The Guest Geeks feature here on Geek Notes has been on a bit of a hiatus lately, it’s true. But it’s now back with a vengeance because I’ve got John Adams of Seattle’s Super Awesome Geek Show here with a three-part guest post! The topic? Well, if you’ve ever paid attention to this guy’s tweets or blogging, you can probably make a pretty good guess, and with a certain blockbuster movie trailer tantalizing us all into wishing it were December right freaking now, there really can’t be a better time for this topic.
Take it, John!
What Star Wars Means to Me
I was in the store isles the other day hunting for Star Wars toys and saw a bunch of kids running around all excited and yelling for their dad, “Star Wars! Dad, I want a Star Wars toy! … Look, they have Rebels on DVD! Can we get it, dad!?”
Seeing the excitement of those children and the spark in their eyes when they saw what little was left in the toy isles brought a smile to my face and warmed my heart. The next generation is just as enthralled with this magical world George Lucas created, as I was when I was a kid, and it got me thinking about what Star Wars means to us all. Why does this resonate so much with children of the 70s and 80s as well as the kids of today? What is it about Star Wars that holds a special place in my heart, something no other movie or film series has ever done? Why does Star Wars mean so much to me?
This may sound strange to some, but I know a lot of you out there will get where I am coming from when I say – Star Wars is more than just a movie to me. It’s more than just an adventure through a galaxy far, far away, more than just a good space opera, more than a bunch of strange characters trying to save the universe from even stranger characters. For me, it hits on a more personal level. Star Wars has meaning.
I was born in 1973, which means I was 4 years old when Star Wars hit the big screen. My god-father had seen this awesome film when he was on a trip and told my father that he should take me to see this amazing picture. It was my mother who finally took me, as most moms in that day did. She tells me that it was the first movie she took me to where I didn’t try to get up and run around, want to go home or just plain fall asleep in the theatre. She says that I tried to get up a few times before the film started and was fidgety, as usual, but then that music started and I looked up during the main crawl. When that Star Destroyer flew over the top of all our heads, I was hooked! She said I sat there at the edge of my seat the whole time with my jaw to the floor in awe. I was quiet the whole movie. When it ended and she asked how I liked it, I said just one thing, “Can we go again!?” She took me twenty-three times.
All of my first memories as a child are of Star Wars. As I said above, it was the first movie that really grabbed a hold of me. To this day, I am an artist, and the first drawings I ever made as a kid were of Tie-Fighters and X-Wings battling it out. The first time I connected with my new baby brother was through Star Wars, and my first best friend was made while playing with the Star Wars toys.
I can remember coming downstairs and seeing Joey there with his glass jar full of Star Wars figures waiting to play out scenes from the movie on our living-room floor. Joey and I would spend hours inside in the winter and outside in the summer playing Star Wars and playing with our action figures. We also just loved it when we were invited to the neighbors’ house. Eric was a bit older than us and he had ALL the toys, play-sets and vehicles set up on shelves in his room, Joey and I would just walk around his place with our eyes popped out of their sockets just looking at everything and dreaming of the day when we would have all these toys. Of course we were never allowed to touch. Heheh.
Star Wars was more than just a few good memories; it was also a place where I could go that was safe and comfortable. When I look back with the understanding and awareness of an adult, I now realize that I had some trauma in my childhood life, and Star Wars was always there for me when I needed a place to escape. My mother had always wanted to live in the country and work a farm so, when I was 6 going on 7, we moved away from the suburban life and into the country we went. I had to leave behind my best friend.
I was not aware of it at the time, but now as an adult, I can see that I felt lost and alone without my best friend there beside me. It was as if Han Solo had lost Chewie. The team was broken up. I remember sitting in the front porch with the shag-yellow carpet that was popular in the 70s and playing with all the cantina aliens. I could escape with these toys and they could be my friends. Friends that would never have to leave my life and would always be there with me. Incidentally, it was this yellow-shag carpet that ate my blaster pistol for Walrusman. I remember looking around the carpet for ages trying to find it after I had lost it. My mom most likely vacuumed it up, but I remember every time I was in that front porch playing, I would spend some time looking for that missing weapon.
Eventually Star Wars would bring me to another best friend – someone who remains a good friend to this day – Marty. I had a hard time making new friends in this new neighborhood as a 7 year old just wandering the country streets and hoping to meet new kids to play with. Most all of the neighbor kids already had an established group and as we all know, kids can be a bit harsh, so I got chased out of more than one yard with the kids going “Get out of here, new kid!” But, then there was Marty.
Marty was a few years older than me, but not by much. He was also new to the neighborhood and to my surprise, he let me in his yard and there in his hand was a Darth Vader carrying case! Star Wars was back! Marty and I would play Star Wars in his front yard or mine and we could build elaborate secret bases for the Rebels out of the stones in his yard or the snow piles in mine. All year long, we would play Star Wars outside in the many, many acres of land surrounding each of our farms recreating scenes from Tatooine or Hoth.
My parents eventually divorced when I was 10 going on 11. I think my brother and I went inward around this time and one of the few things that was there and stable in our lives was Star Wars. Return of the Jedi came out while this was going on and the movies once again sparked our imagination and gave us a place to escape during all the drama and turmoil in our lives. Nothing seemed solid or steady, nothing except Star Wars. Here was another movie to keep the imagination going. And, through Star Wars, we had each other.
My brother had an X-Wing and I had my Tie-Fighter. We would chase each other around the farm-house blasting at each others ships taking turns who was chasing who. We would literally throw our ships when they got shot down. Mine usually went into the bushes for a softer landing, but my brother made his shoot up into the air and crash solidly onto the ground – eventually breaking off all the wings. Heheh. Those are some of the fondest memories I have; me, my brother and Marty playing Star Wars. I think Star Wars was the first place where my brother and I bonded.
As we all do, we eventually got older and things started to change. Marty and I reached the age of 16 and I got a car. The NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) and other video games came out and took hold of me and my friends almost as strong as Star Wars. The Wars were no longer around and it looked as if there would never be another movie, so it took a back seat to other interests, such as the NES, girls and partying late into the night. There we some nights where I swear we never slept. We would drive around meeting new people in new towns and places closer to the city and spend all night roaming the streets with new friends and interesting people. My brother often tagged along and eventually all our friends kind of melded together. Our only rule, when growing up in our teenage years, was to be home before our father woke up for work. Sometimes we would be scrambling in the door and running up the stairs to skirt into our rooms just in time for him to check before he went off to work.
I never really connected with my father until I was around 18 or 19 years old. He told me later in life, that he just did not understand us boys. He never got why we loved these movies, comic-books and toys so much, so he just could not relate to us. His business and money-oriented mind just didn’t get the geek culture that was sprouting up all around him.
But it was my father that eventually brought Star Wars back into my life…
Watch for part two of three of John’s post, coming soon to Geek Notes!
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A starving artist and photographer, John Adams produces and hosts the Super Awesome Geek Show podcast. John is also co-owner Mowich net LLC and owner of the Kingdom Of The Geeks eBay store. He fought in the battle of Yavin and still remembers where he was the day Optimus Prime fell to Megatron. Email him at SuperAwesomeGeekShow@gmail.com.