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Tag: Star Wars

I’m Watching Star Wars Right Now

This is my ticket to the hottest show on this planet. If you want to avoid any spoilers, don’t worry… I won’t be blogging from the movie theater.

This is my ticket to the hottest show on this planet. If you want to avoid any spoilers, don’t worry… I won’t be blogging from the movie theater.

These words were written in your past. In the very moment they are released on Sunday, December 20, 2015 at 8:00pm… I will no longer exist on the planet Earth.

In fact, I will have been transported to a galaxy… far, far away.

Yes, you guessed it… I’ll be about fifteen minutes into
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”
And I’ve got to say, if all goes well, that will be quite the accomplishment… for me.

I suppose I should admit it’s something of a sad state to acknowledge I couldn’t get it together to buy my tickets for opening day months ago, like any self-respecting sci-fi geek did.
(And then I figured it would be impossible to find tickets for days or weeks after opening weekend.)

But a work colleague, who was more organized than me and successfully got himself to an opening-night screening suggested I find the opportunity to see the new J.J. Abrams’ flick soon… before people started to talk openly about the plot.

His comment sounded a little ominous…

“The Force Works in Mysterious Ways”
As I was driving home from work on Friday thinking about how distant the Force still felt from my eyeballs, my wife called and told me she just received an email from Fandango proclaiming there were still tickets available in our area code to buy that very night.


Now in the old days, we would have just gone for it, but as you know we’ve got a young Jedi in training at home… He’s only five and not quite ready to watch “Star Wars” yet.
(Especially a PG-13 rated Episode VII)

So we can’t just take a spin around the galaxy anytime we want.

But we’re not entirely unable to pivot… so we decided that if I could secure a couple tickets for tonight, we could swing the rest.

As I was driving, I figured I could either buy the tickets online when I got home…. or better yet… I could just drive a little further up the street to our local movie theater and go old school… and simply secure the tickets there.

And that’s exactly what I did.
(How 1940’s of me)

As I stood in the center of the lobby, grasping my two tickets, I looked about for some unforeseen obstacle… Like some storm trooper would walk up and demand a $200 opening-weekend surcharge. But everything seemed absolutely normal. Of course, there were lots of people on line waiting to see the sold-out Friday night show, but other than experiencing a few momentary flashbacks, I felt really good.

Flashbacks, you ask?

Oh yeah…

“Assimilate This!”
I think part of the reason I didn’t try harder to see “The Force Awakens” on opening day was because of fan hysteria and long lines for sold-out shows. I’ve been part of that scene before. And I’m not proud to admit it, but I’ve been one of “those fans” who’ve contributed to “the scene.”

I first transported back to “Star Trek: First Contact’s” opening day back in 1996. That was the time I organized a group trip and brought ten of my friends.

  • We bought our tickets…
    (No Fandango yet)
  • Stood on line for an hour with 500 Trekies
  • And finally walked in
    (There were actually three theaters that day showing the flick, and ours was outfitted with the newer “Dolby” sound system.)

Guess what?
Our tickets were for one of the other theaters. We were in the wrong one!

When one red-shirt member of our landing party took a quick trip to the bathroom, she was nabbed on the way back by a young usher, who spotted the discrepancy on her ticket.

He walked down to our group to escort all of us out of the sold-out theater. By this point, it was only a couple minutes until the film started. So it was clear we wouldn’t get into any of the other simultaneous screenings either.

What would you do…?

It was my own personal Kobayashi Maru moment…
(If you’re not a “Star Trek” geek… that refers to how someone handles a “no win” situation.)

Without giving much thought to the consequences, I simply proclaimed we wouldn’t leave.

My excuse…? I explained that we were told to stand in the line that led us to this particular theater. That was technically true, but I was hanging my hat on an unconfirmable technicality.
(We were still sitting in the wrong theater.)

The usher threatened to bring in the manager. I called his bluff.
(It wasn’t a bluff.)

It was at this point, the rest of my group started getting uncomfortable. So they started to get up to leave. My poker game was over.
Only a benevolent act by the “Q” could save me…

And then the lights dimmed. And the movie started. And we were still there…
And I guess the usher gave up.
(He never came back.)

So we watched the movie.

And yes, my friends later told me I was a little crazy to do what I did.
(I wasn’t proud of my act of defiance, but I have to admit that Dolby sound was sweet!)

Twenty years later, all I’ve got to say is that was a long time ago in a state far, far away, and I would never do something like that today.
(Do I seem a bit defensive?)

“No Growth without Assistance”
Fast forward four years…

Then there’s the time when my wife and I were dating, and we went to a packed movie house in Brooklyn about to see “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.” We showed up with five minutes to spare, and there weren’t two open seats together in the whole place.

Yep… another Kobayashi Maru.

So I ran up the stairs led by some ‘Force” and asked an entire row of people to shift one seat over.

They did.
(And happily too. I think it must be a Brooklyn thing.)

I think my wife was impressed.

But come on… that was another risky move… Right?
If it had played out poorly, my future could have evolved into a different timeline altogether.

“The Force is Strong with This One”
Fortunately, another film flashback that comes to mind is much more Zen.

It’s the hot summer day in 1977 when I saw “Star Wars: A New Hope” with my mom at the now long-gone movie house on East 86th street in New York City.

I remember being blown away by the entire movie. And though I was already a “Star Trek” geek, the groundbreaking “Star Wars” really opened my eyes.
(Along with the rest of the planet.)

“Your Thoughts Betray You”
Then, I snapped back to this reality.
It’s 2015.

So I walked through the suburban parking lot and got into my car.

I thought about the future. About tonight.

Would this experience also burn permanent memories into my neurons just like it did with “A New Hope” and “The Return of the Jedi?”
(Watching Episode VI in the massive New York Ziegfeld Theater with a thousand screaming kids begging Darth Vader to take action against the evil Emperor is hard to forget.)

Oops… time slipped again.

“You Cannot Escape Your Destiny”
Will December 20th, 2015 always be a day I remember, because it’s the day I saw “Star Wars: The Force Awakens?”

I’ll let you know.
(For now, I’m just tickled I’m getting to see it on opening weekend!)

And I’m shooting for a stress-free experience this time.
(May the Force be with me.)

If you thought this was going to be a movie review, this is not the blog you’re looking for… And what self-respecting Star Wars’ fan wants to read a review ahead of time anyway?

Just go!

The New Star Wars Teaser Will Blow Your Mind

If you’ve been preoccupied, you may have missed a significant disturbance in the Force last week.  The good news is your opportunity to catch up is only a click away…

If you’ve been preoccupied, you may have missed a significant disturbance in the Force last week. The good news is your opportunity to catch up is only a click away…

I’ve always enjoyed watching movie trailers. They used to be the favorite part of my film-going experience. But no more… That’s because every blockbuster trailer I’ve seen at the multiplex I’ve already caught at home when I’m online.

Download Vs. Streaming
Typically, I go to the iTunes Movie Trailers page to find the newest previews.

I usually prefer downloading the ones I really like to my iPhone and then watching them whenever the moment moves me.
(Usually when my commuter train isn’t moving too fast)

You may recall, I’ve had some ups and downs with this….

A couple years ago, Apple inexplicably began taking away its trailer downloading functionality, leaving streaming as the only viewing option. This is hardly ideal when your smartphone doesn’t have a strong connection.

…and Barrett was frustrated.

Then, a year later, Apple seemingly gave it all back.

…and Barrett was happy again.

Prepare Yourself
So this past week, I was looking for the newest summer movie teasers, as the blockbuster season is nearly upon us.

Imagine my glee when I spotted the second teaser trailer for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”

When the first teaser came out in November, millions of geeks in galaxies near and far could barely contain themselves. The fact that J.J. Abrams had successfully recreated the look and feel of the original “Star Wars” was almost too much to handle.

Come on… This is J.J. Abrams we’re talking about.
“Lost,” “Star Trek,” “Fringe.”
You didn’t think he was going to get the basics right?

I thought the first teaser trailer was just fine.
It was nice to have a quick peek.
That’s what any first teaser usually does…

Traveling Back in Time
But then I clicked on this second teaser trailer.
My finger was running on autonomic instinct; my brain, barely keeping up.

I felt like I was fourteen years old again watching “Star Wars” for the very first time with my mother at the east 86th street multiplex in New York City. I was transported back to those two mesmerizing hours…

And then I heard-
“You have that power too.”

And then I saw-
“Chewie, we’re home.”


Now, this is more like it!

An A+ Trailer
I’m not entirely surprised J.J. Abrams blew my mind with this new teaser trailer. He did something similar with the early trailers for his first “Star Trek” movie. But those suggested something different from the “Star Trek” we grew up with.
(And in fact, it was an alternate reality.)

This “Star Wars” trailer by comparison feels exceptionally familiar. Of course, because the Star Wars universe is being continued, not re-imagined.
(It would seem.)

We’re given the perfect balance between what we already know about and teased with what we don’t.

And then that last shot: We get to see Han Solo!

I Have a Good Feeling about This
We’re still eight months away from seeing how strong the Force really is with Episode VII.
That said, this trailer completely reenergized all my geeky energies.

After I watched it, I just stared at the screen.

And then I downloaded the two minutes of movie (and marketing) magic.

I felt like a kid again.
It was the perfect moment…

Thank you, Disney for spending $4 billion in 2012 to keep it all going.
Only now, at the end (of the wait) do I understand…

How to Bypass a Frozen Ticket Touchscreen

What should you do when ‘Touch to Start’ doesn’t work?  You can either pay the premium ticket price on the train or figure out a workaround…

What should you do when ‘Touch to Start’ doesn’t work? You can either pay the premium ticket price on the train or figure out a workaround…

Commuting to work during a snowstorm on the train has certain advantages. Primarily, you don’t have to drive your car around like you’re on the
ice planet Hoth.
Any Road Warrior will tell you that.

But you’d better arrive at the train station prepared to step right on the train…

Ticket HAL Hates the Cold
As I carefully traversed the icy platform last week, I realized I needed to buy a ticket. The eight M8 rail cars were due in less than five minutes, and so I shuffled quickly over to the glowing ticket machine and accessed its condition.

There were numerous ice pellets clinging to its metal frame, but the automated stationmaster appeared impervious, standing silent, ready to serve.

I pulled off my glove, exposing flesh to the hungry elements. I quickly jabbed at the touchscreen to buy a ticket.
Nothing happened.
I touched a different part of the screen to generate a response.

This supposedly weatherproof HAL was apparently iced over from the inside.
I would have to buy my ticket on the train and pay the premium.
(Metro North charges a huge convenience fee on board.)

In defeat, I slowly backed up into the swirling ice storm.
Then I heard a wispy voice through the howling wind.

“Use the keypad.”


“Use the KEYPAD!”

My Obi-Wan Moment
I turned around and realized the mysterious voice was coming from a fellow commuter. I could barely make out his face, which was hidden by a huge scarf.

So I inspected the physical keypad to the right of the touchscreen. Over all my commuting years, I had only used this credit-card keypad to type in my zip code after executing the traditional ‘swipe.’

Apparently, I still looked a little confused.
How was I supposed to bridge these two very different tactile interfaces? The touchscreen layout did not translate to the numeric 3 x 4 keypad.

Then, Ben’s voice focused my attention…
“Type in the number option.”


“If you want the first choice, press 1. If you want the second choice, press 2. Then press the enter key.”


Suddenly, it seemed so easy. I pressed away at the antiquated numeric keys and within seconds, I had my ticket.

In Case of Touchscreen Emergency, Break Glass
I turned back to face my Jedi Tech Master, but he was gone!
(just kidding)
Actually, I thanked him and then quickly looked to see if the train was coming.
(Not quite yet….)

So I had a moment to further access this malfunctioning ticket robot and my inability to work it without a little intervention from the commuting ‘Force.’ I looked for any posted instructions.
Indeed, there were none….

I carefully walked over to my usual boarding position on the platform and considered my experience with this faulty tech.

Use the Keypad, Silly!
Are you simply supposed to know to use the keypad as an obvious backup to any touchscreen?

Or is this a secret ‘Jedi Tech Trick’ I’ve stumbled upon?

Either way, I figured it was worth mentioning…

I don’t know if this technical bypass is going to work with every malfunctioning touchscreen you encounter.
(Assuming it has a matching credit-card keypad)

But it’s worth a try.
Even though there is no ‘try.’

So summon your inner Yoda and DO!

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