Archive for opinion

Favorite EU Book

Posted in Challenges with tags , , , , , on 26 June 2014 by Megan

Honestly, I didn’t plan for all my challenges to prompt me to talk about Star Wars books in the same two month period, I really didn’t. But since it asked, well, I’m bound to answer! I don’t want to do an official review for a challenge, though — my recent enthusiasm for I, Jedi might lead you to conclude that that was my favorite, but no. Don’t confuse something that I think “is the greatest” with something I know “is my favorite.” And without any further ado, allow me to introduce to you my absolute favorite Star Wars book of the expanded universe (pending a proper review):

K.W. Jeter is an highly acclaimed author who is credited with coining the term steampunk, everyone’s favorite cogs-and-gears bespangled new fashion statement. These books, however, take a beating in the ratings department — which is part of why I’m so keen to do a series of reviews that gives them justice — and so I shall frame this post as a defense of The Bounty Hunter Wars Trilogy as my very favorite in the EU. The three books, The Mandalorian Armor, Slave Ship, and Hard Merchandise take place on a split timeline and follow the most popular of all peripheral characters from the films: the bounty hunters.

The gang's all here!

The gang’s all here!

The books start “Now,” or during the events of Return of the Jedi, but move back and forth to “Then,” just before A New Hope, which is when the titular bounty hunter war takes place. Now, the first time I read book 1, I actually listened to it on tape and was 14 years old, and had absolutely no difficulty tracking the shifts in time throughout the narrative. K.W. Jeter has a clean, dry, acerbic storytelling style that I think meshes well with the character of his, well, characters.

Dengar — the fellow with the bandaged head there — is a Corellian who is in to survival. Having met a woman who has changed his life, taking him off the path of vengeance against the man who scarred his features (Han Solo), he’s just looking for enough of a break to get the money to settle down with her and retire forever. Where can money be had on Tatooine? Well, Jabba’s sail barge has recently exploded in the Dune Sea, and that’s where our story begins, with Dengar scanning the wastes for anything  he can make some cash on.

What he finds should properly shock any genuine Star Warrior: the soft, armor-free body of a human man, Boba Fett, stripped and shelled and vulnerable. “Sarlaac swallowed me. I blew it up,” he tells his rescuer before lapsing into silence. Dengar takes him to his hideout in the rocks, not sure what to do with him — but a young dancer from Jabba’s Palace, Neelah, she is sure what to do with him. She was mind wiped and Boba Fett holds the answers to who she once was. And she wants those answers in a bad way.

The question of Neelah’s identity isn’t the only mystery going on. Kuat of Kuat, one of my favorite characters of all time, has intercepted a message pod with some chilling evidence about who was really behind the destruction of the Lars’ homestead. And Prince Xizor of Black Sun reappears, just following Shadows of the Empire, with all his machinations and Falleen foibles. And you’ve got Bossk — the scaly fellow — out on a vendetta against Fett. It’s a largely peripheral book, with our main characters serving little more than cameos, which is something I always enjoy.

The events of “Then” are all about how Boba Fett was hired by a strange creature called The Assembler to start a war among the bounty hunters, with the eventual aim of breaking up the Bounty Hunters’ Guild. And it’s his involvement there that explains why Bossk is gunning for him so fiercely. The first book ends on such a cliffhanger, I will absolutely never forget the sensation of my panic between the books . . .

WHAT HAPPENED NEXT?

WHAT HAPPENED NEXT?

This is one of those rare trilogies that I was aware of as it came out. In fact, I remember clearly one day going into the local bookstore with Mom and making a beeline for the one shelf of “scifi/fantasy” near the front door (prime for sun damage) while Mom did whatever boring Mom stuff she was doing — and I saw Slave Ship on the rack and snatched it up in my unsteady fingers to belt down the first chapter before we had to go. Just to find out . . . did Slave I really explode on the final page of the previous book?! Well?!

I hear a lot of criticism about Jeter’s storytelling style, that the mystery is not well-developed and there’s a lot of telling without showing, but these are not objections I share. First of all, I dislike mysteries and the words “it really wasn’t a mystery at all!” will always be a compliment from me. And, as I said already, I feel that his narrative style exactly suits his subject matter. Jeter has remained one of my favorite Star Wars authors, and the warm feelings I have for this trilogy have even made me think I might, maybe, sometime go read his non-Star Wars stuff. (High honor, from me.)

Character crush alert!

Character crush alert!

And if nothing else, this book has given me Kuat of Kuat — head of House Kuat and ruler of the planet Kuat, and isn’t Kuat awesome to say? — one of my enduring EU crushes. Hmm, I have an abrupt memory of listening to this trilogy while playing Deer Hunter on our Windows 98. Wow! There’s an old chestnut. I do love these books; I moved them to Indiana with me, and even the other day when I was packing stuff in my storage unit, I had to take them out just to pet and smell them and say hi.

I feel like this post is a little more disjointed than most and a little rambly, but I’ve had a stressful week and am going to do a proper book-by-book writeup of this trilogy sometime in the future, so I think that makes up for it. The question was for my favorite EU book, and I have answered it, Sir!

Dislikeable Character

Posted in Challenges with tags , , on 19 June 2014 by Megan

We all know dislike is my stock and trade. At least we should know, after my explanations about hating Yoda, Mace Windu, and Padmé. Disliking a character isn’t really the same as hating one, though. I’d like to focus on the OT for this one, because I don’t want to make it sound like I direct an inordinate amount of dislike the PT’s way, so let me think about this.

There are three characters in the Original Trilogy whom I rather dislike. And I’m not talking about characters you’re not supposed to like, like random Imperials or Darth Vader, and I’m not talking about spit minor people, either, like the woman who coughs in the Hoth sequence of Empire Strikes Back. (Actually I know her name and life story but that’s not the present issue.)

I have never particularly liked Artoo. My earliest feelings toward him were of bemused toleration, sort of how Threepio acts most of the time. I liked Threepio from the get-go and related to him well, since he was constantly suffering with the knowledge that nobody ever wanted to listen to him talk. (Poor Threepio. Get a blog, it helps!) And he seemed to have some valid criticisms about Artoo. After I became aware of the sweeping, nearly universal fan adoration for him, well, my disinterest leveled up to dislike. What do people see in him? He’s rude. He squeaks, he beeps, he manipulates everybody to get his own way. I guess he’s a determined little creature, but, still, nothing about that droid recommends him to me. I just am never going to love that astro droid.

Princess Leia is another one I just really don’t like, which you probably should’ve gathered from my least favorite romance. I explain there pretty thoroughly why I don’t like Leia: she’s bullheaded at the expense of reason, proud, hotheaded, contrary, and ungrateful. She shrieks. And then, to complete the package, she is exactly average — neither plain nor beautiful, neither brilliant nor bimbo. She’s not regal or challenging. The reason she gets pegged as such an awesome character all the time is that she’s no “damsel in distress,” but “not helpless” is not a great recommended of females in my book. I’d rather have an intelligent and logical female who can treat the men around her respectfully as equals even if she does panic and need rescuing when the going gets tough. Leia treats Han horribly. Her consuming passion for politics and the black and white of wrong and right cause more harm than good. A little less ranting and a little more discretion on her part might have gotten the Death Star plans into rebel hands without losing Alderaan — or at least little common sense on her part might have gotten them to the rebellion without risking Yavin. She’s just so . . . ugh.

Old Ben Kenobi

Old Ben Kenobi

But really, the person who is so much more annoying than either of them is the not-so-subtly named “Old Ben Kenobi.” (An aside — in early days, I used to wonder if Obi-Wan had been a clone of the Clone Wars because his name was so similar to the droids’ designations — OB1.)

Part of the reason I wasn’t really that in to Star Wars on the first watching was there was nothing terribly compelling about it. A squawky kid runs around with an old hermit and blows up a space station. Fun, but not fascinating. And it took all three prequels before I could actually enjoy ANH and not just look at it as something to get through to get to the “good ones.”

The chiefest reason ANH isn’t compelling? This irritating geezer! Sorry. But I’m serious. It took Ewan McGregor for me to take Obi-Wan off my list of least favorite characters, and nevertheless, I can’t help being all “boy did not age well! What a crank.”

Because seriously, what does he do? If you take the story in context, he hides out on Tatooine for twenty years while the Empire stockpiles its tools of war and entrenches itself throughout the galaxy. It’s all well and good for Joseph Campbell to write about the hero’s journey and the mentor, etc. etc., but what kind of warrior goes into hiding for two decades waiting for a “last hope” to age appropriately? And even if a guardian of peace and justice might take that route, why would he leave Luke with unbelieving relatives and only attempt to introduce him to the Force when he was, by Yoda’s observation, too old to ever learn it properly? What was stopping Obi-Wan from raising Luke himself? His phobia of diaper changing? It’s not like Luke or Leia had any legal status whatsoever — Padmé’s children were considered dead in her womb. Obi-Wan’s claim on the kid was just as good as Owen and Beru’s.

Obi-Wan does literally zilch on Tatooine for almost a quarter of a century, and when events finally conspire to bring him out of self-imposed exile, he loads Luke up with lies, half truths, and skewed views of the Force. He says using the lightsaber in the cantina was a last resort, but it was also his first response, so what’s Luke supposed to make of it? He warns that abuse of the Force leads to the dark side, but then proceeds to mind-manipulate Stormtroopers and even one old nonhuman buying speeders. No wonder Luke cries in frustration, “How am I to know the good side from the bad?” (and get a frustrating non-answer from Yode the toad). I’m just coming off reading I, Jedi, it’s true, but Corran Horn hits it with a hydrospanner when he observes that Obi-Wan and Yoda were poor teachers — and I’d add that they did Luke more harm than good.

Blue screen of ghost

Blue screen of ghost

Let’s talk about Obi-Wan and Yoda. Far more annoying than even old Obi-Wan there’s . . . Ghost Obi-Wan. Ugh. It’s possible Luke has had visions of Obi-Wan in the last three years, but then, maybe not, since he becomes convinced it was his delirium that sent him to Dagobah and not a vision in the Force.

If Obi-Wan in life is a dicey teacher and friend, ghost Obi-Wan is downright annoying. If regular Obi-Wan delivers whatever truth however he wants, ghost Obi-Wan is a study in vague abstractions and bad timing. He never offers an explanation for why he can’t interfere with Luke’s confronting Vader when he can show up any other time. In fact, the times he shows up are peculiar at best, and I have a serious suspicion that ghost Obi-Wan is in fact just a Force illusion cast by Yoda in an attempt to further manipulate the poor guy.

Wish on a Star Wars

Posted in Challenges with tags , , , on 12 June 2014 by Megan

Star Wars light,
Star Wars bright,
First Star Wars I see tonight,
I wish I may, I wish I might,
Have the wish I wish tonight.

Well, this question is about something in Star Wars that I wish were different. I assume this means some thing apart from the thing I wished had happened, the thing I wish hadn’t happened, the thing that makes me mad, and the thing that made me question whether I would continue loving Star Wars.

I could say, “I wish Yoda hadn’t been so much of an egotistical jackwagon that he refused to let Obi-Wan confront the Emperor, thereby creating Darth Vader and cementing the Empire as a galactic power for the next quarter century.” There is a certain element of realism that is lacking — what in the universe sort of guardians of peace and justice just pack it in for the next 20 years when one guy loses in a lightsaber duel to a Sith Lord? They should have hit the Emperor again, and again, and again. But neither of these wishes are reasonable because they completely alter the entire plot and purpose of the saga.

Here’s a wish that doesn’t. I get upset about this periodically, upset enough that I actually made a page dedicated to the subject, just because I wasn’t finding a way to post about it. What I’m talking about is Racism and Star Wars. And no, it’s probably not what you’re thinking.

Pictured: representatives of the human race.

Pictured: representatives of the human race.

Dear theoretical arts and entertainment genie who exists to grant wishes related to space sagas from the late 20th century: I wish that the expanded universe authors hadn’t felt the need to translate outdated skintone-based bigotry, specifically of the United States variety, into a government-endorsed and common “anti-alien/non-human” sentiment in the Star Wars universe.

What am I talking about? I’m talking about how the Star Wars books are permeated with references to nonhumans being some sort of second-class citizen, and how this is drawn as a parallel to the inexplicable prejudice that occasionally exists on Earth between people groups of one shade of skin and people groups of another. The initial attitude first appears in Heir to the Empire, where Timothy Zahn wants to emphasize Thrawn’s unique status as a Grand Admiral by making it clear the Emperor had a prejudice against non-humans. Now, much of this trilogy is rooted in the American Civil War, and it’s possible he drew some parallels between the Nazi regime and Palpatine’s Empire as well. Such parallels do exist in the films. My only problem with what Zahn did comes from the way the other authors took this and ran with it.

Not to imply that this is a fault of Zahn’s. Mid-20th century science fiction writers, across the board, seem to have a deep-seated disgust of nonhuman characters. This is evidenced by the insistence they have of calling them “aliens,” and parallels consistently drawn with animals. In the Star Wars scripts and sketches, there are “hammer heads” and “yak faces,”  names that no people group would assign to themselves. Chewbacca is referred to as a “big, shaggy dog” in interviews throughout the 80s, and his characterization is frequently doglike as well. As for the films being predominantly human-focused, don’t you think that’s because we, as humans, are the producers and viewers?

They put out a casting call for non-humans, but none showed up . . .

They put out a casting call for non-humans, but none showed up . . .

I’m not saying that it doesn’t make sense for the authors to have trumped this up in the first place. What I’m saying is that it bothers me on a profound level. Because while it makes sense for the cast and crew of a 1970s low budget science fiction picture to refer to the nonhuman species in demeaning terms, it does not make any sense on any level for the characters of the Star Wars universe to do so themselves.

Oxford English Dictionary, Alien, adj. and n.: B. n. 1. a. A person who does not belong to a particular family, community, country, etc.; a foreigner, a stranger, an outsider. b. spec. A foreigner who is not a naturalized citizen of the country where he or she is living; a foreign national. 2. b. A person who or thing which is opposed, repugnant, or unaccustomed to a specified person or thing; a stranger to. 5. orig. Science Fiction. An (intelligent) being from another planet; an extraterrestrial.

That last sense was coined in 1931 with obvious reference to the first. Alien is obviously meant to imply things unknown and apart from one’s own being. We use it now almost exclusively to refer to extraterrestrial beings, but consider this. The “galaxy far, far away” consists of roughly one billion inhabited solar systems. The Galactic Empire was made up ≈ 70 million solar systems and more than 100 quadrillion sentient beings — and these 100 quadrillion beings encompassed maybe 20 million different species. (In my Guide to Sentients, I list about 65 as particularly significant to the plot.)

"Space is big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind- bogglingly big it is" (Douglas Adams)

“Space is big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind- bogglingly big it is” (Douglas Adams)

I’m throwing all these numbers at you because I want you to see what I do: that in a galaxy of 7 billion inhabitable solar systems, with a population so much greater than that of Earth that I don’t even know the math language to express it to you, there is absolutely no way that one species could dominate the others, and no way the word alien could ever refer to all non-human races equally. Especially when all these races have been in contact with each other for at least 30,000 years (cf. Obi-Wan’s Jedi ruled for “over a thousand generations“). It makes no sense. Banish it from your vocabulary.

Now let’s talk about bigotry. I’m not denying that it’s very likely for some humans somewhere to have prejudicial sentiment against non-humans. Prejudice, bigotry, and xenophobia are certainly going to exist in a fallen world, whether that world is Earth or a galaxy far, far away. I’m sure as many humans are prejudiced against non-humans as non-humans are prejudiced against humans. My point is that in a galaxy where there is no racial majority, widespread oppression of every non-human sentient species is highly unlikely. In fact, I’m calling it impossible: there can be no galaxy-wide, government-sanctioned treatment of non-humans as lesser beings. This kind of behavior is going to be fringe and exist equally in humans as nonhumans.

Multi-racial Senate House

Multi-racial Senate House

You may tell me that Palpatine himself was prejudiced against non-humans (as well as females!), but I say there’s no internal evidence for this. He took his Sith training from a Muun, his first apprentice was a Zabrak, his right hand man was a Chagrian, and his senior administrative aide was an Umbaran female. His private personal assassin was human, also female. He never demonstrates prejudicial preference for humans (or males), nor does he have any motivation to do so. Imperial persecution almost certainly centered on resistant individuals, or even resistant solar systems (such as Mon Calamari) — not people whose genetic composition differed from the Emperor!

Anyway, I go into more detail on the page Racism and Star Wars; all I wanted to do with this was get my thoughts on the matter out where some people might see them and be inclined to agree. What you should take away is that I wish the expanded universe didn’t insist quite so heavily on humans being egotistical scum who detest most non-humans. And I wish they didn’t use the incongruent word “alien” quite so much.

Favorite ROTJ Moment

Posted in Challenges with tags , , , , , , on 5 June 2014 by Megan

The way I carry on about every one of these being so difficult, and the way I go on about ROTJ being my favorite everything in the whole world, you’d think that this one would be the hardest part of the challenge to date! But no, it’s not. I know exactly what scene to give you. Because not only is it the best moment in Return of the Jedi, it is the best scene in the entire saga.

So, you have accepted the truth...

So, you have accepted the truth…

I mean, yes, I’ve never talked about what I call “the bridge scene,” and you were probably expecting me to say “when Luke gets Force lightninged,” because, let’s face it, Force lightning is the coolest thing ever. But there’s so much to this scene, and I love absolutely every part of it.

Landing platform at night

Landing platform at night

I call it “the bridge scene” because the thing they’re standing in looks like a bridge, okay? It’s situated below the landing platform and is apparently where troops load onto AT-ATs. It is deep night; an Imperial shuttle lands, Vader emerges. We already know that Luke is intending to face his father, so this must be the awaited confrontation. What will happen? What does Luke mean when he says he must face Vader? The last time they met, Luke flung himself into battle.

Though he denies it, there may be more of them

Though he denies it, there may be more of them

An AT-AT docks with the bridge and this time, perhaps unexpectedly, Luke enters in binders — he is, for the moment, a willing prisoner of the Empire. Flanked by troopers, vastly outgunned for a man who brought only a peculiar cylindrical weapon, Luke stands in silence but there is challenge in his eyes as he takes in the sight of Vader. This sight is almost for the first time, for now he knows who he is, who they both are.

He was armed, only with this.

He was armed, only with this.

The officer hands over Luke’s lightsaber. This is what I mean about Star Wars being a coloring book, the outlines that allow the willing viewer to plug in whatever they want — I can all but picture the moment of Luke’s “capture.” The young Jedi steps out of the trees, out of the darkness to flag down a patrol, maybe an AT-ST. “I surrender,” he calls. “No, I’m alone. There’s no one with me.” They summon Vader. How long was he on the AT-AT? Did they question him, or was he left to sit in silence?

Luke’s mouth opens just slightly when he steps toward Vader, as though he might say something. But then his expression changes; he closes his mouth and waits in silence. The Dark Lord of the Sith, his father, may make the first move.

Vader and Luke are left alone on the platform, this island of light in the forest. Luke looks up into the emotionless face of the dark mask and does not see Vader, the murderer of his father and Obi-Wan. He sees Anakin Skywalker, somehow, through all the armor. He is confident. He knows exactly how this will turn out. When Vader speaks, the young man calls the towering man in black armor “Father.”

Awkward family get togethers

Awkward family get togethers

But Vader doesn’t bend. There is shock in Luke’s eyes; you can catch it. He thought this would work! But turning Vader from a lifetime of hate will be much more difficult than reminding him of his name. Luke grows more desperate. They go back and forth, Vader quite possibly probing the depth of the young man’s resolve, to see how he can work this situation for his own good even as Luke struggles to find the magic word that will free Anakin Skywalker from his prison of hate. Vader has spent more than a quarter of a century trying to get someone to take out the Emperor with him — ever since his first impassioned plea to Padmé, “I am stronger than the Emperor, I can overthrow him!” — and he hasn’t given up yet.

He almost says something

My father is truly dead

But Luke gives up. When he says, “Then my father is truly dead,” his eyes have grown cold, his features slack with disappointed failure. Was Obi-Wan right? Is there nothing to reach out to in Vader’s black heart?

But Luke does not know that Vader stays on the platform, meditating over the green saber — green like Qui-Gon’s, green like the first blade he ever saw.

What do they think about, father and son, Vader looking out over the forest with Luke’s words ringing in his ears — it is the name of your true self, you’ve only forgotten! Luke, sitting in the shuttle, Leia’s words echoing in his mind — Luke, run away! Far away! No doubt, Luke prepares himself for imminent death, not knowing that he has already driven a wedge into the slowly developing fractures of Anakin Skywalker’s prison.

As you can see, there is so much not said in this scene, and that is why I love it. It really is one of the best scenes in the trilogy. And it leads to this, one of the most iconic moments of ROTJ in my opinion —

Worst. Elevator ride. Ever.

Worst. Elevator ride. Ever.

Favorite ESB Moment

Posted in Challenges with tags , , , , , , on 29 May 2014 by Megan

I’m surprised it took me so long to come up with this because this is one of the only scenes I used to rewind to watch more than once, and I distinctly remember looking forward to it every time I watched Empire Strikes Back.

I’m talking about the scene with the bounty hunters.

Where my scum at?

Where my scum at?

Naturally, any scene with the Imperial fleet is one that I look forward to and enjoy thoroughly. So here we’ve got the Executor smashing asteroids with aplomb, we’ve got deck officers moving around doing interesting stuff, and then we’ve got the bridge. Oh, the glorious bridge of the Imperial flagship! I love it.

Star Wars gave filmgoers normal, everyday life among people who took space travel for granted. There were farmers, merchants, knights, priests–the standard population not only of mythology, folktale, and fiction, but also of our everyday lives. Star Wars took for granted that this was the way the galaxy worked, an old and worn out galaxy at war, and that’s what people loved. Speaking of galactic warfare, you know what else is associated with civil war? Westerns. The American West in the 19th century, with Civil War veterans heading toward the Rockies for freedom, treasure, etc. etc. Yes, Star Wars has plenty in common with westerns, and that is how we get to bounty hunters.

“We don’t need that scum,” Piett hisses, affronted by the riffraff on his bridge. Most of these guys are members of the bounty hunters’ guild — Bossk is the son of Cradossk, the head of the Guild in fact. Although they dress shabby in patched armor, they all have money to burn, money they earn by hunting down anyone with a price on their head and turning them over for profit. In Elmore Leonard’s classic The Bounty Hunters, the eponymous band get paid per Apache scalp they turn in, but you know they aren’t scrupulous and some of those scalps belong to Mexicans. No doubt these bounty hunters follow a similar shifty code . . .

"I said my name is Boba Fett. I know my --- is tight. Start actin' right or you're frozen in carbonite!"

“I said my name is Boba Fett. I know my — is tight. Start actin’ right or you’re frozen in carbonite!”

Except for Boba Fett, of course. Boba Fett, the silent man in green armor who has entranced fanboys for decades and even his widely-criticized backstory hasn’t hurt his fanbase (much). Although some arguments are inevitable about just how much of a badass this guy actually is, it’s hard to deny the coolness factor to his iconic helmet and Batman-quality gizmos. I love Boba Fett as much as anybody, and in the original versions of the films, this was our first glimpse of the man. “As you wish,” he grates out in response to Vader’s demands.

But he’s not the only one there who is totally awesome. One of my favorite anthologies is Tales of the Bounty Hunters — which includes a sadly bittersweet episode 15 years after ROTJ with an aging Fett and his Slave II. These short stories give insights into the life of Dengar (the one with the white bandages), who was badly burned in a race with Han Solo and is out for revenge. IG-88, assassin droid, has actually duplicated himself four times and runs an empire-wide conspiracy to eliminate organic life. He’s the reason the probe droid self-destructed on Hoth — not to disguise the Empire’s intent but so that no organic would ever learn what  the droids were planning! (All four IG-88s died before they could implement this plan.) Bossk, as I said, is the son of the head of the Bounty Hunters’ Guild, and even more of his story comes to light in K.W. Jeter’s stunning Bounty Hunter Wars trilogy. My longtime favorite has been Zuckuss with his droid partner 4-LOM (I talked about them here).

I don't know why it's so hard to get Zuckuss in one of these shots!

I don’t know why it’s so hard to get Zuckuss in one of these shots!

I love every character in this scene. The way the camera peers up at them, putting the viewer alongside the trim Imperial officers with their rampant disgust of the filthy bounty hunters — not because they aren’t human, (because there is no canonical evidence for galactically widespread, government-endorsed species related bigotry,and I don’t thank Timothy Zahn for inventing it) but because they are the scum of the galaxy, mavericks who would presumably sell off their own close family members for the right number of credits. The silent bounty hunters, more like Vader than anyone else on the bridge because they too are separated from everyone by armor, their faces just as unreadable, are fascinating just as a picture. Boba Fett’s curious stance as spokesperson for the motley group. Their backstories, explored in the two canonical sources I just offered you, are fun to explore. And as always, Boba Fett’s mask is as iconic a part of the Trilogy as Vader’s. Man, I love these guys!

The original motley crew. Because it was a long time ago, see?

The original motley crew. Because it was a long time ago, see?

Favorite ANH Moment

Posted in Challenges with tags , , , , , , on 22 May 2014 by Megan

I know it’s very common to consider the 1997 tweaks to A New Hope the mustache on the Mona Lisa,” but I for one love them all. I love seeing all of Mos Eisley in its ugly to death glory, and I especially love the cantina. I have always loved the cantina, but I especially love the special edition’s cantina.

Odds are, we serve your kind! (Unless you're a droid)

Odds are, we serve your kind! (Unless you’re a droid)

There’s a reason my Yahoo! Group dedicated to Star Wars love was set in a cantina on Tatooine called the Smoking Orange. And that reason is, I love this bar. The assorted villainy of twelve systems all congregate at Chalmun’s Spaceport Cantina, and I love it.

Mos Eisley Cantina!

Mos Eisley Cantina!

First of all, the soundtrack. This song comes out of nowhere, not like anything I was expecting to hear in a space epic, and there’s nothing scum and villainy love more than some good old fashioned space jazz, am I right? (Star Wars books dubbed this style of music “jizz,” presumably because the Urban Dictionary didn’t exist yet. I’m heartily sorry I have to tell you this, but I am the Star Wars Librarian and my head is crammed with this kind of knowledge.)

Doop doo doop doo dooda dooh . . .

Doop doo doop doo dooda dooh . . .

This is the sound my phone makes constantly because it’s both my alarm and like the only assigned ringtone I ever use. (Unassigned calls go to the Imperial march, and I wonder why I get so nervous every time I have to answer the phone. . . .) These two cantina song are quite easily two of my favorite tunes ever.

Come here often? Oh, wait, I'm the bartender...

Come here often? Oh, wait, I’m the bartender…

Bar scenes are classics in westerns, and Star Wars has more than a little in common with westerns as you know I’ve discussed before. Their clientele isn’t likely to be moisture farmers, but rather the traders and spacers who float through trying not to be noticed and looking for cash. The barroom fight, too, is a staple, though Obi-Wan handles it a lot quicker and with less orthodoxy than John Wayne.

IG-88's benighted parents?

IG-88’s benighted parents?

It’s Luke’s first step into a larger world. This kid who has never traveled past Anchorhead, never known any outside of his small circle of human friends unless it was itinerant Jawas, suddenly sees the reality of his daydreams put right in front of him. And it’s dark and smelly and a little intimidating. But he tries to play it cool.

In short, there is nothing not to like about this great scene. Music, barroom fight, Han Solo . . . It’s all good!

I'm long on charm and I look good in vests.

I’m long on charm and I look good in vests.

Favorite E3 Moment

Posted in Challenges with tags , , , , , , on 15 May 2014 by Megan

For the sake of the fact that I already said the Mustafar Battle is my favorite climax, I will not rehash it, even though it is pretty obvious a favorite is a favorite.

But there is another battle scene in Episode III that made me sit up straight the first time, that I thought about repeatedly because it just came out of nowhere and smacked me with how awesome it was.

Your move!

Your move!

Yeah, this is the fight with Obi-Wan and Grevious, one of the only times in the prequels Lucas let us see that Obi-Wan is a master duellist. It’s frustrating how little George lets us see Obi-Wan own with a saber!

Anyway, Obi-Wan has been sent to Utapau to neutralize Grevious. Sidious doesn’t need him anymore and the Jedi play predictably right into his plans. He rents a giant bird lizard and goes off cyborg hunting.

Hmm, what should I do? I know, go in alone!

Hmm, what should I do? I know, go in alone!

The first time, I was curious about how Obi-Wan would handle the situation as soon as he found Grevious and the council of traitors. I was afraid of Boga sneezing and giving away his position — but no! Obi-Wan leaps down into the thick of his enemies. He instantly neutralizes Grevious’ guards, and Grevious reveals his ace in the hole — he knows how to saber fight, too.

YOU FOOL!

YOU FOOL!

I gasped out loud in the theater when Grevious’ arms separated and he flashed out four sabers. I was terrified when he scuttled like a spider over the floor, and I was thrilled at Obi-Wan’s pursuit that involved that dizzying fall down the Utapauan crater.

Miles of green screen....

Miles of green screen….

I loved Obi-Wan’s final encounter with him, Ewan’s working in his trademark scream, and his grimly displeased use of a blaster. “So uncivilized!” Just everything about this fight is awesome.

Honorable mention: the first shot of the movie. Episode III’s crawl is by far the weakest and dumbest of the six, and the battle quickly becomes improbable and tiresome with squeaky voiced battle droids fresh from a helium bar, but that first shot is one of the most amazing things ever, especially when combined with the soundtrack. That is just awesome, and I will never stop wanting to see it in 3D. (Screw you, Lucas!!)

Boom. Boom. Boom.

Boom. Boom. Boom.