Star Wars-ing: My Love of Star Wars

“Only at the end do you realize the power of the Dark Side.”

I was not always a Star Wars nut. I did not grow up with the toys, movies, quotes, lunch kits, bed sheets, and so forth. In fact, I vividly remember owning only one Star Wars book, a picture book about The Return of the Jedi. I was sitting in my living room, probably around 8 years of age, and trying to match up the book with the movie…only, the movie I was watching was Spaceballs, not The Return of the Jedi. I had no idea what was wrong with this scenario, I just remember reading about Jabba the Hutt and wondering why he was called Pizza the Hutt in the movie. Like I said, not the biggest Star Wars fan.

Then I met one of my very best friends, Michael, in high school. Michael was not just a casually obsessed Star Wars fan, oh no, it went much further than that. It was like George Lucas threw up in his bedroom, which I mean in the best way possible. Between the action figures hanging on the wall, the displays, the hand painted (hand painted) mural on his wall…it was intense. And because I liked (maybe even like liked, I mean, I was 15) Michael, I watched the movies. And listened to his thoughts, theories, incessant droning about them. And eventually, I started to realize…these movies were freaking AWESOME. It battles, the dialogue, the mind-blowing moment when Vader said, “No. I am your father,” what’s not to love?! It wasn’t long before we got my two little sisters into the movies as well. The power of the Dark Side was definitely at work.

Shaak Ti (Dina), Jedi (me), Padmé (Cara) at Star Wars Celebration V in Orlando

Shaak Ti (Dina), Jedi (me), Padmé (Cara) at Star Wars Celebration V in Orlando.

When the prequels were announced, we were ecstatic. Now, I know its fashionable to talk down about the prequels…but remember that podracing scene? The arena scene in the The Battle of Geonosis? When Yoda force grabbed that lightsaber and fought Count Dooku LIKE A BOSS? Dude, the entire theater erupted in applause. Execute Order 66? I shivered. Say what you want about the prequels, but to me, even with their imperfections, they still encompass the spirit of Star Wars. Throw in a little Ewan McGregor, and you’re all set. I saw the midnight premiere for all three of them. In fact, I was in college at Southeastern Louisiana University for The Attack of the Clones premiere and of course, it premiered over my exams weeks. I went to Elmwood in Harahan that Wednesday night to watch the midnight premiere, came back to Southeastern (an hour away), studied for my 8am and 10:15am exam the rest of the night, and aced them. Now that’s dedication.

Fast forward to May 2007, Los Angeles, and Celebration IV. My whole family went, including my two sisters, their two significant others, my mom, and Michael (who’s like my brother now). CIV was my first Star Wars Celebration and it was amazing. It was the first time I met almost any of the stars (besides a Star Wars Weekend in 2001, where Michael and I met the original Uncle Owen, Phil Brown), and it was fabulous. The panels, the props, the autographs, the random celebrity sightings (I shopped right next to Seth Green at a toy exhibitor’s booth)…in my opinion, no other Celebration has come close to the awesomeness of CIV.

It's A Trap! Meeting Tim Rose aka Admiral Akbar at Star Wars Celebration IV in Los Angeles.

It’s A Trap! Meeting Tim Rose aka Admiral Akbar at Star Wars Celebration IV in Los Angeles. Dina, Brent, Tim Rose, Michael, myself

Celebration V and Celebration VI took place in Orlando, which was perfect. Michael and my sister Dina live there, so free rooms = more money to spend on Star Wars stuff. The Last Tour to Endor during CV was so incredibly fun. My sister dressed as the Jedi Shaak Ti, and let me tell you, I realized first hand what it’s like to be with a celebrity. At some points, there were lines forming to get a picture with her. She did an incredible job and the next year at CVI, my two sisters and I dressed as Nightsisters from The Clone Wars television show (which I watched religiously). Though we are not by any means professional cosplayers, we all love to dress up, and we had a great experience, even meeting a Count Dooku, Asajj Ventress, and Mother Talzin to take pictures with.

Star Wars Celebration V in Orlando

Star Wars Celebration V in Orlando.

Creating a scene with Dina as Shaak Ti at Last Tour to Endor in Disney World

Recreating a scene with Dina as Shaak Ti at Last Tour to Endor in Disney World.

Last Tour to Endor at Disney World. Jedi Mickey!

Last Tour to Endor at Disney World. Jedi Mickey!

My sisters and I dressed as Nightsisters from The Clone Wars at Star Wars Celebration VI in Orlando

My sisters and I dressed as Nightsisters from The Clone Wars at Star Wars Celebration VI in Orlando. Dina, myself, Cara

Celebration Anaheim (they sadly did away with the numbers this time around, but it should’ve been CVII) brought Michael and I back to California, and this time Kurt and Michael’s brother David came (Kurt and I were not romantically involved in 2007, much to his sadness, I’m sure), with a special appearance by my brother-in-law, Darin, who went to CIV and the Orlando Celebrations as well (my sister, Cara, is way too pregnant to fly across the country and Darin was luckily in California for work). So while we were missing most of our usual crew, we still had a blast. Anaheim is a fun, friendly community and though we seemed to spend most of our time getting autographs from the celebrities (I started a new Star Wars poster, because, why not?), we still found time to see cool things and immerse ourselves in the Star Wars universe. And that’s what these Celebrations are all about: making friendships with a group of likeminded people who all geek out on the same thing you do. In my next post, I will detail the geek-out-i-ness that took place…coming May the 4th. And if you don’t know why I picked that date, why, you’re just a stuck up, half-witted, scruffy-looking Nerf herder.

Star Wars Celebration Anaheim

Star Wars Celebration Anaheim, I’m ready for you!

NOLA-ing: Animal Business at the Audubon Zoo

Summer heat in New Orleans is down right oppressive.  It is almost cruel to have to go outside. God bless those that have to work outside in the summer time.  The humidity talks most of us out of doing things during the middle of the day.  This is why I love the period from mid-October to mid-April.  Sure, winter can have a biting cold but there is just as much of a chance of that happening as there is of having a day in the high 60s-low70s.  And on those days, the Audubon Zoo is the place to be.

At the zoo during this time, they just might ask or inquire about you.  Yes, I just threw that joke out there. But seriously, the animals like to be outside at this time.  We have all been to the zoo when it is too warm and the animals are hiding in the shade.  Who can blame them!  We took advantage of one of those days and had a great time.  Plenty of opportunities for good pictures and plenty of smiles all around.

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Speaking of animal fun, this weekend at the Fair Grounds there will be ostrich and zebra racing.  That’s not a misprint.