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!”

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

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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

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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 🙁

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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

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
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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!

Flashback Friday: Rich Mullins

This trailer for Ragamuffin, the story about Rich Mullins, was released this week. I cannot wait for this movie. Yes, I’m more excited about this movie than I am about Star Trek and Iron Man.

True, the man playing Rich doesn’t have Rich’s voice. Not sure anyone has a speaking voice like his. But he captures his speech pattern and accent pretty well. As I watched this trailer, I couldn’t help but remember my one-on-one encounter with Rich Mullins oh so many years ago…

The Summer of ’97 was the year I stuck around at Milligan and took summer classes. I was walking into the Student Union Building (commonly referred to as the SUB…I know – creative, isn’t it?) for a reason that I can’t recall. I do remember that it was hot and I had on my Chewbacca t-shirt. As I walked in, I saw Rich walking with someone else (I had no idea who the other guy was…still don’t). Rich had on some jeans and a plain white t-shirt. He walked by me and said, “Hey, nice shirt!”

All I could muster was, “Thanks,” as he walked out the building. I’ll never wash this shirt again, I thought to myself. Then I kicked myself for not grabbing him and thanking him for the influence his music had been in my life.

The story doesn’t end there, though. If you haven’t read it, you have to read what happens next.

What I Thought After Watching Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace (3D)

It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of the changes that Mr. Lucas keeps making to the Star Wars saga. I understand that they’re his movies. I also understand that there’s a point where you have to stop tinkering with something because you wind up ruining what originally made it special. It’s a gift to know when to stop.

So, when I found out that George Lucas was planning on re-releasing the Star Wars saga in the theaters – in 3D this time – I was less than thrilled. “Someone needs to have enough guts to go up to the guy and tell him he needs to stop,” I remember thinking (and saying out loud to whomever might possibly listen). “But that won’t happen because he’s surrounded by ‘Yes-Men.’ This is getting out of control.”

Continue reading “What I Thought After Watching Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace (3D)”

Close encounters with Rich Mullins

I met him in the Summer of 1997. Rich Mullins was in town for the Christ in Youth Summer Conference at Milligan. I had become a huge fan of his in the few years leading up to that summer. The honesty and depth of his lyrics touched me like few (if any) other artists I’d encountered. And the music? How could anyone not love the sound of his hammer dulcimer? He never considered himself a star. Maybe that was another part of him that made his music so appealing to me. His albums and his concerts felt so…real.

The Summer of ’97 was the year I stuck around at Milligan and took summer classes. I was walking into the Student Union Building (commonly referred to as the SUB…I know – creative, isn’t it?) for a reason that I can’t recall. I do remember that it was hot and I had on my Chewbacca t-shirt. As I walked in, I saw Rich walking with someone else (I had no idea who the other guy was…still don’t). Rich had on some jeans and a plain white t-shirt. He walked by me and said, “Hey, nice shirt!”

All I could muster was, “Thanks,” as he walked out the building. I’ll never wash this shirt again, I thought to myself. Then I kicked myself for not grabbing him and thanking him for the influence his music had been in my life.

I accomplished my mission in the SUB and had to go up to the Chapel for some reason. I really don’t remember why I was supposed to be doing something in the Chapel – but I went there. I accomplished whatever mission I was on in the Chapel and walked out the door, face-to-face with Rich Mullins and his colleague.

“Hey! Didn’t I just see you down there?” Rich asked as he pointed down the hill towards the SUB.

Yes, the Rich Mullins remembered me! I’m sure it was because of my stellar good looks and the way my personality just lights up the room. In reality, I know it’s because there weren’t very many people on campus at the time and I had on a very memorable (and very cool) shirt.

I mumbled something, trying (and failing) to come up wtih a witty response. I turned and walked away and then turned back around. “I just want to tell you that your music has really impacted my life.”

“Thank you,” he said. Or something to that effect.

“There are rumors going around that you’ll be singing tonight. Is that right?”

“Yeah,” he said as he shrugged. “I think I’m supposed to after the kids are finished dedicating their lives or something like that.” He chuckled.

I chuckled. “Well, I hope to see you again tonight,” I said as I turned and walked away.

I never saw him again. I had to work late at Baskin Robbins that night. And apparently he didn’t sing as much as the rumors had suggested. I was disappointed, but figured I’d get another chance to hear him sing.

That didn’t happen. He died just a few months later in a car crash. That was eleven years ago today – and it rocked my world. I remember hearing the news, going to my apartment, and just sitting on my couch for what felt like an eternity. Numb. Speechless. Christy was there, too. And neither one of us could say anything. We just stared at the wall.

Up until that point, I had mocked people who cried and mourned when people like Elvis or John Lennon died. After all, their fans didn’t really know them. Why cry for someone you didn’t know? Sitting there on my blue couch that evening, I finally undertsood.

I listened to one of his albums today and celebrated the legacy left by the ragamuffin musician. It was only a man like Rich Mullins who could turn something as ancient as the Apostles’ Creed into a memorable song. Bands like Third Day have tried, but I’m sorry. It just isn’t the same.