Days Two and Three
Day three began with more certainty than day two. I had just one task ahead of me at a time: make sure I got in to the first Rebels panel of the day. Bloggers and podcasters had our own little group there near the front of the arena, in which we laughed and cheered and ogled the season two premiere and the chemistry between the cast. (Hearing Steve Blum and Vanessa Marshall make simultaneous whooping noises was my favorite.)
I heard mutterings that people were starting to line up for the season two premiere very early, so headed to that queue almost immediately after the panel ended. I wrote my article in line, keeping a wary eye on my phone where it was attached to the coveted electrical outlets on the wall.
After too long in line, I found Paul and his brother and friends one row over. We stayed in that room for four hours. Celebration staff shouted over the lines encouraging people not to let others sneak in through the doors on the far side of the room; the people already lined up cheered in territorial enthusiasm. At one point the room was informally locked, with no one allowed out to use the restroom. I imagined other fans looking in at the room, wondering to what strange place these isolated people were headed.
Later, we were allowed out to use the bathroom only if we knew the password to return. When I left, it was "Han Solo," and the person who tried to get into the room in front of me was turned away. I muttered "Han Solo?" to the staff member and was allowed politely back into the cattle pen lines.
The security was tighter in the screening room itself. When I again joined other podcasters in that room, stiff from sitting on the floor, we noticed a serious, square-jawed man telling us to turn off cell phones and put away cameras. Everyone I sat near complied. There were announcements that night-vision goggles were in use.
The premiere was, of course, fantastic. Rebels has made me appreciate The Clone Wars more, which is sometimes difficult for me; the characters who appear in Rebels are more interesting because of their connection to The Clone Wars, though, and that makes the earlier show worth more.
There were several panels I would have liked to see, but took place while I was in the line for Rebels. I watched Twitter for any news from the Del Rey panel and smiled to see that Alan Dean Foster would be returning to Star War for the important role of writing the tie-in novel for The Force Awakens.
In the evening I again returned to the hotel late after a meetup in the Hilton. Dinner was also spent there, with the ForceCast, where I got to know my fellow Around the HoloNet panelists better.
I found them again in the morning on Saturday, when I blearily met John and Michelle for breakfast at the long row of food carts. Justin got us inside the show floor a bit early so that we could take photos with the fan-built set pieces; getting inside the Mos Eisley Cantina was a fan dream.
The Sunday morning panels were a bit of a rush, as John and I took in an enjoyable 15 minutes or so of the Tosche Station live podcast before switching to Tricia Barr's A Certain Point of View panel. I had a lovely, brief first-time meeting with Linda and really enjoyed the panel's game-show format. Around this time, though, several of the Del Rey staffers had headed to the Novelizing Star Wars panel, and Tom asked me to help at the booth.
The afternoon was also a rush. I got a photo op with Ray Park, purchased action figures (although not the Hera and Sabine for which I had been looking,) met old friends Joe, Grant, Kaela, and new friend Chris, and rushed to the airport.
This was my first Celebration as a professional, the first in which I talked mostly to other people who were there in order to formally comment on the things we had seen together. I like to think the next one will also be like this. Our strange little sect of Star Wars journalism is writing without some of the distance. It's writing from the inside, whether we have friends in corporations or whether we have loved Star Wars for decades or years. There's a sincerity to it within all of the marketing, because of the friendships we make.
I have, sometimes, argued that it isn't the friendships that matter. Anyone with any hobby says that the friendships are the important part. Fly-fishers, trainspotters, all write about the same things. I thought that must not be entirely true, because we all chose Star Wars or fly fishing or trainspotting for a reason. The topic is important too. I realize, though, that that isn't what people mean when they say the friendships are important. I'm not entirely sure what it means myself, yet. The end of Celebration, though, feels like a beginning.