Saturday, June 5, 2010

Rambling and incoherent babbling about signposts. Read on.

Have you ever started blogging, with a vague idea in mind, just to see where it would go?

Well, that's what I'm doing tonight. And I make NO promises.

I've been thinking about signposts.

Specifically, pop culture signposts. As we travel the road of our lives, we periodically pull over and erect a signpost, to commemorate an event, that will shape the course of our life. Maybe historical marker would be a better term than signpost, but I'm not going to keep writing "historical marker" over and over again. And it seems we often stamp these sign posts with a piece of pop art.

What got me thinking about this was listening to a podcast today, called the "Grizzly Bear Egg Cafe." It's put on by two guys, Clayton Morris and Mike Quackenbush, who are probably five years younger than I am, so they're in their very early thirties. These two have been best friends all their lives, and their podcast is about whatever they happen to want to talk about -- which is often about the pop culture of their childhood, and not infrequently about Transformers. And, specifically, about the Transformers Movie -- not the Shia LeBouf film, but the animated movie from 1986.

Apparently this movie has a MASSIVE following from people just a few years younger than me. As a child of the 70's and 80's -- a smack dab in the middle of it, Generation Xer -- I am fairly saturated with pop culture, but I have NEVER seen this movie. I only vaguely recall that there even was one. But for the next generation -- the Generation they call "Y" -- it's a defining moment in their lives.

And that's my point -- if I actually have one -- they don't love this movie because it  was a fantastic piece of cinema (it may or may not have been), they love it because it reminds them of their childhood. Not the chores and the homework or the daily drudgery of life childhood, but the idealized childhood of their imaginations. The Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn childhood. They've erected a monument to youth.

We all do this, and we stamp a pop culture image on to it to make it recognizable, and easier to see (and remember) as we look back down the path that we've been traveling.

Sometimes the images on these sign posts are relevant, and sometimes they're just random. I find that fascinating. For instance, whenever I hear the song "The Living Years" by Mike and the Mechanics, I think about driving home one winter evening when I was sixteen, after having just kissed a certain girl. That song has nothing to do with High School romance of any sort -- it would be more appropriate to think of my late father (but when I think of his funeral, I think of Sarah McLachlan's "Full of Grace").

But when I think of the night I proposed to my wife, it's always accompanied by Celine Dion singing "When I fall in love," from the Sleepless in Seattle soundtrack.

For those of us born under the sign of "X" there are a lot of these signposts, but there are two that loom larger than anything else.

Star Wars and Indiana Jones.

These two movie franchises permeate some aspect of my life to this day. I may not be out playing  with Star Wars figures (then again, I just may), or even watching the movies. But they are always there. They are integrated into my very thought processes. I think, morally, in terms of the light and dark sides of the Force. Yoda is one of the most profound philosophers in history to me (Wars not make one great. Try not. Do or do not. There is no try.)

I trace my intense love of history directly back to December 9, 1981 -- the night I sat in the giant Villa Theater, watching Raiders of the Lost Ark, for my best friend Aaron's ninth birthday.

Some people would find these notions ridiculous -- the idea that Star Wars is the most profound piece of philosophy in the last two hundred years -- and I wouldn't blame them, it is. But no one ever said that truth isn't ridiculous. And, I'd be willing to bet that they have a few of these sacred historical markers of their own.

So, as you look back down the path of your lives, what images appear on your signposts?


{krista} said...

the movie Gung Ho... and that's all i'm gonna say about that...

Emily said...

I am on the cusp where Gen X meets Gen Y. And my brothers still think it's a major travesty that the original Transformers movie did not win an Oscar. They feel that way about the Ninja Turtle movie as well. And as a side note, one of my (many) talents is that I can still sing every word to that original theme song. ;)

Aaron said...

Ninth birthday.....what a great day. I don't remember the whole movie from that night, nor do I remember anything else but two moments stick out in my mind....

#1 - When he pulls Marion out of that plane and they go running off hand in hand as the plane explodes I remember thinking "THIS IS A GREAT FREAKING MOVIE!!!!"

#2 - Walking out of the theater after it was was dark outside and remember thinking "I just saw the best movie of my life.....and it didn't even have laser guns!!!"

Good times....

Anonymous said...

I always lurk but rarely comment, but I have to agree with you on the Star Wars philosophy thing. Maybe it's because I'm LDS too, but I have been able to have some serious gospel discussions with my 4yr using Star Wars analogies. In fact, I just bought my husband this book for his birthday last month...

Another blast from the past, I just watch the original Karate Kid with my kids tonight. Now that was some serious nostalgia right there! :-)

Emmy said...

Hmmm I think I am a generation Y, what is the cut off date?