My mother took me to see The Empire Strikes Back. And The Return of the Jedi. And the first couple of Indiana Jones films. I saw ET and Close Encounters with friends’ families. The first movie I saw at a cinema, without adult supervision, was Back to the Future. A bunch of us from school went into town together. All of this happened before anyone in the street had a VHS player. Or a BETA for that matter.
My favourite toys in those days were all Star Wars. I had about thirty figures and three major pieces of tech. The best was an x-wing fighter. I loved that x-wing more than anything I have owned since. I had a Hoth base, that I later watched melt in a bonfire (a cross between science experiment and declaration of adolescence) and a remote control Land Speeder that was impossible to steer. I have none of it now. The figures got left at a friend’s place – we were tiring of Star Wars by then. I have no idea what happened to the vehicles.
Star Wars enjoyed a renaissance when I was about twenty. This was before the announcement of the prequels and a good three years before Star Wars merchandise returned to the stores. It was also when I got my first full-time job. It became a hobby. I drove around to fairs, markets and garage sales and bought every old Star Wars thing I could get my hands on. I ended up with far more than I had ever had as a kid, heaps of the original Kenner toys. I had a Desert Skiff, Millennium Falcon, AT-ST Walker, and an Imperial Shuttle. A full collection of pop-up books and soundtrack albums. Han Solo in Carbonite and every single Ewok. I even managed to find the very rare cardboard Death Star. Then I crashed my old Kingswood into a brand new Mitsubishi (I was driving too fast in the rain). I sold the entire collection at an April Collectors’ Market to cover the $6000 excess.
Lego was never much on my radar. I had a few kits as a kid, but nothing bigger than a snack bar. I was vaguely aware when Lego started making Star Wars sets. It reminded me of a documentary I had seen, in which a spokesperson said that Lego would never do licencing. That seems hard to imagine now. But one year, returning from my very first Rusticatio immersion, I popped into a Washington DC Lego store and saw Boba Fett’s Slave One just sitting there, waiting for me. I bought it. I took it home, built the first of five bags, and popped it into the cupboard. I just wasn’t that into it.
And there it sat for at least four years, until the announcement that Disney had bought Lucas Films and that there would be more Star Wars films coming. Then I dragged it out and gave it another go. I loved it. It was a difficult time at work, I was feeling an incredible amount of pressure, and there was something about sitting quietly and following simple instructions that was akin to meditation. It wasn’t long before the collector in me rose to the surface once more. What Lego Star Wars kits had I missed over the years? Which could I find at a good price? Instead of markets and garage sales, it was Gum Tree and e-bay. I now have quite a collection. And after about a year of that I bought my first modular kit – the Parisian Restaurant. I thought it would look good on top of the bookcase. (And the Brick Bank would look good beside it...)
My other great love is Latin. I came to it at the age of 22, and was taken with it immediately. It wasn’t that I found it easy – I didn’t. But I’ve been doing it for twenty odd years now and can finally sit and read a book of the Aeneid without a dictionary. Reading Latin is one of my greatest pleasures. But from the beginning I wanted to write Latin too. I particularly wanted to write picture books, which was hard because I cannot draw. My first attempt was the Gilbo series, which can be found here on Tar Heel Reader. I used the wonderful South Park Studio to create the characters. I also began writing an Orberg style translation of The Hobbit, although I didn’t enjoy translation as much as writing an original work. (Thanks to Arianne, however, for hosting the three chapters I did write here on her terrific blog, Latin for Everyone.)
Legonium is my favourite project to date. The idea came to me on a sunny afternoon walking in the park. I had just that morning read Ellie Arnold’s Cloelia and was feeling both excited and – I confess it – a little jealous of all the awesome Latin that was being written at that (this!) moment. I desperately wanted to be a part of it. By the time I got home the basic idea of Legonium was there and I began writing the first episode immediately, introducing the character of Marcellus. The ending, however, was a bit dull, so I stood a very cool woman in black on the roof of the bank. I figured I could work out what she was doing there later. I am still working it out.
This year they are watching Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. Is this film pleasing to you? It is certainly pleasing to Scipio.