Saturday, April 16, 2005

You've Taken Your First Step Into A Larger World

My kids discovered Star Wars a couple of years ago, when the three oldest were 5-1/2, 5, and 4. I'd been hoping to keep them out of it until after Episode III debuted, so that they'd be able to watch the six films in sequential order. But that was probably pretty naive.

One day, a catalog came in the mail. When I arrived home, my 4-year-old son greeted me with it at the door.

"Daddy, daddy," he said, pointing to a Millennium Falcon toy, "do you know what this is?"

"Well," I replied, trying to play dumb, "it's a spaceship toy."

"Is this spaceship from a movie?"

"Yes," I said, warily.

"Do we have this movie?"


"Can we watch it?"

"I'll have to talk to your mother about that," I said, remembering the bloody arm on the floor in the bar scene.

"She said to talk to you about it."

It became pretty obvious that there was no putting this off. So the next Saturday (Saturday at that time being my day to watch the kids while Katie worked), I gathered all the kids around and put my VHS of Star Wars into the player. My expectation was that the girls would quickly lose interest, but that Joey would remain fixated by all the blaster fights and spaceships.

The 20th Century Fox fanfare sounded, and then the fateful words appeared onscreen, prompting my nonreading children to ask, "What does that say?"

So I read the blue lettering quickly, "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away . . ." and worked to keep my pronunciation clear -- as a full-blooded Star Wars geek, I tend to get choked up at that first symphonic strike accompanying the appearance of the Star Wars logo.

"Star Wars," I read,

"Episode IV: A New Hope

It is a period of civil war.
Rebel spaceships, striking
from a hidden base, have won
their first victory against
the evil Galactic Empire.

During the battle, Rebel
spies managed to steal secret
plans to the Empire's
ultimate weapon, the DEATH
STAR, an armored space
station with enough power to
destroy an entire planet.

Pursued by the Empire's
sinister agents, Princess

A sharp intake of breath from both girls.

"There's a princess in this movie?"

"You didn't tell us there was a princess in this movie!"

Contrary to my expectations, Joey ended up playing with trains through most of the film. His attention was captured only during the blaster fights and spaceship scenes -- which of course are not the majority of the movie. The girls, on the other hand, remained glued in place throughout, only occasionally interrupting to say, "When are they going to show the princess again?"

Friday, April 1, 2005

Don't You Call Me a Mindless Philosopher

I took the Entertainment Weekly Star Wars quiz this week. Well, I didn't so much take it as read it.

The Padwan level was absurdly easy -- even someone who hates Star Wars could probably get a passing score. I think the middle level was "Jedi Knight," and it did require the knowledge one might expect of a casual fan or a nonfan with a good memory. But it was a blow-off for anyone who's watched the films repeatedly and regularly.

Then the quiz jumped to "Jedi Master" and into the realm of the ridiculous. Hardly any of the questions addressed the films themselves. Instead, they focused on trivia about the actors and crew members. I had certainly never heard that there is a rumor that Anakin Skywalker was named after some director whom I had also never heard of.

I almost suspect that the magazine's editors didn't really want to provide a test that would please fans of the series. I could very well imagine them dreaming up the questions, saying, "Okay, we want to make sure that the first two levels make our readers feel clever about knowing most of the answers, while the third level makes them think, 'Only a total spaz would know that.'" Thus, the average reader would come away feeling both intelligent and superior.

I just felt glad that someone had loaned me the issue, instead of me buying it.