Sunday, September 01, 2013


Again, I have been accused--just yesterday--of being a Star Wars geek.  Again, I plead not guilty.

The main evidence seems to be that I know Admiral Ackbar's home planet (Mon Calamari--yes, I do know this), a fact which isn't revealed in Return Of The Jedi, and thus something I could only have learned through reading of spin-off novels, comic books or, at the very least, repeated trips to Wookiepedia.

But I've done none of these things!  (Okay, I visited Wookiepedia one time--just once, I swear!--and oddly enough it was to look up the proper spelling of "wookie" because there was some dispute about that in the very early days of Star Wars fandom and look, never mind how I know about that.)  But Star Wars is Star Wars, a vast cultural thing that everybody knows something about, even if they've never seen the damned thing.

Let me put it this way: I've never watched porn.  (Unless Caligula counts, which technically, it probably does.  Oh, and that one Laura Gemser Emanuelle movie where the girl jerks off the horse and there are a few penetration shots, but they were obviously just inserted (tee-hee, inserted) after the movie was shot, so that really shouldn't count.)  More specifically, I've never seen Behind The Green Door, but I've read two different books on its directors, Jim and Artie Mitchell.  (They invented the lap dance!)  I've also read Sinema and The Other Hollywood and could tell you more about The Opening Of Misty Beethoven than you could ever want to know.

On the other hand, I've never seen any of the awful live-action movies Disney cranked out in the seventies, but if you shouted out their titles, I could probably tell you who directed them without even looking it up.  (No Deposit, No Return? Norman Tokar!  The Shaggy D.A.?  Robert Stevenson!)  Hey, as a bonus, I can tell you that Frank Phillips was the cinematographer and Cotton Warburton edited most of those things, because Disney used pretty much the exact same crew in all their movies back then and WHY DO I KNOW THIS?

But does all this make me a porn and/or Disney geek?  I can tell you who produced both The Genius Of Ray Charles and Pink's Raise Your Glass, even though I don't imagine many people who revere the former have even heard of the latter.  I can quote whole passages of James Joyce's The Dead verbatim.  I couldn't tell you my sibling's birthdays, but if you ever want to know who shot Ilsa, Harem-Keeper Of The Oil Sheiks, I'm your guy.  I can't remember the precise layout of the house where I grew up, but I can remember exactly the details of the mighty River Hills/Riviera theater, where I first saw 2001, Fantasia and, okay, Star Wars, which, granted, yes, I saw five times in the summer of '77, but hey, so did everyone else.  It played theatrically for almost a year.

And it's not like everyone who saw it became a geek.  We liked it, then we moved on with our lives.  If, by "moved on" you mean "continued to fill our heads with ever-widening but essentially useless pop culture knowledge that unfortunately we used as a prism through which to view real life, and found reality wanting".  And if by "we" you mean "me".