Star Wars Identities: Much More Than An Ordinary Exhibit

If you grew up in the world of Star Wars who would you be?

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While on my most recent business trip to Edmonton Canada I was told that there was a Star Wars exhibit in town at the Telus World of Science Center. I have to admit right away that I am and was a Star Wars fan while growing up, but I was never a die hard fan by any standards. Nevertheless with my childhood nostalgia still intact, and my admittedly perking interest in what this exhibit had to offer I couldn't resist. But what I found after I got there was much more than I could have anticipated. 

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For those that are unaware I have grown up a native Washingtonian all my life visiting the Smithsonian Institutes my entire life. For any Washingtonian the concept of paying to go into a museum is somewhat of a foreign one. So the entry fee to this exhibit alone was over twenty seven dollars. It was at this point I considered turning back for a moment, but then I thought to myself "what else am I going to do tonight?" And the answer to my question was a resounding nothing. So I paid somewhat begrudgingly  and entered the exhibit.

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What I didn't know at the time is that this was no ordinary exhibit. In fact it will only stop in twelve cities in a six year world wide tour. I was informed that people have literally traveled the globe to experience the exhibit I was about to begin. Luckily for me I was the last person admitted that night so I didn't have to deal with any large groups of people. I mostly had the entire exhibit to myself. I was immediately instructed to grab a wet wrist band that I was assured was a cleaning agent, and not child drool and a wireless headset. Next step was a video room.

This is where the journey began, and I was immediately brought back into this universe, my childhood, and what this exhibit had to offer.    

Two heroes.

They share the same genes. They come from the same planet. So what makes them so different?

Follow Luke and Anakin Skywalker, cinema’s preeminent father and son duo, from their origins on Tatooine, to the friends and mentors they meet during adolescence, through the choices they make that will define them as adults.

Right away I could tell that this was going to be much more than a normal exhibit. This was a fully interactive exhibit based on sciences such as: psychology and sociology, and the forces that formed characters in this universe that we have all come to know and love. What was really cool about the exhibit was that you also got to form yourself as a character in this universe as well.

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When the exhibit first starts you are treated to large display of the droids that are seen throughout the Star Wars movies. And who else would be better to greet me than none other than C-3P0 and R2-D2. Right from the beginning I liked that I was treated to two very familiar faces, as well as a bunch of the other droids. These were both used in the original film, and throughout the entire exhibit I loved the little bits of movie trivia that were shared. Like C-3P0 actor Anthony Daniels had such difficulty moving in the costume that an upright board was brought him for him to lean on. The exhibit was full of this type of information, and I soaked it all up loving every minute of it!

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Of the 200 items on display I found the original art work particularly interesting. The art provided great insight into the creative mindset and design of each character and set pieces. In the original movie movie goers experienced for the first time aliens living there everyday life. This included them quite simply having a drink at the bar, where humans are the outsiders. This simple concept at the time was a ground breaking moment in cinema.

Cantina Alien

Cantina Alien

Cantina Alien

Cantina Alien

Cantina Alien

Cantina Alien

Cantina Alien Models

Cantina Alien Models

I also found it quite interesting to see the concepts of each character evolve over time. Such as George Lucas's early ideas of possibly having a female lead character. A lot of the original artwork showed him toying with this idea. Ultimately he decided to have both Luke and Leia Skywalker in the film. But there were originally cousins as well until he decided them to be twins with Darth Vadar as their father.

Early Luke and Leia sketches

Early Luke and Leia sketches

Early concepts with Luke as a female.

Early concepts with Luke as a female.

Throughout my journey through the exhibit I learned about the life experiences that drove the development of both Luke and Anakin Skywalker. I thought that it was really fascinating how the exhibit intertwined the creation of ourselves in the Star Wars universe, along with the development of these two central characters. It was an extremely interactive experience mixed with the feel of a traditional museum all at once. Of the three main categories of our Origins, Influences, and Choices; there were ten stations to develop our character: 

  1. Origins
    • Species
    • Genes
    • Parents
    • Culture
  2. Influences
    • Mentors
    • Friends
    • Events
  3. Choices
    • Occupation
    • Personality
    • Values
Decisions...Decisions

Decisions...Decisions

As for my decision, well my character's details are listed at the end of this post. I will have to admit that when I first walked into the exhibit I was really impressed by the size and scale of the outfits and props that were present. I have always heard that actors were short and small, but not the actors cast for the Star Wars movies. Mace Windu, Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, Boba Fett, Chewbacca, and Darth Vadar were much taller then I expected to just name a few.

Han Solo played by Harrison Ford

Han Solo played by Harrison Ford

Mace Windu played by Samuel Jackson

Mace Windu played by Samuel Jackson

Chewbacca played by Peter Mayhew 7 ft 3 in

Chewbacca played by Peter Mayhew 7 ft 3 in

Boba Fett played by Jeremy Bulloch

Boba Fett played by Jeremy Bulloch

It was also very impressive to see the model ships used in the filming of the movies. I was blown away at the detail present in these models. Most especially in the Star Destroyer. The detail present in this model in particular was outstanding. On the flip side I was also surprised to see how almost cheap and plastic looking some of the blasters, props, and outfits were. Even the newer movies blasters looked like cheap plastic when up close. It goes to show how the visual and special effects make the objects so much more believable when on screen.  

Side view of Star Destroyer

Side view of Star Destroyer

Back of Star Destroyer

Back of Star Destroyer

Close up of the Y-Wing

Close up of the Y-Wing

 Millennium Falcon

 Millennium Falcon

Storm Trooper helmet. Almost looked comical when up close, but don't tell anyone I said so!

Storm Trooper helmet. Almost looked comical when up close, but don't tell anyone I said so!

Some of my other favorite experiences included learning about Yoda's evolution from a almost dwarf looking character to the little green puppet that ended up on screen. I also learned that art director Joe Johnston modeled Yoda to be the wisest person in the universe. So what did he do, while he modeled Yoda's eyes after the most intelligent person he knew of...Albert Einstein. 

Early concept of Yoda known as Minch at the time

Early concept of Yoda known as Minch at the time

Yoda with those familiar eyes of Albert Einstein!

Yoda with those familiar eyes of Albert Einstein!

Yoda model used in the latest Star Wars movie

Yoda model used in the latest Star Wars movie

Towards the end of the exhibit I had had a great time learning about the characters, the places, seeing the props, models, and all the art work. It was a experience I recommend to anyone that is not only a fan of Star Wars, but of great museum experiences as well. And for those wondering what my favorite item in the exhibit, well it was a little piece of art work that showed the speeds and maneuverability of each spaceship on a chart. I guess the Millennium Falcon is not the fastest ship in the universe!

Relative Speed/Maneuverability Chart

Relative Speed/Maneuverability Chart

And to sum it all up I had a great time, great experience, and I also learned a great deal about the Star Wars universe and even myself. I didn't quite know what to expect at first, but I came out of the Star Wars Identities exhibit with a new appreciation and understanding of the development that went into this universe. It was apparent that it was truly a labor of love that George Lucas put into creating one of the most beloved fantasy universes of all time.

My full photo gallery of the day can be seen here:

Oh and for my Identity the full profile can be found by clicking here:

My Star Wars Identity

My Star Wars Identity

A Mother's Love Never Leaves Us, A Night with Brad Meltzer

Over the past two years now I have gone to a number of book signing events hosted by Brad Meltzer. In all of the events I have been to so far there have been guest appearances by other authors, radio personalities, and the children of famous celebrities. For Brad's latest book the Fifth Assassin, a direct sequel to his previous book The Inner Circle, I didn't expect anything less. But what we got tonight was something so much more powerful and unexpected. 

Brad looking nice in his suite. I didn't have a great angle for tonight. I was running late and got stuck in the back.

Brad looking nice in his suite. I didn't have a great angle for tonight. I was running late and got stuck in the back.

Brad started the evening with stories about his research, and the inspiration behind developing the presidential assassin in his latest novel. He joked at the fact that he is the only author releasing a book about presidential assassins just a mere five days before the Inauguration. I thought that it was great timing for a release, and makes his novel even more compelling. 

Brad continued on talking about how the previous night in New York he set a world record with the most people in a gathered area using decoder rings. He exclaimed that every other book signing event from that point forward is downhill. 

I peaked at my first event and I can’t top it, because now New York City is so much more nerdier than Washington D.C.
— Brad Meltzer

It was a lighthearted moment delivered in pitch perfect way. His deadpan delivery made you second guess how serious he was really being. He joked with the audience a little while longer before turning over the microphone for questions. For me what came next was the highlight of the night. Someone had asked Brad to talk about his time with the USO. Several months ago he worked with the USO to go overseas and meet with the troops of our nation to thank them for their dedication and service. On the way over, his entourage in itself is the stuff of comedic genius  It consisted of a group of nerdy authors, professional UFC fighters, and the cheerleaders from the Dallas Cowboys. "Just picture for a moment", he said. "This strange gathering of people that have been clumped together to meet our troops."

It was funny to imagine but the purpose of the mission was very important. It was during this time that he was approached by a gentleman who thanked him for helping to get over 30,000 books donated to the USO. Up until this point only a handful of people knew Brad had been a driving force behind this donation. He was very stunned that someone knew this story.

I didn’t publicize it and I hardly mentioned it to anyone.
— Brad Meltzer

Brad told the man who approached him that he shouldn't be thanking him, but a sailor aboard a submarine was the person who had inspired him. About ten years ago Brad had received a letter from a fan thanking him for his books, and how they had helped this sailor through tough times. He went on to mention that their library was so small, and the selection was very limited. After reading the letter Brad decided to call multiple publishers, and ask them if they had any books they could donate to the USO. It was during this time that more than 30,000 books made their way to the USO. After telling the man his story Brad decided that he was going to track down that sailor. More than ten years had passed by at this point, and his email address had change. After some very clever sleuthing Brad was able to find the sailor's phone number. Several weeks ago Brad actually made the call to the sailor, and he reintroduced himself to the man.

My name is Brad Meltzer and ten years ago you sent me an email that inspired me, and I just wanted to thank you.
— Brad Meltzer

He went on to ask the gentleman how he was doing, and to Brad's surprise he said not well. His mother had just passed away from breast cancer two days prior to him calling. For those that didn't know Brad's mother had also passed away from breast cancer several years earlier. He had a moment of clarity and told the man, "I think that I was sent to give you a message." The man simply replied, "What message?" Before Brad told us what he said; he explained that when his mother had died he received all sorts of well wishes and good advice that was really bad at that time. Almost nothing anyone can say will make you feel better when you are grieving for the loss of a loved one. However, there was one thing someone said that stood out and made him feel better.

A mother’s love never leaves us.
— Brad Meltzer

That was the message he delivered to the man on the other side of the phone that day. One letter from over ten years ago got Brad involved in the USO, which than lead to him being on the trip he was on. From there he was approached and thanked for his donation many years ago, which then inspired Brad to thank that sailor, and lead them to this conversation where he passed on a very important message to that man on a day he needed it the most. It's funny how life had a way of bringing them into contact with each other at just the right moment.

It was a powerful moment, but I saved the best for last. That was the last question and story of the night when a man raised his hand. Brad looked at him and before he had a chance to say anything he stood and said, "Can I finally shake your hand?" Brad's face welled up, and the two walked towards each other to hug.  

The sailor from many years ago.

The sailor from many years ago.

It was the sailor from the story Brad had just told, and everyone in the audience had a tear in their eye. It was a very special and magical moment, and I am privileged to have been there tonight to witness it. I walked into the bookstore tonight unsure of what surprises or people there might be, and I left with something so much more than I ever expected.  

I wanted to thank Brad for putting on a nice evening, and I am looking forward to reading his latest novel.

Till next time thanks again and take care!

- Robby Silk

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Oh and for those decoder rings he mentioned. Well I forgot to get one. Maybe next time!

A Night with Brad Meltzer, Alexandra Reeves, and Family

A little over a year ago I attended my first book signing event with Brad Meltzer. I documented my night that evening, and I had a great time meeting Brad and hearing what he had to say. I was very moved that night and became inspired to work harder towards my own goals, and to help others the best I could. In my life I have been shifting through the good, the bad, and the ugly to find out who I want to become. What I've found is that thinking about who you want to become is easy; the hard part is putting in the work to become that person. Since then I have continued to do my photography and share my writings with others through my website. I have also since then started working on a novel for nearly the past year. The part about success I took from Brad that evening was that there is no easy path or sure fire way to become successful. There is only one simple way, and that is through hard work and perseverance.

Very powerful pose here.

So fast forward to this year, a new venue, and a new book from Mr. Meltzer. Tonight's event was about his latest book Heroes for My Daughter. When my son was born this past November I purchased his book Heroes for My Son, and I wanted to bring it in for Brad to sign as a gift for him. For any parent that has not read either book I have to suggest that you pick up and read it to them today! Seriously...Go! Not only does it teach great lessons for your kids, but it contains very important lessons for everyone of any age. One of the most touching moments from his book are how ordinary his final heroes are...his parents and grandparents.  

Much more relaxed.

This to me was such a great way to end the book, because lets face it, for most of us our parents have been there everyday of our lives teaching us literally everything we know. The amount of hard work and sacrifice our parents have done for us really doesn't become apparent until we ourselves become one. Since becoming a father I have a brand new appreciation for everything that my parents have done for me. What was most striking to me about what Brad had to say was that I finally got it. In fact everything I have ever needed to know I have already learned from my father, mother, and grandparents. They had already taught me these valuable life lessons I just needed to finally understand it. 

The evening was very touching as Brad started out talking about what he wanted his daughter to learn and take from this book. And he mentions that there is one word in particular that he uses over and over again through out the entirety of the book, and that word is fighter. Because he doesn't want his daughter to be a princess in distress waiting for prince charming to come save her. He wants her to become a fighter and to stand up for herself, to take on the bully, and stand for what's right. And with that he then introduced the inspiration for his book his daughter Lila. In fact not only was his daughter present but both sons and his wife as well. It was family affair and Brad put it very eloquently, "what was I supposed to do leave them home during their spring break?"

Looking the part of a very proud father.

The most touching and moving moment of the night was when Brad had his daughter introduce the daughter of one of his greatest heroes Christopher Reeves. Everyone knows about Christopher Reeves and how he broke his neck and became paralyzed, but what made him so special was not the fact he played superman, one of the greatest heroes ever, but because he was the ordinary Clark Kent. He was fragile, delicate, and susceptible just like every single one of us. His daughter Alexandra went on to thank Brad and read the passage about her father from the book. His accident would have crushed the will in most people, but Christopher Reeves wasn't like most people. In fact when the doctors told him he would never feel anything again he proved them wrong when regained partial control of his fingers and toes, and again when he regained most of his sensation throughout his body. He became an advocate and spokesman for spinal cord research and treatment. He fought for new research, lobbied congress, and refused to stay down. There wasn't a dry eye in the crowd, and this was one of the most unique and special moments I have been privileged to witness firsthand.

A very touching moment.

She was such a cute little girl!

Alexandra reading the passage from the book about her father.

Brad finished up the night by taking some time to talk about his charity Ordinary People Change the World. And of course after that he started to meet everyone that came out to see him and sign their copies of the book. It was a great evening and I felt very special that I got to attend it. I decided to wait towards the end of the line so the parents with children could go first, and I was very glad that I did because one of Brad's cast mates from his show Decoded was there. Scott Rolle lives nearby the DC area and he made it down to the event to meet and sign autographs as well. This was the second time I have had the chance to talk with him, and I wanted to thank him for taking the time to talk with me. It was very nice and I even got to take a picture with him!

Me and Scott!

I wanted to conclude this journal entry with a quote from Brad's book, and a very special thank you from the bottom of my heart. Your hard work and inspiration will help spark the change this world needs:

Thank you again Brad for putting on a very nice event!

When the first superman movie came out, I was frequently asked, "What is a hero?" My answer was that a hero is someone who commits a courageous action without considering the consequences... Now my definition is completely different. I think a hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles. They are the real heroes, and so are the families and friends who have stood by them. - Christopher Reeve

Mean mugging for fun. I apparently didn't get the memo!

One "Super Moon", the Air and Space Museum, and Dr. Michio Kaku

March 19 2011,

"Empires of the future will be the empires of the mind."

- Winston Churchill

The above quote is taken from the first page of Dr. Michio Kaku's newest book Physics of the Future. For those of you who don't know who Dr. Kaku is; he is a father, scientist, physicist, author, TV and radio personality, “communicator” and “popularizer” of science, and is a co-founder of String theory. Dr. Kaku has been engaged in a most ambitious goal of defining the “Theory of Everything”.   The “Theory of Everything” has been a focus of Dr. Kaku since embarking on his career into the field of science. Completing this theory started as a dream of Albert Einstein, and it is now the shared dream of Dr. Kaku.

 

“If at first an idea does not sound absurd, then there is not hope for it.”

- Albert Einstein

What do the following have in common: the eve of a “Super Moon”, a gorgeous day, the Air and Space Museum, one Star-Trek outfit, an iconic long white hairdo, and a tie with grey and blue elephants on it? If you are wondering, this all came together for my wife and I this past Saturday March 19th, 2011. I woke this Saturday morning with the single goal of meeting Dr. Michio Kaku who was having a book signing event at the Air and Space Museum. Now you may ask; how did I end up at a book signing for one of the world’s foremost theoretical physicists? Well the answer is quite simple you see; I looked it up. Yes call me a nerd if you must, but before you judge do you know that time travel is possible. Still not sold? Well that’s your problem, so get over yourself. For the rest of you please continue reading on if you like?

The day, as I stated earlier; was gorgeous, and my wife and I arrived at the Air and Space Museum a few hours early to grab a nice lunch and check out the museum before hand. As we arrived at the museum, we came across a group of scientists who had setup special viewing equipment that allowed us to see Sun spots and mass coronal ejections happening right then and there on the surface of the Sun! Well, technically we were viewing eight minutes in the Sun’s past! Now who said everyday science can’t be exciting? No takers? Well for those of you less inclined did you know Corona beer gets its name and logo from the Sun's Corona? I bet you probably never thought about it before. Now back to the day.

It was a busy day at the museum with swarms of people walking in, out, and every which way you can imagine. Washington D.C. was as busy as ever. As we made our way through the main entrance of the museum we headed for the information kiosk to find out where the book signing event was going to take place. As it turns out it was happening right in front of my face where it said Dr. Michio Kaku book signing. I put on a smile and made my way towards the designated area. As we made our way over to the area near the book store; I soon discovered that Dr. Kaku was unfortunately not giving a speech, but was there to only sign books for his fans. I was disappointed, but still excited to meet him.

I made the decision to wait in the very small line that had just begun to form. Boy was I glad I made this decision, but I will get to that a little later. As we waited there for the book signing to begin I soon realized that I probably wouldn’t have a real chance to talk to Dr. Kaku either. Some of the museum staff began telling the small line that was beginning to grow that he only had a few moments for each person since they were expecting a huge crowd. I was very disappointed to realize the reality of the situation, but I guess it was may fault for thinking that this event was going to be somewhat under the radar. How wrong can one man be? Apparently very, that small line that started with about eight of us was now reaching as far back as I could see. Let me inform you that the Air and Space museum is nearly two football fields in length.

With that being said my wife and I were privy to meeting the many people who had come to also meet Dr. Kaku. We met people that traveled locally such as ourselves, out-of-towners from different states, and even one man all the way from Sweden! It was impressive to say the least that one man has the ability to draw such huge crowds. We even had a very lively conversation with a man dressed in a full Star-Trek outfit! I did not catch his name, but he came all the way down from New York. I told you it was a very interesting day. As the day went on and the line grew we all waited patiently for Dr. Kaku to arrive.

About a 2:30 in the afternoon I was right in the middle of a game of Sudoku on my phone as Dr. Kaku made a very inconspicuous entrance to the table and chair waiting for him. The strangest part about meeting someone you look up to can be the sense of humility and normality that individual gives off. It is easy to build up someone on TV to be larger than life, but then to see them in the flesh and be normal just like the rest of us is a strange sensation. As Dr. Kaku began signing books for the first people in line I was struck at how polite and genuinely excited he was to meet his fans. I am sure book signing events of this magnitude like at the Air and Space Museum can be very long and grueling. As he began signing books Katie turned to me and said, “His hair really is long and it’s white.” We both looked at each other and began to laugh as I asked what did you expect his hair to look like? “I don’t know just different,” my wife said. Like I mentioned before, meeting someone in person is a strange experience, and it can throw you off.

So as the line began to move forward I started to get an excited feeling in the pit of my stomach. As the feeling began to grow the moment I had waited for was now only separated by one person! “Next”, Dr. Kaku called out. I made my way forward and handed Dr. Kaku his newest book I had just purchased that day. “To Robby and Katie”, he read out. There was a sticky note the museum staff had us write our note on that we wanted Dr. Kaku to sign on our book with. “Yes that is right” I said. “Thank you for signing my book Dr. Kaku, and it is nice to finally meet you. Would you mind if I also got a picture with you?” I asked even though the staff had said to not take pictures. “Your welcome and likewise, and of course you can.” He said. I then made my way around the table to stand with Dr. Kaku. As I made my way around the table I couldn’t help but realize Dr. Kaku’s tie that he had on. It was a light purple tie with small grey and blue elephants in diagonal lines. I don’t know why but that tie put a big smile on my face, and at that moment we had Katie take a picture of us. As I shook Dr. Kaku’s hand he then turned to me and asked if my wife wanted to take a picture with him also! I then proceeded to answer for Katie and said of course she would! I was able to snap a picture of the both of them, and we both said thank you and made our exit to the left of the table.

One moment. Sometimes that is all we can get. Nevertheless I had a great day with my wife, and of course it was my honor meeting Dr. Kaku if only for a moment. My only regret of the day was not getting to ask him one question. I had sat up one night earlier in the week thinking of one question that I could ask Dr. Kaku. I struggled with this thought for a long time, because I wanted to ask something as far as I knew from my research nobody else had asked him before. I thought of every type of scientific question possible for Dr. Kaku until I finally had one come to mind. I decided that if given the chance I would ask Dr. Kaku himself a question about his hero Albert Einstein.

Dr. Kaku if you had the ability to travel back in time for one moment, and ask Albert Einstein only one question what would you ask him?

I guess for the time being I will have to leave this question unfortunately unanswered. Perhaps one day I will have the chance to sit down with Dr. Kaku and have a full interview with him and ask him this question. Until then I hope you enjoyed reading about my experience, and please enjoy the pictures from the day!

Dr. Kaku's Personal Web Page

Dr. Kaku's Big Think

Dr. Kaku on Facebook 

- Making my approach to Dr. Kaku!

 

- Signing my book!

 

- Me and Dr. Kaku!

 

- Dr. Kaku with my wife. Notice how he looks slighly more excited to be taking a picture with her then me. I guess that is why he asked. I can't blame him either I would look happier to!

  

 

- Some other photo's from the day!

Dr. kaku with another fan

 

Dr. Kaku preparing to take another picture

 

Close ups of Dr. kaku signing books

 

- Oh and that Super Moon I mentioned!

Have a nice day!

- Robby Silk

A Night with Brad Meltzer

On the night of January 13, 2011 my wife and I attended the Inner Circle Tour with Brad Meltzer at Politics and Prose book store in Northwest Washington D.C.

I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed myself and had a great evening while listening to Brad talk about his new book The Inner Circle, and the events that had inspired him to write it. Now please let me start from the beginning. Some of you may ask how did I end up at a book signing event in Washington D.C. Well the answer is quite simple in fact. I had heard Brad that morning on Elliot in the Morning on D.C. 101 talking about his new book that was released just a few days earlier. I must say that on the radio Brad is quite the funny story teller and had left an impression on me. When listening to him it dawned on me that this was not the first time I had heard him on Elliot in the Morning. Previously a little earlier this past summer he was on the radio talking about his newest book at the time Hero's for My Son.

I realized that Brad really likes promoting his books in the D.C. area, and of course now it makes sense to me because he one; used to live here, and two; most of his novels revolve around Washington D.C. Now let me tell you a few facts about Brad that I learned while listening to him speak: He loves California Tortilla and was not able to single handedly keep one open near his home in Florida; He has recently watched all of the Rocky movies with his son, and now his son hates the Russians more than anybody; and finally he was invited to come to Washington D.C. as part of a panel, and was asked to think of ways to carry our terrorist attacks.

This piece of information he shared with us was needless to say, awesome! "Hey Brad this is the government please come to D.C. on the earliest flight and think of ways to blow us up." ...Well maybe the conversation didn't quite go like this, but I like to embellish stories sometimes to make them more interesting. This chance opportunity is actually what lead Brad the write his new novel The Inner Circle. George Washington had created a secret spying group made of civilians called The Culper Ring. He picked civilians to be a part of a secret weapon that existed just to serve the President of the United States. It was on Brad's trip that his question was answered with a question "How do you know that this group does not exist today?"

"I was hooked" according to Brad, the story for my next novel was born. It was through his research that he had learned a few interesting facts. One being that George Washington's secret name in The Culper Ring was 7-11. Yes you heard me correctly; our first president and greatest leader had the secret name 7-11. This was actually where the convenience store 7-11 got their name from... Just joking; as Brad pointed out, you mix a little bit of fiction with truth and you can hook people! The next fact he shared is probably the greatest secret tradition in the United States. In1989, during Ronald Reagan's last few minutes in the White House, he had scribbled a note... and, it was reported, a picture of a turkey. The note said,"Don't let the turkeys get you down." He then slipped the note into the Oval Office desk and left it for his successor, President George H.W. Bush. The greatest secret tradition had been born.

Brad had revealed that president George H.W. Bush one night sent him an e-mail with the letter he had left for president Clinton. Brad said he immediately started trying to decode this message with secret codes and patterns, and was looking for any message like "I hate you Bill!" To Brad's dismay he did not find such a message.

The rest of the evening went very well and Brad showed us some clips from his new television show Decoded on The History Channel. The out takes were funny because they consisted of Brad practicing stances and getting his foreheadpatted down when he started to sweat to much. He also invited a member of the shows team Scott Rolle to introduce himself and talk about the show a little.

The evening ended with a little Q/A and the best question of the night I though came from a little boy. This is what he asked:

"Who inspired you to write?" I loved the simplicity of the question, and this is what Brad said.

"My former teacher Mrs. Spicer. She had realize at my young age that I was a gifted writer, and even though I was not in the honor class she was wanted me to forget everything we did in the normal class, sit in the corner, and focus on the honor classes homework and assignments. One day, Brad explained, a number of years later I went back to my grade school to visit and say hi to Mrs. Spicer. She did not recognize me at first, but I reminded her of who I was and what I had accomplished and I wanted to thank her. It was at this moment she burst into tears and said, "I was going to retire because I didn't think anything I did made a difference or mattered." Mrs. Spicer taught her class for another twelve years. This past summer I went to her retirement party as a surprise, and brought with me my newest book Hero's for My Son. In my book I have left the last page blank for you to write in who inspires you. I cut out a picture of Mrs. Spicer and put it in the back of the book."

I wanted to thank Brad for the evening my wife and I had. We really enjoyed ourselves and had a great time listening to his stories and learning a little bit about his new book and TV series. I wanted to end with one last piece of advice from Brad.

How do you get people interested in reading what you have to say?

"Keep writing."

Thanks and till next time!

 

- Robby Silk

 

Philosophical Thought of the Day

“(Music) is as powerful as any medicine,”

- Oliver Sacks

 

Why do we have such a fascination with music? It seems that music has the ability to open our mind and soul like no other medium. Music can inspire us or move us to tears. It has been used to spark revolutions and it has been used to bring people together in peace. Music is the ultimate form of self expression. I could not imagine a world without music nor would I want to live in a world without it. I have used music as therapy countless times in my life and I will always continue to use it. A world without music would be a very boring place to live.

- Robby Silk

 

How has music affected your life? What songs have you used for inspiration?

 

The Beth Walton Memorial Run (A day in review)

Well the Beth Walton Memorial Run has officially taken place! It was a great day out on the Sligo Creek trails! It started as a very early day for me at 6:45 a.m. on a Sunday morning, but I forced myself up since the race was for such a good cause. It was a very good turnout with about 200 people signed up for the days events. When I first arrived I saw many familiar faces of friends and family who were all there to remember a dear friend. It was also a very hot morning with dense humidity you could almost see; so I knew that the race was going to be a tough one.

Before the race started a few announcements were made regarding the track and some safety concerns. There was also a participant there Sunday morning who was a survivor of ovarian cancer. It was a very fitting touch to an emotional day; along with the happy news that Beth's oldest daughter had just delivered a new baby! So to say the least everyone was fired up for the race to begin!

"Walkers begin! Five minute mile people in the front and twelve minute people in the back!" So I naturally made may to front knowing full well that I was nowhere near a five minute pace, but I had to try and intimidate people! Then the whistle blew, the race started, and twenty eight minutes of misery began! Now I know you are thinking, "twenty eight minutes that's not that good." Well I have to tell you that I ran in one of the hottest most humid sporting events of my life Sunday morning. So to say the least twenty eight minutes was not so bad.

Despite my intimidation tactics I had a full plan with paced mile times I wanted to hit. My younger brother on the other hand started off like a bat out of hell with no plan in sight! Now my natural instincts kicked in because I can't let my little brother beat me in a race! This turned out to be a disastrous decision for me. I almost immediately started to feel a monster cramp coming so I decided to let up. This was a smart decision. So now, I thought to myself, I only have to make more smart decisions in the race then stupid ones. 

So the race continued on through the winding park trail, and there was what felt like a thick blanket of humidity sticking to me.  It felt as if a sauna had descended onto the race trail. There was then an incredible moment in the race when I had just reached the two mile marker; I saw the first place person passing me. Not a minute after this sight I saw my little brother up head holding his side in pain and walking! I thanked God at that moment because I had decided to follow my plan instead of my emotions. The tortoise had outsmarted the hair!

I eventually passed my brother and that was the last I saw of him until the very end of the race. Victory number one! Now down to business. So I really started to feel the pain and I knew it was going to be very tough the rest of the way. I decided to slow my pace a little so that I could have some reserve energy for the last part of the race.

As the race continued it felt as if the humidity was rising and the course was getting longer with every step I took. Usually when I run in a race I have a rule no matter what I never stop and walk at all. I have to run every single step of the way. Maybe it is not the brightest rule there ever was, but I never claimed to be a genius! So yes I finished the race without stopping! Victory number two!

Now onto the last stage of the race. After I completed the second mile I really started to feel the pain in my legs and the heat building in my body. This was not a good sign considering during my one day of training I did not have this feeling. Now I really started to feel myself start to drag especially on a few of the smaller hills we had to cross. Each step grew harder then the next, and every breath brought a small growing pain in my side! My legs were giving out, my side was starting to cramp, and my strategic pacing was thrown out the window.

Was it time to hit the panic button? Not yet, I knew in my years of athletic experiences that I had hit the proverbial wall. This is the time when you need to fight through the pain and exhaustion, and push a little harder. I made it out! Victory number two point one!

I was now in the home stretch and off in the distance I could here the cheers of people around the bend! I made it mentally, and now I had the finish line in sight! Up in the distance I saw a familiar figure cheering people on. It was my mom; who was dear friends with Mrs. Walton, yelling go Robby! Even at twenty five my mom still cheers me like I am going to win the race (I didn't by the way). One more bridge to go! Now I saw my dad cheering me on, and I can actually see the finish line! There were my sisters cheering me on! Only a few more steps, and I made it! Victory number three!

I nearly collapsed from the heat and pain I felt, but I was able to compose myself and submit the racing paper that tears off. Now remember my little brother a while back? Well about a minute or so after I crossed the line; I saw a limping figure in the distance holding his side looking in extreme agony. To say the least his plan failed. He looked as if he took a meat clever to his side and his hamstring had been ripped off. As he crossed the finish line he took an Oscar worthy flop on the ground back first! I am glad to spread the good news that he his ok and alive and well!

So in the end the day went very well, everyone enjoyed themselves, and I had a little surprise in store for me a moment later! My cousin Kelly won overall for the girls, my cousins cousin Casey came in third over all for her age division, my overly dramatic brother actually won first place in his age group, and yours truly came in third overall for my age group!  Surprise victory!

I wanted to close with even though today was a competition winning or losing doesn't mean anything. All the friends, family, supporters, and one goofy brother were all there to remember a lost friend, and support a very important cause. Now remember "Cancer is real, run for the teal!" - Beth Walton

- Robby Silk