Ten years ago, I was:
Twenty-eight years old, working at The Orlando Sentinel.
Living in Orlando with my wife and daughter and our first house.
Still a relatively new dad. Kelsey was on the verge of turning two. And yes, at the time we couldn't believe how fast she was growing, and yes, now that she's closing in on the last of her pre-teen years, I'm even more floored.
Absolutely ridiculously dorktastically geared up for a whole brand new Star Wars movie!!!! (And yes, spoiler-free, baby, SPOI - LER - FREEEEE! Woohoo!) Oh, man, this was totally going to rockrockROCK!
We all know what happened next. But despite the many, many flaws in Episodes One, Two and Three, I'm still emotionally attached to the Prequel Era because so much of my enjoyment of the saga over the past decade has had, really, very little to do with the movies themselves. It's been about things like road trips to Star Wars Celebration in Indianapolis, getting to meet people who worked on the original trilogy, watching my daughter grow to enjoy the movies,and summer cookouts with friends where we watch our kids fight with foam-noodle lightsabers.
And this was a fun thing to explore in "Collect All 21!" - here's an excerpt:
I was working in the Sentinel’s ad dummying department by the time the buzz was building over the first new Star Wars movie in 16 years.
I’d read a fair amount of speculation about the movie – my buddy Ivan and I once mailed each other copies of the Entertainment Weekly issue with an article about Ewan MacGregor as Obi-Wan, neither of us having any clue the other was chucking the same thing in the mail – but when it got closer, I decided to stay spoiler-free, limiting myself to the occasional sterile Lucasfilm-issued statement or picture.
Which means that by the time The Phantom Menace teaser trailer showed up online, I was hungry for it. I downloaded it onto my workstation the first chance I got, and it took me a bunch of tries because the connection kept timing out or locking up.
When the words “Every generation has a legend” appeared, I actually felt a lump in my throat. God, yes: Every generation – my generation – and this was our legend, returning to the big screen...
I watched it over and over and over. I downloaded a screensaver program that would play it silently on my desktop when I wasn’t there, and I’d come back to find people hovering at my cubicle. The paper’s movie writer asked how we could get the file up to his computer since it was too big to send through the office email system.
When they showed it on the local evening news, I videotaped it. I may not have known what to make of it, but I had the thing memorized within days.
When the second trailer came out and debuted on “The Today Show,” I videotaped that one, too. And grabbed it for the work computer. And when my brother-in-law and I went to see The Matrix, we called ahead to make sure we were catching a showing with the Episode I preview attached.
That spring, my friend Jim went to the first Star Wars Celebration in Denver. He said it was a rain-sopped, poorly-planned crowded mess – and he had a blast anyway, so I was jealous as hell.
In the mornings, Jenn left for work before I did. I’d get Kelsey ready to go to her grandma’s and drop her off on my way in to the Sentinel. She was a little over a year old, and we made a habit of watching the two videotaped Phantom Menace trailers every day as we sat on the carpeted step between our dining room and our living room putting on our shoes.
One day, either before or after this little ritual, I quoted part of the trailer out loud to myself: “Wipe them out. All of them.”
And my daughter, without hesitation, delivered the follow-up line: “Nooooooooooooo!”
It was gorgeous. Not even two yet and already quoting Star Wars. That moment alone is worth the price of the Prequel Era.
Two seconds after re-reading those last two sentences, I just watched my daughter head out the door for another day of middle school. In her bookbag is a permission slip I was asked to sign last night allowing her to watch a movie in class for a unit they're studying.
It's Star Wars.