Friday, December 18, 2015

Spoiler alert

[Spoiler alert: this is a boring bookish entry with no spoilers.] My legendary first Star Wars experience as a kid (part 1): I have told this story a number of times. I only now, tonight, fully realize that a particular early version of my albatross-like tale of legend is actually quite true. I doubted my memory of events when I researched this many years ago (when the prequels came out I think). I stopped telling my story as the dates did not match my memories. I first encountered Star Wars in the form of a book but no...that is not the correct early version (it is my later librarian version...for obvious reasons of engendering the wonder of books in kids). Actually I saw the first trailer in a theater (I had positive but small hopes. The trailer was rough ..missing the critical soundtrack music that later carried the film almost as an invisible actor.) 

The summer after this found me with nothing to do. I was always looking for books. There was only one science fiction book on a spinning rack which I had not read at the neighborhood drug store. I noted the new books every week, trying to find one to buy. "Star Wars" by George Lucas (Published May 12, 1977) My memory had me reading this book before the movie by enough time to read and pretty much forget the book. Yet I also KNOW I was at the first showing of the movie in Montgomery, Alabama (a place where nothing ever happened and memories have no excuse to intermingle and be confused.). My research indicated Star Wars had debuted on May 25, 1977. Not enough time between the events.So I thought my memory wrong.I was crestfallen. It cut deep. I have had a lot of memories of my youth "corrected" by family member committee .. yet I KNOW I lived these memories. I have no doubt when I have no doubt.

I was pretty depressed after doing this research...oh and by the prequels. I certainly could have gotten the book on the week it came out. That rack was always up to date and I firmly remember buying the book figuring it would be awful from the cover. It had more of a comic book feel than my usual science fiction books. I remembered my thrill at the trailer so I put out the money. I will tell about my experience in the theater in a second entry. I just told the story to my wife and luckily remembered the part about seeing the trailer first (Luke saving Princess Leia by swinging on a rope. The roar of the spaceships ...which was the most amazing sound as I tended to think of space as noiseless from seeing 2001: A Space Odyssey). So I did further research convinced again my memories were right. "Star Wars debuted on Wednesday, May 25, 1977....................,IN FEWER THAN 32 THEATERS." Oh so simple. The last place you would have thought a science fiction film to hit it big would be deep south Montgomery Alabama. It was not one of those 32 to be sure. How long to book more theaters of a film no one had confidence in? Why had I been so depressed? 

 Original opening... "long ago in a galaxy far far away" (just a cliche now) was the line that absolutely made the opening. The credit scroll was also new but I was still saying "Cool" and "wow!" at that line. I made little sense of whatever I managed to read with my mind going into strange directions as the past became a future of another civilization. Stunning...

Wikipedia again: "When Star Wars made an unprecedented second opening at Mann's Chinese Theatre on August 3, 1977, thousands of people attended a ceremony in which C-3PO, R2-D2 and Darth Vader placed their footprints in the theater's forecourt. At that time Star Wars was playing in 1,096 theaters in the United States." 

The dates are totally fine as long as they are a bit more than a mere 2 weeks apart....sheesh that had made no sense. I read slowly. So, my earlier research corrected I am fairly certain I actually lived my memories. Small memories...about big things. Regardless of who thinks I am wrong about other memories, I am firmly back on the "he said" side of the "he said, she said" equation. So, actually, I will write that autobiography after all. I believe it just started.

Trev Mac They must have made the trailer before the film was done because there seemed to be some "raw" sound.
But then trailer making was not as much an art at the time, or not as standardized.

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Michael DeVore Yes. I almost commented about the unfinished raw nature of that. Imagine you have never heard of Star Wars and this trailer appears. No spoiler there. I remember it looking even more unfinished than it does now but... I really think that is because I know what is going on now.
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Michael DeVore Also I think some background matting is missing. This trailer shows Lucas had no idea. His technique was so new. Would people see ships in space or models? From Wikipedia: "Lucas himself was not able to predict how successful Star Wars would be. After visiting the set of the Steven Spielberg–directed Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Lucas was sure Close Encounters would outperform the yet-to-be-released Star Wars at the box office. Spielberg disagreed, and felt Lucas's Star Wars would be the bigger hit. Lucas proposed they trade 2.5% of the profit on each other's films; Spielberg took the trade, and still receives 2.5% of the profits from Star Wars." Noise in space. Fire and smoke in space, an habitable planet with an inhabitable two just seemed so wrong is a classic.

Friday, June 12, 2015

10 years ago, I honestly would not have found this funny. Guns, you know, and... well I was up tight.
I was fairly ignorant of the actual world around me and my threat assessment was way off.
I am so glad I am the person I now am. I wish I had time to cure all the problems in the world, but I don't. Their will still be badly trained racist police long after I go. 
The idiots who "open carry" for effect will still be idiots. 
Meanwhile, I think this is really humorous if distracting to type below. :)

Monday, April 6, 2015

John Oliver on Government Surveillance

A long time ago, I gave up on trying to write about government surveillance: or really specifically about the Snowden issue. On the issue of surveillance, I try to point out where our lives could be improved. Thank you John Oliver for being that person who does his job without caring about those who may take issue. I am not that person anymore. The issue is complicated.

I must say that Snowden is a much more intelligent person than I had ever guessed. Not many people could handle John Oliver's approach with complete composure and intelligence.

Best Oliver line: "Actually, it is entirely believable."

Saturday, February 7, 2015

It was a dark and stormy war...

"It was a hot day in Iraq. The Brian was trapped in the Chinook bored to tears. He just knew as a grizzled war correspondent that there were urgent stories on the ground that needed reporting now. He stood up, wiped a sheen of sweat from his tanned brow and strode towards the hatch of the Chinook. He grabbed a spare parachute from the loadmaster and jumped out. Parachuting down straight into the insurgents command headquarters he strode right up and demanded to see the head terrorist guy, whatever his name was. Brian negotiated a cease fire using only the force of his news anchor personality. When he heard that one of the insurgents was firing RPG's at the helicopter convoy he had just jumped out of he promptly grabbed the weapon and gave the dastardly man an RPG right through the chest. He tossed the weapon down and jogged off to find the now downed Chinook. Quickly he rendered first aid to the injured crew, donating several pints of his own blood to the wounded. Then he set about repairing the Chinooks' blown hydraulic lines using his bare hands and some spare videotape.

The next month the President awarded Brian the Medal of Honor in a secret Rose Garden ceremony. It was kept secret for fear of exposing the Brian's role in defeating the terrorists and winning the war for our side."

- ArthurVandelay [an online pseudonym]

Monday, January 26, 2015

Please Rachel

The incomparable researcher and presenter Rachel Madow should leave MSNBC for any better outlet. The ever declining but once competent CNN would probably love the chance and give her a nice long contract with funding. By sticking with a network that cannot take a stand other than "lean forward" while putting embarrassing "Morning Joe" on the roster she strengthens what should rightfully be considered a failed 24 hr news network. HBO and Comedy Central do the progressive movement far more favors than this sloppy outfit that seems to have no intention of expanding and taking on Fox News on its own turf. Its news gathering is still abysmal many years after booting Keith Olbermann because his opinions did not fit the MSNBC's standard of journalism. Where is the news organization whose ideals were so strongly thought to be more important? 

To effect real change I would suggest that Rachel blow a hole in MSNBC's schedule and see how they fill it. Rachel can do better than a network that would rather exploit our prison population than produce news. Short term ratings pandering with no long term plan has been the mark of MSNBC this holds back one of the best researched and most effective progressive shows I have ever seen. 

PBS's Frontline is the only organization producing actual news in the US. CNN is marginally beginning to shake off its failures. MSNBC either needs to model a real news organization that finances news gathering or get off the pot.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Notes on GOP congressional venture into U.S. foreign policy: "Counting nuclear warheads in the public interest"

Although the Israeli government neither confirms nor denies that it possesses nuclear weapons, it is generally accepted by friend and foe alike that Israel is a nuclear-armed state—and has been so for nearly half a century. The basis for this conclusion has been strengthened significantly since our previous estimate in 2002, particularly thanks to new documents obtained by scholars under the US Freedom of Information Act and other openly available sources.1 We conclude that many of the public claims about the size of the Israeli nuclear arsenal are exaggerated. We estimate that Israel has a stockpile of approximately 80 nuclear warheads for delivery by two dozen missiles, a couple of squadrons of aircraft, and perhaps a small number of sea-launched cruise missiles.

Since the late 1960s, every Israeli government has practiced a policy of nuclear opacity that, while acknowledging that Israel maintains the option of building nuclear weapons, leaves it factually uncertain as to whether Israel actually possesses nuclear weapons and if so at what operational status. Since the mid-1960s, this policy has been publicly expressed—and recently reaffirmed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu—as the phrase “We won’t be the first to introduce nuclear weapons into the Middle East” (Netanyahu, 2011).

This statement is widely seen as a deception, because it is a long-held conclusion among governments and experts that Israel has produced a sizable stockpile of nuclear warheads (probably unassembled) designed for delivery by ballistic missiles and aircraft. Common sense dictates that a country that has developed and produced nuclear warheads for delivery by designated delivery vehicles has, regardless of their operational status, introduced the weapons to the region. But Israeli governments have attached so many interpretations to “introduce” that common sense doesn’t appear to apply.

Counting nuclear warheads in the public interestBulletin of the Atomic Scientists January 1, 2015 7185-90

While I would expect President Obama not to try to squelch dissent as did our previous President, I can use my reasoning to figure out even the smallest note of disapproval indicates the GOP is overstepping it's Constitutional authority. This is a common sense conclusion and I just want to point out that the stakes are high in this regard following Israel's latest use of it's technology of warfare. Again, these are common sense conclusions. Congress does not belong in foreign policy especially in nuclear arms talks.

Koch Brothers Congress

Watch McConnell shut down Democratic voices in the Koch Brothers' Keystone Pipeline bill debate.

"McConnell would not allow debate on an amendment by Senator Ed Markey to close a loophole that could allow the backers of the Keystone pipeline to avoid paying into the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, which is used to pay for clean-up in case of an oil spill. He would not allow debate on an amendment by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse to require more campaign finance disclosure from the people who would benefit most from the development of tar sands oil. He would not allow discussion of Senator Patrick Leahy's measure to protect the vital role of local federal district courts in reviewing any legal challenges to the Keystone pipeline." - Huffington Post