March 26, 2013

The WB Studio Tour

There's a long list of things I've been meaning to do in the six years I've lived in Los Angeles and one of them is going on the Warner Bros Studio Tour. One of my favorite television shows was filmed there, and I couldn't wait to see what Stars Hollow from Gilmore Girls looked like. Also? I desperately wanted to get a mug with the familiar Luke's logo on the side.

I finally got around to booking the tour, and it was worth every penny. Our tour guide was wonderful (thanks, Mike!) and we went just a bit over the two hours allotted. I had no idea how big the Warner Bros lot is (over 100 acres) and how many shows or certain episodes of shows were filmed there. Off the top of my head: Gilmore Girls, Chuck, True Blood, The Mentalist, Big Bang Theory, Mike & Molly, ER, Friends, Shameless, Pushing Daisies and on and on. I can't even begin to recall the huge list of movies created on the property.

The city streets and residential areas we drove through looked quite familiar. I spotted the corner that was The Pie Hole in Pushing Daisies and saw the morgue. A building set among trees at the beginning of the tour was Merlotte's Bar and Grill. There was a lagoon used by Hart of Dixie and also True Blood with unnaturally pretty water. A parking lot was the helicopter pad for ER. We drove right past the barn that was Patty's dance school in Gilmore Girls and saw Lorelai's house and the gazebo (yes, I flipped out a little).

Merlotte's:

Lorelai's house:

Preserved Central Perk set:
We also explored some standing sets (no photos allowed there) for The Mentalist, Big Bang Theory, and Mike and Molly. Even though I've visited a couple of sets before, I'm always fascinated by what it takes to film a single episode of a TV show. Sets, props, costumes, cast, crew - it's an insane amount of effort coming to your television each week.

And that's not all. The tour also included a look at some movie cars like the Batmobile and the Ford Anglia from Harry Potter, we walked through a set building area, and we explored a museum with lots of costumes and props. There was a whole floor of Harry Potter stuff - yeah, it made me want to visit the Harry Potter experience in Britain even more. It was ridiculously fun to explore even if the Sorting Hat put me into Hufflepuff.

Going on a Saturday was nice because more stuff was free and available to explore; I imagine it's a much busier place on weekdays. That said, you may get to witness shoots in action during the week which is its own kind of fun. I recommend going any day of the week.

See more pictures over at my Flickr page.

March 24, 2013

Rambling Round Up

Links to stuff I've written around the interwebs over the last two weeks!








Five Of Our Favorite Time Loop Episodes - My favorite episodes featuring the wonderful trope that is the time loop!




Fully Operational Fandom: All In The Family - My latest for StarWars.com has tons of cute kids in costume and talks about how Star Wars can bring families closer together.


March 19, 2013

Help Save the Clone Wars - Every Letter Helps!

Star Wars: The Clone Wars fans (and cast and crew) received terrible news last week: the series as we know it is over. We don't get another season, we just get bonus content. It's an ambiguous phrase and the use of it makes me nervous. When the news hit last Monday, I tried to stay positive. It was almost like I was trying to trick myself into being okay with the cancellation because hey, at least we're getting new stories. But really, I'm bitter.

I don't want bonus content. I don't want a new animated series. Lucasfilm/Disney already has a wonderful series with plenty of stories left to tell. I want more of the show myself and so many fans love: Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

Jimmy Mac from Rebel Force Radio (one of the best Star Wars fan podcasts out there) pointed out to me that really, the crew doesn't get to wrap it up on their own terms as I stated in my post.


And you know what? He's right. I got it wrong and misspoke completely. Dave Filoni didn't decide the series was going to end, Disney did. That is far from "their own terms." Sure, Filoni hopefully has a say in what arcs we will get to see but it's not the same as the series continuing as it has been these past five seasons. Every loose end won't be tied up and not all the great character arcs will reach the other side.

I'm not okay with the series ending, and I believe it's a poor decision that rests solely on Disney's shoulders. I don't think they're sending a good message to fans - especially considering that besides postponing the 3D releases, it's the first big decision they've made about the franchise.

Additionally, more sad news is causing disturbances in the Force. It seems as though the team working on the Clone Wars at LFL will be disbanded soon (as reported by Jedi News and heard by Rebel Force Radio and others). We have a final chance to save The Clone Wars, and it doesn't hurt to try. There's precedence showing making noise can work. Didn't fans save Chuck from cancellation darn near every season?

If Disney doesn't listen to fans, that's on them. Whether you try to do your part and make your voice heard is only on you. Get letters out in the next couple of days (today is best) and send several of them. Send notes to:

Bob Iger – Disney Studios, 500 S Buena Vista St, Burbank, CA 91521
Kathleen Kennedy – Lucasfilm, P.O. Box 29901, San Francisco, CA 94129-0901
George Lucas – P.O. Box 2009, San Rafael, CA 94912

Expressing your love for the series on social media is a good idea, too. If you tweet about it, use #SavetheCloneWars. Let's do all we can to keep this amazing series going.

March 18, 2013

This isn't March Madness, it's Star Wars!

Every year during the last couple weeks of March, I will feel left out of conversations more than I normally do. It seems like everyone around me is talking about the NCAA basketball tournament called March Madness. People get excited about brackets, try to get me to fill them out, and talk about the games all the time. I don't begrudge them their fun - being passionate about things is good - I just have nothing to add.

StarWars.com is helping me out this year with their official tournament to determine the most popular Star Wars character. It's split with Light vs. Dark. This Is Madness starts today and you can view the bracket below and vote on their website.
Click to Enlarge
Let Darth Vader tell you all about it:



Here's hoping we see some characters from The Clone Wars in the final match ups!

March 13, 2013

Do you say AT-AT or Aytee Aytee?

It was a Saturday morning, and I was browsing Twitter. I noticed someone tweeted me to point out a Star Wars Angry Birds commercial called an Imperial Walker an "at at" (pronounced like @ @). Being that I pronounce AT-AT like words instead of spelling it out at as Aytee Aytee I wasn't surprised. I know I've heard it both ways, so I decided to ask Twitter their thoughts on the matter. I don't know if you know this, but the internet loves to give opinions. I received 121 replies and the counts broke down like this:


Interesting, no?
My sample is not in any way scientific so take the results with a grain of salt.

A few sentiments came up repeatedly: people say AT-AT but spell out AT-ST, the people in the spelling it out camp seemed much more likely to say "my way is the right way and everyone who doesn't spell it out is dumb" (I'm paraphrasing a little), and only a few people were in the Imperial Walker camp. And a couple of people pointed out that TIE Fighter is rarely spelled out, only said. I happen to like the way AT-AT rolls off the tongue, so I'll stick with that pronunciation. I want to get the @ @ t-shirt.

What do you call an Imperial Walker?

March 11, 2013

Lucasfilm announces what will become of Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Ended The Clone Wars have. Sort of.


I've had Ahsoka anxiety for the past month. It died down only to be replaced by a greater worry: was my beloved Star Wars: The Clone Wars going away? I (like many others) just assumed Disney would transfer it to one of their own channels, it's apparently not to be.

Lucasfilm released news today about the direction of Lucasfilm Animation. It's not pretty but not all hope is lost.

The company is headed into a new, busy, and exciting era. The sequel trilogy is ahead, and it seems like that's where they are focusing all their energy. It's hard to fault them for that but as a result, other projects suffer. The Clone Wars as an episodic series is over. The release of Star Wars Detours is postponed indefinitely.

Ouch.

In the camp of better news, we do get more arcs of The Clone Wars. From StarWars.com:

While the studio is no longer producing new episodes for Cartoon Network, we're continuing production on new Clone Wars story arcs that promise to be some of the most thrilling adventures ever seen. Stay tuned for more information on where fans can soon find this bonus content. In the video below, Supervising Director Dave Filoni offers a peek of what is to come in Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
In the clip, Filoni assured us it's not over yet and that the best is yet to come. There are gaps crucial to the Star Wars universe that have to be filled in, and he says what's ahead "are the best episodes my crew has committed to screen." You can watch the clip over at StarWars.com. Note that it doesn't say anything about season six or how many episodes we'll get, but there are new stories on the way.

The release also noted "We are exploring a whole new Star Wars series set in a time period previously untouched in Star Wars films or television programming. You can expect more details in the months to come."

I'm thankful we've received over 100 episodes of this series. I understand that's not common for animated shows. I'm grateful we got some resolution for Ahsoka's arc. And hey, we're getting new content somehow somewhere. Filoni and his team are able to wrap things up on their own terms, and I believe Filoni will fight to show us the cool and important arcs we need to see.

Even with those positive spins on the situation, I can't help but feel for the crew though (who I hope at least continue to have jobs working on episode VII) and my fellow fans.

The Clone Wars is my corner of the Star Wars universe. It pushed my love of Star Wars into an obsession and sparked my passion for the saga. I'll miss having it as a regular part of my life. Thank you to everyone involved with the show who have kept it going for so long.

Emerald City Comicon Wrap Up


I'm recently back from attending my first Emerald City Comicon and also my first trip to Seattle. I drank tons of coffee, froze, got rained on, looked at tons of fantastic art, saw friends, bought comics, went to panels  - nothing iss quite like the first convention of the year. You're fresh, far from burnt out, and I was really just excited to be among crowds of my people again. Going to conventions and seeing pals is like being at home. The cozy, familiar, warm and fuzzy kind of home. Like what Bag End has to feel like.

I missed the first day of the show, but I attacked the exhibitor's hall with enthusiasm on Saturday. I overheard many people say the convention had doubled in size in comparison to last year, and it showed. The crowds were not insignificant. I was happy to notice artists' alley (which was split into two parts on opposite ends of the exhibit hall) seemed more crowded than the rows with the bigger comic book publishers and merch/t-shirt sellers. I got the vibe that the show put the emphasis on creators and that always pushes a convention into a happy area for me.

Amethyst by Brianne Drouhard
Since this wasn't a driving show for me, I resolved to keep my purchases small so that I wouldn't have to check luggage or worry about keeping art from being bent during travels. I checked out new stuff from artists I know and set my sights on finding new books and prints to treasure. I grabbed a couple of sketchbooks – one from James Silvani (along with some adorable Toothless art) and one from Brianne Drouhard. I got two books from Extracurricular Activities. I walked past their table and fell in love with their art style immediately. You can tell when something is a perfect match for your taste.


Other than wandering around, visiting friends, and taking pictures of talented cosplayers, I loved seeing Haxbee's exhibit of costumes from The Hunger Games. Everything was worn in the film, and I desperately wanted to steal Katniss' District 12 boots. I also joined a line to see a display of custom LEGO builds that included a huge Shire, a Borg cube, and the massive Hogwarts castle you may have seen online. It has over 400,000 bricks!



My lazy self only made it to a few panels: How to Talk to Geek Girls (because hey, I like geek girls and also some friends were on the panel), Dark Horse Comics' Star Wars in Comics, and another panel about looking past the target audience which discussed minorities in comics, video games, etc.

The only part that gave me pause was navigating the Washington State Trade Convention Center; it was a like a giant multi-level house where the floors didn't connect. I'm terrible with directions, and I unintentionally ended up downstairs in the arcade completely confused more than once. The vendor layout also seemed a little weird as I only accidentally found Larry Elmore's table - it was sort of hidden along with a handful of other vendors. It's only a small mark against an otherwise great convention though. I'd definitely attend Emerald City Comicon again sometime, and if all goes according to plan, I should be back in Seattle for GeekGirlCon in October.

Check out more of my pics from the convention here.

March 10, 2013

Rambling Round-Up: Battle of Hoth diorama, Starman, Firefly food and more

Here's links to stuff I written around the interwebs this week!

Fully Operational Fandom: Building Tiny Worlds - I spoke to the guy who created an amazing Battle of Hoth diorama for my column at StarWars.com (and there are more pics!).

Once Upon a Time: "The Queen is Dead" Review - My review for last week's episode of Once.

You Can’t Take The Food From Me (Five Firefly Snacks)

Ten Quotes From The One And Only Tyrion Lannister

One Ring Accessories To Rule Them All [Featured]

Seven Disney Villain Costumes That Make Evil Look Good

Five Everyday Uses for a TARDIS

Thirteen Years Ago - Starman month has wrapped up at Blastoff Comics, and I take a look at Jack Knight teaming up with the Justice Society of America and standing against Rag Doll.


March 7, 2013

This is how you combine jewelry, cupcakes, and geeky stuff

Miniature versions of food made from polymer clay are everywhere. They used to just be on Etsy or other niche online stores, but now they're manufactured en masse and you see fake cookies or slices of cakes everywhere. The Bird and The Bee has put a clever twist on that idea and sculpts cupcake shaped pendants that have the motifs of all kinds of characters. I know, it sounds weird. This Thor cupcake design is a perfect example:
Isn't it adorable?!

The pendants are bite sized at less than 1/2" wide so you can wear them around your neck or from your ears. Each one is made to order so there will be slight variations, and the shop encourages custom orders. They have a huge line up to choose from though: superheroes, Disney characters, Doctor Who, Star Trek, and so many more. They're priced at $18, and I think they'd make perfect gifts. They're different and fun.

Here are a few more examples of The Bird and The Bee's designs:


The shop isn't limited to just geeky cupcakes either; they've also got tons of fabulous sculpted pendants from your favorite shows and movies.

March 5, 2013

The Clone Wars Season Five Finale Made Me Cry


Warning: spoilers ahead for “The Wrong Jedi,” the season five finale of Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

After years of wondering what would happen to the little Togruta Padawan who annoyed us and then charmed us, we finally got a hint as to what her fate will be in the final arc of season five. I don't think it could have played out much better. Ahsoka's on her own path now, and I don't think there's any doubt her decision deeply affected Anakin.

Knowing Ahsoka isn't around for Revenge of the Sith left a cloud hanging over her character. I wasn't sure what would happen with her. I didn't want to see her die, but I also felt whatever was going to happen had to be drastic. It has to propel Anakin further towards the Dark side and would probably push his mistrust of the Jedi Council. She's not out of the woods yet, but it looks like there is a way for her to survive and have the necessary effect upon her former master.

I was surprised by the way the Jedi Council acted during the four part arc that began with sabotage at the Jedi Temple and ended with a wrongly accused Ahsoka expelled by the Jedi Order and targeted for a military tribune. They took a guilty until proven innocence stance with Ahsoka and given her record has been pretty spotless, I feel like they gave in to their suspicions because it was easy. Yoda even stated the great extent to which the Dark side of the Force was clouding everything so why wouldn't he push everyone to give Ahsoka more of a chance? I don't understand.

I'd expect as much from the ambitious Tarkin and the military, but I expected more of the Jedi who have taught Ahsoka all these years and watched her grow and develop. I'm looking at you, Plo Koon.

If I felt the pain of their betrayal, I can only begin to imagine how it made Ahsoka feel. Seeing the Council divided and watching only Anakin stand up for had to hurt. And it was probably confusing. Once you stack Barriss Offee's backstabbing on top of it... I don't think Ahsoka had any choice but to leave. Though the Council spun the ordeal as a trial which made Ahsoka a stronger Jedi and coupled it with an apology, it wasn't enough to make up for the way they turned her backs on her. How could a person go back to following their guidance after being a firsthand victim of their mistakes?

Besides having to process the actions of the Jedi, I believe Ahsoka was also compelled to leave because maybe – just maybe – she saw truth in what Barriss said about the Jedi (I'm putting aside the fact that Barriss came out of left field for this arc). The members of the Jedi Order are no longer peacekeepers. They're involved in a violent war and though they shouldn't even be involved in the fight, they don't appear to be backing off. I think the seeds of doubt were planted in Ahsoka's mind a while ago. Definitely by the Onderon arc earlier in the season.
From Star Wars: The Clone Wars Facebook page
Now that she's off on her own, I expect big things. Her character development over five seasons has been nothing short of astounding. She hasn't been Snips for a long time, and she's more than capable of being a leader. I believe she can forge a heroic path for herself and perhaps this decision will keep her safe from order 66. Though I think we'll see her on her own for a while, I wouldn't be surprised if Anakin tries to track her down to try to get her to come back to the Temple.

Speaking of Anakin, think of how he will feel about losing his Padawan because the Council didn't trust her. It's just another reason to second guess them, and he's sure to channel some of the blame on himself. Asajj Ventress didn't help when she pointed out how Ahsoka was abandoned by her master, just as she was abandoned by hers. 

The season finale packed a powerful punch. The final scene between Anakin and Ahsoka had me in tears. I think it's the most emotional and heavy moment the series has had. Since Anakin has thought about splitting from the Order too, he's not able to be the most persuasive. Ahsoka - who I think revealed she knows about Padmé with her response to Anakin - needed more. Though I'm heartbroken for everyone, I'm happy to see the character I love take another huge step in her journey and find her own way.

Matt Lanter, Ashley Eckstein, Dave Filoni, Kevin Kiner, and every person who touched any part of directing, writing, lighting, animating, and designing this arc delivered on a level that is simply unbelievable for a cartoon.

I can't wait to see what's next for The Clone Wars.

While we're on the topic: what's next for the series is up in the air at the moment. We know it's not going to be on Cartoon Network, but Disney hasn't announced it will be on any of their schedules either. Now is the time to speak up to Disney about this show you love and make your voice heard. Rebel Force Radio has been spearheading this campaign, and they're encouraging fans to send polite letters to the below addresses (you can visit their Facebook page to get letter templates and more info):

Disney Studios
500 S Buena Vista St
Burbank, CA 91521
Attn: Bob Iger

Lucasfilm
P.O. Box 29901
San Francisco, CA 94129-0901
Attn: Kathleen Kennedy

You can call and leave a voicemail about the series at 708-320-1RFR. Rebel Force Radio will put all the voicemails on a CD and send it off to the people who need to hear them. Don't let season five be the last season of The Clone Wars we see on television.


March 4, 2013

Rambling Round Up - 11th Doctor quotes, Star Wars Insider, & more


Here's links to stuff I've posted around the web this week:

10 Fabulous 11th Doctor Quotes - The 11th Doctor is my Doctor, and I love darn near everything that comes out of his mouth.

Five Geektastic Cat Trees - I'd like to build all of these more for me than for my cats.

Seven Fabulous Disney Princess Costumes - Merida!!

Six Handmade Game of Thrones Accessories Every Khaleesi Needs - Purses to necklaces.

Five Versions of Bag End You Can Eat

Finally, the picture above is a peek of my latest article for Star Wars Insider magazine. Issue #140 should be on shelves at your local comic book shop and places like Target and bookstores next week!
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