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Tag: Star Wars

One Father’s Journey to Introduce “Star Wars” to his Son

If you’re a parent trying to figure out when’s the right time to expose your kids to the Dark Side of the Force, here’s my story as a parent and a “Star Wars” fan…

I’ve been waiting for this moment since the day my son was born. And please grant me this nerdy pleasure… My boy and I watched “Star Wars” together this past weekend in our family room.

He’s nine years old, and I know that many younger kids have watched all of the movies already, including the newer ones. And it’s not like I haven’t tried a couple of times before. In fact, I did technically screen some of “A New Hope” with him two years back. But he didn’t really like it.

Thank you, Harry Potter
He simply wasn’t ready. I think it’s because of the plot’s suspense and the Dolby-infused mayhem of blasters and light sabers. But mostly, it was the suspense. At the time, he was still enjoying Lego movies and “Ice Age” flicks.

But then, he caught the Harry Potter reading bug, and he tore through all of the books. And when he found out there were movies, of course he wanted to watch them. To date, we’ve gotten through the first five. And as much as there was plenty of intensity and suspense in those flicks, he already knew the stories. So, I think it was a wonderful way to comfortably ease him into consuming more serious storytelling. And I hoped it would be a bridge…

If at First You Don’t Succeed…
We sometimes have ‘family movie night’ at home, and I’ve recently begun suggesting “Star Wars” again, but he still wasn’t interested.

Then, last Saturday, it was my turn to choose a movie. (We rotate between the three of us.) Without any big set up, my son and I sat down on the couch. Usually, he wants to know what we’re going to watch, but not this time…

I powered up our Apple TV and scrolled down to the “Star Wars” thumbnail grouping.
(I’ve previously purchase the first six movies.)

He saw what I was doing, and he didn’t object. I kept going…

I hovered over “The Empire Strikes Back,” since we technically had already seen “A New Hope.” But my boy helpfully suggested that we play “A New Hope” since he barely remembered it.
(Whoa! Was this actually happening?)

What’s the Right Order?
Before I could tap ‘play,’ he noticed “A New Hope” wasn’t listed first, and then we got into the discussion of order…

I explained the whole two/one/three trilogy thing, and I could tell he was trying to understand why anyone would make a series of movies out of order. After thinking about it a bit more, he asked if we could simply start at the beginning with Episode 1.

I looked at him, and knew I that needed to make the call. I explained that I wanted him to watch the movies in the order that I had watched them as I was growing up. He took another beat and happily said, “Okay.”

We were on!
Cue the John Williams soundtrack…

The Question of Luke’s Father
What can I say… It was glorious. The two of us were finally watching and enjoying “Star Wars” together.
(My wife took a rain check on this particular screening.)

He really liked “A New Hope.” When it was over, he proclaimed that R2-D2 was his favorite character, because he was such a “cool robot.” (He had laughed at all of the little droid’s antics.) Then he quickly chose Obi-Wan Kenobi as his second favorite character. (It’s hard to ignore the amazing Alec Guinness.)

Then my boy said, “I bet Luke’s father is in the first three movies.”
He waited for my response.

Wow. I and many others had a lukewarm response to Episodes 1-3. But this pop-up focus group of one fourth grader immediately identified the strong desire to know the back story.

I smiled at my son.
“Is Luke’s father in the first three movies?
Yes, I think it’s a good bet that he is…”
(Cue the famous breathing sound effect.)

Parenting 101
It’s a long journey to “The Rise of Skywalker,” and as much as I’d like to take my boy to watch it on the big screen, he likely won’t be through the other movies yet. Plus, there’s a reason why this new trilogy is rated PG-13. The films are intense.

My wife has sometimes had to remind me that as a parent, I should observe the cues from our son to better understand when he’s ready to experience something new.

What’s the right age to start watching “Star Wars?”
Of course there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. As a parent, you’re supposed to make that call.

Should I have been pushing “Star Wars” for the past two years? Probably not. As a father, I’m admittedly sometimes still just a Padawan.
(At some level, aren’t we all students in the art of parenting?)

But now that he’s ready for a galaxy far, far away… I can’t hide my own
child-like glee.

The Force is with him.

4 Reasons Why I’m Excited to See “Solo: A Star Wars Story”

“Solo” is taking advantage of its 20th century analog origins and using those original limitations to make the past look wicked cool. Here’s how…

I have to admit that I had a really bad feeling about the concept of a Han Solo prequel movie. Who could possibly do Han better than Harrison Ford? But then I got to thinking about the success of the recent “Star Trek” flicks with Chris Pine. We somehow made it through just fine in a post-Shatner alternate reality. Of course, all of the characters were recast (though we did have two Spocks). And this new ensemble worked great together… just like the original cast.

And then I saw the two movie trailers to “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” and something clicked.
I finally got it…!

Here are 4 reasons why I’m now so excited to see “Solo…”

#1 – New Ensemble
First, off… “Solo” sets itself up as a rollicking ensemble piece with appealing characters we already know (Chewbacca and Lando) and some new ones (played by well-known talent) who fill out this origin-story band of smugglers.

So, whether I really buy into Alden Ehrenreich as Solo is less critical. After watching the two trailers, I’m totally on board with this new team of renegades. Emilia Clarke? Donald Glover? Woody Harrelson? Thandie Newton?
Bring it on!

#2 – The Humor
“Solo” clearly has a much lighter tone. And who knew Chewbacca could so effectively play the straight man on a comedy team? In fact, Chewie, (Joonas Suotamo) steals all his scenes in the trailers with laugh-out-loud moments.

Let me tell you… I’m so ready for a respite from all of the depressing and tragic story developments coming out of the last three “Star Wars” movies. I just want to have fun. And this flick seems ready to deliver!

Plus, I know that Han, Lando and Chewie make it through.
(I hope that’s not a spoiler… You’ve had decades to watch the original trilogy.)

#3 – Ron Howard
As you’ve probably heard, Ron Howard was brought in more than half way through the filming to take over as director.

Problem?

No… I’m ecstatic. I love Ron Howard’s work.

He also ran the entire post production phase… so I’m confident that we’re going to get a ‘Ron Howard film.’

#4 – Creaky Switches
I’m a little giddy seeing some deliberate focus on analog technology.

Did you feel the clicking of those switches in the Millennium Falcon’s cockpit?
I mean… did you feel it?
I sure did..

The manual flicking of those little switches… rocketing the ship into overdrive. I found that moment simply thrilling… and reminiscent of the golden age of the Apollo space program.

When George Lucas made “Star Wars” back in 1977, it was, of course, about a futuristic civilization. But much of the gear reflected 1970’s hardware. So, there were plenty of physical switches that snapped and clicked.

But now, it’s four decades later. Analog is mostly dead. Yet, it’s still fueling some of the thrills in “Solo.”

I’ve always found something extremely satisfying about manually pressing a button to activate a machine. That’s entirely different than just tapping around on a touchscreen.

You can really feel the connection to your tech… that more intimate relationship between a person and the power of machinery.

While some might view those switches on the Millennium Falcon as dated or at best retro, it connects me back to that more physical experience that today’s digital world has mostly discarded as irrelevant. How ironic that digital is faster and better in every way, and yet sometimes we still yearn for our old tech…

It’s a fact that the Millennium Falcon can outrun the progress of technology over decades. That’s a testament to the enduring value of a well-made and repairable machine that can keep its edge over mass-produced, disposable 2.0 tech that’s limited by lower cost and quality.

She is indeed a survivor. And a pioneer. And I look forward to learning more about this newer Millennium Falcon in this flick…

The Future is Yesterday
It’s ironic that “Star Wars” today continues to wow us by not only channeling the elegant future possibilities of technology, but by also reminding us of our clunky technological past.

So raw, frustrating and often unpredictable… yet also so satisfying.

Even though those analog switches need to be there on the ship for continuity, they don’t have to be front and center. And yet… they are.

Clearly, the future in “Solo: A Star Wars Story” resides comfortably in yesterday. Sure, it’s taking some of its spirit from the DNA of all of those black and white westerns that launched a genre.

But in more ways than one, “Solo: A Star Wars Story” is happily time traveling… backwards.

My New Apple TV is Worthy of the Force

How do you create this imaginative screen saver for your TV? You just hand over your pictures and let your Apple TV do the rest…

How do you create this imaginative screen saver for your TV? You just hand over your pictures and let your Apple TV do the rest…

Star Wars…
The new Apple TV…
And my favorite TV screensaver.

These three forces recently collided to create something of a tech crisis in my life.

Before taking my wife to see Episode 7, I wanted to offer her a little refresher on Luke, Han, Leia, Darth and the old gang. So I went looking for my copy of Episode 4, but I realized I’d never purchased a digital version of any of the Star Wars’ flicks.
(I know… A huge gap!)

I did locate a forgotten VHS copy, but trying to watch that would require its own MacGyver project getting the old tape to play on my HDTV. I wondered why I still had the archaic tape lying around to begin with. Perhaps this version represented the original cut where ‘Greedo didn’t shoot first.’

Anyway… I threw it back in a drawer for another time.
(Decade?)

Another Problem with the Hyperdrive Engine
So I summoned iTunes on my iMac and figured a swift HD download of “Star Wars: A New Hope” would quickly fill the gap.
(I know that purists would insist on purchasing the Blu-ray version… But I just didn’t have enough time to buy a physical copy.)

Click.

Then, I synced the 1977 classic to my old Apple TV and waited (not so patiently) for the Force to appear.

Nothing happened.
I repeated the sequence.
…Nope.
(And that’s when I began having a really bad feeling…)

So I did a little online research and was painfully reminded that my first generation Apple TV can’t play full HD 1080p videos.

Only the inferior 720p flavor.

And today, all of Apple’s HD movies in iTunes are 1080p.

D’oh!
(Clearly I hadn’t bought a movie for my old Apple TV in a while…)

Always in Motion is the Future
Yes, I failed to mention earlier that I’m still trying to keep alive the original Apple TV. Part of my rationale for trying to forestall its obsolescence was due to its clever screensaver mode that can download and then rotate hundreds of your photos into a dynamic scrolling collage.

Forget all of the movies, TV shows and home videos that Apple TV was built to handle.
With my first generation Apple TV, I could generate my own personalized living photo collage onto my HDTV that showed up via Apple TV’s screensaver.

I was concerned when later version Apple TVs came out without an internal hard drive that they wouldn’t be able to perform the same trick…

Hello Generation Four
Sure, the fourth generation Apple TV has so much more capability…

  • Siri functionality
  • Streaming service apps
  • Game apps
  • HBO and Showtime without a cable or satellite subscription
  • A newly designed remote

But I was laser focused on that screensaver capability. Could the new Apple TV do it?!
(And I’m not talking about the new cinematic screensaver, which displays nifty aerial videos of different cities.)

But without a way to play 1080p videos on my Apple TV, it was clear it was finally time for me to take a leap of faith and go for the upgrade…

Discover This
Of course I missed the holiday shopping discounts that were originally offered by some retailers on Apple’s new streaming device. But I had a little trick up my sleeve… I was able to generate my own personal discount…

I simply dipped into some cash back dollars I earned by using my Discover Card.

And then I stretched them a little further by redeeming them for Staples’ gift cards.
Staples will give you a $25 gift card for only twenty bucks!

A few of these go a long way to dropping the $199 price of the 64GB Apple TV.

Hello, staples.com…

CLICK!

Memory Management
So yes, I’ve just become the proud owner of a new Apple TV. I went with the beefier model as opposed to the 32GB version, which was only $50 less.
(I usually supersize it if the upgrade cost is reasonable.)

And yes… The Apple TV 4 has a hard drive.
(Flash memory, as in the past two models)

But the increased storage capacity is there to handle the apps and content you’ll be using in the moment. Not necessarily to download and store for keeps. So the Apple TV essentially decides what content to keep locally. Humans not required.

But the big change from my old Apple TV is you don’t sync content from your computer… You sync it from the cloud via your iTunes and iCloud accounts.

Drum Roll, Please
And is my favorite screensaver still there…?

YES!

The only difference is you’ve got to transfer your photos up to your iCloud account and Photo Streams for your Apple TV to access them.
(As opposed to syncing the photos directly from your computer)

Phew…

Doubling Down on Star Wars
For a time, I’ve again brought tech balance back to the Lester household.

  • My wife got a crash course on the ways of the Force via Episode 4.
  • And then we both enjoyed Star Wars…The Next Generation.
    (Though I must admit I walked out with a little knot in my stomach… similar to how I felt at the end of “The Empire Strikes Back.” That’s not so terrible as Episode 5 is widely considered the best of the series. But I didn’t fully appreciate that reality until three years later. I imagine I’ll feel better again when Episode 8 comes out in 2017.)
  • Moving forward, with our new Apple TV, we’ll watch all six legacy films.
    (Yes, I couldn’t resist the discounted price on buying the complete bundle.)

Jedi Training
I’m sure some of you are scoffing at my questionable decision to bring Episodes 1-3 into our home media library. Who could possibly want to watch them?

Well, my five-year-old son will one day have to decide for himself.
(He’s still a little young to watch the movies, but I’m thinking of introducing him one day soon to “The Clone Wars” cartoon series as a primer.)

Every Jedi in training has to choose his or her own path. If we’ve learned anything from Star Wars over the past decades, we must accept that difficult truth.

May the Force be with you, my son.

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