Thoughts While Watching Star Trek Voyager

*For Michele and The Kid, Two of My Favorite NerdsFor the past few years when the entire Matthews Family band can gather together, we try to catch an on-demand episode of Face Off, a SyFy network special effects makeup competition. The show has made me both more aware of the creations and more appreciative of what folks go through to create believable science fiction productions.

Mack and Mike

It’s hosted by McKenzie Westmore, an actress who played the leading romantic heroine on the soap opera Passions.  She has her own cosmetics line, but it’s not a vanity project, it’s a family tradition.  Her father Michael is the third generation of the Westmores to be a ground-breaking makeup and special effects designer.  He has an Oscar for the Cher movie, Mask, nine Emmys, and he invented the look of both the Ferengi and Borg.  On Face Off, the elder Westmore acts as creative and structural mentor to the contestants.

Seven of Nine, Tertiary Adjunct of Unimatrix Zero One, full-on Borg

During the Star Trek Voyager episode I was watching, there was a scene with Seven of Nine.  Seven had for many years been a Borg, a frightening race that can best be described as a cross between a cyborg and a zombie.  She’s been rescued, and most of her cybernetic implants have been excised—but a few were impossible to remove.  She has a prominent one on her forehead.

Seven, post-rescue and reconstruction

I’m not sure how Borg facial appliances might look, but Seven’s device seems completely authentic.  It absolutely looks right.  And Michael conceived this, carved it, and painted it.  Because of Face Off I know about this process.  I’ve seen it push many contestants to the breaking point.  I’m sure Westmore agonized over the design and sweat blood to bring his idea to fruition.But there were a couple of things during Voyager that made me yell at the TV in frustration.

My loudest hollering and most colorful language was reserved for flashlights.

Neelix, the Jar-Jar Binks of the Star Trek universe, using a Voyager flashlight.

Every time our intrepid crew show up unannounced at some Borg frat party gone wrong and need to light the dark ship they break out a rectangular light with a wrist band, roughly the size and shape of a big angular plastic corsage from some nightmarish, dystopian prom.

Worf and Riker using the most ridiculous flashlights of any century.  A literal flaming torch would be better, you could at least use that as a weapon.  But the ship’s fire suppression systems would keep putting them out…

Granted, they are an improvement over the Next Generations regulation flashlight, which was basically a 1960’s transistor radio that was held in a raised hand.  So, 50% of your hands are occupied in an unknown situation.  And the light’s so darn dim, everybody’s got to pitch in with their own brick, or nobody’s going to see anything.  It’s like the light was manufactured and marketed by intergalactic con artists who saw the Federation coming from a long way off.Dear Picard,

I’ve seen your flashlights.  You must admit, they kind of blow.  I know you live in the 24th century, and I’m just from 2018, but I have a couple of ideas.  Maybe wear the light on your head like a hat, on your face like glasses, on your shoulders secured to a hook on a piece of clothing.  Heck, it’s the future, maybe have it hover next you?

Jean Luc, I googled these today, in the 21st century.  Imagine what you might google.

Or, get Data’s and Geordie’s heads together one weekend after brunch and have them go all 2369 AD on it, and come up with some flashy, scifi solution.  How about eyedrops that luminesce and safely project light from the iris, or something future-y like that?

Thanks for your time, Captain.Trek on!


Maybe one day I’ll reveal my thoughts while watching a beloved fantasy/scifi program, Supernatural.  But there won’t be anywhere near as much cranky bellyaching.  Those Winchester brothers are so darn adorable they make everything all right.

Two to go, please.

You know, maybe I shouldn’t relay my thoughts while viewing those pretty, pretty boys…not everything that pops into my brain box needs to be publicly shared.

Thanks for your time.


Yeah? You Gotta Go Through Me First

This column originally had a different title.  More on that later.

The Kid was raised to have a deep appreciation for Star Trek, cartoons, and cheesy horror movies.

Then due to either nature, nurture, or a combination of both, my child took this inheritance and ran with it.  I in turn, was exposed to Doctor Who, British comedies, and graphic novels (the graphic novels didn’t take—I could never work up any love for them).

Supercon Man.

This past weekend was the Raleigh Supercon; a convention celebrating all of these areas of interest.  The Kid bought a three-day pass and gifted me with one, as well.GhostbustersIn addition to genre specific shopping and perhaps meeting actors from TV and movies, I expected to be surrounded by pasty and pathetic geeks, nerds, and dorks.  I would spend my weekend pointing and laughing.

The reality was a bit different.

We met some celebrities.  Boy, did we meet some celebrities.We met Tony Todd, the actor who had a recurring role playing Worf’s brother Kurn on Star Trek, The Next Generation.  He was so kind and interesting.  We went back to see him today to say thanks and goodbye.  We were rewarded with hugs and a peculiar but brilliant piece of wisdom.  We told him how nice we thought he was and he said, “I don’t understand being ugly to people.  It takes too much time.”

We met LeVar Burton; who was Geordie on STNG, and Brent Spiner; Data.

Mr Burton was very nice and Brent Spiner was friendly, goofy, and charming.  I got a hug, and so did The Kid. We met Michael Rooker, the blue guy from the Guardians of the Galaxy movies and also Grant from the Citizen Kane of horror comedies; Slither.  He’s the fun uncle that lets you drive his truck at age 12, and gives you your first beer at 14.  You’ll come away with epic stories, and maybe a tattoo or two.

On Saturday, we met Alex Kingston.  She is River Song on Doctor Who.  River is fierce, brilliant, loving and dangerous.  River Song is a role mode and the definition of strong, wise, resourceful womanhood.

River Song.

We saw her again Sunday afternoon, fifteen minutes after the announcement of the identity of the actor named as the new doctor.  For the first time ever, it’s a woman: Jodie Whittaker.

The 13th Doctor; Jodie Whittaker.

I was in the restroom, washing my hands, and guess who was at the next sink?

Acting completely out of character, I said hello and walked away.  It’s a strict policy; I do not accost actresses in the bathroom.

But, I was waiting for her outside.  I asked for her reaction to the casting decision.  Her words exactly: “I think it’s great, I’ve worked with her. She’s lovely!”

Empty Astronaut

Creepy, no?  This is a Vashta Nerada From the Doctor Who episode, “The Silent Library”.

Just call me ‘Scoop’ Matthews.

It was an eye-opening weekend.  Every single person, without exception was friendly and thoughtful.

The original title of this essay was, ‘Nerd-con 2017’.

But it and my pre-convention, condescending attitude were wrong.  Yes; when you picture the whole sci-fi scene, certain stereotypes come to mind.  And yes, there is some truth to them.


You might want to look over my left shoulder…Where’s Data!?!  Just over my left shoulder!!!

But then you get to know them and realize they’re so very much more.

They are smart, funny, kind, and deeply protective of one another.

So, all those one-dimensional nerds that were mere comedy fodder didn’t actually exist.  Instead was a building full of friends.  And while we may gently tease each other out of love, we’d better not catch any outsiders being mean. poison ivy‘Cause it ain’t right, and we ain’t having it.


The littlest Doctor.

Thanks for your time.