My schedule for Shore Leave 40!

shore-leave-logoDue to the wonder that is scheduled blog entries, by the time this goes live I’ll be winging my way from Kansas City to Baltimore, heading for the annual Shore Leave convention!

With a couple of exceptions due to bad timing, I’ve been attending this con for fifteen years. It is up there with our annual jaunt to Denver for StarFest so far as my favorite cons go. In addition to being a fan-friendly show run by a dedicated group of volunteers rather than some corporate entity, it’s also one of the few places where you can swing a dead Mugato and hit about a dozen Star Trek writers of every sort. Indeed, Shore Leave represents one of the few times I get to see many of my colleagues who call the East Coast (mostly New York. Go figure) home.

Shore Leave celebrates its 40th year of fan-generated shenanigans by bringing in none other than the O.G. Captain Kirk, himself, Mr. William Shatner to headline the whole smash. Joining him are Ming-Na Wen, Shawn Ashmore, Allison Scagliotti, Peter Williams, Peter Kelamis, Aron Eisenberg, and Chase Masterson. There also are a veritable boatload of writer and science guests. Check out the con’s Guests Page for all the gory details!

And what will I be doing this weekend? Well, according to the con’s official schedule, you can find me at the following events and panel discussions:

Friday, July 6th

To Tweet or Not to Tweet – 8pm-9pm – Salon E
Social media is a vital aspect of marketing, but not all of it is good. Our panelists will discuss the ins and outs of when, where, and how to engage…or put the phone down! Moderated by Jenifer Rosenberg, with fellow panelists Amy Imhoff, Valerie Mikles, and Richard C. White.

Meet the Pros – 10pm-Midnight – Hunt/Valley Foyer
The con’s annual mass author autographing event! Bring your books and whatever else you might want signed by any of the convention’s author guests. If all goes to plan, I’ll be holding a raffle at my signing table where you’ll have a chance to win one of several different Star Trek titles published by Insight Editions, including my Vulcan and Klingon travel guides and the brand-spankin’ new U.S.S. Enterprise IncrediBuilds kits (original and NextGen flavors)!

Saturday, July 7th

What Is Star Trek? – 9am-10am – Belmont Room
What are the essential elements necessary to tell a Star Trek story and what part do values play? Moderated by John Coffren, and with fellow panelists Jim Johnson, David Mack, Amy Imhoff, and Dave Galanter.

SciFi from the Parent’s Eye – 11am-Noon – Salon E
We all love SF/F, but how do we pass the torch to our children in an age appropriate way so that they can enjoy–or even love–a genre that we’re so passionate about? Moderated by Russ Colchamiro, and with fellow panelists Jenifer Rosenberg, and with fellow panelists Joseph F. Berenato and Kathleen David.

Star Trek: Discovery – Prime Timeline or Not Possible? – 3pm-4pm – Chase Room
Is setting Star Trek: Discovery in the Prime Timeline even possible? (Narrator: “Yes.”) Can they pull it off, believably, or will it require a suspension of disbelief in the audience to make it work? (Narrator: “Also, yes.”) Moderated by Joshua Palmatier, and with fellow panelists Howie Weinstein, Amy Imhoff, Lorraine Anderson, and Dave Galanter.

Heinlein’s Five Rules of Publishing – 4pm-5pm – Salon E
Robert Heinlein wrote five basic rules of writing that are easy to remember but hard to actually carry out. A discussion of said rules and their application. Moderated by Laura Ware, with fellow panelists Phil Giunta, Jim Johnson, and Lorraine Anderson.

Author Meet-n-Greet – 6pm-8pm – Frankie & Vinnie’s
Round-robin ‘speed-dating’ style allowing you to get to know our author guests and ask them questions about the industry. This is also an awesome “second chance” for fans who can’t make Friday night’s Meet the Pros party! Moderated by Valerie Mikles, with fellow author guests Heather E. Hutsell, Hildy Silverman, Jim Johnson, TJ Perkins, Keith R. A. DeCandido, Mary Fan, Aaron Rosenberg, Mary Louise Davie, Dave Galanter, Andrew Hiller, Michael Jan Friedman, Marco Palmieri, David Harten Watson, Phil Giunta, Roberta Rogow, Richard C. White, Susan Olesen, and Stephen Kozeniewski.

Sunday, July 8th

For reasons I don’t quite understand, the scheduling goddesses have seen fit to give me Sunday to enjoy the con! I’ll be taking advantage of the day to maybe check in on some other interesting panels, check out the vendors room, and hopefully spend some time chatting with people I don’t get to see nearly often enough.

In and around all of the scheduled activities going on all weekend, it’s a safe bet you’ll find me doing much of what I just described, along with sitting down for at least two interviews I know about. And after each day’s obligations are met? Be sure to find most if not all of us in the hotel bar. It’s pretty much a law, at this point.

Here’s hoping I see you there!

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Happy 119th Birthday, Indiana Jones!

Today marks the birth date of Dr. Henry Walton Jones, Jr., famed archaeologist, renowned professor, traveled adventurer, and all around nice guy.

If ever you need an historical artifact or object of the occult located and liberated from uptight French rivals, scheming Nazis or commie graverobbers, he’s your man.

If you’re starving in some backwater village and worried about some ancient voodoo rocks rather than finding a decent sandwich shop, this is the dude you call.

If you’ve got alien bodies that need studying before they’re whisked away to secret military warehouses, he’s good at that, too.

If you want someone to show you the folly of bringing a sword to a gunfight, he’s got it covered.

Indiana Jones: July 1, 1899 – ???

Smart, tough, resourceful, and ruggedly handsome. There are so few of us.

Were he still alive, he’d be 119 today.

On the other hand, he did drink from the Holy Grail, so maybe he is still alive? Hmmmmmmm?

(Indiana Jones, circa 1992)

You just never know about these things.

So, just in case…Happy 119th Birthday, Dr. Jones!

Writing Star Trek? You need Star Trek references.

So, hey, here’s something you might not have known: I write Star Trek stuff.

A casual look over my CV reminds me that I’ve written a lot of Star Trek stuff. An alarming amount, really. This might be an incurable disease, at this point.

Prior to conning people into actually paying me to write Star Trek, I was of course a huge fan. The first “reference” work I can remember buying was Franz Joseph’s Star Fleet Technical Manual, along with the set of blueprints for the Constitution-class starship he also created. In the mid 1970s, when there was precious little material aside from the original series reruns and the odd novel or comic book, a young, wide-eyed fan could pore over these publications, along with such books as The Making of Star Trek, David Gerrold’s The World of Star Trek and The Trouble With Tribbles, and Bjo Trimble’s Star Trek Concordance and get their Star Trek fix.

Then 1979 arrived, and with it Star Trek: The Motion Picture along with a slew of new merchandise including Stan and Fred Goldstein’s Star Trek: Spaceflight Chronology, lavishly illustrated by the one and only Rick Sternbach, and we were off to the races.


(I remember begging my mother way back when for the money to buy one of David Gerrold’s books, pictured up top. I don’t remember which one. Hell, it may have been both.)

The years kept passing, we got new Star Trek movies and eventually new spin-off television series, and with all of that came more books! Along with the novels, there were more and more reference works. Blueprints, technical manuals, behind-the-scenes books, episode guides…you name it, it was out there. Holy crap, they were everywhere, and yeah, I bought them.

I’ve long been fascinated by the making of the original series in particular. You’d think at this point, nearly fifty years after the show was cancelled, there’d be little if anything left for me to read or find. The subject’s been pretty well covered in a variety of publications, most of which sit on one of my many overstuffed bookshelves. And yet, later this summer a new book, Star Trek: Lost Scenes, is coming at us.

Of course I’ve already pre-ordered the thing. I mean, duh.

(Don’t worry if you don’t see it pictured anywhere in these photos. Chances are good that whatever title you’re thinking of, I have it. I just had to stop at some point before this became somewhat pathological.)

And then, in an admittedly unlikely sequence of events, I morphed from simply being a Star Trek fan to someone who gets to write about it every so often. Now, I had a justifiable (and, as it happens, tax-deductible) reason to continue acquiring such books. Imagine my wife’s happiness upon hearing this news!

(“At least he wasn’t buying heroin,” she says.)

Now, in the age of the internet, one might think that such references are all but obsolete, and in many cases one might be right. As a writer of Star Trek stuff, sites like Memory Alpha and Memory Beta are wonderful starting points when conducting any sort of Trek-related research. However, there are times when you need to dig deep…sometimes way, way deep, and the only way to do that is by pulling some dusty old tome off the shelf.

Of all the various references I’ve collected over the years, if I had to pick a single favorite, it’d have to be the Spaceflight Chronology. It came out at a time when I was always drooling over big, beautiful art books like Beyond Jupiter and other collections of Chesley Bonestell art, or the Terran Trade Authority art series. Man, I loved those books, and this one slotted right in with them, at least in my mind.

Though most of the “future history” it postulated has since been overwritten and superseded by later Star Trek productions (which later spawned its own “official” chronology book), Spaceflight Chronology is still a book I revisit every so often. I love to drop the occasional Easter egg from it into a story I’m writing, and many of the “historical anecdotes” it features make for great story fodder, themselves. So enamored are Kevin and I with this particular book that we even paid tribute to it several years ago in an issue of Star Trek Magazine, where we created several “update pages” for it. How’s that for nerdy?

But, I’m getting off the rails here, a bit.

Anyway….Star Trek reference books. Yeah, I have a bunch of them, but they’re for work, honey! Honest!

Hey! It’s Captain Picard Day!

Today, June 16th, is “Captain Picard Day.” What, you didn’t know this? Shame on you.

That’s right, today we pause to recognize the life and accomplishments of Jean-Luc Picard: captain extraordinaire, explorer, diplomat, tea connoisseur, and 24th century renaissance man.

So, you know…make it so, and all that.


Of course, all he wants is to sit in the sun and read his book. Alone. Afterward? He really hasn’t thought that far ahead.

Everybody’s gonna be Kirk Fu fighting!

Awwwwww, yeah.

Though the adorably tenacious Trek Collective website first broke news about this, I was unable to say anything until an official announcement was made. Thankfully, the good folks at StarTrek.com saw fit to do just that, and so today we have an authorized sneak peek at one of the “unidentified tie-in projects” I’ve had going these past months. What are we talking about?

FIRST LOOK – Star Trek: Kirk Fu

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That’s right, kids! Star Trek: Kirk Fu – An Introduction to the Final Frontier’s Most Feared Martial Art is part How-to* and part loving tribute to the mighty Captain James Tiberius Kirk and the fighting moves that made him a Starfleet legend and hero to so many a fan.

Within the pages of Star Trek: Kirk Fu and in addition to “standard” punches and karate chops, you’ll also learn all about such classic moves as the Double Clutch, Rolling Thunder, and the Jimmy Wall Banger. I’d start limbering up now, if I were you.

Would you like to know more? Keep reading.


As captain of the legendary U.S.S. Enterprise, James T. Kirk engaged in his share of fisticuffs, besting opponents with a slick combination of moves and guile that remains unmatched. Is there anyone you’d rather have watching your back as you take on Klingons, alien gladiators, genetically engineered supermen, and even the occasional giant walking reptile?

Kirk Fu is a series of unarmed combat techniques developed by one of Starfleet’s most celebrated starship captains over several years of encounters with alien species on any number of strange new worlds. A blend of various fighting styles, Kirk Fu incorporates elements of several Earth-based martial arts forms as well as cruder methods employed in bars and back alleys on planets throughout the galaxy. It is as unorthodox in practice as it is unbelievable to behold. In unabashed celebration of James Kirk’s singular fighting skills, Star Trek: Kirk Fu – An Introduction to the Final Frontier’s Most Feared Martial Art is an easy-to-use training guide* for the new student, including excerpts from Kirk’s own notes and personal logs. With proper training and practice, every Starfleet cadet can become one with Kirk Fu.


I cannot begin to tell you how much fun I’ve had with this. I’ve had the basic idea for years, and after a couple of aborted attempts to entice a publisher, Fate saw fit to convince John Van Citters at CBS Consumer Products to recommend me to Insight Editions for the Vulcan travel guide. Only after I was finished with that project did I screw up enough courage to approach my editor,  Chris Prince, with this idea. He loved it from the outset, but there were some hurdles and obstacles that needed navigating before this one could get a green light by all of the interested parties.

(Insight kept me busy all during that time, of course, with the Klingon travel guide and the two Star Trek IncrediBuilds projects, so I ain’t complaining.)

Finally, though, the planets aligned, but Chris (and later Paul Ruditis, who ended up being my editor for this project), Insight, and CBS eventually gave me the thumbs-up and allowed me to roam free, totally off the chain as I pulled together this little tome of craziness.

Awwwwww, yeah.

Accompanying my pithy descriptions and other text will be the stylings of artist Christian Cornia, who has worked for Insight Editions on various projects in addition to creating all kinds of awesome stuff for other book and comic publishers, featuring such beloved characters as Scooby Doo, the Flintstones,  superheroes and more.

The book will feature color illustrations as well as black-and-white drawings that show how each “move” is executed. Want to see some concept art? This is what Christian is brewing up for us:

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Star Trek: Kirk Fu is currently slated for publication on March 5th, 2019 from Insight Editions, and wouldn’t you know Amazon.com already has a pre-order link? Go figure.

All righty, then. Let’s get ready to learn some Kirk Fu!

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* = Not really. Seriously. You try this shit on somebody and you’re just going to get your ass kicked. A bunch.

Do you have your towel?

May 25th: Happy Towel Day! Did you remember yours?

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“A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapors; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-bogglingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.

More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-hitch hiker) discovers that a hitch hiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitch hiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitch hiker might accidentally have “lost”. What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is is clearly a man to be reckoned with.”

— Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Towel Day: Celebrating the Life and Work of Douglas Adams

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Talking about Star Trek III on the SciFi Diner Podcast!

scifidinerpodcastWhat’s that? You want me to join the search for Spock? Okay. Sure. Count me in.

It’s been a while since I last visited the SciFi Diner Podcast and hung out with friends and hosts Scott Hertzog and Miles McLoughlin. In the past, we’ve talked about some of my writing projects, but the real fun has come when they invite me to talk about something unrelated to anything I’m doing. We’ve had fun conversations about Rogue One, for example, and I’ve participated in a couple of sessions where we lay out our “Geeky Christmas Present” wish list.

This time, Scott and Miles invited me to sit in for an episode of their “SciFi Rewind” feature, where they take a look at an older science fiction film or TV show. For this installment, we took a nostalgic look back at Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.

Released in the summer of 1984, this third of the Star Trek films featuring the original series cast picks up not long after the events of the previous movie, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, and the (SPOILER ALERT!!) death of Spock. Of course, this is Star Trek, where death as often as not is little more than an inconvenience of one sort or another. And so it goes that Admiral Kirk and the remainder of his merry band soon find themselves on a quest to retrieve Spock’s body from the Genesis Planet. There, they find more than they bargained for when they discover Spock is…wait for it…alive.

Duh duh DIHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!

It’s a common fan stance that the “odd-numbered” Star Trek movies aren’t as good as their even-numbered companions. I don’t know that consigning Star Trek III in with the rest is a totally fair move. Sure, it’s not as good as its predecessor or the other “evens,” but it’s not as though it’s the worst Star Trek story ever told. Watched in concert with Star Trek II and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, this film holds its own as one component of a larger story arc spanning the three movies.

Listen to my discussion with Scott and Miles, over at the SciFi Diner:

SciFi Rewind 328: Star Trek III: The Search for Spock

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Many thanks to Scott and Miles for having me back to the diner!

Our StarFest Convention schedule!

Starfest2018-logoHoly schnikes!

A week from today, we’ll already be on the third and final day of this year’s 3-day StarFest Convention, held as it is each year in Denver, Colorado.

2018 will mark mine and Kevin’s 16th consecutive appearance at this con, which has long been one of our very favorite shows to attend each year. Some of you have likely seen me write or heard me say this, but we almost always lock in the dates for this con before committing to any other appearances, in order to avoid date conflicts. The StarFest family has treated us like two of their own pretty much from the jump, and reconnecting with all the friends we’ve made over the years – along with meeting new ones each year, is a highlight.

So, what are we doing this time around? Well, in addition to taking up space and oxygen in the con’s “Author Alley” area, Kevin and I are involved in several activities throughout the weekend. Check it out:

Friday, April 20th

Taming the Novel Series – panel discussion – 5pm-6pm: Writing one book is REALLY hard. Writing several novels is even harder. Writing several novels in a coherent series with consistent characters and satisfying story arcs can make your brain explode. These series novelists will offer their best advice for how you can wrangle hundreds of thousands of words into a compelling story. Moderated by Travis Heerman, with Betsy Dornbusch, Kevin, and myself.

StarFest Meet and Greet – Main Events – 7pm-8:30pm: Come meet our guests face to face and to get to know them a bit at the start of the convention. You’ll enjoy desserts, coffee and nonalcoholic beverages while you have the opportunity to chat in a relaxed atmosphere.  Door prizes and fun guaranteed. All our guests have been invited to come subject to flight arrivals and last-minute schedule changes.

A convention membership (that includes Friday) is required to attend this event.

Planet of the Apes 50th Anniversary Screening – Main Events – 10pm-Midnight: It’s going to be a madhouse in Main Events on Friday night, as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of a true science fiction classic! Based on Pierre Boulle’s 1963 novel and starring Charlton Heston, Kim Hunter, Linda Harrison, and the great Roddy McDowall, 1968’s Planet of the Apes launched one of the most successful and enduring motion picture franchises. Its revolutionary and iconic makeup designs earned artist John Chambers a “Special Achievement” Academy Award. The film contains one of the most unforgettable endings in the history of cinema, and occupies an indelible place in popular culture. Get to Main Events, you maniacs, and join author guests Dayton Ward and Kevin Dilmore for a late-evening screening of this landmark film on the occasion of its golden anniversary!

Saturday, April 21st

Costume Contest – Main Events – 8pm-10pm: As we do each year, Kevin and I assist with judging the con’s big Saturday night costume showdown. Kids, families, groups, etc. are all invited to show off their costuming and fandom passions. Prizes galore, along with emcee Kevin Atkins regaling us between categories and filling dead time with his latest collection of memes, jokes, and other oddities found on the internet since the last con.

Deadpool Late Show Screening – Main Events – (approx) 10:30pm-Midnight: Did we leave the stove on? You’ve got an eHarmony date with destiny! Oh, and author guests Dayton Ward and Kevin Dilmore as they defy all standards of good StarFest behavior and taste with our late-evening screening of Deadpool, the best superhero movie ever that’s not Black Panther, last year’s Wonder Woman, 1978’s Superman, or even 2011’s Green Lantern. If you’re looking for something to round out your Saturday at the con that doesn’t involve dancing, come on in to Main Events and hang for a bit with Kevin, Dayton, and the Merc With A Mouth. Just remember that this flick is rated “R,” as in “It’s REALLY REALLY RATED R,” so be aware. If you give us grief about this, Kevin and Dayton will find you and boom-box “Careless Whisper” outside your hotel room. WHAM! #DriveBy

Sunday, April 22nd

Starfest Talent Show – Main Events – 9am-9:45am: Do you have a song you need to sing? A skit you need to perform? Main Events is the place to do it on Sunday morning! Sign up Friday and Saturday at Costume Contest registration (near Convention Information). Walk-ons will be accepted on Sunday if time permits. Please keep performances to under 5 minutes each. Categories are 18+ and under 18.

Warm up those pipes, practice that guitar, or put the finishing touches on your skit!! You could win fabulous prizes!

And there you have it! Now, it’s also possible, even likely, that Kevin and I will find additional mischief in which to insert ourselves. We’re also trying to organize a joint signing with comic artist Gordon Purcell, who provided the oh-so nifty art for our Star Trek: Waypoint comic back in 2016. It may well end up being us crashing each other’s tables at different points during the weekend. Follow me on Twitter if you’re at the con, and I’ll shoot updates there as they happen!

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Talking Drastic Measures and other stuff at Discovering Trek!

Everybody look out! I’m talking. Again.

This time, I join Dan Davidson and Bill Smith, hosts of the Trek Geeks and Discovering Trek podcasts for a special installment of the latter show. Why? Well, as you may have heard, I wrote this one little Star Trek: Discovery novel called Drastic Measures, which came out a little bit ago.

Yeah….

In addition to the book and how it was developed (with the able assistance of Discovery‘s own Kirsten Beyer and my editor, Margaret Clark) and how the story’s events affect the characters of Philippa Georgiou and Gabriel Lorca ten years before the events of the series’ first season, we talk about the show itself and “Star Trek canon” and how my head explodes whenever that word comes up, how I got into writing Star Trek stories for Pocket, favorite Star Trek projects like the Vanguard novels, reading the novels as a fan before getting into the whole writing thing, and the close-knit circle of friends that is the Star Trek writing cabal.

Podcasters are getting wise to my antics, though. They’re smart enough to ask fairly open-ended questions, knowing that I’ll ramble and yammer long enough for them to run to the bathroom, pick up dinner, get their car detailed, or head out for a weekend in Vegas. Such is the case here, though Dan and Bill exercised great patience and grace by remaining with me throughout my answers, even staying conscious long enough to drop in the occasional “Uh-huh,” “yeah,” or, “oh, right.”

Thanks for indulging me, guys.

Anyway, the results of this latest stream-of-conscious babbling can be found here:

Discovering Trek Bonus Episode: Drastic Measures

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Many thanks to Dan and Bill for having me on the show. I had a great time talking to these fine gents. With any luck, our paths will cross again in the near future at Vegas or some other swank con. 🙂

In which I over-explain my Star Trek/American Chopper meme.

Lunch time is a dangerous time for Dayton. It’s during this period on may a day, as I eat my salad or sandwich, that I tend to contemplate mischief.

Yesterday was one such day.

Those of you into the whole meme thing know that they tend to come and go. Somewhere, somebody does something clever and/or funny and shares it to their circle of online friends, some of those friends share it with their friends and/or total strangers, and if the conditions are just right, said clever and/or funny thing suddenly finds itself going “viral.” Its ability to grab someone’s attention continues for a few days (or longer if it’s really nifty) before something else starts the vicious cycle all over again.

This past week, it was the “American Chopper” meme, which was actually created several years ago but is now enjoying renewed attention thanks to the recent announcement that the television show is returning to Discovery later this year.

Rather than explain the whole thing, here’s a handy link, which comes with several notable examples from this past week: Inverse.com: The 20 Best ‘American Chopper’ Memes.

So, that brings us to me, sitting there at lunch, eating my sandwich, and contemplating mischief. Fresh off our April Fool’s gag, I was looking for something new to goof around with, and because I like to cross my streams and mix my drinks when I ponder this kind of silly stuff, I immediately began contemplating how to apply the AC meme formula to a Star Trek joke.

It didn’t take long:

Continue reading “In which I over-explain my Star Trek/American Chopper meme.”