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Join 1701News In Welcoming Michael, Denise Okuda

The Okuda Corner blog finds a new home right here

There are plenty of places to get Star Trek news and information, and we hope 1701News is at least somewhere on your daily online travel list.

Since our founding as a co-venture with Roddenberry Entertainment a couple of years ago, the overall dream has been to make 1701News the destination for Star Trek fans. We’ve been doing that by providing news we hope you find interesting, columnists that entertain as well as inform and taking a journalistic approach through our decades of experience not necessarily common elsewhere on the Web.

So on behalf of our partners at Roddenberry, I want to give a very warm welcome to Michael and Denise Okuda, who are migrating their popular blog to 1701News. Not only will you be able to find some of their past discussions on their former blog, but the Okudas will be providing new columns whenever the urge strikes. An example of that is their first Okuda Corner entry in at least a few years, detailing the trip the couple made to see the progress of the USS Enterprise restoration at the Smithsonian.

That is just a fascinating insight into the prop that was supposed to last just a few years, but now is being forced to last forever.

“They gave us plenty of time to linger over the model,” Michael Okuda said. “We were in geek heaven. The model is big (11 feet long!) and we drank in every detail. Even though we knew most of the ship by heart, it’s very different to see it sitting in front of you.”

Of course, that reminds me of a great scene from 1996’s “Star Trek: First Contact.” Picard and Data, played by Patrick Stewart and Brent Spiner, get a chance to see Zefram Cochrane’s warp ship first-hand — to the point where Picard reached out and touched it. This, of course, confused Data, because he didn’t quite understand why touching it was so important.

And even when I first saw “First Contact,” I probably struggled to understand, too. Until several years later, when I was covering the arrival of a major traveling museum piece from the Titanic exhibit for the newspaper I was writing for at the time. This piece, which was transported with secrecy that would make even the CIA proud, came in the cover of night and arrived at the museum here in Tampa, Florida, right before sunrise.

It was a huge piece of the Titanic’s hull. Despite what we saw in the 1997 film, you actually can’t take anything on or inside the Titanic. However, you can pull stuff up from the debris field surrounding it, which is where many artifacts come from. One thing found in that debris field was this huge chunk of the hull — complete with porthole windows still intact.

Only a handful of reporters were there to see this piece arrive, and they were making sure to keep all of us at a distance. Yet, I somehow was able to maneuver myself close enough to where I could actually reach out and touch the Titanic. There is something magical about that moment, just as Picard felt when he touched the Phoenix.

Sadly, the Okudas couldn’t touch the Enterprise model — at least not without wearing gloves. But to be so close to something so extraordinary … there’s no topping it.

So who are the Okudas? Well, if you have to ask that, then why are you reading this website again? You know that this is Star Trek, right?

Seriously, the Okudas have been a part of the Trek family since the beginning of TNG, right up through “Star Trek: Enterprise.” They are primarily scenic artists and computer graphics creators. In fact, Michael Okuda is credited with creating the famous LCARS system of the Enterprise-D computers in “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”

Michael Okuda was nominated for three Emmys for his work on TNG, and even to this day, display screens in Star Trek computers are referred to as “Okudagrams.”

And now the Okudas have found a home here. As a fan of everything visual about Star Trek — as well as someone who probably read the Enterprise-D technical manual 100 times as a teenager, loving every word of it — we are excited to have them here, and hope you are, too.

Take a look at their first column by clicking here. And be sure to read much more in Okuda Corner, right here on 1701News.

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