Friday, May 1, 2015

Treklanta 2015

Treklanta [] was a terrific reminder of why I absolutely love the smaller, fan-run conventions. Formerly TrekTrax Atlanta, the convention now known as Treklanta expanded into its current incarnation last year, celebrating all "space opera" franchises in addition to its original Trekkie focus. It is held (obviously) in Atlanta, Georgia.

Heading there on South West Airlines was the perfect start. What a great flight with an intelligent, personable, witty crew though the airline's slogan "without a heart a plane is just a machine" had me wondering whether The Sirrius Cybernetics Corporation had a hand in the design.

Friday night, for me, consisted of Opening Ceremonies and the VIP Champange Reception. In between those two events, in the hotel restaurant, I also had the delight of meeting a lovely group of Newfies from St Johns, a beautiful Newfoundland city where I had once had the pleasure of spending six weeks working on a film. I joined them for a quick dinner of fish and chips. I would later learn that they had created and starred in the fan film "Star Trek: Reliant." The VIP Champange Reception was comfortably low key, and I was able to meet and converse with many attendees and guests while enjoying plentiful hors d'oeuvres and various champagnes (the Brut was my favorite and quite effective). I said "converse" but, of course, the more I enjoyed the champagne, the more the "conversation" became "happy heated debate". Good people, Great fun.

After the Alka-Seltzer, Saturday was a full day fueled by yummy, made-to-order omelets from the breakfast buffet. No I mean it. I know it was a hotel omelet but it was delicious. I could be wrong but I think they actually used eggs. The egg-chef James haled from Trinidad. Later, after a bit of autograph signing, I decided to creep in and catch the second half of the "Babylon 5" introductory panel from the back of the room but was spotted by panelists and invited on stage. A glutton for attention, up I went and finding it hard to keep quiet on a stage, with inadvertent self-indulgence I diverted the panel's focus for a minute or two. I did settle down and focus as we were treated to a slideshow guide of all alien species that appear in B5. Wow there are a lot of them. Luckily for me, my own panel that was scheduled immediately after was in the same room, so we had a smooth transition to my "An Hour With Jason Carter". I didn't have to move off my butt and the room filled up.

Aware there were a couple of kids watching I endeavored to respond to questions in a 'family friendly' manner and was for the most part successful. We all had a good laugh, even without swearing, so I assume we all had fun. As I finished and headed back to my table to sign, I was instead whisked away to film my bit for Project: Potemkin. My cameo is in their third and last collaborative vingnette "Room Service", which is not yet available but I will post a link on social media when it is.

The highlight of Saturday was Treklanta's hosting of the 16th annual Miss Klingon Empire Beauty Pageant. I was on the judges' panel along with fellow guests Sean Kenney, Anne Lockhart and Keith R. A. DeCandido. I will post a video as soon as one is available, but let me tell you now it was a highly entertaining hoot as well as a fine display of several lovely ladies' talent. Anne Lockhart at one point gasped "Is anyone recording this? I've never laughed so much in my life! I'm crying!" The Treklanta con chair, Eric L. Watts, who is also the creator and producer of the pageant, MCed the event as a very authetic and commanding klingon portrayal.

I'd like to take a moment to recognize my fellow Treklanta 2015 guests. Anne Lockhart - whom I had attended conventions with in the past but never actually had any conversation with – revealed herself as such an authentic and classy lady. She regaled me with tales of her fascinating pedigree and family history, as well as many stories of her acting career. As for Sean Kenney, I got to know him a bit slower. For a time on the B5 panel I had been playing with the B5 action figures that were strewn on the table and at the end of my panel, the unboxed 9-inch Marcus doll that had been having so much 'Team America' fun with the other dolls was generously gifted to me. Later in the day, Sean noticed it on my table, remarking with a wink, "Oh that's nice. They only made a Christmas ornament out of me!", He was referring to his Capt. Pike character from "Star Trek" TOS. What a quiet sweetheart he is, his birthday was on Saturday but the only way we learned of it was when, that evening, just after he had finished signing for the day, he was presented with a surprise birthday cake. Red Velvet birthday cake, he shared and it was delicious. The other guest, Keith R. A. DeCandido, I had met at several conventions in the past and we still get on quite well. I purchased a copy of his book "The Klingon Art of War" for my wife Tara, which she blazed through on Sunday and reported back to me how enjoyable it was, relating how in her words "it reflected both familiar elements in spiritual codes of conduct combined as well as teachings found in several martial arts disciplines". So now, though a much slower reader, I too have embarked on reading much of Klingon wisdom and honor. Thank you Keith.

Saturday night was such fun – I landed myself in the con suite and stayed up well into the night drinking, chatting, ranting, drinking and chatting again. Treklanta's hospitality suite was well laid-out and effortfully maintained, as well as being positioned on the top floor where our late-night loudmouthing (or anytime loudmouthing, really) wouldn't bother anyone. I extend a large amount of gratitude to the convention and to the hosting Mariott hotel for that particular boon.

The convention wound down a bit on Sunday, yet both of my mid-day events were very well-attended. My fellow guests and I presented awards at "The Independent Star Trek Fan Film Awards Ceremony", in which "Star Trek: Axanar" swept in nearly all categories. Following that, I did my second panel, appropriately titled "Another Hour With Jason Carter."

In review, Treklanta is a wonderful small (but growing) convention that is definitely "by fans, for fans." I highly recommend it to anyone who is tired of the huge commercial mega-cons with snooty celebs and desires a more casual and intimate environment with well-chosen guests who are not "too cool" to hang out, chat and have a good time with the attendees. I am thankful for the excellent experience I had there and extend immense gratitude to Treklanta for inviting me.