Star Wars: A Geek’s Tale: Episode XIX

Celebration III
Day 3, Part 2
April 23, 2005

ciilucasThe fans sitting next to me for the George Lucas appearance were just as amazed as I was. We talked for a few minutes about our good fortune and exchanged stories of our experiences during the first two days of the weekend. It took another ten minutes or so for the rest of the people in line to be seated. Once that task was complete the lights went down and the audience erupted.

The first person to take the stage was Jay Laga’aia, Captain Typho from Attack of the Clones and host of the Sagamore Ballroom stage. He welcomed us to the Q&A session and made some small talk before setting the ground rules for flash photography and video recordings. The first person he introduced was Rick McCallum, who really had nothing to add to the ceremony. He then introduced two of George Lucas’ children. They shared some home movies of their dad before they introduced him.

The audience went crazy when The Flanneled One walked out on stage, giving him a standing ovation that lasted only a few minutes before Jay Laga’aia calmed everyone down. Laga’aia asked Mr. Lucas a few questions as the flashes of hundreds of cameras lit up the ballroom. Mr. Lucas told us that work on the movie was finished earlier in the week and that he was very pleased with the finished product. Laga’aia then opened up the questioning to the audience.

Dozens of people flocked to the two microphones set up on either side of the room. A young boy, whom I later learned was from Fort Wayne, merely said “Thank you” to Mr. Lucas. Mr. Lucas stood up and beckoned the youngster to the stage. The two shook hands. The picture of the moment was plastered in papers all over the country.

I had feared that the Q&A session would be an endless stream of fans doing nothing but thanking our lord and master. Most of the questions asked were good ones, many of which were about getting into the industry. Mr. Lucas offered lots of encouragement to follow one’s dream and to never give up, something I should take to heart.

There was another question about Mr. Lucas’ close friend, Steven Spielberg. Mr. Lucas elaborated on what he thought the differences were between himself and Spielberg. He also told us that Spielberg had been given some work during the production of Revenge of the Sith. Mr. Lucas quipped that the good stuff was kept in the film and everything that Spielberg did ended up on the cutting room floor.

The session was supposed to be only thirty minutes in length but seemed to last at least forty-five minutes. Laga’aia cut off the questions, allowing for one more from each side of the room. Once those questions were answered Mr. Lucas stood up to leave the stage and acknowledge the fans. This lasted less than a minute before he was escorted off stage.

Seeing my lord and master was the icing on the cake this weekend. While Friday made up for Thursday, this morning’s surprise was over the top. It was an incredible experience that I won’t soon forget.

It took several minutes before I was free of the crowd exiting the ballroom. Once I was free I headed back to the Exhibit Hall. Jan Duursema, the comic book artist whom I was looking forward to meeting, was due to start signing her prints at 3:00. It was still a few hours away but I wanted to check to see that I had the time right.

I walked around the hall a couple times and found yet another line for an exclusive item, this one a black-chromed miniature replica of Obi-Wan’s lightsaber offered by Master Replicas. Somehow these clowns knew I would be here at this particular time and that Obi-Wan was my favorite character from the movies. These jerks really did their homework.

I stood in line about thirty minutes before I reached the counter. They were also selling normal looking miniature replicas of Obi-Wan and Darth Vader’s lightsabers. I ordered them along with the exclusive. The gal waiting on me swiped my credit card and received a “Declined” message. She said she may have punched in the wrong number and tried it a second time. It came back “Declined” a second time. I was stunned. Knowing that my card was nowhere close to its limit, I started to worry that maybe someone had somehow got ahold of my number and maxed out my credit card.

I had to locate an ATM machine to withdraw some cash to pay for the lightsabers. I paid for my items then walked around in a daze, worrying about the state of my credit card. My mind was reeling as I tried to think of a way to check on the problem. The pressure was too much. I had to know what was wrong and the only way to do that was to go back to the hotel and start making phone calls.

I used the house phone in the lobby of the Crowne Plaza Hotel, calling the phone number on the back of my credit card. The computer on the other end of the phone told me it would be a ten minute wait. I waited twenty minutes before I hung up and headed to my room.

When I reached the elevator I found one of the computers was free. I got online and went to the web address on the back of my card. I set up an online account that allowed me to check my credit card balance. To my great relief, the balance was right where it should have been. I went on up to my room and tried calling the phone number again, this time hanging up after a thirty minute wait.

By now it was after 3:00. My chance to meet Jan Duursema was pretty much shot. Instead of going back to the convention center, I decided to find a CVS Pharmacy where I could get my 35 mm film and digital photos developed. I had less than three hours before I was supposed to be at Suzie and Ken’s for dinner and I wanted to have the pictures in hand so I could share them with my friends.

The downtown photo developers were all overloaded by Celebration III fans and could not guarantee that my pictures would be done before Sunday afternoon. I decided to drive east in the general direction of Suzie and Ken’s until I found a CVS. I found one on Washington Street.

I dropped off my film and downloaded my digital images. The dude I spoke to promised they would be done by 5:30, giving me plenty of time to get to Suzie’s house. With an hour to kill I decided to go for a drive.

Over twenty years ago I drove a courier route for Marsh Supermarket that covered most of Indianapolis. I had recognized several landmarks on Washington Street and wondered how well I could remember my way around the area. I did remarkably well until heading back to pick up my film. Heading south on Post Road, I turned left on Washington when I should have turned right. Several minutes and miles passed before I realized my mistake.

It was nearly 6:00 when I picked up my pictures and after 6:30 by the time I arrived at Suzie and Ken’s. We chatted a while, drinking wine like sophisticated people do. I regaled them with stories of Celebration III and showed them my pictures. They had prepared a fine chicken dinner for me that tasted superb. Ken was eating a traditional Passover meal that he was kind enough to allow me to try. I managed to try a couple bites of some gefilte fish. No offense meant to Ken or his faith, but it would be more honest to say I managed to choke down some gefilte fish. He advised that I could drown it in horseradish to give it some flavor. I’d rather eat dirt than horseradish. The rest of the meal was wonderful.

We spent the rest of the evening catching up and discussing life and work. I ended up staying until about 11:30, well past the time I felt was appropriate. They showed me to the door where we were greeted with a very light snowfall.

It was just past midnight as I drove past the convention center on my way back to the hotel. The dorks were already starting to line up just to get inside the following morning.

Coming up:
CIII Day 4

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