A Trip to Denny’s For Han Solo Merchendise: Why all the fuss?

It wasn’t just this that we did for my 50th birthday this past week, my family did a lot of things for me to show how much they appreciate me. But when they asked me what I wanted to do, I said that I wanted to find a Denny’s near our home so I could get a Millennium Falcon cup from the new movie Solo: A Star Wars Story, and the new Topps collecting cards that you can only get at the promotional event that they are doing at most Denny’s restaurants. And I wasn’t kidding about it. If we were planning to do a dinner for my birthday and go out somewhere anyway, I wanted to do something fun that I’d like, and could share with my kids and grandkids. After all, we all like Star Wars. I always used it in the way it was intended, as a modern mythology that had embedded in those kid’s films an essential epistemology in regard to philosophy that is needed in this fast-moving world, so one of my daughters found a nice one about an hour and a half outside of downtown Cincinnati, just outside the city limits of Indianapolis, Indiana. Han Solo was always my favorite character from the Star Wars movies so it was fun to make the Denny’s promotion a fun birthday event that everyone could enjoy. As an added benefit Disney had released the last trailer before the new movie opens on May 25th, just over a month from this writing so it made for an interesting birthday dinner at Denny’s. We didn’t hold back on the Solo merchandise!

I think Alden Ehrenreich will do a great job playing Han Solo as a younger man, a tough job to take over from one of the most iconic film roles Harrison Ford brought to life. It’s a tough job that everyone has in their head differently, so no matter what Ehrenreich does, someone isn’t going to like it. But, from what I’ve seen, the kid gets it—and that’s all that matters. It works for me and I hope it leads to a lot more Han Solo in movies that take place before the events of episode 4. I like the new pointy nose on the Millennium Falcon, I like the idea of new Star Wars music about to be released. I love the DLCs that will be downloaded on Star Wars: Battlefront 2. I love all the toys being released for the movie, its more generational stuff to share with my grandchildren for which all this is new to them so they are having fun with it for the first time. I see it all as very positive and it generally puts a smile on my face to have a new Han Solo movie because that character represents everything I love about Star Wars.

Of course, part of what makes 50th birthday celebrations what they are is in the reflection that you have about your life up to that moment and what might be ahead. For many it’s a time when they look at their life and consider that their best days are behind them. But not me. I have had a lot of very good days and I am sure there are a lot more ahead of me, and the Denny’s meal day was surprisingly fulfilling, not just from the Han Solo gear, but I enjoyed eating Denny’s food again after not having it for over 25 years. Denny’s was one of those places I used to go because they were open all night where I’d go to read after I’d get off work from my second shift jobs. When I was young and worked two fulltime jobs to make ends meet and our house was too small to leave a light on otherwise it would wake up the whole house at night, I’d read my books at all night restaurants like Waffle House, Perkins and Denny’s to make myself tired enough to wind down for bed. After a good meal and about 10 refills of a Coke at 2 am I’d go home and sleep for three or four hours and do it all again at the crack of dawn. Somewhere over that 25-year span Denny’s left the Cincinnati area so it was fun to have it again on my birthday. It was even more fun to have a Star Wars inspired menu with the new Han Solo on the cover. I had the “Two Moons Skillet” which was Heaven on earth for me.

All this of course led me to consider how much Star Wars had evolved over time and what role it plays in a modern sense. I’ve written many thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of words as to what Star Wars means culturally, but I think I’ve been leaving out the epistemological definition in referring to it. After all, I write about some pretty serious subjects most of the time, so when I switch gears and do these Star Wars articles, to some it seems out of character, but to me it all runs together. It’s relevant to the missile attacks of Syria this past weekend, the teacher strikes in Kentucky, Oklahoma and Arizona, the opioid epidemic—just about every topic one might consider can be traced back to the epistemological failures of modern society—and Star Wars was created, and does a good job of maintaining it for children a basic epistemology of values that are designed for modern life. The world is otherwise very confused, their religious values are all over the map, politically we have factions that want to take mankind back to a theology while others are wanting to plant flags into anarchy, democracy and those who presently have power want to keep everything in an aristocracy. We are moving to space as a species while the political powers in office want to cling to mother earth and environmental concerns because that is how their power bases were established—on earth with earthly rules. The truly wonderful thing about Star Wars is that it takes all the value of the world’s mythology and applies it into a modern context, which is why kids, and kids at heart love it so much. It’s a much different thing than other pop culture rituals. This one is actually very healthy for modern human beings. It’s meant for kids, but it works for adults too in very meaningful ways.

When I was in grade school showing a love for Star Wars was extremely taboo. I make no attempt to hide my contempt for the way public school operates—I often say that public school is like using a public restroom or a drinking fountain. Yeah, it does the basics, but not very well. In public school, too many people establish their basic epistemological essence in those public institutions because they don’t have reliable families at home to help them, or other positive influences. The school becomes the basic foundation for that while it was quite clear that George Lucas was intent to provide a competing epistemology for young people, so the pubic school system rejected the competition instead of embracing it, the way they should have. However, I was never one who backed down from a fight—never one day in my life. The more kids made fun of me for wearing my favorite Han Solo t-shirts to school, the more I did it, and my love for Star Wars actually got me into a lot of trouble. It’s not like that today, kids can show their enjoyment of such things without getting into fights over it, and that is actually some real progress. Concerning education, I see that Star Wars has given many people who missing epistemology that they should have been getting from school, or their families and the stories are keeping pace with the concerns of our modern age that is coming at us much faster than ever. It’s really the only thing that is—which to me makes it extremely important culturally.

One of my many hobbies is the study of world cultures and religions. It doesn’t pay much money otherwise I’d do that task fulltime because as I say here often, mythology is my favorite topic. I could talk about world culture all day long and what the pros and cons are. You can often read in hindsight why cultures failed if you know the details and why that’s important is so that you can prevent it in your own culture. It doesn’t matter if we are talking about the American Indian or Roman and Greek societies, you can see through the gifts of historical hindsight why they all failed, and I apply those lessons daily with the millions and millions of words I have provided for free to my readers—because I don’t want to see people fail. Professionally, I don’t have to read in a Denny’s at 2 AM anymore because the lights in the house keep everyone awake. I’m doing well at age 50, as is expected given my role in our family, and my community. So I don’t mind sharing things I love in writing and mythology if it might improve the life of one person—let alone helping many people. The human race in spite of all the faults we could list off for hours on end is actually plotting into positive uncharted territories for the first time in history and it is really only the epistemological values of Star Wars that are successfully preparing the minds of our modern age with the intellectual means to deal with everything in a positive way.

This morning I was at the Target department store near my house shopping for Han Solo toys and I couldn’t help but notice that The Last Jedi just hit the shelves from its Blue-Ray release, and here we are talking about another Star Wars movie being released in a month. The cultural values of the last Star Wars movie are still simmering, Lego hasn’t even put out their video game yet for The Last Jedi. And there are lots of beach towels and clothing out for consumers to enjoy and all this is happening as Space X and Virgin Galactic are taking over the civilian colonization of space and Amazon is delivering packages within hours of ordering from virtually anywhere in the world. Artificial intelligence is taking over as the new rudimentary task supplier in a rapidly expanding economy where there simply aren’t enough workers in the world to do all the jobs coming available. I’m not kidding when I say Alexia could take over the teaching profession. With a second Star Wars moving coming out and all that comes with it culturally, it will be interesting to see what happens. And that’s not all, there are at least eight more Star Wars movies in development right now, along with Star Wars television, video games, books, music and so many other items. What impact that has on the human race I think is a fascinating topic on the epistemological level of consciousness.

As I was paying the check at Denny’s it was a big one, and many of the Indiana farmers looked at me a little side-eyed. My oldest grandson and I were very openly showing our excitement at getting the Han Solo card in the stack I bought. I of course was hoping to get that particular entry. Those are the same kind of people who used to make fun of my Han Solo shirts on the school bus—they didn’t understand what all the fuss was about and thought I should be thinking about something more—real. But little did they know, or little did they know that day in Denny’s that what I was excited about was more real than just about anything they were considering and Han Solo has always best exemplified my excitement for it—the optimism of what is always potentially just around the corner. Han Solo is a very positive character who believes he can get out of anything he gets into under any circumstances and in so many ways, he represents the current position of mankind on planet earth in the early parts of the 21st century. That makes these movies more important than just an entertainment option. Even more than that, it made for me a really fun birthday!

Rich Hoffman

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