About Me

Rob Pincombe is a prolific television writer, recovering comedian and sometime comic artist/storyboard artist who just wasn't satisfied with a single blog. He writes about sci-fi and fandom at rebelalert.com, Canadian comics at comicanuck.com, and shares thoughts and insights on writing at starkravingadventure.com

Thursday, July 31, 2008

A Real Boba Fete...

Welcome to the rebellion. Caught an article in last weekend's National Post on a Star Wars,
Mandalorian-themed wedding ceremony held outside the this year's San Diego Comic Con.

So often people view fan-themed events with this image of overgrown children with no social skills refusing to be responsible adults and dressing up in crazy costumes. People like to dismiss the fannish enthusiasm as worthless or misguided. But there's a lot happening under all that colourful gear.

The truth is there are few more social events than a cosplay (costume play) or a costume club event . They're the ultimate mixer. It's easy to identify who digs what you dig and you have automatic conversation starters like, "How'd you get the metallic fins to curve at the right angles to really sell the rocket pack?", "Do you believe in adapting an actual assault rifle model, carving it from a single piece of wood, or detailing over a resin cast?", and even "What the heck are you?"

We all love to talk about our favourite shows or books but sci-fi fans take it further, forming friendships around these things that can last a lifetime. And they are engaged in the world in a unique way. Sci-Fi fans love to talk about the transformative power of ideas and are probably the most positive, can-do people you'll ever meet.

Heck, Cosplayers and Costume Club spent months, weeks and hours hand-weaving the fur into their Chewbacca outfit. You think starting a recycling depot in their neighbourhood is beyond them? They're self-starters and always look on the bright side, eager to change the world into the futuristic utopia they see played out in the shows and novels they love.

I admit, I almost dismissed Tenille and Thomas Kuhlman's Mandalorian (Boba Fett's people) wedding myself. But as I read through the article, and later looked at footage and pictures here, I realized this matrimonial union had much in common with my own wedding last November.

My new bride and I have had quite a roller-coaster year. After much patience on her part and many stalling excuses on my part, I asked my bride to marry me in a convulsion of nervous stuttering. Why was I nervous when I already knew her answer (which she helpfully provided me with years before)? Perhaps it's all about Tom Hanks and Ron Howard Apollo 13 rule; just because you know how it ends doesn't mean it isn't a wild ride.

My bride-to-be lived across the Rim, 500 miles and a country away as the shuttle flies. Due to health concerns we were suddenly forced to deal with, I became our de facto wedding planner. As she kept working and dealt with the medical droids (and some of them may as well have been droids considering their inhuman bedside manner), I flew back and forth to help her, worked and made wedding arrangements.

Our wedding was extremely small and we avoided any company or service that was part of the wedding industry. We booked a beautiful restaurant/pool hall/corporate event place that could do the wedding and the dinner, made our own music files and hooked up our computer to the sound system. We also conscripted friends and family to help decorate and found an old friend who used to own a flower store to help out with the floral arrangements and the bouquet.

The rings were antique found on-line, thereby avoiding blood diamonds and questions regarding the ethics of the Canadian diamond industry. Even the dress was found on-line and fit my love perfectly. And Jill (my new wife) even wrote a song about planning the wedding while going through Chemo. It's called Chemo Bride (below). So the entertainment was unparalleled. And the cake? A huge ice cream cake from Baskin-Robbins. and we defy to find a tastier wedding cake anywhere!

Become a guest at my wedding and enjoy my wife's brilliant song, "Chemo Bride"!

I remember how proud we felt after it was all over. We had created a perfect, intimate wedding on a reasonable budget that was full of personality, beauty and joy. Since we paid as we went we also wouldn't be paying off debt on it for years to come! That DIY (Do It Yourself) spirit is exactly the kind of joyful. "let's get it done and celebrate life" kind of feeling I saw at this Star Wars wedding.

Tenille and Thomas were actually married months before but for both of them , this was the true celebration they wanted. It was something unique to them. Something that included their guests in the spirit of creation and experiencing something unique.

And that is what you're really seeing when you see pictures of fans in their costumes at events like these. People who are celebrating possibility. People who are getting that rare opportunity to let that optimistic spirit inside them out. They're letting the world see that we don't have to settle for the mundane every day. We can believe in the power of imagination inspire us to greater heights.

Isn't that worth looking a little goofy for?


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Dex's Diner: A New Hope... For Brunch

Welcome to the rebellion.


of culinary
inertia. Rebel
cooking at
a Coco Town
have won their
first victory
over oppressive
Imperial food critics.

During an
Empire dinner
rush in which the
full hunger of Imperial
Forces was unleashed
on the
brave rebels, Jedi souse chefs smuggled
in banned
spices and use the Force (and wicked-sharp
lightsaber, ginsu knives) to create sumptuous recipes zesty
enough to
satisfy an entire restaurant of hungry patrons bred with
identically voracious, appetities. Pursued by
rival restaurants, Dex’s
Diner expands its menu and
restore savory deliciousness and freedom
to desperate alien and human taste buds ACROSS THE GALAXY...


Come on down to Dexter Jettster’s gourment grill in downtown Coco Town, Coruscant.
No one serves you faster than a four-armed grill master!

On weekends we have Fresh Seafood from Naboo and Kamino:

Colo Claw Fish Chowder
Oopee Sea Killer and Chips
Sando Aqua Monster Calamari

Daily Blue Plate Blue Milk Specials:

Krayt Dragon Ribs, Tauntaun Burgers
Pan-Fried Mynock with Ardee and Space Slug Pudding.

A delight for all species of taste buds!

Tuesday is Wing Ding Night!
Peko-Peko Wings by the dozen!

Hot Jawa Juice brewed fresh every day.

All specials come with a coupon for free frappé dessert in Mos Espa on
sunny Tatooine. They don’t call it a Dessert Planet for nothing!

Try their deep-fried Wampa Ice Creature Sandwich,
a slice of Ronto Pie or a Cinnamon Sarlacc Stick, seasoned
with only the finest ingredients from the Spice Mines of Kessel.

Then speed over to Mos Eisley Cantina for the soulful stylings of
Wilson Wickett and the Jundland Gap, performing such hits as
Massiff Sally and In The Midnight Parsec.

Dex’s Diner
Coco Town, Lower-Level 60, Coruscant

Your Home Away From Home Cooking!

"Food just like your DNA Resequencing,
Embryo-Monitoring, Mamma Droid used to inject!"

For franchise info please contact:
Chewbacca J. Wookie Enterprises
1381 Treetop Blvd., Kashwyk.



Win a free evening out including dinner at one of Coruscant’s finest restaurants and a shuttle tour of Tatooine night-life. To Enter: Simply answer the following skill-testing question and sub-space it to The Imperial News inside a plucky R2 unit along with your bar code:

“What is the proper temperature for flash-frying barbecued Ewok?” *

*Find the answer in the latest issue of the Imperial News!


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Star Wars Sunday Comic 002 - Fett Trot

Welcome to the rebellion. We have intercepted this week's
Imperial News' Sunday Comic; Fett Trot. Enjoy.

With thanks and apologies to Foxtrot creator, Bill Amend. For more Imperial News comics click here.


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Become A Sith Lord

Welcome to the rebellion. And now a word from our rebel sponsor...



Now there is "A New Hope" for all those who thought the Force had passed them by. Experience THE POWER WITHOUT; a powerful, 7-day program, in which best-selling intergalactic author and dictator, Emperor Tony Palpatine provides you with the cutting edge tools for not merely changing, but revolutionizing every area of your life… forever!

This is your exclusive opportunity to master the lives of yourself and those around you by using the same disturbing, underhanded transformational tools used by the Emperor himself. We guarantee the results will strike like bolts of electricity.


The former Darth Sidious has distilled profound knowledge from the finest evil mentors in the universe (by squeezing out their brain juices and studying it with very, um, technical equipment before drinking it down in a revitalizing shake). And now he’s ready to share them with you!

His findings will be presented via live, facilitated holo-video with Imperial facilitators available to compel all in attendance to get the Emperor’s message.

(*For the story accompanying this Chris Jackson/Getty Image
go to www.abc.net )


· Maximize your energy and restore your body to a state of pristine health and vitality by having your wasted flesh hooked into an armour-covered homunculus.

· Develop deep and lasting relationships that provide profound fulfillment, then destroy them without a moment’s hesitation.

· Train your mind and body so your most powerful emotions – anger, rage, certainty, faith and passion - are as automatic as your breathing apparatus.

-Merchandize your image no matter how small a part you play in the Empire's (and the movie's) Plots.

(*Check out www.vintage-star-wars-toys.com
for moreawesome action figure facts and fun)

· Capitalize on opportunities for achieving financial freedom by controlling vast areas of the galaxy with an iron hand in an leather glove.

· Discover a meaningful and inspirational life purpose, like ending the lives of everyone else. Now there’s a goal worthy of a Sith Lord.


Unleashing the POWER WITHOUT is about creating breakthroughs, moving beyond fear into terror and corrupting your beliefs. We offer the power to accomplish goals and realize truly evil desire. By turning dreams and nightmares into reality, and modeling the strategies of peak performers to produce a quantum difference in your life, you too can lay waste to worlds.

THE POWER WITHOUT: PERSONAL, ALL-CONSUMING POWER includes nine 8-track DARK SIDE tapes or 10 holo-vids, a DARK SIDE introductory brochure, a Personal Journal with a glossy photo of the Emperor autographed by one of Palpatine’s personal sycophants, an online profile for Imperial approved dating options and a discount certificate offering 100 credits toward the purchase of any multi-day Emperor Palpatine live indoctrination seminar or any ongoing Personal or Professional Coaching Program.


"Thanks to what I learned at Personal, All-Consuming Power, everything in my life has changed. I now have a girlfriend wonderful enough to hide the very existence of my children from me. My wreck of a body has renewed vitality thanks to the life-giving chemicals and electrical shocks provided by my coffin-like, bio-armor; and I've increased my
personal income by like, 23%!"

-Lord Vader

"At Personal, All-Consuming Power I made a complete turnaround in my goals, my style, and my thinking. I came with the support of my family and after turning them in to the Empire for seditious thoughts, my life will never be the same. . . The Emperor and his Dark Side have been an incredible Force in my life."
- The "Grandest Moff Of All", Governor Tarken, Real Estate broker

Now is the time of your greatest triumph...




*Sponsored by "Pay It Backward With Palpatine Ltd."


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

John Williams: The Wind Beneath My Y-Wing

Welcome to the rebellion. In yet another post inspired by Spike TV's recent airing of all six Star Wars films for the summer, I have been thinking about the music of the original movie.

Let's take a moment to remember John Williams and his unforgettable score to the original Star Wars film, A New Hope. The incredible impact of the movie on the public consciousness owed much to his now-classic orchestration.

I was ten years-old the first time I heard the title "Star Wars". It was on my friend David Jackson's driveway. He and his family had just come from a film that had them very excited. He tried to explain the plot about two little robots lost in the desert and I grew more and more disinterested. It sounded like the lamest story I'd ever heard and yet he was getting more breathless as he described the climax. The dichotomy didn't add up.

I began to hear about Star Wars more and more and saw ads for it everywhere. Within a few weeks my oldest brother, also Dave, took me to see it at our local theatre. The line-up literally circled the building and continued around again! I had never seen a line so long. It seemed to confirm that I was about to see something truly special.

After two hours, we had reached the stairs leading down to the courtyard and I could finally see the ticket office! Being close enough to actually watch money being exchanged for tickets somehow confirmed that we would eventually be making that glorious exchange ourselves. We celebrated with Cokes and a small Pizza Delight pizza from next door... and moved a few feet closer.

By the time I was sitting in a crowded, darkened theatre next to Dave, we had waited through two full screenings to see a movie I knew very little about. Yet the very fact that we had to wait that long created a palpable anticipation in the audience. I was unaware my young world and imagination were about to be blown from 35 mm to wide-screen IMAX.

Was anyone in 1977 ready for the sudden surge of John William's opening fanfare? It exploded around us like a sonic boom, carrying us off in a swell of heroism to that galaxy far, far away that has stayed so very close to our hearts ever since.

We read the crawl telling us what had gone before (I'm glad we didn't know then what we know now. The mystery left us all wide open to be surprised and amazed) as the strings and horns swirled. Then the music turned menacing and the first, unforgettable shot changed the way we viewed science fiction film forever.

I can't begin to describe how very long it seemed to take for that Star Destroyer to pass by the camera as it pursued the fleeing rebel vessel. William's music is full of dread, as befits a vessel whose size and design is designed to spread awe and terror throughout the universe. The combination of his circling strings and horns with the overpowering throb of the engines and the laser fire created immediate tension. Our nerves were the real strings being played. The moment Star Destroyer finally passed, revealing it's colossal solar ionization reactor-powered engines, you could feel the audience let out a collective sigh. We'd all been holding our breath!

The recurring themes of John William's music buoyed the rest of the movie and the movies that followed. But that first few minutes will never be equaled.


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Star Wars Sunday Comic 001 - The Amazing Spider-Wookiee

Welcome to the rebellion. We have intercepted the debut of the Imperial News' latest Sunday comic, the Amazing Spider-Wookiee. Enjoy.

With thanks and apologies to Stan Lee, Steve Ditko and the current keepers of the Spider-Man comic strip flame, Larry Leiber, Alex Saviuk and Joe Sinnot. For more Imperial News comics click here.


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

An Environmental Phantom Menace

Welcome to the rebellion.

It's a night for musing by moonlight as random thoughts flow from my mind to my fingertips through my keyboard to you. I have no idea what I'm about to type but I'm in a thoughtful, meandering mood so precisely calculating where my gathering thoughts will take us is unlikely until we actually arrive where we're going.

I'll have to rely on my internal navigation computer to make sure I don't end up flying right through a star or bouncing too close to a supernova. That would end our trip real quick, wouldn't it?

I have taken advantage of Blueharvest.net's Star Wars Name Generator (or what I like to call the Moniker Droid). It mashes up your names into a name fit for a Jedi, or a beneath the contempt of a Sith. My new handle around the cantina is...


Dang that's some good namin'. I'll wear that holo-name tag proudly on my body armor.... unless I'm at a Dr. Who Con. Then I'll stick it to my long, colourful scarf. Blue Harvest has a young, energetic membership; perfect for carrying the Star Wars torch far into the century. If we all survive longer than another decade on this planet, that is.

I suppose I shouldn't worry about the end of the world. Problems like environmental destruction, the depletion of the ozone, global warming, spending more energy to dig oil from Alberta's tar sands than we'll be able to take out and leaving behind lakes of poisonous waste are no biggies right?

Perhaps George and the visionaries at Skywalker Ranch will find a way to replace the world's oil supply with a much cleaner digital oil. After they've found a way to make those pesky actors obsolete that is. I'm not sure Clone Wars will be much of a step in that direction though. :)

Will they end come with a bang, complete with enhanced explosion effects? Or will it simply disintegrate into constant war? It probably doesn't matter. George Carlin said of the end of the world, "the world isn't going anyplace. We are." Too true.

"What are you on about tonight, Pincro?" you ask? I'll try to pull it all together, I promise.

I was privy to a brief but depressing discussion about the tar sands in Alberta between a friend from Alberta and another from Ontario who asked for a Western persepcctive on the oil boom. Two days later I started working on a show about dinosaurs. Dinosaurs and comedy for kids... a perfect combination. Kind of a dream gig for a kid like me!

My delightful story editor was flown out to Alberta to chat with dinosaur experts this week. The Canadian Badlands of southern Alberta is
dinosaur country folks. Smack dab in the centre is Drumheller, the dinosaur capital of the world. An amazing array of dino skeletons has been uncovered there. We are learning so much about our planet's past through these fossils. And the area is preserved as a unique provincial park to enjoy. Dinosaurs are fun!

The Alberta Tar Sands are are not fun.

With world oil prices through the roof, Alberta is once again raking in the dough thanks to their extensive oil reserves. Alberta is second only to Saudi Arabia in oil reserves. The problem is the crude oil of Athabasca mixed in with the water and sand is extremely difficult and expensive to extract. Firstly, an incredible amount of boreal forest and peat bog is cleared away, just to make sure we get no help clearing the toxic, sulphur-filled air (sulphur is a by-product of the process) we're about to create.

It requires intensive heat to burn away the water and sand. That takes power. Probably enough power to run a Star Destroyer (Pardon the sci-fi metaphor but this is a Star Wars blog after all) Since it takes much more oil to retrieve a barrel of oil than can be retrieved Oil companies are currently using natural gas and fighting for nuclear power plants to provide power for this process.

The damage to the environment is catastrophic. According to this Guardian.co.uk article, the mines can now be seen from space, acid rain is killing trees and foliage. Sludge is dredeged and carried in trucks the size of, well... think of it this way.

Remember the opening shot of Star Wars where the Star destroyer passed overhead and it seemed to go on forever? It really showed how massive the ship was. Now imagine that vehicle with giant wheels the tar sands. Apparently, it's like walking into your two-story house and up the stairs to your bedroom. There's a steering wheel by the window. You turn the key and drive your house to work. Massive equipment is all I'm sayin'.

The oil in Athabasca is process requires so much water the mining of the tar sands is using as much water as a city of one million, every day. The water used ends up forming ponds, more like huge lakes, of toxic water unfit for anything. They don't know what to do with the stuff it so it sits there, filled with, "carcinogenic hydrocarbons and toxic trace metals such as mercury, cadmium and arsenic, all topped off, in Syncrude's case, with an oil slick."

Anyone up for a little for water-skiing? Let's ask the ducks shall we?

The mine area near Fort McMurry is beginning to resemble a combination of Tatooine's arid Dune Sea, the fiery forges of Mustafar, and Alderaan, post planetary explosion. (Again: Star Wars blog.)

Canada could exceed the most stringent Kyoto guidelines and still be one of the world's largest contributers to Global warming and greenhouse gas emissions. It's unlikely that the damage will ever be undone. Evidence is also growing that oil sand extraction also has a damaging effect on livestock and humans. I'll pause for your collective gasp of surprise.

Why is the Alberta government allowing this to happen? Money. Big oil is big business and Alberta Oil have The oil sands processing was cost prohibitive but now that crude is hitting and exceeding a hundred dollars a barrel... "Ka-Ching!" The United States, China and our own government is vying for all that oil. Go for the money now, screw the planet and our kids.

But I'm sure many of those in power feel they are taking care of their people by making them economically powerful and sharing the wealth though tax-breaks and cheques sharing the money left over after budgets have been met. Having few environmental protections in place saves a lot of Provincial dough. They can invest in infrastructure, tax breaks and increased medical allowances perhaps.

But the rising cost of the environmental damage will be huge. They may be running a money surplus now but we are most certainly getting deeper in debt to the environment. And it's coming to collect one day.
In short, we've been governing for today, not tomorrow.

But definitely not next week or year. Again, it's not exactly their fault. This is an extremely complicated question. And no one answer is gonna help us now. North America and China lead the world in oil consumption. It's our Achilles heel. We don't just need petroleum to drive. Our food production currently depends on it too.

Pesticides are are based on oil while fertilizer is made from ammonia, which is made by natural gas, production of which is already peaking. Tractors that plow our food and fridges that store it are made using oil. In fact, the production of almost all modern technology is powered by oil.

The internet alone consumes almost 10 % of the U.s.'s energy. Source.

Solar panels and wind turbines are made using petroleum based power.

In 1984, one of George W. bush's own energy advisers, energy investment banker Matthew Simmons has stated it will take oil reaching $182 a barrel, or $7 a gallon, for demand to be properly controlled.

We can't blame our government entirely for a failure to lead us forward. We'd have ousted them from office if they made any real strides. People may be crying out for new resources but their lifestyles are crying louder for oil. Alberta has always been the most right wing province in Canada and felt burned by the taxes put on their oil profits in the eighties during the last boom years.

People can make three times their salary working the sands and overtime puts their bank deposits and mortgage payments into overdrive. They need so many workers right now, they're flying them in from around the world and people are glad to do it.

So I sit at my computer, using electricity for light and for communicating with whoever you are. I'm writing a fun little show about a kid's love and fascination for dinosaurs (And this show truly revels in dinosaurs!) and I realize that the oil running our world is just that... fossilized dinosaurs. And trees and plants and insects and fish and whatever else existed and thrived before us.

I read the enthusiastic posts of the younger dreamers and true-believers on fan sites like Blue Harvest and I get hopeful. Yet it's hard to ignore how willing people are to ignore the realities of the world.

It will likely take a wide variety of power sources working together in combination to enable us to boldly go forward into a brighter, healthier future. We should be looking for and supporting innovative solutions all the time. And even after finding sustainable solutions, we should continue seeking and resarching in the hopes of discovering or creating sustainable resources that are even more effective.

We have known for decades that oil is a finite resource yet we have done little to find a new way to power our lifestyles, and we've done even less to promote new lifestyles that require less power. It's not that solar and wind power will replace all that oil provides. It's that they are part of a new way of thinking. Our oil is running out. And one day, we may all die fighting for the last drops of it.

Perhaps in a not so distant future humanity will lie fossilized in a national park where Cockroach families will learn about these fascinating and foolish creatures. (Actually, I read somewhere that cockroaches may not be as adaptable as we thought. They're too dependent on humanity's detritus to survive).

Or, we may end up being mined, burned and sucked out of the earth to power their weedwhackers.

Our troubles are here now. Not in a galaxy far, far away.

Read more on the tar sand concerns here, here and here.

For different perspectives, try here , here , here, here and, of course here.

I'm discovering that writing a blog is like navigating an asteroid field at top speed. You never know twists and turns you'll have to take. Perhaps I'll have some Imperial tech-droids clean this post up like pesky, optical printer garbage mattes. But not tonight. Tonight is a night for messy musings.

Let's end it on some dinosaur fun.. for kids of any age.

If you travel to Alberta on a dino hunt , check out this page of destination suggestions. You could also try kidsdinos.com. Online dinosaur games are at dinofun.com and you can always check out the ever-reliable national geographic.


Monday, July 14, 2008

Star Wars Apartment Hunt

Welcome to the rebellion. After a desperate escape from a vindictive interrogation droid who loves his job way too much and a squad of overzealous stormtroopers, I have been on the hunt for a two-bedroom rebel base for my new wife and I. Hence the delayed updating this week as I met with various Hutt landlords.

The Empire has made finding living accomodations our own personal Star Wars but we refuse to give up. We just need a safe, secure place to hide in long enough to harness our New Hope and build a free life together. Preferably a base with an exercise room, remodeled bathroom and kitchen in a safe neighborhood with a good view of several moons. We don't own a landspeeder so grocery shopping nearby would be a plus. And of course, a cloaking shield to keep prying Imperial eyes away.

My personal princess has been across the Outer Rim for years and is finally leaving that embattled Star Warszone. She'll be boarding a shuttle and traveling beyond the 49th parallel to meet me so we can at last create our own rebel band of two.

I’ve been checking back channels for rental accommodations. There’s not much out there. But I did find this in the Imperial News classified ads


Endor: Decommissioned Space Station Husk. It’s the size of a small moon so still suitable for single-family dwelling. Definitely a fixer upper since rebels blew it up but Deflector Shield could be reactivated with old-fashioned elbow grease. Some red-tape will be involved to get the Empire to approve release of the plans for remodeling.

I also noticed these two have been on the market for a while. They were in the last Imperial News edition. Maybe I can get a break on the price!

Tatooine: Renovated hermit's cave. Exceptionally clean. Completely furnished. Heart-warming old-man smell. $1890/month.

Hoth Asteroid Field: Roomy giant space-slug, suitable for family or home-business. Must be tasty morsels. References will be checked. Week to week acceptable until digestion is complete. $820/month.

And for those who are interested, here are more highlights from the Empire’s number one classified section (Even better than Salacious Crumb’s Crumbslist.com and RedThreEBay.com). This smuggled information is as reliable as it comes.


Fleet of All Terrain Armored Transport Walkers (AT-AT’s). Standing fifteen metres tall, these babies are truly intimidating. Avoid cold or warm environments. Fully serviced and impervious to anything… except lumber.nc.

Chim chim cheero! Charming cockney chimney sweep for hire. Experience a quaint, outdated tradition. Clap along to spontaneous dance numbers with animated characters. I do blast furnaces.

(*I couldn't resist. Partly because Dick Van Dyke's lovable cartoon of a cockney from Mary Poppins would really liven up the Star Wars universe sweeping out the Death Star's exhaust ports as he moonwalks and sings Step In Time. But mostly because of this!)


Giant Used Deflector Shield Generator. Currently on Endor. Cheap. You pay only for shipping. Powerful enough to shield a planet-sized space station. Surprisingly good shape despite rebel assault. Some blaster burns and Ewok droppings.


Are you an uppity droid who wants to rediscover the feel of a tightening restraining bolt? Do you want to feel the sting of my electromagnetic feedback? Madame Mark IV Sentry Droid is here to probe all your submissive desires. Catering to technological whipping-droids who crave a taste of electro-lash and bubbling oil baths.

Help me, Obi Wan. You’re my only hope. - Box 402, Yavin


Me: Lonely, loyal Captain laying down cover fire as you sought the throne room.
You: Strong-willed monarch. Though you’ve stepped down from your throne you remain Queen of my heart. Blue milk?

Me: Heart-broken and betrayed old-time fan feels left out of decision not to release original, unaltered version of first movie again. New Hope springs eternal.
You: Overlord of effects, film and merchandising Empire. Despite frustration I’d give left arm for tour of your ranch. Blue milk?

For more Star Wares Classified Ads, click the banner below,


Monday, July 7, 2008

Darth Vader Is Not Clever, Pt. 1

Welcome to the rebellion. Once again, we can blame Spike TV's endless Star Wars summer for my new insights into formerly unnoticed, dusty corners of the Star Wars universe. It's been a while since I've immersed myself so consistently in Lucas' on-screen universe.

I'm afraid I've come to the conclusion that Darth Vader is not a creative thinker.

It's too bad too. We all had high hopes for the Emperor's protege. Darth's awe-inspiring first appearance in Star Wars introduced us to the ultimate control freak. The Vader of A New Hope feels like a malevolent force of darkness with absolute power over his troops; always one step ahead of his fearful followers. If only those pesky rebels were so easy to out-think.

Darth Vader's exchange with Admiral Motti, in which he warns the overconfident leader against the dangers of Death Star envy, reveals this dichotomy. It also clearly shows two individuals with more insight into each other than their own situations.

VADER: "Don't be too proud of this technological terror you've constructed. The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the Force."

Boo-Ya! Vader disses his number one back talker.

MOTTI: "Don't try to frighten us with your sorcerer's ways, Lord Vader. Your sad devotion to that ancient religion has not helped you conjure up the stolen data tapes, or given you clairvoyance enough to find the Rebel's hidden fort..."

Ouch! Mottie scores. In your face Vader -- Gurk! Choke! Motti tries to continue but is strangled under Vader's mystical grip.

VADER: "I find your lack of faith disturbing."

Whoa! Darth shows he's executive material by cutting through the niceties and literally going for the throat. Chalk one up for the schoolyard bully in the black cape.

Vader's main problem in the first film (The first film? The fourth? Shall we split the difference with a representative integer? Math is hard.) seems to be a lack of worthy candidates to delegate his myriad duties to. Find those rebels... Keep track of the secret plans... Lead the fighter squadron... Interrogate a Princess. Darth my man, you are one busy cyborg. Don't feel bad that nothing gets done unless you do it yourself. That's a lot of jobs for even for the most organized of middle managers. And I'll bet none of those duties were in the job description when you got hired by Emperor Palpatine.

If only you hadn't slaughtered all those highly competent Jedi Knights. Perhaps you could have enslaved a few and kept them around. They could have at least cleared up your paperwork so you could let off some steam as lead pilot to your Tie Fighter squadrons without letting so many other things slide.

In the end, Darth Vader tries to do it all himself as the rebels attack. And like so many stressed out, multi-tasking martyrs, he ends up burned out and suffering a (mechanical) breakdown.

After one film, we assume Vader is brilliant. After all, even the smartest people take on too much. We accept that he's the Empire's number one badass. Vader was tough enough that when Grand Mof Tarken mentioned the Emperor, I first assumed he was a puppet ruler. It's not until the much anticipated sequel, the Empire Strikes Back, that we discover the Emperor is the one pulling Vader's strings.

And what does the mysterious Emperor want? An escalation of violence. The same, unoriginal weapons used by petty dictators across the universe. To be fair, this is the only time the Emperor fails to rely on the guile that carried him to his powerful position. When it fails to get him what he wants he will return to his more effective, devious ways.

Vader excels at fulfilling his master's straightforward plan for dealing with the growing rebel threat. He is a man of action, after all. We will see over the course of the movies that follow how prone to action without forethought the Sith Lord is.

Everything goes well when Darth Vader plays to his strengths. The rebels are routed on Hoth and their base is overrun. Flush from his victory, the Sith Lord shows his first hint of adaptability in his search to capture the heroes of the rebellion, Han Solo, Leia Organa and his own son, Luke Skywalker. (We won't even get into how counter-productive it was to "hide" the baby Luke from Vader yet still give him Vader's family name. Not the most effective witness relocation program.)

Once again Vader delegates his search to others. But though he is failed by his own military industrial complex, Darth takes the extra step of hiring outside contractors: bounty hunters. Then Vader actually does some research and discovers Han and Lando Calrissian's on-again, off-again friendship. He makes ne'er-do-well Lando an offer he can't refuse and traps his rebels at last.

Filled with new-found managerial confidence, Vader proves that a good negotiator is also a man of his word, encasing Han Solo in carbonite, just as he threatened he would.

Serious B-A-D-A-S-S.

Perhaps it's true that working out stimulates the brain. Vader's just spent time in the bracing cold of an ice-planet kicking rebel butt... his version of a ski vacation. (He may have also added a vigorous work-out fighting off a Wampa attack on his snowtroopers into the mix. A deleted Hoth scene showed an unusually clever move by C3PO. He removes a warning label from their cell in a cut scene.)

Sadly, The Empire Strikes Back is the last time we see anything close to creative problem solving from Darth Vader. Thanks to retired blog Infinite Galaxy Of Fun and Blueharvest.net for the Wampa attaack info.

Next: Those who do not learn from the mistakes of the first film, are doomed to repeat them... in sequel after sequel.


Friday, July 4, 2008

Intercept: Death Star TV Listings - Blue Channel

Welcome to the rebellion. A plucky, laser-burned droid has supplied us with inside information on the Empire's cable, holo-movie schedule for this weekend. Enjoy.

Your Propaganda and
Indoctrination Destination


5:00pm Lethal Wattoo

6:30pm Space Slickers II

8:00pm Lost In Translation Protocol & Droid’s Data Matrix

9:30pm Sex, Lies And Holograms

11:00pm Under The Tusken Sun


12:30am Imperial Graffiti

2:00am Fear And Loathing in Mos Eisley

3:30am The Fleet And The Furious

5:00am Natural Born Sith Lords

7:00am Gone With The Windu

9:40pm Even Corellians Get The Blues

11:00am A Few Good Clones

12:30pm The Exorsith

2:00pm The Hunt For Red Leader

4:00pm Free Watto

5:45pm Beyond The Rim

7:15pm Skiffspotting

9:00pm Kill Boba Vol. 1

11:00pm The Alderaan Job


12:30am Starship Stormtroopers

2:30am A History Of Rebellion

4:00am Children Of a Lesser Force

5:30am Being Han Solo

7:00am Jedi Jane

8:30am The Asteroid Of Dr. Moreau

10:00am Rebel Smackdown!:
Live From the former Alderaan System!

12:00pm Pirates Of Kamino

1:30pm The Mask Of Zuckuss

3:00pm An Officer And A Geonosian

4:30pm Stormtrooper And The Bandit

6:00pm Star Trek: Recycled

7:30pm The Last Temptation Of Anakin

9:00pm The Usual Rebels

10:30pm Reservoir Droids


Thursday, July 3, 2008

Harsh Universe

Welcome to the rebellion. With Spike TV in the US becoming the 24 hour Star Wars channel lately, I've had the extended opportunity to have the revised, revamped and recycled trilogy prequel and the original three movies playing as I sat with my mucho delayed tax calculations.

With the dialogue failing to hold my attention and the actors so awestruck by being in a Star Wars movie they fail to bring personality to their roles (too much reverence and not enough irreverence), I had a chance to pay closer attention to the background scenery and design. Man, the designers really are the big stars on display.

One smart thing George Lucas did from the very start was to treat most of the technology like it's always existed. A movie set in L.A. wouldn't spend any time setting up what a phone is or how it works, they'd just use the dang thing and anyone who had never seen a phone would figure it out. "Oh, that thingie allows these two people to communicate."

But the more I watch the films the more I realize how technology doesn't make the lives of the people in his universe any better. It seems to take all the technology they can muster to hold a their savage natural world at bay.

The icy cold of Hoth is barely survivable. In fact, technology fails Luke completely in The Empire Strikes Back. Han must use his wits and survival skills to create a warm sleeping bag out of a fallen tauntaun.

Degobah plays havoc with Luke's X-Wing, the wild waters of Kamino are a deadly danger Obi-Wan must avoid at all costs, the burning volcanic sands of Mustafar claimed Anakin Skywalker's humanity (with the help of a little light saber chop chop, courtesy of his mentor, Obi Wan). And the seat of the Old Republic's Galactic Senate, Corsucant has conquered and obliterated any hint of nature and become an endless, crowded urban jungle.

But is life there better because of it? It doesn't seem so. Flying cars fill the skies, sin dens line the streets. It is as inhospitable as Geonosis has become, with its craggy craters and the run from it's droid factory. Perhaps only the serene and cheery Dexter Jexter of Coco Town's Dex's Diner finds this city planet preferable when compared to the inhospitable environments he has seen.

The only planets where there is any kind of harmony with the natural world are those whose technology hasn't encroached. Planets where the natural is respected and treated with reverence (now that's the place for reveerence). The Wookies and Ewoks live in harmony with their world as do the inhabitants of Naboo. Not coincidentally, the beings of these worlds seem to be the most peaceful and balanced creatures we see in the trilogies.

Are the designers sending a not so subtle message about rampant technology? Unfettered, technology provides few answers and often creates more problems; pollution, waste and destruction of natural environments being only the most obvious ones. Is this a quiet plea for a more measured and peaceful use of science? Perhaps.

More likely such decisions stemmed from creating as dramatic a backdrop to the main action as possible. Seeing hints of the natural and scientific worlds wrestling for domination adds to the compelling, human drama in the foreground. And when the human drama is played out with wooden dialogue, awkward, inconsistent character arcs and perfunctory direction, I'll take my drama anywhere I can find it.


Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Intercept: Star Wars Soap Sudz

Welcome to the rebellion. We have intercepted advance notice of this week's space opera plot lines.

(*Spoiler Alert!)

ALL MY TROOPERSTrooper 551 covers up Trooper 613’s murderous rampage but his laser burns are too accurate to have been left by a Tusken Raider. Sy Snootle’s severed hand forces him to leave the Cantina Band for good.

AS THE DEATH STAR TURNS Sasha is shocked to learn armaments droid Z48 plans to use the Super-Laser to blast out a new lake for Lance’s Naboo resort.

THE BOLD AND THE BOUNTY HUNTERS Commander Tagge fumes over Azul’s “friendly” visit to pleasure droid T-Ashley3000. Jamal finds a holo-clipping which reveals the real story of Biggs ‘miraculous’ survival skills.

CORELLIAN STREETThe force is strong with Tiffany but when Bale refuses to fall for her Jedi mind tricks, she uses her metal bikini to tempt him toward the dark side.

GENERAL HOSPITAL FRIGATELeia learns Luke’s new hand has no fingerprints. Scorpio finds himself in over his head in the trash compactor. Lando’s new love song lands him in hot water with Vader.

GUIDING FORCERidge stuns Brooke with his plan to oust Vader and turn Kaminoan’s Secret into Empire Lingerie, but has Lando heard too much?

ONE LIFE TO CLONE Miranda’s water breaks while she’s trapped in Jabba’s pit. Bib contemplates what to do with Oola’s incriminating holo-disc.

PARSECS OF OUR LIVES A mysterious figure skulks around Bo and Yoda’s semi-detached hut. Evil developer Stefan plots to terraform Degobah.

PORT COMET Chewie confesses his love for Shmi. Blake is gunned down in Wattoo’s shop and replaced in the pod race by his evil clone.

THE YOUNG AND REBELLIOUSAmi Dala begs Ken Orbie not to tell anyone she’s pregnant. On a romantic Bespin weekend, 3PO and R2 consummate their relationship in a heart-shaped oil bath.

ENTOUR-BARRAGE - When manager Evar Orbus is killed, Max Rebo must take the reins to keep the band together. Droopy McCool is determined to make a killing selling Oola's secret Jabba sex tape but no one in the universe wants to see that.

UGLY BINKS - Jar Jar loses the layouts of Vader's latest fashion spread and must create a new holo-shoot from scratch. Hmmm, meesa know a very hot former Queen who might show off the leather bustier she wear to impress Jedi she babysit.


Rock The Rebellion!

Welcome to the rebellion. Are you ready to ROCK? Death Star Repairmen has been immortalized in rock and roll history! Rockabilly fan band Death Star Repairmen has released a CD of Star Wars inspired, rhythmic rock and roll to showcase their brief but storied history. According to bandleader Captain Zorikh, the self-proclaimed Time-Traveling Bard and Three Chord Monte...

"The Death Star Repairmen are a small group of dedicated servicemen who, after a lengthy tour of the Imperium's greatest space station repairing the controls that extend the bridge, finding out what shut down all the garbage mashers on the detention level, and filling in all the blast points in the corridors, like to relax with a few drinks and some good music.

They play an entertaining selection of songs including "Stormtrooper Blues," "Come on, Little Jedi," "The Nerfherder Song," "Red Five," and "Flying Saucers Rock & Roll." Occasionally they extend into ballads of other famous creatures with fuzzy, wooly toes. A good time is guaranteed for all who join them in their post-work revelry.

For a CD of the Death Star Repairmen (and other works by Captain Zorikh) go to The Watch This Space Catalogue.

To hear sample tracks by Captain Zorikh and the Death Star Repairmen, go to The Death Star Repairmen MySpace page.

Whew! Capt. Zorikh is a one-man entertainment empire with a documentary about a grand battle staged by his chapter of the Society for Creative Anachronism, his own series of mini-comics, several music CD's based on his comic strip Ironfowl, a solo CD and most importantly, The Death Star Repairmen's debut album "A Night In Mos Eisley"! Best of all (and proving what a honourable Jedi the good Captain is), Zorikh acknowledges the band took its name from Darryl Gold's fan opus and has posted a huge thank you and link to the DSR website on his own site!

The name of this musical combo was inspired by the brilliant and funny short film "Death Star Repairmen" by Darryl Gold. Visit his website by clicking on the banner below:
Death Star Repairmen video

(Aside from this inspiration, this combo has no official ties with this video or the makers of it, though we wish we did, 'cause it's a really funny piece of filmmaking! It's an excellent website too! And I'm not just trying to suck up to the Mr. Gold because I hope he doesn't sue us for using the name, it's really good. No, I mean it...)

And even better, the good Zorikh's mama raised him right. He e-mailed Commander Gold for permission to use the name. We foolishly thought the band was a one-off! Congrats on building a following and this summer's convention tour, guy.

Shazam! He's also a Captain Marvel scholar. And I wasted time in university on psychology and theatre history for non-majors.

Rebel Alert salutes you Captain. Welcome to the rebellion!