Archive for random

UNDER CONSTRUCTION

Posted in Announcements with tags , on 31 July 2015 by Megan

d2construction

Pardon the dust around here. I’m finally working on unveiling a new look, new focus, and new content. However, WordPress doesn’t let me draft changes of that magnitude, and my time is not infinite — so things are popping up slowly and that’s why it looks unorganized right now.

Many Bothan spies died to bring you this information. Use it wisely.

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to space sagas from the late 20th century: I wish that the expanded universe authors hadn’t felt the need to translate outdated skintone-based bigotry, specifically of the United States variety, into a government-endorsed and common “anti-alien/non-human” sentiment in the Star Wars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

Top Three Things To Do if I Suddenly Found Myself There

Posted in Challenges with tags , , on 16 May 2013 by Megan

I guess the spirit of this question is for an answer like “go drinking at Mos Eisley Cantina with Han,  practice lightsabers with Luke, catch an opera on Coruscant with Palpatine.” I don’t consider myself too literal to answer a question like this . . . on the contrary, I find myself struggling because I’m too imaginative. Other people can only think of repeating what they’ve already seen, but I try to imagine this literally happening, so I’m hung up on background consideration such as, “When in the timeline am I arriving? What planet am I on?” with the logistics of, “If I can arrive on Tatooine just before Boonta Eve in Y01101, I can bet myself on Sebulba losing the Podrace and get money that way . . .” But it’s me. I’m the person who can’t take the question of “top three things on a desert island” in a gaming spirit but choose actual survival items. I’ve seen fictional bucket lists and they irritate me because I see something like “defeat Grevious with Obi-Wan Kenobi” and I’m thinking, gah, you can’t do that because it’s already happened and you obviously weren’t there! (Nor can I leave the answer at, “Obi-Wan, Han, Luke, *smirk*.”)

But let’s not get bogged down on details. I’ll try to give you a genuine answer. When I was 12, I had this game I played on the trampoline where I basically had this holodeck and I used it to “go into” Return of the Jedi, but the first thing I did was bring Luke out of the movie and into my world. I love fish out of water stories, but am not very interested in being the fish. Somehow exploring my world with a fictional character sounds like more fun than exploring a fictional character’s world. But okay. No logistics. No timeline. A to-do list. Right. I can do this.

  1. Experience hyperspace. Especially on the Millennium Falcon. Or, if not the Falcon, I’d like to get in a flight lesson on an X-wing and do it myself. But, come on,  who doesn’t want to explore the Falcon and be sitting there when Han says “Punch it”? Oh, right, and it’s the Falcon, so time to kick it with Han and hear all sorts of exciting space pirate stories while admiring his roguish good looks!

    195779-hyperspace_falcon

    Oh, yeah? Watch this! (and then it works)

  2. Eat at Dex’s. Regardless of what anyone else might think, I love Dex’s diner. And if you’re eating there in CoCo Town, there is no guessing what sort of cool people you might see, like Obi-Wan himself strolling in the door! And who knows but I might arrange to get Dexter “delayed” in the kitchen for awhile and just sit out there myself talking with Obi-Wan and getting friendly?

    Dex_in_the_kitchen

    Take a seat, I’ll be right wich you!

  3. Hold a lightsaber. I knew what mine would be like before I ever had it, but I know it’s bigger than real size because of the batteries. The sounds, shape, movement you see on screen — I know exactly what it’d be like.  I want to know how weightless the blade really is and all. Plus this comes with the added bonus of snuggling Luke for awhile. What do you mean, you don’t see how that follows?

    star-wars-anh-luke-lightsaber-promo-2-x600

    Except that would be me, and I’m not his sister. Piyow!

Bogus Math

Posted in Fun with tags , , , , , , , on 12 April 2013 by Megan

Today’s very fun Friday guest blog is, as usual, from HS, where I rediscovered this funny rant on George Lucas’ mathematics. As usual, click the link to view the entire post; it’s been shortened for SWL.

The most fun math is what I call bogus math. I use the term to refer to anything unconventional and especially fictional. For example, there was this time that I calculated the population of Coruscant. Today’s particular bogus math I wanted to talk about, now that you’re all paying attention, is again Star Wars related. I know you’re all thinking, “She wants me to believe she’s got dyscalculia but likes computing all this stuff?” Well, I have a superpower called Wolfram|Alpha, which I can use to calculate anything.

In Astronomy and the Bible, I read that it would take 100,000 years to cross the galaxy at the speed of light and I suddenly began to wonder how long it would take at Han’s boasted, “She’ll make .5 past light speed.” Thus I found out that Wolfy will calculate ly speeds for me ! I asked for lightspeed +50%, and it replied 1.5c. (Which caused me to remember the question that inspired this blog: What is the propulsion system on the Death Star? In researching the Death Star, I found a book that said its maximum speed was 1.2c, and nothing would tell me what c stood for! It’s speed of light in vacuum.) Then I asked what it would take to get to Alpha Centauri at a rate of 1.5c — 35 months. This got me thinking about the sublight run for Cloud City from Hoth in ESB. Well, I got out my map of the Star Wars galaxy, which is conveniently scaled that 1 pixel = 15 parsecs = 48.9 ly, and counted four pixels between Bespin and Hoth. Unfortunately for Lucas, this comes up to 195.6 ly, and a 130-year journey for our heroes.

ImpandFalcon

If the Millennium Falcon went into lightspeed, its passengers will be too old to do anything when they get back.

This is ridiculous, George! He really seems to use hyperdrive and lightspeed interchangeably: “sublight” is non-hyperdrive. Piett tells Vader, “If the Millennium Falcon went into lightspeed, it could be on the other end of the galaxy by now.” But as I believe I have demonstrated, even the smallest possible distance, 15 parsecs, would take 32 years to travel at the boasted .5 past lightspeed! I can’t even justify it by thinking maybe Han should have said “she’ll make five times lightspeed,” because that’s still 9 years to go 15 parsecs. I understand George rarely knows what he’s talking about and there are a lot of tips in the movie to demonstrate this, such as when everyone exclaims how impossible it would be to shoot a two-meters-wide target from a snub fighter. Pretty obvious George has no idea what a “meter” is. Han’s “made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs” has drawn a lot of flak and George has tried to cover it up a variety of ways, but frankly, it’s just because he didn’t know.

Another thing! Timelining! It is insane how George condenses the saga. You think my math is bad? For George, 25 + 30 = 63 (Obi-Wan is 25 years old in Episode I; 30 years pass between E1 and A New Hope; Alec Guinness was 63 in ANH). George actually shed four years in the timeline, whichhe really needed. In 1977, Luke Skywalker was “about twenty,” maybe as old as 22. Somewhere in the intervening two decades, he became 18. Luke is born just as the Empire is founded, which means that his age must equal the years between E3 and ANH. If Luke is 25, Palpatine has a nearly-quarter-century-old empire. If Luke is 18, the empire is a mewling teenager. Also, a more mature Luke in ANH = a Luke more on par with Mark Hamill’s actual age and appearance in ROTJ.

WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO ME, GEORGE?!

Obi-Wan, Owen Lars, and Aunt Beru age in astonishing and horrifying way if you leave 18 years between E3 and ANH; I pointed out Obi-Wan’s unpleasant aging (you’d think Jedi would age slower than the general population!), but Beru and Owen? Even if he’s older than Anakin, Owen can’t be older than 25 in E3. He’s barely in his 40s and looks like a craggy old man in ANH! Let me help you out, George — again. Anakin is 9, Padmé is 14, and Obi-Wan is 25 in E1. Give them 13 years before Episode II, and say they’ve worked with Padmé again within the last ten years. That gives her and Anakin some more footing. That makes Anakin a comfortable 22, Padmé a realistic 27, and Obi-Wan a mature 38. The Clone War is an established three year event, putting their ages at 25 (Anakin), 30 (Padmé), and 41 (Obi-Wan) at the birth of the Empire. Call Luke 22, which parallels neatly with Anakin, and this makes Vader 47 and Obi-Wan 63 — the exact age of the actor who played him. You’re welcome, George.

I know, you didn’t think this was going to descend into Star Wars, but honestly, it was inevitable. Now I’ve got a serious jonesing to go watch Star Wars . . . I haven’t done that in like three weeks!

Bogus Math and George Lucas via Hundredaire Socialite.

Flashback! Why?

Posted in Questions with tags , , , , , , on 1 April 2013 by Megan

I feel like I’ve been quoting old AIM convos kind of a lot this year, and it made me want to go back and do another flashback question, courtesy of one of those AIM convos.

If Qui-Gon knew that Jar-Jar was going to be a pain while he went looking for a hyper drive why did he take him? — Krisco F.

Qui-Gon Jinn with Jar Jar

No one ever asks that question about Anakin…

My answer at the time was quite accurate and fully sourced by a Lucas-approved canonical source, that is, the novelization of Episode I — this included a scene never filmed for the movie, in which Obi-Wan dismisses Jar Jar’s concerns about going. (Jar Jar in fact did not want to go). The argument is a small group would be less noticeable than a single undercover Jedi in a place like Mos Epsa.

What I actually quoted, in the fall of 2000, to answer the question, though, was the following excerpt from an Episode I journal I myself had actually written — Obi-Wan’s Padawan journal. (I wrote it because, as a massive oversight, no one else had.) I’m going to quote it for  you, just to get some length to this post, but be patient and keep in mind that the person who wrote this was fourteen years old at the time.

A moment later, holding a scanner in one hand, I was checking the artfully designed Naboo hyperdrive. I frowned at the readouts, just as Jar Jar burst into the hold, looking around as if seeking salvation from a fate worse then death. For a moment, I wondered just what kind of trouble he’d gotten himself into now, and then he threw himself at my feet, moaning. “Obi-Wan, sire!” he wailed, “Pleeze–me not go wid Quiggon!”

It only took a moment to realize what the terrified Gungan was talking about–Qui-Gon had decided to take Jar Jar with him into the spaceport. “Sorry,” I said, detaching myself from him. I told the Gungan he would make Qui-Gon appear less obvious by going along. I silently added, I hope.

Something You Wish Hadn’t Happened

Posted in Challenges with tags , , , , , on 14 March 2013 by Megan

When it comes to Star Wars, there’s kind of a lot I wish I could’ve prevented. But if there was some kind of genie that granted wishes that applied only to entertainment franchises you loved deeply enough to inspire the intervention of a genie, well, these would be my three things I would wish out of the Star Wars universe.

This first one, I feel so strongly about and have felt so strongly for so long that I wrote a poem about it.

Click to see the original post on my blog Hundredaire Socialite

What I Would Change

Yoda would not fight in Episode II!
That’s no thing to put us through.
He looks so stupid I can’t even watch–
I’d like to kick him in his dumb crotch.

He should not fight with a lightsaber,
He should not fight with his next-door neighbor.
He should not fight with Force lightning,
He should not fight, dive, jump, or swing.
He should not fight with Count Dooku.
That whole segment makes George seem cuckoo.

I’d erase this scene so flipping fast,
And replace it with something unsurpassed.In short, that’s the thing I’d change:
No Yoda-on-smack in sight range.
Obi-Wan would fight LIKE. A. BOSS.
And Yoda his cookies would probably toss.

I wish that the canon hadn’t bloated over the end date prescribed by Timothy Zahn in Vision of the Future — that is, I wish the New Jedi Order had never been conceived of. This has bothered me longer than the Yoda thing, mostly because that’s only been around since 2002, and NJO started torturing my sensibilities long before that. I can’t even read the other books about the Solo children now because it turns my stomach the senseless stuff the shock authors wrote, just to garner sales! In the face of decency, logic, character development — everything that makes sense — they would still do that! Oh, it’s disgusting, and I will not admit it as canon. I wish it never existed so that I wouldn’t have to argue its canonicity with people who do not understand character.

And lastly, my final wish, I wish that the Lucasfilm-Disney merger, resulting in the threat of three new, uncanonical, undesirable films, had never happened. I call these films Geriatric Wars 7: The Search for More Money as a tribute to Spaceballs and also to the fact that the returning cast are all over the age of 60. I can ignore the idiot TV shows and CGI action movies — whatever, those have always existed, like The Holiday Special — shameful little bumps easily ignored and not taken up by anyone much. But last month, I came extremely, extremely close to shutting down this blog because I absolutely could not bear for another second to have this ghastly “third trilogy” thrown in my face. It makes Star Wars into a despicable farce, and the people I find being excited about it confuse me to proportions so epic, I actually get a migraine. How can you stand there and hate every movie made since 1983 and still get excited? Can you comprehend you will also hate these? “Disney Backed Star Wars” was churning everyone’s stomachs not that long ago, and suddenly it’s all forgotten in the frantic excitement of a new movie. It’s disgusting. It makes my stomach turn. I did decide to delete this blog — got embarrassed about taking my purse in public, because people wouldn’t stop saying, “Have you heard they’re making new films?” — got rid of my Star Wars backgrounds on the computer for the first time in four years — but then I decided I am not going to back off. I am keeping this blog. Sooner or later, people will see what I see — a film backed by the people who gave us Pochahontas and starring a 72-year-old Han Solo is a travesty and an insult. I will hold this blog as a bastion of Star Wars sanity.
For the first time, I understand the point and appeal of owning the shirt that says “Show Us on the Trilogy Where George Hurt You.” (Formerly available from Hijinks Ensue, a webcomic that I do not actually endorse.)
Edit. Because I’m so proud of my work here, I have to share another “poem”! This is a satire on a speech from Coriolanus (3.1), accompanied by a picture of Tom Hiddleston rehearsing for that role with a lightsaber.
Donmar Warehouse Coriolanus

Donmar Warehouse Coriolanus

              “Sev’n”!
       O good but most unwise fanboys! Why, you
       Geeky but traitorous Star Warriors, have you thus
       Approved Lucas here to choose a successor,
5   That with this peremptory “Seven” — being but
       The method and madness of the money machine —
       Lacks not the means to pick your pocket of wealth
       And spoil your heroes for you? If enough’s not
       Ever enough, then ready your nerves. If not,
10 Wake up, you fools! If you are truly fans,
       Be not as Trekkies are! If you are not,
       Let Disney ruin it for us. You are DizGeeks
       If they be Star Wars fans: and they are no less,
       When “Nine” after “Eight” produced, the bitter taste
15  Of your disappointment deters them not.
       Lucas sold his empire to such a thing
       That turns this popular “Seven” into wealth
       For themselves only and to rancor for us.
       It makes the Skywalkers base! And my soul aches
20 To know, when offensive new films are pitched,
In spite of the past, how eager my fandom is
       To moon and pine over what they’ll instant hate
       A Disneyfied, Trekkie, Abrams-backed nightmare.

Let’s Watch TV!

Posted in Fun with tags , , on 4 November 2011 by Megan

Some of the brilliant comedic minds on YouTube have come up with a few opening credits sequences to your favorite television show and mine–The Star Wars Trilogy! Unlike the project George has talked about and/or threatened over the decades, these look like some great shows I’d definitely watch. Up first . . . Star Wars MacGyver!

Here’s a fun show about a young Jedi who tries to maintain peace and order in the galaxy in a small task force. It’s called Star Wars Five-0!

This is a good one, so set your DVR not to miss an episode of Star Wars: The A-Team, which . . . well, it’ll explain what it’s about!

Exciting, right? That Chewbacca is soo cool. On the other hand, if you love Tatooine and can’t get enough of well-meaning fellows getting into exciting scrapes, complete with lots of fast driving and short shorts, well, The Dukes of Star Wars might be your speed.

Everybody loves this show! Loves, loves, loves–I don’t know why it’s not still on the air! Anyway, Star Wars is about a bunch of friends who all live in the same building and have hilarious escapades! Remember “The One on Hoth,” where the dude was like, you can’t go out there, the temperature’s dropping too rapidly, and Han was all, “That’s right! And my friend’s out in it!” And then the guy was like, your tauntaun will freeze before the first marker! And Han said, “Then I’ll see you in hell!” And the dude said, “I’ll see you in hell!” and Han said, “I guess you will!” and rode off to rescue Luke? Ah, those guys. I love those guys.

For my final offering, another great 90s classic! And just because we like to switch it up, it’s not about the rebels this time . . . you know Palpatine’s the real star of the show, and he’ll prove it to you in electricboa’s “The Fresh Emperor of Bel Air.”

Anyway, that was a lot of fun. Now, if you guys don’t mind, I’m going to try to catch a few of these on TV. Enjoy!