Howdy. I'm Matt Todd. My wife and I have four kids and a dog,. I'm passionate about orphan care. I'm a die-hard fan of the Evansville Aces, the Indiana Hoosiers, and Star Wars. I'm trying to live life by the Todd family motto: "It behooves us to live!"

This is not the Rogue One post you’re looking for

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Rogue One a Star Wars Story movie Poster

A Star Wars Backstory:

Bear with me, this backstory is a little long. But it’s worth it. I think. In early 1997, George Lucas and friends released the Special Edition of the Star Wars (original) Trilogy. My friends and I geeked out. Many of us were too young to really remember watching A New Hope (still my favorite Star Wars movie) . We heard stories of people camping out in front of movie theaters to see Star Wars. Growing up, I thought that was pretty cool. As a child, I resolved to camp outside a movie theater in order to be one of the first to watch a Star Wars sequel.

For a moment, I considered camping out for the opening of the Special Edition. But I couldn’t. I had classes to attend and I couldn’t justify skipping class so early in the semester. So I did the next best thing. I served as a go-between for an underclassmen who did camp out the night before and a group of a dozen or so friends, including a professor (or two – I think). I placed the ticket orders and collected the money. He stayed out all night, got a special first-screening with employees, and was first in line to buy all of our tickets. Remember, this was long before the days of buying your tickets online.

To reward myself for coordinating such a logistical feat, I bought myself two tickets. One for the matinee showing of A New Hope with my buddy, Scott. The second one was for the showing immediately after the matinee. That one was with my good friend, Mike, and my roommate, Matt. I knew this would be a day long-remembered. So I wanted to do something extra-special and watch A New Hope twice in one night. It was my destiny.

Matt, Mike, Scott, and I were pretty good friends. They were even in our wedding.

our-wedding-party

It was only fitting that I celebrate this great night with all of them. Right?

Scott and I arrived early and grabbed the best seats in the house before everyone else showed up. The next thing I knew, our theater was packed and abuzz with excitement in anticipation of watching the film that defined an entire generation (or two) on the big screen. We even invited everyone to join us in singing happy birthday to our professor. It was the same professor who participated in my mass ticket buying extravaganza. Thinking back nearly twenty years later, I probably should’ve given him his ticket for free, since it was his birthday and all. Unfortunately, I don’t think I was very clear-headed at the moment. I mean, I was about to see STAR WARS ON THE BIG SCREEN!


Fandango - Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Sweepstakes

So we sang, we laughed, and we waited. When the 20th Century Fox fanfare announced the film’s beginning, I’m pretty sure we clapped. And I was bouncing on my seat like a giddy schoolboy as the introductory paragraphs crawled across the starlit screen. I was in heaven. There were a few additions that bothered me (don’t get me started on the re-inserted Jabba scene or the Ronto, and can we please go back to Han shooting first? He was a scoundrel, after all), but I still loved watching the movie again. For the first time. Or something like that. It really was everything I had hoped it would be. And more.

As Scott and I left the movie theater, we were greeted with cheers and thunderous applause from a line of people. OK, thunderous might be a bit excessive. Work with me here. They were next in line to watch the movie. And they were just as excited as we were. There were high fives and claps of joy and still more cheering. It was quite a communal experience. I saw Matt and Mike in line so I scurried out the theater so I could re-enter the theater and take my rightful place by their side.

“WWJD?”

As I leaf the building, I stopped to talk to Christy and our friend Angie. They he’d just finished watching a non-Star Wars related movie. I don’t remember which one. I bet they don’t, either. Because this was Star Wars night. That was all that mattered.

So I was talking to Christy and Angie for a moment when I overheard another Milligan student say that Star Wars was sold out for the night and he couldn’t get a ticket. He was walking toward the parking lot and was obviously pretty bummed.

So I stopped talking to Christy. “I’ll be right back,” I said.

“What are you doing?” Angie asked. “Are you giving him your ticket?”

“It’s what Jesus would do,” I said as I walked toward him.

I have no idea if that’s what Jesus would do or not, if I’m going to be honest. I’m not sure if Jesus really cared that I sold the guy my ticket at face-value. But I did it. And I wound up standing up two of my good friends on an important night. After giving him the ticket, I went back in and broke the news to Matt and Mike.

They were bummed. I was bummed. I had been looking forward to watching it with them. Since we’re being honest, I found myself questioning this decision all night long.

Renewed buzz. And hope.

Almost twenty years later, Star Wars fandom was abuzz once again. This time, it wasn’t a re-release. It wasn’t even a new episode in the Star Wars saga. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story promised to be different. It centered on an entirely new set of characters. As a stand-alone film, it also promised a grittier feel than the Star Wars saga. With fresh blood in the creative team, it had the potential of infusing some new, energetic, and creative juice into the Star Wars film franchise. It also promised a hearty amount of nostalgia.

The nostalgia was there. In droves. The ships, weapons, sets, costumes, overall design, and, of course, the storyline all tied directly into A New Hope. There were a lot Easter eggs and cameos that tie this film directly into the Original Trilogy. But I stopped counting them because I lost track.

I have a few problems with some of the special effects efforts. But since I want this to be spoiler-free, I’m not going to go into any more detail than that. These concerns, however, are minor in the grand scheme of the film. It’s nothing atrocious like Jar Jar Binks or Greedo shooting first or the introduction of midichlorians. So we’re good.


Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Tickets

A reunion at Rogue One

Through a series of events beyond my control, I wound up with a group of people at the opening of Rogue One, sitting right beside my old college roommate. We entered a new age of Star Wars films with the arrival of stand-alone “Star Wars stories” together. So while I might not have shared in the revival of Star Wars on the big screen almost twenty years ago, I did get to usher in this new era. It will be a day long remembered, for sure.

With my reputation of taking selfies before people knew what selfies were, you’d think I would have thought to take a selfie with Matt while we were together. Unfortunately, I didn’t. So you’re going to have to settle for this one:

star-wars-selfie

As we sat through the closing credits, I turned to Matt and said, “That was amazing. In fact, t was so amazing that I don’t think I want to watch it again.” This puts the film in some pretty rare air. I think only Saving Private Ryan and Schindler’s List fall into that category. Now that the dust has settled, I don’t think it’s quite on that level of film, but it’s still pretty great. And I’m ready to see it again.

Does this make me excited for the upcoming stand-alone movies? I’m not sure. I think the thing that made this film so special is that it didn’t include any of the regular characters from the saga as the main characters in Rogue One. A Han Solo film might not be as magical. I hope I’m wrong.

Because Rogue One was pretty special. I’d love to see that magic happen again.

Have you seen Rogue One yet? What did you think? If you haven’t, what are you waiting for? Get your tickets today.

3 decisions I regret

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Robert Frost
The Road Not Taken

Road Not Taken

We make decisions every day. Most of these decisions are rather inconsequential in the grand scheme of things – Do I want waffles or pancakes for breakfast? Should I get my gas at Speedway or Circle K? Should I wear argyle or striped socks? You know. Pretty mundane stuff.

But there are other decisions that we make that can stay with you forever. They can keep you up at night. They can haunt you in the middle of the day. They sometimes pop up in regular, everyday conversations. You can’t get away from these decisions.

I’m not talking about life-altering things like getting behind the wheel while you’re under the influence or choosing to marry someone. Those are life-altering decisions. I’m talking about other decisions. They might not alter the course of human civilization, but they still cause you to break out in a cold sweat when you think about what you did or didn’t do. They’re decisions you look back on and ask yourself, “Why? Why did I choose to do it that way? Why didn’t I choose to go the other direction as I stood at that fork in the road?”

As I look back on the decisions I’ve made, there are three choices that stand out. And when I think about them, I often wonder, “Man, why didn’t I take advantage of that opportunity?”

These were big decisions in my life. They’re landmarks on my journey of life. But they’re also relatively inconsequential in the grand story of life. They were fun things I could have done. I’m not talking about the really big regrets that I might have. You know, like dating that one girl in high school. Or cheating on a girlfriend while on a school trip out of town. Or leaving the youth ministry position that I had in Kentucky the way I did. Those are big things. They’re life-altering decisions that I’m not really dwelling on. Those things were much more complicated.

These? They’re more…simple…I guess. And I still regret them.

Simple Regret #1: The Corvette (non)incident

One weekend while at Milligan, my roommate’s parents were in town. You remember my roommate, right? Matt – aka Little Matt. He’s the guy who made us sit together on that one fateful Valentine’s Day evening oh so long ago.

Anyway, his parents were in town for the weekend. Through some kind of perk with his company, Mr. Good was able to drive a Corvette for his own personal use for a while. He brought it down to Milligan for the visit.

I don’t remember why I was in the car with them or where we were going, but I do remember Mr. Good pulling over to the side of the road. He put the car into park and turned around to say something to me.

“You want to take it for a quick drive?” he asked me.

I was shocked. I had a split second to make a decision. I didn’t know what to do.

So I said no.

I.said.no.

A college kid turned down an opportunity to drive a ‘Vette through the mountains of Tennessee. Are you kidding me? What was I thinking?

I had a headache that afternoon. So that was my reason. And while I understand that, it was a pretty lame excuse. Don’t you think?

I’m still kicking myself over that decision. It doesn’t really matter if I have other opportunities to drive a sports car like that. I still passed this one up like a bonehead.

Simple Regret #2: “Houston, we have a problem”

Remember when the space shuttle program was retired? I do. Because I passed up the opportunity to watch a shuttle land for the last time. Ever.

If you’re a longtime reader of this site (thank you for sticking with me, by the way), you might remember how I struggled with this decision quite a bit. I had some work-related responsibilities that I probably could’ve rearranged if I had pushed hard enough. In retrospect, I probably should’ve moved heaven and earth so I could go.

After all, they wound up firing me a few months later anyway.

When I mentioned this decision to Aiden a few weeks ago, he looked me in the eye and said, “What were you thinking, Dad?”

I’ve been asking myself the same thing ever since I skipped out on the landing.

What was I thinking?

Regret #3: “Go go go Matty…er…JOSEPH…”

The Spring musical during my senior year of high school was Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. In the weeks leading up to opening night, it was decided that they needed some more guys to join the cast. An call was sent far and wide throughout the hallowed halls of Harry High.

I could’ve auditioned. Most of my friends were already in the musical – either in the orchestra or up on stage. It would’ve been fun. I already knew all of the songs. I had been listening to the soundtrack nonstop for at least a month. Maybe longer. I wouldn’t have had to dance, really. And that was a good thing. You really, really don’t want to see me try to dance. They just needed more able bodies to be an Egyptian guard or one of Jacob’s sons, or some other extra up on stage.

I didn’t do it. I didn’t even express any hint of interest at all.

There’s an amazing feeling when you connect with an audience while you’re performing. I’ve had it happen while playing my tuba. I have no doubt there would’ve been a similar feeling while standing on stage during my senior year of high school. And it would’ve been pretty special to have shared that experience with my friends who were already in the musical.

But I didn’t.

And I still don’t know why I didn’t even bother to try.

I think that’s what bugs me more than anything else. I didn’t even try.

Get your story off your chest.

What decisions have you made that you still kick yourself over? What makes you stay awake at night wondering what might have been? Sharing those stories can be therapeutic. But don’t life solely in the past. Learn from those missed opportunities and keep moving forward. Because we cannot change the things that happened in the past. We can only influence things that happen today. Let’s make today better than yesterday.

What are you doing to make your life better today?

 

This is dedicated to all the teachers in my life

Dear Teachers

This post is for all the teachers in my life, past and present.

Teachers like the late Mrs. Wood, Mrs. Stewart, Mr. Cates, the late Mrs. Brown, Mr. Eiffler, Frau French, Mrs. Kuhn, Mr. Briel, Mrs. Goebel, Mrs. Mautz, Mr. Hughes, Frau Blice, and

Professors like Dr. Montgomery, Terry Mattingly, Dr. Higgins, Mr. Helsabeck, Dr. Roberts, Dr. Wasem, Dr. Rollston, Dr. Ramsaran, Dr. Shields, and Dr. Blowers…

Friends like Leigh, Amanda, Alicia, Scott, Jennifer, Christy, Mark, Heather, Heather, Valicia, and Matt…

Family members like Liz, Aunt LeeAnn, and Kara…

and, of course, Christy, who is my favorite teacher ever…

Thank you for making my world awesome!

Valentine’s Day

Heart of the Milky Way - Valentine's DayThe first Valentine’s Day Christy and I spent together was completely unplanned. It was 13 years ago and we hadn’t started dating yet. Since Matt, my roommate, and I were both dateless, we decided to go with a couple of friends to hear the African Children’s Choir at Grace Fellowship.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that Christy was at the same concert with a group of her friends. “Let’s go sit by them,” Matt said to me. That was fine with me. Like I’d said before, I was all for any chance to get closer to her.

When we came to their row, Matt made me go first. Conveniently, Christy was sitting close to a bunch of empty seats. I still say Matt was trying to set us up. He insists he was just letting me go first (I think he was trying to sit closer a girl that was in our group…but I might be mistaken). Even though I was a little annoyed, I was thrilled to get to sit by her.

So that’s how Christy and I spent our first Valentine’s Day – listening to the African Children’s Choir.

See? That must mean it’s destiny for us to adopt from Ethiopia. Or maybe just one of those beautiful ironies. Irony can be a good thing sometimes, right?

Separated at birth?

One of my favorite places to go is Blue Bottle Coffee Co. As you probably know, I don’t really like coffee, but that hasn’t stopped me from heading over there several times a month. They have free wi-fi, which actually got me in the door the first time over a year ago. Whenever I have a lot of church-related stuff I need to do online, it’s just easier to grab my laptop and head up to Blue Bottle than worry about transferring things from one computer to another at home. There’s a possibility that we might be given a wireless router for our home soon. This, of course, would help alleviate the situation. But it probably won’t stop me from going to Blue Bottle every once in a while.

I love the atmosphere and the customer service is fantastic.

As I was about to leave last week, a guy turned to me and said, “Did you know you have a twin in Michigan?”

Not really sure how to respond to that, I told him that I was sorry for him. After all, I wouldn’t want anyone to have to live with the curse of looking like me! All I could say was, “Well, I’m sorry for him.”

“No, it’s a good thing. The guy’s a millionaire.”

Apparenlty, he owns a microbrewry in Kalamazoo and has been quite successful. The guy who told me about him is a regular at Blue Bottle (along with his wife). The first time they saw me in there, they were a little put off because they were expecting me to come over to them and say hi to them…and tell them why I was in Muncie instead of Michigan. When I didn’t even acknowledge them, they wondered what was going on and why I was acting that way. I had a similar experience down in Tennessee a few years back. I thought I had seen my old college roommate in the Target parking lot one night. It’s not a pleasant experience when you realize the person you thought was someone really isn’t that someone. So I felt their pain.

The guy pulled out his iphone (or something similar) and showed me a picture of my apparent twin in Michigan. And he was right. Scary right. The guy looked a lot like me! Boy, do I feel sorry for him!

It’s been a while since I’ve had a complete stranger ask to take my picture. It happened several times in the backcountry of Philmont, but that was over a dozen years ago. I gladly posed for a picture with him and he sent a copy of it to my Michigan twin.

It was a surreal experience, to say the least. But I got to know a pretty neat couple. And they’re regulars at the Blue Bottle. They’re such regulars, in fact, that they have their own keys to the shop!

Crazy, huh?

Dreams – it’s a matter of interpretation

You know the stereotype. People talk about weird dreams and you always hear about the dream where someone’s standing in front of their classroom with no clothes on. Yeah, yeah. We get it.

I’ve had my share of crazy dreams…

  • When I was in 4th or 5th grade, I dreamed I was in a Transformers episode. I’m running away from the Decepticons when Laserbeak shoots me in the back.  The next day, my back hurt like it hadn’t hurt before.
  • I used to dream that my alarm clock went off.  At 3 in the morning, I’d get up, turn off my alarm, and go take a shower.  It was always dark when I got up for school, so the lack of sunlight wouldn’t faze me.  Sometimes, I’d even go downstairs and pour myself a bowl of cereal.  Mom would come down and tell me to look at the clock.
  • Apparently, I had some pretty vivid dreams in college, too.  One time, I sat up in the middle of the night and said to my roommate, “Matt, where’s the Blackberry Road?”  I stared at him for a minute and then put my head back on my pillow and went to sleep.
  • When Christy was pregnant, I always had dreams that she was falling.  I’d reach out to grab her and save her.  I didn’t do this just in my dreams, though.  I would actually grab her and hold on for dear life.  There were several times that she’d wake me up screaming because I had scared the living daylights out of her.

Yeah, I’ve had some pretty vivid dreams.  Last night, I had a modification of the old stereotype, though.  In my dream, Christy and I were standing at a busy intersection across the street from our house.  We were in a hurry to get into our house while remaining as invisible as possible.  That’s a pretty difficult thing to do when you’re standing on the corner naked as jaybirds.

What’s up with that?

Will the real Matt Good please stand up?


Matt Good
Originally uploaded by mattdantodd.

I saw an exact replica of my college roommate tonight. I’m not kidding. Christy and I were driving into the Target parking lot (Happy Sales-Tax Holiday, everyone!) when we saw a guy in the parking lot and were absolutely convinced he was my old college roommate.

Matt (yes both of us are named Matt. We were “Big Matt” and “Little Matt”…creative, huh?) Good was my roommate at Milligan all three years we lived in the dorms. We shared an apartment our Senior year. We were very good friends, although we ran around in some different circles. He was even in our wedding.

I have not heard from him since 2003. Actually, that was when I called him to tell him about Greg’ passing. He dropped a bomb on me by telling me he was getting married soon and he promised to invite me to his wedding. I confirmed his email address and he promised he’d write me back.

He did.

Once.

Haven’t heard from him since. None of our common Milligan friends have.

So you can imagine our surprise when he showed up in the Target parking lot in Johnson City, Tennessee (last I heard, he was in Indianapolis)! The guy looked at me like he recognized me and kept on walking. I knew it was him, so we began to stalk him in my car. Finally, I figured out where he was going and cut him off at the pass.

I got out of the car and he looked at me. He kept on walking. I said, “Do I know you?”

“No,” he replied. With that, I realized that it, indeed, was not Matt Good. The guy had a much deeper voice than Matt’s. His teeth had a bigger gap than Matt’s ever had (he had braces while we were in school). Not only did I feel like a big ol’ idiot, but I was also quite shocked and dismayed that this Matt-lookin’ guy wasnot the Matt Good!

This guy was an absolute clone of Matt Good. I promise! He dressed like him, had similar facial hair, walked like him and even made similar facial gestures.

There can be only one Matt Good. This other guy must have just been a faker or something.

The picture included is circa 1995. Matt’s the one on the right. Yes, his hair is longer than Natalie’s, the girl on the left. He was quite smitten with her. She didn’t really return the same level affection.

If you have seen this man or know of his whereabouts, please have him contact me immediately!