Party Like It's 2999

Another bad hair day for Chewie

Does this story sound familiar? Things are going well on your date with that girl who works in purchasing. After Rum Runners on the beach, you're back at your place, sitting on your living room couch. It's cool. She's cool. As she bends down to scratch your Yorkshire Terrier, she says, "Aw, what's his name?" When you proudly say "Tribble," you register her puzzled look and suddenly realize it's all over. She doesn't know you named the dog after the furry, voracious critters in Star Trek: The Original Series, episode 42, "The Trouble with Tribbles." And it's unlikely you'll impress her with your collection of USS Enterprise models or anything else behind the "Science Officer's Quarters" sign on your bedroom door. Maybe not even your nine-inch Borg.

If this happens to you, then listen up. There's a little sci-fi in all of us. And there's a lot of sci-fi in some of us. Because you fall into this latter group, friend, you're going to need special care and feeding, as well as a sanctuary. Not a false Logan's Run kind of sanctuary, but a real sarcasm-free zone where strangers aren't likely to say, "You're starting to scare me." In short, you need a sci-fi convention.

As it happens, there's one this weekend -- the first South Florida SciFi, Comic, and Anime Convention. Again, there's a little bit of comics in all of us...You get the picture. Same with anime's sexy and violent Japanese-style animation. If you grew up with Speed Racer, then you liked anime before you knew what it was. The two-day convention features movie screenings and dealers selling sci-fi collectibles, DVDs, and posters. The local Trekkie club, the USS Blackstar, will be on hand. And of course, there are the celebs -- including Austin Powers' Mini Me (Verne Troyer), Kung Fu's (and Kill Bill's) David Carradine, Spawn's Michael Jai White, and Star Wars' favorite wookie, Chewbacca (seven-foot-four British actor Peter Mayhew), whom we recently caught up with on the planet of large, hairy creatures where he now lives -- um, Texas.

Since redonning the Chewie suit for the 1997 MTV Movie Awards after a long hiatus, Mayhew says he attends 25 sci-fi conventions each year (and will appear in the final Star Wars prequel movie in 2005). Unlike his surly, growling character, Mayhew is diplomatic about his following. "It's nice to know you have three generations of fans -- grandparents, young parents, and kids -- it's a nice feeling to be around complete families."

The place to be Saturday night is the Cantina Lounge party. Dress like your favorite character. But first, go to the convention's website, (did you know you can run a Google search in Klingon?), for a list of Cantina Lounge rules: "No blasters, staff weapons, or bat'leths" and, "No Tribbles allowed!" So forget about the bad date, leave the dog at home, and go get assimilated. -- Dave Amber

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