Tag Archives: Star Wars

Trading Spaces

17 Aug trading header

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letter I recently had to come to terms with saying goodbye to a project I poured my heart and soul into. Seven years ago we moved into our house. At the time we had one 2.5yo girl and a brand new baby boy. I poured all my creative juices into painting (no decals) their new bedrooms, my daughter in the larger room, the baby in the smaller, and these were the results:

The Girl's "Old" Room

The Girl’s “Old” Room

 

The Old Batman/Superman Room

The Old Batman/Superman Room

They lived happily there for 3 ½ years, but then another little boy was born. Furniture was shuffled, the crib was set up in the smaller “boys’ room” and 3 ½ more years passed without complaint. But you can’t keep a kid in his crib until he’s 18. When we noticed that Episode VI had to put his feet through the rails of the crib to stretch his legs out completely, we knew it was time to get him a “big-boy bed”. But with no more space in the smaller “boys’ room”, there weren’t many options option beyond a complete boy/girl bedroom swap. That meant turning a “boy room” into a “girl room” and turning a “girl room” into a “boy room”, and that meant saying goodbye to the murals I’d poured my soul into seven years earlier.

Thankfully Episode IV was gung-ho. We gave her some creative control over her new living space and (with a little guidance from UnDorkMommy) she ran with it. Here, converted from what used to be a Batman/Superman “boy” room, is the beautiful final result. It turned out great.

Episode IV's New Room (converted from Batman/Superman)

Episode IV’s New Room (converted from Batman/Superman)

 

The real challenge for this DorkDaddy though, was what to do with the boys’ new room. The Batman/Superman thing was already done. We needed something that would appeal to both boys, something a little more grown up that would carry them at least into high school. Let’s just say they accepted my first suggestion with boisterous enthusiasm. The theme was selected. The target was set. I was up to the challenge.

We were making a Star Wars room!

The Holy Trilogy

The Holy Trilogy

I’ll admit, I was secretly (not so secretly) planning for this moment my entire life. I’ve got boxes and boxes in the attic filled to the brim with carded Star Wars action figures, spaceships, playsets, posters… on and on.

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When Episode VI was born Pottery Barn Kids was selling a special Star Wars bedding set (they sold so well they have since become a regular staple in the catalogue). I snatched them up *just* in case and saved them in the attic along with all my other treasures, knowing (hoping) this day would come.

Camouflage

Camouflage

Suffice it to say there were 12-party, multi-national negotiations between me and my profoundly less-dorky wife as to what *exactly* would go into the “Star Wars room”. Her sensibilities demand that everything looks like it came straight out of a Pottery Barn catalogue. I, on the other hand, had a lifetime of wild ideas pent up and waiting to explode in a tidal wave of obnoxiousness (think fiber-optic star field on the ceiling or moving my working stand-up 1983 Star Wars arcade game into the room).

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Eventually though, we came to terms. Sure, I snuck a few little details under her radar (like a Bluetooth Death Star speaker on their nightstand so I could startle them awake from a deep slumber with Darth Vader’s Theme), but ultimately we were able to find a middle ground.

WAKE UP!!

WAKE UP!!

I could go into details about the specifics of the room (Yes, that is a 4-foot decal of the Death Star on the ceiling. Yes, those are personalized autographs the kids got in person when they went to the Star Wars Celebration earlier this year) but truly, the pictures speak for themselves.

Look Overhead!

Look Overhead!

At the dawn of a new age in Star Wars history, my kids are about to get a trilogy to define their childhoods just as I had mine. Doubtless over the years there will be additions to the room that have not yet been dreamed up in the Lucasfilm imaginarium. But for now I’m just happy I was able to give them the bedroom of their (my) dreams.

Converted From "Girl's Room"

Converted From “Girl’s Room”

 

-Dork Dad

What Dad REALLY Wanted For Father’s Day

7 Jul

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letter So now that Father’s Day is firmly in the rear-view mirror and Dad has had a chance to drink coffee in his new kid-painted coffee mug, or perhaps even wear the new tie(s) he got, it’s time to let the world in on a little secret.

As much as we appreciate the little tchotchkes, and we really do, we dads secretly hold out hope that the Father’s Day Fairy will bring something just a little different next year. These are things we’ve likely tripped over on the internet and inadvertently slipped into an hours-long “dude, how cool would that be?” daydream while we pretend to work.

So the next time Father’s Day (or a birthday, or an anniversary, or Christmas) rolls around and you want to do something completely irresponsible for the DorkDad in your life, consider one of the following gifts. I guarantee you you’ll get the wide-eyed “Oh my GAWD! That is SO FREAKING COOL!!!” reaction. When it happens, be sure to get a video and share it on Facebook.

Without further ado, here are three things he REALLY wants for Father’s Day:

 The DL44-Blaster from Episode IV.

The “Maker’s Movement” has seen a huge rise in hobbyists crafting their own fandom. If you want that movie-accurate iron man armor there are countless tutorials on YouTube to show you exactly how to make it in your own garage. You want to make a classic Star Trek communicator, no problem. Here’s where to get the parts and how to put them together.

In that vein I recently came across DL44blaster’s Instagram page and instantly I knew “I must have one.” There he showcases photos of the most movie-accurate replicas of Han Solo’s original blaster from the original Star Wars film you will ever come across. This prop replica may not mean anything to you, but a true Star Wars enthusiast will know it immediately.

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As opposed to the toys you can buy in the store these are cast metal, so they have some real heft to give them authenticity. They also have a locking hammer and functioning trigger and they feel damn real. Rest assured, they are only cast from the original Mauser pistols, so the external detailing is exquisite, but the barrels aren’t even hollow. They don’t shoot bullets, but I can personally guarantee that the *pew pew* works perfect.

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DL44blaster himself is a hotel hospitality worker, who builds these things as a hobby in his spare time, and what you realize very early on is that more than quality parts, these prop replicas are made with pure love. Mine sits on my desk at work (I really need to figure out a display stand/case) and it gives me joy every time I look at it.

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Head on over to DL44Blaster’s ETSY page to see what sort of awesomeness you can get Dad next Father’s Day. And if you’re really interested about how crazy the “Maker’s Movement” can be, take a look at Adam Savage’s one-day-build for the same prop.

The Hat

Let’s be clear. We dads wouldn’t change anything about our lives. We love our families desperately. They are our dream come true. But parenthood can be taxing and you can’t blame us for remembering with fondness the wild-stallion days of years (decades) gone past. If we were wild stallions in our youth, sometimes the drudgery of parenthood can make you feel like that moth-eaten pony at the carnival who keeps going around and around in circles, walking in his own poop. If the DorkDaddy in your life needs an infusion of bad-assness, I’ve got the prescription.

The success of “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and its sequels suddenly made the fedora relevant again. Fanboys could try to get a little of the Indiana Jones swagger by donning a replica brown fedora. But replicas are just that – replicas. Even the ones they sell at Disneyland just never looked right.

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As it was, the company in England that made Indiana Jones’s original fedora closed down shortly after the release of the original move. There were enough copies of the hat made to get through the two sequels, but the original templates and techniques used for his iconic hat were lost for all time. Over the years one hat maker, Steve Delk of the AdventureBilt Hat Company, became known as the best at replicating Indie’s iconic look. He used tradecraft from 100 years ago (who knew beaver felt was even a thing?) to make an Indie fedora that was without peer. When it came time to select a hat maker for Indiana Jones IV, Steve’s hat was chosen and his hats went from being the best Indie replicas to being the *ACTUAL* hat.

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Steve lives in Missouri and is still making hats. Each one is custom fit and hand-made for the wearer. In a world filled with assembly-line, factory made, mass produced junk, there is something very magical about putting on something of this quality – even without the connection to Indiana Jones. If you think the DorkDaddy in your life would appreciate *THE* Indiana Jones fedora, head on over to Steve’s Website.

The Hat

I promise the Father in your life can’t help but feel like a badass when he puts this hat on.

A Galaxy Far, Far Away

Almost two years ago, in anticipation of my 40th birthday, I wrote this blog post about a group of fans who restored one of the original, most iconic set pieces of the original Star Wars movie way out in the wilderness of Tunisia. I the piece I quipped about how I needed to see these places before I died, how my 40th birthday was the perfect excuse, and lamented about how I had nobody to go with me and actually make it happen. Then my amazing cousin sent me a text message and long story short, 10 months later she and I were walking in the real sands of Tatooine (or Tataouine as the actual Tunisian city is spelled).

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Simply put, if the DorkDad in your life is a Star Wars nerd, there is no holier ground than South West Tunisia.

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Yes, the American media has given a lot of air time to Middle East unrest spreading into the largely Westernized, primarily Mediterranean Tunisia. In conversations with my contact there the question was asked “Would you tell someone not to visit France because of what happened to Charlie Hebdo? Would you tell them not to go to church in the United States because of what’s been happening in The South of your country?”

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I can’t speak to any of that. All I can say is that Tunisia is an amazing place. The people there are generous, and friendly and my experience there was nothing short of life-changing.


Now think about the DorkDad in your life. You have nearly 6 months until Christmas… a year before next Father’s Day. Imagine the look on his face when he opens his present to find a shiny new DL-44 Blaster, authentic Indiana Jones fedora, or plane ticket to Tunisia.

-Dork Dad

DorkDaddy Strikes Back!

12 Jun

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letter I generally try to limit the sponsored posts on this blog to truly worthy material. Goodness knows I certainly don’t blog for the money. But recently an opportunity came my way that I just couldn’t say “no” to. I knew that if everything worked out the way I hoped, it had the potential to become one of the most EPIC experiences in this whole blogging adventure.

In case you’ve been living under a rock, there’s a new Star Wars™ movie coming out in December. The entire dorkosphere has been buzzing for the last 18 months and as we get closer to the release things are reaching a fever pitch. Brands who want to tie in to the movie’s release have to do their groundwork NOW so that they’re ready when the movie launches. So it was with popcorn mogul Pop*Secret, who recently approached the Life of Dad Network to help promote their new Star Wars™-theme line of pre-popped popcorn as part of their #PopWars campaign. The folks at Life of Dad, knowing full-well my Star Wars™ fandom qualifications, approached me and a few other dadbloggers to get the job done (for which we were compensated — full disclosure).

 

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Our task: to get the word out that

  • Pop Secret enhances at-home movie nights with family and friends, especially if that movie is from the Star Wars™ saga.

  • Pop Secret’s new pre-popped popcorn line, with delicious flavors including: Salted, Homestyle, Kettle Corn, White Cheddar, and the new Extra Cheesy, makes movie time a cinch since the snack is already made!

  • Pop Secret’s new packaging features favorite characters from the Star Wars™ saga and fun trivia to test your knowledge.

  • Pop Secret delivers quality products that you can be happy to share with family and friends.

Our instructions were to craft a video showing how eating Pop*Secret brand Star Wars™-themed pre-popped popcorn gave our families The Force (as if I needed an excuse to make a Star Wars™-themed movie staring my family) and man-oh-man did the dadbloggers come through. At the bottom of this post you will find links to their various submissions.

But let’s just put it out there:

You don’t just tell this DorkDaddy to make a Star Wars™-themed video starring my family and not expect me to knock it out of the park!!

Suffice it to say, we pulled out all the stops. For one glorious afternoon my kids and I filmed a script I’d whipped up two days before. Special thanks goes out to UnDorkMommy who had to put up with us taking over the house for an entire afternoon, and even more thanks to my buddy Ron Fugelseth who got as excited about the project as I was. We tried to get his kids/family into the project but alas, time wouldn’t allow it. Thanks also needs to be given to my sister, “Auntie Lala” who makes a guest appearance, the addition of which makes the entire project that much more Star Warsy.

Needless to say we had the time of our lives. There was more laughter than anything else, and after one amazing afternoon of shooting, and a couple weeks of agonizing post-production work, I’m proud to say this is our finished product:

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But wait, it gets better. Our video submissions are part of a contest… a contest which *YOU* are encouraged to enter yourself. You too can create your own video showing how Pop*Secret’s Star Wars™-themed pre-popped popcorn gives your family the force, and submit it to Life of Dad’s Pop*Secret page. At the end of the #PopWars campaign the creator of the winning video will receive a prize worth more than $1000 in Star Wars™ merchandise. Be sure to plaster #PopWars all over your social media outlets when you share it.

If you do submit a video, please also don’t forget to share it with me here. Put a link in the comments of this post and I’ll happily share it on DorkDaddy.com’s facebook/twitter pages.

 

-Dork Dad

 

Ask Your Dad Blog’s video

Designer Daddy’s video

DadNCharge’s video and his Epic Trailer

Raising Sienna’s video

The Rock Father’s video

Dad Of Divas’s video

GayNYCDad’s video

Post Post Modern Dad’s video

Dad And Burried’s video

4 Days To Make It Happen

28 Aug

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letter It is a rare opportunity to be able to use a blog for genuine good. I share most people’s discomfort with “causes” and “fundraisers” but the opportunity to make a difference in the life of a friend and his family, a friend who did so much for a community that has made such a difference to me… well, it was a moral touchstone I couldn’t pass by. You have all been so patient with my Facebook and Twitter updates on the subject, and you have generously spent your precious time over the years reading what I publish here. Believe me when I say I appreciate it and am humbled by your consistent patronage. Thank you.

There are 4 days left in my dorky t-shirt selling campaign, from which 100% of the profits will go to the fundraising campaign to benefit dadblogger Oren Miller and his family after his recent stage IV cancer diagnosis. Two of the 5 shirts offered have reached the “tipping point,” which is to say they have sold enough to officially go to print, but three more are just shy of their target. In an epic #timingfail we realized that the campaign will end on a holiday, so we don’t expect last-minute t-shirt enthusiasts to be engaged when the campaign ends on Monday.

So one last time, I’m asking for your help.

Just 1 more unit.

Straight from the scene where Luke, Han are in the gun turrets of the Millennium Falcon, escaping the Death Star. This is what you see on Luke’s targeting computer when he hits a TIE fighter and shouts “I GOT HIM!!” and Han replies “Great, kid. Don’t get cocky!” Any Star Wars nerd in your life would appreciate this shirt for what it is… pure awesome.

If you don’t get it, watch this. It’ll show up around the 0:35 mark.


 

Just 4 more units.

This one is for the hipster Lego nerds, who are too cool to wear a traditional “Lego” logo on their shirt… that, or they want to make a statement. Either way, the pop-culture value of this design is beyond dispute. Do you love Lego unabashedly? This shirt is for you.


Just 2 more units.

For obvious reasons, this one is close to my heart. If you are a DorkDad yourself, or if you have a DorkDad in your life, it’s something to be proud of. As with all the other shirts, this one comes in a hoodie AND a performance tee option, so dad can strut his stuff whether you’re mowing the lawn, shoveling the snow, or running that 5K that someday he’s going to get around to.


Of course, if you’re so inclined, you’re welcome to pick up one of the other options as well. These have already reached their mark, will be going to print, and will therefore be generating funds for Oren and his family.

 

 

 

Again, thank you so much for your generosity and your patience.

 

Respectfully,

Dork Dad

 

 

T-shirty AWESOMENESS — Blogging For Good

18 Aug

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OHMUHGERD!!!

This is the post that has all my geek-buttons lighting up.

Are you a proud dork yourself? Do you have a giant dork in your family? Here is your chance to stand up loud and proud and show the world that the dorks have inherited the Earth.

For TWO WEEKS ONLY, exclusively from Dorkdaddy.com these hardcore, dorktastic t-shirts will be available through our partners at Teespring.com. But it gets even better. Teespring.com has generously agreed that 100% OF THE PROFITS GENERATED WILL BE DONATED TO BENEFIT THE FAMILY OF OREN MILLER, a fellow blogger and father who was recently diagnosed with stage IV cancer. (for more about how this came to pass, see below)

So feast your eyes on the nerd-candy below. Remember, they will only be available for two weeks. Grab ’em while you can. Buy some for your friends. And please, for Oren and his family, SHARE THE HELL OUT OF THIS POST.

“Dorkdaddy And Proud Of It”

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Admit it, there is no swagger like the swagger of knowing exactly who you are. There is no shame in pouring everything you’ve got into your family. Sure, you may still get a little tingle when you walk by the action figure aisle at the toy store. Sure, you may have more superhero t-shirts than dress shirts. Sure, you may have very strong feelings about the sequence you show the Star Wars movies to your kids. Your wife may have perfected the eye-roll when you quote every line from “The Goonies,” or when you obsess over the slightest statistical minutia for your favorite sports team. But at the end of the day it’s about sharing the things you love most in life with the people you love most in life. For that, you make no apologies.
Are you a Dorkdaddy? Own it.
Do you have a Dorkdaddy in your life? Own it.
Now there’s a “Dorkdaddy And Proud Of It” t-shirt. Own it.
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

“Stay On Target”

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Remember that time when you were speeding down the trench to blow up that giant space station? Your dad was hot on your trail, trying to blow you out of the sky and your boss was all up in your face screaming “Stay on target. STAY ON TARGET!!” Of course you do. Who could forget an experience like that. Emblazoned on this shirt is the image seen on your targeting computer in the moment just before you destroyed the home-improvement project your father had been working on for years. Wear this shirt with pride. Been there? Sure. Done that? Of course. But now you can say “bought the t-shirt.”
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

“Don’t Get Cocky!”

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Remember that time you slipped out from right under your father’s nose and ran off with your scoundrel buddy in his souped-up hotrod for some serious hijinks? Your dad was so ticked he actually sent out a couple of local henchmen to apprehend you and bring you back in. Little did he know your buddy’s dog could handle the driving while you and the scoundrel manned the turrets and told your dad’s lackeys exactly what you thought of them. Lucky for you your targeting computer grabbed a screenshot of the action. We’ve printed it for you here on this shirt, along with the words your buddy had for you when you got a little too excited. “Great kid. Don’t get cocky!”
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

“Dork”

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Are you a Master-Builder? Are you “The Special”? Do you have an appreciation for little Danish interlocking plastic blocks that exceeds what some people would call “normal”? To heck with “some people.” Walk tall with the confidence of knowing exactly who you are and what you’re all about. You may be a “dork”, but that word doesn’t mean what it did back when The Breakfast Club was doing detention. The dorks have inherited the earth, and you are proud to count yourself among them.
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

“Dork” (ringer)

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In your day you and your buddies roamed the neighborhood in a wild pack of Schwinn bikes with banana seats and nobody wore a helmet. In your day video games cost a quarter. In your day you sat in the back of the station wagon with the groceries, where there were no seatbelts. In your day cartoons only came on Saturdays, Hulk Hogan and The Macho-man were unstoppable and “knowing” was “half the battle.” In your day the coolest kid at school was the one who had the t-shirt with the sweetest iron-on. Now that kid can be you, only the iron-on is a righteous silk-screen proclaiming to the world you know exactly who you are. You’re a dork, and you’re damn proud of it.
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
Here’s the history:
 
The entire reason I got into blogging in the first place was to meet/find/create a community of like-minded dorky dads. I found that community in the Dadbloggers Facebook group, founded by dadblogger Oren Miller. All the members of the Dadbloggers group have come to think of Oren as our founding father. When he was recently diagnosed with stage IV cancer, we were all rocked to the core. You can read Oren’s heart-felt feelings on his diagnosis here.
 
A fundraising site was set up in his name. We knew we couldn’t do much to help Oren’s condition, but we still wanted to make a difference. What could be more important for his family moving forward than memories. That’s what we wanted to do for them. So we are raising money to give Oren and his family as many awesome memories as possible.
 
When the good people from Teespring.com came to me looking to partner up, I knew I’d found a way to turn this blogging adventure into something good. As I stated above, 100% of the profits made from these t-shirts will go towards the fundraiser for Oren and his family. So please, if there’s a dork in your life who you think would appreciate one of the shirts above, pass the word along.
 
Remember, the shirts will only be available for 14 days, so SHARE THE HELL OUT OF THIS POST.
 
Thank you for your continued readership. It means more to me than I can say.
 
-Dork Dad
 

Mixed Signals

17 Oct

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letter This year for Halloween my son will be going as “John Williams Music”.

…not really. But this picture was so awesome I just had to share.

-Dork Dad

mixed

Here Comes 40

20 Jun

Recently UnDorkMommy has been pestering me about what I want to do for my impending 40th birthday. Ultimately I don’t really want for much in life. I’m very lucky to be able to just go out and get that new CD as soon as it hits Amazon, or that new mountain bike if I really, REALLY thought it was a good idea. Beyond that kind of stuff, the things I dream about (and therefore genuinely desire) are relatively unattainable. So when UnDorkMommy asks me what I want for my 40th birthday, my answer is generally unsatisfying for both of us: “Nothing. A re-fi on the mortgage. I’d like my practice loan to be paid off. Maybe liposuction so I can lose 20lbs. Other than that, there’s nothing I really want.”

Permit me to table the 40th birthday discussion for just a moment. I promise I’ll swing back around to it. Instead I’d like to share with you something I tripped over on the interwebs about 9 months ago.

Most credible dorks know that the planet Tatooine is actually the northern Africa country of Tunisia. George Lucas took his crew out there 37 years ago to film some of the most iconic scenes of the original Star Wars. Even if you aren’t a Star Wars geek, images like this are permanently etched into the modern pop-culture ethos:

Tatooine/Tunisia

Tatooine/Tunisia

Some of the Tatooine filming was done using pre-existing buildings, taking advantage of the unique architecture of the region. Some setpieces, like the igloo in the picture above from the homestead of Luke’s adopted Uncle and Aunt, Owen and Beru Lars, were constructed specifically for the movie. When filming was done the crew packed up and headed back home, leaving those setpieces just standing out there, weathering in the middle of the desert.

Over the years the most tenacious, intrepid Star Wars junkies have made the pilgrimage to the Tunisian desert to actually stand in the sands of Tatooine, next to the very structures on the very planet they visited in their imaginations countless times before. The nearby town has enjoyed the tourism dollars over the years, and is very friendly to traveling Westerners on their way to take a picture on the Lars homestead.

Obi Wan Kenobi's hut is actually a little fishing shack, still in use by the locals.

Obi Wan Kenobi’s hut is actually a little fishing shack, still in use by the locals.

Mark Dermul is one of those travelers. Since the early 2000’s he’s periodically headed to Tunisia from his home in Antwerp, Belgium to visit the set locations. In his travels he met Terry Cooper, Robert Cunningham, Mark Cox, Imanuel Djik and Michel Verpoorten, Star Wars geeks the lot of them, from all different corners of the globe. At one point a few of them found themselves standing in the desert in front of the Lars homestead igloo, saddened by its profound deterioration in the harsh desert environment.

Someone got the harebrained idea to restore the structure, and that was the spark that ignited the fire. One successful $11,000 kickstarter campaign, a Facebook page, and a whole lot of logistical planning later and the group of 6 Star Wars geeks from around the globe wound up doing masonry work in the hot Tunisian desert sun (120+ degrees!!) in the Summer of 2012, working to restore and preserve one of the most iconic movie sets in film history.

I have to admit, when I heard about the project (after its completion) my feelings were a little hurt. How could someone do something like this without me? How had I not heard about this before? I would have been a powerful ally, or in the word of The Emperor a “great asset”. I would have been a firm, dedicated partner in a project like this. I would have flown myself out to Tunisia. I would have raised funds. I would have stood out there under that (one) Tatooine sun and stapled chicken wire until my fingers bled. I would have swung pickaxes. I would have shoveled sand. I would have been totally committed. If only I had known.

Of course there was no application to be submitted, no audition or screening process to prepare for. This was just a group of friends who got a wild idea and totally pulled it off on their own (without me). Their entire adventure was of course documented, and can be found on the project’s website SaveLars.com. If, like me, you could spend hours just staring at the amazing photographs they took, they chronicled the entire experience in a hardback book (with a forward from Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill) available here (I’m totally buying it).

the boys

Just as impressive as the feat itself is the fact that despite the overwhelming media attention they received (and are still receiving), the six “Saviors” (that’s what they call themselves) are all very friendly and approachable. They’re just Star Wars geeks, like so many of us out in the world. They’re proud of the work they did and they’re excited to share it with everyone who wants to hear about it. This month marked the 1 year anniversary of their trip, and in honor of that I asked them if they wouldn’t mind being interviewed for DorkDaddy.com. They generously agreed.

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DorkDad: How did you become involved in the project?

Mark Dermul: Terry and Rob came up with this plan, albeit as a joke at first, they soon found themselves ‘confronted’ with so many positive reactions from the fans that they realized it would indeed become a reality. That’s when they contacted me, being well versed with the Tunisian lifestyle and having many contacts there. It took me about two nanoseconds to decide I wanted to be involved.

Terry Cooper: I joined Mark Dermul on his ‘Trip to Tatooine’ back in 2003, to satisfy my longing to visit Tunisia for the first time. I’ve been there a couple of times since and in 2010, we were all shocked by the gradual deterioration of the Homestead. That impressed upon us the urgency of a campaign to restore it before it became unsalvageable.

Michel Verpoorten: I’ve known Mark Dermul in events and conventions. When I heard about the project I say him that if they were looking for a photographer to cover the story I was available. While I was just only the photographer of the project, I was completely integrated by the team as their own, I was even more proud to be really a savior of the Lars homestead.

Mark “Coxie” Cox: Well It came about in Tunisia when myself and terry began talking about coming back and restoring the homestead. We could clearly see that she was starting to fall apart and wouldn’t last much longer.  So after a couple of weeks after arriving back in the UK we brought in Terry to join us… as it was the conversation with Terry that gave us the idea.

Rob Cunningham: In 2009, I met Mark Dermul in Como, Italy, and he offered the chance to join him in Tunisia the next year. While I was in Tunisia with the group, I met with Mark Cox and Terry Cooper, while we stood at the Igloo. And the rest is, as they say, history.

Imanuel Djik: During my visit with Mark Dermul, Mar Cox, Robert Cunningham and Terry Cooper in 2010 we saw the Homestead deteriorate fast. I contacted Mark D about my wish and motivations to get involved. Since they knew extra hands would be needed they welcomed me on board.

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DD: On the surface you have to admit, the project has to sound like a pretty hairbrained scheme. How did the people in your life react when you told them “I’m going to Tunisia to rebuild the Star Wars sets”?

ID: Some declared me insane, other called me geek or nerd. Family and friend said it was the coolest thing ever and are proud.

RC: Well, many of those close to me where already aware of my deep intrinsic love for the Star Wars Saga. For those who did not know of my love for SW, I would talk to them about the economic assistance that this project would provide for the local economy.

MD: Ha, well, since people in my direct surroundings are aware of my “Trip to Tatooine” outings, they only shook their heads a couple of times, before realizing if anybody could pull this off, it had to be us. Let’s not forget, we did not plan to rebuild the Star Wars sets (plural), but only to restore the Lars Homestead. One small building, albeit in the middle of nowhere (quite litteraly).

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DD: North Africa — 2012. The first thing people think is “Arab Spring” and the self-immolation in Sidi Bouzid in late 2010. Were there any concerns along those lines?

MD: There were many concerns along those lines as you can read in our online diary. We had to negotiate with the ONTT (National Office of Tourism in Tozeur), who were in direct contact with governor and Minister of Antiquities, who had to approve the project and provide us with the necessary permits. While the initial negotiations went smoothly, it took the better part of a year after the Arab Spring erupted, before we were contacted again. We had to wait for the new government to be installed before our project could go forward. Once that was the case, it went rather quickly.

TC: We were worried that the incoming new government would deny us entry to the country or refuse our request to work on the Homestead. Fortunately, we were allowed to proceed, thanks mostly to Mark Dermul, who spent months in negotiations with the government and tourist board of Tunisia.

MV: To be honest all along the road and locations where we was I never had a feeling of unease from Tunisian people at these moments.

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DD: What were some of the behind-the-scenes logistical headaches (permits, travel, etc.) behind the project?

MD: Permits was a big hurdle in terms of time. Travel is easy, no worries there. Everybody came to Brussels (Belgium, my home) and I arranged for the collective flights into Tunisia from here. Renting a van for six and our materiél was no biggie either. For the tools and building materials, we had agreed to work with a local contractor, to support the local economy. The biggest headaches were the working conditions (the heat was unbearable). We could only work from 6am till noon and from 5pm until sundown (around 7pm). So we had to get up at 5am every morning. We dubbed it silly o’clock.

RC: The hardest part for me was being on the other side of the world from the others. When we needed to plan something, one of them would throw it out on email, and by the time I woke up here in Arizona, the rest of them had figured it out. Sometimes, I wish I could have contributed more. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not anyone’s fault, it’s just living over here made it hard.

Being on this side of the world also made the plane tickets just *a bit* more expensive. :)

The rock where Luke was attacked by a Tusken Raider.

The rock where Luke was attacked by a Tusken Raider.

DD: Not only did you restore the Lars Homestead, but you were able to find some of the other significant Star Wars locations in the area. Aside from the reconstruction, what are your favorite Star Wars related memories of the trip(s)?

ID: For me, next to the Homestead it would be the Mos Espa set and the so-called Star Wars Canyon.

TC: Mos Espa is nearby, and although it’s beginning to deteriorate and the huge dunes are moving in on it, it still looks very impressive. I’d advise any big Star Wars Fan to visit it while it still exists. But for me, the Hotel Sidi Driss willl always be my favourite location as it just feels so real, and takes you back to A New Hope whenever you stay there.

RC: My personal favorite memory was when we walked into the Hotel Sidi Driss and one of the employees yelled “ROBERT! MY FRIEND! HOW ARE YOU!” I was shocked. I had met this man two years earlier, and only been there overnight, yet he remembered me. By name. This made my day.

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DD: Please describe your feelings, out there in the desert, when the Lars Homestead first came into view.

MD: When I first visited the Lars Homestead, many years ago while it was still in good condition, it gave me goosebumps. I remember standing out there during a sunset with John Williams’ soundtrack on the iPod and I actually shed some tears. I was not alone, by the way. It was a very emotional moment.

TC: I first saw it in 2003 and as we spotted a shining white dome in the distance, I felt intense excitement. It takes a while to get your head around it. But you notice that observers all seem to stand at the same spots, to witness it as it is shown in the film.

MV: You have the heart at 160bpm, thrilled and excited was the first words. No other words was coming!

Coxie: I always get emotional out there. It’s a lot of childhood memories  and getting married on site that always brings a tear to my eye. Besides I always give her a kiss every time we meet and always a goodbye kiss as we leave

ID: Pure excitement and joy. It is such an amazing place. Magical. It brings back all those childhood memories in a heartbeat. When you get there you hear the John Williams score, you see Luke Skywalker standing on the crater edge…goosebumps.

RC: The first time- I cried. The second time- I choked up. It is pretty much the only thing you can see in a 360 degree view. Just the vehicles, and the igloo. It is sobering. To stand there, where movie history was made, and to ‘be’ inside the movies and books, was amazing.  You hear people say “close your eyes and imagine…” Well here, we didn’t have to close our eyes. We could imagine with our eyes open.

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DD: After such an amazing, epic project, I imagine you all have grown pretty close. And yet, the job is done. What does the future hold for The Saviors?

TC: We’re certainly immensely proud of the campaign, and eternally thankful to the thousands of fans who helped us by raising funds and awareness so that we could do it. I think the next location that will be totally demolished soon is the Cantina exterior at Ajim. I really hope any future fan campaign is aimed at keeping it maintained, preserved and restored. But I think this will be for the next generation of Saviors. I’m happy to advise and support anyone attempting to do what we did, but I see my part in it over now. And of course, the Lars Homestead will still need maintenance in future. It’s not indestructible.

ID: Sometimes we joke about restoring other sets. And we would love to do so. On the other hand, we are hoping that we inspire other fans to restore the other sets.

MV: Indeed, I was coming almost alone and I left Tunisia with a tribe. We will keep this adventure always in our memories.

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DD: In the off chance that you all should head out there again, what do I need to do to get a spot on the expedition?

MD: If we ever plan to go back out as Saviors (I, for example, will be going back in April 2014, but as a family holiday to show the locations to my children), it will be posted on the Lars Homestead page on Facebook. But I do not think it will happen soon, to be honest. The job is done, after all. But thanks to the books that I have published (Save the Lars Homestead, Tatooine Reunion and Trip to Tatooine), people have all the info they need to make their own way to that galaxy far, far away.

TC: I can’t see myself going back out there for a long time… a long time. But perhaps that leaves an empty seat? Hard work is involved. High temperatures, long drives, poor hygiene and few luxuries. And always keep in mind that these sites are for EVERYONE, no fan can claim them as their own. They belong to the world, and they belong to Tunisia.

Coxie: Be able to use a tape measure and saw in a straight line.

ID: Jedi mindtricks

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DD: What is the one thing you want people to know or remember about the project, now that it moves into the annals of Star Wars history?

MD: I would like for the fans to remember that this project was by the fans and for the fans. We could not have pulled it off without their support (donations). And we sincerely hope that the Homestead will be around for many more generations of fans to go out and visit it.

TC: I’d like people to remember that the worldwide Star Wars fan community is a truly powerful and positive group of people. We can achieve great things between us if we all pull together. Remember that Tunisia is a very small, very underprivileged country – they know very little of this huge American movie. They’re too busy just trying to survive. If some small locations like this will help bring tourist money into the very poor south (far from the more affluent northern resorts), then surely Star Wars fans can have great fun and pride in visiting the locations – and help the local economy at the same time. Or to put it another way, “Don’t underestimate the power of the Force!”

RC: We did it for Star Wars Fans yes, but also for the people there. Many of us come from countries that are very privileged. I for one, feel that we have a duty to help others.

It’s the Jedi thing to do. :)

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***

So I’ve been working on cobbling this interview together for a few weeks. I’ve cruised their sight, watched all the videos, seen all the photos and chatted with most of The Saviors on their Facebook page. Then suddenly it occurred to me:

I know what I want for my 40th!!

I want to go to Tunisia.

No. I *NEED* to go to Tunisia. I need to stand there by the igloo and stare off into the infinite horizon. I need to feel the sands of Tatooine between my fingers. I need to hike the Star Wars canyon. I need to see Ben’s hut, and the streets of Mos Eisley… and I need to do it before those places are lost forever.

The thought hit me like a bolt of force-lightning. As much as I knew I *NEEDED* to make this trip, I also knew I couldn’t do it alone. For something like this you need a travel-buddy. But flying out to Tunisia and driving out into the middle of nowhere isn’t like hopping in the car for a road-trip to Yosemite. I needed someone who was just as crazy as me, someone who I knew would be both up FOR it, and up TO it. I had just the guy in mind, a Star Wars nut and dorky dentist dad like me, and texted him that moment: “We need to talk. Once in a lifetime, hairbrained crazy scheme that I’m deadly serious about.”

That evening I explained the plan to him over the phone. His initial silence at the other end of the line told me he was taking it in. Once he’d had a moment to internalize he said “Yeah. I’m in, man. I’m totally in… I just have to ask my wife.” ((wise man))

Long story short, he’s a military dentist and the only way he could get wife-approval was if they were stationed in Europe – which was a distinct possibility, but they wouldn’t know for sure until April or May of next year.

In short, my best hope for a travel-buddy to Tunisia/Tatooine, enthusiastic though he may be, is tenuous at best.

Which also means I am currently accepting applications. I need someone who is as much a Star Wars geek as I am, someone who is both up FOR it and up TO it. Lest any of you think I’m not serious, that I’m just being dramatic for the sake of my blog, let me reassure you to the contrary.

I’m as serious as a Wookie with a hangover.

Who’s with me?

-Dork Dad

lars

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