February 13, 2012
In this episode, we go after George Lucas, the Komen Foundation, Whitney Houston, and Chuck Norris… but not in that order. There are too many things to talk about right now, so let’s shotgun this.
January 30, 2012
A long time ago, in a Galaxy far, far away, Star Wars had more humane marriage laws than we do in modern America.
And the Right is not happy.
It seems that Star Wars: The Old Republic, the latest Star Wars video game, will allow players to enter into homosexual relationships as part of the plot. That’s great! In a modern world where many young people have embraced the idea of gay marriage and gay relationships, it makes sense to give that part of the fan base and population an opportunity to be themselves, even if it is in a world of turbolasers and lightsabers.
Of course, you know what this means?
Star Wars is going to make your kids gay. I know, I know. But now, to my eternal delight, someone has summoned the poor, innocent children. Won’t someone think of the children?!
By the way, the group that is protesting this? It’s the same group that called for a boycott of Girl Scout Cookies. The Family Research Council really has a knack for going after things that are trying to help children or just provide entertainment. I love how they’ve got their tighty-whities in a knot over the possibility of kids seeing a digital gay couple that won’t be able to do anything besies announce its gay and they don’t bat an eyelid over the fact that, in a Star Wars game, starships filled with hundreds or even thousands of people get blown out of the sky on a regular basis. There’s also the little fact that you can have a high Dark Side score by committing questionable acts.
This is what I love about anyone spinning like a top over something like a gay character in a game somehow corrupting the youth. Said critics never seem to be worried about the MASS MURDER going on in video games. It might be the sci-fi aspect, and it’s not like people didn’t complain about killing and guns in games like Grand Theft Auto. But add sex to the equation?
It’s like yelling Frau Blücher. Somewhere, a horse is going to bray.
We live in an interesting culture. We can show Starship Troopers on TV and no one bats an eyelid when humans get mangled and torn to bits. Have someone say a curse word or show a boob?
All I’m saying is…
Actually, I’m not saying anything. Let’s just point at the Family Research Council and laugh at them for wasting time trying to warn us of the gender-bending dangers of Star Wars.
And now, let’s watch a sleeping dormouse and start the week off with something cute.
January 13, 2012
This article was originally pitched to Cracked, who rejected it. I see their point, but I put so much work into it that I thought it would be a waste to just let it sit on my hard drive. Enjoy!
Science fiction is full of weapons of mass destruction, everything from planet-cracking lasers to miniaturized railguns that can put a hole in a tank. Some of these weapons have been the basis for real-world weapons and technological innovation. Others, however, should probably stay as fiction.
They should remain fictional, not because humanity should give up the idea of bad-ass weaponry to stave off the eventual robot uprising, but because some of these weapons would get the designers shot in real life.
If we had the technology to build these devices, would we really want to? This isn’t about whether the weapons suck in the show and everyone just ignores it. This is about the basic physics. Would we want these weapons at all?
6. Organic Weapons (Stargate Atlantis, Star Wars, Farscape, etc)
I’ve talked about this one before, but it bears repeating.
Science fiction, and to some extent fantasy, is full of “advanced” races using organic ships and weapons. In Star Wars, the galaxy was nearly destroyed by the organic technology of the Yuuzhan Vong. In Stargate Atlantis, the Wraith decimated the Pegasus Galaxy in their hive ships and lay waste to the Ancients, a race so advanced that they are known as the Gatebuilders. In every instance, technology based on organic systems has proven superior to good ol’ metal. There is some basis for this.
A year ago, scientists in Israel developed a super-strong nano-material much harder than steel. There’s also a spider that creates silk tougher than Kevlar, and harvesting it would be a boon. It seems us puny humans are just trying to catch up with Mother Nature.
In the real world…
Hive ship would go squish. Quickly.
Organic substances have proven to be VERY strong, but they lack something the fiction insists is the real advantage of a living ship or weapon: regenerative capabilities. A self-repairing system could take a punishment but just heal itself as the battle progresses. In the fiction, this is protrayed as something like Wolverine’s regeneration. However, to be able to regenerate implies that the structure is porous, that it isn’t completely solid. Think of bone. Even though it’s one of the strongest organic materials in our bodies, it’s still generally brittle because nutrients and proteins need to be able to get in to keep the system alive. In a battle, “porous” translates as “squishy.”
And that’s only the first problem. Organic systems don’t have the kind of electrical conductivity needed to really run much more than a few gadgets. Think about it. How damaged do your nerves get when you get a small current running through your body? We are the conductive equivalent of pudding.
This is a byproduct of the chemical properties of organic systems. The weakest link will break first, and in this case, all that living tissue is going to make for a weak electrical system. Don’t believe me? Try using a piece of bacon to fix a short circuit. You’ll either get no charge going to and fro or you’ll get a really crispy piece of bacon if you turn the current up high enough.
Mmmm… electrical bacon.
5. Relativistic Kinetic Weapons (Halo, Mass Effect, Eraser, etc)
If you’ve played any video games in the last fifteen years, you know about these. Guns work on a very simple principle. Aim at target. Make bullet go fast. Bullet makes target go away. If you have a super-strong material to build the barrel and the benefit of a thermonuclear reactor pumping out a few thousand gigwatts of electricity, why not take it to its logical conclusion and fire a slug at a significant fraction of the speed of light? In Halo, Mass Effect, and Eraser, this is standard operating procedure and the ammunition usually punches clean through anything short of a planet. In the real world, we’re developing railguns, though they’re nowhere near as powerful. They’re still awesome, though.
So that’s what you’d want in a fight against heavily armored opponents. You want a gun that fires a gram of dense metal so fast it would make Superman look slow. Make it fully automatic and you have a gun that could shred a modern battleship in less than it takes to say “fire.”
In the real world…
This weapon also has two problems. Look at these scenes in Eraser. Notice anything? Ahnold is not being fried by the friction on bullets traveling at thousands of miles per hour. THIS is what a railgun bullet looks like when it’s just moving a few times faster than sound. Now imagine the kind of heat created by something moving that fast. There’s also the problem that a gun that fired even a gram at that speed would fly out of the shooter’s hands fast enough to probably turn said shooter into pudding.
Okay, that’s the second pudding reference. I’m hungry.
There’s a third problem, though. Let’s say we actually had these relativistic weapons and installed them on something very large (like a battle-ready starship) and we fired them in a vaccum so we we didn’t get dangerous trails of flaming atmosphere. NOW we’re talking.
Except the gun wastes a ton of energy.
In the real world, gun manufacturers realized that a faster, heavier bullet could take down a target. A .45 ACP bullet, for example, is pretty good for taking out things like robbers, small game, and velociraptors. However, it has a problem. It carries so much energy that it can easily go through a person and damage property or other people behind the target. That’s why gunmakers developed hollow-point rounds. These bullets have a concave tip that lets the bullet expand and transfer as much energy as possible to the target, causing more damage and not wasting the bullet’s energy.
This isn’t a small concern. Let’s say you have a bullet that weighs 1 kg. To get it moving at 10% the speed of light, you’d need the energy of a 107 kiloton nuclear warhead. That’s more than five times as much as the Hiroshima bomb. If the bullet goes clean through a target, as the fiction proposes, and it still poses a threat, that means it still has most of its energy. This would be a horrendous waste of resources.
Imagine shooting a needle at five hundred miles per hour at someone. Sure, it could go clean through, but it would do less damage than just punching the guy.
4. Phasers (Star Trek)
Ah, the humble phaser. It’s been a staple of Star Trek since the 1960’s. “Set to stun,” has inspired real-life weapon manufacturers to create weapons that can both kill or simply imcapacitate. In fact, even people who’ve never watched Star Trek have probably heard of the phaser. It’s a classic, lethal weapon in the lore of science fiction.
In the real world…
Phasers have no gun sights, trigger guards, safeties, or any number of safety features you’d want on a weapon that can vaporize a person. Ask anyone who uses guns on a regular basis if they’d like their sights filed off or their trigger guards removed. These aren’t there for cosmetic purposes, folks. Taking them away will make a gun look streamlined, but you’ll also have a HIGHLY dangerous weapon that could go off if not handled properly by even a professional.
And speaking of handling a phaser…
Notice how the handles are curved. In order to hold and shoot one of these puppies, you have to bend your wrist at an unnatural angle. It’s the only way to hold them and even pretend to aim. Really. Tilt your wrist downward and try holding that position for more than five minutes. You can’t, can you? Now take a look at where the designers put the battery pack.
It’s in the handle, but not like a magazine on a modern semi-auto. The battery is actually made up on the handle’s forward section. You have to remove it from the front, so the only way to swap batteries in the middle of a battle is to turn the weapon upside down, flip it so the barrel points at you, then remove the battery and slap a new one in.
You got that? To switch the battery on a phaser, you have to end up with a loaded phaser pointed right at you.
Even if the tech behind the weapon worked, if it could kill and stun at will, good luck finding someone to actually use one of these suicide aids.
3. Humanoid Mecha (ANY Japanese anime, it seems)
The sight of a colossus of titanium and guns walking into a battlefield would be enough to make any hardened soldier soil his BDU’s. Anime loves this one, and it’s almost become required practice to have one or two of these for every franchise. Warhammer 40K has its own versions, all equally humanoid, and the general rule seems to be that your best fighting machines should look like the things that pilot them.
Tell me you wouldn’t crap yourself if you saw this heading towards you with a sword that could cut a skyscraper in half?
In the real world…
There’s a reason aircraft carriers are sometimes darkly referred to as “bomb magnets.”
The bigger it is, the more chance it will become the target of choice for every weapon on the battlefield. That’s really the smaller problem, though. If it’s tough enough, the mecha might survive, and drawing attention could actually inspire fear in the hearts of the enemy as they see a giant man-shaped weapon’s platform.
But you’d have to actually get the thing built, though.
Military design is, ideally, an exercise in doing the most with the least. It’s the same principle as engineering. You want systems that are simple and get the job done. Just take a look at this space shuttle design. It’s nothing but a cone and an engine. That’s all it needs. Now ask yourself why a piece of military technology would need a torso, legs, and arms?
It wouldn’t. A piece of military hardware that houses guns should do one thing: bring the guns to the fight and maneuver them. Look at a modern destroyer like the Iowa-class. The entire ship exists solely to get the guns places. Its infrastructure is built around those things: ammo, maintenance, mobility, etc. A humanoid battle platform would be a waste of resources.
Just building a humanoid mecha would cost hundreds of millions of dollars. Sure, there are bombers that cost more, but those bombers are nothing but weapon and engines. A humanoid mecha is thousands of tons of metal not counting fuel to get the thing going.
Save the money and just buy a missile launcher and a humvee.
2. Plasma Weapons (Halo, Star Trek, Babylon 5, etc)
The humble plasma weapon is a catch-all term for anything that fires blobs of colored light that burn a target.
Plasma is gas that’s been stripped of its electrons. It’s in everything from computer monitors to thermonuclear reactions, but for weapon purposes, you probably want the nuclear-reactor type. The surface of the sun is made up of plasma, which should give you an idea of how ass-scorching hot the stuff can get. However, scientists recently broke a record and created plasma at 2 billion degrees Kelvin.
The sun, by comparison, is only 15 million degrees Kelvin.
Imagine firing star-blobs at your enemy and searing them with the power of your own miniature sun in a gun. You would rain death and destruction with the power of Helios himself and be a god among the warriors of the world!
In the real world…
Get that burn ointment out. In fact, grab a bucket of the stuff.
Let’s take a trip back to elementary science class. When material heats up, it expands and becomes less dense. It’s the reason a hot air balloon floats in the cooler air. Heat something to supernova levels, though, and it expands a lot. Like, a lot a lot. Plasma is so thin that it makes regular air look like pudding. That’s made out of lead.
And that’s three references to pudding. When’s lunch time?!
This pudding air creates the first problem. If you’re firing your plasma gun in an atmosphere, that’d be like trying to launch a supersonic ping pong ball underwater. Or a potato gun inside concrete. It’s not going to go very far. The plasma goes splat against the air which might as well be steel based on density differential, but that’s not the worst part.
At its most basic level, plasma is steam. Steam has this nasty habit of wanting to expand. That’s why tea kettles whistle. But that’s just regular, run-of-the-mill steam. It’s not heated to millions of degrees. No tea needs to be boiled to millions of degrees.
Even if you somehow managed to keep plasma together and level and fire it fast enough so it could blast through our super-dense air, and even if this plasma weapon was only used in space where you don’t have lead air to worry about, it would still want to expand, and QUICKLY. Trying to shoot plasma at a target is basically trying to focus an explosion. Just imagine trying to remove an appendix at fifty feet with a stick of dynamite and you get the idea.
Plasma is not only too diffuse to move through the air, but it’s so hot that it will expand almost instantly in every direction, creating a cloud of death and destruction.
Said cloud of death and destruction will, however, be made up mostly of the atomized bits of your own gunners.
1. The Death Star II (Star Wars)
What? The Death Star? Sure, it had a single little point that had to be shot to blow the whole thing up, but it took a Force-sensitive with plot armor to do it. The second one would have been fine if it was finished, so why say that the Death Star II was a terrible weapon? This one could blow up ships with pin-point accuracy. Once shielded, it would have been like trying to attack a small planet. It had enough stormtroopers that, statistically, one of them would have hit something every minute.
Here’s the thing. The sources differ on the size of the second Death Star, but they all agree it was much larger. Volume increases faster than diameter. The second Death Star is between 3 and 6 times in size, meaning the internal volume was between 27 and 216 times larger than the original one. Death Star II was built in less than two years. That means that in the time it took to build the ONE massive superstation, the Empire could have used the same materials to build a small fleet.
In real life, it’s one of the reasons massive ships were so controversial in the early 20th century. If you destroy the one big ship, you’re out one whole ship, crew, ammo, and all. It’s the ultimate case of putting all your eggs in one basket. It’s a similar problem to the humanoid mecha. If something is that big, you better believe the enemy is going to throw anything and everything at it to get it out of the battlefield as quickly as possible.
And that’s it. Hope you all had a good week, I’ll see you Monday with a video, a short article, and hopefully I get this new grantwriting job I was pitched.
Stay safe, keep sharing links, and I’ll see you in two days. In the meantime, please enjoy this video of an epic space battle from the Freespace mod The Fall of An Empire.
October 5, 2011
Even though the Weekly Muse kind of fell through (I plan on bringing it back, though), I used a similar exercise with my ESL students.
For example, after going over the week’s vocabulary and grammar lesson, I usually ask random students to use one of the new words in a sentence. For their test this week, though, I had them do something different. We practiced first, so don’t worry. They weren’t caught unprepared.
I gave them TWO vocabulary words and they had to use it, along with either an adjective, adverb, or preposition (my choice) in a SINGLE sentence. The words could be odd mixes like “bean” and “fur.” It was their job to make sense out of the ideas. Why would I do something so seemingly sadistic, you may add?
Ever seen Chopped? Chefs compete by making dishes with mystery ingredients. Usually, one of the ingredients is a bit… odd. They might be asked to make a desert with ingredients like corn flour, raspberries, and sardines, for example. Check out the following scene for a better idea of what they do.
In many ways, it’s harder than Iron Chef. In Iron Chef, yes, you have to come up with several dishes that feature one secret ingredient, but on Chopped, you have to combine multiple ingredients that oftentimes are not obviously connected. How the hell do you make a main dish when you’re given pork chops, bananas, cilantro, and a small puppy named Earl? A great chef, though, can find the commonality in the food and whip up something extraordinary.
Likewise, I want my students to stop thinking so mechanically. I want them to not only learn the words, but start using them in more than just simple sentences on one topic. Talking and using a language in casual speech is the best way to learn it. It’s the same reason I put such odd things like “Atlantis” and “Mexican restaurant” in the Weekly Muse polls: to encourage people to pick the strangest combinations they can think of. Finding connections between seemingly unrelated thoughts and ideas is what helps the brain think differently.
Take the famous “Sherlock scan” often used by… uhm, Sherlock Holmes.
All the clues are there. All the parts to put together a sentence, or a story, are present in the world. It’s just a matter of training yourself to find the links and put together something that didn’t exist before. Sherlock doesn’t notice anything out of the ordinary, though having a background in science and anatomy helps. Likewise, finding links between apparently different words, finding a sentence to use them in, forces my students to find those connections so new words get easier to integrate. They just need the grammatical rules to put their work together.
In essence, using dissimilar topics forces their brain to adapt faster and faster. A time limit for tests also helps.
Now go out and build those neural biceps!
And now, let’s flex those muscles by combining INTENTIONAL comedy with George Lucas’ meddling into our childhood dreams.
September 16, 2011
It’s Mexican Independence day! To me, this is a bittersweet holiday. Yes, it marks Mexico proclaiming itself a sovereign nation. On the other hand, the country is enslaved by the cartels. Right across the border, just a few miles from where I wright this, two people were tortured and publicly displayed for writing negative things about the Zetas. We have a long way to go, but I’d like to start by ending this stupid war on drugs.
And speaking of things that were probably influenced by drugs, let’s get some links out there and catch up with the week’s stories.
- Clint Eastwood doesn’t care who you marry. He also managed to make himself even more awesome.
- I have my reservations about the new Star Wars blu-rays. On the other hand, this promo featuring famous people reenacting classic scenes is hilarious. And Vader gets the best treatment, especially at about 2:14.
- Speaking of Star Wars, here’s a 43,000 piece Lego Venerator-class Star Destroyer.
- To all the new freshmen in college, please, for the love of Bob, don’t do this.
- And speaking of bad decisions, could celebrities please stop taking naked pics of themselves with their phones? You, the thing that can be hacked? Unlike that camera that you need to physically get to retrieve said pictures? The reaction to Scarlet Johansson’s leaked nude pics has ranged from everything from an FBI investigation to the internet having a collective seizure. Because the internet, as you know, has been seen naked boobs and butt.
- Nancy Upton entered a contest for American Apparel. She satirized what I can only describe as really unflattering images of women that look like they need a sandwich. Her pics were… well, they were unique. She’s confident, has a sense of humor about herself and the company, she looks wonderful and natural, and she won the contest by a large margin… and now American Apparel is saying they won’t go with her because she’s not targeting their demographic. Hypocrites, anyone?
- “Gordon Ramsay’s Dwarf Porn Double Found Dead In A Badger Den.” How do you NOT click on that link?!
- It turns out that reading fiction boosts your empathy. I just wish they’d used another book besides Twilight for the study.
- Global warming is doing a lot of things… but did you know that it’s causing giant crabs to invade Antarctica? Be scared…
- Disney does not have the best record when it comes to acknowledging the audience’s intelligence. However, some of their older animators didn’t react too kindly to the higher-ups changing the name of a movie to make it more descriptive since audiences “might not get it.” The result is pure sarcasm and gold.
- And finally, Nice Peter came out with another Epic Rap Battle. Mister Rogers all the way! Represent! And I’ll see you all on Monday!
September 13, 2011
As we all know, the world will end in about twenty-five months. It’s going to be awesome. Fire, earthquakes, and possibly God himself coming down and smiting everything and everyone. Of course, given that doomsday predictions have a horrible tract record, I think I’ll stay home and just watch some movies instead.
Of course, nothing is more appropriate for a fake end of the world than some cinematic or even literary end of the world. Let’s take a look at some of my favorites.
Stephen Baxter: The Xeelee Sequence
There’s epic science fiction, and then there’s EPIC science fiction.
You think Star Wars thinks big with its galaxy-wide empire? Think Andromeda was uber-powerful with its depiction of bombs that could make stars explode?
Baxter not only has an alien species that has HAND-HELD guns that can make stars explode, but the species that created them uses galaxy CLUSTERS as little more than bricks in their projects that span quite literately from the beginning of time, and perhaps even longer than that.
In this world, humanity is mostly confined to the Solar system, but a few thousand years from now, we discover that the Xeelee, who are so powerful they probably keep Cthulhus like we keep sea monkeys, are at war with an equality powerful alien species made of dark matter. This dark matter life form, the photino birds, need stable, star-sized gravity wells to live, so they are accelerating the lifetime of stars and forcing them to explode or fizzle out.
In the known universe.
Suffice to say, the impending death of all physical life cycles in the universe is not going to end well for humanity.
The series is set within several dozen short stories and a few novels, my favorite being Ring, which ends the saga, yet could easily be read as a stand-alone novel. The short story collection Vacuum Diagrams fills in a lot of gaps and shows a smaller parallel storyline of the end of time. Like the rest of Baxter’s work, expect paragraphs of scientific explanation, but also some impressive loop-hole jumping through the laws of physics.
Masters of Horror: The Screwfly Solution
Joe Dante has gone across the film spectrum as far as I’m concerned. Yes, he directed Gremlins and Homecoming, but he also directed Looney Tunes: Back in Action. I don’t take kindly to new Looney Tunes.
However, his entry into the Masters of Horror collection, based on the short story by Alice Sheldon, is creepy on a level I had not through possible.
We begin with what appears to be a murder committed by some lone psycho. He killed every female member of his family. As time passes, religious fundamentalists are on the rise throughout much of the world and women are viewed more and more as agents of sin. Soon, though, a group of scientists makes the shocking discovery: there is a disease that is causing the sexual and aggressive centers of the male brain to short-circuit, turning any sexual desire into a homicidal urge.
Despite the ending being one huge WTF moment, the rest of the episode manages to be utterly scary. You don’t know how the disease travels. You don’t know who’s infected. Any sign of anger could be a symptom, or just stress and nerves as the lead scientist, a devoted family, tries to find a cure. He’s quite, and painfully aware, that he is a potential killer.
Any man is a potential killer.
The scariest part, though, is the slow realization that those feelings that are being exploited to wipe out humanity are not some superbug. All it took was one chemical switch, and the men who kill every woman in sight aren’t blind, raving lunatics ala 28 Days Later. They are calm and rational about it. God, Allah, or whatever they believe in justifies it.
This is true horror. The horror of everyday life. It’s the horror of not knowing if your neighbor is going to kill you.
It’s the horror of knowing he’ll do it with a smile.
So there you go. Two apocalypses for your viewing and reading pleasure. One is a multiverse-spanning swath of destruction that leaves reality a cold, bleak cinder, and the other is a psychological romp through the dark corners in all our minds.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
- Bubbles and ferrofluid. That’s all you need to know.
- AI has a long way to go. Watch two chatbots try to talk to each other. You’d think they got along great. I mean, they both speak the same language, right?
- 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?
- A police comedy about the men and women who fight… the undead? SCORE!
- I’m a proud member of Sigma Nu Fraternity. Some of the bets friends I ever made were a part of it. The organization made me a better person… but I also know not all Greek houses have that level of commitment. However, there’s a reason fraternities and sororities are still an essential part of life for many college students. And if you’re at DePauw University, RUSH SIGMA NU THIS YEAR!
- 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.
- Helen Mirren loves making action movies. Here’s hoping Red becomes her own James Bond franchise! Until then, she’ll be starring in the sequel to When Harry Met Sally. Just trust me on this… Follow the link and check out sheer awesomeness.
- 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.
August 16, 2011
Welcome back, folks! I hope you like the new site design. If you haven’t read it yet, the first Weekly Muse short story, “Treats,” is up and I’m working on the second one for next week. Vote here or on Facebook, but you can only input more than one option on the main site.
And now, let’s talk about the nerd hierarchy.
I have friends who are LARPers. I myself enjoyed a little Kanar back in college. I experimented a bit with some friends. We just messed around with it at Sigma Nu. It was fun, and I can already hear you snickering at the double entendre. Overall, though, LARP always held this aura. It was like the lowest rung on the nerd ladder. It was barely one step above furries. It’s one thing to play D&D with your buddies, but it was something else to dress up and run around a field with foam weapons. It was the kind of thing little kids played.
But something really struck me. As I talked with these guys and gals, all different ages, all out there, willingly, in the 112 degree heat of South Texas, I realized something.
Okay, they’re fraking nerds. No getting around that. We all loved Lovecraft, made Star Wars references, and could quote Monty Python.
But it’s damn hard.
Forget trying to figure out the attack bonus of a Star Destroyer when its crew isn’t skilled. Never mind trying to figure out the intricacies of 3.5 d20 spell mechanics or whether Pass Through Metal applies to constructs or just walls.
YOU try sword fighting out in the sun without any shade, high humidity, and temperatures best suited for making a five-course meal.
LARPers, I now fully realize, are like the sports fans that wear the jerseys and drive to another state to watch the big game. It’s a level of commitment other hobbies just don’t ask for, and, much like my beloved Cortex or Dungeons and Dragons, it’s all made up. I guess the real stumbling block for me was all the effort it takes to create the scenario.
Don’t get me wrong. I won’t be trading my dice bag for foam shortswords any time soon (although I did get a couple of kills). Personally, it takes WAY too much effort to have the same amount of fun. And all they’re doing is the same stuff the rest of us forked over $40 a book or a monthly subscription for. All I’m saying is…
Can’t we all just get along? Nerds, unite! From the chainmail-wearing LARPers, to the Funyun-covered D&D player, to the guy at the Star Wars premier dressed like a Sith… let’s all embrace our collective love for roleplaying. United, we are stronger. Let’s look past the petty squabbles about which Doctor Who is better. We need to put aside the debates of Trek versus Wars or at what point Anne Rice jumped the shark. We can unite into a global force that knows no bounds!
But we still don’t want the furries. Sorry, guys, but that shit’s weird.