Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra

If you understand that, we are kindred spirits. If you don’t, well this post probably won’t interest you, but read it anyway! I attended my first ever Star Trek convention…in March…and I’m finally getting around to telling you about it.

The convention was hosted by Creation Entertainment in Secaucus, NJ. I knew the hotel it was held in very well. It’s right next door to the My 9 studios where I did my college internship and where the New York portion of the Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon was held every year. I’ve been receiving emails from Creation for years now about all kinds of conventions but never attended one until now. They are the company that does the Xena, Stargate, Lost, Battlestar Galactica, Farscape and Lord of the Rings conventions among others. Saturday’s guests included Rene Auburjonois (Odo from Deep Space Nine), Armin Shimerman (Quark from TNG and Deep Space Nine) and Brent Spiner (Data from TNG).

I had intended for my first Star Trek convention to be last years big celebration in Las Vegas but couldn’t find anyone willing to go with me. So, needless to say, I was a little let down by the size of this one. It definitely wasn’t as grand as I expected it to be. When I got to the hotel I almost thought I came on the wrong day. There were no signs saying the convention was there and there weren’t any crowds of people hanging around outside. The Trek conventions in this area are usually held in Secaucus or Cherry Hill. Why not New York or Philadelphia?

The cheapest way to attend one of these convention is to buy a single ticket at the door. No service fees and no paying around $300 for a Gold Pass that will get you a reserved seat. The room is small enough to give you a fair view with general seating. Food, like at any convention, will cost you an arm and a leg of course. 

Armin Shimerman and Rene Auburjonois

Armin Shimerman was first on stage after I got settled in. I saw him out in the hallway earlier looking cool as a cucumber with his jacket swung over this shoulder. I’m a fan of his work on Buffy the Vampire Slayer too of course so that was very exciting. I considered asking a question about that show instead of Star Trek but thought I’d get yelled at by the audience so I didn’t. Another girl there was brave enough to do so later on which made me happy. He seemed very happy to be there, most times answering questions with a story instead of a simple response. He was able to joke his way out of those questions you know some fan is inevitably going to ask like, how does certain technology on the show work. Not how did the prop work, how does something like that actually work in real life. I will never get that.

During his time on stage Shimerman was joined by Rene Auburjonois for some shared experiences and more fan questions. They seem to be really good friends and spoke about their roles on Boston Legal as well. After a few questions had gone by a familiar voice appeared on the microphone. Brent Spiner had snuck his way into the room and began acting like a fan. He even asked one of those technology questions they all love to get. Check out this YouTube clip another fan posted of the hilarity that ensued.

Auburjonois took the stage next and didn’t really need anyone to ask him any questions, he was quite capable of entertaining us with his stories about his past, like his role on Benson and about how his family is doing. Though he got one of my favorite questions of the day. A fan asked if he thought his character Odo could get “Borged.” Auburjonois went on for about five minutes about how he was sure Odo got “bored” occasionally until the fan corrected him. He then turned to the audience and said, “Did you know that’s what he meant?” To which we all replied, “yes.” He at least got a chuckle out of that.

During an intermission I took a stroll to the vendor room which was about the size of a large classroom. Chase Masterson (Leeta from DS9), Max Grodenchik (Rom from DS9) and if I remember correctly, Elizabeth Dennehy (Lt. Cmdr. Elizabeth Shelby from TNG) were signing there. I think I actually remember a table that was selling everything else but Star Trek merchandise. Also, before he went on stage, Brent Spiner was there signing copies of his new CD, “Dreamland.”

Brent Spiner on stage is something that must be seen if you have the chance. Like, I said, they were all very entertaining, but he is a true showman. Not only did we get a FANTASTIC Patrick Stewart impression but he was also willing to give us just the slightest bit of Data. Just a quick non-emotional face and a twitch of the head to the right. It lasted about a second but it was awesome. He also spent his time plugging his CD which he consistently reminded us we could order on his website TheRealBrentSpiner.com.

The rest of the day consisted of trivia contests, auctions and door prizes. The trivia contest involved fans posing the questions to other fans. Some questions were simple, some were extremely hard and some made me giggle. Like this one.

The highlight of the convention for me had to be the door prize giveaway. No, I didn’t win anything, someone else got something very special. Here is her own video explanation.

All in all I’d say I was a little disappointed by my first Star Trek convention experience but it was fun anyway and the people there were very nice. One thing I expected were a lot of costumes but there actually weren’t that many. A few girls in pretty dresses here and a few officers there but no Klingons or Cardassians or anything cool like that. Strangely enough there was a guy dressed as a Jedi. I was thoroughly confused until he got up to ask a question and announced that he was a Jedi Starfleet officer, then I was a little more confused. There was also a girl wearing one of those Chewbacca backpacks. I would have thought that kind of thing wouldn’t be allowed by either fandoms. It’s like the Montagues and the Capulets! Though, how the guy in the Care Bear suit got in, I’ll never know.

11 Responses to “Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra”

  1. Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra, best captured by the picard song

  2. Darmok and Jalad, best captured since the episode in the picard song

  3. DocHofmann says:

    Hah, fun coming across this. Very memorable episode referenced here. Someone in a chat earlier just randomly posted Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra and I quickly followed with When the Walls fell and we shared that connection lol. So did a search and found this blog.

    I'm definitely a big nerd, but I don't see myself going to a convention. Too out of the closet lol.

    Brent Spinner is an amazing actor. I've not seen him often out of the context of star trek but I think it was almost easy to miss how great of an actor he was by how that fact doesn't strike you when you watch data…he was brilliant, portraying data, especially in conveying the yearning for humanity with a sweet childlike innocence through an android exterior. By far my favorite trek character, I was upset when they killed him in that movie…but I did catch Spinner's comments on it and he had a very valid point…the reality is how could he continue to play an ageless android.

    He already looked far different then the initial data. Still they could have used CGI or I would be willing to suspend my disbelief. In the end though, they did in such a noble way that if he had to go, it was the way. I was affected for days after watching it…well anyway sorry for rambling.

    Fun reading this. Geeks and nerds, at bloggers, when the browser loaded! Shaka, his eyes uncovered!

  4. Mannix says:

    I just randomly Googled "Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra" because I was watching the episode on SyFy. Wanted to spell it correctly and lo and behold, I ran into this blog. Great read. I've never been to a Trek Con even though I've been a fan since TNG came out. This was a great read for the uninitiated. Thank you. Love your writing style. You have a new fan!

  5. Nerdy Bird says:

    Thanks Shelly!

  6. Shelly says:

    Cool. Thanks for posting the report. And nice blog, too.

  7. Nerdy Bird says:

    @ anonymous, yeah I’ve kinda heard similar things since I went. Chalk it up to a learning experience I guess.

    @ luke, thanks I did have a good time. Barclay was awesome, except for when he de-evolved into a spider. That was one of my favorite episodes but his part freaked me out!

    @ sam, yeah, I hear ya. Maybe one day I’ll invest in heading out to the West coast for one.

    @ geekboy, hehe. I wouldn’t say I was that brave though. I was totally thinking I was going to be out-geeked while I was there and told to leave. Haha. But no, I was fine. And Brent Spiner was hysterical for pretty much every second he was in the spotlight.

  8. GeekBoy says:

    “Shaka, when the walls fell!”

    Trek fan though I am, you’re much braver than me. I haven’t ventured into a Trek con yet. Maybe some day. That Brent Spiner clip was hilarious, though.

    I did go to a Chiller Con once, though, and that kind of cool. It had one of the more extensive “petting zoo” areas I’ve experienced at one of these things.

  9. Sam says:

    I agree that a Creation Con was probably not the best place for your first Star Trek convention experience. Unfortunately, on the East Coast, Trek conventions are few and far between. While I agree that you should try Chiller Theatre Expo, it’s more geared towards horror than Star Trek so the guests are slanted that way.
    The big NYC ST conventions are, sadly, a thing of the past. If you want a big, mega-Trek extravaganza, you have to go to the West Coast for that. Otherwise, you’ll just have these little shows over here.

  10. Luke says:

    Sounds like you had a good time. Never really got into Trek beyond TNG. Barclay was the man.

  11. Anonymous says:

    One of the reasons why Creation Cons are not well attended is that they have a bad reputation of being over priced and badly managed.. according to the Trek community. If you really like to attend a more active and cheaper Trek con, try the Chiller Theatre Expo which is held bi-annually in Parsippany. More of a sci-fi/horror con, so Trek guests are often the norm.