Monday, November 18, 2013

A few things, all at once

So, we got hit by the big Midwest storm last night.  Strong winds (a tree in our cul-de-sac broke in half, it looks like.)  Power out for many houses in the area.  Tons of rain.  Tornado watches all evening.  Tara Reid and Ian Ziering were spotted in the area with chainsaws and bombs.

Speaking of which, Sharknado is now available to stream on Netflix.  I'd love to get together a party of guys to watch it in all of it's "glory."  I'm so busy, though, that I'll probably end up watching it on the Netflix app on my phone while sitting in my car over the course of two or three days worth of "lunch" breaks.

Although this is more a topic for my Lone Star Hiker blog, I'll toss it in here for the heckuvit.  My ambitious trip plan for taking the family on a suite of day hikes (among other things) through much of the central Rockies will take a minor hit, as I've now discovered that I can't leave quite as early as I'd hoped, due to a scheduled activity for my older kids that I totally agree that they need to be able to do.  This means I'll have to squeeze a day or two from the schedule.  Because nobody is as excited about hiking as I am, that means I probably better not squeeze Noah's Ark in Wisconsin Dells from the schedule to make for more time in the Tetons or whatever.  Dangit.

Through much of this last week, I've been trying to "marathon" Star Wars.  Not a true marathon, just watch the movies (and then the Clone Wars) all back to back over the course of... however long it takes me to do so, while just watching it when I have time.  A few comments on that:
  • My kids, curiously, don't really like any of the Star Wars movies, even though they're fans of the franchise.  The original trilogy movies are old and clunky-looking to them, and the Prequel trilogy is slick-looking but stupid and boring.  To use their own adjectives, although I don't disagree with them at all.
  • The pre-Special Edition versions of the movies are the way to go, although they aren't really readily available.  I still have the old videotapes that I bought before the Special Edition went on sale.  One of these days I'll have to get the DVDs with the "original" version, if I can find them at a decent price.  Otherwise, I'll probably have to rip my VHS tapes before they wear out.  The improved special effects mostly are welcome; the "disimproved" editing and other meddling is not.
  • George Lucas often says that Star Wars was always aimed at "children."  That's not really demonstrably true during the originals except in a few moments Return of the Jedi, including rather juvenile attempts at humor in Jabba's palace scenes and the ewoks.  I suspect this is another case of Lucas creatively editing the perception of events by claiming something that wasn't ever really true in the first place to cover for his failure with the prequels.  While it may be an interesting observation that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our point of view, in reality the evidence is right there, publicly available for anyone to see.  Plus, that's a scary argument to make with a straight face.  Those Jedi were really a piece of work.
  • Jedi is also where the plot holes start to become too obvious to be ignored.  I was particularly struck by the small, short scene where Luke goes back to Dagobah and talks to Yoda.  Yoda tells Luke that his training is complete, and that there's nothing else he needs to learn to be a Jedi.  But then, not thirty seconds later, he tells him, with regards to Vader being his father and why didn't they tell this to Luke in the first place, that his training wasn't complete and he wasn't prepared for the burden.  So which is it?  Was his training complete or no?  He didn't get any other training between the time that Yoda says his training was incomplete and the time that Yoda says that his training is complete.  So, apparently Yoda's relationship with the truth isn't really much better than Obiwan's.  Since both are stand-ins throughout the entire franchise for the entirety of the Jedi order, this is a searing indictment of the Jedi way of doing things (although proper context to see that won't come until much later in my marathon... although, of course, it's hardly the first time that I've seen this stuff.)  Already by this point, I'm thinking that the only ones who can still defend the Jedi with a straight face are the New York Times staff editorial writers.
  • I'm a little intimidated by the prospect of watching the prequel trilogy again back to back.  I don't really like them well enough to think that that won't be anything other than somewhat painful.  I'm really asking myself if I think it's worth it or if I should just skip around, watch the better scenes of them and miss the worst ones.  Or even not watch them at all and just go straight to the Clone Wars TV shows.
  • I'd like to throw the "Samurai Jack" style Clone Wars DVDs in there while I'm at it.  I don't normally watch those, but I should.  They were pretty cool, if I recall.
  • The Empire of Dreams documentary is really interesting.  I made a point of showing my kids the part of it where it happens to show the opening crawl of Star Wars... and it wasn't called Episode IV: A New Hope.  It was just called Star Wars, and after the big title in fancy font, it went straight to the crawl without subtitles.  So now they understand why I disregard the A New Hope title and just refer to the first movie as Star Wars, and in fact, insist on doing so.  Because I'm stubborn and opinionated.  Plus, I remember many years of that being the actual title of the movie; it wasn't until it was re-released after Empire Strikes Back came out that it was subtitled and numbered.
Unrelated to that whole endeavor (at least directly), I've put together a quick and dirty character sheet for use with my Star Wars m20 system.  The sheet is fairly basic, with relatively big fonts and boxes--you could write all this by hand on an index card if you really wanted to.  But I like regular-sized character sheets, and m20 has always had pretty good ones that were clean, simply, with plenty of white space, so it was easy to read and easy to find items on it.

I used the back of the sheet for ship details, although because I had so much space, I made two columns.  I doubt any character would ever actually have two ships.

And a smaller one that fits on a single side of a single piece of paper, while still having room to detail your starship:

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