I was a guest on the STAR WARS MINUTEpodcast — a show where they analyze, scrutinize and celebrate the STAR WARS saga, one minute at a time. We spent 38 minutes discussing minute 111 of THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. (That’s the minute where Darth Vader tells Luke he is his father.)
Fun-fact: The episode was taped live at the Parkside Lounge. And I was at the Parkside Lounge the night I saw the midnight screening of Episode I. The podcast taping was a much better than being at the Ziegfeld Theater while a packed house experienced collective denial.
Last night I saw Bobcat Goldthwait at the Museum of the Moving Image (doing a Q&A after his excellent, low-fi Bigfoot movie WILLOW CREEK) and asked him to tell the story, since there’s no evidence of it on the entire internet (short of my own blog post.)
Here’s Bob describing his gag on The Arsenio Hall Show:
I wanted to share this oral history because there’s a trend in low-paid journalism — if you can’t find a clip online, it’s as if it never happened. Let this oral history become part of the collective memory.
Lastly: Bobcat is a terrific interviewee, if you have the chance to see him live, do it.
I attended a screening COONSKIN (aka STREET FIGHT) at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, which is part of their Series on Ralph Bakshi.
I noticed that when one character points his pistol to the camera it played like the end of THE GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY.
After the screening Bakshi was signing merchandise and the person in front of me was buying an animation cell of that very scene. So I asked Bakshi if this was, in fact, a reference.
He said “No.”
The one-word answer felt pretty loaded, as if to say “No, you over-educated pencil-neck geek. Don’t believe everything they tell you in college.” (It was like he was Jimmy James and I was Lisa Miller.)
My friend Eric said that THE GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY has so permeated film culture that it may have been an unconscious homage.
But saying that to Bakshi would just be me digging my ditch even deeper.
Not that fancy-pants college boys know about digging ditches.
My wife’s new novel is about a recovering alcoholic, so she asked me to write about my favorite recovery stories on her website. But here I wanted to write about my own tale — which is also one of my favorite recovery stories.
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Two major events happened during my senior year of college: George Lucas released special editions of the original STAR WARS trilogy and my high-school girlfriend tried to commit suicide.
For a college student in the ’90s there was a lot of anticipation for the STAR WARS prequels. After all, the first three films played a significant part of our childhood. Like most kids I knew, I’d memorized dialogue from the movies, played with STAR WARS action figures, slept on EMPIRE STRIKES BACK sheets — I even defended RETURN OF THE JEDI to cynical adults who hated the Ewoks. (If they only knew what the prequels held in store!)
So I was genuinely excited to revisit this part of my past and look ahead to the future of STAR WARS movies. Which, maybe, in some way, was tied to the hope for my own future since I’d be graduating college and starting the next chapter in my life. (Of course the STAR WARS stories were anything but futuristic, they took place “a long time ago” — and the very nature of prequels meant they took place even earlier. But still!)
Before I would get a chance to see any of these refurbished films, I found out my ex-girlfriend had tried to kill herself.
It was an awful phone call to receive and it was one of those things that came as a real shock but also it was rather un-surprising. (Let me know if that makes sense.)
The good news was she was still alive. She was committed to a group home, living with other at-risk patients in their late-teens/early-twenties. I got to visit a few times and she said that it was so nice to see me because I didn’t treat her like she was some broken glass figurine. I wasn’t afraid of her. We could really talk to each other. She was still my close friend, she was my first love and we still understood each other. (Looking back at those visits, I cringe thinking about how I talked when I should’ve listened. I was clumsy with emotions and I wish I could do it differently. But that’s not the point of this story.)
During my visits she’d tell me about her day-to-day at the home: she was in counseling, she was in group therapy, she was made to watch videos about topics like depression, rage and co-dependency. And that led to a very difficult conversation.
(Man, this is hard to write….)
Having learned a lot about Alcoholism, my ex-girlfriend hesitantly told me that I had all the signs of an Adult Child of Alcoholics.
At this point, I all but put my fingers in my ears and sang out a list of reasons she was wrong:
my family’s hang-ups come from being Catholic.
my Dad does shift-work so he has meals at different times of day.
my parents grew up in a different era.
I have dozens of reasons why I never drink alcohol, let’s not bring my family into it.