I got my butt kicked yesterday in Pong. Yes, in Pong. By my 9 year old. It was his first time ever picking up the controllers on a video game. It all started when I decided that an Atari Flashback 6 would be an ok video game system for my kids. He skunked me. That's right. He didn't even appreciate how bad the joysticks (still) are or that you really should have the paddles to play the game.
I believe the last time I played Pong was 82 or 83. As I was secretly brooding over my defeat I noticed the copyright date, 1978. That date got me to thinking and started a flash back of my own.
I had decided to not see the new Star Wars movie. I made my mind up to avoid it, even though my son had started "hinting" about the movie. That's when I remembered Christmas of 1977.
Christmas day that year was the best Christmas of my young life. I got a X-Wing fighter, a Luke Skywalker action figure and assorted other Star Wars stuff. It rocked!
By 1977 I had been to see other movies with my parents. I remember seeing the Love Bug movies in the drive in. Mom would pop enough popcorn to fill a paper grocery sack and cover it in butter and salt. We would take a big thermos of Kool Aid. Life was good. The first week after school got out in June of 77 something wonderful happened. My dad and Mr. Hilliker took me and Willie to the movies in Pinconning. All I remember was how excited I was to get to go to the movies. I had no idea what we were going to see.
It was awesome! I loved the movie. Star Wars was all me and my friends talked about. It was what we played. We theorized and philosophized about the force and the dark side. We knew Luke was going to avenge Obi Won's death. We couldn't wait for the next movie.
Wait we did. Three whole years we waited. Then in 1980 my father begrudgingly took me to see the Empire Strikes back. I say begrudgingly, he was out of work. The Carter years had taken full effect on the Auto industry. Still I got to go see the movie in the theater. I don't know what was worse feeling like dad was spending money we didn't have on a movie, or learning that Darth Vader was Luke's father.
By the time 1983 rolled around and Return of the Jedi came out, I was older, wiser and I could secretly relate (at least in my mind) about the universal truths hinted at in the movie. I don't remember if my dad took me to that movie. We had moved to another town by then. Still my new group of friends loved Star Wars as much as I did.
We still sort of played Star Wars then. We would ride our bikes around (none of us had cars yet) and make cracks about having a Tie Fighter on your tail. With the advent of VHS we would latter have Star Wars sleepovers at each other's houses and watch all three movies back to back. Seems to me that some of that nonsense may have continued into college too.
The Star Wars prequels were an extreme let down. I wasn't going to see any more of the franchise, because Jar Jar sucked. Lucas should give back everyone's ticket money after those movies. What was he thinking anyway?
What was he thinking? What was I thinking? If I was 9 years old again and Star Wars was coming to my town again, I'd HAVE TO SEE IT! I would. I. Would. Have. To. See. It. If elementary school aged me, could time travel, he would kick middle aged me right in the butt for not seeing Star Wars. What's worse, I'd deserve it. So I got online, ordered the tickets and took my son.
IT ROCKED! It was cool. There was lots of action. Space ships blowing up. Light Saber fights. Friendships formed out of a common goal. They even had some of the old cast back.
Was the story line the same? Who gives an airborne rodents posterior! How many good guys verses bad guys plots can you come up with anyway? It was cool! They shot stuff with lazar blasters and had lots of explosions. Han still loves Leia. Chewy is as loyal a friend as any wookie can be. The aliens were weird and mysterious and mostly spoke something other than English. There were some classic one liners, "rescue first, hugs latter" and allusions to the first movie.
If you can't find magic and mystery in the younger generation holding out Luke's old light saber to him, pleading for him to comeback and take up the fight anew, you have no soul. You are too old, too jaded and too out of touch with your inner 9 year old.
"Dad, this was the best Christmas ever", my son told me. Yeah, it was pretty good. Better even than 1977, because I got to see Star Wars through his eyes. Oh, and I've avenged myself several times on the Atari since yesterday.