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#588511 - Fri Jan 21 2011 09:25 PM Interview with WesleyCrusher
Pagiedamon Offline
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Registered: Sun Jun 15 2008
Posts: 2592
Loc: North Carolina USA
sue943
You live in Germany so what made you join an American trivia/quiz site rather than a German one? Is it not far more difficult if English isn’t your first language or is that part of the fun for you?


I have spent several months in America in the 1990s for an internship and ever since then, I am speaking English almost like a second mother tongue, so the language is not that much of a disadvantage for me. On the other hand, there just is no German language site even comparable to FunTrivia in variety, so the choice was easy and the availability of the word-based games is a plus for me since they help me to pad out my vocabulary of less frequently used words.

sue943
Please tell us how you first became involved as a volunteer at FunTrivia.


When, in the middle of 2009, the number of badges and challenges available literally exploded over the course of a few months, I found it increasingly difficult to keep up with the options and to judge just how difficult a challenge would be. I came up with the idea to present the challenges by relative difficulty, using the Judo belt colors as a guide. The metaphor was ultimately changed to gems and the result is what you see today. Terry then approached me on whether I would want to write some intro text for each of the challenges and I accepted, later adding the finish texts as well. About two months later, in August, I was invited to join the editing staff for the Hobbies category and still enjoy both jobs very much today!

kyleisalive
You're one of the newer editors on the site. What's something you've learned from your experiences behind the scenes of FunTrivia that you've found surprising? In addition, what's something insightful you would specifically want others to know based on these experiences (whether quiz-specific or otherwise)?


The most surprising thing I encountered is probably the range of skill and motivation between players and authors. From people who fill the quiz template with little more than random letters to thirteen-year-olds able to write at PhD level, I have seen all in just seventeen months. I would have expected a much narrower range of ability.
The one insight I have gained from the editing process is really: always put yourself in the other person's shoes. When you submit a quiz (or, anything else in life) for scrutiny, imagine for a second that you are the person who has to check and approve it. Would you consider your own work good enough to approve against the competition? On the other hand, if you are the person in the position to approve things, think back to when you were like the one whose work you are just examining – the one afraid of the big, bad editor / teacher / boss / whoever and just wanting to contribute. The editor position at FunTrivia has taught me this lesson quite well and I am proud to say it helps me in everyday life as well.

salami_swami
You edit in the Hobbies category. What is your favorite part about it? Why?

I love the diversity of the Hobbies quizzes. From food and drinks over astrology, collectibles, gardening and home improvement to games, the category has many different facets that each tend to draw very different types of great authors and quizzes. At the same time, many quizzes are also fascinatingly specialized and deep, revealing a host of interesting facts. It’s this unique combination of variety and depth that appeals to me most.

salami_swami
Do you personally have a strong suit in the Hobbies category?


“Suit” is already a good keyword because all kinds of games, but especially card games, tend to be my personal forte. In fact, I could probably write 25 elaborate quizzes about various obscure trading card games in one month – it’s just that probably, for most of these games, fewer than a dozen members would even recognize the name!

salami_swami
You don't have to name names, but are there authors who've stood out as your favorites to work with? Why?


Actually, my favorite authors are the many beginning and first-time authors willing to learn and grow while writing a quiz. Seeing an error-filled skeleton grow into a quiz worth publishing over a few rounds of editing and then seeing the much improved further offerings of the same authors is the greatest reward for editing work possible.

kyleisalive
A large number of your own quizzes have been from challenges and commissions, and you've always had a knack for very unique, out-of-the-box responses to these. Do you find that you have to take a bit of time to dwell on an idea before you can write? Do you have a process for quiz-writing?


Quite often, I have to let an idea simmer for several days or even weeks before I find just the right fit. I even have a template hanging around that I created way over a year ago, filled with 8 questions out of the needed 10 and sitting there waiting for the inspiration that will finally turn it into something I'd want to submit. Once inspiration hits me, however, it is just as probable that I can complete the entire authoring process in two or three hours from there (the notable exception being "I've Just Seen a Face", a foray into my absolutely weakest category which ultimately took several weeks to research).

Once I have the idea and concept laid out, I usually write all the questions and correct answers first, then all the incorrect options and finally I move to the info. I found that quite often my choice of questions and answers strongly influenced the style that I want the quiz's info to be in and so I usually shelve that part until I have the remainder of the quiz set in stone. Other than that, I very much just go with what my heart tells me (and I can be quite heartbroken afterwards if I find that all my effort was just to see a 78,464th of 104,000. But then, there are also the ones that get a three-digit rank and they make up for it. Now could I please get one of mine back to the top 100? smile

salami_swami
You work on the text for FunTrivia's challenge page. Do you have a favorite? A least favorite you want to rewrite?


My favorites are the big, splashy ones where I can write an epic ending text making the challenge just that bit larger. Immortal, Hardcore, Centurion and Pot of Gold are probably the four I am most proud of in this regard. Since I can rewrite works I am not exactly happy with, I don’t have any sticking out that I’d like to immediately revise, but if Terry ever gets around to adding code for blocking out text that applies to challenges the user cannot yet attempt (either because of level or because they still lack a lower badge on the same track – you can’t have Knockout hero without first having Knockout champ), I would definitely change most of these to have more of a continued storyline feeling without fear of giving away fun details from previous finish messages.

salami_swami
Do you love watching people toil over the level passwords when they don't even have all the letters yet?


Yes, for sure *evil grin*. I have something in mind for these passwords when they are completed that should make completing a set of these challenges feel quite special – Terry will of course still have to agree on it, so nothing is set in stone yet. By the way, none of the guesses I have seen so far are anywhere near correct.

guitargoddess
Which is your favourite badge/challenge on the site and why?


If I have to pick one and only one, I think the Pot of Gold rainbow collector badge is pretty much the one I personally like most. Showing prowess in seven vastly different categories and triumphing in one’s own weakest areas makes this one quite special.

kyleisalive
You've played a big part in a number of recent changes on the site and you've always tended to know a lot about the specifics that make FunTrivia 'work'. What aspect of FunTrivia do you think needs focus and attention whether this be for fine-tuning purposes, your own personal wishlist, or otherwise?


Terry will probably hate me for answering this particular question regardless of what I say, but since it's been asked, I will try to give my personal vision after a bit of history. I joined the site in the summer of 2008. At that time, the badge system was well into place and we had, I think, about 40 such achievements to earn, but that was it. There was no player level or any guidance to what was "good". Then, levels were introduced and at first, the top players were in the 70s. I think I entered the system at something like 23rd level – definitely in the lower half of the 20s. In the weeks that followed, a large amount of challenges were added and the top level increased, culminating in the title of Centurion for the then far below 100 players who had managed to attain triple-digit levels. Around that time, Terry introduced the badgelets: achievements that did not have to grant a full level. This was the first – ingenious – step to a system of level balance that would not end in infinite power creep and players quickly going to level 900, a threat that was quite real at the time.

I think this system needs to be completed with a maximum target level in mind (200 is probably a good number) and most of all, the features that were begun need to be completed. We need a handful – not many – cool perks for the 100+ level players as well as more options at lower levels, the full set of 6 times 5 level challenges, and ultimately a way to "win the game of FunTrivia" somewhere beyond 150th level– a goal that only one out of several thousand players will ever attain but that is there and that will make the ultimate reward with many more partial goals and nifty little (and not so little) features along the way to keep players coming back for just that one extra level. Every player who is eager to gain "just one more level" is a player who will come back every day, play and enjoy the site and my personal vision of an ideal FunTrivia is a site where as many visitors as possible have that desire to get that "just one more level".

guitargoddess
What do you do in 'the real world', when you're not here editing quizzes or thinking up new stuff for games and such?


You are probably referring to my job (and the non-job answer is in the next question). I am working as a Senior Pre-Sales Engineer for a software and systems company manufacturing solutions for radio production and automation. We are equipping several major stations in Europe with all needed components and are in the process of expanding beyond the continent. (Any FunTrivia members living in or near Las Vegas: I am coming to your place for NAB 2011 in April and will be happy to meet you in person!)

lynnstigger
What do you do with your spare time when you're not working or devoting time to FunTrivia?


Spare time? Uhm, let me look that up in my dictionary... smile

Oh, you mean THAT kind of time. Well, I am keeping busy trying to get my house just the way I want it by optimizing (and creating, if I have to) furniture (I just love to modify IKEA stuff to do things it was never meant to do), playing in an ultra-epic Dungeons and Dragons campaign (169 kids trying to save not just one world but a whole bunch of them – and no, we don't have 169 players but many characters per person!), casually playing and seriously collecting Magic: the Gathering (3 cards away from a full set. "Full set", as in "all expansions". Including the Power 9 and Portal Three Kingdoms. At least one card of each name.), playing other trading card games and board games and enjoying the companionship of our seven cats.

lynnstigger
I know you travel for work, but do you do any other type of traveling for fun?


At this time, I have little opportunity for private travel – one of my cats needs regular medication. My wife can take care of them during business travel, but traveling together for more than a weekend is essentially impossible for now. In addition, I’d currently rather spend the cash on several things that I’d like to improve on my house.

sue943
If you were offered an all-expenses paid holiday/vacation anywhere in the world, just one destination, not a tour, where would you go and why?


Too bad you made the restriction of "in the world", because my one dream vacation would be aboard a space shuttle, taking in the views of our planet from above or, even more ambitiously, a few days on the moon. If I have to choose a place on our planet, I guess I would have to think for a long time. I would love to visit Australia, but that would be a tour. The same would go for several other destinations where I would be unable to restrict myself to just one place. With the restriction, I think the place I could stay the longest would ultimately be Orlando, Florida. Give me an unlimited ticket to all theme parks and water parks within 100 miles and then I'll solve the puzzle of how to ride all rides and see all shows in that circle in the least number of days. I am a thrill-seeker at heart and I love a challenging puzzle and the quest to have the ultimate and unbeatable Orlando theme park vacation would be one I would accept any day.

Pagiedamon
Are you married? Do you have any children?


I'm not married in the legal sense but I'm living in a longterm relationship. She's actually hanging around on FunTrivia as well. No kids unless you count the seven cats frequenting the place.

sue943
You are the team leader of The Cat People and the team description says “We are a collection of individuals who see in ourselves the embodiment of the feline family.” If you were a cat, which breed would you be and why?


I would choose a Norwegian Forest Cat. They are one of the most intelligent and agile breeds around and they just embody the elegance of a cat as no other breed can do. (I might just be slightly influenced by our Bilbo, who is probably the smartest cat I've ever seen. He's thinking and planning at a level I'd rather expect from an ape than a cat.)

lynnstigger
The Cat Team really appreciates all of your hard work and devotion to our team. We are so very happy to have you as our captain. What do you enjoy about being on a team?


It's probably just as much about "a" team as about "this" team, the Cat People. I love this team because, on a very small scale, it really makes people of the most diverse types come together and feel as one – a vision I would like to see reflected on the world as a whole. I would like humanity to become more like the FunTrivia community and our team – a place where people can be themselves and express themselves in the way they choose yet become part of a larger whole and where everyone takes responsibility for something the way they can do best.

If I may add it – I would like to add a special thanks to the members of the team. You have helped make it possible that many of the former "public groups" are now fully functional teams and I hope that the remaining few groups will soon find someone they trust to lead them.

Pagiedamon
Can you tell us three unusual facts about yourself?


Yes.

Uhm, you mean, actually DO it?

Okay, here we go. However, since I love a good riddle, I will list four facts. Three are true, one is a complete figment of my imagination. You can all take a guess, but please briefly tell why you believe the one you chose is the one that is not true. I'll clear it up and provide the details in a few weeks.

1) Due to connections via a Star Trek fan club, I have been invited to play an uncredited walk-on role as tactical officer in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country while on my US trip.
2) I have qualified for and been invited, all expenses paid, to a card game World Championship in Las Vegas and placed 16th.
3) I possibly was the youngest (and almost certainly one of the ten youngest) commissioned officers of the West German army on Reunification Day, October 3, 1990.
4) While at university, I was vice-president of the student council for several months.

guitargoddess
If Hollywood were to make a movie about your life, who would play you?


If we just go by looks, I would probably have to choose Jonathan Frakes (with beard!). However, if we go by spirit and how I want to lead my life, Orlando Bloom would be a quite ideal choice for the character.

Thanks to all who took part.

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#588518 - Fri Jan 21 2011 10:06 PM Re: Interview with WesleyCrusher
Lones78 Offline
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Registered: Mon Apr 27 2009
Posts: 1497
Loc: Forrestfield Western�Austral...
Thanks for a great interview Wesley. To be honest, I never would have known that English was not your first language until I read it here. I just assumed that you were an American living in German smile

On being an editor: I had you editing one of my quizzes not long after you started editing. It was the first time I got totally knocked back for a quiz (as in my idea idea just wasn't going to work and I had to scrap the whole lot). You were so nice and explained to me so well why I couldn't do it. I came away from the experience feeling good about it and it inspired me to keep on going ans submit that next quiz instead of quitting right there and then.

I'd also like to thank you for the effort you put in on FT. I love reading the stories for each challenge and look forward to when I get to read the 'ending' when I finally win that badge/let. Your work is definitely appreciated by THIS FT addict grin
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#588863 - Mon Jan 24 2011 02:47 AM Re: Interview with WesleyCrusher
rossian Offline
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Posts: 3404
Loc: Merseyside UK
I agree with Leonie. I also thought you were a native English speaker until reading this. I love your quizzes, too, and have learned to expect the unexpected.

I'm going to take a guess at your 'fictional fact' as being the Star Trek film walk-on. My suspicion is that this is a dream, not reality, and also because the other facts seem to fit with what you have revealed of your interests and character. Since I am rubbish at riddles, I expect to be proved totally wrong eventually.

Thanks for a fascinating interview.
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#588918 - Mon Jan 24 2011 11:05 AM Re: Interview with WesleyCrusher
salami_swami Offline
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Posts: 8760
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That was a great interview, Wesley.

I am going to have to say that 4 is false, because it seems the least "unique" of them all. I think you've done quite unique things, and being the vice-president at a university seems the least "unique". smile
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#588957 - Mon Jan 24 2011 01:08 PM Re: Interview with WesleyCrusher
Bruyere Offline
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Registered: Sat Feb 10 2001
Posts: 18797
Loc: California USA
I'm going to vote for the uni vice president as being the odd man out. The others seem plausible to me.

I'm glad to hear these things about you and in particular that you love your cats so much. I'm finding that my own cat brings me a lot of warmth and comfort. I sometimes watch cats' antics on the internet and I'm constantly amazed. I wouldn't mind seeing a cat who has the intelligence of an ape. Opening door type stuff? Curious minds want to know! What does Bilbo do?
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#589143 - Mon Jan 24 2011 06:38 PM Re: Interview with WesleyCrusher
SilverMoonsong Offline
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Posts: 3976
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Actually, I think #2 is false.

2) I have qualified for and been invited, all expenses paid, to a card game World Championship in Las Vegas and placed 16th.

I would believe the others before this one. smile

(Then again, I'm not usually very good at this)
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#589247 - Tue Jan 25 2011 09:56 AM Re: Interview with WesleyCrusher
salami_swami Offline
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Maybe he placed 15th. smile
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#589567 - Wed Jan 26 2011 01:59 PM Re: Interview with WesleyCrusher
ClaraSue Offline
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Posts: 7837
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Good interview and I have to agree that maybe #4 is false. If #2 is true: hubby and I are very jealous!
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#589624 - Wed Jan 26 2011 05:15 PM Re: Interview with WesleyCrusher
Squisher Offline
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Registered: Tue Nov 27 2007
Posts: 92
Loc: Calgary Alberta Canada       
Nice interview Wesley! I'm going to say #3 is incorrect. Perhaps you were non-commissioned instead?

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#589628 - Wed Jan 26 2011 05:27 PM Re: Interview with WesleyCrusher
ozzz2002 Offline
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Registered: Mon Dec 03 2001
Posts: 19964
Loc: Sydney NSW Australia
I am going to go for Option 1. smile

Great interview!
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#589714 - Wed Jan 26 2011 09:39 PM Re: Interview with WesleyCrusher
Jakeroo Offline
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Registered: Sat Aug 30 2008
Posts: 2064
Loc: Alberta Canada
I refuse to fall for any of Wesley's riddles LOL (as much as I love them), so am declining to pick one.

Very nice interview. Am SO relieved to discover that you DO have a life and a family other than this one. I have no idea how you manage to find the time to devote to your various "projects" here. Please know that I often giggle out loud at your descriptions for the challenges (and I don't mean that as an insult!).

p.s. am a cat lover myself (and am "owned" by one), but ... SEVEN ??? LOL! I would have to declare personal bankruptcy due to cat litter, food, licenses, vet bills, furniture replacement and plastic surgery to remove scars! ~
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#590536 - Mon Jan 31 2011 11:19 AM Re: Interview with WesleyCrusher
Gatsby722 Offline
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Registered: Fri May 18 2001
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I really enjoyed that interview, too! Very very interesting!
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#590548 - Mon Jan 31 2011 11:38 AM Re: Interview with WesleyCrusher
WesleyCrusher Online   content

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4 more days until I clear up the riddle smile
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#590583 - Mon Jan 31 2011 01:55 PM Re: Interview with WesleyCrusher
postcards2go Offline
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Registered: Thu Nov 20 2008
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Loc: New York City USA
Great interview.

I understand about the cats. I once had seven in a five room apartment, each one with a distinct personality.
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#590588 - Mon Jan 31 2011 02:13 PM Re: Interview with WesleyCrusher
salami_swami Offline
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4 more days? Why, Wes, why? smile
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#590597 - Mon Jan 31 2011 02:23 PM Re: Interview with WesleyCrusher
WesleyCrusher Online   content

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Registered: Thu Sep 04 2008
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Because I said "in a few weeks" which by definition has to be at least 2 smile
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#590633 - Mon Jan 31 2011 03:52 PM Re: Interview with WesleyCrusher
salami_swami Offline
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lol, come on, I'm not THAT patient. wink lol.
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#591477 - Thu Feb 03 2011 03:00 PM Re: Interview with WesleyCrusher
salami_swami Offline
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"Tomorrow, tomorrow, Wes'll tell ya, Tomorrow. Tomorrow's only a daaaayyy aaaa-wwaaaayyyy."
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#591787 - Fri Feb 04 2011 04:44 PM Re: Interview with WesleyCrusher
WesleyCrusher Online   content

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Loc: Germany
So you want the solutions?

Well, here we go:

The commissioned officer story (#3) is true. I finished school one year earlier than normal and joined the army on October 1, 1987. Since the requirement to start training for a commission is to have either "Abitur" (a 13-year schooling equivalent to mid-college level) or a 10-year school diploma plus a 3-year vocational training, it's essentially impossible to start down that track aged less than 19 unless you do so. I was only 18 and a few months at the time and made 2nd Lieutenant (as an army reserve commission) on Oct 1, 1990, two days before the reunification.

I would have loved at that time to meet an East German counterpart as a symbol of the reunification. The tag line "Three years ago, they joined the army to become enemies. Today, they are friends standing for a common cause" could have gone a long way in those months smile

The student council story (#4) is also true. It's not as glitzy as the others, but after having seen our high school student council fade into absolute powerlessness due to lack of volunteers, I didn't want the same to happen at Uni. So when they initially were searching for someone to organize sports activities, I volunteered. (Yeah, me and sports. As in "perfect match made in hell".) I didn't keep that particular job for long, moving on to advising students on financial matters and on scholarships. I also joined the liberal "party" and stood for them in the student council elections several times. After the resignation of one senior member of the council due to graduation, I was asked to move up to 1st vice-president and served in that function for four months in 1992.

The World Championships (#2) - true and I'm very proud of that one. In 1994, I picked up the Star Trek Customizable Card Game (made by Decipher) and became both a volunteer / tournament director and an accomplished player. Over the summer of 1997, I ran three qualifier tournaments, two in Germany and one in Italy, but was prevented in playing any myself. I had one chance to qualify at the very end, but had to drive to Belgium (Brussels) to do so. After a very foggy early morning trip, I arrived in time to play the six rounds and emerge a narrow winner. This gave me the chance to compete in the final tournament in November 1997, held in Las Vegas. Out of 30 players, I placed 16th with a 4 win, 4 loss record. In the later years, I focused on Sealed Deck and draft play and was 1st in the world ELO rankings in that discipline (which unfortunately never had its own championship event) for almost two years. Sadly, the game, as most collectible card games of the day, is pretty much dead today.

Finally #1 - which is only almost right (which in turn is a euphemism for wrong). The individual tidbits contained in the sentence are mostly true, they just didn't match up to net me the jackpot. When I did my 1992 internship in the USA, I had in my pocket a recommendation by the leader of our local Star Trek club who knew an assistant of Gene Roddenberry pretty well. However, in the three months between me starting the trip and actually getting to Los Angeles, that person had left the job (Mr. Roddenberry had died the year before and most of his personal staff left the crew within one year after his death) and so I could not really use that letter to get any special "Star Trek" perks (it still netted me a cool "standard" 5-hour VIP tour of the Paramount lot with a small group). In addition, there was no way to get onto a real Star Trek set anyway even to look because they were not filming (Deep Space Nine was between seasons) and the sets were being renovated and unsafe. I did get my turn in front of a camera while wearing a Star Trek Movie uniform as an audience volunteer in the Universal Studios Hollywood attraction where they crudely filmed a few scenes on stage and then interleaved the results with some footage from Star Trek VI for people to laugh about, Karaoke-embarrassment style.

So no real Star Trek walk-on role for the Wescat (yet), but some nice memories that do come pretty close.

Congrats to those who guessed right!


Edited by WesleyCrusher (Fri Feb 04 2011 04:48 PM)
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#592025 - Sat Feb 05 2011 01:45 AM Re: Interview with WesleyCrusher
rossian Offline
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Posts: 3404
Loc: Merseyside UK
I can't believe I guessed this correctly. Now if only I could work out the Riddle!
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