Archive for Return of the Jedi

Favorite Member of the Empire

Posted in Challenges with tags , , , , , , , on 23 January 2014 by Megan

I’m an Imperial girl, I am. Not ashamed of it, either. The Empire was a fitting replacement for a diseased and outmoded galactic republic. A government in charge of billions of non-homogenous races cannot function taking into account the opinion of every one of a countless number of minorities. A weak and chiefly ceremonial chancellor clearly could not shoulder the responsibility of a million planets. Are you really going to fault the imperial system for the one single tiny insignificant little detail that its leader was evil? There was nothing wrong with the system. The Republic couldn’t even enforce its own antislavery laws. I’ve probably said it before but it’s a truth I’ll repeat forever: I guarantee you that the vast majority of galactic residents didn’t notice a change in their day-to-day lives with the Empire in control. And probably for every group of people who did feel oppressed or noticed a change for the worse (i.e. all those senators who started the rebellion in response to sudden unemployment), there was almost certainly a group of people who felt their lives changed for the better. And by that I mean people who were oppressed by the Trade Federation and Banking Clans and people who were slaves. Yes, some high-up imperials (such as Palpatine) and gangsters (such as Hutts) continued to own slaves, but it almost certainly ceased being as common a thing.

Anyway, all that to say that I didn’t want to start every post in this challenge by saying “last year when I talked about this” — but I wanted to be able to reiterate I love Maximilian Veers and also to emphasize that I have loads of favorite Imps because frankly I just love the Empire. I’m a devoted loyalist. I don’t deny that there were evil imperials, like Tarkin and Palpatine. There were less-than-honorable rebels, too, you know. All that to say I’m still trying to decide who to regale you with this week! We all know I have a special weakness for the military officers. I love an Imperial uniform. And the navy is my jam. So I see I’m presenting you with . . .

Firmus Piett

Firmus Piett

Yes, his first name is Firmus, and I would be lying if I could tell you I didn’t think he and Captain Needa were the same person the first 12 times I watched ESB. They just look very similar. In fact, I considered making Needa my favorite member of the Empire — because there is a man who demonstrates every admirable trait of the Empire, sacrificing himself in order to save his crew when the unthinkable occurs. I’ve often thought it was half suicide of him to insist on apologizing for something that wasn’t his fault, in person, to Vader, but it doesn’t seem outside the realm of possibility that Vader would have had the Avenger destroyed if Needa had not presented himself as a target. Therefore, I admire him greatly. However, Piett has the larger role.

Apart from having a last name very similar to Piatt, as in the historical family homes that I worked in as a guide for a few years, Piett is awesome for other reasons. He was the longest-surviving admiral under Vader’s command, and pretty much the only imperial officer to appear in both ESB and ROTJ.

Admiral Piett

Admiral Piett

Piett was born on Axxila and began his naval career early, first in an anti-pirate militia in his home sector. His humble backwater background made progress difficult, and he was cautious about the rapid promotions granted him by the fact that Vader liked to kill those under his command. Being a member of the elite squad assigned to Vader was a dubious honor at best, and becoming admiral in this unorthodox way was not exactly something to be proud of.

He managed to survive Vader’s wrath, demonstrating intelligence in battle, shrewd cunning, and extreme diplomacy necessary to navigate Vader’s moods. Although convinced his death was at hand when the Millennium Falcon escaped them yet again, Piett escaped and never let himself get too at ease with his position — a mistake Ozzel had made.

Generally, I find Firmus Piett capable, intelligent, and all that top quality admiral stuff. I imagine that he and Veers had a close relationship, and that they would knock back some drinks together when they got some time off. The Executor was his baby, not Vader’s, and half the sadness of seeing a ship that gorgeous go down is knowing that he died with her. It’s so wasteful! If they hadn’t been that close to the Death Star, they would have survived. It was just losing control and getting pulled into the gravity well that did it. Oh, I can’t talk about this; it still chokes me up.

The Super Star Destroyer Executor

The Super Star Destroyer Executor

Piett was played by Kenneth Colley, a distinguished British actor born in 1937. In conclusion, while this site is not highly accurate, it brought a smile to my face, so enjoy the Piett Dossier, why don’t you? It includes every line of dialogue spoken by Piett in both films.

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Favorite Object/Prop

Posted in Challenges with tags , , , , on 20 June 2013 by Megan

Okay, let’s take this a slightly different direction. You think props and Star Wars and of course you think lightsabers. But what I want to talk about is my favorite thing in the entire franchise:

The Super Star Destroyer Executor

The Super Star Destroyer Executor

Look, it is an object, and it is way more my favorite than lightsabers are. I mean, just look at it, all the grandeur of the Empire summed up in one sleek ship. An almost unique ship, in fact, as there were not a lot of other Super Star Destroyers made, and this one cost the Empire AurebeshSans-Serif credit1,143,350,000. Manufactured by the Kuat Driveyards, one of my favorite places ever, the ship was 19,000 meters long, or about ten miles. To give that a little local  perspective, if the ship were landed in Champaign County, Ohio, the ship would reach from the town center of Urbana to West Liberty on the county line.

Proportions in perspective

Proportions in perspective

So it’s a really grand ship is what I’m saying. You  can’t deny that it’s really beautiful. At four times the size of an Imperial-class destroyer, the Executor could in fact dock an entire Star Destroyer if necessary. It had many times the armaments as well: 5,000+ turbolaser batteries and ion cannons, 250 heavy concussion missile batteries, and 40 tractor beam projectors. It carried 144 TIE fighters; 200 combat and support ships; 3 prefabricated garrison bases; several hundred armored walkers, speeder bikes, and ground vehicles; and 50,000 heavy concussion missiles. It could run with a skeleton crew of 50,000, but its usual compliment was more like 279,000, 1500 gunners, and 10,000 droids. It could carry 250,000 metric tons of cargo, and supplies for six years.

Significantly larger than an Imperial-class destroyer

Significantly larger than an Imperial-class destroyer

Now, there is some confusion over the name of this spectacular ship. In fact I was pretty confused myself for a long time. It’s often thought that Executor is pronounced “ex-ih-cute-r,” as in someone who cuts off people’s heads for a living; in fact an early toy of the ship said this was so and it was in fact considered too dark. However, after I realized that a person who cuts off heads for a living is in fact an executioner, the actual name of the ship made much more sense: “ex-yeh-cute-r.” That is, the guy who gets things done for the Emperor. Much more sensible.

In all its sleek glory

In all its sleek glory

And I know it wouldn’t have counted as “saddest moment” anyway when that question came up, but I’m always so heartbroken when the Executor goes down. And Ackbar is so  self-satisfied with the whole thing. Ugh.

These guys are people too.

These guys are people too. And now they’re all dead.

Anyway, in conclusion on this post that took me way too long and I’m sorry about that, I love this ship and am not a bit sorry for being upset when it goes down or for considering it an object/prop. And now I shall give you my favorite shot of the command station behind the bridge of the crown jewel of the Imperial Fleet.

The command station

The command station

Doing Death Stars

Posted in Fun with tags , , , , , , on 31 May 2013 by Megan

Last Friday was the 30th anniversary of my favorite, Return of the Jedi. I like to do parties and stuff to commemorate big Star Wars anniversaries, but I couldn’t get anybody to do a party with me. So instead I made some cake pops and iced coffee and watched ROTJ over the phone with a friend of mine.

My lovely workstation!

Small scale Death Star workstation

Because I was basically keeping it simple, I just took the chocolate cake recipe out of the booklet that came with the pop maker. It’s actually really weird to make real batter after mug cakes, because “3/4 cups flour” seems like so much! This batter is the runniest out of all of them, but I finally figured out the best way to pour it out using a glass measuring cup, so this was the most convenient run of this.

Cake pop maker and timer!

Use the timer to count out 5 minutes bake time

They bake for 5 minutes. I could probably get almost a full dozen more pops if it weren’t for how much batter I keep spilling over — but I don’t get that much practice.

DSCN8926

Early batch with extremely uneven sizes

Gordon Ramsay would seriously not approve of their unevenness. Then, after extracting them from the cooker, I dropped them in a bowl of confectioner sugar.

Apply libewally.

Apply libewally!

The idea here was that these would be “unfinished Death Stars,” see? Since they’re round and dark and stuff. It may be a stretch, but this was an epically low-budget, low-effort celebration.

Mini Death Stars a-coolin'

Mini Death Stars a-coolin’

You may ask what those few pariah cake balls are there to the side. Well, okay, since you asked — I thought of this experiment while I was working on this. What if I stuck some caramel filled Rollos into the cake while it was baking?

Caramel-filled chocolate reactor cores?

Caramel-filled chocolate reactor cores?

And I thought, you know, they might be like the Death Star core or something, all melty and caramel. Anyway, I got them in successfully and they baked very well. Unfortunately the problem was that the cake pops wouldn’t come out of the holes and kept separating, so they didn’t look aesthetically pleasing at all.

Not even a little. But flavor taste = sensational!

Not even a little. But flavor taste = sensational!

Despite all that, though, the taste was absolutely amazing. So not a complete flop; definitely something to pursue.

Anyway, after all of that, I loaded up my Imperial mug with mini Death Stars, fixed up some iced coffee, and settled in to watch the best movie ever. Ah. Happy 30th birthday, ROTJ.

A modest but satisfying collection.

A modest but satisfying collection.

Doing Death Stars via Mug Madness.

The Character You Love To Hate

Posted in Challenges with tags , , , , on 25 April 2013 by Megan

Oh, look, another impossible question. Sometimes I wonder why I get myself into these challenges with these kinds of questions. First I was like, I already love to hate all the characters I hate! I really do enjoy hating. It makes me feel warm and cozy inside to loathe Padmé and Yoda and Jocasta Nu. So I thought, this can’t possibly be what the question means. Then I started doing some internet research on what people mean when they say “love to hate,” because, looking for inspiration, I tried to think of things I love to hate outside of Star Wars and I thought, “But if I hate something, I hate it!” Finally hit onto the Wiki explaining “love-hate relationship,” one containing equal parts love and hate, and I went ah ha! I knew there was a reason I didn’t put Palpatine in earlier!

Emperor Palpatine

Welcome, young Skywalker.

Of course I love to hate Palpatine. Richard III, Maleficent, Imhotep,  Dracula, Jadis, even Cain (House of Amber) — my favorite villains are littered with what I’ve termed “Machiavellian murderers,” killers who, without conscience, use and murder people as though they were no more than fuel to get them to their end goal — which is occasionally immortality for its own sake, but sometimes living quietly and privately off the blood of humanity isn’t enough — then they simply crave POWER. (Read more.)

Apart from the sheer satisfaction saying the word “emperor” provides — try it, emp-per-ror, the way it slides over your tongue, so much purring in on word, like an ice cream sundae for your speech  processor — Emperor Palpatine is what I consider the greatest villain in fiction. Vader barely qualifies as evil; he is manipulated, a hollow, tragic shell of a pitiful fallen hero. But as Vader falls, Palpatine rises. He is intriguing and horrifying.

Canonical sources for his first name suggest Cos. His origin suggests he was the eldest born of his parents, that he had five younger siblings, and that the House of Palpatine was a very well known and wealthy house on Naboo. It is also suggested that he murdered his entire family with their bodyguards in a supposed hyperspace accident. Later, he trained under Darth Plageius as a Sith apprentice and took on the name Sidious.

All Sidious wants is power — “Unlimited power!” Which desire — that is, the desire to be God — puts him on par with Milton’s Satan, one of the greatest antiheroes of literature. This pursuit of power leads him to orchestrate a grandly sweeping plan for complete domination of the galaxy, creation of the first galactic empire, dissolution of the senate, etc. As occasionally happens when a Machiavellian villain seeks power at all costs, the typical citizenry of the realm don’t suffer all that much. (Notice that the Rebellion was formed by former senators ousted by the new regime, whose instinctive helpless cry was “democracy! democracy!” even though the system had failed in an epic way, even before being taken over and abused by the tyrant who instilled stricter law enforcement and better citizens’ rights throughout the galaxy . . . Listen, democracy cannot work over an enormous territory — 120,000 lightyears and a population of more than 100 quadrillion beings of more than 20 million distinct species is indisputably huge — in that un-homogenous population, giving “everyone a say,” the founding tenant of democracy, will create chaos and an absolute halt of rulership; Imperial Russia was a microcosm of this. Frankly, nothing this huge is meant to be ruled by a single entity, but an empire is going to do it better than some trumpy republic.) Of course the people who cross him suffer, but the Jedi — also invested in keeping their own jobs — are pretty vague about what “the tyranny of the Sith” even is.

Sorry, rabbit trail. I was talking about the evil of Palpatine. Here is a rare person whose evil may be seen, felt, sensed, understood in a graphic way. He has so distorted himself with use of the unnatural Force (called “the dark side”) that his own body is disintegrating around him. Immortality is also, inevitably his goal — the goal of a man who wants to be the galaxy’s only god and also a man who killed his own master — and he seeks a variety of methods of unnaturally prolonging his life. I think, without letting dogma interfere, one may nearly call him “ageless” by ROTJ. If Vader is more machine than man, Palpatine is more dark side than creature, for his death creates an explosion of the dark side unmatched by anything.

Sometimes I have to admire the dazzling intelligence of pure evil. This is not really a sign of something suspicious in my own character; instead you should ask why media consistently make intelligence synonymous with evil.  In any event, I admire Palpatine’s shrewd logic, cold calculating, crystal cunning . . . and I have been known to shout advice to him at the end of ROTJ, it’s true. (“NO! Don’t laugh now!! SHUT UP! You almost won! SHUT UP, WHAT ARE YOU DOING? YOU HAD HIM! YOU HAD HIM! NO!”) But in the end, he is well defeated, a symbol of great, boundless evil, a creature of absolute darkness. And I really do love and hate him.

Favorite Non-Human Female

Posted in Spotlight with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 10 March 2013 by Megan
Something called "C-level canon"

Something called “C-level canon”

This post was ridiculously hard to accomplish; I’ve been agonizing about this for days, which was weird because I was positive with all the scifi and stuff that I’m in to, the nonhuman character question would be the easiest. Then I realized every nonhuman I like is male. Pickings were slim and I nearly gave up altogether, and then I realized that Aayla Secura didn’t need more than her few seconds of screen time in two movies to count — I’ve been crazy about her for years!

Here’s the thing. I love Twi’leks. Twi’leks — their name comes from their twin lekku, or head-tails — are beautiful and fascinating and pretty. They hale from the planet Ryloth, and are memorable to most people because of Jabba’s dancers in Return of the Jedi. Now, if you haven’t heard me describe Star Wars as a “coloring book” before, you haven’t heard me discuss why Star Wars is like a coloring book. Lucas made six movies that give you the outlines of a battle against good and evil, the rise and fall and redemption of a slave boy, the end and beginning of a noble bunch of peacekeepers with light swords. He’s not much a one for character development, backstory, timelining, or any of those tedious little details that could really give the saga depth and meaning, and that’s where the very unique aspect of Star Wars comes to light — it’s boldly left up to each fan to fill in the lines using whatever he deems best. Maybe you want to use crayons, maybe she wants to use oil colors, maybe he wants to use wads of used gum. The great thing is that this is all okay because Lucas never put in enough of his own information to prevent fans from making it any color they want. So, like with all things Star Wars, I have elaborately fleshed out Ryloth and the Twi’leks according to my own imagination and logic, and done, I think, a considerably better job than the published EU writers, who are typically focused on one thing: “Heh, heh . . . boobs.”

It is hardly my fault women have boobs and this is a women-based challenge

It is hardly my fault women have boobs and this is a women-based challenge

So here’s the low-down on Aayla Secura, my favorite non-human character. She is also a type of character, which is why I paused to emphasize my love of Twi’leks. There’s very little to be known about Aayla Secura, but a lot to be inferred: she appears on screen in two scenes in Attack of the Clones — she is in the background as Obi-Wan goes to ask Yoda about the missing planet in the Jedi Archives, and again during the battle on Geonosis — and her death is seen in Revenge of the Sith on the planet Feluca. So she is a Jedi, one of the ones brought by Yoda to rescue Obi-Wan, Anakin, and Senator Amidala on Geonosis; she later fights in the Clone Wars and is stationed on the planet Feluca, where her clone troops turn on her and kill her. Really, not much more to know than that. Her death scene is a little weird, but then, all of them are . . . for example, how can Yoda on Kashyyk sense what’s happening to Jedi all over the galaxy, when the Jedi can’t sense the intent of their clone troops who are literally about to pull the trigger on them? Makes me think the Grand Egotist (Yoda) was doing a little long-distance brain-fuzzing.

Anyhow, while it’s not unusual for me to pick random background characters and obsess over them, how did an obscure blue Twi’lek with only a few seconds on screen manage to get a name, an action figure, and such a following? You might as well know there are lots of comic books about her. I don’t comic book. (I also don’t idiotic-cartoons-based-on-cinema-classics.) But she did come from the comic books. In fact, Jon Foster’s cover art painting of her was what caught George Lucas’ attention, so that he asked for her to be included in two of the films.

The painting that started it

The painting that started it

Actually I don’t see anything appealing about that picture at all and her head-tails make no sense. (I’m sure it annoys people how I take over at Star Wars and act like nobody else has any good thoughts about it except for myself, but the fact of the matter is, no one else will approach it with a modicum of logic!! They are thicker and more muscled than her arms! How does that make sense? And the shape has nothing to do with the established shape of lekku! Also, her left arm is gross.)

But I’ve had a background fixation on Aayla Secura since just before E2 came out, and I was one of the ones eagerly awaiting the release of the action figure. While it’s disappointing she still has to prance around in various stages of undress — what, is it illegal for female Twi’leks to wear clothes — it is nice to see a capable warrior female Jedi who is also a Twi’lek. (Soap box time! It’s not that the Empire was ever anti-nonhuman — another thing that makes absolutely no sense in an ancient universe where humans are freely mingled with nonhumans on every planet — but it’s that the 80s and 90s Star Wars authors themselves couldn’t cope with the not-human, and their own specisism colored what they wrote and created layers upon layers of nonsensical behavior that I have to compensate for! What am I, the only person who can think? Bah!)

So that’s why I like her and stuff. Twi’leks are cool.

She will mess you up.

She will mess you up.

Day 19: Favorite Non-Human Female Character via Hundredaire Socialite.

Saddest Moment

Posted in Challenges with tags , , , , , , on 7 March 2013 by Megan

I had loved Star Wars for quite awhile before I ever realized this was sad. I bought the trilogy — special edition, the gold box — from Sam’s Club on October 25, 1997. It cost $30, or six washing the cars for Dad. (Interestingly enough, wash #6 was the last time I washed a car for Dad. He thinks it’s because I got lazy, but actually it was because I couldn’t cope with the stress of his washed car standard; in the words of Han Solo, “No reward is worth this!”) So it must’ve been sometime after that, at least my seventh or eighth time watching ROTJ, that I realized how sad this moment was.

The memory is very clear. I was home alone, it was after dark, probably autumn sometime. I had watched Little Women earlier that evening, and then spontaneously put ROTJ in. I’m not sure what made me watch these two back to back, but I remember it was the only time I ever cried over Beth’s death, so I was apparently feeling somewhat emotional that night already. I remember I was watching in the dark, because it didn’t bother my eyes back then, and with the volume up extremely loud, because that’s what I did when I was home alone. I was sitting on the mission oak couch, curled against the denim cushion against the arm, my entire existence the 36″ TV screen.

Vader_death

“But you’ll die.”
“Nothing can stop that now.”

I never cared much that Vader died. I’ve always been a pragmatist about it — what else was he going to do? The new provisional government probably would’ve subjected him to an embarrassing and lengthy trial and a showy execution for crimes against the galaxy. Provisional governments are not notoriously interested in the last minute redemption of people who committed mass murders with official sanctions. But on this night when I watched it — and I feel like it was raining — I was suddenly overwhelmed by the pain, the sense of loss, the tragedy tucked into all the surrounding triumph. And then this.

His father was a stranger to him, yet he knew him better than anyone else -- because he knew he could be saved.

His father was a stranger to him, yet he knew him better than anyone else — because he knew he could be saved. But what was lost was far, far more.

Luke lifts his head as Vader falls back, the breath in his lungs silent at last. And his face is wet and streaked with tears, silent tears. He has been battered, emotionally and physically, and fought the fight of his life — not to kill the emperor, which was never his goal (though it is what Yoda wanted of him), but to save his father. In the end, he succeeded, but he would never get to know Anakin. He could see him behind his mask, but he would never have his father. This is victory and tragedy. His head sinks, and for an instant he is perfectly still. And then, so easy to miss, his shoulders shake as he exhales his tears. Luke is crying for Vader.

Oh, I lost it, I could barely see the rest of the movie as tears streamed down my face. I’d only cried over two movies before, and somewhere in the back of my mind I was aware of just how insanely dorky it was to cry over Vader’s death. Actually I was crying over Luke’s tears. But this scene only grows more and more touching and poignant as time goes on.

Watch the following video — really wonderfully edited; I know you can’t really hear the dialogue but it’s not important to — and I challenge you not to feel tears.

Funniest Moment

Posted in Challenges with tags , , , , on 28 February 2013 by Megan

I can’t believe I can’t find a video or a GIF or something showcasing my very favorite funny scene from Star Wars. In fact, I tried to pick a back-up funny moment . . . but I can’t find anything of that, either!

Fine, this screen-cap will have to do. Qui-Gon, thinking he’s playing it so cool, casually remarks on how Anakin must have Jedi reflexes if he races Pods. Maybe he’s trying to get a reaction from Shmi, to try to figure out what this kid’s deal is, but he’s distracted by Jar Jar’s incessant slurping plums out of the common bowl. SNAP! He grabs his tongue. And then is confused when he gets pegged for a Jedi.

grabtongue

Jedi so far undercover, you don’t even know what covers are

Look, this scene does it for me. It cracks me up. Sometimes I rewind and watch it a couple of times in a row. This is really funny.

I also absolutely love the scene in ROTJ when Han starts issuing instructions to Threepio, interrupting him every second before Threepio can translate his demands to the Ewoks. He concludes, “And hurry up, will ya? I haven’t got all day.” Threepio actually does a double take. That scene has always been incredibly amusing to me.