A Geek Is Born: Part 2

Even though Lawrenceville, Georgia was the county seat of Gwinnett County it was still a pretty small city in 1983. The population was about to grow rapidly but at that time Lawrenceville was small enough that it had one movie theater which was located in the same shopping center as Roses and a pharmacy that later sold discounted Atari cartridges. For years, before the mall arrived and with it multiple theaters, it was THE place for the Porterfields to go see movies. We went there in 1981 to see “E.T., the Extraterrestrial” which was my first memory of a movie. But even more powerful to me was in 1983 when my dad took me to see “Return of the Jedi.” I don’t need to tell you much about the movie itself because it’s likely one you’ve already seen, but as a 6-year-old kid who’s only connection with “STAR WARS” was playing with his older brother’s action figures, it was a mind altering experience. After watching that Luke Skywalker became my first hero of fiction. Darth Vader was the coolest character I ever saw. And the Emperor would, from that day forward, represent my measuring stick for an evil character. I was utterly captivated by the space battles, the swashbuckling, and the wild creatures. I can go on and on about what the content of the movie did to me. And given that “STAR WARS” became my favorite cultural artifact I likely will at some point. But perhaps even more important than the characters of the film was the introduction to me my first glimpse of the scope of special effects. Yes, even though I was only 6 I recognized that the creatures, space ships, and lightsabers were special effects. And in my next post, I’ll tell you what was likely the Big Bang of my geekdom.

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