I was putting some of my books on a shelf today. They had been sitting at the foot of my computer workstation for far too long. Mrs. O had recently cleaned off an old kitchen cart and it looked stable enough to support some books.
Without thinking at all, I put some of the books on the shelf.
From bottom to top:
Ravenloft and other assorted Dungeons and Dragons books.
Julie Taymor: Playing with Fire
The Expectant Father
Mrs. O, who was sitting behind me cleaning her desk off, exclaimed, “Look, its you! Take a picture!!!”.
It hit me. I had apparently subconsciously sorted my life very simply on a bookshelf.
Dungeons and Dragons, Star Wars, Julie Taymor, and fatherhood. In a lot of ways one can really break my life down by those four topics. When I was young, Dungeons and Dragons was a way for me to create stories and mythic scenarios for myself to act out. Although those books are not necessarily mine, I can thank the best, best man to walk the earth, Mr. MH, for those. They definitely symbolize the young me. I was always building toy swords, bow and arrows, forts, spears, and other implements of war. I remember working with my Papa (grandpa) out in his shed, which had an amazing wood stove for heat, and building an amazing bow and arrow from a tree branch and some wire he had acquired, from the local town dump, I think. We carved out the arrowheads out of little stones, and away I went. In a lot of ways I was a younger version of Daniel Day Lewis from Last of the Mohicans.
Ever since I can remember I have loved Star Wars. My parents taped them from TV in the early 1980s (don’t worry, I got them on VHS and DVD later). I can still remember those tapes. The awesome plastic cases. My mom’s handwriting on them. They were perfect. I remember mostly being transfixed with Han Solo. There are three great moments in all of the Star Wars films that matter.
1. Luke looking off at the twin suns on Tatooine.
2. Han saying “I know” to Leia on Bespin.
3. The frog-like alien on Tatooine who eats another alien near Jabba’s Palace.
As a 12-year -old, those scenes were my life blood. I knew that aliens had weird taste buds, love can be found between scoundrels and princesses (also, that princesses can fight with laser blaster), and that bringing up the music during a scene when a character looks up at the sun during magic hour will always bring tears to a person’s eyes.
Fast forward to age 20. It’s 3 in the morning. My friends Tommy and Nick and I are working on a film project. I have rented Titus from Blockbuster, which is right across the street. We decide to watch.
What unfolded in front of my eyes was something that I hadn’t seen in previous films and in the previous seven months of my film program. It was high art, high concept, perfectly cast, perfectly acted, and was based on an amazing William Shakespeare play. My brain was expanding and finding new ways to tell classic important stories. My brain was thinking in ways that I never thought possible.
Fast forward again. I found the future Mrs. O. I was 28. All of the films, sci fi, and nerdy happenings in my life brought me to her. Randomly, on top of this pyramid, is The Expectant Father.
I never thought I would be where I am. In reality this is just a book pyramid in the corner of a room. But the images, words, stories, ideas, emotions, experiences, smiles, frowns, laughs, cries, red lights, green lights, lightsaber battles, crossbow diagrams, screenplays, short stories, computers, set designs, quiet time, sleeping, music, conversations, phone calls, eventually lead you to one place. And it is the best place to be.
Someday this child and I and Mrs. O will sit down together and speak as equals across or next to each other at a table. And it will be awesome. And then we will probably debate which version of Blade Runner is best: the one with the voiceover or the one without. I vote for the one without. The story is much, much more concise and it doesn’t take the audience for a bunch of fools.
I love you Mrs. O. I love you Baby O. I will always be here for you to ask questions, and if you ever need help building a sword, I am pretty sure I still have my notebook of schematics for you to expand upon.