When our summer interns go on family vacation, we can’t send them off without an assignment. So our resident Star Wars buff, Kenneth, gave us a rundown of Star Wars Weekend at Disney World.
At the age when most children began watching Aladdin, Hercules and Beauty and the Beast, I was lost in a galaxy far, far away. From those days on, my obsession has only grown. So, as you can imagine, I went to Disney World’s Star Wars Weekends years ago before Disney bought the franchise. People have voiced their opinions, which range from: “They’re ruining the series!” to “They’ll make it too kid-ish!” The list goes on. Opinions on that aside, Disney has been doing Star Wars Weekends for a while, since 1997. From what I remembered as a kid, Disney did a great job — I know I had fun.
Coming back after all of these years, with knowledge and wisdom of the series I’d acquired over the years in mind, I walked into Hollywood Studios half asleep from getting to the park so early. Needless to say, it was far more than I could’ve ever imagined. Disney has always been known for its showmanship and they really came through for this year’s festivities.
Disney had an all-star lineup of characters from the films and animated series, and fans could get autographs and watch them in different shows throughout the day. Just to name a few: Ray Park (Darth Maul), James Arnold Taylor (Obi-Wan in the animated series) Jeremy Bulloch (Boba Fett), Warwick Davis (Wicket) and Ashley Eckstein (Ahsoka Tano from the animated series). The park also had dozens of other characters guests could take pictures with during the day. It was almost guaranteed that around every corner, someone would run into a character from the universe. Whether it was Darth Vader shrouded in Storm Troopers or Tusken Raiders, it was always a treat.
The party carries on through four shows daily Friday-Sunday and change slightly each weekend (this year, the event runs every weekend May 17-June 9). There’s always a show with the special guest of the week like Warwick Davis or Jeremy Bulloch — the talks were just interesting to sit in on. The master of ceremonies and host of each show was James Arnold Taylor, voice actor extraordinaire. He even demonstrated 200 different voices he could do. Impressive, I know. Taylor hosted a talk show as well, where he interviewed the visiting star and Ray Park each day. This could range from being hilarious to quite inspiring depending on the guest. Trust me on that, hearing a story of how Boba Fett messed up his lines on his first day is something to behold.
If a taste for stunts and action are up your alley, Ray Park had his own martial arts show where he went through different fighting styles with an array of weapons. This was also where you learned to loathe the children who got the chance to go on stage and do move sets with the master himself. I’m still seething from that.
Special merchandise could be found at the one stop Star Wars shop near the back of the park: the Darth Mall (clever title if I don’t say so myself). Collectibles, helmets, toys, Disney characters in Star Wars outfits — it was all there. Guests could truly lose themselves in a place like that. If you’re an unabashed fan like myself, you can’t help but spend oodles of money there. I went in wanting something small and spent more than $90. Needless to say, it was neigh impossible to leave without some form of paraphernalia in hand.
Now, to deflect, again, the opinions I may have about Disney buying Star Wars. I have to say, Star Wars Weekends are on par with some conventions I’ve heard of. When Disney gets a hold of something, they’ll flaunt it and make it something everyone can enjoy. These weekends are comparable to a sacred gathering for fans of the series. To see people who enjoy these movies as much as I do having as much fun as me was sublime. The energy there was almost tangible, especially during Memorial Day weekend. The park’s population swelled so much, it almost reached capacity. This weekend was full of characters, big name actors, festivities, themes snacks, souvenirs and ways to immerse fans in the universe itself. Guests could make themselves Storm Troopers — it was awesome. I digress, these weekends were nothing less than magical for me and, from what I could tell, those around me. Where else at this time could you see Boba Fett dance with Princess Leia in her slave outfit?
For this Star Wars fan, Disney did a great job setting the atmosphere of my favorite series. The entire park was flooded with Star Wars music until the park closed. The employees where all nice, the characters excellent and actors incredible, I couldn’t have asked for a better time. The fireworks show was impressive, too — Disney literally ended the festivities with quite a bang.
Photography’s bad boy, Tyler Shields, returns
to Cincinnati for another exhibit at Miller Gallery, kicked off with an opening
reception in Over-the-Rhine Friday. Known for his controversial celebrity
photos, Shields last exhibited at Miller Gallery in October as part of
FotoFocus. Now he’s back showing off his latest collection of photos, Suspense, featuring images of people
falling, floating and flipping across striking backgrounds. Friday’s opening is
a pop-up gallery party at the Hanke Building (1130 Main St., OTR). VIP $50
tickets grant 8 p.m. admission, free valet parking, an open bar and photo op
with Shields. General admission from 9 p.m.-midnight is $10 and includes three
drink tickets. It’s
sure to be a super party and a great chance to brush shoulders with the “who’s
who” of the art community. Proceeds benefit Flashes of Hope, a national nonprofit with the
mission to photograph every child with cancer until every child is cured. Buy tickets here or bring cash at the door.
Across the river in Newport, Powerhouse Factories celebrates music festival season with a Summer Shindig Friday. Enjoy live music from The Pinstripes, a great view from Powerhouse’s patio, great deals on the factory’s excellent assortment music posters (BOGO half-off) and frosty beers from MadTree Brewery. The free party runs 6 p.m.-midnight.
The Fringe Festival continues this weekend
(through June 8), with plenty of original, unusual and just plan weird theater performances throughout the city. Go here
for performance reviews, a complete
festival schedule and the official festival guide. And getcho Fringe on!
The 46th annual Summerfair takes over Coney Island Friday-Sunday. This festival, one of the oldest continuous art fairs in the country, features more than 300 fine artists, crafters, youth arts organizations and performers exhibiting and selling photographs, pottery, textiles, jewelry and much more.
Are you a Shark or a Jet? A Greaser or a Soc? A Mod or a Rocker? Do you rock a scooter or a motorcycle? Either way, folks from “both sides of the tracks” will come together this weekend for the Queen City Mods & Rockers Rally, a weekend-long event to promote unity between both types of motor enthusiasts. Events include family-friendly rides, a pin-up girl contest, a bike rally, happy hour, a group breakfast and more. A $30 pass gets you admission to all the three-day events. Go here for more info.
All in all, I was really happy with the new season. There were some low points, for sure, but the format of each episode focusing on one character, to create a series of overlapping and intertwining story lines, was hilarious and perfect for both Netflix and the show. It’s so hard for a project like this to live up to everyone’s expectations and I think AD deftly avoided taking itself too seriously or trying to make this fourth season something greater than it really is. Best of all, it’s at least as re-watchable as the other seasons, and I look forward to catching more Easter eggs and puns with repeated plays.
But we do have
something serious to discuss. We need to talk about Portia de Rossi’s face. BuzzFeed agrees.
Development, Portia plays a self-centered, materialistic wasp, but in real life
(because I totally know PDR IRL), I
imagine her to be a much more down-to-earth, naturally elegant beauty. In fact,
in a recent interview with Los Angeles
Portia talks about being 40, how she’s proud of her age and being uninterested
in clinging to her 20s. She’s also on the cover of Out Magazine’s
May issue, sporting a short, Twiggy-inspired look (hopefully Ellen and Portia
will continue to just fuse into identical pixie-haired, blonde lesbian
goddesses and take over the world). Here, she certainly looks different from
her early Lindsay Bluth days, but between adding a few years, an edgy haircut,
Photoshop photography magic, I didn’t think she’d done
anything to her pretty little face. I didn’t think Ellen would allow it! And
then came the Lindsay episode of Arrested
WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED TO YOUR FACE?!
The feminist in me
is hesitant to go on about whether someone has had plastic surgery. I mean, who
cares? It’s her right to do whatever she wants to her (already flawless angel)
visage. But it’s so confusing why she’d discuss embracing age in interviews
when she so clearly has done something to her mug. Her facial expressions,
something so essential to her drama queen character, have seriously diminished
in this new season. What’s so ironic is that Lindsay very infamously had a nose
job in her youth, and any real-life plastic surgery could have easily been
written into the script! Also, I can't even pinpoint any specific plastic surgery that could have happened (total face transplant?), so I'm really worried that someone made a Portia robot and the real PDR is being held hostage somewhere. Anyone?
Anyway, if you haven’t yet hunkered down for an AD watch-a-thon, I definitely suggest it (some of the humor would be lost if you spaced the episodes out too much). Just prepare yourself for a few things: cameos galore, an inexplicable number of bird references (particularly ostriches, WTF?) and a surprising new face on Nellie, I mean Lindsay, Bluth.
In other FACE news,
HBO premiered the anticipated Steven Soderbergh Liberace movie, Behind the Candelabra, Sunday. If you
were planning on tuning in for a camptastic voyage of gold lamé, diamonds and
gays (well, there was plenty of that),
you might be surprised to discover an emotional, heartfelt film. Based on the
memoirs of Scott Thorson, Liberace’s companion in the late '70s-mid-'80s, the movie starred Matt Damon as Thorson and a flawless Michael
Douglas as Mr. Showmanship himself. (All Behind the Candelabra photos courtesy HBO.)