It’s John Williams‘ birthday today.
He was the first composer whose name and work I recognized – and who wasn’t dead. He benefited, of course, from having his name attached to Star Wars, which, when I was a kid, made just about anything interesting.
Back in 2010, Rob Wainfur of The Bearded Trio website asked if I’d be interested in writing a guest post, so I contributed a piece exploring some of John Williams’ lesser-known musical creations. Here’s an excerpt:
It turns out, for instance, that Williams’ music was tucked into corners of my brain long before I knew it, thanks to three classic 1970s disaster movies: The Poseidon Adventure, The Towering Inferno, and Earthquake. I really have only the vaguest recollections of these – I think I had an ear infection or something when my parents went to see Earthquake (in Sensurround!), and I don’t know if I saw the other two in the theatre or on television, though both left impressions on me. That Towering Inferno scene where Jennifer Jones’ character falls from the elevator on the outside of the building scared the bejeezus outta me, and come on: what little kid wouldn’t love a movie where a giant ship turns upside-down?
A few years later, Star Wars had turned me into a space-adventure nut, and for a time, one of our local TV stations aired Lost In Space reruns every weekday in the after-school hours. I wouldn’t learn until decades later that the show’s theme was another creation of John (then credited as “Johnny”) Williams. Of the two versions he composed during the show’s run, I prefer the original since it’s the one I most associate with sitting on the floor with a snack and looking up at the television, though the fuller composition for Season 3 in 1968 sounds much more like the John Williams signature works to come in the next decade.
I had a lot of fun writing this. check out the whole thing – which also goes on to reveal my all-time favorite piece of Star Wars music – at The Bearded Trio.
All sold – thanks, readers!
Dec. 7 update: Three of the four copies have been sold! The remaining unused Hasbro cardback is the General Grievous version.
I’ve got one
four paperback copy copies of Collect All 21! leftover from the Akron Comicon, so I thought I’d package a few extras with them for the holidays. Details below the photo.
- One unused cardback from Hasbro’s current vintage-style line. The fronts are done in the style of the old Kenner packaging – which is very cool – and the backs have a little bit of Kenner figure history on them. These have never had actual action figures attached. (Note: Three of these are Boba Fetts, and one is General Grievous.)
- TWO vintage Topps cards from the “Giant Full Color Photocards” set. Yes: These are the actual cards from 1980. (Genuine Nostalgia!) No, there is no giant stale gum.
- A digital version (not pictured – of course) of the extra chapter’s worth of material which was added to the Expanded Edition of Collect All 21! This will be delivered by email and can be sent as a Word document, PDF or in ebook form. It’s only the new interviews and added content – not a digital edition of the entire book.
And I’ll knock 10% off the cover price, so you’ll get the book plus those extras for $13.50 + shipping.
If you’re interested, leave a comment or send me an email at booth (at) fieldsedge.com
Adam Besenyodi will be sharing the table and selling Deus ex Comica: The Rebirth of a Comic Book Fan. He may even have some copies of Exo-1 and the Rock Solid Steelbots on hand. (And if he won’t, I’m sure he’ll let me know soon enough.)
I believe I speak for
all both of us at booth A12 when I say it would be excellent for you to come by and nerd out for a few minutes.
In no particular order, a few thoughts on Disney buying Lucasfilm, mostly composed in my head on the way home from work:
- I started out thinking, “I’m OK with this.” This has since evolved into, “YES, I’m really, really freaking OK with this.”
- I remain amused that this sentence – “Star Wars Episode 7 is targeted for release in 2015, with more feature films expected to continue the Star Wars saga and grow the franchise well into the future.” – is at the end of the sixth paragraph. Best. Buried Lede. EVER.
- Disney’s overseen mostly amazing work in its ownership of the Pixar, Marvel, and Muppets properties, which makes me think the Star Wars universe will be in good hands.
- Incredibly smart move on George Lucas’ part: If Disney messes up the Star Wars franchise, he has washed his hands of it. If Disney can pull an Avengers-esque success with Episode VII, then Lucas is the guy who turned over control of his empire in order to save it, and he regains Favor Among Nerds.
- No idea where Episode VII will take the story. Original Jedi leads are out of the question. The droids? Han & Leia’s kids? A direct sequel recast with new actors in the leads? (Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn trilogy? I like it a lot, but I don’t think it will ever be positioned as big-screen canon.)
- Star Wars Celebrations with actual movie build-up involved again? Sweet. I wonder if Disney ownership improves Orlando’s chances of landing future conventions.
- Star Wars movies scripted and directed by someone other than George Lucas? History proves this is not an ungood idea. (Please see: The Empire Strikes Back.)
- Yes, like every other dang geek on the planet, I thought, “JOSS! JOSSSSSS!”
- I took my daughter to opening night of Episode III, thinking it would be the last chance for us to see an original Star Wars big screen premiere. She was eight years old. When I told her about Disney buying LFL and announcing Episode VII in 2015, and that it meant we’d be able to do another opening night Star Wars, her reaction was, “That rocks so hardcore.” I have to love that.
Big surprise: I really like talking with people – especially first-generation fans – about their Star Wars memories, and about growing up loving the saga and then sharing it with a new generation of kids.
So in planning my GeekDad coverage of Star Wars Celebration VI back in August, I thought it would be fun to set up a series of short interviews with some notable geeks and Star Wars personalities, asking them about their favorite memories and toys and things like that.
Eight great people took some time during the four-day convention to hang out and answer the same five questions, and I had a blast conducting the interviews. (MAJOR thanks again to everyone who participated!) The series ran in August and September at GeekDad, and I thought it would be fun to round up all the links here, too.
- Gronk creator and Lucasfilm-licensed artist Katie Cook was the first person I asked what were later named the “Five Force-Full Questions.” Her interview is here, and it includes her “deep dark Star Wars secret.”
- I was psyched to meet everyone I interviewed, but I’ll confess that when Fanboys and Ready Player One writer Ernie Cline accepted the invitation, I had a bit of a nerdsquee moment. I’ve identified very strongly with his writing, since he grew up not far from my home in Ohio, and at around the same time. We actually spent about a half hour talking about tons of other geek stuff before we even got to his Five Force-Full Question answers, and then, generous and patient guy that he is, Ernie was kind enough to repeat his answers over the phone a couple days later due to a digital recording error on my part.
- Marc Thompson is a voice actor and a narrator of several Star Wars audio books, and he was actually attending Celebration with his kids, so he gets bonus geeky dad points for that. His interview is here.
- Kristen Rutherford is a fellow contributor to the GeekDad/GeekMom universe, head writer and creative producer of The Nerdist on BBC America, and host of Geek & Sundry‘s #parent hangouts. Also, she was kind enough to laugh off my goofspazzing response to a text about a bowling shirt – a message which was not, in fact, meant for me. So she’s cool that way. Plus she remembers exactly which card she’s missing from her Empire Strikes Back red-border set.
- Kristen invited me to one of the Nerdist crew’s Star Wars Transmission tapings and introduced me to several other neat geek types, including Chris Hardwick, who, it turns out, also has an affinity for the second wave of Kenner’s original Star Wars figures (the grouping which brought the action figure total to that magic number of 21). Read which one was his favorite here.
Finally, I did a trio of interviews with three actors from Star Wars: The Clone Wars:
- Matt Lanter, who plays Anakin Skywalker,
- And Dee Bradley Baker, another fellow first-generation fan and geeky dad who – seriously – was so into Star Wars as a kid that he landed a gig dressing up as a jawa at his local movie theater.
Man, was that a fun trip.
Honestly, I was just bombarded with So Much Awesome at Star Wars Celebration VI that the thought of trying to write it up in detail here is just overwhelming. And it’s more than just the usual post-Celebration melancholy, since I was lucky to spend some time with a few truly generous and funny and talented and fun people, and I miss them all.
For now, I’m just going to post bits and pieces, starting with coverage that I did for GeekDad, and that my friend Jim (we realized over the weekend we’ve known each other for something like 17 years) did for the Orlando Business Journal.
- Star Wars Celebration VI – a GeekDad photo gallery
- Sounds and Sights at Celebration VI – a second GeekDad photo gallery
- Jim’s feature on Ashley Eckstein – Ahsoka Tano on The Clone Wars
- Jim’s photo gallery for the Business Journal
- Jim’s right-on-the-money Business Journal blog post on the after-convention blues.
I finally rode the new Star Tours and LOVED IT. In just four rides, I saw both opening sequences, all three holograms, visited all the planets but Naboo, AND got to be the spy.
Kevin Smith’s Star Wars-centric “An Evening With…” was effing incredible – it was off-color and hilarious and nostalgic and heartwrenching and inspiring. (Two nights later, Jim and I spent awhile hanging out with the two fantastic sign language interpreters who almost stole the show. They worked many of the bigger Celebration presentations over the weekend, and they took the gig in large part because they’re both hardcore Star Wars fans.)
On Friday the 24th, I sat in on a taping of the Nerdist crew’s Star Wars Transmission – which was a poodoo-ton of fun.
Finally (at least for now), below are all my Star Wars Celebration VI Tweets (from most recent to earliest), cut and pasted from Snapbird, with links to the photos I shot with my phone camera.
I’m off to cover Star Wars Celebration VI – keep an eye on GeekDad – , but look: As promised, from now through Sunday, Aug. 26, the expanded Kindle edition of Collect All 21! has a pretty attractive price tag:
Along with a few other fans, I’ll be heading to Orlando this week for Star Wars Celebration VI. And since I do enjoy sharing a wee bit of nostalgia for the saga, I’m running an Amazon promotion starting on Wednesday, Aug. 22 – the day before the convention opens – through Sunday, Aug. 26, when everyone packs up their big Corellian ships for the jump home.
Over those five days, the expanded electronic edition of Collect All 21! Memoirs of a Star Wars Geek will be available for Kindle readers and apps for zero dollars. ($0.00).
As in, “Hey – Over here! Free book!”
As in, “You mean if I have an Amazon Kindle or even just the reader installed on my phone or tablet or other we-live-in-the-future-and-it-sort-of-rocks device, I can read one of The 10 Greatest Non-Fiction Star Wars Books for NOTHING?”
But not quite yet: You need to wait until Aug. 22-26, when the Amazon promotion is running. (And no, this doesn’t include the original paperback The First 30 Years edition of Collect All 21! Although if you enjoy the electronic edition, I highly recommend picking up a physical copy: It’s a bit shorter, but the sweet Kirk Demarais‘ cover really pulls a room together.)
During the promotion, I’ll take some time out from my Celebration nerding to share reminders and some nice things people have said about the book.
A fun week lies ahead!
I crossed paths online with Cleveland artist/WRUW dj/first-generation Star Wars fan Bridget Daryl Ginley back when I still worked in the Warehouse District, and last week I finally got the chance to meet her in person when I visited to Studio 404 so I could pick up this piece for my desk at work that would make a Jawa utinni with envy. (You know what? That’s a long and bizarre sentence, and I’m leaving it that way.)
For awhile now, I’ve liked Bridget’s skull sketches and found art assemblies and pop culture references – and even her handwritten alternative music (kids, ask your parents) playlists from WRUW. All sorts of weird and cool stuff. When she started building these shiny-domed tributes, I knew I’d wind up with one of my own.
She’s got several other variations on the theme in the studio, and materials to build a gaggle more –
– so there’s no reason you shouldn’t have a near-sighted scrap pile to call your own, if this is your kind of thing. (She’s also doing a lot of steampunk work these days, since it blends pretty well with what she’s been doing for years, and if you’re a Doctor Who fan, she might even be persuaded to tackle a Dalek for you, if you ask nicely.)
Bridget’s trying to move a lot of art from Studio 404 (classic space – amazing views of Cleveland’s skyline) now, so the time’s right, and she’s pretty cool, and this was totally the droid I –
– nope. Not gonna say it.
Also, if you like that throwback music I mentioned earlier, check out her Erie Effusion radio show. Do not request Blue Monday.
I got a lot of encouraging feedback in July of 2011 when I expanded Collect All 21! for a digital edition. Unfortunately, while the folks at my digital publishing company were great to work with and did a bang-up job converting the book and pushing it through various channels, they had to make the difficult decision to close their virtual doors earlier this year, ending the availability of the Expanded Edition.
After thinking things over for a bit and pestering some very patient and understanding friends for advice, I decided to go ahead and tweak a couple small glitches and make the Expanded Edition available again myself through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing.
Opening that first Darth Vader figure and putting him in a Landspeeder. Imagining a snowy elementary school playground as the wastes of Hoth. Seeing Return of the Jedi on opening night.
Moments like these – and a galaxy more – make up more than three decades of “Memoirs of a Star Wars Geek.” Author and first-generation saga fan John Booth takes the reader from a childhood packed with Star Wars guys (never “action figures”) and Christmas wishes both fulfilled and unrealized, through the years when the trilogy lay dormant to the mainstream public’s eye, and into an age of seeing George Lucas’ universe as an adult while exploring it again as a parent.
Collect All 21! revisits the late 1970s and early ’80s, in all their bad-haircuts-and-Atari glory, then moves beyond those decades and nostalgia to explore the evolution of the Star Wars saga and its fandom.
This expanded electronic edition also includes 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.
Named by Topless Robot as one of The Ten Greatest Non-Fiction Star Wars Books, Collect All 21! is a love letter from a self-aware geek written under the sometimes harsh light of hindsight, softened with understanding. It captures the innocence and wonder and infinite possibilities of what it meant to an eight-year-old to Collect All 21!
“Like a nostalgic walk through your childhood and growing up geek.”
– WIRED magazine’s GeekDad
“The feeling of childhood magic that pours from its pages will have you reflecting on how much of an impact the Wars have had on you.”
– Topless Robot
“I never thought I’d actually get that Time-Travel Belt, but reading this book is almost better.”
– George Krstic, writer, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Motorcity, and Megas XLR
I’ve also decided to keep the Kindle edition at it’s three-dollar price – which means, yes: More book than the print edition, for less money.
Additionally, it’s available through the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, so if you’re an Amazon Prime member, you can borrow it for FREE.
And hey – Star Wars Celebration VI is coming up fast, so why not start getting psyched up now?