May is a big month for anniversaries around here.
Not that it has any especial relevance to our daily lives, but Kevin Kim reminded me that two days ago - May 25 - marked the thirty-fifth anniversary of the release of Star Wars. (These days, they call it Star Wars - Episode IV: A New Hope, but that’s bullshit.) When She Who Must Be Obeyed and I first saw it thirty-five years ago, it was within a few weeks of its release... and, coincidentally, within a few weeks of when she would become the Missus. (That’s an anniversary for a separate post.)
Back then, there was nothing quite like Star Wars, an action-packed Space Opera that both paid homage to and simultaneously reinvented the familiar tropes from the old Flash Gordon movies and their like. It was as though those late 1930’s serials had been imagined anew in full color and with the newest special effects... and there was a scenery-chewing Compleat Villain for the Ages in Darth Vader. In 1977, George Lucas had not yet thought to bury a Good Guy somewhere in Vader’s ascending colon, which - to me, at least - made him far more interesting. Sympathy-grabbing backstories belong in Marvel Comics.
Thirty-five years, Esteemed Readers. Think on it. Thirty-five years before Star Wars came out it was 1942, when the Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon serials were just a few years old... and yet, unlike those Moldy Oldies in 1977, Star Wars remains relatively fresh today despite its (now superannuated) special effects.
More anniversarial fun: Today, May 27, is my parents’ sixty-second wedding anniversary. Alas that Mom is not around to enjoy it, having made her one-way trip to the World to Come twenty-four years ago. I still enjoy looking at the video of their wedding every so often (captured with a now-obsolete technology called “8mm movies” that, in turn, utilized a medium called “photographic film”) and marveling at the sight of my Daddy-to-be, Eli hizzownself, in top hat and tails. The wedding gown my mother wore that day is embalmed in a nitrogen-filled box in our basement, to be cracked open if and when one of our daughters has the occasion (and desire) to use it.
The food was pretty impressive, too. Fountains squirting wine... rotating displays of hors d’oeuvres and canapés... unbelievable. And the jazzy band with the smoking-hot Latin singer, too. It was a big production, that wedding.
Alas, when I look at that video now, I feel like Bruce Gold, the protagonist of Joseph Heller’s Good as Gold, watching old movies on late-night TV and pointing out all the actors who have since died. “That one’s toyt!” “Look at him - geshtorben!”
Eli, though - Eli is still with us, a fact for which we are grateful. And tomorrow is yet another anniversary: his eighty-seventh birthday.