Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Day 14 - Saying goodbye to the heat and humidity

Our last day in Florida was mostly spent relaxing in the condo after a well deserved morning of sleeping in. We were treated to an amazing storm of thunder, lightning and rain.

We had one last dinner out (back at the Texas de Brazil Churrascarria) with the Sandas, and now it's time to go.

It's now Tuesday morning. Paul and Athena are heading to JFK en route to London, and the rest of us are returning to San Jose via Dallas.

We hope you've enjoyed sharing our adventures.

The 2 idiots will ride again...

Monday, August 16, 2010

Days 12 & 13 - A Gallery of Imagination

The gallery presentation of Ralph McQuarrie's original art continued to be a popular attraction for the remaining days of Star Wars Celebration V.

Gary Kurtz (the producer of Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back) stopped in and praised the gallery. Here he is chatting with Paul.

We were also visited by several ILM alum including Lorne Peterson and Jon Berg (pictured below with John).

All in all, we had quite a few visitors from around the galaxy.

Paul provided a narrative walkthrough for our friends at The ForceCast (coming soon to a podcast near you!), and John did an interview with JediNews.co.uk.

With John and Paul in the art gallery and Stan and Athena in the booth in the exhibit hall, we don't get a chance to experience the events of the show - we depend on the attendees to fill us in. The big buzz at the show came after Jon Stewart's interview with George Lucas, where the Star Wars Blu-Ray releases were announced (just one more year to wait), and a cut-scene from Return of the Jedi that will be included in the set was shown.

Our trading card giveaways were a big hit (sets are already on eBay), and we've got tons of comments in the guest book we'll be bringing back to Ralph. All in all, the positive feedback we received on the gallery was overwhelming.

Our last visitor of the show (after closing) was Clone Wars supervising director Dave Filoni, who has a true appreciation for Ralph's original art.

We then got to work packing things up. The first piece to go up was the first piece to come down. Vonna did the honors.

We got everything packed into the last of the crates before we had to be out of the convention center by 9pm.

The art is now on its way to someplace safe.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Days 10 & 11 - On which we thank the Maker!

Early days and long nights have prevented us from making daily updates to the blog. The show got off to a great start Thursday, and Friday brought with it additional excitement. Before we dive in with those details, let's recap our last several dinners courtesy our traveling chef:

Tuesday night 8/10
Tom & Terri Hodges joined us for dinner consisting of Penne Pasta with sauteed Leeks & Lemon Sauce, Potato-Corn Quiche (with scallions and gruyere cheese), Tomato & Watermelon Salad (with cucumber, avocado and a mix of fresh herbs), fresh mixed green salad and french baguette.

Wednesday night 8/11
While Paul and Athena were off enjoying Disney World, the rest of us went to Charley's Steakhouse with Tsuneo Sanda, his wife Sachiko, and their translator Akiko. It was an amazing meal!

Thursday night 8/12
Avocado Salsa (red & yellow tomatoes with scallions, avocado and sweet corn), Risotto Alla Primavera (risotto with yellow and zucchini squash, corn, peas, carrots and onions) and Gratin Dauphinois (thinly sliced potatoes baked in cream with garlic - no cheese).

The show opened promptly for VIPs just after 9am Thursday morning, frankly before we were ready for them...

We had a steady line of customers buying signed prints, the souvenir program, and more from open to close.

On Friday morning we were honored to have a pre-opening visit from none other than George Lucas himself. When we were introduced as the folks behind The Art of Ralph McQuarrie book, he complimented us on a job well done. We interrupted his tour of the gallery to get a snapshot of him with Ralph's drawing that bears an uncanny resemblance to how he looks today (which is not at all what he looked like when the drawing was originally created).

Paul was able to show George Ralph's first Star Wars drawing:

John asked if he anticipated when he hired Ralph that he'd get such impressive results, to which George replied, "You never know. I was looking for someone to do the job, and I knew he could do it. I've hired a hundred artists. Two-thirds of them turn out to be very good. One-third not so much. 10 percent are brilliant; Ralph was brilliant."

Not a bad day for these 2 idiots!

We're halfway through the show, with the biggest day on the horizon. We anticipate we may have time in the morning to catch our breath, as the Jon Stewart/George Lucas interview tomorrow will suck in at least 7000 people across the auditorium where it's happening and related overflow rooms. In fact, as we write this at 11:00pm the night before, we've already read reports that people are camped out to get a wristband that will allow them into one of the screening areas.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Days 8 & 9 - The Set Up

The last two days have been a bit of a blur as we set up the gallery for the show. We were told that we had one-meter walls on which to hang the art, so we came up with a plan as to how we'd layout the room based on the number of pieces we were bringing.

When we got to the room, everything was laid out to our specification, with one minor difference - the wall panels were all two meters wide. Not bad if you're trying to cover an exhaust port on the Death Star, but it added a bit of a logistical challenge to our layout. We later found out they did this because in our sample layout, the walls 'appeared to be larger than one meter.' That's what we get for asking for an 18" Stonehenge monument.

Fortunately our crates arrived safely and we were able to get to work sorting the art out in the order we planned to display it.

John and Paul took a moment for a commemorative photo before hanging the first piece in the gallery - Ralph's first Star Wars drawings.

We got about half of the art hung by the end of the day Tuesday, and the rest up quickly Wednesday morning. We also hung our banner to complement the room description the show provided.

Here are several shots throughout the finished gallery.

We're quite happy with how it turned out. We'll see if George likes it when he comes by Friday morning. IF he comes by.

We'll try to catch up on food updates in the next post. It's time to get this show on the road!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Day 7 - Around the World in Less than a Day

Our friends began to arrive in town yesterday. We picked up Tom and Terri Hodges, fresh off a red-eye from California, to join us at Epcot for the day.

As it was our last day before the show would encompass our days from dawn until dusk, we thought we should hit one last attraction not readily available to us on the west coast.

One of the key areas of Epcot is the World Showcase; a collective of Pavilions that wrap around the World Showcase Lagoon. Inside the Pavilions, there are shops, attractions and restaurants that represent the culture and cuisine of 11 different countries.

We made our way through each of the following:

We decided Mexico was the right place to stop and eat, particularly when we looked at the next several countries on our path.

The shot of Tom and Terri is in the restaurant - and not to worry, that wasn't a real volcano (the human sacrifice on the adjacent altar was real).

Apparently nothing says Norway like Gnomes, so John and Vonna took the opportunity to get a snap with the largest one in the gift shop.

Vonna added some dolls to her collection, and Terri was pleased to find a keychain with her name, in the correct spelling no less. Only had to go all the way to China...

Homeland for Stan and Vonna (and beer). Vonna's laughing in this picture because a kid had just walked by with his dad saying, "let's get out of Germany before World War II starts."

It wouldn't be Italy without art, although who the fish guy is, no one knows for sure...

United States
And nothing says US of A like Turkey Legs and Popcorn!

Oddly enough, Japan was one of the hottest places in Epcot. Coincidence?

A nice band was playing, and there were some interesting shops. John tried to raise a genie from a lamp, much to the disdain of the shop attendant.

Oddly enough, John didn't have a snapshot of France. Perhaps that's because France is where we indulged in chocolate/vanilla swirl soft-serve cones.

United Kingdom
Home sweet home for Paul and Athena! In keeping with the true experience of each country, it started pouring. And kept pouring. Stan and Vonna took refuge under an eave, while the rest of folks enjoyed themselves singin' in the rain.

Mainly due to the rain, we decided to bypass Canada, short of this quick snap.

Another downpour hit us on the way out - Yay! We dropped Terri and Tom off so they could get some well earned rest, and returned to the condo for Vonna's finest:

Lemon Oregano Chicken with baby asparagus; roasted corn, wild mushroom & spinach risotto; brocolli salad - with ice cream and choc chip cookies.

Tuesday is setup! Look forward to the pictures in the next post!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Day 6 - The Final Frontier

While the rain on Saturday was kind enough to go away when it came time to leave the condo, Sunday was just the opposite. We waited out quite a downpour to avoid having to swim to the car for our trip to Kennedy Space Center. Once on our way, we had our share of torrential rain.

By the time we arrived it had stopped raining. As we made our way across the vast parking lot, Vonna pulled a line straight out of Young Frankenstein, and lo and behold, the sky opened up on us. Fortunately once it stopped, it stopped for the day.

Once inside the center, we were just in time to line up for our extended tour. We were able to get within a mile of historic launch complexes 39A and 39B, where all of the lunar landing missions took place (Apollo 7 was the last manned spaceflight to launch from Cape Canaveral). All Space Shuttle missions have launched from these as well. There are currently two more planned Shuttle launches before the program is retired, one in November and one recently added for next February.

We also got within a few hundred feet of the 525 foot tall Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB). It's massive size is hard to appreciate - you can see it looming in the distance from miles away. It was built to allow for a Saturn V rocket atop a crawler to exit the building upright.

We were then dropped off at a Saturn V center which has one of three original Saturn V rockets on display. You can truly appreciate how massive a vehicle it is when you're standing underneath it.

While Stan and Vonna waited, John hopped on a Space Shuttle launch simulator. Imagine a Star Tours ride where they tip you on your back and shake you up through the first several minutes of a launch.

Our last stop on the tour was the memorial to the astronauts who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the American Space Program, including the crew members of Apollo 1, Challenger STS 51-L, and Columbia STS-107.

We went straight from Kennedy Space Center to the Orlando Airport to pick up Paul and Athena, who somehow managed to land almost an hour ahead of schedule. Fortunately we were able to find them and whisk them off to the condo without repeated trips through the airport.

Back at the condo, Vonna prepared another fine menu:

Cheese, crackers, fruit & veg for starters to calm all weary travelers, then fettuccini with tomatoes and basil; corn bread with sharp cheddar and chives; and curried chicken fruit salad - with again the obligatory choc chip cookies after dinner.

On Monday, we're planning to head out to Epcot for our last day of fun in the sun. Tuesday we setup the art gallery, Wednesday we setup the booth in the exhibit hall, and Star Wars Celebration V starts on Thursday!