In today’s world, when communication is conducted largely by the tapping of a keyboard and the click of a mouse and deletions are executed by the pressing of the backspace button, excitement over erasers — or rubbers, as we commonly call them here in the UK — may seem odd. But back in the day, when rubbers were among the many cool branded items you could grab at a cheap price that had the characters and vehicles of Star Wars on them, they were an essential purchase. And importantly, they were a great way of showing your love of the movie to your fellow fans at school while pretending to focus on the teacher at the front of the class. We had pencil cases, pens, pencils, rulers, sharpeners, stationary sets, and more, but back in the days when fragrant erasers were still allowed to be sold in the UK, Star Wars erasers were an essential tool in one’s school supplies pouch.
Orlando Jones has been a mainstay in the world of geekdom from his time on Mad TV, through his turns in movies like Evolution and The Time Machine, and currently with his work on the hit show Sleepy Hollow as Captain Frank Irving.
We had him on the Full of Sith podcast to talk about his work and his Star Wars fandom and he treated us to the story of the first time he encountered Star Wars in 1977 as a nine-year-old boy.
He was a bear of a man. Big men — gaffers and grips — worked for him and did so with the greatest of affection. Broad and full were his shoulders, carried high, pushed tight against the neck. With his barrel-chest, he squeezed his words through the back of his throat and nostrils, as is the manner of those suburban London lads that communicates controlled authority, experienced professionalism. In tributes after he died in 2005 at the age of 74, he was lauded as the finest and most respected first assistant director in the world. Around the time he AD’d Return of the Jedi, he reckoned he had done 478 films. In a previous post, I characterized him as a great who orchestrated symphonies out of chaos. This time, I’m going as far as to say that David Tomblin was the greatest first assistant ever.
There’s this story about being a writer that it’s a lonesome, solitary job where one labors in a garret or something. The reality is pretty different, and not just for us. Any writer going through traditional publishing models is at the very least working with an editor, a copyeditor, and the layout and design team. Often there are also first readers who give some distance and perspective on a new book, friends, and spouses who we bounce ideas off, other writers who we sit at bars with and talk about business and craft. So just from the outset, let’s be clear: Writing is only a solitary business when you compare it to something like tech support or consulting.
Writing for something like Star Wars? That’s a whole different level of collaboration. When we stepped into the project, there were already somewhere between 80 and 90 writers just on the novels in the Expanded Universe. Recent estimates have it that with the books, comic books, video games, and television shows, the Star Wars universe has more stories in it than there are atoms in the universe, though that may be a slight overstatement.
I had experienced true convergence. The Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup of my obsessions. Star Wars was coming to Disneyland. I was in high school and completely consumed by all things Disney and George Lucas when I first heard about Star Tours, a new Star Wars-themed attraction slated to open at Disneyland in January of 1987. Disney’s fabled Imagineers would be joining creative forces with the Maker himself to finally give the residents of our mundane galaxy the chance to blast off with R2-D2 and launch our own assault on the Death Star? I thought my head was about to explode just like that doomed battle station. No pun intended, but how could the stars have aligned so perfectly?
Have you ever felt frustrated when you walk down the toy aisle at any given store and don’t see a figure of your favorite Star Wars character? As awesome as it would be to have at least one of every character ever seen on screen or mentioned in the Expanded Universe, it’s impossible for Hasbro to do. The costs of manufacturing all those figures and the accompanying packaging would be high enough to make Darth Vader come in to uh, cut some corners. Who needs consultants? A little Force choking will do the trick.
You don’t have to lose hope when you can’t find what you’re looking for; even if you dress like a Stormtrooper, you probably don’t give up as easily. With a handful of materials and patience, you can transform existing action figures into whatever you want. Tired of seeing Mara Jade in the black catsuit? Obtain a Mara figure and change her wardrobe. Don’t like the only Corran Horn figure on the market? Create your own.
One of my favorite events returns to Disney’s Hollywood Studios on May 16, 2014 — Star Wars Weekends! Today, I’m delighted to give you a first look at some of new merchandise we’ve created for this year’s event. I also have some details about a new merchandise ticketed event coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios on May 15, the day before Star Wars Weekends officially opens. I’ll share more about that event in a moment, but first let’s take a look at the new merchandise poster.
As an educator at the Secondary level, it’s imperative that you keep your students engaged and interested in the curriculum, as you navigate the distractions that life may provide at any given moment. While attending college to become certified as a high school English teacher, I was constantly told that students need to be met where they are at in their lives, and heard catch phrases like “edutainment” to describe the pedagogical approach that many are encouraged to pursue.
This is one of many reasons why incorporating Star Wars into the curriculum is all at once gratifying, exciting, and rewarding. It’s wonderful to see how integrating the saga can inspire students to explore other worlds, analyze complex themes, examine characters and characterization, and think critically about that galaxy far, far away. Navigating the saga encourages empathy and creativity that is essential to molding young minds to become something greater than themselves. Just as Luke Skywalker looked into the twin suns of Tatooine for an outlet to other worlds, and to find his place in the universe, each student is encouraged to make similar connections for the betterment of his or her own world. Star Wars is an excellent avenue for this.
As mentioned in my most recent blog, new Star Wars Celebration 2015 announcements are coming up this April, probably later in the month, to commemorate the one-year-out point of what promises to be one really big Star Wars show.
A integral part of every Star Wars Celebration is what fans bring to the event, both informally and as part of the official program. Just like Bantha Tracks, with the motto, “By the Fans; For the Fans,” Celebrations are as much fun as they are because fans are involved; because they contribute talent, energy, ideas, and creativity.
Want to be part of the show at Celebration 2015? Read on for some tips on what we’re looking for.