George Lucas: Star Wars Creator

George Lucas struggled for years to make people believe in his vision. He is an amazing filmmaker and an example to all of us who have visions that are outside the norm.

George Lucas struggled for years to make people believe in his vision. He is an amazing filmmaker and an example to all of us who have visions that are outside the norm.

Lucas started his career with an odd futuristic movie that not many people “got” only to follow that with “American Graffitti,” a 50’s nostalgia flick that also got mixed reviews. You would think at this point, since he is in a career that relies upon public approval, that Lucas would have adopted the most popular genre and tried to gain fans through addressing that. But he didn’t.

Instead he spent years working on a high budget space movie unlike anything the public had seen or approved of throughout history. It was Star Wars, released in 1977. I was 8 years old when I saw Star Wars the first time, and my mind was blown, along with the minds of every other kid about my age. I saw Star Wars 17 times as a kid. The movie was part of my psyche. I remember playing the soundtrack record and reciting lines from the movie as I did.

Since then, Lucas has been able to do whatever he chooses with film. His story is truly an amazing thing. Oh, and one other tidbit that brings his story home to me is the fact that he was born close to me in Modesto, California . . . not on Mount Zion or other place like that.

There are countless kids (including adult kids) that Star Wars has amazed. Thanks for believing in your vision George.

Below are 30 pieces of little-known trivia about Star Wars that fans of George Lucas might enjoy: (source)

THE MAKING OF STAR WARS

1. The first trailer for the film hit cinemas six months before it was to open – with tag lines such as “the story of a boy, a girl and a universe” and “a billion years in the making” – as executives hoped to drum up some interest in a film they had little faith in.

2. Made on a budget of $11m (5.5m) it made $215m (108m) in the US during its original release, and $337m (170m) overseas. The final film in the franchise – Revenge of the Sith – cost about $113m (57m) to make.

3. It was originally called The Star Wars, but “the” was dropped fairly early on in the creative process.

4. The full title Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope first appeared when the film was re-released in 1981.

5. Director George Lucas originally had a contract with Fox for $150,000 (75,941) for writing and directing Star Wars. But he cannily insisted on total control and 40% of merchandising – something the studio agreed to because they had no idea of what a phenomenon Star Wars would become.

6. The famous – and often imitated – opening crawl for Star Wars was co-written by Brian De Palma, the director of Scarface. It begins “It is a period of civil war. Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire.”

7. Sir Alec Guinness made a ton of money from the film having recognised its potential success and negotiating a deal for two per cent of box office takings. He also refused to do any promotional work for the film.

8. Anthony Daniels as C-3PO and Kenny Baker, who played R2-D2, are the only actors credited with being in all six Star Wars films.

9. Harrison Ford was far from George Lucas’ first choice to play Han Solo as the director had wanted completely new faces for Star Wars. Ford had already starred in Lucas’ American Graffiti.

10. The original release date was set for Christmas 1976 but major delays in filming saw it pushed back. The Fox studio had threatened to close down production when filming over-ran by more than two weeks.

11. Ralph McQuarrie created the paintings which were used to illustrate how the Star Wars universe could look. He started out as a technical illustrator for Boeing.

12. The Wookiee Chewbacca was inspired by George Lucas’ beloved dog Indiana – an Alaskan malamute.

13. Lucas once said that the shape of the Millennium Falcon was based on a hamburger.

14. George Lucas based the character of Han Solo on his friend Francis Ford Coppola.

15. The droids R2-D2 and C-3PO are said to be based on the 1958 Akira Kourosawa film Kakushi toride no san akunin (The Hidden Fortress). Other characters in Star Wars were also drawn from the film including Han Solo and Ben Kenobi.

MARKETING AND MERCHANDISING

16. Cinemas in the US were press-ganged into buying the film after few took up the option, with the threat that they wouldn’t get The Other Side of Midnight – a widely-anticipated adaptation of a Sidney Sheldon novel. The Other Side of Midnight, starring Susan Sarandon, was a box office flop.

17. Publicity supervisor Charles Lippincott was aware of the power of the sci-fi fan, going along to conventions to talk about Star Wars and what audiences could expect. He was largely credited with bringing in huge opening day audiences.

18. The merchandise for the film was not in place to accommodate the demand for the first Christmas rush after the film’s release. Lucas and merchandise company Kenner Toys hit upon a novel idea with the introduction of early bird certificate boxes. These were basically empty boxes that promised the receiver they would get the figures once they had been made. They sold for $16 at the time and the actual figures arrived two months later. Limited edition packs were re-released in 2005.

19. More than 250 million small action figures were shipped in the eight years after the first film, going to countries across the world. In the first year alone 42m were sold.

AWARDS

20. Composer John Williams won an Oscar for his score for Star Wars. The music was later named by the American Film Institute as the greatest film score of all time.

21. A New Hope was the only one of the six films in the franchise to be nominated in the Academy Awards best picture category. It lost out to Woody Allen’s Annie Hall.

MISHAPS AND MISCELLANEOUS

22. Mark Hamill, who played Luke Skywalker, was involved in a car accident following primary shooting. His face was damaged making reshoots impossible. Hamill later said he only broke his nose and reports that his face was reconstructed were wide of the mark.

23. Anthony Daniels was injured during his first outing as C-3PO when a leg piece fell off his gold-coloured costume and shattered – stabbing him in the foot.

24. On the first day of filming in the deserts of Tunisia, the country experienced its first major rainstorm in 50 years and a rest day had to be called.

25. When filming moved to Elstree it was hoped the earlier problems encountered in the desert would be finished. But a new problem arose in the shape of the strict British working conditions adhered to on set. Lucas says that filming had to close at 5.30pm on the dot, unless he was in the middle of a shot – when he could ask workers to stay for an extra 15 minutes.

Darth Vader costume
Darth Vader was played by British actor Dave Prowse

26. One of the most famous bloopers from the film is when stormtroopers burst into a room and one of them hits his head on the door frame. Fans of Star Wars and the blooper have spotted hundreds of “mistakes” throughout the Star Wars franchise but many can only be spotted by the most eagle-eyed viewer.

27. Peter Mayhew, who played Chewbacca, worked as a hospital orderly in London before being cast as the Wookiee. He was said to have got into character by copying the mannerisms of animals he visited at the zoo.

28. David Prowse, the 6ft 7ins actor who plays Darth Vader, had problems filming lightsaber scenes as he kept breaking the poles that were used as stand-ins for the weapons. In the sequels, fight co-ordinator Bob Anderson stepped into the costume to film the lightsaber scenes.

29. George Lucas wanted his sets to look worn and scuffed but the studio cleaning service continually cleaned and tidied up after a day’s filming – much to the director’s dismay.

30. Lucas’ stress levels reached such a height that he thought he was having a heart attack. He was diagnosed with hypertension and exhaustion and told to rest – something the punishing schedule would not allow. One can only imagine his life insurance quotes now.

wow.

The 24 Hour Rule

I have learned this lesson once again, that most of life’s bummers work themselves out in 24 hours or less. Therefore I have come to this conclusion: I will put worries on the back burner for 24 hours before I start to stress and worry about them. Let me explain:

A few years ago my wife was supposed to receive a check. It was to be a substantial amount (by our standards) and we were depending on it to pay some bills that remained after the first as well as for food and miscellaneous expenses the rest of the month. To make a long story short they told her the time card was never turned in and the person responsible was at a conference for three days. This did not make us happy. We left messages for a few people and then began to scowl in our reality that we wouldn’t be paid until the following month. It was definitely a “bummer” evening in our house that day.

But what a difference a day can make!

You should never let bad times make you feel like wearing a hernia brace. The next day, my wife received a call apologizing for the glitch in the system and her employer cut her a check right there on the spot. The end result? We got our money and everything was as it was before “the dark times.”

The reason I am sharing this is not to say we should never stress over things. If we hadn’t stressed a little, we wouldn’t have contacted anyone to get it resolved. What I am saying is that problems have a way of working themselves out on their own so you’d do well to put a time limit on these issues before you get bothered about them. 24 hours is a nice number, it gives the people involved a chance to sleep and the workday to roll over once. The next time I have an issue like this, I will try and practice what I preach!

Road of Life: a Road to Mastery

I realize that my life consists of finding new activities and then mastering them. For example, at 7 or 8 years old I picked up a guitar. I am certainly not a virtuoso now but I have dedicated countless hours to understanding and finding a level of mastery over the instrument. As a point of fact I have probably spent more time studying and mastering the guitar than I have anything else in life. Later in life came dating. I failed at it miserably. The very few times in my teens and twenties that I had a chance to go out with a girl, I said all the wrong things and usually repelled the female who was with me. But I studied it and read books (The idiots guide to relationships) etc.

Eventually I was in a steady relationship that lasted over a year. When that one fell apart I had a little more mastery and so on until I met my wife. We both work at marriage, it takes two. In my opinion, she and I both have gained a knowledge of marriage and relationships and that has kept us together. The guitar, relationships, blogging, writing reviews, getting paid to blog, relaxation, maintaining a healthy diet, … these are so many more human activities are the things I seek to master. Tomorrow there are sure to be new challenges. The meaning of life to me is to seek out new things and master them as best you can. If that sounds hard, you don’t understand me correctly. There is triumph through difficulty and there is nothing like the joy of mastery. Now that I have had this revelation about my life, I suppose it’s good I’m a blogger so I can leave behind some of these breakthroughs I make.

Online Journaling: Setting Aside the Time

This is a post that addresses my recent absence from journaling in this blog and how I intend to remedy that. I usually set goals with the idea of what I want to do guiding me. Tonight I realize I have fallen short of my goals many times because I have bitten off more than I can chew. Tonight I am making some blogging goals that I feel I CAN do. Not everyone has the time, resources, and gift of stability to write lustrous posts every day. Besides that, while I do love blogging so, I recognize that other areas of my life deserve just as much if not more attention. So … tonight I am very glad to be posting something. The something I am posting is within the confines of what I “CAN” do regularly: journal. See you tomorrow, if everything goes as planned.

My Life as a Slightly Slower World Tour

The 4 years 1988-1992 were my rock and roll years. I was a singer/songwriter and guitarist trying to make music for money. My vision was simple, to make the music on the other side of the records I listened to growing up. Still, becaise I knew others who achieved that goal, it allowed me to see that goal wasn’t everything. In fact, I learned that all paths really lead us to eat foods of the world and find our own form of influence.

I met and worked with Dave Sharp of the Alarm and grew up as friends with Gwen Stefani of No Doubt. Both people I know personally and I thought they had achieved my utmost dream of going on a world tour. I don’t recall them being any better off than me. You can only sleep in one bed every night. You can only put your leg through one pant leg at a time. Now, so many years later, I realize that in a way I started my own world tour in my mind back then in 1988. I didn’t sell any t-shirts but it was hugely successful. It goes on still today.

For example: when my wife takes me to the Thai place and I try a yellow curry for the first time, or any variation on that. When I go on a small local vacation it is like the Bahamas for me. I don’t write much music these days but when I pick up my guitar and play my old riffs to an empty tall ceilinged room, I am enjoying all the great stuff a world tour can offer. I see that now. The good news is I didn’t have to ever go on a world your to see the influence of my teaching, my fatherhood, my love for my wife. I can see that is all happening now without a tour bus, without millions of dollars. When someone said “the best things in life are free,” she/he was correct. You can have them here at home in your own front yard or on a tour bus to somewhere seeking something that is fleeting and maybe even, not real.

Vulnerable Journey

I’ve discovered something about myself in the past week that is really liberating. While it may sound simple to some, I have learned that it isn’t the end product that is the most important part of my teaching. I know this and yet that has been my focus for most of my years on the job. The most important things are moments every day along the way in life’s classroom. While I’ve been aiming at touchstones and measuring progress by them, the moments have rippled by often unnoticed. That’s where the vulnerable part comes in.

Living in the moment is by its nature a vulnerable thing. A master craftsman can teach with a scant system. I’d like to think I could present a lesson with nothing more than a chalk slate. Of course, technology can be helpful. I have learned that the bravest part of teaching is walking into the unknown. If I planned everything, the lessons wouldn’t be as effective. I am learning an art and I can see that now. It is not about appearances but rather connections with learners who need my teaching desperately. When they look back at 4th grade, they won’t care about any awards their teacher won. They will remember his willingness to make himself vulnerable, willing to fall and get back up again to meet them where they are in every moment.

The River

I’ve found there are too many duties in life. Whether it be a job, cleaning the house, putting in a yard, or even getting to the doctor when you’re sick, we are constantly inundated with demands. This can take a toll on our productivity and health levels. I started practicing meditation about a year ago in varied forms. Now, I do a textbook form of the Relaxation Response twice a day and it allows me to mentally slow down and analyze life’s rich demands. Prioritization is important but it’s also good to imagine your life as a river. The river just flows. Even as it sleeps, or you might say it never truly sleeps, the river flows to the sea somewhere far away. Until our river passes over the bend (when we die) we can never increase or decrease our flow speed. All we can do, thankfully, is “be the river.” When we make goals and achieve them, we are flowing. When we fail, we are flowing.

We will always have priorities and responsibilities vying for our attention, but we must never forget the reality that our life is a river that we have very little power to change. You might call this concept a surrender and it is. I also see it as an empowering liberation. Once you realize you cannot alter much in your life, you can celebrate what you have “as is.” When your life begins to seem like roaring rapids, you can slow down and accept that life is having its way with you. All you need to do as a river is pay attention to where you are going. I think you’ll see more beauty than you ever imagined as you let the river run its course. I also think you’ll find it in places you never thought to look, as well as in the usual focal points. When you don’t slow down and let things flow, you are blind to the beauty of life.

Give Your Spouse the Little Things

It’s the little things that make your marriage solid. As with any relationship, a marriage can have its challenges. My wife do our periodic standoff every so often and it’s getting to be less taxing now that we’ve been together for 7 years. We also make sure to spend quality time enjoying each other so those tough disagreements aren’t fatal to the wonderful union we enjoy. I take notes on the things she likes and the things she doesn’t. Once in a while I surprise her by driving her down to a great steak restaurant. Other times I will stretch my movie tastes and go to a sappy chick flick :) Don’t tell my guy friends, but I actually like some of those!

She also is looking out for the things I like. I can remember one fight we had a long time ago where I decided to go to work without resolving it (which is willpower for me, I am a bit of a control freak). When I got home, candles were burning, my favorite food was on the table and she was wearing the sexy clothes I had told her I liked. Needless to say, we resolved the fight. My lesson? If your spouse wants to go through the Sierra Designs Tents at a show you are attending, visit that one! If there’s time, she will attend your preferred place!

Keep an eye out for those “little things” your spouse enjoys and don’t save them for a rainy day, give them to her/him now.

Power of Mantra

This post will introduce a series of posts I’m writing on looking at life a little bit differently, namely the practice of having an open mind. First, let’s talk about mantra.

Having a mantra, or saying to repeat, as you start your day can really help get you in the mindset to win at life.

I’ve been writing about psychology and inspiration here since December of 2006 and in the process I’ve done a lot of homework I love to share. Mark Twain once said: “When I turned 20, I was amazed at all my father had learned in ten years.” Our perception of the world is filtered through our point of view. If we have an open mind as we travel through life, we transcend much of the trouble around us. When we get older, we can’t just buy memory to become smarter or faster. We can however, adopt certain practices that make our memory more keen. One invaluable tool in keeping an open mind is to have a mantra. This can help toward a simple understanding of an often complex set of circumstances.

Remember when you were younger, about junior high age? You could run around all day: boys at the football field, girls at the mall or maybe the softball field. (Of course I don’t mean to sound like all women wanted to be at the mall but many I knew did). At any rate, physical activity back then had very few consequences. I would run 5-10 miles on the x-country team and have no soreness whatsoever the next day. Well, now fast forward to today. I can barely run a mile without needing to stop and gather myself. Part of that is my fault for not exercising enough. Another part of it is just plain aging. Even as a youngster; however, practice had its place. Running those hill workouts paid off when I won the races. Our minds need practice too. A mantra can be part of that life-changing practice.

A key to sharp mental acuity is reflecting on the way we feel about the world. Our mind processes things differently as it is accustomed to do. The good news is that as long as we practice the right mental things, we never need to suffer the way we do in our physical aging. In fact, if we stay mentally “worked out,” we can be more enlightened the older we get. Kind of cool eh? So, just to clarify the big picture here:

Physical Practice = Winning races/competitions

Mental Practice = Seeing the world the way it is.

One mental exercise we should engage in is the practice of having an open mind. Just like running one mile and skipping the rest of the week will not make a young runner any stronger, so we are made “mentally flabby” when we neglect this practice. The time this verb “practice” is most vivid to me is when I get angry or when I get disappointed or otherwise discouraged. It’s in those moments I can hear that inner psychologist on the couch in my mind say: “Calm down, this is what practice is all about.”

When and how to use a mantra to keep your mind open:

  1. When we are out of sorts it comes from 1 of 2 sources: a) Internal – we have a chemical imbalance happening and need food or medicine to balance it out -or- b) External stimulus has disagreed with us in some way. The first step therefore is to determine which source is bringing you down. For example: Would a glass of water help? Some peanuts? You make the call there. This step is kind of like a stop and regroup.
  2. The second step is to ACT to accept the cause of the problem. It could be your blood sugar or a person in your face. Either way: ACCEPT the cause for what it is.
  3. The third step is a mantra. A mantra isn’t a middle eastern mystery, it’s just a phrase that has good energy for you. Remember the little engine that could? His mantra was: “I think I can, I think I can.” You can use many mantras that already exist or make up your own. I really like the mantra: “Is that so?” Eckhart uses it and recommends it in his book. I recommend it as well.

Other things you could say are (for example): “That’s one way to look at it,” “This too shall pass,” etc. I know you are creative because you’ve read this far. I encourage you to pick a mantra, write it on a card and when you lose your peace in the day, read the card, say the card, BE the card. I think you will as I have that the mental and spiritual rewards are mammoth. Another interesting thing to look into is making your own acronyms.

When you exit a room of dissent and feel like you’ve made a contribution of peace, it’s one of the most powerful victories you can imagine.

Following the Old School Way

I know I am a little late to discover the iPhone but I recently did for the first time. In this post, I touch on how I feel it will increase my feed reading. That daily activity is of high value to me. It increases my knowledge of people out there I enjoy and it also gets me more ideas to write in my own feed. I would hope people follow me as well but I am more concerned these days with who I should learn from and network with. If you are like me you have a busy schedule. Between teaching and being a dad as well as a husband and online writer, my plate is full 24/7. There have been times when I have been standing in line at the doc or the dmv that I have wished I could read my blogroll and news feeds while waiting. I’ll share with you that when I get home, sometimes I just “mark as read” many feeds I just don’t have the time or energy for. When my wife got her iPhone last year, I thought briefly it might be the answer to my feed-reading-time problem but I never really thought about it more than that. Some of you may have read on Facebook or Twitter that my wife got me an iPhone for my birthday this week and I am seeing some real hope for reading a lot more throughly.

I have been a little gun-shy about exploring the iPhone because I haven’t had the time yet. But, after a few days and a few lines, idle time between obligations, etc., I have learned the iPhone will squeeze more content from my reading time. I could never read the tiny feed view on my LG but now I can go through more content in a given day. LG was old school. Some people see it as worthless but it’s still good. The iPhone is just like that. This means I will have more information and more access to networks that for me have grown dormant. I look forward to following the old school way: reading blog posts. Following folks on Twitter is just the beginning. Being able to actually click the posts they leave and subscribing to blog feeds is where I want to go. The trick is not who to follow, it’s who to let go. I’m very pleased with my iPhone and plan to write more about how I use it as creation/invention continues. I can hardly wait to learn more about this device. If you have any iPhone tips and tricks on this or any topic, I’d be much obliged if you shared. What do you think of the word “follow?”

Commonly Misspelled Homophones

Hopefully this post will help people understand the commonly misused spellings of these homophones: to, two, and too and there, they’re, and their.

Hopefully this post will help people understand the commonly misused spellings of these homophones: to, two, and too and there, they’re, and their. I wrote a series of worksheets on these for the Cerritos College Writing Center when I worked there at age 26 in 1996 :) My then boss, the director of the writing department Beverly Whitson-Cotton, thought so much of them, I heard a few years later from a co-teacher they were still being reproduced and passed out. I made them after seeing the same errors over and over again. It was easier to just hand them a handout instead of say the same thing again and again.

Here’s basically what the handouts said:

Homophones are words with the same sound but different spellings and different meanings. Two commonly misused words are the homonyms:

to, two, and too -and- their, they’re, and there

to=a preposition, or a a directional type of word: “I am going to the store.” It is also a form of an infinitive verb such as “to run” or “to play.”

two=the number

too=a modifer meaning “in excess.” (This one’s easy to remember because it has an “extra” o, as in an “excess” o)

there=a place

they’re=a contraction … “they are”

their=possesive pronoun: “their car … etc”

Well, I’m sure my old worksheet was much better but that’s the basic run-down. I make typos all the time but I know the proper usage of these words. Do you? Another great resource I recommend for common errors and helps with writing is Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style.

Patch of Orange Groves

my family and I sure appreciate what one man’s dream (Walt Disney) did with a patch of those orange groves.

A journal entry from January 2, 2007.

I left the High Desert for a while today. Wife and I took the kids to Disneyland and it was really great. The main point of this trip was to get my son on a scary roller coaster (California Screamin’). He’s 8 going on 30 and walks around acting like he’s the smartest, toughest kid around. That’s why I was astonished that he refused to go on it.

We spent time on kiddie rides, and even Space Mountain (which I coaxed him kicking and screaming to go on last trip) but he maintained a nervousness about that whiteroller coaster over at California Adventure.

I finally forced him to go on it, and now of course . . . it’s his favorite ride in the world!

My baby girl loved “A Bug’s Life” and “Snow White.” Because we have annual passes, we didn’t stay that long. It was WICKEDLY crowded. If you know what fast passes are, we checked the fastpass return time for “Space Mountain” at 11am and it was 7:30pm!!! All the ride lines were about an hour. This isn’t too bad, you talk in line, it’s cool in an old fashioned way. Plus people hear you talk and comment and you meet new friends who you never see again once they get on the ride away from you. All the rides were cool. My favorite was “Soarin’ Over California.” I love the part where you fly over the Orange Groves. You can almost smell the citrus as you soar like a hang-glider.

The drive down the hill to Anaheim (about 1 1/2 hours from where we’re at), the familiar OC freeways, the park, and dinner at Joe’s Crab Shack made me realize how fortunateI am to have been brought up in Orange County. I miss it sometimes. The average house is probably worth about 750K to 1 mil. That tends to keep me in the High Desert. It all used to be an Orange Grove once upon a long time ago in a galaxy far far away.

Many years later, my family and I sure appreciate what one man’s dream (Walt Disney) did with a patch of those orange groves.

Thanks Walt.

Eliseo and the 'Way' of the Rooster

RoosterOne significant thing I’ve learned from experience is that sometimes a little bluffing on the right topic can make a connection and allow you to bond with someone for life. That is, as long as you genuinely care about the other person in some way. What follows is a story from my 20’s that brings that home. Have you ever listened to Ranchera music? This is the kind they play at weddings, for example, in the Oscar award winning movie Babel. It has big harmonies and ethnic instruments including Spanish guitar and bass. the lyrics are very regional and ethnic as well in their content. One classic song you might know of in this genre is Cielito Lindo.

Anyway, about ten years ago I was running a small Pizza Hut and the cooks in the back were playing some very loudly. It irritated me at first, but then I thought: “Hmmm, I’m new here and this is a chance to win over the cooks by bonding with the music.”

I went back to Eliseo, the dough master, and grooved a bit to the beat: “Bump Bump Bump.” I said to him, “Eliseo, what is this song about. I like it!” Of course I was acting. I found it camp to the extreme. Eliseo looked up from the dough mixer, his dark shirt spotted with flour all over. He had a look of utter amazement that a “gringo” such as myself would be interested in Ranchera music.

“Wussup way?” (I’ve been told that “way” means a cow’s testicles. It is something guys call each other the same way we English speakers might call each other “animal” or “wild man.”) He said. “Do you know what this song is about ‘essay’?” (pardon my phonetic spellings) He went on to say: “This song is about the rooster!” He was proud in the chin as he continued. “The rooster gets all the chickens in the henhouse ‘way’.”

This was on the verge of side-splittingly funny to me, but I just chuckled respectfully and said, “Really? Very cool. I like the music. Can you let me borrow the CD?”

Eliseo and I were tight after that, giving daily high fives and 3 part handshakes. I never let on that I really hated Ranchera music. In fact, come to think of it, he never loaned me the CD either. Maybe he was wise to my scheme. Maybe it didn’t matter that I lied about liking it. Maybe it was enough just that the guy up front tried to connect with a colorful yet often invisible cook in the back. A cook who daily in the back of a Pizza Hut made dough and listened to otherwise encrypted lyrics about ‘the way of the rooster.’ I’m not saying I deserve any praise, but I’d like to think that after that day, Eliseo felt a little less invisible when I was running the shift.

Congratulations, You’re Alive

I’ve been thinking lately about how we are different people through the course of our lives. When I look at old photos I see myself and remember how lost I was in some ways and enlightened in others. Whatever the memory, it’s clear I am changed now in the present “me.” If I could impart … Continue reading Congratulations, You’re Alive

I’ve been thinking lately about how we are different people through the course of our lives. When I look at old photos I see myself and remember how lost I was in some ways and enlightened in others. Whatever the memory, it’s clear I am changed now in the present “me.” If I could impart … Continue reading Congratulations, You’re Alive

What I Learned at my Accidental Garage Sale

Have you learned/observed anything funny or productive out there from a garage sale?

Though I wasn’t planning to, I received an impromptu lesson in garage sale vernacular a few weeks ago: people showed up as I was cleaning my garage and tried to buy my things I was arranging.

As the people rummaged through my garage, I didn’t have the heart to tell them I wasn’t having a sale. At the same time, I was curious. I didn’t care about most of it and we were saving up to rent a couple of dumpsters. It was kind of a rush. I wondered what my junk could go for? In the hours that followed I fancied myself quite the garage salesman, but after several only marginally profitable sales, I realized I had a lot to learn about this odd breed of people.

In the negotiations that followed, I learned that terms like “really good condition” are not the best when trying to get the highest price. One has to somehow let the buyer know that the item is of good quality without bragging. The reason is that if one brags too much, the buyer will feel the need to find fault in it and haggle a lower price. I even had one buyer completely drop an item and leave when I extolled the virtues of a never before used water foot spa, he probably wanted it for a quarter though, so no real loss there.

One guy who bought about $40 worth of my stuff seemed like a pro. He had gloves in his back pocket and a tape measure he pulled out more than once. I’ve often wondered since that day if he was an eBay enthusiast. If he was, he probably made quite a profit off some of my things. I admire that guy for knowing his craft. I’ve already bought my gardening gloves and I’m ready to be on his side some Saturday when I can convince my wife it’s worth my time!

Hindsight is 20/20. I learned that one avoids the pitfalls of low selling prices by stating a price one wants up front and using dispassionate, minimal language like,

“Yes . . . that’s for sale . . . it works. . . . it’s 15 dollars . . .etc.”

In doing this the buyer doesn’t have to wring his/her hands and tell you dramatically about how it is missing this or that or show you the holes in it to get you to lower the price. In short: Play your language down and hold on a price. This is the best way to get the most money for your stuff.

It was a key strategy I learned over the course of my 4 hour accidental garage sale. If I had known it at the start, I would have gotten a lot more money for my things. I made the mistake of thinking that retail sales strategies are the same as garage sale ones: they are not. At Best Buy, for example, a salesman would extol the virtues of a plasma TV to get the $3000 from the buyer . . . that would make sense. At a garage sale, extolling the virtues of wares can backfire when the buyer senses they have no chance to talk the seller down. This can be a real problem especially since traffic at garage sales is not guaranteed throughout the day as it is at Best Buy.

At any rate, I did okay that day and we took the kids to John’s Incredible Pizza (Kind of like a Chuck E Cheese of the High Desert) with the proceeds that night. I’m looking forward to putting my lesson it into practice first thing the next time I have a garage sale. The only trouble is that it may have to wait a while . . . I’ve already sold all my junk. Maybe in 10 years . . . this approach is probably timeless so I hope I’m in luck. I know for sure I’ll have a chance soon to be the buyer, so watch for that post. Since this experience I have learned that garage sales can be the BEST places to get things.

Have you learned/observed anything funny or productive out there from a garage sale?