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Archive for May 4th, 2014

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On a warm morning in May of1980 I was living in Sacramento, California. My kids were 11 and 9 at the time. (The same ages Sam and Cj are now.) Because I considered it a prime duty to raise them right, I kept them out of school, knowing the experience gained that day would resonate for decades longer than a lesson in long division.

 

The day grew hotter as we stood in a very long line for a very long time, but we’d prepared well, had plenty of water and no shortage of amusement in the queue.

 

The venue was the Century Complex. The event, the first showing of “The Empire Strikes Back”.

 

The film, of course, was brilliant. It introduced us to Yoda and we exited with our heads full of deep meaning, confusion and lines that within days had been grafted on to daily conversation.

 

“THAT is why you fail.”

 

“There is no try.”

 

“Luke! It’s a trap!”

 

“I love you.” “I know.”

 

My brother was in New York, so had seen the movie a few hours before the time had come on the west coast. He’s a ‘no spoiler’ kind of guy, so kept mum, but was chomping at the bit to share the experience and waiting by the phone for a call from us to rehash what we’d just seen.

 

New York audiences, being a bit more elaborate in their reactions, were not holding back, and my bro was most impressed with the reaction to the penultimate scene:

 

<Darth Vader: No, I am your father.

 

NYC audience: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

 

There was about an hour of long distance back-and-forth over what various plot twists and hints might mean for the next installment … Who did Yoda mean when he told what was left of Obi Wan, “… there is another”? Was Vader lying? Would Lando and Chewy find Han? Would they someday be making “Han Solo-incased-in-carbonite coffee tables”?</a> (Okay, that one didn’t occur to any of us until decades later.)

 

Yes, all those questions were answered in a follow-up that included Ewoks, but it took some time for that to happen. In between that then and the then that was walking out of the movie on that day in May made movie-making history and changed the culture of imagination forever.

 

That is why on this day, I say:

May the 4th be with you …

 

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