Sunday, May 25, 2008

If adventure has a name...

For a geek like myself, few things get me more excited than seeing a beaten-up Harrison Ford in a dusty fedora, desperately escaping impossible situations. Indiana Jones is probably my favorite fictional character ever. I've seen the first three movies countless times, own all 40 hours of the Young Indy television series on DVD, played all the video games, and have read all of his adventures in novels and comics. I'm something of an Indy scholar. Scholar sounds better than nerd (but who am I kidding?).

I was certainly not disappointed as I watched "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" at 12:10 AM on Thursday morning, May 22.

The last new Indy film I saw in theaters, like most people, was "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" back in 1989. My Dad and I went to see the movie at Carmike Cinemas 6 on North Peters Road (at one time my favorite theater, now sadly demolished). That was nineteen years ago! That doesn't seem possible.

So before the lights went down on that night, me and the group of friends that I was with recounted events that had happened in our lives since last we saw Indiana Jones grace a movie screen. In my case, I had moved about 5 times, graduated high school, graduated college, gotten married, relocated to Florida, and had a child. So there was quite a bit of water under the bridge since I had last visited with Indy in a movie theater.

And what about Indy? The new movie is set in 1957, exactly 19 years since we saw him in "The Last Crusade", which was set in 1938. The movie opens not to the familiar "Raiders March" by the incomparable John Williams, but to "Hound Dog" by Elvis Presley. Elvis opening an Indiana Jones movie? Who would've thunk it? But it works, and it serves to give the audience a sense of time and place. It's not the 1930's anymore.

This isn't a review of the movie in the Roger Ebert sense of the word, but suffice it to say I really enjoyed it. Thus far I have seen it twice, and the second time I enjoyed it more. It's like breaking in a new pair of shoes...I'm sure it will just get better with repeated viewings.

And Harrison Ford can take a beating at 65 years of age better than most movie stars a quarter of his age! Bring on Indy 5!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Empire Strikes

It’s been a week since the first post, and I know you have all been waiting with baited breath, wondering if I ever got my Star Wars sheets.
The answer is yes. One beautiful day in 1980 the sheets finally arrived. I slept on those sheets until 1998, the year I was married. Yes, that is a fact. 18 years of use (of course, they were in a rotation with other sheets. I didn’t sleep on them for 18 years straight…just so you know). Sadly, they had to be retired when Terri and I purchased a queen-sized mattress. And the only reason I don’t have a set now is because I can’t find a Star Wars sheet set in anything larger than full-size. But enough about the sheets.

1980 was also the year that The Empire Strikes Back was released. I remember seeing commercials and becoming quite excited. Now I could go to the theater and watch a real-life movie about the toys that I was falling in love with! I remember cutting out the ad for the film that had appeared in the newspaper and taping it to the wall in my room.
One early Saturday morning in May of 1980, my Dad and I prepared to go see the movie. We were going to Powell Cinemas to catch a matinee. The thing I remember most about this day was getting to the theater and being told that the movie had sold out. I felt as if the world had collapsed around me. My Dad, being the very smart civil engineer that he is, did something ingenious. He did something that I would not have thought to do in a million years: he bought tickets for the next show. Despite my Dad’s heroic save, I still remember being upset that we had to wait another 3 hours for the next showing. (This was long before the days of 20-auditorium multiplexes, where the same movie begins about every 10 minutes).
The theater was not too far from our house, so we drove home to wait for the next show. I recall it being the longest wait of my young life, but the time finally arrived to get back into the Monte Carlo and head back to Powell Cinemas. We entered a crowded auditorium and took our seats.
What followed was a pivotal event in my young life. It had ramifications that continue with me to this day.
Still to come…the aftermath of Empire, the best Christmas ever, and Return of the Jedi. See you soon!

Monday, May 12, 2008

A Long Time Ago...

Did you know that I like Star Wars?
If my family, friends, and even casual acquaintances can tell you one thing about me, they would all say “He likes Star Wars.” But how did this happen? How does a man of 33 still have action figures in his office and Star Wars posters on his wall? Why do I have a bookshelf with dozens of Star Wars novels, a shelf full of Star Wars DVDs, and a room where the walls are covered with autographs from the actors in the Star Wars movies. What road led me here?
My story begins not in a movie theater or sitting awestruck in front of my TV. My story begins in the pages of a Sears catalogue.
For a child of the 1970’s, catalogues were the best way to see all of the new toys coming out. I was just about 5 years old at this point, looking through the catalogue for the toys (which were always at the back of the catalogue as I remember). As I recall, at this point in time my toy collection consisted of many stuffed animals, a Spider-Man doll, a Hulk doll, and a few Tonka trucks. Something fascinating caught my eye in this particular catalogue. It was a kid’s room, completely decorated in Star Wars stuff. Toys were on the shelves, posters were on the wall, and the bed was covered in Star Wars sheets. After seeing that, I had to have my room look like that. I wanted those sheets!
Keep in mind I had never seen Star Wars at this point. But the pictures of the toys and that kid’s bedroom completely fascinated me. And those sheets! I had to have the sheets!
Somehow I persuaded my parents to order the sheets. What 5-year old mind games I played on them to get them to buy the sheets I will never know. As I recall, my Mom ordered the sheets from the catalogue (which is what you had to do before the Internet was born).
After a few days, Sears called and said the sheets were ready for pick up. We drove down to West Town Mall to get the sheets. However, due to some mix-up the sheets were not there! What? How could this be? I was quite upset. What I do remember is the consolation prize I got that day. It was an X-Wing Fighter! Wow! It was almost too much for my 5 year-old brain to comprehend. It was without a doubt the coolest toy in history.
After getting the X-Wing home and having my Dad help to apply all of the decal stickers, I was ready to take flight. At this time I didn’t have any Star Wars figures, however I did have an action figure which had come with one of my trucks which almost fit into the cockpit. I used him as my pilot.
This worked fine for a few weeks, but soon I was aware that they actually sold Star Wars action figures that would actually fit into the X-Wing. It was at K-Mart on Clinton Highway in Knoxville, Tennessee where I got my first Star Wars action figure. I picked someone who looked like he could fly in space. I picked Boba Fett.
Nearly 30 years later, I still have that action figure.
Come back next time, when I reveal if I ever got those sheets, my reactions after seeing The Empire Strikes Back for the first time, and perhaps the best Christmas ever…the Christmas of 1980! See you next time…

Mother's Day 2008

Happy Mother's Day!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Our 10th Anniversary

10 years ago on a Sunday afternoon in 1998, Terri and I were married. How do you mark 10 years? It is not an insignificant amount of time, yet to old pros like the senior Brocks and Tocksteins it must seem like amateur night!

Still, much has happened with us in the last decade...

Our first "child", our dog Wallace, joined us in May of 1998. He is still with us, enjoying his retirement in Florida.

We moved to Nashville from Knoxville in 1998, and then from Nashville to Clearwater, FL in 2001.

My Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2000, was treated, and has been cancer free for 8 years.

Terri and I both lost a pair of Grandparents in 2005 and 2006 (Grandma and Grandpa Wood and Grandma and Grandpa Tockstein). Grandma Brock is still here, and is busier than most of us young people.

In 2003, Terri rescued a kitten next to a dumpster, named him Legs, and brought him to live with us. Our carpet and furniture have never recovered!

My sister Julie was married to her boyfriend Chuck in 2003.

We bought our first home in 2003.

Three new "Star Wars" movies were released!

And of course the biggest highlight of all, on November 6, 2006, we were joined by Hanna Caroline Tockstein.

So we've had a good 10 years. Here's hoping the next 4 or 5 decades are just as good.