Archive for real world

The One About Jar Jar

Posted in Opinion, Spotlight with tags , , , on 18 February 2018 by Megan

A long time ago, I thought I’d have to do a post about Jar Jar for the “character everyone else hates that you love” challenge. I ended up finding another character, which was good because I don’t love Jar Jar and I like to be accurate.

But for the last month or so, I’ve been thinking more and more about Jar Jar as a character and about the structure of the prequel trilogy in general. First: I like everything about Episode I except the podrace. I like Jar Jar’s character, his role, and everything else. I don’t like that he’s in 2 and 3, but in every scene, he annoys me far less than Artoo does. I will vote Jar Jar over Artoo every day of the week.

People often accuse Jar Jar of serving no purpose. Actually, he is a tremendous character, and there’s a lot going on here that has to do with the old-fashioned style of storytelling Lucas prefers combined with Ahmed Best’s own acting style.

First, complaints about Jar Jar are generally unhinged. I did the math, and he carries 9% of E1’s dialogue; he’s onscreen about 30% of the time, but that’s every moment he’s visible, not every moment he’s the focus (I didn’t calculate that). People act like every single moment is him dancing around juggling senatorial bills or something.

Second, there’s great artistry going on in his performance. People who don’t get that Lucas is following a 1930s style aren’t going to catch how Jar Jar’s a Buster Keaton homage. But Ahmed Best worked hard AND worked well. Liam Neeson himself said “this guy’s gonna be the next Eddie Murphy.” He called him hilarious. No one in the cast or crew thought there was any problem with the character.

I had this idea a couple weeks ago that Jar Jar is supposed to be the “gateway” for the younger audience, to draw them into the action. I was thinking about the poignancy of his “I was banished for being clumsy” past. You know how the droids were the gateway for the OT–the films Lucas made for 12-year-olds (his phrase)–but he made E1 for his own kids, a younger audience. Little kids are always getting shut out for clumsiness, for being silly, for not being like the adults. And here’s Jar Jar, a big character who is just like them. He’s a simple guy. He just wants to have breakfast. But he gets whisked off with these people doing things too big for him to understand. He’s exiled for clumsiness yet he saves them all.

There’s the beauty in the story of Jar Jar: Even the most annoying or incompetent individual has value. This is a message our modern world desperately needs to hear, as genocide against Down syndrome becomes increasingly the cultural norm, as teenage suicide skyrockets, as kids start to question their meaning in life at younger and younger ages.

If you hate Jar Jar, if you weren’t a young child when you first saw E1, I encourage you to just take a minute and put aside all your first impressions of the character. Sit down and watch the movie, if not with the innocence of a child, at least without the cynical assumptions of an old crank. Keep your eyes on Jar Jar as much as you can, every moment he’s on screen. I did this for the first time last week and was amazed. In the OT, Luke is the only one worth watching every second because he’s the only one who is always reacting, always doing something. Fisher and Ford both kind of check out when the scene isn’t on them. But Ahmed Best and Mark Hamill are always doing something worth seeing. I watched how he stands in the background, rocking on his feet, swaying his arms, blinking, looking at people . . . and I went, “Sweet Maker, I’ve been Jar Jar my whole life. Staring at people I don’t get doing things I don’t understand, wondering what I can possibly do to fit in or help.”

Again, I’m not some huge Jar Jar fanboy and I don’t think he should’ve been in Episodes II and III, but I have always loved this: after the whole movie of Jar Jar breaking things when he wants to help (title of my autobiography right there), he has the courage to speak to the QUEEN. Think about that. He doesn’t know that’s Padmé! It’s a stranger, the leader of the people who universally hate his people. It must’ve been the scariest moment of his life. And then his sincere attempt to make her feel better, because he has no racism and can’t stand seeing anyone sad, actually inspires her with a game plan to both rid her planet of invaders and unite it more powerfully than ever before. And get this . . . It works! He did it right! The whole final focus of the movie doesn’t so much celebrate banishing the invaders as it celebrates a world of united peoples. Because Jar Jar worked up the courage to do something. Awesome.

Now think about being a little kid seeing this for the first time, a little kid who gets pushed around at school, pushed aside at home, who’s always being told he’s too clumsy, the wrong shape, or not smart enough to do things. “Nobody talks like that,” “Nobody looks like that,” stuff every victim of bullying hears. And then this kid sees Jar Jar, nonthreatening, funny Jar Jar. This character who goes through all the same stuff this little kid does–but Jar Jar never loses his good attitude, he never gives up, and then he saves everybody.

Adults get too cynical about the PT. But I guarantee you Jar Jar changed some little kid’s life when they realized that no matter what people yelled at them, they could save the world. We’re still watching the people grow up who grew up with the PT, they’re only just now beginning to find their voice and move into the public square where the folks who grew up on the OT have dominated. I think once these full-saga kids are adults who start speaking for themselves, we’re going to hear a lot about this whole different perspective on the much-maligned Jar Jar.

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20 Year Anniversary

Posted in Spotlight with tags , , , on 13 November 2017 by Megan

Star Wars has always been one unified galaxy to me, one single saga told over a variety of mediums, all equal parts of the same body, all the undeniable history of a single place. The main reason for this is that I originally encountered all three branches of the saga–the Original Trilogy, the Expanded Universe, the Prequel Trilogy–within one year of each other–and that year, by and large, was 1997. So as I’m guessing you’ve heard me say once or twice over the last few months, this year is absolutely full of significant anniversaries for me.

Storytime!

November 12, 1997. I was twelve and, after seeing Star Wars for the first time ten months ago, I’d begun to consider “Star Wars fan” a foundation of my identity. Also foundational to my identity, “horsewoman.” I’d been taking riding lessons at a local horse farm over the summer and my mind was full of daydreams where I get my own horse, achieve horsemanship certification level 4, and eventually teach students how to ride like my idol, the woman who taught our class.

Anyway, in November, the horse camp offered an opportunity to local homeschooling families, an opportunity to come out during a week and spend a couple days during the off-season learning horse-care chores and, I guess, helping them get the place closed up for winter.

This time of year, Ohio becomes a blanket of gray. The sky is like a field of slate. Bare trees with gray trunks stab black branches into the heavy clouds. Even the earth in the empty farmland has a grayish cast. Snow isn’t uncommon, and I used to make jokes about “White Thanksgiving” when I was about this age. That week, temperatures were between 20-30 °F (average of -2 °C). It was dark long before dinner, and for some reason, I had gone upstairs to the bunk room before it was time to eat. I don’t know if I was just looking to get away from people or after something I’d left in my bag, but I found someone else sitting in the room.

“The House” at Marmon was an old, creaky building, and the girls’ bunk room was at the top of the stairs and to the right. There were bunk beds along both walls and a window at the far end. Sitting under this window was a girl named Megan who looked just like me only she didn’t have bangs. She was sitting on the edge of the lower bunk, hunched over, reading something. I caught sight of the raised foil lettering and before I could think, I exclaimed, rather than asked, “Is that a Star Wars book!”

It was Assault at Selonia. She let me hold it for a minute, but I could tell she was more focused on reading than anything else, so I handed it back and left. We sat together at dinner, though, and were inseparable for the rest of the trip. That night, I switched bunks with someone else so both Megan and I had top bunks with our heads together and I read my first EU book–her book, her flashlight, which we shared by reading one chapter before passing it back to the other.

I couldn’t have slept that night for anything. My brain was more fireworks than it had been after finishing Return of the Jedi back in February. I had known for some time there were books; I have no idea when or how I found this out, but I knew they were out there and I took it absolutely for granted they were equal status with the films. A novel set 14 years after Return of the Jedi may seem like an awkward starting place, but after all, A New Hope starts with a 20-year-old empire and plenty of unspoken backstory. I was ecstatic that Han and Leia had three kids. And one was (almost certainly) a hot, intelligent, awesome boy my own age! And hysterical that Han was being held prisoner and tortured by an evil cousin. Selonians were instantly fascinating. The galaxy had suddenly grown that much vaster and my brain could barely keep up with all the expanding territory.

Eventually, one of the chaperones scolded the Other Megan and I into keeping the light off, but I still doubt any sleeping actually took place. We were glued together through the next day, taking work assignments together and polishing dozens of saddles in a semi-heated room that would eventually become the camp gift store. We talked nonstop, mostly about Star Wars, but a few personal details crept in. We also played a game dubbed “Star Wars railroad,” which consisted of giving a Star Wars word that started with the same letter that the previous word ended with. i.e., Star Wars – Selonia – Anakin – Nien Nunb – Bakura. I described the day in my diary when I got home:

Elisa went home and I went to camp today. There were 3 Megans in our room. One Megan looks like me, dark hair and Eyes, and she’s my age, loves Star wars, has a dog named Abby, and rode Toby! She’s letting me borrow ‘Assault at Selona’. We soaped saddles then we oiled them. Toby wasn’t there. Rode Vandi.

Megan ultimately ended up being the source of my first dozen EU books, as we were both in a play that December (pictured), and then we went on to be in the same electricity class in the new year. We were both in chess and horseback riding, though not the same sessions, so we began trading letters. For a few years, we wrote letters regularly and called on weekends when cell phone minutes were free. The last time I really remember talking to her was the end of May 1999, when she was exuberant over having seen Episode I and I was wallowing in disappointment that I wouldn’t get to see it for a few more weeks.

Still, I have a box of letters in the closet, all signed “Megan ‘Han Solo'” and with the opening greeting, “Red Leader to Gold Leader.” (All mine to her began “Echo Five to Echo Seven.”) She made trivia cards and sent them to her; I made bookmarks. She also sent me clippings, stickers, and a Luke Skywalker poster I kept in my closet for years so no one would know I had it.

Ooh! Fun story about that Luke Skywalker poster. I had two closets in my room and one I considered “my office.” I used to shut myself up in it especially if my nieces were over and I wanted privacy. I actually slept in there one night my oldest niece was being a particular pain in my neck; I “locked” the door by tying a bathrobe sash to the knob and tying the other end to the shelf so she couldn’t get in. I had the mini-poster of Luke on the wall, not to mention a bunch of cozy blankets, and a plastic cart with three baskets in it where I could keep things. I can’t find a good picture of that bedroom, but it wasn’t big, not like a walk-in closet or anything. Just a regular clothes closet. I can’t believe there’s no pictures. Anyway…

The point of all that is, 20 years ago this very week, I read these words for the very first time:

And I knew, knew that being a Star Wars fan was inseparable from being a fan of the EU. The EU is Star Wars. Star Wars is the EU. To pretend otherwise would be like cutting one of the six movies from existence–like pretending to make movies without George Lucas–both incomplete and also a little obscene.

Really Is the Best

Posted in Spotlight with tags , , , on 9 November 2017 by Megan

In a day and age that makes it easy to take cheap shots at George Lucas, even while glorying in his imaginative creation, Ahmed Best tells it like it is in a refreshing change of pace.

Quotes to note:

“George Lucas really does things that he believes. He has an incredible conviction behind every decision that he makes. That’s not the way Disney does movies. Disney does movies in a way that has to please stockholders, and that has to please a wide swath of people, a huge general audience”;

and,

“I appreciate filmmakers who have that type of vision, I appreciate filmmakers who really go out on a limb and take a risk. With these new movies, these filmmakers are different. They’re not George Lucas.”

via Ahmed Best ‘wouldn’t change anything’ about The Phantom Menace

I Dream Of Star Wars

Posted in Fun with tags , , on 25 August 2017 by Megan

If your post about Star Wars diary entries inspires someone else to post about diary entries, and their post is about dreams and you’re inspired to do a post about Star Wars dream diary entries, is that inception? My head’s already buzzing and I haven’t even started!

Pretty much my whole life, I’ve always had extremely vivid dreams. I used to be able to remember them very clearly, but these days, not so much–and that’s not a discipline thing, because I used to automatically remember them and think about them all day, and over the last four years, even as I try to remember, I totally forget by the time I’m on my feet. Star Wars dreams, though, were this unattainable holy grail. I’ve barely ever dreamed about Star Wars, and it feeds one of my theories that if something is part of your conscious thinking, your unconscious won’t produce dreams about it. At least mine doesn’t. I fell asleep during The Omen and had a totally banal dream. And while I have had intense nightmares, including years of sleep paralysis, waking dreams, and exploding head syndrome, they’ve never been connected with anything going on with me.

This is why I can pretty much give you all the Star Wars dreams I’ve ever had, and hope you’ll find them as entertaining as I do, haha.

Tuesday, October 6, 1998

Dear Diary, I had a great SW dream last night. In the beginning; Luke Skywalker, Leia? and myself were solving puzzles so we could escape this locked door-room. 3 of the pictures were STAR WARS, (the puzzles were pictures with multiple choice guesses) I solved those. After we solved them, an ostrich like bird that kept appearing and dissapearing in different places came and said something like: “We thought you would solve them… that is why the… made it SEEM like you (?)…” I don’t remember the rest.

Then Darth Vader is there. He is laying down, Leia & Luke lean over him. Leia leaves. I am now only an observer. Luke and Vader both have lightsabers lit, Vader says “Luke, they told me I was going to kill you” or something. Luke and Vader lean close, or at least Luke does. They turn off their sabers. Darkness.

Now to Han Solo. He is wearing Scout Trooper armour. The helmet breaks. He rips it off, and says to Chewie. “It’s OK with me if you want to go fight those bird-things with the legs, but what the [hell] are you going to do now?” I woke up.

Notice with that one that even though Han very clearly said hell in my dream, scandalizing my innocent little brain incredibly, I wrote heck in my diary. Not because I thought anyone would ever see my diary or care, but because writing the word hell was just wrong. (Yeah, I didn’t start getting sweary for many years after that.) What’s really amazing about this one is I can still really vividly picture the green grass and Han in his Stormtrooper uniform on this alien planet.

(Between October. 6 and December. 3)

(2nd dream, after alarm). Another STAR WARS dream. Kari & I (and Dad, later) were at this one place. We got to rolls of prisoner-herd tape inside (it started as an advertisement for a STAR WARS Nintendo game). I said “we’ve got to get to Leia!” She (KJ) & Dad & I were trying to hide from Stormtroopers. I got lost (and separated) from them. There was a big room with a swimming pool lagoon. The water was green, it was shifty. There were also lots of plants. I heard Stormtroopers going by. I ran out and walked up to a man in charge. “Hi!” I said.

“Hello! Do you want to go out for coffee?”

“Have you found them yet?” I asked.

“Nope,” he said.

“Where would I be most likely to find them?”

“Down that way,” he pointed.

“Thank you. Thank you very much.”

I went down that way. Kari was talking to someone, then she turned around and said, “Oh, there you are! I was soo worried!” I told Dad I wanted a CD. We did a few more things, I almost got lost again and we were outside going somewhere. I woke up. Somewhere in here, Kari & I got some small, alien prisoners that disappeared by the end.

I have to admit, this one doesn’t read very well, but I loved it at the time because I felt kind of powerful flirting with the guy for information and/or to trick him. Again, it doesn’t read like that’s what happened, but that’s how it felt.

(Dream 1, before alarm) We were in a place. We saw a church play, and ate some kind of beef & vegetables, someone got burned. Obi-Wan was there every once in a while.

All I can say here is that for some reason, I didn’t write down that I was the one that got burned, and it was because my leg had fallen asleep and it woke me up with pins and needles. I have no idea why I didn’t record it that way.

As I mentioned earlier, I basically never dreamed about Star Wars, so here are a couple more one-offs I don’t really have anything to say about, but they’re entertaining:

Sunday, August 8, 1999 Dear Diary, I’m going to tell you about 3 dreams I’ve had lately about Star Wars: There was a poster girl thing-whoozit that was alive. I was trying to protect my Star Wars notebook that had a picture of Qui-Gon in it. I don’t really remember much more except that I was pretending to be dead & turned into a flat poster whoozit or something. I just remembered that I don’t remember the second. The one I just had just had me holding my notebook & I did something about Qui-Gon snoring.

Monday, August 9, 1999 Dear Diary, SW Dream. M & some people from E1 (Qui-Gon too) were in a Gungan sub going through the planet core. Then we saw Jar Jar Binks out there swimming and being chased by Opee sea killer, Qui-Gon goes out to rescue Jar Jar (of course!) and then they return to the bongo and we get out of there and have a picnic, where I’m Jar Jar and I started talking really high pitched. I said something like “Thank you for save my.”

Thursday, August 26, 1999 Dear Diary, Had another SW dream. Obi-Wan was there. He was in a little space-pod that was rattling around in some big ship. It was graspbed by some Sith dude whose name started w/G. He demanded to speak w/ “his master”, but Sith refused. Then “I” (I don’t know who “I” was) was with these other guys, Bossk was one of ’em, Boba Fett & some gal in Mandalorian Armor.

I also remember once having an insanely detailed dream of being partnered with Obi-Wan while we ran through these tunnels trying to find Xanatos, but I can’t find it in a diary anywhere. Weird!

A Lot of Special Modifications Myself

Posted in Fun, Spotlight with tags , , , , on 1 August 2017 by Megan

Consider this. The YT-1300 is not a spectacular ship. It’s a freight hauler, an intergalactic semi truck — and an outdated one at that. But what about Han Solo’s YT-1300, the Millennium Falcon, makes our hearts sing and pulses race with excitement?

Surely it’s what he tells Luke in the first minutes of A New Hope: “She may not look like much, but she’s got it where it counts. I’ve made a lot of special modifications myself.”

We love modifications. We love customization. The ubiquitous smartphone is personalized with skins outside and background images inside. And even the default choices for desktop backgrounds aren’t good enough; there are whole websites dedicated to gathering or even digitally creating backgrounds so we can express our individuality. We even alter functionality, using apps and add-ons based on our personal needs. Some tech geniuses even know how to make mechanical adjustments to their devices. And it’s not just our technology.

We customize our living spaces, applying paint and floor coverings to reflect our personalities. Pinterest is full of ideas on how to modify furniture, to turn old dressers into shelves, tables, chairs?! Do a search for “Ikea Hack” and find out how to add a personal touch to impersonal furniture. There’s no denying that human beings love to adjust things to fit.

Until, of course, you start talking about doing it to books.

Meet my Star Wars library. Like the Millennium Falcon, its appearance can be deceptive. You might think it doesn’t look like much, since I restrict my timeline to books set before the Hand of Thrawn Duology and refuse to buy or even read anything published after Disney’s purchase in 2012. But this library, like the Falcon, has it where it counts. I’ve made a lot of special modifications myself.

Before we explore those, though, I want to say a word about book modification. We take for granted the customization of our technological devices. Even body modification doesn’t earn a double take anymore. But if you announce that you write in your books, you’re stripped of your “book lover” status and thrown into the dark with those disturbed souls who use Readers Digest Condensed Books for craft projects or dog-ear pages instead of using a bookmark.

I took a quiz once about “What kind of reader are you?” and it said people who love their books read them while wearing gloves, never lend them out, never eat while reading–never do anything that would make them change from how they looked sitting on the shelf in the bookstore. Well, that’s a load of bantha poodoo. I love my books. I also write in my books. I eat while reading. And, by the way, gloves are tremendously bad for books! (Seriously. They’re dirtier than your hands and you’re far more likely to tear a page while wearing stupid gloves.) My books are my friends. Why should I ostracize them from my daily life just so they’ll “always look new”? A new-looking book is an unloved book, and that’s a fact.

Specifically about marginalia. I spent ten years as a Shakespearean researcher. Do you know that the untouched, pristine copies were the most useless? Sad books with uncut pages that nobody had ever read? I spent my research days poring over the editions full of marginalia, fingers pointing, angry ink dots, corrections, emendations, insults, exultations. Marginalia is how we anchor ourselves in eternity, hooking our thoughts onto a page that will last far longer than we will. I remember telling one of my nieces, “Always write your name in your books. That makes it special. That makes it yours.”

DSCN2156

And I’m in favor of writing far more than that. If it’s your book, I think you have a right to leave your thoughts on the page. So much the better if you can trade the book with a friend who’ll add theirs before giving it back!

Let’s get specific now. My Star Wars library has every type of modification. And I bet that you won’t even be able to tell a difference as we explore those modifications.

First, the obvious. I have made it my clear stance that I refuse to accept anything set after the Hand of Thrawn or anything published after Disney (except for Scoundrels, because Timothy Zahn earned that right). For me, all that stuff is heresy. It’s not the true Star Wars and I don’t want it in my house. Publishers, however, like to promote their wares wherever they can. Job one for my library was removing all those references: specifically, editing timelines that suggested post-VotF history and removing previews of books I consider offensive.

Next was the more complex job of editing the nonfiction works that posit post-VotF as history. The biggest example of this is The Essential Atlas, which I consider an essential resource, but its “Fate of the Jedi” content has always hindered me. This is the book that actually started me on this path. As you can see, though, the edits are almost entirely unobtrusive.

This kind of work is not difficult even if it is relatively tedious. When you understand how a book is put together, which I learned in Descriptive Bibliography (SLIS-S 684), it’s uncomplicated to excise without damaging or even leaving noticeable scarring. A good x-acto knife and rubber cement are essential. I use plain white glue to reinforce the binding where it’s been exposed. Be honest; you can’t even tell, can you?

In this way, I keep my collection healthy and whole. No compromise, one of my major tenets of love for Star Wars. But what of  the marginalia? You know, even the Star Wars books themselves promote marginalia, with the Handbooks series boasting handwritten notes by main characters.

My notes are chiefly cross-references–an occasion is mentioned in one book and I add a note for the page number and title of the book where the incident occurred. But the most entertaining notes, which I provide for your entertainment, are where I take the Original Trilogy novelizations to task for all their wrongheadedness. James Kahn, especially, writes an absurd adaptation full of unjustifiable nonsense. Thankfully it’s S-canon, but I still have a lot of fun writing saucy notes–and even more fun reading them later.

So there you have it! I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into my modified library — and that you’ll be more accepting of modified libraries in the future. After all, if people can get a tattoo because it’s special to them, why can’t I reorganize a few pages in a fictional encyclopedia?

My Heart Is an Imperial Occupied Zone

Posted in Fun, Reviews with tags , , , on 22 July 2017 by Megan

Or, Merry Christmas in July.

Anyone spending any amount of time on this blog should know by now that I am deeply loyal to the Empire. Not to Emperor Palpatine — who was a corrupt Sith Lord focused on himself and more concerned with gaining power than making the lives of Imperial citizens better — but to the Imperial system, which strikes me as the only viable, logical method of government for such a huge and diverse stretch of territory. I stand with Admiral Pellaeon in the pursuit of forming a bastion of the new order, a system focused on the citizen and resistant to the pettiness of easily-corrupt bureaucrats.

As such, I admire the boys in white, who keep our Empire safe. I salute the officers in their attractive, professional uniforms. I shun the old Republic and the frail senators creating civil war and dissidence in their quest, not to make lives better, but to get their old jobs and positions of power back. Pax Imperius!

So it was an obvious move when a friend gave me The Imperial Handbook for Christmas last year.

Now, The Imperial Handbook occupies a strange place. It was published in 2015 after Disney|Lucasfilm decanonized the EU. But it’s part of a series of handbooks that are squarely part of the EU. (Things like this are why Disney|Lucasfilm can’t even begin to grasp the magnitude of what they’ve done.) I’m not particularly acquainted with the history, such as whether it had already been completed by April 2014, but the rest of the series has been cast out by Discanon. It doesn’t contain anything from Discanon, and that’s all that matters insofar as marking it official “realcanon.”

The concept of the series is that they are meant to be in-universe reference guides, not unlike The Illustrated Star Wars Universe, containing information written from the point of view of characters with the intended audience of “other people who live in the GFFA.” This was ostensibly written by Imperial information services to be disseminated among officers of His Majesty’s Armed Forces. Of course there are lots of little things that break such immersion (officer’s handbooks aren’t usually dotted with attractive watercolor artwork, and at least one ship is mis-identified), but it’s cute and it’s fun and I accept the conceit.

It’s also been annotated by leaders of the rebellion, which allows me to dismiss certain errors in the text (such as an attempt to emphatically claim a government-sanctioned racist policy that could never exist in a galaxy like the GFFA). I just assume that the rebel leaders made their own edits before circulating it as propaganda among their own crew. Gotta make the boogeyman boogeyer if you expect those bright young pilots to die getting your position of power back!

Ultimately, the book is a valuable if somewhat shallow resource. It needs supplementation, but its bullet-point break downs of branches of service, visual outlines of rank, armor, equipment, and bonus essays by such figures as General Veers and Baron Fel make it invaluable. My library would be grossly incomplete without it, despite its few minor shortcomings.

Phantom Menace Day

Posted in Fun, Spotlight with tags , , , on 19 June 2017 by Megan
Or, “A Hypothetical Baby Born On the Day I First Saw The Phantom Menace Is Now Old Enough to Buy Cigarettes in the United States.”
Or, “I Feel Really Old, Oh, My Gosh, How Am I This Old.”
On May 19, 1999, t̶h̶e̶ ̶w̶o̶r̶l̶d̶ the US exploded with the sensation of “The Phantom Menace.” (The UK didn’t get E1 until July 14, which makes me feel better about the story I’m about to relate.) I only exploded with impatience, however, because I was 14 and my parents had declared I was “too interested” in Star Wars and therefore would have to wait to see it until it came to our small-town movie theater which typically got new releases five or six months after the general release.
The story of why June 19 is “Phantom Menace Day” in my mind can be traced through a series of increasingly frantic diary entries, which I thought would be entertaining to share with you, since 2017 is apparently the year of me sharing my decades-old diaries with the internet at large.
First, a few entries to set the mood:
“Tuesday, May 18, 1999. The thought of the day: IT’S COMING OUT TOMMOROW!!!! AGGGGGGGG! UNO DAY UNTIL ITS OUT IN THEATRES!! AGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG!”
“Wednesday, May 19, 1999. The thought of the day: Guess. SW: E1: PM IS OUT. I am SOO Psyched! It opened at midnight this morning. I am SOO dying to see it. M thinks it will be the same movie in June or July, but I don’t agree. It will be different and is liable to disappear if I don’t go see it NOW!”

“Thursday, May 20, 1999. It’s (SW:E1:PM) been out for a day. Nobody’s talking about it yet. I’m going to check the Urbana weekender this week to see when it hits Urbana or Bellefontaine or something. It isn’t fair I’ve got to wait 2 months for it to come to Urbana’s ‘small’ theatre. I want to see it NOW!”

“Wednesday, May 26, 1999. It’s been 1 wk since SW:E1:PM came.”

Offsetting the intense agony of the “no Star Wars until it comes to Urbana” announcement, my mom did buy me the Episode I Visual dictionary on June 16. It was a surprise because I hadn’t even known such a book existed, let alone asked for it, but it became my favorite possession and I spent the rest of 1999 taking it with me everywhere. (Well, not the bathroom. Books do not belong in the bathroom.)

By the way, that’s what eventually happens to a Star Wars visual dictionary that you carry with you everywhere for a year. The cover comes off and half the pages fall come apart.

I tried not to read any of the text so nothing would be “given away,” and the movie I came up with in my head based on the pictures is pretty amusing. Let’s just say that I thought Jar Jar was going to be a lot more “bad cop” than Buster Keaton.

So, maybe my parents had a point and I was “too interested” in Star Wars, because after a month of not seeing the movie, and only about thirty hours after getting the visual dictionary, my diary records an amusing descent into hysteria.

  • June 13, “Got my SW books (SWE1PM).”
  • June 14, “Jamie gave me a COOEL poster.”

To clarify, Jamie was a friend of my sister’s who was always giving me stuff for no discernible reason. Since she always took all my sister’s money, I suppose I could make a better argument that all the random Star Wars junk Jamie gave me actually came from my sister instead ;)

Anyway, this was the poster, the catalyst of the next few days:

Tuesday, June 15, 1999. I WANT TO SEE SWE1PM!!! This sucks. Put my poster up. I am so. . . something. I’m going to DIE if I don’t see E1PM this weekend. I feel ill.

Wednesday, June 16, 1999. I SOO have to see E1:PM this SATURDAY w/ Corey (Heather & Racheal have already seen it.) Racheal accidentally confirmed my suspicions that Qui-Gon Jinn gets killed. I DON’T KNOW HOW IN THE — I”LL BE ABLE TO WAIT UNTIL THIS WEEKEND TO SEE IT! IF I HAVE TO WAIT ONE — MORE WEEK, I AM GOING TO A) DIE, B) KILL SOMETHING. AGHWEWAK:HABSFPIUASFPIUADSFUJOQFQEGEFNEEOEGNO!!!!!!*

 *This particular diary was kept in a text file on the computer so these kinds of outbursts were made just slamming the keyboard…also you can tell I was just holding Shift down because of double quotes for apostrophes…

Friday, June 18, 1999. The thought of the day: It’s Friday. Like DUH. But tomorrow is Saturday, and I’m going to see E1 on Saturday, no matter what. So today I have to be agreeable, and do what I’m told so mom won’t have a reason to keep me home.

Several hours later…

Today was bad. M threw a fit over my poster. Really stressed out. Seeing E1PM tomorrow. I will NEVER get rid of my SW things, not ever. I just LIKE IT.

Ah, teenagers.

No suspense necessary. The very subdued next entry for June 19 was “Saw E1PM.” I must have begged, bribed, and/or cajoled my sister into taking me to the movie theater in Bellefontaine (a mere 3 miles further than the one in Urbana). I remember I wore a yellow tank top and a bead necklace; she sat with her arms crossed for most of it and I cried my eyes out when Qui-Gon died. For some reason, I didn’t write anything about it until June 24, “Its one of the MOST AWESOME movies I’ve ever seen.”

What else can I say? That’s June 19 for me. The day I saw The Phantom Menace for the first time. And it was 18 years ago. Oh my lord. We all got very, very old somehow, didn’t we…