Cornfield Meet

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Collect All 21! – Five Years Old Today

Five years ago today, I released the first edition of Collect All 21! Memoirs of a Star Wars Geek into the wild.

The first batch of pre-orders and sales that summer and fall of 2008 were mostly to family, friends, and the supportive Star Wars fans of the Ohio Star Wars Collectors Club and the vintage forums at Rebelscum.com. They really jump-started this whole thing with their responses to my 2007 online series of Star Wars recollections.

In early 2009, right around the time my last full-time newsroom job was eliminated and I found myself out of work, Rob Wainfur posted one of the earliest completely-neutral-party reviews of Collect All 21!  on his  Retro Finds site, which was a more-than-welcome bit of nice news, and especially neat because Rob’s from Wales.

Around the same time, Adam, my Collect All 21! editor, launched Deus Ex Comica, and suddenly I was like, “Hey: want a cool, professional cover and a foreword, too!” And that’s where Kirk Demarais and David Morgan-Mar came in, generously contributing their talents to the revised version of Collect All 21!, providing me with some amazing front cover art and a kick-ass introduction.

Working with a great digital publishing team, I expanded the book for a Kindle edition in July 2011, adding some new personal material as well as interviews and my magazine-length feature on Lorne Peterson.

Some of the other neat stuff that’s happened along the way:

  • In spring 2009, I got an incredibly kind and supportive email from George Krstic, another Northeast Ohio first-generation Star Wars fan who grew up to write neat stuff like MTV’s DowntownMegas XLR, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and Motorcity. We’ve hung out a few times since, and recorded a few Star Wars nostalgia podcasts,  and it’s always a blast. (George also introduced me to Josh Ling, who’s also a first-generation Rust Belt kid that came of age addicted to Kenner toys, and, I think it’s also fair to say, deals with the same old-school v. new-era Star Wars internal conflicts that twist so many of us in geek knots.)
  • Jenny Williams and Curtis Silver both said really nice things about Collect All 21! on the GeekMom and GeekDad blogs, respectively.
  • At PAX East in 2010, thanks to the GeekDad crew, I met Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks author Ethan Gilsdorf, who bought a copy of the book on the spot while we were all hanging out, and later provided me with a superlative blurb.
  • CNN interviewed me for a 30th anniversary story about The Empire Strikes Back.
  • Sharing Star Wars memories became kind of a thing: My friend Jonathan Liu sent me an advance copy of Tony Pacitti‘s My Best Friend is a Wookiee (2010), and I wound up meeting Tony at Star Wars Celebration V to exchange books and stories. A couple years later, in 2012, Gib van Ert released A Long Time Ago: Growing Up With And Out Of Star Wars, which I read and enjoyed on the way to Star Wars Celebration VI. And, of course, earlier this year, Fanboys director Kyle Newman (who also encouraged me regarding Collect All 21! in 2010) put together The Return of Return of the Jedi.
  • Geek A Week artist Len Peralta and I recorded a Star Wars and 1980s conversation/podcast.
  • I got invited as a guest to a couple JediCon WV events, which were tons of fun, and got my name on a spectacular poster by Kenner toy photographer Kim Simmons.
  • Hugo Award-winning author and good guy Jim C. Hines read Collect All 21! and blogged about it.
  • Then there was that time in 2012 when the fantastic Renita Jablonski called me and said, “So, we were thinking of doing a piece on the 35th anniversary of Star Wars, and I said ‘I know a guy,'” and we talked on the phone, and then BOOM! I’m driving to work a day or two later, and right there in the middle of National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition” is me. (And five years before that, when Renita was at WKSU, she produced a piece I wrote about not remembering the first time I saw Star Wars, which, again, is pretty much where all this started.)
  • Topless Robot put Collect All 21! on its list of The 10 Greatest Non-Fiction Star Wars Books, which includes the line, “Celebrate the love, yub yub.” Yes!
  • Somehow my book caught the attention of filmmaker Brian Stillman, who visited our house a couple summers back and interviewed me for Plastic Galaxy: The Story of Star Wars Toyswhich should be coming out later this summer.

Crunching some numbers from Lulu and Amazon to figure out about how many copies of Collect All 21! are out there – counting print and electronic versions – I come up with a number somewhere close to 2,500. (I’m always looking to make that number bigger, of course, but hey – that’s not a bad run for a completely independent, word-of-mouth effort.)

I will never be able to say thanks enough for all the encouragement and support from my friends and family and everyone who’s ever bought, borrowed, read, or shared Collect All 21! among fellow Star Wars fans and 1980s-era nostalgia loons (which I can say since I’m one of them).

The Force Will Be With You. Always.

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July 2, 2013 Posted by | 1970s, 1980s, Books, Film, geek, Ohio, science fiction, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Happy birthday, Star Wars: You’re old enough to be president.

Star Wars came out thirty-five years ago today. I drew this not long after seeing it for the first time:

Look Sir, Droids!

Yesterday, I was on a brief but enjoyable segment recorded for NPR’s Morning Edition which was very cool and made me hyper most of the day.

That they mentioned my book about growing up as a Star Wars fan was not only neat, it was also incredibly fitting.  It was just over five years ago that I wrote an essay for Star Wars’ 30th birthday and pitched it to Renita Jablonski at WKSU. That radio piece – about not actually remembering the first time I saw Star Wars – aired five years ago today (and is still archived at WKSU), and that essay was the starting point which led to the writing of Collect All 21! Memoirs of a Star Wars Geek.

Star Wars still comes up from time to time here on Cornfield Meet, of course, and seeing it as a six-year-old in 1977 absolutely set me on the path to loving science fiction and spaceships and shuttle launches and storytelling and so many other things that give me joy.

By some measures, 1977 was a long time ago. But not by all of them.

May 25, 2012 Posted by | 1970s, Film, geek, science fiction | , , , | 1 Comment

NPR! Morning Edition! Star Wars! and ME?!

ZOMG, as the kids say these days: I was on Morning Edition today and they mentioned Collect All 21!

NPR Morning Edition Star Warstwww.

I got to hear this Morning Edition segment live, and the whole minute and thirty-eight seconds, I was just giddy. Steve Inskeep & Renee Montagne – talking Star Wars!

I also love that it sparked a hashtag game: #NPRStarWars.

And coming on the heels of a cool Joey Ramone segment? That’s all bonus points.

May 24, 2012 Posted by | 1970s, 1980s, eighties, Film, geek, Ohio, science fiction | , , , , | 3 Comments

GeekDad post: The Ants Go Marching

I have a post up at GeekDad about a very cool Robert Krulwich NPR piece from earlier this week about an experiment testing to see if ants can count. (For some reason, the video embedding is glitchy, so here’s a link to the National Public Radio story itself, too.)

November 27, 2009 Posted by | Current Affairs, geek, Science | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Seventeen Saturdays: Episode I

Today marks the first of my scheduled 17 consecutive long-run Saturdays.

Seventeen. Not a big number, really. (Heck, it’s already been 12 Saturdays since I started my freelancing career.) Still, for now it remains hard to wrap my head around the notion that I’ll be spending Saturday No. 18 resting and hanging out at JediCon WV, then waking up the next morning and making a go at my first marathon.

So, being Week Number One of the Hal Higdon novice marathoner’s  training plan, six miles were on the calendar for today. I plotted a 6.17-mile loop, loaded some podcasts on my player, and hit the road a little after 7:15 a.m.

I’ve never run with headphones, at least outside: Most of the time I’m on fairly rural, semi-hilly roads and I like to really be aware of what’s going on around me. And even on a treadmill, listening to music can mess with my pacing, so I’ve generally only used it for shorter runs where I’m trying to keep the adrenaline up and running hard.

That said, I’m facing a lot of miles over awfully familiar ground over the next four-plus months, and as gorgeous as I find the place where I live, well, sometimes, as we learn from Wesley in The Princess Bride novel, you’ve got to be able to take your brain away. I had a couple short podcasts my buddy Ivan had emailed me which I hadn’t gotten to yet, so he kept me company for a bit, and then – since I didn’t really plan ahead on this one – I listened to the latest “Car Talk” episode  from NPR.

I only plugged in one earbud, so I could still hear the world around me, but the audio player did make the run seem to go by more quickly. I’m on the lookout for other podcasts and radio shows – the Totally Rad Show‘s usually a fun listen, and there are a ton of classic sci-fi broadcasts of Dimension X and similar shows, which I love – but I also realized I’ve got a chance here to take in quite a few audiobooks (And dammit, will someone tell me why NONE of the three biggest library systems in Northeast Ohio have the Metatropolis CD ?!? Yes, I know the print version comes out next month, but two of the authors live here in Ohio and it’s a Hugo nominee, for the love o’Pete. Sheesh.), which I haven’t done regularly in the better part of a decade.

So, to finish the tale of the pavement: I didn’t really push myself on this run. It’s been a month since I’ve done anything over the five-mile mark, so I took it easy – even all the way through the finish – and wound up averaging about 9:30 per mile, finishing in just under 59-and-a-half minutes.

Sixteen Saturdays to go.

June 13, 2009 Posted by | Books, Fiction, Ohio, running, science fiction, Sports | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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