In the late winer and early spring of 1999, the hype for the first Star Wars movie was beginning to grow into monstrous proportions. During this time I recorded everything related to the release of Episode 1 The Phantom Menace. From the trailers, to specials about the movie, to interviews with the cast. Almost every little update I came across I recorded. Around this time Access Hollywood started doing a story on a line that had formed out in LA. It was the countdown to Episode 1 line, and the people in the line had formed a little website called countingdown.com. That was my first exposure to the site, though it would be until some months later, after I had gotten my first real computer that I would come across it. After the release of episode 1 and all the hype with it had died down, things got back to normal for me. I had started going to a tech school and needed my own computer in order to do things that was asked of me. So that november I got my first, true blue, computer, an iMac DV special edition (which I still have to this day). This little computer and the cable internet connection would eventually open the doors to a whole new world for me that would in turn take me to many places and meet many new faces.
I suffered (and still do) from insomnia, so on the nights where I didn’t have to be anywhere the next day, and admittedly on nights that I did sometimes, I would find myself surfing the net, finding mp3s, looking at movie trailers and trying to catch up on what little news there was involving the next Star Wars movie. That’s when I stumbled across countingdown.com. It was march of 2000 the first time my eyes graced what was a simple but very beautiful and put together message board of black purple and white. I was instantly sucked in by the coolness of it as well as what seemed to be the niceness of the people who posted there. My very first post happened to be the very first thread I ever made on any message board ever. I believe it was called, “What makes Boba Fett so cool?” From that moment on for at least the next five years I would become a main stay at that site, encountering a myriad of people, striking friendships with many of them, some still lasting to this very day.
Who knew that a website would impact my life so much the way countingdown.com did. Many people say an event, or a person, a place or thing changed their life, and a lot of times it’s completely cliche. Which is why I feel a little silly saying this, but that message board changed my life. It opened the door to a world I didn’t know, allowed me to go places I’ve never been, see places I never thought I’d ever see and meet people I might never have met without it. Because of that site I was able to travel more than half this country, going on road trips with fellow members from that message board, seeing the beginning of a sunset in one state and watch the ending of that sunset in another. Because of countingdown.com I was able to leave my shell I had kept myself in for so long. Thanks to the encouragement of so many on there, I was able to have confidence in myself and the things I could do. About a year and a half later, the site was bought by a company and changes to the site and board were made. Gone were the beautiful black and purple color schemes, and its place were dull white backgrounds with black lettering, but the board still managed to thrive, the people there not letting the cosmetic changes change what had been…what they had made it.
As the years went by and with each release of each movie, more people found their way to countingdown and while many only stayed for a few days or weeks, those who made themselves permanent residents became part of what I believe was the best damn message board ever. Sometime in January the site went offline. I, like many others who frequented there, just thought they were having another server issue they were known for, but it seems that the site has gone away. Based on what I’ve heard from friends who still have accounts there, there’s been no contact with the people who ran it, no reassuring emails letting them know that everything is okay. For all intents and circumstances, countingdown.com is dead. If that is the case then so be it. The people who gave that board, I went to almost every single day for five years, life, have long moved on with theirs. The movies have all been released and for a lot of us on there we’ve grown up, or still trying. They’ve built or are building careers for themselves. Establishing families or watching their sons and daughters starting their own.
I often hear people say, “We were like family,” when speaking of a close knit group of people at a particular time, but I can wholeheartedly say that for many people on there, including me, the names on those message boards were more than some html creations on my screen. They were my friends, my family, and I often think about a lot of them. That was a time of my life I would love to revisit and miss immensely. You see, it wasn’t the soothing black and purple dominance of that board (which would later become white) or the insane thread titles or postings, it was the people that gave it such life, that made it what it was. And it’s those people that belonged to that board that I’ll cherish for as long as I live. A friend of mine from that board made a duplicate of the site, saving almost every thread and most of the postings from the original and revamped boards on cd, so when I want to reminisce on times that have passed, I simply put his disc of the old site in my computer and click away on those old thread. Contingdown.com and specifically that message board and the people on it, helped me through a lot, more than they will ever know. They made me smile when I felt like crying. Made me feel like I wasn’t alone when I felt like the only person on earth. Gave me hope when I felt hopeless. Gave me the will and courage to become the person I am now. Gave me the ability to see that there’s an entire world out there, more than just what I was able to see around me. And for that, for all those people I met, both in real life and on that message board, I say thank you. Thank you countingdown.com. Thank you for making five years of my life some of the most pleasurable and even happy I have ever experienced. And to those people, most of which I’ll try and list here, I say thank you for having such a positive impact on my life. I hope that all of you, if you read this or not, have achieved or on your way to achieving your life’s ambitions. I miss you, and you’ll all have a place in my heart.
The people who made that star wars message board what it was in no particular order:
Blake, Borqueen, Ph0enix, Empress Leia, lindoyle, Chewie of Borg/Bel Iblis, Dougsolo, Darth Malevolence, Gungan Warrior, Clare, Linda_Marajade, Darth b, Lamia, Elbarad, Darth Scully, Brianob, Lobacca, Allie Fox, Jewel_Nightwanderer, Michelle, Obikenobi, Kit-Kat, aRjedi, freesia39, nikon949, Jedi Cyclops, Cerebrosus, Garr, Sith_chick, Lestat, X-wing, wICPketclown, Elon, Xippyfast, Joyboy, JimJimBinks, vvedge, ianmalcom, Perkyjazz, darkangelraine, JediMike393, Darth Kyp Durron, Robie Fowler, BMP_TheGrey, Rostron2, Master Viper, Dirtnap, and last but certainly not least. StarScream