Tuesday, August 28, 2012

It's Not Your Fault Angela, It's In Their Blood - Episode VI: Return to the Stroller

I promise, Dear Reader, that this will be my last post hi-jacking the blog from Angela.  The next post you see on this site will be from her.
Last we spoke, the boys were enjoying themselves at the Lego Play area of Star Wars Celebration VI.  The main exhibit hall was getting busier and busier, so we decided to head towards the 3rd floor where it looked like there might be some cool things in some of the ball rooms.
As we were heading out we ran into a Boba Fett that Michael recognized instantly, he didn't want to get too close though.

After a rather scary moment of trying to get all 3 boys on the escalator by myself while Angela negotiated with the stroller (thanks to the guys behind me who helped pick up the 2 I dropped) we ran into a familiar face.

Angela and I had been discussing at lunch how we had not gotten a picture with Darth Vader, yet - a good one at least.  I was also surprised by the lack of Chewbaccas, I thought we'd get a lot of those.
As you can see the boys are a bit cautious as I try to push them closer to Darth Vader.
At this point I will mention that the Dark Lord of the Sith was not very helpful here.  I get that he was trying to stay in character, but come on man, you can't at least say hello?  Perhaps give them a high five and pull them in?
God forbid "Mr. I Still Live at Home and Wish I Had Kept My Apple Stock" help out a fellow underachiever with his 3 year old triplets!
 You proud of yourself Lord Vader?

On the flip side, after we left Darth Pain in the Ass, James spotted a storm trooper who was walking away from us.  James took off towards this guy.  He must have chased him for at least a minute.  At one point ,I lost sight of him, but thought to myself, just keep the storm trooper in your sites and you won't lose James.

Sure enough, I was right.  James finally caught the guy as he stopped to get a drink and to take his helmet off.  James ran to him and gave him a hug.  He kind of startled the guy, and I told him that James had been chasing him.  He said, no problem and started talking to James.  He gave him a hug back and told me to get my camera out.  He then said to James, you want to help me hold my blaster?  James said "YES!"


I couldn't thank that dude enough as James was ecstatic and in a much better mood as we walked away.

When we walked in, they handed the kids a hand out that said, For Kids Only!  It was something in the Digital Theater on the 4th floor at 2:30.  No adults allowed unless accompanied by a child 11 years old or under.  We walked up to the theater at about 2:20, got in the back of the line and as we entered we each got some free pop corn.  I told Angela they are probably going to screen a TV show or something.


The creator of the Clone Wars came out and talked about how George Lucas (who was there earlier in the day apparently) had seen this project and told them to show it at Celebration.  They said that was 2 weeks ago.  He then said not to video it as they do not want it to end up on You Tube.  I thought it was going to be a Christmas episode of Clone Wars.

Instead it was an 88 minute movie titled "Young Jedi".  They said that it was meant for families and other than that did not say anything else about it.  Was it planned for a movie?  Was it a TV show and we were watching a few episodes cut into one feature?  That's what it looked like, much like the Clone Wars movie looks like 3 or 4 episodes put into one.  I do have a hard time believing it was just decided to show this 2 weeks ago since it appeared finished.  The animation was great and all the sound effects seemed to be in place.

We watched the first episode where the chick from Clone Wars and Yoda take 6 Young Jedi to create their own Light Sabres.  It was cool and more importantly, the kids dug it.   22 minutes in, the 2nd episode began although there were no cuts or anything to signify that, you could just tell a 2nd story was starting.  This one had the young Jedi being hijacked by Pirates.  I was into it but it was a bit loud and the kids got scared, so we took them out.  I think at home or even in the theater if we can prepare them for it, they will really like it.

What has surprised me is that since we got home, I have found very little, next to nothing in fact, about it on the web.  I did see on theforce.net speculation that it was just going to be an arc on the Clone Wars tv show, but I really don't think so.  I think it's going to be a separate project.  Apparently George Lucas hinted in a panel earlier that day about a project for younger children,  I do believe this what he was talking about.

 As we left the theater we headed out and had to get a couple pictures by what the boys call Robot Dogs.

We had to stop and pick up another free badge for the kids as we were leaving because Angela's a nut and she couldn't live with the fact that James had lost his and wouldn't have one for his scrap book.  As she was getting that done a guy in a black stormtrooper outfit came down a ramp holding on to the hand rail.  As I watched him approach, I thought to myself, there is a guy with some very uncomfortable shoes.  He looked like every step hurt.  I felt bad for the guy, there was hardly anybody around, and even though he was in full gear, it looked like he was in pain.

The boys stopped him, he gave high fives to all of them and apparently said some nice things to them all.  I was across the hall but Angela talked to him and said he was real nice.  She had no idea he looked as if he was really hurting.  As we walked out they all said goodbye to him and he turned around to wave goodbye to the kids.

Ryan has said to me several times since then, I talked to the black stormtrooper, he was cool.  That was a pretty good way to end the day, I wish I had remembered to take my camera out.

We got back to the car and the boys were sound asleep within minutes.  For the most part they slept the entire 2 1/2 hour ride back to Jacksonville.  It's hard to speak for the boss, but I think we were both pretty happy with the results of the day.  When Ryan woke up on Sunday he said to me, "Can we go to Star Wars Convention today?"

Pretty cool, if you ask me.

Monday, August 27, 2012

It's Not Your Fault Angela, It's In Their Blood - Episode V: The Triplets Strike Back

                                    Star Wars Celebration VI


Once again, I'm back, it's Bob to continue the Saga of the Newhouse triplets torturing their mother with science fiction stuff that she could care less about.

Yesterday, I discussed how this obsession began and our ride to Orlando to attend the Star Wars Celebration VI at the Convention Center.  

Today, we will actually enter the show itself!  See, we can make progress after all!

I had done some research prior to the show and figured we needed to hit the Disney booth right away as it seemed to be the busiest.  By the time we navigated the boys through the enormous crowd we discovered that there was no way we were going to be able to get into that booth as it seemed everyone in the county was in that little 80 foot booth.  I also wanted them to do the Carbon Freeze Me thing as the boys love very little more than "I Freeze Han!" followed by an ack!

Well, that fun sounding thing cost $115 per kid, so I decided we will continue to pretend to be frozen without physical proof.  I also started to have a bit of a panic attack at this point.  I was 0 for 2 in what I wanted the boys to do, they weren't very interested in being pulled through all these people and my blood pressure was rising.

Thankfully, R2-D2 rolled by.             

The boys weren't entirely sure what to do with him, but they were certainly intrigued.  When they tried to touch him voices from all over the hall cried out, "Don't Touch Him!"

Without discussing it, Angela and I had decided that we really wanted to cover this event well.  As you can see that we were taking photos from every angle.  We hadn't quite got the system down yet of how to keep the cameramen out of the picture.

Another issue that I had was that I wasn't prepared to try and get the boys to pose while fighting off crowds.  That is why the picture below is just of Darth Vader's crotch.

Shortly after that, we came up on a storm trooper and the boys were officially relaxed as you can see Ryan approaches him to shake his hand.  I'm not sure anyone has ever shaken a stormtroopers hand before. 
Michael followed that up with a hug.

I'm not 100% sure why James felt he needed to get on his knees for this picture but he and Ryan sure are happy.
At this point, my bladder was about to explode.  I hadn't peed since I woke up, and this old man bladder was about to burst.  I got false hope when I saw the restroom sign at one end of the convention center.  I took off that direction and it was nothing but women's restrooms.  At a Star Wars convention?  Really?  A whole wall with nothing but women's bathrooms?  Seems a bit silly to me.

Anyway, while I was there I noticed a few booths with action figures so I decided, the boys will dig this.  When I found them again I began to drag Ryan and James towards the figures.  I do mean drag them, they were not happy to walk away from where they were seeing costume guys.  As I got them to the booth they were immediately mesmerized by $15 to $20 toys, so that worked.  Good work Bob.

So, I decided to move to the next booth which started James on a kicking and screaming fit that I was incredibly proud of.  I mean what father wouldn't be proud of his son acting like a lunatic, attracting child protective services at an event that was meant just for the son.  

Luckily at this booth, they had boxes of used toys that were priced as low as $6.  They were going through the boxes and of course pulled out the ones that had the highest price tags on it and the most parts to lose.  They are my boys after all.

We bought them each a toy, and I swear to you we weren't 5 feet from the booth before the first robot head was lost.

At this point the crowd seemed to thin out a bit and the picture taking spots seemed to have relatively small lines so we decided to start trying to get some pictures.  At first I thought these were booths being manned by people hired to pose for pictures, but it didn't take long to realize that these were just Convention goers who would take 10 to 15 minutes or so to pose in front of these sets with people. 

I kinda felt bad for these guys as we approached since they had to do quite a bit of negotiating and pleading with my kids to get them to pose for pictures.

Once again the boys approach with an attempt at a handshake, they are polite after all.

Well, we kinda got a posed picture.

Hey, look at this, we might actually have a family, posed picture.  That is until you notice that James and Ryan are trying to figure out how to get the hologram started up so they practice taking on the Wookie.

This couldn't possibly be 2 posed pictures in a row could it, well, until you realize Michael this time wants to take off down that hall yelling "It's not my fault the hyperdrive doesn't work!"

Would you believe more negotiating?
Well, camo'd stormtrooper is ready for the picture.
One last try!

Ryan really wanted to ride that bike but it had a do not sit on it sign, so we had to do a quick pose while the next group really wanted to pose in front of the gate.

It's hard to see in these pictures but Michael put on the gas mask thing, they were much more interested in that then posing for pictures.  Ryan didn't want any part of the droid hospital.

The boys climb into a snow speeder.  Yet another example where they could give a crap about the picture, they just wanted to figure out how to get the top shut so they could blow this pop stand.

Ryan got a bit scared and started to crawl into the ship.
I decided to try and help him so we could get a pciture, can you see a little head popping out of the front seat?
Ryan never did get completely into the ship as his leg got caught.

Which of course made him very happy as I came to pull him out right when he got his leg uncaught.

At this point we rolled up on some pretty cool booths with ships and helmets displayed, but we figured out real quick that the boys wanted to try on each and every helmet, so we decided to go eat some lunch.

As we were walking to lunch we passed the autograph area.  I grabbed a program to figure out how the autographs worked.  They had probably 30 different people there signing.  You had to buy autograph tickets for $20 cash.  They had just about everybody you can think of and a whole lot more.  Lots of guys who were in the movies in suits of characters I can barely remember.

The more famous people charged more, I recall that Warwick Davis was $40, Carrie Fisher and Peter Mahew were $60 and I think Anthony Daniels was $100.  I do remember that Mark Hamil was $150.  It doesn't take a genius to figure out we weren't going to do that, but I did want to walk by and just catch a glance of the people who shaped my life.

The majority of them were at tables with very small lines, perhaps 1 or two people at best.  I was fascinated by Jake Lloyd who played Young Boy Annakin as he is known around these parts.  He had 1 person at his table, he seemed nice, he got up and let them take a picture with him which the instructions said not to do.  He's in his early 20's, had a ski cap on and a very young looking goatee thing.

A few tables down was the kid who played Boba Fett in Attack of the Clones.  He's probably the same age as Jake but he's a better looking dude and had some hotties at his table.  I was also fascinated by the guy right next to Jake, I forget his name but I recognized him instantly as Rogue Two!  It was everything I had not to go up to him and say "Echo Base, this is Rogue Two. I've found them. Repeat, I've found them."

The guys who cost more than $20 had their own little pods set up so that gawkers like us couldn't see them.  They had much longer lines of course.  I was able to sneak a peek at Warwick Davis but that was it.  I would have liked to have seen Carrie Fisher, but it might be best I didn't.  From what I can tell from online reports, she was pretty funny all weekend though.

Following an incredibly expensive lunch of Papa John's Pizza, we stumbled upon literally a hundred stormtroopers marching by.   James couldn't have been any happier but unfortunately I was late in getting the camera out.

I'm a pretty big fan of that picture, you have to look at it kind of close but the storm trooper is waving at James.  He dug that.

Next we stumbled on the Lego playground.  I had read about it, but it wasn't where I thought it was, so I felt that maybe it wasn't there on Saturday, but boy was it.  The boys probably could have played here for a very long time.

Here the boys found a skyscraper that had been previously completed.  They decided to make it just a tad bit taller.
Michael is the #1 architect in our house at the moment.  I was scared to death our #1 destroyer in the house, Ryan, would start his Godzilla impression and take out all the creations in the play area, but he refrained.  Whew.

One of the tables had some ships set up, Ryan takes a shot at what some other kid had created.

The boys were a bit puzzled by these things called Pods.  Ryan tries to steal some tips from the kid next to him.
Time for James to join in and see what he can figure out about these Pod things.

Alright, that's it for today, come back tomorrow for the conclusion of our trip to nerdville as Angela calls it.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

It's Not Your Fault Angela, It's In Their Blood - Episode IV: New Hopes

Is there a better opening phrase ever?  I mean, seriously, every time I see that blue writing on the black screen I get chills.  It's very cool.

Oh, I guess I should stop things for a second in case you haven't figured it out yet, but this is Bob, not Angela today.  Many moons ago we both used to post here, but pretty much since the boys came home from the hospital, it's been exclusively Angela.

So, I apologize to those of you who prefer to hear from her, but I felt this post had to be done by me just so the facts are straight as she is a bit "uneducated" in the ways of the Force.

Basically the main difference in blogs from  Angela vs ones I do, mine have tons of set up and tend to be a lot more wordy and not written near as well.  So, buckle up because now I get to show you what I mean.

A month or so ago Angela asked me, "This whole Star Wars thing will pass, right?  Just like Yo Gabba Gabba and Sid the Science Kid?"  I looked at her and smiled and said, "I'm almost 42 and it has yet to pass".

She said, "Oh, God."

Star Wars entered my life in the spring of 1977, I was 6 years old.  My dad brought home the Story of Star Wars LP, and I had that thing memorized by the time they finally got off their rears and took us to see it at the drive in.  I was reciting the dialog back to my parents and I had never seen the flick.  I remember even though I knew the story thinking, wow, so that's what a flying ship looks like?

Next came collecting the action figures and trading cards and this kid was hooked.  I spent a lot of quality time with my action figures growing up.  Don't ask about what Princess Leia did behind the closed door of my room.  Let's just say, she didn't discriminate and she got around.  Wookies, Droids, whatever it was I seemed to have at the ready.

When the Prequels were released starting in 1999, I was coming up on 30 years old, but I was still silly excited.  I even went and bought the first round of action figures for the Phantom Menace with my buddy Marc the Cop.   They were never taken out of the packaging until recently.  They've become great incentives for the boys when they poop on the potty.  Just yesterday, we were able to give one to James for the first time, he chose Jar Jar Binks as Ryan and Michael had already claimed, Mace Windu, Young Boy Annakin, Darth Maul and Jango Fett.

 As the boys turned 2 and started watching movies a little more, I'd get frustrated watching the same 4 movies over and over and over again.  So, I decided it was time to introduce them to a little Star Wars, but I didn't think they'd sit through the films as they hadn't watched any live action stuff at that point.  I asked for The Clone Wars cartoon movie for Christmas but had never seen it.  Uncle Joseph got it for us and we sat down to watch not long after.

I wasn't a big fan, but the boys sure did like it.  It was a bit violent, ok, a lot violent.  Angela is a lot more sensitive to that than I am, but I was the one who said, I'm not sure this is good for the boys.  They did like to watch it though, so we decided to start introducing them to the movies.  We introduced about 1 a month starting with the Original 3 and then moving to the prequels.

Ryan is the most vocal of the crew as he works really hard to know who everybody is as we are constantly doing pop quizzes.  Ryan - "Whose that?"  Daddy "I don't know, you tell me".  Ryan "Uhm, Chewbacca!" he says with a huge smile.

James and Michael don't talk near as much about Star Wars as Ryan does but they sure do pay attention.  Michael gets scared a bit from time to time, but there isn't too much that makes James happier than "Stormtroopers, Daddy!"

Angela would prefer the boys watch other things than Star Wars, but I'm ok with it because currently we have 5 movies in the rotation, to me, that's a whole lot better than Finding Nemo for the 442nd time this week.  Although I do have to admit, I really have a hard time with Phantom Menace, but the boys dig the tar out the Pod race scene and Darth Maul, they get really excited.  The first hour of Attack of the Clones is near excruciating as well, but the film ends well and it has Jango Fett in it, whom they all love.

About three months ago I sent something I found on the web to Angela, it was a complete joke.  I send her stuff all the time saying, we should go to that.  I never once expect her to say, yeah, we should go.  She completely surprised me when looking at the information on Star Wars Celebration VI in Orlando she said, we should go, the boys will enjoy that.

I kept saying, no, they are too young.

As recently as 5 days ago I told her, we aren't going, we can't afford it and the boys are too young.  Then she bought the tickets and the next thing I knew we were telling the boys about it and they started to get excited.

At that point I got in the mood and started searching the web when the show opened on Thursday to get an idea of what we had coming our way.  It looked like we'd have lots of photo opportunities and that Angela would probably have a coronary.

She gets very uptight in public as the boys sometimes aren't being the best rule followers.  I tend to give them a little more rope than she does and that leads to some tense moments in front of strangers from time to time.  I was a bit nervous about how she'd do in what looked like would be a pretty large crowd.

I woke everyone up at 6:30 AM on Saturday, had everybody in the car at 7:30 and off to Orlando we went.  Things didn't start well as Ryan was upset from the get go.  About 5 minutes from the house I thought to myself, maybe we should turn around because this could be miserable.

Angela eventually got him to calm down, and shortly after 10, we arrived in the parking lot at the Convention Center.  The boys were excited and as we rode the parking lot shuttle, we'd see the occasional Boba Fett walk by and they'd get really wound up.  James was more excited by the passing cars and the fact that he wasn't strapped in on a moving vehicle.  He really wanted to stand up and go "whoa, whoa, whoa" as the bus moved down the street.

It took us a bit to walk from the bus to where the tickets were as we made a wrong turn or 4 and the boys were getting a bit anxious.    At that point we found this gathering of Fett's and something I didn't anticipate happening happened:  Ryan got scared.  My biggest Star Wars fan, the guy who is always talking about Boba and Jango Fett.  The kid who pops Michael in the head every time he misidentifies a Fett was surrounded by them, and he totally froze up.

I'm not exactly sure what Fett's these were and I'm going to say that's why Ryan wouldn't go near them.  Apparently we don't watch enough Clone Wars or something, and he just didn't want to recognize a Fett that wasn't Boba or Jango.

The guys were really nice and for some reason I was surprised when they spoke.  They had headsets on and the sound was really good, perhaps they had a Bose speaker system hidden in that helmet, I'm not sure.  One of them gave James a blaster to start and he was in heaven.

 This was the closest we were able to get Ryan to them, he wouldn't budge any closer.

James sure looks happy though, don't he?
Ryan seems very confused by the Pink R2 unit but at least he approached it.

At this point of the story I believe dear reader you are saying to yourself, they aren't even in the convention yet?  'Tis true, we are not, so why don't we stop here for today and in the next day or so I'll come back with another part of the story.