Note: No 'spoiler alerts' are necessary for this column. There will be no mention of what actually happens in the movie. Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher are in it, but you already knew that.
It's been 38 years since the world was introduced to Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, Han Solo, Princess Leia, Wookies, Jawas, C3PO, R2D2, and the Death Star. We quickly and eagerly learned about places like Alderaan and Tatooine, and wondered how a piece of space junk like the Millennium Falcon could outrun the evil empire. For this 13 year-old in 1977, and millions of other kids and adults alike, many without really realizing it, it was mind-altering. Two generations later, it seems to be happening all over again.
In the middle of the afternoon, several hours before the first showing of Star Wars: The Force Awakens Thursday at the Del Oro Theater in Grass Valley, there were about a couple dozen people camped out. They already had tickets, but spent the night on the street, just so they could be first in the door. Surprisingly (at least to me), first in line was a 13 year-old boy.
“When I first started watching Star Wars I was with my uncle, and he loved Star Wars”, Andrew Williams said. “He showed me all of the movies and I loved them all, and then about a year and a half ago, he told us it was coming out and we were all so excited and now it's here.”
Williams was there with his sister, who was asleep under a pile of blankets, and her boyfriend, who popped his head out from under the covers to see who Andrew was talking to. When asked why he had to be the first in, 20 year-old Payne Martin said “You gotta go big, right? You can't be at the back of the line. You've got to be in front of the line. It was a major deal for all of us to be number one.”
Behind them in line were a bunch of teenagers. Not one of them was alive when the fist movie came out, and many weren't quite born yet when the first of the prequels, Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, was released in 1999. That release generated buzz among Star Wars fan—the first Star Wars movie in 16 years, after the 1983 release of Return of the Jedi, but not as much as there is now. Two non-memorable (I haven't seen them) prequels followed, followed by the now-Disney owned release, ten years after Revenge of the Sith.
There was a 50-something man in the crowd. He said he was about 12 when the first movie came out, and saw it at Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood the day it was released in 1977 (I saw it there, too, but not on Opening Day). He said he has attended every Star Wars opener since, and was bringing his five kids to this one.
On a rainy Monday evening in Yuba City, four days after the open and a couple dozen showings in, crowds were big and the theater was close to capacity, but there were no lines and no camping out. Many in the crowd started to applaud when Han Solo first appeared, but weren't sure if they should. They pretty much decided against it when we saw Leia for the first time. But at the end of the movie where... (just kidding). Polite applause did break out, though, when the final credits appeared.
It apparently takes three years to make a Star Wars film. The original (later dubbed Episode IV: A New Hope) debuted in 1977, followed by Empire Strikes Back in 1980 and Return of the Jedi in 1983. After a 16 year hiatus, the first prequel, The Phantom Menace, appeared in 1999, followed by Attack of the Clones in 2002 and Revenge of the Sith in 2005. All six movies had May release dates. Mark your calendars for 2018 for the next installment. For now, we'll call it Star Wars Episode VIII: Disney Strikes Again.
Holy War: This year's college football bowl season is underway, beginning with a couple of 'who cares?' games but also included an unlikely classic. It was prudent of organizers of the Royal Purple (whatever that is) Las Vegas Bowl to revive the great in-state rivalry between BYU and Utah known locally as the “Holy War”. Unfortunately, you have to believe most viewers, however many there were outside of the Beehive State, bailed in the first quarter when Utah took a 35-0 lead in about ten minutes. The Utes would not score again, and the Cougars rally fell short, but the final ended up being 35-28. The two teams were members of the same conference for years, and faced each other in the final regular season game, but were victims of the sport's greed and realignment that sent the Utah to the Pac-12, while BYU decided that they would go independent instead of playing in a non-major conference. The schools will resume their rivalry, albeit in September, in 2016.
Holy War II: The best part of the ABC telecast was the return from exile of play-by-play man Brent Musberger. In the final minutes of the first quarter with BYU down 35-0, Musberger said “I feel sorry for my Mormon friends out there. They don't drink.” Musberger has been relegated to doing games on the SEC Network, which is owned by ESPN, but will be doing the Rose Bowl on ESPN New Year's Day.
Gold Sox nuggets: In a November 10 article in the Appeal-Democrat, the newspaper reported that the Marysville Gold Sox and the City of Marysville are at odds over the lease of the stadium. The city owns the ballpark, and claims that the team failed to make a notification deadline required for the team to play there next year. While that seems like a technicality, the paper also reported that Marysville wants to increase the amount of the lease, which is currently 40-thousand dollars a year. While the paper didn't mention this, that figure is rumored to be close to the amount the Gold Sox get from the stadium's naming rights currently held by Colusa Casino.
More Sox: Spencer Lininger (College of San Mateo), who played with the team last season and is the son of former owner Tom Lininger, has signed to play with the Chugiak-Eagle River Chinooks of the Alaska League this summer. The Gold Sox, who are under new ownership, in a new league, and have a new manager, have yet to announce a player signing for 2016.
Dodgers update: The team has done more of the same. Nothing.