Feeling Old Again

Star Wars* was released thirty years ago today. The movie is a cultural touchstone of my childhood and one that revolutionized cinematic special effects and the moviegoing experience (along with Jaws) creating the must-see blockbuster. Big movies don’t seem the same to me today probably because they are available on DVD & TV shortly after their cinematic release and even low-budget TV shows have decent special effects these days. That and I’m no longer a child and have become a curmudgeonly old man at the tender age of 33.

Anyhow, Star Wars was the first movie I ever saw in a movie theater, or at least the earliest movie I can remember. I saw the movie in the summer of 1977 with my father and sister at The Strand in Oak Bluffs, MA. I remember the seats that slide back & forth in the theater as well or better than seeing the movie itself. I’m also pretty sure that I fell asleep during the movie because I remember our heroes escaping from the trash compactor and in the very next scene they were getting medals. It wasn’t until years later when I saw Star Wars again on TV that I learned that a whole lot happened in-between those two scenes.

That didn’t stop me from loving the movie, looking forward longingly to the sequels, and playing with my Kenner action figures (making up new stories as I went along). The Star Wars empire has pretty devolved into a crass commercial venture and the prequels range from disappointing to downright bad, but there’s still a little kid in me that looks back longingly at the great movie that was Star Wars.

* Cranky Old Man Footnote: Yes, I call the movie Star Wars and I will continue to call it Star Wars no matter how much these geeky, pedantic whippersnappers insist on calling it Episode IV or A New Hope (or worse EIV and ANH). The movie was called Star Wars when it was released and people of my generation can distinguish it just fine without numbers or subtitles, thank you very much.

Great Online Tool for Walkers

Just a quick post to share the Gmaps Pedometer. Basically the creators of this tool have modified Google Maps so that one may draw a line on the map and measure distances for walks. Should be very handy for runners and bicyclists as well. Certainly a nice alternative to when I’ve tried to map a route online and have the mapping tool direct me to take an Interstate highway.

Saint Bede the Venerable


I can’t say I’ve ever made a pilgrimage to place where a saint’s mortal remains rest, at least not on purpose. On a whirlwind trip through England, I made a train stop in Durham so that I could visit the Durham Cathedral and attend the Evensong service. The baggage check at the train station was closed for security reasons so I had to carry my honking big backpack with me as I trudged through the cathedral. My spirits were lifted though when I discovered that the cathedral is the burial place of Saint Bede the Venerable.

Apart from having one of the coolest names of all saints, Bede was also the patron of the church where I worshiped at that time in Williamsburg, VA (an appropriate saint for a city with an English heritage). I’m assuming that photography was not permitted in the cathedral, otherwise I’d have a photo to post.

Bede was first and foremost a scholar. From an early age he studied science, language, arts, ecclesiastical history and scripture. His Ecclesiastical History of the English People is one of the great primary sources for 8th Century Anglo-Saxon research. I guess I’m drawn to Bede because he was a scholar, a writer, and most specifically a patron saint of historians. A lot of medieval saints are known for their miracles and it is hard not to be skeptical about them. Bede’s scholarly approach uses the great gift of education to transmit learning and inspiration to us down through the ages, which I guess is a miracle in of itself.

More on Bede the Venerable at:

Saint of the Day
Catholic Encyclopedia