Saturday, April 30, 2005

By The Numbers

100,000: The number of worlds represented in the Galactic Senate.
25,000: The number of years the Jedi served the Old Republic.
10,000: The number of Jedi in the Order, as of The Phantom Menace.
1,000: Years that the Sith have been in hiding.
900: Yoda’s approximate age at the time of his death.
800: Approximate number of years that Yoda trained Jedi.
200: The number of Jedi and Padawans who fought at the Battle of Geonosis.
57: Qui-Gon’s approximate age at the time of his death.
30: The number of seconds Anakin fought Count Dooku before the latter sliced off his arm.
18: Age of Luke and Leia in A New Hope.
15: The number of Jabba's henchmen slain or maimed by Luke in the sailbarge assault.
14: The number of Jedi and Padawans to survive the Battle of Geonosis.
12: Members of the Jedi Council.
3: The number of Sith Lords Obi-Wan Kenobi dueled.
2: The number of Sith at any given time, since Darth Bane.
1: Only the "Chosen One" can bring balance to the Force.
0: The number of lives C-3PO has saved.

Friday, April 29, 2005


Posted by Hello

No, I did not mock this up in Photoshop. This is Jedi Master Yaddle, who can be seen in the Jedi Council scenes in Episode I. What sick mind thought that a female Yoda would be a good thing??

There's an even more hideous picture of her on

Thursday, April 28, 2005

More on Upcoming Cartoon & Live Action Star Wars TV Shows


"While this week's Star Wars Celebration III was centered around the upcoming prequel film Revenge of the Sith, it also provided fans with the first concrete news on the two upcoming Star Wars television series."

Read more

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Medstar I: Battle Surgeons & Medstar II: Jedi Healer

[Another audio book review.]

The Medstar novels are a welcome departure from the cookie cutter Clone Wars novels whose plots are usually about one or two Jedi trying to bring a wayward planet back under the wing of the Republic. In the Medstar novels, it’s almost immaterial who the enemy is or what the war is about. Although there is a Jedi in the story – padawan Barriss Offee, last seen in The Approaching Storm – she is immaterial as well. But you can’t have a Star Wars book with no Jedi, can you?

The Medstar novels revolve around a likeable ensemble cast of people brought together by the Clone Wars to Drongar, a backwater jungle planet where the Republic and the Separatists fight for control of the crops of bota, a rare medicinal plant.

The main character of the novels is Jos, a homesick battle surgeon whose strict upbringing makes him uncomfortable with the idea of becoming romantically involved with anyone other than a woman from his homeworld. This, of course, means he falls in love with his scrub nurse.

In addition to Jos and the Jedi there is Zan, a Zabrak surgeon who’s also talented classical musician (and you thought they just liked to break things), a homicidal admiral who’s dealing blackmarket goods to the Black Sun pirate organization, a Hutt supply sergeant (what genius thought that was a good idea?), a barfly Sullustan war correspondent looking for THE BIG STORY, a Teras Kasi martial artist bully who takes an instant disliking to Barriss, and, of course, there’s a spy/saboteur. The one mistake the author made in “casting” was to not include a clone trooper as one of the characters. The clones are just interchangeable pieces of flesh in the OR, unfortunately.

The plot of the Medstar novels isn’t unique, but M.A.S.H. in a Star Wars setting is a nice change of pace. There are no real surprises here. You know who’s going to die well before they bite the dust, because you recognize the archetypes. Nevertheless, I found myself wishing there was a Medstar III. The personable droid I-5 from Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter makes a reappearance here, and his story is unresolved. At the end of Medstar II he has recovered his wiped memories and he’s on his way back to Coruscant to fulfill the promise made to his former partner, Lorn, to protect his son, who would be a padawan in his early teens by now.

Because of the way this plotline has been left hanging, I think we can expect to see some novels covering the limbo area between Episodes III and IV. The more I think about it, this time period holds a lot of promise. Lots can be written about the early days of the Empire and the Rebel Alliance. There are already two post-Episode III young adult books about Obi-Wan in hiding from the Emperor. If any of the other Jedi Council members remain alive after the Jedi Purge in Episode III, fans will want to know what happened to them too, especially if they have some noteworthy scenes in the movie (or actually get to freaking speak! Grrr!).

Also, it’s not a stretch to imagine that there could be some books forthcoming about the Skywalker twins as pre-teens, although Luke’s early life on Tatooine, as he mentioned in the movies, was pretty boring before those two droids came wandering into his life.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Lego Star Wars: The Video Game

Posted by Hello

File this under "adorable." This new video game from Lego allows you to play out the plot of the entire prequel trilogy -- with Lego people that use the Force!

See, I have to buy this!

Read more.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Woman breastfeeds tiger cubs!

From Reuters:

"Hla Htay has three hungry infants to feed these days -- a seven-month old baby boy and two Bengal tiger cubs.

"Three times a day, the Myanmar housewife goes to the Yangon Zoo where she breastfeeds the hungry black-striped, orange-brown cubs rejected by their natural mother."

Read more

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Aslan and the Pevensie Children

Posted by Hello
Here's some nice concept art of Aslan meeting the Pevensie kids.

Visit to see more images.

Rumor has it that the Narnia trailer will be shown with Revenge of The Sith! Smart move!

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Stuff that doesn’t bother me: Return of The Jedi

Luke Noir: Luke is very somber in this movie, and I don’t like his subdued personality, but he looks a lot cooler in black than he did in the farmboy gear in Episode IV.

Sailbarge Massacre: Luke personally maimed or killed fifteen of Jabba’s henchmen when he attacked the sailbarge. He’s like a wild man, flipping all over the place, chopping people up. Where did all of this come from? His skills have gone up exponentially between Episodes V and VI. He also uses Force Choke against Jabba’s Gamorean guards early in the movie, which is interesting because how would he even know such a thing exists? Only Vader has done that and the witnesses were always other Imperials. Apparently a year passes between these episodes, so Luke must’ve been training hard. It is a stretch, but, hey.

Yoda’s Death: Yoda seems to die very abruptly in ROTJ, but I’m of the opinion that the only thing that kept him alive all of those lonely years in the swap was hope. He thought he’d failed and that Luke was never going to return, or if he did return it would be to kill him. Yoda, like a lot of old people, once he lost the will to live, went fast.

Celebrations Across the Galaxy: One of the scenes added to the extended version shows simultaneous celebrations on a number of worlds – Tatooine, Naboo, Bespin and Coruscant – as word presumably reaches everyone that Palpatine is dead. Now, this is bullshit, for many, many reasons. It would be months at least before word reached the Core Systems, much less Tatooine in the Outer Rim. It’s also highly likely that the Empire would deny that the Emperor was dead for as long as possible. The remaining admirals and moffs could keep up a charade for years if they felt like.

Also, it’s highly unlikely that people on any of the four worlds mentioned would be able to have the huge public celebrations seen on the DVD. Tatooine is still run by the Hutts, is it not? The people of Tatooine were neglected by the Republic and apparently largely ignored by the Empire, so it doesn’t seem like the death of the Emperor would particularly excite them.

Naboo is the home of Palpatine! Surely the Imperial presence there would be particularly strong. How could humans and Gungans gather in the streets of Theed to party without the party being shot up? The same with Coruscant. That’s the seat of the Empire. Coruscant would be the last planet to fall to the Rebels. And last time I checked, Bespin had just been taken over by stormtroopers. Did they immediately leave after Han was delivered to Boba Fett and the others escaped in the Falcon?

Nevertheless, this is probably my favorite part of ROTJ, especially the scene on Coruscant, which looks like it’s New Year’s Eve and you can hear bells tolling. I’ve heard that if you look closely, you can see a crowd pulling down a statue of the Emperor.

Anakin’s Apparition: In the DVD, the ghost of Anakin that appears at the end is Hayden Christiansen, not the guy who played him when the movie was originally filmed. Of course that other guy, who I think is dead now, probably would’ve been pissed, but in light of the information in the prequel trilogy, he was clearly too old. Anakin, at the time of his death as Vader, was only about 44 years-old. That other guy looked like he was 60. The decision to show a twenty-something Anakin is probably meant to show that when he rejoins the Force, he rejoins at the point he left the Light Side.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Stuff that doesn’t bother me: The Empire Strikes Back

Backwards, Yoda speaks: If Yoda has trained Jedi for over 800 years, and presumably lived at the Jedi Temple on Coruscant for most of that time, there’s no reason why he can’t speak Basic properly. He must want to speak that way. Luckily, it’s cute. If he were a little black man speaking some Down South Uncle Remus jargon… God, I don’t even want to think about that.

Luke is still whiny: Luke has a couple outbursts in this movie, but they’re all in response to mental or physical anguish. Except for the first one:

“I don’t know what I’m doing here! I’m wasting my time!”

This comes when he’s sitting in Yoda’s cramped house and he’s already asked Yoda fifteen times when he’s going to take him to see the Jedi master. Is Luke wrong? Yeah, for once I’d say yes. He dumped a bowl of hot food on the floor of Yoda’s hut. That’s foul. I know Aunt Beru raised him better than that. And you know what’s up with that – Luke assumed that the Yoda he was looking for had to be a white human male like Ben.

“They’re my friends! I can’t let them die!”

To which Yoda replies, “If honor you do the cause they fight for, yes.” This exchange takes place as Luke is preparing to leave Dagobah for Cloud City. Who can blame Luke for wanting to help? Yoda, being a big picture little guy, is right, but Yoda has shown that he hasn’t been able to follow his own advice. He stopped his duel with Count Dooku to save Anakin and Obi-Wan from being crushed by a pillar. If he had let them get crushed, he probably could’ve caught and killed Dooku. He couldn’t do it.

“I’ll never join you!”

You know, when you learn that someone you trusted lied to you, and someone you hate is telling you an ugly truth – and he just hacked off your freaking hand! – you get a free moment of anguish.

Yoda is a user. So is Ben: Aren’t we all? Seriously, it’s not that they don’t care – they’re not big on praise. Aren’t most coaches, drill sergeants, personal trainers, etc. like that? I guarantee if they had made Yoda a human female she would’ve been appropriately nurturing and motherly.

Lando is a backstabber: Yeah, so? I just wish he wasn't black. Frankly, Lando doesn’t owe Han and those guys shit. He’s been the administrator of Cloud City for years. He surely has relationships with the people. Why would he sacrifice all that for a guy whom he hasn’t seen in years who cheated him out of his ship? Besides, the city had been occupied by the Empire. It’s not like he could’ve done anything. This would be like if the FBI sent a S.W.A.T. team to my house and told me that they were going to hide out there to apprehend a fugitive who ripped me off ten years ago and was now wanted for blowing up a federal building and killing hundreds of people. I couldn’t get rid of them if I wanted to and, frankly, it sounds like “old buddy” has really gone bad!

I may have mentioned this before, but I think that if Lando had been a woman, people would really like the character. Imagine a female Lando, an ex-lover of Han’s. You don’t know whose side she’s on, she’s making Leia jealous and she’s turning Han on. That would’ve gone over well. Not if she was black, though. Maybe an Asian or a Latina, but a buxom blonde would’ve been a safe choice.

Threepio is annoying: Threepio is an “audience surrogate,” not unlike Hudson from Aliens. He says what you’re thinking: “How’re they going to get out of this? Is surrender an option?” He’s really selfish too, which is great considering how preachy everyone else is. What’s not to like?

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Stuff that doesn’t bother me: A New Hope

The number one complaint people have about Luke in this film is that he's supposedly "whiny." No, Anakin is whiny – Luke at least has some basis in reality when he acts out. Luke’s outbursts always come when he feels that the people around him are doing the wrong thing. And he’s usually correct. Anakin’s outbursts usually come when people aren’t agreeing that he should be treated like a god. Anyway, Luke is Anakin’s son, right? We can see where he gets this trait from.

Let’s look at examples of Luke’s "whininess" in Episode IV.

“It looks like I’m going nowhere.”

He drops this line after Uncle Owen tells him he can’t go see his friends because he has to clean the new droids. Why can’t Owen clean the fucking droids? They’re not Luke’s droids. Anyway, Luke isn’t pissed about cleaning droids, he’s pissed at the emotional blackmail going on, the whole, “You can’t leave the farm this year either” thing. Luke doesn’t have a right to be annoyed?

However, Owen is probably the unsung hero of the universe. If he hadn’t been such a hardass and had let Luke run off and join the Imperial Academy, Luke would’ve met his father and Palpatine a lot sooner and ended up Sith.

“We could almost buy our own ship for that much! Come on, Ben – we don’t have to listen to this!”

Luke says this after Han names his price for shuttling them to Alderaan. Well, Han was trying to fleece them, you know. What would you say if you went to hire a van and a driver to get to Chicago and the guy says, “$10,000”? You would say, “Fuck this guy,” right?

“What a piece of junk!”

This is Luke’s first reaction to seeing the Millennium Falcon. The audience is like, wow! It’s so cool! But what we keep forgetting is the Falcon, to the people in the Star Wars universe, is a tramp freighter. It does look like shit to them. To them it’s as impressive as a U-Haul. A busted up U-Haul. And they just paid through the ass for passage on this thing.

“Why are we still moving towards it!”

This is said when the Falcon is caught in the Death Star’s tractor beam. Okay, check it. I’m riding with a guy who’s been treating me like an idiot. Our car – his fucked up hooptie -- starts heading towards a cliff and the guy is like, don’t worry. Then we start really getting close. I’m not going to point out that he said he had this shit under control?

“Ben Kenobi is a great man!”

Said to Han after the latter calls Ben an “old fossil” behind his back. Why shouldn’t Luke stand up for Ben? Ben is bravely going out on his own to disable the tractor beam that caught Han’s ship. There’s no need to dis.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Stuff that doesn’t bother me: Attack of The Clones

Anakin is too young for Padme: In AOTC, Anakin is 19 and Padme is 24. That’s not that bad. Would anyone have a problem with a 24-year-old Anakin and a 19 year-old Padme? Probably not. How come no one has a problem with 21-year-old Leia being pursued by 33-year-old Han in TESB? How about 30-year-old Han talking to Luke about wanting to get with 18-year-old Leia in ANH?

Mace decapitates Jango: I was reading a book review on Amazon and some guy bitched that it was wrong for Mace to kill Jango in front of his son, Boba. Are you fucking kidding me? Jango was behind two failed assassination attempts on Senator Amidala, he was working for Count Dooku (and by extension, Darth Sidious) and moments before Mace took him out, Jango had shot and killed a member of the Jedi Council. And he did that in front of his “son,” Boba, so obviously Jango had no problem with a youth witnessing violence.

The droid factory: I thought it was cool. I’m sure I’ve seen Mickey Mouse run on a conveyor belt just like that. It was very retro. I also thought it was a good venue for showing Anakin’s impressive telekinesis skills. Shit, it shows how much he was holding back when, as Vader, he battered Luke with pipes in Cloud City.

R2’s jet packs: It was unexpected and cute when he launched himself into the air to save Padme. I love R2. I hope I live long enough to own an R2 so he can save my ass whenever anything goes wrong. Why doesn’t he use jet packs in the OT, you ask? A subsequent owner removed them, of course. Probably after an escape attempt.

Our heroes are to be sacrificed: The arena battle where Dooku attempted to have three monsters slay and eat Anakin, Padme and Obi-Wan was over the top, but it really didn’t bother me. I probably like the arena sequence because Padme is shown to be as clever and resourceful as the Jedi. She picked the locks on her shackles, scooted up to the top of the pole and defended herself from the nasty rat creature. She’s the shit. In contrast, Princess Leia clearly isn’t as clever and resourceful as Luke and Han. The only clever thing she ever did was shoot a hole in a wall in the Death Star and urge her rescuers to leap into a garbage compactor.

Yoda vs. Dooku: Audiences are so jaded now, but everyone screamed in delight when Yoda came after Dooku, spinning like the Tasmanian Devil. It was a beautiful thing. He’s so freaking fast and he gives you no target. I wouldn’t fight Yoda. Hell no.

Anakin and Padme’s picnic: The picnic scene is the closest anyone in the movie comes to acting like regular people do. I like how Anakin wastes no time trying to find out if she’s ever been in love. Naturally, Padme decides to mess with his head by telling him this story about some artist kid she had a crush on when she was twelve. And you know Anakin is thinking, Let me find this asshole and fuck him up. Then Anakin gets her back by pretending to be seriously hurt when falling off the giant cow-beast. They’re messing with each other’s heads throughout that scene and it comes off pretty well.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Stuff that doesn’t bother me: The Phantom Menace

Jar-Jar Binks: I just ignore him. Really, his antics aren’t that different than Threepio’s. The reason the audience hates him is because even the other characters in the movie don’t like him. At least Threepio has one friend, R2. After Episode 2, I see Jar-Jar as a victim. Despite having said that, I hope that he dies violently in Episode 3. That would be great.

Anakin Created C-3PO: It’s not like Anakin invented droid technology. Threepio was probably created from various off-the-shelf kits. It might not be much harder for him to build Threepio than for a present day kid to put together some Lego stuff.

Anakin Destroyed the Droid Control Ship: Is this any worse than a blind Han accidentally knocking Boba Fett into the sarlac pit? Or a blind Han shooting the tentacle that grabbed Lando’s leg?

Darth Maul got Killed by Obi-Wan: That’s Maul’s fault for fucking around. Instead of chucking something at Obi-Wan’s head while he was helplessly hanging off a peg in the chasm, Maul chose to stand there and gloat and tap the side of the chasm with his lightsaber. He had that fight won. You can’t fuck around like that. Obi-Wan can fight. He doesn’t suck.

The Jedi Council Rejects Anakin: Well, shit – they were right. If they had stuck to their gut instincts, history would’ve been very different. Then again, Darth Sidious would’ve probably just abducted the kid and raised him, and that would’ve been worse.

Monday, April 18, 2005

The Force Powers

I’ve come across many Force powers in the audio books, and God knows how many were created in nearly 30 years of video games, but for amusement (or out of boredom) I thought I’d list the powers that are “canon” (i.e. were featured in the movies).

A New Hope:

  • Cause Fear: Or is this mere mimicry? Used by Ben to frighten away the Tuskens who attacked Luke and Threepio.
  • Force Choke: Use by Vader against an Imperial commander during a staff meeting.
  • Intuition: Used by Luke when training with Ben’s laser-shooting droid and later used to aim the shots that destroyed the Death Star.
  • Jedi Mind Trick: Used by Ben against the stormtroopers in Mos Eisley. Possibly used by Leia to mask her thoughts when interrogated by Vader on the Death Star.
  • Sense Disturbance in the Force: Felt by Ben when Alderaan was destroyed.
  • Sense Force User: Used by Ben and Vader to sense each other on the Death Star. Used by Vader to sense the threat of Luke during the attack run on the Death Star.

The Empire Strikes Back:

  • Absorb Energy: Is this a Jedi power? Vader absorbs two blasts from Han’s pistol, but this may be a function of his armor.
  • Communicate with the Living: Used by deceased Ben to tell Luke to go to Yoda for training.
  • Force Choke: Used by Vader to kill Needa and Ozzel. Possibly used as a “nudge” against Lando in Cloud City.
  • Force Leap (Down): Probably used by Luke to survive dropping from the underside of an AT-AT on Hoth and later to survive falling down the ventilation shaft in Cloud City. Used by Vader to fly down the stairs like a vampire and attack Luke in Cloud City.
  • Force Leap (Up): Used by Luke in the fight against Vader in Cloud City.
  • Force Pull: Used by Luke to free his lightsaber from the snow in the Wampa’s cave and to retrieve his dropped lightsaber while fighting Vader in Cloud City. Used by Vader to pull Han’s blaster out of his hand in Cloud City.
  • Force Push: Used by Vader to hurl objects at Luke in Cloud City.
  • Jedi Mind Trick: Possibly used against Lando by Vader.
  • Levitate Object: Used by Luke and Yoda on Dagobah to levitate rocks, R2 and Luke’s X-wing.
    Precognition: Used by Luke on Dagobah to foresee his friends’ torture in Cloud City. Used inconclusively by Yoda.
  • Sense Emotion: Used by Yoda and Vader on Luke.
  • Sense Force User: Used by Luke and Vader to sense each other.
  • Telepathy: Used by Luke to call Leia for help when he was dangling off the bottom on Cloud City. Used by Vader to speak to Luke while the latter was fleeing from Cloud City in the Falcon.

The Return of the Jedi:

  • Communicate with the Living: Used by Ben to talk to Luke on Dagobah. Used by Anakin, Ben and Yoda to say goodbye to Luke on Endor.
  • E.S.P.: Used by Vader to read Luke’s mind and find out that Leia is Luke’s sister.
  • Force Choke: Used by Luke against the Gamorean guards in Jabba’s palace. Probably used by Leia to kill Jabba on the sail barge.
  • Force Leap (Up): Used by Luke in the fight against Jabba’s thugs over the sarlac pit.
  • Force Lightning: Used by the Emperor against Luke and Vader during the battle of Endor.
  • Force Pull: Used by Luke to pull a blaster from the hands of one of Jabba’s guards before falling into the rancor’s den.
  • Jedi Mind Trick: Used by Luke against Bib Fortuna, Jabba’s henchman. Luke attempted to use this power against Jabba and failed.
  • Levitate Object: Used by Luke on 3PO to impress the Ewoks.
  • Precognition: Used by the Emperor to predict that Luke would surrender to Vader.
  • Sense Emotion: Used by Vader and Luke on each other. Used by the Emperor on Vader and Luke.
  • Sense Force User: Used by Luke and Vader to sense each other. Used by Leia to sense Luke.

The Phantom Menace:

  • E.S.P: Used by Anakin to read the images on Mace’s monitor when the latter tested his abilities with the Force. Used by Ki-Adi-Mundi and Yoda on Anakin when the latter was brought before the Jedi Council by Qui-Gon.
  • Force Leap: Darth Maul, Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon use this in their duel.
  • Force Pull: Obi-Wan uses this power to retrieve Qui-Gon’s lightsaber and kill Darth Maul.
  • Force Push: Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon use this numerous times against the droids they fight on the Trade Federation ship and on Naboo. Used by Qui-Gon to cheat at dice against Watto and win Anakin’s freedom.
  • Force Sprint: Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon display super speed near the beginning of the movie when they dash away from the droids on the Trade Federation ship.
  • Jedi Mind Trick: Qui-Gon uses this on Boss Nas to get him to give him a ship. He tries to use this on Watto, but fails.
  • Precognition: Used by Anakin to win the podrace.
  • Sense Disturbance in the Force: Felt by Qui-Gon, Mace, Yoda, and Obi-Wan, all concerning the reemergence of the Sith and the “Chosen One” status of Anakin.
  • Sense Force User: Used by Qui-Gon to sense Darth Maul.

Attack of the Clones:

  • Communicate with the Living: Used by Qui-Gon to try to stop Anakin from slaughtering the Tuskens.
  • Force Leap (Down): Anakin and Obi-Wan do this to slow their descent from various falls in the Zam Wessell aircar chase over Coruscant. Used by Anakin when sneaking in to the Tusken camp. Mace uses this power when he flips off the balcony in the Geonosis arena.
  • Force Leap (Forward): Used by Anakin to parry Dooku’s lightsaber and save Obi-Wan’s life in the fight against Count Dooku.
  • Force Lightning: Used by Count Dooku against Obi-Wan, Anakin and Yoda.
  • Force Pull: Used by Obi-Wan to retrieve a star map “marble” while talking to Yoda in the younglings’ training room. Used by Anakin to impress Padme on Naboo.
  • Force Push: Anakin uses this power a lot in the droid factory sequence. Yoda uses this power to save Anakin and Obi-Wan from being crushed by a pillar after the fight with Count Dooku. This power is also used by Dooku to shove Anakin across the room after Dooku sliced off his arm. Used by Kit Fisto to disable Threepio in the Geonosis arena.
  • Jedi Mind Trick: It’s not clear, but Anakin appears to use this against Zam Wessell to get her to tell him who hired her. Used by Anakin to tame one of the Geonosis arena animals.
  • Levitate Object: Used by Anakin to impress Padme on Coruscant and on Naboo. Yoda uses this power to save Anakin and Obi-Wan from being crushed by a pillar after the fight with Count Dooku.
  • Precognition: Used by Anakin to foretell his mother’s impending death.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Yoda: Dark Rendezvous

A message from Count Dooku is delivered to Yoda -- Dooku wants to meet with his former master so the two can hash out a plan to end the Clone Wars. Of course Yoda knows it’s bullshit, but he’s willing to try.

The author handles Yoda well in this novel, giving equal time to the different aspects of his personality we’ve seen in the movies – the Imp, The Font of Wisdom, and The Cranky Old Man. Dooku is handled well too. One of my favorite parts involves a flashback in which he recalls a lesson Yoda taught him as a padawan. Dooku was so upset with Yoda’s “unfairness” in praising others in fighting competitions that he planned to break his own arm and blame Yoda. As soon as he stepped on the mat, Yoda declared that Dooku had lost. Yoda taught him that day that if you go into a fight planning to lose, you’ve already lost. Okay, that sounds obvious, but the point is, but it was a reality check for Dooku -- you have to remember what your real goal is.

Yoda is surrounded in the novel by a charming cast of characters. There’s a young male padawan, Whie (stupid name), who’s considered second only to Anakin in talent, but he’s dangerously introspective. He’s tentative because of a precognitive recurring dream in which he foresees that he will be killed by another Jedi. His interpretation of this is that he’s going to go over to the Dark Side. But we know it’s the opposite.

Whie is being “stalked” by a droid who, when it catches up with him, proclaims himself a "gentleman's gentlebeing," reveals that Whie comes from a noble family and his mother is being held as a servant in her own chateau by Count Dooku! Say it ain't so!

A second padawan, Scout, is a young female who has the unenviable distinction of having an incredibly weak connection to the Force. Every day in the Jedi Temple is a struggle for her as she literally fights to keep from getting kicked out and sent to the Agricultural Corps where all the washouts go. In order to stay in the Temple she has to win lightsaber competitions, and in order to do that she “scouts out” her opponents to find their weaknesses. She also toughens herself up by hitting herself with her own lightsaber on low settings to get used to the pain. In one of her matches she fakes out an opponent and puts her in a sleeper hold till she passes out.


Naturally, this type of behavior pisses off a lot of other padawans, not to mention Jedi Masters. However, Yoda has her back. He admires heart over raw talent.

The two padawans are assigned to two masters, Jai Maruk (another gruff guy with a temper) and Maks Leem, a Gran who has the tendency to chew like a cow when she’s displeased about something. These four and Yoda go undercover to meet up with Dooku. Unfortunately, Yoda is really recognizable, so an actor -- author of the hit play Jedi! -- is hired to impersonate Yoda. Unfortunately, his portrayal of Yoda is too good and Dooku's minion Assaj Ventress comes after him.

Ventress is great in this book, alternately wicked, deadly and petty. I loved the part where she was pissed at the holonews coverage of her murder of a Jedi. They got her body count wrong and she raged, “You call yourselves journalists!!”

Lots of humor, good action, and a great handling of the characters. The best Clone Wars novel, hands down. I only wish the author, Sean Stewart, had written some other Clone Wars books.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

The Cestus Deception

This novel was a bit of a disappointment, mainly because a brother wrote it and he’s (supposedly) a martial artist and I expected something a little different. But the plot is the same as essentially every other Clone Wars novel – two Jedi are sent to God-forsaken planet [insert name] to keep it from falling into the hands of the Separatists. This time it’s Obi-Wan and Kit Fisto who are sent to the planet Ord Cestus to stop its government from selling Force-sensitive “Jedi Killer” hybrid droids to the Separatists.

Kit, in the brief time he was on the screen in AOTC, seems liked like he would be a bit of a smart ass and a joker, but in this novel he seems to be a bit impatient and he has a bit of a temper. You know, the more Jedi I see, the more it looks like impulsive warrior Jedi (Qui-Gon, Nejaa, Kit, Anakin) are more common than emotionally in control Jedi (Mace, Obi-Wan, Yoda, Shaak-Ti).

The one different thing in this novel is the POV shift to clone trooper commander A-98, who calls himself “Nate.” He ends up working with Sheeka, a (black?) woman who was a lover of Jango Fett. Though she knows that Nate isn’t Jango, she still influences Nate to want to be more than just a clone. As his personality starts to blossom, Nate starts calling himself “Jangotat.” The slow build up of the relationship is handled so much better than relationship between the two airheads in Jedi Trial.

Obi-Wan is, as usual, handled badly. He must be really hard to write for. Not only is he boring here, he gets involved with Kit in faking a video to fool the government of the planet into siding with the Republic. When he gets busted because of a hidden camera (ouch!), he goes underground and essentially becomes a terrorist – blowing up droid factories and such. I guess it’s nice to see that Obi-Wan can be involved in half-assed schemes with no Anakin around to blame.

Asajj Ventress, one of Dooku’s minions, makes an appearance here, but she is much better in Yoda: Dark Rendezvous, which I will talk about later.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Labyrinth of Evil

This story is the last of the pre-Revenge of the Sith novels and the plot takes you right up to the opening of Episode III. It starts with Anakin and Obi-Wan on one of the Neimoidian satellite worlds where the pair are leading an assault against the Separatists. The balance of the war seems to have shifted and it now seems inevitable that the Republic will prevail against the various Separatist groups – Trade Federation, Banking Clan, Techno Union, etc.

Nute Gunray and his cronies manage to escape from the Jedi again, but this time they screw up big time and leave behind the chair that they use to communicate with Darth Sidious. Yes, I said a chair. It projects holograms. No, I don’t understand that either.

Anyway, the chair is turned over to MI when it is discovered to be a communication device. The technicians discover who the manufacturer is and this leads to a series of planet hops as Anakin and Obi-Wan try to track the chair back to Darth Sidious. The path leads to a female Twi’lek junkie prostitute (she was ready to do them -- LOL) who built a ship for Count Dooku (unbeknownst to her) and dropped it off in a Coruscant ghetto. Word is sent to Mace who leads a team of select Jedi Council members, knights and capable padawans into the (literal) underworld of Coruscant to find out whom Count Dooku has been meeting with. Actually, they know who he's been meeting with. The question is, who is Darth Sidious? Their search takes them right up to the basement of 500 Republica, an apartment complex that is home to the famous and wealthy – including Supreme Chancellor Palpatine.

Anakin and Obi-Wan are diverted by Palpatine to yet another planet on an ultimately fruitless mission to catch Count Dooku and General Grievous. Over Yoda’s objections, Palpatine sends much of Coruscant’s defense force to various Outer Rim territories, supposedly because the Republic is winning the war. Meanwhile, Palpatine/Sidious becomes aware that the Neimoidians have been lying to him and they’ve lost the chair.

Realizing that the Jedi are almost literally at his front door, Sidious uncorks his master plan. The shields guarding Coruscant’s “airspace” go down and the Separatists launch a full out assault on the homeworld of the Republic. The Chancellor is “kidnapped” by General Grievous, but he gets a message out to Anakin to come “rescue” him.

The plot was okay, but, as is usually the case with the Star Wars books, the character development is non-existent. Why can’t these authors spend two seconds making it seem like Anakin is more than a twenty-something who’s pissed all the time and Obi-Wan is more than just fussy thirty-something with blinders on? Is it that freaking difficult? Or are the authors told from on high not to flesh the characters out? That wouldn’t surprise me.

Another thing I didn’t like about Labyrinth of Evil -- and Jedi Trial -- was that Anakin doesn’t think about Padme at all. In LOE, when he gets frustrated, it’s not because he can’t be with his wife, it’s because he wants to kick ass and he’s not kicking enough ass. In order to make ROTS the tragedy it’s supposed to be, there needs to be more weight to their relationship. It’s coming off like one of those ill-conceived wartime marriages from WWII – meet a stranger at a dance, marry him the next day before he ships out, then get to know him when he comes home years later. Or not.

To be fair, Padme does appear briefly in LOE and she’s not exactly pining either. She’s hanging with Bail Organa and Mon Mothma, futilely trying to get an appointment to see the Chancellor to ask him to stop acting like a dictator. It’s only later when she, Bail and Mon Mothma are fleeing to the shelters during the droid attack that Padme starts to worry that she’s going to die and never see Anakin again. Oh, yeah – apparently she ain’t fooling Mon Mothma and Bail. They don’t say so, but both seem hip to the fact that Padme is pregnant. Bail even hints that if she needs to lay low to cover this pregnancy, she can stay with him and his wife on Alderaan.

The final sequence of events in the novel are depicted in the Clone Wars cartoon, but the cartoon was a bit off. Droids attack Coruscant, Shaak-Ti tries to get Palpatine from 500 Republica to a bunker, there’s a Jedi versus droids fight in a train station, a Talz and an Ithorian Jedi fight Grievous to protect the Chancellor and get cut down and Grievous escapes in a shuttle with Palpatine. The novel ends with Anakin and Obi-Wan flying back to Coruscant to rescue the Chancellor, as does the cartoon.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Jedi Trial (and Clones = Slaves)

This is military sci-fi masked as a Star Wars novel. In fact, screw that, it’s a military novel disguised as sci-fi. The co-authors are ex-NCOs from the Viet-Nam era. A lot of the dialogue is similar to stuff I heard from the old vets that used to hang out in front of the PX at Fort Meade, or the Korean War vets I interviewed back in the day: “Freedom isn’t free,” “Logistics is the secret to warfare," "Sergeants run the Army,” etc. That kinda stuff. I’m not dissing – but it was a lecture when they said it and it’s a lecture in this novel too.

Anyway, the plot, such as there is, concerns Anakin and a disgraced Jedi named Nejaa Halcyon who have been assigned to lead a counter-assault on some God-forsaken planet that one of Dooku’s minions has invaded. Anakin and Nejaa get along really well because Nejaa has anger management issues and Nejaa has a wife and kids that he’s hiding from the Jedi Council.

This is all well and cool, but huge chunks of the story concern minor characters that you don’t really care about. There is a romance between two soldiers that have been separated from their units that is perfunctory and boring. And Anakin isn’t Anakin – he respects the chain of command, bonds with a Rodian Sergeant Major, compliments his troops and doesn’t act like a loner. That’s just not him.

One good thing about the novel is that it shows non-clone, non-Jedi troops are involved in the Clone Wars too. It has started to trouble me that no one in any of these novels has mentioned that the use of these clones to fight a war is morally repugnant. The clones of Jango Fett are slaves. They were purchased from the Kamino government, they were bred to fight and they don’t get to decide what they want to do with their lives.

That’s the definition of slavery.

If the Galactic Republic is worth fighting for, free people should be fighting for it, not people who have been enslaved.

How is this okay with the Jedi?

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Star Wars: Original Radio Dramas

The NPR dramatizations of the OT (Original Trilogy) aren’t audio books, but I’ll include them here anyway in my ongoing reviews. I liked all three episodes, though I was disappointed that Mark Hamill didn’t do the voice for Luke on the ROTJ dramatization.

In order to stretch things out, they added a lot of background stuff, such as Luke’s friendship with Biggs on Tatooine, the establishment of the base on Hoth, etc. I was surprised how each radio drama raised and answered questions that I hadn’t considered before:

Star Wars: After the heroes escape from the Death Star, Leia tells Han that there’s surely a tracking device onboard the Falcon, as she does in the movie. However, in the radio show, Han reasonably suggests that, if that’s true, they should definitely not go to the Rebel base -- they should lie low somewhere and scan the ship. Gee, that makes sense! How come that never bothered me before? Anyway, Leia gets them to go to Yavin IV because she feels that the Death Star will just do an Alderaan on planet after planet if they can’t find her. Which is probably correct.

The Empire Strikes Back: Lando’s character is so much better in the radio show, it’s sad. Instead of coming off as a Judas for turning over Han and the others to Vader, he’s depicted as someone who is concerned about the citizens of Cloud City. When Lando comes to see Han after the latter has been tortured, he tells Han, “Look around you. All of these people are trying for a better life, or are on their last chance.” He simply doesn’t want to let his people down.

When the city is finally overrun, Lando gets on the intercom and tells the citizens to flee, but urges them to help each other, to try to preserve the community they tried to build together.

Return of the Jedi: I liked the scene added to the start of the episode that explained how, prior to the rescue of Han from Jabba’s palace, Luke went back to Ben’s house to look for materials and instructions for creating a new lightsaber. When he repeatedly fails to put together a working lightsaber, Luke starts doubting himself and his ability help his friends, much less become the last Jedi, which, considering the ass-whipping and the mental anguish laid down on him by Vader in TESB makes a hell of a lot of sense.

Luke finally has an epiphany and he realizes that Ben’s notes have to be combined with the use of the Force to make a lightsaber – a Jedi needs both skill and intuition. Though some people on complained that the Luke in this dramatization sounded too much like the Episode IV Luke, I didn’t mind at all. I think the subdued Luke of the ROTJ movie would’ve sounded very dull in a radio show.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Rogue Planet and More

Other audio books I've listened to in recent months:

Rogue Planet: This is a pre-Attack of the Clones story in which the Jedi Council assigns Obi-Wan and twelve-year-old Anakin to a mission on a planet where living starships are custom built for clients. The plot is somewhat confusing, but there are a few bright spots in which Obi-Wan is very fatherly towards Anakin – watching over him while he sleeps, sprinting out of the Jedi Temple to rescue the boy from an illegal hang-gliding race in a bad neighborhood on Coruscant, etc.

Shatterpoint: This is a post-Attack of the Clones story featuring Mace Windu on a mission to his home planet to bring in his former padawan, Deepa Bilaba. Although I was irritated that Mace, apparently the only black Jedi, just had to be from a jungle planet (fuck that shit), it wasn’t a bad novel. It was hyper-violent, though. Kids were stabbing kids, Mace gets bit by another human, Deepa mutilates herself, etc. The title of the novel should’ve been Apocalypse Jedi. Brutal. Not very "Star Wars" at all.

The Approaching Storm: This pre-Attack of the Clones story features Obi-Wan and Anakin on a mission to a planet called Ansion that the Republic wants to keep from joining the separatist movement. Only, the story really isn’t about Obi-Wan and Anakin – it’s about Barriss Offee, a female padawan, and her mentor, Luminara Unduli. None of the four have any personality whatsoever! Extremely boring.

More tomorrow.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Shadow Hunter and Other Tales

I've been listening to a lot of Star Wars audio books since the beginning of the year. Most are average, but some have been really entertaining.

Attack of the Clones: This is one of my favorite Star Wars audio books. The sound effects are good, the narrator is skilled at mimicing a lot of the familiar characters' voices, and the script of the movie is really fleshed out. There's a lot of extra stuff added to explain what Shmi Skywalker's life was like after she married into the Lars family. I also liked the scene where Padme's nosy older sister presses Padme for details about her "boyfriend," Anakin. Padme's sister did a lot to encourage Padme to get involved with Anakin, so I wonder if she'll blame herself when Anakin kills Padme?

Cloak of Deception: This one was very forgettable. It's a pre-Phantom Menace story which shows how Chancellor Valorum was manipulated into levying the tax on the free trade routes that ultimately plunged the whole galaxy into war. The one bright spot in this novel is the appearance of a young Grand Moff Tarkin.

Dark Forces: Soldier for the Empire: Based on a video game that became a graphic novel, this trilogy (which includes Dark Forces: Rebel Agent and Dark Forces: Jedi Knight) is kind of a parallel to Luke's arc. Kyle Katarn, the son of a farmer, graduates from the Imperial Academy. He hears that his father was murdered by Rebels, then later learns that the Empire was behind it. He joins up with the Rebels and steals the plans for the Death Star. Later, he frees the souls of thousands of Jedi who were killed in an ancient war.

Through the whole story Kyle is pursuing Jerec, a blind Dark Jedi who is the man who really killed his father. I thought the production quality of the CD's was very good, though the story was too much like Luke's. There was even a ghost Jedi benefactor teaching Kyle to use the Force. I did get a kick out of how Mon Mothma never trusted him and kept telling his girlfriend to blow his ass away if he blinked funny. I told you something was up with Mon Mothma! LOL!

Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter: Surprisingly entertaining. There are a lot of POV switches, but they were handled well. This is another pre-Phantom Menace story, this one concerning converging forces on Coruscant trying to find an AWOL Neimoidian who is desperately trying to sell the plans for the upcoming invasion of Naboo. The Neimoidians dispatch a female bounty hunter. Darth Sidious dispatches Darth Maul. A down on his luck Corellian grifter and his droid buddy try to buy the information from the Neimoidian and get Darth Maul on their tail. Then a padawan and her master on a completely unrelated mission save the guy and the droid... It's just crazy. Darth Maul actually has a personality in this book, though he's basically still a Terminator-esque killing machine. I lost count of how many explosions he caused and how many people he killed.

The ending was actually a little sad.

More tomorrow.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

The Stone Table

Posted by Hello

This is some Narnia concept art that I got from... uh, I forget where. It shows the Stone Table, site of Aslan's noble sacrifice.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Big Black Candy Mountain

My current least favorite commercial is Burger King's Tendercrisp Bacon Cheddar Ranch spot featuring Darius "Hootie" Rucker dressed in a rhinestone cowboy outfit crooning a parody of the bluegrass song "Big Rock Candy Mountain."

What the hell is he doing?

If by chance you haven't seen this piece of shit commercial, watch it here.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Flash Fiction Challenge 6: One in a Million

She was amazed at how much had changed. Colored lanterns illuminated the beach. Children played on the boardwalk. Vendors sold cold drinks and hot food. Desolation had given way to life.
“Remember that ancient warehouse where Tug died?” her brother said. “They razed it and built a pier.” He pointed. They watched in silence as another passenger-laden ferry came in slowly to the docks.

“The curfew’s been extended,” her brother said. “Maybe there’ll be fireworks!” There was a mischievous twinkle in his eyes.

“Oh, no,” she said, worriedly. “Tell me you didn’t.”

“But we’re all so proud of you! Incono gives us everything because of you, you and the others.”

He cupped his hands around his mouth and shouted, “SHE’S HERE! Our Guardian is here!”

People stated to gather. Some people stared in awe, others wanted to touch her, thinking she would give them good luck. This was the hard part. The training had been bad, and the fighting worse, but facing everyone’s expectations, that was worst of all.

A vendor offered her a steaming meat patty and would accept no money.

She slowly chewed the pastry, not wanting to offend. When the tears came to her eyes, she convinced herself it was because she had burned her tongue.

A boy of about five rushed forward. He wrapped his arms around her legs and looked up in admiration. “I want to be Chosen too!”

“Maybe,” she said softly, looking down at the child. “If you’re one in a million.”

Rules for Flash Fiction #6
Maximum length: 250 words.
The theme is: compensation.
The setting is: on the waterfront.
Within the story, you must use this text: came in slowly.

As always, the challenge originates from Diminished Fifth.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

ABC Renews 'Lost' For Second Season

From SyFy Portal:

"It was no surprise, but ABC has made it official: "Lost" will return for a second season."

Let's hope they can work hard over the summer so we can get more than one new episode a month!

The episode where it was revealed that Hurley's jinx may be behind the plane crash was great, but they followed that with three weeks of repeats!


Tuesday, April 05, 2005

BSG: Kobol's Last Gleaming, Part 2

[I’m so lazy, I just don’t have the energy to do a full-blown review of the finale. Anyway, here goes.]

Commander Adama gets mad at President Roslin for ordering Kara to jump to Caprica. He demands Roslin’s resignation. She stands firm and he sends Tigh, Lee and some marines to board Colonial One and arrest her. Lee turns on Tigh and puts a gun to his head. Roslin tells everyone to put away their weapons and she agrees to go quietly to the Galactica. Lee is arrested and cuffed.

On Caprica, Kara goes to a museum and retrieves the Arrow of Apollo, which the scriptures say will lead mankind to Earth. She is attacked by Number Six, who beats her ass mercilessly. Helo and Sharon arrive just in time to see Kara and Six plunge through a hole in the floor. Six is killed. Kara is happy to see Helo until she spies Sharon. She pulls out her pistol to shoot Sharon, but Helo says, “You can’t kill her, she’s pregnant!”

Kara literally howls in disbelief.

Adama sends Galactica-Boomer and some other chick in a Raptor to try Gaeda’s plan to use a Cylon transponder to get close enough to plant a nuke on the basestar orbiting Kobol. The Raptor is forced to land on the basestar. Sharon gets out, goes around a corner, and is surrounded by a bunch of naked Sharons that express their love for her.


Galactica-Boomer and the other girl get away and the bomb destroys the basestar.

On Kobol, the crew of the downed Raptor don’t know what the hell to do. Crashdown provides no leadership and Baltar wanders off with Six and has a fantasy about being in an opera house and looking at something emitting light from a crib. Tyrol has to take control of the enlisted crew when Crashdown makes the dumbass suggestion that they camp on a hill out in the open so that “a rescue party can see us.”

Galactica-Boomer returns to the Galactica where she and the other girl are praised by Adama for doing a great job, despite whatever misgivings they may have had. Adama looks meaningfully at his handcuffed son when he makes the last comment.

Galactica-Boomer shows appreciation for Adama’s praise by whipping out her pistol and pumping three rounds in the Commander’s abdomen and chest at point-blank range.

[Note: Looks like Col. “Tight” is in charge of the military and Tom Zarek is in charge of the government. We’ll find out what happens when season two starts in July!]

Monday, April 04, 2005

Upcoming Movies

Checking out IMDB, there's not too much on the horizon as far as movies go. I have my doubts about The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, though I did like it when I read it back in the early 80's.

May is all about Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith. Everything else will be destroyed. It's the Summer of Sith!

June will be dead for me. I have absolutely no desire to see Batman. Bewitched might actually be funny, but I don't pay to see comedies.

War of the Worlds comes out in July. I can't see how this could not be decent. I hear that Lucas is pissed that Spielberg is going to be eating in ROTS's take. Actually, I'm pissed too. Not about the money -- nothing good ever gets released in August or September. I wish they would push the release back a bit.

The Fantastic Four comes out in July also. Again, I'm not interested. I don't care for comic book movies. I'm sick of that genre.

August looks as bad as June. I hope the Doom movie tanks. Video game movies suck too.

September. Bad as well. The Johnny Depp/Tim Burton movie Corpse Bride is the only thing vaguely interesting. To me, anyway.

November. Nada! I will not pay to see a Harry Potter movie.

December. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Can it be the next Lord of The Rings? Probably not. But it will be one of only three movies I pay to see in 2005.

Also in December: King Kong. Can Peter Jackson do well with a script not based on one of the best written stories of all time? His zombie movies weren't just bad -- they were awful. I have my doubts here. The fact that Jack Black is the male lead makes me roll my eyes. I hope PJ proves me wrong.

If King Kong bombs, does that make it more likely or less likely that we'll see The Hobbit by 2009?

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Beren (Hopefully) On Animal Planet

Beren would like to do this every day! Posted by Hello

Beren got a free massage this morning at Scout NYC, where he and some other dogs were filmed for "Doga," an Animal Planet show that will air on August 14, 2005.

"Lone Gunmen" Pilot and Sept. 11 -- Coincidence?

How come I don't remember this??

From SyFy Portal:

"In the premier episode, which aired in March 2001, the trio of paranormal investigators, who first appeared on 'The X-Files,' managed to divert a commercial plane from flying into the World Trade Center in New York City at the last second."

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Edmund = Dumbass of Narnia.

I hate these online tests.

I took the Narnia personality test, and came out as Edmund, the dumbass whom Asland has to save from his own stupidity.

"As Edmund, while you may be quick to lose your temper or appear unfriendly, you are known for doing the right thing in the end."


The only character I hate more is Eustace.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Blogger has been sucking hard

Blogger has been so buggy the last three days! Frown!

A Black Pope?

Could it be? An African on the shortlist for the papacy? Oh, if only this could happen! This would get me back in church again.

From MSNBC: The Pope's Mixed Legacy

"Francis Arinze also meets the criteria. He is a Nigerian with a fascinating personal story. His father was a chieftain, and he converted and was baptized at the age of 9. In 2002, he was transferred to head of the office in charge of liturgy and sacraments in Rome."