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Sharing Your Labor of Love, To Boldly Go

In Entertainment, history, National News, Opinion, television, Uncategorized on October 17, 2016 at 11:16 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGOI recently returned from a trip to Ticonderoga, New York where I visited one of the most unlikely attractions for an area rich in American revolutionary history. Hidden away in a repurposed storefront of this tiny, historic town, one man’s childhood dream has become reality that he’s chosen to share with the world.

James Cawley is, by profession, an Elvis Presley tribute artist. But his lifelong love of the original Star Trek television series drove him to construct one of the single most accurate recreations of the classic show’s space-going sets. Wise men may have said only fools rush in, but Cawley did it full throttle, going where no few fans had gone before.

Around 2004, he rounded up friends and associates in the entertainment business to produce a web-based continuation of the Starship Enterprise’s five-year mission. Titled first, “Star Trek New Voyages,” and later adopting creator Gene Roddenberry’s planned second series name, “Star Trek Phase II,” Cawley and crew made nearly a dozen full-length episodes and shorts featuring Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, and the rest of the original series characters.

Using his own time, effort and money and thanks to the care and hard work of his associates, Cawley’s dream became a reality as he, himself, took up the center seat on the web show as Captain James T. Kirk. With computer generated special effects, hand-crafted costumes and painstakingly detailed sets based on the 1960s series, his vision was to capture the appeal of the original show, and that he did.

Unfortunately, that dream was cut short when CBS Paramount, the owners of Star Trek, issued highly restrictive rules for fan-made Star Trek productions. Although no revenue was generated by Cawley’s show and any donated funds were used for production costs, not paychecks, the company still saw it as a copyright infringement.

Unwilling to let all of this hard work dry up and blow away, Cawley and company worked with CBS Paramount to officially license his production sets into an attraction that fans could visit and appreciate along with them.

Transporter set from Star Trek Set Tour in Ticonderoga NY

Transporter set from Star Trek Set Tour in Ticonderoga NY Photo by Gery Deer

Now open to the public, the Star Trek Set Tour is a one-of-a-kind fan experience. Built from and arranged according to the original Desilu Studios stage plans, the tour includes a complete bridge set, transporter room, hallways and much more. Several areas of the ship’s interior sets are still under construction and more are planned, but that only adds to the value of the experience.

While there is a charge to visit the sets, volunteers still do nearly all of the labor-intensive and highly skilled creative work. And it is clear Cawley sees this project as his way of sharing what he’s built with all of us. Chatting with him during my visit, I made a comment referring to “his” ship but he was quick to correct me.

“This is ‘our’ ship,” he responded, looking across the bridge set from where we stood watching fellow fans marvel over the realism of what he’d built. It was clear this is his labor of love and he’s proud to share it with us.

Star Trek Tour creator, James Cawley with Deer In Headlines author, Gery L. Deer on the Enterprise bridge set.

Star Trek Tour creator, James Cawley with Deer In Headlines author, Gery L. Deer on the Enterprise bridge set.

At this point, it’s important for me to tell you that other than having been yet another visiting fan transported back to my childhood as I sat in the recreated captain’s chair I have no affiliation with the exhibit. But I bring all of this to your attention because I can relate to Cawley’s vision, his desire to see a dream to reality and bring it to others who will enjoy it with him.

We should all have a labor of love in our lives, something that earns us no money but serves to enrich others and ourselves. For some, it might be volunteering as a sports coach or tutoring underprivileged children. Others may see community theater or serve in public office in such a way.

You don’t have to go where no man has gone before to do it. But, whatever yours may be, when we are able to share our interests with other similarly impassioned people, it makes us better and more well rounded human beings.

Click for a fun video of Gery entering the Enterprise bridge!

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Catch Deer In Headlines, the podcast, on MyGreeneRadio.com. New episodes every Tuesday.

Here are some of Gery’s photos from The Star Trek Set Tour … For more information visit http://www.startrektour.com

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9/11: Oh, the humanity.

In Media, National News, Opinion, Politics on September 5, 2011 at 6:52 am

By Gery L. Deer

Deer In Headlines

I don’t know which is harder to believe; that it has been ten years or that it really did happen. Unprecedented in the history of the United States, the events of September 11, 2001 changed lives around the world.

The savage, heart wrenching images of that morning are forever emblazoned into the collective memories of a generation. A horrible tragedy set against the clear, blue sky of Manhattan. Those of us watching from other parts of the country felt it right along with New Yorkers; the tragedy, the helplessness, the pain, the destruction, the hot, debris-filled wind that would sweep over our nation and rock us to our very core.

The day before the attacks, I had returned to Ohio from a week-long trip in Las Vegas. A co-worker heard on the radio that there had been some kind of bombing in New York City and was frantically trying to find information about it on the Internet. But CNN’s website would not come up, neither would CBS nor NBC. In fact, none of the major news sites were available. Millions of hits at once knocked down the websites before any of us could find out what had happened.

Retrieving a 3-inch color television from my truck, several of my colleagues huddled around my desk trying to get a look at the replay of the first plane flying into one of the World Trade Center towers when the unthinkable happened. A second plane ripped through the remaining tower and it too burst into flames. Shock and silence settled over the motley crew of engineers and technicians gathered around the tiny screen.

Ten years later, we’ve all seen those images over and over again, from virtually every angle. We’ve been deluged time and again with eye-witness interviews and video of the brave emergency response teams trying desperately to save as many lives as they could in the midst of utter chaos and destruction.

Many of the morning television news programs originating from New York had instant coverage of the disaster. Reminiscent of Herbert Morrison’s anguished report from the site of the Hindenburg crash, live broadcast reporters were overwhelmed by pure emotion, moved to tears by the terror they witnessed. Morrison was the radio announcer on the scene in Lakehurst, New Jersey that day in 1937 as the great Zeppelin exploded and crashed to the ground.

Sent by a Chicago radio station to cover the airship’s arrival, the recording of Morrison’s immortal delivery and genuine disgust for the disastrous scene before him became the prototype for how broadcasters would report tragedy and war for decades to come. I wonder, at times, how he might have described the scene that day in New York but I believe his most famous phrase is more than sufficient, “Oh the humanity.”

Actually, even after the hundreds of news stories about the terror attacks, it’s difficult to fathom what else could be said to describe one of the worst days in American history. I can say, though, that I believe the days that followed 9-11 brought about an amazing spirit of survival and determination in our country.

From unmitigated calamity arose an unparalleled sense of unity and patriotism. Americans had spent the last half-century bickering amongst themselves over political and social issues. For the first time since the Second World War, we had a common enemy, even if we were not yet sure who it was. What we did know, however, is that the United States would recover, as a people and a nation; and we did.

On the tenth anniversary of that fateful day, all Americans send thoughts, prayers and best wishes to the families and friends of those who perished in New York, at the Pentagon and in the fields of Stonycreek Township, Pennsylvania. Nothing can return their loved ones to them but they will be forever remembered by a nation.

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist based in Jamestown, Ohio. Read more at http://www.deerinheadlines.com