Millions of Catholics lined the streets of Vatican City last week, waiting--often in vain--to see the body of Pope John Paul II. All the funerary hoopla served as a reminder: Even if you don't give two shits about the pope, a whole lot of other people do.

Similarly, lines have sprung up around the U.S., anticipating a far geekier climax--that of Star Wars. George Lucas' final prequel--tongue-twistingly named Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith--comes out May 19th. Diehards are already lining up in New York, L.A., and Seattle.

The only problem? Fans in front of L.A.'s Grauman's Chinese Theater were told last week that Revenge of the Sith might not even play there. In Seattle, Jeff Tweiten--who started waiting outside the Cinerama theater in January--had to find new digs, thanks to an anonymous complaint and some selective enforcement of Seattle's sit/lie ordinance. (He's currently camped in front of Seattle's IMAX, which may or may not get Episode III.) In fact, the only line in the clear is New York's--but that one doesn't formally start until April 30th. (Even worse, Conan O'Brien's Triumph the Insult Comic Dog will likely swing by; his visit with the Attack of the Clones line remains one of the most hilariously mean-spirited events ever caught on film.)

While both the L.A. and NYC lines are raising money for charity, that doesn't remove their participants from the stigma of… well, waiting for Star Wars. But looking at those who are willing to brave cold, rain, heat, and ridicule in order to be the first to see Episode III, I have to ask when I last saw anybody waiting so devotedly for so long. The last time I can think of--aside from Episodes I and II, or maybe Lord of the Rings--is the whole pope thing. Apparently, there's some common ground between religious devotion and geek fanaticism. ERIK HENRIKSEN

Jeff Tweiten's blog:

Grauman's Chinese Theater in L.A. Line: (323) 462-9609 (payphone),

Ziegfeld Theater in New York Line: