Cornfield Meet

Things collide here.

Disney and Star Wars: When You Wish Upon An ’80s Flashback

Growing up, I had a bedroom with a walk-in closet. Nothing huge – easy enough to touch any two walls at the same time – but big enough that for awhile, I turned it into my writing sanctuary.

I put a folding TV tray table in there, mom’s typewriter, my boom box (the acoustics did wonders for the Top Gun anthem), and loaded the wall-mounted particle-board shelves with inspiration in the form of my Kenner action figures, Matchbox cars, and other assorted stuff. On the walls, I hung paintings from the Star Wars portfolio Mike had given me, some pages torn from Marvel comic books, postcards, and news clippings.

In the mid/late 1980s, as teenagers, this is where my friend Aaron and I wrote and storyboarded our vision for Star Wars: Episode VII.

Cleaning out an old desk this past weekend, I found one of the magazine scraps we had hanging in there:

January 24, 2013 Posted by | 1980s, geek, Ohio, writing | , , , | 1 Comment

The Mouse and Mos Eisley

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.

October 30, 2012 Posted by | 1970s, 1980s, eighties, Fiction, geek, science fiction | , , | 4 Comments

Jim Carchidi’s Florida Visions

So, the Orlando Museum of Art is putting together an exhibition of Florida photography called “Picturing My Florida: A Grassroots Portrait of the Sunshine State” and they’ve posted the entries under consideration on Facebook.

Three of my friend Jim Carchidi‘s photos are in the running, and all of them remind me of some of the things I have missed from time to time since leaving central Florida in 1999.

Not only that, but I think Jim’s entries all include aspects which are particularly Central Florida-centric and tap into the region’s history and identity – they’re not just fantastic eye-catching shots of things which happen to be in Florida. To sum up: I think Jim’s art deserves inclusion in the exhibit, and the more Facebook “likes” his photos get, the better the chance that will happen. So:

Clicking on any of the photos below will take you to that picture’s entry within the OMA’s Facebook “Made in Florida” gallery, where you can provide the all-powerful “Like.”

You can also peruse the entire gallery of Made in Florida Entries.

I also love that Jim’s entries also push some geek buttons: NASA space shuttle launches, Space Mountain at Walt Disney World, and giant monsters echoing a faded age (of sorts).

Final Discovery, 2011 - by Jim Carchidi

Spire, 2011 - by Jim Carchidi

The Dangers of Tourism, 2011 by Jim Carchidi

February 4, 2012 Posted by | geek, photos, Travel | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pop Culture Parking Zone

Click to visit the Flickr page and see larger versions.


I took this on the Backstage Studio Tour – the “Catastrophe Canyon” ride – in 1991, at what was then still known as the Disney-MGM Studios Theme Park in Orlando. (Spring break trip, sophomore year at Bowling Green. My friend Mike and I were visiting Adam.)

Center stage, naturally, goes to the Spinner from Blade Runner. To the right of the light post is a car from Total Recall, and cut off there at the far left is the Coyote X from – remember, ’80s fans? – Hardcastle and McCormick.

All three were still there (though they’d been relocated and were much more weather-worn), when I worked on that tour a couple years later, from around 1993 to 1995. IT’s been a few years, though, since I’ve been on this tour, so I have no idea if these relics are still hanging around.

October 27, 2010 Posted by | 1980s, 1990s, eighties, Film, geek, science fiction, Travel | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Got Wall?

You know that mark/dent/crack on the wall where you hurled your Xbox/Wii/PS3 controller that day you suffered another Red Ring Of Death/forgot to fasten the wrist strap before bowling/couldn’t shut your friend up before he spoiled the ending of Heavy Rain ?

Yeah, well – I can help you with that. The blemish on the wall, I mean.

In the interest of cleaning & reorganizing, acknowledging that I’ll never have this much extra wall space, scraping together a few extra bucks and finding a good home for some nifty movie and promotional posters, I’ve put all these up on eBay.

We’re talking just over 16,212 square inches – 112 square feet! – of fun stuff here.

Some of what I think are the neatest pieces:

A Star Trek: First Contact double-sided theatre poster with its original mailing tube from Paramount;

A double-sided Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones overseas theatre poster (No, I don’t know what language that is.);

and this M&M’s / Revenge of the Sith advertising poster.

There are also a couple original theatre-used Disney & Pixar posters, a Lord of the Rings theatre poster, and a couple promo pieces from The X-Files: Fight the Future.

I’ve also started everything at the price of just one dollar. Seriously: A BUCK.

This link should get you to the entire listing – 21 posters in all – but if it doesn’t, you can always do an eBay search for user jrb1970.

Who needs repainting or wallpaper when you can put Darth Vader, Captain Picard, the Argonath and Heimlich “I’m a beauuuutiful butterfly” up instead?

March 14, 2010 Posted by | Fiction, Film, geek, science fiction | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

There comes a time in a fan’s life…

..when he has to admit that it’s just patently unfair to the art of  movie and promotional posters to keep them rolled up and stored away simply because he’ll never have the gallery he needs to fully appreciate them.

“He,” in this case, being me:

That's the trunk that my ancestors brought over from Germany in the 1800s. The flyer for the Wyandot County Community Stage production of Die Fledermaus confirms that family & friends started saving posters for me upon arrival.

…and I feel like there is still a poster tube or two I couldn’t find this morning.

These things have come from movie theatres, conventions, opening days, store displays,  collectors’ meetings and video stores and who knows where else. Some of them I picked up firsthand, most of them came from wonderful friends and family who thought, “You know who’d like this? John.” And they were right.

And I wish I could justify keeping them all, but you know, they deserve to be out and displayed and enjoyed, and if I wallpapered my entire office with these I wouldn’t need any paint at all.

Many of them have had their wall-time over the years, either in my various “work” spaces or in Kelsey’s room, so none of them are what I’d call pristine, but there are some neat ones: Double-sided theatrical posters designed to be backlit, foreign posters, Star Wars out the wazoo, advertisements, Disney/Pixar stuff, pre-release mini-posters.

Mind you, it’s not that I’ve lost my fandom toward these things, it’s just that there are three factors coming into play:

One, as mentioned, I just don’t have the room. I don’t think I’ve bought anything bigger than a comic page to hang on my wall in at least five years, and these are just one more roadblock on the path to my office and workspace reorganization. Two, with all the traveling I’ve got planned this year, particularly of the geeky/Collect All 21 promotional sort which I don’t like to fund with my “regular” writing paychecks – PAX East this month; Celebration V in August; a cross-country road trip in between – I’d like to be able to stockpile a little savings, so I’ll be popping this whole pile on eBay very, very soon. (Individually, of course, so it may take a few days.)

And three: Really, these do need to be on someone’s wall someplace.

March 6, 2010 Posted by | Film, geek, science fiction, Travel | , , , | 2 Comments

Return to Candleshoe

Last week, I recorded Candleshoe on Turner Classic Movies, and I watched it during breakfast over two consecutive mornings this week.

I remember catching this movie in the theatre as a little kid, but I don’t think I’d seen it since, unless it was on the Sunday night “Wonderful World of Disney” sometime when I was growing up. All I really recalled was Jodie Foster’s tomboy character, David Niven in a swordfight, and a clue to the mystery that involved the sun shining through a library window.

Revisiting it sparked a feeling more than any concrete recollection: Seeing the old Buena Vista film logo tugged a sort of emotional thread to being at an age where these live-action Disney movies felt packed with stuff and hilarity and just enough emotional weight to make an elementary-schooler care a little bit.

It made me dig around and look at other Disney flicks of the era that I remember seeing on the big screen: Pete’s Dragon, for instance, which feels “earlier,” but actually came along about the same time as Candleshoe; Freaky Friday (1976) – a cop car splits in half! This was almost pants-wetting funny to me at the time; Gus; and The Cat from Outer Space, which I saw on a surprise trip to a drive-in. I also distinctly rememver seeing Never A Dull Moment, which must have been re-released, since it dates back to 1968.

What really struck me about Candleshoe this time around was its unexpected shelf life. I mean, honestly, it’s got that Disney-dated look to it (though it’s somewhat less pronounced because most of the movie takes place in England on an old estate and an appropriately quaint village), but really, it felt like a lot of the new-era Disney Channel movies I’ve watched with my daughter over the past few years.

The story and characters and twists and situations, from the long-lost heir to a fortune to the bumbling con man and his crew to the fighting-kids-destined-to-become-friends development all fit right in with the likes of Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior and Princess Protection Program.

Of course, Candleshoe had the credibility of Foster and Niven and Helen Hayes working for it, so from the start, it’s got a more big-screen pedigree, but still, I couldn’t help thinking, “Wow. Disney’s still making the same movies they did when I was a kid.” They’re just straight-to-TV-and-DVD these days.

(Know what was on right after Candleshoe? Escape to Witch Mountain. Yes, I recorded that one, too, though I mostly remember seeing the previews for its sequel, when the little telepathic kids were teenagers.)

Here’s the other thing that kind of stunned me: Candleshoe seems very much a trip to early-kid-dom for me, and it seemed to belong in that vague, fuzzy pre-kindergarten era of my life, like Snoopy Come Home and The Apple Dumpling Gang.

But it came out in 1977.

December 1977. In other words, by the time I saw Candleshoe, I had already seen Star Wars and was busy rewiring my brain for a few decades of obsession in that realm. Yet despite my mental division between one age and the next, and the wholly separate feelings that each movie triggers, they came along at about the same time.

Now, have I ever mentioned that I saw The Godfather when I was two? No? I’ll save that one for later.

July 8, 2009 Posted by | 1980s, eighties, Film, geek, science fiction | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Of Mice and Clones

I met Sean Forney last summer at the Buckeye Comic Con and ran into him again at Screaming Tiki in October, when he showed me some designs he was working on for a possible Lucasfilm-licensed T-shirt. And a few months ago, he came to mind when I got a BGSU alumni newsletter mentioning him. (So, bonus points for being a fellow Ohioan and a Falcon!)

Click to enlarge.

Sean emailed me recently to share the final product, which he did for Disney’s Star Wars Weekends 2009 in conjunction with Blue Planet Gear, and though I can’t find any information on where these shirts may have been sold – I wonder if they were some sort of exclusives for the 501st or the Rebel Legion – I still think it’s awfully cool. (I particularly like the detail on the leftmost clone in the trio.)

Now that the shirt’s done, Sean, who grew up a Star Wars fan, told me a little bit more about the whole process in an email:

“I received an email from Bill at Blue Planet out of nowhere about doing a Stormtrooper shirt. The initial design was a Stormtrooper and two Clonetroopers for a shirt for the 501st. After that design I was asked to do a Mickey Mouse in Stormtrooper gear for the Star Wars Disney Hollywood Studios Weekends. I finished this design and Disney passed on the idea of Mickey as a Stormtrooper. So I was asked to re-do the first Stormtrooper design and it was approved for the Disney Hollywood Studios Star Wars Weekends.”

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

“The idea for the design came from Bill at Blue Planet, but I came up with the poses through a series of sketches. Blue Planet was in contact with Lucasfilm and had the license to do the shirts. The final product came out just like the original designs and there weren’t many revisions.”

“It was thrilling. I have to admit it was a little nerve-racking making sure all the details were correct on all the troopers but in the end it was definitely worth it.”

To me, one of the neater aspects of the “new” Star Wars era – which is actually pushing two decades old itself, if you put its birth around the time of Timothy Zahn’s “Heir to the Empire” release in 1991 – has been seeing this incredible array of artistic takes on the saga and its inhabitants, as compared to the relatively limited number of interpretations in the original trilogy era.

July 1, 2009 Posted by | Current Affairs, Fiction, Film, geek, Ohio, science fiction, Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Arrrr, ears.

Jenn surprised me with a Disney Parks Vinylmation figure while we were at the Studios yesterday:


(Jack Sparrow-esque pirate skull on the back.)

April 8, 2009 Posted by | Fiction, Film, geek, Travel | , , , , | 1 Comment

Cool and windy night in Orlando

Disney Hollywood Studios, just outside the Tower of Terror Exit

Disney Hollywood Studios, just outside the Tower of Terror Exit

Shortly before 9 p.m.

April 8, 2009 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment


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