May 31, 2005
The Little Zergling That Could
Playing Starcraft back in the day. I am with Zerg, and my (much better) opponent is Terran. After a few small skirmishes, we each end up sending our armies on circuitous routes to the other’s base, and arrive almost simultaneously. There is no turning back for either of us since the time to return to base would lead to almost certain defeat, so we each forge on, destroying the other’s base.
I calculate my opponent’s return, and send groups to flank. When we meet in the middle, I am practically giving myself carpal tunnel by frantically clicking on many small groups of zerglings to send them on complicated paths and avoid the single file slaughter line that Starcraft pathing algorithms inflicted on the Zerg. My groups converge in perfect unison, and, in the aftermath of the epic battle, I survey my remaing forces:
With 3 hit points.
Pride Cometh Before 24 Falls
It is in the early days of Super Smash Brothers for the N64, and my best friend Kyle and I have played it relentlessly from the hour of its release. At the local comic/card store, there is an N64 on which playtime can be rented. Several others are in the midst of a game when we arrive, and the victors are quite vocal about their superiority.
“Pretty good,” I say.
“Damn straight!” he says. “We beat everyone at this game.”
I look at Kyle. He has that look in his eye. You know the look.
“We’ll play you. You can even pick the format.”
He chooses a 5 minute time limit, and we watch as both of them choose the Lesser Puffball, while we back the Fox and the Monkey. This will be easier than we thought.
After the five minutes is up, he puts his controller down. “Whatever”, he says, and they walk away without another word. We look at the score.
May 27, 2005
So, I’m watching the Star Wars Holiday Special. I’m really wishing I weren’t, but at this point, I’m sticking through to the bitter end. I got it from a guy who knows a guy who knows a guy who got a bootleg at a convention. The internet was involved. It’s nth generation VHS from 20 years ago, so the quality is questionable, but I’m watching a DVD.
The plot (for lack of a more appropriate word) centers around getting Chewbacca home to celebrate “Life Day” with his family. Yes. Life Day.
The following is a scene-by-scene summary of the show, in all its glory.
Our scene opens with the Millenium Falcon fleeing from a Star Destroyer in a shot that is eerily reminiscent of Empire. No matter. The camera switches to the Falcon’s interior, which has become much smaller and cheaper-looking than I had remembered. Han speaks of the necessity of getting Chewie back for Life Day, but wants to turn back. Chewie yowls. Han decides to keep going. Conflict.
We then get a rundown of the characters. Mark Hamill as Luke. Harrison Ford as Han Solo. Carrie Fisher as a very drugged-looking Leia. Jefferson Starship. Wait, what?
Chewbacca’s family are major players in this movie, which is regrettable, since they can neither talk nor emote. Also, Chewbacca’s father and son are named, respectively, Itchy and Lumpy. I shit you not. And his father… let’s just say that Wookiees don’t age well.
Next scene: Lumpy is playing with a toy X-Wing, and making wookiee noises for it flying. Mala yowls at him and gestures for him to come over. Lumpy yowls back, shaking his head. Conflict.
Next, the family gathers around a picture of Chewbacca kept on the mantle, and yowl at it for a while. This is to establish that he is not there yet. But where could he be?
Rather than answer that question, we next get a 6 minute display of acrobatics by some miniature hologram circus performers on a hologram table. It doesn’t at all look like they just painted a stage to look like the table and had normal circus performers dance on it. No, sir. This is intercut with shots of Lumpy, and periodic yowling so that we don’t forget about the wookiees.
Once the circus performance is finished, Mala yowls at Lumpy to come dry the dishes. He yowls back. After sufficient yowling, he goes to dry the dishes. It is worth noting that this scene has been going for nearly 12 minutes now, with no dialog or exposition.
They then gather around the viewphone to call…. Luke!
He is working on a missle of some sort with R2-D2, and stops to greet them. While he speaks and they yowl, the missle begins to smoke, and R2 tries to get his attention. “Not now R2,” he says, until finally the smoke overwhelms him. When he turns back from fixing the missle, the family is holding up the picture of Chewbacca. Through sufficient gesturing, yowling, and guessing by Luke, it is established that Chewbacca is not yet there. It is a very Lassie moment. Then the missle starts smoking again. And R2 again fails to get Luke’s attention. It is in fact the same gag that they ran just 54 seconds previously (I timed it).
When Luke tells them that Chewbacca and Han left on schedule, ominous music plays. Tension. But, then, a few moments later, he tells them to cheer up, enjoy their life day. And happy music plays. Denoument.
A few more valuable seconds of screentime devoted to Wookiee yowling, and we’re off to…
A store. A very low-rent looking set of a store. Where the shopkeeper is speaking to an Imperial guard, who is looking to buy something. Is it a cheap little mini aquarium? It is not. Then Mala calls on the viewphone, and the shopkeeper gives her the following message. See if you can figure out the code.
“Good to see you again. Don’t say a word, Madam. I know why you’re calling. You’re wondering when that shaggy carpet you ordered will arrive at your home. Let me assure you, Madam: It’s on its way. You know, it was made especially for you by a little woman four planets away. She did it all by herself. In fact, you might say she did it by Hand. Solo. So it’s going to take some time to get to you. I know you understand. You understand, don’t you?“
So, to recap: Chewie is coming (which we, and they, already knew). He’s coming with Han Solo (which everybody knows). It might be a while. I wonder how many Bothans had to die for this one.
We then have some more intercut scenes stolen from other movies with new dialog spliced over the old. Darth Vader wants the rebels found.
Then, back to the wookiees. Mala starts to watch a cooking show. Hosted by a transvestite. The joke here seems to be that the cook has a bunch of arms, played by a guy standing behind him who reaches around with costumed arms and then does hand movements that don’t quite match up. They clearly didn’t spend more than one take on this.
Then, back to very short clips of action shots from the other movies. TIE fighters are attacking.
Back at the wookiee house, the shopkeeper from before shows up, and the wookiees yowl at him for a while. Itchy gets plugged into some kind of helmet viewing thing, and then watches Diahann Carroll sing a song while wearing pink hair. The background is all shimmering and kaleidascopic, and you keep expecting her to say “Kal-El,” but she does not.
Princess Leia then talks to the wookiees through C-3PO. She is so stoned. Leia asks to speak to Han or Chewie, and we are yet again reminded that they are not yet there.
Oh, man. According to IMdB, this thing runs for 97 minutes, and it’s only been 35.
Except that we now see that the Millenium Falcon has arrived. It just flew over the planet That was the only freaking minor bit of tension that they had, and they threw it all away on–Wait!
Stormtroopers! Infiltrating a random wookie treehouse! For no reason!
Luckily, our friendly shopkeeper is able to talk them down by rambling in a nervous manner. Guaranteed to get the fuzz off your back. He starts up a machine. Jefferson Starship, in hologram form! That kills 7 minutes.
The Imperial troops are going to search the place. There is something important upstairs, because the wookiees keep trying to stop them from going up. Actually, a few minutes later, we find that there was nothing important upstairs. Someone should tell the orchestra.
And, all of a sudden, we’re into the cartoon section. Wow, Mark Hamill never had such cheekbones in real life. Something strange has happened with the Milenium Falcon, and Luke starts off after them. The Falcon fires on them, and the following dialog is spoken:
C-3PO: He’s firing on us.
Luke: I know.
George Lucas at his best, folks.
It cuts back to the wookies, so that we see that Lumpy is watching this cartoon. Which features his father and friends. Now, random circus performers and rock bands, I can believe. But who watches cartoons of their own (intergalactic criminal) friends on TV?
They crash land on a planet, and a giant dinosaur thing eats part of the ship. And, then, Boba Fett (!) is riding another dinosaur thing. He befriends them, and leads them to the Falcon. He doesn’t sound Maori.
Luke gets a “sleeping virus,” and Boba Fett goes off to get the antidote. And then, we see his treachery: He commmunicates with Darth Vader! C-3PO and R2-D2 intercept this message. Boba Fett wants to find the Rebel base. Then Boba returns and saves Luke.
“Boba, you’re a hero and a faithful friend. You must come back with us.”
But the droids save the day. Ha ha ha ha ha. (I don’t know. It was funny to the cartoon characters.)
The Imperial guys bust up Lumpy’s room, then tell him to go clean it up. The leader says to Mala with a smile: “That will keep him busy for a while.” WTF?!
Oh, man. I can’t keep going. I just can’t. And I didn’t even get to Bea Arthur.
P.S. Oh God: She’s singing.
May 23, 2005
There aren’t any Episode III spoilers in this review, either (although at first it might seem so, keep reading. I promise it’s safe). And it’s awesome. Check it out.
There are NO Episode III spoilers in this post.
Like many Star Wars fans, I have had quite a good laugh at George Lucas’s expense when Obi-Wan utters the single most absurd line in the entire trilogy
Only Imperial Stormtroopers are this precise.
That crazy old wizard’s finally lost it, we think. Stormtroopers can’t hit anything.
But after careful thought, I realized that ol’ Ben was right (from a certain point of view). Due to an unfortunate (and unforseen) combination of poor multi-agent algorithms and the Peter principle, Stormtroopers are both precise and incapable of hitting the broad side of a Star Destroyer.
First, we must consider what we mean by precise The dictionary definition is of little help, because what we really want is the meaning Obi-Wan would have used. And Jedi, like Batman, are scientists. So, realize that precision and accuracy are very different sorts of things to science. This (blatantly ripped off) chart should clarify things.
And by looking briefly at a sample target used in Stormtrooper readiness training, we see that Stormtroopers are neither precise nor accurate taken as a whole. But perhaps each Stormtrooper taken individually is precise. Since we know that Stormtroopers were cloned and exactingly trained, they must have been trained to fire in such a grid pattern, the net effect of a large-scale Stormtrooper assault being a kind of shotgun effect: very effective at defeating opponents such as Jedi, who can predict blaster shots. They might be able to dodge one or two blasters, but they would be helpless against a distributed attack.
But that still doesn’t explain the fact that they consistently fire around our heroes. Where are all the troops who should fire directly at the enemy? The answer is simple.
The Peter principle states
In a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence.
After continual war for nearly 20 years, it’s only natural that the best and brightest of the group would have all been promoted to higher levels within the Imperial Forces, stripping the ground troops of all those originally assigned to fire directly at foes. And, since the upper echelons of the Imperial Forces are not particularly forgiving of their underlings mistakes, the knowledge was lost forever.
May 22, 2005
You know what’s an awesome snack for a warm summer evening?
They’re like little veggie popsicles.
Walking down the street today, I passed an SUV with a “Question Consumption” bumper sticker.
I guess they answered “Yes.”
May 19, 2005
Named after a moderator at the Straight Dope Message Boards in this thread, Gaudere’s Law states:
Any post made to point out a spelling or grammar error will invariably contain a spelling or grammar error.
I just ran across a very humourous example of this in a thread lamenting the state of spelling on internet message boards (bad).
These three posts were in succession with the latter ones quoting their predecessors.
He spells so bad…
“Well, I wanted to get the kanji for ‘peace’ or ‘enlightenment’.”
“Yeah, but then I looked at them, and they were really ugly, so I’m thinking about this one instead.”
“Cool. What’s it mean?”
May 18, 2005
But Burger King does.
Manager Ozzel: Lord Vader, here are your fries and Large Coke, and in a few moments the Extra Value — hchheerrrkk
Darth Vader: I asked for Diet Coke. You have failed me for the last time, Manager. Assistant Manager Piett?
Piett: Yes, my lord?
Darth Vader: Make ready my meal, and deploy salt onto these fries. You are in command, now, Day Shift Manager Piett.
D.S.M Piett: Thank you, Lord Vader.
Counter-boy Luke:… And would you like Super Size your order? For just $.39 more, you get a large fries and drink.
Yoda: Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you? Hmm? Hmmmm?
Leia: What are you doing? You’re not actually buying that for the game piece, are you?
C-3PO: The odds of actually winning anything from that are approximately 234,000,000 to 1.
Han: Never tell me the odds!