Hothstage: (n.)


One held captive for a time by an insurmountable amount of snow.



I’m a sucker for a snow day.

I love everything about it – the peacefulness of it, the white noise that fills the house as snow tings against the windows, the slow, patient obliteration of every discernable shape outside. Getting snowed in is an event, a little bit of home theater complete with set dressing and props: the blanket cocoons and muppet movies on repeat, the stovetop cauldrons of chicken soup and half-finished board games. There’s something illicit about snow days; they feel like you’re getting away with something… or from something – the humdrum responsibilities that come with being a living, functioning human being.

Big storms throw everything into chaos. They shut down cities and ground airlines. They force the purveyors of public transportation to cancel their routes. They stuff grocery stores to bursting with the harried and the panicked… thousands upon thousands of gortex-clad people in a desperate scramble for perishable necessities – bread and eggs and milk. Big storms upend routine. Force you to stay in place. They make you sit. Hunker down. Talk. Go slow. Snow storms make you make the most of them.

And in this way, they are very much like the opening of The Empire Strikes Back.

How’s that for a transition?

I can hear you duh’ing me, Internet. Snow. Hoth. Snow on Hoth. Duh. I get it. But it’s more than that.

The first third of ESB is a great piece of storytelling. It opens on the second chapter of a massive saga by slowing things waaaay waaaay down. It takes its time to set the stage, reintroduce its characters and remind us of what they’re up against. It’s in those slow opening moments that we start to see real characters develop. We see them deepen their friendships and start falling in love, we see a hero take the next essential steps in his journey, and we get a crystal clear metaphor of just how plucky and hardscrabble the good guys really are: fresh from their big victory at the end of the previous film and with the bad guys hot on their trail, the Alliance takes a deep breath, bundles up, and carves a tiny bit of solace out of a miserable, frozen wasteworld. Good metaphor.

All of this comes about because the story, essentially, takes a snow day. It stops. It wraps itself up. It snuggles up to the people who matter most, and lets the snow fall outside. ESB is my favorite (my only favorite) Star Wars movie… due in large part to that very thing.

It takes its time.

I love taking my time. It’s my favorite way of getting where I’m going.

So, me? I’m excited about Jonas. I can see him scudding closer and closer, and I don’t mind a bit. I’m locked and loaded; got my kitchen fully stocked, two dozy cats, a girlfriend, some books, a video game, and some movies. Empire Strikes Back, naturally.

I’m staying put this weekend. And I can’t wait to see where that takes me.



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