I love Shore Leave, but regular readers here know that.This year, there were a few takeaways, both related to, sadly, age. First, I can no longer stay up to all hours one night and be up and functional art 8:30 for a business breakfast. I handled the breakfast just fine, but by 10 p.m. without a nap, I was dragging and first had to rehearse for Mystery Trekkie Theater before bed. I’m paying for it today.Second, three different little girls are no longer so little anymore. I was reintroduced to the daughter of one after a decade and she’s an attractive, self-confident 20-something. Another is the daughter of two of the committee and was working Registration and the Auction, and has blossomed in the same way. Finally, there was the now-21 year old version of the little girl who crushed on Robbie and clung to him for years.It’s weird how this sudden shift in time has occurred and a new generation has sprouted up with plenty behind them.On the other hand, the con was a sobering reminder that if we don’t care for ourselves, we’ll wind up using walkers and motorized wheelchairs, needing surgery and still trying to chug along. One veteran, senior citizen who loves to costume told me this was likely her final convention because it was just getting too difficult to drum up the enthusiasm and ramble through the halls.Still, I had a blast with a jam-packed schedule.Friday I collected Paul Kupperberg at Penn Station and brought him to his inaugural Shore Leave. We spent the afternoon getting him acclimated and reacquainted myself with my peeps and peers. That evening, I was the center square in Hollywood Sci-Fi Squares and it worked far better than I imagined. Everyone had a blast. I then dashed next door and raised well over $800 auctioning off a wide variety of collectibles, earning nearly double what was expected with the money going to four different charities. After a break, I attended the Meet the Authors event where I signed and sold tons of books.Saturday was the marathon beginning with all seven of the Crazy 8 Press gang meeting for the first time and going over a packed agenda. Then I had my hour which I talked about this and that and showed movie trailers, assembled with care and humor by Glenn Hauman. Thankfully, I was free to watch Kate perform with the Boogie Knights. At noon we had the C8 2nd Anniversary panel which was fun although a little lightly attended. At 2, I participated in a fun Time Management for Writers panel which had the five of us largely agreeing with one another on the tips of the trade. I then dashed next door to the Writers Workshop, already in progress and contributed as best I could.Howard Weinstein and I left early so we could prep to introduce William Shatner. Howie and I have been sharing emcee duties for quite a number of years so it felt right that we’d jointly intro the man himself. He walked backstage in good spirits and as we introduced ourselves he inquired who we were. When he heard we had written Star Trek in comics and novels he smiled and said we had that in common. Moments later, we took the podium and made the heartfelt introduction. Shortly thereafter, when our programming track leader tried to find her seat and the row seemed short one, Bill caught her hobbling with a cane and eyed Howie on the end of the row. “You’re a writer, go find a desk and let her sit.”Soon thereafter, he talked about a forthcoming album in which he penned the lyrics and music from Yes’ Billy Sherwood. He then said he was told it was progressive rock, which was the science fiction of music. After admitting he didn’t know what that meant, he eyed me and said, “You, you’re a writer. Come here.” I got up and joined him at the stage and spontaneously offered that prog rock was music that explored everything from the inner soul to man’s place in the universe, citing Yes’ Close to the Edge album as a good example. His eyes went wide and said, “Holy shit! That’s a great answer.” He was wonderful to hear for the remainder of the hour as he reflected on how lucky he has been in his career and how thankful he is that at 82 he is in great shape.I had an hour off then participated in a panel on novelizations. Thankfully, Deb took pity on me and brought me some wonderful Andy Nelson’s barbecue for dinner. Then it was off to judge the masquerade. I was seated between actor Greg Evigan, who looked terrific, and my longtime con pal Gina Hernandez who had not judged with me before. She’s a strong costumer herself and we compared notes throughout the night, which made me a little more critical than in previous years. Lots of strong entries helped make it a fun night. For the first time, I was roped into helping the Masquerade Ninjas do their opening schtick, with me being hauled on stage with them thinking they had returned from Russia with Eric Snowden.After that it was time to rehearse followed by collapsing.On Sunday, the Howie & Bob Show kicked off which was fun as always as I regaled people with details on my trip to NASA and Howie showed pictures form his research trip to Arizona then read excerpts from his forthcoming novel. I actually had some time off so finally wandered the dealers’ room and then set up shop to sell books and chat with fans. Kate and Mike brought me lunch, more barbecue, although this time from Mission Barbecue, which was tasty. I then participated in the ReDeus panel which had more authors than attendees but those who came at least were interested in our world. Some had read the first book and others were curious so that was nice. We even managed to briefly have Scott Pearson join us via Skype before the crummy Wi-Fi cut out.I hung out with TA Chafin for a bit, trying to stay awake and suddenly it was 5:15 and were backstage ready for our 21st go-round. Yes, Mystery Trekkie Theater is old enough to drink. We skewered “And the Children Shall Lead”, a truly awful third season TOS episode that we had previously avoided because it fell into the “shooting fish in a barrel” category. Our opening skit similarly lampooned J.J Abrams for remaking Wrath of Khan and telling us it was fresh.Just like that it came to an end. Shore Leave has lasted 35 years thanks to a few generations of fans who have put their blood and sweat into organizing a growing, robust show. It has enjoyed a stellar reputation among actors who happily accept invitations or return invitations. The fans come away sated with a plethora of panels on different topics with science, art, costuming, geekdom and writing all vying for attention. There are game shows, Temple of Trek, filk singing, and assorted of activities. The children’s track spawned a teen track this year and that’s good, a way to retain fans.drink. We skewered “And the Children Shall Lead”, a truly awful third season TOS episode that we had previously avoided because it fell into the “shooting fish in a barrel” category. Our opening skit similarly lampooned J.J Abrams for remaking Wrath of Khan and telling us it was fresh.It’s an amazing experience year after year and I’m already starting to look forward to next August’s con.