May the Force be with you.

I saw Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope in 1977. My parents didn't go right away, they waited a few months. I was 4.

I saw Empire Strikes Back after it'd been in the theaters for a few months. I was 7.

I saw Return of the Jedi opening day, I was 10.

When Lucas released the special editions in the theaters, I saw them opening day. I was 23.

When Phantom Menace came out in 1999 I was 25 years old and had moved to a different state and married a very understanding woman.

In 2002, I had a one year old girl. Attack of the Clones would come out 2 weeks later. I was 28.

The Revenge of the Sith, the last of the released films, came out this morning at 12:01, May 19th, 2005. I'm 32. I have a 4 year old girl, and a one year old son. I've been married almost 7 years.

After some quick math, I'm guessing I've spent or have received as gifts, over $8,000 in Star Wars merchandise. That's not taking into account how many quarters I've plunked into video games or popcorn and sodas at the theater. That's books, shirts, hats, games, Legos, comics, toys, videos and movie tickets. (By the way, the average price of a movie in 1977 was $2.29.)

I've read over 30 novels and 40 comic books. I've collected 42 Star Wars Lego sets. I've seen A New Hope several hundred times.

My groom's cake at my wedding was decorated with the Rebel Alliance symbol. The Medal Ceremony song was played when Mrs. Austin and I walked out after saying "I do."

In 1994 I began writing a book I planned on pitching to Bantam books. The story would later be told in an eerily similar novel trilogy, The Black Fleet Crisis.

I saw the first movie when I was four. My brother was one. The final movie my children are four and one. (Don't worry, they won't see the last one till they're older.)

I've never worn a Star Wars costume. I've never had a lightsaber. I've never gotten into heated discussions about what Jedi could kick what Sith's ass. I know a lot of stuff about the universe, but on a 1 to 10 scale of fanaticism, I'm more of a 6 or 7. Sure, it's influenced my life. I love comic books and sci-fiction. But it hasn't turned me into a rabid uber-nerd who has technical specs of all the ships or the vital stats of all the people memorized.

The story made a huge impact on what I believe and how I see the world. I don't want to dirty the memory of this nearly 30 year journey by talk of how bad someone acted or what lines were poorly written or which effects didn't hide the wires. I'd rather look back on this fondly as an experience that no generation has had until now. And it's done now. Lucas just won't live forever. He can't really think about doing 3 more. He's said so.

I won't expect it. It's a good story across six pretty amazingly crafted films.

I'll leave it at that.

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