The Mandalorian: The Kid in the Fourth Row Bit

 

“Baby Yoda” joins the bookshelf menagerie!

So a drawback of having more time on my hands is it’s been harder to put off household chores… 

I’ve addressed this though by retreating to a galaxy far, far away and catching up with The Mandalorian – which turned out to be an incredibly moving trip!

(SPOILERS ahead for The Mandalorian and Star Wars movies!!)

The season finale just blew me away! First, Mando and Baby Grogu were reunited (thank the Force!), but then those dark trooper thingies marched back onto the ship and started banging down doors and things were looking really bad, but then – then – there was the metallic-butt-kickingly wonderful appearance of Return of the Jedi-era Luke Skywalker who rescued everybody which was so thrilling except that Mando and Grogu parted right afterwards which oh my gosh was just guttingly sad…

(Okay, breathing.) 

Weeks on, that emotion-packed journey is still with me. Like I’ll be fixing a snack in the kitchen when a floorboard will make the same little squeak that Grogu would – and it’s right back on the rollercoaster…

But in a good way!

What a sweet surprise it was that beyond getting happily hooked on these new Star Wars characters, I also got transported back to a time when I was crazy over the original ones (Luke most especially)! Being big on mementos, I figured I’d have some Star Wars souvenirs around to pepper this post with – but in a sweep of my apartment, I came up empty. (Yeah, yeah – completing my organizing chores might have helped here…) I mean, I didn’t find any Judy Blume books either, but when I so clearly wear my heart on my bookshelves, I found the lack of Lucasfilm love disturbing.

So I fixed it by getting a Grogu figurine! (Didn’t want to – had to for the post.)

Meeting a tribble! (Figures not to scale – I hope.)

Huh. Looks like my thing for Star Trek is covered. I’ve never felt the need to choose between these two franchises (I’m a woman of many moods) – but maybe there’s more Star Trek stuff because those characters have been a constant throughout my entire life while Star Wars seems to live in a narrower space.

The first trilogy pretty neatly bookended my teenage years. In 1977, I was a wide-eyed kid of 13 – and my eyes got wider the day friends and I rode a bus across the bay to San Francisco and watched Star Wars from the fourth row of the Coronet Theatre! Since I’d been a little too young to see 2001: A Space Odyssey (or make any sense of what Dave was doing), watching that ship devour the screen at the start of A New Hope was the beginning of a theatrical thrill ride like I’d never been on before! 

Three years later, my buddies and I were old enough to drive ourselves to see The Empire Strikes Back. Being at an age where nothing happened fast enough, we were appalled at the thought of waiting three more years – a thick percentage of our lifetimes – for a resolution to some major, major plot points! The film also gave us a sense that adulting in any universe might be more complex and confusing than previously thought – but we left this new baggage all packed up in favor of going for ice cream.

Another three years eventually rolled by. And on the eve of my 19th summer, I was finishing my first year at UC Berkeley surrounded by fellow students, all of us buried under piles of notes and books and anxiously studying for finals. We were also camped along the wall outside Oakland’s Piedmont Theater, having queued up hours before to catch Return of the Jedi on its opening night! Because you have to have your priorities.

Reality? Yeah, reality can wait.

And then, let’s see – life happened. 

I graduated. I moved south. I had jobs. I loved people. I lost people. And in the midst of it, I caught the other six Star Wars movies – which I enjoyed even while learning to embrace feeling older and more fidget spun with each passing day.

Looking back on all nine installments, afraid I never got fully onboard with some of the Jedi philosophy. I wanted to call  “shenanigans” over pronouncements about abandoning friends, mourning lost loved ones, and over other “certain point(s) of view”. So I mostly settled for non-Jedi takeaways: like maybe don’t go out onto big metal bridges; or if you announce you have a bad feeling about something, it’s not super helpful –

Or life can always hit you with another Death Star…

In fairness, I did appreciate the Jedi lessons about believing in yourself and trusting your feelings. And I very much respected Luke’s moral compass. I mean, the guy could have settled for becoming an absolute legend at the keg stand but, instead, he struggles his whole life to find and do what’s right – even as the target moves. (And I say “struggles” not “tries” because that’s a whole other Jedi can o’ space slugs…)

During some house cleaning I couldn’t manage to avoid, I finally did turn up a hint of Star Wars from my past! (But I’m keeping Grogu anyway.) It’s hidden in this fuzzy photo of a bulletin board that I filled up in the mid-90’s with things that mattered to me at the time:

A look inside my 90’s mind!

Yup. There along with events of the day and evidence of my burgeoning passion for hockey is that image of Luke as he gazes out across the barren Tatooine landscape, aching for a bigger life. That was the anchor of those movies for me – the tough and trying journey of Mark Hamill’s Luke from an impatient boy to a stalwart hero. 

I have no idea where that board or any item on it even is now – which seems kind of sad. But it’s something to recall that I made sure to take the Luke picture with me when I left my hometown to find my own way in the world – a choice the image may well have helped inspire me to make.

“Well, it was worth a shot…”

Anyway, what was I talking about..? Oh – The Mandalorian! Right right right.

That amazing rollercoaster.

There were lots of exciting moments in the season finale – but it was two of the quieter ones that got to me the most. One was when Din Djarin – a guy whose body and being have been encased in armor for almost all of two seasons – reveals his face for the Child. As I breathlessly said before, it was wrenching to see him let go of that beautiful connection only moments after making it – but hopefully, it’s not for good…

And speaking of faces!

What a sensational and touching reveal that the Jedi who answered Grogu’s call was Luke! Beneath that cloak was the face of a young and self-assured figure I never imagined I’d see again. And in that moment, I realized he’s a hero the kid in the fourth row never stopped admiring – or stopped needing. 

I may have revisited the Star Wars realm to avoid dusting bookshelves – but like Bogie in Casablanca, I wound up getting Paris back.

Not a bad day’s work! Nope – not bad at all.

Reading Kenneth Clark’s take on heroes.

19 comments

  1. I guess at some point we all have to give up our light sabres for Swiffers. 😦 I too still don’t know exactly what Dave was doing in 2001. But HAL’s attitude lives on in every “upgrade” of my PC’s software. 😉

    1. Ha – I think you’re right! I wonder if HAL is responsible for those monoliths showing up here and there lately too!

  2. Jonathan Spencer · · Reply

    I think you just defined the perfect “Sunday morning read.” Thanks for the memories. I know so many people who experienced “Star Wars” at the Coronet in their teens — a time when we all converged on one special place to see something epic. After that, it all kind of spread out and it was different. Not in a bad way, just different.

    1. Aw thank you, Jon – that’s very kind! I think the Coronet may have closed not too long ago. And you’re right – time marches on and paths diverge. But it was fun through “The Mandalorian” kind of to reclaim the memory of a few distant but delightful days! Take care!

  3. Mike Jackson · · Reply

    I was a first year undergraduate (a freshman in US parlance) when tribbles first appeared in a Star Trek episode (‘The Trouble with Tribbles’) in December 1967, although I guess that wasn’t broadcast here in the UK until the next year at the earliest.

    Little did I know that I would meet a real-life Tribble three years later: a girl, Stephanie, who became my wife in 1973! Her maiden name was Tribble, an old West Country – Devon – name.The surname Tribble was apparently brought to England by the Normans. It comes, so I have read, from the French verb “tribler” meaning “to crush, pound, or grind.” I’ve often wondered just how the writer(s) came up with the idea of naming those pesky furry friends tribbles in Star Trek.

    1. So Tribble is a surname! With time here while my car is serviced, I took the book “The Trouble With Tribbles” off my shelf to thumb through. The episode’s author, David Gerrold, writes that the creatures were initially called “fuzzies”. When asked to rename them, he made a list of over 20 potential ones – but “tribble” ended up his favorite. Nothing about how he came up with the name – but he says an indignant woman named Joanne Tribble took the trouble to write in later to say she was NOT round and fuzzy! An interesting fate for a noble Norman moniker… Cheers!

  4. Karen Zumsteg · · Reply

    Loved this piece, Amy! While I did skim-read (since Mandalorian season 2 still awaits my viewing), I loved ALL of the photos of “The Child” exploring your delightful collections!

    1. Thank you, Karen Z – it was a fun little photo session! And enjoy season 2!

  5. I love Grogu using the Force to dust with the Swifter. Awesome.
    We were suffering withdrawals after The Mandalorian so tuned into Star Trek Discovery. I highly recommend it!.
    And I love how you bring your past into your posts.

    1. Sure wish the Force was with me when it comes to cleaning… And yeah – we have a long wait for more Mandalorian. Haven’t checked out the latest season of Discovery but sounds like I ought to catch up! Thanks for the advice – and for reading!

  6. Fun memories on your bookshelf. I was SUCH a fan of the first 3 star Wars but then the next ones could never quite live up to the magic. ( I didn’t see the last one. Maybe I should for closure…)

    1. I’m with you – I’ve watched all the movies but I feel like I was just the right age to love the first three! Alas, I’m not in any target demo now (as evidenced by my use of the word “alas”…) – but the final minutes of ‘The Mandalorian’ proved it’s possible to feel that kid’s sense of wonder even so! Thanks for reading!

  7. Wonderful piece.
    I saw Star Wars at The Coronet. I was living at 17th and California at the time. For years whenever I drove down Geary the Coronet was my landmark denoting the end of the avenues.
    Like many theaters the Coronet is no more. It was razed to make way for a senior care facility.

    Funny thing is that on those occasions when I drive down Geary I still look for the Coronet landmark.
    You might find this article interesting. It mentions Lucas’ affinity for the Coronet.
    https://www.outsidelands.org/coronet.php

    1. Great piece on Coronet history – thank you! I do think it’s sad when those grand old venues don’t make it. And interesting to learn that they were trying to hold on to show another ‘Star Wars’ movie. I really enjoyed ‘The Mandalorian’ even on my little tablet – but ohhh what an event it would have been on a big screen!

    1. Thank you for reading!

  8. Mike Bonomo · · Reply

    Hi Amy!
    I held off reading this because of your spoiler alert, but I decided I’m a big boy and I finally got over that @#$&* spoiler in my biology lab who said ” I wish Darth Vader stuck around for just one more movie”. Well, I’m kinda over it.

    Great blog. Great memories. Well said. I never saw a movie in the Coronet but there was a Russian bakery across the street that my mom used to buy pirozhki for us if she didn’t feel up to baking them at home. I wonder if it is still there. Also, you can see in some of the photos sent by another person above Neptune Society Columbarium that was directly behind the Coronet. I went there with Zac Salem on recommendation from my wonderful California Geography Professor Warren Dolby. As I was exploring the upper levels of the dome, the building was filled with organ music and a funeral service began below in the rotunda. I remember looking down into the open casket and wondering how are we going to get out of here without walking through the service. We crept down the long rounded staircase as the volume slowly increased. Fortunately, as we reached the ground we saw a discreet side exit. Unfortunately, the door creaked like the Munsters front door and everyone glared at us as we hastily made our escape. Then we jumped on the 38 Geary and went to the Cliff House for lunch… but not before buying a dozen piroshki for Mom and the ride home!

    1. What an adventure! Glad you have some nice memories connected to the Coronet environs too. Strange the directions life takes you – my great aunt lived not too far from the Cliff House and we visited her often. But now I haven’t been in that little part of the world in decades…

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