Sunday, November 01, 2009

THE EMPIRE STRIKES A TUNE: Star Wars in concert (and out of focus)

I'm the kind of dad that doesn't care if his 2-year-old son plays house with dolls or kisses teddy bears or wears pink sparkly Dora the Explorer dresses. I'm not dumb enough to believe that stuff will turn a little boy into a girl, but I do think engaging in girly activities should be done in moderation and it helps if little boys also do manly stuff to offset any exposure to excessive girlyness just in case. If there's even the slightest link of causality between cell phones and brain cancer then scientists need to study the possibility that teddy bears and girly clothes emit feminine rays that fry the boy parts of a brain. Until this phenomena is studied more in-depther I will be countering the fem rays as best I can by making sure my son also engages in more boy appropriate activities like playing house with 12 inch Star Wars "action figures", kissing plastic Godzillas and wearing Transformers dresses.


Unfortunately direct interaction with GoBots and Transformers won't undo fem ray damage as it is my experience that playing with toy robot Volkswagens and their transforming Lamborghini cohorts only turns people into raving asexual mechaphiliacs. So when my wife took us all to Disney Princesses on Ice last month for her birthday I felt a great imbalance in the Force and I knew what we had to do. The near lethal dosage of fem we got from watching skating princesses and teddy bears in September could only be countered by ditching mommy and going to see Star Wars in Concert the night before Halloween. George Lucas knows that if you absolutely positively must have princesses and teddy bears in your story, they need to be either mostly naked and chained to big turd colored gangster frogs or bloodthirsty Stormtrooper eating cannibals with primitive but deadly wooden weapons.



I was dropping off some cardboard boxes at a trailer park last month when I left my camera on top of my truck and then drove off. It's been lost since then and that's the last memory I have of it so I figure some kid at the trailer park got an early Christmas present with a 1 gig SD card full of pictures of me posing with people
dressed up in cardboard robot costumes and old toy robots newspaper ads. It was a crappy little red camera that I got for 100 bucks at Toys R Us in Rapid City, South Dakota, but it was of much historical value because it took over when my first camera died from taking tens of thousands of pictures of old toy robots newspaper ads for the Vintage Space Toaster Palace. (I've already finished the emotional mourning process for my camera so I'll be pissed if it's actually under my bed.) This mattered at Star Wars in concert because I could have snuck my little red camera in to get pictures but since I lost it I had to borrow my wife's Stormtrooper bazooka looking camera and when the lady at the door saw that hulking monster hanging from my neck she wouldn't let me in. Even though everyone else was sneaking in little cameras and taking all sorts of pictures with iPhones and cell phones I had to go back and leave Camerus Maximus in the truck. That sucked and really pissed me off but I did get some crappy shots with my cell phone of the various props and costumes they had on display (and by "various" I mean one picture of a Yoda puppet and 20 pictures of the Darth Vader costume). You might think after 30 years of seeing people dressing up as Stormtroopers everywhere they go any Star Wars costume display has had its wow factor diminished but the reason these empty suits are cool and why I wanted pictures with them is because they don't have crazy weirdos inside.


Although I couldn't take a good camera in, this monumentally significant event in the history of mankind is preserved for the ages in the same way as equally important extraterrestrial contact is documented-with grainy cell phone pictures and crappy bootleg YouTube videos. It's a shame. The renegade picture and video takers
do so at great risk to their seating assignments because the security is very serious about the no filming or photography rule. The YouTube video I've found here does a good job of capturing the Star Warsy excitement and craziness I felt and saw when I was there. Essentially Star Wars in Concert is Anthony Daniels reciting an abridged Cliffs Notes version of the Star Wars saga in between accompanying musical numbers performed by the orchestra under a giant LED screen that plays Star Wars money shot montages while giant green lasers dance and pulsate to the music. It's the six Star Wars movies distilled down to two hours of their loudest most exciting music with laser beams and lots of giant explosions. It gives me hope that maybe what Michael Bay has done is some sort of Transformers concert footage and later on we'll get the six movies that makes the current Transformers franchise make sense.


There's one part where Anthony Daniels spazzes out a bit and starts talking and walking around jerkily like C-3P0 (which is captured on the YouTube clip here but from a different city than where I saw it). The audience went totally crazy over it but I just felt embarrassed for the guy. Then I realized he's probably a millionaire from acting like an effeminate wussy robot. His were not the most embarrassing actions, though. The most terrifying and cringe inducing moments of all came when Mr. Daniels did some casual name dropping of Star Wars characters during his narration and the crowd went wild just because he said "Han Solo" or "Millenium Falcon". This behavior is also captured on the YouTube and strangely enough it happened exactly like that at my location, too, almost as if on cue. It reminded me
of whenever the studio audience would freak out when Mr. Furley walked onto the set of Three's Company like Don Knotts was Jesus. It seemed really fake at times and I wondered how much of the audience were paid Lucasfilm employees (or droids) whose extreme passion was as rehearsed as the rest of the show. Luckily one guy booed when Daniels said "Luke Skywalker" so I knew at least he and I were humans.


I don't think I can recommend paying for the seats on the floor closest to the stage. We were six rows back and the crane cameras they used to project images of the orchestra onto the big screen kept getting in my way, along with the gigantic head of the guy sitting in front of me. It was like sitting behind Chewbacca. It would be best to get seats anywhere but the floor because you can see more that way and are also less likely to get tazed by the IG-88 camera nazis when you record video to make you famous on YouTube. Even though the sound was from an orchestra playing right in front of me it was still only about as loud as a good movie theater. There's really no benefit to being so close unless you want that R2-D2's eye view up Anthony Daniels' nose. I didn't pay $30 for the concert program or $35 for any of the shirts because while they were nice, I thought the price was a bit much. I still think overall it was a good time and I highly recommend it to anyone who likes hearing Star Wars music and seeing authentic Star Wars costumes or just for anyone who has been forced to go see anything with ice skating Cinderellas.

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