I know I typically write about music, but having been an entertainment writer for decades, I have had many occasions and the privilege to write about other forms of entertainment, especially when I was living in Las Vegas and working for The Las Vegas Sun and The Associated Press.
The news of Leonard Nimoy's death hit me, as I am sure it did all of his fans, hard. A life without Nimoy is a little duller. It also reminded me of a column I wrote for The Sun in 1998 when the Las Vegas Hilton opened "Star Trek: The Experience." The themed attraction is sadly no longer open (it closed after a decade of entertaining Trekkies in 2008). And the Hilton, where Elvis Presley performed hundreds of shows and the phrase "Elvis has left the building" was coined, is now the Westgate Las Vegas hotel-casino.
But Trekkies and Spock fans like me who had the chance to take in "Star Trek: The Experience" will never forget it. And in case you're wondering after you read my original column below, I did get to take my Dad.
Here's a post I wrote about the experience: "Star Trek Experience a 'Dream Come True."
Monday, Jan. 5, 1998
I stood in the transporter room of the USS Enterprise; I walked along one of the ship's corridors; I took a ride on one of her shuttle craft; and I found myself on the bridge, racing through the stars at warp speed.
It was a dream come true.
If my adult mind had convinced me that Star Trek was only a television show and some movies, the museum -- which allows a review of the entire historical time line for the future that Star Trek has created -- turned fantasy into reality.
Welcome to Star Trek: The Experience.
Wandering through the exhibits and listening to the sound bytes of familiar TV show and film clips, I was transported back in time by one of my first vivid memories -- watching, with my dad, Capt. Kirk, Mr. Spock and Dr. McCoy take on the mutant alien of the week.
More importantly, I remember it was during these shows that for the first time my dad really talked to me. Not like a parent speaks to a child, but as an equal.
With Star Trek acting as our medium, I learned a lot from that quality time spent with dad.
I learned that you never, ever want to be a red shirt (unless you are Scotty) because you most certainly will met an untimely end. I learned that because the Enterprise was traveling at light speed, its five-year mission was much longer in Earth years. Therefore, when the crew finally returned home, everyone they knew on Earth would be long dead. (I thought this was really sad.) I learned that English truly is the universal language. I learned that unlike in life, good always prevails.
During my formative years I watched Star Trek, the original series, and dreamed of working on the Enterprise when I grew up. I had my first crush on Capt. Kirk, and my second on Mr. Spock. I struggled with how my family and friends would accept my dating an alien and a Vulcan at that. Which brings me to another life-lesson learned from the crew of the Enterprise: that no matter what color your scales are or what planet you are from, all life forms should be treated with respect.
There also was something noble and selfless about the crew members who had given up everything (mainly Earth) to fly around the universe in search of intelligent life and Klingons in order to help mankind. They did, however, have the advantage of using replicators for food preparation with no dirty dishes to wash afterwards.
The entity that has evolved as Star Trek -- four shows and eight movies later -- started in 1966, before the Me Generation and while "Ask not what your country can do for you ..." was still echoing in our minds.
The foremost question on my mind (besides what's for dinner) was where do I sign up? Imagine my disappointment when I was informed I could not attend Star Fleet Academy and that the Enterprise was merely a sound stage. I don't think I ever fully recovered from the devastation.
While most 20th century adventures can't and don't live up to their hype, the city's latest attraction now open at the Las Vegas Hilton does.
And after a visit to the 24th century, I can't wait to take my dad.