Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter

So the Star Wars marathon/30th birthday party went fantastically well. Most of us weren’t too burned out, though people did come and go and not all the attendees were together at any one time. It was cool that way, though–people could come to see what they wanted to.

I picked up Genna Friday night, after getting a late start out of Ikeda, and we got to Chris’s by 9 PM, where he and Sarah were waiting. We watched Spaceballs and the first half of Empire of Dreams that night. It’s a great, great documentary–I’d like to track down a copy to watch pretty soon (maybe Friday, on the actual 30th anniversary of ANH).

Saturday (Prequels/Clone Wars day) we took our time getting up. Genna and I ran to Kamiita to pick up some stuff, and while we were gone, Joey and James arrived (very shortly after we left, in fact), and we met up with Olivia near Chris’s place on our way back. Sarah stayed till midday but had to leave for an enkai that night. Chris’s friend Gerry, an English professor at a university in Naruto, also came out for a few hours.

We had a few traditions and jokes we kept up throughout the films: taking turns reading the opening trailers in different voices, dubbing everything the Jedi did as “Force-” whatever (Force-angst, Force-stare), blaming everything on faulty power couplings (you know you’re at a geek gathering when…), and so on. We started the drinking games in earnest during Clone Wars, taking a drink whenever the Jedi emoted too much, when Anakin had angry eyes, and when anything or anybody spun (because, as Anakin put it in TPM, “That’s a good trick!”).

In place of Episode 1, we watched The Phantom Edit–I’d really like to get my hands on a copy of it, so it can replace the original as my definitive version of Episode 1. The only change I didn’t approve of was how this edit minimized Shmi Skywalker’s character; she was a minor but very moving and steadfast figure, especially as one of the few prominent female figures in the series. However, the rest was fantastically done. After TPM, we went to a nearby park to play some SW-themed games Chris had come up with, and just to get out and walk around a bit. We made it a point to take several breaks like that throughout the day; we went on a grocery run halfway through the Clone Wars cartoons, too.

On the whole, the prequels were every bit as bad as we remembered, and I think we all agreed that Attack of the Clones had the most awkward moments of all. It was really horrifying to see how much George Lucas had degenerated as a filmmaker over these last 30 years. How could he possibly watch these and think they were a good idea, especially considering how gorgeous and human the originals were in comparison? We all lamented the utter lack of real props and sets and the inability to use a puppet effectively throughout the recent films.

We wrapped up at 1:30 AM and went promptly to sleep, and got an early-ish start the next day (Original Trilogy day), wanting to start at 9 since people had to leave early, but not starting for an hour after that. Olivia left after the first film, having reached her saturation limit, and Sarah and Pickles came over. James and Genna left after ESB for Yoma’s barbecue, leaving the five of us: Chris, Pickles (also named Chris, but…yeah), Joey, Sarah, and me. There were a few no-shows, but on the whole it was a good and geeky crowd.

We paced these out really well too, with breaks to go out and walk around for a while. And…yeah, the difference between the originals and these is like that of night and day. These films are still so brilliant, even after all these years. We were talking and joking left and right through the prequels, but there were many more stretches of silence through these, and during the amusing and awesome moments, people were still laughing and blurting, “That’s so cool!” as if we were watching for the first time all over again. There were also definite periods of silent awe, and there were moments that sent chills down all our spines. The Yoda/Luke training scene in ESB was one, for sure. Even despite the prequels “taking away from” the suspense of the originals, there’s a power in this trilogy that can’t be denied.

It also was just cool that I was able to watch these films with people who love this series as much as I do That definitely made a difference, and it’s really an amazing thing to know that these films, which I’ve been obsessed with since the moment I first watched ANH in the third grade, have touched so many people from so many different walks of life around the world.

So, in short: 7.5 films (6 SW movies, 2 hours of Clone Wars, half of Empire of Dreams), 9 people, 48 hours, and one incredible weekend.

I left not too long after the films ended, since we finished around 7 PM. I caught the river road (successfully, Genna!) but then got lost getting back on the main roads, but found my way eventually, and I crossed the river in time to pass the Sri Lankan restaurant, which was still open at 8:30 PM on a Sunday (unheard of in rural Japan!), so I had dinner there, and I got home by 10.

This week’s gone by slowly, but it’s strange that it’s already Thursday tomorrow. I’ve been working on some design commission stuff, and I’m waiting anxiously for the day that I can contact my successor–though now I’m not sure if the girl I thought was replacing me is indeed my successor, since she may not have sent in her reply form! The suspense is really getting to me.

(85 days until I leave Japan. I really want to redo this design, too, so when I add in the inevitable JavaScript countdown, it’ll all work a little better.)

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