Here’s Lookin’ at You || Casablanca

“Everybody Comes to Rick’s” … At least that is what I assume was written on the invitation.

My first experience with Casablanca was a fancy-dress housewarming party, thrown by my parents after they had finished constructing our new home in Cheyenne, Wyoming. The event took place in our spacious, fully-furnished basement, and neither my sister nor I were invited. It was after our bedtime, but I remember our doorbell ringing, adults strolling in wearing trench coats or elegant gowns. They looked different from the grownups I was used to, many of them having traded their Stetsons for Fedoras. This was because, I later learned, the party was Casablanca-themed (my parent were such nerds). Today, the only momentos of that dreamlike occasion are the movie poster that hangs on Robin’s wall (my Dad, Richard, invited all the guests to sign the back of the frame), and the peacock-blue, bejeweled dress that hung for years thereafter in my mom’s closet.

This was “the start of [my] beautiful friendship” with the quintessential Hollywood flick. As summarized on its IMDb page: “A cynical nightclub owner protects an old flame and her husband from Nazis in Morocco.”

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“The Force Will Be With You. Always.” || A New Hope

There was really no other movie I could have written about this week. What can I say about Star Wars? That it’s the movie(s) I most associate with my father? That John Williams’ soaring, celestial score is practically imprinted on my genes? Or perhaps I should admit how, even if I wrote 100 posts on this film, I would still not be able to say all that I want to about that galaxy far, far away…

If I’m being honest, I can’t recall the first time I watched Star Wars with my father. It was just always THERE. Every Christmas, Birthday, and Father’s Day, Dad would inevitably receive a Darth Vader-themed present from my sister and I. He had shelves full of mugs, figures, books, and novelty-items (a lightsaber pen, for example) featuring the Dark Lord. The reason why Star Wars had always been with us, my mom later explained, was because it had always been Dad’s “thing.”

I joke that without Star Wars, I wouldn’t exist. When it debuted in 1977, mom and dad went to the theatre for their first official (solo) date. This went well, so they had another, and another, until finally they had me (there was some other stuff that happened in between). Long after a farm boy, a princess, and a scoundrel first traversed the galaxy, the Force remained strong in my family. And it continues to, even though my father is no longer with us on this particular blue planet. As I near the fourth anniversary of his passing, it only feels right to share my thoughts on Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. As summarized on its IMDb page: “Luke Skywalker joins forces with a Jedi Knight, a cocky pilot, a Wookiee and two droids to save the galaxy from the Empire’s world-destroying battle-station, while also attempting to rescue Princess Leia from the evil Darth Vader.”

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Sit Down, John: The Music and Mythos of 1776

The backstabbing, the compromises, the pleading, the tears, the struggle… the DRAMA. In a word (two words): American Politics. And with such heightened emotions playing out upon a national stage, why wouldn’t you set it to music? No, this week’s entry is not Hamilton, but that other tuneful tale about American history: 1776.

As summarized on the IMDb page: “a 1972 musical retelling [by Sherman Edwards] of the American Revolution’s political struggle in the Continental Congress to declare independence.”

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