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Well, I did it. I volunteered to have my car wrapped as a promotion for the SciFi channel's upcoming original telefilm, Legend of the Rangers (http://www.scifi.com/b5rangers). It's just the kind of thing people expect me to do, and you know how I hate to disappoint....

For my own amusement, and at SciFi's request, I've been documenting some of my time as a slavishly-devoted, unpaid corporate promotional tool. Thus, following are some of the adventures of me and my Legend of the Rangers-wrapped car in the Philadelphia metro area, in late December 2001. Photographs were all taken either by me or by Paul Nordquist.

It's really nice that SciFi bothered to design such a spiffy looking promotional device; people that see the car are uniformly enthusiastic about how nice it looks, whether they are fans of the Babylon 5 universe (or indeed, have ever heard of it) or not.

On to the photos...

First off, I wanted to give you a view of all four sides of the car. These first five pictures were all taken at Valley Forge Park, about 15 miles west of Philadelphia, and most famous for the grueling winter encampment spent there by George Washington and the Continental Army in 1777-'78. In this shot, I'm wearing my post-Chrysalis Delenn Halloween costume — including that most appropriate of accoutrements, a Ranger pin! Jerry says I am grimacing; I say, you try looking directly into the sun without making a funny face!

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Here, on the left side of the car, we have Captain David Martel, and seemingly riding in my back seat, G'Kar of the Third Circle, the last surviving member of the Kha'Ri. If that doesn't make my car the coolest vehicle on the planet, I don't know what does! In fact, the only thing that would be better would be to actually have G'Kar in my back seat...

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Here's the front of the car, which features a green pattern that some have described as looking a bit like stylized microcircuitry. One of the best things about having a Saturn wrapped is the SciFi channel's insignia on all sides — the wrap itself hides everything on my car that says "Saturn"....but the SciFi insignia lets me have Saturns all over my Saturn, anyway!

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Here on the right side of the car — which is posed prettily before the Valley Forge Memorial Arch (completed and dedicated in 1917) — are Minbari Ranger Firell, and Human Ranger Kitaro Sasaki.

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Just past the Memorial Arch, I stopped the car to photograph the back next to one of Valley Forge's many restored log cabins. It's worth loading the largest version of this image — the exciting blue/black design here is so cool looking that people who view the car have suggested that they'd like a car painted entirely in that pattern! Also, from the back, you can see my vanity plate, which reads "ANLASHK" (black duct-tape apostrophe added by me). For those curious types who aren't fans of the original series, "Anla'Shok" is the Minbari word for "Ranger(s)." People have asked if the vanity plate influenced SciFi's choice of my car for the wrap; actually, the plate was ordered in early fall but only arrived days before the car was wrapped, so it couldn't have been a factor. But it is a happy coincidence.

And now, on to Philadelphia...

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No tour of Philadelphia would be complete without a visit to this icon of haute sports, the Rocky statue. Looking (to me, at least) somewhat lumpy and out of shape compared to Sylvester Stallone in the film of the same name, this 9-foot tall bronze statue was something of a bone of contention among the local populace. A gift from Stallone after the filming of Rocky III (1982) was finished, the statue was originally installed at the top of the Art Museum steps (a la the famous scene in the film). After much public debate, both pro and con, it was decided that the Spectrum Sports Arena plaza was a better place for it. Here, at just past dawn on the morning before New Year's Eve, we were able to drive up onto the sidewalk and get as close to Rocky as possible without driving the car up the steps. I told Paul that if the police came, I'd just get out my denn bok and frighten them away... No, wait — what actually happened was that the incredibly cool workers setting up a festival tent nearby said that if the police noticed us, we should just say we were part of the day's event and they would vouch for us.

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Most people associate Edgar Allen Poe with Baltimore. But his last residence was in Philadelphia. Poe actually found his greatest success as a writer here; during that period, his output included "The Fall of the House of Usher," "The Murders in the Rue Morgue," "The Masque of Red Death," "The Pit and the Pendulum," "The Tell-Tale Heart," and even "The Raven." You can even eat in the very room where Poe wrote "The Raven," at the General Wayne Inn restaurant. Since the smallish Raven statue out front is so understated, some clever person painted a wall-sized mural of Poe's famous face along the side of the building.

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Here we are at the Betsy Ross House. The light was bad, but I liked the juxtaposition of 18th century icon and 23rd century (fictional) icons. I made sure to get the top of the house into the frame, because really, what's the Betsy Ross House without the flag?

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Now we travel south to the main historic district, and the seat of American indepence: Independence Hall. You can't get too close, but I think the building is pretty recognizable. This is the back, on Walnut Street.

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Here we are parked at the side of Independence Hall, along 6th Street. The recognizable bell tower is more visible in this picture, looming overhead.

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John F. Kennedy Plaza, in Center City Philadelphia, is the home of the LOVE statue by Robert Indiana, which spawned so many t-shirts, posters, and other inspirational 1970's artifacts. It was installed during the Bicentennial. And, unfortunately, it's one of those Philadelphia landmarks that you can't get very close to by car (like the Liberty Bell, which is not even visible from the street anymore). See the largest version of the image for the maximum possible LOVE.

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The Clothespin (by Claes Oldenburg, 1976), across from City Hall at the entrance to Suburban Station, is perhaps the second most controversial piece of art in town (the Rocky statue being the first). I was astounded to learn while doing this project that the Clothespin is intended to be an elongated version of Brancusi's Kiss (which is, coincidentally, housed at the Philadelphia Museum of Art). In any case, whether you buy that or not, it's interesting to note that Philadelphia is perhaps the only city on Earth where residents might be overheard saying to one another, "I'll meet you under the Clothespin."

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This sculpture is called Kopernik, and it's — surprise! — a memorial to Nicholas Copernicus. I like the resonance of the SciFi channel's Saturn icons with the shape of the piece, although it's not actually Saturn; it's intended to be an abstract representation of Earth's relationship to the Sun. In any case, it was the spaciest thing I could find in Philadelphia, and I really wanted to find at least one spacey landmark.

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This bright and shiny object is...me! Oh, and the other bright and shiny object is the Aero Memorial, in honor of aviators who died in World War I.

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I'm delighted to report that dinosaurs (well, okay, dinosaur statues) are alive and well in Philadelphia. This pair graces the front of the Academy of Natural Sciences, and are a bit more recent than the Jurassic period (they were installed in 1987). I'm hoping for no funny comments via e-mail about long-lost relatives of G'Kar...

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Try though I might, I couldn't come up with a way to get closer to The Thinker in front of the Rodin Museum without getting arrested. So look at the largest version of the image if you don't mind the load time. (Incidentally, that's Rodin the sculptor, and not Rodan the Japanese movie monster; but imagining mistaken identities in either direction is pretty funny.) I like to call this picture "Three Great Thinkers" — but I think I ended up looking more like I was eating my fist than like I was impersonating The Thinker. G'Kar, of course, could not be persuaded to pose.

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Here I am at the foot of the Art Museum's 72 steps. Ironically, more people seeing this picture will recognize the Art Museum steps from Rocky, rather than from an actual visit to the museum (sigh). The bicyclist caught in our frame looks like he's about to take flight. But what really happened after we took the shot is that he wiped out.

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This statue of Joan of Arc (Jeanne D'Arc) is over a hundred years old. Why she is in Philadelphia is anyone's guess. Why we were in Philadelphia was to hold up traffic so we could memorialize her endorsing The Legend of the Rangers!

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On our way out of the city, we stopped on Kelly Drive to take a couple of pictures alongside the Schuylkill River. For you non-locals, that's pronounced SKOOL-kuhl.

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One more shot at the Schuylkill River, and then it was time to go home and get ready for New Year's Eve!

And, of course, to eagerly wait for January 19th and the premiere of The Legend of the Rangers on SciFi!

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