Friday, January 29, 2016


Spread out in pieces on a work table, the USS Enterprise sits as if on a flat space dock, its parts carefully laid out around her iconic saucer awaiting the Starfleet engineers to complete their final assembly. But this is no fictional shipyard, but the real-life Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

The old girl has been to hell and back but she's finally getting the long-awaited refit she deserves. That's right – the original 11-foot-long shooting model of the legend that started it all – the USS Enterprise NCC 1701 – is in for repairs and will be on display this Saturday during the annual Open House at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center on Saturday, January 30. She's been taken apart, prodded, analyzed and measured, all toward the goal of stabilizing the model and returning it to its appearance from August of 1967, during the filming of the episode The Trouble with Tribbles, which marked the last known modification of the ship during the production of Star Trek.

Ready for restoration to inspire whole new generations.
This isn't the first time the model has undergone restoration. The last time was in the early nineties and lead to a controversial outcome. Instead of being given a freshening that would have reflected her true appearance in the studios of Desilu, someone thought it would be a good idea to "idealize" her and gave her an overly-detailed, totally inaccurate paint job instead. To this fan's eye the outcome was not pretty and should never have been called a "restoration" as the original appearance was never "restored". This time around things are apparently being done differently and the goal is a TRUE restoration – make her look like she actually did during original production almost a half century ago.

The final painting of the Enterprise model will begin in April, using newly discovered reference photos from an appeal to Star Trek fans in the fall. That appeal garnered all sorts of images that haven't been seen in decades and will aid the conservation process.

For a full report on the process and more photos, visit the Smithsonian Natioanl Air and Space Museum page.



Friday, January 22, 2016


This is the coolest thing I've come across in a long time and I had to share it. A guy named David Weiberg built a complete TOS Bridge Playset for his 8-year-old son, a budding Star Trek fan. It was created in the same scale as the old 5-inch Playmates action figures. Amazingly enough, with all the toys that Playmates made back in the 90's, they never made this playset!

Below are some shots of his amazing creation. It was made with wood and plastic and a lot of patience.

You'd swear you were on-set! All photos: David Weilberg
He began with basic wood construction building modules – just like the original shooting set:

He then moved on to the center command section:

And the all-important viewscreen:

All parts were then rough-assembled to check fit:

Everything was then filled, sanded and primed:

Next – building and painting the iconic chairs:

Then came the rails made from plastic:

And final paint:

Next came the super-critical client review:

Graphics creation:

And application:

And completion!

Notice his son's multi-level approach!
This is an incredibly cool and – let's face it, charming – piece of Star Trek-inspired love. I hope his boy has fun with it for years to come!

You'll find the entire build overview here:

Star Trek Bridge Playset



Friday, January 15, 2016


This story references the current controversy and lawsuit surrounding the Star Trek Axanar project. You can get more info HERE.

The folks over at Axanar are known for the "Donor Swag" they send out to their mindless minions who apparently have more money than common sense. Daniel James Squire over on the "I Stand With CBS" Facebook page gave the idea his own unique (and realistic!) twist:

I'm sure that all the unnamed "Doe" defendants (as in John and/or Jane Doe) will be sporting this on T-shirts and coffee mugs (filled with Axanar Coffee) real soon! That way we'll be able to pick them out in the courtroom.

Thanks for an inspired message, Daniel!



Friday, January 8, 2016


When the video of "Prelude to Axanar" became available on Youtube, I just rolled my eyes and ignored it. After all, its creator Alec Peters had, among other things, ACTUALLY THREATENED MY LIFE. So you'll forgive me if I was never going to be a supporter. And, by the way, I can't be the only person who noticed with not a little irony that Alec Peters' character in Axanar would go on to become a crazed lunatic bent on the destruction of all around him in the Star Trek original series episode "Whom Gods Destroy".

One of the these guys is a crazy, egocentric buffoon, bent on the destruction of everyone around him. The other is TV actor Steve Ihnat (left).
But with all this hoo-ha over Axanar, I decided that I really needed to see what all the fuss was  about. It's not that I thought I'd change my mind on the legality of the project – I have NOT. But I wanted to see why so many people were so passionate about defending an unwinnable proposition, ie: the survivability of Axanar after being sued by CBS and Paramount.

And so I cued up the video, cleared my mind, and hit "play". Here are my thoughts:

The Look

The thing really looked high-end, for the most part. The CGI was a bit uneven ranging from the burning cities – that looked a bit fake to me – to the space and ship scenes – some of which looked VERY good. Overall, not up to true feature film standards, but better than any fan film I'd ever seen. The one flaw to me was the overall design of things. Instead of establishing something retro-unique to their early Trek universe, they simply copied the aesthetic of "NuTrek", ie, the JJ Abrams films. Of all the visual touchstones to use, that's the least interesting to me, personally. And since Peters himself has panned those films, I'm shocked he'd use them as a design basis. It definitely shows a lack of creativity, however, and that shocks me not at all.

The Acting

I admit to being as big a Trek nerd as anyone, so that having Tony Todd, Gary Graham and J.G Hertzler all in one place, well, that's nerd heaven. But more to the point, they all delivered excellent performances. Kate Vernon was unknown to me (I had forgotten she was Ellen Tigh on BSG) but she also delivered a solid, engaging performance. To my surprise, I was less taken with Richard Hatch's performance. Not Klingon enough, perhaps? It's not that he was bad, just not very interesting. And then there's Alec Peters, the creator/actor/writer/"This isn't a vanity project"/visionary himself. I wish I could tell you he sucked, but he didn't. He put in a perfectly serviceable performance for an amateur. But when compared to the rest of the cast, he was obviously the weakest link. No one but he would have ever cast him as a lead role. There's no "there", there. Vanity, thy name is Alec.

The Story

And now to the heart of the matter. Because no matter how well done the CGI might be, or how good the acting might be, the heart of any production is the story.

Spoiler alert: this story was simply stupid.

At the heart of this short film is the notion that one man – Garth of Izar – comes up with a battle plan against the Klingons that is so innovative, so brilliant and of such genius, that it turns the tide of the war and establishes Garth as one of the greatest heroes of the Federation for all time.

What is the nature of his genius? Apparently, (drumroll, please) he can see... the obvious!.

We're told that Axanar is in "the heart of Federation space" and that Starfleet's next heavy cruiser – one USS Enterprise, by name – is being built there. Garth knows that Axanar is a target that the Klingons cannot ignore since this new ship could match the Klingon firepower.

What was Garth's brilliant plan? As Admiral Ramirez tells us: "to battle the Klingons at Axanar". Ramirez' first thought was "how far he'd come" (Garth, that is). Huh?

Garth's flash of brilliance was to recognize that the Klingons would come to the most obvious military target in the Federation and that Starfleet should fight them there?


We're not told why such an obvious event is genius, we're simply told that it is. But, as a certain engineer once said, "if my grandmother had wheels, she'd be a wagon". Saying something is genius does not make it so. 

So this legendary figure's reputation is based solely on the fact that he was Captain Obvious? Apparently Ramirez and friends were complete and utter morons if THIS was brilliance! Garth is a genius because he doesn't drool on himself! My hero.

Bottom line: I don't get it

Now that I've seen "Prelude", I am utterly baffled by all the comments I've read that say how wonderful this is and how Axanar is real Star Trek, not like that awful Abrams stuff.

Except that the Abrams stuff is awful because it's poorly written pieces of shit. And so is Axanar. Because if the heart of your story is stupid – "Garth sees the obvious" – then everything else falls down like a house of cards. A pitiful, uninspired, house of cards.

THIS is what has so much rabid support? SERIOUSLY? I was expecting something akin to "Wrath of Khan" or at least "The Best of Both Worlds". Something more than this vapid, silly story that wouldn't impress a twelve-year-old.

As usual, William Shatner said it best: "Get a life!"



Monday, January 4, 2016


I don't know the creator of this piece of genius, but I'd like to buy him a cup of Axanar Coffee:

Michael Cunningham, you are a genius and my new hero!

On Facebook:



Saturday, January 2, 2016


This story references the current controversy and lawsuit surrounding the Star Trek Axanar project. You can get more info HERE.

The folks over at Axanar have been letting out a lot of sound and fury over the legal action that CBS and Paramount are pursuing against them. Instead of laying low and working on their defense, they are determined to bellow and froth at the mouth as if this will be tried in the court of public opinion rather than in an LA federal court. Apparently they have as much trouble with geography as law.

Here's what author and part-time Perry Mason impersonator David Gerrold (writer of the classic "The Trouble With Tribbles" episode who has latched onto this ship of fools for some reason) recently said:

The lawyers have to prove two things:
1) That this fan film represents a significant usage of Paramount/CBS’s property.
2) Axanar is a profit-making enterprise. (Ohell, it isn’t even THE Enterprise.)
Both will be hard to prove, especially the latter, because of all the fan films, Axanar has been the most transparent with its fund-raising and its accounting.
There is a third point that would likely be made in such a court case:
If Axanar represents a threat to the copyright, why haven’t Paramount and CBS taken steps to shut down New Voyages, Farragut, Renegades, and Continues? What makes Axanar different? What makes Axanar a threat?

Now, I am not a lawyer, but I happen to have heard from someone who knows a thing or two about the law, S.M. Oliva, whose Blog can be found HERE. Mr. Oliva thinks that Mr. Gerrold – who, as far as I know, is not a lawyer either – thinks there's some shaky logic in Gerrold's thinking. Almost like he doesn't know what he's talking about because he's not a lawyer. Weird, right?

Here's what Mr. Oliva has to say on the subject (and, unlike the folks at Axanar vis-a-vis Star Trek, I actually have permission to use this):


Gerrold is not stating copyright law accurately. To prove infringement, CBS Studios and Paramount need only show (1) they own a valid copyright and (2) Axanar Productions copied elements of the copyrighted work. It is not incumbent upon the studios to prove “Axanar is a profit-making enterprise.” Rather, as I explained in my last post, in considering a fair use defense a judge must weigh several factors, including whether or not Axanar Productions’ use of copyrighted material “is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes.”

“They Didn’t Sue the Other Infringers” Is Not a Valid Defense

Gerrold also raises a point made by many Axanar Productions supporters, including Alec Peters himself, namely that CBS Studios and Paramount need to explain why Axanar is “different” than other “Star Trek” fan films that use copyrighted material. This is perhaps the single most pervasive legal myth I have seen in and around the Axanar discussion. So let’s take a look at a case that actually addresses this exact point.

In 1997, Carol Publishing Group published a book, The Joy of Trek, by author Sam Ramer. This book was not authorized or licensed by Paramount, then the sole copyright holder for “Star Trek.” Although the book contained original criticism and commentary about “Star Trek,” Paramount claimed it was an infringing work because a substantial portion was devoted to “brief synopses of the major plots and story lines of many of the Star Trek Properties; descriptions of the history and personalities of the major Star Trek characters; and, descriptions of the fictional alien species and fictional technologies that appear in the Star Trek Properties.”

After Carol refused to pull the book in response to a cease-and-desist letter, Paramount filed suit in Manhattan federal court. On June 1, 1998, U.S. District Judge Samuel Conti (who just retired from the bench last year) issued a ruling in favor of Paramount:

The Court finds that The Joy of Trek consists of actionable copying because it is substantially similar to the Star Trek Properties. The test for substantial similarity is “whether an average lay observer would recognize the alleged copy as having been appropriated from the copyrighted work.” There can be no question that The Joy of Trek meets that test. The characters, devices and plot lines discussed in the book have been taken directly from the Star Trek Properties. A reasonable person would easily recognize these aspects of the book as having been appropriated from the copyrighted properties. By relating synopses of individual episodes and encapsulations of the various characters and alien species, the work copies “the heart” of the Star Trek properties. (Citations omitted)
Of special interest to the Axanar litigation, Judge Conti expressly rejected Carol Publishing’s argument that Paramount’s failure to prosecute other books which infringed upon the “Star Trek” copyrights somehow undermined their clam in this case. Judge Conti said that argument was “without merit”:

It is possible that Paramount believed that the other books did not infringe on the Star Trek Properties. It is also possible that Paramount simply has had a change in corporate policy, determining that the market is now ripe for this type of derivative product. Regardless, the lack of earlier litigation against other similar works is simply irrelevant.

Similarly, Judge Conti said Carol Publishing could not rely on an “estoppel defense” based on Paramount’s alleged failure to sue other potential copyright infringers. “Extending the doctrine of estoppel so that a defendant may rely on a plaintiff’s conduct toward another party is both unsupported by law and pernicious as a matter of policy,” the judge said. Ultimately, “there is no legal duty to instigate legal proceedings,” and therefore “Paramount is free to instigate legal action against whomever it wishes.”

Protecting the Market for “Fictional History”
In his post, David Gerrold argues that Axanar Productions’ infringement is somehow insignificant, because the proposed movie is “about a minor character in one episode and how he became a Starfleet legend.” This, again, demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of copyright. First of all, while one episode may be a drop in the bucket that is the “Star Trek” universe, that episode is still a distinct copyrighted work—and one where that “minor character” was the featured guest star.
Secondly, both the proposed “Axanar” feature film and the previously released “Prelude to Axanar” short expressly relate a narrative about the history of the fictional “Star Trek” universe. As Judge Conti noted in the Carol Publishing case, “A person interested in learning about the fictional history of Star Trek now must purchase a product licensed by Paramount.” An infringing work, such as the Ramer book or Axanar’s films, “serves as a potential substitute” for that licensed product and therefore damages the “potential market” for such derivative works.

Finally, even if “Axanar” and “Prelude to Axanar” only use a small amount of copyrighted material, as Gerrold suggests, that too is likely irrelevant. Judge Conti addressed a similar argument from Carol Publishing, noting, “Copying only small portions of a series of copyrighted works offers no protection for a defendant.”


So perhaps the incredibly sophisticated "Everybody's Doin' It" defense might not hold water. Which is amazing since Alec Peters is (as he constantly reminds us) a lawyer. But keep in mind that he's a lawyer that sued an individual AND LOST on basic First Amendment grounds a few years back. So, if that case is any indication, Mr. Peters might be missing out on the one key factor regarding being a lawyer: you have to be a GOOD one because any schmuck can get a law degree.

Maybe they'll move on to the always classic "I Know You Are But What Am I?" defense? Only time will tell.

Many thanks to Mr. Oliva for his insight into this situation. He has no horse in the race and has authored two other articles regarding the Axanar case:

1. “Star Trek” Lawsuit Illustrates Legal Issues with Fan Films

2. Does Axanar Have a “Fair Use” Defense?