Sunday, November 27, 2016

Hollywood Christmas Parade 2016

Tonight R2 was joined by Gordon Tarpley as C-3PO and William Miyamoto and Chopper, along with scores of members from the 501st and Rebel Legions for the 2016 Hollywood Christmas Parade.

We arrived around 2:00pm, nice and early because of impending street closures. That gave us plenty of time to check out the scene. We got a good look at many of the cars that would be driving in the parade.

We also got a clear look at the red carpet on Hollywood Blvd, along which such landmarks as the Grauman's Chinese Theater, and the El Capitan and Dolby theaters reside, among many others.

Like last year, the droids were only to march the red carpet-portion of the 3+ mile parade route. Unlike last year, there wasn't a VIP area in which to take refuge, so we would have to just cut through the crowd lining the streets and head back to our cars(!) when we were done with the red carpet. Not awesome, but doable.

After checking out the cars, we strolled the Walk of Fame and got some lunch, which afforded a good view of the red carpet from above.

Around 4:00pm it was time to head back and start getting ready for the 6:00pm parade. Gordon's car looked like it had plowed into C-3PO as he laid out the costume in preparation to get into it.

Once we were all set, we headed down to the beginning of the red carpet. The Star Wars groups were lined a couple blocks away, as they were #18 in line. Since the droids couldn't drive/walk on the asphalt, we simply staged ourselves at the start of the red carpet and hung out, where people got pictures and we did a brief interview with Los Angeles NBC affiliate KNBC.

And finally, the parade got going! The Cat in the Hat was a bit too tall for the traffic lights, so he had to duck down at the starting line.

He was followed by the cars and bands. Olivia Newton-John was the Grand Marshall.

The 501st arrived, it was almost time for us to jump in!

And off we go. Since I was busy driving R2, I didn't get any pictures of the parade itself. But Associated Press did.

William had... a little mishap with Chopper toward the end, but he recovered and everything worked out fine. The three droids got lots of love from the crowd, and everyone enjoyed seeing all the Star Wars Characters.

After we made it to the end of the red carpet, we had no choice but to cut through the crowd and make our way back to the parking structure. This was less than ideal, but it worked out okay.

All in all, everyone had a great time, and we'll be watching to see what makes the broadcast on December 16, 2016 on the CW network.

The full photoset is here.

Sunday, November 06, 2016

FIRST Robotics Competition San Diego 2016

Five years to the day that R2 last visited, he returned to High Tech High School in San Diego for their FIRST Robotics competition. As was the case last time, the competition was for middle school students in the FIRST LEGO League, using LEGO Mindstorms.

R2 was a surprise robot guest, and the teams got a chance to swarm him and take pictures.

Everyone had a good time, and the students appreciated having the chance to meet R2.

Saturday, November 05, 2016

On Stage with Weird Al at Blizzcon 2016

Tonight R2 and members of the 501st were invited to join Weird Al Yankovic on stage, as he gave a concert to attendees of Blizzard Entertainment's Blizzcon 2016. Matthew Henricks joined me as the backup Vader and droid wrangler.

Matthew and I carpooled, and arrived around 4:30pm at the Anaheim Convention Center, where Blizzcon was taking place. I unloaded and we went to the Star Wars characters' green room, where they had changing space and food for us.

With a few hours to spare, Matthew and I decided to roam the convention floor. Neither of us are gamers, so this world was new to us. It was a bit like looking into a funhouse mirror of ourselves as Star Wars fans, as we were visiting a convention with costumers and characters with which we were pretty unfamiliar. There were also hundreds, if not thousands, of PCs set up for people to play games.

Around 6:15pm we headed back to get R2 staged for the 8:30pm encore. We could see and hear the show from the green room thanks to the projection screen and speakers.

The 501st crew members went through their rehearsals and then suited up.

A little before 8:30pm we made our way to the stage, to await our cue to go on.

And there's our cue, out we go! Stage manager Hawkeye asked me to keep R2 on the near side of the cord on the stage, so I did. That placed R2 a little bit distant from the other characters, but that was fine.

The characters danced to Al's song, "The Saga Begins." At one point early in the song, Al came up to R2 for a serenade.

Matthew took pictures through the small opening we made so that I could see and operate R2.

After the song ended we went back to our green room, and a short time later Al came in for photos and autographs (his, not ours).

And then we were done! Well, there's always that One Last Picture...

We had a great time, and thank you to Matthew for taking/supplying many of the pictures. The full photoset is here.