May the force be with you this Father’s Day

This is my Sunday column for the June 16, 2013 edition of the Hibbing Daily Tribune.

May the force be with you this Father’s Day
By Aaron J. Brown

Before we begin, I must disclose that my credentials as a full-fledged Star Wars nerd are pretty thin. I saw all the movies as a kid, of course, and again later, but did not memorize them. As an adult I once attempted to make a joke about it being so cold in a restaurant that we’d have to cut open “one of those Star Wars things” to survive the night. The guy I was with informed me that those things were called tauntauns. Even then, I believed tauntauns to be mammals, only to learn just recently that they are, in fact, “ice lizards.”

Actually, I credit fatherhood of three boys as a major step in rounding out my Star Wars education later in life. My boys started with trucks and trains, moved to LEGO blocks and then realized that Target and Wal-Mart dedicate a whole country aisle to Star Wars LEGO sets. And since these sets were so cool, we began acquiring them here and there.

Until very recently, Star Wars was quite an abstract concept for my boys. Han Solo seemed cool. Luke Skywalker sure has big blond hair, huh? Princess Leia seems alright (an understatement probably related to their being 8- and almost 6-years-old, respectively). And it didn’t take long to figure out that Darth Vader was the unquestioned Bad Guy. But all of this was undeveloped, a pile of LEGOs on the floor … literally.

One day killing time in Grand Rapids before a school program for the boys, Christina and I hit some of the mid-week garage sales (a unique feature of this western quasi-Range city). We hit one that looked like a bust, a quick scan revealing nothing we wanted. But as we were leaving, Christina noticed something out of the corner of her eye. Sitting on the table by the proprietors and their cash box was a black box. She strolled closer and realized that it was the complete original Star Wars trilogy and all three of the new “prequel” movies, along with a bonus features disc.

They were selling the works for $10.
It was interesting trying to get a read on the situation. It was a row of women and one grown man with glasses, to whom the Star Wards DVDs clearly belonged. We don’t know if he had upgraded to Blu-Ray, digitized his collection or if he had been told to let them go. He was clearly apprehensive about selling them.

I informed him that we have three boys, all of whom are ready to be introduced to the Star Wars series. These discs will enlighten an entire new generation of boys to the ways of the force. He gave a thin smile and said, “Actually, that does make me feel a little better.”

We dropped a sawbuck and got out of there with the DVDS.

The night after we watched “The Empire Strikes Back” the boys were lying in bed, finally slowing down after many exciting light saber battles and crashing star ships. George muttered aloud, “I can’t believe Darth Vader is Luke’s father.” Doug replied, “What happened to him?” George answered, “He let his anger take over.”

I just sat in the chair, quietly, with a broad smile knowing that the spark had fired. You couldn’t ask for a better dad moment than that.

It did occur to me the next night, for “Return of the Jedi,” that Luke cuts off Darth Vader’s arm and burns him on a funeral pyre, something I hope the boys don’t replicate at home. I suppose at some point we’ll watch the prequels. They’re even planning to release new movies. We’ll be ready.
Happy Father’s Day, everyone.

Aaron J. Brown is an author and instructor at Hibbing Community College. He writes the blog and hosts the Great Northern Radio Show on Northern Community Radio ( The next show will broadcast live from the Reif Center in Grand Rapids at 5 p.m. Saturday, June 29. For more information, call KAXE at 218-326-1234.

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