Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Star Wars: The Uber Dad Awakens

     Star Wars rules.  True story, no doubt about it.  The saga of good vs. evil resonates with us all, and I for one have been a fan since the very beginning.  Timeline- May 1977.  A very young blonde haired, green eyed boy fell in love with the story and the characters created by George Lucas.  So much so that I attended showings of the movie upwards of a dozen times.  This was only the beginning.  Since then, every Star Wars movie released peaked my attention, and I had to see it.  Heck, I even thought highly of the dreaded prequel trilogy.  I know Anakin was a whiny petulant child version of the soon to be dark lord, Darth Vader, but I ate this stuff up with a spoon.  Qui-Gon Jinn became one of my favorite Jedi Knights, and don't even get me started on my affinity for Darth Maul or Mace Windu.  So, when the news broke that a brand new Star Wars would be produced by JJ Abrams, this guy was immediately not only intrigued but very excited.  Plus, what made this truly special was that I could share the Star Wars experience with my children.  Sure, Jesse has, of course, seen all the movies up to this point, but has never really experienced what I knew was coming with this latest tale in the Star Wars saga.  Lines around the corner at the local theater, and excitement that every fan of movie making can feel like electricity running through their very body.  Sort of like, lets say, a "Force."  Well, I decided that Jesse and I must experience this firsthand together.  A passing of the proverbial torch or light saber.  I always fancied myself more of a Sith Lord than a Jedi, but if there ever was a person that exemplified all that was good with the world, and was full of light and virtue like a Jedi it would be my son Jesse.  I should mention that my daughter Maddie is, unfortunately, in the 1% of those who could care less about Star Wars so she would not be joining us on our adventure, but her mother will take her to see Alvin and the Chipmunks at a later date.  All of what follows is true, and the hero's journey that my son and I went on to see this movie is epic.  Well, interesting at least.  A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away....

     The show started at 2:15 at a local cinema.  It was a bit of a rush job this event, because at the spur of the moment I decided it must be now.  The boy and I will go see the new Star Wars movie, and mobilization will commence.  I had originally intended to take Jesse the week of Christmas, but many unforeseen and unfortunate events prevented this from happening.  Crate training dogs and face pimples....nevermind.  The point is that now was the time, and we would be experiencing the grand spectacle that is Star Wars soon.  Very soon.

     We arrived just in time to see a parking lot full of vehicles.  A parking challenge presented the first obstacle for our heroes.  As far as the eye can see...cars, trucks, vans, even motorcycles.  Nowhere to park, but trust was placed in the fact that eventually by divine intervention if nothing else, a parking spot would open.  Surely this would be the case.  We went round and round so much I felt like I was in an 80s song performed by either Ratt or that odd fellow that was spun round, round like a record baby...round, round.  I digress.  Finally like a beacon of hope a spot was located and taken immediately.  Now a long trek through a busy parking lot began.  At first it was a walk, then a more brisk pace began that eventually broke out into a jog and finally a full blown gallop!  We could feel the excitement beginning to build as we approached the movie theater.  Finally, we arrived at the ticket window, but soon our spirit would be diminished significantly.  It seems that during my quick mobilization I got the time wrong.  Well right time, wrong movie theater.  There was no 2:15 showtime, and my heart sank with sadness.  Was this to be the end of the hero's journey....

     No.  It's not about how hard you hit, but it's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.  A setback.  Frustrating sure, but not a defining moment.  Keep moving forward or in this case, keep moving to another movie theater or later movie showing time.  I had to enter my own Death Star to accomplish this feat.  The dreaded HWY 280 traffic on a Sunday afternoon had to be conquered to reach the next showing of Star Wars at 2:45.  The Nissan Xterra performed admirably like the Millennium Falcon.  Jesse was Chewbacca to my Han Solo.  He'll love that analogy.  The traffic proved to be thick and hard to handle, but nothing would stop us from the completion of the mission at hand!  Movie we will see...Yes.  We did arrive, and again the parking lot was full, and this time a line was forming around the corner to gain entry to the phenom that is Star Wars!  I began to relax a bit, because we were there in time and it appeared out of the danger zone.  However, it was not over just yet.

     Standing in line we began to hear chatter about the movie being sold out.  Discussions with fellow hopeful movie goers led me to believe that there was a chance we would not get to see the movie after all.  At least not at the time we wanted.  The closer we got to the ticket window the more nervous I became, and one lady and her five children seemed to take an exorbitant amount of time, but we were inching closer and closer.  Finally, we arrived at the window.  2nd in line at the time, and I noticed the slow lady was back standing off to the side looking longingly at me.  I knew what was coming.  A mistake had been made, and she had returned to attempt to fix the issue.  This was concerning for many reasons, but mainly I was distressed due to the amount of time she had taken previously.  The family in front of us buying tickets to Alvin and the Chipmunks were finished, and it was our turn.  However, slow lady was standing there and wanted to step in front of me.  Have you ever had a moment in life when you were thinking something in your head, and by some mystical force you blurted it out.  That was what happened to me in this moment.  In my head I was thinking, "Lady, I understand that you want this fixed, but you have no idea what we have been through to get to this movie, and you better hurry up!"  Yep, that's right the lady asked me, "Do you mind if I step in front of you?" and my response was, "Yes, go ahead, but you better hurry up!"  I couldn't believe the words were coming out of my mouth, but that was how important getting into this movie was for me.  All I could think of was that now this lady was going to get the last ticket to Star Wars, and my son and I would be left out.  NOOOOOOO!  Luckily, the lady did as I asked and "HURRIED UP!"  I did apologize to her for my rudeness, but there are no rules in Star Wars fandom.  True to my Sith heart I used anger to assist in my ultimate goal.  Well, not really, but I probably shouldn't have told the nice lady to hurry up.  Out of character, but it is what it is.  The silver lining to this was that we got our tickets to the movie!!  The dark storm cloud part was that the popcorn line was so long we did not have time to purchase the delicious buttery salt laden delicacy.  Which distressed my son extremely.

     The movie theater itself was packed.  For a moment I thought we would have to take some of the neck breaking seats in the front.  You know the ones where you have to look straight up to see the movie, and you get an old school "crick" in your neck.  It reminded me of going to see Silence of the Lambs in 1991 for the Midnight show with some friends, and having to sit on the front row and look straight up at Hannibal Lecter eating a liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti.  Cue slurping sound.  We got pretty good seats, and outside of the absence of popcorn we were ready to go!  Ready, except for the two hours of coming attractions.  The previews that preceded the showing of Star Wars were absolutely ridiculous. They weren't even good previews.  However, this is Capitalism, and I like Capitalism.  The more selling one can do the better I suppose, but it provided an unwanted irritant for those of us chomping at the bit to see the real attraction - Star Wars:  The Force Awakens.  Although I could have bought some popcorn during all those previews, I suppose, I didn't, much to the dismay of my sole male heir.  I have to say when I heard that glorious John Williams score begin and saw that familiar beginning, I was moved.  I looked over at my son, and felt really good.  That's what this entire day is all about.

     It was a very nostalgically moving experience overall.  No doubt about it.  JJ Abrams definitely gave a huge shout out to the original Star Wars and made it appealing to the aficionado of the series, but also made it entertaining enough for the novice in the ways of the force.  Sitting there with my son, and being able to share something with him that I enjoyed so much as a child was priceless.  Star Wars can be considered one of those special American institutions that so many people can share and relate to, and it truly bridges the generation gap.  I remember very well watching Star Wars when I was Jesse's age (it would have been Return of the Jedi by that point) and sitting there with him watching the latest installment was special.  I hope that some day he will get to do the same with his children.  May the force be with you, always.