Star Wars Excitement Building To Critical Mass

VR-TechyDadIt’s no secret that our family loves Star Wars. I’ve been a Star Wars geek for as long as I can remember. Some of my first actions, upon discovering the Internet, was to join a Star Wars Usenet group.

NHL is a fan also, but JSL is a super-fan. He will often break into Yoda speak and demanded to see the film immediately after seeing the trailer back in February. (Sadly, I doubted I’d have been able to contact JJ Abrams, much less convince him to show us the movie early.

Still, our wait is almost over. We’ve been whetting our appetites with the trailers, but in two weeks the main course will arrive.

Some might fear that the new movies will repeat the mistakes that the prequels made. If Yoda taught us anything, though, it’s that fear is the Dark Side and should be avoided. Still, I’ve been secretly praying that the movie will be more Empire Strikes Back and less A Phantom Menace.

Besides the trailers, I’ve indulged my Star Wars appetite by reading some fan theories about the movies. My favorite involves the much despised character, Jar-Jar Binks.

According to the theory, Jar-Jar was originally supposed to be an evil figure hiding in plain sight. He would have been a mirror image to Yoda’s first appearance as a crazy hermit. All of his "dumb luck" moments would really have been subtle uses of the Force. The theory actually is week thought out and I could see this having been the original plan before Lucas chickened out and kept Jar-Jar as pure comic relief.

Our latest Star Wars indulgence involves a piece of cardboard. Google Cardboard, to be exact. Google Cardboard is a virtual reality headset that is made of (you guessed it) cardboard as well as lenses and Velcro.  You can ride virtual rollercoasters, travel to distant lands, and dive under the water to swim with virtual fish.

I picked up a Star Wars/Verizon Wireless branded Google Cardboard viewer on Wednesday.  After downloading the Google Cardboard app, I launched the Star Wars app.  I’ve previously used the app to take selfies of myself with Vader and Yoda.  I even got frozen in Carbonite and tried on Leia’s locks.  With Google Cardboard, however, I was able to launch the Jakko Spy feature which transported me to a desert world.  The Millennium Falcon flew right overhead pursued by two TIE fighters.  After I stopped ducking, BB-8 rolled up to deliver a message.  Needless to say, I enjoyed this immensely.  Being able to be immersed into a Star Wars planet was amazing.  The boys fought over who went next and thoroughly enjoyed their off world trips.  Even B got into the act, cheerfully saying "Oh, hello there!" as BB-8 approached her.

More Star Wars Google Cardboard features are due to be released leading up to the movie itself.  If you didn’t get a Google Cardboard from Verizon Wireless, you could always buy one from Amazon or build your own.  Either way, one thing is for sure: Star Wars excitement is just going to build more and more here until we see the new movie.  A Jedi might not crave adventure and excitement, but we’re sure looking forward to those two things on the big screen when we see The Force Awakens.

Foam Lightsaber Games For Star Wars Day (Or Any Day For That Matter)!

lightsabersToday is Star Wars Day, also known as May The Fourth.  (May The Fourth as in May The Force Be With You.)  Unlike last year, we don’t have any particularly geeky activities planned.  It helped that May 4th landed on a Saturday last year.  Mondays don’t lend themselves to elaborate celebrations.

Still, we might battle using our foam lightsabers.  Here’s how to make foam lightsabers.  The parts only cost about $1 per saber and I can attest that they last.  After a year of some serious use (we get really into our lightsaber battles), they are frayed but definitely still usable.   Sure, foam might fly off when our sabers clash, but that just adds a bit more realism, right?

The boys and I have come up with a few lightsaber related games.  The first involves having two lightsabers per person.  You do battle and any hit on a person results in them dropping a saber.  Once they have all sabers down, a final strike kills them off.   Last player standing wins.  On Sunday, we came up with a variation.  There’s still the two lightsabers per person and dropping as you get hit.  However, we designated a spot as "out."  When a player was killed, they retrieved their sabers, went to the out zone, and waiting for someone to tag them in (by touching sabers with them).  Then they could return for battle.  Since it was just my boys and me, our loyalties wavered.  With a big enough group, though, you could have teams.  The last team to have member(s) still "alive" wins.

Another game we developed was lightsaber tag.  For this, each player is armed with a lightsaber.  One player is designated "it."  Perhaps, they get a special color of saber to show people who is "it."  The person who is "it" chases everyone else.  "It" tries to tag the other players with his lightsaber.  Instead of a simple tag-and-run, though, players can choose to stand and fight.  Of course, you can’t kill the "out" player and neither can they be killed.  But perhaps they can deflect blows that would have been tags and keep "it" at bay long enough until they can make their escape.

Then, there’s bubble slashing.  This is especially good for the younger players, but older players might enjoy it too.  First, get an automatic bubble blowing machine.  You can do this by blowing bubbles yourself, but the bubble machine can blow more bubbles on a more regular basis.  Have the players slash as many bubbles as they can.  You can call the bubbles incoming droid fighters or enemy blaster fire to give it a more Star Wars feel.  There is no scoring here.  Just the joy of destroying bubbles using foam lightsabers.

It’s amazing how much running around kids (and adults) can do with just some foam pool noodles and duct/electrical tape.  With the summer approaching and parents "looking forward" to the kids being out of school all day, having an activity where you could either sit on the sidelines having the kids tire themselves out without you getting exhausted or jump into the fray is essential.  If it’s a geeky, Star Wars related activity then that’s all the better!

Scenes From A GeekEnd

This past weekend was cause to geek out.

First, the boys and I went to Free Comic Book Day.  We all exited having obtained some cool comics and having met Black Widow and The Joker.


The guy who was dressed as the Joker was completely into his role.  He consented to photos with my boys with their Spider-Man and Perry The Platypus hoods up so long as they didn’t take him back to the asylum.  Then, as we left, he followed two girls back to their car so they could get their phone and take photos with him.  At one point, he grabbed their phone and ran off giving a perfect Joker cackle.  (He did give it back, but the laugh was eerily perfect.)

Next came Star Wars Day.  We first went to the library to look for some Star Wars cooking books.  (Star Wars Cookbook: Wookie Cookies and Other Galactic Recipes and Star Wars Cookbook II: Darth Malt and Other Galactic Recipes.)  We were also hunting for The Simpsons, Season 2.  The boys are now hooked on the adventures of Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, Maggie, and company.  We own season 1, but buying every season would be cost prohibitive.  After all, The Simpsons are already in season 25!  While the library didn’t have that, they were able to put in a request for it for me.  While there, we found some other books and games to take out – including a Clone Wars Lightsaber Duel game for the Wii.

That night, JSL wanted to eat dinner with his grandparents, so we took NHL out and then stopped by some stores to  buy some gifts for Star Wars Day – including used copies of three Star Wars games for the Wii.

The next day, after Hebrew School, we ate a quick lunch out, made a grocery store run, and then headed home.  The boys got some of their Star Wars toys and had fun with them and the games.  Thankfully, the weather held out and we were able to play outside with the boys’ foam lightsabers as well.


In addition to the usual battle to the death (followed by – in a bit of Doctor Who-Star Wars crossover – our characters regenerating and joining the battle again), I took out a bubble making machine and let JSL slash at the bubbles with his lightsaber.  This turned out to be quite the brilliant activity to let him get all of his energy out without me getting exhausted.


Of course, for dinner, we had Boba Fett-uccini and That’s No Meatballs.  (Veggie meatballs.)  We closed out Star Wars day with a Jedi Smoothie.  I was originally going to call this "blue milk" but it came out more purple than blue.  Perfect for Mace Windu’s lightsaber, though.


All in all, this was quite the successful geek-filled weekend!

Geek Weekend – Free Comic Book Day and May The Fourth

lightsaber-battleThis weekend is going to be a very big couple of days for geeks all over.

Free Comic Book Day

Tomorrow begins the celebrations with Free Comic Book Day.  Every year, on the first Saturday in May, comic book shops around the globe give away comic books.  I’ve written before about our previous free comic book day trips.  I hope to go with the boys again this year.  I’m not sure if our local comic book store will have people dressed in costume like they’ve had last year, but it’s always fun to see what comic books interest the boys.

May The Fourth

Sunday is May the 4th.  Star Wars fans, noticing the similarity between the day’s name and the Star Wars quote "May the Force be with you" have adopted this day as "Star Wars Day."  We already have our foam lightsabers ready to go.  (We might take them with us to Free Comic Book Day as well.)  Unfortunately, the weather doesn’t look like it will hold out to allow us to conduct some lightsaber battles outside.  We might need a raincheck for that.

Will you be attending Free Comic Book Day?  How will you celebrate May the Fourth?

Making Foam Lightsabers

Star Wars day is coming up on Sunday, May 4th.  (May 4 = May the 4th = May The Force.)  Given that the boys and I are such big Star Wars fans, we figured that we just had to do something special for it.  (Plus, B had to do a freelance article about the day.)  We decided to tackle something we’ve seen and had been meaning to do for awhile now:  Foam Lightsabers.

The supplies are easy:

  1. Foam pool noodles – You should be able to find these for $1 each.  We found ours in Christmas Tree Shops.  Make sure they’re just think enough to wrap your hands around (as if they were lightsabers).
  2. Shiny silver duct tape – You can get this in Target, Jo-Ann, or another craft shop.  This should only cost about $3.50 depending on the store, sales, coupons, etc.
  3. Black electrical tape – You can get this in Target or a hardware store.  This should only cost around $2.30.

The rolls of duct and electrical tape should provide enough materials for quite a few lightsabers.  We wound up making 6 and had plenty left to spare.  I’d wager we could easily make another 6.  If so, this means that each lightsaber costs about $1 in materials.  That makes this a very inexpensive craft.  (Always a very good feature in a craft.)


Once you have your supplies, measure your pool noodles and cut them in half.

measure cut

Now, you have two…


No, not two lightsabers.  Not yet.


No, not two rabbit ears either.  You have two foam tubes to make into lightsabers.  (Yes, each foam pool noodle makes two lightsabers.)

Next, use two strips of duct tape to cover the end.  Careful of photobombing Yoda, you should be.


After this, wrap the bottom of the lightsaber with four lines of duct tape.  Make sure to always start at the same section to keep a consistent seam.  Also, wrap the tape while facing the end of the lightsaber head-on.  Doing it from the side may cause the handle to wrap unevenly.  You now have a bare-bones lightsaber.


Of course, we want more than just a barebones lightsaber.  We want a full fledged Jedi weapon.  It’s time for the electrical tape.  You can vary this portion to customize your lightsabers however you like.  You can even give your kids some lengths of tape so that they can customize their own lightsabers.   One tip is to use a strip of tape to hide the duct tape seam on the back of the lightsaber.  You can also use electrical tape squares as buttons.


Now, your lightsaber is complete.  As I got more practice in making them, I found I could turn out a new lightsaber in a matter of minutes.


It’s time to go outside and battle some Sith.


I have a bad feeling about this.

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