Sept. 25, 2006

Everyone Loves a Parade, and Wookiees!

As part of my job for Lucasfilm, I'm sometimes sent to cover important events as a reporter for starwars.com. My first trip one month into the gig was covering ILM competing in the Movie Edition of the TV show "Junkyard Wars." I met my friend Grant Imahara (now with "MythBusters") who at the time was one of the few people besides Don Bies who knew how to operate R2-D2. I also met Mark Anderson who recently brought over the ILM model shop to his own company -- Kerner Optical.

And of course, I've gone to Comic-Con every year and Celebration III and the usual Lucasfilm events. So when my boss asked me to head out last minute to Pasadena to watch George Lucas accept the coveted role as Grand Marshal for the 2007 Rose Parade, how could I refuse?

I mean, I'm no football fan, but that Parade is a tradition. I used to get up at the crack of dawn with my little brother and turn on the TV to watch the pre-parade coverage, and then the parade and then the parade again as I filled up on Sugar Smacks. My brother and I would cast our ever-changing votes on our favorite floats. One year after watching a pre-parade show about how float designers would tirelessly attach flower after flower to their creations, I went outside and beheaded my mom's entire flower garden and try to attach them all to my dad's truck with a gluestick. Not the smartest move by a 7 year old.

So I hopped on a plane to the Burbank Airport (where I sit now) and headed over to the Pasadena Sheraton. I met some of my coworkers as well as Mike and Mikey, the actors who played Chewbacca and Wicket respectively for the recent Star Wars Road Trip. They had great stories to tell of their cross-country trip dressed as two of the most beloved characters of the saga. Plus they're funny as all get out.

The next day, we headed over to the Tournament of Roses headquarters. For some reason, I figured it would be a total zoo of media, but luckily it wasn't too crazy and I was allowed to hang out for the quaint one-on-one interview with George Lucas who was more than happy to chat about his upcoming role as the Rose Parade Grand Marshal. He had plenty of fond memories growing up seeing the parade, as well as his first trip to see it when he was 10 years old. Though I don't think he ever tried to make his own float from his dad's truck.

However, now he gets to have not one but TWO Star Wars floats in the Rose Parade complete with a stellar marching band and one of the largest gatherings of the 501st ever attempted.

After the interview, I sat with the local, national and international media as we awaited the announcement presentation. Of course, none of the media knew who it would be. We kept Chewie, Wicket and George in another room as a surprise.

I sat next to some veteran reporters from the Pasadena newspaper. One of the reporters was a society columnist -- who definitely fit the part. She was a grand dame dressed to the nines complete with a lace parasol who could probably give Hedda Hopper a run for her money. The other reporter had worked for the newspaper for over 33 years and was the editor. But before retirement she wanted to work as a reporter for fun. When all the other journalists pressed play on their MP3 recorders, she was ready with her Steno pad and pencil which made me love her even more!

When the two ladies asked which newspaper I was with I said I was with the Grand Marshal and couldn't tell them anything else, which made them scoot a little closer. They eyed me like Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson trying to decipher any clues from my clothes to figure out who the heck I was with. Half of their guesses listed people I had no idea were still alive. As the president of the Tournament of Roses began to speak, giving clues with George's background, the minute he hinted about Indiana Jones, the old-school reporter got giddy and the society columnist said, "God help me if it's Harrison Ford! I wore the completely wrong lipstick color!"

But luckily, Chewie in all his tall, hairy splendor came on stage and interrupted the president's speech with a roar and everyone gasped and applauded. George Lucas followed shortly after with a big thank you for the honor. A confetti bomb went off and the Star Wars theme blared, making it quite the event to behold.

One thing I have to say, after working at Lucasfilm now for awhile, is that I never get tired of seeing people freak out when they see Chewbacca. Seriously, people lose it like he's one of the Beatles. Girls get love-struck, guys want to hi-five him and kids go absolutely nuts. Backstage after the event, every single person on staff wanted a photo with Chewie, or at least a hug. And to Mike's credit, he gave them one. Considering the hot Pasadena sun, this was quite the ordeal. I can't image what being in a Wookiee or Ewok costume must feel like in the noon sun. But the two of them did it and everyone, including George, seemed impressed.

It was a fun trip and I took some fun photos, so if you don't see them all in the story I wrote, look closely in future Photo Caption Contests and you may spot Chewie surrounded by the ladies of Pasadena.

To read the full story, go here: George Lucas Announced as Rose Parade Grand Marshal.

Sept. 10, 2006

You Can Draw: Star Wars Book

My new book You Can Draw: Star Wars is coming out this winter, and I thought some of you who are artists and Star Wars fans might want a sneak peek.

Basically the book is broken down into easy-to-read sections that cover everything you need to know about drawing characters and vehicles from start to finish. There's step-by-step instructions, trace overlays, foldout pages and stencils. I explain penciling, inking and coloring techniques professional comic book artists use, as well as handy tips on how to make your own comic book!

Illustrated by Star Wars artists Matt Busch and Tom Hodges (who both did an AMAZING job), You Can Draw: Star Wars has something for all fans and art students alike. The book features tutorials on how to draw major characters including Han Solo, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker, Darth Maul, Darth Vader, PadmÄ Amidala, Princess Leia, Emperor Palpatine, Yoda, Jabba the Hutt, C-3PO and R2-D2 -- just to name a few. Other more obscure droids, characters and creatures such as Gonk the Power Droid, Bib Fortuna, the Sarlacc, Watto and Tion Medon are also included.

For fans more interested in vehicles and starships, the book also offers tips on how to draw the Millennium Falcon, Slave I, X-wings, TIE fighters, Podracers and more. Various weapons from blasters to lightsabers are also highlighted. While the book focuses primarily on traditional drawing techniques, fans can also learn about Manga and other popular comic-book illustration styles.

For a look at more inside pages, click here.

To pre-order the book, here's the Amazon info.

Sept. 3, 2006

Sing Journey like a Wookiee

When I first ran across the Wookiee Translator -- brought to my attention by the lovely ladies at Club Jade -- I couldn't help but use it. For everything. In fact, my grocery list currently looks like Chewie wrote it and I seriously doubt I'll ever remember what I was suppose to get. Was rrrcrawhooanra supposed to be granola or Cheerios?

Anyway, as I passed the translator around the office via email, I figured most people would get a chuckle then delete it. But some of my Lucas Online officemates went a step further and for that I salute them. The best example was from my pal Dennis VonGalle who mixed the two things I love the most -- Wookiee roars and Journey ballads!

Journey's "Don't Stop Believin" in Wookiee:

shhucao ra cscraanan aoooohwh rrahrcan, anahhoahwh ahwh ra anoowhwoanro ohoorcanwa
cacwo aoooooor aoacwo scahwawhahrracao aorcraahwh rrooahwh rawhroohacworcwo
shhucao ra oaahaoro rhooro, rhoorcwh rawhwa rcraahcwowa ahwh coohuaoac wawoaorcooahao
acwo aoooooor aoacwo scahwawhahrracao aorcraahwh rrooahwh rawhroohacworcwo

ra cahwhrrworc ahwh ra cscooorworo rcoooosc
ra cscwoanan ooww ohahwhwo rawhwa oaacworaak akworcwwhuscwo
wwoorc ra cscahanwo aoacworo oarawh cacrarcwo aoacwo whahrracao
ahao rroowoc oowh rawhwa oowh rawhwa oowh rawhwa oowh

caorcrawhrrworcc ohraahaoahwhrr, huak rawhwa waooohwh aoacwo rhoohuanwohorarcwa
aoacwoahrc cacrawaooohc cworarcoaacahwhrr ahwh aoacwo whahrracao
caorcwowoaoanahrracao akwoooakanwo, anahhoahwhrr shhucao aooo wwahwhwa woscooaoahoowh
acahwaahwhrr, cooscwoohacworcwo ahwh aoacwo whahrracao

ohoorcorahwhrr acrarcwa aooo rrwoao scro wwahanan,
wohoworcrorhoowaro ohrawhaoc ra aoacrcahanan
akraroahwh rawhroaoacahwhrr aooo rcooanan aoacwo waahoawo,
shhucao oowhwo scoorcwo aoahscwo
cooscwo ohahanan ohahwh, cooscwo ohahanan anoocwo
cooscwo ohworcwo rhoorcwh aooo cahwhrr aoacwo rhanhuwoc
ooac, aoacwo scoohoahwo whwohoworc wowhwac
ahao rroowoc oowh rawhwa oowh rawhwa oowh rawhwa oowh

waoowhao caoooak rhwoanahwohoahwh
acooanwa oowh aooo aoacwo wwwowoanahwh
caorcwowoaoanahrracao akwoooakanwo


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