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Melinda’s Brew: A Star Wars-Studded 4th

Melinda’s Brew: A Star Wars-Studded 4th

And how did you celebrate your Star Wars Day? Me? As soon as I woke from a not-very-good-night’s sleep, I turned on my computer, launched my Internet browser, and learned that tickets to Han Solo: A Star Wars Story were indeed on sale. My suspicion [along with many in the realm of Star Wars Fandom] was correct. Tickets for the upcoming cinematic offering that centers on that much beloved scoundrel did go on sale on May 4. Yippee! If I could procure tickets to the showings – yes, plural – I wanted, this would be a glorious way to begin the day. I eagerly logged into one of my favorite movie ticket buying sites, checked to see whether Han Solo: A Star Wars Story really would open on the touted Friday, May 25th date that has been bandied around for months … or if it indeed would hit movie screens on Thursday, May 24th. [This begs the question, at least to me, why do movie studios insist on proclaiming a movie will open on Friday when it really will open on Thursday? I fell for that when The Last Jedi opened last December. Silly me, I bought tickets to see Episode VIII on the Friday of opening weekend – because everyone said TLJ would open on the 15th of December 2017. Then, much later, I learned the much-anticipated film truly would open on Thursday, the 14th! I hurried to my computer, and while I was lucky to garner two of the last tickets for a showing at my favorite neighborhood theater for the real opening day, I was not altogether pleased [mostly because those last seats were in the front row of the theater – my least favorite place to sit while watching a movie, especially one like Star Wars]. I was not going to be fooled again. Sure enough, the stand-alone Star Wars film was opening on Thursday [at least in our market], and I was able to procure two tickets for the showing of my choice – with much better seats this time around. 🙂 To add icing to the cake, I was able to purchase tickets for a Friday night showing, as well as a Sunday matinee. What a truly glorious way to start the day! 🙂

To bookend a beautiful day, my husband Tom and I headed to Miller Park, home of the Milwaukee Brewers Baseball Team, to enjoy an evening of Star Wars fun [oh, and the Brewers vs. Pittsburgh Pirates ballgame, too 😉 ], aptly dubbed Star Wars Night. We couldn’t attend the evening’s event attired in just anything. Oh no! Before leaving the house, we made sure we had on as much Star Wars-inspired clothing as possible [without being costumed … since neither of us has such]. Tom donned one of his shirts from Celebration Orlando 2017. I was a bit more decked out – in one of my many SW tees, R2D2 socks, and my Jyn Erso watch. I topped off my ensemble with one of my SW baseball-style caps. I also toted my personal belongings in my Loungefly Rebel backpack. I’m happy we were clad so since, tickets in hand, we entered the ballpark surrounded by more than a few fans clad in either Star Wars costumes or brandishing their fandom by wearing Star Wars t-shirts. It felt good to be part of the crowd! [I usually like to be more ‘individual’ – except where Star Wars is concerned. 🙂 ]

“This is the Brewers’ fourth year hosting a Star Wars Night at Miller Park, and it’s consistently been one of our most popular theme nights each of the last four years,” remarks Taylor Goldman, the Brew Crew’s manager of theme nights. We were pretty excited to be able to do this one on May 4th this year, especially with the hype surrounding the new [Han] Solo movie.” Goldman notes the team started working with Lucasfilm last fall, and was in close contact with the folks at Lucasfilm right up to Friday night. “Lucasfilm was a great partner for us, and was with us every step of the way as we developed what this night was going to look like from the design of the bobblehead to the execution of our scoreboard features. Luckily for us, they were pretty open to some of the fun ideas we had, and you can see that with some of the graphics and features that our scoreboard team put together.” Adds Steven Armendariz, the motion graphics designer responsible for those graphics: “[It took] many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many hours … but it [was] time [well] spent combining two things I really care about – Star Wars and baseball.”

What’s In A Name? Someone clearly was having a lot of fun coming up with a Star Wars slant to the Brew Crew’s players’ names. Center Fielder Lorenzo Cain took on the persona of Lo-Bot for the night [featured above] and Third Baseman Travis Shaw’s alter ego, Shawbacca, was a shout-out to our favorite Wookiee [below]. [TOP] With the Brewers down by just one run, 5-4, in the bottom of the seventh, slugger Ryan Braun, aka Braun Solo, was sent in to pinch hit. Unfortunately, the Pirates’ pitcher kept the 2007 Rookie of the Year from getting on base.

Tom and I got to the ballpark early – mostly so we could enjoy the Star Wars atmosphere we were sure would permeate the stadium, and to figure out just where we had to go to exchange our vouchers for our Braun Solo bobbleheads [the night’s special giveaway]. It’s a good thing we allowed the extra time since the Star Wars-themed corner was clear on the other side of the huge ballpark from where our seats were located. 😉 En route to the established Star Wars corner, and then back to our side of the field, we passed many, many like-dressed fans, as well as quite a few in Star Wars costumes. Many a “May the Fourth Be with You!” could be heard as fans passed one another. We may have been strangers, but our affinity for Star Wars united us. 🙂 Fifteen minutes to game time, Tom and I, now with our coveted Braun Solo bobbleheads safely in hand, got a bite to eat, found our seats along the left field line, and ate while Organist Dean Rosko’s fingers danced across the keyboard to regale us with selections from John Williams’ iconic Saga scores. While fans filed to their seats, three guest “pitchers” took to the field to throw a pitch to waiting

Celebrating Star Wars. Costumed characters roamed the various levels of Miller Stadium in Milwaukee last Friday evening, and they didn’t mind one iota pausing to have their photos taken with passersby.

Catcher Manny Piña. The third was a little boy [it was hard from my vantage point to discern how old he was but if I’d have to wager a guess, maybe about seven?], flanked by two stormtroopers. The lad got to stand closer to home plate than his major league counterpart gets to, and while his pitch may not have made it quite all the way to the plate, it was clear from the picture emblazoned across the scoreboard that the youngster must have been on Cloud 9. He was grinning ear-to-ear as he glanced up at his escorts.

Following the guest pitchers, the Pirates were introduced while the “Imperial March” played in the background; the Brewers to the “Star Wars Theme”. [About 7-year-old] Colten Schmidt had a microphone placed in his hand. Just as the miniaturized Darth Vader proclaimed, “play ball,” a tall woman wearing a Star Wars t-shirt, long, black cape, and toting what appeared to be a set of signs sat down beside me. We struck up a short conversation while she showed me what she had written on the posterboard: “The Force is strong with this one,” “Impressive. Most impressive,” “Obi-Wan has taught you well.” She noted her favorite character is not Darth Vader, “but he has the best quotable lines.” This was going to be one fun night indeed! 🙂

I could regale you with a play-by-play of the game [I was a sports writer in another life so it wouldn’t be all that hard for me to do 😉 ] but I won’t go down that road here. Instead, I’d like to share some of my favorite memories from the Brewers’ “May the Fourth Be with You” celebration with you.

If the mashup bobbleheads, costumed characters roaming the tiers and guarding the field, and melodies emanating from the organ pipes were not enough to make us enjoy Star Wars Night at Miller Park, what soon followed certainly would have gotten us in a Star Wars frame of mind – akin to the Millennium Falcon’s record-breaking Kessel Run achievement. While the Brewers warmed up, we were treated to an excellently edited compilation of scenes from many of the Star Wars films blended with footage of the Brewers in some of their more auspicious outings. Up on the scoreboard, cut-outs of R2D2 helped fans keep track of strike

‘Force’ful Power. Catcher Manny Piña, aka Qui-Gon Piña, certainly had a Jedi Master’s Force powers with him when he came up to bat in the bottom of the second inning. His bat connected with the ball for the Brewers’ only home run, tying the score, 1-1. Sadly, the Pirates pulled ahead in the third, and never relinquished their lead.

outs, balls and outs. An image of the Death Star [how fitting] loomed in the background to the Pirates’ players as each had his specs broadcast on the scoreboard. The Brewers’ players, on the other hand, had a hyperspace star field as the backdrop to their cleverly-fashioned Star Wars-ized names – names like Saw Guerra [for Pitcher Junior Guerra], YE-3PO [for Left Fielder Christian Yelich], Admiral Aguilar [for First Baseman Jesus Aguilar], Domingo Ren [for Right Fielder Domingo Santana], and Jonafinn Villar [for Jonathan Villar, one of the Brewers’ pinch hitters].

According to Armendariz, coming up with a Star Wars-ized name for some of the Brewers was a bit challenging. “I really struggled with Jesus Aguilar, and spent some time trying to come up with something cool,” Armendariz admits. “Then [I] finally landed on Admiral Aguilar.” The huge Star Wars fan continues: “I was excited when we signed Lorenzo Cain because I thought we could finally have a character named after Lobot.” Orlando Calrissian was a no-brainer for the team’s shortstop, Orlando Arcia. The same could be said for bobblehead model Ryan Braun. “It fits his name really well, and his character,” Armendariz explains, noting why it is so apt to pair Ryan Braun and Han Solo.

During the evening’s festivities, the fans were treated to the customary “find the ball under the cup” game – only instead of a cup under which the ball was hiding, Darth Vader’s helmet was used. 😉 One lucky fan was tasked with following the three helmets as they danced, leapt and sped across the scoreboard screen, and when the three helmets finally settled down, he had to choose under which Darth Vader helmet the baseball was hiding. The Force must have been strong with him as he chose the correct helmet – # 1! Do you know how fans get to enjoy the Seventh Inning Stretch between the top and bottom of the seventh inning of a game? [Brewers fans do, too. 😉 ] Well, the Milwaukee Brewers go one better. In between the top and bottom of the sixth inning, the five iconic racing sausages take to the field to see which sausage – bratwurst, Polish, Italian, hot dog or chorizo – will be the night’s favorite. While known for many things, Wisconsin takes its sausage heritage seriously, thus giving birth to the famous Racing Sausages. For Star Wars Night’s competition, two stormtroopers held the finishing line tape while fans cheered for their favorite. Tom, whose taste buds bend toward bratwurst, raised his voice in favor of the German-based sausage. I, on the other hand, lent my vocals to my hometown favorite, the hot dog – which, by the way, took top honors. 🙂

As it turned out, more than 40 members of the area 501st Garrison were on hand to help make the night as festive as it was. “As they kept pouring out of their dressing room, I was consistently amazed with the variety and the quality of each costume,” Goldman says with admiration. “It really helps create a memorable experience at the ballpark for our fans. We even had a few droids this year, including  BB-8!”

The pièce de résistance to what turned out to be a wonderful Star Wars Day would have been if the Brewers had won their series opener against the Pirates. The game got off to a terrific start when ‘Saw’ Guerra struck out the Pirates’ lead-off batter, Adam Frazier. That was the highlight of the first inning. By its close, the Pirates were up, 1-0. The Brewers attempted a couple of catch-up rallies but by the time the last Brewer was retired in the bottom of the ninth, the Pirates had earned a 6-4 victory, knocking the Brewers from their first place berth in the National League Central Division.

Alter Ego. The Brewers’ powerhouse player Ryan Braun took on the persona of smuggler-turned-hero Han Solo during Friday’s Star Wars Night baseball game, and had the mash-up immortalized – forever – in bobblehead form. Each attendee with a voucher was able to trade that voucher for the collectible.

The Brewers may have lost the contest but that didn’t diminish fans’ joyful mood. As Tom and I exited the stadium and made our way to our car, we continued to hear many shout-outs of “May the Fourth Be with You!” That was heartening. 🙂 On our drive home, we noticed the Wisconsin Department of Transportation was in a Star Wars frame of mind as well. Written across the electronic signs that span the area freeways were the words “Trust the Force. A Jedi Always Buckles Up.” “Isn’t that a contrary statement?” Tom posed. “If you have the Force, you shouldn’t need to buckle up.” [For the record, Tom was not questioning the safety feature a seat belt offers. He was referring to the fact that a Jedi should be able to sense something unfortunate is about to happen, thus making it possible for him/her to avoid that unfortunate event, thus making a seat belt unnecessary. Still, one can’t criticize the DOT for jumping on the Star Wars Day bandwagon in some capacity, can one? 😉 ]

I posed a query at the onset of this post – how did you spend your Star Wars Day? I told you my tale, and I’d be very interested to hear how you celebrated our favorite film saga. Please feel free to share your tale in one of the comment boxes below. Or feel free to contact me at melindaw@coffeewithkenobi.com. 🙂Melinda's Brew

Until next time,

MTFBWY 🙂

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