X-Wing and TIE Fighter Engagement Rings - Paul Michael Design
Well, sure, that’s cool.
But, given that the rings are shaped like starfighters, I’m going to wager that those gems aren’t certified to be conflict-free.
I’ve never seen an episode of “Dancing With The Stars” and, as a result, I almost missed what is surely both the best and the worst thing I can recall seeing: a 76 year old Billy Dee Williams dancing a Star Wars themed cha-cha.
Well, thanks to Grantland’s Rembert Browne, I didn’t miss it and I didn’t have to watch “DWTS,” a show that once inspired this conversation with my sister:
Me: “Why is this a show? Why would anyone watch this?”
Sister: “Because it’s on television.”
I talked with an 11 year old about Star Wars for about an hour.
Darth Bane, Darth Plagueis, Knights of the Old Republic, the many flaws of Episodes I-III, the many virtues of the Clone Wars cartoon series, and so on.
Evenings like this signal pretty clearly why I was put on this Earth. In other news, I can’t wait til my son is old enough to watch Star Wars.
For the Princess Leia in your life.
The other day, someone asked me how deeply I’d delved into the Star Wars expanded universe.
By way of response, I simply asked, “How much do you want to know about what Wedge Antilles has been up since the Battle of Endor?”
Understandably, the person had no follow-up.
I ended my lecture this morning — on Richard Rorty and the power of literature to help us imagine new identities for ourselves, especially when it comes to moral decision-making — by asking students about “Star Wars: A New Hope.”
Specifically, I asked them whether they identified with one of the main characters over the others. By “main character,” I had in mind Luke, Leia, and Han. I suppose a case could be made, also, that Darth Vader is a main character … but I wasn’t thinking that anyone would consider him as an exemplar of moral decision-making.
One student said he always identified with Luke Skywalker. Another chose Obi-Wan Kenobi (somewhat unusually, I think, since he appears for only a few minutes and we learn almost nothing about him).
The other twenty-two students stared at me as though I’d just asked them to pick their favorite character from “My Dinner With Andre.”
What are we teaching our children?
Thom Yorke, Jedi Knight.
Incidentally, we’re coming up on 20 years since the first time I saw Radiohead play live.
HT: Katherine Pawlowski.
In order for the plot of Star Wars to work, Anakin Skywalker needed to turn into Darth Vader.
By this, I don’t simply mean the name change that took place when he first turned to the Dark Side of the Force; I have in mind the complete physical transformation that disguised Skywalker after he was disfigured in his duel with Obi-Wan Kenobi on Mustafar.
Skywalker couldn’t be a secret Sith apprentice, at least not in the way that Count Dooku was both Dooku and Darth Tyranus; Skywalker was far too famous for his exploits as a Jedi general during the Clone Wars and he would be clearly identified as the last remaining Jedi in a galaxy where the Jedi were suddenly distrusted. If he appeared as Anakin Skywalker after the wholesale destruction of the Jedi order, there would be far too many difficult-to-answer questions. Among these questions:
- Why had Skywalker not been targeted by the clone troopers, as had every single other Jedi in the galaxy?
- The Jedi were alleged to have been responsible for entirely fabricating the incredibly destructive Clone Wars, because Master Sifo-Dyas ordered the creation of clone troopers and Master Dooku formed the Separatist Council; if so, why would Skywalker be exempted from any sort of punishment for his high-level involvement in perpetrating the Clone Wars?
- Why is the galaxy’s most heroic Jedi now flying all over the galaxy committing murder and torture?
The destruction of Skywalker’s body – and the near certainty of his death, at least at first, at the hands of Kenobi – allowed him to freely move about the galaxy as Darth Vader, doing anything that Darth Sidious commanded without anyone having to answer uncomfortable questions about the destruction of the Jedi Order … which is clearly a very good thing for Darth Sidious. Without Vader to do all the dirty work of mopping up the few remaining Jedi, threatening the emerging rebels, and frightening the new commanders and governors to keep them in line, Palpatine’s Imperial rule would clearly be much more difficult to consolidate.
This seems like a monumentally important thing for Darth Sidious to leave to chance, as he seems to have done.
I cannot explain why this is the sort of thing I think about on weekends.
Earlier this week, I published a lengthy post about why the most recent Star Trek movie was ridiculously awful and also why I think it highlighted a broader problem for me with the Trek universe. Ultimately, I concluded, I liked the Star Wars story-line better because it wasn’t so bound to Earth.
This caused people to feel many emotions and write to me about them. Some of the comments were thoughtful and made interesting arguments; some not so much. But my post did occassion at least three other very interesting blog posts that either called for a Trek/Wars detente or that lauded the various virtues of Trek while highlighting problems with Wars.
For example, my friend Miguel Centellas wrote two posts that deserve your attention. In the first, he argues that Trek deals with racial and ethnic matters in a sophisticated and interesting way that Wars never does, while also arguing that questions of good governance and the rule of law don’t ever really get a serious treament in Wars. In the second, he argues that the moral stain of slavery — of either sentient beings or droids — is never addressed in Wars. In our Facebook discussion, he also argued that the people in the Wars universe must be illiterate.
All of these criticisms work, to a greater or lesser degree, if your only interaction with Star Wars are the six films. The Lucas vision is, I think, ridiculously limited … at best. But I’d argue that the Star Wars expanded universe books (and perhaps video games as well) are very important. Not only do they reach forward by at least a generation, they reach backward in time several thousand years. In doing so, they give an added depth and breadth to the Star Wars galaxy that you miss entirely if you only watch the films and that Trek fans enjoy on the basis of various shows and films. And, of course, they manage to answer pretty much all of Centellas’ criticisms, to one degree or another. A wide variety of of characters are involved in inter-species romances; lots of people are seen reading and exchanging messages by text; the Sith are openly racist and non-human characters talk extensively about the Imperial bias against non-humans; slavery is outlawed by the New Republic, as it was under the Old Republic, and is challenged by various characters in places outside Republic space where the practice continues; and at one point Han Solo even works to catalyze a nascent rebellion amongst a planet’s droid population.
The books vary considerably in terms of quality and in terms of the stories that are being told — and I only dove into them this year so I haven’t read all that many of them — but there’s some really interesting and engaging stuff there (including, for example, some entire storylines told from the perspective of the Sith).
Without the expanded universe, Star Wars can’t possibly do the things that Centellas (and other Trek fans) demands from a space opera. The scope of Lucas’ story is limited to something on the order of forty years. It didn’t have to be so limited and it’s sad that Lucas couldn’t see any farther beyond what is basically the story of two generations of a single family … but that’s why the books — especially the “historical” ones — work to flesh out the galaxy far beyond the Skywalker family. In other words, jumping into the expanded universe provides a real sense of the size, scope, and history of a very different galaxy. That’s the Star Wars that I hold up and compare favorably against Star Trek.