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In between his flag football game, during which we almost drowned, and his school's fall carnival, I took the 7-year-old who lives in my house to the Trekkie confab at the Plano Centre Saturday -- his idea, swear. And after strolling past tables full of action figures, board games and other dusty detritus, he opted for a tin full of magnetic balls, bless him. So, he said later, that's that for us -- he's all done with sci-fi cons. Fine by me.
What probably cinched it was our last-minute decision to duck into the jam-packed William Shatner Q&A, during which Shatner celebrated the fact Shit My Dad Says is a hit (and to think, Lone Star couldn't make it past two eps), announced his next album (Seeking Major Tom, a collection of "sci-fi song" covers) and discussed his Canadian Broadcasting Corporation-funded doc The Captains, about ... c'mon, guess. As we were walking out, an audience member was telling Shatner: "Now, you're also known as Denny Crane!" From the crowd, big cheers.
Our Danny Fulgencio had quite the different vantage point -- up-close and personal, as you can see from his slide show. Danny stuck around for most of Saturday, spending time with Christopher Lloyd, Tia Carrere and the grown-ups for whom Halloween had come eight days earlier. His terrific recap's on the other side.
Saturday's rainfall may have kept some folks at home wrapped in their Snuggies, but hundreds of others chose to boldly go where Trekkies have gone before: the Plano Center, host to the 2010 Star Trek Fan Days. This year's intergalactic shindig included, of course, William Shatner, Christopher Lloyd and a compliment of other celebs who hosted Q&A sessions and signed autographs.Christopher Lloyd
Overall, the event was pretty darn cool: thick crowds chattering under dim light, many sporting sci-fi bling -- Klingon foreheads, Vulcan ears and the occasional muffled voice bouncing around inside a stormtrooper's helmet. Indeed, it was clan unity for peeps flying their geek flags. I felt right at home.
Celebrity autographs came at a price: $25 a pop for Brent Spiner, who played Data on The Next Generation, up to $75 for Shatner's John Hancock. Or, if you and a buddy really had some cash to blow, you could chill with Shatner in a relaxed atmosphere for the warp-nine price of $495. Eesh.
Perhaps in response to Back to the Future's 25th anniversary, Lloyd drew a massive following that waited patiently while he rested in the green room. He returned with a Zen-like quietude and commenced signing autographs before shaking hands and meeting his fans' eyes with a sincere thank-you.
While waiting in line for Lloyd, some fans held posters; one guy, a DeLorean model; two other fellas -- one completely covered in a neon green skin-suit -- watched a video on a cell phone that had been shot an hour earlier, when a fist fight erupted outside Plano Center. Apparently the crew of Cheaters had again helped ruin someone's day.
Off in the exhibition hall sat a colorful playground of toys and memorabilia that kindled young and old childhood memories: Star Trek, Star Wars, G.I. Joe, Voltron ... Twilight. Forty years of fantasy art and kitsch packed under a single roof! The spectacle was only made greater by the flow of juicy sound bites like, "It's not a doll, it's an action figure" and, "What are your broadswords going for?"
During Tia Carrere's Q&A in the auditorium, and with time for one more question -- "a good one" -- a young man spoke from the back of the crowd: "Who's your favorite Street Fighter character?"
"That's a bad question," she said.
But of all the day's speakers, Shatner's attracted the biggest crowd, which spilled out of the auditorium. He gave an energetic performance about everything from Trekkie controversy to documentary film-making and his musical career, all infused with an intense carpe-diem vibe that earned him a standing ovation from an adoring audience.
By 5:30 the crowd had thinned with both children and adults bound for the parking lot with whatever loot they'd haggled out of merchants. There were many smiles, maybe because Star Trek Fan Days brought the Last Frontier just a little closer; or maybe because it afforded a collective surrender to that childhood fantasy -- the one that whispers, Live young and prosper.