December 11, 2023

My Birthday Weekend at Force Friday II and Dragon Con

It started off peacefully enough. On a whim I went to the local Target store to celebrate Force Friday II. I expected a large line, but was pleasantly surprised when there were only a handful of fans ahead of me. The conversation was cordial, and I even got them to agree with me that people who criticized the prequel trilogy should stop whining about “The Force Awakens being a remake of A New Hope.”

Then the Porgs came out. And that’s when it got real.

These monstrous yet undeniably adorable creatures were part of a raffle that Target was holding. Although I tried to Jedi mind trick the employee into giving me the Porgs because Sunday was my birthday, no such luck. I missed winning the raffle by 1 number, but I was able to take home their little cousin!

In addition to little Porgy, I was able to buy new Funko Pops as well as the Rey and Luke Black Series figures, which are stunningly beautiful.

All in all it was a successful Force Friday II. Friday morning, my sons were ecstatic to travel with me to Atlanta to attend Dragon Con. This was my first time attending, and I was greatly looking forward to meeting some of my favorite Star Wars authors and compete in the @SWatDC trivia contest. I packed up the boys, Chewie grabbed Porgy, and we hit the road.

Let me tell you, the cosplay at Dragon Con is simply incredible. The amount of work these diehard fans put into their costumes is extraordinary. I am especially thankful that they are so willing to share the end result of their hard work with anyone that passes by. We immediately ran into some fine looking Imperials who evidently just arrested Jyn Erso…


Because these cosplayers are so approachable, my son had no fear in running right up to them for a photo op. Can you name everyone with whom he got a picture?

My wish to meet my favorite Star Wars authors became a reality on Friday night. Claudia Gray and E. K. Johnston were especially welcoming and were kind enough to sign two of my favorite canon novels. E. K. also agrees that Bloodlines and Lost Stars are two of the best Star Wars books out there right now!

We sat in on panel entitled “Masculinity in Star Wars,” which had nearly all of my favorite authors. I don’t want to give away too much about this topic — there will be a blog on that topic in the near future — but just check out this group: Timothy Zahn, Kevin J. Anderson, Claudia Gray, E. K. Johnston and Michael Stackpole!

Friday night was a late one that ended with the qualifying round for the Star Wars trivia contest hosted by @SWatDC. This test had 50 of the most difficult questions I have ever seen. Thomas Harper, the reigning champion, posted pictures of all the questions we were asked, and just in case you thought I was exaggerating….

When we got done, I thought there was little chance that I had made the finals as they were only accepting the top 10. Needless to say, I couldn’t have been more surprised by this tweet….

They meant “Brad,” but I forgave them. If you’ll notice, that list included Thomas Harper, the aforementioned reigning champ and Alex Morgan, producer of the Star Wars Explained YouTube video series himself. My chances were slim to none, but as Han Solo says, “Never tell me the odds.”

The first round was A/B multiple choice. Not to brag — okay, maybe a little — but yours truly went 10 for 10. I was knocked off any high horse on which I may have been sitting during the second round where they showed us a series of pictures and we had to simultaneously identify them. Having no idea at all about the first three, I took the opportunity to drop a subtle hint about my Snoke theory.

All I can say is, the Force must have been smiling at me. By some miracle, I was one of the three finalists to make the sudden death round. Unfortunately, the other two were (you guessed it) Alex and Thomas. The winner is the last person standing. The first question was “What is Thrawn’s full name?” I’m not even going to attempt to spell it here — you can Google it. None of us got it exactly right as spelling counted in this round. The second question was “What is Chopper’s numerical designation?” We all got C1–10P. The third question “What was the Duchess of Mandalore’s full name?” I knew it was Satine, but I couldn’t think of her last name, so I was out. Here is the final question:

It’s a DC-17 something or other. Thomas got it right, took the win and defended his title successfully! My hat is truly off to these two men; their knowledge of Star Wars is officially unmatched.

Saturday night we decided to do a little more Force Friday shopping. I took the boys to Build-A-Bear and they had a blast, especially when I finally figured out how to use the #FindTheForce feature of the new Star Wars app.

You may have noticed the title of this blog promised Jedi Masters, but I have yet to mention any. Sunday was my birthday and I figured it couldn’t get any better than placing in the trivia challenge. Somewhat facetiously, I tweeted the following:

And then it happened.

Not only that, but Mr. Hamill proved that he is one of the classiest men in Hollywood. He actually took the time to wish me a happy birthday.

I would like to say “my life is complete,” but…no…my life is definitely complete. Without a shadow of a doubt I can honestly say this was the best birthday I have ever experienced. Thomas, Alex, the cosplayers, and everyone else in Atlanta made DragonCon something I will never forget. My boys provided the best company a father could ever hope for. Mark Hamill is a bigger inspiration to me now more than ever. And last, but certainly not least, all the folks on twitter — who I consider my true friends — wishing me a happy birthday and congratulating me made this a birthday for the ages.

Thank you, and as always, may the Force be with you.

P.S. Never get the Porgs wet…


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