Allie & Sarah introduce themselves and talk about their connection to Star Trek, humanism, and why this podcast even exists.
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Starfleet Officer maker by @marci_bloch
Sarah Ray: Hey everybody, welcome to Humanist Trek. It’s a “Star Trek” podcast about the humanism in “Star Trek”. I’m Sarah Ray.
Allie Ashmead: And I’m Allie Ashmead.
Sarah Ray: And welcome to the first episode. Yay.z
If you’re here, thanks for listening. You probably have some idea of what sort of the show is going to be about if you’ve found your way here already. But we wanted to take an episode here just to kind of tell you about who we are and how we are connected to “Star Trek” and Humanism, and why we would even do a podcast called Humanist Trek.
So let’s start off with who we are and our connection to “Star Trek”.
Allie Ashmead: Who are you, Sarah?
Sarah Ray: I’m Sarah Ray. I am a trans woman and I’m a Trekkie. I grew up watching “Next Generation”. That was kind of like my series of entry and then I went back and got interested in “The Original Series” and the movies and kind of went from there.
So, God in 1980… what was it, 1987? And then early nineties, then “Deep Space Nine” and “Voyager” and so there’s a point where I sort of trailed off, and we’ll get to that. Hopefully. We’re starting back at like “The Original Series” pilot and working our way through. So there is a segment of “Star Trek” that I was not a fan of in its initial run, and so I’m excited to kind of re-experience that through this lens.,
Allie Ashmead: Oh, which one was that? Do we wanna say right now?
Sarah Ray: Oh, we can say, yeah. I really loved “Deep Space Nine” when it got started. Once they started getting into the Dominion War, when it changed from episodic to serialized format. That’s when I kind of lost attention. But I also think like, maybe it was the time and place, too.
Like I was a teenager doing, you know, going through all that teenager stuff and like, I just, I don’t know, like, it just wasn’t, it didn’t keep my intention. I tried to love “Voyager”, and I’m sorry. People are gonna hate me.
Allie Ashmead: Oh, I hate you. “Voyager” was like, I don’t know, there’s a special place in my heart for it, but go ahead.
Sarah Ray: I tried to love “Voyager”, but for me, I think it was, I felt like the premise locked them in too tight. Like, okay, every episode’s gonna be how we get home. Eh, okay. And I don’t know, I thought that would just get boring after a while. In rewatches, you know, every once a year so I go back and re-watch everything.
But I’ve enjoyed it more now in and “Enterprise”, I wanted to love “Enterprise” so much because –
Allie Ashmead: Yeah. I agree with you.
Sarah Ray: The premise of that really excited me. The idea of like, let’s go back further and see how this whole thing started really got me excited and then the execution was just like…
Allie Ashmead: Awful.
Sarah Ray: What about you?
Allie Ashmead: I remember as a little child because “The Original Series” came out in 1966. So my mother was watching it, you know, and I remember in the seventies watching the reruns.
And so that’s how I ended up loving “Star Trek”. And then what, 20 years later when TNG came around and I was like, “yeah, this is awesome!” and I was hooked from day one. I could not remember “The Original Series”, like I know the more current shows, but if I saw it when I’m, as we’re going through this and as I see them again, I’ll be like, “I remember that.”
And I kind of agree with you on the “Deep Space Nine” but actually I don’t think I watched it at all when it was running.
Sarah Ray: Really!
Allie Ashmead: But then I watched it probably maybe 15 years ago. My husband and I sat down and we just said, you know, I did, I did see some of them, but I just like, you know what, I’m like, I wanna know why I didn’t, wasn’t into it.
And then I absolutely loved it. So we marathoned all of them. And I’m like, you know what, I’m sorry. I’m sad I missed it because I thought it was fantastic. I get what you’re saying about the Dominion War and all that. It was just, oh God, here we are again.
Sarah Ray: Right. It kind of lost me there.
Allie Ashmead: The thing I always liked about Star Wars– Star Wars, oh my God. Cardinal Sin. “Star Trek” was the fact that they were able to like mix humor into every episode and with the. Dominion War and all that crap going, it was the more serious series. So, yeah.
But I get it. I did enjoy it. And then of course, “Voyager”, you hurt me. You hurt me so deeply because that is my favorite.
Sarah Ray: Wow!
Allie Ashmead: That was my favorite older one. I don’t know. I just enjoyed all of the dynamics between the crew, I mean, B’Elanna and the romance between B’Elanna and Tom.
And Tom and what’s his name? Always getting into some kind of
Sarah Ray: Oh, Tom and Harry and their bromance?
Allie Ashmead: Tom and Harry. Yeah. And their bromance. I love their bromance.
Sarah Ray: I do too. They do a podcast now. Have you?
Allie Ashmead: No, I did not. Alright.
Sarah Ray: Yeah, Garrett Wang and Robbie Duncan McNeil, they do a podcast called “The Delta Flyers.”
Allie Ashmead: Oh, of course.
Sarah Ray: So they’re going back- that was their ship.
Yeah. So they’re going back through and watching the episodes and kind of talking about them from the perspective of being on the cast and making the show.
Allie Ashmead: Yeah, that’s cool.
Sarah Ray: So that’s a thing that I thought would be interesting to kind of touch on too, is like, we’re just fans.
Allie Ashmead: We are!
Sarah Ray: We have no real connection to “Star Trek”. I’m not friends with any of those people. I don’t, you know, like,
Allie Ashmead: I don’t know anyone famous.
Sarah Ray: I don’t have any connections to the “Star Trek” franchise at all, other than like, I’m just a fan.
Allie Ashmead: I’m a huge fan and I don’t know, I obviously, you know, with “Voyager” ,”Deep Space Nine” I hated “Enterprise” as well. I thought it was a waste of, like, I just didn’t get it. The only thing I liked was the romance between – and this is a spoiler if you haven’t seen it – T’Pol and Tripp, and that was the only reason I even suffered through it to get to the end, just cuz I’m like what the hell happened with those two?
And then of course all the new ones. And then the movies, oh my. All of the movies are fantastic.
Sarah Ray: What I loved most about the Kirk- era movies was the humor. Like they really baked in humor into those…
Allie Ashmead: I love that.
Sarah Ray: into those stories and that, you know, I’ve got notes on this for our first episode, but like sci-fi in general, and “Star Trek” specifically at its best is shining a light on current events and things that are going on and topics that may be not easy to discuss outright. But we can tell a story about it if it’s a green alien, you know? And then to mix that humor into it. It is very human in the way it tells stories and I think that’s something that I connected very deeply with.
Allie Ashmead: Yep. Every single story, pretty much you could apply it to something that has gone on in human history.
Sarah Ray: I’m most excited to look back at some of the cringey shit that they did in the sixties.
Allie Ashmead: Oh yeah, yeah. There’s some, there’s some cringey shit
Sarah Ray: That’s like, okay, we know that Gene really wanted to tell those stories and shine a light on current events that were happening at the time. But then there are some other things that’s just like, Ooh. Maybe not as forward as we wanted to be.
Allie Ashmead: Yeah, I think Gene, yeah. We’ll talk about this in the pilot, but there’s some things I think Gene was, I don’t know. I think he had some like forethought and we’ll talk about it.
Sarah Ray: Yeah. So then that’s the “Star Trek” half of the show, the humanist half of the show is Allie and I both identify as humanists. I helped form a local atheist, humanist group back in Florida. I sort of got into that activism and like I was doing invocations at local city council stuff.
Haven’t gotten into that since we moved. But that’s on my list. And then as an organization, we really dove into things like homelessness and food insecurity and things that are really affecting people. And all of that stuff comes from the values of humanism for me. As someone who was formerly religious, left that faith and then, you know, what do I believe now?
For me, that’s the values of humanism. And I know your story is similar.
Allie Ashmead: Similar, yeah. I love all the things that you’ve done. I’ve not even come close to doing any contributing to the world. I was pretty much always non-religious and I don’t know, I never really had like a “rules for life”, you know?
I never really had anything concrete, you know, I didn’t really believe in religion or any deities, but I’m just like, okay, just be good to each other and help each other. And that’s really, really simple. Don’t be mean and do no harm.
As far as activism, I mean, I didn’t get into activism, but as being a new person in Denver or the Denver area, I hope to get involved really soon.
Sarah Ray: Man, one of the things that I noticed when we first moved here was just how in your face the homelessness problem is.
Allie Ashmead: Oh yeah, it is. Oh yeah.
Sarah Ray: Huge problem. And I know it’s bad everywhere. Like the housing market’s garbage and the economy is shit, and like everything’s bad. I get it, but, I think it was more visible here for me than it was where I came from in Florida.
Allie Ashmead: For sure, because it’s very much city here, everywhere. Even though they were surrounded by mountains, it’s very city. So I’m on the board of a nonprofit that, we support teams globally. Our purpose is to fund the teams that are on the ground doing the work. So teams in Denver or Orlando or New York or New Jersey in different cities all across the nation. A lot of these small teams don’t have the money to feed the homeless or to provide things to prevent or alleviate food insecurity.
So, what we do is we bring those teams in as part of our umbrella, under our umbrella. And we give them funds to do what they already do. So we can, you know, just help everyone as much as we can. So that’s kind of what I do.
I’m just a nerd. I’m just a regular person.
Sarah Ray: But that’s one of the ways we got connected initially too, is- so the organization that you’re talking about, formerly Foundation Beyond Belief, now Go Humanity.
We were the little local group trying to do that food security work. And as a little local nonprofit organization, you rely on donations… and you don’t have anybody on staff, so it’s not like you have a grant writer. So it was such a huge help to have an organization that is connected to all of those little groups to say, “here, let us help you do the good work that you’re doing.” That’s gohumanity.world, if you want to go check that out.
I am now on the board and currently serving as the Vice President of The Humanist Society. The Humanist Society is an adjunct organization of the American Humanist Association, and essentially we endorse chaplains, celebrants, invocators, lay leaders, all of that kind of stuff so that people without religious belief can get similar services.
If you’re not religious and you want to get married, most places, your options are,
Allie Ashmead: You go to the church.
Sarah Ray: Pastor in a church. Yep.
Allie Ashmead: And not everyone wants to do that.
Sarah Ray: Not even all religious people want to do that.
So we do things like as celebrants, I’m also a humanist celebrant with The Humanist Society and, and we do things like, you know preside over weddings and funerals and life events like, baby naming or a transition, gender transition. Anything that, like, you kind of mark the passage of time and milestones and moments in our lives, and that’s not- religion doesn’t own that. So we kind of create a non-religious, secular way to mark those milestones. So that’s thehumanistsociety.org.
We’re really looking for more people in more places. If you’re interested in performing ceremonies, please go to the website and apply.
Allie Ashmead: Me! I know I need to do that. I meant to do that a year ago, and I’ve just been thinking about it a lot the last few weeks. I just went to a wedding and the whole time I’m like, oh, why didn’t I do it? I could have been doing this wedding! Because this was for a dear, dear friend.
I would love to be able to provide that service to someone and make their day special. I mean, it’s like so important. So, yeah. Okay. I’m doing it like in the next month. All right. I need you to write down some, like “step one: do this, Allie. Step two.” and I need to stick to it.
Sarah Ray: Well, and I’ll tell you for the audience, like it’s not a difficult process either. Right? Like it is an application and an interview and you have to provide some, what’s the fucking word, man?
Allie Ashmead: See I have the same problem song when I can’t think of a word. Must be the air up here.
Sarah Ray: It must, yeah. We went from sea level to the Mile High city. Anyway. You have to submit some things and it’s really not difficult though. You totally do it.
Allie Ashmead: You gotta do some stuff in things, you know?
Sarah Ray: So that brings us to, “what the hell are we doing this podcast for?”
And we kind of mentioned it a little bit already, but like, been a fan of Trek for most of my adult life and recognized that gene really had this humanist center to all the things that he was trying to communicate through his storytelling. Really ties back to humanism and I thought, well, it’s neat. You know, you can listen to Garrett and Robbie’s podcast and hear a perspective of the actors on set. There are other podcasts who do like deep dive research into the history and the episodes and the actors and who, what they are and all of this stuff. And you overload your information. You can get that.
Nobody’s doing a podcast that’s talking about the values and the humanist background of “Star Trek”. And so I thought that would be fun for us to do. So that’s why we’re here.
Allie Ashmead: Yeah. You know, I think we started talking about this a year ago.
Sarah Ray: At least a year ago.
Allie Ashmead: And for me, it’s really refreshing to find someone who loves “Star Trek” as much as I do and likes to talk about the little shit and gets all the weird jokes and like, gets all my memes and stuff. Cause that’s like, oh it’s, and most people are like, “oh God, it’s a “Star Trek” again”. But no, you get it and you laugh.
Sarah Ray: Oh, I love it.
Allie Ashmead: And so I was like, okay, we do need to do this. And I remembered us talking about doing like, do you remember Mystery 3000?
Sarah Ray: Oh, yeah!
Allie Ashmead: We talked about trying to do that format, but I’m like, nah, we can’t show that. We can’t show the show. We’ll get sued. And then, I guess, I don’t know if I realized how much humanism there was in the show. I just loved the show because it was just, they always tried to do the honorable thing. The right thing. And so, I was like, okay. Yeah.
Sarah Ray: That’s awesome. So you’re kind of going back through it with a whole different approach.
Allie Ashmead: Oh, yeah. A hundred percent. I’m going through it with fresh eyes now.
Sarah Ray: Oh, hey, before we go, let’s talk about” Nu Trek”. Trademark “Nu Trek™”.
Allie Ashmead: Is that what that – is that what all the new remakes and prequels…
Sarah Ray: Well you talked about like being excited for “Deep Space Nine” and “Voyager”. We talked about that a little bit. Well, that you grew up on OG Trek, and then when NextGen came along, you were excited for that.
Allie Ashmead: I was already a fan. Yeah.
Sarah Ray: Whenever there’s a new “Star Trek” series, half the group “rabble rabble rabble”. This isn’t “Star Trek”.
Allie Ashmead: Harrumph harrumph harrumph.
Sarah Ray: Yeah. And so right now there is what, like five or six “Star Trek” series going here. I’ll write ’em down.
Discovery. Picard. Strange New Worlds. Lower Decks. And what’s the one that’s on Nickelodeon? Prodigy.
Allie Ashmead: What? I don’t know about that one. I don’t have Nickelodeon, so.
Sarah Ray: Yeah, you gotta check that out too.
Allie Ashmead: Is that like cartoon or?
Sarah Ray: Yep. It’s another… this ragtag group of alien kids finds an old starship and like, there’s a holo character that’s Captain Janeway.
Allie Ashmead: Yeah. I did not know about that at all. I don’t have any kids though, that’s why.
Sarah Ray: So I hope I didn’t miss any of them, cuz that’ll be a shame on us.
Allie Ashmead: I feel like there’s one missing, but maybe it’s just the movies, all of the new movies that have come out.
Sarah Ray: But anyway, like, so people are, you know, “Grumble, grumble, grumble this isn’t ‘Star Trek'”. And it’s funny because like you can easily get into these arguments with people. There is a Facebook group that’s called something to the effect of ” So you say you’ve seen ‘Star Trek'”, right? Or like you’ve seen “Star Trek”, but
Allie Ashmead: Do you know about this? Do you know what this is?
Sarah Ray: Have you really seen “Star Trek”? Because it’s like people will, you know, people are all over the internet complaining “this isn’t ‘Star Trek,'” like, where’s my optimistic, hopeful vision of the future or whatever. Forgetting entirely that every episode of Classic “Star Trek” had like a seven minute, choreographed, set to music fistfight.
That’s our optimistic future? Okay.
Allie Ashmead: I think they made it better over time. I mean, but it’s okay if it’s different,
Sarah Ray: Yeah. If it’s not your “Star Trek”, that’s okay.
Allie Ashmead: Yeah, it’s fine if it’s not the same, who wants to be the same? If it’s the same, you don’t grow and it’s gotten so much better.
Sarah Ray: I think so. I think so. And I think
Allie Ashmead: While still appreciating the old, you know?
Sarah Ray: I think “Strange New Worlds” is probably my new favorite series, my favorite of the new series.
Allie Ashmead: I will agree. I will agree with that.
Sarah Ray: Anson Mount?
Allie Ashmead: Oh my God.
Sarah Ray: Hello!
Allie Ashmead: Hot, hot, hot. I mean, come on.
Sarah Ray: Well, and so, that’s a good springboard into the next episode where we’re gonna talk about “The Cage”, which is where we meet Captain Pike for the very first time played by Jeffrey Hunter, and then now all these years later, recreated is Anson Mount.
Anson Mount was like the best casting choice they could have made. He is incredible. Like the look is there, like I can look at him and go, “yep, that’s, might as well be Jeffrey Hunter”. And just the demeanor and the way he carries himself and the way he puts himself into it is just amazing. Absolutely Amazing.
Allie Ashmead: I have other reasons, but yeah, those too. But yeah,
Sarah Ray: One of the segments that we’re gonna do on Humanist Trek is we’re gonna bring in my wife Becca. Hello. Welcome to the show.
Becca Ray: Hiiiiiii..
Sarah Ray: Would you describe yourself as a “Star Trek” fan?
Allie Ashmead: Not by choice, probably.
Becca Ray: Well, I did not. I was never obsessed with “Star Trek”. There’s no pictures of me in a red suit with billions of dollars now’s currency worth of paraphernalia behind me.
Sarah Ray: It’s not worth that much now. It’s really not.
Becca Ray: Okay. Well, it sure looked like it should have been, but…
Sarah Ray: I do wish I still had all of that stuff, but yeah.
What was your introduction to “Star Trek”?
Becca Ray: The only exposure to “Star Trek” that I had prior to being married to Sarah was that my mom would watch TNG. And I didn’t really like get into it, it was just on in my, in the peripheral and background noise. So there are episodes that Sarah will watch and I’ll be like, “This is familiar. Why do I know this?”
Allie Ashmead: I know I’ve seen it. And it would, it’s in your, it’s in your brain.
Becca Ray: Because I was a kid and she would watch it when it was on the tv. She would watch it and it was just background noise to me. So that was my, prior to Sarah exposure, like very limited.
I had never seen “The Original Series”. I never saw any of the movies. “Voyager” and TNG were the ones that she would watch that I kind of- mostly TNG. But there was some “Voyager” in there, just depending on where it was.
Sarah Ray: Interesting. No “Deep Space Nine”? Because those three were all like, at a time they were all going at the same time.
Becca Ray: Is that the one with… who’s the hot box? The hot guy.
Sarah Ray: What?
Becca Ray: He’s not really that hot, but I thought he was cute when I was a kid. The guy, what’s the guy in “Voyager”? Not “Voyager”. “Deep Space Nine”.
Sarah Ray: Sisko?
Becca Ray: No. What’s the actor’s name?
Allie Ashmead: Oh shit. Gosh.
Becca Ray: Scott Bakula.
Allie Ashmead: Oh, no, no, no. That’s Enterprise.
Sarah Ray: No, no, no, no, no, no, no. And he’s not hot either.
Becca Ray: That’s the wrong name then.
Sarah Ray: Scott Bakula played a captain.
Allie Ashmead: That was Enterprise.
Becca Ray: Was it “Enterprise”?
Sarah Ray: Because he was the Quantum Leap guy.
Becca Ray: See, this is how disconnected I am. I have no idea. I think Scott Bakula’s cute.
Allie Ashmead: And then she’s gonna be like, “when, what? And what about the Wooki? What’s the one with the Wooki in there?”
Becca Ray: No. See, I grew up with “Star Wars”.
Allie Ashmead: I know, I know.
Becca Ray: My brother’s a Star Wars fan.
Sarah Ray: Okay. So Becca thought it would be really fun as not a “Star Trek” fan,
Becca Ray: To try to stump you?
Sarah Ray: To try to stump us. To come up with some questions, episode by episode will bring you in. We’re gonna ask the question on this episode. We’ll answer it. And then Becca will come back for the next episode to tell us whether we were right or not.
Allie Ashmead: Okay. Cool.
Sarah Ray: So our first question is about “The Cage”.
Becca Ray: It’s about “The Cage”.
Sarah Ray: Which we’re going to be reviewing on the next episode.
SEGMENT INTRO: Something wrong, captain, who are, where do you come from? Have you noted evidence of unusual powers? What is it that powers your captain? Is there anything else? Why do people have to call inanimate objects “she”? That is a very intriguing question.
Becca Ray: In this episode. Number One is played by Majel Barrett. Why did she not reprise this role through the rest of the series? And what did she and Gene Roddenberry do in an attempt to change this outcome?
Sarah Ray: Sex is what they did. Lots and lots of sex!
Allie Ashmead: I don’t know. Do you know why?
Sarah Ray: No. She didn’t come back as Number One. So, okay, so in the pilot she was the first officer. Right. Number One. When we come into the next series. Into the next episode. Spock is the first officer.
Allie Ashmead: I bet I know why. And now I can’t remember how you phrased the question. Was it her choice or like she decided not to? I bet it was society saying, “we don’t want a woman on the bridge.”
Sarah Ray: Mm-hmm.
Allie Ashmead: I bet you that they weren’t ready for it yet. That was the thing, it was maybe because society wasn’t ready to see a woman up there. I don’t know. I, that’s the only thing I could…
Sarah Ray: That’s the only thing I could guess because they pitched “The Cage” to the network and there are a couple of scenes where they like hit that hammer hard on the- right on the nail about having a woman first officer and all of that stuff.
What would they have done then to try to turn that around? They went on a hunger strike.
Allie Ashmead: Who went on a hunger strike?
Sarah Ray: Uh Gene.
Becca Ray: The second part of the question is, “What did Gene and Majel do in an attempt to change this outcome?”
Allie Ashmead: Did they go?
Sarah Ray: No. I don’t know. I’m just making shit up.
Becca Ray: I can’t believe you don’t know!
Sarah Ray: Question number one and you’ve got us stumped.
Allie Ashmead: I don’t know. Yeah. But good job.
Becca Ray: I like your attempt at the first part of the question, but I am amazed that you don’t have anything for the second part.
Allie Ashmead: What did they do?
Sarah Ray: They made the skirts shorter.
Allie Ashmead: Yeah. That, that sounds like something like they’d do in the sixties because the women were so sexualized.
Sarah Ray: Yeah. We’ll give her some Go-Go boots and a short, short skirt.
Allie Ashmead: Yeah. Deep cut, deep cleavage. That’s every show. Yeah. I don’t know.
Sarah Ray: I don’t either.
Allie Ashmead: That, that would be my guess.
Becca Ray: Guess you’ll have to wait until next week to find out.
Allie Ashmead: Good job on the question. We’re stumped. Dang it.
Sarah Ray: So join us for the next episode of Humanist Trek, where we will review (The) Original Series first pilot “The Cage”. And I’m gonna read- at the end of these, I will read the capsule that Paramount Plus has on their app. Right, because I’m watching these on Paramount Plus, it’s got all your “Star Treks”.
“When the Enterprise answers a distress call, Captain Pike (Jeffrey Hunter) encounters manipulative aliens.” That’s it. We’ve had 50 some odd years to come up with a capsule, an episode description. And that’s what they got?
Allie Ashmead: Yeah. Even in the remaster, they didn’t even, they remastered all that great stuff. But they didn’t even, Okay, like, dude, add a blurb about what the fuck this is about with, you know, a little bit more than “encounters manipulative aliens.”
Sarah Ray: Yes. Right. So join us on the next episode. We’ll see you then.
Allie Ashmead: Bye!