There are few popular culture franchises that really spark the imagination of the masses. Comic books have become a new mythos, Star Trek is how we want the future to be, Firefly is most likely how the future will end up. There are some smaller sci-fi/pop culture entities that have strong followings as well: Dr Who, Aliens, Predator, Blade Runner, TRON, etc… But there has been nothing so incredibly embraced by society and popular culture as Star Wars. It is a fantasy tale that is wrapped in a cloak of science fiction, that has captured the hearts and minds of millions of people. It does not matter what movie you first saw in the theater, but when the symphonic music swells and you see the opening crawl, you are hooked…
In fact, I want you to imagine that the above is actually in yellow text crawling off into the void of a star field while John Williams is conducting his heart out. It is this time that the camera would swing to the left and see an Imperial Shuttle come into view and pan down to a blue and green planet.
The 501st is a charitable organization of cos-players (costume play) who dress as characters in the Galactic Empire. They are simply amazing. Today I get the pleasure of asking Brian Troyan, 501st Legion Public Relations Officer, 20 questions about himself (mainly himself) and the 501st, Vader’s Fist. onto the questions!BTW, during the course of these 20 Questions, I drew up some sketches of his imperial archetypes…
As I have mentioned in previous 20 Questions, I love maps and hearing about people’s geographic stories. I will use myself as an example. I was born outside of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Moved to Montgomery, Alabama when I was 3. Grew up in Birmingham, Alabama until I went to college in Kent, Ohio. There I met my future wife and moved down to Columbus, Ohio where I have lived ever since. Question 1: What is your geographic story?
I’m a native Texan, transplanted to the midwest. I grew up in a little suburb of Houston near Sugarland called Meadows, which my Mom was the mayor of for several years. There’s a little street there now called “Troyan Drive,” named in honor of her. When I was 13, we moved to Pittsford, NY, outside of Rochester, for my dad’s work. I spent three very formative years there, before we had to move for Dad’s career again. We came back to Texas when I was 16, this time to the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. I finished high school there and then spent five years at Texas A&M in College Station, before packing my life up and moving to Chicago in 1999 to pursue a degree in acting at The Theatre School. I’ve lived here ever since, but every December, my wife and I drive down to my sister’s house in Austin to spend the holidays with my side of the family. It’s always great to visit, and in some ways leaving gets harder every year.
That is a pretty impressive geographic footprint you have going there. So you moved Chicago-way to pursue a degree in acting… Question 2: Do you currently (aside from the 501st events) do any acting/performing, or did you find some other vocation?
Although I had some small commercial success as I was starting out, real life had a different path for me. While I still do some work in commercial voice-overs and I push myself to get on stage every couple of years (and I really enjoy it when I do!), I don’t think it would be fair to professional actors for me to count myself amongst them. It doesn’t pay the bills; my nine-to-five is spent with legal research in a law library. It’s a good gig and I like the people I work with.
In undergrad, I earned a triple-major B.A. in English, psychology, and theatre, and I wound up in a field using the English degree, which I really didn’t expect. (It was Plan C, behind acting or becoming a psychologist.) But like a lot of liberal arts folks, I’ve internalized the skills I learned in getting my degrees, and I think they made me a better human being. All of it factors into the work that I do simply living my life.
As a side note, I’ve never really thought of the events that I do with the 501st as “acting” or “performing,” at least not in the same way that I think of taking on a role for a play or a film. There’s certainly an aspect of theatricality in trooping, though, and I’ve been grateful to have some experience in improvisation when the need has come up. …Of course, I could say that same thing about everyday life!
Triple major? That is some ambition there. I do believe that when you go “Trooping” there is somewhat of a performance aspect to what you are doing. I think that is the case for all cosplay when it is not Halloween. I know that I would carry myself differently posture-wise if I were in a uniform or armor. Next time you are out with the 501st, look at how different characters compose themselves physically. There is performance going on there.
Here comes the question that everyone enjoys the answer to…. well, all 5 of my readers. This is a question that the comedian Paul F. Tompkins raises in one of his hour specials… Question 3:Cake or pie? Specifically which kind and why?
It wasn’t a matter of ambition. More like indecision and then realizing a semester before graduation that I was just one class short of getting the third degree. From the university, not my parents. But yeah, three majors in five years wasn’t bad. Three nigh-unmarketable majors, but, hey, that’s impetuous youth for ya!
And, sure, I didn’t mean to imply that there wasn’t a performance aspect to what the 501st does, but as an actor, I’ve just never thought of them in the same category. Maybe I ought to.
Oh yeah, you had a question:
Pie. Banana creme. Delicious and hilarious. (Or “hilaricious.”)
I mean, honestly, cake doesn’t have a chance. When was the last time someone got hit in the face with a cake?
It is an interesting thing about the pie v cake debate. I have said it before on the blog, and I am sure I will say it many times more, but people who choose pie, really enjoy pie, and it it is available would love to have a slice. People who choose cake would stab a baby with a fork to get a piece of cake. I personally have never been able to get into the cream pies. I think it has something to do with the texture of the confection.
Question 4: Is there a particular food texture that you cannot help but avoid like the plague?
I’m no foodie, and I’ve got a really undiscerning palate. I wouldn’t say that there’s one particular texture that I can’t stand, but there are definitely foods that I dislike because of their texture. Oddly, the ones that come to mind are of the creamy variety. Avocados. And for some reason, the idea of baby food really makes my taste buds crawl. I think it has to do with the idea of something that has the consistency of pudding, but tastes like vegetables, or beef, or macaroni and cheese. I know it’s perfectly edible, but… Bleah.
It’s like a chocolate-flavored steak. I don’t care how delicious it might be, the disconnect between a mismatched texture and flavor really puts me off.
For me the most horrible food item that people eat is coconut. The texture, flavor, and smell are all abominations, but particularly the texture. Even when I cannot immediately taste the flavor, I can feel the texture and be disgusted by its horribleness.
So, let’s do some Star Wars centric stuff. As I understand it, you have a few different sets of imperial garb that you can select for your 501st appearances. Question 5: Which uniforms/costumes do you have and which one/s are your favorites and why?
Ah! Now you’re speaking my language!
I’ve got three uniforms (no, wait, four) that I wear for appearances, and they each have their advantages for certain situations.
The first costume that I built was an Imperial Stormtrooper (or “TK”). I felt that if I was joining up with the 501st Legion, then that was where I ought to start. It’s restrictive to wear (no sitting down!), it doesn’t have any perks in comfort or convenience (Pockets? Who needs pockets?), and it stows in the largest of my totes, so it can be a bit of a pain to travel with on the Chicago trains and buses… But nothing else I have really compares in terms of being a universally-recognized Star Wars character. Stormtroopers are the glue that hold an Imperial presence together. We have all sorts of specialized troops, but without the ‘vanilla’ TK to tie it all together, there’s something that feels off. If the Midwest Garrison is set to make an appearance, but there aren’t any Stormtroopers signed up to attend, I try my best to fill that role.
My second uniform is the Imperial Gunner (or “IG”). These guys are on camera for about 10 seconds for the whole Original Trilogy, so they aren’t exactly the most recognizable character in the galaxy (though some people recognize them from the “Star Wars: Battlefront” games as the “Imperial Engineer”). My Gunner’s been mistaken for Darth Vader, a riot policeman, and even a Power Ranger… But it’s perfectly comfortable to wear, has handy pockets, and fits into a little bin for traveling. I save it for events where we have lots of members attending (who can cover the more iconic Imperials), when I have to travel light, or if I’m hauling a bunch of other stuff along with me. Mostly, those are comic cons.
My third costume is hands-down my favorite, and the one that I probably should have started out with in the first place. ‘Return of the Jedi’ came out when I was seven years old, and ever since then the Biker Scout (or “TB”) has been my favorite Imperial soldier. I think it might’ve been because I rode my bicycle everywhere back then. Every trip to school or the comic book store could become an adventure on Endor. And the uniform really doesn’t have a down side. It’s recognized for what it is (or at worst is mistaken for a TK), affords plenty of motion (sitting down, running, whatever), has plenty of pockets, and fits in a medium-size storage bin. The best thing about the Scout, though, is that when I take pictures with little kids, I can kneel down to get on their level. I can also lift up the visor on the helmet (kind of like on a medieval knight’s helmet) and show any scared kids that I’m not so scary underneath the armor.
That fourth costume that I almost forgot about is the scruffy nerfherder Han Solo. The costume I have for him isn’t up to approval levels from the 501st’s sister club, the Rebel Legion (not yet, anyway), but I’m working on improving it. Han works great if there’s a wookiee costumer there, or a princess, or a farmboy, or a bounty hunter… but I’ve found he’s a little odd hanging around by himself. Ironic for a guy named “Solo.” heh.
I have always loved the Imperial Gunners, but they seemed so limited to the Death Star. For as many alien species that show up for less than 3 seconds, I was always surprised at the lack of Imperial Gunner action figure from Kenner/Hasboro since they actually did something in the Movies of some import, blowing up Alderaan and everything.
Question 6: So how much non-movie Star Wars Expanded Universe information do you consume? Games? Books? etc…
I know, right? Kenner actually released an Imperial Gunner as one of the last figures of the Star Wars line back in 1984 or so (I think it was my brother’s favorite back in the day), and they did have a couple of sculpts in the Hasbro line. Interesting fact, though: Lego has yet to release a Gunner mini-fig. There are literally hundreds of minor characters that they’ve represented in their toy line, but no love for the Gunners.
These days, my consumption of non-movie stuff is mostly down to watching the Clone Wars animated series, but I used to voraciously devour anything Star Wars that I could get my hands on, especially back in the “dark times” of Star Wars fandom. There was a period from about 1984 until 1991, where pretty much the only new Star Wars stuff out there was for the Star Wars Role Playing Game by West End Games. I bought every resource book and adventure module that they published, and carried the torch of the faithful fan, even without much to go on.
In 1991, Timothy Zahn’s “Heir to the Empire” novel and Dark Horse Comics’ “Dark Empire” mini-series hit bookshelves, and after their success, the floodgates opened for the EU. I kept up with all of the novels for a long time, but once they really began pushing into the area of the “New Jedi Order,” thirty years after the movies, and killed off one of the main heroes of the saga, I lost a lot of interest in it, and didn’t have time to keep up with the releases. I also stopped buying comics about eight or ten years ago, so aside from a few characters’ names, I know almost nothing about Dark Horse’s “Legacy” era, which is set 100 years after the New Jedi Order.
Games are a similar story, as I played X-Wing and TIE Fighter back in the day, Dark Forces and even Galactic Battlegrounds, which was an RPF like StarCraft. I got addicted to playing the Battlefront series, and I thought the Force Unleashed games were well done. Somehow, I missed the boat on Republic Commando. I’ve heard great things about it, but have never played it. And although I still have all of my old Star Wars RPG books, I never picked up the newer, d20 System that Wizards of the Coast released. Sadly, the time I have for gaming has dramatically diminished in recent years.
I completely understand the reduction of Star Wars related down time. I was playing the MMORPG Star Wars the Old Republic for a bit, but now I am working full-time and going to school full-time, and parenting… There is just no down-time available for leisurely Star Wars entertainment. I will be back on board with the new movies that will hit the street
in the next few years, but for the time-being Star Wars gaming it is a casualty of ruthless prioritization.
Question 7: So, how many conventions do you get to every year. I imagine C2E2, but what else do you get to?
Yep, I’m at the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo every year, and I don’t miss Wizard World Chicago Comic Con. There are others, but those are the big ones here in Chicago. I’ve done DragonCon a few times. And I did a lot of gaming conventions in the past, too. Big stuff like GenCon, but also smaller, local conventions. A couple friends of mine and I once drove all night through a blizzard to a gaming con in Ohio. I grabbed literally ten minutes of sleep under a table, and then played Living Greyhawk D&D for the next 12 or 14 hours. We hit the sack, then got up in the morning and played some more. It was an awesome, awesome weekend.
But you know, real life strikes again, and for better or for worse, my days of traveling to conventions are probably largely behind me. I’m sure I’ll make it to a Star Wars Celebration someday, though.
I go to Origins in Columbus every year and (Mid-)Ohio Comic Con pretty much every year. There is usually a contingent of the 501st walking around those places. I would suggest looking towards Cincinnati ComicCon because they are really making a push to make it a big one. I have gone in with some friends for tables at some of the cons before and sketch my damn fool mind for a day… one of these days I will have enough vacation built up to go all three days.
Question 8: So how many events do you hit with the 501st every year? And what kind of events are they?
I troop about forty or fifty events a year. But I’m definitely one of my garrison’s most active members, so you shouldn’t take that as an average indicator of involvement in the Legion. Some of our guys can only get into costume once a month, or just a handful of times a year. But making a memorable appearance is about quality, not quantity. As a friend of mine once put it, “It only takes one event to put a smile on someone’s face.”
The events I’ve attended have run the gamut from huge comic cons to small birthday parties and everything in-between. The 501st has been invited to troop at just about anything you can think of… Museum exhibits, community festivals, school fundraisers, charity walk-a-thons, weddings, professional sporting events, hospital visits, library days, movie premieres, toy drives, in-store appearances, benefit galas, parades… We’ve even personally helped grant wishes for children through the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Darth Vader’s troops go wherever we’re needed.
That is a boatload of activity. I was expecting something to the effect of 10 to 15… Wow… that sounds so incredibly involved.
Question 10:Fill in the blanks. I feel that I am mostly ________. Other people feel that I am mostly ________.
I wasn’t always. When I was a kid, I was pretty negative. I felt like the world was constantly kicking me in the teeth. But Grandpa Troyan once asked me, “Have you ever thought that maybe all of the bad luck you’re having now is there to balance out all of the good luck that you’ll have later?” That really cheered me up, and it inspired me to start approaching every day with a positive outlook.
- straight outta Compton
- a nerfherder
- a closet ewok lover
- crazytown bananapants
- virile with an almost episcopalian predictability
- sexy and I know it
- hard-working, loyal, dedicaed, and a cruel and harsh taskmaster
- awesomeness… wrapped in bacon!
Being mostly optimistic is something to strive for. I know people who spend most of their life trying to be mostly optimistic… and falling way short of that mark. That being said, you should feel optimistic that your friends are so delightfully playful.
Oooh, over half way done. Question 11: Back to Star Wars… J.J. Abrams, huh? How does the Midwest 501st Garrison feel about that?
Like the rest of the Star Wars community, I think our feelings are mixed, but I look on his hiring with guarded optimism. I can’t speak for everyone, but knowing that Abrams is a life-long fan of the franchise does give me hope that he will create something closer to what the fans have been wanting to see for the last thirty years. I haven’t seen a ton of his work, but I did think Cloverfield was an incredible monster movie for a new age. And while I’m not a huge Trek fan, I thought he brought a lot of great things to the table when he took the Enterprise out for a spin. The film wasn’t without its plot holes and flaws, but to be fair, none of the Star Wars films (except maybe Empire) have been perfect.
I’m a big fan of a web comic called Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal (at smbc-comics.com), and the author, Zach Weinersmith, tweeted out something when the Disney acquisition of LFL was announced. I think it applies equally well to the collective geek freak-out that happened when J.J. Abrams was announced as director: “Worrying that Disney will ruin Star Wars is like worrying that a second iceberg will dive down to hit the Titanic.” The point is: After the Prequel Trilogy, how can anybody seriously worry about something “terrible” happening to the franchise?
Since Abrams is a Star Wars fan himself, I’m sure he’s feeling an incredible personal pressure to get Episode VII “right.” And of course, if he fails to deliver, you know the hard-core nerds will call him “Jar Jar Abrams” for the rest of his life. I hope the pressure he’s getting from the community and from himself doesn’t keep him from making bold new choices.
Regardless of how the movie turns out, there’s going be be a new Star Wars for a new generation. I don’t see a down side to that. Plus, as far as the Legion is concerned, new movies mean new costumes to recreate, so when the film comes out, it’s certain to be an exciting time in the costuming community. That would be the case, no matter who was tapped to direct.
I think I would rather Disney not attempt to further the saga, but instead broaden the universe or flesh out the secondary characters. Then I think it would be possible to see other film makers individual takes on that universe. For example, Tarantino’s take on the bounty hunters… Del Toro following an AT-AT crew… A bio-pic about Wedge Antilles Culminating in his Death Star 2 run, Etc…
Question 12: Is there a Star Wars plotline that you would like to see explored and deepened?
I always thought that an ongoing TV series about Rogue Squadron’s exploits would be great. The “Anyone can die” principle would help ground it in a much more mature sense, and it could really delve into the “Wars” half of “Star Wars.” But I think that’s better material for an ongoing series on the side. For the films, I don’t have any specific side stories that I’m dying for them to investigate.
But in a broader sense, as the new films come out, I’d like to see the franchise return to its Joseph Campbell archetypal roots. The original Star Wars was always a fairy tale, that just happened to be set in space. There was the young man seeking his destiny, the wise mentor who guided him, the scoundrel with the heart of gold, the fiery princes, the evil black knight… And the story of the original trilogy was all united around the redemption of the hero’s father. It was about Vader, but told through the journey of Luke.
I think the Prequel films missed the mark in that they could have been about the fall of the father, told through the journey of his ‘brother.’ Kenobi really should have been the tragic hero of the prequels, and the arc could have been a cautionary fable about both hubris and the lure of power. But special effects took center stage, and I think a lot of the real core of the magical tale was lost.
I’d like to see a return to the kind of story that connects with people on a level of the collective unconscious. Or to put it another way, I hope they bring “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away” back to the feelings of ”Once upon a time.”
Oh, most definitely the series needs to go back to story archetypes. The hero needs threshold guardians and existential issues etc… When Lucas went back to the prequels, what he really made was a historical document. I would love for a documentary filmmaker to go in and re-edit the prequels as a docu-drama where some fo the footage is turned into more found footage stuff and there is voice over narration and interviews with Galactic Historians in the New republic. They are shot like history reels and not a movies. But that is just my take on it….
So, here we are at unlucky 13… Question 13: Do you have any superstitions or rituals… (for example for ritual I used to put on my soccer uniform in a very specific sequence not so much for superstitious luck reasons as much as a ritual to get myself “in the right frame of mind) Anything?
I don’t think I’m all that superstitious, which is weird because I used to read all kinds of books about monsters, myths, and the supernatural when I was a kid. The superstitions that I do observe are mostly related to theatre… Never saying the title of the Scottish Play or whistling in a theater, saying “break a leg” instead of “good luck,” that sort of thing. I also don’t kill spiders in my house. I’ve heard that’s supposed to be bad luck, but honestly, that’s more just because I don’t like killing things (even tiny, creepy-crawly things with way more eyes and legs than any animal should have). Live and let live, you know?
I don’t think I have too many rituals, either. None that I can think of, anyway. Maybe they’ve all lost their mystique and have just become “habits” at this point.
Sorry. That was a good question. I wish I had a better answer for it!
Ooh, I had completely forgotten about the superstitions associated with the theater. That is a whole different ball of wax. And let’s hear less of this belittling your own answers right now, mister. Your answer was excellent and you are a beautiful flower.
Time to get creative. Someone once asked me what I would be most afraid of. I chose Vampire Bear (the ursine variety, not a hairy gay dude). Question 14: What would you be most afraid of?
I’m going to go with an angry dragon that breathes molten plutonium.
I’m pretty sure that if I saw that flying down the street toward me, my day would be getting a whole lot worse real quick!
I am not sure if the dragon would really need to be all that angry. I mildly miffed dragon that breathes molten plutonium would do it for me. Yep, a dragon with a hangnail that just saw the Catwoman movie with Halle Berry would be scary enough for me. I think once “dragon” enters the fray, fear will abound.
Since we started these 20 questions one thing in particular happened for you personally in regards to the 501st. Question 15: I was curious, what duties does being the commander of the 501st Midwest Garrison entail?
Oh… We’re a small outpost and not very self-sufficient. And I’ve had supply problems of every kind. I’ve had labor difficulties…(catches Han grinning at him) What’s so funny?
Whoops. Fell into my “administrator of Cloud City” role there for a second…
The Midwest Garrison is actually none of those things. We’re one of the largest garrisons in the Legion, and certainly one of the busiest. It’s rare that we don’t have a weekend without an event somewhere in our territory.
As the MWG CO, my job is essentially to be the chief administrator of everything that happens with the 501st in Illinois. I’ve got a dedicated staff to help me, though, on everything from event coordination, charity outreach, merchandise approvals, new member applications, and PR and promotion. I trust them to take care of business, and now that we’re a few weeks into the new administration, I think they’ve got some strong footing to take more responsibility. In a lot of ways, good leadership is like putting on a great play. It’s all in the casting. If you get the right people, everything has a way of falling into place effortlessly.
As Commander I have to make sure that the machine is well-oiled, and that lines of communication remain open. I also have to keep my members informed of what’s going on locally and in the higher echelons of the Legion’s administrative structure. Luckily, since I’m a member of Legion Command myself, I have something of a direct line to those folks. <nerfherder smirk>
I’m still learning the ropes of my new responsibilities, and working hard to balance Garrison and Legion work with my real job and my family. (And somewhere in there, I’d also like to get out and actually troop!) I have some very large and well-worn boots to fill from the last Garrison Commander, but I’m confident that I can live up to the faith she has in me and do right by the MWG for as long as it’s in my care.
That does sound like a second job, and maybe a third. That really seems like it is a time sink, it may be a worthwhile time sink, but it does seem like it could just eat time like the Great Pit of Carcoon.
Question 16: Is there a question I haven’t asked that you think I should? or a question that you expected me to ask that I haven’t?
Ha! So now I have to do your job, too?
Let’s see… I’ve never actually been interviewed like this, so I don’t think I had any kind of expectations starting out. And frankly, the food tangent did catch me a little by surprise, so I’d say expectations are out the window!
This question isn’t really something you need to ask, either, but it’ll give me a chance to tell a story or two: Question 16: When I (you, that is) first approached you (me, that is) about doing this interview, I (you) asked you (me) if I needed to refer to you only by your Legion TK number or your online name “Fleetfang,” or if I could use your real name. You said just calling you “Brian” was totally fine. What’s with the numbers and callsigns, then, and where did you come up with yours?
Great question! When the 501st was founded, it was a club for stormtrooper costumers. And since the founders wanted to make things a little more fun, they decided that everyone in the club would get a “TK number,” like in that line from Star Wars, “TK-421, why aren’t you at your post?” It’s a little strange, since people don’t normally like being treated like a number, but in the 501st, getting your official Legion number is a kind of rite of passage. When you get your number, you’re officially part of the Legion family. Everyone gets a unique number that’s nobody else’s, and it’s yours forever, even after death.
Back when things started out, everyone got three digit numbers, and a lot of members picked their birthday or their kid’s birthday or the month and year that their daughter was born. But those three-digit numbers ran out after a few years. Then they moved on to four-digit numbers, and this past year, we actually had to break out the five-digit combos.
When I joined up, I looked over the unclaimed number combinations and thought about what I could make out of them. Like the last couple digits of the year I was born and my college class year, or maybe the last four digits of my phone number or something. Stuff like that. But I decided that I just wanted a number that stood on its own and didn’t refer to anything else in my life. My Legion number is 8968, which was the last available four-digit number at that time that read the same upside-down as it did right side up. Seemed good enough for Imperial work.
As for the “callsign” stuff, since the Legion is worldwide, we don’t have an actual headquarters. Our home base is online at the forums on www.501st.com, so we all have to have forum handles. Sure, some people use their first name or whatever, but I went with Fleetfang as an homage to a kind of “former life” of mine.
I mentioned that I played a lot of D&D. I actually named myself after one of my favorite characters that I played. Ferrik Fleetfang was a Lawful Evil halfling wererat rogue assassin. He was just over two-feet tall, wielded a ten-foot-long spiked chain, and in halfling/rat hybrid form he had a 30 Dexterity and something like eight attacks of opportunity a round. I know that probably doesn’t mean anything to a lot of your readers, but when the wizard cast improved invisibility on him, he was a total badass.
But that wasn’t what made him fun. Since he was a wererat, I figured that in halfling form, he’d have really pronounced front teeth, so I had him speak with the most over-pronounced, Sylvester-the-Cat lisp. It made him just a ton of fun at the table. Here’s this deadly assassin, but he’s got this comically thick lisp… that he was (of course) REALLY sensitive about. “What’TH THo funny, bub? You know who you’re talkin’ to? I’m the moTHt deadly aTHTHaTHTHin in all of WeTHteria! TaTHte my THteal, THweetcheekTHs!”
Ah… good times…
Actually, I’m going to give you a bonus, since now that I think about it, there’s another, more Legion-centric question that I WAS sort of expecting…
Question 16.5: "Why do you troop? What’s the attraction of dressing up with the 501st Legion?"
(Another great question! You’re really good at this!)
Members of the 501st troop for a lot of different reasons. For some, it’s the charity aspect and giving back to the community. For others, it’s the chance to meet celebrities and people behind the Saga. For a lot of us, it’s the thrill of “becoming” Darth Vader (and having walked in those boots for an afternoon once, there IS something very magical and transformative about that suit.)
For me, it started out as a way to express my fandom, and I was inspired by the good deeds that I’d read about. But even at my very first event, my reasons for doing this changed. I’ve met some wonderful people through the 501st, some of the best people that I’ve ever met in my life, people I never would have met without my white armor. We all come from really different backgrounds, but there was something that led each and every one of us to the Legion.
They’ve become like an extended family to me, and the main reason that I troop is to hang out with my stormtrooper brothers and sisters. Getting together to put on action figure costumes and playing “plastic spaceman” may sound odd, but at its heart, it really isn’t any different than getting together to go bowling or for poker night.
When I joined up in the Legion back in 2009, I had no idea that it would so quickly become such a big part of my life. I really love those guys, and I absolutely can’t imagine my life without the friendships that I’ve forged with them.
Heck! Someone needs to do my job, because I sure as hell am not doing it.
Firstly, I knew, from watching interactions between people of the 501st and perusing your 501st website, there had to be some method behind the madness associated with in your “Fleetfang.” Thanks for clearing that up.
Secondly, the most bizarre D&D character I ever ran with (only for one session) was a chaotic neutral stone giant magic user. The minimum requirements for a mage at the time matched up with the maximum int/wis/char stats for stone giants. Hilarity ensued.
Thirdly, a Sylvester the Cat voice is perfect for the table. The worst I have done is a Russian fur trapper who “has tick Roosian accent, yes?” He ended every statement with a questioning “Yes?” It annoyed many people at the table. Hilarity ensued.
I also love why you are gearing up whenever you can to tromp around in the white and black.
Question 17: So, are four Star Wars costumes enough, or are there others in the works? If so, which ones, or if not, is there a dream Star Wars costume you would want to attempt?
Table-top gaming is made for those moments when hilarity ensues, and it never hurts to bring your own schtick! If you’re having fun, then you’re doing it right. I miss rolling the dice, probably more than I’d like to admit.
Four Star wars costumes are more than enough (at least that’s what my wife is telling me), so at this point ANY new costume is pretty much a “dream” costume.
Honestly, I’ve got something to wear for just about any trooping occasion, and there are only so many events in a year. The more costumes you have, the less often you get to wear each of them, so adding to my costume closet isn’t really something I need to do any time soon.
I’m passively on the lookout for getting together a Tusken Raider, but the fact that I don’t live near any fabric or military supply stores makes shopping for parts on a budget pretty impossible. The thing I think I like most about the idea of being a Tusken is that you can really “play” the character of it, a lot more than you can in, say, a Stormtrooper.
I’ve toyed with the idea of putting together a Snow Scout, too - an expanded universe take on the Biker Scout - just to change things up when it’s frickin’ freezing outside. Biggs Darklighter, the Rebel pilot, is another “face character” that I think I could pull off… if I could stand having an un-ironic mustache.
If there was a real “dream” costume, one that I’d never have the means to put together, I’d probably say Boba Fett, because everybody loves The Fett. Or Bossk, the lizard-man bounty hunter from ‘Empire.’ I actually had a Bossk for a while, but I had to part with it. I’d love to rebuild one someday. But of course, Bossk has many of the same problems that Solo has… He doesn’t stand by himself too well; he needs Fett or another bounty hunter to hang out with. Plus, he scares the crap out of little kids.
I’ve got some wackier “non-canon” ideas for Star Wars costumes, but in the hopes that I might someday actually get to build them, I don’t want to give away all of my good ideas. /insert evil laugh/
Cross purposing your existing stuff, a la a Snow Trooper, makes a bunch of sense. Also, ramping down the costume production in order to maintain your marriage makes sense as well.
Well, here is where I get nervous and turn the tables. You have spent a solid 17 questions answering my drivel, and turnabout is fair play… so Question 18: Is there anything that you have wanted to ask me?
Ah! So the hunter becomes the hunted!
Alright, here’s a favorite question of mine. It’s a two-parter… If you had a superpower, what would it be? Would you be a hero or a villain?
I have never actually been asked this… I have been asked about a prehensile tail or rams horns, but not which super power I would like and if I would be good or bad.
Good or Bad: Fairly Good, but I would prank people constantly. Tapping on the shoulder, flicking ears etc…
Question 19: So what are you taking away from this 20 questions that you did not bring in with you?
…Maybe pulling someone’s pants down at the opportune moment? Yeah, I could get behind that. Nice choice. Me, I’d go the other direction and go for telepathy. And while I’d love to be a hero, the power to read thoughts and influence people would be really tough to use solely for good!
As for what I’m taking away from all this? I think I have a better understanding of who I am and where I’ve come from. There are influences that we carry with us every day that we don’t consciously acknowledge. Certainly not on a day-to-day basis. Heck, some of the most significant moments in our lives might even be forgotten as time marches on, even if the paths they set us on helped form core parts of our personality.
Some of your questions have made me reflect on aspects of my past that helped shape me into the person that I am today. Having time for that kind of self-reflection becomes rare as people get older and get preoccupied with the realities of adulthood. I’m really grateful you gave me the opportunity - and a reason - to do it.
Wow… I am really touched that this actually had a moment of introspection for you. As a blogger, if I can get someone to look within themselves and get something out of it, I am ecstatic.
So, after all the introspection Question 20: What is next? Be as concrete or as philosophical as you want.
What’s next? In a word, “Fatherhood.” That great, unknown adventure awaits me in less than three months!
I’m told that everything will change, and nothing compares to the experience, so the entire prospect is both exciting and a little bit scary. I’m also told that nothing can prepare you for it, so I’ve pretty much surrendered to the fact that I won’t be ready for whatever happens. There’s a certain serenity in that powerlessness, once you accept it. So I’ll be playing things by ear, just like every other new dad in the history of the world.
That’s really my style, anyway. I try to take each day as it comes, letting the story unfold as it will. Much as I’d love to read ahead, nobody can say for sure what’s going to happen in the next chapter until it’s here. We’ll all just have to wait and see…
Thanks again for the chance to reveal a bit of the man behind my masks. I’m sure that even my closest friends have learned a few new things about me, and it was great being able to share with everyone here. Cheers!
And with that we have 20 Questions. I want to thank Brian for being so persevering in doing these 20 questions. It spanned a long time and required a ton of effort.
My 4 year old becomes my 5 year old next week… what the what?!?!
Yeah, that was cool
This month is going to be a rough one
There may be some dropped 20 Q’s along the way
That’s how life rolls, yo!
I am just now up to 40 hours of Vacation accrual at work
… aaaaand I have a week long vacation coming up
Just in time to deplete the account again
Wasn’t one of the reasons to take a state job the amazing amounts of vacation accrual?
Have a great weekend everyone!