A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, I had to leave the house every day…

Today is “Star Wars Day,” the unofficial holiday celebrated by fans of the most profitable franchise in film history. It’s an occasion to say, “May the Fourth Be With You” as if the pun wasn’t played out by the time the middle trilogy premiered in theaters.

What’s a theater? Well, young Jedi, before the plague, large groups of people regularly gathered in huge, darkened rooms to watch movies on massive screens, sitting inches apart and sharing popcorn, candy and recycled air. 

Now, you can stream all nine “Star Wars” episodes in the comfort and confinement of your own home. It’s a nice convenience, but microwave popcorn is no substitute for the buttery buckets and free refills of the cineplex, and the recliners at the theater are infinitely more comfortable than the threadbare relic I bought 20 years ago.  

This is the first Star Wars Day to pass during a pandemic, but the force is strong with the marketing Yodas at Disney. The hottest new products in the infinite “Star Wars” merchandising empire are face masks emblazoned with the faces of Baby Yoda, R2D2 and Luke and Leia. The masks come in packs of four for $19.99, available at Disney’s online store. Disney said it will donate $1 million of the proceeds to humanitarian aid.

Call me a cynic (people do), but $1 million probably amounts to one-zillionth of what Disney will make on the masks, given the global appeal and the infectious, pent-up urge to buy anything that reminds us of “normal” times and facilitates trips to spaces beyond home. That said, Disney has to absorb the losses from its shuttered theme parks somehow.

The arc of the coronavirus pandemic in America features some obvious parallels to the “Star Wars” saga. Our federal government, led by Darth Trump, Grand Moff Pence and Imperial Senate Majority Leader Mitch “Palpatine” McConnell fit neatly into the roles of malevolent fraudsters whose congenital incompetence and barely concealed mutual contempt chronically (and sometimes comically) undermine their quest for ultimate power.

The nation’s governors — those not under Darth Trump’s thumb — cast themselves as the Rebellion, banding together to get the supplies and reinforcements they need to defeat the dark side of the Force and liberate their people. Led by New York’s roguish pilot “Handrew” Cuomo, these rebels don’t fear Darth Trump, but understand they must work around him and his myopic stormtroopers in right-wing media to defeat an enemy made up of trillions upon trillions of microscopic “Death Stars.” 

Over nine movies, the Empire failed to crush the Rebellion despite huge advantages in funding, technology and troops. In the spin-off we’re suffering through now, Darth Trump spends all of his time watching TV and rage-tweeting while Grand Moff Pence stifles the Empire’s brightest minds and Sen. Palpatine faces a fight for his electoral life against a determined young woman and veteran X-Wing fighter pilot. 

If you’re looking for “A New Hope” this Star Wars Day, stick with the Rebellion.   

And subscribe to The Times-Tribune. A monthly digital subscription is $4.95. Get one here. Today’s paper is a powerful blow against the dark side. Get the latest COVID-19 news here. Almost half of the latest state-reported coronavirus deaths happened locally. Staff Writer Borys Krawczeniuk has the story here. Local supermarkets are finding creative ways to separate shoppers and staff. Staff Writer Rob Tomkavage has the story here. The former Scranton State School for the Deaf campus is back on the market. Staff Writer Jim Lockwood has the story here

Lackawanna County Coroner Timothy Rowland is looking for relatives of a 31-year-old Scranton woman who died April 24. Jennifer N. Rorrer’s death is under investigation. Get the sad details here, and check back for updates to this developing story. 

The Times-Tribune is still here, and so are you. We will get through this together, one day at a time. Hang in there, hunker down and wash your hands. Don’t be a Nerf Herder, never turn your back on a Jawa and May the Fourth Be With You.