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The Creative Mind of George Lucas Divines a New Star Wars Character

The Place: Skywalker Ranch.
The Situation: A creative meeting is taking place to create a new Star Wars character who will be the focus of a new live action television series that takes place between The Empire Strikes Back and The Return of the Jedi.Major brainstorming is going on.
The People: Present are George Lucas and the LucasFilm databank keeper.

Databank Keeper – “Okay, so what have we got so far?”

Lucas shakes his head. He is tired and exhausted from running the Lucasfilm empire.

George Lucas – “Nothing. We have nothing.”
DK – “Alright…what is it? Human, creature of some sort….something…”
GL – “Not human. We have enough humans. Make it a creature.”
DK – “Sentient or not?”
GL – “Definitely sentient.”
DK – “Wise or not?”
GL – “Wise? Like Yoda?”
DK – “Yeah.”
GL –  “Hmm…not so wise. Just normal.”
DK – “Okay, a normal creature. What does it look like?”
GL – “Furry. Tall and furry.”
DK – “Like a Wookiee?”
GL – “Okay…no, make it short.”
DK – “Like an Ewok?”
GL – *Sigh* “Scratch furry. Make it scaly. And green.”
DK – “Like Greedo?”
GL – “…Okay. Scaly, green, big beaver teeth.”
DK – “Like Walrus Man?”
GL – “Why is this so hard?”
DK – “I don’t know. You thought this stuff up.”
GL – “Short. Pigish…creature.”
DK – “Like an Ugnaught?”

Lucas hits his fist on the desk – repeatedly.

GL – “Okay, not scaly and green. Scaly and…orange.”
DK – “…Orange is good.”
GL – “Yes, orange is good. Don’t have many orange creatures.”
DK – “What do we call the orange creature’s species?”
GL – “How about a…Rith.”
DK – “No can do. Too close to ‘Bith’. And ‘Sith’.”
GL – “Toynarian! Vimbanite! Morax! Anything!”
DK – “Toydarian, Mimbanite, Gorax. Already done.”
GL – “Okay…Flangian.”
DK – “Flangian?”
GL – “Yes. A Flangian. He will be a Flangian.”
DK – “Where did you come up with that?”
GL – “I just…created…it.”
DK – “Fine. What’s the Flangian’s backstory?”

Silence for 5 minutes…and then…

GL – “The Flangian was recruited by criminal elements on his home world, Flangia, and eventually grew up on a crime boss’ ship, the Bardo’s Luck. He eventually bought his freedom from the crime boss and joined the Imperial Academy. He was a good pilot but he got kicked out for…some reason…so he got back into crime and smuggled…things…around the galaxy. And then for…some reason…he got caught up in the Rebellion.”
DK – “…That’s Han Solo.”

Lucas breaks a technical Oscar against the wall.

DK – “You know this isn’t easy, George! Remember how long it took you to come up with Yoda?”
GL – “Jar Jar was so much simpler.”
DK – “Yeah, but the whole ‘race’ thing with him…”
GL – “Yeah, that sucked.”
DK – “Yeah.”
GL – “Okay…he grew up privledged, but then was sent to a farm when his parents died. He moved to a swamp planet and then after being hunted down by Dark Jedi he fled there to go live with…Ewoks or something. And his best friend, he’s a Jedi too, and so his friend and he love the same girl but finally have a duel on a space platform -”
DK – “…You’re kidding…right?”
GL – “…What?”
DK – “That’s like everybody you’ve ever created in the whole saga, main-character-wise.”
GL – “Hey, who came up with this? Me? Yes, me! I’m detecting a more critical tone than usual, so don’t screw with me! Remember, man, I am your boss. Making this stuff up is hard!”
DK – “Well exsqueeze me.”
GL – “Shut up, Jar Jar.”
DK – “Okay, easy one. What’s his name?”
GL – “How about…Fluke Bolo?”
DK – “Or Gorge Mucus? Come on, man! Are you kidding? Are you really out of ideas? Come on, man!”

Lucas hangs his head.

DK – “Okay, let’s take a step back and start over again. What should we call our scaly orange Flangian? I don’t know. Just say whatever pops into your head. That’ll be his name.”
GL – “Bill.”
DK – “Bill?”
GL – “That’s the first thing that popped into my head.”

George twiddles his thumbs….

GL – “Okay, we can work with…Bill.”

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An Open Letter to Colonel Saul Tigh

Dear Colonel Tigh,
Saul, we’ve known each other a long time at this point, you and I. I’ve been watching you intently for three and a half years as you’ve wrestled with the Ambrosia-drinkin’ and put-a-gun-to-your-head demons in your mind and you’ve failed more often than I know you’ve wanted to, but I’ll come right out and say it, Saul – you’ve always been my favorite on “Battlestar Galactica”. Others may think that Adama is king or Starbuck is the coolest or Lee is too pretty for words and he gets all the lucky breaks, but for me it’s you, Saul. It’s your craggy ways, your hard livin’, hard drinkin’, always ready for a fight lifestyle, your eye patch, your ability to sum up every situation by cursing. For frak’s sake, you killed your own wife for collaborating with the enemy! You loved her and you poisoned her and held her while she died! Yes, you did cry afterward rather than drink and curse, but you killed someone you loved! Do you think Roslin would, could ever do that? No. It’s one of the things that I love about you that just makes you, you.

After that first Cylon war years ago you were drifting, floundering here and there, drinking, getting into fights, until that one bar where you met Bill Adama and the two of you pledged to each other that no matter what happened the two of you were going to get back into the fleet. And you did. That took guts and guts you have, my brother.

You were crafted by war, Saul, and war needed you. When the Galactica had been hit by nuclear missiles during the initial volleys of the Cylon War II, you had the hulls sealed off and then the airlocks opened to put out a fire that was threatening to take out the entire ship. In the process you shot many living people into space, but you saved the ship. You killed your crewmen but you did it for the greater good and it was a shining moment in your dented and scarred career. Who else would have had the stones to do that? Few men, I tell you.

And when the war came again you found your place. You hated Cylons with a white-hot Tilium-burning passion and that hate has gotten you this far, but now you’ve come to a HUGE crossroad, my friend – you’ve discovered, along with three other people on board the Galactica, that you’re Cylons. You’re part of the fabled Final Five which makes you special, very special. Suddenly your life has tremendous meaning – you’re now more than just a man, you’re a symbol to some, a god to others. You’ve been killing Cylons for fifty years, from the first rebellion to the holocaust of the human race to New Caprica, and now you find out you’re a Cylon? You yourself are one of the enemy? Well, that’s almost too much for an ordinary man to bear.

But damnit Saul, you’re no ordinary man! You’re Saul Tigh, the most rip-snortin’, butt-kickin’ Colonel, XO and one-time dictator in the entire human race! Man up, son! Get yourself together!

Oh sure, it was soul cleansing when you told Adama that you were a Cylon. But what did you think he was going to do, kill you? Would that have made everything better? That would be too good, too easy for you. He handed you over to his son who almost killed you, but Bill never could kill his best friend. You think The Old Man could really have done that to someone he loves almost as much as his own son? Never. I even had in my mind the way I thought you would go on the show but as the midpoint of season four showed us it won’t happen. Here it is though for you –

Adama knows you’re a Cylon. He’s in a rage, holding you up against the bulkhead and has a gun to your chest.

ADAMA : You want absolution, Saul?! What the frak did you think I was going to do? Kill you so you wouldn’t have to?

TIGH : No Bill. I couldn’t let you do that. It wouldn’t be right.

And then you shoot yourself in the head and as your body falls to the floor of the airlock Bill bursts into tears as his best friend dies in his arms and he weeps over you because he knows that part of his soul is now gone and can never come back no matter how many model ships or mirrors he destroys.

It would have been an amazing way for you to go and it would have sucker punched me in the stomach to watch you die. But you’re not dead yet, Saul. You have to keep going. The race isn’t over yet, brother. You said it yourself : you’re Saul Tigh, XO of the Battlestar Galactica, and whatever you were then, that’s the way you’re going to be until the day you die. That’s quite a mantra to live by Saul, given what’s happened to you.

Toughen up, Saul. The worst may be yet to come. Good luck and gods’ speed, friend.

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I Can’t Stop Thinking of Ways to Kill Zombies at the Office

I started and stopped reading several times a book called World War Z. It’s a completely serious take of what happened to the world and its population following a zombie apocalypse sometime in the not-to-distant future. It’s creepy and kinda scary in parts but if you make it through the whole book it’s a pretty good “what if” scenario. For the entire population of Earth to suddenly have to face a cataclysm of never before seen proportions and fight back until living humans regained the planet is pretty cool.

And it gets you thinking about surviving something terrifying : could I do it? How would I get my family out alive? Where would we go? What would we do about food and water? Could I trust my fellow living humans? Even my own neighbors? ‘Cause you never know what people will do when faced with the end of modern civilization and we’re suddenly living in the Dark Ages all over again. Everybody, let’s party like it’s 999!

Being Mr. ADD my mind will wander sometimes so when I’m stuck in the break room the other day waiting for the microwave to finish warming my lunch up I look over at the ice machine. Hanging off of it is a pretty hefty ice scoop probably measuring about 12 inches by 5 inches by 5 inches. The thing is big.

So I hefted it off of the scratch-built hook that it hangs off of and raise it up. Could I cleave a skull with this? Would a machete be better in close zombie combat? How would I get out of this breakroom if my office were infested with the undead bodies of the people I work with? Could I differentiate between their living and undead selves?

Somebody came in after that. He was taller than me. What if he was a zombie? He’s pretty tall, could I cut his head off with this thing?

I took my lunch back to my cube and started looking around at more items in my general vicinity. I have a knife but a knife in zombie combat is going to be pretty useless – no point in stabbing them. Could I crush a head with a laptop? My monitor weighs as much as a car so it’s useless too. The cube walls aren’t too tall, I could escape over them if I got pinned down and there’s a pretty hefty door right near my cube. That could my my escape route, but what if there were more zombies behind that hunting for fresh brains?

There’s a guy that sits at the end of my row. I sometimes wish he were a zombie so I could cleave his head with an ice scooper.

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Steve Vs. Joe : The Ultimate Blue’s Clues Human Sidekick Competition

There are many important things going on in the world today – the Iraq war, horrendously high gas prices, a ramping-up presidential campaign and other stuff. But this may be the most earth-shattering event of all : Which was a better human sidekick for Blue of Blue’s Clues, Joe or Steve?

Steven Burns, who played, inexplicably, “Steve”, was on the show from 1996 to 2002. When Burns decided to move on (one reason given – male pattern baldness), “Steve” went off to college and his younger brother Joe (played by Donovan Patton) moved in to take care of Blue. Joe was introduced over several episodes where he learned the ropes of playing the signature game, “Blue’s Clues”. The human sidekick would ask Blue a question and rather than answer, Blue would demand that his token human must find 3 clues that would lead to what Blue would have said.

Just once I wanted the human, upon learning that Blue wanted to play the game, to say, “No. I don’t want to play Blue’s Clues today.” Would have been a short show.

So which was a better human henchman, Steve or Joe? Both are likable enough, and my son is glued to either of them when they’re on the screen, but each has a different style, which, after repeated viewing (as I’ve done) becomes apparent.

Patton’s acting is more sitcom-y, I think. He’s a ham when he’s onscreen, kind of like a silent screen actor. He has terrible hair, but that’s only partially his fault, since he was born that way. The other half of it is his fault, because he should get a cooler haircut.

Hard to believe, but Donovan Patton is a cousin of General George S. Patton. 1It comes from that repository of old people information, Parade magazine, where people frequently bet steak dinners over questions written into the magazine. I think Patton’s acting is goofy and his character of Joe acts more stupid and clueless than Steve did.

Steve just seemed to be played by a better actor. I actually laugh at him, which isn’t saying much, but he had facial quirks, eyebrow movements, comic timing. Joe seems like his mother drank while she was pregnant with him.

So I award Steve the Ultimate Blue’s Clues Human Sidekick award. Congratulations Mr. Burns. You earned it.


The Tybee Bomb

It was nearly 4 pm on February 4, 1958, when a B-47 bomber, piloted by Major Howard Richardson and 2 other crew members, lifted off from Homestead Air Force Base near Miami, Florida. There mission that day was to practice to fly tandem with another B-47 and mimic the requirements of a wartime attack on targets in the Soviet Union. These missions, striving for realism, would include an aerial refueling, a round trip of about 5,000 miles at speeds up to 600 mph and an electronic “bomb drop” scored by a ground station in Europe or North America. Often along the way the bombers, to simulate reality, would be “attacked” by Air Force fighter aircraft. This day, however, to add another touch of realism to the mix, the B-47 flown by Maj. Richardson also contained within its bomb bay an 11-foot-7-inch-long, 7,600-pound Mk 15 Mod 0 thermonuclear weapon, which wasn’t standard practice for these types of missions.

While cruising westerly over the Gulf of Mexico Richardson’s B-47 refueled as was standard practice on these missions. Upon reaching New Orleans, Richardson turned northerly and proceeded to the Canadian border in preparation for a southerly turn to begin his “bomb run” on radar scoring facility at Radford, Virginia. Richardson’s B-47 “bombed” the target electronically and headed for home. The crew had covered 4000 miles in 8 hours and were ready to rest and relax. Richardson was told by a message from headquarters that on the return trip he would not be “attacked” by enemy fighters, which added a little bit of comfort to the remaining flight.

But no one seemed to have told Charleston Air Force Base in South Carolina. Lt. Clarence Stewart and two other pilots and three crew chiefs are readying their F-86 fighters to “attack” Richardson’s returning B-47. They had been given permission to attack Richardson’s plane any time before it landed in Florida.

At 12:09 a.m. on February 5, Air Defense Control radar picked up one of the B-47’s roughly 180 miles north of Charleston Air Force Base, but it did not pick up Richardson’s B-47. Ground control radar directed the 3 F-86’s to a point several thousand feet over and 15 miles away from Richardson’s B-47. Stewart, and his radar, locked onto the known B-47 and he began descending rapidly to “attack” the bomber, never knowing that he was on a collision course with Richardson’s B-47. Stewart didn’t know he was plunging towards Richardson’s B-47, as he was intently looking at his radar for fear of losing the other B-47 in the darkness, but he looked up for a second and saw the moon reflecting off the top of Richardson’s B-47. He attempted to roll the F-86 right but was unable to avoid a collision.

Stewart was able to eject from the crippled F-86, but, amazingly, the B-47 was only damaged. Upon inspection, the B-47’s crew noticed that the far right engine was bent upwards at a 30-degree angle and the right external fuel tank had been sheared off. Because of the bent engine the plane is rolling wildly. In an effort to control the craft Richardson cuts the power to that engine and then cuts the speed of the plane in an attempt to make an emergency landing at Hunter Air Force Base in Georgia. The tower at Hunter advises Richardson that because of maintenance on the runway, if the plane lands short it could cause the plane to crash, hurtling the Mk 15 bomb through the cockpit and down the runway at 200+ mph. Richardson radios Strategic Air Command and informs them that he is going to ditch the bomb in the Atlantic near Tybee Island, off the coast of Georgia. He does this and is able to eventually land the damaged plane.

On February 6, 1958, the Air Force 2700th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Squadron and 100 Navy personnel began the arduous search to recover the lost Mk 15 bomb. 10 days later an announcement was made that the search had turned up nothing, with the Air Force and Navy believing that the bomb was buried below the water in upwards of 5-15 feet of mud. To this day it has never been recovered. 1Most, if not all, of the information for this post came from an amazing Washington Post article, “Lost: One H-Bomb. Call Owner“.


Charles Manson and the Beach Boys

Dennis Wilson, brother of Brian Wilson and drummer for the Beach Boys, was driving through Malibu in 1968 when he noticed a couple of girls hitchhiking on the side of the road. He picked up the girls, Ella Jo Bailey and Patricia Krenwinkel 1From Vincent Bugliosi’s Helter Skelter. and took them where they asked him. He saw them hitchhiking again later on and picked them up again, this time taking them to his home.

Dennis lived on Sunset Blvd in a house formerly occupied by Will Rogers, and he left Ella Jo and Patricia there while he went to a recording session. Upon returning home at 3 am, a man appeared at the back door of Dennis’ house.

Dennis, frightened, asked the man, “Are you going to hurt me?”

The man replied, “Do I look like I’m going to hurt you, brother?” and he dropped to his knees and kissed Dennis’ feet. He invited Dennis into his own house where about a dozen uninvited house guests, nearly all of them girls, were gathered.

The man was Charles Manson, and he and Dennis got along great. He and Manson would sing and talk about important things, while the girls cleaned house, cooked, and catered to their needs. Manson liked to write music, even though Dennis said he was not musically gifted, and Dennis introduced Manson around town to various people in the entertainment industry.

The Beach Boys eventually went on to record one of Manson’s songs, retitled from its original name “Cease To Exist” to become “Never Learn Not To Love” from the 1969 album 20/20. 2The rest of this piece was parsed together from the always excellent website.


What Do You Do With a Free Flag?

It was just before July 4 and my son and I were at the grocery store. We were getting ready for the (long) weekend and had just paid and were leaving when we came face-to-face with a store employee.

“Would you like a free flag?”

It was one of those clip-on flags for your car that clip to the window. Being one who never passes on something free, I took one. “Can’t get much better than a free flag!” I said, leaving, smiling at the brilliance of it. Free flags. Who wouldn’t want one?

I didn’t put it on the car. It didn’t even come out of the protective plastic wrapper. Then the 4th came and went, and the flag continued to languish in the back of the car.

What do you do with a cheap free flag that you got at the store when its time has come and gone? Do you burn it, like you’re supposed to do with other bigger flags? Do you just pitch it? How respectful do you have to be to a free flag?

It ended up in the garbage can today. Take that, free flag.

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I forgot – the other night Noah was taking a bath in our bathtub, which is a huge tub made by a company called Jetta. It’s big enough to fit 2 people, so when he takes a bath in there I get in there with him for safety reasons. It’s pretty deep and if something happened I want to be right there. So he’s playing around, doing things that he’s learned in swim class, like blowing bubbles, and putting his face in the water, and we’re just playing around, having fun, and he decides he’s going to act like when we get on the side of the pool and then jump in, but the side of the tub is too high, so he uses the armrest of the tub. He sits on the armrest of the tub and starts his countdown.

“10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1!” and he slides down the armrest into the water, but something happens and he jumps up out of the water, a look of pain on his face.

Yep, he’d just racked himself.

It’s funny to think of now, but at the time I was worried that he’d shattered something or torn something, so I examined him and determined by his almost immediate interest in other things that he was fine, but man, that scared me for a second.

Yeah, I’m still laughing about it now. And I’m not a bad daddy.

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