By Mark Bell | April 29, 2005

Gore and I first inquired at the press office. If anyone should know how this situation was to work, they should have some idea, right? Wrong. They knew nothing, and repeatedly told us so, as well as letting us know that “this event is more for the fans than the media.” Of course, but we were fans who just so happened to be media, and we weren’t asking for special consideration, we were willing to play the game like everyone else. But, come on, we can’t play a game where no one knows the rules. Seeing that the press office was not going to be helpful, we began asking any and everyone if they had heard anything. When should we line up? Where?

We finally got the best idea of what was to occur when we talked to one of the security guards outside of the Sagamore Ballroom, the very room where Lucas would give his presentation the next day. The security guard, no doubt much like the guy who leaked the plans to the Death Star to the Rebels in Star Wars, was all too eager to let us know everything he’d heard, which was: there would be two lines, a fan club line and a non-fan club member line. Both were supposed to line up at midnight, and around 6-8am volunteers and staff would walk the line giving some sort of marker (bracelet, stamp, branding) indicating which screening you were getting into. The room only held 3,000 people, so the sooner you got in line, the better.

I resigned myself to my fate. I was going to get in line at midnight (though which line I hadn’t decided yet) and ride it out. Just to be safe, we wandered back down to the press office to check to see if there was a special press line. Once again, nothing useful was forthcoming. In fact, they looked surprised when we told them all the info the security guard had given us. Apparently, they were completely out of the loop. A journalist in the area heard our conversation and said something along the lines of “no one in the media is going to line up at midnight.” I responded by smiling and tipping my cap to him, to which he replied with an “uh oh, looks like we have a fan pretending to be media.” And it looks like pompous journalist pricks can talk.

The night then became typically debauched. Beer was consumed, I killed a burger called ‘The Bounty Hunter’ that was basically a pound of beef and fixings and we dropped in on a party for the 501st Stormtrooper battalion that was being held at the Hyatt. The 501st is a public group of Stormtrooper enthusiasts that own the gear and represent their love for Star Wars whenever possible. Their enthusiasm and loyalty has garnered them a mention in “Episode III”, and they were in full force in and around the convention. Nothing more surreal than seeing a group of Stormtroopers bearing down on you, but their commitment was to be respected. Which is why we crashed their party, of course.

As the night got closer to midnight, I retreated back to the hotel room to get changed in warmer clothes and prepare for the upcoming adventure. It had been raining all day, and it was definitely getting chilly outside. I hadn’t decided which line to join yet because, well, one of them would be under the cover of the carport for the convention center, and one would be around the corner in the other direction amongst the elements. I decided to hop online with the hope that some geek had found the official rules for what line went where, and had maybe posted them in a blog or something. And my hunch played out.

Turns out the fan club line was to curve from the main doors North up Maryland, which meant that it was going to be primarily out in the rain. The non-fan club line went in the other direction, and was therefore under the cover of the main carport. Excellent, I decided the non-fan club line was the one for me. I grabbed my mp3 player, checked that I was sufficiently attired and set out for the convention center.


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