I played in three act structure

I have always had a problem with timelines. The events of my life, particularly my early years, ebb and flow. There are places, people and moments that remain very vivid to me, but placing it in time is another matter. It is because of this that I cannot pinpoint how old I was when I received the G.I Joe mobile command center. It was a rolling monstrosity that opened in the same tiered manner as a tool box to reveal a tri-level base of operations, complete with individual stations and rooms. It was the real deal, but I never actually played G.I. Joe with it. Not even once. I had darker plans for them.

It could keep out COBRA commandos, but no one ever plans for parasitic aliens

Instead of staving off the tyranny of COBRA Commander and his army of aim-impaired flunkies, these Joes had to deal with the parasitic aliens that had infested their state-of-the-art plastic fortress, which now resided on some remote planet on the far side of the galaxy. They didn’t see it coming. They were torn limb from limb, exposing the little metal latches used to fasten the tiny, black rubber band that held their torso together. It was gruesome business, but when playing Aliens, I had to strive for authenticity.

Sometimes my Joes would find themselves deep in the jungle, relentlessly hunted by a ruthless Predator, other times by a cyborg Terminator in the heart of a post-apocalyptic city. Occasionally, they’d find themselves dragged to the bottom of a Zombie Lake, a fate I am not entirely proud of having reenacted.

The pits.

The boy across the street from me was an only child and, therefore, had the coolest swag. There wasn’t a Star Wars action figure he didn’t own and soon I found myself battling the Empire on his front lawn, and a hole created by a missing fence post stood in for the sarlacc pit. But when I received my own Millennium Falcon for Christmas it only ended up infested with those pesky parasitic aliens. I knew where my heart was.

As my film tastes matured, so did my reenactments. I had realized that my action figures couldn’t emote the way real people could. They couldn’t sling pistols like the Young Guns, or die in a blaze of Glory, crawling up the side of a fortress, American flag in hand.  I enlisted my friends, setting up scenarios that needed to be played out. I was already writing and directing.

All of my favorite childhood games became film recreations. When I was feeling ambitious, they were reimaginings. Either way, I remember strictly adhering to a strict three act structure during play time. There had to be a beginning, middle and end. I remember closing one eye, camera one, leaning in close and creating close-ups in my mind’s eye. In my head, I heard music swell. I was a strange lad, to be sure, but my film fandom was clear at an early age and it had already began to shape the way I told stories.

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