Category Archives: Mindless Drivel

A long time ago, in a land far, far away…

In the summer of 1977, I went back east to visit my dad. My sister and I were going to join him on a trip to the British Isles. I had heard of this film Star Wars, and when we passed through Manhattan, we saw people lined up for blocks to get into the theater. This being New York, the lines spilled out into the streets and cars were stuck in the ensuing traffic jams. Dad promised we’d see the film when we got back and, we hoped, the lines were a little shorter.

That trip was memorable for many reasons, but the day that sticks out now was this: we were staying in a small town in the north of Ireland. In the town square was a movie theater, and on the marquee it said Star Wars. Having just seen lines around the block in New York City just a few days before, we couldn’t quite believe that the same film was showing at this closed theater in this quiet little Irish town. We looked around the box office and knocked on the doors, but no one was there. A sign said that the theater would open at 5:00 PM, so we resolved to come back. Which we did, shortly before 5:00 PM, to avoid any lines. There were no lines.

The box office opened sometime afterward, and the theater manager (also the guy who sold tickets) assured us that yes, this was the same Star Wars. We asked him when the film would start and he told us in about an hour, so we bought our three tickets and, when it became clear there would be no line, we wandered around the town for a bit, making sure to get there before 6:00 so we could still get good seats.

That turned out not to be a problem as we three Americans were the first people in the theater. We sat and waited. And waited. A few more people came in and took their seats, chatting and eating popcorn. About 6:30, Dad went to find the manager to ask when the movie would start. He came back and reported that the manager told him the movie would start when the people got there. Every few minutes, that fellow would pop his head in, count how many seats were taken, then disappear again. Finally, once the theater was about half-way full — it was well after 7:00 now — the lights dimmed, the projector fired up, and we watched a short comedy about a fat man trying to get into a small boat. When that was done, the lights came back on, a few more people wandered in, and after a good twenty minutes or so the lights dimmed again and the feature began.

Many people have fond memories of their first time seeing Star Wars on the big screen: the whimsical “A long time ago…”, the now iconic Star Wars logo, the opening crawl and that stirring John Williams score. My fondest memory is turning to see my dad all wide-eyed, like a little kid, staring at space ships, and sitting in a theater where the entertainment starts when the people got there.

My First Comic

JLA #83

“Where Valor Fails… Will Magic Triumph?”

In the summer of 1970, while on vacation in Santa Cruz, CA., I bought my very first comic book. I had seen Archie and Disney comics before, and I knew Batman and Superman from the TV, but I had no idea that they existed in an integrated universe. And who were all these other masked heroes on the cover? The comic was JLA #83, the second of a two-part JLA/JSA crossover, and I must have read it dozens of time until it finally fell apart.

I recently reread an archive version of Justice League of America #83 and my gawd was it a good story! I didn’t realize it at the time, but that was also my first Denny O’Neil comic, a marvelous writer who went on to redefine Green Arrow, Green Lantern, Batman, and Superman. In JLA #83, however, he wove a fantastic tale of two earths (Earth 1 was the home of the contemporary DC heroes and the Justice League; Earth 2 was home to the older WWII-era versions of those same characters in the Justice Society) that are slowly merging as a result of alien machinations in the hope that both will be destroyed in order to release enough energy to build a new planet. The images of startled people seeing their doppelgangers on the street, stretching away into the horizon, and the Spectre stretching his body into a thin membrane just to keep the two earths apart, seared themselves into my memory and inspired my own imagination for decades.

Interestingly, after all these years, I finally read JLA #82, the first part of the story. Although I had been curious about it, it turns out that #83 was really the best one to get. There was no reliable source for these comic books back in my hometown, so I had to content myself with Archie and Disney again for a couple of years until we got back to Santa Cruz. Finally, in the summer of 1972, I picked up another JLA/JSA crossover, JLA #100, written by Len Wein. I’m looking forward to re-reading that soon!

JLA #100

Justice League of America #100

A Dummie’s Guide to Death

Today I attended a … I was going to say funeral, but I don’t think it was the actual funeral. It wasn’t a service either, although it took place in a church. The obituary said only that the family would be receiving visitors. My friend’s mother had died, so I went to pay my respects.

I don’t do death very well. I don’t understand the etiquette. I had to ask my manager at work — who, unfortunately, has been attending quite a few funerals lately — what I should do, what was expected. Do I bring flowers? Do I send flowers? Isn’t there some flora involved in this somehow?

There are regional differences and cultural expectations and I just don’t know what they are. I need a Dummie’s Guide to Death

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