Studying the Effects of The Star Wars Holiday Special

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I think someone should do a study investigating the psychological impact of The Star Wars Holiday Special. Now, that may sound crazy, but I think we owe it to ourselves (not to mention subsequent generations of Star Wars fans) to look into the risks we’re dealing with here. I mean, think about it: It’s entirely possible that this 1978 atrocity has been corrupting the minds of our youth since its original airing, and we lack the conclusive evidence to ban it.

I propose that Lucasfilm fund a study to look into this matter. George has the money and certainly the desire to impose sanctions on anyone caught with a copy of The Holiday Special. He and his company could bring the might of scientific inquiry to bear and ascertain whether or not there is sufficient evidence to take action against the TV special. That being said, I’m not going to sit on the sidelines in all of this (when have I ever done that with Star Wars issues?). I have drafted a preliminary outline of how to proceed.

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Merry Christmas

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(And Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, Joyous Festivus, etc. etc.)


It’s been weeks since Hanukkah ended, what’s so special about today? December 25th! Merry Christmas to all, and to all, a bunch of Star Wars Christmas goodies!

The Best (Only?) Star Wars Christmas Album Ever

In addition to featuring the recording debut of Jon Bon Jovi, “Christmas in the Stars” is an all-around good time, with voice work from Anthony Daniels (C-3PO himself) and authentic droid beeps. The songs are based in part on traditional Christmas tunes, and the Star Wars vibe really enhances the feeling of holiday cheer. Here’s a sample track from the album.

 

A Very “Special” Holiday Special

In general, mockery and criticism of The Star Wars Holiday Special is much more enjoyable than viewing the special itself. However, you can watch it here if you really want to. Afterward, check out this far-superior Star Wars holiday video and ask yourself why you just wasted all that time watching the original one.

Lucasfilm Christmas Cards

Front view of cardOpen view of card

Last year, I was fortunate enough to receive the Lucasfilm Ltd. company Christmas card (thanks Bonnie!). If you’re not already jealous, you will be after you take a look at the complete history of these fantastic cards. My 2009 card is one of my all-time favorite holiday cards.

In the Spirit of Holiday Cheer…An Action Figure Diorama

Enjoy a clever and well-produced Star Wars holiday diorama from artist Stephen Hayford. Click on the image to see it at full resolution.



And As For Me…

Life has been fairly quiet recently. I’m home for Winter Break, which is nice because I essentially get a month to goof off and relax. I have a 100-page book to read for the start of the Spring semester, but I can spread that out enough so that it’s relatively painless. Overall, I’m going to use this time to sleep late, eat on my own schedule and from my own menu, and take advantage of a less-congested Internet connection.

We’re going on a week-long vacation to Florida tomorrow. Despite the increased equatorial proximity, it’s still going to be a bit cold there, but on the plus side, Segway tour! I’m getting to be quite a pro at this Segway thing, what with the tour we did in Barcelona over the summer. Also, I’m not going to lie, I really want to buy one. It wouldn’t save me money, but it would save me time and energy – and you can’t put a price on stamina, right?

My first semester of college went well both academically and socially. Now that I’m into the routine, I have a much better understanding of how to navigate higher education. I’m also continually being made aware of why college is supposed to be one’s formative years – they just let you handle things on your own, and how you deal with that responsibility determines who you are when you graduate.

I’ve been receiving a lot of gifts from various corners this holiday season. In addition to gifts from my family, I received a lot of cool stuff – mostly Star Wars items and holiday cards – from various people I’ve come to know over the years, first online and then (in some cases) in person at conventions. I’ve been snapping pictures of these items as they arrive, and you can see them all here (along with some non-gift-related holiday photos). Even though Hanukkah is over, it really does feel like my holiday is continuing with these thoughtful presents from afar. Thanks everyone!

Looking back, 2010 was a banner year for me, and I hope that 2011 won’t disappoint either.

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Too Many Books, So Little Time

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Do you ever tell yourself, “I’ll read that book and be done with it in no time!” only to discover that “no time” actually takes a while? That’s me right now. I am almost done with one book, but I have three more in the queue. These aren’t just any books, though. These are the last few unread books in my Star Wars collection, which means that catching up (and staying caught up) is a priority if I want to keep following this universe. The book I’m reading now is good, so the reason that it languishes on my shelf is not a lack of interest.

No, my problem is more sinister. I find that I’m constantly getting sucked into stuff online despite my repeated self-assurances that I will sit down and read. I have a comfy recliner and everything; it’s just too tempting to browse the Internet.

There may in fact be a twelve-step program for this kind of thing. “Can’t step away from your computer long enough to read a chapter from that novel? Is your TweetDeck notification sound constantly tearing you away from the escapism of a good book?" We can help!” Sadly, I bet I would just resort to reading articles online about how to detach, and that’s just furthering the problem.

But I digress. The other problem here is that Star Wars books are coming out almost every month, which, while great for expanding the universe and offering choices for casual readers, is a problem for completists like myself. Between classes and the magical World Wide Web, I rarely sit down and read for extended periods of time.

Am I hurting my brain? Probably not. A goodly portion of my time online involves reading fascinating scientific or technological articles, so I doubt I’m turning into a zombie. Still, I hear good things about some of these Star Wars novels, and it would be great to get caught up again. Not to mention the fact that I also have an assigned novel to read for the beginning of the Spring semester. That will take priority over both my Star Wars reading and my computing once it gets down to the last week before classes resume.

By the way, my goal with this blog post was to present the dilemma so clearly to myself that I would be forced to stop writing mid-sentence and pick up my current book. It didn’t work.

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Giving Thanks

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I’m home from college on a week-long break (I fly back on Sunday), which means I get to see family and sleep in my own bed. I also ran into some former classmates earlier this week when I visited my high school, so that was fun. My own bedroom still feels more like “home,” but I expect that I’ll soon grow equally comfortable at college. All in all, it’s been a relaxing week. The weirdness of “going home for break” is slowly wearing off.

But enough about me. Today is Thanksgiving Day in the United States, so thank you to everyone who is a part of my life, directly or indirectly.

  • Family – self-explanatory
  • Friends from all over the world – People I know from school, people I know from Star Wars…you know who you are, and you rock!
  • People who have taught and mentored me – I am me in large part because of you
  • Members of our armed forces who defend our freedom and suffer for it every single day, and first responders who risk their lives here on the home front – I salute you all
  • Celebrities who are also admirable people – recently I have grown to appreciate movie and TV stars who use their fame to be generous and beneficent, particularly in this world of new media and real-time interaction

Chances are you have a similar list. Keep those people in mind and thank them when you can. Enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner and the company of everyone at your table. That’s what I’ll be doing.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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My First Rally

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When Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert announced their D.C. events late last week, I knew I had to go. They’re two of the funniest people in the world, so how could this not be fantastic? Besides, their events are taking place on the National Mall, which is less than 45 minutes from where I live. There was no way I could miss this.

Well, the flights are booked, and it looks like I’ll be attending Stewart’s Rally to Restore Sanity and Colbert’s March to Keep Fear Alive on October 30th. I’m not sure how they’re going to do these two events on the same day in the same space. I think it would be funny if both comedians rallied their troops on opposite sides of the Mall before ending the combined events on a central stage with a heartfelt message of cooperation. (Or perhaps a fierce battle!)

Several of my friends are going to the rally/march, and some people here at college were asking to stay at my house overnight so they could attend. (Yeah, that’s not going to happen.) The last time I went down to that area of D.C., it was for the Obama inauguration. I expect it to be packed, albeit less claustrophobically, once again.

Look for event coverage on Twitter with pictures (and maybe videos). I can’t wait to see these two guys in person. (This makes twice for Stewart, since I first saw him at Celebration V in August.) I’m super excited already!


The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Rally to Restore Sanity
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Tea Party

 

The Colbert Report Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
March to Keep Fear Alive Announcement
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full Episodes 2010 Election Fox News

 

(On a non-rally note, this will be my first trip home since I started college. I’m looking forward to seeing my room again!)

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College!

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This is the most famous part of Middle Path, the campus's main artery.

I won’t spend time summing up my Mediterranean cruise, or the awesomeness that followed at Celebration V. Let’s just say that they were both exciting experiences. If you want to read a CV report I wrote for TheForce.Net, click here (my photos from the convention are also there). As always, you can get real-time updates on my life by following me on Twitter.

I will, however, talk about college. I started at Kenyon on August 22nd and I’ve had a great time so far. I have a single room, and even though it’s small, I have room for everything I need, and I love the autonomy. My building is located near a lot of the local businesses (café, bookstore, bank, Post Office), but on the other side of campus from the classrooms, dining hall, and library. For now (a.k.a. while it’s sunny and warm), this doesn’t bother me. The campus is beautiful and connected from end to end by a wide gravel path, so walking around is pleasant.

So, college. It’s not as different as I thought. I still feel like the same person, albeit with more freedom and responsibility. I have to do my own laundry and vacuum my own room, so that’s new. But I have the same interests, Twitter friends, clothes, and hairstyle. Looking back, it’s hard to remember what I thought would change as I contemplated college while in high school.

In case you’re interested, here are my classes:
  • Philosophy: Intro to Ethics
  • Intro to Psychology: Basic Processes
  • English: Elizabethan Age
  • Political Science: The Quest for Justice
I have two schedules, each with two classes (one in the morning and one in the afternoon). One schedule is for MWF and one is for TR (which somehow stands for Tuesday-Thursday). All four of my classes are interesting, although I am finding English and PolySci the most engaging. They meet in seminar rooms, whereas the other two are lecture-style classes. All four of my professors are extremely nice and approachable.

It’s nice to not have class until 9:40am at the earliest, but I’m still trying to figure out a routine that allows me to grab breakfast without waking up too early. Lunch is sometimes problematic as well because of the overlap between lunch hours and my in-between-class free time. No worries, though: I still anticipate hitting my Freshman 15.

One of the great things about college is how the campus feels like its own town. They have all kinds of services, opportunities, clubs, and resources here. I suppose this would be true of any college, but it’s impressive how much of a miniature ecosystem this place is. (Then again, being in a small town in the middle of nowhere might have necessitated that.)

Internet is not bad, although it’s definitely slower here than at home. (I’m sharing a connection with thousands of other people!) I’m still able to stream live stuff from services like Ustream, and Slingbox (which lets me watch TV channels from back home in DC) has been a godsend.

In non-college news, I can’t wait for the premiere of Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 3 on Friday, September 17th. This will be the second season I review for TFN (you can see those reviews here) and it looks like the team at Lucasfilm Animation has really taken the series to a whole new level. I met a lot of the people behind The Clone Wars at Celebration V (most for the second time), and I trust them to create magnificent new Star Wars content for us every week.

I’d love to keep writing, but I’m in college now, so I have to go to a wild drunken sex party.*





* I did not actually go to a wild drunken sex party after I wrote this post. The party didn’t start until a few hours later.
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Summer Winds Down, But The Anticipation Ramps Up

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dscn3648

With less than a month left in my summer, the real vacation is about to begin.

Sorry for the lack of updates. I’ve been busy and … well, okay, no I haven’t. But I have been lazy. Anyway, I finished my summer job – IT at my former high school -- last week. I was glad to spend a few more months with the guys in the tech department; they were some of the best people I met in my three years there. Plus, I made some money which will undoubtedly come in handy at college.

Tomorrow afternoon, we leave for a twelve-day vacation. First we fly to Barcelona via Frankfurt. We stay there for a few days before heading to the port for an eight-night Mediterranean cruise on Royal Caribbean. We fly home after the cruise – just two days before I fly out to Orlando for Star Wars Celebration V.

I have been on two cruises before, one to Alaska and one to the Western Caribbean. I love the all-you-can-eat buffet restaurant, the feeling of independence (I can ice-skate whenever I want!), and the exciting shore excursions. We’ll be stopping at ports in Italy and France. Among the excursions are a trip to the museum housing Michelangelo’s David and a visit to the city of Cannes. I promise to take lots of photos and videos and post it all when I get home.

I may also be able to post media from the boat, depending on how reliable my Internet turns out to be. I called Verizon and set up an international data plan, which will work while the ship is cruising (but strangely not at port). It won’t be 3G, but it’s something – hopefully enough of a “something” to give you an idea of my journey with occasional photo updates. Don’t expect live streaming, though.

Even with onboard Internet to put out occasional content, I still won’t be able to keep up with the content I usually take in. I have calculated that I will miss approximately 32 podcast episodes (as well as six episodes each of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report), including the last two live ForceCast shows before Celebration V (they’re sure to be exciting). Even once I take out the episodes I don’t need to see, that’s still a lot of catch-up on August 9th and 10th, the only days I have at home before my Celebration V journey begins. And I have to pack for CV!

Note that, while I’m away on vacation, I’ll be 6 hours ahead of the East Coast of the United States. Everything that would normally occur during my waking hours at home (let’s say 7am to 11pm) now happens from 1pm to 5am on the boat. I’ll likely catch the important stuff eventually, but my sense of real-time participation on Twitter and various forums will be disrupted. I guess it’s okay – all in the name of a good cruise.

As always, you should follow me on Twitter for the very latest.

Incidentally, amidst all this planning, I realized that I now have less than seven days left of sleeping in my own bed at home. College move-in starts on August 21st.

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Star Wars GPS Voices: A Galaxy Car, Car Away

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X34-landspeeder

Amid yesterday’s International Star Wars Day festivities, TomTom announced that they were bringing Star Wars voices to their GPS units.  Darth Vader is available now, and C-3PO, Yoda, and Han Solo will be released throughout the summer.  You can find out more about Star Wars on TomTom devices, and enjoy a funny video of Vader recording lines for the GPS, at the TomTom website.

I have a Motorola Droid with Google Maps-based navigation services, so I won’t be getting one of these myself.  However, I did spend some time thinking about this new partnership, and I’ve determined one thing: Star Wars on your GPS means hilarious new lines from some of the saga’s most iconic characters.  Imagine the many places TomTom could take this line of voices -- picture Jar Jar telling you to make a legal U-turn, or Obi-Wan bemoaning the fact that you missed your exit.

I’m sure that TomTom, through its partnership with VoiceSkins.com, has already started to create voice tracks for the three forthcoming Star Wars characters.  So to help them out, I came up with a few “directions” that I’d like to hear from C-3PO, Yoda, and Han Solo.

C-3PO

  • “Recalculating.  I don’t know what all this trouble is about, but I’m sure it must be your fault.”
  • “When possible, make a legal U-turn.  This time you have gone too far!”
  • When you return to your car after using a rest stop: “At last!  Where have you been?”
  • When you switch off the GPS unit: “Shutting up, sir.”
  • When you try to hack the GPS firmware: “Don’t get technical with me!”
  • When you enter an obscure, out-of-the-way, possibly-backwater destination: “I’m going to regret this.”

Yoda

  • “I am wondering, why are you here?  Proceed to the highlighted route, you must.”
  • When you turn on the GPS: “Help you I can, yes!  Mmm!”
  • When you pass a McDonald’s: “Cheeseburgers, French fries, McFlurries…a Jedi craves not these things.”

Han Solo

  • “You have arrived at your destination.  Don’t everybody thank me at once.”
  • When you nervously ponder how to avoid a speed trap: “I don’t know, fly casual.”
  • When he gets you lost: “Look, don’t worry, everything’s going to be fine.  Trust me.”

And here are some GPS lines that would be great for other Star Wars characters:

  • “You must turn where you feel is right, of course.” – Obi-Wan Kenobi
  • “It’s a speed trap!” – Admiral Ackbar
  • “From now on, you do as I tell you, okay?” – Princess Leia
  • “In 0.5 miles, you will make a left.  I have forseen it.” – Emperor Palpatine
  • “You will arrive at your destination in 10 minutes.  You’ve got a lot of guts coming here, after what you pulled.” – Lando Calrissian
  • “Your destination is ahead on the right.  Move along!  Move along!” – Stormtroopers
  • "In 1.5 miles, take the freeway exit.  Stay on target!” – Gold Five

Suffice it to say, I don’t think we’re going to get a Gold Five GPS voice. Still, there are other interesting possibilities in the pantheon of Star Wars characters.  And who says the Star Wars component of driving technology has to stop at our GPS’s voice?  I don’t!  One day we’ll all drive around with astromech units in the back seat, beeping at us to stop being so proud and ask for directions to Dagobah already.

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Happy Star Wars Day!

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starwarsuniverse

Today is International Star Wars Day, or as we call it, “May The Fourth Be With You.”  Every May 4th, our fandom unites to celebrate the enduring success of the world’s most popular science-fiction franchise.  Today is the best day of the year to break out that Jar Jar costume or put on the papier-mâché Jabba the Hutt mask. (On second thought, perhaps there’s really no good day to wear either of those things.)

The best way to celebrate this “holiday” is by calling all of your friends and family and spouting lines from the movies.  If you want to go really hardcore, throw in some lines from Expanded Universe books. (Note: Do not actually make these calls unless you have had a lot of blue milk.)

As I get older, Star Wars continues to play an important role in my life, and I don’t see that changing any time soon.  I’ve met a lot of good friends through the Star Wars franchise, many of whom I consider among some of my best friends.  I’ve also had a blast attending two conventions, with a third coming up in August.  It’s safe to say that Star Wars has been a very positive thing for me.

May 4th is the most prominent day for honoring the impact of Star Wars, but don’t let it be the only time you do so.  Celebrate the saga by joining Star Wars communities like those on Twitter, Facebook, and various forums.  Enjoy the story and the message by participating in the fandom.

To see if you qualify for the right to celebrate today’s festivities, check out this list from GalaxyFarAway.com, “You Know You’re A Star Wars Nerd When…

For more information on Star Wars Day, visit Wikipedia.

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Get Into College? Check.

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<strong>2006-07 Tuition and Fees:</strong> $36,050
<strong>2007-08 Tuition and Fees:</strong> $38,140

I suppose I should give this blog more attention than I have recently.  For example, though I tweeted about it, I neglected to write a post about how I was accepted to Kenyon College for the Class of 2014.  Kenyon is a great school, and I was extremely relieved when I got the acceptance letter.  The envelope it came in had a big thumbs-up on the front, which I guess should have been a clue as to its contents, but I was too focused on ripping it open to notice the outside.

Now that my college search, application, and acceptance process is done, I feel as if a huge weigh has been lifted off my shoulders.  There are still three and a half months left in the school year, and Kenyon does require successful completion of senior year, but I don’t think that will be a problem.  I’m doing well in all my classes, and nothing worrisome is on the horizon -- with the exception of a twenty-something-page paper for my Constitutional Law class that stresses me out purely because of its length and my propensity to make little errors here and there.  Of course, the AP exams are in early May, and I’m taking three of them (AP English, AP Statistics, and AP French), but even if I did poorly on any of them, colleges don’t have to see them, and they’re not the best indicator of academic performance anyway.  Overall, I am having a great senior year, and I hope to have a strong academic finish to show to Kenyon.

I’m already starting to think about the summer.  I’ll be working at my school in tech department again, for the last time, to make some money before college.  My family is going on a European cruise in late July, which should be extremely relaxing if the Internet prices don’t drive me crazy.  I’m attending Star Wars Celebration V in August, where I’ll hang out with some of my best friends and work the convention as part of TheForce.Net’s staff.  It will be a nice reprieve from workloads and deadlines before I get sucked into college.  Just a few short days after CV, we head out to Kenyon to move me into my dorm.

Of course, all of that is still a long way off.  For now, life remains relatively normal.  I’m enjoying weekly episodes of 24 and Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Leverage had its season finale last night – FANTASTIC!).  I’m also participating in weekly ForceCast get-together nights during the live broadcasts, where we sometimes pass the midnight mark with double feature recordings.

I’m sure a lot of the things I do weekly, daily, and even hourly will change at Kenyon.  I may not be able to be at every live ForceCast.  I may miss an airing of 24 and have to catch it later.  I may not even attend a Star Wars convention until I graduate, or sometime even later than that.  And of course, after college there’s real life waiting for me: the responsibility of a job, monthly payments for housing and utilities.  Who knows what I’ll be interested in – what I’ll be like – by then?

I realize this is getting pretty deep.  I’ll stop.  Getting into Kenyon was the first step in the next stage of my life.  It was the opening of a door into an exciting new world.  I hope I’ll remember exactly what was going on in my life the day I was accepted.  Maybe I should be keeping a diary – something written, somewhere I won’t lose it, with information about what I’m doing that I update every so often.

Wait a minute.

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Star Wars Politics: The Book

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SW Politics

I’ve recently begun writing for the blog of my good friend Mandy.  My latest entry on her blog is a brainstorming session for a “politics of Star Wars” book.  Check it out here, and make sure you browse through her other great entries too.

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Some Thoughts on Avatar and Star Wars

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Avatar SW

First of all, I haven’t seen the movie.  The statements I will be making are based purely on the aggregate of what I’ve read online.  But I don’t even need to see Avatar in order to make my next statement: Avatar will never reach the popularity and success of Star Wars.  It simply never will.

Now let’s look at why.

First, while Avatar may be on par with Star Wars in terms of special effects, that’s just about all it has going for it.  The story of Avatar is pretty flimsy; indeed, almost all of the praise for Avatar has been for its outstanding 3D imagery.  So even if the eventual Star Wars 3D re-releases don’t blow Avatar out of the water (as I expect them to), Lucasfilm has nothing to worry about.  3D imagery can bring in crowds like nothing else, but only because it’s new.  There’s nothing inherently better about the content of Avatar just because it’s in 3D (and therefore garners monumental interest).

Next, the mythology.  I’ve heard some people say that there’s a lot of mythology in Avatar.  Well, actually, I don’t buy that.  At least, not in the traditional sense of the word.  Yes, the Hindu god Vishnu is depicted as being a blue deity, and yes, the Sanskrit epic Ramayana focuses a whole lot on monkey-beings.  But that’s small stuff.  Sure, that stuff’s a big deal to the Indian people, and I’m not diminishing those mythological elements as they relate to Indian lore.  But I’d argue that Star Wars presents a much broader sense of mythology.  There is a great message behind Avatar – overthrowing oppressive, discriminatory enemies in the name of freedom and equality – and indeed that message seems to be present in Star Wars as well.  But in Avatar, this message is presented in a smaller way.

No matter what your faith or nationality, the elements of mythology that George Lucas incorporated into Star Wars will appeal to you.  There’s Luke Skywalker, the young nobody-turned-hero who rises out of dark times to bring light to everyone; there’s Obi-Wan Kenobi, the wise old mentor who eventually must leave his student behind and sacrifice himself; and there’s Han Solo, the harsh realist who serves as the foil to Luke’s naive optimism.  There are many other people in Star Wars who represent epic, timeless archetypes, and that is what makes the mythology in Star Wars much grander than that of Avatar.

Another thing I need to address is the numbers game.  In the past few days, Avatar passed Star Wars’s total domestic gross, a feat that meant instant press coverage across the blogosphere.  But there’s a problem with this achievement: the numbers are unadjusted for inflation.  Personally, I don’t see why anyone uses unadjusted gross numbers.  They don’t reflect the skyrocketing of ticket prices at all, so how can you use them to compare movies with significant release year gaps?  All of the news reports I saw about Avatar passing Star Wars used these unadjusted numbers, thereby further promoting the myth that Avatar has been more successful than Star Wars.

According to Box Office Mojo, as of this writing Avatar has made $511,782,300 at the box office.  That’s pretty good.  But now let’s look at Star Wars.  Remember, this number has been adjusted for the 30+ years that have passed and all the ticket price fluctuation that has occurred.  So here’s the deal: as of right now, Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope has made … $1,309,179,000.  That means A New Hope occupies the number two spot on the list of the highest-grossing films in the country, right behind Gone with the WindAvatar, for what it’s worth, sits at #34.

Before you write in to complain, I’ll say this: yes, I realize that Avatar has been out for less than a year.  Less than six months, in fact.  But even with just a few months of ticket sales on record, some people are already saying that Avatar is a better film than Star Wars.  But how do you define “better”?  Does “better” mean “more profitable”?  I doubt it, because Star Wars still has a much higher domestic gross.  So does “better” mean “more epic”?  No, because, as I already explained, Avatar had a weak story and a pretty thin layer of mythology.  So if we’re not talking about money or message, what else can we use to define “better”?  To me, at least, there’s nothing else.

Avatar is generating a lot of buzz, but that’s the nature of our modern world.  People jump on the greatest film of the year as if it’s the greatest film of the century, and then they move on to the next great film as soon as it’s released.  We saw this with The Dark Knight, and now we’re seeing it with Avatar.  The film may be temporarily popular, but I believe it will soon go the way of The Dark Knight.  When the dust settles, Star Wars has monumental staying power; it’s been in the public spotlight for thirty years, and it doesn’t appear to be vanishing anytime soon.  Avatar, on the other hand, is just another 3D effects masterpiece.  It may be a great film, but it doesn’t offer nearly as much as Star Wars in the way of timeless values and essential mythological themes.

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Jack is Back!

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24 Season 8

Tonight is the night.

In just a few short hours, Jack Bauer will return to television as part of 24’s eighth season.  It’s something that a lot of us have been waiting for since the last season ended on May 18, 2009.

The theme of Season 8 seems to be, “Yay torture!”  Fans following 24 will remember that Jack Bauer’s FBI friend Renee Walker was shown going dark at the end of the last season.  Word has it that she will be shown getting progressively darker as Season 8 opens.  NYMag.com has an interview with Renee Walker actress Annie Wersching, where she says of her character, “Now she’s not going to lose anything if she does something bad.”  In short, it sounds like we’ll be getting a lot of torture in this season.

Now, I’m no conservative crazy-head who thinks that torture is justified whenever we need to protect our country.  After all, this is America; we have should have standards.  I don’t necessarily watch 24 because I agree with everything it presents.  I just really like the fast-paced intensity of the show.  And Kiefer Sutherland’s Jack Bauer has some of the best lines on television.  24 has a cult following because of how perfectly it encapsulates everything that is right about an action show, not because of how much its viewers agree with its philosophy.

Last season was particularly exciting for me because it took place in my home city of Washington, D.C.  To a certain degree, it really felt like Jack Bauer and co. were running around my neighborhood.  Occasionally someone on screen would exclaim that the target was heading down this road or highway, and oftentimes I would recognize the location from my travels.

One of the best things for television PR these days is a social media presence, and 24’s cast certainly doesn’t disappoint.  The aforementioned Annie Wersching’s Twitter feed is often filled with 24 tidbits and photos from the set.  Actress Mary Lynn Rajskub – who plays 24’s resident geek, Chloe O’Brian – also has an account.  And FOX’s own PR department runs the official 24 feed, with information about promotional events, airtimes, and videos from the show.  I’m glad to see the 24 cast and crew jump on Twitter, because the behind-the-scenes content they share is some of my favorite.  Now, if only Kiefer would join Twitter as well.

Continuing with the new 24 tradition of venturing outside Los Angeles, this new season takes place in New York.  What surprises does Jack Bauer’s world have in store for him?  We’ll find out tonight, when the clock starts ticking.

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Happy New Year!

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Welcome to 2010, everyone.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I had a blast on New Year’s Eve.  I had the honor of hosting the ForceCast’s New Year’s Eve party, which was nothing short of awesome.  The event took place in the TFN live chat room, which has historically been a great place for all  manner of gatherings.  This was no exception.  Starting a little after 10pm ET, I, along with other East Coast participants, started my Special Edition DVD of Star Wars: A New Hope.  We watched the movie for the next hour and fifty-ish minutes, all the while chatting it up with fellow fans.  For those of us who timed it right, the Rebels blew up the Death Star at the stroke of midnight.

After the East Coast had their fun, the Central time zone was up next.  And the Force was with us last night – shortly after the East Coast got started, The ForceCast’s own Jimmy Mac joined us in the chat from Chicago.  We were joined soon thereafter by Jimmy’s son Michael and his wife Wendy.  I really enjoyed having Jimmy and his family there; it was nice to interact with him in a more informal context.  Jimmy’s son Michael had some witty remarks once the Central time zone began their viewing, and Jimmy also shared quotes and questions from his son Dylan about A New Hope.  Watching A New Hope on New Year’s Eve was originally a Mac family tradition, but Jimmy brought it to the greater ForceCast community last night.  It was so much fun sharing the tradition with him and his family.  Talk about a close community!

It really was exciting to have the most triumphant moment of this classic film coincide with the starting of a new year.  It was all the more exciting because I was able to share this moment with friends from around the country.

To end this blog post, here’s a picture from Twitter of the moment when 2010 began for me.

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