May 25, 2005

May the Force be with all of last time.

As I check my watch right now, it is 11:03 p.m. on Wednesday evening, May 25. Precisely one week ago around this very time, I was about to throw down with an extremely large, extremely pissed off black man over a seat in a theatre that holds around 1,300 people. A seat that I had waited in line for almost 10 days. No...scratch that...six years and ten days. Six years, and ten days with a group of men that I would honestly say I would do anything for. When this whole thing started back in 1999, we were clueless, and we made it up as we went. In 2002, we came out on fire, and prepared. In 2005 for some reason we were there, we were prepared, but we all felt it...something was lacking. But in a matter of minutes it was back again. As I stood there, toe-to-toe with this man, ready to get my @$$ kicked over a theatre seat, you guys were there. I didn't know it at the time, but after it was all over, there was Ryan, across the aisle, nodding his head in approval. Next to me was Scott, fists clenched, and ready for anything. One row away was Mike and John, looking to see if I was okay. And I knew it was. (Dooky, I know you were there, probably hiding under the seat sucking your thumb and wetting yourself. just kiddin' bud!) It is in moments like that you know who your true friends are. You guys have been with me since the beginning. And I think you always will be. To everyone...including us, Star Wars is just a movie, and it will ALWAYS be JUST a movie. But it is what we get out of the movie, the life experiences surrounding the movie that make us who we are. The kind of group we are. The kind of friends we are. As I talk to people today about what they thought of the movie I am hearing the same things, the dialogue was lacking, the characters were acting like cardboard cut-outs, and so-on. Some of the real cynics don't understand or actually felt sorry for me that I wasted all this time in line to see a movie that didn't meet their expectations or standards. Imagine that. Six years of my life anticipating each new movie, each new campout, and each new friendship I have, has been wasted according to some people because of a movie. As much as we might have loved the movies, and as much as some people didn't quite like the movies or even hated the movies, according to them, what we did, was a waste. As I sat there in the theatre on opening night, watching the movie sitting next to my best friend and the love of my life, crying throughout parts of the movie, and seeing it end for the last time I realize that this is not the end. The movie might be over, the camp out might be over, but what we have and had over the past 6 years will never end. With this campout over, and this Blog just about finished up, we all have so much to look forward to! Spending time with our wives and soon to be wives, getting our families started, our careers going and so much more! And because of Star Wars and the campouts we were a part of, and the friendships that were made and sealed, we are all a part of each others lives! Whether we like it or not! So, to all the lovers of Star Wars, and all the cynics who have the honor of reading this Blog, you will never understand just how deeply Star Wars is a part of us. Six guys. Two weeks. One movie. And a lifetime worth of friendships. All because of Star Wars. Now who says this is just a movie? We do. May the Force be with last time.

May 24, 2005

Admiral Akwelches: Bidding Adieu

I have seen it twice. I have cried twice. I will see it again.

Episode III has completed me in many ways, and I still want more. I could have sat there for hours upon hours because Star Wars is not just a movie for some of us; it is a lifeline to characters living in a story that has and will always effect us. I would love to see the daily lives of these characters because they are vivid lives that hold so much weight. Of course some may interpret that as me wanting to see Padme in the shower, or some other such nonsense, and that is offensive! I would never ever take advantages such as that. I mean, uh, I'm married.

Back to the movie. As the Emperor stated, this was a visually stunning masterpiece that has advanced cinematic technology. Now, let me say for everyone to hear: my favorite movie is _Lawrence of Arabia_. I believe David Lean had one of the only great eyes in cinema history. In my expert opinion (Welches School of Personal Opinion, class of '88), I do not think his ability has been matched, nor will it ever be because of CG innovations. I applaud Lucas for his ability, his vision, and his endeavors in that field, but hold to the old school style Epics. In the commentary of _LoA_, Spielberg makes an interesting comment; paraphrased, he said: _LoA_ could not be made today because of the extreme costs in paying all of the extras. And that is what I love about Lean and the epics of old: real people. With this all said, I am still able to get by the CG stuff in order to enjoy a story that has captivated my entire life.

Lucas has a terrific eye. We as the audience have felt that he owed us, to include all the old technology or visuals from the prior episodes because that is what we were used to, because that is how we enjoyed the films then. He was and is the cutting edge, that is what he does best. I do not believe it is our place to tell him how his story should look and what should happen. Yes, some scenes would definitely be more enjoyable had Lucas not touched them, especially several scenes that have people talking. But, it's his story, life marches on.

An aspect that really makes the movie for me is the interaction between Anakin and Palpatine. There is a very strong father/son relationship established, and I think that speaks volumes to Anakin's transfer (I will refrain from referencing the other two films because I want to focus solely on Episode III as it's own entity, if possible). When Palpatine is being held captive, Obi-Won is concerned with formalities, by bowing before the Chancellor, while Anakin walks right up and inquires as to Palpatine's condition. Even in the end, when Darth Vader is burned and alone on the embankment, the Emperor walks over and kneels down next to him, placing his hand on Darth's head. Just those two scenes allow me to believe the full transfer of Anakin into Darth Vader because of the intimacy that exists between the two villains.

Padme was beautiful, though she was hotter in the preceding films. One of the greatest moments in my life was watching, for the first time, the bad-ass rat/bobcat rip his claws into her while tearing away at the tight, white suit she wore so sinfully. But, she can't run worth crap (watch the scene after she falls from the Clone Cruiser, when she's talking with the Stormtrooper about helping Anakin and Obi-Won). I felt a little cheated with her character. She was such a strong, devout Senator in Episode II and even stronger in Episode I as the queen. But, in Episode III, she seems to be a patient, humble, pregnant wife, waiting for her husband to come home everyday from killing younglings (which was said too often). She did discuss the end of liberty, but that wasn't enough for me.

The emotion was heightened for me, to the point of tears, when John Williams' music is teamed with the assassinations of all the Jedi's. That short, destructive, and inevitable scene was probably the best in the entire movie for me. And that's all I have to say about that.

With the culmination of the campout and Episode III, I have gone through several emotions and most of them are of fondness and loss. I am upset this is over. Part of me wonders if they will do Episodes VII-IX, and part of me does not want them to. This has been such an emotional ride, with Anakin/Vader being the only true focal point of said ride, and I am not sure how those Episodes would fare. Of course I'd see them, and probably campout for them, but I wonder if the nostalgia would be the same.

Some have asked me what my order of the films is, now that the saga is complete and the story is over. I would say, as most educated in the film would, that _Empire Strikes Back_ is the finest of all, followed by _Return of the Jedi_, _Revenge of the Sith_, _A New Hope_, _Attack of the Clones_, and _The Phantom Menace_. Yes, I put Episode III as my third favorite film. I think it has the emotional and visual expertise to hold that slot. It met my expectations in most ways.

I have missed being at Big Newport, seeing the folks who were brought together by this wonderful story, these folks I will not see for sometime. Withdrawals is not overstating some of the emotions. Life will press on and we will prevail. So, these are my final thoughts. Thanks to all the contributors of this blog and to all of you who read it. I'm sure we never thought we'd get so many hits, and I hope all the folks have enjoyed our posts. This has been a journey of love, friendship and, now, finality. I will continue to believe in the magic of this story and I hope you can do the same.

The Force will be with you, always.

May 23, 2005

Emperor Wandrey's Review and Reactions

The Saga is Complete!! I have so many feelings and thoughts to express and I want them to sound organized and consice. This post will be seperated into 2 sections - my review of Ep.3 and my overall reactions to the midnight show and the campout. Allow me to preface that by saying that I have seen the film three times now and plan on seeing it again and again and again....also there are detailed plot points and spoilers if you have not seen the movie.

Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith has placed the SW saga amoungst the greatest works of cinema. I'm talking Lord of the Rings, Godfather, Casablanca, Indiana Jones, etc. The original Star Wars trilogy has already established itself as having a "classic" status. Will this prequel trilogy garner the same status over time? I believe Revenge of the Sith has definitely put it in that direction. This movie has redeemed Ep. 1 & 2 and may very well be established as a better Star Wars movie than any in the original trilogy. Why do I make such a crazy statement?

I read, viewed, listened and took part in any and every RotS (Revenge of the Sith) information I could find. I was not afraid of spoilers becuase Star Wars is such a visual movie. "Visual I say" well what do I mean, I am not about to defend Lucas' ability to write dialogue or realistic romantic banter but these are visual stories meant to be seen and felt not read. Ep 1&2 had terrible dialogue but stunning and sensational visuals. Old trilogy (at the time of its release) had cheesy dialogue and mind - blowing effects. You have to take the small amount of bad to get the large amount of great. RotS delivers on both fronts - visually and verbally. Example of great dialogue- any scene with Palpatine toying and tempting Anakin. The way Ian McDiarmid's charming and vexing vocalization sublty uses Anakin's lust for control and fear of loss as the catalyst for his own grand plan is amazing. It's played out perfectly and to some it may seem that Anakin's turn in RotS is not believable enough but his turn began in AotC when he loses his mother and gives into his love for Padme. Those 2 events completely go against the Jedi teachings and start the spiral towards the dark side. All Palpatine had to do was give Anakin an alternative to the Jedi way and make it attractive. Visually this movie has finally blurred the line between real and CGI. It started with TPM, was progressed with the LOTR trilogy and now with RotS has been perfected. There was no time in the movie where I was like "Oh, that's CGI." My mind has fully allowed the CGI to be apart and sometimes the whole movie itself. Bravo Lucas.

This movie had 3 distinct acts to it - the opening space battle and Palpatine's rescue - this felt like a Star Wars movie. The following of Obi and Ani's fighters through the massive and detailed battle above Coruasant is breath-taking, R2D2 at his comedic best, Dooku in a brief but effective cameo, and Grievous and his guards look amazing. This is a great act that catches us up on what has happened in the Clone Wars and Obi and Ani's relationship. After the "happy landing" we have scene after scene of dialogue and set up. This act to me is the slowest and to non-Star Wars fans could be the worst part of the movie. You have your Lucas - filled cheese -

Anakin - "You are so beautiful"
Padme - "It's only because I am so in love with you.."
Anakin - "..No, it's because I am so in love with you!" Ughh!!

Harrison Ford put it well when he told Lucas while filming the original Star Wars - "George you can write this shit, but you sure can't say it!!"

There are a few scenes like this but they are not movie-killers. For the most part you get Palpatine's amazing scenes seducing Anakin and they are mesmerizing. McDiarmid practically steals the show. Once we get Obi-wan to face-off against Grievous and Mace off to arrest Palpatine/Sidous the next act begins and never looks back.

Act 3 is the official part of the whole Star Wars saga where the lights go out. The Dark Side takes over. The last 50 minutes of RotS is as good as any epic out there. It provides moments only equal to the end of Ep.5 - "Luke I am your father." There are moments that break your heart - the Clone/Storm troopers turning on the Jedi and shooting them in the back, while Yoda keels over because of the huge impact in the force it makes. Moments that shock you - Anakin and the younglings, Anakin and Padme on Mustafar. All of this is set to the amazing themes provided be John Williams. The final duel(s) are fast paced and riveting, I loved the small use of Duel of the Fates as well. The PG-13 rating is definately earned too and watching Anakin being dismembered and burned with his eyes yellowed with the dark side while screaming that he hates Obi-wan is the most intense moment of any SW movie. When you finally get to see Vader rise and Padme die it all sinks in - Vader is never going to be as strong as Luke, he may have if not for his greed and fear. He is now a puppet for the Emperor with nothing left to drive him except for his anger and sorrow. Finally when you hear Leia and Luke's theme with the binary sunset, your exhausted.

I think the Obi-wan's dialogue with Luke in Ep.4 is perfect in describing Vader/Anakin. It all makes perfect sense, before you always wondered about the great Clone Wars and this cunning warrior that he describes. You feel like Luke wondering about the Jedi Knights of past and how did the Empire come about. Now we know, when we watch Ep.4-6 we will have faces and back-stories to help understand the reasons for everything that takes place. For all the wooden acting and dialogue, the prequels have given us visuals and characters that will endure and live on with Luke, Han, and Lando!?! Thanks George for sticking to your vision and giving us one last ride(Rots). For connecting the dots and giving the world films that provide everything a movie is supposed to be - an escape from reality, characters that are memorable, and a range of feelings that you never forget.

Now that I have pledged my allegiance to Lord Lucas I still feel that sobering feeling I had on Thurs as I left Big Newport at 3:30 am. The campout and the last Star Wars midnight show are over. The banner was tore down for the last time -

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The characters that graced the campout and midnight show are gone as -

Good -

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Bad -

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and Ugly they were -

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I gave it my all, I don't regret anything I said(CONCEPTION at the CAMPOUT) or did. The 10 days spent with my closest friends and Star Wars geeks alike are burned in my memory forever. I have ticket stubs, photos, newspaper clippings, video footage, and ultimately the Star Wars movies themselves to always remind me of the amazing experience. My friendships will go on with most of the council and I'm sure we will continue to make many more memories - Star Wars or not. Thank you to Admiral Akwelches, Novi-wan, R2-E2, Jarhead Binks, Anakin Scottwalker, and Chewdumma for making this the greatest campout anywhere. Your individual friendships and times that we spent together are priceless.

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Until the 3-D versions come out - this is the Emperor signing off and May the Force be with you - always.

May 18, 2005

Day 10 & 11 - Packing it in

By far, the quietest night of the campout. The Clone Wars cartoon gave us all hope and excitement for the upcoming movie. Team America, was Team America, what can you say? Most of us laughed our heads off. As 7 a.m. rolled around, I layed in bed thinking, this was my last night here. The packing went quick and efficient. R2-E2 (Elliott) and the Emperor and myself quickly dismantled the Cantina, and set up shop just outside the theatre. As we were dismantling, unplugging, packing, wrapping, and folding all of our trinkets, The Emperor had the Episode III music going and it really started sinking in, that this was it. The documentary girls were again asking us to express ourselves, and it was actually hard for me to. It finally sank in. Emperor Wandrey video taped the brown spots from our tents, and as we looked, and talked, it was a little overwhelming that this incredible 10 days had finally come to an end. All that is left is StarWars, and that's all we have now. No more camping, egging, water ballooning, talking, reminiscing, or anything. Just Star Wars. When we walk out of the theatre, that may be the last we see of each other for a long time. But there will still be Star Wars. That is our unifying thread that holds our group together, and what makes our friendship so special and timeless. Thank you all for the memories.

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Day 10 - Reflection and Gratitude

The camp will be dismantled. Our way of life for the past nine days is now over. Today is just the wait, but what a wait it will be! Never in my life has a movie held so much potential and gravity in it's showing. We are convinced this will be a fine film, completing a void whose depth is known to us all; acting as a bridge to somewhere we've been before, though not knowing how we'd gotten there.

I will not go on and on in this post, my presence is needed down at the line. I want to thank Emperor Wandrey for showing the films, for projecting them for all of us to see (along with El Newport Grande for his screen); thanks also to Noviwan and Grand Moth Elliot for staying as much as they did, protecting our investment. Thanks to Chewdumma for his grace and surefire foresight, though I know not what he says unless an interpreter is there, and also to Darth Jewey and Anakin Scottwalker for supplies. Jarhead, you are a beautiful person with depth and depthnicity.

And finally, a big thank you to my wife and the other wives for their support in this matter, and for not withholding sex throughout the duration of our cause.

I leave you now and may the force be with us.

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May 17, 2005

Day 9 - The Horizon of Reality Looms

Once again, and again, and again, we were interviewed by our favorite documentary girls, asking some of the same questions with different spins, evoking the same emotions that are now reaching their peak as the end result of what we've been camping for slowly makes it's way into our consciences. A campout six years in the making- a true legacy that has spanned high school, college, marriage, and children- will end and we will return to the normalcy all of us have chosen as our destinies. I sat last night, watching Episode II, enjoying the camaraderie of my fellow campers and thought about what all this means and what will happen when it is all over.

I am guessing this will be the last time I see most of them. Some people will run into each other, say a few nice things, but that will be it. This connection is going to go away for good. Sure, we can watch all the episodes in one day and have a blast doing it. We can even try to impart some sort of mysticism into our children, so they can be linked to a part of our history and share in the magic that we believed in for so many years. But, this episode marks the point in life for me, where as if I were on the banks of the ocean and pushed my foot from the shore, I will get into the boat and really start to try and stay afloat. It has been a pleasure to share in this time with so many friends and interesting people.

There have been several instances in this campout, more than the last two, where our lives have been the topic of such scrutiny and curiosity. Last night alone we had three documentary filmmakers and an independent journalist just hanging out, recording campers doing what we do best: watch movies or fight with lightsabers. To date, I have been interviewed five times down there. What I find myself saying over and over again, trying to give a different spin on it each time, is that I love the movies. I don't read the comics, books, nor do I dress-up; I did not have a Star Wars Wedding last month when I was married; I will not debate between Luke or Han for my son's name (Lord Willing); I have never ever taken Lightsaber 101.

I am camping out because the movies kick ass, camping out kicks ass, and the seat I will sit in is gonna kick ass. And if it doesn't kick ass for you, I don't give a rat's. If you think I'm a nerd, "Go Stuff It!" People drive by honking, yelling f-you all day and all night, but that does not faze me. Do you know how many times I have been called a fag?

Luckily, Big Newport will hopefully remain so that those who love movies can come here and congregate. It is the greatest theatre in all of Orange County.

I am at work as I write this. My eyes are tired and my whole body wishes for a break. After today, I will be off for two days, waiting in line and waking up late Thursday morning. On that morning, I'm not sure how I'll feel. Certainly excitement will be there, but I know that a chapter in my life is over. And there is no passion that could ever take the place of Star Wars.

May 16, 2005

Luke, I am your Padre...

Much to our surprise, people are actually reading this blog in respectable numbers. In fact, just between the time I went to bed last night and when I got up this morning, we had over 500 visits. Clearly, many of you have got way too much time on your hands. Then again, we're the ones camping out in front of a movie theater, so I probably shouldn't pass judgment.

However, this all made me extremely curious about where all the blog traffic was actually coming from. I made a short checklist of possibilities...

The Los Angeles Times story from a few days ago?
Considering they only mentioned the blog name, without including the actual address, that probably wasn't it.

The KCAL-9 news story from two nights ago?
At first I thought this could be it, but then I remembered that people who watch KCAL typically can't read, so that's out.

The Orange County Register article from early last week? Definitely not.

Since none of the usual suspects appeared to be the culprit, I decided to check our Site Meter referral logs, and was amazed by what I found...

The top referrer today is... Primera Hora. Yes folks, the rumors are true. We made Primera Hora! Now, only one question remains...

What the hell is Primera Hora?

In any event, they wrote a great hit-piece on us. My favorite part...

Incluso en cines de barrio, como el Big Newport en el condado de Orange (California), ya hay gente haciendo cola para entrar, a pesar de los días que faltan y que ya tienen las entradas en su poder.

Claro que son miembros de la "Sociedad Star Wars" de este condado, aunque ellos prefieren describirse como gente normal.

"Tenemos esposas, amigos, trabajos, una vida", afirman con naturalidad desde un "blog" (, cuyo aspecto parece decir lo contrario, ya que su página de apertura está dominada por el casco de Darth Vader sobre el que se lee "seis amigos, dos semanas, una película".

Which, for those of you who no habla Espanol, clearly means...

Even in cinemas of district, like the Big Newport in the county of Orange (Californian), or there is people doing tail to enter, in spite of the days that lack and that or have the entrances in their power.

Clear that they are members of the "Society Star Wars" of this county, although they prefer to describe themselves like normal people.

"We have spouses, friends, works, life", affirm with naturalness from "blog" (, whose aspect seems to say opposite, since its page of opening is dominated by the helmet of Darth Vader on which it ***reflxes mng "six friends, two weeks, a film".

Now that we've got that all cleared up, allow me to state for the record, for the benefit of our new readers at Primera Hora, that we are NOT members of the Orange County Star Wars Society, nor is it "clear" that we are members. We do not dress up like Jedi, own expensive, custom-made lightsabers, or attend monthly meetings. However, we do concede that if we were members of said Society, we would probably try to describe ourselves "like normal people" too.

As for how our "aspect" seems to say the opposite of the fact that "we have spouses, friends, works, life", all I have to say is this is awesome. We've now just received our first lame insult, not from across the street, but from across the border.

May 15, 2005

Day 8 - And So Comes The Mundanity

Friends & Rebel Scum alike,

There comes a time in all of our lives when we must evaluate where we are at. Sit back and think a bit about all that life holds for us and really consider the effects of our actions. None of us want to offend anyone, do we? Well, sometimes yes. I have really come to loathe some of the people in Newport Beach. While talking with the Jedi Master of our campout line, El Grande Newport, and while enjoying my neighbor's custom R2D2, we realized that the theatre we are congregating at (well, damn near worshipping with all the publicity) is the Saturday night babysitter of Newport Beach's beau monde. The ratio of parents to children was extremely, uh, wack. Yes, wack is the best word I could think of. Apparently parents have not realized that kids movies are only 90 minutes or less and a decent meal at Roy's or Morton's takes at least 2 1/2 hours, and that's with skipping dessert. Luckily the parents that have figured out this time conflict have opted to buy their kids tickets to R-rated movies, so they don't have to rush through their creme brulee or chocolate souffle.

Alas, some parents did decide to see movies with their children, the mother's wearing less and looking younger than most of their kids, talking to young men around the area; the father's donning their Rolex's, staring at the other parents' kids, hopefully.

At any given moment, the parking lot at Big Newport, on a weekend night, is probably worth well over 1.5 million dollars! And that's not counting all the work the drivers and passengers have had done on themselves.

I muse these thoughts because Day 8 of this wonderful campout served as a vague day and sleepless night. I decided to stay another night, do my part if you will, because I enjoy it and the atmosphere is entirely sublime. I walked onto our interplanetary campout conglomeration with no expectations, just a heightened way of looking at the evening.

Most of the folks were playing video games or watching movies. There were no obnoxious egg or balloon tossers last night, just the occasional honking of those in opposition or support- honestly, I am losing track of which honks mean what. A soft blanket of mist-filled clouds creeped in and cooled the night, as well as a steady breeze which made the palm trees give a bit of a sway.

We watched Episode I. What can I say other than "Loyal, we must be." The dialogue gets worse and worse. The actors are stagnate and opaque. Why did I feel chills the first time I saw this? I guess the only good thing that came from it is Liam Neeson's sword fighting. He has pretty much established himself as the only swordsman for hire in Hollywood (Kingdom of Heaven, Batman Begins).

I of course had my own intermission during the film and went to pop some popcorn. On my little outing, I had to watch as our cantina microwave's power went so low that all it did was turn the dish inside- no nuking going on- and the lights inside dim. Then, the El Newport Grande lent me his household radiation carrier to no avail. I finally asked the theatre manager if I could use their's, but he informed me of "the health risk involved with microwaving outside food where the Hot Dogs are cooked". The comedy in that statement is too precious to make my own. But, he did hook me up and went out of his way to use the theatre breakroom's microwave.

Sleep escaped me, but I managed to steal about two hours away. After that, I went to Stater Bros., bought my wife a small bouquet for our one month anniversary of being married, crawled into bed with her and watched her sleep for half an hour until I had to get up and go to work.

Day 7 - BBQ's....Babes....& Bellys!?!

As expected, the most rousing and action-packed day and night turned out to be Saturday. The first half of the day was very mild, the warm Newport sun and perfect air temperature provided the ultimate conditions to lounge around in the Cantina. A special ceremony took place as a young Padawan was granted the title of Jedi Knight. He had been training under Novi-wan and showed a remarkable knowledge of the force as well as exceptional saber skills. But as the early evening rolled in so did the crowds.

We had a BBQ planned and no one was dissappointed, except for yours truly. I had brought a BBQ that required a crude heating device from another galaxy. I was unable to make fire (grunt grunt) and get the heat going, but luckily another 'que was present... thanks Billy. Jew dogs, burgers, and kabobs were on hand to feed the masses.

This night also brought out the galaxies finest women. Wives, girlfriends, and other beauties were on hand to visit the men of the Cantina and certainly show the campout geeks and gawkers that the Jedi of Yorba Linda know how to roll!! I'd like to thank Lando for allowing these ladies to come down from the clouds because it is truly where they belong.

Then... the Admiral arrived...

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Other happenings from Day 7...

- R2D2 visited the campout, bringing great joy to Younglings and Masters alike...

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-"Return of the Jedi" screened to close out the Old Trilogy on the "Campout Outdoor Theatre"

-Numerous film crews were present from documentary makers to Channel 9 to Sprint TV, all to capture the magic of the campout.

4 days to go...

"The Phantom Menace" tonight...

May the Force be with you...