Memes and Quizzes

Valentine’s Quiz Thing

I’m a couple days late with this, but I’m a sucker for these silly quizzes that used to be so popular in the old days of blogging, so here’s a thingie I stole from Facebook:
πŸ’Ÿ How long have you and your significant other been together? 24 years (!)
πŸ’Ÿ Do you have any children together? Nope.
πŸ’Ÿ What about pets? Our kitty boy Evinrude, plus various feral and semi-feral cats that include ‘rude’s mother and a sad-eyed, scruffy-looking bugger we’ve started calling “Stuart” because he reminds me of the pathetic comic-shop owner on The Big Bang Theory.
πŸ’Ÿ Who said I love you first? I don’t remember… probably her. Girls are mushy like that.
πŸ’Ÿ Who is the most sensitive? Depends on the subject. We both have our Big Red Buttons.
πŸ’Ÿ Where do you eat out most as a couple? Geez, I don’t know… probably Five Guys.
πŸ’Ÿ Who’s older? Me, by a year and a half.
πŸ’Ÿ Who has the worst temper? Well… I’m more prone to spontaneous flare-ups, but she has this thing where she can simmer for hours that’s far more frightening than my passing storms.
πŸ’Ÿ Who is more social? Me
πŸ’Ÿ Who is the neat freak? Me, although I’m not extreme about it. In other words, I generate plenty of clutter too, but I usually break and start to tidy before she does.
πŸ’Ÿ Most romantic? Her.
πŸ’Ÿ Who is the most stubborn? We can both be pretty hard-headed about things that matter to us.
πŸ’Ÿ Who wakes earliest? Her during the work week; me on the weekends.
πŸ’Ÿ Who’s the funniest? We make each other laugh pretty often and pretty hard, so I really can’t say.
πŸ’Ÿ Where was your first date? Squatter’s Pub. Anne is convinced I was trying to get her drunk. I just wanted to introduce her to good beer. (She hates beer. Sigh.)
πŸ’Ÿ Who has the biggest family? Her — I’m an only child.
πŸ’Ÿ Do you get flowers often? Occasionally, when she’s trying to butter me up. πŸ˜‰
πŸ’Ÿ Who was interested first? Her, no question.
πŸ’Ÿ Who picks where you go to eat?Β We tend to play the “I don’t know, where do you want to eat?” card a lot, so… both?
πŸ’Ÿ Who is the first one to admit when they’re wrong? Her
πŸ’Ÿ Who wears the pants in the family? Who wears pants?
πŸ’Ÿ Who eats more sweets? We both have pretty demanding sweet-tooths. (Sweet-teeth?) Anne probably gives in to hers a little more often…
πŸ’Ÿ Married? Um…well… somehow we never got around to that…
πŸ’Ÿ More sarcastic? I don’t know… her, maybe? Depends on our respective moods, I guess.
πŸ’Ÿ Who makes the most mess? Her
πŸ’Ÿ Hogs the remote? We’re pretty egalitarian with that.
πŸ’Ÿ Better driver? I’d say we’re both pretty decent drivers.
πŸ’Ÿ Spends the most? Um… well, I am the one who just ordered that coffee table book of classic Star Wars newspaper comics…

πŸ’Ÿ Who is smarter? I’ve got more book learnin’, but I let her do my taxes, so you tell me…
πŸ’Ÿ Did you go to the same school? Yes, but I didn’t know her until after I graduated (she’s younger)
πŸ’Ÿ Where is the furthest you two have traveled to? Scotland
πŸ’Ÿ Who hogs the bed? Her — sorry, ducks.
πŸ’Ÿ Who does the laundry? Her… but I help with the folding.

πŸ’Ÿ Who’s better with the computer? Me. Which is scary because computers hate me, and I hate them right back.
πŸ’Ÿ Who drives when you are together? Depends on whose car we’re in.

Music Questions: An Internet Quiz Thingie

It’s been a long time since I ran across one of those questionnaire things that used to comprise so much of the blogosphere. You know, the list of random questions that reveal oddball truths about your tastes and/or personality? I always enjoyed doing those, so when I spotted this one on Facebook earlier today, I couldn’t resist.

And now… random queries that reveal my dubious taste in music!

  1. A song you like with a color in the title: “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” by Willie Nelson
  2. A song you like with a number in the title: “Mambo No. 5” by Lou Bega
  3. A song that reminds you of summertime: “Dance the Night Away” by Van Halen
  4. A song that reminds you of someone you would rather forget about: “Cat Scratch Fever” by Ted Nugent
  5. A song that needs to be played LOUD!: “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC
  6. A song that makes you want to dance: “Dancing with Myself” by Billy Idol
  7. A song to drive to: “R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.” by John Mellencamp
  8. A song about drugs or alcohol: “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer” by George Thorogood
  9. A song that makes you happy: “Dancing Queen” by ABBA
  10. A song that makes you sad: “In the Ghetto” by Elvis Presley
  11. A song you never get tired of: “Jessie’s Girl” by Rick Springfield
  12. A song from your preteen years: “Xanadu” by Olivia Newton John
  13. One of your favorite ’80s songs: “Safety Dance” by Men in Hats
  14. A song you would love played at your wedding: “A Love Song (from a Different Point of View)” by Jimmy BuffettΒ  (Go ahead, look it up!)
  15. A song that’s actually a cover of another artist: “Crimson and Clover” by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts (original artist: Tommy James and the Shondells)
  16. A favorite classical piece: “Spring” by Antonio Vivaldi (a bit of a banal choice, maybe, but my knowledge of classical is limited… and “Spring” just makes me happy. So there.)
  17. A song you would sing a duet with on karaoke: “I Got You, Babe” by Sonny and Cher
  18. A song from the year you were born: “Proud Mary” by Credence Clearwater Revival
  19. A song that makes you think about life: “Human Touch” by Bruce Springsteen
  20. A favorite song that has many meanings to you: “Don’t Stop Believin'” by Journey (Don’t laugh. I love that one more with every passing year.)
  21. A favorite song with a person’s name in the title: “Kristina” by Rick Springfield
  22. A song that moves you forward: I’m not quite sure what this one is asking… “moves me forward?” I guess I did find a lot of solace in Jimmy Buffett’s “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes” during a dark time once.
  23. A song that you think everybody should listen to: “Imagine” by John Lennon
  24. A song by a band you wish was still together: “Ramble On” by Led Zeppelin
  25. A song by an artist no longer living: “I Drove All Night” by Roy Orbison
  26. A song that makes you want to fall in love: “Then He Kissed Me” by the Crystals
  27. A song that breaks your heart: “I Can’t Make You Love Me” by Bonnie Raitt
  28. A song by an artist with a voice you love: “In Your Room” by the Bangles (Susanna Hoffs on lead vocals)
  29. A song you remember from your childhood: “Take Me Home, Country Roads” by John Denver
  30. A song that reminds you of yourself: “Beautiful Loser” by Bob Seger (Don’t worry, that’s not as self-loathing as it sounds! The dichotomous lyrics illustrating a person’s contradictory desires simply resonate with me… )

And now back to your regularly scheduled Internet programming.


Movie Meme 2.0


I’ve discovered that that meme I did earlier was actually truncated from a longer one, so I’m… doing it again. Because I’m like that. Oh, and I’m also changing a few of my answers. Because I’m also like that.

  • Most Hated Movie: Star Trek (2009)
  • Movie I Think Is Overrated: Interstellar
  • Movie I Think Is Underrated: Star Trek: The Motion Picture
  • Movie I Love: American Graffiti
  • Movie I Secretly Love: Young Guns 2
  • Favorite Action Movie: Die Hard
  • Favorite Drama Movie: Casablanca
  • Favorite Western Movie: Dances with Wolves
  • Favorite Horror Movie: The Fog (1980 version)
  • Favorite Comedy Movie: Monty Python and the Holy Grail
  • Favorite Romance: Pretty Woman
  • Favorite Fantasy: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (Yes, I am fussy enough to differentiate between the LOTR films! For me, the first is the most, well, magical… )
  • Favorite Disney Movie: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
  • Favorite Science Fiction Movie: Blade Runner
  • Favorite Book-to-Movie Adaptation: The Shawshank Redemption
  • Favorite Animated Movie: The Incredibles
  • Favorite Superhero Movie: Superman: The Movie
  • Favorite War Movie: The Guns of Navarone
  • Favorite Thriller: Rear Window
  • Favorite Cop Movie: Dirty Harry
  • Favorite Musical: Rock of Ages
  • Favorite Chop-Socky: Rumble in the Bronx
  • Favorite Documentary: Man on Wire
  • Favorite Bad Movie: Flash Gordon (1980 version)
  • Childhood Favorite: Jason and the Argonauts (1963 version)
  • Favorite Franchise: Star Wars
  • Best Trilogy: Back to the Future
  • Guilty Pleasure: Bring It On
  • Favorite Director: Steven Spielberg (although he’s been pretty hit-and-miss ever since Schindler’s List)
  • Favorite Actor: Patrick Stewart
  • Favorite Actress: (tie): Scarlet Johansson / Dame Judi Dench
  • Favorite Movie This Year So Far: Logan
  • Movie I Have Recently Seen: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
  • What I Thought of It: Enjoyable, but it doesn’t develop Cedric Diggory enough to care when he dies.
  • Favorite Movie of All Time: Star Wars (a.k.a., “Episode IV: A New Hope,” pre-Special Edition version)


For the record, this is harder than you might think. I had the devil’s own time with the romance category, for instance, because it’s not a genre that usually appeals to me, and movies I find very romantic — Blaze, for example — usually don’t fit other people’s definitions of romance. And honestly, I don’t really have a favorite director, actor, or actress; the ones I listed are just the ones I thought of whose work I generally (but not always) enjoy. Truth is, there are many directors, actors, and actresses I like.

For the record.







Movie Meme

Because I need the pointless distraction this morning:

Most Hated Movie: Star Trek (2009)
Movie I Think Is Overrated: Interstellar
Movie I Think Is Underrated: The Black Hole
Movie I Love: American Graffiti
Movie I Secretly Love: Young Guns 2
Favorite Action Movie: Die Hard
Favorite Drama Movie: The Big Chill
Favorite Western Movie: Dances with Wolves
Favorite Horror Movie: The Fog (1980 version)
Favorite Comedy Movie: Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Favorite Disney Movie: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
Favorite Science Fiction Movie: Blade Runner
Favorite Animated Movie: The Incredibles
Favorite Superhero Movie: Superman: The Movie
Favorite Musical: Rock of Ages
Favorite Bad Movie: Darkman
Childhood Favorite: Jason and the Argonauts (1963 version)
Favorite Franchise: Star Wars
Best Trilogy: Back to the Future
Guilty Pleasure: Bring It On
Favorite Movie This Year So Far: Logan
Movie I Have Recently Seen: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
What I Thought of It: Enjoyable, but doesn’t develop Cedric Diggory enough to care when he dies.
Favorite Movie of All Time: Star Wars (pre-Special Edition)



High School Meme

My Facebook pal R.A. McCandless (a.k.a. “RobRoy”) posted a pretty entertaining meme/quiz thing over at his blog this morning; as meme/quiz things are a quick ‘n’ painless way to crank out a post, and I am both a compulsive oversharer and hopelessly nostalgic, naturally I couldn’t resist playing along…

Here are the instructions: β€œTell us about your SENIOR year of high school! The longer ago it was, the more fun the answers will be!”

(Like Rob, I don’t get why β€œlonger ago” equates to β€œmore fun,” but whatever. As much as it pains me to admit it, my senior year was pretty long ago, so this ought to be right off the edge of the fun meter. )

The year was: 1987

Did you know your spouse?

No. The lovely Anne was two years behind me in school, and although she swears we met on Yearbook Day of my senior year, I don’t remember becoming acquainted with her until a year later, when I dated her best friend. Curiously enough, however, her brother was in my high school class, and I did know him.

Did you car pool?

No way, man. After getting my driver’s license a year later than everyone else in my class (because I’m the youngest in the class, or at least one of the youngest), I couldn’t wait for the freedom of my own wheels, and I wasn’t going to give that up for anything.

What kind of car did you have?

Well, my dad has always had a fleet of cars sitting around, and I was pretty much free to use any of them so long as I asked first. I enjoyed showing off once in a while in our ’73 Mustang Mach One, and of course I had my ’63 Galaxie (the “Cruising Vessel”) for special occasions and weekend driving (I wasn’t about to leave it in the school parking lot all day!). But my usual “daily driver” was a brown 1970 T-Bird. I loved that car, with its leather upholstery, enormous wraparound back seat, and a ridiculously long nose that ended in a distinct “beak.” I loved it almost as much as the Cruising Vessel.

Friday night football?

Nah, Friday nights were either for working or watching Miami Vice. I have vague memories of going to one football game once, and spending most of it wandering around the stands looking for some girl…

What kind of job did you have?

I was a projectionist at a single-screen neighborhood movie house, running antiquated machines that dated back (roughly) to World War II and were (literally) held together with baling wire. I loved it.

Were you a party animal?

No, although somehow I acquired a reputation as one… I’m not sure quite how that worked.

Were you considered a jock?

Nope, not in the least. By senior year, I’d long since fulfilled my PE requirements and didn’t set foot in the gym all year.

Were you in band, orchestra, or choir?

No, but I did take a drama class, and there was a fair amount of overlap between drama kids and music kids, so I found myself on the fringes of that circle anyhow.

Were you a nerd?

Were the green Orion “animal women” irresistible to human males? Hell, yes, I was a nerd… although I didn’t really fit the stereotype, as you can see in this photo from the time:

badass me, 1987

Did you get suspended or expelled?

No, I was a good kid, reputation notwithstanding.

Can you sing the fight song?

Not a word. Although — true story! — the gentleman who wrote it was my neighbor when I was a kid.

Where did you eat lunch?

Hm. It seems like I had a regular table in the cafeteria, but I honestly don’t recall. I occasionally went out, too, either for nachos from the 7-Eleven down the street, or sometimes a burger from this little drive-in whose name escapes me. The thing I mostly remember about that place was the time the girl at the drive-through (I knew her) wanted me to taste the Coke she had stashed under the counter, and it was spiked with something that had a high enough octane to run my T-Bird without the engine pinging.

What was your full school name?

Bingham High School.

What was your school mascot?

The Miners, after the hard-working denizens of the canyon the school was named for.

If you could go back and do it again would you?

Yeah, I think I would. I know many people, maybe even most people, think of high school as a terrible period of life that they wouldn’t relive if you paid them, but I remember it as a mostly happy time, my senior year especially. (Middle school was my difficult period.) I’d do some things differently, of course, and if I could face it with the level of self-confidence I have now vs. then, all the better. Even so, I remember feeling a lot of optimism about the world then, and excitement at discovering what lay ahead instead of the existential dread that wakes me up at night now. The truth is, I think I had a much better grasp on how to live in 1987 than 2016.

Did you have fun at senior prom?

I didn’t go, which is one of those things I’d do differently. Especially since my reasons for not going were pretty asinine.

Do you still talk to the person you went to prom with?

I occasionally talk with the person I should have gone to the prom with.

Are you planning on going to your next high school reunion?

Well, that’s an interesting question…Β  if it happens, yes, I will be there.

Are you still in contact with people from high school?

Yes, with quite a few of them, actually. Mostly through Facebook, but there are several friends I’ve stayed in touch with even before that incredible time sink was invented. In fact, I just got home from a vacation to the East Coast, during which I connected with two old high school friends.

Interesting Trivia from 1987: Nerds celebrated the tenth anniversary of Star Wars; new TV shows that year included Star Trek: The Next Generation, Married… with Children, and 21 Jump Street; Congressional investigations into the Iran-Contra affair ran throughout the year; televangelist Jim Bakker was forced to resign after his affair with Jessica Hahn was revealed; presidential hopeful Gary Hart was forced to abandon his campaign after his affair with Donna Rice was revealed; the nation was riveted by the rescue of “Baby Jessica,” a toddler who fell down a well in Midland, Texas; The Legend of Zelda was released for the NES platform; the world’s population reached 5 billion; and Prozac debuted in the United States.

Top Music of 1987: “Walk Like An Egyptian” (The Bangles); “Alone” (Heart); “Shake You Down” (Gregory Abbott); “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)” (Whitney Houston); “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” (Starship); “C’est La Vie” (Robbie Nevil); “Here I Go Again” (Whitesnake); “The Way It Is” (Bruce Hornsby and the Range); “Shakedown” (Bob Seger); “Livin’ on a Prayer” (Bon Jovi)

Top Movies of 1987: Three Men and a Baby; Fatal Attraction; Beverly Hills Cop II; Good Morning, Vietnam; Moonstruck; The Untouchables; The Secret of My Success; Stakeout; Lethal Weapon; The Witches of Eastwick




Colossal Star Wars Questionnaire


As of today, the countdown is on… only 365 days until the next Star Wars feature film hits cinema screens in our galaxy.

Such a momentous event demands I do something here on Simple Tricks, but of course there’s not much more to say at this point than what I’ve already written in regards to the teaser trailer. So how about something a little more… general?

I ran across this questionnaire on Tumblr a while back (thanks to my friend Staci for posting it!), and, well… I just can’t resist these silly things. Some of the questions are a bit outdated now that Episode VII is no longer a hypothetical, and the whole thing seems to have been written by and for younger fans who experience being a Star Wars fan quite differently than I have (I have noticed there’s a definite generation gap developing in fandom, maybe even two of them at this point… god, I’m getting old), but no matter. The only real prerequisite here is that the person answering be a fan of the Star Wars saga, and I think I probably qualify…

1. Which film is your favorite of the Original Trilogy?

The toughest question of all, right off the bat. Although popular wisdom long ago decreed that The Empire Strikes Back is the best of the entire saga (and I do concede that it presents the most polished, most satisfying vision out of any of the six films to date), I’ve got to award this prize to the first entry in the series, Star Wars. (Sorry, kids, I can’t think of it as “A New Hope” or “Episode IV”; the name of the picture was Star Wars when I first saw it.) None of the other films, in either the Original or Prequel Trilogies, had the same swashbuckling sense of fun, or a self-contained story that didn’t rely on having seen any of the others to make an impact. (I maintain that the prequels, in particular, are absolutely dependent on one knowing how the story ends when you go into them. But then, that’s the way I experienced them, so maybe the younger fans see it differently.)

2. If you enjoy the prequels, which one is your favorite?

For the record, I do enjoy the prequels, although not to the same degree as the Original Trilogy. My favorite of them is Revenge of the Sith, because that’s the one that fulfilled a vision I’ve had in my head since I was eight years old: Obi-Wan and Vader battling on the edge of a lava pit.

3. How old were you when Episode 1 came out?

I was 29.

4. Which of the movies have you seen in the theater?

All of them. As I said earlier, I’m old.

5. Did you go to any of them on opening night?

I saw an opening-day matinee of The Phantom Menace, and saw Sith on opening night. I honestly can’t recall when I saw Attack of the Clones, but I’m sure it was probably some time on opening day. I did not see any of the originals on opening day.

6. Who is your favorite character from the Original Trilogy?

Tough choice. At this point, they all feel like family, and I love them all, for one reason or another. But I guess I’d have to say Han Solo. He was the cool guy all us boys (and probably more than a few girls) on the playground wanted to be when we played Star Wars.

7. Who is your favorite character from the prequels, if you have one?

Obi-Wan. I love the dry humor and sense of derring-do Ewan MacGregor brings to the part, as well as his maturation over the three films. I would’ve liked to see more of Liam Neeson’s Qui-Gon Jinn.

8. Have you read any of the books or comics?

Of course! My history with the tie-in literature goes all the way back to the Marvel Comics adaptation of the original film, and Splinter of the Mind’s Eye (the very first spin-off novel). I’ve also read quite a few of the more recent novels and the various comic series published by Dark Horse, the stuff that’s referred to as the “Expanded Universe,” although I confess I haven’t been able to keep up with all of that. (And I guess it doesn’t matter now anyhow, as Disney has “decanonized” all the EU.)

9. Favorite book or series? Favorite SW author?

Again, I’m old, so my favorites are Brian Daley’s Han Solo trilogy from the late ’70s/early ’80s (Han Solo at Star’s End, Han Solo’s Revenge, and Han Solo and the Lost Legacy), closely followed by Tim Zahn’s “Thrawn trilogy” (Heir to the Empire, Dark Force Rising, and The Last Command), the books that restarted the whole Star Wars juggernaut in the early ’90s.

10. Favorite comic?

Obviously, I favor the Marvel comics I grew up with (I guess I need to qualify that as “the original Marvel comics” now, since the company has reacquired the license and will be starting a new SW line in January). I’ve also enjoyed a number of Dark Horse Publishing’s various SW titles, most notably the limited-run miniseries Tales of the Jedi (set 5,000 years before the movies), the comical adventures of Tag and Bink (kind of the Rosencrantz and Guildenstern of the SW Saga), and the short-story collections published as Star Wars Tales.

11. Favorite character from the Expanded Universe (EU)?

I’ll confess, a lot of the EU stories have not stayed in my mind, and I haven’t read very many of the later ones (New Jedi Order and following) at all. There’s also some question in my mind as what, precisely, constitutes the EU. Does it include the early tie-in novels by Brian Daley, Alan Dean Foster, and L. Neil Smith? Or the old Marvel comics? Or does “EU” connote only the more regulated, continuity-conscious materials created since 1991, when Timothy Zahn’s novel Heir to the Empire reignited everything?

If we’re counting the early stuff, I loved Jessa and her father Doc, the outlaw mechanics who helped Han Solo modify the Falcon according to Brian Daley’s Han Solo at Star’s End. If we’re starting with Zahn, I’m partial to Talon Kardde, the smuggler lord introduced in Heir to the Empire. What can I say, I like the scoundrels.

12. Favorite villain from the EU?

Grand Admiral Thrawn, again from Zahn’s Heir to the Empire and its two sequels (which comprise the “Thrawn trilogy”).

13. If you had your own ship from the Star Wars Universe (SWU), what would it be? It could be a mash-up/ugly.

I’m not sure what a “mash-up/ugly” might be, but then I tend to prefer the classics anyhow… the Millennium Falcon, of course!

14. Would you rather be Sith or Jedi?

Jedi. I’d look terrible with yellow eyes.

15. Would you rather be a Rebel or a member of the Imperial Navy? What would your role be?

A Rebel. I have a problem with authority, especially the kind that Force-chokes you for every little thing.

16. If you could be any species from the SWU which would you be?

I’m pretty happy being human, actually.

17. If you could date any species from the SWU which would you pick?

Those Twi’lek chicks are pretty hot…

18. If you could date/marry any character from the SWU who would you pick?

If I’m allowed to pick someone from the old Marvel comics, Amaiza, the Mae West-ish “den mother of the Black Hole Gang,” was a cutie, and she’d probably keep me on my toes.

19. If you were going to bone just one Star Wars character and you never had to see them again, who would you pick?

Luke’s friend Camie from Tosche Station.

20. If you could BE one SW character, EU or not, who would you be?

Lando Calrissian. Because I’d love to be as smooth as that guy with the galactic ladies.

21. What would your SWU name be?

Well, I like my given name, but “Bennion” isn’t very Star Wars-y… following the general pattern of human family names on Tatooine being somehow related to the cosmos, let’s say… Jason Doublestar.

22. What color would your lightsaber be, what kind would it be (double-bladed, single blade), would you dual-wield, and what kind of grip would it have?

Um… my favorite color is red, but as far as we can see, only the Sith use those and I already said I don’t want to be one of them, so… a blue single-blade in a straight hilt (classic style, none of this fancy stuff!), and I’d only use one. Enough risk of losing digits with one, let alone multiples.

23. Do you own SW merchandise?

Silly question. Of course.

24. How much, to date, do you think you’ve spent on SW merchandise?

I’ve been collecting Star Wars stuff since I was seven years old. I think it’s fair to say the amount I’ve spent over almost four decades is incalculable.

25. What is your favorite SW possession?

Again, difficult… in terms of plain sentiment, the first thing that comes to mind will probably seem a little weird: three pages torn out of an ancient children’s magazine and gifted to me by my third-grade teacher, who got tired of me asking to look a that particular issue. Those pages include a couple of quotes from George Lucas speculating that, in a future “Star Wars 2,” we might see the origins of Darth Vader, when he and Obi-Wan dueled at the edge of a lava pit, and Darth fell in and was horribly burned, which is why he has to wear that suit and respirator machine. This image remained in my head for 30 years, and when I saw the lava fields of Mustafar in Revenge of the Sith… well, it was like a circle was now complete.

26. Do you have a favorite SW artist? If so, who?

So many excellent artists have contributed to Star Wars in so many media over the decade, it’s very difficult to pick just one. But I will say Drew Struzan is probably my favorite one-sheet artist in general, and he’s done a lot of incredible work for Lucasfilm.

27. Are there items you do not own but covet? What are they?

Sure, of course… there’s so much SW stuff out there, there’s no way anyone could have everything they covet. I’d love to have an original “birthday” one-sheet (produced to celebrate the first SW playing in some movie theaters for an entire year back in the day). I’d like to have an original “Han Solo in Bespin outfit” action figure still on the card. A life-size, functioning R2 unit would be fun (there are hobbyists who build them!), too.

28. Are there items that are not made but that you wish were made? What are they?

A fully functional landspeeder, perhaps? Even better, a speeder bike?

29. Did Han shoot first?

There was no “first.” Greedo never shot.

30. Did Boba Fett, in your opinion, ever leave the Sarlacc or did he die there?

I think the odds are good he escaped. He was wearing an armored suit that would have protected him (for a time) from the Sarlaac’s digestive process, and the suit had weapons built in even if he didn’t manage to hold on to his blaster. And if there was even a grain of truth behind his fearsome reputation, he must’ve been a survivor.

31. Are there things about the movies you wish you could change? If so, name three.

Since we’re on the subject of Boba Fett, I’d give him a larger part and more characterization — as it is, he’s basically little more than a cool-looking costume, even with the backstory provided by the prequels — as well as a more interesting and meaningful demise. (I’ve always imagined him and Han Solo settling things Old West style, with a quick-draw shoot-out — the original Star Wars was very much like a Western, after all.)

I’d drop the notion of Luke and Leia being siblings and come up with a more honest resolution to the Luke-Leia-Han love triangle established in Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back. (You’ll never convince me that George Lucas planned that from the beginning; it has always struck me as a cop-out to avoid dealing with a plot point that had evolved in the first two films, but which he didn’t want — or didn’t know how — to address.)

And I’d fix Jar-Jar Binks by giving him a heroic character arc in The Phantom Menace that sees him rise to the occasion during the droid battle at the end and save the day through his actions and choices rather than by accident. I’d also establish that his weird speech pattern is due to English being a second language for him. We’re accustomed to seeing subtitles for non-humans in the SW universe; if Gungans were shown as speaking intelligently and grammatically among themselves, I think viewers would’ve been far less annoyed with Jar-Jar’s pidgin-speak.

32. Which era would you want to live in?

Assuming this refers to the “classic” (i.e., rebellion against the Empire) and “prequel” (i.e., Old Republic/Clone Wars) eras, I’d go for the Imperial/rebellion era. It’s the one I grew up imagining myself in, the one that feels most like “home.”

33. What SW games have you played?

Um… the old Escape from the Death Star board game is the only one that comes to mind. I don’t really play games.

34. Do you play/own Star Wars Miniatures?

No, but I’ve thought about picking up some of the miniature ships that go along with this game, just because they’re wonderful little models.

35. Favorite SW costume for men?

I love seeing them all, from Jedi to stormtroopers to Han Solos. It’d be nice to see somebody cosplay Luke Skywalker’s farm-boy outfit or his “medals ceremony” uniform, though… for some reason, nobody ever does those.

36. Favorite SW costume for women?

Weirdly enough, I really like seeing women dressed as Han Solo. I’m not sure why, but the outfit seems to work really nicely on the ladies.

37. Have you ever dressed up as a SW character? Who/When/Why?

No, unless you count when I was little and would pretend I was Han by wearing a denim vest over a white t-shirt. Maybe I ought to try one of those Luke outfits for Salt Lake Comic Con sometime.

38. Do you ever have SW sex fantasies? If so, have you ever acted them out?


39. Do you Ship any SW characters who aren’t together? Who/why?

I confess, I had to look up the slang term “shipping” in order to answer this. This would be one of the generation-gap questions I mentioned above, I think. (Briefly, for my fellow uninitiated, “shipping” means wanting to see two fictional characters have a relationship, or being intensely interested in a fictional relationship.)

It’s not anything that’s ever occurred to me, so I’d have to say “no.”

40. Have you ever written SW fan fiction? Can we read it?

Nope. I wrote an Indiana Jones/Rocketeer crossover once, but never anything Star Wars-related.

41. Have you been to a Celebration or plan on going to one?

No, I’ve never been to one of these and have no plans to attend one, but I wouldn’t be opposed to the idea.

(For the unhip, “Celebration” refers to the officially sanctioned Star Wars Celebration conventions.)

42. Have you ever been to Star Wars Weekends at Walt Disney World?

Again, no, but I wouldn’t be opposed.

43. Do you wish they had Star Wars Weekends at Disneyland?

As I live much nearer to California than Florida, it would certainly be more convenient for me.

44. Best section you’ve experienced on Star Tours?

I’m not sure what this one is asking… I’ve enjoyed the Star Tours ride in the past but honestly don’t remember that much about it.

45. What initially brought you to the SW fandom?

Seeing the original Star Wars when I was seven years old. Growing up reading and re-reading the Marvel comics and the novelization and early tie-ins, playing with the Kenner toys, wearing t-shirts with rubber Star Wars iron-ons, listening to the NPR Radio Dramas in my barn one hot summer day, and generally obsessing about the most mind-blowing experience I’d ever had at the movies. You know, the same as everybody else my age.

46. Do you consider yourself a SW Fanboy or Fangirl?

Hm. Another difficult question. Although I have referred to myself as a fanboy as a way of shorthanding my interests, the term has picked up certain baggage that I don’t really identify with, much like “nerd” or “geek” used to connote a type of person much different than those words now describe. The truth is, I no longer have the time or interest in the levels of devotion that I associate with the true fanboy. I’m tired of arguing about the prequels, I’m inclined to see George Lucas as a flawed human being rather than either a god or a hack, and I really don’t know the name of every single creature that you see in every frame of film.

47 Have you seen Fanboys? Favorite character and/or quote?

I have seen it, once. I didn’t care for it, as much of its humor was derived from lazy old stereotypes of SW fans, and lovers of science fiction generally, and the laughs came at the expense of these characters rather than from their situations. In other words, the movie laughed at fans instead of with them. In my opinion, a much better movie about the Gen-X sci-fi-fan experience was Free Enterprise, although that film was constructed more around Star Trek than Star Wars.

48. Do you wish they would make 7, 8, and 9 or do you think they should be done with it?

Kind of a moot point, considering Episode VII is now in post-production. But to go along with the spirit of the question, I was always quite content with just the original three films, and the occasional tie-in novel or comic. I never clamored for more movies, whether prequels or sequels.

49. If they ever made 7, 8, and 9, do you think it should continue the Skywalker Legacy or use entirely new characters? Or something different?

I don’t know how many people remember this, but the novelization of the first Star Wars — Episode IV to you kids — was subtitled “From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker.” Although I’m perfectly happy with exploring and even creating other characters in other media, to me, the feature films have always been about the Skywalker family… and always should be. I’m anticipating that Episode VII will probably be a “pass the torch to the next generation” scenario, and I’m perfectly down with that… but somebody in that next generation needs to have Skywalker blood…

50. Do you watch The Clone Wars?

Not regularly, but I’ve seen a number of episodes and generally enjoyed them. Same with the new animated series that’s now replaced The Clone Wars, Star Wars: Rebels.

And on that note, I think maybe I’ll go throw on the bootleg “Despecialized” edition of the my favorite Star Wars film…


Answering Proust

Vanity Fair magazine closes every issue with a one-page feature called “The Proust Questionnaire,” a series of stock questions asked of a celebrity or public figure in hopes of eliciting some deep insight into that person’s character… or at least a witty response. In other words, it’s essentially the same thing as all those quiz-things that used to get passed around during the golden age of blogging, those things we called “memes” before “meme” came to mean something else. I’ve often toyed with the idea of making the VF questions into a blog post (which of course I fantasized would go viral and become Something Big!), but I’ve never gotten around to it… and now I don’t have to, as somebody else has already done it.

Before I get to the actual questions though, I’m somewhat ashamed to admit I had only a vague impression of who Proust even was until about ten minutes ago. I knew he was a writer of some renown, but that’s about it. I know, I know… for a guy with a BA in literature, there are some pretty significant holes in my literary knowledge. Anyhow, for the benefit of my fellows in ignorance, Marcel Proust was a French novelist, critic, and essayist of the late 19th and early 20th centuries (1871-1922, to be precise). He’s best known for a massive novel called Remembrance of Things Past (or, in more recent translations, In Search of Lost Time), as well as, of course, the questionnaire that now bears his name.

The questionnaire was actually a common party game in Proust’s day. The reason it came to be named for him is because he recorded his answers in something called a “confession album,” which has survived to this day (it was sold at auction in 2003 for over 100,000 euros). There are actually two known surviving sets of answers attributed to Proust, the first from 1885 or thereabouts, and the second from 1890, when Proust was a teenager and a young adult, respectively. What follows is questions from both versions, as well a modernized set of questions which is similar to the one used by Vanity Fair. I’ve crossed out the redundant ones, and I’ll try to keep my answers reasonably concise.

The First Questionnaire

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

Indecision. Guilt. Regret.

Where would you like to live?

In a house with a broad porch made for sittin’, located on a quiet country lane in a small town that’s not too far removed from the amenities of an urban center… basically an idealized version of the place I grew up in. (I grew up in a farm town where you saw nearly as many tractors and horses going down the road as cars and pickups, but we were only 20 minutes away from Salt Lake when you needed or wanted something from the city.) Oh, and it’d be nice if there was running water, like a creek or something, nearby.

What is your idea of earthly happiness?

Warm sunlight on my face and nothing on the agenda.

To what faults do you feel most indulgent?

Meaning, I suppose, what are my biggest faults? (The Victorian-era wording of some these…)Β  Um, procrastination and a tendency toward melancholy.

Who are your favorite heroes of fiction?

Captain James T. Kirk, Doctor Leonard “Bones” McCoy, and Mr. Spock; Han Solo and Luke Skywalker; Indiana Jones; John Carter of Mars; Dirk Pitt; Roland Deschain of Mid-World; Flash Gordon; the Vampire Lestat; Snake Plissken; and Bugs Bunny

Who are your favorite characters in history?

Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton, Butch Cassidy, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Howard Hughes, Sir Ernest Shackleton, Samuel Pepys

Who are your favorite heroines in real life?

Pancho Barnes, Nellie Bly, Dorothea Lange, Sally Ride, Lauren Bacall, Jane Goodall

Who are your favorite heroines of fiction?

Ellen Ripley; Leia Organa; Thelma and Louise; Neil Gaiman’s Death; Mrs. Anna Madrigal

Your favorite painter?

I couldn’t choose just one, so: Drew Struzan, Frank Frazetta, Alberto Vargas, Olivia De Berardinis, Edward Hopper, and Rembrandt

Your favorite musician?

Rick Springfield

The quality you most admire in a man?


The quality you most admire in a woman?


Your favorite virtue?


Your favorite occupation?

Not sure if this is what this item is asking for, but of the occupations I’ve held, movie projectionist.

Who would you have liked to be?

Who, as opposed to what? Um… just a better version of myself, really.

Β The Second Questionnaire

Your most marked characteristic?

My manly beard.

The quality you most like in a man?

The quality you most like in a woman?

What do you most value in your friends?

Their support.

What is your principle defect?

Worrying too much about what others think.

What is your favorite occupation?

What is your dream of happiness?

A leisurely life spent pursuing the things I want to do, rather than most of my time going to The Man just to keep a roof over my head and food in my belly.

What to your mind would be the greatest of misfortunes?

To be alone and living on the street.

What would you like to be?

Independently wealthy

In what country would you like to live?

I thought SamuraiFrog’s answer was pretty good: A better version of the United States.

What is your favorite color?


What is your favorite flower?


What is your favorite bird?

I’m rather fond of owls.

Who are your favorite prose writers?

Stephen King, Mark Twain, John Steinbeck, Armistead Maupin, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Anne Rice

Who are your favorite poets?

Leiber and Stoller

Who is your favorite hero of fiction?

Who are your favorite heroines of fiction?

Who are your favorite composers?

John Williams, John Barry, James Horner, Jerry Goldsmith

Who are your favorite painters?

Who are your heroes in real life?

Who are your favorite heroines of history?

What are your favorite names?

Um… never really thought about it.

What is it you most dislike?

Willful ignorance, as well as the ingrained distrust of intelligence and education that runs through American society.

What historical figures do you most despise?

Senator Joseph McCarthy, J. Edgar Hoover, Newt Gingrich (whose scorched-earth tactics against the Clinton administration led directly to the broken and utterly toxic state of American politics today), Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld.

What event in military history do you most admire?

In terms of the bravery of the young men who crewed the (relatively primitive) planes and the sheer scale of the operation, the allied bombing campaigns against the Third Reich, 1942-44.

What reform do you most admire?

Theodore Roosevelt’s trust-busting activities (wish we could find that level of progressive, anti-corporate, anti-plutocracy outrage again!) and Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, in particular the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and Works Progress Administration (WPA), both of which ought to be revived and set to work on America’s crumbling infrastructure, in my opinion.

What natural gift would you most like to possess?

The ability to draw something more realistic than a stick figure.

How would you like to die?

Heroically saving the Earth.

What is your present state of mind?


To what faults do you feel most indulgent?

What is your motto?

“It is what it is.”

The Modernized Version

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

No responsibilities, no obligations.

What is your most marked characteristic?

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

First in my family to earn a bachelor’s degree.

What is your greatest fear?


What historical figure do you most identify with?

Ernie Pyle.

Which living person do you most admire?

Jimmy Carter.

No, seriously. The guy left the White House a virtual disgrace, as disliked by many of his fellow Democrats as he was by the Republicans who defeated him. But rather than just disappearing from public view, Carter went on to become a globetrotting diplomat and tireless advocate for human rights, peaceful resolution to conflict, and aid for the poor. He strikes me as a rare example of a genuinely good man who is striving to better the world, and a even rarer example of a successful second act.

Who are your heroes in real life?

Explorers, scientists, journalists, and philanthropists. And, I’ll admit, the occasional movie star…

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

Lack of confidence.

What is your favorite journey?

The walk down the jetway… both leaving and coming home.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?


Which word or phrases do you most overuse?

Not sure, but probably it’s probably got four letters.

What is your greatest regret?

Disappointing myself.

If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be?

I’d undo all the damage caused by my uncle Louie’s fight with ALS.

What is your most treasured possession?

My 1963 Ford Galaxie, which my dad and Uncle Lou restored for me when I was 17 years old, right after he was diagnosed the disease that would kill him.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?



Year-End Meme

Our esteemed colleague Jaquandor traditionally does the following meme/quiz every year around this time to help him sum up the past 12 months (this year’s edition can be found here). Given my recent difficulties getting and maintaining a blog post — ahem — I thought I’d borrow it for a bit of inspiration. Meme’ing begins below the fold…



Happy Hallow-Meme

halloween_jackolanterns-in-the-rainAfter that big, painful, confessional bowel-movement of a preceding entry, I think we ought to have a little fun, don’t you? Here’s a meme that Jaquandor and SamuraiFrog both did earlier this month, which I’ve been trying to get to for a while. And for the record, I also swiped that animated GIF from SamuraiFrog, just because I thought it was moody and cool…



Movie Confessions Quiz

Let’s blather for a moment on my favorite subject, shall we? It’s a movie meme, courtesy of SamuraiFrog!

  1. Which classic movie don’t you like/can’t enjoy and why?
    Gone with the Wind. I think this one is probably a victim of its own reputation for me; all my life, I’d heard what a great, important, landmark movie it was, etc., etc., so when I finally saw it at the age of 19 or 20, I was incredibly disappointed to discover it was essentially a soap opera populated by characters I really didn’t like very much. (I’m sorry, but Scarlett O’Hara is a selfish, shallow little bitch who deserves everything she gets; I occasionally encounter women who hero-worship her, and I just do not get the appeal. I also tend to watch these women very, very carefully…)
  2. Which ten classic movies haven’t you seen yet?
    Geez, I could list a lot more than just ten, and I’m somebody who actually likes old movies and watches them fairly often, and could probably be considered pretty well-rounded in my viewing, at least compared to the average schmoe. There are just so many movies out there after a century-plus of filmmaking.Also, I think answering this question depends somewhat on how we’re defining “classic.” Are we talking about stuff that makes the Sight & Sound list? (For the record, I’ve actually seen quite a few of those.) Do we mean the black-and-white and/or studio-era stuff? Or does the definition extend to what I think of as fairly recent films, like Reservoir Dogs and Fargo (neither of which I’ve seen, but which people talk about as if they ought to be considered classics)? What about cult classics and movies that are so bad they attain a sort of perfection? Also, what about foreign classics? I have to confess I haven’t seen many foreign movies aside from the handful I was exposed to in my film-history classes back in college, and a slightly smaller handful of things I’ve stumbled across on my own, so again, many of those that are talked about as great and enduring pieces of cinema have eluded me.Anyhow, here’s a completely random list of those titles that leap immediately to mind as ones I think I ought to see but haven’t gotten around to, not counting the two already mentioned:

    1. From Here to Eternity
    2. Blow-Up
    3. The Usual Suspects
    4. The Sound of Music
    5. Raging Bull
    6. The Magnificent Ambersons
    7. Gilda
    8. All About Eve
    9. Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?
    10. The Hidden Fortress
  3. Have you ever sneaked into another movie at the cinema?
    I can’t think of a specific occasion, but I’m sure I must have at some point or another. Hasn’t everyone?
  4. Which actor/actress do you think is overrated?
    Christian Bale. I know everybody loves him right now for being the “definitive” Batman, yada yada yada, but I’ve never been very impressed by him. There’s something about him I find tremendously off-putting and unlikable, almost a subliminal revulsion… and I felt that way even before his much-publicized prima donna tirade against some poor DP who accidentally wandered into a shot during filming.
  5. From which big director have you never seen any movie (and why)?
    Darren Aronofsky. No particular reason, except nothing he’s made so far has appealed to me very much.
  6. Which movie do you love, but is generally hated?
    James Cameron’s Titanic. I don’t know that it’s generally hated, i.e., I don’t have any real sense of what percentage of the population dislikes it, but I seem to find myself defending it in conversation pretty often. The thing that really amazes me, though, is the degree of dislike people feel for this movie. I mean, the people who hate it really bloody-well hate it, and they want to make sure you know they hate it, and exactly why they hate it, and then they want you to concede that deep down, you kinda hate it too, because apparently it’s the Worst Movie Ever (said in the perennially disgusted voice of the Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons, naturally). And I just don’t get that level of bile, I really don’t, because the movie works for me. I like Jack and Rose, I like Kate and Leo’s performances, I buy their romance, the dialogue does not make me cringe, I think the runtime is just what it needs to be… hell, I don’t even question Jack dying at the end because he didn’t climb onto the piece of wreckage. (Yes, there does appear to be room on the piece of wood for two people, but it’s not necessarily buoyant enough to keep both of them out of the water, which is so cold that most people are freezing to death instead of drowning; in other words, if he’d climbed on too, they probably both would’ve died.) The only thing in the movie I really don’t like is Bill Paxton. Good lord, could that man ever act? So yeah, I like this movie, lots of people don’t, and much like politics and religion, there’s no convincing each other we’re right. I seem to have this same problem with the Star Wars prequels and the fourth Indiana Jones flick, too. I concede they weren’t great movies, but they also weren’t the soul-sucking disasters that so many claim them to be. There were aspects of all of them I found endearing enough to overlook their flaws. And I still like Dances with Wolves, too.
  7. Have you ever been “one of those annoying people” at the cinema?
    “Annoying people” meaning a distraction to others? Yes, I’m afraid I have. Once, back in that film-history course I mentioned, when I got a little bored with the featured film one week and started doing the MST3K thing with a friend. I figured it wasn’t that big a deal, since the movie was silent. It’s not like I was talking over the dialogue, right? Well, wrong. I was being an ass, and a woman sitting in front of me put me in my place over it by telling me to either shut up or leave. I was humiliated, I was angry, I had a not-very-nice epithet of the sort I usually reserve for Scarlett O’Hara on my lips… but she was right. I had no excuse, no defense. I still feel a deep shame when I remember the incident. And I don’t do that sort of thing anymore, at least not in public viewing situations.
  8. Did you ever watch a movie that you knew in advance would be bad, just because of a specific actor/actress was in it? Which one and why?
    Yes, a flick called The Man with the Screaming Brain. There was no way, realistically, that a movie with a title like that was going to be any good, but it starred Bruce Campbell, and he’s awesome, and a screening of The Man with the Screaming Brain was included with a book-signing event a few years back that offered a few seconds of actual face-time with Bruce, so I figured it would be worth it. He’s one of the coolest people you could ever have the fortune to meet (he even complimented me on the shirt I was wearing that night!) But The Man with the Screaming Brain was, not surprisingly, a horrible movie. Ye gods, was it bad. Not quite Alien Apocalypse bad, but still…
  9. Did you ever not watch a specific movie because it had subtitles?
    Nope. I’ve got no problem with subtitles, and honestly, little patience for those who do. They’re not that difficult, people.
  10. Are there any movies in your collection that you have had for more than five years and never watched?
    Yes. I’m not proud of it, but I do. The fact is, I tend to buy DVDs at a greater rate than I actually watch them, and things tend to back up. Especially now that I can buy complete seasons of television series for about the same cost as a feature film. I have probably hundreds of hours of TV and movie viewing sitting around that I haven’t gotten to yet…
  11. Which are the worst movies in your collection and why do you still own them?
    I have a lot of movies that generally get classified as “guilty pleasures” — a term I resist, by the way, because taste is subjective, and if you like something, you ought to feel free to like it without qualification — but I’d say the worst ones are actually ones I bought because I was swept up in a momentary hype situation but later lost interest in. Minority Report comes to mind… I really liked it when I saw it in the theater, figured I had to have it when it came out on DVD, but now doubt if I’ll ever have the desire to watch it again.
  12. Do you have any confessions about your movie-watching setup at home?
    “Confessions?” What, like I’m ashamed I don’t have one of those custom home-theater theme rooms that look like the bridge of the starship Enterprise or something? No, I don’t. I have an HDTV and an upconverting DVD player, as well as a still-functional VCR for the handful of things I can’t get in a digital format, and that setup is just fine for me. I got over the home-theater thing a long time ago; I’d rather spend the money on a trip to Europe or something.
  13. Any other confessions you want to make?
    Yes. You got me. I’m the killer. I did it behind the snack bar with a film splicer.