Category Archives: My Best Friend Is A Wookiee

Work Update, or: I swear I’m not JUST watching TV

So after months of the rare blog about video games or doodles of guys eating hamburgers made from a machine powered by his own poop I show up here with two consecutive weeks of posts about TV. Though Netflix truly is the water to productivity’s fire (shitloads of John Carpenter stuff on instant watch drooooool…) I swear I’ve been actually busy.

With my doodle post–not a post of my doodle, pervs!–I dropped a hint about a new project. At the time I was forcing myself to take it slow and work out a rough outline, something that I was able to hammer out quickly with My Best Friend is a Wookiee. Not that I didn’t take it seriously, it’s just, you know…memoir. The outline was there already, the tricky part was working out how to take those memories and work them into a story that flowed nicely over the course of nearly twenty years which I sort of did as I went. But I’m not writing a memoir this time, or even non-fiction.

This is my first serious crack at fiction and the prospects that come with that are both exciting and terrifying. On the one hand I have free reign, within the context of the world I’m creating, to do whatever the eff I want! On the flip side is the daunting, overwhelming sense of not knowing what the eff to do! I was eager to start writing but kept wanting to put it off until I had worked out some sort of concrete guideline. Knowing myself too well, I knew that without an proper outline I would come charging out of the gate only to find myself written into a dead end, get frustrated and put the whole project on the back burner, which is now so cluttered that it’s choked out any actual burning. It’s really more of a back heap now.

So I gave myself a deadline. I gave myself until June 1 to work out an outline I was happy with and on May 30–I jumped the gun JUST a little–I stared writing. Progress has been going slow but steady. Something always manages to come up but I’m working through that. I find myself making fewer and fewer excuses to not sit down and bust out 2000 words–my goal for any time I commit to the desk. When I’m in the zone I can’t be distracted. When I’m not in the zone I check Facebook, Twitter and The AV Club every five minutes. But I’m getting there, slowly but surely.

Right now I’m at 34,655 words and have just started chapter 13 out of 29. My Best Friend is a Wookiee was around 60,000 words and had 20 chapters. Comparing the two doesn’t mean much. They will be apples and oranges when this new project is done. That figure is really more of a personal motivator. I’m shooting for at least 80k and if progress so far has been any indication I’m on the right track.

Notes

I’ve been taking a lot of notes for a new project lately and, as always, I quickly found myself spending half of that time doodling in my notebook. I’ve always done that, and for the most part the sketches I end up with represent what I’m working on. For example…

A self portrait while working on My Best Friend is a Wookiee

Notes from editing ...Wookiee

Sketch for the "hanging out with stoners" chapter of ...Wookiee

For my current project I’ve been sketching out ideas for what some of the characters, things and places in my head might look like…

If the Disney villain Pete and Carl from Aqua Teen had a baby you'd get this guy

???

?!

While I find a lot of this helpful in terms of working out some visual ideas, sometimes I go completely off the rail and just do something stupid like sketch a guy pooping into a funnel that feeds a machine that makes hamburgers which are in turn fed directly into that guy’s mouth via conveyor belt like some sort of fast food commentary ouroboros.

From a man who loves fast food...

And of course sometimes there is no rhyme or reason, though I’m sure a shrink would have plenty to say about it…

This speaks for itself, really...

Just checking in…

So as always here in blogland I set myself up to do something only to completely not do it at as soon as it starts. I have been severely neglecting my experiment with sitting Sondra down with the saga and it wasn’t until seeing this review that I actually felt bad about it. To be fair, I’ve been busy. Also, we did watch all of the movies and her reactions to them were at times surprising but on the whole what I was hoping for. I even surprised myself at one point. I’ll get to all that soon(ish). I haven’t forgotten about you, The Girlfriend Experience, I’ve just been busy running around. I’m actually hoping to maybe have part II up within the week. Stay tuned!

As for all of this running around, it’s been exhausting. The book tour is on its back half, with stops in Brooklyn, Philly and a return to UMass Dartmouth lined up. I’m also doing a Mortified show in Cambridge the first weekend of November, which, if you’ve never been, you owe it to yourself to check it out. Tickets tend to go fast, so you best act fast!

In other news, I decided to try my hand at NaNoWriMo, which is probably the dumbest thing I could do right now. Why my knee jerk response to being busy is to throw more shit on my plate is beyond me, but for those of you who don’t know, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. It happens every November and basically you sign up and from November 1-30 try to hit 50,000 words. The cool thing is it’s all about quantity, not quality. I’m basically approaching this as an excuse to get one big idea I’ve been mulling over onto paper then, when I have some real time to give to it, see if there’s anything there worth more than a month’s time. We’ll see…

So anyway, expect the next installment of The Girlfriend Experience soon. And as always, check in on wookiee.adamsmedia.com every once in a while for My Best Friend is a Wookiee updates. I hope you’re enjoying the book, folks who are reading it!

MTFBWY

-T

Celebration V recap!: or, Didn’t You Go to Some Star Wars con, like, a month ago?!

First the second part: No, I went to Comic Con International a month ago, DUH! I went to Star Wars Celebration V, like, a WEEK a go. So there!

Now the first bit. Recap! Why the hell has it taken me a whole week to get to writing about the closest thing to a religious experience (slight overstatement? you decide!) I will ever…uh…experience…

Well, the answer’s not a flattering one. I’m lazy. Pure and simple. Plus I felt no overwhelming rush since there’s lots of information about CV out there AND I was pretty consistently posting photos over the course of the four days. Yes, that’s right, if you or someone you love is unfortunate enough to follow me on twitter or are fans of My Best Friend is a Wookiee on Facebook then you were bombarded by photos at a rate usually reserved for tweenaged girls who stumble across a Jonas Brothers look-a-like bikini charity car wash.

But those photos cold have been faked! I could have just stolen other people’s memories of celebrating Star Wars and called them my own, even going as far as the photoshop myself in some of them! Just who the hell do I think I am?! I think I’m a swag hound whose idea of self restrain when it comes to buying Star Wars merch still proves to be more than I should have spent. I wore a Rebel flight suit, in public, despite it not being up to Rebel Legion par. I had the audacity to tell some dude who asked me for a cigarette in a parking lot that, despite his claims, he wasn’t Boba Fett only to find out that he was, in fact Daniel Logan, the actor who portrayed him in Episode II and The Clone Wars and I lived to tell the tale–no disintegration!

Moments before I pissed in this guy's gas tank...

The first day was a relative breeze. I wandered aimlessly, figured out where everything was and, most importantly, I spent all of my money on toys right off the bat. I figured it would be best to just get it out of my system early so that I could enjoy the panels and events unburdened by the fear that the last vintage-packaged Zuckuss and 4-Lom could be swept out from under me while I was listening to Ben Burtt discuss how he used an old audio clip of John Wayne for Garindan‘s voice.

Not Shown: IG-88 coffee mug, kick ass signed Ralph McQuarrie print and Princess Leia "hair bun" earmuffs.

I was also, for the first time ever, wearing a Star Wars costume. Growing up I was terrified of dressing up in costume outside of Halloween because I assumed it was a giant, self-imposed “Kick Me” sign. My costume, that of a Rebel X-Wing pilot, looked great. A lot of the thanks goes to my wonderful girlfriend, who upon realizing she’d have to make me nerdy costumes at a pretty early stage in our relationship,  decided not to run far, far away to the welcoming arms of some non-geek.

...So of course when I find the guy someone wants to get our picture! It took a lot for us not to kill one another. Clearly we were thinking of the children.

The next two days consisted of lots of panels. Ben Burtt gave a great talk about the origins of some classic Star Wars sound effects and the process by which he turned animal roars and the sounds of twanging tension wires into Wookiees and lightsabers. LucasArts had some awesome gameplay footage and cutscenes from The Force Unleashed II, then a hands on demo running on the show floor. It was still very much a pre-final demo, but it already feels a lot more intuitive than the original. Throw in a couple of very God of War inspired elements and I for one was pretty pleased with it.

The Clone Wars had a great showing, and it was a blast watching Supervising Director Dave Filoni squirm while trying his hardest to answer the questions of adorable young Star Wars fans while still maintaining his producer-mandated veil of secrecy. We did see the reveal of Darth Maul’s brother (zuh?), the Clone Wars debut of Delta Squad and the vague admission that we will see a connection to the classic trilogy.

I also got to meet fellow author and Star Wars nut, John Booth, whose Collect All 21! I wrote about in my last post. We only spoke for a few minutes, but he was a super nice guy. We have a lot in common, John and I, everything from our love of these films to our mutual, though short-lived jealousy over the other’s book. Back when I was writing My best Friend is a Wookiee (then under any number of working titles, from Fear and Loathing in Mos Eisley to You Don’t Ob-Wan Ke-know-me) I somehow came across John’s book. My immediate response was “Fuck! Someone beat me to it!” then I clicked out of the page, erased my browser’s history and shot crystal meth into my eyeballs until I forgot I ever discovered it. When I met John he confessed to initially feeling like I had written his book. Of course after we both sat down with them we realized that while our obsessions were mutual and our experiences similar, we were both of two very different ages of fandom and as such we learned from one another as opposed to having to throw down and battle each other to the replica-death with replica-lightsabers. I said it in my last post, but I’ll say it again, Collect All 21! was a lot of fun, and any fan should do themselves the service of giving it a read.

Of course the big reveal of the weekend was during Jon Stewart’s interview with George Lucas that the whole saga will be hitting Blu-Ray next year. No indication that the pre-special editions will be on the set, but at this point that’s a battle we fans should probably just throw the towel in on. Plus I really don’t know how much I want to see the old Vaseline blob job in high-definition. And for me, now, the prospect of getting deleted scenes from episodes IV, V and VI make up for it.

By the end of the third day I was pretty much wiped. After three days of soaking in all things Star Wars I was physically and mentally exhausted. I’m bummed that I missed out on Gary Kurtz talking about his role in the original trilogy and a Return of the Jedi that might have been, but the LA Times did a great piece with him here.

The highlight of my trip, however, was getting to give a copy of the book to Carrie Fisher. On the last day of the event I was just sort of wandering through the exhibit hall. There weren’t any panels left that i wanted to catch before I had to leave for the airport, so I just took it all in one last time. It was then, when I least expected it, that Princess Leia walked by, arm in arm with some dude, on the convention floor. She walked right. by. me. As if on autopilot I started to follow her. It felt like I was floating through some weird daydream, but I was quickly snapped out of it by the whispering masses.

“Oh my god…”

“Look who it is!”

“It’s her! I can’t believe it’s here!”

Realizing that the poor woman was about to get bum rushed I quickly slid up alongside her.

“Excuse me, Carrie?” Carrie?! Who the fuck am I to call her that!

“Yes?”

“Hi! IwrotethisbookandI’dbehonoredifyoutookacopy!”

“…Okay…?”

I handed her the book, thanked her and split. Fuckin’ ran away! Part of it was because I couldn’t believe I addressed her by her first name like we went way back or something. (We do go way back, she just doesn’t know it. Also, when I say we go way back I mean me and the image of her in her metal slave bikini on the cover of my Return of the Jedi VHS “go way back”). The other part of it was because I half expected George Lucas’ goon squad to crack down on me hard for disturbing her worshipleness.

And so on that note I went back to my hotel, the swankiest of the swank EconoLodge and waited impatiently to get on a plane that would take me away from this temporary holy land. I’m already looking forward to Celebration VI. With any luck it will be anywhere other than Orlando in August.

Collect all 21!

Love it or hate it, Star Wars was the grandpappy of a lot of things–modern special effects, the blockbuster as we now know it and, most important for this particular discussion, the atomic shockwave of tie-in merchandise. There are three school of thought on the merchandising aspect of films:

1) Those who were around before Star Wars and think it’s obnoxious

2) Those, like myself, who were born long enough after Star Wars that it has become totally commonplace and therefore barely noticable

3) Those who, like author John Booth, were there when it started and have a special fondness and appreciation for it all that neither of the other groups can quite relate to

In his memoir Collect all 21!: Memoirs of a Star Wars Geek, Booth recounts the six year span during which the original Star Wars trilogy was released from the point of view of a wide-eyed kid with an insatiable hunger for Star Wars “guys.” As a kid who grew up swimming upstream against wave after wave of new toy crazes–basically anything with an animated series and a cool new weapon–I had never really considered that all of it had to have started somewhere.

John speaks of  creating his own logic and fantasies with his Star Wars guys–when or why, outside of a kid’s playroom, would Darth Vader ever tool around in Luke’s landspeeder?–spoofing the films by overdubbing a read-along storybook cassette, and the fledgling days of the expanded universe. A lot of this stuff was strangely–or maybe not so strangely–similar to my own experiences with Star Wars as a kid. I too had to think up some bizarre back story as to why C-3PO would be flying a TIE Fighter because for a few months they were the only toys I had from the Power of the Force line. Like Booth, I was sequestered in the outfield when I played little league because that’s where guys like I us did the least amount of damage to our team. And, like Booth and his pals, I too dabbled in a bit of Star Wars parody.

What I found most interesting–and where both of our books really differed–was that when John hit that age where he started to outgrow Star Wars, there weren’t any new ones coming along. He was twelve when Jedi came out and considers himself lucky to get the “last” Star Wars movie before he was too old. I was twelve when the Special Editions were released and it was then that I started to question certain things. Having to deal with the prequels while simultaneously coping with puberty, high school and early adulthood certainly, in my personal opinion, are why I think I have/had such an adverse reaction to the new trilogy in the first place. I was stuck between the rock of my childhood and the hard place of growing up. John didn’t get the prequels until he had moved beyond all that awkward growing up stuff and had a child of his own. While he recognized the flaws, he was able to share the new movies with a kid who wasn’t burdened by thirty years of lore, unattainable expectations and the rose colored, though often hazy glasses of nostalgia.

What I took away from this book is the feeling that, with my own book, I had in fact tapped into something universal which had been my hope all along. John and I are Star Wars fans from two distinctly different eras of fandom, yet our experiences are quite similar. It tells me that, as I had long assumed, Star Wars speaks across generations. It’s seemingly never-ending shelf life sort of already made that obvious, but it was refreshing to learn that from another fan’s true life story as opposed to a Lucasfilm exec.

Don’t stop here, this is Batman country…

As the sun comes up over Charlotte I’m left wondering how I could have better spent my time at Comic Con and why I didn’t try to get a flight that didn’t have a four hour layover in Charlotte. My trip to San Diego, which was a whirlwind 36 hours of the world’s biggest annual comic book/movie/video game crossover come to life, was over before it even started. Upon setting foot in the convention center I was instantly in Oz territory. The stuff of fantasy was literally just walking around, posing for photos and pushing it’s latest product, and all I could do was stare, jaw slung slack like the first-comer rube I was. It was too much to take in. It was the greatest two days of aimless meandering I’ve ever had.

Though I have more than a few regrets about how poorly I budgeted my time, I couldn’t dream of calling the trip a let down. After all, I wasn’t just there to take in all the pulpy goodness. I was there to work. And work I did. While I shuffled like the brainless horde from AMC’s upcoming The Walking Dead (which believe me, had an awesome booth I’m now realizing I didn’t get a picture of!) I handed out some early copies of My Best Friend is a Wookiee. Convention goers, I found, seemed a bit hesitant about receiving freebies when you aren’t standing behind a table. On the other hand they were all super nice and seemed really excited about the book when I was signing copies on Saturday morning. All but a handful of the books we had went in about a half hour. As I signed books I flip flopped between personalizing the book lamely “Joe, Enjoy the book!” or just signing it. In some cases I would have fun with it, like when a woman asked me to sign one for her nine year old daughter: “Maddie, don’t read after page 71!” Also I’d confess to being lame at signing books which would get a sympathy chuckle. Later on that afternoon I had my copy of Kraken signed by China Mieville* who personalized it with some reference to something in the book. Why didn’t I think of that? Why didn’t I write “Hey Maddie, don’t tell the class when you pee your pants!” or “Hey Steve, never tell the girl you’re about to have sex with that you’re a virgin, she knows!” All that said, my first ever book signing was at Comic Con. That shit’s going on my tombstone.

I also managed to pass the book rather easily into some unsuspecting celebrity hands in the hopes that maybe they’ll actually read it and do something glamorous like talk about it on twitter. The most immediate results, however, came when I gave one to Morgan Spurlock. Morgan was filming a documentary about Comic Con. I wrote a book about loving Star Wars. Right place + right time = I got interviewed the next day for the film. I don’t know when it comes out, but I’ll sure as shit keep you posted.

The famous folks seemed, for the most part, nice enough about me forcing my work on them. Brian Posehn chuckled when, no joke, I pretty much shoved the book into his hands via reach around because I panicked and didn’t stop to offer it to him like a not-crazy person. Kevin Rubio, who directed the fan film TROOPS and wrote a really awesome endorsement for the book, showed me around the con a bit and introduced me to a couple of the writers for The Clone Wars. One of them asked me if I had a copy of the book, which I gave him and as I signed it I embarrassingly admitted to my Clone Wars bashing in the first few pages, but confessed that I fell in love with the show pretty quick. He didn’t punch me in the face, so that was awesome. He was actually pretty nice about it.

So aside from book stuff, which ended up consuming much more of my time than I had originally expected, I did get out to see a few things. Like The Venture Bros. panel, which outside of the teaser clip shed little light on the next half of season 4. It was however awesome to watch its creators and principle voice cast riff off one another. Jackson Publick aside, they all sounded like their characters and holy shit, Patrick Warburton actually drives a ’69 Charger. To be honest, this panel was the only thing I would have been heartbroken about missing. Green Lantern and Scott Pilgrim stuff would have been cool, but I wasn’t even in town for any of it (though I heard that some people got to see a screening for Scott Pilgrim? Lucky bastards).There was also a sweet arcade done up to look like Flynn’s from Tron–complete with a secret backroom a la the trailer for Tron Legacy that was made up to look like some swanky, digital world bar. I also attended the Eisner Awards. Had my mother known I was attending the Oscars of the comic book world in cut-offs she probably would have had a stroke. Oh well. I made up for it by being filmed for a documentary in the same dirty cut-offs.

So was the Con everything I wanted? Yes, and much more, I just didn’t get to see all of what I would have liked. I would have liked to wait in line for 40 minutes to have my picture taken next to a dummy who had blown is brains out with a 12 gauge in the Walking Dead booth, or been locked up in a Wyland-Yutani cryosleep chamber and watched clips from the upcoming Blu-Ray edition of Alien, but considering how short my visit and my purpose was, I’d say it was all a big hit. Maybe next year I’ll try t get out there for the whole thing. In the meantime, I still have Star Wars Celebration in August and Wizard World New England in October to look forward to!

Pics from Comic Con!

*China Mieville totally remembers when I bumped into him at Nick’s on Broadway in Providence a few months ago! OMG!

Shit just got real…

My bound galley copies of “My Best Friend Is A Wookiee” just got here. A whole mess of ’em. On my kitchen table. Right now. Cripes. I’ve been telling people since October than when I have something in my hand, when I have something to actually touch and smell, that’s when I’d get really excited. Now I’m just speechless. I sort of want to just put them all in my bed and sleep with them, but I should probably wait and see if I have any left after hunting down endorsements. No one’s gonna say anything nice if I send them a book with my stink all over it.

This has been a big week. A couple of days ago I found out that my publisher will be sending me out to San Diego to push the book at Comic Con. Me. Comic Con. Together. Business trip. Holy crap! Details when I have more of ’em. At the very least you can expect more posts in the two days I’m there than in the entire run of this blog so far.

Phew…four more months kids…