14 May

Sometimes, you encounter the chance to experience a once in a lifetime opportunity. Such as being part of a wedding at a beautiful location… Whilst wearing Stormtrooper armour.

May the 4th be with you!

It certainly was with me, and my fellow troopers, and the guests invited to an amazing wedding held at a stunning location on such an important date. If I ever find myself someone geeky enough to share ‘our’ life’s adventure, I might even consider something like it, but I’m sure the chances of it are approximately 3,720 to 1.

I’m the kind of guy who wears my heart on my sleeve, or at least on my armoured gauntlet. I wasn’t always so, but I’ve learned the hard way. Risking a moment’s embarrassment against a lifetime’s regret is easy once you’ve felt the consequences. Tell people how you feel about them, especially if you love them. And here at a wedding, one partner created a wedding experience for her partner that was completely memorable, entertaining, geeky and fun! She planned it in secret to show him exactly how she felt, and incorporated it into their special and memorable day – their wedding day.

Now that is love!

I was honoured, and fortunate enough to be a part of that. From the greeting of guests as they arrived, including the general public who happened to walk past the entrance, up to the bride and groom and everyone in between, there were so many happy people excited to have a photograph with a Stormtrooper, or a Jawa, and even Darth Vader! I felt humbled to be able take a small part of making someone else’s wish come true – their wedding dream and special day. On top of that, we raised money for a charity in doing so.

How far would you go for someone you loved on such a special one-of-a-kind day?

Why do we do what we do? And why in the universe would we do it in costume?

17 Feb

So, blogging. Where does one start? What does one blog about? And why blog in the first place? Is it to be heard? Or to get something off your chest and release it to the world? What if the world isn’t ready for it? What if you aren’t ready for it? What will you do with the knowledge once you have it? Once it is out there, you have lost control of it. You can’t get it back. Words are powerful things. They can hurt, or heal. The pen is mightier than the sword they say. Who are ‘they’ anyway? I’m sure it may just be because they have never faced a real sword or lightsaber, but may have taken a pen to the eye while mucking around one day. All worthy ponderings admittedly, but still, I feel I may be digressing.

So, what will I blog about? I’ve been told it should be about good things, to put some positive ideas out there. Sounds reasonable, and it came from someone I trust completely. So it must be true. And who wants to read about depressing crap anyway? We all have enough of that in our lives. So I’ll take her lead. This will be a positive blog. About positive things. And very probably geeky things. Happy things. Different things. Personal things, otherwise what it the point of it really? So, what should this one be about?

Not what is on my mind, that’s for sure. Being this was written on Valentines Day, and not the one I’d hoped for, that would go into the ‘not so happy’ side of the ledger. Seeing lots of people’s attitudes towards Valentines Day did get me thinking though, or I should say more remembering things from my past. A more distant and personal past, and one which I believe has become unintentional baggage for me, and has certainly affected my more recent past in a way that only a time machine could fix. That would be if time machines ever seemed to work properly anyway, and weren’t trying to get you eaten by dinosaurs or apes, or futuristic dino-apes. With lasers.

So anyway, a happy blog topic. Maybe one close to my heart for many reasons. Why not start with something extra geeky?

Star Wars.

Most people can say they have seen at least one of the films. Some would describe them as space westerns, with the good guys fighting insurmountable odds through their adventures to win the day. Good guys you could love, and bad guys you could love to hate. When first released back in 1979, little was expected of it, yet it became a phenomenon and earned a bucketload. People were hooked. Some were more into it than others, to the point of even making their own movie costumes. At the time, such costumes were high tech wizardry, yet a few talented and diehard fans managed to replicate crude but effective versions based on what they had seen on the big screen. This was in the days before VCRs were available to record films, which makes it even more amazing that people would go to see this film over and over and be able to remember what they had seen well enough to make their own costume copies.

And then two more Star Wars films were released.

I was 6 years old when Star Wars was released, but wasn’t able to watch it until I was about 12 because it was ‘too violent and scary’. I eventually got to see it and was mesmerised. And addicted. I wore out my VCR tapes when we eventually got them. I knew exactly when the ads would come on and what they were. GE washing machines and their jingles were burned into my head. The films left a strong impact on me. I could relate to them on many levels. The core of the original trilogy of movies was a story about a Father’s struggle with his past and his eventual redemption, returning to the side of good from having been the darkest of evil, and the son who helped him find his way back. In a way, my life feels a little like Darth Vader’s struggle. My plans on having a happy family didn’t quite go as planned, but my son is definitely the light of my life and has returned me from what has felt like an overwhelming darkness in the past. The story and characters may come from a galaxy far, far away, but the ideals borne from the story are as close to home as ever. Well, maybe except for the whole kissing your twin sister part. That’s just a bit weird. The special effects and sound for its time were top class. The fans wanted more and more and would pay to see the films over and over again. A story which included adventure, a new take on religion, a strong female lead character, believable characters including robots and aliens, and a galaxy to explore. A touch of comedy, and some romance. It had it all.

Here was a trilogy which at the time of release had plenty of shock value for the fans. Spoiler alert – the first film, the good guys win. The second, the Empire Strikes Back literally and the good guys take a pounding. To have a film where the heroes lose is almost unheard of. But they do return in Return of the Jedi to beat the bad guys again. And that isn’t even mentioning the family entanglements involved! Kissing your twin sister? I’d rather kiss a wookie.

The point is that Star Wars changed my life in positive ways, which I can now use in myself to do positive things and better the lives of others. I am proud to be an Imperial Stormtrooper, one of Darth Vader’s evil henchmen – Our motto, “Bad guys doing good”, and our costumes are now movie accurate to what you see on the big screen. In some cases, they’re so well put together from painstaking research and hard work that they are actually superior to the film versions, and used at official Lucasfilm promotional events. For a volunteer to be invited to be a part of such things is a pretty big deal! Whether it is bringing a smile to a child’s face, or raising money for various charities, or seeing parents so excited about getting a photo and then telling their kids all about their own memories of Star Wars. Seeing the happy radiance in their faces as they remember their own childhood, I feel that what I can do for someone just by dressing up in an awesome costume is a priceless gift. It is a gift I can give for free, generally only requiring a small piece of my own time and effort, to bring so much joy to so many others.

Seeing children too small to know who we are or what we are dressed as wanting to come up and give you a hug is amazing. Many aren’t sure of us and hide behind their parent’s legs. With a little playful coaxing they often get brave enough to come out and give a high-five! Or for the older kids, hearing “OMG I just got a photo with a Stormtrooper, that is going straight on my Facebook profile!”. It is a shame that the smiles they are giving me are the same ones I’m beaming back at them under my helmet; they just can’t see them. It allows both me and my son to do something which brings joy to others as much as ourselves, as he also dresses up in character – a Jawa. Sure, there are also those who will make fun of those who dress up in costumes, but they’re the ones missing out.

Imperial Stormtrooper and Jawa

Imperial Stormtrooper and Jawa

So, have you seen the films yet? If not, you should. Go. Now! Enjoy some adventure!