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Collect All 21! Memoirs of a Star Wars Geek - Hukilau edition

Please note: As of April 2012, Hukilau has closed its virtual doors, but I have made the expanded digital edition of Collect All 21! available through Amazon.

July 29, 2011 Posted by | 1970s, 1980s, Books, geek, science fiction, writing | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Shadow of the Past, part 2: The Lord of the Rings Paperback Flashbacks

I’m happy to finally complete a trilogy of posts born a month ago out of an afternoon spent hanging out at a local comic show with Adam, at which I bought a Starlog magazine featuring a cover piece on The Star Wars Holiday Special, and this Ralph Bakshi interview about his Lord of the Rings movie.

I also couldn’t resist this paperback boxed set of The Lord of the Rings:

Lord of the Rings boxed set

Adam remembered these editions with their colorful triptych of covers as the ones his family had owned when he was growing up –

Lord of the Rings paperback covers

Click the photo to see a bigger version.

– but I’d never seen them before and loved them instantly, both in color (although I can’t stand the dead-center placement of the Houghton Mifflin logo on The Fellowship of the Ring) and as the black-and-white wraparound art to the slipcase.

I still have the boxed set of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings which my Uncle Rob gave me when I was in first grade:

Lord of the Rings gold Ballantine boxed set

There are are three different kinds of tape holding these together. Two of the covers (which, as I had completely forgotten until working on this post,  featured the paintings of J.R.R. Tolkien himself) are missing, replaced by sturdy black posterboard. The pages (and while a very few of the introductory pages and maps are missing, all the actual story pages are still here) are worn soft like a child’s blanket at the corners and edges.

Hobbit and Fellowship covers

Two Towers and Return of the King covers

The slipcase to these books was covered in shiny gold paper and decorated on the sides and top with symbols associated with LOTR figures and civilizations:

Ballantine gold Lord of the Rings slipcase

Click the photo to see the entire set of scans and pictures.

And I loved these books.

Not just the stories within, but these actual objects: I loved having this relatively massive set of books that looked so different from anything else on my bookshelves when I first got it. I loved feeling like reading these books was, by nature of the number of pages and the small type and the lack of pictures, something of an epic quest in itself.

(Digression: When I was a fourth-grader, as part of a reading awareness week, our entire class at Lake Elementary School participated in a vote to rename our school for one week in honor of a favorite author. No one seconded my nomination of Tolkien, and it was really no surprise when we wound up as students of Judy Blume Elementary after the balloting.)

When I got the books out to scan them for this entry, I found two things I had forgotten. First, a bookmark which I kept in this set of paperbacks, and second, this artwork inside the slipcase:

My preciousssss.

Though I got through The Hobbit pretty easily, it was a couple years before I really buckled down and got through The Lord of the Rings, and I vividly remember finally reading that last page, sitting in the den of our house – the room which had been my youngest brother’s room as an infant, and which had once been decorated with blue shag carpet and wallpapered with cartoon caricatures of old fighter planes and pilots.

Finishing The Return of the King marked the first time I remember completing a book into which I had been so thoroughly drawn that I felt off-kilter for awhile, like I had to re-adjust to the world around me, akin to the feeling you get returning home after a long trip. I still get that feeling from time to time, and when I do, it also takes me back to that afternoon in the den of the house where I grew up.

July 24, 2011 Posted by | 1970s, 1980s, Books, eighties, Fiction, geek, Uncategorized, writing | , , , , | 2 Comments

Harry Potter: At the Close.

On my way into work yesterday morning, coming off about three hours’ sleep following the midnight premiere of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and hopped up on caffeine and sugar, I got to thinking about the books and movies and what they’ve meant to me as a geek and – more importantly – as a dad over the past 12 years. I turned those reflections into a piece which is posted (appropriately enough) over at Wired – Harry Potter and the Nostalgic GeekDad:

Harry Potter GeekDad

I couldn't assemble all seven books for the photo, because they're so rarely all on the shelf together. I think that's cool.

I really enjoyed writing this one, and hope you enjoy reading it.

July 16, 2011 Posted by | 1980s, Books, Current Affairs, Film, geek, Ohio, writing | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Announcing Collect All 21! – the expanded “A Few Special Modifications” eBook edition!

(No, I didn’t really mess with Kirk Demarais’ awesome Collect All 21! cover – this is just me messing around with my hand-made third-grade bookplate.)

Please note: As of April 2012, Hukilau has closed its virtual doors, but I have made the expanded digital edition of Collect All 21! available through Amazon.

I’m awfully excited to finally be able to share this: Collect All 21! is now officially available as an eBook, thanks to the fantastic guys at Hukilau digital publishing.

I’d been aiming to get the book into a Kindle / Nook / eReader-friendly format for awhile but never had the patience or time to learn the coding skills myself, so when fate – in the form of my friend Jim – conspired to bring me and Hukilau together, I not only jumped at the chance, I wanted to do something special for the new edition. Hence, to quote a certain smuggler, “I’ve added a few special modifications myself.”

Bottom line: There’s more stuff, in the form of a fairly lengthy addendum to the original book. What, you ask? Cue the promo blurb!

This newly-expanded electronic edition includes the author’s interviews with Star Wars cast and crew members reflecting on the saga’s impact from both first-generation-fan standpoints and a career spent bringing the universe to life on-screen.

There are also a few new bits of my own reflections and memories in there, too.

Even better, From A Certain Point of View, is that even with all the bonus material, you’re looking at a significantly lower cover price and no extra shipping costs. Yes, for real. (Not real? That cover/title change. Just messing around for fun.)

So, what are you waiting for? You know at this point you don’t need an actual Kindle or Nook device: iPads, iPhones, Droids (yes, the ones you’re looking for, ha, ha.) – you can get free reading apps on pretty much any handheld device or laptop or desktop or whatever.

Big, big thanks to Matt Kelland and Wade Inganamort at Hukilau for their encouragement and support and for wanting to make this happen.

(Incidentally, the Lulu-published print edition remains available in its original, addendum-free format.)

Now, links, links, links:

Collect All 21! Kindle edition at Amazon


July 12, 2011 Posted by | 1970s, 1980s, Books, eighties, Film, geek, Ohio, science fiction, writing | , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Shadow of the Past, part 1: Ralph Bakshi in Starlog

In addition to the heaping helping of Star Wars Holiday Special goodness that comic show served up a couple weeks back, I was also treated to some Lord of the Rings memory-triggers.

Within the same Starlog magazine (Number 19, Feb. 1979), for starters, are five pages devoted to an interview with Ralph Bakshi about the brand-new big-screen adaptation of The Lord of the Rings. I remember being excited about and loving the 1977 Rankin/Bass television adaptation of The Hobbit, and while Bakshi’s LOTR has its flaws, I have a soft spot for it – especially the visuals, which immediately turn me into an eight-year-old again, heading out to see it with my mom’s younger brother late one night. (The movie came out in November, 1978, so it’s possible he was visiting us for Thanksgiving.) In Collect All 21!, I wrote:

Uncle Rob was the youngest “grown-up” that I knew, which made him, you know, cool.
For example, he had bought me a boxed set of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings books when I was in first grade. (I got through “The Hobbit” pretty easily, but I’ll admit it was probably fourth or fifth or maybe even sixth grade before I got through the Ring saga itself. As a little kid, those chapters about “Many Meetings” and “The Council of Elrond” seem like they go on and onnnn.) I remember Uncle Rob being stoked about the then-new Lord of the Rings cartoon movie, and taking me to see it at the theater down by the Gold Circle store. He was going to buy me one of the Gollum posters they had for sale in the lobby, but we wound up seeing the last show of the day, and when we came out of the theater, the concession stand was closed.

I don’t remember watching this movie again until the mid-2000s, after the Peter Jackson film trilogy had made its mark. (And for what it’s worth, I was surprised at the similarities between Bakshi’s and Jackson’s interpretations, from a few visual echoes to story changes.)

The Starlog interview with Bakshi is pretty neat – digresson: the author is Ed Naha, whose name struck me as familiar, and sure enough, his book The Making of Dune has been on my shelves since the mid-1980s – and it’s laid out with a pair of gorgeous double-page art spreads. My scanner only handles a page at a time, though, so I had to break them up to post them here:

Ralph Bakshi interview by Ed Naha - Starlog, Feb. 1979

Ralph Bakshi interview by Ed Naha - Starlog, Feb. 1979

Ralph Bakshi interview by Ed Naha - Starlog, Feb. 1979

Ralph Bakshi interview by Ed Naha - Starlog, 1979

Ralph Bakshi interview by Ed Naha - Starlog, 1979

In addition to this Starlog – which has clearly already delivered its money’s worth, even before you get to its articles on Maren Jensen (Athena from the original Battlestar Galactica), Roger Corman, Buck Rogers (’80s style, of course) and Martian volcanoes – I made one other purchase at the same comic show, but it’s going to get its own post. Hint’s right there in the title.

July 10, 2011 Posted by | 1970s, 1980s, Books, eighties, Fiction, Film, geek | , , , , | 1 Comment

We have visitors in Zone Twelve, moving east.

Last week marked the one-year anniversary of the completion of my summer 2010 solo cross-country road trip, a 15-day odyssey about which I still get nostalgic and which meant a lot to me for many reasons.

It seemed fitting then that this weekend, GeekDad writer / GeekMom senior editor and all-around nifty friend Jenny Williams and her kids swung through our corner of Ohio for a couple days and we all went down and stayed at my mom’s house in the woods of Carroll County. (Last summer, I met Jenny and her family for the first time at her mom’s house, where I stayed my first night on the eastbound trip back home. Which also reminds me: I should probably get around to posting all my eastbound photos on Flickr, now that they’re more than a year old and all.)

So anyway, Jenny and her family are in the midst of their own forty day road trip, and I was extremely excited about seeing them again, and happy to be able to offer them a stopover spot. From Thursday evening until around lunchtime Saturday, we had pretty much a nonstop fantastic time. Lots and lots of talking and game-playing. They introduced me to City Square Off, Uncle Chestnut’s Table Gype, Pirate Versus Pirate, and Ninja Versus Ninja. We also played shuffleboard, and on fired up Beatles Rock Band, Rock Band 3 and Pictionary on the Wii.

In between was a bunch of other great stuff: witnessing her kids seeing lightning bugs – or, if you prefer, fireflies :) – for the first time; repeatedly giving in to the temptation of the fresh chocolate-chip-and-Heath-Bits cookies my daughter and her friend baked; grilling dinner on the back porch; and taking everyone to the Dellroy Drive-In for ice cream, where the sign may look like it says “Fish Floats” but the peanut brittle ice cream is out of this world.

Also, at all three of meals we shared, there was bacon, which is worthy of a standalone sentence by virtue of its being bacon.

I know there are people who see the internet and online interaction as these weird technopseudosocial things which stifle actual human interaction, but this weekend has reminded me (and not for the first time) that over the past few years in particular, I have met some great friends with whom I likely never would have crossed paths were it not for teh webz, and I, for one, welcome my Skynet Overlords because of it.

July 3, 2011 Posted by | Current Affairs, Games, geek, Ohio, Travel, Weblogs, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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