Monday, February 15, 2010

Calling All Star Wars Geeks

Star Wars Exhibit at Anchorage MuseumStar Wars was the first movie I remember seeing in a theater. It probably wasn't really the first movie I ever saw, but it's the first I remember seeing and ever since it's been my favorite movie . . . at least until Lord of the Rings came along and knocked it to number two on my list--doesn't that statement probe the depths of my personality?

So when Sarah Henning, director of public relations for the Anchorage Museum, invited me to the press tour for the new Star Wars exhibit I made sure I was at the front of the line when the doors opened, my face pressed up against the glass in eager anticipation.

Star Wars Exhibit at Anchorage MuseumWe got a pre-opening day peek and it was everything a Star Wars geek like me could want--over 80 costumes and props from the movies including the genuine, bona fide land speeder belonging to Luke Skywalker himself, complete with dented fender from bullseyeing womp rats. And you know what I mean if you're in any way a fellow Lucasite.

When I told my kids about the land speeder and mentioned that it was in the first movie they were confused because they thought I meant The Phantom Menace (they are all heathen dogs and consider Episode One: TPM to be the "first" movie no matter how many times I've worked to set them straight). You would not believe how we've gone rounds on the issue, with me insisting that Star Wars is the best of the whole series and that the three most recent episodes stink next to the original three, that Alec Guiness is the only one man enough to play Obi Wan and that someone should have stood up to George Lucas and told him what kind of crazy he was when he came up with the whole Jar Jar Binks thing but have I convinced them? I have not.

Star Wars Exhibit at Anchorage MuseumI have failed them as a mother.

But regardless, I had one heck of a morning gawking and snapping pictures of Yoda and Wookies and Jedi robes. I got to see R2D2 and C3Po and Princess Leia's original dress--though as a side note and something that was glaringly absent, I didn't see the infamous metal bikini. Funny how today you can ask middle-aged men around the world about that bikini and they'll get the same goofy, starry-eyed look every time. . . .

I even got a kick out of a rather effeminately posed Han Solo. Get a load of the way they've got him standing--like he's an Abercrombie and Fitch model rather than the coolest smuggler in the galaxy. I think Chewie would have smacked him if he'd ever stood like that for reals. But still . . . it's HAN SOLO! How cool is that? "Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side."

Ah, they don't write poetry like that any more.

Star Wars Exhibit at Anchorage MuseumBesides the costumes there were all sorts of miniatures-- Princess Leia's space ship, Luke on a Tauntaun, x-wing and tie-fighters, at-at walkers, star destroyers. I was in heaven. Or at least a galaxy far, far away.

Totally off the subject but while Googling "Tauntaun" to make sure I spelled it correctly (yea, go ahead and mock) I found "Wookiepedia: The Star Wars Wiki" which had this to say on the subject of Tauntauns: "Tauntauns were a species of omnivorous reptomammals who were indigenous to the icy planet of Hoth. Tauntauns were genetically similar to Kybucks and featured a mix of traditionally reptilian features, such as a lack of mammary glands and scaly skin. They were also warm-blooded, covered in fur (which ranged from gray to white), and gave birth to live young. Known subspecies included. . . . " and then it goes on for FOUR paragraphs before diverging into known predators and domestication.

Um . . . yea. I'm not sure if I feel awed or threatened by the person who took the time to research and write that page. Amazing.

But the exhibit wasn't all about the movies--at least not entirely. It's a great time for movie fans who want to see an authentic light saber or Darth Vader's mask but it's also made to teach science: what the movies made up, what real technology can do and what science hopes to be able to do in the future.

On the fourth floor there was a Jawa sand crawler set up as a theater that showed a 20+ minute film about the science behind the movies and on the third floor were some of the best hands-on science stations I've seen in connection with an exhibit.

Star Wars Exhibit at Anchorage MuseumOne station allows you to plan out one of three communities on Tatooine where you place resource tiles on a table and the screen above you projects a 3-D view of how your community would look, giving you a readout of how you're using your resources and protecting your citizens.

At another spot you can build a little car that levitates like Luke's land speeder but using real magnetic levitation technology rather than the gloriously fake "repulsorlift" technology the movies invented. You snap magnetic Legos on your car and send it floating down the track like magic. Or like magnets.

Star Wars Exhibit at Anchorage MuseumYou can interact with a real-life robot to see how technology can mimic cognitive and interactive skills, you can try to make a robot walk and get an idea of how amazing the human body is to be able to master such delicate movements effortlessly and you can take a short ride on a car that uses compressed air to float above the ground and see how hard it is to steer in a frictionless environment.

But the highlight? A full-sized replica of the Millennium Falcon's cockpit where you walk through one of the aircraft's tunnels to sit in Han or Chewie's chairs and make the jump to light speed as Anthony Daniels narrates a five-minute tour through the known universe--all to the rocking tunes of John Williams.

The exhibit runs through April 10th and it's very much worth the time and money to attend. The museum's website has a month or two of lectures to accompany the exhibit, many of them free. A perfect way to spend a day as you're waiting for all that snow to thaw.

And in honor of the occasion, I have here a very official, very cool Star Wars trivia game for your nerd-off pleasure. To see the answers, click and drag your cursor over the blank space below each question and it will magically highlight the answer. I'm only giving you questions from the original movie--because, after all, that's the best one. As I repeatedly tell my poor, ignorant children.

1. What is Princess Leia's last name?

Raised by step-parents, she is known as Leia Organa

2. When Luke was going to buy a droid he was told to make sure it spoke which language?


3. In which cell block is Leia being held prisoner?


4. Who owned C3PO and R2D2 before Luke bought the droids?

Captain Antilles

5. Luke commented that the trench on the Death Star was just like what place back home?

Beggar's Canyon

6. Where did Princess Leia tell Grand Moff Tarkin that the rebel base was located?


7. Where did "Old Ben Kenobi" live?

Beyond the Dune Sea

8. What was the finishing time for the Millennium Falcon in the Kessle Run?

Twelve parsecs

9. What do Sand People ride?


10. What land speeder's debut made Luke's old model obsolete?


10-9 We should seriously hang out. No really.
6-8 Don't tell me you actually think Hayden Christensen can act?!
3-5 So when was the last time you actually saw the movie?
2-1 Bantha fodder.

Sponsored by Beau-Coup for unique baby shower favors.


glitzen said...

Wow, that looks so cool! We should review the movies and then go to the exhibit. Although I try not to drive the Seward HWY much this time of year..

Sarah (GenMom) said...

Just write me up for bantha fodder. LOL. I saw all the movies, even saw the exhibit when it came here to Philly but you want me to remember any of it?!

Hey, I am actually de-lurking to say -LOVE the new background. It's probably been changed for months and I am such a lame blog reader these days but it looks really great - as do your pictures from Blissdom!

Meg said...

Yes, Star Wars is #1 (not #4)...

Yea, Chewie would have slapped him. The stormtroppers may have just stopped and laughed.

No, Hayden can't act.

And HOW FUN is this exhibit?! (Pretty fun...I hear you saying...)

Thanks for sharing. Maybe it will travel to a galaxy near us sometime.

Patricia L said...

I don't know if it's the same exhibit (looks like it might be) but we saw the Star Wars exhibit at the Children's Museum in Indianapolis this past summer. I don't know who liked it more, my husband and I or the kids. I completely agree-- the original Star Wars is THE star wars and Alec Guiness is the ONLY Obi Wan.

Cathi said...

I remember seeing Star Wars in the theater.
While I too have gone round and round with my 6 year old grandson on which Star Wars movie came first, he in all his Star Wars knowledge glory would be your best friend. You'd love to hang with him while he taught you one or two things about the sagas that you may not know you didn't know. LOL
Really though, he's something else.
His teenage and young adult cousins are always testing his knowledge and he blows them away every time.
Too bad they don't get graded on Star Wars trivia in kindergarten!

Cathi said...

Oh...and I just might have to bring my grandson to Alaska to see the Star Wars exhibit.
I'd be the best grandma on the planet. Your post makes it ever so tempting!!

Anonymous said...

Oh I hope that traveling exhibit hits Rabat! I am raising three huge fans, although in spite of my best efforts they think pretty boy hayden can act, and they are tired of me imitating his sad little attempt at drama. Me: (monotone) I killed them all. I slaughtered them like animals. Kids: Mo-om!
We've been watching the REAL trilogy in French lately. Fun times.
And yes, Chewie would've slapped that posing Han Solo! LOL!
I'm going to show this post to my kids, so I can enjoy an afternoon of "Man. We never get to do anything cool." It'll be fun!

Jules said...

I have to admit I only saw the movie back in the day. I did like it though. Maybe I will have to buy it and watch it again. I didn't know ANY of your trivia questions. That would be a cool place to go though.

I found your blog through SITS and have read your whole ebook. I love it. Thanks so much for writing it and sharing with us.

My husband has family in Alaska so we have been there 5 times. We love it!

Rebecca at Toothwhale said...

My husband and I are Star Wars fans and our kids (5-year-old son and almost 3-year-old daughter) are fans-in-training. I'd love for us to be able to see this exhibit. I hope it will travel somewhere near us in Nashville. My guys went to see Star Wars: In Concert a couple months ago. Very cool.

Jordan (MamaBlogga) said...


Han brags the Millennium Falcon made the Kessel Run (and it's "Kessel," not "Kessle") in under twelve parsecs.

Which I guess means he found a shortcut, since a parsec is a measure of distance, not time. Or Solo (or Lucas) didn't know what the crap he was talking about.

(Incidentally, the "Star Wars canon" has explained that last inconsistency away: Wookieepedia says it's an 18-parsec run, but Han found a shortcut. However, if I remember correctly, they were discussing the ship's speed. You know, whatever.)

But actually, it has been a while since I watched ANH. DH got me the original trilogy on DVD a couple years back, but I keep meaning to exchange the full screen set for the widescreen one.

MarytheKay said...

AAAhhhh!!! Love your post! We are a Star Wars loving family, we are! My 5-year-old daughter can keep up with ANY Star Wars conversations her little guy friends are having!

Funny story...We have the Star Wars VIDEOTAPE that my father-in-law recorded off television probably 30 years ago. My girls have watched it so much, they know all the old commercial jingles! It so funny to hear them sing them. Their friends have NO idea what they're singing!!

Melissa said...

This post made me laugh - in agreement, of course!

It looks like a really cool exhibit! I am going to have to share this with my husband, for sure!

chelle said...

I have never wanted to go to Alaska SO BAD! That is an awesome exhibit! What a great way to tie in movies with science!

page2 said...

I had to call my boys in to see this post and take the quiz. They only got 4 answers right ( I thought they'd get more) but they totally had fun doing it. They asked me if we could go to Alaska to visit the museum.

Heart2Heart said...


It makes me wish that I had gone when this exhibit was here in LA. Both my daughter and hubby are big Star Wars fans and even though I am not, I still enjoyed getting lost in the worlds George Lucas so easily created for all of us.

Love and Hugs ~ Kat

The Source said...

Wow. I was about 7 yrs old when the original Star Wars first came out, and I remember thinking it was incredibly unfair that I always had to play Princess Leia's part while my cousin got to pick between Luke, Han, Chewie, Obi-Wan and Darth Vader whenever we played. I would much rather have driven the Falcon than run around with doughnuts on my ears. I would LOVE to see that exhibit! My twins would freak out just as much as their mom. I'm pretty sure they can both recite every line of Episode 4.

Unfortunately, according to Google it would take me about 4 days to drive from Sout Carolina to Anchorage. I might have to hi-jack the landspeeder to make it back home!

Army Wife Quilter said...

awesome quiz. my husband and i look at it together. we go th 6- 8 right. sucks because that is also the first movie i remember seeing. however the return of the jedi was my favorite. i use to be able to repeat every line of the movie. I was one of those people that bugged everybody because i would know every line in the movie and would talk during the movie. I can still do it for some of the movie but that was so long ago i have lost it.

link said...

I love wookiepedia! Also love the movies!

Amber M. said...

Bantha fodder. Suck!

Anonymous said...

Rather nice place you've got here. Thanx for it. I like such topics and everything that is connected to them. I definitely want to read a bit more soon.

Best regards

Patience said...

Maybe the museum should have a roving exhibit that they take around to the schools! I dressed my littlest guys as Yoda and Obi Wan for Halloween last year and the comment that we heard most was, "Oh, what a cute little Shrek!!" Come on guys, a little cultural literacy here! Shrek is an ogre! Oh, well. I'll be putting a museum visit on my list of things to do in the near future...sounds like fun.

Melissa B. said...

I don't think I could pass this quiz, but my daughter used to date a guy who quizzed her on Star Wars trivia all the time. One of my favorite exhibits at the American History Museum in DC is the one that features C3PO and R2D2. Gotta love those droids...

Lori said...

I answered not a single one right. In fact I couldn't even fathom answers for some. I have a special place in my heart for Episode 1, though since my boyfriend at the time was a huge Star Wars geek and we went to the 12:01 showing with his mom and people were dressed up (I think he brought his light sabre, too).

I've always been a Godfather girl. It seems like in life there are two kids of people, Star Wars people and Godfather people. I think Diane Keaton could kick Carrie Fisher's patoot.

I do love museum exhibits, though and that looked interesting--I'll second you on the mannequin.

Eagles Wings said...

I haven't been around for a while checking out your blog, but stumbled on today...and according to my score we should be hanging out...
I just returned to the library today Star Wars IV, V, & VI the original three from the 80's. Of course I have four boys and had to get them hooked! They have plastic light sabers and all, but daddy still hates them. Go figure..
Anyway good to read your blog, just had to say hi!

ChefDruck said...

That looks like such an amazing exhibit! Star Wars is my ultimate favorite movie. I think you were kind when you described Han Solo's pose as some sort of Abercrombie and Fitch model. Chewbacca would have totally set him straight!

I recently had the amazing treat of taking my 6 year old to see the Boston Symphony play the Star Wars music to key scenes on a giant screen. It brought tears to my eyes!

midwest mama said...

My kiddos all KNOW that Star Wars is the first...and my 9-year-old insists that George Lucas is a "big dummy" for making those "prequels"---proof that children absorb the attitudes of their parents. Sounds like a really cool exhibit, I hope we get to check it out someday.

Annette Lyon said...

I need to send the link for this post to a friend of mine. Her master bedroom is decorated with a Star Wars motif. She wakes up each morning staring at a life-sized cutout of a storm trooper.

(Her husband sure better appreciate it!)

Jason said...

Have you seen the Sci-Fi/Fantasy Museum in Seattle? They had a bunch of Star Wars stuff in there. Their Yoda was lame, but they had plenty of other cool things. I managed to visit there on my way up here.

Julie Wright said...

I'm Annette Lyon's friend (the one with the star wars bedroom) I saw this exhibit (or something like it) when we were in San Francisco 15 years ago. So dang much fun!

Scribbit said...

Her comment cracked me up--and my natural reaction was "Aren't you a little short for a storm trooper?" :)

J at said...

I saw the original eleventy billion times that summer...and still, I got maybe 5 out of 10. I guess I'm not a geek? More interested in story than in memorizing stuff. Actually, I was more interested in seeing ANY OTHER MOVIE at that point, than in seeing more Star Wars.

Anji Gallanos said...

That exhibit would be so perfect for my boyz. Might have to take a trip to Anchorage. I am going to sit down with them and go through this quiz just for fun later.


The Texas Bakers said...

Star Wars was my first movie, as well. I would LOVE to go to that exhibit, and my kids would be there right along with me. I have been successful, furthermore, in convincing them of the innate superiority of the original 3 movies. Too bad we won't be up there until June... I have to put in one caveat about the dialogue, though. How many times can they say, "It's/he's/you're our only hope!" ???