Monday, December 31, 2012

Calling All Readers!!!

Calling All Readers! I want to keep my Jedi News articles a weekly thing, but I'm running out of ideas and my editors are loath to give me "assignments," so I need your help!

In the comments below, please share with me ideas for Star Wars-related topics which you would like to see me tackle or would like my opinion on! I can't promise to answer them all in an article, but it will at least get my creative juices flowing. Any suggestion, even if I end up not using it, is very much appreciated!

May the Force Be With You, Always! See you next year!

They're Taking The Hobbits To Isenguard!

If only I had started this blog a year earlier, then I wouldn't have to wait for the 20th anniversary to review the beginning of this series. Alas, we shall have to start in media res.

The Two Towers (film) is 10 years old this month.

December Wrap-Up and the Future of Anniversary Reviews

When I started the Anniversary Reviews, it was because of two things. First, I wanted to celebrate those pieces of media that I truly love. I also wanted an excuse to write every so often and not let the blog fade away because I was busy.

Well, the Jedi News deal has taken care of problem number 2, almost too well. I find I don't have the time or patience for the Anniversary Reviews as they were conceived. You've noticed they've been scaled back and back for a while. Well, here's how it's going to be from now on:

1. Every month, I will make a big post with some notable (to me) anniversaries of things that were released that month.
2. A particular piece of media will only get its own post if it's on the Top 20 list and/or I have a lot to say about it.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Great Expectations

(Originally written for Jedi News.)

I have been writing here and elsewhere about how much the Star Wars Saga is more or less interchangeable as far as what can be considered objectively good or bad about the individual films. However, this just seems to compound the mystery as to why I-III was not accepted wholesale among fans as IV-VI supposedly were and suffered a backlash that continues to this day.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Things I *GASP* Dislike About the Star Wars Saga

I don't really want to do this, since my whole point is to be celebratory and combat the hate machine. However, nothing is perfect, not even Star Wars. I hate the people who feel like they have to rag on some part of the Saga just to prove that they aren't sheep, so I'm not going to go that route. I'm going to try to be as tactful and matter-of-fact as possible because, as I'll reiterate and expand on at the end, these nitpicks don't amount to much. However, I have to be honest and forthright with all of you that not all is sunshine and daisies (though, it really mostly is).

And so, I present a short list of all the things, film by film, that bother me about Star Wars.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Twelve Days of Listmas Day 12: My Top 20 Favorite Movies of All Time

Well, here it is. The big one. The one you've all been waiting for (assuming you even care). You have no idea how hard it was to come up with this list, since there are a lot of things to go through and consider. In fact, we'll have a lot of preliminaries before we get to the list proper, so let's just get that out of the way now...

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Twelve Days of Listmas Day 11: My Top 20 TV Shows of All Time!

I've watched a lot of TV growing up. I don't watch nearly as much now, but I try to catch what I can. The following are the 20 shows I can count as my favorites. And this was a hard list to make, though not nearly as hard as tomorrow's...

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Twelve Days of Listmas Day 10: My Top 20 Video Games of All Time!

Video Games are a fairly new source of art, but at the same time no less deserving of love and nostalgia. What follows are my Top 20 Favorite Video Games!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

My Crazy Crazy Week

Let me share with you how crazy my week has been.

The Twelve Days of Listmas Day 9: Top 11 Books!

This section should be larger, but I haven't had a chance to read nearly as much as I think I should. Still, I do love to read, so today is just a list of my Top 11 favorite books.

Why I Love Jar Jar Binks

(Originally written for Jedi News)

Poor old Jar Jar. Is there a fictional character more hated? More maligned? George Lucas, Ahmed Best, and the team at Industrial Light and Magic put all their effort into making this amazing technological wonder and a ready source of comic relief in an otherwise fairly tense film, and the reaction of the general public seems to be unbridled abhorrence.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Twelve Days of Listmas Day 7: Star Wars!

Star Wars! Nothing but Star Wars! Gimmie those Star Wars! Don't let them end!

I'm going to do something slightly different with the last list in this entry, which is something that you'll see me do with my final list in the series...

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Twelve Days of Listmas Day 6: Harry Potter!

Halfway through the Days of Listmas, so get your wand at the ready and open your spellbooks to page 394 as I count down my favorite things about the world of Harry Potter!

NOTE: When talking about Harry Potter on this website, I will refer to the first book as "Philosopher's Stone", since that is a real (mythical) object and J.K. Rowling knows this. The story goes that it was changed to "Sorcerer's Stone" in the US because Scholastic thought American kids would never know what a Philosopher was. Well, I know what it is, and I know what the Stone is, and I know who Nicolas Flamel is (granted mostly from this book). In casual conversation I would normally refer to it as either "Stone" or "The first one", but here I'm going the snooty route because, for once, it's right.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Twelve Days of Listmas Day 5: Disney!

Time to go to the happiest place on Earth and tell you what I like best about the Disney Animated Canon!

(Note that I'm only counting the traditionally animated films here. No live-action movies. No technically canon CG films like Tangled or Chicken Little. No Pixar. No Touchstone. Not that I don't love all those movies, but cell animation is where it's at).

Monday, December 17, 2012

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Twelve Days of Listmas Day 3: Warcraft!

Day 4, and proof I'm stretching this concept out in order to save the good stuff for last. Today it's my faves in the World of Warcraft!

Hanukkah 2012: Day 8

This is the only friend, the end...

Another Hanukkah has come and gone, but not without a few more parting shots.

From my Father:

Star Wars Vintage Collection Dr. Evazan. To be perfectly 100% honest, I was kind of hoping for Ahsoka, but at least I can finally complete the "Death Sentence on Twelve Systems" set I started with Ponda Baba earlier this year.

From my Wife:

Skylanders Series 2 Fright Rider. I know that his mount is canonically an undead ostrich, but since it looks far more like a Gastornis, that's what I'm calling it.

The 3DS grades and the Console Paths will probably be at least another week. Carissa and I got a "Buy One Get One Free" coupon for Series 1 Skylanders that's good until the 31st, so I want to group them all together.

As for Carissa's present, I saved the best (and most expensive) for the last day: A silver with aqua gems sea turtle necklace. And she did love it, really she did. But that's not what got the best reaction out of her this year. What she jumped up and down in excitement for was a few nights ago when I gave her the Sims 3 Ambitions expansion pack, since it includes a firefighting profession (she was once a volunteer firefighter) and contains a fire engine (which she goes nuts for) called, and I quote, the "Woo Woo 4000". Whatever, I'm always glad when I can make her smile.

Tell your friend Veronica
It's time to celebrate Hanukkah
I hope I get a harmonica
On this lovely lovely Hanukkah
So drink your gin & tonica
And smoke your marijuannica*
If you really really wannica
Have a happy happy happy happy Hanukkah!
- Adam Sandler

*Nilbog's Storybook Land does not advocate the use of drugs and/or alcohol, though if you do anyway it's none of my beeswax.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Hanukkah 2012: Day 7

The penultimate edition...

From my Father:

Star Wars  Vintage Collection Aurra Sing. I give her antenna a week before it snaps off like a twig.

From my Wife:

Lego Lord of the Rings Shelob Attack set. I like this one because it has Gollum in it. 'Nuff said. I'll probably post updates when we build this one like I did the last time.

The Twelve Days of Listmas Day 2: Comics!

Day two features lists relating to comics. Superheroes, Daily Strips, Graphic Novels, telling stories through art.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Hanukkah 2012: Day 6

Only two more of these....

From my Father:

Star Wars Vintage Collection Mawhonic. The dwarf Gran was the first to go down in the Boonta Eve Classic, which reading background information on the planet Malastare makes a very interesting choice (according to such info, the Gran colonized Malastare and displaced the natives - the Dugs). I missed this guy when Wal-Mart had the sneak peeks, but I'm glad I got him on his Vintage card.

From my Wife:

Skylanders Series 2 Pop Fizz. Okay, so he's exclusive to Giants, but Series 2 sounds better since he's not an actual Giant. This Jekyll/Hyde character was the only new character (aside from Tree Rex) I knew about prior to the release of Giants. I'm very interested to see how he handles.

Kharah Matah, Kharah Rath Amah

(Originally written for Jedi News. Check out the new article collection link at the end of their version!)

This is a season of joy and giving, regardless of what religious denomination you are (if indeed you have any at all). In this spirit, this week’s article will be strictly celebratory.

Music unites the world. Like the Force, it surrounds us and binds us. It makes us feel like luminous beings amidst crude matter. Like all art, music is subjective, and we can’t always explain what moves us and why.

The Twelve Days of Listmas, Day 1: Miscellaneous!

Welcome to the Twelve Days of Listmas! This first one is more of an honorable mention set of lists, since they didn't seem to belong with any other theme. Still, they're important to me and they shed a little bit of light onto the way my brain works.

Once again, this is all my own personal opinion. Feel free to disagree.

So without furthur ado...

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Hanukkah 2012: Day 5

Five down, three to go....

From my Father:

Star Wars Vintage Collection Weequay. I remember reading in a number of sources that these guys are all named after their race, kind of like the Marklar from South Park. With Hondo Ohnaka and his band of pirates, this has apparently been retconned (if it was even accurate in the first place).

From my Wife:

The Legacy Lightsaber.

Technically, this is Anakin Skywalker's (second?) lightsaber. I absolutely love the picture of Anakin they got for the box. However, I call it The Legacy Lightsaber because this is the saber that bridges the saga. It was Anakin's, and then got passed on to Luke.

Now, this one I actually knew about...because I'm the one who bought it! Let me explain...

Remember back in Halloween when we were looking for this saber and couldn't find it? Well, about a month ago, I was at Wal-Mart picking up some things when I see this at (what I thought was) a steal. I called Carissa and asked if it was worth picking up for the future, and she said yes with the caveat that it would be one of my Hanukkah presents.

When I saw it in the store, I noticed how remarkably closer to scale the hilt was than the rest of my collection. Opening it now, I see the downside: The blade is about an inch or two too short. It's still good enough for now, and I'll eventually replace my entire collection with Force FX versions anyway, if I can ever make that much disposable cash.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Hanukkah 2012: Day 4

Halfway done *sigh*

From my Father:

Star Wars Vintage Collection Orrimaarko, a.k.a. Dick Tracy nemesis Prune Face. Yeah...just for a complete character collection's sake.

From my Wife:

Skylanders Series 1 Sonic Boom. More on her when I do the big Skylanders grading roundup at the end of this.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Star Wars Safe Havens

If you are a Star Wars fan looking for a safe-haven from the bashers, this is a place to be. However, I felt that I must once again plug some links, some of which are new, and some I've been plugging since this blog started.

If you didn't find me through The Star Wars Prequel Appreciation Society, then that should be your first stop (and please, inject some life into their floundering forum). After that, look at our shared links of A Certain Point of View and The Star Wars Heresies for intelligent discourse, and The Phantom Menace: The Holiday if you're looking for a little fun.

For further fair analysis, head over to Lard Biscuit. Although I disagree with his views on the theatrical releases in IV-VI, he's always been very positive of Episodes I-III and his dissertation on Clones actually helped me appreciate that film more, believe it or not.

Finally, if you want to read a review of Star Wars from the eyes of its intended audience, read Film Nerd 2.0's six-part series where his kids watch the saga for the first time (through the then-newly-released Blu-Rays). Before the announcement of VII-IX makes it odd, I actually found his order the best for first-time viewers to keep certain things secret and give others their full weight:
1. A New Hope
2. The Empire Strikes Back
3. The Phantom Menace
4. Attack of the Clones
5. Revenge of the Sith
6. Return of the Jedi
Reading these, you actually feel like a kid again watching these for the first time. It's sensational.

May the Force be With You!

Hanukkah 2012: Day 3

Ahh, the magic three....

From my Father:

Star Wars Vintage Collection Nien Nunb. A.K.A. Chewbacca's Seat Warmer during the Battle of Endor. A.K.A. That weird guy whose name I can never pronounce.

My father always goes overboard with gifts, and I tell him not to get me anything. This year, after years of him never listening to me, I go "All right, if you have to get me stuff, get me Star Wars stuff." Since I have a sub-wishlist on Amazon devoted solely to the Vintage collection, this will probably be a theme this year. Not that I'm complaining in the slightest.

From my Wife:

Skylanders Giants Legendary Bouncer.

A testament to how much my wife loves me (and I love her for it) is that she didn't even look at my wishlist when she bought this, even though this specific and Toys R Us exclusive variant is prominently on there. She caught a sale, and figured I'd want the blue one over the orange one. Not only is Bouncer here my first backup giant, but he's also my first backup Tech Skylander (in Tech Zones thusfar, I was SOL if Drobot croaked). With any and all Skylanders I get this year, I'm waiting until the gift-giving is done to give 3DS grades (moot in Bouncer's case) and Console Upgrade Paths.

At this point I want to assure my dear readers that this giving isn't one-way. I broke the bank for my wife this year. She's been receptive to the stuff I've given her so far. Really likes all of it. But I'm saving the best for the last day, and THAT'S the one you guys will hear about....

Monday, December 10, 2012

Clone Wars 5.11: A Sunny Day in the Void

They're...uh....they're flocking this way...

Spoilers ahead

Hanukkah 2012: Day 2

So this is what I got after we finished the podracers.

From my Father:

Star Wars Vintage Collection Aayla Secura. Wow she's cool. She does fall into that "female figures stand weird" thing that I thought we got out of years ago, but still. She only came with the one lightsaber, but since my primary experience with her is Star Wars Battlefront 2 where she duel-wields, I knew I had to rectify this. Luckily, I had some spare generic sabers lying around, and one of them was small enough to fit in her tiny other hand (which looks like it was meant to hold something anyway).

From my Wife:

Lego Lord of the Rings: The Video Game. Now, I haven't sat down to play this yet, but you'll get a full review when I do. But I'll probably love it. I love Legos. I LOVE Lord of the Rings. And I've adored the other Lego parody games (SW, Indy, Batman, and HP), so this will in all likelihood be awesome.

One more note, you may see a brightly-decorated tree in the background of some of these shots. My being outspokenly Jewish, this may confuse some of you. Well, the thing is, my father and I both come from mixed marriages, and have always loved the aesthetic of the tree. Since the tree is a pagan tradition anyway, we figured it wasn't too bad it we got one, dolled it up with Jewish stuff (and some pop-culture stuff, since that's the kind of people we are), and called it a Hanukkah Bush. We've been doing it for years now, and we're not the only ones. The only problem is that my wife is severely allergic to pine, so when we get our own place it's fakesville as far as a tree is concerned.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Hanukkah 2012: Day 1

Just checking in via phone to show you guys what I got last night.

From my father:

Star Wars Vintage Series Wedge Antillies

He's a decent figure, but the helmet is hard to get on and off without decapitating him. His flight suit doesn't sit well with the little rings near his knees. But it's Wedge. It's Ewan's Uncle. That's still cool.

From my wife:

Lego Star Wars Anakin and Sebulba's Podracers.

I would collect more Legos if they weren't so expensive. My wife would too. She heard me say that if I could own only one Star Wars Lego set, it would be this one, And I love her that she got this for me. We haven't started building it yet, and may not for a while. But I'm so glad I have it.

See you tomorrow!


My wife and I decided to build them yesterday. Here's what it looked like after an hour and a half:

Another hour and a half, and it looked like this:

After that, Sebulba's cockpit took maybe another fifteen minutes to build. Here's some pics of the completed set:

Wicked. Sweet.

Although, I just realized this. This set comes with an Obi-Wan minifigure...why? He was nowhere near the podrace. It should have been Qui-Gon. Oh well, at least I have A Jedi minifigure now.

Friday, December 7, 2012

For "Mature" Audiences Only

(Originally written for Jedi News)

If you are ever able to cajole a hater into begrudgingly admitting to liking any of the newer Star Wars films, they’re most likely to say they kind of enjoyed “Revenge of the Sith.” “Sith” is bar none the darkest Star Wars film of the saga (so far). It features Anakin’s turn to the Dark Side, including the murder of innocent children, his former friend, and even his own pregnant wife. Not to mention a show-stopping duel amidst a sea of lava ending with Anakin being essentially chopped into pieces and burned alive by liquid-hot magma, only to be saved by being entombed in the walking iron lung that is basically the Saga’s logo. It is the only film in the Saga to receive a PG-13 rating, even retroactively.

In a similar vein, when asked to pick a favorite film in the saga overall, the most common answer seems to be “The Empire Strikes Back.” While not as dark as “Sith” it’s certainly edgier than the other four films in the Saga. This one has lots of literally drab sets, a stunning revelation about character relationships, the Rebel Alliance beating a retreat, and Han Solo’s fate left uncertain.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Holiday Announcements

Well, since my schedule test worked, I can tell you about a number of things I'm planning for the holiday season, especially now that I can write when I have the time and set it to post later.

Classic Lines from Star Wars I-III

I was thinking lately about how many classic lines there are in the Star Wars Saga. When IV-VI came out, the classic lines now ingrained in pop-culture's minds were a way for fans to show they were fans. Many of I-IIIs critics lament what they call a lack of such memorable lines in I-III. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Here is a list of the lines which, I think, would be considered just as classic if not for the hatedom (and in some circles, already are).

I'm doing these all from memory, so I fully expect some things might be slightly inaccurate. But that's to prove the point, since how many of the other quotes get mangled?

Schedule Test

I am writing this entry on December 4th at 5:55 p.m.

I am using the little "schedule" toy on the side here to set this to appear on December 6th at 11:30 a.m.

If this works, it'll revolutionize how I do things here, as well as allow me to do a little event later this month. More to come.

Monday, December 3, 2012

MM: Skylanders Console Thoughts

So after getting into the swing of the console version of Skylanders Giants, I decided that while my main figure rankings will still apply solely to the 3DS version(s), I will share with any other Portal Masters my thoughts on upgrade paths. What follows are the paths I chose so far and why, as well as a promise that all future Skylanders rankings will include these little blurbs. Note that this isn't a full list of figures I have because I haven't been able to upgrade them all yet, but I can give you a decent list.

December Anniversaries

Well, we've got three main posts to look forward to, but I'll also mark a couple of other milestones:

20 Years:
"A Few Good Men" (film): It's one of those "see it just to say you saw it" movies. Stellar cast, stellar script. Check it out. Haven't seen it in a while, which is why it's on this list.
"Toys": I always really liked this movie, in spite of it being a bomb. It's not a bad little movie, it's just a little weird for the general public, I guess. Again, haven;t seen it in a little while hence this blurb.

50 Years:
"To Kill A Mockingbird" (film): A truly classic and thought-provoking movie based on a truly classic and thought-provoking book. I saw it for the first time at the beginning of the year, and it blew me away. However, seeing as it is such a classic and I only saw it once recently, I don't quite feel qualified to comment further than that.

More to come!

Clone Wars 5.10: Secret Weapons

Oh dear god, a pit droid...

Spoilers to follow