Star Wars Hits 30

Well, Star Wars officially turns 30 today (so will I, in a little over a year). There’s a great article about it over at Show Me SciFi, in case you want to check it out.

Being a nerd at heart, Star Wars has shaped my life significantly… probably much more than is healthy. Even the theme for my personal blog here is based on the Force. I grew up watching the movies and often imagined myself wielding lightsabers, flying X-wings, and using the force.694px-star_wars_logosvg.png

As a matter of fact, Lauren and I had gone out to eat with a group of people some months ago. I was sitting at one end of the table with the rest of the guys, and she was down at the other end with all the girls. For some reason, I needed to get her attention, so instead of shouting at her, I stared into the back of her head and thought Lauren! as hard as I could. I figured if it worked for Luke when he was hanging underneath Cloud City, then maybe it would work for me too.

It didn’t. But it does show you how powerful those movies have been to my generation. Or how pathetic I am. Depends on how you choose to look at it…

Next Friday night, we’re going to see the Alabama Symphony Orchestra do a concert in the park that will consist of music from the six films. Should be a lot of fun.

Recently, I’ve gotten into some of the Extended Universe stuff, which is basically books, video games, etc, that take place in the Star Wars universe. The Knights of the Old Republic video games have been excellent. And the plot lines are so good that they’re even considered canon. Lately, as you can see from my wishlist at Amazon, I’ve developed an interest in reading some of the books that come after Return of the Jedi.

I just can’t help myself. Star Wars (or Sty Wars, as Madelyn calls it) is in my blood.

And it’s truly magical when you get to experience watching the films with someone who’s never seen them before. When I first started dating Lauren, I forced her (pun intended) to watch them. When we got to the part in Empire Strikes Back (spoilers ahead, if you’ve never seen it) where Luke’s hand gets cut off, everyone in the room gasped, and Lauren’s mom, who was watching with us, exclaimed, “He can grow it back, can’t he?!”

“Grow it back?!” I answered. “No! He’s not a lizard!”

And then, when Vader revealed himself to be Luke’s father, the whole room gasped in surprise! I couldn’t believe it! I thought everybody knew that! It was great. It almost made the movies new to me again. I can’t wait to watch them with my girls, when they get old enough to actually grasp what’s happening. For now though, I’ll have to keep enduing the Barbie/Disney princess days.

But my day will come soon enough. The Force is with me.

Thought question: When sharing the Star Wars experience with a newb, do you start with Episode 1, or 4?

When We Were Idiot Children

I was perusing Guy’s blog over at The Short Fat Kid and ran across one of his posts that dealt with some of the ridiculous stuff he learned in school. One of the things he mentioned which had not been ridiculous was pencil fighting.

I think I laughed out loud when I read his comments about the art. I had completely forgotten about playing that in school, and it brought back lots of great memories about the stupid stuff we did as kids.

One of the things that I excelled at was Elementary School Origami. This is quite different from traditional origami, which focuses on creating boring things like flowers, swans, and frogs from paper. Instead, I focused on paper footballs, paper airplanes (and not just the standard ones either; I could build one that looked like some kind of spaceship), and my personal favorite – paper guns.

You know, I’ve never needed the Periodic Table in my adult life, but knowing how to make bizarre things from paper has been quite useful.

I also remember throwing pencils into the ceiling tiles while the teacher wasn’t looking to see whose pencils would stay the longest. And when I was in 3rd grade, I went to a school that had no A/C. Our evil teacher Ms Avant (whom Wes remembers well; we actually met in 3rd grade) kept a small fan under her desk that would only blow directly on her. After lunch, she would often doze in class, so some of the braver students would take erasers, bits of paper, or pencil lead and throw them into the fan. The blades would then shoot the projectiles at her legs at a much higher velocity. It was pretty fun to watch!

Micro Machines were another great way to pass the school day. They were small enough to hide from the teacher (and the snobby girls who loved to tell on you), and it was lots of fun to send them exploring the mountainous terrain of textbooks, folders, and desktops. And they definitely beat pretending that paperclips and erasers were cars or jets.

Anybody else enjoy similar pastimes in school?

Breaking the Ice

My sister-in-law, Leslie, got married this past weekend. It was a beautiful wedding and went off without a hitch (save the one between the bride and groom), and every one had a great time.

Both of my daughters were flowergirls in the wedding, though with Hailey, it was pretty much in name only. She is only about 18 months old, after all. Madelyn, however, is 3 and a half, so she actually got to walk down the aisle and throw around flower petals.

It made for a great ice breaker.

You know how weddings are. Everybody’s happy, but everybody’s sad at the same time; or at least a lot of people are. It’s one of those bittersweet deals that’s incredibly charged with emotion. And when it comes to the emotions involved, we aren’t too easy on ourselves. Think about it. Every little facet of the wedding ceremony is super-saturated with raw emotion. You’ve got parents and grandparents ushered in to the sounds of music (a string trio, in this case). The parents will often go to the front and light a candle to represent bride and groom.

Then the attendants are slowly paraded in one by one. Each of the groomsmen locks eyes with the groom in order to share one last silent joke of bachelorhood. Finally, they all make it to the front, and the audience has been teased to the point of tears – the setting is immaculate, the attendants are resplendant, and the groom is waiting at the top of the aisle in anticipation. The whole thing is emotionally charged, primed, and ready to blow.

And then you get the comic relief.

Because I’ve finally decided that that’s the role these small children play in weddings. No matter how many times you run them through the rehearsal, nothing really prepares them for the real ceremony.

I went to a wedding once where the ringbearer had an ornate chest attached to the top of the pillow he carried, and the bride’s ring was inside it. At some point during the ceremony, he discovered that this chest made a really great noise when he flicked his wrists. *CLOP* he flicked it open. *CLOP* he flicked it closed. Coconut-bearing Patsy from The Holy Grail would have been proud. The boy repeated this incredibly fascinating feat until he was forced to stop.

In Madelyn’s case, she wanted to do things perfectly. She walked slowly down the aisle and slung flower petals through the air with a zeal that was awe-inspiring. She looked as though she were trapped in a snowglobe blizzard – a hurricane of white petals whirling around her in a frenzy. She happened to glance down at one point and realized that some of them hadn’t separated the way she had wanted, but had landed in a clump on the floor. So she turned around, bent down, and began scattering them with her hand.

This congregation of people who had been on the edge of weeping were now laughing, and quite heartily in some cases. My wife, Lauren, was frozen in her spot as matron of honor wondering how to get Madelyn to speed things up a little and actually get to the front of the chapel. In the end, Madelyn realized everyone was watching her, and so she abandoned her flower-throwing responsibilities about halfway down the aisle and hurried to her place of safety at Lauren’s side.

Comic relief had been achieved – mission accomplished.

Better Than I Thought

Ok, so we watched the season finale of Gilmore Girls last night, and it really turned out a lot better than I had expected. A lot of people still aren’t happy with it, but considering the thing was filmed before they had even decided to officially can the show, it wasn’t that bad. It tied up a lot of the loose ends, and ended in one of those ways where everybody seems to be doing well, and your imagination gets to do the rest.

Like I said, a lot of the fans aren’t happy, but at least it didn’t end like St. Elsewhere where the whole show ended up being in the head of an autistic child, or like Newhart where the entire thing was the dream of Robert Hartley (Bob Newhart) from the original Bob Newhart Show. Although the series finale of Newhart was hilarious, I don’t guess it would have fit well in Gilmore Girls.

Anybody else catch it?  Or have any other memorable series finales?

(and by the way, to answer the comments from my last post, yes I am completely aware that I am a dork and a pansy. I’m just too lazy to change…)

Saying Goodbye

Tonight, Lauren and I will be saying farewell to some people we’ve grown accustomed to spending Tuesdays with. Gilmore Girls is airing its series finale tonight, and it’s going to be hard for us to let Lorelai, Rory, Luke, Kirk, and the others fade-out for the last time.

To tell you the truth, we’re kind of broken up about this (well, for a TV show, anyway). The news is pretty unexpected; they only announced this decision two weeks ago, after the episode had already filmed. In other words, when it was written and taped, there was still a pretty strong possibility that the show would be coming back for an 8th season. Apparently, the contract details for Alexis Bledel were never solidified, so things will end here.

Hardcore Gilmore fans are pretty upset, as there doesn’t seem to be enough time for closure for the major plotlines. The 6th season was a rough one (for most fans, anyway), and the shows producers, writers, and creators, Amy Sherman-Palladino and her husband Daniel Palladino, left at the end of it. David Rosenthal took over for this 7th season amid mixed reviews.

But I think all fans would agree that at least one more season would have been nice. This was certainly not the way most people imagined it ending.

Lauren and I started watching it during its first season. I hadn’t expected to like it, but the show’s writing was a pleasant surprise. The repartee that the cast shared was always witty, fast, and intelligent, and even the secondary and tertiary characters were vibrant and quirky. There were some truly fantastic moments in its 7 year history, and it seemed to be a favorite for fans and critics alike.

We’re going to have quite a void to fill on Tuesday nights now. And while I could definitely use one less thing to take up my time, I’m really going to miss this show.

So long, Gilmores…

I Love It When a Plan Comes Together

I’m not very mechanically inclined, and I’ve made my peace with that. However, I’m also rather averse to spending money on anything I don’t consider “fun.” This would include putting brakes on my car.

But since brakes are necessary if you’d like to remain in the land of the living, I decided to replace them myself. It ended up being a successful endeavor, but only because my friend Matt (who actually knows how to do things like that and owns the tools to do them) came over and basically did them for me. I walked around acting like I was helping until my youngest daughter pooped in the bathtub. That seems to be a favorite pasttime for her, so I had to go inside and help clean that up.

When I came back out, Matt was finishing up (my brother Daniel had been there to help also). While Daniel and I put the wheel back on the car and started taking it off the jack, Matt told me that I would need to pump my brakes in order to set them correctly. And while I was listening to his instructions, it was probably only about as well as I listen when my wife reads through my “to-do” list.

Anyway, after we put everything away and Matt had gone home, I hopped in the car and pulled it forward just a little to its normal spot in the driveway. It was only when my foot pressed the brake pedal all the way to the floor that I remembered Matt’s instructions.

When Daniel stepped outside a moment later, he saw my car sitting in the backyard with its brakelights flashing on and off, resting comfortably on top of a portion of my privacy fence. Yes, the same privacy fence I worked on a couple of weekends ago. 🙂

Ever since I was a little kid, I wanted to drive a vehicle through something just like they managed to do in every episode of the A-Team. I just never wanted it to be something I owned.

Add one more to the to-do list, honey.

The Follow-through

In my second post on this blog, I talked about possibly going back for a second degree. Usually, when I talk about doing something like that, the lazy side takes over, and I simply let it fade away. For instance, about a year ago, I had just reread Glory Road and decided that I needed to learn fencing.

Sure, I know that I’m not likely to get into a swordfight in this day and age, but it just seemed to me at the time that a man needs to know how to do things like that. So I looked into the Birmingham Fencing Club. Surprisingly, fencing is a reasonably affordable pastime. If you’re willing to pay a little more than what most health clubs charge a month, you can learn how to artfully impale someone with a sharp weapon.

Now I know what you’re thinking: how hard is it to impale someone with a sharp weapon? Not very. But can you do it artfully?

Anyway, I don’t have a great deal of disposable income, especially if the charges are recurring, so that dream faded out. At least for now…

Last year, I also really got into writing a novel. I had played with the idea before, but had never written out more than 3 or 4 pages. But this last time, I actually wrote 23,000 words (which would translate to around 90 pages in a novel). I’m really kind of proud of that. I usually don’t stick with things that long. That being said, I still didn’t stick with it. I developed some writer’s block and walked away from it.

Anyway, when I first wrote about possibly going back to school, I was afraid that I might be doing the same thing… talking big, but not following through. But the more I thought about it and looked into it, the more it made sense.

My company will actually reimburse me for 100% of the tuition and books every year. If I go back to UAB, which is where I got my first bachelor’s degree, then I only need 10 classes to get a degree in Information Systems. So there were many reasons to go back, and very few to not.

Therefore, I’m proud to say that I’m a student, once more. I’ve already been admitted, and I’m registered for the summer semester. My first class starts on the 31st, and I’ve already gotten the book, too. We’re going to be learning C#, which is an extremely useful and relevant programming language right now.

Anyway, it will be a little tough with 2 kids at home, but I think we can swing it. If things go as planned, I should be done by December of ’08!