When Harry Met Aggies
Darin and I were all set to go meet Harry Knowles (Mr. Ain't It Cool News), Glen Oliver (Harry's second in command), and Brian Linder (our informant and Geek #3). Brian was coming all the way from South Carolina with friends, and he wanted to s wing by and meet the Geeks down in Austin. Since A&M is only 100 miles away, he wanted us to come too. Well, I must admit, Darin and I were a little bit wary. You see, Darin and I have had a number of on-line disagreements with Harry in the past, s o it seemed a little awkward to go meet him. Plus, Glen and Harry are die hard fans of our rival school, the University of Texas. But we didn't want to let Brian down and we were a little curious to meet the people behind all the media hype at AICN, so we went.
Harry gave us the directions (and I use the term loosely). It consisted of lines like "when you take this road it will be like Batman going to the Batcave with Vicki Vale" or "don't turn in the first driveway!! A crazy lady with a shot gun lives there!!" But we made it OK. And surprisingly, his descriptions were accurate (though Darin has a long way to go before he looks like Vicki Vale).
We pulled onto the dirt road where we were told to go and it started looking really weird. I said to Darin, "Do you think they're leading us out here to kill us?" We finally made it to Glen Oliver's house. It was very nice! Before we had left A&M, Harry said to us, "We're worried you Aggies are going to come and break everything in Glen's house." I said, "We'll only break the stuff we don't steal." Well, when we got there, the place was spotless and there was very little 'stuff' lying around. You've never seen such a clean computer desk! We wondered if they were hiding everything from us!
Anyway, we met everyone. Glen answered the door. Very tall and slim and clean cut. Not at all what I was expecting. Maybe a greasy haired hippie, but not this. Next we met Brian Linder. As a good geek, he was wearing a Han Solo in carbonite shirt . Good man! Then we met Harry! He looks just like the pictures on his page, but with longer hair. And, yes, he's as big as he says he is. On the way there I thought up all sorts of great lines to say like, "Aren't you a little short for Harry Kno wles?" or "Harry Knowles! We meet again for the first time!" but all I could manage was, "Howdy!" I think we were all a little nervous at first, but soon the geekiness and Star Wars obcession kicked in and we got rolling with conversation.
We talked about whether or not the prequel novelization was going to be released by Bantam. Would people buy it if it did in fact come out? I thought no, mainly because of all the negative reaction I had been hearing about it. At Aggiecon in 96 when they first mentioned it, the crowd reacted rather strongly against it. But Harry made a good point. He thought it would do well. As an illustration, he said to imagine that he got a copy of the script, went to a sci-fi convention, and announced that h e was going to read it out loud. Everyone that did not want to hear it should leave. Harry said that he believed hardly anyone would leave. I think he may have a point. The book would probably do well, but the movie would be ruined.
Well, that lead to another question
did Harry have a prequel script? Nope, he does not. Then I asked, if he did get one, would he post it? Absolutely not, he said. Harry's view is exactly the same as ours at the A&M page. Casting, pictures of creatures and ships, production information, etc, is all fair game. We don't mind posting them. But we will not post anything that will give away the storyline of the new films. We want to be blown away as badly as anyone. I think all of us there agr eed on that.
We saw some of the scripts that Harry and Glen have collected. You would not believe it. They have scripts to every major movie between now and next summer. It is unreal. I asked where he got them all, and he said people just send them. I flipped through a couple of them and already spoiled some of the surprises for myself for next summer's films. I asked how Glen and Harry can possibly read them and not be let down in the theater. They said it was not a problem for them. They love to see the early version of the film progress to the final visual experience. But Star wars is holy ground.
We talked some more about their personal backgrounds. Harry and Glen have had it pretty hard in the real world. I'll leave it up to them to talk about it, but it made me realize how easy Darin and I have had it so far. It also made me appreciate whe re they are coming from and some of why they do what they do.
While we were there, a radio station calls from Las Vegas to talk to Harry. Turned out Harry missed an interview with them cause he was stuck without a ride. As he was on the phone talking to the guy, Glen started harassing Harry saying, "He's t otally unreliable! You don't want to interview him!" Soon, we joined in the fun yelling, "He can't spell either!" We all had a big laugh. The day before, a TV crew from TNT came to film Harry. Earlier that morning, CBS had called for a n interview. That lead to the inevitable question: How long will the hype last and is it too much attention? Glen's view was that it will either die out quickly or turn into something bigger than they ever imagined, like a TV show or something. They a re hoping to turn this attention into something they can earn a living off of. Harry and Glen could use the money.
Harry seems to be taking everything pretty well all things considered. He's loving the attention, as any of us would. But at the same time, it's all pretty insane. He says that he's had a 70 year old man come up to him and be embarassed to look him in the eye. Rather strange.
Well, back to Star Wars. We talked about the first time we saw the films. We also discussed who our sources REALLY are. Let me tell you, between the group of us and the other home pages, we've got the prequels pretty well covered. Should be fun! W e also talked about the management at Lucasfilm and why they do the things they do. We talked about the action figures and other things.
Later in the evening, Harry noticed something bizzare. Harry is short and portly. Glen is tall and thin. Darin is short and portly. I am tall and thin. Everybody went, "Woah. This is creepy." And Brian, in a true Geek moment, stood bac k and said, "Let me get a look at this." Yes, Darin was Bizarro Harry and I am Bizarro Glen, and vice versa. Darin even had the same glasses frames as Harry. (After someone told Darin he looked like Porkins at a convention in Dallas, this pus hed Darin over the edge. He is on a strict diet now.)
We talked about a lot of other stuff, but that pretty much concluded the evening. Darin and I really had a blast with the guys. As I mentioned before, we had a tense relationship before, but this really smoothed thing out. It is good to put a face a nd voice behind the e-mails now. It makes me a lot more comfortable talking to the guys and going to them if I have a problem. Now that I know where they are coming from, this makes communicating over the net easier.
We're going to meet again in San Antonio at Worldcon at the end of the month. I'm going to go meet a bunch of the Star Wars authors (like Zahn, Hyambly, Stackpole, etc) and then go with Harry and Glen to hear Michael Crichton do a talk about SPHERE. It should be a lot of fun and I look forward to it!