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Collect All 21! – Pay With A Tweet! (or Facebook mention)

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.

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July 29, 2011 Posted by | 1970s, 1980s, Books, geek, science fiction, 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

More Len Peralta! More Star Wars! More Nerditry! And Airwolf!

Mythbuster Grant Imahara's Geek A Week card by Len Peralta

Two weeks ago, I posted Part One of a Super Geeky Star Wars Nostalgia Podcast with Cleveland artist Len Peralta, creator of Geek A Week and the new 50 vs. 50 Heroes & Villains Mission. Quest. Thing.

Here’s Part Two, in which we discuss not only the merits of Kenner’s Return of the Jedi toy line, but the art and craft of boombox television recording, reliving Star Wars before you could watch it on TV any darn time you wanted, and lame Halloween costumes. Also, it turns out Len does an impressive Artoo-Detoo impersonation.

 

April 4, 2011 Posted by | 1980s, Books, eighties, Film, geek, Ohio, science fiction, Weblogs | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Sharing Star Wars Memories with Len Peralta

I have been super lame in neglecting my blog lately, mostly due to the welcome challenge of a completely amazing and inspiring career change. I’m still getting used to the home and work schedule again and am playing catch-up on several personal projects, including this one: a podcast about which I’ve been excited for quite awhile.

I’ve written several times over the past year or so about Cleveland artist Len Peralta and his Geek A Week project, which recently wrapped up with Len’s depiction of – and interview with – none other than Stan Lee. Amazingly cool stuff.

While I was preparing for those times I interviewed Len, I read this Q&A, in which he recalled seeing Return of the Jedi for the first time, and from that moment, I wanted to do a Star Wars Memories podcast with the guy, kind of like the ones I did with sci-fi TV writer George Krstic. Even more so after interviewing Len a couple times and going over shared Northeast Ohio pop culture territory like Saturday afternoon Godzilla movies with “Superhost.” Then Len read Collect All 21! and said nice things about it, which was just bonus points on top.

We finally managed to get it done this week, and it was a blast. We probably would have gone on a couple hours if the Empire hadn’t apparently started jamming Skype because we were having too much fun. (And by “fun,” I mean – well, here’s Len’s post-podcast Tweet.)

I wound up dividing the podcast into two parts, and while I still need to finish editing the second one, here’s Part One. (Right click to download.)

March 22, 2011 Posted by | 1980s, Current Affairs, eighties, geek, Ohio, science fiction, writing | , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Next Round of Blue Milk’s On Me.

Collect All 21! Memoirs of a Star Wars Geek - The First 30 Years…because this is just too darn cool: Topless Robot has named Collect All 21! to its list of The 10 Greatest Non-Fiction Star Wars Books and said some amazingly nice things about it, which just blows me away because a) the Topless Robot gang really knows their Star Wars, and b) there’s a serious butt-ton of non-fiction SW works for the reading.

I’ll even admit that there’s the fanboy voice in the corner of my head looking at that list with its vigilant geek-debating eye and saying, “What? I can’t believe they didn’t include Impressive Work X and The Massive Star Wars Volume of Y and…” But you know what? He can shut up, because I don’t want to give up my spot, so big time thanks, Topless Robot!!

For what it’s worth, though I certainly wish I had more, I only own two of the others books on the list: No. 10 and No. 7. And you’ll just have to go read the post to find out which they are. (Hint: One of them “reassured” the children of the 1970s that “Real star wars are very unlikely. But it is not entirely impossible for unfriendly space creatures to invade Earth.”)

Thanks – yet again – to Collect All 21! cover artist Kirk Demarais for delivering the Topless Robot news, which comes on the heels of this kind post about the book at The Malaysian Reader. (And that brings the number of countries where I know people have read the book to an even dozen. Which is still mind-boggling.)

February 9, 2011 Posted by | 1980s, Books, eighties, Family history, Film, geek, Ohio, science fiction, Weblogs, writing | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Twenty years went under the bridge like time was standing still.

Two decades ago tonight:

It was my sophomore year at Bowling Green.

So, Tobi showed me around her hometown, and after dark, we drove out to this place she called Five Mile Bridge and waited for a train to come rushing beneath while we stood there and leaned on the railing.

For some reason, that night mattered to me. Maybe because I was barely 20 and everything like that mattered to me. Maybe because it was a strange sort of fluxing time in my life, when my closest friends had moved away and I felt oddly on my own. It grew to matter even more when Tobi died a few years later.

By that time, you couldn’t drive across Five Mile Bridge anymore.

Here’s how it looked when Jenn and I visited in June 1996:

I’ve been there four times in all, but not since a couple weeks before Christmas 1999, and never again after dark. I don’t even know if the bridge is still standing.

A few weeks after my last visit, I started writing the first draft of what grew into Crossing Decembers, which, while a work of fiction, has very real roots out there in the vast fields of Northwest Ohio.

For the sake of sharing, I serialized the entire book online this spring and summer. With winter a week away, and the 20th anniversary of two goofy college kids standing on a cold bridge in the middle of nowhere upon me, it seemed the right time to collect all the chapter links together.

It’s snowy and windy today, and I’ll be listening for train whistles.

Introduction

Chapter 1 – Return

Chapter 2 – Another December

Chapter 3 – A Glimpse of Orion

Chapter 4 – Bowling Green, Ohio

Chapter 5 – And We Danced

Chapter 6 – Steering A Train

Chapter 7 – 7:41

Chapter 8 – Another December

Chapter 9 – Cornfield Meet

Chapter 10 – Bridging Backward

Chapter 11 – Pennies and Splinters

Click here for information on ordering the book in paperback or electronic editions through Amazon or Lulu.

December 14, 2010 Posted by | 1980s, 1990s, Books, Fiction, geek, Ohio, writing | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Green Machine, Fonzie and Star Wars: JediCon WV 2010

On Saturday, I made my second consecutive trip to JediCon WV in Wheeling, and I was blessed with another sunny day for driving through the southeast Ohio hills at the time of year when the leaves are turning. As last year, I found myself a good stretch of roads I’d never traveled before, just so I could enjoy the trip, and to put myself in a nostalgic mood for my Collect All 21! reading, I set my Pandora station to Journey and – when my phone signal was inevitably lost in the valleys – queued up a series of Retroist podcasts on stuff like The A-Team and WarGames.

 

One big happy Star Wars nerd family.

 

There were many more costumers in attendance this year – and it’s hard to tell, but the youngest person in that photo, almost at the far right edge, being held by his mom? He’s wearing a toddler Vader outfit. \m/  – several of whom changed through two or three outfits over the course of the day.

Loved catching up with the people I’d met last year and meeting new friends, and I had worked up a new presentation and set of readings for this year, which seemed to go over well. There was video shot, so hopefully I’ll have a clip or two to share soon.

Talked a lot of nostalgia, of course, and check THIS out:

 

Clearance Special!

 

Okay, so that’s one of the worst toys to come out of the original line, but this particular example on one of the dealer’s shelves just put a huge smile on my face because those are CHILDREN’S PALACE (or Child World, depending on your region) clearance stickers! The bandolier that I dug up during my Peter Panda days had almost this exact same set of labels plastered on it – with one difference: Mine had one more markdown sticker, ’cause I only paid NINETY CENTS for it.

The Kruger Street Toy & Train Museum was its usual throwback self, especially when I spotted a Green Machine that still made me jealous thirty years after seeing them on our neighborhood street. And hey, three words: TRUE FONZIE ACTION.

A small set of photos is here. They don’t do justice, of course, to the pleasure of spending a day with fellow Star Wars fans and kids of the ’80s – but then again, that’d be a tall order. Even for The A-Team.

October 11, 2010 Posted by | 1980s, Books, Film, geek, science fiction, Travel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Return of the JediCon WV – Episode VII

You know what snuck up on me?

JediCon West Virginia VII is this Saturday! (That’s October 9, 2010, starting at 10 a.m., at the Kruger Street Toy & Train Museum.)

I really enjoyed my first trip to Wheeling for the 2009 show, so I happily accepted the invitation to share some more Collect All 21! memories this fall – and check THIS out: Former Kenner toy photographer Kim Simmons – “The Man Who Shot Luke Skywalker” – is not only coming back to this year’s JediCon, he designed this amazing toy-populated Empire Strikes Back-inspired poster as a commemorative bonus:

JediCon WV VII poster by Kim Simmons.

I mean, come ON – that’ s just Too. Freaking. Cool.

Kim will be giving another retrospective on his Kenner years, and Star Wars animator Jon Seay is expected to attend with some pieces of the original Death Star to show off. Besides, how much of an excuse do you need, really, to spend a fall day hanging out with some fellow Star Wars fans in a fun and truly nostalgia-inducing atmosphere?

October 4, 2010 Posted by | 1980s, Current Affairs, eighties, Film, geek, science fiction, Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Moviemaking, nostalgia and Star Wars toys

Fresh off last night’s world premiere of The Meat Locker (an incredibly fun evening about which I’ll write more when I can share the movie online), and on the brink of leaving for Star Wars Celebration V on Monday, it seems a good time to share this bit of nostalgia:

That’s a scrap from the floor of my room in the house where I grew up. My youngest brother and his family live there now, and they’re replacing this carpet – which, it should be noted, is the only original remaining carpet from when we moved into the house in 1976.

This particular piece includes the evidence from this recollection in Collect All 21! (Chapter – “Along A Different Path: Taking Star Wars into Our Own Hands”)

When I was in middle school, I fished our family’s old 8mm movie camera out of the crawlspace, shelled out my allowance for batteries and a light bulb and tried to make my own Star Wars films.

One winter, I took it outside in the snow, dug a makeshift Death Star trench – I added twists and turns to make it, you know, more exciting – and then filmed my own point-of-view attack run, never thinking that, duh, I was holding the camera by its handle – in other words, upside down.

I was a little more successful with the flick I made using my little brothers’ Scout Walker. I managed to do some fairly steady stop-motion animation of the AT-ST’s head rotating back and forth, its side guns twitching up and down, and then I had my brother Adam work its legs, stomping them up and down while I shot a close-up. Then we stop-motioned the top hatch opening and a Scout Trooper emerging (okay, he didn’t so much “emerge” as he popped into existence from one frame to the next) and then – gasp! – quick cut to a skyward shot and a streaking meteor that was, in actuality, a lava rock my parents had brought me back from their 15th anniversary trip to Hawaii. And again, not so much streaking against the sky as being dropped by my brother with my textured white ceiling in the background.

Poor trooper never saw it coming. Caught it on the noggin, and… as the black haze closed in on his battle-scarred mind, he barely felt his walker toppling, its legs crumpling, never to stride into war again.

Aaaaaaaaand – scene.

Trooper down!

The four-minute film reel containing this 30- or 40-second masterpiece survived long enough to make it onto a DVD we compiled as a Christmas present for Mom a couple decades later. Holding up the cardboard sign labeled “Assistant: Adam Booth,” – I’d taken top billing as director and cameraman, naturally – my youngest brother looks like he’s squinting into binary suns, the lamp on the movie camera’s so freaking bright. We actually melted a tennis-ball-sized circle of carpet during filming when I accidentally put the bulb housing on the floor after a shot.

It’s actually probably closer to racquetball-sized, for the record. And I can still remember the sour plasticky smell that tipped me off to the puff of smoke rising from my bedroom floor, and how for years afterward I would pick absentmindedly at the little misshapen fused lumps of carpet fiber.

August 6, 2010 Posted by | 1980s, Current Affairs, eighties, Family history, Film, geek, Ohio, science fiction, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Star Wars Celebration V: T-minus One Week

Star Wars Celebration V begins a week from today! Watch for my vehicle on Interstate 77 southbound:

There's a Post-It on the dashboard reminding me which side the gas tank's on.

Image: Jim Carchidi, photographer extraordinaire.

It’s been almost five-and-a-half years since the last Star Wars Celebration I attended. As I wrote in Collect All 21

The biggest, best, craziest part of the Episode III build-up was the trip Jim and I made to Star Wars Celebration III in Indianapolis, just about a month before the movie’s May 2005 premiere. We planned this sonofabitch for more than a year and got ourselves a freelance assignment for four days of web coverage and a print feature on the movie.

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 to handle it, 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.

A lot’s changed since that spring: That new job is the same one which landed me in the role of full-time freelance writer in March 2009, thanks to staff cuts, and these days, I’m the parent of a recently-minted teenager.

But here I am again, a week from Star Wars Celebration V – which is literally right down the road from Jim’s house in Orlando – and even without the buzz of a saga’s conclusion to drive the hype, I’m awfully excited about the week to come.

For lots of the same reasons, of course: Geeking out with Jim, being among fellow Star Wars fans, checking out props and artifacts and old toys.

But I’m also excited for a few different reasons. For one, Kelsey will be spending a day at the convention with me. (Just one, which I absolutely understand. She has a friend in Orlando she’s excited to visit, and relatives we only see once a year, tops, and while she does enjoy Star Wars, one day immersed in the fandom is all she’s looking for. Now, if this were a Kids in the Hall convention…)

I’m also providing coverage for GeekDad this time around, and I’ve already got what should be some fun interviews lined up.

Then there’s this Pre-Celebration V party and trivia contest from 3-10 p.m. August 11 at Heroes Landing in Clermont (a quick & easy drive from the Orange County Convention Center). I’ll be there with copies of Memoirs of a Star Wars Geek, and Adam Besenyodi is signing Deus Ex Comica: The Rebirth of a Comic Book Fan. Cris Macht, director of The Force Among Us, is supposed to hang around awhile, and the gang from the Star Wars Action News podcast is hosting a trivia contest to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Central Florida. (Where Jenn used to work, as it happens.)

So that should all be fantastic fun and a nice pre-con psyche-up.

Mostly, though, I’m looking forward to meeting people in person whom I’ve only met either online or through interviews or through Collect All 21! The best parts of my previous two Star Wars Celebration trips – I did a whirlwind 36-hour trip to Celebration II in 2002 – were the ones that just grew out of moments spent in the company of friends, talking Star Wars and nostalgia and expectations and life both here and in that galaxy far, far away.

August 5, 2010 Posted by | 1980s, Current Affairs, eighties, Fiction, Film, Games, geek, science fiction, Travel, Weblogs, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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