Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Trek-O-Meter is back!

Hey-- I found a bunch of Podcast episodes backed up on the Internet Archive! Now I can repost some of the better articles-- like this one! --Skot

Jack B. Sowards died on July 8th 2007. His obit mentions he is most notable for having written Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, still considered the finest ST movie made. This brought something back into full recollection, something in need of a fitting send-off as well.

About a dozen years ago, some friends and I cobbled together a handy system for measuring the intensity of a person’s Star Trek fandom with a simple-to-use linear meter. This system of measurement served us very well (”Eddie– Check out the eight in line over there!”) during the incredible glut of franchise content available from the early 90s to just a few years ago. Here it is– and please, feel free to grade yourself:

10.0 - The perfect score was defined in a TV Guide Star Trek Commemorative magazine in 1995. In an article about serious fandom (Klingon language camp, costumed convention-goers, etc.) was a piece about a young man who built a replica of the Enterprise bridge set in his mother’s basement– and would act out his own Star Trek adventures in it. Think about that for a moment. Ponder the sheer force of will behind doing such a thing. Consider the circumstances. This pegs the meter: It cannot be surpassed. Even the people who designed and built the ACTUAL sets for Star Trek cannot meet this score– They were PAID to do their work.

9.0 - People who owned Trek costumes and attended conventions regularly. Fluent in Klingon. Have met Walter Koenig. Bjo Trimble was a 9.

8.0 - People who have seriously followed the shows, did not have any strong criticisms of “Star Trek: Enterprise” and first-nighted the movies. People who knew who Bjo Trimble was.

7.0 - Attended a few conventions, saw all the movies, but could not cite chapter and verse from any series but their favorite. Would not like being called a “Trekkie,” preferring “Trekfan.”

6.0 -Wouldn’t be particularly put out to be called a “Trekkie.”

5.0 - The great median. Knew and appreciated the franchise as a whole, but generally followed the herd.

4.0 - Thought Seven of Nine was hot, but found “Voyager” boring; Thought T’Pol was hot, but found “Enterprise” boring. Liked the effects in the movies. Thought “Live Long and Prosper” was the slogan of a medical group.

3.0 - Thought a “Gorn” was a sort of melon. Often confused “Babylon 5″ with “Deep Space 9.”

2.0 - Watched “Next Generation” as a kid. Saw First Contact on cable a few years back, liked it.

1.0 - Liked Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, but that’s just about it.

0.0 -
The bottom peg of the meter was defined by my dear departed dad, who was vaguely aware there was a show on TV called “Star Track” and it had something to do with Dr. Spock.

A few notes: Most normal people would not stick to one point on the meter for any length of time: Some 3s would shoot up into 7 or 8 territory during a ST movie premiere or series season finale. And most significantly, this is a linear scale– it measures x, intensity of fandom. The unmeasured y dimension is sanity. The scale assumes full sanity: Nutcases (Shatner-stalkers and that juror who wore a Starfleet uniform to the Whitewater grand jury in ‘96) can theoretically exceed 10, but they tend to take right turns and fall off the chart entirely. (Special props: Chris, for helping with the chart definitions)

The Star Trek franchise has run its course: the props and costumes are being auctioned off, and there are no serious plans for new content. It still feels a bit strange to live in a world without it. It’s been around in one form or another since 1966, about as long as I have: It was not difficult to assume the portal to the Star Trek universe would remain open forever.

Even the kid with the bridge set in his mom’s basement has probably dismantled it long ago and moved on. I wouldn’t put money on it, mind you, but probably.

And then there's THIS article from 2008! --s

The ol’ Trek-o-Meter, that linear scale used to track the intensity of one’s Star Trek fandom essayed in these pages last July, apparently isn’t quite ready to be retired yet. For one thing, there is finally a new original-series-characters Star Trek movie in production, with Chris Pine (Smokin’ Aces) as Kirk and Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead) as Scotty. this film was set to be released in December 2008: the WGA strike bumped it to early Summer 2009.

I’m bringing this up because there are a few new distinctions to add to the Trek-o-Meter, based on some recent real-life encounters that have been reported indirectly to, and later confirmed by, Box Office Weekly.

1. A fellow of tertiary acquaintance was found to have not one, but several Star Trek tattoos on his body. Fandom-based body modification needs to be quantified for the Meter (and remember: zero is ‘completely unaware’ and 10 is ‘Enterprise set in mom’s basement’):

Anyone with one Star Trek tattoo: automatic 7.5.

Anyone with several Star Trek tattoos: automatic 8.5.

Anyone with tattooed inscriptions in Klingon script which needs to be translated for curious witnesses: automatic 9.5.

Subtraction: I once met a drummer with a punk band who had the Star Trek emblem tattooed on his chest. His nickname was “Trek,” and he performed shirtless. He gets a point taken off for the irony and coolness factors.

2. A good friend of mine (who is fairly indifferent to Star Trek: I’d call her a 3.0) once had a date (a real date, a dinner-and-a-movie type date) with a young man who wore a “Star Trek: The Next Generation” uniform shirt for the occasion. Complete with communicator badge. And he would, once in awhile, talk into the communicator badge.

That’s right: he wore a Starfleet uniform on a first date. Needless to say, there wasn’t a second date. (My friend said he “had a lot of other issues… Weird issues.”)

This is a good example of someone hitting that hard-to-attain perfect 10.0, but the “other issues” mentioned are telling. He was obviously right in the middle of making that hard right turn, departing from the quantifiable plain of intrinsic reality.

Live Long and Prosper.

1 comment:

  1. "...Nutcases (Shatner-stalkers and that juror who wore a Starfleet uniform to the Whitewater grand jury in ‘96)..." Shatner himself would probably object to stalkers being put in that category, preferring instead the term "Unemployed but not misguided"