Thursday, May 25, 2017

Part Two: Memories of Star Wars Episode IV--or, Yes, Han Solo Shot First!

Today is the day that changed everything, guys. 40 years ago on this day, a movie opened that not only brought a new level of excitement the moribund (look that word up, guys!) movie industry but also into the lives of boys everywhere. I'm talking, of course, about Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. Today, the Iron Guy will talk about his memories of seeing that movie. (and, believe me, boys, it DOES seem like "A long time ago")

Here's the poster for that first one-notice that it doesn't say "A New Hope"
Let me give you a little background. First, the Iron Guy has been a sci-fi fan for a long time---in fact, ever since he was a fifth-grade Iron Boy. That was when a librarian pointed me to the fiction shelves
(I had been reading only nonfiction at the time--which is a phase a lot of boys go through) and I found a copy of The Spaceship Under the Apple Tree by Louis Slobokin and was thoroughly hooked. I read a few other sci-fi and fantasy books as well as DC and Marvel comics over the years and watched the original Star Trek as it came on but there was very little sci-fi to read and extremely little to watch, especially at the movies. And the few sci-fi movies that came along were terrible. So imagine how excited I got when I heard that a new sci-fi movie was the biggest hit in the nation!

Secondly, in 1977 the movie industry was in a real slump. There were a lot of, what a friend called, "Life Stinks" movies--depressing grownup movies about how life is no good. Movies were no fun. Plus, I grew up with a lot of BIG movie theatres. There were old movie palaces that showed films on ginormous screens that made going to a movie a grand and special event. But they all started closing up around 1975 because there weren't any good movies. 

Doesn't this sound like Han Solo?
THEN--out of the clear blue came this FUN movie that imitated the style of the old Flash Gordon movie serials of the 1930's. There was action! Amazing (for the time) special effects! A wise-cracking princess with a blaster! A cynical semi-criminal with a heart of gold, like Humphrey Bogart in Casbalanca. (have you seen that one, guys? PS--I got this link from Tumblr)) And, in the best tradition of the old movies, the bad guys wore black and the good guys wore white. Everyone was excited about seeing it.

Including the Iron Guy. I went with a friend,  another sci-fi fan, one afternoon a week or two after it opened. And it was indeed fun. Of course, part of the enjoyment for me was predicting what would happen. Having read a lot of comics, I knew that this movie was like a big comic-book story and I knew how the story would go. I knew the bad guys would blow up Alderaan even when they said they wouldn't. I knew Darth Vader would strike down Obi-Wan and, when Luke was making his last approach through the trench, I said to myself, "A disembodied voice will come out of nowhere and tell Luke to use the Force." and sure enough...

But it was great fun. In fact, we enjoyed it so much that, when it was over, we looked at each other and said, :Let's see it again!" So we did. We stayed in our seats and waited until the next showing and saw it all over! Yes, that wasn't the most honest thing to do and I wouldn't do it again today (besides, they wouldn't let you) but things were a lot looser in those days and guys did it fairly often. In the end, by gong to see it with other friends, I saw that movie 10 times within a month! Whew! Of course, I've been a huge fan ever since. As a lot of guys have been, still are and will be for a long time. 

So that's my memory. Thanks for letting me talk for such a long time. Why don't YOU share your memories of seeing this terrific movie? Write something in the Comments section.
PS--This movie wasn't called "A New Hope" until many years later.
PPS--and in the original version--that I saw 10 times--Han Solo DID shoot first!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Part One--Memories of Star Wars Episode IV

Hey, guys, tomorrow is the day!! On May 25, 1977 the first Star Wars movie opened, so, in honor of that momentous event, the Iron Guy is devoting a few days to posting memories from different guys about the first time they saw Star Wars Episode IV.
The original Star Wars poster
Today we have a treat. Not just one but two great guys will tell us about seeing the movie the first time. Our first memory is from Mr. Lee Keesler, the CEO of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library and a truly cool guy.

Mr. Keesler
In 1977 I was one year removed from college and headed to MBA school.  I remember vividly seeing the first Star Wars movie in the theatre.  I developed a short-lived mini-crush on Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia) which was later extinguished when she tried to take out Jake and Elwood Blues with a bazooka strike under the EL tracks in Chicago (Blues Brothers).

I was impressed with the creativity of R2D@ and C3PO, and the dark genius of James Earl Jones’ voice of Darth Vader.

Finally, I was taken with the role of O-bi-Won-Konobi and have used him as a metaphor many time in professional settings.

While not its biggest fan, Stars Wars served to bring me back to the movies in my 20s.  The fact that it lives and thrives today is evidence of its cinematic excellence.   

Oh, yes, nobody sounds as menacing as James Earl Jones! O-bi-Wan really is a good role model but I prefer Yoda because he is not only wise and handy with a light saber but he can also  lift an X-wing star ship out of a swamp and talk in backwards sentences.

Mr. Singleton
The next memory is from Mr. David Singleton, another very cool guy and the Director of Libraries for our system.

I saw the first Star Wars movie in 1978, as a freshman in college at UNC-Chapel Hill.   There were still long lines at the theater on Franklin Street more than a year after the first release.   From the first few frames, I was hooked on the characters and the story, and the special effects were truly awe-inspiring for the time.   I saw the film two more times in less than a week!    May the Force be with you! 

The Force is always with the Iron Guy! Wow, seeing three times in a week. Pretty impressive!. (the Iron Guy has a similar memory that he'll talk about tomorrow) Thank you both for sharing your stories. 

 How about YOU out there? Do you have any memorable memories of seeing this movie? Leave it in the Comments section below and I'll post them. 

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Great Star Wars Movies Dispute

The Iron Guy enjoys stirring things up now and then. Being the MANLY MAN that he is, he does not flinch at expressing an opinion now and again that may stoke the fires of differing opinions. In the summer of 2011, he started The Great Harry Potter Controversy. In October of that same year, he burned up the blogosphere with The Great Greg Heffley Debate. In that same spirit, he's going to present a couple of questions that may have people all over the blogging world either stand up and cheer on the tops of their houses in agreement with or sit up all night choking on their frustrations with my unbelievably silly and ill-informed opinions. Either way, I want to hear what YOU think about these two questions:

Are the Prequels just OK or are they really good or are they enormous embarrassments to the Star Wars universe?

Now everyone knows what I mean by the Prequels, right? They are Episodes I, II and III of the Star
Wars saga. In other words, The Phantom Menace, The Attack of the Clones and The Revenge of the Sith. Some people think they're really good and other think they are terrible. Those in the second group say these movies have rotten acting, superficial characters and a lot of mindless action. People in the first group  say, "Who cares about all that? We enjoy the movies!" I've never met anyone who had a neutral opinion. Those who don't like them don't just mildly dislike them, they hate them! To show what I mean, I saw a sign on the back of a car once that said, in Star Wars letters, "What prequels?" The Iron Guy doesn't fall into either camp, though. I enjoyed The Phantom Menace all right--didn't love it or hate it, just thought it was OK. It did have a lot of superficial characters and mindless action but at least it wasn't boring. I liked the second movie much more and the third was so good that it made the other two better. So what do you think? Were the Prequels a big waste of time? Were they great? Or just OK?

Is The Force Awakens the best of all the Star Wars movies?

Ooohhh, boy, I bet this will start some arguments! It's like asking a random group who their favorite sports team is or if Michael Jordan or LeBron James is better. People will argue that stuff for days. Same thing with Star Wars. Everyone has a favorite movie and can tell you lots of reasons that particular one beats all the others. Well, for years I always said The Empire Strikes Back was the best but, after The Force Awakens, I may have changed my mind. Yes, it's basically the same plot as Episode IV but it has a lot more going on. And I don't mean just the action, either, although there was plenty of that! Rey's mysterious background, Kylo Ren's conflicted nature and Han Solo's fate grabbed hold of me in a way that none of the other movies did. Did that happen to you, boys? Or to you, grownups? Maybe or maybe not. But I could also add that the action, the effects and the humor were every bit as good in this movie as in the others--and I think they were even better! So that could mean this is the best of the bunch. What do YOU think? Leave your comments under this post and don't be shy!

(PS, if you'd like to see what people said in the Harry Potter Controversy or the Greg Heffley Debate, click on those labels under this post)

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Two Very Cool Star Wars Books

Greetings, guys and Star Wars fans everywhere! It seems that the Iron Guy has devoted the month of May to the saga of the galaxy far, far away. And why not? The movies are full of what guys love--Adventure! Blasters! Good Guys chased by Bad Guys! Space Battles! Not to mention strange-looking aliens, light sabers and lots of things that blow up. Well, there are lots of Star Wars books that have all this as well. Here are a couple that I've read lately and liked a lot.

Star Wars Smuggler's Run: A Han Solo and Chewbacca Adventure by Greg Rucka

OK, how could you not like a book that features this wise-cracking guy who's always one step ahead of trouble and his big, shaggy companion? In this story, which takes place right after the Battle of Yavin (when the Death Star was blown up), Princess Leia sends a reluctant Han Solo on a mission to retrieve a man who knows the location of the next Rebel base before the Empire captures him. But when Han arrives on the planet, not only is the Empire there but also a bunch of bounty hunters looking for the money for his capture! Can even Han Solo get away from both of them? This was a terrific read that kept me turning the pages. And it has a great villain that I wish would show up in a movie,

Star Wars: The Force Awakens by Michael Kogge; based on the screenplay by Lawrence Kasdan, J.J.
Abrams and Michael Arndt

Didn't you just LOVE this movie?? Yes, yes, yes!! It had everything we enjoyed about the original Star Wars trilogy while breaking new ground. This book is a faithful retelling of the movie and, even if you know the story backwards and frontwards, it doesn't get boring. It's like hearing a favorite song all over again. I enjoyed reliving Finn and Po's crash landing, Rey and Han Solo escaping Jakku in the Millennium Falcon and and Hux and Kylo Ren meeting the Supreme Leader. (which leaves me with the question I had from the movie--is Kylo Ren really a villain or just a big whiny kid with a light saber and no impulse control?) Anyway, read this and have a good time!

And one more bit of fun--both books have a tie-in with each other. What is it? I'll give you a hint--both of them mention the names of those who stole the Millennium Falcon. Write in and tell us if you find out. And tell us about any other Star Wars books you've read!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

May the Fourth Be With You--Again

This has to be one of the favorite days of the year for GUYS! "And just why is that?" you may ask. Because today is May 4, aka May the Fourth Be With You. Or Star Wars Day. Which makes this day great because just about all boys everyone LOVE Star Wars.

In fact, this whole month is special because it marks the 40th anniversary of the premiere of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. Yep, it was May 25, 1977. The day that introduced Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo, Darth Vader, Obi-Wan Kenobi, the Death Star, the Millennium Falcon, C3PIO and R2-D2 to the world.

And the world has been a lot more fun ever since.

Anyway, I'll talk more about it this month. I hope to recommend a few books to you, ask which one of the movies is your favorite, etc. etc. But, for today, let me show a few things that I've liked, along with links to the original reviews:

Star Wars: The Original Trilogy 


The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight

Very good retellings of the original trilogy and good reminders why we love this story so much

Star Wars The Force Awakens: The Visual Dictionary

Oh, yeah! The saga continues! This is the book for anyone who enjoyed this movie. Lots of photos, lots of cool information and a good introduction that gives you the backstory to this movie.

Plus, the library system has copies of all the movies. And lots of SW graphic novels. Even audiobooks! So head on down to your library and pick one up!

So You Want To Be A Jedi?