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Friday, May 25, 2007

A long time ago... (30 years to be exact)

Posted by: Jambo / 11:45 PM

No sooner had I trashed the guy as a right wing hack "journalist" does James Lileks turn around and put out an entertaining (if inconsequential) article that serves to inform me of something I really should have known but didn't. Namely that today is the 30th anniversary of Star Wars. (And it's somewhat disturbing to be at an age where I can observe the 30th anniversary of something I witnessed first hand.)

Most people these days know me as a cool intellectual hipster but believe it or not I was once a geek, much like many of you. And as a recovering geek I couldn't let pass unnoticed a day that was pretty formative to many of us. As a nerdy 12 year old back in 1977 I had seen my share of science fiction; Forbidden Planet, Silent Running, Star Trek and the like, but nothing had prepared me for the visual spectacle that was unleashed on us that summer. I know I've blogged about this before (namely here) but sitting there in the first row and seeing for the first time the camera pan down to the surface of Tatooine and having a giant star destroyer seemingly fly right over my head was the most transcendent film moment I think I'll ever have. And I think I managed to have it a couple dozen times that year, usually by paying to see the early show and then hiding in the bathroom before sneaking back into the theater to see the late one as well. It was like nothing any of us had ever seen before.

I lost track of how many times I saw it that first time around but I do vividly remember seeing it that very first time at the Cinema Unique in Brookings SD. I wasn't the first in town to see it (it didn't open right away in Brookings and my friend Mark Martin had seen it a few weeks earlier on a trip to Oklahoma) but I planned on being the first in line for the Brookings debut. And I was, for a few minutes anyway, until I started to feel stupid standing around in front of the theater an hour ahead of show time. I wandered over to the mall bookstore and bought a book. Lord knows why I remember this but it was a book of Star Trek trivia. (OK, I remember it because I was such a geek.) By the time I got back four high school nerds had lined up in front of me. They may have beaten me into the theater, but did any of them end up owning more Star Wars junk than I did? I doubt it. I had books, posters, (I probably even took down the red swim suit Farrah Fawcett poster to make room) action figures, (somewhere in a junkyard there's a '75 white Oldsmobile with a stormtrooper gun stuck down in the AC vent) models, records (the soundtrack AND the story) and even the set of sheets and pillowcase. Some of that stuff I guess is worth some money now but I think most of mine has disappeared over the years. About all I have to show for it is a good store of useless trivia. But that can be kind of fun since there are quite a few fellow geeks out there--I got a good laugh watching Boogie Nights when Buck Swope, working in a stereo store, tries to sell a customer on the new TK421 receiver.

Sure, looking back at the film now there are plenty of cringe inducing moments (bad haircuts, worse dialog) but sitting here as a middle aged film snob that unbridled joy of three decades back is not something I'm really willing to let go of. I'll see if I can make it last another 30 years.

[Holy crap, I just realized I still have the pillowcase! I ran across it a few months ago in a box of old books and junk in the garage. I'm going to dig it out and use it to honor the occasion. It will have the added bonus of making the Mrs. roll her eyes and shake her head at me even more than she usually does.]

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I don't know Jambo, your geek card has always been one infraction short of revocation. The committee back here at the home office has never been that impressed with your credentials, other than your rampant Eowyn lust.

By Blogger Jerjo/Carjo, at 12:32 PM  

Why Jerjo, that might be the nicest thing you've ever said about me here on the blog! But come on, there must be some geek points for a 42 year old man with a Star Wars pillow.

By Blogger Jambo, at 2:52 PM  

I'll give you some points but you've got a lot of reading to do before your card comes up for renewal.

In the meantime, I gift you with the following:

By Blogger Jerjo/Carjo, at 9:16 PM  

For all these years I thought it was my fault we weren't first in line.

I remember setting the high score on the Elton John Captain Fantastic Pinball machine instead of diligently waiting in line. I won $10 for setting the highest score for the week. In those days that was big money.

You must have been in the bookstore.

By Anonymous The Calming Effect, at 3:22 PM  

"The Calming Effect"? That can only be a reference to attending a concert the headliner of which, for everyone's sake, should remain hidden. Am I right?

Man, I had totally forgotten that pinball machine but pictured it instantly when I read the comment. Memory is a funny thing.

By Blogger Jambo, at 3:03 PM  

You are correct. Exposure of said headliner would significantly reduce the musical coolness quotient of Jambo. For another $10 I'll keep it quiet.

By Anonymous The Calming Effect, at 3:19 PM  

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