The Simpsons Does Star Trek

As a child of the 1970’s, I spent many Saturday afternoons watching “Star Trek: The Original Series” on TV. While each episode with Kirk, Spock and McCoy was fantastic, the end credits with the sweeping music and the iconic still scenes from past episodes made for a perfect ending. A recent episode of “The Simpsons” had an homage to the vintage “Star Trek” end credits, reproducing the still scenes with Simpson characters and adding a few still scenes from “Star Trek: The Next Generation” (i.e., daughter Lisa as the Borg queen). Having spent my teenage years with my mother when she became a crazy cat woman with 91 cats (I counted them one summer), the tribbles replaced by cat heads falling out of the bin was very disturbing.

Fundraising For Hollywood Science Fiction Museum

[iframe src=”” width=”100%” height=”480″]

When my friend and I went to the Las Vegas for the Star Trek Convention last summer, we met Houston Huddleston, founder and CEO of New Starship, who saved the Enterprise-D bridge from the dustbin of history and took it on tour to various science fiction conventions. He just started a Kickstarter project to raise the initial seed money to build the Hollywood Science Fiction Museum in 2018. A permanent home for the Star Trek bridge that will also feature ships, robots, cars, and memorabilia from many other science fiction movies and TV shows. The contribution goodies range from an official museum certificate ($1 USD) to hosting a wedding on the bridge ($2,000 USD) to an exclusive five-day video shoot on the bridge ($10,000 USD).

Updated 15 June 2014: With a shout out by George Takei on Twitter, the Kickstarter project is now fully funded.

Shipping Wars Delivers The Star Trek Bridge

[youtube url=]

One of the highlight of the 2013 Las Vegas Star Trek convention was the display of the Enterprise-D bridge that Houston Huddleston, founder and CEO of New Starship, has touring around the country before the bridge eventually goes into a permanent museum. My friend already had a “Captain, I saved the bridge!” t-shirt before we arrived at the convention. We met Houston, sat down in the chairs and had our pictures taken. The latest episode of the reality TV series, “Shipping Wars,” shows how the bridge got shipped to the convention.

If you’re not familiar with the show, a motley group of transporters bid on moving a shipment from Point A to Point B without loosing money. Chris and Robbie won the bid to deliver the bridge to Las Vegas and deliver the Doctor Who TARDIS console to California from the same science fiction convention in Texas with a four-day deadline. Jarrett won the bid to deliver five giant pumpkins from Ohio to Kentucky in one day. Meanwhile, the other transporters deliver their colorful commentary as events unfold on the show.

Chris and Robbie are perhaps the most clueless people ever to walk into a science fiction convention without knowing anything about Doctor Who and Star Trek TV series. The bridge arrived in Las Vegas without incident. The lid for the disassembled crate to ship the TARDIS console in got tossed en route because it kept falling on top of the bridge. Worst, they demanded full payment even though they failed to deliver the entire shipment to the customer. The stopped by the convention in Las Vegas on their way back home from California.

Jarrett was no better. Being the less experienced transporter out of the group, he finds himself in trouble when he comes around a corner too fast and a 1,000+ pound giant pumpkin goes flying off the trailer into a ditch to make pumpkin. He abandons the destroyed pumpkin, buys a similar giant pumpkin and almost gets away with not telling the owner what happen. Of course, the owner does figure out that this particular giant pumpkin wasn’t his. But Jarrett insisted and got full payment because the owner was in a bind, surprising himself that he can actually make money doing this.

While my friend and I were at the convention, we noticed quite a few camera crews running around the place. The end credits for the episode shows Chris in a Federation shirt and Robbie in a Federation skirt uniform and Vulcan ears, walking through the dealer room and sitting on the bridge with Houston. We may or may not have seen them being filmed.

Watching “The Profit” In Las Vegas

[youtube url=]

While attending the Star Trek convention in Las Vegas, my roommate and I had a role reversal between what we do in our off hours. After I come home from my tech job, I’m writing on the computer and he’s flipping through the TV channels with the remote. After arriving at our hotel room, I found myself flipping through the TV channels with the remote and he’s connecting with his Facebook friends at the convention on his iPad. A brand new reality TV show called “The Profit” on CNBC caught my attention.

Marcus Lemonis, a self-made multimillionaire, invests his own money to help owners turn around their struggling business by taking full control for a week and making practical changes in exchange for a percentage of the profits. He focuses on the Three P’s: People, Process and Product. A business needs two out of three to survive, but having all three working together creates more profit for the business.

The second episode of a six-episode season featured Jacob Maarse Flowers, a second-generation family owned florist business in Pasadena that the son, Hank, inherited after his father passed away. He proves himself early on as being a weasel more interested in sitting on his ass, collecting a paycheck and letting his mommy write the checks to bail out the business. When Marcus asked him why he doesn’t have the store phone number on the delivery vans, he doesn’t want to have customers calling because that means more work and buying more flowers. Not realizing that having too much business is a better problem than not having enough business.

Despite cleaning up the store, installing security cameras, equipping the vans with GPS and a wraparound graphic with the store phone number, Hank goes home before the re-opening party and doesn’t see how these changes will make a difference. He tries to reneges on a $150,000 USD investment for 25% of the profits and behaves like a spoiled brat when Marcus calls his mother on the speakerphone to demand his money back. The episode ends with Marcus planning to file a lien against the store building to get his money back. Later, while being interviewed on a different CNBC financial show, Marcus reports that the mother later returned his money.

Unlike the similar “Restaurant Impossible” with Robert Irvine on Food Network, where Robert often threatens to pull out if the owners refuse to change but somehow manages to reopen the renovated restaurant, “The Profit” doesn’t always have a happy ending because Marcus isn’t afraid to walk away from a bad deal. I find this refreshing for a reality TV show. Every business is different, few owners are willing to give up control and even the best deals can fall apart at the last minute.

After being a short story writer for seven years and an ebook publisher for three years, I’m in the process of reinventing myself and my business. “The Profit” is a very informative TV show that touches many of the issues that I’m facing as a business owner. I look forward to seeing the other episodes and the full season next year.

Crashing Into The Ground At LaGuardia Airport

[ooyala code=”pmajJqZDq2QaSQla7kj4_N2T1-5fp1JO” player_id=”58211ecec9464f9a91bf4565aae5f442″]

After the airplane crash landed in San Francisco, my roommate reassured me that I had nothing to worry about for my first airplane trip that I’m taking on my birthday next month. Southwest Airlines flies the older Boeing 737 airplanes that are more reliable than the newer Boeing 777 airplane that crashed. And then a Southwest Airlines 737 crash landed at LaGuardia Airport after the nose gear collapsed and the airplane skidded to a halt on the runway.

Nothing to worry about.

As a child growing up in the 1970’s, it seemed like an airplane either crashing or being hijacked by terrorists every other week. Flying on an airplane got added to a long list of things that I would never do. Something I avoided for many years by never going anywhere far enough from Silicon Valley that couldn’t be reached by car.

As I got older in life, the list of things that I would never do got shorter. If I could get my driver license at the tender young age of 37, perhaps I could take an airplane to Las Vegas on my 44th birthday. That the Las Vegas Star Trek convention is taking place the same week I’ll be there is purely coincidental. Considering how much I paid for this trip over the last six months, not going isn’t an option.

I still need to get used to the idea of hurling through the sky in a cigar-shaped coffin, but these crashes aren’t helping that much. I’ll probably end up like William Shatner in The Twilight Zone TV episode, “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet,” being carried out on a stretcher after losing it on the airplane.

The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins By Leonard Nimoy

Leonard Nimoy sings a ditty about Biblo Baggins the Hobbit in the Spock vs. Spock car commercial. Since golf was a prominent theme, I thought this was a cute reference to “The Hobbit” movie about the ancestor of Biblo Baggins, Bandobras “Bullroarer” Took, who loped off a goblin head into a rabbit hole to invent the game of golf.

Not quite.

The song, “The Ballad of Biblio Baggins” was sung by Nimoy for a variety TV show in 1967, when “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of The Rings” by J.R.R. Tolkien became popular with the baby boomers in the United States. As “Star Trek: The Original Series” was in production at the time, Nimoy sported his Vulcan haircut during this appearance.

The Spock Vs. Spock Car Commercial

The Spock Vs. Spock car commercial came out just before the release of “Star Trek Into the Darkness” in the theaters was probably more revealing about the movie than the worst kept secret about who the super villain would be. (The inclusion of Carol Marcus played by Alice Eve was a dead giveaway.) One of the best kept secret was a cameo by Leonard Nimoy, where the younger Spock (Zachary Quinto) called the older Spock for help.

I saw the movie twice in the same week. The first time was at a sneak preview showing hours before the official midnight showing at the AMC Cupertino Square, where the audience—some dressed in costume—were hooting and hollering whenever major characters introduced themselves and events unfolded. The second time was with a general audience at the Camera 12 Cinema that was less enthusiastic about watching the movie, perhaps overwhelmed by the stunning visual effects and convoluted storyline.

As for the commercial, I found it fascinating that Nimoy would drop an F-bomb when he discovered that his golf clubs wouldn’t fit inside the trunk. If he played golf on a regular basis with this car (unlikely since it had no license plate), he would have already known that the golf clubs wouldn’t fit in the trunk. His emotional response seems… illogical.