Brace yourself: 'Star Wars' is coming!

Long ago, in a galaxy far, far away ...

Actually, it was last week in a gymnasium in the neighborhood. I was tutoring the Starbuck twins, Eric and Adam, in Physics. They're sophomores at Canyon Del Oro High School, and they both have that delightful personality trait where the only thing better than getting a higher score than everybody else in the class is getting a higher score than their twin brother.

Their dad, Dave, who owns Starbuck Design, makes cool T-shirts for my ballplayers. He and I get together every now and then to argue politics and talk about how great our respective kids are. And no, he's not related to the coffee chain, because the coffee chain uses an entirely made-up name! Dave can trace his roots back two centuries to the whaling village of Nantucket. (Herman Melville, for authenticity's sake, used a character named Starbuck in Moby Dick.)

Meanwhile, the coffee people sat around one day and said, "Hey, let's make up a name for our coffee place. Let's make it something strong-sounding and memorable, and at the same time, let's make life miserable for that T-shirt guy in Tucson."

It's like that time on 60 Minutes when Andy Rooney went looking for Mrs. Smith, of frozen-pie fame. Turns out there is no Mrs. Smith. It's just a friendly name that some suit came up with to help push pies on an unsuspecting public. Next thing you're going to tell me is that there's no Uncle Ben, and he doesn't have a thing goin' on with Aunt Jemima.

Anyway, I was helping these two kids, because they have a big test coming up. (They're so creepy polite: They phone me, call me "Mr. Danehy" and ask if they can make an appointment to get tutoring. They even offer to pay me, which, of course, is an insult.)

We were getting to the end of the lesson when I realized that I had with me a copy of that week's Entertainment Weekly. Featured that week was a pop-culture quiz with 100 trivia questions about the movies, and a bonus of 40 questions just about the Star Wars movie franchise. I know that the twins were deep into the Lord of the Rings nonsense, so I decided to ask them some Star Wars questions. It's always good to let kids know that they don't know a lot of stuff, lest they start thinking that they know a lot of stuff.

The quiz was in three sections--Padawan, Jedi and Jedi Master. That, in and of itself, almost made me want to throw the magazine away. I'm old enough to have seen (and enjoyed) the first three movies when they came out. They were fun and entertaining, but ever since Jim Jones died, I decided to pass on that whole cult thing.

I saw The Phantom Menace when it finally got to the dollar theater (which now costs $3). It was dreadful. I never saw Episode Two, the Clones one, and I won't see the new one unless they do to me what they did to Alex DeLarge in Clockwork Orange--strap me in a chair and prop my eyelids open.

I start asking the questions, and they start shouting out the answers, even though many of the answers are multiple-choice. The questions are like: A high level of what microscopic organisms indicate great powers of the Force?

If you knew that the answer is Midi-chlorians, I sincerely hope you didn't say it out loud as you were reading this.

They breezed through the first part, getting every question right. In the second section, they didn't know that 3263827 was the actual serial number of the trash compactor that almost crushed Han, Luke, Leia and Chewbacca in the Death Star. (If they had known that, I would have been very frightened.) They also didn't know that Chewbacca's eyes are blue. Nobody gets that question right. Everybody says brown, a phenomenon which, in honor of the passing of Johnnie Cochran, we can blame on Mark Fuhrman and the LAPD.

By the time we got to the extra, super-duper hard questions in the third section, I was thinking to myself, "These poor kids are never going to reproduce." Somehow they knew that Keira Knightley played one of Queen Amidala's handmaidens and that Ewan McGregor's uncle played Wedge Antilles in each of the original three movies.

They struggled a bit when the questions veered away from the actual movies. (What feature film marked the first post-Star Wars role for Carrie Fisher? A: The Blues Brothers.) But overall, they got 35 out of 40. That's just sad.

I gave the quiz to my late-twentysomething friend, Rob, and he scored just about as high. When I got on him about it, he said, "What about your ability to quote scores from basketball games that were played in the 1980s?"

I said, "Even though it's just basketball, those games involved real people, and they actually happened."

He gave me a "Yeah, and?" look.

The final installment of Star Wars will open on, apparently, every movie screen in America on May 19. It's going to be a long summer.

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