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A Space-Opera Interlude Part 2: The Force Continues (because man cannot live on politics alone)

Invitation2Artivism — This time, it’s personal.


Three years later, the Empire struck back… and like the rest of the world, I was gob-smacked.

Not only do tauntauns “smell bad” (bombshell), but Darth Vader turns out to be Uncle Ben’s brother… or something like that.

“I think it’s even better than the first one,” I said to my dad on the way out of the theater. Yoda the Jedi Master had not disappointed. He’d actually lived up to the novelization, which I’d read before my first opportunity to see the film.

“Whoa, there,” Dad cautioned. He was older, wise in the ways of the world, and knew about overenthusiasm.

I paused and considered. Maybe the first Star Wars was better. I missed the banthas and jawas in this movie… and poor Greedo (so fried).

But the AT-AT “snow-walkers” were cool as heck! And so were the bounty hunters! And the Star Destroyers’ pursuit of the Falcon! And Boba Fett, Cloud City, Luke vs. Vader, etc.!

The George Lucas spell had a vise-like hold on me, there was no disputing it.

Even after watching the ewok-strewn mess that was “Return of the Jedi,” I was still sold on the franchise.

Still feeling The Force.

Even after that godawful performance by Ian McDiarmid in “Jedi” as Emperor Hackneyed Palpatine. Cackle, cackle, cackle…

Jabba’s palace and the film’s opening, including the Rancor, rescued that film. Plus the cycle-speeder things zipping through the forest. And the Admiral.

Even if the film was patently idiotic, by the end.

It was still Star Wars. Legit enough.

“Luke. Take this mask off, so I can see you with my own eyes. Not a black man’s.” (Sorry, James Earl Jones!)


But I was still sold.


ALTERNATE VERSION (updated 9/20/18):

In the previous installment, going for humor, I may have given the wrong impression about Christmas in the O’Donnell household. In truth, I spent many Christmases and birthdays opening gifts that were right on the money. It wasn’t all tube socks, pasta, and Stretch Armstrong dolls.

To be completely fair to Mom and dad, they often dazzled on gift days, resulting in my gradual acquisition of many Kenner products — by which I mean dozens of Star Wars figures, three spaceships (tie fighter, x-wing, and Bespin Cloud Car), a Dewback lizard (awesome), a Jawa Sandcrawler (awesome awesome), and more… including a cross-section of the Death Star, complete with orange trash compactor and a rubbery/plastic-y, green denizen of the trash compactor’s brackish waters (waters not included, no battery necessary, Styrofoam “trash” definitely included, in blue, grey, and yellow chunks).

So far as Christmas of 1977 goes, I did not embellish in my previous entry: Mom and Dad got it wrong. It happens. Bunky got the Star Wars figures and a Landspeeder, and I got… other stuff.

But Mom and Dad were only human — not wookiees, after all, no matter how long and hard I prayed for that.

Mom should be singled out for special credit in helping me get my first “Jawa” SW figure. Apparently the robed, sparkly-eyed, 3-inch tall figure was extremely popular, hard to keep on the shelves. It took months, as I recall, for me to lay my hands on one, but Mom was a true partner in that Jawa hunt. We eventually got there.


And let it be said that even wookiees aren’t perfect. Just Chewbacca (perfectly awesome).

[It is apparently the case, for me, that the mere presence of wookiees improves a film to no end, resulting in my belief that “SOLO: A Star Wars Story” just might be the “best SW film yet!” (It features more wookiees per minute than any previous SW film.)]

FINALLY, AND FOR THE RECORD: When it came to material needs — and a fair number of wants — I did just fine, growing up. Thanks, Mom and Dad. Heaps. Your macramé and microchips sustained me, as did American Express, LJ’s pizza, and a chiropractor whose name I cannot remember. And Mo, your soldering was so much better than mine that I was finally deemed fit only for stretching out 10’ lengths of cable, snipping, and binding. Thanks, AJ Microtech!

(I’ll add that I also proved utterly hopeless at cleaning pool filters: blasting away at the filth-between-folds for hours, two-three times as long as my more capable siblings, achieving less than half the cleansing effect, year after year… hopeless.)

But now, returning to matters of importance…

S T A R   W A R S —  The Next Chapter (I mean for me, personally)…

One new entry every three years, the original trilogy finished. It was all over by the time I graduated high school (only just barely).

And the Force remained fantastic… ish.

I mean Empire had great heart, great effects, was narratively daring, and continued the vibe — at 13, I was more or less elated — but Jedi was a bit of a bed-shitting, what with the Ewoks, Doofus Han Solo, and Ian McDiarmod’s hackneyed Darth Evil performance…

And suddenly everyone in the film is related!?


(“You’re my sister. And Darth Vader’s our father… and about all those kisses we’ve shared…”)

I left the theater grateful that Artoo-Detoo and See-Threepio didn’t turn out to be Luke’s father’s old droids…


(At least midichlorians hadn’t hit the scene yet.)

To be fair, nearly-Jedi Luke vs. Jabba, Mr. Fett, et al, was OK, fine spectacle, if silly. And the Gamorrean guards, Bib Fortuna, Rancor, Sail Barge, Admiral Akbar were kinda’ cool, too.

Same for Max Rebo and his quartet (I forget the name of the hep space-cat that didn’t make it to the first gig… but he turned out to be some kind of Sesame Street/Muppet Show reject, once that terribly “special” edition of the film was churned out, years later).

Mon Mothma and the space battles and the father-son lightsaber clash were all pretty good… but the series was clearly running out of gas.

Even so, I couldn’t wait to see where the series was going next!

Only I would have to wait… for quite some time.

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