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Celebrating 100 Blog Posts with 7 Days to Go Until ‘The Force Awakens’

Today, we are one week away from the official opening day of “Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens.”

It also happens to be the day of my 100th blog post.

In another happy coincidence, the two-year anniversary of the launching of this blog is Dec. 17, the day “The Force Awakens” debuts in early screenings.

Nearly two years ago, I was on bed rest and bored out of my mind after pregnancy complications. I had been out of work for almost two months and hadn’t written a thing. I was considering organizing my photos to pass the time when I had a conversation with my sister.

“Don’t organize your photos,” she said. “Start your blog.”

It just so happened that I had the subject of a post in mind. I wrote it, then very awkwardly began learning the basics of WordPress. And here we are.

Two years of blogging has been fun, freeing and often frustrating. I appreciate my tiny, devoted and extremely gracious band of readers, but sometimes this feels like a thankless task.

I had lost much of my motivation for blogging when I had another conversation with my sister, this one about a crazy idea to count down to the release of “The Force Awakens,” with new, Star Wars-related content almost every day for a month.

That crazy idea has turned out to be a blast and reinvigorated my enthusiasm for writing about and editing all things nerdy and cinematic.

Thanks for coming along for the ride. I’ve enjoyed every moment of it, and I’m glad we still have an entire week to go.

In celebration of the 100th post at lavendervroman.com, I’ve decided to re-run one of my favorite essays from the blog, an oldie but goodie that very much applies to the warm, affectionate feelings I have for you, dear readers, and the entire Star Wars community.

Here it is. Let’s keep enjoying this moment together. There’s no telling how long it will last.

I Hope My Daughter Grows Up to Be a Nerd
(originally posted April 28, 2014)

Several years ago, when my husband and I still attended the San Diego Comic-Con — back when it was more fun than exhausting — we would occasionally observe a couple pushing a stroller through the crowd, grim looks on their faces as the Red Sea of sweaty fanboys refused to part for them.

“They’re nuts,” I used to say.

It was time for me to eat my words when we decided to take our 3-month-old daughter to WonderCon Anaheim, the cozier little sister to San Diego’s towering pop culture extravaganza.

We booked a hotel attached to the Anaheim Convention Center, packed up the million items of baby ephemera required for an overnight trip with an infant, outfitted the little munchkin in a yoda hat stitched by a crafty cousin and made the pilgrimage to our favorite geek mecca. Our baby’s “Doctor Who”-worshiping aunt came along for moral support.

Soon I had become one half of THAT couple, maneuvering a stroller through hordes of spandex-clad superheroes, unidentifiable anime critters and hairy dudes declaring, via T-shirt, their allegiance to DC or Marvel. As the husband headed off in the direction of the Warner Bros. panel, the aunt and I waited for the exhibit hall to open and my tiny daughter got her first eyeful of the convention’s colorful passersby.

As Batmen in black body armor, Stormtroopers armed with blasters, gender-bending Thors and Lokis, wispy Elsas from “Frozen” and a guy painted entirely silver to look like a certain surfboard-carrying comic book character paraded in front of her, my baby’s eyes grew wide. She had entered a strange new world.

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That’s when I got to thinking. Many parents want their children to grow up to be doctors, lawyers, ballet dancers, Olympic gymnasts or the president of the United States. Those pursuits are certainly admirable but when I think about my daughter’s future, I have a different fate in mind. I hope she grows up to be a nerd.

I suppose the odds are in my favor. My little girl wakes up every morning in a house littered with the traces of her parents’ geekdom. Posters of “Star Wars” and “Lord of the Rings” line the walls. Display cases full of Legos dominate the living room. Boxes of action figures are crammed into closets. Shelves overflow with books, many of them science fiction and fantasy. And on the mantle over the fireplace sits one of those fancy replica lightsabers, a cherished Christmas gift from dad to mom.

In this house, Sunday nights are dedicated to “The Walking Dead” and “Game of Thrones,” the latest “Star Wars” news is hashed over and then rehashed and though we’re not a big comic book family, you’d better believe we’ll be there Friday when the latest Marvel movie hits theaters.

Most of our friends are nerds, too. Unlike the stereotype, they’re not 35-year-old men living in their mothers’ basements, playing World of Warcraft and guzzling Mountain Dew. They’re well adjusted, intelligent, productive members of society who also happen to read feminist comic books, debate the merits of “Star Wars” vs. “Star Trek,” play “The Elder Scrolls” online, re-read the Harry Potter books annually, line up at midnight for movies, countdown to the next seasons of “Sherlock” and “Doctor Who” and get excited about Hayao Miyazaki.

These are some of the coolest, smartest, most fascinating people I know and that’s why I hope my daughter doesn’t choose to rebel against her nerd heritage in favor of a boring existence. Many people slog through life doing the bare minimum — going to work, going home to spend the night sitting in front of some reality TV show.

Nerds want more. They’re not satisfied with reality and the status quo. Their imaginations are always churning, always musing, always wondering: wouldn’t it be cool if … time travel was possible, vampires existed, the zombie apocalypse happened, there was life on other planets, some rich dude with a cave and clever gadgets could save society from the evil within or if a British time lord could alter the course of history.

Nerds are passionate and playful. When they care about something they really care. They don’t do things by halves. They’re obsessed and they want to share that obsession with you. They’re not content to just watch or listen, they want to live it, collect it, wear it on a T-shirt, write about it in an Internet chat room, join a club or — as evidenced by the number of people who indulge in cosplay at WonderCon and similar events around the country — transform themselves into their favorite characters.

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Some would argue that such obsessions are childish, pointless and don’t make a difference, but the sheer momentum of nerd passion has turned comic book and fantasy movies into a billion dollar industry in Hollywood, resurrected cancelled television shows, united scores of disconnected individuals and, yes, even accomplished some good in the world.

Take, for instance, The Harry Potter Alliance, thehpalliance.org, a self-described “coalition” of Harry Potter fans who have launched campaigns for literacy, equality and human rights around the world, donating books to impoverished kids, sending disaster relief supplies to Haiti, building a library and pressuring Warner Bros. about the use of child labor in the manufacturing of Harry Potter chocolates.

I’d go so far as to say that the world would be a better place if we were all just a little bit nerdier. I hope my daughter grows up to love a television show dearly, to take an enthusiastic stance when it comes to “Star Wars” or “Star Trek,” Marvel or DC, to adore a movie so much she can’t stop talking about it, to create a costume so she can “become” her favorite cartoon character, to acquire a ravenous taste for books, especially fiction and fantasy.

I hope she embraces and is embraced by other nerds as warmly as I have been embraced by them. If she can find it in her heart to do this, I know she’ll be happy.

Photos: Nick Vroman, Lavender Vroman.

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Inside Disneyland’s Star Wars: Season of the Force, Part 2

Photos by FAWN KEMBLE
Text by LAVENDER VROMAN

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the second in a two-part post exploring Star Wars: Season of the Force at the Disneyland theme park. Read the first post here

SPOILER ALERT: If you’re planning to visit Disneyland and want to be surprised when you experience Season of the Force, you may want to skip this post for now. 

I was skeptical about the idea of Star Wars: Season of the Force, just as I am skeptical about every new element Disney introduces to its Southern California theme park.

What can I say? I’m a traditionalist. I’m nostalgic. I’m slow to accept change.

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As almost always happens, however, I was impressed with this new addition to Disneyland, an appetizer designed to tide us over until the future Star Wars land materializes.

Season of the Force essentially transforms the generically sci-fi themed Tomorrowland into a temporary Star Wars land, complete with ambiance, attractions, “character experiences,” food and enough merchandise to make your head explode.

This event boasts Disney’s signature attention to detail. It’s fun to explore and discover new things.

The Ambiance

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Immediately upon entering Tomorrowland you’ll notice the Star Wars makeover. John Williams’ signature score plays throughout the area and you’ll find interesting touches everywhere.

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Visiting Tomorrowland at night is a must if you want to really appreciate the ambiance. The area is divided into the Dark Side and the Light Side with creative lighting effects and banners featuring characters from the franchise’s many incarnations.

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The Rebel Alliance insignia is projected onto the side of Star Tours. Apparently, the attraction already features a new destination from “The Force Awakens.”

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The Galactic Empire’s logo is projected across one of Tomorrowland’s murals.

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Beams evocative of lightsabers shoot into the night sky.

Hyperspace Mountain

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Disney has transformed its classic Space Mountain roller coaster into Hyperspace Mountain. The wait for the ride was two and a half to three hours long, but FastPasses were available at the beginning of the day.

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The queue for Hyperspace Mountain features added Star Wars graphics. Admiral Ackbar addresses those waiting, informing them they are about to participate in a battle as part of the Rebel Alliance’s Blue Squadron. I won’t spoil what happens inside the ride. Suffice it to say, it features great use of John William’s famous opening trumpet burst.

Path of the Jedi

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I opted not to check out Path of the Jedi, a new show in the Tomorrowland Theater that features “favorite scenes” in a “celebration of the entire Star Wars saga,” according to Disney.

The Food

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Season of the Force’s hottest food item is the BB-8 Sipper, the cutest sippy cup you’ll ever slurp soda from. It retails for $13.99 and is available at the PizzaPort restaurant. Some enterprising people are already selling it on eBay for upwards of $20.

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See, you can’t resist him.

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The Galactic Grill features an all-Star Wars menu, which includes the Han Burger, The Pastry Menace, Darth By Chocolate, the Cheese-3PO Burger and Wicket’s Wicked Veggie Sandwich. The grill continues to host the former Jedi Training Academy, now dubbed Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple. If your kid wants to participate, you now must “preregister” him or her at a kiosk at the Star Wars Launch Bay.

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The Merch

It wouldn’t be Disneyland without a gift shop around every corner and copious amounts of merchandise tempting you to open your rapidly thinning wallet, now would it? The sheer scope of the Star Wars items available in Tomorrowland and throughout the park, as well as Downtown Disney, is almost impossible to comprehend.

So much Star Wars stuff! So much!

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One of the best new items can be found in a little shop across from the Star Wars Launch Bay. There you can pick out a unique faux leather bracelet and have it personalized with your name or text of your choice in Aurebesh, the Star Wars basic language.

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The Star Trader used to feature general Disney merchandise, along with items from Star Wars and Star Tours. It is now exclusively dedicated to a dizzying array of Star Wars stuff.

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One exciting development is that Disneyland now carries awesome clothing and accessories from Her Universe …

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… including the coveted lightsaber skirt …

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… and the most hideous shoes ever invented.

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Make sure to spend as much as you can. The Evil Galactic Empire is watching you!

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Outside the Park

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If you can’t find what you’re looking for inside Disneyland, you’ll certainly find it in the Downtown Disney shopping area.

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The World of Disney store has a whole section dedicated to Star Wars and it features a surprising amount of items dedicated to Rey.

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The Sanuk shop features these knee socks, which will go beautifully with your Her Universe lightsaber skirt.

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Build-A-Bear Workshop features customizable Star Wars teddies.

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WonderGround Gallery has a Star Wars collection.

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Of course, the Lego store is in on the Star Wars action, as well. (Check out that tiny Han Solo in Carbonite.)

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Just in case you forgot something, this Christmas kiosk is fully stocked with everything Star Wars, too.

Happy shopping.

 

 

May the Force Be Merry: A Star Wars Christmas Gift Guide

Since Force Friday unleashed a seemingly endless blitz of Star Wars merchandise onto store shelves, you’d think it would be easier than ever to shop for fans of George Lucas’ sci-fi saga.

But there’s so much stuff out there (and a lot of it is just cheap crap, if you’ll pardon me for saying so), it can be overwhelming and frustrating to sort through the piles and piles of collectibles, toys, T-shirts, action figures, and other goodies.

Fortunately, we’ve simplified the Star Wars gift-buying experience by picking out a few of the most promising buys to be found this holiday season.

Here’s an easy guide to finding that perfect Star Wars-themed Christmas gift.

May the force be with you, and your days be merry and bright.

Give the Ultimate Gift

When the new Episode VII merchandise was released on Force Friday, the belle of the ball was undoubtedly BB-8. The Sphero BB-8 App Enabled Droid is as close as you can get to owning your own droid. You can guide him with a smartphone or tablet. He recognizes and reacts to your voice and records and plays virtual holographic videos. Plus, the rotund little guy’s attitudes and actions evolve as you interact with him. $149.95. Get it here.

And if you can’t shell out $150?

A more affordable option for BB-8 admirers — the Star Wars Episode VII The Force Awakens BB-8 Super Plush. $15.67. Find it here.

For the young Jedi

Star Wars The Force Awakens Kylo Ren Deluxe Electronic Lightsaber

Give that young Jedi in your life the coolest new weapon wielded in The Force Awakens. The Star Wars The Force Awakens Kylo Ren Deluxe Electronic Lightsaber extends with a flick of the wrist and simulates classic lights and sounds. $29.99. Buy it here.

Go Back to Where It Started

What better way to prepare for The Force Awakens than by revisiting George Lucas’ original trilogies? Star Wars: The Complete Saga (Episodes I-VI) [Blu-ray] presents all six movies in high definition, along with 40 hours of special features. $84.99. Get it here.

For Heroes in the Making

Image for from HasbroToyShop

Kids can recreate the classic Episode IV escape scene with Playskool Heroes Star Wars Millennium Falcon. This starter kit of sorts includes a push-activated blaster cannon, sensor dish, and ladder, and three figures, Han Solo, Chewbacca and R2-D2.  Other sets are available too, including Endor Adventure and Echo Base Encounter. $39.99. Find it here.

The Most Epic Bedtime Story of All

Star Wars Little Golden Book Boxed Set

Train up young Padawans in the ways of the Force with the Star Wars Little Golden Book Boxed Set. Six books recount the stories of Episodes I-VI. $24.99. Buy it here.

For Builders Young and Old

Collectors and little builders will find a multitude of Star Wars Lego sets to choose from at shop.lego.com. We’re especially fond of Poe’s X-Wing Fighter. It’s equipped with spring-loaded shooters, stud shooters, retractable landing gear, opening wings and more. $79.99. Get it here.

For the Fashionista Who’s One With the Force

Fandom meets high fashion with Rock & Republic’s Star Wars R2-D2 Embellished Tee, shimmering with a rhinestone graphic of the most lovable droid in the universe. Other glam Star Wars inspired designs are also available. $19.99. Find it here.

An Elegant Weapon for a More Civilized Age

Every Star Wars fan should have their own lightsaber. And the closest thing to owning the real thing comes courtesy of Force FX. May we recommend the Star Wars The Black Series Kylo Ren Force FX Deluxe Lightsaber? It features realistic light effects, movie sound effects, three blades, a metal hilt and a display stand. Whether you sway toward the dark or the light side, Force FX offers many other varieties of the Jedi’s signature weapon as well. $199.99. Buy it here.

Keep it Clean

Oxygenics® Star Wars™ R2-D2™ 3-Spray Fixed Showerhead

Who wouldn’t want to see Luke Skywalker’s peppy little droid first thing in the morning? Soaping up has never been more fun with Oxygenics Star Wars R2-D2 3-Spray Fixed Showerhead. It features three different spray settings. There’s also a Darth Vader handheld version. $24.99. Get it here.

Artoo on the Go

R2-D2 Dome Purse

Carry Artoo with you wherever you go with the Star Wars R2-D2 Mini Dome Bag. The faux leather tote costs $68. Find it here.

Surprise Them

Images of Hero Box Star Wars Saga Silver Edition for Women

Want to put a little mystery into your favorite Star Wars fan’s life? The HeroBox Star Wars Saga Silver Edition 2.0 ships 70 bucks worth of surprise Star Wars goodies, including a T-shirt, to their door. $49. ($69 for the Gold Edition.) Buy it here.

(The) Death (Star) Never Tasted So Good

Star Wars Death Star Chip & Dip Bowls

Ain’t no party like a party with Star Wars Death Star Chip & Dip Bowls. Each bowl holds 64 oz. There’s also a version starring Artoo and Threepio. $11.99. Get it here.

Form a Romantic Rebel Alliance

I Love You / I Know Rings

Declare your undying affection for that special someone, Han and Leia-style, with these matching I Love You/I Know Rings. The engraved surgical stainless steel bands come in sizes 5 to 11. The Rebel Alliance symbol is emblazoned inside. $19.99. Find it here.

For Galactic Gamers

Disney Infinity: Star Wars: The Force Awakens Play Set (3.0 Edition) - Pre-Order

One of the hottest gifts for gamers this season is the new Disney Infinity: Star Wars: The Force Awakens Play Set (3.0 Edition). It features a pair of Rey and Finn figures. Other characters are sold separately. The set won’t be available until The Force Awakens officially opens in theaters on Dec. 18. $34.99. Preorder it here.

Yoda Santa photo: www.forcecast.net.