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!"

These Cookie Crisp Asteroid Treats are out of this world!

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #AwakenYourTastebuds #CollectiveBias

Cookie Crisp Asteroid Treats #FoodAwakens

The Star Wars™ franchise evokes some pretty strong emotions for me. One of the first movies I remember watching in the theaters was one of the films in the original trilogy. I remember the drama, the flashing lights, the roar of the giant spaceships, the funky aliens, and the intense battles on other worlds. The larger than life story that unfolded on the big screen captivated me in a way that no other film has ever come close.

I was already a big fan. I loved the Star Wars™ toys. I would play for hours with my neighborhood friends. One of my favorite things to do was to turn the space under our kitchen  table into a huge base for the good guys. It was safe in there. And we could plot the final push against the tyrannical forces of evil.

A perfect base #FoodAwakens

I think it’s safe to say that the kitchen table was the perfect base for the good guys. It could serve as an ice cave, protecting them from the harsh elements of a frozen planet. Or it could easily convert to a giant spaceship, headed to meet the enemy head-on. Or it could also become a base in some forested terrain with giant trees that provide a canopy of protection over the heroes as they hide from their foes.

While growing up, the perfect morning for me would have begun with an hour or two underneath the kitchen table, preparing my base for battle. Then I’d probably listen to the Star Wars™ storybook on my little record player in my room. Then the galactic battles would begin and I’d play with my Star Wars™ toys for the rest of the day. Or maybe my friends and I would go outside and re-enact one of the climactic battles outside. I would only slow down in time to eat some breakfast. For breakfast of choice? Why, Cookie Crisp, of course. Finding a toy inside the cereal box would have been the proverbial icing on the proverbial cake.

Free toy in Cookie Crisp #FoodAwakens

This is an exciting time for our family. Like many dads who grew up on a steady diet of Star Wars™ films, books, costumes, toys, and Saturday morning cartoons, I faithfully did my duty and raised my kids to be fans of the same cinematic universe. So we’re all counting down the days until the release of the next chapter in the saga. Continue reading These Cookie Crisp Asteroid Treats are out of this world!

I jumped in a puddle. Then this happened. My scar proves it.

Scar WeekJenny was my next door neighbor when I was young. We played together. A lot. We also argued a lot. And got each other in trouble on occasion. I got her to play with my Star Wars toys and she got me to play with her Barbies. In many ways, she was the older sister I never had.

Me & Vader

One day after it had rained, Jenny and I were playing outside. We eventually decided we needed to establish a new guideline for the day. Since it had rained recently, there were a lot of puddles around us. We loved jumping in puddles. These puddles were practically begging us to jump into them. So we established a rule:

You have to jump in a puddle when you see one.

That’s a pretty legitimate rule. Right? I mean, it makes sense in a five year old’s brain. So we agreed on this new regulation and continued to play. Whenever we walked by a puddle that hadn’t been touched, we jumped in with gusto. I don’t remember if Jenny had shoes on or not. I do remember that I was barefoot. There really isn’t any other way to jump into a puddle – is there?

“Exploring new continents 1200728” by No machine-readable author provided. Wars assumed (based on copyright claims). – No machine-readable source provided. Own work assumed (based on copyright claims).. Licensed under CC BY 2.5 via Commons.

We eventually found ourselves sitting on our back porch. I don’t remember what led to this conversation, but Jenny eventually announced to me, “Did you know I got some new Star Wars toys?”

“Nu-uh.” I didn’t believe her. She’d never owned any Star Wars toys before. Why would she start doing so now?

“Yu-huh!”

“No way!”

“Yes way!”

“Nu-uh!”

“Yu-huh!”

And so we sparred back and forth for several minutes, digging into each other with our obviously creative and engaging dialogue. For one final time, she insisted that she was telling the truth and she stomped out of our backyard to her house. She was going to get the toys and prove it to me.

Fine, I said to myself.

I waited at the back porch. “What if she’s telling the truth? What if she really does have Star Wars toys?” I thought to myself. I was going to have to eat some serious crow. “Nah. There’s no way she has any.”

She was taking a long time to get her toys and bring them over. So I started looking for something to help pass the time. Nothing really excited me. It was just the same ol’ backyard that we played in every day.

Then I saw it.

I don’t know how I hadn’t noticed it before. But in that moment, it was like the clouds had opened up and a spotlight shone from the heavens, piercing through the trees and pointing the way to something so glorious it must have been a gift from the Divine Himself.

The sun in forest (1223998380)

Right beside me was a perfect, untouched puddle!

I might have even heard angels singing when my eyes were opened and this beautiful gift was revealed to me. I tear might have even rolled down my cheek.

It was glorious.

So, in keeping with the rule we had made earlier in the day, I jumped up to my feet, dusted off my knees, and jumped on to the aquarium sitting by the porch.

Oh.

Did I mention that there was an empty aquarium sitting by our porch? I don’t know if it was an old aquarium or a new one. But it was empty and sitting out back. It had been turned upside down. I assume that was so it wouldn’t fill up with water and bugs and dirt and bird droppings and whatever else could wind up in an empty aquarium sitting in the backyard.

But that didn’t stop the overturned aquarium from accumulating some water. And it was just enough to make the perfect little puddle. So I stood up on the porch and stepped over onto the aquarium.

The water felt good on my feet. It had been too long since I’d played in a puddle. Probably a whole 10 minutes. Standing in the water wasn’t enough, though.

So I started jumping.

On the overturned aquarium. You know. One that’s made out of glass.

For the next few weeks, I tried to blame Jenny for what happened next. It really wasn’t her fault because this whole climbing onto an aquarium thing wasn’t her idea. And jumping while on top of the aquarium wasn’t her idea, either. But I blamed her because she came around the corner and shouted, “Boo!”

I looked at her. Her arms were full. But they weren’t full of Star Wars toys. I think I remember seeing a McDonald’s playset in her arms.

I knew it. I was right. She was wrong. “Those aren’t Star Wars toys!” I declared. I was angry. I was annoyed. I was disappointed. I really wanted to play with some new Star Wars toys. I had hoped I had turned her to the Light Side.

As soon as I finished my victorious declaration, the inevitable happened. The glass gave way. I crashed through the aquarium. I don’t know where Jenny went. I’m assuming she went to find an adult. All I remember was sitting in the aquarium, surrounded by broken glass and screaming my little head off.

And blood was running down my leg.

I had cut my knee. And it was bad.

Mom ran out and grabbed me. I remember sitting in the bathroom with a washrag on my knee. The next thing I remember was hobbling into the emergency room and sitting down by some wheelchairs.

Our family doctor happened to be there with an intern. I was carted into a room where I watched them stick a needle in my gaping wound. I screamed. The nurse encouraged me to be quiet because my knee was trying to sleep. She must’ve been telling me the truth because I couldn’t feel my knee anymore. It must’ve fallen asleep.

Next thing I remember, I’m on my back with my knees up. Other than the head of my doctor and his intern, I really can’t see anything. I think they some type of curtain blocking my view.

When all was said and done, I wound up with three stitches in my knee. That’s all. After all that drama, it only took three stitches to fix me up. And they were blue, too. That was my favorite color at the time.

And since I won the best wound contest with Uncle Don that following week, jumping on the aquarium was totally worth it.

Right?

The scar from stitches in my knee

I think I lucked out. This could’ve been a disaster.

For the Love of Star Wars

For the love of Star Wars

by Daniel Ellis

When Matt contacted me and asked if I would like to write about the impact Star Wars has had on me.  I was immediately excited by the prospect.  Who doesn’t want to talk about Star Wars, right?  After my initial excitement, though, I started to panic because I didn’t have a ready answer other than “duuhhh, lots of ways”.  I figured anybody who read this would want something a tad more substantial, so I reached out with my feelings realized two things that Star Wars gave to me: imagination and nostalgia.

I was born in 1976, 14 months before Star Wars blasted its way into theaters.  Some of my first memories are of TIE-Fighters, Burger King trading cards, the Droid Factory and Death Star play sets, and turning every stick or branch into a light saber.  From the point that I was retaining memory, Star Wars was a large part of my life and a huge inspiration for my imagination.  The ability to imagine, using my mind to create a place and time which I am currently not inhabiting, is a gift that Star Wars gave to me.

Star Wars is such a complex creation, full of fantastical situations and environments.  My young mind went to those exotic planets often in my playtime.  When I rode my bike, I saw the tall trees of Endor, and the sleek nose of the speeder bike extended beyond my handlebars.  When I put my army surplus belt on and shoved my toy Mauser pistol into the canteen pouch, I was Han Solo standing down a squad of Storm Troopers.  When I found thick grapevines hanging across a ravine behind Mansfield General Hospital, it was time to go to Dagobah and train to become a Jedi.  I yearned to visit those places, be those characters, and fight that good fight.

But wait, there’s more!  Star Wars did something else for me as well.  I had so much fun with my imagination throughout my childhood, but as I grew older, I moved on from the play-acting that was so much fun.  As I focused more on grades and girls, I forgot about how important Star Wars was to me until that fateful year when Lucas decided to re-release THE Star Wars trilogy for its twentieth anniversary.  I was a junior in college when word got around that Episodes 4, 5, and 6 were coming to a theater near us.  When I saw those trailers on the screen, the memory of loving imagination came back to me, and I discovered a love of nostalgia through re-discovering the Star Wars movies from a social perspective.  Sure, I owned the movies on VHS, but now I was experiencing the excitement and expectation of the movies’ coming to the theater through the connections and friends I made that year; all based on a love of Star Wars.

As I near forty (less than two years away!), I find that I have a strong connection to anything that reminds me of my beloved childhood moments of “playing Star Wars”.  That strong nostalgia also endeared to me the memory of the amazing imagination that I had as a child, and guess what?  I still have it!  I still see those Endor trees when I jump on a bike, and I still see a light saber in every branch that I pull out of our yard before I mow.  I will always be grateful to Mr. Lucas for creating something that instilled in me the ability to still embrace the imagination of a child when I want to.  I can’t wait to experience that joy with my son when he’s old enough to enjoy these movies.  By the way, when Episode 8 comes to theaters, my son Rhys will be about the age I was when Episode 5 debuted.  Is that a coincidence or just simple tricks and nonsense?  I don’t know for sure, but I’m going to imagine that it’s the ways of the Force telling me that Star Wars was good for me.

************************************

Dan and I met at Milligan. During our Senior year, we duked it out in a campus-wide Star Wars trivia contest. We wound up tied for first because they ran out of questions. So we shared the prizes. Dan and Will are the only other people I know who had the Droid Factory as a kid. So when I started thinking about Star Wars MONTH, I knew I needed to have his insight because we share a similar love for Star Wars. And that love runs deep.

Thanks, Dan, for writing this! The Force will be with you. Always.

Why The Empire Strikes Back is my favorite

Empire Strikes Back

I believe The Empire Strikes Back is the first movie I remember going to see in a movie theatre. I remember waiting in line with Uncle Don and Aunt Patsy. I’m sure other people were there with us, but I definitely remember them because Uncle Don told me that they use glowing swords that make a humming noise and go “bzzzzp” when they hit each other. I came to find out much later that they were concerned that the lightsaber scenes were going to scare me.

Scare me?

They were awesome.

I appreciate the sentiment. But I already knew all about the sound lightsabers make. I was already a huge Star Wars fan. I had the storybooks. I’d heard The Story of Star Wars. Like most kids my age, I was hooked. And the toys from The Empire Strikes Back – especially the Hoth playsets – certainly helped fuel my Star Wars addiction.

I owned that playset. It’s still in my parents’ basement. It’s one of my favorites. Always has been. Always will be.

Of course, the toys aren’t the only reason The Empire Strikes Back is my favorite…

Everybody’s Doing It

It seems that it has become quite cool to say that The Empire Strikes Back is your favorite of the Original Trilogy (and if it’s your favorite from the OT, then it’s probably your favorite of the entire series of Star Wars flicks because it’s entirely unlikely that one would think that any of the prequels is better than Empire – just sayin’). Roger Ebert said it was his favorite in the Star Wars saga. It is the highest-rated episode in the entire Star Wars filmography, according to rottentomatoes.com. Wired magazine says that “the other five movies are comic books. Empire is a fairy tale.” I’m pretty sure they mean that as a compliment.

In high school, I started telling everyone that Empire was my favorite of the three films. I got some pretty crazy looks from people for two reasons:

  1. Star Wars wasn’t “cool” anymore. I was part of the minority. I still loved the stories even when very few of my classmates would admit to being a Star Wars fan. I guess you could say I’m a Star Wars hipster. I liked the films before they were cool again. Those were dark times, though.
  2. For many of those who thought Star Wars was still worth discussing, Empire was just a bridge between A New Hope and Jedi. They didn’t see the way Empire was essential in fleshing out Luke’s development as a character. They didn’t understand how the hero had to lose before he could win.* They didn’t appreciate the complexities of the lover’s triangle that was brewing between Han, Leia, and Luke. They just wanted explosions and action and stuff. Empire was just a means unto an end.

Chewbacca

Sad Chewie by David Bigler via http://davidbigler.com/art/illustration/the-empire-strikes-back-30th-anniversary-drawing-a-day-may-5-sad-chewie/attachment/empire-strikes-back-30th-sad-chewbacca-hoth-db/
image via David Bigler

Most of the time, Chewbacca’s  character is about as static as when you rub a balloon against my head. Not so in Empire. He isn’t just a walking carpet with anger management issues in this edition. He cares. Deeply. He’s distraught over the shield doors closing at night, trapping his closest friend in the frozen horror that is Hoth at night. He goes berserk in his attempt to protect Han from the carbon chamber. He comforts Leia as she watches Han descend into the unknown. It’s subtle. But there’s a lot of depth to Chewie in Empire.

“No. There is another…”

Do me a favor. Ignore the prequels for a minute. I know. You’d rather ignore them forever. I get that.

Think back to the time when you had no idea that Luke and Leia were siblings.* When Yoda tells Obiwan that Luke is not their last hope, it sends a shiver down your spine. The mystery of who the other hope for the galaxy? Now that’s a cliffhanger.

Ch-ch-changes. Or not.

I have disagreed with a lot of the changes that George Lucas made when he released the Special Edition. I thought most of them were unnecessary. It should say something, then, that The Empire Strikes Back was the one film that George Lucas didn’t change very much. Yeah, there are a few expanded scenes and the visuals are enhanced, but it’s nothing like the changes in the other two. I firmly believe it’s because Empire was so well done that there wasn’t much Lucas could tinker around with (except Boba Fett’s voice. I’m still upset about that). That’s a sign of a well-told story. And I like that.

The bad guys are winning*

There is very little hope at the end of the second installment of the Original Trilogy. Very little hope, indeed. The Rebels are on the run. Luke’s received horrifying news. Han has been taken off to who-knows-where. The entire galaxy is spinning further into darkness. The Dark Side has won the day. You can’t have the joyful ending in Return of the Jedi without the dark, almost depressing ending found in The Empire Strikes Back

And because of this, The Empire Strikes Back is my favorite.

*Like I said earlier, it’s 30+ years. If this is a spoiler for you, I’m sorry. You need to get with the program. I even have a few copies of the films you can borrow.