5 Thoughts: “Gun, With Occasional Music”

 

200px-gun_woccasional_music Lately I’ve been on a film noir kick. It all started with a Time Life collectors’ issue I saw on a newsrack at the supermarket and decided to add some titles to my Netflix DVD queue. So far I’ve seen: Shadow of a Doubt, Laura, The Maltese Falcon, The Woman in the Window, The Big Sleep, The Postman Always Rings Twice and Gilda.

Now some of you may be thinking that as a reader the next logical step in my journey through film noir land is to read the detective mysteries that influenced these films, particularly works by Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett and one day I will. But as usual, I wanted to read sci-fi books by the authors who were influenced by this cinematic art form. The subgenre is called many names: future noir, tech noir, mystery sci-fi or hardboiled  sci-fi. It combines all the familiar trappings of film noir -tough, wise-cracking detectives solving cases, gangsters with guns and femme fatales – with the out-of-this-world-trappings of science fiction: the setting is the future or an alternate timeline. Robots, aliens and mutants are involved, etc. And the first novel that came to mind was Jonathan Lethem’s 1994 novel Gun, With Occasional Music.

Watch out – Spoilers about!

Welcome to Oakland of the future. A future where asking questions is a social faux pas. Where everyone carries “karma points” on cards which could be added or subtracted if you’re not careful. Where criminals are placed in freezers instead of prisons. Where most of the adult population is addicted to assorted government provided cocaine. Where animals and children undergo a procedure called “evolution therapy” which gives them the intelligence of (adult) humans. Where men and women can switch sexual nerve endings. Where news comes in the form of music to warn listeners.

What’s so effective about Gun, With Occasional Music is that Lethem makes this society sound believable – and scary. You’ve heard the saying: “it’s a nice place to visit but you wouldn’t want to live there.” Well this is a place you wouldn’t want to visit or live in.

Private eye Conrad Metcalf’s job is to ask questions. So you know he’s not the most liked man in Oakland. It doesn’t stop murder suspect Orton Angwine from hiring him to investigate the murder of Dr. Maynard Stanhunt, for whom he’s been wrongfully accused. It doesn’t help that Metcalf is up against a Mob boss and his evolved kangaroo henchman, Stanhunt’s former medical partner Dr. Testafer, Stanhunt’s estranged wife Celeste, her friend Patsy and members of the Inquisitor’s Office, who just took all of Angwine’s karma points and want to toss the poor guy into the freezer.

So besides thinking that this futuristic noirish society is not a nice place to visit, what other thoughts went through my mind as I read Gun, With Occasional Music? Here are 5 of them:

1. Evolution Therapy Is a Very, Very Bad Idea

As I said before, animals and children can go through this procedure (the book never describes how it’s done) and come out with advanced brains – but not bodies. While animals can now talk and walk on two legs (and wear clothes) nothing much is said about how the animals change physically. Some, like an evolved goat that Conrad buys a newspaper from, work low-paying jobs, but how can they pick things up if they have hoofs or paws? How do they dress themselves? How do they write? What is the life of an evolved animal like in GWOM? If Lethem decides to write a sequel he should write one from the perspective of an evolved animal.

Yet evolved animals seem to have it easier than the babyheads, children whose brains have been accelerated so that they think and feel like adults – while still in the bodies of children. Because of evolution therapy these people have cynical, bitter attitudes and live most of their lives as alcoholics and drug addicts. Ironically it’s tough, wise guy, Conrad who comments on the lack of children in this society and wishes that there were ordinary children playing in the streets (this makes me wonder how Conrad’s generation avoided the procedure).

And then there’s that male/female erogenous zone switcherooni procedure that Conrad chose to experiment in with his ex-girlfriend and she’s run off with his sex nerve endings while he’s stuck with hers. It means that Conrad can have the sexual responses of a woman but can’t get an erection (once again the book doesn’t go into too much detail). Have I mentioned that he’s also a drug addict like everyone else? No surprise there.

The lesson? Don’t alter the body you were born with (unless it’s for health reasons) just because your unhappy with it or just for kicks. You’ll regret it, as some people will attest.

2. I Can’t Help But Feel Some Pity For Joey Castle

Do you think the idea of a talking, gun-toting, suit-wearing kangaroo sounds funny? Reminds you of a certain movie about a kangaroo that came out a decade ago? Think again. Joey Castle (how ironic) is no laughing matter. He’s a hitman hired by Phoneblum to stalk, harass and possibly kill our hero. Except Joey’s always having his bu – uh, tail, handed to him by Conrad. Remember what I said about evolved animals having the brains of humans but the same animal bodies? As long as Joey acts like a human he will fail at being a human because he’s not human (and it’s not like he had a choice when it came to undergoing evolution therapy). Yet in one scene where an Inquisitor crosses paths with Joey (who’s still trailing Metcalf), Joey uses his marsupial heritage to his advantage and attacks the man with his enormous feet. And you don’t want to come into contact with a kangaroo’s feet. It’s a shame that Joey never uses his natural-born weapons again – especially when Conrad finally kills him.

3. There’s No Femme Fatales In This Story

But then, that depends on your definition of femme fatale.

According to Wikipedia, a femme fatale is “a mysterious and seductive woman whose charms ensnare her lovers, often leading them into compromising, dangerous and deadly situations.” However after watching many of the aforementioned films, I’ve learned that the femme fatale is not as easily defined as we think. She can be sympathetic. She can be tough. She can be vulnerable. She can have a good side. She can switch sides. Depending on who you ask, she can be a sexist or feminist.

Of the three important women of the story, only two pursue a relationship with Conrad: Celeste Stanhunt and Catherine Teleprompter, the receptionist who works at the Inquisitor’s Office. Both display traits associated with the femme fatale but face radically different outcomes.

In one scene, Celeste enters Metcalf’s office and tries to hire – and seduce – him. Because of his “condition” and her dubious role in her husband’s murder, he rejects her. She’s later found dead.

Then there’s Catherine Teleprompter, whom, despite his “condition”, Metcalf eventually sleeps with (fortunately the sex scene is brief and not graphic). But it’s after this tryst, Conrad’s karma points are depleted and he’s put in the freezer for six years. Six years later, Catherine is head of the Office and (on a newly thawed Conrad’s advice) lets Orton Angwine out of the freezer.

4. This Would Make a Great Animated Film

Because no one would take a live action film with CGI talking animals seriously. But as I was reading the book, I kept picturing the setting, characters and mood as a hand-drawn film with no music (except the kind that come out the radio and gun) in the spirit of Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira, Martin Rosen’s Watership Down, or Hayao Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke. No I’m not saying the film is supposed to be an anime styled film, it just has to avoid the “cutesified” route. This story is not for kids.

5. It Makes Me Want to Read Other Future Noir Works

After this book I read the novella “Identity Theft” by Robert J. Sawyer (which is part of his 2013 novel Red Planet Blues. Then after typing “hard-boiled sci-fi” in the search engine, I found articles listing seminal works in the genre. Some of these works are: The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov. Who Censored Roger Rabbit by Gary Wolfe. The Yiddish Policeman’s Union by Michael Chabon. The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester. The Automatic Detective by A. Lee Martinez. Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan.

Those are my 5 thoughts on Gun, With Occasional Music. What’re yours?

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Filed under 5 Thoughts, Jonathan Lethem

Yay! There’s a New Wonder Woman Trailer!

Warner Bros. has released the official Wonder Woman trailer. And I’ve viewed it 4 times already. And the first viewing spread a huge smile across my face. Here’re my thoughts on this second trailer:

  • Themyscira is gorgeous! The waters are crystal blue and the beach is white. Was it filmed in Hawaii or New Zealand or some other island? You’ll notice how Diana’s clean, majestic city is a sharp contrast to the smoggy city that Steve Trevor takes Diana to. Which city is it anyway? Is it Paris or London?
  • We now know that the disfigured woman is a villain. Some speculate she’s Dr. Poison. But is she the Big Bad of the story or is she a henchwoman? And once again, what is Danny Huston’s role in all this? Is he a weapons dealer or something more?
  • How did those soldiers find Themyscira? Does this mean that it’s not in the Bermuda Triangle, making it easier to find?
  • I like the scene where Steve tells Hippolyta: “you’re in more danger than you think.” It reminds me of the anti-isolationist stance (some believed) Marston was using in the early days of Wonder Woman. Bonus points for Diana’s firm stance on defending others.
  • Diana looks like she’s sneaking into the armory. Is it part of the traditional Amazon contest or is she defying her mothers’ law? Will there be scenes of an Amazon contest to bring Trevor back to Man’s World?
  • Another funny scene between Diana and Etta Candy, who will probably help acclimatize her to Man’s World. This may be our first fish-out-of-water superhero movie (sorry Thor, you don’t count).
  • I’m glad to finally see a “bullets and bracelets” scene.
  • I like how Diana slowly climbs out of a trench and Steve screams “DIANA!” It shows he truly cares about her.
  • Who was the Amazon that swung behind Diana and was shot by a bullet? Does she get killed? Did Diana become so distracted by saving Steve that she neglected her duties to her sisters?
  • The look on Diana’s face is priceless/precious when Steve calls her his secretary. If you remember the Comic-Con trailer, you’d understand why this is so ironic.

But, a word of caution. This is the first  live action theatrical Wonder Woman film in movie history. It’s also the first major superhero movie directed by a woman. It has a lot riding on it. It’s expected to prove that female-led superhero movies can make a profit. It’s expected to please Wonder Woman’s fans which is the most divisive fandom in comics. In other words: broken base, thy name is Wonder Woman. I believe we shouldn’t set our hopes too high so that if the film doesn’t live up to some people’s expectations, we’ll have years of disgruntled fans bashing and shaming DC like Star Wars fans did to  George Lucas after the prequels. I will see this movie because I want Hollywood to learn that women-led films can make money and become classics. But most movies I’ve liked had trailers/commercials that interested me, so this film looks promising.

Another thing I want to address is the killjoy Marvel fans who accuse this film of ripping off Captain America: The First Avenger. It proves how little they know their history. This film takes place during World War One, as I’ve said time and time again, Captain America takes place during World War Two. World War One = trenches, biplanes, gas masks. World War Two = fighter planes, GIs, Nazis. Heck, Steve Rogers is a baby during the First World War. I believe the reason the filmmakers chose to break with tradition and place Diana’s story during the Great War was so that they could avoid these accusations in the first place.

Well those are my thoughts. What are yours? What did you like about the Wonder Woman trailer? What are you looking forward to seeing in the movie?

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Great Cat Moments In SF & F History

October 29 was National Cat Day! I love cats. On Planet X, I celebrate National Cat Day by putting together a list of the furriest, most purrrfffect characters, stories and moments in my other love – science fiction! Because, believe it or not, cats and sci-fi go together like wet food and a ball of yarn. So, without further ado, in no particular order, here’re the best feline moments in sci-fi.

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Jonesy (Alien)

Ripley was the last survivor of the Nostromo right? Wrong! She had company. Jones (or Jonesy) the ship’s cat also successfully escaped the alien’s clutches. His most memorable moment was when Brett, the ship’s engineer, tries to call Jones to him but Jones is too distracted by the thing that’s slowly creeping down from the ceiling behind Brett. The camera switches from the alien snatching Brett to a closeup of Jonesy’s face. The 1979 film ends with Jonesy relaxing on Ripley’s lap as she gives her final report before going into stasis.

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Isis the Cat

Does it surprise you that Spock has an affinity for cats? Me neither. The last episode of Star Trek‘s second season, “Assignment: Earth”, has the Enterprise traveling to the past to research Earth’s history only to discover a mysterious man with a cat has energized aboard the ship. That man is agent Gary Seven, a human raised on another planet who’s mission is to travel through time to prevent other agents from altering Earth’s history. His constant companion is a cat named Isis who possessed the ability to take on a human form and to communicate telepathically. Originally “Assignment: Earth” was intended to be a backdoor pilot to a spinoff series about Gary Seven, his cat, Isis and his assistant Roberta Lincoln but it never got off the ground. However, their further adventures are told in the Gary Cox duology The Eugenics Wars.

ThunderCats

If your a child of the eighties like me, chances are you may remember watching this show at some point. Created by the ironically named Ted “Tobin” Wolf and airing from 1985 to 1989, ThunderCats revolved around a group of feline humanoid aliens – each resembling a species of wild cat – fleeing their doomed planet Thundera and. The group consisted of central protagonist Lion-O, Cheetara, Snarf, Tygra, Panthro, and the siblings WilyKit and WilyKat as they fight the Mutants of Plun-Darr and adjust to their new lives on Third Earth. As you may have guessed, there was a toy line.

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Cringer/Battle Cat

Lion-O and the gang weren’t the only cats to rule the airwaves. The wildly popular He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983-1985) had Prince Adam/He-Man’s faithful pet/steed Cringer, a green and orange tiger who was a scaredy-cat (literally) and could turn into a fierce, bridled tiger with the help of He-Man’s sword. He also was immortalized in toy form.

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Catwoman

Next to Wonder Woman, DC’s Catwoman (Selena Kyle) is one of comics most recognizable and inspirational characters – even if her reputation is unsavory. She’s been around since 1940 and is still going strong. She’s been portrayed by Julie Newmar, Lee Meriwether, Eartha Kitt, Michelle Pfeiffer, Halle Berry, Anne Hathaway and Carmen Bicondova. She’s also been voiced by Adrienne Barbeau, Grey DeLisle, Eliza Dushku and others. IGN ranked her at number 11 on their “Top 100 Comic Book Villains of All Time” list.

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Catman

Not to be outdone is DC’s other “cat burglar” Catman, who was really Thomas Blake, a hunter turned criminal who often went cowl to cowl with Batman. Like his more famous female counterpart, he’s been retconned into an anti-hero involved with the Secret Six. Under the pen of Gail Simone, Catman has gained more recognition.

Cat People (1942)

Considered to be the definitive Val Lewton film, this horror classic tells the story of a young Serbian woman’s fear that she will turn into a deadly black panther if she’s ever sexually aroused or angered. Her fears come true when she falls in love with an American man… The film is famous for its low budget and its cinematography.

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The Cat Returns (2002)

From Studio Ghibli comes a coming-of-age tale about a teenage girl named Haru who finds herself in a “cat kingdom” as the unwilling bride-to-be for their prince. It up to the dashing Baron von Gikkingen, his aide Muta and a bird named Toto to infiltrate the palace of the Cat King and free Haru. The English dub of this Japanese film included the voices of Anne Hathaway, Cary Elwes, Peter Boyle and Tim Curry.

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Dinah and the Cheshire Cat

How could I leave Alice in Wonderland off this list? It boasts two iconic cats: Alice’s cherished cat, Dinah (who acts as a beacon of hope to the lost, confused Alice) and of course, the Cheshire Cat, who has all the best lines in the book. Dinah was based on the Liddell’s family’s (who were close friends of Lewis Carroll) tabby cat while the Cheshire Cat is based on the expression “to grin like a Cheshire cat.” Cheshire was also Carroll’s birthplace.

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Aslan, Son of the Emperor-Over-the-Sea

The creator and king of Narnia. He is a alternative version of Jesus Christ and is the only character to appear in all seven books of the Narnia series. He’s loved by all Narnians and feared by all his enemies. He is not a tame lion.

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Tailchaser’s Song

I haven’t read this 1985 book by Tad Williams but I remember an illustration of a Toothguard by Wayne Barlowe. Anyway Fritti Tailchaser is a sentient feral cat who sets out on a quest to find a missing friend. Rumor has it, there will be an animated adaptation in 2018 (CGI unfortunately).

To Visit the Queen

A 1998 steampunk  time traveling adventure by Diane Duane in which an evil entity travels to Victorian England to introduce nuclear weapons (ahead of schedule) to the British Empire and assassinate Queen Victoria along the way. It’s up to four cat “wizards”, their dinosaur ally, and a young Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to stop “The Lone Power” from destroying the world.

Muuurgh the Togorian

A character that appears in A.C. Crispin’s Han Solo Trilogy, Muuurgh was a feline humanoid that was assigned as Han Solo bodyguard on the planet Ylesia. In reality Muuurgh was looking for his mate-to-be Mrrov, who had gotten tangled up with a shady cult. Muuurgh and Han Solo become good friends (remember, this is before Han met Chewbacca) and help free Mrrov and other members from the clutches of the “cult”. Han later serves as Muuurgh’s best man at Muuurgh and Mrrov’s wedding and the happy couple become parents to three kits.

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Spot the cat

Data the android always wanted to learn what it was like to be human. One of those ways was to own a pet, which turned out to be his cat, Spot, who was an orange tabby. Spot appeared in many episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation and Data loved her dearly.

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The Catfantastic Series

Rowwrrr! How could I have forgotten this on my list. A collection of fantasy stories about Man’s Best Friend (admit it) edited by Andre Norton and Martin H. Greenberg. The first book was published in 1989 and it’s fourth and final sequel was published in 2009.

Meow! Agree with my list. What other cat related titles, characters and stories have I missed. Sound off in the comments and maybe I’ll add them.

For an added bonus, here’s some pictures of your favorite SF/F authors with their felines.

Ursula K. LeGuin

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Philip K. Dick

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Ray Bradbury

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Neil Gaiman

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Stephen King

Stephen King

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I Am A Queen

I am a queen.

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I’m brave sometimes,

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I’m scared sometimes.

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Sometimes I’m brave even when I’m scared.

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I believe in loyalty and trust,

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I believe loyalty is built on trust.

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I am a queen.

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I think standing up for myself is important,

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I think standing up for others is more important,

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But standing with others is most important.

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I am a queen.

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I believe caring makes me strong,

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Kindness is power,

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And family is the tightest bond of all.

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I’ve heard that I’m beautiful,

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I know I’m strong.

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I am a queen.

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Long may I reign.

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(This was made in response to Lucasfilm’s International Day of the Girl video to promote the women of Star Wars, which previously excluded Padme, but, thanks to fan demand, now includes Padme. So, in the spirit of irony, I lifted the words from Disney’s “I Am a Princess” video, to celebrate the unsung queens of Star Wars, because not enough little girls go through a queen phase.

And seriously, there needs to be a “Disney Queen” collection!)

 

 

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Enough With The ‘Star Trek’ Vs. ‘Star Wars’ Debates

Star Trek is turning 50, which means lots of new goodies for fans to consume with their wallets – among them collectors’ issues from your local magazine rack. Among these issues, expect to find, once again, the perennial Star Trek vs. Star Wars articles as to which franchise is better. Eyeroll please.

When I was a teenager, I was a Star Wars fan first and foremost. I had never seen any episodes of Star Trek, whether it was the Original Series, the Next Generation, Deep Space Nine or Voyager. There were no TV stations playing the Original Series at the time (not even the then popular TV Land was airing the show regularly). Yet the no. 1 question I would get from people after learning that I loved Star Wars was “do you like Star Trek?” For years – even after I had become acquainted with the show – I had no clue there was supposed to be a “rivalry” between fans of both franchises. I ‘m convinced there isn’t and it’s all a pointless ploy by the media to create divisions and since it isn’t working, they won’t give up.

So to beat them at their own game, I’m going to tell you what both franchises have in common and why they both made our society all the richer for it (no, I will not point out the differences because they’re too obvious).

1. They Premiered In Double Digit Years.

Star Trek made it’s debut in 1966. Ten years later, in 1977, Star Wars: A New Hope  made its debut in theaters across the US. September 2016 marks the 50th anniversary of Star Trek. May 2017 will mark the 40th anniversary of Star Wars. Lord, time flies!

2. Both Had Something To Say

Gene [Roddenberry] envisioned a future where humanity had overcome their fears and prejudices and were willing to use science and exploration to their advantage. George [Lucas] envisioned an epic space adventure story using age-old mythological tropes. Both franchises are morality plays that dealt with topical and age-old issues: racism, oppression, good and evil, the importance of loyalty, the need for teamwork, why we should be forgiving, why we should look for the good in others, and so forth. They also broke ground in representation: Star Trek was the first major sf show to depict a diverse crew – that included a technically savvy black woman, an Asian helmsman and a Russian at the time of the Cold War, who weren’t ethnic stereotypes –  regularly, while Star Wars broke ground by introducing cinema’s first action heroine, challenging traditional male stereotypes with its main character and introducing a black character in a position of power – 28 years before the US would vote in a black president. I would also like to add that The Phantom Menace brought us, for the first time in cinematic history, a queen who wasn’t evil.

Here’s another point: both had potential to be even more groundbreaking, had circumstances not gotten in the way: the Enterprise‘s second in command would’ve been a woman, Obi-Wan Kenobi would’ve played by Toshiro Mifune, etc. But either way, both franchises changed people’s lives.

But the average viewer/moviegoer wasn’t the only person to be inspired by these stories…

3. Both Have Inspired Scientists 

I KNOW what you’re going to say! Star Trek is sci-fi, Star Wars is space fantasy, so you can’t even put the two in the same camp. Try telling that to the many scientists who’ve been inspired by both franchises. While Star Trek is the more obvious of the two – check out the charming documentary How William Shatner Changed the World for more information – Star Wars, believe it or not, has also inspired scientists to “stretch out with their feelings” when it comes to their scientific endeavors, be it space travel, biology, or prosthetics. Here’s a list of scientists (and scientific discoveries) inspired by that galaxy far, far away:

Holly GriffithThe Crew of Expedition 45Israel SanchezJonathan ArmbrusterKelly B. Miller and Quentin D. WheelerNate Lo

Here’s another documentary to watch: Star Wars Tech.

4. Both Produced An Expansive Tie-In Novel Collection

Curious as to what happened to the the crew of  the MirrorEnterprise after the events of “Mirror, Mirror”? Want to know more about the birth and life of Khan Noonien Singh before he was introduced in “Space Seed”? Want to learn more about Vulcan philosophy or Klingon rituals? Star Trek has produced, so far, over 200 tie-in novels written by talented authors, who fill in the blanks left open by the shows and movies that answers many a fan’s burning questions. From 1977 to 2014 the Star Wars Expanded Universe answered questions regarding how the myriads of characters in that galaxy far, far away got involved in the situations presented in the movies: who was Darth Plagueis the Wise? Why do the Sith follow the Rule of Two? How did Luke rebuild the Jedi Order? What happened to the survivors of Order 66? After April of 2014, a new canon novel timeline was introduced which included the novelization of an unfinished story arc from the canceled Clone Wars TV series. Whether you prefer the EU or the CU is up for debate. Because of the successful sales of Trek and Wars books, other franchises, from the X-Files to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, have also released tie-in novels furthering the adventures of their characters, albeit with less success.

Let’s also give a shout-out to all the comics, reference books and magazines published since ’66 and ’77.

5. Both Have Given Us Well-Written And Thought-Provoking Cartoons

If you were alive in 1973, were you under the impression that cartoons were silly, humorous entertainment strictly for kids and nothing more? Star Trek: The Animated Series shot that notion into a black hole with its intelligent, thought-provoking storylines, its continuation of groundbreaking moments (such as when Uhura briefly became captain of the Enterprise) lack of cutesy talking animal characters and its toned-downed humor. And because of that, the show won the franchise its first Emmy and paved the way for more serious, adult-oriented shows like Batman: The Animated Series. And if you ask me, Star Trek: TAS deserves more love.

In 2003 and 2008, Lucasfilm released two TV series that explored the war only hinted at in A New Hope and Attack of the Clones. The 2003 Star Wars: Clone Wars used minimal dialogue to portray the earliest battles of the Clone Wars and introduced a new, scary villain (and also netted the franchise its first Emmy) while the 2oo8 Clone Wars gave us more details, a deeper philosophical insight into the Force, more ambiguous moral conundrums and a new iconic female character. That series also won an Emmy (eventually) and was Cartoon Network’s most watched show.

6. Lots And Lots of Merchandise

…And counting. Could sports or music memorabilia ever compete with a fan’s extensive Star Trek or Star Wars collection? That depends on who you ask. Start with Marc Bell or Steve Sansweet (warning: your mind will be blown or you may covet these collections).

So let’s follow George Takei’s advice and stop this silly rivalry. Remember only a Sith deals in absolutes.

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You can also buy this shirt over at Society 6 in any size you want!

 

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Cenozoic Mammals That Should Be Made Into Toys

… And not just the Smilodon and the Woolly Mammoth.

What is the Cenozoic Era, you ask? Without going into too much scientific detail, it’s the era following the Mesozoic (Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous) that lasted 66 million years ago. It’s divided into three periods: the Paleogene, the Neogene and the Quarternary (popularly known as the “Ice Age”). The dinosaurs are gone and the mammals and birds have taken over. But these aren’t the mammals and birds we’re familiar with today. It’s the time of giants. A time when sloths ate from the trees instead of climbing them (Megatherium). When camels had necks as long as giraffes (Aepycamelus). When rhinos were woolly. When whales looked like reptiles (Zeuglodon/Basilosaurus). When birds were as tall as trees (Gastornis). When horses had three toes (Mesohippus). And when the largest animal ever to walk the earth was a hornless rhinoceros (Paraceratherium).

I’ve been a dinosaur lover since that time in my childhood when my father came home with dinosaur toys for me to play with. I even owned a red dress with dinosaurs all over it. But when I was in the fifth grade, I came across a book written by Tom McGowen, with spectacular illustrations by Rod Ruth, called Album of Prehistoric Animals – which became my first exposure to Cenozoic Mammals (for more details on that book – read this post at my Tumblr blog). I’ve been loving these animals as much as dinosaurs ever since and have championed them to anyone who’ll listen. So you can guess how frustrated I feel when I can’t find that much merchandise featuring these amazing animals.

There’ve been more diverse depictions of prehistoric reptile life in toys thanks to media like the Jurassic Park franchise and the Walking With Dinosaurs tv series and exhibit. You can find toys of Carnotaurus, Spinosaurus, Nigersaurus and Therizinosaurus alongside the usual suspects (T.rex, Triceratops, Stegosaurus, etc.). Thanks to companies like Safari Ltd. you can even find non-dinosaur prehistoric creatures like Postosuchus, Dunkleosteus, and Megalodon. And since we’re on the subject of Safari Ltd., the education-based company, bless their hearts, has made some Cenozoic mammal toys besides the two usual suspects (Smilodon, Woolly Mammoth). They’ve added Doedicurus, Megatherium and Ambelodon. But these toys are sold only through Michaels or Joann’s and are rare finds (at least where I live). Your only other option is to buy them online. Another company that makes superb, detailed dino toys is a German-based company named Schleich. You’ll find most of their products at Toys R Us, but if you were to look at their official website, you’ll see anything but Cenozoic mammals. And when it comes to stuffed animals – forget it. I’d love to have me a stuffed Indricotherium but that’s not going to happen anytime soon. I do own a stuffed Smilodon (saber-toothed cat, for those of you still wondering) and recently bought a woolly mammoth from the Children’s Natural History Museum in Fremont, CA. Both were made by Wild Republic – a company that specializes in educational stuffed animals – but, predictably, those are your only two options. So if I were to contact these companies about making more Cenozoic toys (both plush and plastic) here are my seven choices:

Indricotherium

Indricotherium11

Once known as Baluchitherium and also called Paraceratherium, this creature lived during the Oligocene period in what is now Mongolia, China and the Balkans. It was estimated to be 16 ft high and 24 ft long, making it, as I said before, the largest land animal to walk the earth at the time.

Megatherium

Megatherum_DB

Commonly known as the giant ground sloth, this animal was the size of an elephant and lived in South America (where else?) during the Neogene period. Whether it was as slow as its modern-day relatives is up for debate but you sure didn’t want to get swiped by its claws.

Brontotherium

Brontotherium

Another member of the rhino family, famous for its Y-horn. It too was the size of an elephant and lived in South Dakota and Nebraska during the Paleogene period. Some of the earliest fossils were discovered by Native Americans (Sioux) who believed that thunderstorms were caused by their stampedes (bronto = “thunder”, therium = “beast”).

Entelodont

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Believed to be related to pigs, these omnivores lived on the plains of North America, Europe and Asia for 21 million years during the Neogene period. Their most famous feature is the bony lumps on the side of their heads, making them resemble warthogs. The average Entelodont stood 6 ft tall at the shoulder.

Zeuglodon

Basilosaurus

I chose to call this creature by the name Sir Richard Owen chose when he came to the conclusion that this was the earliest ancestor of the whale and not a marine reptile like Mosasaurus. But today it’s still called Basilosaurus even though that name means “king lizard”. Fun fact: it’s the state fossil of Mississippi and Alabama.

Thylacosmilus

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No, you’re not seeing another species of Smilodon. In fact this animal isn’t even a cat. It’s a marsupial that lived in South America during the Neogene period (that means it’s distantly related to POSSUMS!!!).

Xenokeryx amidalae (heck, any one of those prehistoric giraffes. They had some crazy horns!)

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Star Warriors should already be familiar with this one because it was named after Padme Amidala for its distinctive “hairdo”. Can you imagine the types of Star Wars toys made with this one? It lived during the Neogene period. Also believed by scientists to be related to deer as well.

ChalicotheriumChalicotheriumDB2

 

The weirdest one on my list. Nobody can pinpoint what species it was related to: it looks like a cross between a gorilla, a horse, a bear and a giant sloth. It was named for its pebble-like teeth. Can you imagine the looks on people’s faces when they notice the plush toy your baby or toddler is holding in his or her arm and the first thing that comes out of mouths is what is it??!! 

So join me in my quest to make these products happen. Contact these companies (or any other toy company you can think of. Read: I did contact Hansa toys one time suggesting they make an indricotherium but I never got a response.):

wildrepublic.com

hansatoysusa.com

schleich-s.com

safariltd.com

and give them your two cents for what type of Cenozoic mammal (or any other non-dinosaur prehistoric animal) you’d like to see on the shelves. By the way, what prehistoric animal is your favorite?

And does anyone know if Build-A-Bear lets you make other animals besides bears?

 

 

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Filed under dinosaurs, natural history, paleontology, prehistory

Thoughts On the “Wonder Woman” SDCC Trailer

 

It appears that DC is stealing the show at Comic-Con at the moment (though to be fair, there’s a lot of buzz over that “Doctor Strange” trailer and Captain Marvel casting announcement too). The one thing everyone’s talking about: the Wonder Woman trailer, of course! I watched it online four times and I have to admit it looks exciting! As I mentioned before, it’ll take place during World War 1, which I think shows creativity on DC/Warner Bros. part. Not only will it give the world the female superhero-led movie we’ve all been waiting for, it may arouse future generations’ curiosity about a long forgotten, centuries old world war.

My thoughts:

  • It’ll be released into theaters June 2, 2017. That’s one year after Wonder Woman’s 75th anniversary and 100 years since the US declared war against Germany.
  • At first, I was skeptical about Gal Godot’s casting as Diana Prince but after seeing her in action in BVS and this trailer, boy was I glad she was hired. She’s beautiful, tall, exotic, confident, athletic and I love her accent.
  • I also lllooovvvee that blue dress she wears (the one with the hidden sword).
  • I’m glad they included a scene where she meets Etta Candy for the first time and Etta (who’s British!) gushes about how much she likes her. It’s a total opposite from DC’s 2009 animated film where all Etta does is flirt with Steve Trevor and Diana thinks low of her.
  • It’s a relief to see another actress take up the mantel of WW from Lynda Carter so that future generations of fans can talk about which incarnation is their favorite. Think about it: for years Batman fans had Adam West, Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney, Christian Bale and now Ben Affleck, while Superman fans had Kirk Alyn, George Reeves, Christopher Reeve, Dean Cain, Tom Welling, Brandon Routh and Henry Cavill. Wonder Woman fans had only Lynda Carter. But I have to admit, I’m not a big fan of the 70s Wonder Woman series because it’s so dated in it’s approach to the character. If this film does well, hopefully it’ll give DC the confidence to hire other actresses to step into the boots of the Amazon Princess.

Now for my questions:

  • Who is that general played by Danny Huston that Diana is slowly approaching? Is he the main villain? Is he Ares in disguise? Who did they pick from Wonder Woman’s rogues gallery to be in this film?
  • What role will Diana’s aunt Antiope play in this film? What’s her backstory? Will she aide Diana in her mission or will she make things harder for her?
  • Will all the Germans be bad guys or will there be some sympathetic German characters?
  • Who is that woman with the partly disfigured face? I know that many soldiers suffered from extreme disfigurement due to flying shrapnel and had to undergo facial reconstruction surgery, but how did it happen to that woman? Was she a nurse in the right place at the wrong time? Did she disguise herself as a soldier? Or worse, is she a battered wife?
  • Will the film address the women’s issues of the time period?
  • What type of Steve Trevor will Chris Pine portray? I hope he’ll be a far cry from Kirk the Jerk.

And finally, here’s what I’m hoping for the film:

  • I hope it’ll be as good or better than Man of Steel in its treatment of its female characters (I feel that, so far, MOS is the most feminist superhero film to date but that’s a subject for another post).
  • I hope it’ll pass the Bechdel Test.
  • I hope the story will portray Diana and Steve’s relationship as one of equals.

Those are my thoughts. What are yours?

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Filed under comics, female characters, Wonder Woman

Planet X Puts Simon Pegg On Trial For Crimes Against The SF Community

(Note: This is a work of fiction. However, real people with real quotes have been inserted into this work of fiction. This is also an inaccurate example of a trial. I’ve tried my best to be as close to real life as possible, but this is a mock trial on another planet. And you know what they say: “when in Rome, do as the Romans”. If your reading this and your an expert on the criminal justice system, any and all corrections are welcome.)

All rise. The Court of Planet X is now in session. Judge John W. Campbell presiding. Please be seated. Calling the case of the people of Planet X versus self-proclaimed geek, Simon John Beckingham Pegg.

Me: Your Honor. Geeks and nerds of the jury. The defendant has been charged with the crimes of haughtiness, rudeness to his peers and disrespect to his elders regarding beloved sci-fi franchises. Four incidents of this disreputable behavior will be used as evidence.

Exhibit A: A Constant Nagging Criticism of George Lucas and the Star Wars Prequels.

The defendant has always let it be known that he has a boiling disdain for George Lucas’ 1999-2005 trilogy. He has spewed bile about it in interviews over and over again. Take this quote for instance:

And I think if anyone can pull Star Wars out of the mire its J.J. He’ll bring the fun back. Lucas seemed to misread what made the first ones great, and concentrate on things that people didn’t really care about, or willfully ignore the things that people cared about. Whereas J.J. embraced them all. We’re going to see the Millennium Falcon again. We’re going to see those characters again. All the things we see about the first three, we will see again.

Or there’s this one:

They’re a monumental misunderstanding of what the first three films are about. It’s an exercise in utter infanticide, like George Lucas killing his kid.

Yet many fans disagree with Pegg’s views. And his response leads to…

Exhibit B: Bully Those That Like The Star Wars Prequels.

This is what Mr. Pegg had to say about those fans. First is this little gem from his show Spaced:

Note: He plays character named Tim and he’s shouting at a little boy for liking “The Phantom Menace”

“You are so blind! You so do not understand! You weren’t there at the beginning. You don’t know how good it was! How important! This is it for you! People like you make me sick!…take your pocket money AND GET OUT!

[little boy runs out crying]

“What a prick.”

He didn’t stop there, he said nasty things about prequel fans out of character too:

I don’t really have any respect for anyone who thinks those films are good. They’re not.

Now that we’ve seen evidence related to Star Warriors let’s move on to the other fans Pegg has offended – the Trekkies.

Exhibit C: Outright Rudeness Toward Star Trek Fans.

Star Trek Into Darkness, the sequel to 2009’s Star Trek reboot was released in 2013. It has an 86% at Rotten Tomatoes and made 467.4 million at the box office. But looks can deceive. At a Star Trek convention in Las Vegas, Into Darkness was voted worst the worst Star Trek movie of all time. Pegg did not take kindly to the news. Here’s his kind, thoughtful response:

You know what…it absolutely isn’t the worst Star Trek movie. It’s asinine, you know. It’s ridiculous. And frustrating as well, because a lot of hard work and love went into that movie, and all JJ wanted to do was make a film that people enjoyed. So to be subject to that level of sort of, like, crass, fucking ire, I just say, fuck you.

But then his criticism of Star Trek fans shifted to sci-fi fans in general.

Exhibit D: Accusing SF of Dumbing Us Down

Obviously I’m very much a self-confessed fan of science fiction and genre cinema. But part of me looks at society as it is now and just thinks we’ve been infantilized by our own taste. Now we’re essentially all consuming very childish things – comic books, superheroes…Adults are watching this stuff and taking it seriously!

And, not surprisingly, geeks did not take kindly to his words because he blamed everyone but himself.

Judge: The prosecution may call its first witness.

The People call the first witness, Israel Sanchez.

Clerk: Please stand. Raise your right hand. Do you promise that the testimony you shall give in the case before this court shall be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you God?

Sanchez: I do.

Clerk: You may be seated.

Me: Where do you work, Dr. Sanchez?

Sanchez: I work at the National Museum of Natural Sciences in Madrid.

Me: And what is your occupation, Dr. Sanchez?

Sanchez: I am a biologist.

Me: Can you tell us about the fossilized remains of this animal you discovered, Xenokeryx amidalae?

Sanchez: In central Spain, we discovered an amazingly preserved giraffe relative that lived between 23 million and 5 million years ago. Its physical characteristics included a short neck, two ossicones and a cranial, T-shaped appendage.

Me: And why did you name it, Xenokeryx amidalae?

Sanchez: If you remember the Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace film, when Padme Amidala is queen of her home planet Naboo, she shows off several complicated dresses and hairstyles. Well, one of the hairstyles from a scene in Coruscant is strikingly similar to the occipital appendage of Xenokeryx. Yes, I am a fan of Star Wars.

Me: And how does it make you feel to know that actor Simon Pegg has no respect for you?

Sanchez: I think it’s unfortunate, though I don’t think I’ve ever heard of him.

Me: Members of the court. I’d like to take this moment to name other famous fans of the Star Wars prequels: Robert Kirkman, comic book writer and creator of The Walking Dead. Joey Fatone, singer, dancer and former member of *Nsync. Actress Jaime King. Even more important are scientists like Nate Lo, who discovered bacteria in mitochondria and named it Midichloria mitochondrii. And last, but not least, astronauts Scott Kelly, Kjell Lindgren, Sergei Volkov, Oleg Kononenko, Kimiya Yui and Mikhail Kornienko, who posed as jedi for their Expedition 45 portrait and watched Revenge of the Sith in space. These are the true geeks who, inspired by science fiction, the very genre Pegg says is “infantilizing us”, spend their lives studying the world around us and using their findings to help society better understand our world. And because their tastes are different from Pegg, he has no respect for them. Thank you, Dr. Sanchez.

Judge: The witness is excused. The prosecution may call the next witness.

The People call George Takei.

Clerk: Please stand. Raise your right hand. Do you promise that the testimony you shall give in the case before this court shall be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God?

Takei: I do.

Clerk: You may be seated.

Me: Mr. Takei, tell us your occupation and work history.

Takei: I am a 61-year veteran actor and activist. I played Enterprise helmsman Sulu on Star Trek.

Me: Mr. Takei, can you tell us about the week of July 4, 2015?

Takei: I was informed by John Cho, the actor who plays a younger version of my Star Trek character – that it would be revealed that Sulu would have a husband and a young daughter – as a form of inclusion and as a nod to me as a gay man. This decision was made by Simon, who wrote the screenplay and Justin Lin, the director.

Me: And what was your reaction to the news, Mr. Takei?

Takei:

I’m delighted that there’s a gay character. Unfortunately it’s a twisting of Gene’s creation, to which he put in so much thought. I think it’s really unfortunate.

Me: So what did you suggest to them?

Takei: I told them to…

Be imaginative and create a character who has a history of being gay, rather than Sulu, who had been straight all this time, suddenly revealed as being closeted.

This movie is going to be coming out on the 50th anniversary of Star Trek, the 50th anniversary of paying tribute to Gene Roddenberry, the man whose vision…carried us through half a century. Honor him and create a new character.

Me: And did they respect your wishes?

Takei: I thought so at first. But they didn’t.

Me: What was Mr. Pegg’s response?

Takei: He said that he respectfully disagrees with me and that if he created a new gay character, it would be tokenism because audiences would just see that character as “the gay character”.

Me: And what did he say about Mr. Gene Roddenberry?

Takei: He said…

The viewing audience weren’t open-minded enough at the time and it must have forced Roddenberry to modulate his innovation. His mantra was always ‘infinite diversity in infinite combinations’. If he could have explored Sulu’s sexuality with George, he no doubt would have.

Me: Your Honor. Members of the jury. I did not use Mr. Takei’s predicament as Exhibit E, because I felt it was better to hear the victim tell his story in his own words. And it’s this recent incident that convinces me that Mr. Pegg should be found guilty.

Here he is, once again, declaring that he knows the franchises he claims to love better than the creators that spent, hours, days, months and years imagining, writing, outlining and fighting for their work to be released to the public. Franchises that he had nothing to do with in the first place. He was a consultant on The Force Awakens, despite the irrefutable fact that he was only 7 years old when A New Hope was released and had no involvement whatsoever with the making of the original trilogy. They already hired Lawrence Kasdan, the co-screenwriter for The Empire Strikes Back to write the script. Because of this, The Force Awakens lacked creativity and originality. It was nothing more than big budget fan fiction with no heart and no soul. And now Pegg is using his delusions of grandeur against not only against Mr. Takei, a legend and icon among many, but the late Mr. Gene Roddenberry, by assuming he knows Roddenberry – a man he has never met – better than Takei, a man whose worked closely with Roddenberry for 23 years. And Pegg is now in charge of the screenplay for the 13th Trek film, Star Trek Beyond. Why? This man wasn’t even conceived when the very first Star Trek series premiered on September 8, 1966. Now, with him at the helm, so to speak, his decision to turn an established straight character, gay, is not only lazy, it’s inconsistent with Trek mythology. Since these contemporary films are prequels, it would be awkward to show Sulu with a family, and then watch the Original Series and wonder why he never brings them up in casual conversation. For gay fans of Star Trek, it would look as if Sulu went back into the closet. It would make Kirk’s aside about not knowing that Sulu had time to start a family in Star Trek Generations, all the more perplexing. I will close my arguments by pointing out that making Sulu gay as a tribute to Mr. Takei is undermining Mr. Takei’s work as an actor, a job that requires you pretend you’re something other than yourself for the sake of suspending audiences’ beliefs for an hour or two. That his sexuality is the only thing that defines him despite the fact that the roles he took as a Japanese American man broke barriers.

Judge: Will the jury foreperson please stand? Has the jury reached a unanimous verdict?

Foreperson: Yes. The jury finds the defendant…guilty.

Judge: Thank you jury. Ladies and Gentlemen. Due to the amounting evidence against Mr. Pegg, I think we can’t afford to wait another day to give the defendant his punishment.

From this day, forward, Mr. Pegg, you will be stripped of any film making duties, be it screenplays, producing, directing, editing and creative consultant. You will be restricted to acting and acting in other’s films only. However, you will be suspended for one year from film roles to spend the next two years, with worker’s compensation, reading and studying the works and history of science fiction. You will be given all the major classics of SF, from Asimov to Zelazny, to complete while wearing a different Star Wars prequel t-shirt everyday.

Court dismissed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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All I Need To Know About Life, I Learned From…

Tick_Logo

“Who is The Tick?” You ask. A superhero created by Ben Edlund in 1986 as a mascot for  a Boston Store chain, New England Comics, The Tick is a wacky, ardent superhero with the powers of “nigh-invulnerability”, superhuman strength and “drama power”.  With the help of his long suffering moth costume-donning sidekick, Arthur, the Tick stops at nothing to save The City from the forces of evil. A hilarious cartoon series debuted in 1994 (to which I was introduced to the character), then a short-lived live action series debuted in 2001.

The franchise is known for it’s absurdist spoofing of superhero tropes and for the Tick’s over the top personality through which he would give the day’s moral delivered in a hammy manner. Throughout the weeks, I’ve rewatched the entire cartoon series on YouTube and wrote down all of the “Tickisms” that struck my fancy and that we must remember in our day to day lives. So, without further ado, here are some of the best words of wisdom courtesy of the Tick:

  • Don’t eat crackers in the bed of your future! You’ll get all scratchy.
  • It’s your destiny! Hug it!
  • Beware the other head of science. It bites!
  • Don’t count your weasels before they pop.
  • Don’t touch the “Don’t” button.
  • You can’t judge a book by its cover. Except the Lava Man book of course.
  • Eating kittens is just plain wrong and no one should do it ever!
  • When evil is afoot and you don’t have any arms, you gotta use your head.
  • You can lay an egg and still feel like a man.
  • READ A BOOK!!!
  • Falling in love with a supervillain is trouble with a capital troub!
  • Crime has a Bossa Nova beat.
  • Lint is the fastest stuff in the universe (yes that lint).
  • Love is thicker than most bodily membranes.
  • In love there’s a right way and a wrong way to do things: the right way is to take someone to a movie. The wrong way is to take someone from a movie.
  • You can’t trust everything you read, especially in history books you get from gas stations.
  • In the future, one out of every six people will be Abraham Lincoln.
  • It’s OK to start thinking.
  • A lost wallet could bite you in half.
  • A bar of soap could save your life.
  • A disgusting mound of muck might have some very compelling ideas.
  • Not everyone can know everything. Some people don’t know anything. I myself don’t know much, but I do know this: uh…the thing I just said.
  • Evil comes in many forms, whether it be a man-eating cow or Josef Stalin.
  • Your not going crazy, your going sane in a crazy world!
  • Don’t ever try to swim against the mighty tide of justice!
  • Honk if you love justice!
  • The boots of evil were made for walking.
  • Man was not meant to tamper with the four basic food groups.
  • Clowning and anarchy don’t mix.
  • You can’t fight crime with a macaroni duck.
  • Nature is one call you can’t put on hold.
  • Evil is never in fashion.

SSSSPPPPPPOOOOONNNN!!!!!

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Dear Asajj Ventress,

 (Beware of Spoilers)

I’ve just finished reading Christie Golden’s Dark Disciple, a canon novel based on a  story arc that never made it to TV because The Clone Wars was canceled. Now I wonder how audiences would’ve taken the news that you die at the end of your story when you saved your lover, Quinlan Vos, and former enemy, Obi-Wan Kenobi, from Count Dooku’s force lightning. Quinlan and Obi-Wan buried you on Dathomir, home to your people, the Nightsisters. At first I was sad and disappointed that you died instead of living happily ever after with Vos. But when your body was dipped into a pool, turning it green and the voices of your long deceased sisters welcoming you into their fold, was heard, I felt a sense of triumph. After all the years of pain and suffering you endured and afflicted on others, you were finally at peace. And you were reunited with your family.

Let me go back a bit. OK a lot. To 2002, after the release of Attack of the Clones. There was a book by Mark Cotta Vaz called The Art of Star Wars: Episode 2 – Attack of the Clones. On one particular page there was concept art of a grey-skinned, bald woman drawn by Dermot Power. He explained that he wanted this character to be a successor to Darth Maul for all the female star warriors but instead George Lucas went with the character now known as Count Dooku. No matter. It didn’t stop me from drawing a profile picture of you from the book.

And then you made your debut as Asajj Ventress in 2003 with Genndy Tartakovsky’s Star Wars: Clone Wars. 

I watched the micro-series with excitement as you snarled your first famous line: “Jedi! Their order is a fading light in the dark. Corrupt and arrogant. They must be punished. The jedi shall fall!” Then you lured Anakin closer to the dark side with one of the most memorable lightsaber duels since Yoda fought Count Dooku on Geonosis. You lost that fight but you went on wreaking havoc in the comics.

Then there was a second Clone Wars series in 2008 where you caused more murder and mayhem even getting a scene cut from cartoon network because it was deemed too sultry for young viewers. But it was in this show we learned that you had a tragic past. You were ripped from your mother as a youngling and sold into slavery. You were eventually freed by a kindly jedi knight named Ky Narac, yet tragedy hit you again when your surrogate father was killed and you were orphaned once again. Your pain drew you to the Dark Side and into the guidance of sith lord Count Dooku where you were a scourge of the Republic. But eventually Dooku betrayed you and left you for dead. You just couldn’t catch a break! But you made your way back to Dathomir, vowing revenge and exciting times lay ahead. Katie Lucas wrote some of the best epsiodes of Clone Wars involving the Nightsisters – Force sensitive women who practiced the dark arts – and she admitted in the introduction to Dark Disciple that she loves writing stories about you. We fans had only been familiar with these mysterious women through Dave Wolverton’s Legends novel, The Courtship of Princess Leia and the 1985 TV movie Ewoks: The Battle For Endor. But now we would see, for the first time, how the Nightsisters operated as a society. As a student of warrior women history and folklore, I couldn’t have been more intrigued to see TGFFA’s take on the Amazon archetype.  We also have you to thank (indirectly) for giving us back Darth Maul (shirtless of course).

But, alas, your quest for vengeance failed. Your experiment, Savage Oppress disobeyed you. Dooku slaughtered your sisters and you escaped but were alone yet again. Nevertheless you forged on and became a bounty hunter. It was through this unlikely job that your inner goodness came through. In The Clone Wars season 4 episode “Bounty”, you saved a young girl from a forced marriage after listening to her pleas for freedom. You also won our hearts further when you helped our favorite Togruta, Ahsoka Tano, clear her name with the Jedi Order. 

Which brings us back, full circle, to Dark Disciple. The Jedi Council ordered Jedi Master Quinlan Vos to go incognito as a bounty hunter, team up with you and convince you to help assassinate Count Dooku. Sadly this led to disaster as you and Vos went down the path of the Dark Side and it nearly lost you the love of your life. But your better nature and intuition came through when you let the light side of the Force flow through you and show you the way to redemption. With this newfound enlightenment, you not only convinced Vos to come back to the light side, you also saved the soul of the Jedi Order by convincing them that assassination was not the Jedi Way.

Some would accuse Lucasfilm of making you another woman in a refrigerator so as to push a male character’s story forward, but I disagree. You had taken the lives of others, so eventually you would have had to repay their lives with yours. But the difference between you and other “fridged” women is that you went down fighting and you made your choice knowingly and confidently.

You lived as a criminal in the eyes of the Republic and died as a hero in the eyes of the Jedi Order. By forging your own path, you taught us that we are not bound by destiny but by choice. You started off innocent, turned corrupt and then redeemed yourself. But you were always, Asajj Ventress, one of the most multifaceted characters to ever emerge from Star Wars. In hindsight, I’m glad Lucas stuck with his original decision.

Rest in peace, Asajj.

And may the Force be with you.

2237677-190443_73451_asajj_ventress   82456-5864236Fr4550324-ventress_nohair Asajj_Ventress_Kindred_Spirits

Asajj_Ventress_yellow_lightsaber

star-wars-the-clone-wars-asajj-ventress-wallpaper

 

 

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