I’m having way too much fun with Zoom backgrounds.

So, yeah.

The new normal is that those of us fortunate enough not to be furloughed or laid off during the current insanity communicate with our co-workers using email, texting, Skype, and…of course, Zoom.

Indeed, more and more of us are diving into the app and using it as a sort of virtual conference room, despite stories of hackers and other ne’er do wells crashing such environments for their own amusement as well as the numerous warnings that Zoom’s security features are about as helpful as a fishnet condom. Some of the warnings are legit and – at least as they’re telling it – the folks behind Zoom are doing their best to address and improve the various security concerns.

Meanwhile, the rest of us are just Zooming away, thrilled with the ability to project a professional image from the waist up while everything below the camera level is an unfiltered party zone filled with chicks and guns and fire trucks and hookers and drugs and booze!

Okay, so maybe that sort of thing isn’t happening with everyone. Your mileage may vary.

In and around all of this, I’ve been having a bit of fun with one of Zoom’s personalization features, the “virtual background.” Rather than broadcast a video feed of me sitting at my desk with my whiteboard on the wall behind me – which may or not contain various sensitive scribblings about projects in progress and so on and so forth – I can just insert myself into any real or imagined place in the universe. I hinted a bit about this the other day in a piece I wrote about working from home, but since then? Yeah, it’s gotten worse.

I mean, sure. At first it was the usual sort of thing you’d probably expect from me:

Zoom-Enterprise Bridge(Taken during our 2017 trip to the Star Trek Original Series Set Tour in Ticonderoga, NY)

And why have just any starfield as a backdrop when you can have one from the animated Star Trek series?

Zoom-Trek-TAS-Starfield

NOTE: Click any of these to biggie size, by the way.

From there, I started playing. It was innocent enough, at first going from the Best Care Anywhere…
Zoom-Mash-Compound

…to a place where there’s no air anywhere.

Zoom-Moon
But before I knew it I was offering fellow Zoomers sneak peeks into other, heretofore unseen areas of stately Ward Manor….

ZoomBackground-HallOfJustice
Zoom-Batcave
Then I decided a virtual background deserved a window into an actual…you know…virtual world. So, I took the red pill and freed my mind.

Zoom-Matrix

That was before I decided I needed something a little more retro, which led me to my current favorite. It’s one that should be immediately recognizable to anyone with at least one foot standing deep in 1980s nostalgia:

Zoom-MaxHeadroom
Of course, no sooner did I sit down to write this piece and find a few sites boasting nice collections of backgrounds so you too can use to add a little extra zip to your Zoom sessions than I found this:

Zoom-JohnWick01

Uh huh.

Now, I’m by no means revolutionary in this regard. Indeed, there are a number of sites which have already posted collections of backgrounds you can use to spruce up your own little virtual presence. Check out the offerings at these sites to list just a few:

Pocket-lint.com

CNET.com

GoodHousekeeping.com

Star Trek via DailyStarTrekNews.com

Nerdist.com

That should be enough to get you started, right? Have at it, fellow Zoomers.

Zoom-Dayton

Your Moment of TrekZen.*

The toys of my youth, when strict onscreen accuracy took a backseat to our imaginations on our way to hella fun.

Dinky-StarTrek-Space1999

That’s right, kids: back when I was 9 years old, these were the bomb. No, the “real” U.S.S. Enterprise didn’t shoot fat orange discs out the front of its saucer section, and neither did the Space: 1999 Eagle ever sport green as part of its color scheme. And let’s not even talk about the Enterprise‘s shuttlecraft.

I never managed to get my hands on the Enterprise (or the Klingon cruiser that was also available), but I do have distinct memories of breaking at least one Eagle.

Ah, the good old days.

(* = inspired by the “Your Moment of Zen” segments from The Daily Show)

Your Moment of TrekZen.*

Trek-Kirk-Picard-ArcadeFight

I have no idea where this originates. I did a Google image search and came up blanks. If anyone knows the creator and the story behind it, please let me know. As a kid of the late 1970s/early 80s and the arcade game craze of that era, I absolutely love this.

EDIT: As you can read down the comments, we now have a source for this image! An artist who goes by the moniker Ratigan is responsible for this little slice of Trek Awesomeness. Be sure to head over to his/her profile page on TeePublic.com and check out a whole host of slick designs.

And just so you know? Kirk’s going to totally kick Picard’s ass.

(* = inspired by the “Your Moment of Zen” segments from The Daily Show)

Your Moment of TrekZen*.

Given the recent revelations about Spock on Star Trek: Discovery, this page from an old Star Trek coloring book might take on new meaning. It looks like periodic experiments with facial hair are something of a family thing, hmm?

Spock-ColoringBookPage

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Come on, Dayton. This picture is just silly. It’s obvious it comes from one of those quickie coloring books done in the late 1960s or early 1970s, right? You know, the ones that look like they just repurposed art from the old Gold Key comics?”

StarTrek-AlienColoringBookWell, this is where it gets interesting. After doing some digging I found this page in a copy of The Star Trek Alien Coloring Book, which was one of (at least) four published in 1986 by Wanderer Books, at the time an imprint of Simon & Schuster. Each of which carries the “Star Trek 20 Years: 1966-1986″ logo. A couple of those books actually do use what looks to be recreations or repurposing of artwork from different Gold Key Star Trek comics from back in the day, but the other two feature what looks to be fairly new art. At least, I didn’t see it during a quick perusal of other such publications. Maybe they were anticipating Sybok three years later in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier?

“Wait,” I can hear someone saying. “How were you able to research Star Trek coloring books? Coloring books? Really?”

Look, people: I’m a professional, and professionals tend to amass a broad spectrum of research material. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Anyway, I think we can all agree that I’ve already spent too much time thinking about this. Just take the page and get to coloring, all right?

(* = inspired by the “Your Moment of Zen” segments from The Daily Show)

Your Moment of TrekZen*.

Because sooner or later, if you keep rilin’ them and tryin’ to keep them caged up rather than allowing them to roam free, they’re gonna get mighty pissed.

I only just today learned that this is actually a licensed T-shirt design. You can obtain it from places as varied as Walmart, Amazon.com, and various other online T-shirt retailers. I think the design is hilarious, though I confess I tend toward darker colors for my shirts of choice.

What this does do for me, however, is make me want to write a series of scary yet kid-friendly Star Trek tales based on various original series episodes.

Hmmmm…….

(* = inspired by the “Your Moment of Zen” segments from The Daily Show)