That One With The Ice Planet, The Green Muppet and Lobot

I didn’t realize this earlier (if I had, this entry would have been posted yesterday, instead of today), but yesterday, May 21, 2010 was the 30th anniversary of the release of The Empire Strikes Back.

Now I feel old.

I was born in ’77, the year Star Wars came out.  I don’t have exact memories, but I have flashes of memories of seeing Star Wars in the theaters (and back then, it was in the theaters for years, not weeks like the movies of today) a few different times.  I was hugely into Star Wars as a kid.  But for some reason it took me a while to see Empire.  But unlike with Episode IV, I do remember the first time I saw Empire.

It was actually a few years after it came out- sometime in April or May of ’83, right before Return of the Jedi (which I saw on its opening night in a drive in, but that’s another story).  In that spring of ’83, I was five and after seeing several commercials for Jedi, my father knew that I needed to see Empire before seeing Jedi.

Or else I would have been spoiled big-time.

So King Classic found a theater somewhere in North Jersey that was having a double feature of Star Wars and Empire back to back.  And it was on a Friday.  So my father took me out of kindergarten that day, sat through Star Wars for yet another time with me and then also sat through Empire with me.

As a five-year-old, the movie blew my mind.  And it still continues to do so, probably because I gotten it more as I’ve aged.  I have to say that Star Wars and Empire are tied for first on my favorite movie list (followed closely by UHF), but I do have a better story for the first time I saw Empire.  And maybe because I saw it two years after it came out, I shouldn’t feel so old.

A New Hope

As I mentioned in a few other places last week, The Civee and I now have a daughter. Hope Rosemary Chansky was born last Tuesday.

Hope was originally due Wednesday April 7, but with my luck I knew she’d be born on a Tuesday, which is not only the day of the week on which most babies are born (or so we were told), but it’s also the day on which Lost airs. So she didn’t get here on the seventh.  On Monday (the 12th), The Civee had an appointment during which the doctor found her amniotic fluid was low. The doctor told us to go home, get our bags, grab something to eat and come back to the hospital since The Civee needed to be induced.

Once we got back to the hospital, I saw how strong my wife truly was- she made it more than nine hours without any pain relief.  At about 6:15 a.m. we started pushing and about a half hour later, she was born. She was 20 inches long and 7 lbs 15 ounces. She was a little bit noisy at first, but the doctors said she was healthy. Hope scored a pair of nines on her Agpar tests (that’s out of 10, which is virtually unheard of).

Even before she was born, we’ve known a few things about her.  We’ve had her name picked out for quite some time.  Hope came from a long three-a.m. philoshphical conversation The Civee and I had sometime back around aught-two or aught-three .  And Rosemary is a combination of my grandmother’s name along with a shared part of our mothers’ first names.

We’ve also known that she would have a cleft lip and palate. This is a common and correctable situation. Sure, she has a special smile, but it causes her no pain and the surgeries to fix her palate and lip are routine.  To be honest, looking at her, I don’t even notice it.  The only time it comes up is during feeding.  Because her palate is not completely formed, she is unable to create the suction necessary to feed from a bottle.  The solution is a special squeezable bottle combined with a great sense of timing.  I find myself very involved when it’s time to feed her, starting out with talking to her, squeezing gently once or twice, waiting for a response, and then watching as I start a routine of “one…two…squeeze” and so on.  It’s actually kind of fun, and as she gets used to it, she goes a bit faster, making me go even faster.

Sure, it’s only been a bit more than a week. And I’ve changed numerous diapers, been peed on (and worse) and haven’t gotten a full night’s sleep (and all the above applies to The Civee as well).  But it’s been a lot of fun hanging out with and getting to know this incredible little person.  And we’re really looking forward to growing along with her.  And I think I’ve learned the most important lesson of fatherhood: nobody bothers a dude with his baby asleep on his chest.

(If you don’t get the titular line of this post, please go back and re-watch Star Wars Episode IV)

Kingdom For Sale

I guess I’m fooling someone, because this blog has been declared a success.

Well, it was called a success by my friend and associate J-Dog, who claims that I’m more likely to get blog sponsors than he is.

Outside of being offered a free product sample two years ago, I really don’t see that happening. I could always sign up for Google AdSense and make some serious money like the Morning Toast (or at least one-fourth of it, because he has a whole network, and I have, well, you’re reading it).

But J-Dog’s comment got me thinking…if I could get paid to plug a sponsor on the blog, would I do it?

Because the Kingdom is mostly for your and my entertainment, I’d do it if it was something I could get behind.

The obvious choices (and why they probably wouldn’t work) would be:

  • The Yankees (because the world doesn’t hear from enough obnoxious Yankees fans)
  • Lost (because the one remaining season needs more promotion)
  • Weezer (the label doesn’t promote their albums anymore, why would they pay to sponsor a blog?)
  • Star Wars (see The Yankees)

I think it’s highly unlikely I’d land any of those prime accounts.  And I wouldn’t want to shill for something I don’t believe in (or something that’s used to prepare a food I don’t like to cook).  So unless I were to sign up for AdSense, it doesn’t look like the dollars will be rolling into the Kingdom.

Speaking of advertising, the one little bit of marketing I do for the blog, sponsoring Hideki Irabu’s baseball-reference.com page, continues to pull in tens of visitors each month.  Best five bucks I ever spent!

Some Like It Hoth And Some Sweat When The Heat Is On

Ask a hundred people what they would do if they could travel back in time and you’d get a hundred different answers.

On tonight’s episode of Lost, Some Like it Hoth, we heard what Hurley’s plans are.  And all I have to say is it’s about time someone puts forth a time travel plan that makes sense.

Although I do have to say that I think Hurley was wrong in saying Empire Strikes Back could be improved. Hopefully, he was talking about just improving Return of the Jedi (with the whole “Ewoks suck” comment) and leaving well enough alone with Empire.

But he would also have the power to influence the prequels.  While I don’t have the issues with the prequels that some do, there are some areas that could be improved, and that would really be the advantage of time travel.

As a side note, I was planning on writing about how it would be torture for a Star Wars fan to travel back to the ’70s in 2004 and not have the chance to see Episode III.  But then, Hurley had a few years off the island, so hopefully, he got the chance to catch up on Revenge of the Sith in the inbetween years.

But enough about Star Wars

Continue reading “Some Like It Hoth And Some Sweat When The Heat Is On”

The Force (in Magazine Form) Is No Longer With Me

If such an entry had existed in my high school yearbook, it’s likely I would have been voted Most Likely to Dress In Costume While Attending a Star Wars Convention.  

Well, it probably wouldn’t surprise my friends from way back when that I did attend a Star Wars Convention, but they’d probably be bummed that I did not wear a costume.  

Back in aught-five, my friends Ryan, Brian and Jen (Brian’s Civil War-reenacting wife) made a trek out to Indianapolis for the Star Wars Celebration, the official SW convention, which just so happened to be scheduled for a month before the release of Revenge of the Sith.  

Back then, to get a good deal on tickets, I signed up for the Star Wars fan club, which included a subscription to the Star Wars Insider magazine.  Not only did we get discounted tickets, but a supposed special access pass, which we didn’t really need. When we got to the convention center, we picked the shortest line, which ended up being a presentation by George Lucas, a nice way to start off a whole day of geekdom.

Even though the convention was a few years ago, I never got around to cancelling my fan club membership.  I kept getting the magazine, and while I’d flip through it, it never really held my interest.  With the last movie coming out three years ago, how much new Star Wars news is there going to be?

The other day, I got a card in the mail saying my membership would be automatically renewed.  Because it’s time that I started paying attention to things I receive in the mail, I gave them a call and cancelled my subscription, and with it, my membership in the Star Wars fan club.  

Even though I’ll still be a fan of the saga, it is somewhat liberating.  While I’ll watch the Clone Wars TV show, I don’t pay too much attention to the Expanded Universe, which is where all the new action is anyway (unless George wants to do a special Sepcial Edition).  I suppose if I want to follow the universe from here on out, I can do it online, where it’s free.

Lando Wants Your Vote

I didn’t even see this race on my ballot!

See more funny videos at Funny or Die

I’m kind of disappointed that Lando picked Chewbacca as his running mate.  I always thought Lobot was the real one who got things done in Cloud City.  Maybe he’s the one really running the campaign.

I should say, Billy Dee is looking much better than the last time I saw him.

Leave 'Em Laughing and Wanting More

Ten years ago today, the greatest sitcom of all time came to an end.

Seinfeld ended its nine-season run on May 14, 1998 with The Finale, an episode that brought back memorable supporting characters from throughout the show’s run, and sent the “New York Four” to prison.

SeinfeldAt the time, I hated the episode.  While it had some great humorous moments, the idea of sending Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer to prison  for not helping out a carjack victim was preposterous and a bit of a cop-out. 

Looking backat this today, while I still think the finale was funny, but weak overall.  However, I think a lot of my ill feelings toward the episode had more to do with the fact that the show was ending than the individual merits of the episode. 

The thing I realize now is that like George, the show was going out on a high note. Seinfeld didn’t outstay its welcome or become irrevelant by coming back year after year with even more episodes. Compare that with other long-running series. I love the Simpsons, and could probably quote classic episodes all day long.  But while the antics of our favorite family are still good for a few laughs, the show isn’t as memorable or ass must-see as it once was.  Same goes for M*A*S*H*, which had a longer run than the active combat phase of the conflict it was based on.

Instead, Seinfeld limited itself to nine seasons of comedy which people quote (and life still imitates) to this day.  A recent article in Newsweek claims the show’s relevance was minimal due to the self-centeredness of the characters.  I’d say that the show’s focus on the little things in life, as well as the character’s own self interest is what made it great.  Take George, for instance.  I think George Costanza is one of the great characters of all time.  No one could be like him all the time, but I’m sure everyone has parts of them that wish they could be.  However, when we see George in action, we’re reminded why it’s good that we don’t live life the way George does.

If Seinfeld had continued production, it most likely would have gone the way of all the other shows that held on too long.  But I guess as George and Jerry learned, it’s better to go out on a high note and always leave the audience wanting more.

Kramer: And it’s a waste of my talent. It’s just a little burning. Mickey, he
got bacterial meningitis.

George: I guess there are no small diseases, only small actors.

The other three start laughing.

George (leaving): Alright that’s it for me. Good night everybody.

Elaine: What was that?

Jerry: Showmanship, George is trying to get out on a high note.

Two Fighters Against a Star Destroyer?

My associate Iron Mike e-mailed me this thought-provoking question:

After seeing the uncoordinated mess that was the attack on the first Death Star,
and seeing the pilots of the Rebel Alliance make literally every tactical
mistake in the book resulting the destruction of the entire attacking force save
for a few ships, my question is:

Did pilots of Rebel Alliance ever, at any point, receive even the smallest
amount of remedial combat training?

Admiral AckbarI thought that was an awesome question. My answer would be not necessarily (at least in terms of remedial combat training). With Star Wars written in the aftermath of the Vietnam conflict, George Lucas wanted to show how a mighty technologically-advanced empire could be brought down by amateurs with nothing more than scrapped-together equipment and hope.

The planets of the rebellion, for the most part, weren’t in open rebellion. They supported the alliance through backdoor means, with individuals joining the rebel armed forces. Those with combat training, or who served in the Clone Wars, were usually higher-ups in the military command. For the most part, the cannon fodder of the alliance was made up of idealistic youngsters who were fit into the roles that best suited them. Those who could pilot a craft were made pilots. Those who could stand around pointing guns at a door poised to blow open were the guys who got gunned down at the beginning of Episode IV. Look at Luke Skywalker, he didn’t have any particular spacecraft training, yet, because he could fly, he was made a pilot. I think it’s safe to assume that considering he wanted to go to the “academy,” he had no formal combat training. Yet he was the pilot that brought the Death Star down.
Continue reading “Two Fighters Against a Star Destroyer?”

The best thing ever (of last week)

Last week, while waiting for a movie to start, the Civee and I visited a nearby bookstore to waste some time.

On one of the featured items tables near the front of the store, I noticed a Star Wars Pop Up Book, selling for $30. While I didn’t buy the book, I did take a look and what I saw was pretty damn cool. Each page had multiple, detailed pop-ups, but the best was found by lifting up a flap on a page near the back of the book. Luckily, I was able to capture the moment with my new phone:

It's a trap!

You can’t repel awesomeness of this magnitude!

It was thirty years ago today

I was a few months away from being born, so I can only rely on second-hand information, but on May 25, 1977, Star Wars premiered. To this day, it remains my favorite movie.

It was one of the earliest movies I remember seeing. And it’s also one of the earliest media influences that I remember having. My father took me to see the original (and Episodes 5 & 6) in the theaters countless times, and for that, he deserves some type of medal.

Even after they were out of the theaters, I kept watching the movies over and over again (to the point of wearing out the one VHS copy that I had of Episode 4). Growing up, I remained faithful to the franchise, knowing that one day, more Star Wars movies would hit the big screens.

And eventually they did. And while the quality on one of them was lacking, I enjoyed the experience.

I’d consider myself a Star Wars geek. While I (outside of Halloween) have never dressed up as a Star Wars character, I’ve seen four out of the six movies on opening night (the last two at their respective midnight showings, and for Episode 3, twice (back-to-back) on opening night). And, in one of my most fun experiences of fandom, I even attended a Star Wars convention.

So, I’d like to thank George Lucas for all the memories. And while I don’t expect more movies down the road, it’s nice to know I can always go back to the original.