Category Archives: 501st

Toronto ComiCon 2013

501st, Celebs and Media, Comix 6 Replies

Oh Nerds. How I love you so.

Watching people wander by, in between photos, I thought to myself: These are my people. The geeks, the emos, the curious, the funny, the scarily dead serious. Truly I was in my element. And then my fan ran out of juice and I struggled to get back to the change room before fainting from the heat and smell in my suit.

Here are some pics!

Her first run with the AT-AT pilot suit
hair sneaks out

Ready to go!



Humblebrag: I had at least 2 seconds of air time across all news channels on Saturday night when they reported the nerdsunami. But this is the longest of me at 24 seconds in:

I Love A Parade

501st, You Stupid Dick 3 Replies

Elizabeth Payne over at the Ottawa Citizen decides that she’s going to gripe about the quality of Santa Clause parade the City of Ottawa puts on these days.

Ottawa is the capital of a G8 nation. The country, we are told often enough, that has done the best job of weathering the global financial storm. We are one of this country’s biggest cities. We are a significant tourist destination. What is more, we are a city known for our winter weather.

So can’t we do better than Star Wars Stormtroopers and the Garlic King for our annual Santa Claus parade?

I get it, Elizabeth. Ottawa’s parade hasn’t upgraded to corporate status. You want the idyllic floats seen south of the border with animatronic movements on grand scale, sponsored by Lego, Barbie and other Toys R Us icons. You want the float with the snow covered log cabin, spouting fake smoke with carollers belting out some typical ditty. We’re in agreement that it takes money to have these things and that Ottawa is a capital city of a large first-world nation. It’s awesome you call upon the National Capital Commission to step up to the bat.

But to drop this into the mix:

But, really, Stormtroopers? “Nothing says Christmas like Darth Vader,” a companion quipped, which kind of sums things up.

Oh hell, Liz. You had to kick that hornet’s nest, didn’t you…?

Andy Pegan, a respected member of the 501st, Canadian Garrison, responds via Facebook:

I wanted to thank Ms. Payne for bringing exposure to The Capital City Garrison, or “the Star Wars Guys’ to which as we are often referred to. We have a proud tradition supporting local charities, the Help Santa Toy Parade being one of many.

Our members are part of two worldwide Star Wars costuming groups, the 501st Legion and the Rebel Legion. Collectively, our membership exceeds 6,500 and in 2011 our participation resulted in over $11,000,000 in fundraising for charities and disaster relief. We are all volunteers. We do our ‘weird and quirky’ thing because we love role playing, showing off the costumes that we create with our own hands, and we get fulfilment knowing that our presence can brighten someone’s day, spark imagination and generate funds for needy groups.

So, what do we have to do with Christmas? Ever since 1977, Star Wars has been part of the toy gift giving traditions of children around the world. In fact, in 1977 the demand for the action figures was so great that empty boxes were sold with the promise of the figures to come later. As for the parade, we were invited guests, a fan favourite (aside from Santa, himself) and winners of “Best Novelty Float” in 2012 and in years past. Outside of Ottawa’s new Comic Con, you won’t find more of our members in one place and the attraction to be a part of our float is so great that members from St. Catherines, Ontario to Sherbrooke, Quebec have made the trip to join us. As a member I am proud of our contribution and hope that if organizers make an effort to better the parade in the future as you suggest, we are a part of those plans.


So Liz, the idea here is not to shit on the people showing up and making the effort. You should be shaming the people NOT contributing suggesting new ideas if you want to try to build a community effort. Oh and stop with the snark from the sidelines – it suggests an ignorance to the meaning of why people make an effort.

Thank you Thank you Thank you

501st, Toronto, You Magnificent Bastard 1 Reply

Foto by Glenna Williams Via Facebook

The day came and went without a hitch. I admit I was nervous, this being my first organized event (sort of, ish,) through the 501st and  I didn’t want to besmirch their good name. I was fawning over Katherine, manager of the President’s Choice Cooking School at the Loblaws at Carlton and Church, thanking her every 2 seconds for the use of her room/office.

Katherine was utterly awesome. She didn’t have to give up her office for our duffel bags, or stick around until 4pm on a Sunday to wait until we were back and changed, but she did. She, ladies and gentlemen, is a TROOPER.

Why did I fawn? The YMCA over on Grovesnor, the 519 Community Centre and the support staff at the Toronto District School Board dismissed me with rude indifference when I approached them for loan of a change room for the day – in a couple cases, my emailed rejection responses sounded like the recipients had not bothered to read my initial emails. When Katherine so easily said yes, I was in a bit of shock at how nice she was. I will say that if I ever need use of any of the Y, the 519, or the TDSB, I will think twice. And you should all go enroll in a class at the PC Cooking School (they do Sushi!)!!

In the end, it seems I had no worries at all, thanks largely to the seasoned troopers that had signed up for the event. These guys were on time, ready and entertaining, even after the LONG walk they had to endure in their outfits. I did hear one say that “it wasn’t every day he gets to walk up Yonge Street in full gear” so I think they had a good day!

In the end, we raised over $2300 for ACT. And I thank all of you readers for putting up with my calls for money over the last month.

I felt the day was a bit under-attended in comparison to previous years, but I think it was due to the short rain fall just before the walk. That or people just don’t care much anymore. Global TV was the only news outlet to put the walk on their main, 6pm news while CP24 and CityTV did mention the walk briefly on their mega-everything-gets-largely-ignored-OCD-news-channels. Also, the walk was in direct competition with the Bowel Cancer walk, somewhere else in the city.

Still, the message got out there. I did have to explain to someone why Star Wars characters were at the event. “I’m sure someone out there infected with HIV liked Star Wars,” I said, in creepy past-tense.

Today, I am sore. Like “old guy” kinda sore. I’m not 21 anymore.

Again, to all who helped, my heartfelt thanks.

Why I Need Your Money

501st, Distractions, Toronto 2 Replies

You’d expect this of me, seeing how I’m less than 5 days away from the Toronto AIDS Walk, right? Good for you!

ACT has been around since 1983. I’ll let that sink in. Nearly 30 years. Thirty years of bringing comfort and assistance to people living with HIV/AIDS in Toronto. That’s a lot of caring. And now, living in Rob Ford’s Toronto, ACT’s programs are constantly under scrutiny by City Hall.

According to ACT, 2 people are infected daily and preventing one infection saves $370,000 over a lifetime. 1 in 4 new HIV diagnoses are people under 30. 1 in 5 new HIV diagnoses are women. 1 in 5 are gay men.

“But Dead Robot!” you say, “The new cocktail prolongs life!”

The current run of cocktails are doing a bang up job on suppressing the virus, but the cost of these drugs are still shockingly high. The most popular pill, Atripla (a carefully combined pill of three top performing antiretroviral medications) costs nearly $60 per pill. Not everyone can afford this, obviously. ACT helps bridge that gap by being an access point for provincial and federal health programs. Combine this with outreach and education programs, ACT has been busy over it’s near-30 year run.

Okay so the pamphlet is out of the way…

Why do I think dressing up in Star Wars outfits helps this cause?

I want to rattle a cage or two, like my brother did back in the 70s when he joined the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. But in this case, this is the closest to drag I can comfortably get!

Seriously, I want to further demystify the stigma. I want someone who might still think HIV/AIDS is not part of their life, see Stormtroopers and Jedi and think that it’s not just a “gay disease”. It’s my hope that in seeing us at this event, we make people question their (non?) acceptance of this disease, or shake their complacency towards it. I want people to take away that there is more than just a set class of people who are affected by this disease (like “gay men” or “women”), and that Geeks and Nerds are aware and active against HIV/AIDS too.

That’s why I’m walking. And I am so very glad that my friends from the 501st are coming along too. As of writing this, we’ve got a Vader, a Boba Fett, a Rebel pilot, a Sith lord (or two?) and 4-5 TK (troopers!).

Here’s the pitch. Donate today. The time is running out!



No Pizza With This Move Assist

501st, Toronto 3 Replies

Saturday I was up bright and early walking through Allan Gardens (ew…) with my hockey bag to get to the McDonalds washroom in the basement of the Atrium on Bay mall.

Yeah. Sheila E was in my head: “The Glamorous Life…!” kick the cymbal, lets move on.

Why was I hauling a hockey bag into the pee stained washroom of the basement of the Atrium on Bay? Why to dress into my Sandtrooper outfit, of course! Last Saturday the kids from the 501st helped Silver Snail move their shit to their new store on Yonge and Dundas. Epic style. I say “epic” because it’s pretty cool that you can get waaay more volunteers than you need to form a human chain from Spadina and Queen to Yonge and Dundas.

The day was nice, not too hot and the even well organized. It was great except for the few tweaking guys that insisted that cosplayers=punching bags. One of us got a headbutt to the chestplate “in fun” which prompted our organizer to go off on said tweaker… while he was dressed in full on Sith lord outfit. Pretty cool to watch.

Here’s some media for you:

Globe and Mail uses crappy Canadian Press Flash files and doesn’t allow embedding, so here’s the video link. I’m at 0:30 seconds in after the ad.

Fun little mention on Torontoist

Silver Snail’s Official Gallery

Pics from various cameras (I can’t credit you, if they’re yours! Comments to credit!)

Raw video from our guy on the street:

My Heart on my Sleeve

501st, Toronto 4 Replies

Yesterday I got new ink from Kate, over at Passage. I’m super stoked by it (as they say on those reality TV tattoo shows – I think they’re required by law to say “stoked” within every critique, but I digress).

It’s my 501st designation, if you’re wondering.

Not even a day since getting it, I’m already getting jokes:

Is it my Toronto Dominion PIN number?
You should go into CIBC and pretend to forget your number!

I better get use to this.

But I don’t care. I’m loving it so far. Plan is to do a complete sleeve from wrist to elbow. Maybe “Vader’s Fist” in Galactic Basic?

I’m also really stoked for this year’s ScotiaBank AIDS walk. I’m walking again but with some help from the guys and gals from the 501st! We’re up to 5 characters so far, and I expect more to join.

Unfortunately I’m only $50 up at the time of writing this. So…

You know what to do. Get your wallets out and donate!

So Long, Not So Long!

501st, Disney, Toronto, Travel 3 Replies

UntitledI rarely apologize for anything that goes up here. But I feel I do have to apologize for not putting ANYTHING up here in a while. No empty promises that I’ll “do better”, just hope you’ll keep me in your RSS feed.

What has been happening with me? A few things…

Our Xmas Disney trip continues to steamroll ahead. Two weeks ago we passed the “reservation threshold” where we are no able to make dinner reservations in the park. Since we chose to take the free dining plan (after an email sent to me in error from the Disney Corp offering free meals to American residents, we called and wrangled that out of them – alas I won’t be getting those emails any more), we’ve been booking fun and fancy places to dine all over The World. Back to the Sci Fi Drive In! Kona toasts! Le Cellier for lunch (that was a hard one to get. Took us a couple tries.)!

Last weekend we counted our twonies and loonies and discovered that we’re already saved up enough pocket change to afford the base model rental car for the vacation. We’re continuing to save so anything we get from here on in will be an upgrade. Wee!

We’re starting to think about reserving excursions for the cruise. Possibly back to the Atlantis water park, possibly some sort of “pet a seal/dolphin/poisonous sea anemone”, but I’d be happy with just wandering the streets of Nassau taking pictures. Whatever we do, it will be fun! Of course Castaway Cay will be spent at the Adult Beach with NOTHING TO DO. I. Can’t. Friggin’. Wait.

Two last big hurdles: paying off the balance (owchie) and getting our flights finalize. Since we’re going Toronto >> Orlando >> Burlington VT >> Toronto we’ve got some options, including a credit on JetBlue airlines ALREADY for a revised flight. So we’re thinking of leaving from Buffalo to use up the credit. This is still being hotly debated: will we make it to the airport on time if the weather is crap? Will the bus be gross (duh!)? Will JetBlue bump us again? We shall see…

Two weeks ago I was accepted into the 501st – Canadian Garrison! You are now reading the blog of “TD 6595”, my call numbers, based on my birthday and a number I thought sounded ok after. I couldn’t get the one I wanted (EDWH – Dad’s initials. Pouty face) so I settled for “ease of use”. I’ve already trooped with some of the guys at the Toronto Autism Walk a couple weekends ago. My next trooping is with the guys at ComiCon in August. Enough time to get my gun set up… I hope…

I’d talk about Pride, but to be honest I don’t really care about it – we haven’t made any plans nor have we been invited anywhere so… meh. SharkBoy and I will be walking around a few times over the weekend but mostly to get some fun pictures. I should feel political, what with our fat, stupid, homophobic mayor insisting he has other obligations than attend a function that brings in millions of dollars into his city (which I’m convinced he actually hates – scroll down to June 15th). Sigh. I could go on. The world is watching. And I’m embarrassed.