Star Wars Generation

Lest my review of Attack of the Clones lead anyone to believe that I am anti-Star Wars, let me assure you that I am most certainly a member of the Star Wars Generation. My personal history is deeply intertwined with the Star Wars mythos. In the tradition of Wil Wheaton‘s “The Trade” and‘s “Star Wars Memories“, here are my recollections of being a part of the Star Wars Generation.

I was born on 25 March 1969. Star Wars was released on 25 May 1977. I was eight years, two months old.

My father took us to see Star Wars a few of weeks after it was released. The Sunday Oregonian had been running an ad for the film and the ad’s artwork was mesmerizing: a young man in a robe holding a torch over his head, a young woman wrapped around his waist, sleek airplanes flying through space, robots on a mountain, and behind it all some mysterious helmeted figure.

According to my brother Jeff, we were at my grandparents’ house when Mom and Dad came and told us that we were going to see Star Wars. Jeff remembers not being aware of Star Wars until�

We entered the theater late, after the opening fanfare, after the title scroll, after the opening battle sequence. When we sat down, a shiny gold robot was walking across the desert and a little round blue robot was being zapped by strange midget aliens in capes. I loved this movie from the start. It was like my favorite TV show, Star Trek (shown every Sunday at 4 p.m. in reruns on KPTV channel 12 the entire time I was growing up), only better, faster paced, with laser swords and creepy aliens.

As the summer of 1977 progressed we were able to see the movie several more times, with family and with friends. Sometimes the lines to see the film were huge. I’d never seen anyone line up for a movie before. Each time we saw the film we noticed something new, we memorized more of the dialogue.

A year after its release, we were still going to see Star Wars in the theater. How many films stay in theatrical release for a year now? The Fellowship of the Ring has been around almost six months, but that’s atypical.

At school Star Wars fever had gripped all of the boys. We bought Star Wars cards and Star Wars action figures and Star Wars comic books. We had Star Wars bed sheets and Star Wars underwear and every boy had the same Star Wars t-shirt, our heroes with blasters at the ready. We orderd Dynamite! magazine from the school book service because the cover featured the Star Wars gang. We marveled at the holographic Princess Leia (“Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope!”). We were disgusted by the blue milk. We dreamed of light-sabers and X-Wings and Princess Leia. We acted our favorite scenes over and over and over again.

For three years, Star Wars cards were our prized possessions. We coveted them: the blue cards, the red cards, the green cards, the yellow cards, the orange cards. Each pack of cards ($0.15/pack) also contained a Star Wars sticker and stick of hard, pink bubble gum. We put these stickers all over everything. We chewed the gum with gusto.

Star Wars cards were used for currency at school. If I wanted a classmate’s toy or book or comic, I’d offer to trade him Star Wars cards. I remember coveting The Star Wars Storybook, a glossy paperback filled with a plot summary and stills from the film as well as information about the sources of George Lucas’ inspiration to make Star Wars. (Specifically, the book traced his inspiration to Saturday morning serials from forty years earlier, and to pulp science fiction — this was actually my introduction to the idea of pulp science fiction.)

We also played with the Star Wars action figures, which were sold everywhere. We bought many of our figures from the local Coast-to-Coast hardware store ($2.50/each). When Dad went in for vegetable seeds or nails or anything else, we stood entranced before the display of Greedos and Hammerheads and Walrus Men.

We conducted many spectacular battles on the harvest gold shag carpet in the living room of our trailer house. We developed clever games that required switching the capes on the various figures, swapping the lightsabers from one Jedi to another. As The Empire Strikes Back approached, we sent in for the Boba Fett figure. (I believe to this day that the primary reason for Boba Fett’s popularity is that his figure was the first one from Empire to be released — thousands of young boys saved proofs of purchase in order to send away for this figure.) (Here’s a link to a guy in Wisonsin who kept all of his action figures…)

When we didn’t have our Star Wars merchandise with us, we would improvise. When Mom or Dad drove us places we’d fight for the chance to sit in the front seat. We wanted access to the dashboard which would be transformed into the controls for our X-Wing fighter.

We’d flip the tuning knob on the radio: “This is Red Five, I’m going in.” We’d press the buttons to change the preset stations in order to fire our turbolasers. We’d open and close the vents to change the configuration of our wings. We’d scout for TIE Fighters in the mirrors.

Those confined to the back seat would sulk while the lucky bastard in the front seat single-handedly held off Darth Vader and his evil minions.

The Star Wars comic books ($0.35/each) were another source of adventure. The stories were imaginative and seemed like natural extensions of the film. The over-arching plot line related the Rebel Alliance’s quest for a new base. This search required our heroes to visit new, exotic locales: water worlds, giant space stations filled with gladiatorial arenas, industrial planets, etc. The humor and the adventure of the movie were always present.

Once we tried to dramatize the issues in which Luke and company encounter a civil war on the water world, Drexel. This was more difficult than we had anticipated (what we could have done with a modern PC!), so we abandoned the project after only half an issue.

My parents gave us the Star Wars soundtrack for Christmas. We listened to it constantly, all four sides. We loved every track from the opening title sequence to the cantina band to Princess Leia’s Theme to the End Celebration. We wore that vinyl out.

In the fall of 1978 my father purchased an Apple II computer. The machine came with two games on cassette tape: Star Wars and Star Trek. In the Star Wars game, two players using game paddles co-operated to target and destroy TIE Fighters. The toughest TIE Fighters to destroy were the curved-wing “Darth Vader” TIE Fighters. We loved this game.

When VCRs came to prominence in the late-70s and early-80s, the first film we watched on tape was Star Wars.

The Oregonian carried the Star Wars comic strip. The daily strips and the Sunday strips tracked separate stories, both of which were exciting. The strip eventually became Sunday-only and the stories took on a sort of Flash Gordon feel, especially the stylish art from Al Williamson.

In the summer of 1980 we went to a rummage sale at Eccles School in Canby. David Carlson and his brother Paul were there. Paul found a copy of Star Wars #35, an issue that I didn’t have yet. He went to ask his mother for money, and I promised to watch the comic for him, but while he was gone I bought it for myself.

The Star Wars comic book was the first periodical to which I ever subscribed. I saved my money until I could afford to go to the post office for a money order, which I mailed to New York. A few weeks later the first issue of my subscription arrived: Star Wars #39, the first part of the Empire Strikes Back adaptation. I was a subscriber for six years, until the title ceased publication.

The Empire Strikes Back was released when I was eleven. My family went opening weekend, stood in line, sat in a crowded theater. When Luke, sitting on his Tauntaun, lifted his goggles, the crowd cheered. We watched, amazed, at the Battle of Hoth, the attack of the Imperial Walkers. The chase through the asteroid field was like a ride on a roller coaster. The cloud city of Bespin, though clearly derived from the Star Trek episode “The Cloud Miners“, was beautiful to behold. Boba Fett captured our imagination. And — horrors! — Darth Vader revealed that he was Luke’s father!?!

The Brown twins, Sean and Cory, were lucky enough to receive The Empire Strikes Back game cartridge for their Atari 2600 one Christmas. What a fantastic game! Here were Imperial Walkers live on our television screens.

Though the Empire Strikes Back cards weren’t as cool as the original Star Wars cards, we collected them. We also bought the action figures, though these too had lost some of their charm. My Yoda figure was awesome, with its little fabric cloak and little plastic stick. I kept that thing through high school.

The week before Return of the Jedi was released, the fledgling USA Today revealed several important plot points. The most shocking revelation was that Luke and Leia were siblings. Blasphemy! It was also my first experience with a “spoiler”, advance information about a movie.

Later that week, in gym class, when I revealed that Luke and Leia were related, and that I knew this because I had read it in the newspaper, nobody beleived me. Except one little guy who taunted me and said I only knew this because I had already seen the movie.This caused me great offense. I hadn’t seen the film already, I told him, but had read about it in the paper. He told me I was a liar.

We were in the locker room, eighth-graders standing around in jockstraps, and this kid just kept pestering me. I threw him up against the lockers and told him to shut up, that I hadn’t seen the movie, and that if he didn’t leave me alone, I’d beat the crap out of him. It was the first and only time in my life that I ever threatened anyone. And it was because of Star Wars.

The Saturday that Jedi opened, Darren Misner’s mother drove us to the Westgate theater at 6 a.m. She sat in line with us for five hours, a saint of a woman if ever there was one. Darren and I were eager with anticipation. I had brought my father’s microcassette recorder. (My obsession with microcassette recorders started a long time ago.) One of the young men in line had brought a boom box (these were still novel in 1983); he played his Duran Duran tape repeatedly. We listened to “Is There Something I Should Know” a dozen times that moring.

The first half of the movie was thrilling, if contrived, but something happened midway through. Luke and Leia were in an exciting speeder chase through a dense forest and Leia fell off her vehicle. Miraculously she survived.

And then it happened: the turning point in the history of Star Wars.

As Leia came to, she encountered the Marketing Tool. Darren and I, only fourteen, were not impressed. And worse, the Marketing Tools (there turned out to be an entire village of Marketing Tools) somehow managed to defeat the mighty Imprerial Stormtroopers and their advanced weaponry. The Rebel Alliance had been crushed by these Imperials in the Battle of Hoth, but somehow a group of primitive teddy bear-like Marketing Tools were able to do what an organized rebellion could not.

There were other problems with the film, too (much of it felt contrived, strung together in order to get from Point A to Point B without any care for the logic of the actual path), but none compared to the presence of the Marketing Tools.

My enthusiasm for the Star Wars universe has never faded. Throughout high school and college, I watched the films regularly. (I’ll admit that near the end of my college career I sold my comic book collection for money, including all of my Star Wars comic books (of which I had multiple copies of most issues). Where were my priorities?!? I’ve spent the past several years piecing together a nearly complete run of the series again.)

During the nineties I read various Star Wars novels, most notably the almost-good series from Timothy Zahn. I continued to buy various Star Wars comic books, including the Dark Empire series from Dark Horse. I bought the only issue of “Star Wars Generation”, a quality fanzine.

When I purchased my new Apple Macintosh 640CD-DOS compatible personal computer in the fall of 1995, the first game I got for the machine was Star Wars: Dark Forces. I played it through three times. Soon after Dark Forces II: Jedi Knight was released, I bought a PC. (In no small part because of that game.) Dave and I spent one memorable Saturday at his office hacking each other apart with light sabers. More recently, I spent last month under the spell of Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast.

During the past five years I’ve pieced together a nearly-complete run of Marvel’s Star Wars comics (thanks largely to Excalibur Comics’ semi-regular 50% off sales). They’re great reading. (I look forward to the impending Dark Horse trade paperback collections with will gather these stories into more easily accessible volumes).

On 31 January 1997, Star Wars was re-realeased with fancy new effects and added scenes. Kris and I took time off work that day to see the show. We watched it twice. It was fantastic.

As Phantom Menace neared release, I downloaded both trailers and brought them to work. We watched them over and over, awestruck. This new movie was going to be better than all three of the previous Star Wars films combined! When Phantom Menace action figures began to trickle onto the market in March of 1999, Kris and I bought one for Paul Jolstead as a birthday present. Custom Box Service bought a bagful. We put together little Star Wars packages which Tony took around to our best customers. When the movie was released, we bought tickets for one of our clients.

Kris and I bought tickets for the 12:01 a.m. showing. We stood in a rowdy line at the Hilltop Theater in Oregon City, we cheered as the scroll crawled across the screen. Then we sat in a muddled mixture of terror and amazement as the story unfolded. The next day I took time off work to go see the movie twice more. I could barely sit through the third showing. This film worse than could have been imagined, worse than Jedi, far worse than the trailers had led us to believe. This was a black mark on the Star Wars universe. The ending was inconceivably bad. Sure, the pod race was fun and Ewan McGregor did a fine job, but the rest of the movie was a failure.

I thought Attack of the Clones had to be better, but the trailers revealed that this wasn’t likely to be the case. And then I saw the film…

Star Wars has been a defining force (heh heh) in my life for the past twenty-five years. It galls me to see it reduced to a mere shadow of what it once was.


On 21 May 2002 (05:17 AM),
Dagny said:

Well, JD – it galls me that you were responsible for such pain in Paul Carlson’s life. He probably needed therapy over that, you know.

On 21 May 2002 (05:29 AM),
Dagny said:

Oh yeah – I almost forgot. If you want to see vintage Star Wars wall paper, give Mike Groff a call and arrange a tour of his parents’ house. The upstairs bedroom that used to be Dave’s is still resplendent in heroes.

On 18 June 2005 (05:50 PM),
Rich Handley said:

The Star Wars strip never became Sunday-only. It ran seven days a week from the beginning to the end. It’s possible the paper you read them in only carried the strip on Sundays, but it ran every day of the week until the last week of the series.

Attack of the Clones

First impression: this film stinks.

Second impression: the core of a good film is in there somewhere.

Third impression: this film stinks.

I hadn’t planned to see Attack of the Clones so soon; however when Mac asked if we wanted to see the film last night after book group, I was happy to say yes. (We haven’t done much with Mac and Pam lately, and I miss that.)

Before the show started, the crowd was a bit rowdy. Certainly not as rowdy as the crowd had been at the midnight showing of The Phantom Menace, but a bit rowdy nonetheless. At the end of the show, the crowd was silent. Not a good sign.

The movie was dull at the start and remained dull nearly throughout. Kris’ succinct review highlights one of this film’s root problems: “It wasn’t engaging, there were no characters that were engaging.” (Her one-word review was also apt: “Lame.”)

Many reviews have stated that Clones is better than Menace. This isn’t really the case. It seems to me the two films are equally bad, just bad in different ways.

Here are some thoughts on specific aspects of the film, the positive first:

  • Hayden Christensen, as Anakin, isn’t as bad as I had feared. Some of his line readings are worthy of wincing, but mostly he does a passable job. The real problem is the script, not the acting. Star Wars has traditionally had some relatively wooden performances, but it’s difficult to overcome poor dialogue.
  • Amidala is great in the last half of the film (essentially the entire time she’s in her white outfit). I’m not saying this simply because the outfit is snug and form-fitting. No, her character is well-written at this point: decisive, resourceful, engaging. Unfortunately, her character is pretty dull during the first half of the film.
  • Kenobi as secret-agent-Jedi works well. Very well. This is the “core of a good film” to which I earlier alluded. His story is interwoven with the Anakin/Amdidala love story — a story with dialogue so painful as to inspire laughter from the audience — and it is this story alone that is compelling in the film. The rain-drenched ocean world of Kamino, with its tall and graceful cloners, with the mysterious Jango Fett and his son, Boba, is an intriguing place. The film would have been more satisfying if this had been its central focus. (Ewan McGregor does a fine job as Kenobi. He gives the film’s best performance.)
  • I liked most of the Anakin/Amidala story-line from the point they leave Tatooine until the point the Jedi arrive to save them in the gladitorial arena. For maybe twenty minutes, this plot thread is handled well, in the tradition of the earlier Star Wars movies. I didn’t care for the video-game-esque foundry sequence, but found the “execution” scene great fun. Well done.
  • Many of the visuals were stunning. Some of them were too flat and cartoony for my taste, but the animations of the ships and structures were fantastic, especially those on Coruscant. The art-deco styled buses and freightliners and buildings are a strange addition to the Star Wars universe (we’ve seen nothing before or since to suggest their presence), but I like them. When Amidala’s ship came sailing through the clouds to settle at the landing bay in the opening sequence of the film, I was awed.
  • I also liked two borrowed elements: the Jedi library on Coruscant (with its lack of information about Kamino) was eerily similar to a scene in Isaac Asimov’s Foundation and Empire in which our heroes are searching the University library on the planet Trantor, the former seat of the galactic empire, for information about a hidden planet. Also, the choral music near the end of the film is a straight lift from Ralph Vaughan Williams‘ Symphony #7 ‘Sinfonia Antarctica‘ (A beautiful, haunting piece of work. This performance by the London Symphony (conducted by Andre Previn) is superb, with Sir Ralph Richardson reading each movement’s introduction aloud.) Simply awesome stuff and well worth borrowing.

And some thoughts on the negatives:

  • Yes, Lucas reduced Jar-Jar’s role in this film. Severely. But that doesn’t matter becuase C3PO is the new Jar-Jar, but even less funny and more annoying.
  • As has been reported elsewhere, the dialogue in this film is bad, it’s not nearly as bad as the overall story, a story which makes no sense. Characters’ motivations seem completely arbitrary, as do their resultant actions. We never understand why any group is on this side or that side of the galactic struggle.
  • Why is Anakin so damn concerned with his mother now? Where has he been for the past ten years? Wouldn’t his first thought after the events The Phantom Menace have been to return to purchase her freedom from Watto? Why is he only concerned about her now? This plot point is ludicrous. And Shmi’s death scene is awful, too, producing scattered snickers throughout the theater. Anakin finds her tied to a beam. She looks weak. She moans, “Oh, is that my Ani? My how you’ve grown. Gugh.” And she dies. Terrible, terrible writing. Merely a plot device so that he can go berserk and taste the dark side.
  • Lucas has apparently come to the conclusion that more of anything, even a bad thing, makes that thing better. So we’re “treated” to incomprehensible battle scenes with thousands of combatants, yet we care about none of these people. Our heroes are off chasing the bad guys. Why do we need five minutes of animated battle scenes that give no service to the plot? The Battle of Hoth from The Empire Strikes Back was perfect: the audience understood that this was a battle on a grand scale with high-tech vehicles and weapons, yet we had characters we cared about. We understood the motivation of each side in the conflict. We could follow the action. There were dozens of things on screen at once instead of thousands. And I don’t care how fake the models looked, I prefer them to the animation in the newer films.
  • If R2D2 can fly, why haven’t we seen him do it before?
  • If Yoda can hop around like Kermit the Frog on meth, cutting a mighty path with his light-saber, why does he hobble around on that stinking stick?
  • Other than the Antarctic-inspired section, the music was generally dull. Worse, it was omnipresent. Not every scene needs to be scored, but every scene in this film has been. Ugh.
  • Many of the events in later episodes now don’t make much sense. For example, when Owen Lars buys C3PO and R2D2, why isn’t there a glimmer of recognition in any of the three parties? Whoops. That doesn’t really makes sense now, huh?

As we left the theater Pam wondered aloud if George Lucas had even watched the first three films before making the last two. He seems to have forgotten what Star Wars was about. Or perhaps changed his mind.

The original films were effective for a variety of reasons, but one of the key factors was the feeling that our heroes were but small players in a galactic conflict. Luke Skywalker was a lowly moisture-farmer from a backwater planet who inadvertently becomes entangled in events far greater than himself.

The various stories written after the first film retained this sense of “small fish in a big pond”. The novels, such as Alan Dean Foster’s Splinter of the Mind’s Eye, and the comic books (including the still-magnificent Marvel run of issues #11-38, soon to be reprinted in trade paperback by Dark Horse Comics) and the newspaper comic strips all managed to convey a sense of the grand sweep of the galactic civilization and the smallness of our heroes.

Now it has been revealed that our main characters are all part a small band of individuals that shape the course of this galactic civilization, that all of the events for forty years featured the intertwined fates of just a few individuals, or just one individual: Anakin/Darth Vader. The characters are revealed to be “big fish in a big pond”, and this causes them to become less iconic, to lose much of their appeal.

Further, the levels of co-incidence that Lucas is willing to introduce into these stories defies belief. Yes, the original films were fantastic, presenting alien civilizations, technological marvels, and epic battles. But through all of it, the audience was able to accept what they were seeing on the screen, believe that it might possibly exist. It had a sense of realness.

No more.

Now we’re simply overwhelmed with implausible co-incidences and battle scenes with thousands of combatants but no rhyme or reason. Characters act with no plausible motivation, simply to serve the needs of the plot, a plot strung together on the most tenuous of threads.

Am I disappointed?

Hell, yes. I had hoped that The Phantom Menace was an anomaly, but it appears instead to have been an omen.

Some people will read this review and think that I should lighten up because it’s only a movie, as if this somehow excuses it from the realm of quality. Action-adventure movies don’t need to be bad. In fact, we’ve been treated to two good Star Wars films in the past: A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. The recently released Spider-Man is an action film, too, but one that isn’t afraid to be smart and sensible and accessible (my review).

Other people will read this review and think that my expectations of the film influenced my opinion of it. This may be true to an extent, but it’s unlikely to have had much of an effect. I went into The Fellowship of the Ring with low expectations and, though I did not love the film, it surprised me with the quality of its production. I went into Spider-Man with very low expectations and was delighted to be proven wrong. Clones, however, met my lowest expectations and then sank beneath them.

It’s not the worst film I’ve ever seen, but it will probably be the worst film that I see this year.

The best part of the night was the trailer for Minority Report. Now that looks like a good science fiction movie…


On 18 May 2002 (12:40 PM),
tim said:

well put. i think i agree with 98% of what you said.

On 18 May 2002 (03:01 PM),
Jason said:

Whoa… scathing.

And considering Rotten Tomatoes tallies the score at 55%, I’ve come to the conclusion that the Star Wars legacy is doomed.

What a shame.

On 20 May 2002 (04:52 AM),
Dagny said:

As usual, JD, I agree with some of what you’ve said… the most disturbing element to me was Yoda. If he can avert disaster by heaving a multi-ton stone column with his mind, why in hell does he need to jack around with a light saber? He could have put Dooku down with a raised eyebrow. But that doesn’t make much of a fight scene… no, wait! It did in LOTR. Kinda gives Yoda a bum rap when he has to resort to physical weaponry.

Also ~ when the movie was done, Dane asked me “What do you think?”

I said, “I think that too many people have VCRs and don’t know how to behave themselves in public.”

Dane clarified. “No, about the movie.”

Dagny: “Well, it wasn’t torture. Except for the others in the theatre… they were torture.”

On 20 May 2002 (07:36 AM),
Kal said:

What do you guys usually do after ‘book group’?

On 20 May 2002 (09:21 AM),
Dave said:

Being fully advised by JD’s rant and other, similar expositions of the film’s merits (or lack thereof), I felt that I was fully prepared about what to expect from Attack of the Clones, but boy was I wrong.

First, the good parts:

Yes, I think Natalie Portman looked great in a backless gown.

Karen said that Mr. McGregor looked hot too, and why was Amadala looking at the stupid Anakin guy with Obi-wan around. (and I thought that Mr. McGregor’s acting was the best in the film, recognizing that this doesn’t say much).

The premise of the story was really quite clever.

Oh, and did I mention that I thought Natalie Portman looked really good in the skin tight white outfit? (Although I apparently missed the scene where she leaves the arena, puts it into the washer/dryer, shrinks the hell out of the middle section, puts it back on and returns to the arena. Not that I’m looking a gift bare midriff in the belly button.)

The special effects were usually quite good.

Seeing Yoda bouncing around like a muppet on meth was cool.

Well, ok. That’s about it for the good side. Karen wanted to know where George Lucas got the cigar store indian to play the main character and why he couldn’t have at least painted a convincing expression on him. I wanted to know why a whole bunch of Jedi are going to dump themselves into a hopeless battle when they could have just as easily done the vast majority of the destruction via airstrikes. And lets put on red shirts and fight a huge number of machines in an vast pit where there are no natural terrain features to take advantage of and where we’re going to be picked off like fish in a barrel.

The fact that Anakin can apparently float lends further credence to the supposition that he’s a witch and thus made out of wood.

Even Natalie Portman can’t look good in a stupid head handerchief.

I was praying that Count D. would just run Anakin through and save us all from having to see ST III. Ah, but no luck. Now he’s just got a dorky mechanical hand, OH MY GOD, JUST LIKE LUKE!!!! Isn’t the parallel remarkable?

By the time we were done watching the film, I was fairly convinced that the Jedi deserved to be wiped out because they’re stupid and incredibly short sighted. Just start from scratch and get it over with.

Anakin + Amadala = blech blech blech. “Oh we can’t, Yes, we can, No, we can’t, yes, we can! Ok, but only if you wear this stupid doylie on your head. OK” For crying out loud, just do it and get on with it! Every time they started the romance thing I had my head in my hands wondering how Karen was ever going to forgive me for dragging her into this load of crap. (I’m sure she’ll devise some suitable punishment. She did mention “chick flick” somewhere in her irritated diatribe.)

Watching the Anakin character go through his “personal agony” over everything in the universe was quite annoying. It really reminded me of a scene from BlackAdder III where Pitt the Younger is talking to BlackAdder about the feelings that he’s developing and the poem he’s written “Why do girls hate me”. Fortunately, that scene made no pretense about being anything other than a comedy.

And to answer JD’s question about Yoda, I’m sure that it’s for the same reason that Jedi take the stairs instead of simply force-jumping to the top.

Yes, death to C3PO and now we have an even bigger reason to hate Jar-Jar since he brought the emperor to power. Of course, since I’m now rooting for Palpatine and want him to kill the Jedi, especially Anakin, that’s ok, isn’t it…

On the whole, I have to agree with JD’s review as well. There is a good story (or two) in this film, but it is severely hampered by crappy dialog (yes, I know that the line you just spoke was spoken by someone in one of the first three movies, but does that mean that Lucas is attempting to be ironic or is he just running out of dialog and decided that the dialog in the first three was sooooo good that we’ll just recycle it?), wooden acting (I killed them all. Not just the men, boo hoo hoo … & such memorable scenes as “We should go after Obi-wan”, “No!!” “Why not”, “He is like a father to me” !?!?!?!???), and implausible individual circumstances (hmmmm, lets keep the audience interested by having Ms. Portman show her midriff. We’ll try to justify this as damage to her clothing from the nasty beast attacking her, which, when it tears clothing will in fact create a new seam and make sure that everything is even.) (Ok, that bit worked for me, but hey, I’m shallow, alright) & “I know you just got tossed out of a fast moving aircraft and you appear to be unconscious, laying there in the sun burning your belly button, but are you OK?” “Oh, well, I was unconscious, but Yes, I feel great now, thank you Mr. StormTrooper prototype, let’s go run across the sand until we can find another transport, take it to the place where the bad guys are at and try to kick some butt, ok?.”

Unless STIII involves Palpatine turning Amadala into his concubine, killing Anakin and basically looks like a remake of Caligula (set in space), I’m thinking that STIII is going to be a video only experience for me because I can’t continue to suffer like this. At least on video we can fast forward to the lightsaber duels and get the crap out of the way.

On 21 May 2002 (05:26 AM),
Dagny said:

Hi Dave. =)

Re: Karen’s “irritated diatribe”

Is there any other kind of diatribe?

On 21 May 2002 (04:15 PM),
Dave said:


Obviously you’re not married. Otherwise you’d know that there are a multiplicity of diatribes. There’s the irritated diatribe (I’m upset with something/one else), the annoyed diatribe (I’m upset with you), the hormonal diatribe (I’m upset with everyone/thing) and the righteous indignation diatribe (I’m really upset with myself, but I’m taking it out on you).

These are just the basic diatribes, each of which have various subcatagories and subclassifications. I’ve no doubt I’ll have the opportunity to expound upon those at some later point in time.

On 23 May 2002 (07:40 AM),
Paul said:

Why do you continue to consume the mass marketed pablum passed off as entertainment? Your expectations are high because you think. This is not a commie plot to overthrow the dominant paradigm. If you would cast your dollar votes for “good” movies and did not cast your dollar votes for films like Attack of the Snot Clones,then eventually the market produces “good” films to meet demand. Supple and Demand is not a commie plot nor anti-establishment. You don’t buy and read books marketed at the check out counters because you know they are shit. Is Spider Man a gem in the rough? Jim Jarmusch has produced thought provoking movies over the years that certainly are “mainstream”, but do not stoop to the lowest common denominator. For gods sake JD, stop going to “bad” films, you are killing yourself!!! (is that too melodramatic?)


I like cheese.

I’ve liked nearly every cheese I’ve ever tasted.

My current favorite cheese is feta (also here).

At the moment I’m eating fresh-grated parmesan.

I like cheese.

Some cheesy links:

  • “the number one resource for cheese!”
  • “ahh, the power of cheese” — this is the official cheese site for the American Dairy Association (how long til they muscle in on
  • CheeseNet: “the Internet’s cheese information resource since 1995”
  • The American Cheese Society: so good they don’t even need a catchy slogan!

Have a cheesy day!


On 14 May 2002 (09:33 AM),
Amy Jo said:

Have you tried Rambol? My cheese of choice.

On 08 May 2003 (02:54 PM),
J.D. said:

It’s a year later, and I still love cheese, and I still have not tried Rambol, Amy Jo’s cheese of choice. I’ll have to make that a goal for the coming year…


It’s a slow time of year for Custom Box Service. To kill time, Tony started playing Scrabout, a computerized Scrabble clone. Then Nick started to play it, then Jeff. Now I’m playing it too.

Here’s a screenshot from my best game (click to enlarge):

[J.D.'s best game of Scrabble]

During my first ten games today (against the computer on its highest difficulty level) I won three and lost seven. I averaged 295 points to the computer’s 325 points. During my second ten games today I won four and lost six. I averaged 313 points to the computer’s 332. Overall, I won seven and lost thirteen, averaging 304 points to the computer’s 329 points.

I’ve had a good two-day break. Tomorrow I’ll get back to databases.

All of the papers are touting Spider-Man’s $115 million opening as the “biggest weekend ever” for a film. It always bugs me when they do this. Of course it’s the biggest weekend ever: the damn film just opened on 3615 screens charging around $8.00 a seat. Adjust the figures for inflation! Tell me how many tickets were sold in comparison to past films! Tell me the per theater average adjusted for inflation. That would be a real telling figure. (I managed to google the top 100 films of all time after adjusting for inflation.)

Also: The president of Fantasyland: Bush vs. Science.

(The last two links are courtesy of


On 05 January 2003 (02:29 PM),
Kmhoup said:

I agree Scrabout is the best game ever. Unfortunately I just got a new computer and cannot find this game to download. Can you help me? If so please email me. Thanks a bunch!

On 03 February 2003 (03:34 PM),
Maxine said:

I need to download the Scrabout game and cannot find out how to do it. where do I find it> Thanks

On 09 February 2003 (12:54 PM),
J.D. said:

I can’t post a link to Scrabout or tell you where to find it. Trust me, though: it’s out there if you search hard enough. Use google to find a copy (it may take some work), or try your favorite file-swapping program. I have a copy, but I’m not about to incur the wrath of a giant corporation by distributing it.

On 25 May 2003 (07:13 AM),
Vina said:

Scrabout is the best game I ever played in a computer. I was able to play this game in a internet shop. I’d like to download one in my computer.. I cannot find this game to download from the net. I hope you can you help me? Please email me. Thanks so so much.

On 01 June 2003 (12:20 PM),
Paula said:

the best game i have love it !!!!! to find go to 100% freeware games and find the link goodluck

On 01 June 2003 (12:39 PM),
Paula said:

can anyone help me with import export????? keeps telling me ‘not in dic’ &%^* its frustrating

On 11 September 2003 (03:57 AM),
analiza said:

this game is the best!!

On 11 September 2003 (07:30 AM),
dowingba said:

Oh God. That picture is more emotional than you think. Windows 98! How I miss you!!

On 11 September 2003 (08:34 AM),
tammy said:

I’m still using windows 98!

On 11 September 2003 (08:37 AM),
dowingba said:

I wish I was. When I unwittingly switched to windows XP, I wanted nothing better than to format and get back to my happy Windows 98 life. But it’s been like a year or two and I realise that switching back to 98 would be folly. Sadly, windows 98 is becoming obsolete. XP sucks big time, though…

On 11 September 2003 (08:40 AM),
dowingba said:

It’s strange, JD, how it seems you are hooked up to two networks in that photo. Don’t workplace computers usually hook to one network and then the server hooks to the internet? How do you even use two networks? Is one of those a dial-up connection? I need answers!!

On 16 September 2003 (05:58 AM),
Mystiqik said:

hmm…interesting…scrabout and networdz…

On 21 October 2003 (11:31 PM),
Sanpaku said:

Scrabout/Networdz…..same format, same functions, etc

Cya there!

On 27 December 2003 (04:04 PM),
Dan said:

Can anyone help me in getting Scrabout back please? I have lost it and I have no idea where to find it again.
Thank you, Dan

On 09 December 2004 (01:22 AM),
newton kamchetere said:

i need srabout on my desk top so i can play it

On 18 January 2005 (04:10 AM),
C. said:


I agree that Scrabout is an excellent game. After some searching around I finally found a copy of this download using (when google doesn’t find what you are looking for try this search engine). Anyway, this is a fully functional download guys. Enjoy!!!

On 21 January 2005 (09:48 AM),
Yaw Fosu said:

I just want to download the scrabble

On 04 March 2005 (07:27 AM),
evzone said:

help! i can’t install scrabout! the game’s cannot run in winxp, i think.

On 19 June 2005 (05:26 PM),
Aaron said:

Here’s a copy of the imported dictionary files for scrabout, given a subset of the enable1 list generated with:

$ egrep “^[a-z]{2,12}b” enable1.txt >enable1max12.txt

If I include 13-letter words, the import fails.

On 04 July 2005 (02:39 AM),
Grace Aruta said:

hi! i am interested in dowloading and having a copy of SCRABOUT. I want my kids to learn from this educational board game.
I hope you can help me out how to have a copy of it

On 07 September 2005 (07:11 AM),
christine said:

want for my computer

On 07 September 2005 (07:11 AM),
christine said:

want for my computer

On 14 September 2005 (07:48 AM),
mathias sarauta said:

ardent player of the game. don’t know where to download.

On 07 October 2005 (12:44 PM),
christine said:

where can i get a free download of scrabout


The mornings are still chill here in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, but the days are warm and the evenings pleasant. Everything’s gone green.

I drove to Hubbard yesterday afternoon and the green was all around. The grass is lush, the trees are gaudy with leaves. The Barlow area is a verdant sea. The beginning of May is a wonderful time to be alive.

I’m not generally a fan of big summer event movies; I prefer the small, thoughtful independent Oscar-worthy stuff that’s released at the end of the year. Mac stayed over last night, though, and he and I both had the same idea: go see Spider-Man.

Spider-Man is not a film to which I’ve been looking forward (despite the presence of Tobey Macguire, a fine actor). Superhero films usually disappoint me (the weak Unbreakable, the abysmal X-Men movie): they’re tedious and nonsensical. The only superhero films I can remember liking are Superman II and the first Batman movie. These films were based on DC heroes, though, and they’re not what I grew up enjoying. I was a fan of Marvel comics (though I didn’t often read Spider-Man).

I wasn’t looking forward to Spider-man, but thought it would be a fun Friday night diversion.

I’m pleased to report that it exceeded my expectations.

The one thing that sets Spider-Man apart from other films in the genre is its writing. The writing, by David Koepp (of Jurassic Park, Mission: Impossible, and Panic Room) is fantastic. It’s not academy award worthy but it indicates an adept hand. The dialogue is sharp (very witty at times) and the story makes sense (for the most part). The directing is good, too: the film’s pacing is flawless and the action sequences move well. No scene lingers too long, a sin most superhero movies commit at various points. There are a couple of scenes in which Peter Parker learns to use his powers, but they’re just enough to give us a feel for what he’s experiencing — they don’t go on and on and on. He slams into one wall and we get the idea that he’s a just a kid learning to cope with newfound powers. No season-long Greatest Amercian Hero bumbling here.

To be sure, there are elements of the film that don’t work for me. The Green Goblin is the Aquaman of super-villains. He’s lame lame lame. The movie doesn’t make him any less lame. In fact, his costume is just about the dumbest costume I’ve ever seen in a superhero film. What’s up with the rigid body suit and mask?

In all, Spider-Man is the best superhero film I’ve seen to date.

The latest issue of Entertainment Weekly has an article on the resurgence of superhero films, a genre that’s never been a mainstay of American cinema.

The success of the X-Men movie helped revive the flagging Marvel Comics empire, and spurred Marvel to begin production on a host of films based on its characters. Ang Lee (Sense and Sensibility, The Ice Storm and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) is making The Hulk (a film that would ordinarily leave me cold, but which I’ll see because of Lee). Ben Afleck is starring in an adaptation of Daredevil, one of my favorite superheroes. Another X-Men movie is in production, but I’ll skip that. Two Alan Moore properties are also on the drawing board: Watchmen is actually in production, and The League of Extra-Ordinary Gentelmen (with Sean Connery rumored to be interested) is in the formative stages. These movies, if done well, could be exciting.

It was difficult to rise this morning; we didn’t get to sleep until one o’clock last night.

Pam came over at 8 a.m. to join us for the annual Master Gardeners Show at the Clackamas County Fairgrounds (Mac went to his class room to do some work). The women and I braved the teeming masses, hunting for particular plants and making some impulse purchases. I bought five Thai basil plants, three Thai peppers, and a catnip. Kris, to apologize for her short temper earlier in the day, bought me a flower that I had admired, a daisy-ish white flower with purple central cone. I forgot to bring my new microcassette recorder, though, and regretted it; large crowds are a great opportunity to record conversations, a writer’s exercise.

When we returned home, Kris gave Pam the nickel garden tour. While they roamed the back yard, I lay on the grass, spread-eagled, eyes closed, and soaked in the sun. I listened to the birds (there are many of them now that May has come), to the little girl crying next door, to Kris and Pam talking about the plants. The sun was warm. A breeze rose and fell. I could smell the basil from my hands. Toto and Satchell came out to play, climbing on the raised beds, racing across the lawn.

Life is good.


On 05 May 2003 (01:24 PM),
Joelah said:

Hard to believe a year has past since this post. Some similarities include the Canby MGS, the continued abundance of super-heroes in our imaginative lives, and the presence of the sun. (Changes include photography, injury, and Kris’ employment-shakeup. And so we mark our lives.) For obsessive readers of this ‘blog who might go browsing back, I’d like you to know that J.D. did indeed go see the X-Men sequel, and that he felt it was improved in some aspects. Dividing his mind, as he so often does, into Critic and Consumer, he told me that as a comic book fan, X-2 was very good. As a cineast, it sucked hind tit.

On 14 May 2003 (07:22 PM),
Hans said:

hei i also liked spider man. but one should not expect so much from the x-men. because as we all know there isn’t always enough time to show the real story of the x-men. for one thing jean grey wasn’t suppose to change into phoenix the way that xmen2 has shown. movies doesn’t always follow the real story in the comics but the movie xmen 1 and 2 as itself is good enough just dont try to compare it with the comics. sucks ryt?

On 14 May 2003 (07:44 PM),
Azrael said:

xmen 2 n spiderman sucks!!!!! bwahahahaha joke only! well all i can say is that both x-men 1n2, are great. its just that the selection of xmen characters is a bit off. just 4 example: hugh jackman as wolverine, n nightcrawler. Y iz wolverine tall in that movie, n y iz it nightcrawlers eyes have circular yellow pupils? wolverine iz suppose 2 be small right; around 5’3, n nightcrawlers eyes suppose 2 be all white no pupils. but anyway d’ actors chosen 2 act as logan n bruce wagner is good enough, n hugh jackmans face is somewhat similar 2 logan. its just d height that i’m really bothered of about, n as of 2 nightcrawler d effects are superb.

while on d otherhand pyro really sucks!!!!!!!

On 14 May 2003 (07:45 PM),
Azrael said:

xmen 2 n spiderman sucks!!!!! bwahahahaha joke only! well all i can say is that both x-men 1n2, are great. its just that the selection of xmen characters is a bit off. just 4 example: hugh jackman as wolverine, n nightcrawler. Y iz wolverine tall in that movie, n y iz it nightcrawlers eyes have circular yellow pupils? wolverine iz suppose 2 be small right; around 5’3, n nightcrawlers eyes suppose 2 be all white no pupils. but anyway d’ actors chosen 2 act as logan n bruce wagner is good enough, n hugh jackmans face is somewhat similar 2 logan. its just d height that i’m really bothered of about, n as of 2 nightcrawler d effects are superb.

while on d otherhand pyro really sucks!!!!!!!