’t anything to scream about, but it was adequate in warmth, quality and quantity. The ten people at our table were very friendly, very engaging, and that enthusiasm always lifts the participants. The idea that they might get to talk to Jamie Bamber (Apollo) or Katee Sackhoff (Starbuck) was almost unbearable to some.

Jamie was the first to come to our table. When he first sat down at our table, he quickly looked at me and said, "Nice t-shirt," pointing to my Battlestar shirt. He immediately said, "Why aren't you wearing shirts like that?" to the other people at my table. He was dressed in a pink shirt unbuttoned down to almost his waist, and his hair was neatly coiffed. His beard was new, though, and when one of us asked about it, he said he was growing it “purely out of laziness,” which, said in his sophisticated British accent, sounded quite elegant. He’s been writing a story for Battlestar, he said, and has a meeting with Executive Producer Ron Moore next week. He and his wife just bought a house in L.A., and it closed on Friday. They’d been very busy moving and getting the kids in school.

After Jamie departed, the woman to the right of me stage-whispered to the woman across from her: “What did he smell like?” The woman who was asked look nonplussed, stuttered and said, “I don’t know. I think I forgot to breathe.”

Michael Trucco came by right after that, and told us this was his first convention. He asked where we were from, and told us he grew up in San Mateo. Katee came up from behind and moved Mike on to the next table, but not before they enjoyed a nice, long hug and a kiss. Katee sat down, looked at us, rolled her eyes, and said, “Can you believe I get to have love scenes with all these hunks?”

I am a little behind in watching BSG on DVR, so I was a little lost in plot points. Something about Starbuck dies, she isn’t dead, hey, I’m lost. So I’ll skip that, but she did say she plays an evil person on the new Bionic Woman. And she smokes, which really bothers her. Apparently, she just quit smoking, and vowed never to smoke as it might induce some kid to smoke. She kept that promise as Starbuck, but had to break it for Bionic Woman, but justifies it by saying she’s not Jamie Sommers. She’s the evil woman, and thinks kids won’t copy her.

Katee was very gracious, very engaging, and I noticed at the table next to us, she couldn’t get away from them when her time was up. They kept holding onto her, literally, until she ended up hugging every last one of them. It must be tough to be a symbol like that, where people are pushing their hopes onto you, maybe even projecting their troubles. I wonder how she handles it.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Live Long & Prosper: The Grand Slam


As I got into the elevator at the Marriott Hotel in Burbank (which used to be the Hilton), two young women got on with me. One pointed to me and said to her friend, “See, I knew we’d see Star Trek fans right away here.” I smiled. Maybe it was the Deep Space Nine t-shirt I was wearing that tipped her off. Star Trek fans are so friendly.

I saw a bunch of folks gathered for the Star Trek Cabaret on Friday night, and boldly went up to them and said, “Why do all of you look familiar?” In truth, I only knew one by name. “Yeah, that’s because we keep coming to these conventions,” said one, laughing. That’s the key: We keep coming.

Friday night’s cabaret show was very small, featuring only four actors, and we had no idea what they were going to do. The crowd, though, was also very small. But appreciative.

The intense Walter Koenig (Chekov) read four chapters from his new book. George Takei (Sulu) was very charming as he sang some songs from his past. One song, “Sentimental Journey,” was one he learned at about age 7 while imprisoned in a U.S. Japanese-American internment camp in northern California.

Marc Alaimo came out with an unusual approach: he was going to teach three fans how to read an act in Hamlet. It was very entertaining, mostly when Marc took over and spoke Shakespeare’s words “trippingly on the tongue” so that we could understand it all.

Nana Visitor came out as the final act, wearing black pants, black jacket, light green blouse, and three-inch high black boots. Her hair was a dark brown, almost black, and she instantly smiled and introduced her piano player, her husband Matthew. She sang three songs for us. The first one she introduced as the song she should have sung on Deep Space Nine instead of “Fever.” She wanted to do “Fever,” but Ira wanted her to sing “You Can’t Take That Away from Me.” She now knows why Ira might have made that choice, and she mentioned the word “bittersweet” when it came to the Kira-Odo relationship. Other song selections were a Harold Arlen song I didn’t know, and “Lost in the Stars.” She said she was in a real competition with one actress a long time ago, and pretty much hated her. “I couldn’t hate her any more,” she related, “after I heard her sing that song (Lost in the Stars).” Nana completely owned the stage, and I was disappointed when she left.

Nana appeared on stage with Marc Alaimo the next day on Saturday. Together for the first time. The crowd was delighted. Marc played, with great authority, the Cardassian Gul Dukat. Dukat was the most evil person (thing?) you'll ever see in fiction. He was a great character, and everything revolved around him when he was in a scene. That is, except when Major Kira was around. I don't think I'm telling tales out of school when I say that Marc, the man, was quite smitten with Nana, and tried to get the powers-that-be to write more scenes of the two together. Especially a plot twist that would show Major Kira giving in to the head Cardassian, and becoming her slave. Ira Steven Behr, the producer and head writer, almost bit, and told Nana he was writing such an episode. However, it didn't quite turn out that way. Nana at conventions is quite adamant that she's sure her character would rather die than submit to Dukat. I don't think Marc took that as a compliment.

There is a huge draw, it seems, to Smallville's Green Arrow, played by actor Justin Hartley. I had seen photos of Justin as Green Arrow, and, gee, he always seemed to be a bit young to me. And the idea that he and Lois Lane would have a romance... I'm sorry, but it just doesn't fit in with comic book canon. Justin himself is a really engaging guy, though, and admits that he could spend two hours on a stage, talking to us or even himself. And he almost did. I predict great things for this young actor; his next project is the movie, P.S. I Love You.

I loved seeing Robert Duncan McNeill on stage. Robbie pretty much doesn't act any more, but he's very busy directing. He first learned to direct on Star Trek: Voyager, where he acted for seven years, and is very grateful to Rick Berman for allowing him the chance to learn the craft. He much prefers it over acting now. I will always remember seeing Robbie about once a year or more at some function, introducing ourselves as members of his fan club. He would get up from the table or whatever, and shake our hands, thanking us. What a class act.

But most of the fans seemed to be there for one reason on Saturday afternoon: to see Spike. James Marsters was there, and would even perform in his own show that evening (a separate event that I won't be attending). I found him engaging and energetic. In fact, so much so that I couldn't get a decent photo of him....they are all in a moving blur. No bleached blond hair, no British accent. Just an actor who works at his craft. I really liked the honest things he said. In response to a fan's question about the rape scene on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, he said it took him to a dark place, a place he didn't recover from for a good four months. And with the help of therapy. Sarah Michelle seemed to have an easier time of it. He also said he feels like he went through a war with the folks on Buffy. When you work with someone for 15 hours a day for several days, you see the good and the bad, the complete person, because you can't hide. So, he doesn't feel he has to maintain contact with these folks and see them constantly.

It's interesting to see which sci fi shows people are keeping up with. Heroes has quite a following, and even though young (18, I think) actress Hayden Panettiere was five hours late and didn't get onstage until 7:30 pm, the place was almost packed. And when George Takei talked about Heroes, you had the feeling that many people were sitting in their seats just to hear about that, not about Sulu. Highlander has its remaining fans, usually female and aging, as evidenced by Adrian Paul's rousing welcome and the few Highlander jackets I saw. And there's still a bit of interest in Babylon 5, whose creator, Joe Strazcynski, is putting out a straight-to-DVD movie, The Lost Tales, featuring only three of the cast members. One of the Creation people stopped me on my way in yesterday afternoon, I thought perhaps to question my credentials, only to notice my B5 jacket and talk about the new one coming out.

On my way out of the building on Friday afternoon, I was asked if I'd answer a few questions about William Shatner and Star Trek. Of course! I forgot why, but, hey, if I'm asked my opinion, I usually don't need a reason. But it had something to do with Shatner's new project. They gave me a handout, so I'll have to do some research. My questions had to do with, are you a fan of him, why, what's your favorite Star Trek series and why.

Let me just say that it was wonderful being among Star Trek fans once again, and paying honor to actors who continue to keep us in their thoughts. And that we hope J.J. Abrams can get it right and carry on the Star Trek name in 2008.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Yellow and Flying Low

God, I hate these little buggers. The wasps are back.

This is a little, tiny nest in the front of the house, under the overhanging roof. It's only the beginning of April, but apparently they like the weather.

I'm going to post this photo so that looking at it will remind me to buy wasp traps!!

Last year's traps worked very well. A little hamburger, a wafting odor next to the garbage cans...

You can check in any time you want, but you can never leave. (See? Eagles trump wasps.)

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

You Don't Send Me Flours Any More

I love bread.

I did without bread for 8 days this year, during the entire (extended) week of Passover. No bread. No croutons. No crackers. No soy chips. No cake. No crepes (sob!). No sourdough at Crogan's. No canapes. Okay, I really don't like canapes, but even if I was offered, I wouldn't have them if they involved flour.

I had a steak tonight but nothing with it. But a couple of hours later, I made some toast and slathered it with butter. Not great for my diet, but oh so satisfying for the bread-starved palate!

I made it through the week! Another 357 days and I get to do this again.

Monday, April 09, 2007

The Beginning of a New Season

It was the day I’ve waited for since early October 2006. Opening Day at McFee Coliseum in Oakland. The Oakland A’s vs. the Chicago White Sox.

I actually didn’t have tickets, as I’m trying to avoid all night games. But when one ticket dropped into my hands at the banquet in spring training, I realized I was excited about the prospect. The jet flyover. The fireworks as we sing the national anthem. The presentation of Chavvy’s sixth gold glove. The lining up of the entire team along the third base chalk line. And the optimism of a new season.

I went two hours early, slipped in the back way along 98th Street, and discovered that the parking lot was already half full. The tailgaters are a breed unto themselves, aware that every parking space will be needed tonight, but not caring. They barbecued their hot dogs, stretched out, enjoying each other’s company. While the rest of us circled.

But since I was so early, I found a really good spot, and slowly put the accoutrement on. The jacket. The ticket holder (which displays the ticket so that no usher will bother me). The hat. I decided on the green-and-gold fitted cap instead of the soft spring training hats I’ve been wearing lately. Tonight was the night to display the colors.

The game really didn't go the A's way. While we got a whiff of Harden’s power, he never found his rhythm. And the A’s offense sputtered while they left men on base inning after inning. But, really, the game was secondary.

The women around me were interesting. The white-haired woman right in front of me had her green jacket on, her earphones on, and nobody but nobody talked to her. The woman behind me was patiently explaining to her husband that Chavez’s stroke will come around; he should just be patient.

We have real characters on our team. They are each capable of a record-breaking year. We believe that. We just have to be patient.