Once a Dork, Always…

If anyone suspects that age has eroded my “nerd” credentials, I have receipts from Circuit City proving that I purchased the Star Wars Trilogy DVDs and Star Wars: Battlefront (for X-Box) at around 1:30 p.m. yesterday. (For those who have no cultural awareness on such important subjects, both of these items appeared in stores for the first time yesterday).

Our entire family watched the 10 minute preview of Episode III last night. I’ve got to say that it looks very dark and very cool, all at once.

As we watched the preview, I was struck (not for the first time) by the impression that George Lucas is a really good storyteller. He understands and creates mythology as well as anyone in American pop culture. The special-effects laden space opera is intriguing and fun to watch. But the questions Lucas poses in his story are even more interesting: How do good people become evil people? Why do large governments and empires become corrupt and collapse? Why is power so easily abused? Should a person ever be forbidden to (romantically) love or to marry? When people are truly evil, can they be redeemed (despite what Yoda says)? Should a person honor an oath that is given to another, even when they develop subsequent reservations about whether it is the right thing? What would have happened to Anakin if he had simply been left alone, rather than taken from his mother and home and made into a Jedi? Would he have risen to bring freedom to the Republic without his detour down the dark side? Was it really necessary that he become part of the human “system” for maintaining order, or did the “system” only make him all the more vulnerable to the corrupting influences of pride and arrogance?

Say what you like about Lucas’ screenwriting and directing skills, and his over-reliance on special effects (and many do), but I will always have a great love for this story about the fall (and return) of Anakin Skywalker.

On a related note (related only in the sense that it is another experience that has me reflecting about life “back in the day”), I have been having a blast reading through two collections of comic strips from Berkley Breathed’s Outland during the last few weeks. I had pretty much lost track of Breathed since Bloom County drew itself to a conclusion more than ten years ago, and I have been happy to discover that his witty social commentary remains sharp as ever and that his characters remain as cute and as innocent as ever. One glance at Opus (his most well-known character, who is an overly impressionable penguin) in his twirly-hat and I was grinning from ear to ear.

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