Tuesday, January 17, 2012

How I Became A SciFi Nut

I grew up during a time when there were only 4 channels available on television. You had the big 3 networks and PBS. The major networks operated, at that time, using a standard known as PICAN (say it like pecan). The networks were charged with operating in the Public Interest, Convenience And Necessity. What this meant was that Saturday morning children's program had to include some sort of educational content (hence the moral lessons in cartoons of the time). It also meant that Sunday morning programming was usually of a religious nature.

When we returned from church on Sunday mornings the only thing on TV was... church. There was no way we wanted to repeat the experience we had just been through so we turned to PBS. The PBS station in Tulsa, OK used to run episodes of Star Trek on Sunday mornings. Hence, I, and my siblings, watched Star Trek on almost any given Sunday morning.

I can't tell you why it had a more pronounced effect on me than my brother and sister but it did. I was fascinated by every part of it. I watched it every opportunity I got. I bought and read and memorized trivia books about the show. There was even a period of time when I could watch 10 seconds or less of any part of any episode of the original series and tell you which episode it was and give you a plot synopsis.

Flash forward to 1977. There was this movie that came out that got all kinds of buzz. It pioneered visual effects that are considered simple by today's standards. But they're also the foundation of some of today's standards. It is the only movie I have ever seen people line up around the building to see. Maybe you've heard of it? It was called Star Wars. These days it's called episode 4 but it was the original in many many ways. Star wars was really the spark. It lit the fire.

The next summer I saw a poorly produced commercial on TV that piqued my interest. What caught my eye was the tall guy in the back dressed as Chewbaca. It was an ad for a little SciFi convention called OKon and it was right there in downtown Tulsa. I had to go.

I was only 11 or 12 at the time so I begged and pleaded with my mom to let me go. None of my siblings wanted to go so it was just me and mom. We went to the Mayo hotel in downtown Tulsa where she paid my admission for the day then sat patiently in the lobby reading a book.

I don't remember a whole lot about that particular convention. I was only there for a couple of hours, three at most. There were no big celebrities to fawn over. I wasn't a big reader at the time so I didn't know any of the authors they had there. I most likely just walked around the "huxter's room" and ogled at all the cool toys, posters, T-shirts and other merchandise. Once I had seen all I could see and exhausted what meager allowance I may have had with me, I returned to the lobby and mom and I went home.

I attended every OKon there was after that and still go to conventions today. I have seen the evolution from fan gathering to commercial enterprise, no pun intended. Some are very fan-centric and give attendees a variety of activities to choose from. Others are more structured and have a singular tone to them. They are all, however, a chance for like-minded fan(atic)s to geek out and be comfortable in those elements of their personality, however pronounced, that all the people who know them don't understand.

So, here I am. A child of the stars born from reruns on Sunday mornings, raised by movies and educated at family gatherings called cons (conventions to the uninitiated).

1 comment:

AM said...

I don't remember that. How cool that Mom took you. I remember Nova and all the science shows but did not know where we had seen all the epidodes of Star Trek. I think I saw Star Wars 7 times. LOL I'm related to a geek and married to one. I think that is the closest I am going to get.