Get ready for Star Wars Day with these Star Wars t-shirts!

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May the Fourth be with you. #StarWarsDay

Star Wars Day is just around the corner!

As we’re preparing our blue milk, Ewok dance parties, and revving up our x-wings for another assault on an Imperial weapon, we’ve got to make sure to celebrate in style. Right? I’ve found a few fabulous t-shirts you should check out as we prepare to celebrate the love on Star Wars Day.

“Stay on target!”

I think this one’s my favorite. It quotes quote Gold Five during an intense moment in A New Hope’s climactic Death Star Assault. And of course I would hope someone would tell me to loosen up if they saw me in this shirt. But this is also some pretty good advice for life in general. Don’t you think?

Free* Boba Fett shirt

Continue reading Get ready for Star Wars Day with these Star Wars t-shirts!

Confessions of an Addict

Confessions of a Star Wars Addict

by Will Oates

For most of the 80s I was totally addicted.  I couldn’t conquer my addiction, and I didn’t really want to.  It was a fantastical groovy trip every time I revisited it.  The colors, the sounds, the rush.  Many didn’t understand my addiction, but there were others who were into the the epic scene I was taken in by.  If you were born in the mid 70s or 80s you, like me, may have tried this drug and were addicted too. You are probably also blown away when people tell you that they haven’t even tried it or, if they have tried it, they didn’t find it appealing.  Of course the drug I speak of is, was, and shall be Star Wars.  It was giant space cruisers knocking each other back and forth with laser bolts. It was people saying things I didn’t understand like “kessel run,” “parsecs,” “S-foils.” It was guys with names like Wedge, Porkins, Lando and Jabba.  There were X-Wings, Y-Wings, Tie Fighters, Star Destroyers and of course the Falcon.  And there were midichorians…..OK maybe not the last one so much, but you know what I am talking about if you were hip to the scene.

There has always been something about the original Star Wars movies that resonates with my soul.  I am not by any means a total prequel hater. They had their moments, although they do pale in comparison.  I think being raised in a Christian home, in a small midwest farm town with one blinking red light, I could relate in a big way to many of the classic themes and characters that Star Wars brought forth in a new appealing way.  It is a classic story, nothing particularly new.  A kid from the backwater goes out to win the ultimate battle of good vs. evil and learns valuable lessons along the way.  It clicked with me.  Of course as a kid I thought Han Solo was so cool- he had a cool dog, cool ride, cool gun, cool smirk, and said cool stuff like- “don’t get cocky kid,” “flying through hyperspace ain’t like dusting crops” or “one thing’s for sure we’re all gonna be a lot thinner.”  I wanted to be that smooth, but realistically I was probably more like Luke.  Clueless, awkward, frustrated, and sometimes whiny but eager for something bigger.  I still think Han is the coolest, but Luke had to learn many of the lessons I had to learn- patience, confidence, trust in a power outside of himself, love for friends and family, and just finding his way to maturity.  Luke had the biggest transformation from New Hope to Jedi.  As I have matured and continue to mature, I see that change in myself.  I strive to learn more and become a better person.  I still haven’t mastered my own lightsaber or used the force to get the remote, but I am growing up and still have a lot to learn on my life journey.  Now I understand life is a journey and there will be successes and failures.

As much as I related to Luke, I was terrified of Vader.  He was and continues to be the ultimate bad guy.  My dad hung Star Wars lobby cards in my room as a kid.  As much as I wanted them to be there at bedtime, I couldn’t handle Vader looking down at me as he surveyed the carnage on Tantive IV.  I gave into my fear and the stills had to be taken down.  I was like the guys on the star destroyer that were curiously watching Vader force choke a commander but quickly scurried away when it was over.  He was mysterious and commanding, but you couldn’t look away.  No one could talk back to him except for some reason Boba Fett, Moff Tarkin and the Emperor.  I always wondered why that was, but that’s a question for a different day.  Vader’s journey is as important as Luke’s.  A man so lost he forgot who he was, but the love of his son brought him back.  I can’t relate to being that lost but I do know I constantly fail and love brings me back.

There are many other characters and life lessons that come from Star Wars for me but growing up, love and redemption are the ones that always ring true.  I treasure the Star Wars films and will continue to do so.  They have this uncanny ability to bring people together, and I think that is ultimately what I love so much about them.  I’ve stood in unbearable lines at two Star Wars Celebrations in Indianapolis but gabbing and joking with fellow fans made the wait worthwhile.  At college, my good friend Noelle begged and begged the pimple faced usher to let us into the press screening of Star Wars Special Edition a night early.  He finally relented, we got in, I got to see New Hope on the big screen for the first time and she promptly fell asleep.  I got to go the next night and see it again with a theater full of fellow fans from Milligan College and it was amazing.  There are so many other fond memories of Star Wars and friends.  I can’t wait to further share my Star Wars adventures with my 2 year old son and my daughter.  I hear Episode VII may have a major young female character; I hope she can relate.  My son Liam has a blanket from Celebration Europe with the A-Z’s of Star Wars.  We’re working the characters- so far we have Vader, Chewbacca, D2, and Trooper down.  He’s my padawan and I hope he finds as many great friends and great times in name of Star Wars as I have.  I could continue on with memories but I will end with this this quote from one of my favorite bands Gaelic Storm. They sum up my Star Wars experience the best, “if good times were dollars I would be a millionaire” If I had a buck for every great Star Wars friend or experience I’ve had, I’d be rich.  The good thing is that I’m not like Han in this respect “if money is all that you love, then that’s what you’ll receive.”  In the end even Han realized it was more about friends than it was the payoff.

*********************************

Will and I met at Milligan. We have two very strong bonds: Star Wars and intramural softball. We were on the same team for a couple of years and while I don’t want to toot my own horn, the Quaker Oats were pretty good. As I plotted out what I was going to do in recognition of Star Wars MONTH, I knew I needed to have Will share his story. As you can see, I wasn’t wrong. Thanks, Will, for sharing your story!

If you, dear reader, have a story to tell about your Star Wars experience, I’d love to hear it! Shoot me an email and we’ll get the ball rolling!

A Wookiee playing a cello? Yes. A Wookiee. Playing a cello.

Looking for something fun to do to kick off Star Wars MONTH? It looks like the Fishers Library has just the thing. They’re hosting a Star Wars Day Festival from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. tomorrow (May 3). The schedule is full of all kinds of fun events, like hands-on exhibits about the science of Star Wars, a Jedi Training Arena, a costume contest, a Star Wars trivia contest, Star Wars themed cupcakes from Gigi’s (oh man, that sounds awesome) and a Wookiee playing a cello.

Yup.

A Wookiee.

Playing a cello.

Wookiee cellist
Image via Wookiee Cellist

The Wookiee Cellist will be performing with the  iL Troubadore Klingon Music Project. This isn’t the first time they’ve performed together. I found this little gem from last year’s Gen Con.

I must admit, though, that I feel a little uneasy about this. A Wookiee performing with a Klingon band? Isn’t that akin to crossing the streams? It might create a time paradox, the results of which could cause a chain reaction that would unravel the very fabric of the space time continuum, and destroy the entire universe! Granted, that’s a worse case scenario. The destruction might in fact be very localized, limited to merely our own galaxy.

Anyone heading to the library for some Star Wars awesomeness on Saturday? Who knows? Maybe we’ll load up the kids and head up to Fishers for a while. If so, I’m definitely wearing my Chewbacca shirt.

My Chewbacca selfie

Maybe I can get a selfie with the Cellist. That would be all kinds of awesome.

 

Our Indiana Comic Con Quest

Our Indiana Comic Con QuestTowards the end of February, I approached Christy with this proposal:

“After Aly’s (ISSMA-related) choir concert that Saturday morning, how about I take all the kids with me to Comic Con downtown? Aly and Mihret would be free. I’d just have to pay for me and Aiden.”

I thought this was the perfect win-win-win proposition. 1.) I’d get to go to the first-ever Indiana Comic Con. 2.) Christy would get to have some time to herself, which is hard for her to come by. 3.) I’d be stepping up my effort to properly raise a gaggle of geeks. It was the best idea I’d come up with in a long time.

Here’s how she replied to my foolproof plan:

“That’s money we don’t really have right now. I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

Ouch.

She seemed pretty committed in her response, so I really wasn’t going to press the issue. She was probably right. There are a lot of irregular expenses coming up. It probably made sense not to spend the extra money. Besides, some family members still send me birthday money. So I figured I could use that cash to cover the admission prices anyway.

Then my birthday came. My family gave me a nice little surprise. Christy was going to take Mihret to her school’s Carnival on Saturday and I was going to take the big kids to Comic Con! Christy and the kids had already planned the whole thing out before I approached Christy with my proposal.

My family.

They get me.

A rough start

When Saturday morning finally came, it started with a potentially disastrous beginning.

That’s right. My worst nightmare came true. I slept through my alarm and Aly almost missed one of the most important performances of the year. I’m convinced that it’s only by a miraculous act of God that she got there in time. We were sure that her choir was scheduled to perform at 8:00. We pulled into the parking lot at 8:01. Our hearts sank as we approached the gym and heard voices singing. We were late. She had missed her performance. Her grade was going to suffer. All because Dad couldn’t set his alarm.

“Well,” I said, “you should support your classmates. Let’s stand at the door and listen.” We walked to the door and peeked in the window. A different school was performing! We quickly looked at the schedule that was posted on the wall and found her choir. She joined them with approximately 4 whole minutes to spare.

They finished warming up together. Aly and the choir filed into the gym to perform. And they sounded wonderful!
Aly's choir

Whew. Crisis averted.

When we got home, I threw on my Chewbacca shirt, ate the breakfast that Christy had prepared for us, and we were on our way to a day full of all-out geekness. And walking. Lots of walking.

With all of the events happening downtown that weekend, I was a bit worried about getting gouged in a parking lot. Some of those event parking prices are ridiculous. I parked in a lot that was right across the street from the Convention Center. And it only wound up costing me $7 for the whole day.

Whew. Another crisis averted.

When we entered the Convention Center, things got a little crazy.

"Hey kid! The line ENDS here. It begins… THERE" #LongLine

A post shared by Matt Todd (@mattdantodd) on

A lot of digital ink has been spilled about what went wrong with the logistics of Indiana Comic Con. Since this was only my second ever convention like this (GenCon was my first), I’m nowhere near an expert. So I’ll just say that signs are a good thing. And if you really want to get a grasp on how many people will be there, it would be a good idea to make it cheaper to buy tickets ahead of time instead of at the door.

Now, let’s move along…

Indiana Comic Con Randomness

As you can see, we had a great time while we were there. Even though a sword fight or two might have broken out.

And then a sword fight broke out

A post shared by Matt Todd (@mattdantodd) on

I really enjoyed seeing the collectibles. I honestly wish they had more.

Shockwave

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They also had another Shockwave from Japan. He cost $350.

That’s a lot of cash. I think I’m in the wrong business. 😉

The Droid Factory was the first Star Wars toy I ever had. I remember standing in the toy aisle at Service Merchandise, trying to convince my parents to buy me a sand crawler. It was awesome. I was pretty sure that it even came with an escape pod. But there were no action figures that came with it. So my parents talked me into getting the Droid Factory so I could build my own droids to play with. It was pretty cool.

Dude! I have this!!!

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Aiden recognized the Droid Factory when he saw the box. Parts of the toy are still in my parents’ basement. He remembers playing with it. That was a pretty cool moment where we were able to bridge our generation gap.

I like to give mom a hard time about my Star Wars toys because I used to keep all the boxes. One day, while I was at school, she threw all of them away. I use pictures like this to remind her how valuable those toys would be if I still had my boxes that she had tossed out. In reality, I know that the toys are nowhere near mint condition because they were played with over and over and over again.

But it would still be cool to have the old boxes.

While I was excited to see items like Shockwave and the Star Wars Droid Factory, I was most excited about explaining the awesomeness that was Intellivision to the kids. They didn’t quite understand my excitement, but I did get them to admit that I would totally kick their collective tails in biplanes. It’s probably a good thing I didn’t have an extra $150 sitting around. I’d have been tempted to buy this.
Intellivision - $150

Aiden really enjoyed talking to some of the comic book artists, especially Ron Braun. I think he also enjoyed hanging out with Darth Vader. Unfortunately, it appears that he was seduced by the Dark Side.

I guess Aiden joined the Dark Side 🙁

A post shared by Matt Todd (@mattdantodd) on

There is still good in him. I can feel it…

Aly really enjoyed the costumes. She liked seeing the costumes everyone made. She also liked dressing up herself.

Aly at Indiana Comic Con 2014

 

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Aly and Elsa

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I think the 6(ish) year old Batman was her favorite.
Young Batman and his Batmobile at Indiana Comic Con 2014

We’ll be back

We had a good time at our first-ever Comic Con. While there were some bumps in the road, I think the overall experience was worth it. Aiden and Aly have both said they’d like to go back next year. So, we’ll be back, Comic Con. Hopefully it’ll be even bigger and better next year!

Indiana Comic Con Selfie

Remembering Melissa (fireworks)

Melissa and I were teammates at work. We were paired together as a tw0-person team shortly after I started working at Slingshot. We worked pretty closely together. I think it is safe to say that we became pretty good friends.

Melissa
I found this picture on my work computer today. It’s left over from our time as teammates.

One day while we were skyping each other, one of us lamented the fact that while Skype has all kinds of crazy emoticons, they don’t have a fireworks emoticon. We agreed that Skype needed a fireworks emoticon. So we created our own.

(fireworks)

This became our go-to emoticon when something was going really well and we thought it was worth celebrating. You know how some teammates have special handshakes or high-fives or something like that? This was our special high-five.

When she left the company, the emoticon changed a little bit. Every once in a while, I’d send her a message. “(fireworks)” – that’s all it would say. It meant “Thinking of you. Hope you’re doing well.”

Then, I discovered this about a month ago:

Animal bobblehead

This was a big deal. Melissa had told me on several occasions that she wanted an Animal bobblehead. We honestly weren’t sure if they actually existed. But we did know that the very idea of an Animal bobblehead was a pretty cool idea. So I let her know about it right away.

animal bobbleheads

After my post about my Chewbacca bobblehead, I had decided that I was going to go buy an Animal bobblehead and give it to her. I was going to do that this weekend. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to give it to her.

I was saddened to discover this morning that Melissa had passed away today. I don’t really know any details. I think it’s safe to say that all who knew her are still in shock. I know I am.

Don’t wait until tomorrow to do what you can do today. Life’s too short to put things on pause. Let your friends know you care while there’s still time. Hug your loved ones a little bit tighter tonight. Tomorrow is not guaranteed to any of us. So let’s make the most of today while it’s still called today.

You will be missed, Melissa. Sorely missed.
Shoot, you already are.
(fireworks)

 

An interview with a Wookiee

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Interview with a Wookiee

Star Wars Movie Tickets

Earlier this week, I sat down with my bobblehead Chewbacca for a little one-on-one chat. As you probably already know, I’m a big fan of the Giant Walking Carpet. I think it was egged on by the fact that my roommate started calling me Chewbacca after I returned home from Philmont.

Meeting Chewbacca
This is the first time I “met” Chewbacca. It was at the New York Planet Hollywood in 1998.

I’ve even “met” Chewbacca on a couple occasions. OK. I didn’t really meet him. I just got to stand really close to some Chewbacca costumes that had been used in the films. That counts for something. I’d love to meet Peter Mayhew someday, though. Maybe I should add that to my list of 100-ish Things I Want to Do Before I Die.

With all that being said, it really shouldn’t be a surprise that I have a Chewbacca bobblehead sitting at my workspace. Should it?

Bobblehead Chewie and I sat down for our interview one cold morning this past week. Here’s how our conversation went…

Me: Thanks for taking the time to talk with me this morning. We’ve known each other for quite a while now. Right?

Chewbacca Bobblehead

Bobblehead Chewie: Well, you should know.

Me: You were the first thing I bought and brought in to sit on my desk after I started working at Slingshot. That’s been close to two years. That sounds like a pretty decent amount of time.

Bobblehead Chewie: Whatever you say.

Me: That’s an interesting response.

Bobblehead Chewie: Good.

Me: What’s your deal? Who peed in your Wheaties this morning?

Bobblehead Chewie: I don’t know. Why don’t you ask the other Chewbacca at your desk? He’s always hanging out with you. You even take cool pictures with him.

Me: Um…That was almost three years ago. It’s been a while.

Chewbacca vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Bobblehead Chewie: Whatever. He thinks he runs this desk. He still brags about how he threw that Ninja Turtle off his perch. And that was months ago! He keeps saying that makes him King of the Hill.

Me: That wasn’t even my Turtle.

Bobblehead Chewie: It doesn’t matter! He’s getting out of control and you need to stop him before I rip his arms out of his sockets. 

Me: Heh. That would be fun to watch. Do you think we could set up some kind of pay-per-view broadcast of the epic Wookiee on Wookiee duel?

Bobblehead Chewie: Whatever.

Me: OK. You’re right. He’s getting a little too big for his britches. I’ve removed him from the situation and put him in a coffee mug. He’ll be in time out for a while. Like a three year old. Are you happy now?

Bobblehead Chewie: Well….

Me: Oh, what else is wrong?

Bobblehead Chewie: It’s that stupid Christmas Jawa.

Jawa: Utini!

Christmas Jawa Bobblehead

Me: Now wait a second. He’s on the other side of the desk. He’s about as far away as he can be from you.

Bobblehead Chewie: I know. But he kind of stinks like a dead Hutt. And his eyes are so spooky. It’s like they glow in the dark. They give me nightmares when I sleep. And it’s not like I get to sleep for very long. Have you heard him sing? It’s absolutely dreadful. All he sings is Christmas songs. Off key. And he does it all. night. long.

Me: Well, you’re just going to have to make the most of it. Christmas is only a few weeks away. Then he’ll be put back in the box for another 11 months.


Star Wars: The Force Awakens Tickets

Jawa: Utini!

Me: I think he comes down with a horrible case of cabin fever when he’s in that storage box. It just takes him a while to get all of his energy out of his system.

Bobblehead Chewie: I get that. I really do. But he’s grating on everyone’s last nerve.

Me: Sorry. Y’all are just going to have to deal with it.

Bobblehead Chewie: You know, maybe you have too many Star Wars trinkets at your desk. Have you ever thought of putting some of them away?

Me: You know, you’re right! Maybe I should start by putting you away….

Bobblehead Chewie: No. I see your point. I think you have just the right amount. Now, where were we with this interview? Didn’t you have a question for me?

Me: I think it’s safe to say that this interview is over. You’ve said quite enough already.

**********************

This post was inspired by #ThinkKit December post-a-day blog writing challenge by Smallbox. The prompt: Conduct an interview

3 Lessons from my First Gen Con

3 Lessons from Gen Con header

As mentioned earlier, I was able to procure a 4-Day badge to this year’s Gen Con.* Even though several people had given me some pretty good advice and people did their best to tell me what to expect, there was no way I could have been prepared for the giant mass of “wow” that is Gen Con. Like most things in life, you have to experience it in order to understand it.  Now that I have my first Gen Con experience under my belt, I think I really only encountered just a small tip of the proverbial iceberg.
Badge
Due to an unexpected transportation issue, I was not able to attend Gen Con on Friday as I had originally planned. And I was already planning on skipping Saturday, although it sounds like that’s the best day to go if you want to experience Gen Con in all of its glory. I already had commitments to go to Aiden’s football game in the morning and to have dinner with Christy to celebrate our anniversary. But I was able to experience quite a bit on Thursday and Sunday.

A confession: I’m not really a Gamer

I would not classify myself as a Gamer. I think I would have become one in high school if the opportunity had presented itself. I played a Star Wars role playing game with some friends once. I was a Wookiee who had once been enslaved by the Empire and was prone to going berserk whenever I encountered an Imperial agent. Very unpredictable. He was a very fun character. I remember having a good time playing that game. I wanted to play again. It just never happened. And then we all graduated and went our separate ways, scattered across the globe.

What about Dungeons and Dragons? I know I had friends who played it through high school, but the closest I ever came to the game was the Saturday morning cartoon show.

Something tells me this isn’t quite the same thing.

Killer Bunnies at Gen Con 2013Our family does love two games that aren’t on many people’s radars (but they should be):

Ninja Burger and Killer Bunnies.

We’re pretty big fans of these games. In fact, you might almost call us Ninja Burger and Killer Bunnies evangelists. We have introduced these games to countless friends. So I was pretty excited to see a Killer Bunnies display tucked away in the back of the Exhibit Hall.

It’s probably a good thing that I didn’t bring very much money with me. Because I would have bought all the Killer Bunnies. All.of.them.

I’ll play the occasional game of Risk. I’ve also played Axis & Allies once or twice.  So you can see that I’m not much of a Gamer, really. I don’t think I’d even heard of Settlers of Catan until a year or two ago. I don’t think I really fall into the Gen Con target audience. So I was a little bit intimidated at the thought of hanging out with people who clearly know exponentially more about the gaming world than I’ll ever know.

While there were times that I did feel a little bit out of my element, I had an enjoyable time. I also got to see Pavel Chekov from a distance of about 15 feet or so. That was pretty cool. Couldn’t take a picture. That wasn’t cool. I also brought home some dice. How can you go to Gen Con and not bring home dice? I think it’s a law or something.

I had an eye-opening experience during my two days at Gen Con. I learned a lot about the world of board games and will probably try to dabble in a few games here and there over the course of the next year. I also learned three pretty important lessons while I journeyed into realms unknown.

1. People watching is fun

Christy asked me if I was going to go in costume while I was there. The closest thing I have to a costume is my Chewbacca shirt. And while that shirt is all kinds of awesome, I felt like it would almost be an insult to the people who truly put time, thought, energy, and finances into their costumes. And boy, were there some amazing costumes. I think my favorite was the guy walking around in a Sandtrooper costume. Pretty standard, right? But this guy was carrying around the head of a Tusken Raider like it was a trophy. A bit of a gruesome thought, but not too far-fetched. There was also this guy:

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle

That’s right. That’s a costume of Raphael, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. And it’s made out of balloons. The adults thought it was amazingly cool and everyone wanted a picture. The little kids? Not so much. Maybe the thought of balloons having a life of their own was a little overwhelming to them.

I was impressed with the variety of the costumes and the creativity they displayed. No Tony in a Leia bikini, though. That’s disappointing because I know he was raising money for a good cause. Fortunately, there’s always next year. And he will hit his goal next year. Oh yes. He will…

It was worth going to Gen Con just to people watch and see the costumes. And if you think wearing a sci-fi or game-related costume is weird, then you have clearly never watched an NFL game or watched a college football game, or a basketball game . Two sides of the same coin, my friends.

2. “Two are better than one”

This ties in closely with Lesson #1. I probably could’ve called this 1A, but if I learned anything in my high school English classes, it’s that if there’s a 1A, there has to be a 1B. And…well…I don’t have a 1B. And I would’ve only had two lessons from Gen Con. Three makes me sound much more smarterer. So we’re sticking with three.

There were many times during the course of Gen Con where I wished I could turn to someone and say, “Ooh! Look at that! His head is made out of Lego bricks!” or “Wow! That dude’s dressed like a Jedi and he has Yoda strapped to his back,” or “Oh look! Jawas! How’d they make their eyes glow?”or “Did you see that unicorn wearing a jetpack? Aly would think that’s pretty cool.”
Gen Con 2013
But I couldn’t. Because I didn’t go with anyone.

Attendance over the four days was 159,000. Yes. One hundred fifty nine THOUSAND people. And I didn’t see anyone I knew. Strange, huh? I know of colleagues/associates/people I don’t really know in real life who were there. We just never ran into each other. I’ll do better about that in future years. Because I’m pretty sure that Gen Con should be a shared experience.

3. It’s time to start writing again

I think this lesson is the biggest deal of all. I saw a lot of stuff at Gen Con. Most of it was cool. Some of it was pretty far-fetched. And some of it was out and out goofy. And that’s OK.

I’ve had a story brewing in my head since Christmas of last year. While I was at Gen Con, I realized that this story in my mind wasn’t nearly as ridiculous as I thought. I realized that this story must be told. So I’m going to tell it. Right there in the middle of the Exhibit Hall, I resolved to dedicate time every Friday to getting this masterpiece out of my head and onto paper. And then I’m going to finish the Horse story that I started a few years ago. And then? Well….I have a few ideas. But let’s cross that bridge when we get to it. Gotta get the first two stories written first.

Thank you, Gen Con, for inspiring me. Who knows? Maybe someday I’ll be able to return the favor.

Teenage Mutant Ninja TurtleBadgeGen Con 2013Gen Con 2013Gen Con 2013Gen Con 2013
Gen Con 2013Gen Con 2013Gen Con 2013Gen Con 2013Gen Con 2013Gen Con 2013
Gen Con 2013Gen Con 2013Gen Con 2013Gen Con 2013

Gen Con 2013, a set on Flickr.

Did I get the full Gen Con experience? Probably not. Did I have a good time? Absolutely. Will I do it again? Yup. And I’ll be better prepared now that Gen Con 2013 has come and gone.

*Thanks again, Doing Indy!

#TwitterTuesday :: Baseball and a confiscated lightsaber edition

Some of my favorite tweets from the past week. They range from life-changing stories to great sports moments and all things in between…

This makes my heart sing.

All together now:

Congratulations on 25 years, Indy Zoo! Here’s to 25+ more!

Good advice even if you aren’t a parent, methinks.

In case you hadn’t heard the story, here it is. Yes…that’s a lightsaber cane. Chewbacca rocks.

+100

GO HOOSIERS!! Just keep winning and enjoy the ride!

Such a cool story.

Amen.

http://twitter.com/FoodLovesMe/status/344236129266057218

I was there. It was awesome. I’ll be sharing my experience very soon. I have about five other posts I have to finish writing first.

She’s raising them right, you know.

Why A New Hope is my favorite

Me & VaderI remember when CBS aired Star Wars* on network tv for the first time. It was a big deal. A big-huge deal. Gigantic. Enormous. Gargantuan. You get the idea?

I asked Grandmama and Grandpa to record it on their big-huge VCR because we didn’t have one yet. Every time we visited their house (which was often), I’d pop in the tape and watch it over and over and over again. I wanted to be part of the Stuben family with their giant collection.

All that being said, I still thought it was pretty weird to get married in line while waiting for the movie. I mean….having a Chewbacca-shaped Groom’s Cake is one thing. Spending your wedding night in a movie theatre?

That’s something else.

But I digress…

Every time someone would walk into the room while I was watching the beloved Star Wars videotape, I would shout, “Shhh! Shhh! This is my favorite part!” Of course, every part was my favorite part.

Leia gets captured? My favorite part.

Luke is ambushed by Sandpeople? My favorite part.

The Millennium Falcon has to blast its way out of Mos Eisley? My favorite part.

The Princess is rescued from her cell?** My favorite part.

I think you get the idea. Every single part of this movie was my favorite part of my favorite movie. It was so captivating. It transported me to a different world – one that I would continue to live in when I wasn’t watching the movie at my grandparents’ house. Star Wars has a very special place in my heart because of the memories it evokes. For this reason alone, Star Wars will always be my favorite. There are other reasons, however, why Star Wars is such a masterful piece of storytelling.

The music

John Williams is a genius. George Lucas is a genius for getting him to work on this film. The score is so intertwined with the visuals that it is impossible to imagine Star Wars without the soundtrack. I would suspect it would be a much, much different experience. And it probably wouldn’t have been as memorable of a movie.

Here’s an example of how the two tie in so perfectly. Try not to get a little misty-eyed as you listen to Binary Sunset (around the 1:50 mark). In your mind’s eye, you can see young Luke gazing off into the horizon, wishing he could leave for a life of adventure that he cannot have while he’s stuck at his uncle’s farm.

OK. Maybe I’m the only one who can see the scene in my mind’s eye. And maybe I’m the only one who gets misty-eyed. But it’s still a powerful scene. And we owe it to the soundtrack.

The jaw-dropping special effects

With Star Wars, George Lucas understood the purpose of special effects. It could be argued that he lost his way when it came to the prequels, but that’s a different discussion. When you look at Star Wars for what it was, it was an amazing technological leap forward in the realm of special effects and film.

And it played second fiddle to something much more important: the story.

Without a good story full of engaging, memorable characters, you don’t have that much of a quality movie. If you throw special effects in there and use them to drive the story, then you have even less of a movie.

Special effects are just a tool, a means of telling a story. People have a tendency to confuse them as an end to themselves. A special effect without a story is a pretty boring thing.

George Lucas
From Star Wars to JediThe Making of a Saga

The story is a timeless fantasy. Farmboy growing up a hundred miles from nowhere becomes a protege of a wise, mysterious, old wizard. They team up with a band of outlaws on a journey to rescue a princess. Along the way, they topple an evil Empire and this seemingly insignificant farmboy from an insignificant place saves the galaxy.

While the special effects were groundbreaking and are still pretty amazing, they’re subservient to the timeless story. And that’s the way it should be. I wish more filmmakers (including George Lucas himself in later years) would learn from that. Special effects are a tool to tell a story. Special effects are not the story. Star Wars nails this point perfectly.

I think that’s why I have been so disappointed with the tinkering they did with the films for the Special Edition – and after the Special Edition. The story becomes a tool to show off your special effects, which is the opposite of how it should be. It messes up the story.

All that being said, there’s one addition in the Special Edition of Star Wars that does help the story. It’s the brief encounter Luke has with Biggs before the final battle. It helps the audience understand why it was such a big deal that Biggs is shot down at the end. It’s not just that Luke is now all alone. He’s also lost his best friend.

Luke and Biggs before the Battle of Yavin
image via Wookieepedia

I feel like I should also mention that the final battle scene in Star Wars is where I strongly disagree with Roger Ebert’s initial review of the film. I have always thought the final battle was just the right length.

The magic

Star Wars is an adventurous joyride full of ups and downs and twists and surprises and it doesn’t stop until the final explosion and you jump up and down with joy as all the tension releases from your body. Steven Spielberg once said that Star Wars “put the butter back into the popcorn.” And he’s right. With Star Wars, movies became fun again. Once again, movies could take you off to a place far, far away, and invite you to stay. Moviemakers have been trying to capture that magic since Star Wars. While some have had varying levels of success, none have been able to come close to matching the magic of Star Wars.

Its endurance

Some movies, like Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan are great because they tell moving, heartbreaking stories. And I never want to watch them again.  Other movies are great because you want to watch them over and over and over again.

As you can see, Star Wars clearly falls into the latter. And I’m pretty sure that’s why it’s my favorite of my favorites. Always has been. Always will be.

Which Star Wars film is your favorite? Do you like any prequels better than the Original Trilogy?

For the duration of this post, please realize that I’ll be using ‘Star Wars’ and ‘A New Hope’ interchangeably. If you have a problem with that…well…that’s really your problem. I suggest you find something else to get upset about because this really isn’t that big of a deal.

** I warned you here. I warned you again here. I have no sympathy for you if this is a spoiler. Just watch the daggum movies already!