Saturday, January 10, 2015

Marvels: Daredevil #2

"The Evil Menace of Electro!" by Stan Lee, Joe Orlando & Vince Colletta
(June 1964)

I can tell it's going to be a tough row to hoe with Daredevil. Or, maybe this is just a sophomore slump. Either way, this second issue is terrible.

I really enjoyed the first issue, but this one just tries too hard. Do you remember when I said that Stan's trying way too hard to get us to love X-Men? He seems to be trying even harder here. The prose in this thing... we're constantly told how great Daredevil is, how fearless, how amazing, how unique. And here he's facing off against Electro, a villain we've seen exactly once (though it was a great story), but whom Stan is constantly telling us is crafty and cunning and incredibly dangerous. And sure, Electro's power is dangerous, but we don't even really know the guy. This isn't Doctor Doom over here, alright?

I know hyperbole is Stan Lee's narrative stock in trade, but when we're talking about two characters we've seen in only one story apiece, it gets a little desperate. "LOVE THIS! LOOOOVE THIIIIS!"

With this issue it also becomes obvious that one of Daredevil's narrative hurdles is that he's got to constantly be telling us how his powers work so that what he does is believable. The problem here is that what he's doing is believable roughly 40% of the time. He hears a flag fluttering and figures there's a flagpole above him? Alright, I'll buy it. Daredevil lands the Fantastic Four's passenger ICBM in Central Park without hurting anyone after piloting it safely out of orbit because he can hear everyone's heartbeat below him? No. Just no.

Another way the issue tries too hard is in throwing in a cameo by the Thing (generously lampshaded on the cover), who tries to hire Nelson & Murdock to handle the renewal of the Fantastic Four's lease on the Baxter Building; what they need is for a lawyer to come and check the place out and make sure everything is up to code. Nowhere is it discussed that Foggy Nelson's bright idea is to send a blind man to do a visual appraisal of a rental property.

Anyway, Matt Murdock goes to the Baxter Building while the FF are out of town, Electro's trying to rob the place, battle ensues, and that's pretty much it. Damn thing just couldn't end quickly enough. You guys are trying way too hard and just need to take it down.

I liked that first issue so much, too...

Stray observations:

:: I guess the reason Bill Everett was not asked to do a second issue is that his first issue came in pretty late (and even then, Sal Brodsky and Steve Ditko had to do a lot of fixes). Too bad, because I really did like his art. I liked how it had a bit of a Bob Montana type of style, where these young people really looked like young people.

For this issue, Wally Wood's old partner Joe Orlando was hired. The art in this issue is alright. Daredevil is very expressive, which I appreciate, but I much prefer the kind of work Orlando was doing at MAD. His superhero work is less interesting to me. The inker is the ever-controversial Vince Colletta.

:: Karen Page keeps an 8x10 photo of Matt Murdock in her desk. Where is everyone always getting these 8x10's from? I guess it's not as ridiculous as Sue Storm's framed Namor 8x10, but still...

:: Karen finds a specialist who thinks he may be able to reverse Matt's blindness, but he's reluctant, because he worries that with his vision restored, he'll lose his powers. He doesn't tell Karen this, but she seems insulted that he's not jumping for joy. "I'd marry him in a minute, even though he's blind!" Wow, Karen, going out of your way to acknowledge a blind man as still a human being, what a hero.

:: You don't see many splash pages in the middle of a story in this time period, but this one was pretty nice:

I don't mind this device if its used in service of telling the story. The 90s really got out of control, didn't they? "I'll just draw a single two-page image of a guy leaping to cover up how lazy I am and the fact that I'm not really a visual storyteller." You know, Liefeld stuff.

Well, that was a disappointing, dull issue that wanted too much to be loved.

Next Marvels: Namor returns! And Doctor Strange finally steps into the larger world of the Marvel Universe.

Friday, January 09, 2015

This Week in Neat-O

:: Jaquandor finished his Fixing the Prequels series. I've been a fan of this for years now, and always excited when a new installment would occasionally appear. Still, I feel a little like it's the end of an era. It's been a long, interesting road for this one, a critical appraisal of the Star Wars Prequels that's actually readable... perhaps because Jaquandor doesn't lapse into either uncontrollable fannishness or the kind of "brutally honest takedown" that can easily be replaced with a Vine of a sobbing toddler.

:: The Sharpest-Ever View of the Andromeda Galaxy was taken by the Hubble... and it's a whopping 1.5 billion pixels! Over 100 million stars across 40,000 light-years. We're getting some amazing HD images of the surrounding space, and it's one of the many things happening right now that makes me hope we're right on the edge of a second Space Age.

Another great one: check out these images of the Eagle Nebula's Pillars of Creation taken 20 years apart.

:: Here's some dedicated nerdiness: Michael Furth of the Comics Archive made an Omnibus of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in chronological order. Just the video about how he put it together is 26 minutes long, but it's real dedication and a fascinating idea. The final project (which he has not uploaded) is a little over 12 hours long. Of course, now that Agent Carter is airing, it just adds more time...

:: Another trailer for the Peanuts movie. I just like the look of it.

:: The Way They Was: Six Totally Different Shows The Simpsons Has Been. An insightful essay about the history of the show that helped me understand just why I don't care for the show anymore and pinpoints a little more exactly the point at which I stopped caring.

:: If you're keeping score, we're now at over 100 variant covers on Marvel's Star Wars #1.

:: Carl Sagan Saying 'Billion.' Once. In Slow Motion. For One Hour.

:: I've always said that country music fans don't place a premium on quality. This article shows that what country music fans really seem to love is hearing the same song over and over again.

:: Ten Absurd Winter Driving Myths That Need To Die

:: Neil Blomkamp's Chappie is very much a movie I want to see.


I just had to share this silly Moo & Oink commercial from 1992, because it played SO. MUCH. when I was 15/16. A fun bit of local commercial color. I got to shop there a few times, too, when my Dad lived on the south side of Chicago, and it was a fun place to go, even though the fish smell could be overwhelming. They had some damn good meat, though, and life has taught me I'm extremely picky about the quality of meat.

Also, I had to end with this:
Now that's the way to live.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Z Is for Zizzy Zoomers

And we come to the end of my Muppet alphabet, with a simple (and short) little song about the letter Z, featuring the Zizzy Zoomers (performed by Jim Henson, Frank Oz and Jerry Nelson) singing their eponymous song. This is another Joe Raposo-penned song from The Muppet Alphabet Album that was then done on Sesame Street in 1973.

I particularly like the light effects here, and all of that zigging and zagging against the black background. Jim really liked doing that black background stuff. (I notice that a lot of people read that as creepy, but I think it's vivid alternate puppetry technique stuff.)



And that brings us to the end. 26 weeks of Muppets. I'm not a hundred percent sure if I'll be doing the next round of ABC Wednesday or not, but I'll obviously have decided by next week.

ABC Wednesday

Film Week

A review of the films I've seen this past week.

ANCHORMAN 2: THE LEGEND CONTINUES (2013)
It's not a train wreck, but it's a mess. I love the original Anchorman; I expected it to be terrible and it took me completely by surprise, and I am on record as saying it's one of the funniest movies of the 2000s. This one... well, it's like they know a lot of people loved Anchorman and now they feel like they're doing you a favor by making a sequel, so they can get away with anything they want, so why bother building up the comedy when they can go straight to the belabored repeated bits from the first movie and unearned punchlines with no set up? I don't know how much Judd Apatow (a producer here) had to do with this, but this movie really suffers from what I think of as the Judd Apatow Comedy Deficiencies: too long, too full of itself, not knowing when a scene is over, and an unfortunate unwillingness to cut out long improvisational bits. That was one of the strengths of the original movie: it was tightly edited so that, instead of repeating itself or keeping a scene going, they just picked the funniest bit and kept the pacing tight. Why is that such a problem these days? It doesn't get funnier the longer you just linger over it, guys. Another real problem is that none of the characters feel real. Everyone's a Ron Burgundy, an over the top caricature, so Ron's weirdness becomes muted and, frankly, annoying, and the satire doesn't land, because there's no realistic context to set everything against. Trying to turn Brick into a character we genuinely care about just doesn't work because there was never anything there. Some decent laughs, and not a total waste, but a real misfire. **

THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL (2014)
An even more cynical person than me might write: "Hey, look, it's the 2014 edition of that movie that Wes Anderson keeps making." At this point, you really know what you're getting with Anderson and either his affectations work for you or they annoy the shit out of you. This is one of the times it worked for me, though I honestly came very close to shutting it off in the first 10 minutes. What really makes it work is Ralph Fiennes, who is brilliant as a concierge accused of murdering a rich widow. Fiennes is so good, so impossible to look away from, that all of the storybook/old movie cutesiness that Anderson deals in becomes less twee and more of a legitimate reflection of the character and time period and the way the story is told--we are, after all, being told this story by a narrator, and this is how he's chosen to remember it. I guess it sounds like I enjoyed this movie in spite of myself, and that's partially how I feel. I'm just surprised that instead of being as annoyed as I often am by Wes Anderson, I found this one wonderful and let its whimsy work on me completely. ****

BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS (1980)
I appreciate what they were going for, even if they didn't really pull it off. (James Horner's energetic, brassy score sure makes you feel like they did, though.) The Magnificent Seven in space, right down to Robert Vaughn being in it, and very ambitious for what's obviously not a very big budget, it's the kind of movie that totally fits my aesthetic despite it not really being a very good movie. I really wish I'd seen this when I was under 10, because I probably would've loved it then. **

STARCRASH (1978)
I wish I'd seen this one as a kid, too. This one is a flurry of activity in the beginning, but the last half of the movie just drags and drags and drags. Easy to appreciate the weirdness of the robot, of the aliens, of David Hasselhoff and his eyeliner. Christopher Plummer appears in this movie and his performance is more serious and dignified than maybe this movie deserves, and I think that's indicative of the problem here: I wish this movie were sillier and took itself less seriously. Still, Caroline Munro in that outfit makes up for a surprising amount. And I like the way outer space looks so colorful. The director clearly wanted to make a Harryhausen Sinbad movie, and I appreciate that, even if he didn't really come close to pulling it off. *

HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP (1980)
Sea monsters try to mate with the ladies. Pretty simplistic, but some fun moments. **1/2

THE NORMAL HEART (2014)
Film adaptation of Larry Kramer's autobiographical play about the early days of the HIV/AIDS crisis, beginning with the publication of that article in 1981 and continuing through 1984. Mark Ruffalo stars as Ned Weeks, a writer who becomes a loud, passionate activist, frustrated by the fact that no one seems to be listening or doing anything about what quickly becomes an epidemic. One of the things this movie did was make me think about gay sexual freedom. That probably sounds very reductive, so be patient with me. There's a stereotype I grew up with that gay men were all recklessly promiscuous and I heard adults say (when I was a child) that that was how AIDS spread so quickly. I never forgot that, but never confronted it, either, because when I grew up it was so obviously bullshit; this stereotype that was created for me was of gay men voraciously having sex with anyone they could, as though it was the only thing they wanted to do with their lives (and always tinted with this idea that it was predatory and deviant). The worst kind of suburban fear-mongering. But in this movie, Ruffalo flat out says that it's impossible to tell gay men to just stop having sex because that ability to have sex when and with whom they want had become an integral way for gay men to unashamedly express their identities. I never thought about it like that, and I'm not sure I'm explaining it well. I never thought about how much the fear and confusion of the crisis set back gay civil rights. That's straight privilege--I never really had to think about it, so I just didn't. But I remember from the time period how there were so many people who thought gay men were being punished for their deviance, which a lot of people believed right up until straight people started getting AIDS. A lot of government indifference and hemming and hawing and now 36 million people are dead.

The movie itself is compelling and passionate, and I identified with Ned Weeks and his frustration that something needs to be done yesterday and feeling like he was getting nowhere. The anger of the time period is still fresh, and time has not diminished the rage. At once blunt and poetic, and alive. ****

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Marvels: Amazing Spider-Man #13

"The Menace of... Mysterio!" by Stan Lee & Steve Ditko
(June 1964)

Oh, Mysterio. You almost had him. You almost had everything.

Mysterio is a neat concept for a villain. He's a former stuntman and special effects artist, and he probably seems kind of hokey these days, but he's a fun nod to the B movies of the time and the showmanship of 1930s Hollywood serials. And he very nearly does Spidey in. But then he makes a grave error that makes him hard to respect as a villain.

This issue opens with what appears to be Spider-Man robbing somebody. (He has one of those big bags with a dollar sign on it and everything.) Now wanted by police, the public is quick to turn on Spider-Man... except for his number one fan, Flash Thompson. Peter Parker knows he didn't commit the crime, but... what if he did? What if he's becoming some kind of split-personality? This eats at Peter to the point where he almost starts spilling his secrets to a psychiatrist who is practically orgasmic at the possibility of becoming famous as Spider-Man's analyst.

Want to pile on the Marvel Universe's designated Sisyphus some more? Let Aunt May do it: "You're not worried because our savings account is almost gone, and it's getting harder to pay the mortgage each month, are you?" Wow, May, thanks so much for that one.

And now he's snapping at Betty, Liz is flirting with him, and he even tries to borrow money from J. Jonah Jameson, which goes about as well as you would expect. (Worse, actually, as JJJ tries to extort Peter for the secret of "how you take those great crime photos of yours.")

And then Mysterio shows up, appearing in a cloud of smoke in Jameson's office, promising to bring Spider-Man to justice and give JJ the exclusive. And Mysterio is nearly that good. He meets Spidey on the Brooklyn Bridge and the new guy nearly kills the kid. He's as agile as Spidey, can stick to walls, and even dissolves Spidey's webbing. Then he creates a cloud of mists that confuses Spider-Man and somehow renders his spider-sense useless. After taking an onslaught of fists to the face, Spidey only manages to survive by jumping off the bridge and swimming to safety.

Jameson is eager to push Mysterio as the city's new hero. It's interesting how Jameson absolutely hates Spider-Man, but is totally on Mysterio's side right away, simply because Mysterio will submit to an interview and, of course, because he plans to defeat Spider-Man. Jameson's even going to pay Mysterio for the exclusive.

But then Mysterio makes that awful mistake. When Spider-Man tracks him down, Mysterio just unloads his entire origin: he's a stuntman and a special effects artist, he found ways to replicate Spidey's powers in order to frame him for robbery... he even tells Spidey how all of his "powers" work! It's just sonar, a tinted helmet, a fine acid spray (to dissolve the webs), chemical smoke ejectors in his boots (with springs and magnets for good measure), a lot of bravado, and the ability to take a punch. He just tells Spidey this without any prompting. One of those "Well, you're gonna die anyway, so I'll just boast for several minutes." I hate that stuff. It's not like Spidey gets to solve a mystery or anything. The guy just volunteers all of the information, totally unprompted. While Spidey secretly tape records it, for chrissakes! So not only is it bad storytelling, bad character development, and just clunky in general, it's also his undoing.

Alas, Mysterio. You could have been a cool and mysterious villain if only you didn't want to just brag about how clever you are.

A dynamic fight scene follows, where Spider-Man and Mysterio battle on the set of a space movie, which is a lot of fun. But, of course, Spidey wins the day and gets pictures, which helps save Jameson's face after being wrong yet again. Spidey even webs up JJ to get a little personal revenge. So things turned out okay after all, but less because of Peter's ingenuity and determination, and more because Mysterio just couldn't keep his mouth shut.

Well, at least Peter's luck isn't all bad!

Stray observations:

:: Peter's gallows humor is similar to mine. When Liz Allan asks him if things are going well, he answers "If they get any better, I'll shoot myself!"

:: In the letters page, Rosalind Rogoff of New Rochelle, NY, asks if, after Aunt May's blood transfusion, she'll get any kind of spider powers herself, and then asks Stan to please not make Aunt May into some kind of Spider-Woman. Funny, because not only is Spider-Woman coming eventually, but then Peter Parker's daughter May will eventually be Spider-Girl in an alternate future or something. Rosalind also asks for Peter's classmates not to tease him so much just for being smart, and wants a Spider-Man Annual, which we are getting soon, and which I cannot wait for.

John Yandell of Tulsa, OK, thought Amazing Spider-Man #9 was terrible, which... no, man. Just no. Steve Gillespie of Omaha, Nebraska, thinks that the only truly bad issue was Amazing Spider-Man #3, which is crazy talk. And both of them take special time to bash Steve Ditko's art, which is nuts. The progressive ones never get the appreciation they deserve when their work is new.

Overall, this was a good issue, but that one misstep with the villain just kind of sticks in my craw. I hope that next time, Mysterio is a little smarter and plays it closer to the vest.

Next Marvels: Daredevil faces off against Electro.

Monday, January 05, 2015

Muppet Monday

Recently, I talked about Jim Henson's first job in 1954 on The Junior Morning Show. The post was about Yorick, but I mentioned Jim's first puppet: Pierre the French Rat.

Pierre was the star of a comic strip that Jim drew for his high school yearbook in his senior year. And it still exists. Here it is:

Click to make it bigger. It's interesting to see Jim's sensibilities in comic strip form, drawn by the man himself.

Jim then made Pierre as a puppet out of plastic wood.

Just based on what I've read, it seems like Jim wasn't overly fond of Pierre. The Junior Morning Show only lasted three weeks, but Pierre did appear on Sam and Friends, though in a different form.

That's Pierre in the back with the bushy hair and beard. I don't really know what he did on the show, since no episodes with Pierre survive. It's really a shame so much of those Muppet origins are shrouded in mystery.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Song of the Week: "Oops!...I Did It Again"

I can't believe I've only had Richard Thompson up here once, back in 2006. I came across this one the other day, and hadn't heard since... well, since about 2006, probably. This is from Thompson's 1000 Years of Popular Music project, which is truly fascinating. This acoustic cover of a Britney Spears hit places the song in the larger context of popular music history, and it sounds pretty great all stripped down like this.

May the Meme Be With You

There's a big Star Wars questionnaire going around. Jason did it. Kelly did it. And now I shall do it, too.

1. Which film is your favorite of the Original Trilogy?

The Empire Strikes Back is my favorite. It's the movie I watch when I'm sick and need to feel better. I think the fact that it's the first movie I have a conscious memory of going to see plays a large part in that. It also has my favorite score of the series. And, of course, it has Yoda, and those scenes with Yoda on Dagobah are my favorite thing in the entirety of Star Wars.

2. If you enjoy the prequels, which one is your favorite?

I love the Prequels. My wife is the only other person who would pick this, but The Phantom Menace is my favorite Prequel. Yes, it has weaknesses, but I love Qui-Gon Jinn and I love the creatures and it just occupies this special place in my heart. It's the only one of the Prequels that made me feel like a little kid again. I don't want to have to argue about this frigging thing anymore; it's tiring, stop telling me to hate it, because I never will.

3. How old were you when Episode 1 came out?

22. I turned 23 that summer.

4. Which of the movies have you seen in the theater?

All of them, technically. Sort of. I was just shy of a year old when the first one came out, but I know we saw it in a re-release. Empire I saw for sure, but I'm not sure where. I remember seeing Return of the Jedi at the Fox Valley Theater and being amazed at how crowded it was and how big the line was. We saw that movie 13 times! My parents bought me a poster there. I saw all of the Special Editions at the theater at the Yorktown Mall. I noticed the audiences were less for each picture... the Star Wars Special Edition was PACKED the first time we saw it. (I took Becca and my Mom and Jayne on opening night, where we sat in front of a couple of orgasming fanboys, so Becca and I went to see it a second time.) I was thrilled to see Peter Cushing on a movie screen.

Becca and I saw The Phantom Menace at the Marcus Addison, which was our go-to theater for years. Every time we saw it (a lot of times, maybe 9 or 10), we saw it there. Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith we saw up here in DeKalb (where we moved in 2001) at the Cinemark, though I think it was called the GKC then.

I have problems traveling a long way in the winter, so I'm not sure where we'll see The Force Awakens, but I hope it's at the big AMC in Geneva. I can't remember the name of it. Since we don't get to see many movies anymore, we like to make a trip out of it for the big ones and go to that theater and have lunch at Five Guys. That's the closest Five Guys, nearly an hour away... which, let's face it, is probably for the best.

5. Did you go to any of them on opening night?

Not the Originals, because my Dad liked to go to Saturday matinees. The Prequels, yes. We stood in line for them.

6. Who is your favorite character from the Original Trilogy?
7. Who is your favorite character from the prequels, if you have one?

The answer to both is Artoo Detoo.

8. Have you read any of the books or comics?

The Marvel comics were actually my gateway to Marvel Comics as a whole, which is why Plif the Hoojib will always be an integral part of the Star Wars universe to me. I also love the old Russ Manning/Archie Goodwin/Al Williamson comic strips. I started reading some of the Dark Horse comics when they were first coming out, but I thought they were too dark and kind of boring. The big exceptions were a Droids miniseries, some of the early Knights of the Old Republic stuff, and a delightful, hilarious mini called Star Wars Underworld: The Yavin Vassilika. I also enjoyed a lot of stories in the anthology book Star Wars Tales. I don't know if I'll try and read the new Marvel comic; I didn't care for Brian Wood's recent Dark Horse comic that lots of people dug. I might be burned out on that stuff, but who knows?

As for the books, I liked Brian Daley's Han Solo novels when I was a kid, and they inspired some of my short stories (which also featured a tough space smuggler and his bearlike sidekick). I was very excited about the Thrawn Trilogy when it first came out, and I devoured them, but generally I think they're overrated. I only read a few of the novels after that, and then there were some I tried to read (I worked in books from 1994 to 1997, so I was there when they were first released--even got to take home a Chewbacca standee from a display) but just couldn't get into.

9. Favorite book or series? Favorite SW author?

I wouldn't say I have one. I've always liked the Original Trilogy novelizations. I have the original paperbacks just from having them as a kid.

10. Favorite comic?

I'm going to pick The Yavin Vassilika. It takes place in the days when Han and Chewie were smugglers, and Jabba the Hutt makes a bet with a couple of other Hutts over whose business methods are the most effective, and they send teams of bounty hunters after the title treasure. Jabba's team is Han Solo, Chewbacca, Lando Calrissian and Boba Fett. Another Hutt hires IG-88, Bossk and Dengar, and the third hires Zuckuss, 4-LOM and a guy called Sardu. And they're all followed by a hilariously incompetent Greedo, who is trying to get back in with Jabba. It's like It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World crossed with the kinds of old adventure and detective movies that inspired George Lucas, as everyone tries to outrace and double cross one another. It's practically a John Huston movie with some comic relief, and it's wonderful.

11. Favorite character from the Expanded Universe (EU)?

I know the Marvel comic doesn't count as the EU, but screw it, I'm saying Pliff the Hoojib. Sorry, but I love him, and none of the "official" EU characters stand out for me except for Mara Jade, and I didn't read enough of her to care much. It seems to me every new iteration of a Star Wars universe has some proactive redhead for Luke to fall in love with; to me, Mara Jade is just Shira Brie 2.0.

If the EU is canon to you, that's great. That's a fun part of being a fan of something that has a huge media presence and dubious canonicity; if it's important to you, it is your canon. Don't let someone liking it or not liking it--even if it's the parent company--make you feel like it isn't. But I don't want to have serious arguments about it.

12. Favorite villain from the EU?

I don't have one. I remember Grand Admiral Thrawn being a really full-bodied character, but I haven't read those novels since high school, so I don't remember a lot about them.

13. If you had your own ship from the Star Wars Universe (SWU), what would it be? It could be a mash-up/ugly.

I mean, come on, the Millennium Falcon.

14. Would you rather be Sith or Jedi?

Jedi. But I don't know if I'd be a very good one. Too angry.

15. Would you rather be a Rebel or a member of the Imperial Navy? What would your role be?

Definitely a Rebel; I can't do anything regimented. I'd like to be something simple, though, like a cook or something. Or some kind of work with Droids.

16. If you could be any species from the SWU which would you be?

If I have to be a non-human, I think a Duros would be pretty cool.

17. If you could date any species from the SWU which would you pick?

Those Twi'leks, man...

18. If you could date/marry any character from the SWU who would you pick?

Ahsoka Tano.

19. If you were going to bone just one Star Wars character and you never had to see them again, who would you pick?

I'm surprised it took us this long to get here, honestly, because Star Wars fans. Anyway. Aayla Secura, of course.

20. If you could BE one SW character, EU or not, who would you be?

Lando Calrissian is my template for cool, and I'll never be that cool, so I'll say him.

21. What would your SWU name be?

You can create custom characters in the Lego Star Wars games. In one, I created a swashbuckling Ithorian adventurer called Aravis Stig, so why not?

22. What color would your lightsaber be, what kind would it be (double-bladed, single blade), would you dual-wield, and what kind of grip would it have?

I love Mace Windu's purple blade, so I'll take that one. Classic style, but maybe with one of those fuchi hilt collars like on a samurai sword. In fact, let's go the samurai route and have two lightsabers, like a samurai daisho.

23. Do you own SW merchandise?

Of course!

24. How much, to date, do you think you’ve spent on SW merchandise?

Yeah, I'd rather not have an accurate number, because I've got a lot of it.

25. What is your favorite SW possession?

Hard to say. I think it's really just that I still have some action figures from when I was a kid, despite my Mom's best efforts to garage sale them out of my life without my knowledge. I also love my Lego X-Wing Fighter.

26. Do you have a favorite SW artist? If so, who?

I honestly can't decide between Ralph McQuarrie, who crafted so much of the look of the films (I do love that Star Wars: Rebels is very much influenced by McQuarrie's art, right down to the characters themselves looking a lot like his original concepts), and Drew Struzan, whose posters captured so much of my imagination. I also have to give a shout-out to Doug Chiang, who did a lot of wonderful art for the Prequels.

27. Are there items you do not own but covet? What are they?

All I want is one of those life-sized Artoo Detoos.

28. Are there items that are not made but that you wish were made? What are they?

Are they making Star Wars Pop! Vinyls yet?

29. Did Han shoot first?

I don't like the change in the Special Edition, and it'll never look right to me, but I don't get worked up about it. It doesn't ruin anything for me.

30. Did Boba Fett, in your opinion, ever leave the Sarlacc or did he die there?

He's dead.

31. Are there things about the movies you wish you could change? If so, name three.

Okay, let's see...

First, I really liked the original story notes for Return of the Jedi as detailed in JW Rinzler's The Making of Return of the Jedi, and a large part of that was because it gave Princess Leia a much more active role in the story. She kills Jabba the Hutt, and after that she basically has no role in the story. So I'd like to see her have more to do that affects the story in RotJ.

Second, I just want to see a few tweaks to the Jedi Council storyline in the Prequels, because The Clone Wars did a much better job of establishing just how much the Jedi Council had become complacent and corrupt, and basically withered in their capabilities, which is a huge part of the story. I see people complaining all the time that they find it unbelievable that the Jedi Council couldn't sense that Chancellor Palpatine was the Sith Lord they were looking for, but that's part of the point of the story. He's a better Jedi than they are because years of complacency and inaction have made them weak, fusty and ineffectual. That's the story! So I'd just like for that to have been clearer.

And third, a better story arc for Jar Jar Binks. I'm still convinced that he had a real character arc that was abandoned because the fans hated the character so much. I actually like all of the accidental stuff in the battle scene on Naboo (I find it funny, and it's so obviously cribbed from Buster Keaton's College, in some cases down to exact stunts), but Jar Jar didn't need to be in the background of every scene tripping over stuff. I love that silly Gungan, and I would've liked to have seen him have more of an effect on the story and maturing over time into something a little more measured. (The Clone Wars generally did a better job with him, but they used him sparingly, which is a good idea.)

32. Which era would you want to live in?

Maybe the Old Republic era.

33. What SW games have you played?

I love the arcade game from around 1994. I love the old pinball game, too. There's another collectible I covet. I see them for sale all the time and wish I could have one. I love the Lego Star Wars video games and the first Force Unleashed. I love Pod Racer, which Becca and I used to play A LOT on Dreamcast. When I was a kid, I had the Escape from the Death Star board game.

34. Do you play/own Star Wars Miniatures?

No.

35. Favorite SW costume for men?

I always like the Jedi robes in the Prequels; they look comfortable and have that wandering samurai kind of thing. When I was a kid, I "borrowed" my Dad's LL Bean jacket and wore it for years because it reminded me of Han's jacket from TESB. Still the best jacket I ever wore.

36. Favorite SW costume for women?

I love some of the various costumes Padme wears in Episode II.

37. Have you ever dressed up as a SW character? Who/When/Why?

No.

38. Do you ever have SW sex fantasies? If so, have you ever acted them out?

I like Star Wars, but other than some ogling, I've never really considered them sexy movies or done the whole roleplay thing with SW. I did date a girl who liked my Harrison Ford impression, though...

39. Do you Ship any SW characters who aren’t together? Who/why?

No, but I am fascinated by the idea that Obi-Wan Kenobi and Aayla Secura had a secret love for each other. I can't remember where I read that...

40. Have you ever written SW fan fiction? Can we read it?

Never anything specifically Star Wars, but like I said earlier, it did heavily influence a character I used to write stories about in high school. It was an amalgamation of all of my influences, really. particularly Indiana Jones and books about space exploration (and Bob Eggleton's art). One of the ways I learned to write, though, was by writing "novelizations" of scenes from Empire. Taught me a lot about what writers call "said bookism."

The only direct fan fiction I ever wrote was when I was 9 (1985) and my friends and I tried to write a script for Ghostbusters 2.

41. Have you been to a Celebration or plan on going to one?

I might enjoy that, but I've never been. I always loved it when I would see members of the 501st at WizardWorld Chicago, particularly the year they had a purple R2 unit that worked on remote control.

42. Have you ever been to Star Wars Weekends at Walt Disney World?

I wish!

43. Do you wish they had Star Wars Weekends at Disneyland?

I'm closer to Florida, so it doesn't affect me.

44. Best section you’ve experienced on Star Tours?

Never been.

45. What initially brought you to the SW fandom?

Being a little kid in the early 80s! I can't remember a time in life without out, mainly because I was 10 months old when the first movie came out!

46. Do you consider yourself a SW Fanboy or Fangirl?

I'm just a fan. Frankly, the term "fanboy" has picked up a lot of negative connotations, and now when I hear "Star Wars Fanboy" I think of somebody who is seething with rage about those movies, and I'm just... I'm so tired of those people. No, I'm just a fan.

47 Have you seen Fanboys? Favorite character and/or quote?

Yeah, in the theater. Had to drive out to the one theater showing it. Have the DVD. I dig it. My favorite character, obviously, is Zoe, because she's Kristen Bell. And my favorite line is just the moment when George Lucas is on the phone and she geeks out with "I can hear his beard!"

48. Do you wish they would make 7, 8, and 9 or do you think they should be done with it?

Well, whether I ever wished it, here they come. I'm more excited than I thought I would be, honestly. The same thing happened with Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull... I was cynical and uninterested the whole time they were making it, but when I saw the teaser I just had to go. (And I liked that movie, I don't care.)

49. If they ever made 7, 8, and 9, do you think it should continue the Skywalker Legacy or use entirely new characters? Or something different?

I think the Skywalker family is central to the whole thing; yes, it's an epic about the fall of a Republic and the defeat of an Empire, but that context is experienced by generations of the Skywalker family, and I want to see that continue. I assumed the new movie would involve Han and Leia's kids in some way, although I assume they're adult children.

50. Do you watch The Clone Wars?

I did. I loved it; it's one of my favorite Star Wars things ever, and I think it really explored a lot of the themes that didn't quite come across they way they should have in the Prequels themselves. I'm enjoying Star Wars: Rebels very much, too, and hope it becomes the equal of Clone Wars.