©02, The Media Desk
"... take lots of pictures and lots of notes..."
There's a restaurant just off interstate 95 in Aberdeen Maryland called the Japan House. It is your typical 'Hibachi' style place with the fire show egg-rolling chef cooking your dinner in front of you, and it's not. You can also find a table in a quiet spot and have a nice sit down dinner as well. Or a drink at the bar. Or eat your fill of sushi served by an energetic young man who will tell you the life story of your dinner if you want.
Well. The Desk and wife, Mrs. Desk, on their way to Shoreleave in Baltimore got off the bat-out-of-hell mad rush on southbound 95 and sat down to a quiet dinner.
The waitress was pretty and charming and helpful. She mentioned a few items and made a suggestion and brought plenty of iced tea. The dinner, the fried soft shell crab platter for two, was delicious. And the cooking show just around the corner provided the entertainment. The Desk's glass was never less than half full, and the sushi chef across the room did some violence to a salmon without requiring first aid. And the price charged for it all did not induce chest pain.
A good start to the weekend.
Then it was back to the high-speed madness of I-95.
With the Hunt Valley Inn full the Desk had been given digs at a Holiday Inn Select a couple of miles down the road.
Now the Desk isn't used to real hotels with real full service type things. Usually where it stays proudly announces on their sign out front that they have color TV and Air Conditioning. So this was a treat.
A room that didn't smell like somebody's cat. Hot water that meant something. A coffee pot in the room that really worked. A TV that didn't need slapped to turn the news guy from purple to off tan. Clean Towels and sheets. Right up town it was.
So Saturday morning the Desk and Mrs. Desk had breakfast and drove up to the site of the Shoreleave Convention.
If you've never been to a major heavy duty full scale alien invasion Science Fiction Convention (a Con in convention-speak) you have to go to one once in your life. You really do. There is no way to explain it other than to say, it is Something.
And it's not only the people in costume, and in Character (there is a difference), and the Dealer Floor, and the Art Show, and the Classes and Panels and Demonstrations, and the Information Booth, and the ... well, there is no end to it.
TV actors, real Astronauts, Space Scientists from the Hubble Team, and space cadets from who knows where.
Characters acted out scenes and Stars did meet and greets and answered questions about what kind of undergarments they wore under their costume in such and such a movie. Movies and TV shows played in a side room all day and half the night.
There was a Game Room where you could get into Magic or D&D for nine hours straight.
The Desk even sat on a panel discussing fans on the Net. What's out there and how to find it. (No the Desk is not an expert, but it played one at the convention.)
The Red Cross was doing a blood drive. Collecting almost seventy pints of blood Friday and Saturday. They could have done more, they had plenty of volunteers wanting to donate, but they simply ran out of time. Maybe next year, they'll have a bigger Bloodmobile or something.
Fans came from all over. In some cases from way out there. And most of them had a sense of humor about it all.
One Klingon Lady, in Character, answered in gruff clipped words until the Desk got her to step out of it with the question, "Are they paying you for this?"
"Oh no. I love it. It is so much fun." In the group picture she is lower front right.
Mr. Healy, front robot, was having a little more fun than some others. He had designed, cast, and built his armor from scratch. Everybody, including the Desk, thought they had seen them in a movie or video game or something. But no. "It's all my own design and engineering." And what a piece of work they were. Everything 'worked'. No they did not fly and no the lasers didn't work. But it all lit up and made noise like a good robot should.
But sometimes one needs to find an unused classroom and sit back and write some notes and check the schedule and brace oneself for what's to come.
The Desk did an hour shift at the IFT table. It was there it saw the Angel of Death and blond friend wandering around.
At the table the Desk noticed something. Being the only person at the table Not in Star Trek Uniform- Civilians would talk to it. Others in uniform or costume were about evenly split between the Desk and its uniformed co-hort at the table. Perhaps the Admiral in Charge should take notice of this item and schedule people accordingly.
While the Desk was doing all this, Mrs. Desk was spending her time shopping, people, and whatever, watching, and visiting with some of the volunteers and other conventioneers.
She found it rather enjoyable and "Different." Which is maybe the best word to describe the entire thing.
Then it was time for the USS RAVEN (IFT) crew to gather at the SOVEREIGN (SCI) bridge set for a group photo. Mrs. Desk opted out of the picture.
Almost full scale, 'working', and very impressive the Crew of the 'Ship' had built it to be noticed. And noticed it was. The SOVEREIGN was charging for use of their bridge to take pictures. Pictures taken with your own camera, while somebody else was paying for one, were free. The Desk gave its camera to a Klingon (you can't make this stuff up) and he took a couple of photos of the crew, gratis.
And before you ask, yes the blue plaid shirt, hat, and pipe are the Desk's official uniform. The sneer that passes for its smile was saved just for this occasion.
The SOVEREIGN's proceeds from the photos, and a 'Space Food' basket, were going to a charity that worked with troubled and at risk kids. The IFT was raffling off a large gift basket, for another charity that works with troubled kids, they've also helped babies with AIDS. And so on.
Not everything that went on was simply for fun and laughs. Almost every table had some sort of Charity and 'Good Work' tie in. Cans sat on vendor tables collecting change for Relay for Life teams. Donations were accepted for MDA. The Red Cross had people wandering around recruiting for the Blood Drive. And so on. But even at the Blood Drive table, when somebody in costume came up, there were some laughs.
All this time people were lined up to get the Star's autographs. People were buying stuff. Stopping in the bar to get a drink (this is the Desk's favorite picture from the whole weekend). And wandering around with a close friend.
And there were freebies. Pictures, buttons, posters, books. The Desk put out an assortment of Sci-Fi and Tech articles. Others had actual bound books, one being the directory of FANDOM from www.fandata.com.
The Desk got an extra set of pictures from the Hubble Space Telescope from the NASA table (not everything here is science fiction) and told the man from the Goddard Space Flight Center that they would make a pretty woman the Desk works with very happy. And they did.
Sunday Morning the Desk and Mrs. Desk went back to the Convention for one last look around.
Some things were still going strong. The various Raffles were being drawn and the winners posted. The Desk did not win at either table.
By noon the various displays were being taken down and some of the dealers were declaring 'SALES' with the stuff they didn't want to pack up and take home being marked down. In some cases, you could barter for a little better deal, and Mrs. Desk bought a couple of things. (thanks again for the VOYAGER glass and the hatpin!)
With so much to see and do, and see, and do. There is no way you can see and do it all.
We did Most of it.
And lived to write about it.
And we might do it again Next Year.
CREDITS, THANKS, and DISCLAIMER
[The Desk would like to thank the Crew of the RAVEN and the IFT for their assistance with this article. The Organizers and Staff of the Shoreleave Convention. The Marriott Hunt Valley Inn. And a special thank you to all those sporting folk in costume, and Character, who indulged the Desk's attempt at photography.]
[NOTE: All representations of Copyrighted Material including all things STAR TREK, STAR WARS, Warner Bros and DC Comics, FOX Studios, and all other characters and properties are used without permission but without intent to defame or harm said properties. Usage is held to be within acceptable terms of fair use. All images and properties remain property of their holders. Thank you.]