Not So Long Ago…

(Editor’s Note: Spoiler Alert! This movie was awesome!)

My history with Star Wars is well documented. Perhaps not on this page, but all it takes is a single inquiry or comment and I will tell you all about it. What’s that? You want to hear all about it? Perhaps another time. Let’s just say that I am of a certain age and temperament that lends itself to minor obsession with the films. I’m not a costume guy, but I did attend a midnight showing of Episode III and I made Christine come with me to watch at least Episode IV when it was re-released into the theaters. She’s still “on the fence”, but I think she hates the movies and merely tolerates them like I do country music. You have to make sacrifices for the ones you love.

Since the boys have been born, much of my Star Wars experience has been of the Lego variety. They’ve seen some of the actual movies, but we’ve spared them the more intense Episode III and I despise everything about Episode II, so they might not have seen that one, either. News of Episode VII had me excited, then apprehensive because Disney and JJ Abrams (ugh), and finally back to a fevered pitch of fan boy enthusiasm that culminated in ordering tickets for the official premiere date for me, Liam, Aiden, and my father-in-law.

So, if Wil Wheaton is unofficial king of the nerds, does that make him queen? Nah, I suppose that's Felicia Day. Maybe he's the duke, but nobody even knows what a duke is. Jester, then. JJ Abrams is the jester of the nerd court.
So, if Wil Wheaton is unofficial king of the nerds, does that make him queen? Nah, I suppose that’s Felicia Day. Maybe he’s the duke, but nobody even knows what a duke is. Jester. JJ Abrams is the jester of nerd court.

I wasn’t sure how to structure this article, but I had a flash of inspiration and I”m going to go with a running journal starting on Thursday afternoon. That’s when the excitement really started to ramp up to nearly mythical levels.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

4:45 pm: While at tutoring, I got a text from my wife that read, “Dinner at my Moms at 5:30 pm.” Okay, cool, no problem. While dinner at her mother’s might not seem all that interesting or relevant to a story about Star Wars, I assure you it has a place. Stay tuned.

6:30 pm: Dinner was ham and au gratin potatoes. it was delicious and, you are right, has nothing to do with Star Wars. You just have to appreciate the little things in life.

Side note: I have not been as excited about the movie as expected. Maybe the grind of the end of the semester interfered. Perhaps, because we don’t have cable, I have been able to avoid the incessant advertising.

Yes, in case you don’t know, we are the annoying family without cable that uses that trait as one of our identifying characteristics. I found myself saying, “We don’t even have TV at home. Why are you arguing over TV?” to my 5 year old.

Well, after dinner, the hype machine finally got me. A commercial came on for Dodge (or ram or are they the same thing? Who cares, right?) with Star wars music in the background and I made a comment about buying the truck just because they put Star Wars on it. My father in law replied with, “They’ve been putting Star Wars on everything.” Sure enough, the next commercial was a tie-in, too. I have to admit that I got a kick out of that one, though.

6:49 pm: After the commercial, I said, “Okay, that one was funny.” and my wife rolled her eyes. She had already been making side comments through and after dinner and I just had to ask her to stop. I don’t usually get defensive about my nerd love, but Star Wars is different. As I explained to her, I’ve been watching these movies since I was a kid and now I’m taking my own kids to see them. When she first said, “I love you.” I replied with, “I know.” I’m not a super Star Wars fan, but buried deep down, I am.

6:50 pm: To assuage my hurt feelings and pump the gas (or tug the steam whistle, but that sounds weird) of the hype train a little, I watch the trailer again. Now that I’m more familiar with the new characters, watching it gives me the ASMR something fierce. I watch it five times. Aiden joins me for one of the viewings.

7:15-10:30 pm: The hype is somewhat diminished by having to write a final. Tests are the absolute worst part of my job (I know #firstworldproblems) but they are a necessary evil.

10:30 pm: Speaking of necessary evil…Watching one of my favorite streamers on Twitch and someone comes with the chat with, “Just got home from Star Wars.” Immediately he is hit with the “No spoilers in this chat!!” by several users and a couple even ask for an unconditional ban “just in case”. Look, I get it….sort of. Your lives are so devoid of suspense and surprise that you live vicariously through movies and television. But, serious, the “No spoilers!” gestapo has gotten out of hand. The guy is simply trying to start a conversation about something he enjoyed and assumes that you enjoy as well. I, and one other, responded with, “Is it any good?” He said that he really enjoyed it and listed off the reasons without giving away any major plot points.

Don't worry. I'm not going to post spoilers just to spite people. I'm not a complete jerk. I just wanted to see how many people would scramble away after getting to this image. Okay, maybe I'm a bit of a jerk.
Don’t worry. I’m not going to post spoilers just to spite people. I’m not a complete jerk. I just wanted to see how many people would scramble away after getting to this image. Okay, maybe I’m a bit of a jerk.

10:45 pm: Shortly after, my cousin contacted me to compare notes. I told him that I had yet to see it and we also went on to discuss the movie without giving anything away. We talked at length, too, about a variety of subjects. We expressed a desire to see the movie more than once. He assured me that JJ Abrams did a good job, which I was still a bit worried about. We both lamented that our wives showed no interest in the movie. Having already seen the movie, he was particularly dismayed that his wife wasn’t there. We moved onto female representation and it sounds like they are trying to appeal more to women with this series.

As an aside, my feeling is that this film is about leaving the past behind and reinventing Star Wars for the future. I know, that sounds weird. But, I contend that the disastrous prequels were meant to be for the hard core fans, but Uncle George overcompensated and we got what we got.

Oh well, maybe the boys and I can wear her down over vacation and get her to see it with us. It is really something that I want to share with her. After I see it, maybe I can find an angle.

12:15 am: I joked with my cousin that I might not even sleep because I was so excited. That became a lie as I crashed on the couch watching Twitch.

Friday, December 18, 2015

6:15 am: Alarm goes off and today is the day! All I have to do is give two finals, one tutoring session, and I will be on my way to the theater. I’m excited, but I also think that I might have a cold coming on.

11:15 am: One final given and the tutoring session done and I need to go get some medicine and do Christmas shopping at the mall. I’m not looking forward to this at all. Oh, hey, what’s that? It’s a pretty cool looking R2D2 shirt that I can wear to strengthen my nerd cred. The shirt and lunch at my favorite Greek place made the “have to do”s all worth it.

I don't know if you can see from the picture, but it is the silhouette of R2D2 (okay, that's not a surprise) with iconic moments from the movies in each panel. Pretty awesome.
I don’t know if you can see from the picture, but it is the silhouette of R2D2 (okay, that’s not a surprise) with iconic moments from the movies in each panel. Pretty awesome.

2:15 pm: Last final is done! I’m so excited that I’m going to go out to the van and take a nap! I know, I know, all of this build up to the big day, it’s almost time, and that’s my response. I’m pretty sure that this cold is actually the flu. So, I curl up in the van for a short winter’s nap.

3:00 pm: Nap over! Let’s do this. I drive to Amherst, find my father-in-law’s truck, and park near him. I meet them all in the theater, post to my Facebook (because it’s not official unless it’s on social media), grab the tickets, they get popcorn and soda, and then we go stand in line for the movie. The half an hour wait in the theater for the movie to start is excruciating and made all the worse by the cheesy pre-show advertisements that they show. By the end of it, I scream, “Let’s go already!” Not one to get faked out, I also say, “Is it actually starting?” when the Lucasfilm logo comes onto the screen. Thankfully for me and those in the immediate vicinity who were sick of my whining, it was actually starting. The theater went black, the title came up, the theme song started, and applause began.

7:30 pm: The opening wasn’t the only applause worthy moment. I’m pretty sure that Aiden even got the theater going a couple of times when some of his favorite characters came onto the screen. I gave the movie a standing ovation. It wasn’t perfect, which goes without saying, but it was a very good movie. They paid homage to the past in the right way and they are definitely moving the franchise forward at the same time. As with many fans, I was a little down on Star Wars after the prequels and then the Disney sale, but everything has worked out well so far. Even though I’m pretty sure I know how Episode VIII and IX will continue the story, I’m still unbelievably excited to see both of them. We still have a good year and a half, so I guess the only course of action is to go see this one a couple of more times.

If you’re a fan, you’ve already seen and drew your own conclusions. If you’re not a fan, this is actually the perfect movie to get into the series. After you’ve done that, go back and watch the originals. If you still love Star Wars after that, avoid the prequels altogether, except for maybe Episode III and Episode I if you can stomach it. As always, May the Force be with you.

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