Laser Swords

I’ve always loved movies. Mostly sci-fi films. Especially Star Wars. I’m always on the look out for replica movie props as well. The obvious ones are light sabers. Of which we own three screen accurate ones.

I’ve had them on display in our theater room for ages. Recently a friend made some lightsaber hilts for me out of scrap materials.

Definitely not screen accurate, but fun nonetheless. It reminded me that I too had mad a “lightsaber” almost twenty years ago. It was also not at all screen accurate.

In fact it was just four pieces of plumbing thrown together and quickly painted. But I still have it. Just because… imaginationing is great. Give a kid a stick and it turns into a sword.

Growing up I still make whir and woosh sounds if I finds something that could be a “sword”. I think it just comes naturally. These small glimpses of pretend- it can make a person smile inside and out.

You never know when you might become a Jedi.

Galaxy’s Edge Excitement

I am such a nerd when it comes to all things Disneyland or Star Wars related. I read blogs, follow Instagrams, I even open my Twitter feed just to find the hints and rumors. I share what I find with others who are of like mindsets. The term “Fandom” doesn’t quite express my feelings or emotions dedicated to Disneyland or Star Wars.

Last night was no exception to my love of both of these. Disneyland did a live stream of their Dedication Ceremony for the new land “Galaxy’s Edge“. No- it’s not called “Star Wars Land“. I’ll always call it by it’s true name- “Galaxy’s Edge” because- die hard fan here. That being said, my excitement level seeing the footage of this new park expansion grew last night.

But…

With our commitments to our son’s Speed Skating future and our children’s education- visiting Disneyland during the first openings of Galaxy’s Edge isn’t feasible. I’m looking on the bright side, give it a few months to a year and the crowds should slim out and the kinks worked out. So when is a good time to visit Disneyland?

We usually go in October to experience Halloween time. But over the years- it has gotten tremendously busy. Again, mentioning our children’s education being important, I don’t want to take them out of school for extended periods. Our oldest is entering grade 12 in September and our youngest is entering grade 8 and starting his high school journey. The long weekend at Canadian Thanksgiving would alleviate much of a loss. But- crowds will be higher. Dilemma!

I like to plan and book vacations well in advance. 5 months ahead of time doesn’t feel like I’ve planned properly. Planning 9-12 months ahead feels more comfortable- financially as well. As much as I’m looking at hotels and deals in autumn, I’m going to postpone a Family Disney Vacation for about a year.

I think it’s about time we hit up Disney World. It’ll have Galaxy’s Edge opened and ready when we get there next August. First stop- Discover The Magic to get some personalized service from a travel agent that specializes in these sorts of things. I’m starting to get excited!

20 Years Ago

My life changed 20 years ago today. Okay, maybe there was a few days leading up to today, but May 19th, 1999 is the date I recall. How do I know this date? Two words.

Jar-Jar Binks.

Yes, Star Wars Episode 1 is celebrating it’s 20th Anniversary. With it comes my memories of a previous job. Coinciding with the Star Wars debut was the opening of the 19 theater multiplex called “Colossus“. Working as a projectionist was always my dream growing up. It came true once I began my job opening weekend of this movie theater.

I spent nearly five years working at Colossus (read about it here) with many people calling me a “Lifer“. The term originally coined as a derogatory- you’ll never amount to anything– phrase. But I did become a “Lifer” because my life changed over the course of my time at the theater.

  • I lost my father
  • I met my future wife
  • I got engaged
  • I got married
  • We had a kid
  • I don’t know if any of this would’ve mattered in any other context. But for me- Colossus was a bigger part of my life than high school was. In fact I was ready to try and gather up old Coloss-hole coworkers for a reunion. But I thought better of it. Partly because it’s the long weekend. And also because I don’t know if other people feel the same as I do about our previous lives there.
  • The changes we have all been through make us who we are. Even Colossus has changed over the years.
  • So instead, I am writing this quick blog. A THANK YOU letter of sorts to everyone who made an impact on my life two decades ago. I miss you all tremendously and have fond memories of our zany antics. I hope all is well with your lives.
  • See you at the movies.
  • Chewbacca Cake

    For my son’s birthday, I baked him a chocolate cake. Unfortunately I couldn’t find our round cake pans, so I made a bundt cake instead. When I was growing up, this was oftentimes the style of homemade cake I would receive for a birthday. There was never anything fancy about those cakes- just the fact that my father took the time to bake them himself.

    So my son ended up with a chocolate bundt cake this year. Kinda plain looking- but I did have some milk chocolate icing in the cupboard to put on top. At least then it’ll feel like a birthday cake. Sugary sweet!

    Once I finished the crumb coat, I realized that smoothing out the surface would look okay-ish. So instead I tapped the spatula on as I added more icing. The cake began to look kind of like fur. Since my son enjoys Star Wars as much as I do- I figured why not make this into a Wookiee inspired cake. But how? Off to the pantry again.

    I found some leftover mini marshmallows and some baking chocolate we had since Christmas. Chocolate and marshmallows don’t go bad, right? I heated up a small pot of water and melted the chocolate in a glass bowl. This was easy since the bowl fit perfectly on the mouth of the pot. I was able to stir the chocolate constantly and keep the moisture out with ease. Once it was a silky smooth mixture it was time to pour it out into a straight line.

    We own a long serving platter that I figured would be perfect. But the chocolate would end up not being a thin strip like I wanted. So I taped down a couple of chopsticks and lined my newly made rectangle with tinfoil. Pouring out the chocolate and placed the mini marshmallows along the edges was the perfect way to make Chewbacca’s bandolier. Into the freezer for about ten minutes and it was set.

    Not bad for a quick Star Wars themed cake. Chewy would be proud. I know I am. Bonus- my kids loved it too. But hey, it’s chocolate. All kids love chocolate.

    Star Wars Day 2019

    Star Wars Day is one of my favorite days. I love Star Wars. My family loves me so much that they enjoy being a part of it. From wearing Star Wars t-shirts to naming our dinner with Star Wars puns- May the Fourth is great! A couple years ago we did more to celebrate May The Fourth than we did this year.

    As well, in the past, we have watched several of the films in one sitting. My favorite was watching the episodes in machete order:

    IV, V, II, III, VI

    On this May the Fourth we only watched two films. Solo and Empire Strikes Back. In my opinion- the worst film as of late and the best film in the series. Today we will be watching another film to celebrate Revenge of the Fifth because we are a bunch of geeks in this household.

    What did you do on Star Wars Day?

    Do you like Star Wars as much as I do?

    Let me know in the comments.

    Hanging out with My Daughters

    Last night and today I’ve been hanging out with our daughters. It’s been a great time. I offered up a ton of suggestions for things to do: video games, go karts, mini golf, and billiards. None of which they wanted to do with dad. So I let them offer up suggestions.

    Here’s what we’ve been doing:

    First we had an early dinner of sushi at our favorite restaurant- Nikko Sushi. My oldest daughter was in great spirits and allowed for some selfies to be taken. So I took full advantage of it yesterday and today.

    After dinner we hit up an escape room. We did pretty well as a team, but was unsuccessful in the end. So close. I enjoyed working together with them on the puzzles. Seems my daughters are rather smart. They must get that from their mother.

    Afterwards, we hit the shopping mall for the last hour before it closed. My oldest daughter bought her first pair of Doc Martens. She was super excited. There is also a record store that opened up back in October. We bought a couple of used albums for fun since my other daughter has a record player and we have a healthy collection of Vinyls. Before we left the mall, we hit up Starbucks for a couple of Frappuccinos. We ended last night watching a movie- “The Hangover” Which was their choice.

    This afternoon I took them to the local high school to watch a musical performance of “Heathers” based on the 1988 film. It’s neat to see the teens in the show that my daughters previously went to elementary with. The role of JD is the son of a friend of ours. He did a bang up job. As I’ve said before, I enjoy supporting the arts in all varieties. Especially when it’s kids showcasing their talents.

    All-in-all I’ve had a great time with my girls. Tonight will be a quiet night at home marathon watching Season 3 of “A Series Of Unfortunate Events”. These past couple days are things I rarely did growing up with my father. I’m glad my girls enjoy my company. I enjoy theirs.

    From One Fan To Another

    Hey person who owns that white car with the “Empire” logo. I like your style. Even though yours is on a Mazda, that’s totally cool! I wish I could’ve had a “geek moment” with you standing in the parking lot. Maybe one day we will meet each other. But I doubt it. All I have is this photo.

    You see, I saw your car and parked next to it. Just so I could get this photo. I went shopping and when I left the store- your car was still there. Exactly like a Storm Trooper, you missed it. A fleeting moment that my Instagram followers got to enjoy along with me.

    The Void

    We always do something unique for every trip we take to Disneyland. This year we hit a place called “The Void” in Downtown Disney. We played though “The Secrets of the Empire” which was Star Wars based.

    I wish I could’ve taken photos inside. The VR was more than just wearing goggles. You go in and harness up with a helmet and vest. It was pretty intense. Not only do you see a 360° view of everything, there is so much more. As you turn your head, the sound is full 360° as well. Your other senses also get assaulted. You feel the heat and cold as you actually move through the levels.

    Yes- you walk around!

    There are smells and scents as well depending on where you go. And you grab at stuff, interact with buttons, and shoot blasters! The storyline reacts to what you do.

    My wife and I teamed up while our kids went off on their own. The interactivity in the VR world was incredible. It was a ton of fun. While we were doing it, we were fully immersed. By the end, it was all too real. Afterwards, my wife felt her fear of heights was almost real even though we were planted firmly on the ground. It was sensory overload, but worth every penny.

    What we experienced was amazing. Worth the cost and such a wicked memory was created. If I could share what I saw- you’d be amazed. Even though it was about thirty minutes of play, it felt like a full movie. An interactive movie.

    Absolutely crazy.

    Check out The Void for other adventures.

    A Star Wars Story

    Last night I took my family to see the latest Star Wars film: Solo:A Star Wars Story. It was very enjoyable. Here’s an opinion about this new part of the franchise without spoilers.

    I was worried that when Disney started announcing that they were branching off from the original storyline that the films wouldn’t be good. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was an excellent film that filled the gap of what happened in the Star Wars Universe between Episode 3 and 4. Solo: A Star Wars Story is also great in its execution. It introduces beloved characters from the original trilogies with quite a compelling backstory.

    After watching Solo last night it made me think of Star Wars: Phantom Menace and how that film should really fit into the franchise.

    Ok, truth be told- I have a small soft spot for Episode 1. It was the first film released at Colossus back in 1999. At a job where my life changed drastically. It was also one of the last films I took my father to. He enjoyed it the way a young child would. Perhaps it was the morphine pills he was on, but he loved Jar-Jar Binks… So SW:EP1 has some special memories in my life.

    Looking back at Episode 1 I realize that perhaps it should be considered part of this new “A Star Wars Story” idea. It was never accepted as a good film in the Skywalker universe. But as a side story, it actually does work.

    If Phantom Menace was released today into this new category: “A Star Wars Story” would it be a better film? You betcha. Fans would accept it easier than trying to accept it as a start of the prequel trilogy. And it wouldn’t get poo-pooed as bad with the critics as it was in 1999 because of this.

    So that’s my spoiler free opinion.

    Ps. I love Star Wars films. Just sayin’.

    Need To Stick To One Hobby

    I find that I like to do a bit of everything. That means I don’t do anything perfectly. Which bothers me because I tend to think of myself as a perfectionist.

    I often struggle to take the time to do what I really want. I also rush through my projects just to finish them. Or I give up just before the end goal. Maybe it’s time to stick to one (or two) hobbies.

    A few years ago, ok back in 2008- I began a train garden. Ten years later and it’s in severe disrepair. I have zero energy to put into it. That makes me sad. But maybe this summer it will get revived… hahahaha who am I kidding?

    A couple of years after that, I built an AT-ST in our backyard. Last year, it collapsed. My wife has given me the go-ahead to rebuild. So I’m thinking of building it out of different material instead of plywood in hopes that it lasts longer. Today I dug out my old plans and began cutting out a cardboard template. Now to buy materials.

    Unfortunately, any time I want to get started on something, my brain tells me to take a nap. My body is blocking my ability to be creative. Perhaps sleeping is a hobby…

    This blog is the only thing that is consistent at least. My goal to write every day happens every day! At least this is one hobby I enjoy.

    After Market Accessorizing

    I’ve owned my car for about a year and a half now. I have given my car an oil change and put aftermarket air in the tires. Time to start thinking about adding a bit more flair to it.

    My stickers were the first addition. Just to make it more “Star Wars-y“. Because, well I’m kind of a fan of the franchise.

    Now I have a set of metal dice hanging from the passenger side visor. I don’t know what else I can add to my car. Maybe it’s time for a steering wheel cover or license plate frame. Or something ridiculous like a door light.

    Ok, those are cool. Hmmm…. or I could go very crazy and change the look of my car:

    I could sport one of these! Or just buy another sticker… I could afford that aftermarket addition.

    Father/Son Video Game Day

    Today is a day of Video Games. The family received a PS4 this past Christmas, so it was time to log in a few hours. Since I am a Star Wars fan, why not play some “Star Wars: Battlefront II” on the big screen?

    Since we wanted to do the storyline portion, my son and I are taking turns playing. My skill set is meager at best. I take my time and scout out the level slowly. My son is quick with running straight into the action. He also has a better understanding of the controls than I do.

    I’m enjoying what we’ve accomplished so far. The short movie portions are well executed and entertaining. Being a part of the Dark Side is a lot of fun as well. Time to get back to our game day.

    This way my son can join me in ruling the Galaxy!

    And There Was Much Rejoicing

    It’s the final day of 2017. Many exciting events happened over the course of the year.

    Including today at 11:19am- our home rejoiced loudly. For exactly 45 hours we had no power. It went off at 2:19pm December 29th. This morning was starting off very cold in our home with one room reading a temperature of 5°. I was even emailed about it:

    Totally cool! Our smart thermostat realized it needed to kick in and warm us up. This is great as well because if the power wasn’t on by noon we were getting ready to cancel New Year’s Eve plans. Not my plans mind you- I work overnight, but our children’s plans. Hence the extra rejoicing when we discovered light again!

    Cancelling plans on children never makes me feel good. I’m happy that we don’t have to tonight. Every New Year’s Eve my children marathon through the Harry Potter films. The past couple of years we have allowed them to invite friends over to watch as well. This year, my son has asked to marathon some of the Star Wars films in a different room with a couple of his friends while his sister does HP.

    Tonight my home will be filled with children. This also allows their parents the opportunity to celebrate this evening. Not only was it important to us to get power back on, but it would’ve affected others as well if we canceled.

    In the end it seems 2017 was full of cheer even on the final day.

    Becoming a Jedi

    As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago in Jedi Joe:  I finally became a Jedi. (For Halloween)


    With the tremendous help of my wife, I finally looked the part of Obi-Wan from Episode 3. We followed an online tutorial on how to make a Jedi costume with a few modifications for my size. She did a great job on a custom robe and tunic for me. She loved every minute of it. I could tell through all the curse words and yelling.


    My wife had to measure me a few times to make sure it was accurate. I’m a tall individual and there was no room for errors. We used almost all of the fabric we had purchased in order to make my look fairly authentic.


    Because we were using the floor to lay out everything, our puppy had to get the boot outside for a while we worked. He was none too impressed. But at least it was sunny and warm for him.

    Besides being the Jedi model, I did my share to help in the making of the costume. I searched the interwebs for how to videos and tutorials plus a few hundred different images. I was also put to work ironing the material.


    In the end, my wife made me extremely happy. She took the time and perfected the details. Those who saw me on Halloween were equally impressed with her skills and my costume. I look forward to many more years of wearing it. 


    I have now become a Jedi.

    May the force be with you.

    Jedi Joe

    It’s finally going to happen.  I’ve decided to become a Jedi. No, I’m not announcing a “sad devotion to that ancient religion” or anything like that. I’m talking about a Costume/Cosplay for Halloween and an upcoming convention.


    With my recent facial hair growth and the fact that I won’t shave it until the end of November (read about it here:Proving A Point) I needed to find a suitable costume idea that supported facial hair.  My wife suggested I go as a Wookiee because of my height, but it got me thinking about becoming a Jedi. Obi-Wan Kenobi to be exact.

    Back in 1999-2000, I made an email address of joeywankenobi@hotmail.com: which is now defunct because it’s Hotmail and filled with spam. But the one thing that I enjoyed from Episodes 1-3 was Ewan McGregor’s take on Obi-Wan which garnered the email name.


    Since I’ve always had an Enjoyment of Star Wars it makes sense to finally dress up for it. My height would make me a good Darth Vader (or a Wookiee as my wife said) but I don’t overly have the time or money for that. I just need to figure out if I’m going to go with a store bought Costume or try and sew my own at this time. Pretty sure I will sew a costume that is screen accurate one day.  Time to do internet research!

    Help me Joey-Wan. You’re my only hope.



    501st

    This is now my 501st blog post.  I’ve written diligently everyday now since I started this hobby.  I often write about my children, my past, comic conventions, and movies.  My favorite movie franchise is Star Wars.  It has had a profound impact on my life.  But instead of writing again about my love of Star Wars, I wanted to thank those who use their passion for the Force and do good deeds.


    Of course I’m talking about The 501st Legion.  It started with a small group of Star Wars fans back in 1997.   Then in 2007, George Lucas granted the Legion a limited use of the copyrighted Star Wars characters provided the members of the 501st promised never to use their costumes for personal profit and that they represent the franchise in a positive and respectful manner. 

    Originally just having screen accurate Storm Trooper costumes, they now sport a variety of costumes from many of the Star Wars films, comics, and cartoons. Branching out from the original group in California- the group has since grown in numbers and factions. There are groups worldwide in various countries.

    Our first Vancouver Fan Expo.

    At the numerous Comic Cons I have gone to up and down the West Coast- there is always a 501st Legion in attendance.  Taking photos for donations, sometimes for the “Make A Wish” foundation, oher times for “The Children’s Hospital”.  Nearly every time we see them, I make a donation for my children to have a photo taken.  


    The 501st is the only organization that I have been wanting to join.  Giving more than just money, I’d love to give some of my time.  Especially when it comes to children. I have always been a huge supporter of making children happy and keeping the magic alive as long as possible.  From the parades I would volunteer at with the movie theater to my years of working at Chuck E. Cheese’s, to the support of my own children- joining the 501 is something I feel I should do.

    To the many volunteers and fans from the 501st- thank you for all you do and have done. Bad guys doing good. I know that many children, and other fans, have loved everything you have done for the communities you live in.  

    Sci-Fi

    Today is doubly dorky.  First it’s the 40th Anniversary of the release of Star Wars.  Forty years of a fandom that has brought us Wookiee calls and internet memes.  I have discussed my love of this space fantasy on numerous occasions.  I don’t think I need to add any more on the subject at this time.  Except that either you love Star Wars or you’re wrong.

    Today is also known as “Towel Day”. Which is a bit more obscure compared to Star Wars.  However the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is known by most people in my circle of friends.  I wrote about it last year and explained it’s significance in my life. Douglas Adams was a brilliantly funny man in his musings.  Perhaps he will inspire me to write more than a mere blog post.

    So today I am unsure which to celebrate more.  My love of Star Wars or the series of novels that inspired my oldest daughter’s name?  I think I shall combine the two and wear a Star Wars shirt and carry around my towel.


    Don’t Panic.

    My Enjoyment of Star Wars


    Star Wars has been a big part of my life growing up and growing older. Here is a brief timeline of my memories of such an iconic film series:

    1981: We got our first VCR for Christmas and watched Empire Strikes Back as our first ever video. It was also the first Star Wars film that I remember seeing at age 5.

    1984: I saw Return of the Jedi in the theater & was C-3PO for Halloween. We lived in Edmonton at the time and I wore the cheap plastic costume because it had to go over my winter clothes.  I remember vividly that the mask had a very distinct odor when my hot breath went on it.

    1989: Rode Star Tours at Disneyland 7 times in a row. Still my favorite ride in Disneyland!

    From my childhood and up until 1997, every time one of the movies was on tv, I had to watch it. (I have since bought the films on VHS, DVD and then blu-ray.)

    1997: I watched the special editions in the theaters.  I know that Han shot first!

    1998: I re-enacted the trash compactor scene at Zellers where I worked briefly.


    1999: I started work at Famous Players Colossus movie theater in May about a week before episode 1 was released. (May 19th: Colossus officially opened on the same day as Star Wars Ep.1)


    2006: My son’s first Christmas, both he and I received Lightsabers from Santa. His was Anakin’s, mine was Vader’s.


    2008: I built an AT-ST in my backyard. This winter it collapsed. We will rebuild!


    As the years went on, so has our collection. We have Star Wars cookbooks and my car has been subtly shown its Darkside. We have a BB-8 Sphero and a few Airhog remote control ships.  I have most of the original Star Wars Lego sets from almost 20 years ago.  Every time we are Conventions I am drawn to the Star Wars fan art and t-shirts.  I have a large collection of both now.  The last thing I want in my collection is a full size costume of a Storm Trooper or Darth Vader to go on display.  Or perhaps a few movie replica helmets.

    I guess it’s a little obsession of mine. Even my family loves Star Wars.  

    SVCC 2.0 17 Panels

    This is one of the few conventions that I really get out there and sit in on panels. At most cons, it’s usually actors telling a quip or story and laughing with the panel host. It often seems rehearsed, repetitive and fake.

    But this convention was different. The people speaking at the panels were passionate and knowledgeable. Especially in their areas of expertise. It all began last night.


    The first panel I went to was hosted by Seth Shostak of SETI. He was memorable and amusing in how he explained his vision for how we look for extraterrestrial life.  I learned a lot about where mankind has gone wrong (lack of funding much?) and where we should be looking to the skies in the future.


    The second panel I went to was earlier today. It was about emerging technology. What was neat about this panel was the fact that it seemed like four friends were on stage. There was a venture capitalist, a board memeber at Spacex/Tesla, a member of NASA, and Eugene “Rod” Roddenberry (son of some guy who created that sci-fi series that wasn’t Star Wars…) The discussions were about the technology advancements and speculation on where mankind will go in our search into the stars.

    The last panel I attended was titled “Droids and Death Stars: The Science of Star Wars”. It involved a panel of a founding member of the 501st Legion from California, a lady who is a psychologist that deals with PTSD victims, and another female panelist from NASA who also loves Star Wars. The two ladies in the panel surprised me in many ways.  First- the comparison of PTSD of the Star Wars universe that is often overlooked.  (Chewie needs a hug after his loss in the last film…) And the other lady was being a realist about how the spacecrafts really wouldn’t work well.  Even though she is a fan, she also has a better scientific grasp on how things should work.

    There was far too much knowledge shared in the past 24 hours for me to write about.  But now I have some topics that I can discuss with my other nerd friends when we return home.

    Suddenly Silenced

    “I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened.”

    Like many fans of Star Wars, I was sad to hear of Carrie Fisher’s passing today.  Carrie Fisher’s role as Princess Leia struck a chord with me at a young age. Seeing that a woman can be tough and beautiful at the same time changed my perception of women early on.  She was also an icon in the Star Wars universe for many strong girls to look up to.  She was a space princess who could kick ass in a gold bikini.  

    My daughter four years ago.


    Both of our daughters have dressed up in their own version of Princess Leia at conventions in the past.  

    Back in September at Edmonton Expo, my wife was selling her dragon hats when Carrie Fisher stopped by.  My wife had the pleasure of having a conversation with her.  She said that she was one of the nicest celebrities she had met as of late.  

    The gift I gave my wife for her birthday this year.


    Many great scenes came from Carrie Fisher’s role as Princess Leia.  My wife and I still quote “I love you.  I know.” almost daily.   In fact, for Christmas my wife got us matching shirts that say exactly that.  So today we wore them out in public and received many great compliments on them.  We are turning into a cute old couple…

    I’m saddened to hear of Carrie Fisher’s passing.  I wasn’t planning on writing about it today, but it is in the forefront of my mind.  There are plenty of great news articles describing her career that have been written today.  Many of her other roles in film have been over shadowed by the role of Leia.  But whenever she could, she spoke her mind on many talk shows and was razor sharp with her wit.  

    RIP Carrie Fisher.  

    May the force be with you.

    Season of the Force

    VS

    Everyone has an opinion on things.  Some of the best discussions I have had with people is when they can discuss rationally their point of view.  Here are my opinions.  No facts or info backing up what I prefer.  Just my opinion on which is better.  Feel free to discuss.

    Bad Movie….


    Dogs are better than cats.  My dog is super loyal and just plain amazing.


    Coffee is better than tea.  Coffee is the go to wake up beverage in my household.


    Toilet paper needs to go over towards the front.  Not flap behind.


    Star Wars is better than Star Trek.  (Simply a more action packed universe.)


    I’m not even going to begin this debate on man vs woman.

    There are plenty of other things that people fight over.  Beer vs wine.  Hot dogs vs hamburgers.  Or stronger opinions that have caused riots: Anti-vax vs Vaccination.  Hillary vs Trump.  Home school vs classrooms.  Or even hands on learning vs textbook learning.  God vs everyone else’s God(s) vs Atheists.  Evolution vs Creationism.  

    All of us have an opinion on something.  Sometimes our opinions are so strong that we don’t ever accept that we may be wrong.  I am willing to have a healthy debate with friends or family as long as there isn’t animosity being brought into the talks.  


    Unless we are talking about Lord of the Rings.  Harry Potter is far superior.  End of discussion.

    The Big One

    The Big One is happening this weekend and as usual it will be earth shattering.  San Diego Comic Con is the convention that started it all 46 years ago.  It began small and slowly grew.  Then it suddenly exploded in the 21st Century and has continued to gain popularity among movie goers, comicbook collectors, videogame fanatics, actors, film studios, media outlets, and everyone in between.  


    Over the past few years, SDCC has reached a new level of importance in the entertainment industry.  Tickets are sought after by fans for access to exclusive merchandise, film previews, actor panels, and seeing killer costumes.  This weekend, most of my Twitter, Facebook and Instagram feed will be filled with all things COMIC CON.  Saying that I’m jealous that we aren’t going to be there is an understatement.  However, seeing it through the eyes of those who I follow on social media is probably better for getting an all around feel of the con.  It saves me from waiting 4 hours to get into a panel at the fabled Hall H.  

    As much as we go to conventions to sell my wife’s hats (Check out Ningen Headwear), SDCC would have us lost in a sea of vendors that are far too big for us to compete with.  For our little business, we make sure that we sell at Conventions that have an attendance of over 70k people.  That’s a fairly big number.  Our favorite Con: Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo.  Calgary hit over 102,000 in 2015.  Not a bad number at all.  Except SDCC 2015 had 167,000 attendees.  I’m not a fan of crowds of that magnitude.  I am quite content to be able to view everything on my cellphone and still get excited over the news that will come from SDCC.  Ok, I am still jealous of those enjoying the show.

    I do love the convention circuit and get depressed if it’s been too long in between shows.  This past spring we crammed in four conventions in just over a month.  That was a tad bit overwhelming.  We are lucky that our children have been attending cons with us for so long and started at such a young age.  They are used to the crowds and what a Comic Con has to offer.  The first convention I ever attended was when I was a teenager.  I went to a Star Trek convention with a friend from school.  It was a one day event and the crowd was probably about 6000 people.  

    The struggle is real.


    I loved it.  The costumes were classic Star Trek and Star Trek:TNG mostly.  Same with the merchandise being sold.  There was some other Sci-Fi memorabilia and trinkets for sale.  At age 14 I only brought $20 with me.  It was hard to decide what I needed to buy.  I couldn’t afford a tricorder and forking over $4 for a Star Trek Federation lapel pin was really difficult.  Most boys my age were hanging pictures & posters of girlsor cars on their walls.  The other big purchase at my first convention was a $12 six foot tall door poster.  It was sexy in all of its glory.  It was of the Xenomorph Alien breaking through the door.  I kept that poster for years as a fond memory of that introduction into a world that made me feel like I fit in.


    Now it seems that the Geeks shall inherit the earth.  It is prevalent when looking around and everything is nerd based & mainstream.  SDCC is even hosting a Pokemon GO event in the coveted Hall H this weekend.  Perhaps we shall see a sighting of a rare Pokemon!  I’m also excited about the possibility of some teaser Star Wars and Marvel movie clips.

    Expect me to be buzzing with joy all weekend, even if it’s just in spirit.  Enjoy SDCC 2016!

    Colossus

    May 19.1999

    The day Star Wars: Episode 1 came out.

    The day Famous Players Colossus opened.

    This was the day that I can now look back on as the day that started the second stage of my life.

    I was 23 years old and unemployed for about half a year.  I just couldn’t find work and nothing was going my way.  Famous Players Cinema was opening new multiplex theaters every year or two, and one was opening soon locally.  They had a mass hiring called a “Casting Call” so I waited in a large line with other people who I didn’t know in hopes of getting a job.  My interview went ok (later I found out I was in the “maybe” pile) and I was hired two weeks before they opened.

    Walking into the building a few days before it opened was awe inspiring.  The main foyer was four stories tall.  The inside theme was of a spaceship, with large alien ticket machines guarding the entrance.  Arcade games were on both sides of the lobby, rows of movie posters, banners, cardboard standees, and televisions were everywhere.  There was a light show and lasers the could be seen bouncing around the inside of the hallways that lead you to the 18 auditoriums.  This was one of the first theaters with a central bar upstairs that overlooked the lobby and an IMAX theater.  There was a Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, NY Fries, Starbucks, and a huge concession.  It was like a small community hub of fast food chains all brought together to bring more to the movie going experience The slogan for Famous Players at the time was “Big Screen, Big Sound, Big Difference”.  

    Old film cans from my IMAX days.

     
    The general public was finally allowed in on May 19,1999.  The opening of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace coincided with the opening of the new theater complex.  IT WAS ORGANIZED CHAOS.  Crowds of people lined up inside and outside of the mega structure just to see the film.  I was lucky enough to have a shift that had me “standing guard” inside one of the auditoriums for the film.  I got paid to watch the movie opening night.  Pretty cool, even though it was a bad film.

    Snap shot of some of my memories.

    Over the next few months, I would make numerous friends.  Many of whom I am still in contact with to this day.  We would watch screenings or have late nights working followed by hanging out at the Denny’s until the early mornings the next day.  But by fall of that year, I hit another low point.  My father was getting worse as cancer ravaged his body.  I had lost sight of what I wanted in life, so my doctor put me on anti-depressants.  I made it through the Christmas season and so did my father.  It was the last Christmas I would spend with him.  In the start of 2000, Colossus ran a promotion for the staff, followed by an auction.  At the auction, I won a private film screening of an older film of my choice.  So on my birthday, March 15th, 2000, I ran Ghostbusters for my friends and I, followed by Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.  My mother and father came out to this show as well.  Afterwards my father told me he was proud of who I was becoming, the next day I stopped taking my anti-depressants.  I don’t believe anyone at the theater knew of my struggle at the time.

    The safe-for-work photos from some Halloween parties we had.

    A couple of months later I would meet my wife.  I spent the summer having fun with her and my Colossus friends.  We were engaged by Halloween of 2000.  We would then throw a huge party that year for Halloween.  It was so much fun, that for a few years after, we continued to throw pretty amazing parties.

    The fun ended fairly fast that year.  My father passed away one month later and wouldn’t make it to another Christmas.  The friends that I had made at Colossus were extremely supportive, in both my joyous times and my lowest times.  In July of 2001 many of them helped me celebrate my bachelor party and wedding.  More parties and more fun continued that summer.  A year would pass as I worked to try and make my life better.

    My wife and our first born making the paper.

    Our first child was born in July 2002 and everyone at Colossus wanted to meet her.  She was now a regular attendee to screenings and made the newspaper for a program called “Cinebabies” that allowed parents with small children/babies the opportunity to watch films without being hushed.  However, shortly after all of this, I had to leave in order to do more with my life and my growing family.

    Colossus was a huge turning point in my life.  I drive past it everyday and pause once in a while to recall the friends and good times that I made.  Many of us have gone on to explore new avenues in our lives, sometimes never to speak again.  Others of us have remained close.  I have even made friends with people now that I only sort of knew back then.

    May 19,1999 meant more to me than just a new Star Wars film coming out:

    It meant my life was about to change forever.

    Star Wars Day

    Today is dubbed “Star Wars Day” as in “May the 4th be with you.”  Cute, fun, and somehow marketing everything Star Wars!  I have no idea where this idea came from, but it is quite clever, albeit annoying at times.  I’m a fan of Star Wars on any given day, so today is more a celebration for the regular folks who enjoy the films, but don’t necessarily share in the fandom.  I love Star Wars and the story lines that have been created. 

    Size Matters Not.


    My childhood was filled with multiple watchings of the original three films, a couple of Ewok TV movies, The Ewoks cartoon, pretending every stick I picked up was a lightsaber (and making the sounds as I swung it around).  I think it’s a great way to bring out the imagination of a child.  My children have watched the films, shared in the experience of a galaxy far, far away & made up their own adventures.  

    So it surprised me yesterday when I spoke with a mother who has two boys, ages 5&7, who refuses to show Star Wars to her sons.  She fears it to be too scary for them.  I also have a friend who’s daughter by age two was in love with Chewbacca and R2D2.  This little girl probably knows more about those characters than I ever will.  

    Star Wars is life…


    As parents, we choose what to expose our children to- from movies to religion and everything in between.  My kids are excited about Wookiee Cookies and watching The Force Awakens today.  My wife is planning on crocheting some Star Wars characters while relaxing from our post-convention run.

    However you spend your day:

    May the 4th be with you!

    Here’s a recipe for you as well:

    I hope these cookies don’t turn out a little Chewy.

    Disneyland

    Last Sunday night my family sat down to watch “The Wonderful World of Disney:Disneyland 60”.  It started off with a wonderful ten minute tribute to Mr. Walt Disney and the creation of his park.  Then the next two hours were filled with advertising for everything Disney.

    With inflation since 1989, I wonder what this is worth now…

     
    Maybe my children didn’t notice or maybe I’m a bit cynical.  But it was basically a two hour commercial for one of the biggest money making machines in the world.  Nowadays, Disney can basically print its own money.  The company owns Marvel and Star Wars! Why bother to advertise anyways?

     

    Graph with numbers and a red line.

    Simple.  The parks are always getting upgrades.  No one would visit 1950’s Disneyland today if it had never changed.  Disneyland had a tough time bringing in people during the early 90’s because it had become stagnant.  Then Pixar happened.  And the changes were inevitable. 20,000 Leauges Under the Sea became Finding Nemo. Astro Blasters with Buzz Lightyear was created. Woody showing up in It’s a Small World.  The park began a new era.  Plus California Adventure opened in 2001, thus expanding the park- although poorly attended at first.

    1st Trip

    Our first trip to Disneyland Spring 2009.

    Sixty years in the making, Disneyland is a Theme Park that the world knows about.  Many have visited.  My family and I have made the 24 hour road trip there about once a year since 2009.  I love the place.  Every time we go, we experience something new and memorable.  Simple things like eating at Ariel’s Grotto and meeting the Princesses, riding in the Lilly Belle around the park, or a ride in the front of the Monorail (and having the engineer more excited to find out I work for a railroad instead of me being excited that I was in the front of the Monorail!), enjoying a lunch near the water of the Pirates ride in the Blue Bayou Restaurant, finding new Hidden Mickeys, Jedi Academy, the first time our children were each tall enough to ride the bigger coasters, meeting all of our favorite characters, Trick or Treating in Disneyland, eating a fabled turkey leg, Dole Whip,  and the list goes on.

    This year we are going to Disneyland to see the Diamond Celebration before it ends.  The Season of The Force is also going on.  In a few years, we will attend in order to see Star Wars Land (ya, I’m a bit of a Star wars fan).  Perhaps one day, we will stay in a Disneyland Resort Hotel and immerse ourselves in all things Disney.  Or a night in The Dream Suite inside the park would be the ultimate experience.  Hey, sometimes dreams really do come true.

    Until then, I look forward to making memories with family and friends for many years to come.