Tag Archives: Star Wars

Parts Of My Geekiness I Am Losing

According to some I should have turned in my geek card the minute I got married. Then again, there are many married geeks, and even my wedding wasn’t completely Star Wars free. However, just as Superman gave up his powers to be with Lois Lane in Superman II, I find I am losing components of my geekiness to the mists of time, such as:

-The ability to be personally offended by following: the Wii’s game line-up, Anime voice acting, Live-action adaptations of comic-books, novels or video games

-The ability to discern anime character designers

-The ability to participate in the eternal Star Destroyer v. Enterprise debate.

-The ability to stomach any Expanded universe Star Wars

-The ability to watch anime all night

-The idea that Freelancing is a romantic occupation of freedom and bad-assery as opposed to paper-work and shaking down clients for money

-The idea that spoilers will ruin any and all enjoyment of a book, movie or TV show

Does this mean that I’m just growing up? Hardly. I still watch Doctor Who and Macross Frontier. I check io9.com about twice a day and I often peruse Hobbylink Japan the way many people would peruse a Jaguar dealership. I still think professional sports is like paying to watch other people have fun. What has changed is how I perceive my free time. As I get older, time seems to move faster. It feels like high school lasted longer than my 20s. I no longer have the luxury of indulging my interests to completion. Delayed gratification has its merit, but not when you’re trying to be entertained. Slogging through a 52 episode series when 26 of those are filler is no way to go through life. In fact, it’s no way to enjoy a series. The same goes for relationships. Make an effort to enjoy yourself and those around you.

Kirtsy.com and the Future of Web Software

For the first few months of our marriage, my wife Sara would ask me how I could possibly spend so much time surfing on the internet. Recently I found out this wasn’t a complaint, but an actual question about how to find good stuff to read on the web. I told her that I frequent sites like Digg.com and Fark.com to receive the latest news about technology, video games and STAR WARS! In other words, sites that would not interest Sara in the slightest.

The state of affairs continued until I found an article on Digg called “Top Five Reasons Why I Want Digg for Girls”. It basically outlined what I had thought when I had tried to introduce Sara to news aggregate sites. Most of them are sausage parties, populated by nerds who try to break the site for no other than a surplus of time on their hands. You’re unlikely to find articles about non-geeky arts and crafts, parenting or anything else relevant to women. Considering how much of the publishing sector is created by and for women, having web software like Digg and making it completely male oriented is like building a Saturn V Rocket and using it as a Christmas tree. It seemed like the author had pointed out ripe territory for revolution, but many commentors pointed out that the revolution had already happened at www.kirtsy.com.

Intrigued I headed down there and was taken by surprise by how nice the interface is. It’s just 9 self-explanatory categories, and you don’t even have to join to give a “kirtsy” since the site measures the click-through count, not just votes from registered users. What’s more, the users don’t seem to use misleading headlines like “Bike Seat Cuts Off the Nose to Save the Penis!” in order to garner votes.

Now, I’m still going to use sites like Digg and Fark for most of my link hunting needs, but it’s really nice to know that a site like this exists. For one thing, it proves that lines of code and a server don’t make a software package any more than a truckload of hamburger meat and a suitcase full of money makes a McDonald’s. It’s amazing that you can create a news aggregate site that functions like Digg and have it come off as being completely different. It’s a tribute to the human element in software design. And what does Sara think of Kirtsy? Let’s just say she curses my name now that she knows how to waste time on the internet!

Star Wars: What Went Wrong?

A new Star Wars movie came out last weekend, and apparently nobody cares. Star Wars: Clone Wars opened 3rd at the box office with a gross of $14.6 million. That’s lower than Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, and people still reach for torches and pitchforks at the mere mention of that film. I’m still on the fence on whether to see it, but I don’t think I’ll enjoy watching Rip Taylor in Hutt form, or having a Jedi Padawan use words such as “Like, totally!” in normal conversation. I think it’s safe to say that what has kept us interested in Star Wars as a universe and franchise has gone for good. Recapturing the magic of the trilogy, or even building on it is going to be next to impossible with the way things are run right now. All that’s left is for fans like me to ask: What went wrong?

Was it the Flash Gordon clichés, with ships and lasers whooshing across space? Was it the Nietzschean interpretation of history? It doesn’t look like audiences had a problem with thing like that. Was it the Han shooting second? Jar-Jar? Close, but they’re only symptoms of a much larger problem. If you ask me, it all started when Lucas decided to make Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia brother and sister.

When Luke and Leia’s blood relationship was revealed, the love triangle between them and Han Solo was essentially frozen in carbonite and thrown into the deepest, darkest gas giant, never to return. Plus it made subsequent viewings of Empire Strikes Back a whole lot creepier. It makes perfect sense as a story decision, Luke desire to protect Leia almost made him turn to the dark side of the force at the climax of Return of the Jedi and it allowed Leia to get together with Han. However, it was kind of a cop-out. Before ROTJ came out people were still wondering if Leia was going to end up with Luke or Han. By the end of the movie Leia doesn’t go with Han because of anything specific about his personality or the way they relate, it was because she didn’t come out of the same womb that he did.

When you consider that the biggest character driven plot-line of the trilogy was resolved essentially by default, subsequent creative decisions about the films suddenly make sense. We could see through the prequel trilogy that Lucas abhors ambiguity about all things. There’s either a dark side or a light side of the force, people either love each other or they don’t. The lack of ambiguity works for Star Wars. When a bad guy dies, you want feel good about it. However, ambiguity shouldn’t be confused with facing a hard choice, which is what happened here.

The Han/Luke/Leia relationship was full of ambiguity because both Han and Luke were likable people, each with their own particular personality traits. If Leia chose either of them, it would be a hard choice to make and not everyone would be happy in the end. Lucas decided that Star Wars should be about choosing between Good and Evil, not Good and Good, so in came the deus ex machina of Leia being Luke’s sister, which left everyone happy even if they felt a little icky inside. From then on, Lucas’ films take on a deterministic feeling. It’s almost as if he feels that something like the Han/Luke/Leia triangle wouldn’t read well to audiences and we’ll all just tune out. He didn’t count on us sensing the insincerity behind that approach and just tuning out anyway.

The Han/Luke/Leia triangle gave us some of the funniest scenes in the trilogy (Han: So do you think a girl like her and a guy like me…? Luke: NO!). It turned Star Wars into less of technical demo and more of a date movie. Love triangles produce a lot of suspense, chemistry and character development. People are more themselves in a relationship than in any other situation. Creators who use this to their advantage can write their own ticket to stardom and fan fiction writers insane.