Why I Portray Han Solo…Part Two

In 2010 I made a Han Solo costume, for the sole purpose of wearing it to Star Wars Celebration V(on the Saturday of the Con), in Orlando Florida. I went there by myself, to meet up with friends. Strangely enough, I never met up with them. Thursday and Friday, of the con were fun, but uneventful. But, Saturday was a different story.

I had the entire costume made, except for the gun belt. So, Friday night, I stayed up late making the gun belt out of vinyl I brought(I made the buckles out of aluminum cans!). I wandered into the con on Saturday, and basically found a pillar to lean against, while I attempted to reach my friends through texting. While lazily leaning, it happened.

Folks started coming up, asking me if they could take pictures with me(just like the Jack Sparrow incidents). Well, I obliged. And obliged again, and again, and again, and so on! It was fun! People of all ages were taking photos. But the ones that moved me the most, and were my favorites, were the ones with special needs(i.e. Autistic, down syndrome, and such…). They were the happiest to see me! Me! Just a guy who made and wore his costume!

Well, eventually it died down to where I could leave and wander the exhibit hall. I saw the Rebel Legion and 501st Legion booths, and thought they were pretty cool, though at the time, I had no idea what they were about. I took lots of photos of other folks costumes(LOTS), bought a few things, and eventually wandered back out the the pillar. This is where I met my first new friend at the con.

Trudy was(and is) awesome. She had taken a photo with me, and knew I was having trouble finding the friends I was supposed to meet up with. I think she felt sorry for me(LOL). We wandered around and talked, sharing our experiences, until it was time for me to hop on the bus to Disney/MGM for the Last Flight to Endor. Which is where I met my next new friend.

I hopped on the bus, and found myself a seat. Soon, an orange monolith(very tall) of a man sat across the aisle from me. This is going to sound terrible, but I don’t quite remember what we talked about, or how the conversation started, but I do know it was Gregor who spoke first. But, due to the laughing, I know we were making jokes and smart alec remarks. This has continued to this day, but I remember those! Anyway, we both got there and hopped off the bus. It was nightfall, and we were able to go right into the park, in costume! And, all the while, still joking around.

Soon we ran into the group that Gregor was meeting up with. I am sad to say I don’t quite remember who was with us exactly, except for Shawn. Shawn was dressed as Obi-Wan Kenobi, with a Yoda puppet in tow. So, it was the three of us exchanging jokes and sarcastic comments everywhere we went. Our Star Wars herd migrated all over the park, up until the fanfare that was The Last Flight to Endor.

When the festivities began, we three were up near the front. And, it turned into Mystery Science Theater 3000, right there. We were heckling and joking, throughout the precedings. Though, I don’t think they could hear us(LOL). After it was over, they allowed us to take pictures of Yoda, at the podium they used.

After that, the park was closing, so we all went our separate ways. I hopped on the bus, back to my hotel, and collapsed in my room. The following morning I went to the final day of the con. I was dressed in shorts and a Star Wars T-shirt. I eventually found Shawn, and we hung out and wandered the convention.

We were in the Ralph McQuarrie gallery, when a man came to me and said,”My daughter took a picture with you yesterday.” He handed me a little stuffed Han Solo plush-like doll, and thanked me. Before I could really say anything, he was gone. I think I was blushing. I asked Shawn if that sort of thing happens to him, and it did/does.

This incident, and all of the people that wanted photos the day before, cemented in my mind what I wanted to do. If I can make someone’s day a little better, just by wearing a costume, then that was it! I found out what I could, and changed my costume, so it was screen accurate. Shawn helped me quite a bit! Even supplied me with a trooper belt. Then I submitted photos to the Rebel Legion.

I didn’t get accepted. I told Shawn. And because of his diligence, I am a member of the Rebel Legion. I get to go to childrens hospitals, military bases, libraries, etc. dressed as Han Solo! I get to brighten their days a little bit. And the best part is, the smiles. I shouldn’t be biased, but making the kids smile, is my favorite over everyone(and everything) else.

So, I pretend to be a Han Solo, several times a year. I dress up as a character from a movie out of the 70s. I smile just as much as the kids do. But, that’s what it’s all about; bringing smiles to others. And, I hope I get to do it til the end of my days!two solos

Why I Portray Han Solo…Part One

I grew up like most kids, watching cartoons and loving superheroes, dinosaurs, and outer space. Every day I’d be playing with action figures, and race cars, while watching Ultraman on UHF. Every night I would go to bed in my Luke Skywalker underoos; but every late Friday night I would catch the Rocketman and Flash Gordon serials on channel 7. Like every kid, I wanted to be the hero I saw on the screen. So, every year on Halloween, I dressed as such and wandered around with other kids bagging for candy.

One year I was Underdog, in a costume my mother made. Yup, anything was possible. So back in October of 1977, I was farm boy Luke Skywalker. My family insisted that I made the costume; my first costume! But, I distinctly remember just standing on small table, with my arms outstretched like an airplane, while cloth was draped over me. Another year I was a mummy, which I don’t remember making myself, either.

The costume I actually remember making first, was actually an E.T. costume. A brownish long sleeve shirt with brownish pants and gloves, with a glow stick at the end of one finger, were the clothes. I constructed the head out of cardboard and tape,,,,painted it too! Folks loved it, but I am my own worst critic sometimes, and felt I could do better.

Another year I made a Ghostbuster costume. It had a gray shirt and gray pants and black shoes(Venkman style). I made the backpack out of cardboard and foam, all painted black, connected by a tube. The proton thrower was made from cardboard as well, with a pen light in the tip. I wore it to the school Halloween dance, and was led around by nearly everyone, because they wanted to “zap ghosts.”

Basically, every year I kept making my own costume. From Robocop to a half Batman half Joker, to an unintentional Captain Harlock, to Jack Skellington, to Fox Mulder, to Qui Gonn Jin, to Professor Snape, to Ace Ventura, to the Mask, to the Riddler(this must have been my Jim Carrey phase), to V for Vendetta, to Sweeney Todd, to Captain Jack Sparrow; to name a few(LOL). With Jack Sparrow I wore it to the Magic Kingdom, in Florida to their Halloween party. Well wore costumes, but due to what happened, mine was becoming a problem.

From the moment we stepped off the ferry, trying to make our way to the front gate, people kept asking to take a photo with me. As one can imagine, this slowed our progress into the park(and to the rest of our group) quite considerably. Once we got through the gate, I decided to press forward, head down and determined. Apparently there was a parade going on, as we made our way to the hub, and our group. Most of the way there, I was tapped on the back, and I turned around and up on the float was the park’s Jack Sparrow hollering at me. He tipped his hat and bowed to me as I did the same to him, smiling widely, before I turned and continued on my trek.

There were other adventures that night, for me. While in line for the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, I was stopped for photos over and over, and picked up many small admirers(much to the chagrin of the folks I was with). Also, while waiting outside It’s A Small World, two plain clothed Disney security wandered up to me. On their way, it clearly looked as though they thought I was their Jack, and were probably wondering where my character lead was! But, as they got closer their demeanor changed, and we could tell they new I didn’t “work” there. “Turning a lot of heads tonight?” they asked, smiling. Laughing, I replied,”A little.”

This whole thing was a really weird experience for me. I never posed for pictures with perfect strangers before, simply because I was dressed like a movie hero(or anti-hero?). I didn’t really think much of it after we left, except for some funny stories to tell. So, I went back to my usual yearly costume.on the news

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    It’s been rather back and forth on this.  I, like most fans would rather film versions of our favorite media be quite true to the source material.  Sometimes they are close, like Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. And other times, they are way off(Watchers, Starship Troopers, TMNT, Aragon, etc.).  This is generally due to whatever demographic they are aiming their product at. Sometimes it is the personal likes/dislikes of the material by the Director or Producer or Scriptwriter that cause the story to stray.  Either way, it is like flipping a coin, as to whether their version will be a success or not.   

    I bring this up, primarily because I am sick of horrible film adaptations of my favorite stories.  I was really trying to stay positive on the reboots of previous adaptations that failed, as well.  But, the reboots seem to fall in line with the others.  Flip of a coin.  Will there ever be a good adaptation of The Phantom, or TMNT? Maybe the stories I love, are not loved by others?  Perhaps I have to go the route of crowd funding, and make my own as a fan film.  Voltron, Star Trek(original series), and Mortal Kombat have done it.  But I digress.

    As of late, in all honesty, there has been a lot of fairly true adaptations.  And, I hope that trend continues.  What Disney has done with the Marvel properties has given me hope.  So, let’s just see what happens.  Star Wars Episode 7 will be here in no time, and I wonder what will be different(no lens flare please), and what will remain the same(bring back Lando!).  Only J.J. knows for sure, right?

Keep your fingers crossed!  Hmmmm…Indie Go Go, eh?…  

Pirates Classes!

While driving to wherever I was headed I spotted, out of the corner of my eye, a building promoting “Pirate Classes.” Having passed the building while on the freeway, I decided to make a mental note and investigate later.  But it just kept eating away at my attention;  Was this merely an all-too-specific acting class? Or was this truly about becoming a swashbuckling privateer? Visions of receiving my diploma from a peg-leg Pete danced across my mind. This was followed by seeing myself all pirated-up, bounding across the poop deck, barking orders to my scallywag crew, and spinning the ships wheel with a green eye-patched parrot on my shoulder.  Smelling the sea air and adventuring to the far ends of the earth! But then my dreams were dashed when I saw the sign on the building again…”Pilates Classes.”