Sep 062011
 

Not shown? Restraint and humility.

September 6, 2011

George Lucas is unstoppable. Despite the fan outcries, he will continue to make changes to the Star Wars saga, possibly until his dying breath when he finally just superimposes his face on everyone. He’s already making little changes, like Ewoks blinking, to the big changes, like Vader repeating the oft-mocked “NOOOOO!” from Revenge of the Sith and changing puppet Yoda with digi-Yoda.

But if Lucas is hell-bent on continually tweaking his greatest work, and the love of millions of people world-wide, let’s make the changes mean something.

1) The Great Gungan Genocide

No fictional creature has inspired more hatred in my heart than Jar Jar Binks. He and his entire species of Muppet rejects took a movie that was already at the bottom of the barrel and slammed it nose-first into the bedrock.

Let’s remove every Gungan in the films. They add nothing. Jar Jar is supposed to be comic relief and comes across as a barely-restrained minstrel show. The entire Gungan race could be removed from The Phantom Menace and replaced with generic Naboo troops and we would gain some traction instead of having Jar Jar slip on the preverbal banana peel every five minutes he’s on-screen.

And don’t tell me Lucas can’t do it. He can create armies of droids and the planet Coruscant in its full glory. He can get rid of the annoying frog-people.


A Geico and a Gungan by ~Roswell619 on deviantART

2) Less is More… Sometimes

Nothing says good writing like “show, don’t tell.” In The Empire Strikes Back, Yoda doesn’t say he’s some great warrior. He doesn’t boast. He lifts a flipping X-Wing with his MIND!

We don’t need monologues to tell us Naboo is in trouble. We don’t need people to tell us how they feel. That makes me angry! If Lucas had allowed, like in previous works, for a little improvisation on the part of the actors, a lot of the wooden dialogue and performances could have been avoided. These aren’t bad actors. Natalie Portman won an Oscar for playing a schizophrenic ballerina. Ewan McGregor has BAFTA Scotland acting awards and a list of nominations that would be the envy of any actor. Liam Neeson is… well, he’s freakin’ Liam Neeson!

The audience is NOT dumb. We can SEE the action. We can READ faces. If brevity is the soul of wit, the prequels have not a soul but an ethereal vacuum that eats spirits.

3) Harrison Ford Justice

This one is not a change so much as a reversion.

Han shot first. Han is established to be a two-timing scoundrel who really is in it for the money. Han grows to become a general in the Rebel Alliance and ends up with the girl, eventually starting a family that includes three Jedi (not counting his wife, and let’s ignore that one kid, well, had a little of his grandfather in him.)

All of that gets undone if Han doesn’t shoot first.

First of all, it’s a crappy effect. Han looks like Stretch Armstrong. Second of all, for decades, he was the guy who showed he was willing to kill to escape any situation. Greedo may not have shot him there and then. Han just assumed.

Let’s give Han his balls back, please.


Han Shot First by ~Ticiano on deviantART

4) Daddy was a Dick

The final scene showing Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Yoda as Force ghosts was a defining moment for Darth Vader. He had fully cast aside the teachings of the Sith. He killed his master and saved the son he had, just minutes before, been ready to kill. Anakin Skywalker achieved a measure of redemption and became what he should have become: a servant of the Force.

Now, we have Hayden Christensen douching it up.

Why?

Sure, people can justify it by saying that Christensen’s appearance is what Vader looked like before falling to the Dark side, that his physical appearance was nothing more than the ravages of time and battle.

Crap.

This is the best example of Lucas taking away actors, effects, and, in general, the work of other men and women who made his films what they are. Yes, Lucas owns the rights to the franchise, but it’s outright rude to get rid of the hard work others put into creating his vision.

5) Jabba’s Had Some Work Done

Industrial Light and Magic has some of the most talented visual effects artists on the planet. They have enough hardware and software that I’m convinced they could re-create the Matrix. They helped pioneer the field of digital effects…

So why can’t they make Jabba the Hutt look like Jabba the Hutt?

I mean, look at him in the DVD edition. Even in the screenshots of the new edition, Jabba looks like some generic Hutt, like the animators had a vague idea of what he was supposed to look like. I’ll buy that he gained weight between the films until he was the puss-sack from Return of the Jedi… but come on!

Overall, I have many words on the obsession with re-editing and adding, and changing, and altering tiny things, but that’s for another article. Right now, I’m trying to fight my inner nerd, who really wants to see these films, and my inner writer, that wants to throttle Lucas.

However, there is ONE change that might make the saga cool, or at least so utterly ridiculous I’d watch it. Behold!

Sep 012011
 

September 1, 2011

It’s not that I’m ungrateful for getting a teaching job this semester. I just wish I got more than 20 hours with which to prepare. Still, I’ve done a class like this before, so it should be pretty easy. And now, to catch up with the week’s stories and everything else I can’t cover in regular posts, here are the links.

You’re welcome, internet.

  • George Lucas can’t help himself and is making MORE changes to the original trilogy. This time, he’s given Vader an extra “NOOOOO!” at the climbatic fight in Return of the Jedi and he’s altered Kenobi’s krayt dragon call. What else? For my money, if I’m going to shell out money for remastered movies, how about getting all the dialogue redone for the prequels? I mean the words themselves AND the delivery.
  • Forget Cliffnotes. THIS is how you condense a literary classic.
  • I want this library. Now. I know I had a birthday a week ago, but I still want this. Seriously, if you all get together, you might afford it if a third of you donated a kidney. You can decide who.
  • Rick Santorum, the man who really wishes he wasn’t on Google, now thinks the gay community is on a jihad against him. Make up your mind, man! Are they Muslims or gays? Or gay Muslims? Or gays who turn Muslims? Why not just say their communist Muslim gays?
  • Rick Perry has to do a lot of damage control… especially about his own book. Here’s a tip for anyone planning to run for public office: if you’re going to regret it, don’t say it or do it. Me?  I could never run for president, but I think I’ve guaranteed with this website I’ll never hold public office.
  • And finally, if you can text, text “PRETTY” to 69491 every day this month, I would love all of you. I’d have your baby. One collective baby. Anyway, check out Pretty Visitors on Facebook, Youtube, or if you’re in Texas, try to catch one of their gigs. Tony, the front man, is one of my oldest friends, and he and the band deserve the exposure. I will work to help expose them to the world. See you tomorrow so we can discuss the wackos from this article a little more. Apparently, we didn’t get their argument.

Aug 252011
 

August 25, 2011

As I read through my Star Wars books and look for inspiration for this RPG we’re playing on Saturday, I can’t help but notice that the world continues to turn. Behold, the joys of internet surfing, wasting time, and everything you need to know!

  • You want something truly American? Joe the Plumber and Steven Segal. Granted, one’s a loon who made his mark with the Tea Party and the other is a washed-up action star with an ego the size of a small Pacific island, but still… It’s like pizza and beer.
  • Carrie Fisher has lost for than fifty months in the last nine months? Her goal? Getting back into the metal bikini. Seriously, though, she’s going it to help herself and she looks great. May the Force be her!
  • As I type this, Glenn Beck is in the Holy Land doing the Lord’s work… selling himself and his brand. No, really. If you’re a Christian and still think this whacko has ANY point on anything, please watch him hawk HIMSELF at his Jerusalem rally. He claims it doesn’t take a prophet to see the things he sees. Frankly, it takes brain damage to see the things he sees.
  • And finally, this has to be THE best commercial I’ve seen all year. Just watch it and try to guess what it’s selling.

Dirt Devil-The Exorcist from MrPrice2U on Vimeo.

May 062011
 

It's so beautiful... no words... they should have sent a poet...

May 6, 2011

When my grandfather died a few weeks ago, it was the third of three people (two family, one a friend), that I had to say goodbye to. It’s been a rough year, what with the financial con-job I worked at for a few months, the wedding next year, and upcoming novel complete with contest, I’ve been stressed like no other time in my life. I wrote two thesis as an undergrad in one year and I still don’t think this matches that level stress.

But yesterday was Cinco de Mayo, Mary’s last day of class, and I felt like cooking something.

I was going to make fish, but I figured I could make some pico de gallo, salchicha, and… I was stuck for a while. What dish could really capture Mexican pride and simulataniously satisfy a 12-hour work day full of class, work, and research papers?

My grandfather gave me the answer…


carne 06 by *avaladez on deviantART

When he cooked, the man COOKED. Years ago, he gave me the recipe for his carne asada, Mexican grilled meat, and I’ve tried to make it for a long time with little success in replicating his unique flavor. I mean, the meat was good, but it wasn’t the same. It was like a photocopy of a photocopy. It just didn’t feel right.

Today, though…

I think I got it.

When my grandparents cook, there is never such a thing as a recipe. They go more by instinct than anything else. They know the specific parts of the dish much like I would know the overall themes and ideas for a story or poem, but I could never really teach someone one perfect way of getting those ideas down on paper. In the same way, they don’t really measure their ingredients, but instead put them in as needed. It’s taken me years to get this close to the actual recipe. I have it written down, but it’s like trying to learn another language by reading it.

I’m close. So close.


- Love Recipe - by ~quaerion on deviantART

Any self-respecting Mexican knows how to cook. My uncle could make chimichurri from scratch or whip up a caldo de rez to make you forgo vegetables for a month. My grandmother makes delicious dishes with everything from bell peppers to chicken. She’s like Midas with food.

While he was alive, I tried to replicate my grandfather’s recipe. Now, with him gone and only my memories and a piece of paper to guide me, I’ll keep trying to reach that pinnacle of flavor he created so many times for us on special occasions. It’s like kendo training… I’ll just keep going for the rest of my life, getting ever closer to that elusive perfection.

And I’m okay with that.

Years ago, I wrote a poem for my grandfather and his skills. I figured it was appropriate today. Scroll afterwards for the links, and I hope none of you did anything regrettable on Cinco de Mayo.

Alquimista1

Dried leaves and sticks,

Crushed color and aroma

From plants I could never pronounce.

Papi kept them in plastic bags and jars,

Autumn in a pantry, an old hechicero’s2 alchemy.

He summoned a nation with each dish:

August heat, like the Tamaulipan desert,

Unyielding, like El Grito de Dolores3,

Or cool and green, like a Cuernavacan4 spring,

Subtle as a pretty morena’s5 wink.

One bite and you thought you’d die

From the cinnamon burn in your blood

And la lengua cortada6 would make you mute.

A bowl of pozole7 was a hundred miles of fields

And boiled muscles under the Aztec sun.

The heat in our tingling veins sang

A slow mariachi ballad,

The living history of our family,

And the old hechicero sat and listened,

While fragrant Mexican autumn filled the room.

1“Ahl-kee-MIS-tah”: Spanish for “alchemist”

2“Eh-CHi-SE-roh”: a sorcerer

3Don Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, a Catholic priest in Mexico, gave what is known as “The Yell of Dolores.”  On the morning of September 16, 1810, he rang the church bells and called on the people of Mexico to rise up against the Spanish, calling out “Mexicans, long live Mexico!  Long Live the Virgin [Mary] of Guadalupe!  Long Live Fernando VII!  Death to the evil government!”

4The city of Cuernavaca is known as “The City of Eternal Spring” for its mild weather and seasonal rainfalls.

5Morena(o) is a term for someone who is darker skinned, and most likely has native Mexican blood in their heritage.

6“LEN-gwa cohr-TA-da” literately means “cut tongue.”  It is an expression used to symbolize the feeling of very spicy meals on the tongue.  Even people accustomed to spicy dishes reach their limit when they proclaim they have a “cut tongue.”

7“Po-SOH-leh” is a traditional Mexican dish, similar to a stew, made with cacahuacintle corn, pork, and guajillo peppers.  It is often topped with radishes, lettuce, onion, lemon juice, dried oregano, and powdered chili.  It has a very strong aroma and taste.


remedio universal by ~srintestino on deviantART

Link time! And yeah, the comic’s hilarious if you know Spanish. If enough people ask, I’ll translate it.

  • And finally, to get your weekend started right, I give you the most metal puppy EVAR!