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Glenn Vance Posts

21 Years Later, We’re Still Taking Our Damn Shoes Off at the Airport Because of the Shoe Bomber

I’m about to go on a trip in the very near future, and one thing I will have to do before boarding the airplane (since I have applied, but have not been interviewed or approved for the Global Entry program) is take my shoes off and run them through the metal detector at an airport security checkpoint. Before Global Entry, everyone, regardless of who you were, had to take their shoes off and run them through the metal detector. It’s an inconvenience that came to life thanks to the man above – Richard Colvin Reid, also known as the Shoe Bomber.

On December 22, 2001, Reid boarded a Miami-bound flight from Paris wearing his special shoes that were packed with plastic explosives and a detonator cord that he would have to light. After he was reported to be acting strangely on the flight, Reid grabbed a woman who was curious about what he was doing (he was attempting to light the detonator cord attached to his shoe). Reid, a large man, was 6′ 4″ and weighed 215 pounds, was subdued by several passengers who used plastic handcuffs, seatbelt extensions, leather waist belts and headphone cords to restrain him. A doctor on board gave him a sedative from the emergency medical kit of the plane and they diverted course to Logan Airport in Boston, where he was immediately arrested on touchdown.

Apparently, the explosives didn’t detonate because of rainy weather in Paris – the detonator cord had become too wet in the Parisian rain.

So, the next time you’re stressed and late for your flight and have to take your shoes off at airport security, curse the name of Richard Reid. It’s all his fault.1Of course, if he’d been successful, this would have been a tragedy. Fortunately, fate decided to not cause anybody harm that day. Except for Reid, who was sentenced to three consecutive life sentences and 110 years with no possibility of parole.

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The Mandalorian, The Book of Boba Fett and Obi-Wan Kenobi : Where have we been, what have we learned, and where are we going with all of this?

FYI – This post series will discuss many, many, oh so many spoilers of the shows The Mandalorian, The Book of Boba Fett and Obi-Wan Kenobi. You have been warned.

I honestly don’t remember a time when I didn’t love Star Wars. I was almost 6 and a half years old (first grade!) when I saw the first one in the theater (probably at the long-gone NorthPark 1 and 2 with their delightful earworm of a Feature Presentation Trailer) and never got it out of my head. I wanted the toys, I wanted the comics, my brother and I had the Han Solo pistol from Kenner and the other would have the Storm Trooper blaster rifle and run around the house shooting at each other. I bought the movies on VHS, then DVD, then digital. I’ve seen them all multiple times at this point (I’ve probably seen the original at least 100 times), even the one’s I didn’t love.1I’m looking at you, Rise of Skywalker. I loved watching Clone Wars and Rebels . I even watched 2 episodes of Star Wars Resistance (not so great).

All of this is to say, my fan credentials are solid, bro.

I do not remember this ad, but I was probably going nuts the moment I saw it.

So it was with great interest that the first slate of Star Wars shows were announced several years ago, starting with an original show called The Mandalorian. My interest was piqued: who would the Mandalorian be? What time period in the Star Wars timeline would it take place? Would anybody from the films show up in cameos, or possibly play major roles?2These are all very very important Star Wars questions. Sure, sure, all of the early love was for Baby Yoda, but having loved Boba Fett from a young age (my mom sent off for the action figure that promised, YOU FREAKING PROMISED KENNER, to shoot the rocket out of his backpack) I was stoked. I even subscribed to Disney+ to see it (which is honestly the real reason they’re making these shows, right?)

Long story shorter, I liked The Mandalorian. A lot. A very cool show made by very cool people who just wanted to make something very cool. It did just enough fan service to keep the old guard watching3The ice cream maker/safe, the Dark Saber, Scout Troopers (my favorites)… and built up new stories for new fans that joined in. It was fun and exciting and Din Djarin was a great anti-hero to start off the Star Wars TV Universe.

Din Djarin, the Mandalorian, aka “Mando”

Fast forward 2 seasons of The Mandalorian. Din Djarin has reunited Grogu (Baby Yoda) with an actual Jedi master that can train him. As you know if you watched the show, that Jedi was the one and only Luke Skywalker, fresh off burning his father’s body on Endor and attempting to start up a new Jedi academy. There is a tearful departing from Din and Grogu, Luke walks away, and we’re left with Din trying to figure out what he’s going to do with the Dark Saber and probably try to not be killed by Bo-Katan. The show made it feel like Din Djarin’s story has come to an end.

Credits roll.

But wait…there’s more!

Holy crap, what is this?! Are we now going to follow another Mandalorian? Will the show shift from Djarin to Boba Fett? Mysteries abound!

A year goes by, and The Book of Boba Fett premieres to…not stellar reviews. Maybe the anticipation was too sky high, but for me it all rests on the shoulders of once-cool-but-now-isn’t director, Robert Rodriguez. I loved his El Mariachi, but this was…not El Mariachi. I’m not going to go into too much depth on the show, as I’ll save all of those sins for later, but the video below sums it up well.

This is what The Book of Boba Fett felt like to me. SPIN! Barf.

But wait, there’s more!

Slowest. Chase. Ever.

Granted, the Sand People culture and lore made this show for me, but it felt like so much potential that was wasted. Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni should have tapped the brakes on this before it was too late. Sadly, they did not.

Which brings us to the latest, Obi-Wan Kenobi.4Serious side note – what is the deal with the very lame basic names for these shows? At least The Book of Boba Fett had an interesting, catchy name. But they’re only going to get worse as more shows are made. Andor. Ahsoka. Can’t anybody think of something more creative to call these? Coaxing Ewen McGregor back was a great idea and I felt that the show did it’s best to stand on its own, unlike TBOBF,5The Book of Boba Fett. which was just The Mandalorian, Part 2.

All of this leads me to thinking about these shows and I’ve been wondering where we’re going with them. Working with characters that we already know , possibly from their births all the way through to their deaths, has already been discussed and shown on film. Fans know this stuff. We know that Anakin Skywalker was born on Tatooine and died in the second Death Star. Ben Kenobi was tutored by Qui-Gon Jinn and died on the first Death Star. Boba Fett came from Camino and, well…died on Tatooine before he was reborn for TV. What else is there to know? Why keep squeezing more dollars out of these characters that I love? And what problems do these shows create by existing?

So I want to go through each of the shows and break them down up to where they currently are. From The Mandalorian, to Din Djarin appearing in TBOBF to Boba Fett and finally to Obi-Wan Kenobi. I’m probably going to go all longform here, but that’s the breaks.

So, coming soon…

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The Lansdowne Portrait

Gilbert Stuart was one of America’s great portrait painters, painting more than 1000 people, including the first 6 presidents1Washington, John Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, and John Quincy Adams. He was a Loyalist, and at the onset of the American Revolution, he moved to England where he continued painting and honing his craft. But mounting debts led him to Ireland, and then, finally, back to America. He had an idea that could would get him out of his debts – paint George Washington. It was 1793 and Washington was just beginning his second term as Commander in Chief.

“When I can net a sum sufficient to take me to America, I shall be off to my native soil. There I expect to make a fortune by [portraits of] Washington alone. I calculate upon making a plurality of his portraits, whole lengths, what will enable me to realize; and if I should be fortunate, I will repay my English and Irish creditors. To Ireland and English I shall be adieu.”

The Lansdowne Portrait

But it’s hard for the common folk to meet American royalty (as some wanted Washington to be). So Gilbert formulated a plan – find someone who knew Washington, impress them, and then press them for an introduction. He did this with Founding Father, and first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, John Jay.

Stuart’s portrait of Chief Justice John Jay

Stuart persuaded Jay, through a flattering portrait of him (above) for an introduction to Washington. Expat Stuart had first met Jay in 1782 when the Jay was in London negotiating the Treaty of Paris, the formal accord that would officially end the Revolutionary War. Stuart would paint Jay more than once, and by impressing Jay, Stuart won his introduction to Washington. Jay contacted Washington in 1794 about Stuart, and Stuart departed for Philadelphia in November, 1794 to meet the president.

All in all, Stuart painted multiple portraits of Washington, ranging from the Vaughn Type portrait, the Atheneum Type, to the Landsdowne Type. The Lansdowne Type got its name from the owner of the first full-length portrait Stuart painted, William Petty, also known as the first Marquis of Lansdowne. The portrait of Washington was a gift from William Bingham, a merchant from Philadelphian who gifted the portrait to Lord Lansdowne for his financial support of the colonies during the Revolutionary War.

The portrait stayed in England well into the 19th century, where it became the property of the Dalmeny family. It went on permanent loan to the National Portrait Gallery in 1968, but in In 2000, the portrait’s owner, William Dalmeny, decided to put the painting up for auction. If the Portrait Gallery couldn’t come up with $20 million, he would sell it to the highest bidder. Fortunately, for all parties involved, the asking price was matched, and the painting safely resides in the National Portrait Gallery to this day.2Some other sources I found for this piece were from Mental Floss and also Khan Academy.

Me, at the National Portrait Gallery in 2022. With George. Even let my hair down for him.

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This Looks Fantastic

For All Mankind is far better than it deserves to be, mostly because of what Ronald Moore did to Battlestar Galactica in it’s final season. What a travesty. But it looks like he’s getting his act together, once again, for For All Mankind. I love this show, and watching some of the side characters grow has been one of the best parts about it. Not to mention the effects budget must be atronomical.

For All Mankind premieres this Friday, June 10, on Apple TV+.

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Vice President of the United States of America – the Most Powerful Pointless Job

A NOTE – I originally started writing this series 4 years ago. It’s interesting to me again, so I’ll be completing it over many months. Stay tuned.

Second in command has always been the least important important role in any organization. History is littered with great people leading in the face of adversity and challenge, sometimes rising to the occasion but just as often failing. Their names are etched in history, but every one of these great people had to have someone there next to, or behind, them, to pick up the mantle if something, unfortunately, happened.

Abraham Lincoln had two vice presidents – Hannibal Hamlin and Andrew Johnson. One of those people, fortunately, did not set back the United States 100 years through his southern sympathies and post-Civil War reconstruction. Hannibal Hamlin, Lincoln’s first vice president, on the other hand, had this to say about holding the office

There is a popular impression that the Vice President is in reality the second officer of the government not only in rank but in power and influence. This is a mistake. In the early days of the republic he was in some sort an heir apparent to the Presidency. But that is changed. He presides over the Senate–he has a casting vote in case of a tie–and he appoints his own private secretary. But this gives him no power to wield and no influence to exert. Every member who has a constituency, and every Senator who represents a state, counts for more in his own locality, and with the Executive who must needs, in wielding the functions of his office, gather around him, and retain by his favors, those who can vote in Congress and operate directly upon public sentiment in their houses.

So in honor of these people, I’ll be starting a new series here – The Vice Presidents. The series will not focus on the men who held the second-in-command office and then went on to become their own branch of government, but the men who served quietly and then, possibly through their own actions or through the choice of the American people, stopped. People like Elbridge GerrySchuyler Colfax and John Garner. They must have lived interesting lives and had ambitions, right?

So, The Vice Presidents. Coming soon.

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Maybe I’m back?

Wow! It’s been almost 4 years since my last post, about John McCain’s funeral.

At the time, I just couldn’t do it anymore. We were knee-deep in the Trump presidency, with it’s crisis-each-day attitude. Trump hadn’t been banned by Twitter yet, so everyday was a new bunch of histrionics from the former POTUS. And we weren’t even up to COVID and the January 6th insurrection yet. And when those two things happened the world just turned upside down.

Parenting, worrying about the future of the country, worrying about the future of the human race, it’s been a difficult 3+ years. But some good things did happen –

  • through the miracle of modern science, we got many safe and affective COVID vaccines. Now if everyone would just take them and not think that they were a way for Bill Gates to track people.
  • The worst U.S. president in modern history and an all-around horrible human being was resoundingly defeated at the ballot box and a good, decent man was inaugurated at the 46th U.S. president.
  • My oldest son was accepted into UNT as a freshman.
  • My youngest started his freshman year in high school.
  • My parents are currently celebrating their 53rd anniversary.
  • My significant other and I are about to have our 10th anniversary.

So maybe I’ll try to write some more now. I may write some pieces, I may just post links, who knows. But it would be nice to continue this blog a little longer. We’ll see.

Anyway, hi again. 🙂

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Thoughts on John McCain’s funeral

I watched parts of John McCain’s funeral yesterday (Sept. 1, 2018) and was pretty moved by his daughter Meghan’s eulogy. If you haven’t seen it, it’s well worth the 17 minutes that she speaks.

Her dad was tough, smart, opinionated and a statesman. I especially love the line that got applause (at a funeral, no less) –

“The America of John McCain has no need to be made great again because America was always great…”

Donald Trump did not attend McCain’s funeral. He was playing golf at the time. Vice President Mike Pence did attend. So did most of Washington’s elite, from both parties. The Clintons, the Obamas and the Bushes attended as well. But no Donald Trump, who has had problems and an ongoing feud with McCain for years, with his most famous insult of the former senator being

“He’s not a war hero…He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”

Trump said that just a couple of years ago, but here he is in 1999 downplaying McCain’s heroism –

McCain often made veiled jabs at Trump, such as this

“One aspect of the [Vietnam] conflict by the way that I will never ever countenance is that we drafted the lowest income level of America and the highest income level found a doctor that would say that they had a bone spur…That is wrong. That is wrong. If we are going to ask every American to serve, every American should serve.”

But getting back to Meghan McCain. I love that line so much (“The America of John McCain has no need to be made great again because America was always great…”) because it gets to the gist of what is happening right now in America – is America great? Has it had problems (of course) and do we try to deal with those problems (I think eventually we do try) but the current resident of the White House apparently doesn’t think we are ‘great’. He tweeted today, in a believed response to McCain’s skewering of his mantra –

So, does Trump think that we’re NOT great? What constitutes greatness in his eyes? Are we only great if we do what he thinks is great? What does he think is great, anyway? The Cleveland Plains Dealer compiled a list of things he thinks are ‘great’, among them –

  • Himself as a leader
  • Himself as a person
  • His company
  • His hotel in Honolulu
  • His fortune
  • His poll numbers
  • His security cameras

If you don’t agree with the great narcissist Donald Trump, does that make you part of not making America great?

Addendum: After finishing this I went back to the original article that the Twitter screenshot above came from and noticed something else. One of the comments from the article showed a retweet from someone that I do not know –

Jesus wept.

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Boba Fett is a Terrible Bounty Hunter

Boba Fett, for all of his cool street cred and name recognition and raspy voice and supposed toughness, is just not very good at his chosen profession. Bounty hunters have to go after the worst of the worst, they’re basically mercenary police officers, and those kind of people have to have something about them that screams, “Look, dude, don’t mess with me, because I am so much more of a bad dude than you are.” Boba Fett has that vibe, that je ne sais quoi that projects intimidation, when, in fact, he is anything but a professional. He is, in fact, the clumsiest luckiest SOB in the whole Star Wars universe.

I’m basing this solely off of the original Star Wars films that Mr. Fett appears in and not any of the expanded universe, expanded editions or prequel stuff that came later. If you read books or watch cartoons based on the expanded universe you learn more about Boba Fett, and how he really is a totally bad dude who can survive falling into the stomach of the Sarlacc, but I’m not focusing on that, because diving into the expanded universe is a never-ending slogfest of links and other characters whose names you don’t know. I’ll be focusing only on the parts of the original trilogy where Boba Fett appears or does something, nothing more.

The first time we see Boba is in The Empire Strikes Back, awaiting orders along with a group of other bounty hunters from Darth Vader. Like Wesley from The Princess Bride, he mutters, “As you wish.” He then looks menacing while standing next to IG-88, a walking coffee maker.

The next time we see him he’s floating away in the garbage cloud that the Millennium Falcon used to escape from the Star Destroyers chasing them in the asteroid field. How did he get his ship, Slave I, into the garbage cloud? It’s not explained, but he follows, heroically pushing some buttons that make his ship’s engines turn on. Also, this is the only scene where we see Boba’s little optometrist scope being used. 1Speaking of the garbage cloud, have you seen the size of some of that stuff? These are like the biggest pieces of garbage known to anyone in the outer rim. Some of them are as big as the Millennium Falcon.

When our heroes get to Cloud City on Bespin, sneaky Boba appears next after Vader has disarmed Han Solo, sidling up next to Darth Vader while Stormtroopers point their blasters at Han, Leia and Chewbacca. He has literally done nothing but follow the Falcon to Bespin, and now he’s standing next to the most powerful Sith lord there is. This tells you that he’s a very tough, quiet individual! Later, after Han is being tortured for fun, Boba tells Vader that Han is “no good to (him) dead.” He then traipses around, holding his rifle while Lando Calrissian prostrates himself before Vader. After that it’s off to the carbon freezing chamber where he once again complains about needing Han alive. He then points his rifle at Chewbacca, who could rip Boba’s arms out of their sockets without even trying. Once again, he’s one tough dude, showing you what he’s made of. After Luke arrives on Cloud City, he shoots at Luke, then runs away like a scaredy cat, then tells a Bespin guard to put Han on board his ship before flying off to Tatooine.

On Tatooine, he comes across in an almost civil fashion when he acknowledges the bargaining prowess of Boushh (Leia), after the “bounty hunter” secures 50000 credits for handing Chewbacca over to Jabba the Hutt. Repeating his placement on Bespin, Boba stands (once again) behind a powerful individual (Jabba the Hutt) while said powerful individual talks to someone (Luke). But all of the supposed toughness and bravado come crashing down on him when Boba ignites his jet pack and flies into battle to recapture Luke, Han and Chewbacca on the desert skiff, only to have Luke slice his blaster in half. He performs the ultimate wimp out move by lassoing Luke (lame!) and getting hit in the jet pack by a blind Han. As his jet pack once again ignites, rocketing him across the desert expanse, he cries out, slams into the side of Jabba’s sail barge, and then plummets to his death in the stomach of the Sarlacc monster.

Why is this man revered? I’ll admit, his outfit is cool, he carries himself with a Harry Calahan-like confidence and speaks only when it’s necessary. He seems like a tough dude, but I think that lying beneath that mask is the face and eyes of someone who knows they’re hiding their fear from everyone and realizing that, deep down, Fett is a charlatan who has to keep up the act before someone finds out that he’s really only good enough to be Sarlacc food.

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I Have an Unnatural Aversion to Foods That Are White

The other day the boys wanted to dye Easter eggs. Fine, I said, so we went and got all of our supplies together : Eggs, Paz dye, other artsy implements in case someone was feeling creative were all gathered. We got the water to boiling and carefully dropped the eggs into it, waiting a good amount of time before removing them in case they weren’t completely solid (which is always a bad thing). While letting them cool it hit me like a brick in the face – the smell of those nasty things.

Yuck. I had to leave the kitchen.

Man, I hate the smell of hard boiled eggs, don’t know why, it just smells terrible to me. Like this earthy, wet, warm smell that permeates the entire kitchen. About twenty minutes later, with the aide of a full-torqued celing fan, and the kitchen was no longer a no-man’s-land for my nose.

But this brings up something that I have been dealing with for a long time – my unmitigated hate of white foods.

There is something about the color white, when applied to something someone is eating, that churns my stomach. Milk, eggs, yogurt, marshmallows, when served by themselves, just do a number on my reflexes. When served with something else, though, it’s not so bad. Marshmallows by themselves? Couldn’t look more upappetizing, but when mixed with chocolate and graham crackers, they become something heavenly.

Plain milk? No. Chocolate milk? Oh lord yes.

Popcorn is another issue. I love popcorn, which, in it’s natural state, is mostly white. However, it is delicious and usually buttery/salty, two flavors that I could eat for days together.

Maybe this is really about how I hate hard boiled eggs. Consistency, smell, the shell you have to crack, that nasty looking tennis ball colored yolk in the middle of them. If anybody ever sent me to Guantanamo, all they would have to do was boil some eggs and give me a big glass of milk. “Excuse me, sir, I’ll tell you whatever you want. Just get those things out of here.”


The song “Bells” from “Christmas In The Stars” Proves that Earth Exists in the Star Wars Universe

Even though it existed long ago in a galaxy far, far away, the characters of Star Wars appear to know who Albert Einstein was, the proof being the song “Bells” from the 1980 album “Christmas in the Stars: Star Wars Christmas Album”.1These lyrics appear to not currently exist anywhere on the web, so I’ve transcribed them myself from the original song. The plot:

C-3PO and R2-D2 have been chatting previously about Christmas (from track one, ‘Christmas in the Stars’) and their talk turns to a sound that R2-D2 hasn’t heard before.

R2-D2 speak
What is that? That my silly friend, is the sound of bells.”
R2-D2 speak
“What are bells?”

For shame! C-3PO proceeds to berate R2-D2:

I cannot believe the question
It’s like, “what is indigestion?”
Not that bells and indigestion are the same.

I cannot believe the query
That you ask, “what is Einstein’s theory?”
Compared to “what are bells?” seems almost tame.

R2-D2 speak
What is indigestion? Who is Einstein?
Before you ask me, “Who is H.G. Wells?”
I will help your education with a simple explanation of bells.

So now we’ve thrown human digestive problems, one of the greatest minds of the 20th Century, and a British science fiction writer born in the 19th century into the mix.

Bells bells bells
The thing they do is ring!
Bells bells bells
What happy thoughts they bring!
Bells of every kind and sort, bells that play and bells for sport, chiming what the hour is now, or they’ll lead you to a cow!


Bells bells bells
Make such a merry sound!
Bells bells bells
When Christmas comes around!
Bells when snow begins to fall, bells when friends begins to call!
Bells when love is in your heart, bells when Christmas carols start!
In each and every man, where peaceful harmony dwells
You will hear loud and clear the thunderous wondrous sound of bells!

Bells bells bells
They’re tiny and they’re small!
Bells bells bells
Are also ten feet tall!
Bells that sparkle in your eyes, every color every size
Speaking languages with ease
In a breeze they’re Japanese!

Japanese? Again, really?

The song goes on from there, but the meat of the topic posited above is that C-3PO has now mentioned Albert Einstein, H.G. Wells, cows and Japan. And don’t forget the Judeo-Christian implications of a Star Wars Universe character knowing about Christmas. Later in the album Santa Claus is mentioned, as well as one of his sons, S. Claus. We never learn S.’s first name, except that it starts with an ‘s’.

We can only assume that this will eventually play into Star Wars: Episode VII, where we finally have the Millennium Falcon chased by the remnants of the Empire to Earth. Get ready!

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