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Bring Me Jango
2002-04-29 17:38:57


Cackles of the Mad Reverend
 
I like my brains mushy, not crisp, with a liberal helping of gravy over it.
-- Head Freezin' Gene

 

In which the Rev waxes nostalgic about "The Star Track," and we get some valuable insights into the youthful origins of everyone's favorite Pigdog columnist.

Call me dense, but it was only the other day when I realized that this summer marks the 25th anniversary of "Star Warsí" release. Maybe itís because I donít tune in to network television that I missed the Fox media barrage that has the first four installments running all next week. (I only caught the tail end of the re-touched "Empire Strikes Back" last night.) I kind of expected that the mass media rags I sometimes leaf through during extended stays on the toilet would have featured some kind of remembrance by now, but Time (which features Yoda on the cover this week) had a modest footnote of Vaderís cover shot back in í80, and no mention at all of the anniversary despite an 8-page gushing ode to the new "Episode II".

I was seven when the whole thing happened. Still a gangly soon-to-be-third-grader in the steel mill-ensconced town of Niles, OH, I happened to be at the community swimming pool when my two best friendsí parents started telling my folks all about the dazzling space epic. My dad asked me if Iíd heard of the film yet, and when I answered "no," he encouraged me to drill my friends about what theyíd seen. Three days later, I stepped out of the theater forever changed.

Never mind the closet full of action figures, lightsabers, blasters, assorted space ships and droid factories Iíd later accrue. Nor the voluminous collection of "Starlog" and other fanboy mags that strained the three lower levels of my bookshelf. Or even the life-long idolization of Han Solo (and you all wondered just where my Mauser Broomhandle fixation came from!). What remains the greatest thing about the series is the fact that "Star Wars" and its progeny made movies cooler than they had ever been before.

If you were as bored as a kid as I was in Ohio, you lived for shit like the original "Flash Gordon" serial, old "Star Trek" reruns, and the adventures of the hopelessly lost folks on Moonbase Alpha ("Space 1999"). Cool as many of these things were, their effects ranged from the preposterous to the sort-of believable. (The latter was especially true of "Space 1999," on which one of the key effects guys for "Star Wars" worked before joining the Lucas kids in California.) But with the flash of a blaster, things got exponentially better. After "Star Wars" came an entire cavalcade of fantasy, horror, and sci-fi flicks on which model-making, creature-animating, and set-painting uber-geeks toiled just so that our suspension of disbelief was hardly stressed. And Allah love them for that.

Back inside the "Star Wars" world, is there anyone out there who doesnít think Boba Fettís armor is the coolest thing this side of King Arthurís suit? Christ, a flame thrower, poison darts, a jet pack, a compressed-air lanyard, an auto-sighting helmet, and those nasty toe spikes on the boots? Fuck, man, give me six of them! Even though he had Solo frozen and later attempted to off that swishy Luke, you know you always had a grudging admiration for the stoic, focused, fearsome dude who made Vader look as threatening as Sonny Bono.

Me, I would have nuked the Ewoks. Teddy bears in a "Star Wars" movie? Ugh. You donít even have to look that closely to read Harrison Fordís "Iím going to strangle my agent for getting me into this," expressions. Why couldnít the whole thing have taken place on the Wookie home world, where Chewie could have hooked up with some of his old homies for a bash that would have been truly out of this world? Maybe the whole seventies "Bigfoot" thing had run out of steam by then.

After the lameness of "Episode I," I sort of purposefully steered clear of the whole phenomenon, hoping that my ignorance would allow for a kind of gleaming, jeweled surprise when the next installment landed down the street at the Megaplex. However, I stayed so far out of the loop that I now have another childhood idol, Spider-Man, arriving at the same time. Holy double-header, Batmanó-I might just have to take a few hits of Acid and spend an entire Saturday bouncing from one screen to the other, basking in the fantastic legacy of George Lucasí vision and revolutionary crafting. Especially when Bobaís old man, Jango, has such a prime role and when I also get to see Yoda shed that Shaolin wisdom bullshit and uncork a tall-boy of lightsaber whupass, while on the other screen Willem DaFoe tosses pumpkin bombs and sheds the town astride his goblin glider. Happy Anniversary, indeed.

Over.  End of Story.  Go home now.

dabble@pigdog.org


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