Barrett Manor

Julie Barrett is a freelance writer and photographer based in Plano, TX.

My, how time flies...

Fresh (almost) daily from Julie Barrett

Karen wrote a wonderful entry about the 40th anniversary of Star Trek today. Oh, yeah. It IS that time, isn't it? Like Karen, that show had an influnce on my life. Unlike Karen, I was allowed to stay up. Of course, I grew up in a different time zone than she did, so Trek was on before my own bedtime - barely. But like Karen, I watched the show with my dad.

I've got my dad to blame thank for an interest in SF and science and all things geek. One of my earliest television-related memories is watching The Twilight Zone with him back when we lived in Kansas. So when Romper Room was interrupted one morning by John Glenn's orbital launch I tossed my little balancing basket aside and sat down on the floor and watched. Dad got me hooked on all sorts of SF TV and a few other good shows like Alfred Hitchcock. He was one of those guys who came home from a long day of work and plopped himself down in front of the tube, but he was always happy to have one (or two, or all three) kids snuggle next to him. (He also fooled around with electronics stuff as a hobby, and I learned how to sort resistors at an early age.)

But we were talking about Star Trek. I remember watching the original run and being upset when it moved to Friday nights. I remember watching the final episode with a mixture of sadness and a pre-adolescent feeling that I now know very well as WTF?. Of course, I didn't know that phrase at that age!

Our local UHF station picked up the show in syndication, and so my brother and I watched every day without fail. My poor mom put up with this even though we would speak the dialogue along with the characters during our favorite episodes.

(It just crossed my mind that I need to dig up some pictures in order to illustrate this entry. Wow. Some of this stuff is filed away who knows where. Perhaps this weekend I'll have the time to dig up a few pictures.)

By this age my dad decided that I was old enough to read some of his SF books. What he didn't know (I think) was that I'd been checking them out from the library for quite some time. Not that he wouldn't have approved, especially since I stuck to age-appropriate stuff. Like Karen, I discovered Harlan Ellsion and in high school and college began to meet more people who shared my strange passion for this long-dead program.

We went to our first Trek convention in high school. A guy named Larry Herndon (sadly, no longer with us) put one one or two a year and brought in at least one well-known actor or actress every time. One of my favorite memories was of standing in the hallway talking with Ted Cassidy, who was in an episode called What Are Little Girls Made Of?. Of course, he's best-known as Lurch from The Addams Family. He's also homegrown talent. I asked for his autograph, and we ended up talking about all sorts of things. And yeah, he was TALL. And a very nice man. We got to meet just about all of the cast except for "the big three." David Gerrold was a guest one year, and we gave him a copy of our fanzine and I bought a tribble.

Yes, the fanzine. In college a group of us decided to start a zine. We called it Vulstar Equation. I can't remember the story behind the title. I wrote TV reviews and other non-fiction pieces. This was during the time when I was convinced I could never write decent fiction. The first issue of our zine held what I suspect is the distinction of being the first fanzine ever to be produced on a computer. This was back in 1977 or so. I have to digress to tell this story, but it's worth it.

I dated a Trek fan in high school. He was part of the gang, but he was two years ahead of me. When I started to university he happened to be going to the same institution and we started going out again. He introduced me to the basement computer lab and the IBM 1620. This baby took punch cards. He showed me which stacks held the games and how to load them. This computer didn't even have a CRT, so we played this grid game of Star Trek on a printer terminal! We broke up (at a convention!), but remained good friends and still are to this day. One morning I went down to play my morning Trek game, and here was this guy hunched over the console. Well! The nerve! (As if I had a monopoly on computer time.) He and I got to talking. The talk went from Trek to image orthocon pickup tubes. (I was a Radio-TV major, and he'd gone to a high school that had a TV studio.) I guess the pickup tubes as pickup line worked. We've been married for over 26 years.

Paul joined our group, which included a couple of other people who are now published authors in their own right including Teresa Patterson and P.N. Elrod. Pat is obviously the one from the group that made it big, though Teresa and I have had our own successes. Anyway, Paul helped us format the first issue of our zine using - you guessed it - punch cards. We thought punch cards was a cool idea because we could fix a typo in a single line easily. Of course, the line printer only used a monospaced all-capps font. Still, we were on the bleeding edge of technology here.

Before I met Paul, but still during college, word got to the student activities board that I was a Trekkie. I got invited to join the group that brought speakers to campus because they needed someone to help promote their next guest: Leonard Nimoy. Ya think I'd say no to that? I worked hard. I designed flyers. And for my trouble, I was designated the person to greet him at the airport - on the 10th anniversary of Star Trek! Nervous? You bet! There'a another story there. There's also the time we brought Harlan Ellison to campus. And boy, are there some stories to tell! They're all good stories. Nimoy was a lot of fun, believe it or not. And Ellison pretty much lived up to the stories we'd heard about him, but he wasn't nearly as intimidating as I'd expected.

I could go on and on, but I've got to get ready for a meeting. I'm not the rabid Trekkie that I was, but Trek was responsible for a lot of good things in my life. The early fanzine experience helped with my writing, which helped lead to what I do today. I know people who look at fanzines with a sneer, but I'm here to tell you that many, many writers got their start this way - if not through media fanzines, then through other amateur publications. Fanzines have a history going back at least to the 1930s. Like everything else, they follow Sturgeon's law. Most of it is drek, but the gems are out there, and a lot of the kids who wrote the good stuff then are doing it today - and making money at it.

Those were fun times. We dropped out of doing conventions for a while, but now we're back at them and having fun, although from a bit of a different angle. Now we're sitting on the guest side of the table - but still having a lot of fun!


Filed under: Life               
9/9/2006 10:23:27 AM
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