Counting Down to the Big Six-Oh: The Stuff that Helps Keep Me ‘Young at Heart’

Here’s what my display stand looked like when It was finally assembled and placed on a floating shelf.

“You’re never too old to be young.” Charles F Glassman

A crappy selfie, I know. I’ve got to get a better head shot than this!

As you know, I’ll be celebrating my 60th birthday in (as I write this) less than 29 days. This, of course, means that I have many of the responsibilities and some of the skills that a guy my age has. I pay rent. I try to keep up with current events. I try to not be a burden on society or my loved ones (even thought I am short on the latter, and I depend on Social Security for most of my income now), and I try my best to contribute to society by, well, not being a criminal and keeping busy with creative pursuits.

That doesn’t mean I have given up on the leisure activities I pursued back when I was a younger person.

For instance, I still collect Star Wars figures, a hobby I have had since 1978, which is when I received my first two Kenner 3 ¾-inch scale “micro-action figures (See Threepio and Artoo Detoo) and the Landspeeder vehicle as a 15th birthday present. I can’t, of course, buy every single figure out there; there are too many to choose from, for one thing. And I don’t have enough money or space to buy or display every single Star Wars The Black Series six-inch scale figure from the Hasbro production line that I focus on now.

Image Credit: Hasbro (C) 2021 Hasbro & Lucasfilm Ltd.

Some folks might shake their head with some disbelief or even distaste over my hobby, but I don’t care. Many Star Wars fans from the “1977 Generation” also collect action figures, replica lightsabers, or other thingamabobs based on characters, vehicles, or settings from George Lucas’s space fantasy saga set “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.”

Indeed, even though Hasbro states that its Star Wars products are intended for kids 4 and up, the company knows that most of the merch it sells – especially the more expensive items it makes, like the Star Wars The Black Series Snowspeeder – is purchased by and for adults over the age of 40.

So, yes. I collect Star Wars stuff. And even though I was somewhat reluctant to mention it to folks – especially women – when I was in my late teens and up to my early 30s – I’m proud of it.

“Stay youthful while navigating adulthood. The older you’ll get, the younger you’ll feel.” Robin S. Baker

(C) 2023 Hexdraw & MicroProse

I also enjoy gaming.

I started playing video games when I received my one and only gaming console (an Atari 2600 clone Coleco Gemini) as a high school graduation present in 1983. Because the way my TV was set up in my small bedroom was awkward – to say the least – and the connection doodad was fragile, I only played video games on the Gemini for about a year. But it was fun while it lasted, and I think (I’m not sure) that I still have my Atari 2600 game cartridges somewhere in the stuff that’s in storage.

After a three-year pause, I resumed gaming when my Uncle Sixto (Dad’s brother) gave me my first home computer – an Apple IIe – iin 1987. [1] As with all the computers I’ve owned in the past 36 years, I used it mostly for “serious” purposes, such as school (I was in college when I got that Apple) and work. But I also played many of my first computer games, including Destroyer by Epyx, Wings of Fury by Broderbund, and, of course, Silent Service, F-15 Strike Eagle, Crusade in Europe, Conflict in Vietnam, and Decision in the Desert by the original version of MicroProse.

I used to play the Apple II “port” of MicroProse’s “Crusade in Europe” when I was in college. (C) 1985, 2022 MicroProse and Interplay

Fast forward 40 years – wow…this calls for (maybe) a future Tempus Fugit piece! – and even though I have grayer, thinner hair than I did in 1983, I’m still gaming. Although, of course, my tastes in gaming now include not just the types of games I used to play on my Apple IIe (and, in the case of Crusade in Europe, the PC version of a game I played in 1988), but also adults-only “visual novels,” which are character-driven (if often sexually explicit) stories in which you play the main character (all too often, a male, which is not fair to women who might want to play these games) and your choices often drive the plot and even determine the ending.

(C) 2022 Drifty via Steam

War is hell. (C) 2022 Bird’s Eye Games & MicroProse
The author in 1982
A selfie I took in November of 2021.

I am not claiming that my hobbies slow down the physical changes that come with aging; I don’t look the same as I did 40 years ago, much less even 10 years ago. My hair is thinner and is going gray-white in places. My beard, when I let it grow, is more salt than pepper now. And while I’m still thin in the frame like my maternal grandfather, my middle is thicker than it used to be and I have a slight paunch.

Still, I try to think youthful and often pursue activities that many folks might consider improper for a guy my age – such as playing computer games or collecting Star Wars stuff. But those hobbies make me, at least momentarily, happy. And if they give me the sense that I’m not old and useless, hey, don’t knock it.

As the song by Carolyn Leigh and Johnny Richards, Young at Heart, puts it:

And if you should survive to 105

Think of all you’ll derive

Out of being alive

And here is the best part

You’ve had a head start

If you are among the very

Young at heart…

[1] I may or may not have mentioned this, but it was my half-sister’s obnoxious reaction to this gift that permanently damaged our relationship.


Published by Alex Diaz-Granados

Alex Diaz-Granados (1963- ) began writing movie reviews as a staff writer and Entertainment Editor for his high school newspaper in the early 1980s and was the Diversions editor for Miami-Dade Community College, South Campus' student newspaper for one semester. Using his experiences in those publications, Alex has been raving and ranting about the movies online since 2003 at various web sites, including Amazon, Ciao and Epinions. In addition to writing reviews, Alex has written or co-written three films ("A Simple Ad," "Clown 345," and "Ronnie and the Pursuit of the Elusive Bliss") for actor-director Juan Carlos Hernandez. You can find his reviews and essays on his blogs, A Certain Point of View and A Certain Point of View, Too.

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