Friday, November 05, 2004

So, here I was thinking I had nothing to mention and today would be met with a news article or two, but voila! Star Wars.

As is well documented, The League was once a huge proponent of the Star Wars franchise. Star Wars wallpaper, Star Wars bedding, Star Wars figures lining the floor. Jamie was a bit irritated with the figures on the floor, so I started keeping them straightened on a shelf.

Star Wars was our mythology as kids. It surpassed Superfriends and Tron by a lightyear. This was the stuff we went to bed thinking about, and ran around the woods behind our house play-acting (eternal thanks to me mum, who got me an official Stormtrooper pistol for Christmas when I was 8. Best. Present. Ever.).

And it’s well documented how I saw Phantom Menace in the theater 5 times. And, sort of against my will, saw Attack of the Clones 4 times in two weeks (seeing both the opening night midnight show, and the next morning’s 9:00 am show, after which I went to work and stared mindlessly at my monitor for four hours before going home and collapsing. Thanks, Dan).

And it’s hip to say these movies suck. Because, you know what? These movie have a lot problems. They have an enormous "wow" factor, but they also have a lot of issues that adults are much more keenly aware of than kids. But maybe that’s why these movies work so well as trailers. The trailers are always amazing, culling the best parts out of context, and making you really believe that these movies are somehow going to save Western Culture, and getting you juiced up for a monumental letdown.

It’s tough to say the stories are incoherent, because that’s not really accurate. And it’s easy to say the acting is wooden, because it mostly is. The plot does suffer from a lack of expediency and occasional lapses of logic. And all too often, things occur because it would look cool, rather than because it’s a good idea or really follows internal logic.

But here’s why I'm posting on this at all, and it’s going to sound a lot like what I said about Sky Captain:

I want these movies.

Sure, I made an off the cuff comment yesterday about it being “more of the same”, which, arguably, it is. My first reaction was "oh, great. Another trailer which looks phenomenenal, but which is better than the actual film."

But more of this “same” is Star Wars “the same.” This is space opera envisioned on a scale most mortal minds can’t possibly begin to plot out and construct. Most writers and directors would NEVER try to tell a story so massive in scope, movie after movie. They would flat out tell you it was impossible to manage so many characters and so many character threads working through so many plotlines. Let alone, keeping a tangible backstory, introducing new cultures, creatures, and ideas with every change of scene. And maybe, maybe they’d be right.

I WASN'T nuts about Episode II, although I thought it was beautiful to look at, and had cool stuff. I almost got the feeling that this was the paperwork being done to set the stage for the upcoming movie. Does the new trailer look cool? Maybe, but I've lost objectivity, and I'm in a "won't get fooled again" mode. Episode II had things I loved (Slave 1 in the asteroid belt), but it had a lot of business going on that just felt like plot lines being distended.

In order to get his stories told with any efficiency, Lucas is painting with a broad brush, and I think that, more than occasionally, it leads to some missteps. I don’t particularly believe in the romantic character curve for Anakin and Padme (a case where less might have been more). I don’t particularly believe in Anakin’s curve as he becomes eeeevil (he seems like he was doing pretty much okay until his mom got whacked). But, we have another 2.5 hours of the story coming in the final installment, and a chance to tie up the threads. I can hold out hope that the character moments I’ve been longing for may yet materialize.

Since 1977 studios have been spending a lot of money trying to get another movie to capture the imagination of the public the way Star Wars did. They've been trying for the formula a million different ways, but, ultimately, it never works out. Instead, the terrain is littered with clunkers like "Last Starfighter", "Battle Beyond the Stars", "The Black Hole" and dozens of others. Until Lord of the Rings (a commodity proven a hundred times over before the latest screen adaptation) nothing else managed to place huge audiences in a world completely foreign to our own, but so easily understandable.

Short of Jack Kirby and Tolkein, I can’t think of anyone who has stepped up to the plate and even TRIED to tell a story with such wild ideas, and crazy imagination firing on all six cylinders. (A note: I thought about this after publishing, and there are countless sci-fi and fantasy novels which have done this. I'm being unfair. I could discredit the fantasy genre as just lifting from Tolkein, but that's cheesy and not true. And sci-fi continues to expand it's definition while telling sprawling, effective stories. I just really like Jack Kirby, so I'll plug him wherever I can. Don't get me started on TV epics and their need to feed the beast which led to the whimpering death of X-Files.)

Only Tolkein managed to cross-cut two or more major battle scenes at a time to create a climax this successfully (and, now, by extension, Peter Jackson). I mean, Sweet Christmas… from a technical and storytelling perspective, I can’t really think of anything more complicated than that.

The trailer gives us two warring Star Destroyers blasting away at one another in low-orbit? Droids flitting about on the surface of a volcanic planet? Tiny green space samurai getting serious?

If you told me the details of the trailer for Revenge of the Sith, and never tossed “Star Wars” into the sentence, I would be wondering where I could sign up to see this paean to sci-fi cool. I mean, throw in a monkey, and you’ve officially surpassed my criteria for paying to see a movie in the theater. What? You say there’s an army of monkey-people? I gladly surrender my eight dollars, sir.

I'm giving it a shot. Maybe not opening night this time around, but I'm giving it a shot. And I will say parts of the trailer DO look cool, but I'm not going to not be skeptical. At the end of the day, it's not just the elements which tell a story, it's how they're interwoven. This can be the coolest shoddy movie ever, or it can seal the deal as the Star Wars saga truly earning it's much hyped reputation.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Star Wars Episode 3?

Here's a trailer.

Yup, more of the same.
When people don't know Roman history...

thanks to Jamie for the link
If it weren't so badly sculpted and kind of creepy looking, I think this would be a fun novelty for that whimsical Republican in your family.

Here's Super-Action-Hero W.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

I always told Jamie that when I die, I'm going to haunt her.

Well, now I've found something ten times more annoying than haunting her.

According to this article, Phoenix is now home to a company called Preserve A Life.

What does this company do? It allows you to stuff your dead relatives and keep them around the house.

This is so awesome, I'm totally at a loss for any good commentary.

Alas, this is a Halloween joke from the Phoenix New Times. Anyway, I hope it is a joke.

Here is the story (which seems like an exceptionally long article for a hoax).

And here's a web link.

Ehhh... Even if it were real, I'd probably still choose just to haunt Jamie. But there is a certain appeal to taking up couch space in the afterlife.
A little comic reading advice for you:

We3 by Grant Morrison.


Here is a PDF of some preview pages.

A preview to view, if you have broadband.
I guess Kerry conceded.


Where's my recount and lawsuits?

My sweater still smells funny, but I think it's because it's made of wool. I always think my sweaters smell funny. Yet I still wear them.

And, yes. It is actually cold enough in the mornings here to wear a sweater. I will change shirts here shortly as I may be outside for part of the afternoon.

My contacts also feel very dry today, so I've been doing this thing where I open my eyes very wide and then close them very tight, hopign to generate some extra moisture. It's not working.

I am very, very tired today.
I guess Bush'll probably win.

Not much else to say about that.

The sweater I am wearing smells funny, but I can't identify the smell.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

A little election time blogging.

Sooooooo.......... Who you votin' for?

Just kidding. It's Presidential Election Day here in the USofA. I hope you aren't reading this unless you already got up, combed your hair and moseyed down to your polling place. If you already voted, good for you. if you didn't, well... why are you reading this? Get off your bum and go vote. NOW!!!

I don't know that this is the most important election of my lifetime. I think that will come into play in 2056 when we must vote for George Bush the 5th or Zilwork Blurgg of the Crab Nebula (I am sure his/her story of being the child of immigrant aliens and his/her 450 fellow nestlings growing up in poverty in New Kentucky will be very moving).

In short, I just looked at my practice ballot, and this election is stupid. There's only one party with any power in Arizona, and thusly, only one candidate with a chance for winning. I mean, I'm going to vote because I can and because I'm glad we're not all prisoner of the whims of, say... Barbara Streisand, but, you know... as those who know better would have it, I am so far outside the mainstream that I am out of touch with middle-America. That's fine. Middle-America and I don't always see eye-to-eye (I still don't love Raymond). It just kind of makes voting in elections out here a sort of fruitless effort.

Out of 14 total partisan races going down, 5 of them have a Dem running, 4 of them have a Libertarian, and 7 are either an unopposed Republican running or two Republicans running against only each other(1). But anything can happen. We do have a Democrat in the Capital as governor, so it's a crazy world.

I also thought I'd mention that we don't vote FOR judges, we vote against them. There are no NEW judges on the ballot, just fifty (50) items which read like this:

Shall Tipsy McStagger, Judge of Superior Court Division Y be retained in office? Yes? No?

I think this is one of those areas where I'm going to have to plead ignorance, because no matter how much I cram tonight with my little newsprint booklet, there is no way I'm going to know enough to make an informed decision here. And by the time I do know enough about how any of these judges operate, I assume I will be in jail and be unable to vote, anyway.

I assume judges are appointed and then fired by the populace out here. Which, you know, has a sort of poetic-justice mob-mentality charm I can groove on.

I probably should read up on who the two candidates are who dare to run against McCain for Senator here in AZ, but it's kind of like learning the starting line-up of the Washington Generals.

All in all, I project that I'll spend about five minutes in the ballot box.

Broken down, it will look like this:

10 seconds voting for POTUS
3 minutes voting on Propositions
1 minute writing my own name in on all other elections
50 seconds standing in my booth weeping with joy that this f**king ridiculous circus of an election is over and that either Ass-Clown #1 or Ass-Clown #2 will take office and hopefully not get me killed or rob me blind or let the rest of America get killed or robbed blind. I think that's a pretty low set of expectations I've placed on Ass-Clowns #1 and #2. I'm pretty sure they're both up to the job.

While I'm at it, I'd like Ass-Clowns #1 & #2 to also try not to do so much shameful nonsense during their terms in office that what they wind-up most famous for are the series of untruths to which they committed themselves. I'd like for Ass-Clowns #1& #2 to TRY to occasionally remember that not all of us love what Ass-Clown #1 or #2 wants to do with the world, and that we don't all work for them.

And, hey... every once in a while, we'd like to not feel completely ashamed of the decisions our Ass-Clown in Chief has made, and that every single moment of every day shouldn't be about covering your own ass. If you're doing the job right, it doesn't have to be.

And, I'd like Ass-Clown #1 & #2 to remember that we, as a nation, make a ton of babies. Seriously. Everybody I know is dropping a baby. And that... maybe... Maybe President Ass-Clown should know that what they do today and tomorrow is going to seriously jack with little Arden, little Isaac, and even little Nathan Jr. The shaking the babies and kissing hands bit doesn't have anything to do with what you're going to do when the chips are down.

Let me share a secret with you, Mr.'s Ass-Clown #1 & #2...

History is going to judge you.


No matter what you do today for whatever reason, history is going to be different from the spinning of media and the lobbing of sound bites. It's going to wait and see what happens, and then it will make up its mind whether or not you dropped the ball. Sure, there'll still be pundits in all sorts of camps, but the connect-the-dots picture is going to be hard to argue. History will have nothing better to do for a few hundred years after you croak than to pry open your coffin and dig through your sock drawer for the juicy bits. All those lawyers and press secretaries and secret service guys and whatever else you're up to... it's hard to maintain when you're pushing up daisies and trying to keep the centipedes off your nose.

Hindsight is 20/20. By what shakes out, by what happens eventually, that's how you'll be remembered. Nobody ever went into the White House with anything but the best of intentions. Nobody ever went in trying to leave the country weaker or poorer. Nobody ever went in wanting to leave the place worse off than when they arrived. History won't care what you said, but it will care what happened under your watch. It won't care about platitudes or espoused ideology, but it will care where we were four years after you started.

Now, why did you want that job again?

Monday, November 01, 2004

So, Loyal Leaguer Madi H. has hit us up with a proposal and a dilemma. Leaguers, it sounds like the League is finally going to do what it set out to do: Answer the questions which plague you.

- = ?

Madi's request came in this'a'way.

I want to post a poll on your blog. Specifically I would like any opinions on the following scenario: If a guy asks a woman out and does not pay, should she never go with him again, or give him another chance?

My brother, who is a notoriously cheap bastard, had this to say:

She should ditch him. He is either:

a) rude
b) clueless

Either one is not a good sign.

And I'm prone to agree! But, I recall a conversation I had with some co-ed classmates of mine in college who stated that: if a guy tried to pay, he was insinuating some control over the relationship already, and they would immediately ditch the poor sucker.

I pointed out that they were probably missing out on a lot of decent guys who feel it is polite to pay for someone else's good time when you request their company.

So, what is it, Leaguers? Pay, no pay? Should Madi forego love because the guy is a miser? What if he's just too progressive for his own good? What if he realized all too late he only had a 10-spot on him?

Having been with Mrs. League for the better part of a decade, I have no idea what the rules of dating are these days, and I certainly can't speak on how to maneuver out there in the post-college world. But I watch a lot of TV, and I think I know how these things work.

Anyway, pipe up and help a Leaguer out. Tell Madi what you think.


Bearing the same dazed expression Jill wore through high school, Arden Hermann-Wilmarth roars his way into Halloween.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Halloween Report:

Hello all.

I was Fat Green Lantern for Halloween. Upon reviewing photos of myself for this year's costume, next year I will stick with fat Elvis or Fat Albert or Fatty McFatterson. Or, the wife of Jack Sprat.

Anyway, here are some nice photos.

Jamie carved a delightful Kitty Pumpkin. Little girls were especially fond of this one.

I carved this pumpkin. It ended up looking like Stan's clone go wrong from the first season of South Park. It's a happy coincidence and I'm proud of my mutant creation.

Here is a rough idea of what our house looked like. We were going to sit on a beach towel, but this turned out to be a real hassle as kids kept expecting for us to get up to give them candy.

Here is Jamie in her bee costume. She takes a nice picture, that bee does.

Here is a pic of your blogger (who has never before published his own photo to the site, I might add), hanging with Mel. I am the one with the power ring.

I am happy to say we had dozens of visitors, all of whom were very sweet. We had one Superman, one Batman, about five Spider-Mans and a herd of ninjas, ghouls, witches, and Britney Federlines. Also, I am delighted to say many, many people identified me as GL, both parents and kids alike. I think the lady across the street thought I was sporting some demonic symbol until I told her I was "one of the Superfriends".

Hope you all had a Happy Halloween.

Now, it's Turkey Time.