Friday, July 27, 2012

day 26: the baroness

The Balinaka Baroness
Story time! Are you wondering why this blog is called Blog o' the Baroness? The easy answer is that I am a Baroness. But how did that happen? Regardless of your sincerity of interest, I am going to tell you. Also, this will wrap up the little walk down Lucas Learning memory lane.

Back in 2002, life was a little crazy. We (at Lucas Learning) were still reeling from the economic fallout of September 11. The CD-Rom market had dried up; we were exploring what sort of business models would work online for educational software. We discovered we couldn't use our ace-in-the-hole: the Star Wars property. That was the domain of So where did that leave us? Nowhere, actually. After going from a 65+ employee company down to 30ish and then to 14, we finally got the word in the spring of 2002 that Lucas Learning would go into "hibernation." Those that still remained were laid off. This actually left me in a great position to barrel full-steam into pursuing a freelance career, which I did.

I jumped into working on a children's book portfolio since all I really had was game art and concept art. But sitting at home alone all day, I kind of started to go into Star Wars and co-worker withdrawal. So I signed up on one of the Star Wars Fan Forums. But first, I needed a name. I'm terrible at names.

Backtrack to Anakin's Speedway, my first project. We had three planets for the podraces. I had been looking through any and all Star Wars reference books looking for characters for the planets. It was in some obscure Star Wars role playing book that I found these crazy polar bear people things that lived in the snow called the Balinaka. We put them on our ice planet. They would pop out of the snow when you flew by and do a Snoopy dance. They were one of my favorite things in the game.

Dance Balinaka, Dance!
So I thought a name with Balinaka would be good. And cool character Lando Calrissian was a Baron, so The Balinaka Baroness was born. See image at the top of this post.

That was all well and good, and I enjoyed hanging out on the boards and meeting people and chatting Star Wars. After a while I was referred to as just Baroness. I don't think anyone else had a clue what a Balinaka was, plus that was maybe a mouthful and a pain to type.  (Remember: bad at names.) Then one day I stumbled across (no idea how other than I spent way too much time online) one of those Buy a Real British Title sites. I immediately needed to buy one. But I held off, cause really, what a super silly thing to waste money on. But the idea wouldn't leave me alone, and late in the middle of the night, like all good impulse buys, I bought myself the title of Baroness. Now I was officially a fake Baroness instead of just a fake fake Baroness!

All hail the Baroness!

This certificate currently sits in a lovely velvet-matted gilded frame on my fireplace mantle. It came with a booklet of how to use the Title to my advantage: better seats at restaurants and other perks of fine living. I think there even was a card I could keep in my wallet. Because that would surely convince people I was part of the gentry. heh. I choose to use it to claim my little Barony of a blog, my tiny little corner of the internet: the Blog o' the Baroness.

Very sincerely yours,
The Baroness.

1 comment:

"LelalMekha" from Wookieepedia said...

Dear Madam, as a matter of fact, I happen to know what's a Balinak. :D And I must say I was pretty *amazed* to find such an obscure and nerdy reference in a children's game. In fact, I am an editor on Wookieepedia (the largest fully editable online compendium of Star Wars information, as you may know), and I'm working on an improvement drive of the "Balinak" article. For sure, I appreciate reading your insight on the matter. Regards.