Cornfield Meet

Things collide here.

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

Five years go by at point five past light speed.

My friend Jim attends Star Wars Weekends annually, and this year marked the first time he’s crossed paths with modelmaker Lorne Peterson since we met him at Star Wars Celebration III – and suddenly I can’t believe that trip was already five years ago. From Collect All 21

I had just started a new job, and my first few weeks, Jim and I emailed back and forth constantly, ironing out details about what to cover and how, setting up deadlines, checking the event programming to see who was going to be there and figuring out how to drink it all in. We were seriously, ridiculously psyched.

It was four days of total immersion in Star Wars fandom and there’s not a second of it I’d give up, even those frustrating times fighting deadlines and cramped media quarters and uncooperative laptops.

Friday evening to Saturday afternoon was particularly packed with “I-can’t-believe-we’re-here” moments.

Jim and I met, photographed and interviewed original Star Wars model-maker Lorne Peterson. This was a blast. I’d expected, at most, maybe a five-minute chat. We wound up talking for close to half an hour and it was just a very neat thing, thinking that this was a guy who had, quite literally, helped build part of my childhood.

I wound up talking to him a couple more times in the months after C3, and those interviews were the basis for a feature that ran in the October/December 2006 issue of Filmfax (“The Magazine of Unusual Film, Television & Retro Pop Culture!”). At 5,000 words, it was easily the longest piece of non-fiction I’d ever written for publication and also my first freelance magazine sale. Seeing it in print accompanied by some ILM-supplied photos and a couple of Jim’s shots from C3 was a total adrenaline rush. That these personal milestones were tied to Star Wars only makes them that much more meaningful.

I really like this shot Jim took of Lorne pondering a Millennium Falcon model onstage at Star Wars Weekends, and here’s a follow-up interview I did focusing on the release of Lorne’s “Sculpting A Galaxy” book.

May 31, 2010 Posted by | Film, geek, science fiction, writing | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ground control to Captain Rex: Farewell, Star Tours

Writing up this GeekDad post about Disney’s going-away party for the original Star Tours has me on one of my typical Star Wars nostalgia trips.

When my friend Aaron and I were perfecting our storyboards and outline for “Episode VII” (oh yeah – and it kicked ass) as a couple teenagers in the mid-1980s, there was a magazine clipping from the Disneyland Star Tours opening hanging on the wall next to the shelves of our action figures. I remember it pictured Artoo and Threepio next to a spectacularly ridiculous Mickey wearing an “outer-space” outfit that somehow crossed 1970s Ace Frehley with the Care Bears look. Disneyland’s Star Tours opened in ’87, but remained irrelevant to me since it was all the way across the country.

My family (often with Aaron along, too) used to take spring break trips to Florida and spend a day over at one of the Disney parks, but the Disney-MGM Studios didn’t open until May 1989 – just barely after spring vacation my senior year in high school. The following spring, I was in college and didn’t get to make the trip with my family because we had different break schedules – and of course, they went to the Studios and I got to hear from my little brothers all about how awesome the Indiana Jones show and Star Tours were.

So the calendar flips, and that summer, Adam moves to Orlando and takes a Disney job, and then it’s spring 1991, and I’m road-tripping to Florida with another high school buddy. We spent the week at Adam’s, enjoyed five free days in the parks, and I finally got to ride Star Tours, and of course, even with its ubergoofy parts, I loved it. To this day, the StarSpeeder’s first out-of-control stomach-lurching drop is one of my favorite theme park experiences.

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Star Tours "travel" posters from the early years of the attraction. (click to enlarge)

A few years later, I was living in Orlando myself and worked part-time at Disney-MGM on the Backstage Studio Tour. (The “Catastrophe Canyon” ride: I still take a bit of pride in knowing that I once knew how to drive one of those trams and that I never hit anything with one of them. And seeing prop vehicles from Blade Runner and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and Who Framed Roger Rabbit up close never got old, although witnessing their slow decay did make me wince a little.) A good chunk of my time at the Studios overlapped with the Dark Times referenced in Collect All 21, and consequently, I spent a fair amount of spare time taking advantage my free admission to the parks and riding Star Tours. I even filled in on staffing it once or twice, though I only worked the queue outside and never got to suit up in the orange flight outfits.

Naturally, it was a fine, fine day when Kelsey was tall enough to ride Star Tours with me, and even though she’s gone on to much bigger, badder thrill rides, the trip to Endor gone awry and a few minutes with our StarSpeeder’s misguided robot pilot have remained on the “must do” list whenever we get the chance.

Clear skies, Cap’n Rex. Clear skies.

May 7, 2010 Posted by | 1980s, 1990s, Current Affairs, eighties, Film, geek, science fiction, Travel, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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