Star Wars

May the Fourth!

Today is the unofficial nerd holiday known as Star Wars Day, owing to the unfortunate pun formed by a certain pronunciation of the date (“May the Fourth be with you!” Get it? Yeah, I know… it makes me groan as well.) Now, it’s not as if people need an excuse to chatter about Star Wars on social media any more than they already do on any other day of the year, but I must confess that I rather enjoy the whole silly thing. I’ve seen a lot of memes, artwork, and jokes today that have made me smile…  and with that swaggering blowhard Donald Trump all but claiming the Iron Throne last night, a few smiles have been absolutely vital to my psychological well-being.

Of all the Star Wars-related stuff I’ve seen today, my favorite piece has been a promo video produced by the British TV network Sky Movies to advertise their marathon of the first six SW movies (or, as I think they ought to be called, the Lucasian Sextet).  This one is just plain neato:

And then there’s the news that Greedo himself — or at least the actor who was inside the green-snouted costume, Paul Blake — has weighed in on the undying question of “Who shot first?” In an interview with the New York Daily News, Blake says the scene he remembers acting all those years ago ended with the words, “Han shoots the alien.” Period. In other words, not only did Greedo not shoot first, he didn’t shoot at all. Blake goes on: “It would be lovely to see them go back to the original version, I much preferred it, I must say.”

Amen, sir. There are a lot of, ahem, unofficial options these days for seeing the pre-1997 editions of the original trilogy, but I still hold out hope there will one day be a sanctioned, respectful, official BluRay release. I’d even buy a box set of all the variations that now exist, so long as the pre-97s are given a decent presentation. Hey, we all need our obsessions, right?

In the meantime, I think I’m going to watch that Sky Movies ad again. I really adore that…


Nostalgia’s a Bitch, Man, But She’s My Bitch

star-wars_anh_luke-on-tatooineSo, do you suppose that during all those years Luke Skywalker evidently spends standing on a rock in the ocean on Planet Ireland, brooding about how everything went to hell for him after his twenties, he ever got misty-eyed about the good old days of zooming around the desert in his landspeeder and hanging with Fixer and the gang at Toshi Station?

Just something that occurred to me this morning as I was remembering the little farm town I grew up in and the faceless suburb it’s become…


“I Must Leave This Planet or Lose My Mind”

In lieu of the usual music-type video, I thought I’d offer a different sort of distraction for this Friday evening…

I’ve seen a lot of Star Wars parody videos over the years. I mean, a lot. There are nearly as many of those silly things out there on the InterWebs as there are cat videos. But every once in a while, one comes along that is truly sublime in its creativity, its unique take on the source material, and yes, its side-splitting, coffee-spewing, tear-inducing hilariousness. My buddy Robert sent me one such gem today, which re-imagines several key scenes from The Empire Strikes Back as a Spanish-language telenovela, and the results are… well, just take a look:

Ah, man. I’ve watched this half a dozen times this afternoon, and I’m still laughing. But you know… seeing Our Heroes as, ahem, young and horny only highlights how deeply unhappy I am with what becomes of them in The Force Awakens. One of these weekends, I’ve got to clear my calendar and write up exactly what I thought of that movie…

But it probably won’t be this weekend. I may post some more in the next 48 hours, but I’ve got other subjects in the chute ahead of my TFA review. In the meantime, have a good one, kids. Hope you have some nice spring weather to enjoy.


Review: Razor’s Edge

Razor's Edge
Razor’s Edge by Martha Wells

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Razor’s Edge is the second of the two books in the aborted Empire and Rebellion trilogy that made it to press before Disney’s acquisition of all things Star Wars and subsequent termination of the existing “Expanded Universe” of tie-in materials. (Well, technically, Razor’s Edge was the first of that trilogy, but I read it second; there isn’t a unified story arc connecting the two, so it doesn’t matter what order you read them in.) Remember, the idea behind Empire and Rebellion was to give each of “the big three” characters — Luke Skywalker, Leia Organa, and Han Solo — a book focusing on them during the little-covered period between the Battle of Yavin and the Battle of Hoth, i.e., between Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back. Razor’s Edge is Leia’s entry… and I’m sorry to say that it was pretty disappointing after the rollicking good time I had with the Han Solo book Honor Among Thieves. Also, I’m at a bit of a loss to explain exactly why.

The plot isn’t bad. It begins with Leia and Han on a secret mission to meet with merchants who can provide supplies for the construction of the new rebel base on Hoth, but their ship is attacked by Imperials shortly after arriving at the rendezvous point, suggesting they’ve got a leak somewhere in the Alliance. Fleeing their attacker, they come upon a pirate vessel attacking a freighter… and to Leia’s shock, the pirate is a former Alderaanian ship that survived the destruction of their homeworld and turned rogue to survive. One thing leads to another, and Han, Leia, and the Alderaanians find themselves at a pirate armada’s “clearinghouse,” surrounded by cutthroats, trying to figure out how to save a group of innocent captives as well as themselves, and uncover the identity of the spy in their midst, as before the Empire catches up to them.

That all sounds good, and I liked the primary setting — an abandoned asteroid mine filled with broken-down machines and senile droids, now taken over by the pirates — but I found I just didn’t engage with the story in any significant way. The secondary characters were largely indistinguishable from each other, the Imperial pursuit never seemed all that threatening, and I wanted something… more from Leia. Her lingering feelings of guilt and trauma over what happened to Alderaan are mentioned, and supposedly play a big role in why she’s so interested in these hometown pirates, but the feelings don’t have any palpable presence, and I kept thinking they ought to. Not that I wanted the book to become too dark and heavy — remember, that’s my complaint with so much of current popular culture and a place I definitely don’t want Star Wars to go — but a little more exploration of the princess’ mindscape would’ve been appropriate in this story.

On the positive side, Leia is convincingly portrayed as capable of independent action, Han gets in one of his trademark insanely reckless rescue stunts, and some of the banter between them is nice.

In the final analysis, I’d give Razor’s Edge a lukewarm recommendation. It’s mediocre and disposable, but it’s an adequate diversion, and it is better than some of the Star Wars tie-ins I’ve read. But I wanted it to be so much better than it was…

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Trek or Wars?


So, I was talking recently with this guy and when I happened to mention that I wasn’t blown away by the new Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens, the way I’d hoped to be, he replied, “Well, that makes sense… you’ve always been more of a Trekkie anyway.”

Whoa, wait… what?!

I have to admit, I was a little taken aback.

Not that I deny being a major Trekkie, of course. How can I, when I honestly can’t remember a time before I’d seen the original Star Trek series? Hell, one of my strongest memories of kindergarten — kindergarten! — is talking to a little girl about this cool guy on TV called Spock. But somehow it surprises me to think that people believe I prefer one of these pop-cultural juggernauts to the other. Certainly I’ve never seen myself as having a preference.

People love their rivalries, though, don’t they? Sports teams, political parties, favorite hamburger chains, what make of pickup truck you drive… the list is endless. For nerds, the irresolvable conflicts are Marvel vs. DC and Star Trek vs. Star Wars. I can tell you from personal experience that nerd rivalries are every bit as bitter as those between football fans. My first real taste of that came from this kid I knew back in college. He was frankly the biggest nerd I’ve ever met, the sort who was absolutely convinced there had to be an “in-universe” explanation for why the sets were different on later seasons of the BBC sci-fi sitcom Red Dwarf than they’d been in the first year. (Um, because the production company got a bigger budget and built new ones?! As nerdy as I proudly am, I’ve always had this stubborn connection to real-world, behind-the-scenes reality.) This guy was so extreme in how seriously he took his fannish interests that he could’ve been a character on The Big Bang Theory. He would’ve been the guy the regular characters on The Big Bang Theory look down on, actually. Anyhow, this guy left me speechless one afternoon by snottily decreeing that he was a Trekkie and he hated Star Wars because there are obviously more story possibilities inherent in a trek than in a war. Um, okay, whatever, man.

Personally, I’ve always found the rivalry between the two properties and/or their fans, this idea that there are two warring camps who can never, ever find common ground, silly.and contrived, in spite of my old college pal’s rotten attitude. If you prefer one over the other, that’s your prerogative, but it’s perfectly possible to enjoy both, and I suspect most people — at least the people who like this stuff at all — like both.

For the record, I consider my affections pretty evenly divided between the two, about 50/50. Over the years, my focus has shifted back and forth between them, largely depending on which was more prominent in the culture at the time (Trek was far more active in the late ’80s and early ’90s, for instance, while Star Wars was in a fallow period then), but I love ’em both more or less equally. I find neither “superior” because they’re not trying to accomplish the same thing, and both franchises have produced lots of dross in name of the almighty marketing machine. From Trek, I’ve taken a lot of my personal sense of morality and ethics, as well as (probably) my urge to explore — or perhaps the stories of exploration have resonated with some trait that was already baked into my character. But Star Wars excites me in a way Trek never has. One appeals to my intellect and the other to my gut, I suppose. They are the poles at either end of my nerdy continuum.

Of course, at the moment, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is more consistently satisfying me than either Trek or Wars, so figure that one out.

This has been another meaningless exercise in navel-gazing brought to you by a late hour and a fuzzy head grabbing inspiration from wherever it can…


Review: Honor Among Thieves

Honor Among Thieves
Honor Among Thieves by James S.A. Corey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Since the release of The Force Awakens, I’ve thought a lot about that movie and about Star Wars in general, and I’ve come to the conclusion that my favorite era, both in terms of storytelling as well as the real-world Star Wars phenomenon, was that scant handful of years between the first two movies, i.e., Episodes IV and V… or, as we old farts who’ve been there since the dawn of time like to call ’em, Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back. That period was the most fun, in my opinion, when this whole crazy juggernaut of a franchise was still a swashbuckling adventure untainted by the tragic undertones that crept into it later, when anything was possible and Luke Skywalker was just, to borrow a memorable phrase from James S. A. Corey’s Honor Among Thieves, “a farm boy who love[d] flying his fast ship.”

Honor Among Thieves was one of the last Star Wars novels published in the so-called “Expanded Universe” of tie-in materials (books, comics, and games) produced before Disney acquired the Star Wars brand in 2014. The book was originally intended as part of a projected trilogy titled Empire and Rebellion, set in that sweet spot between the Battle of Yavin and the Battle of Hoth, and with each book focusing on one of the “Big Three” heroes: Han Solo, Princess Leia, and Luke Skywalker. Only two of the three novels in that trilogy were published, however, before Disney’s controversial decision to decanonize the EU and recategorize all those stories as mere “legends.” So technically speaking, Honor Among Thieves and its companion piece, Razor’s Edge, never happened. Which is a shame, because it’s one of the more entertaining SW tie-ins I’ve encountered.

The time is shortly after the destruction of the first Death Star. The Rebels have abandoned their now-compromised base on Yavin IV and are searching for a new world on which to settle. Han Solo still has not committed to formally joining the Rebel Alliance and considers himself an outsider to their cause, an independent contractor who’s willing to do jobs for them but expects to be paid in return. So when Leia asks him and Chewbacca to fly into Imperial space to pick up a Rebel spy who’s called for extraction, it’s just another paycheck. Naturally, though, he gets more than he bargained for when the spy reveals why she called for help: an Imperial agent has discovered the path to an ancient alien artifact of immense power, but a third party has accidentally acquired the information as well and intends to sell it to the highest bidder. And now the race is on to intercept the data and recover the artifact, which will bring its possessor ultimate control over the Galaxy. Matters are complicated by an old friend turned bounty hunter who’s picked up Han’s trail and intends to capture him for Jabba the Hutt, as well as by an unexpected side trip to rescue Leia from an approaching Imperial fleet…

Refreshingly free of the usual mystical light-side/dark-side concerns involving the Jedi and the Force, Honor Among Thieves is more reminiscent of the old Han Solo novels by Brian Daley that I loved as a kid, or perhaps the original Marvel Comics Star Wars series (as opposed to the current Marvel series), just a fast-paced space opera adventure about a scoundrel with a fast ship and a sharp tongue. There’s even a bit of an Indiana Jones vibe in the final act as our heroes trek across a jungle world toward an ancient ruin that houses the story’s MacGuffin.

The tone never gets too heavy, but the book does offer some interesting ethical questions — voiced by the most unlikely of philosophers, Han Solo himself –about whether a New Republic founded by a victorious Rebel Alliance would be much different from the Empire for people who live on the margins, like himself — meet the new boss, same as the old boss — as well as whether anybody can be trusted with the kind of power promised by the object everyone is trying to obtain. And while I personally have grown very weary of all the superweapons in the Star Wars universe — including Starkiller Base in the new movie — the artifact in this story has the novelty of being alien in origin and non-destructive in nature, an idea that I found far more intriguing than just another variant on a giant laser.

Bottom line: official canon or not, Honor Among Thieves is a fun read that’s perfect for a lazy Saturday afternoon. If you love and miss a certain kind of Star Wars story the way I do, it’s highly recommended.

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What? There’s a New Star Wars Movie?

star-wars_tfa_poster_wide[Ed. Note: This is not a review, and there are no spoilers ahead, just in case there’s anyone remaining at this late date to whom that matters. What this entry is is something I started noodling with a week before The Force Awakens opened but ran out of time to finish before I got swept up in the events of the big weekend. I liked the direction my musings were taking, so I decided to come back and see where they ultimately led. Think of this entry as something that got lost in hyperspace for three weeks and has finally arrived in the here and now. Because of that provenance, you may encounter some odd phrases relating to time. Sorry about that. And for the record, I am planning to do an actual review of the film, so that’ll be coming soon…]

Did you guys know about this? A new Star Wars movie? Wonder how they managed to sneak that onto theater schedules without anyone noticing?

Just kidding.You’d have to be living under the cliche’d rock to not know about this movie. The familiar logo and character faces are everywhere this holiday season. As far back as Halloween, some of my friends were grumbling that they were already getting sick of it, that it was even worse than the marketing blitz for The Phantom Menace back in 1999. Personally, I’ve been enjoying it, at least to the extent that I’ve even been aware of it. Weirdly enough, I was more or less oblivious to it until just a short time ago. Aside from the online hubbub that accompanied the release of each new trailer, I somehow didn’t see all the merchandise trickling into stores or notice all the tie-ins infiltrating TV and even social media ads. I don’t know how I could’ve missed it; too damn busy with the mundane duties of my daily life, I guess. Adulthood… sigh. But now that my eyes have been opened… well, I’m in my element. My friends may find it obnoxious to go into a grocery store and see a jug of coffee creamer decorated to resemble Chewbacca, but I enjoy it. I like feeling that old Star Wars buzz again, the same one I remember feeling way back in 1980 and ’83, and yes, in ’99, too. It makes me happy.

However, the buzz isn’t exactly like it used to be, is it? While people are unquestionably excited about the prospects of a new Star Wars, I sense an undercurrent of reservation this time. At least I am more reserved about it. Back in ’99, I had a countdown clock and a pre-production painting of a podracer on my work computer’s desktop for months ahead of time, and I’d already bought a bunch of merchandise well before the movie opened. (I can recall a coworker shaking his head and hissing, “It’s like a cult for you people!” Um, yeah. So?) This time around, though… well, it’s just different somehow. I’ve known the release date was coming up and I have my advance tickets, but like I said above, I really haven’t given the movie much thought until recently. And I’ve looked at some of the new toys and collectibles that are out there, and while a lot of them have made me smile, so far none of them have found their way into the Bennion Archive.

Some have suggested all of us cultish fans are gun-shy after being burned by the prequels. Maybe that’s the explanation for some people, but I don’t think that’s what’s holding back my enthusiasm. The truth is, I basically liked the prequels. No, really, I did. I had my quibbles with them, sure; they weren’t what we all hoped for, certainly, or what they could’ve and arguably should’ve been. But they weren’t that bad. Trust me, I’ve seen bad movies, movies so bad they can boil your eyeballs and liquefy your brains, and the prequels really, truly were not in that league. At least not in my estimation. If your mileage varies, I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree and not discuss it. I’m done having that conversation, because all the bile those movies have inspired over the last 16 years has been hurtful and toxic and tiresome, and frankly it’s sucked a lot of the fun out of being a Star Wars fan. If anything, that’s probably more to blame for my “wait and see” attitude about The Force Awakens than anything: my fear that the Great Fanboy Wars, which finally seemed to be calming down a bit in recent years, are about to flare up all over again.

Consider: If TFA sucks, then the outcry will be enormous. For many fans, it will be the final disillusionment, and a whole lot of people will just turn away from Star Wars once and for all, as many already have because of the prequels. And I, a die-hard loyalist to the end, will be find myself constantly defending what the popular wisdom will have decided is indefensible, namely, the entire Star Wars franchise. (Like I haven’t been there before, any time anyone mentions the 1978 version of Battlestar Galactica or even — increasingly and utterly baffling to me — the original Star Trek series.) And if by some chance the new entry is great, then the “I told you so’s” directed against poor old Uncle George and his prequels will be deafening. And that will really trouble me too, because I already think the amount of disrespect he receives is unjustified.

I’ll be honest, I’m much more apprehensive about the former possibility — that Episode VII will suck — than the latter. I have very little faith that director JJ Abrams can deliver any sort of watchable Star Wars movie, not after the utter hash he made of my beloved Star Trek. (I know, I know, those films had a different writing staff than The Force Awakens, and JJ has always claimed to be far more of a fan of Star Wars than Star Trek. And I also know I initially gave the 2009 reboot picture a somewhat positive review. But as time has passed, my position toward that one has hardened. A lot. That’s a tangent I shouldn’t take right now, but let’s just say that as far as I’m concerned, the reinvention of the Star Trek franchise has been an unmitigated disaster, and JJ is the one person most responsible for it, since he was the man in the center seat. That’s a reference that Trekkies will get.)

Ultimately though, it kind of doesn’t matter if The Force Awakens is any good or not, because Star Wars is — and always has been — much more than the movies themselves.

Star Wars is the tattered paperback novelization that I read over and over and over until it finally split in two, coming apart right up the middle of the spine, a book I read so many times as a kid that I can still remember some of the lines. It is the plastic Slurpee cups and the cheap, fuzzily printed posters from Burger King. It is the black-edged trading cards that came in loaves of Wonder Bread, which we never actually ate but which my mom cheerfully bought anyhow, so I could collect those cards and carry them in my wallet like family photos. It is the incredibly daft (I like to say “swashbuckling”) Marvel comic books that featured a six-foot-tall green rabbit and a space pirate who strode the decks of an off-model star destroyer in hot pants and a muscle shirt. It is the summer afternoon I spent in a corner of our still-under-construction barn listening to the entire NPR radio show on a scratchy transistor radio, and the cheap knock-off “lazer sword” toy I waved at my friends who were armed only with sticks, and it’s the rubber-backed t-shirt iron-ons that always made my chest feel clammy but were so damn cool looking.

Star Wars is the line that wrapped around the block in front of the old Centre Theatre in downtown Salt Lake, and it is Meco’s disco “interpretation” of John Williams’ famous music, and it is all the painfully bad variety-show and sketch-comedy attempts to hop on the bandwagon. Yes, it’s those episodes of The Donny and Marie Show and The Muppet Show and The Richard Pryor Show, and it’s Bill Murray singing the theme on SNL. It is even — god help us — the infamous Holiday Special.

Star Wars is my dad buying me a copy of Han Solo’s Revenge by Brian Daley that I spotted in a drugstore window, just because he knew I wanted it, and it is that awesome birthday cake my mom made for me that had all the Kenner action figures standing knee-deep in chocolate frosting instead of candles.

Star Wars is the night I passed on going to a dance so I could record the film from broadcast TV without commercials. It is the all-day marathon of the original trilogy I went to with an old girlfriend, and the all-night marathon I went to with my Anne. It is the rush of sheer joy I felt one afternoon in 1991 when I wandered into Waldenbooks and literally stumbled across a display for the first tie-in novel published in years, the start of the publishing juggernaut that came to be called the Expanded Universe.

Star Wars is the Qui Gon Jinn insulated tumbler I used to use during my morning commute, and the Darth Maul figurine that was on the cake I received for my thirtieth birthday.

Star Wars is all the conversations I had with the younger guys I worked with at the movie theater, the guys who nicknamed me “the Jedi Master.” And it is the debates I had with my friend Robert until the wee hours of the night at Selwyn College in Cambridge, England, my friend who flew in from halfway across the country to see The Force Awakens with me. And it is the countless arguments I used to have online before I decided it simply wasn’t worth my time to argue about it anymore.

And yes, Star Wars is that damn Chewbacca coffee creamer, and the Death Star tea infuser, and the box of Cheez-Its with the First Order stormtrooper on the front.

In short, Star Wars is a thread that runs throughout the tapestry of my life. All our lives, anyone who’s been alive in this culture for the past 40 years. It is a thread both material (in the form of merchandise) and experiential. It has penetrated our discourse and our thoughts to the level that people can use its characters and situations as metaphors with no doubt that they will be understood.

Star Wars is an exercise in marketing hype, yes. And it is even, when you get right down to it, a series of movies. But in a weird way, the actual movies are the least important aspect of the whole thing… and I personally wouldn’t have it any other way.


The Final Trailer

If you haven’t seen it already on any of the six million other websites that are linking to it:

Honestly, I’m still not sure what I think, even after watching this three times in a row. The music is nice, if a bit elegiac (we’re going to lose someone we care about in this one, I’ll bet you). JJ Abrams seems to have exercised some self-control with his irritating lens flare schtick, so there’s that at least. It was great to see the old Falcon cutting through hyperspace again. And it’s interesting to hear Han Solo of all people solemnly acknowledging the reality of that hokey ancient religion. But the final line…

“The Force… it’s calling to you… just let it in.”

Is it just me, or does that sound like a meta-message aimed directly at the skeptical fanboys? And if so, is it an invitation spoken from a position of confidence or does it betray some opening-night jitters? Are the filmmakers saying “Come back to the galaxy far, far away, guys, you won’t be sorry,” or are they begging us to remove the chips from our shoulders before we enter the theaters? I guess we’ll find out in a few short weeks…


We Forget What It Was Like…

These days, it’s easy to take the original Star Wars film for granted. Nearly 40 years after its release, it seems like it’s just always been there in the background, doesn’t it? We’ve all seen it a hundred (or more) times and we’ve all got it memorized, and there have been five other films and three animated TV spin-offs (so far), not to mention countless books, comics, videogames, toys, posters, and god only knows what else. By my count, three generations of kids have grown up with the saga of a galaxy far, far away as their personal mythology, and it’s very hard now to remember what it was like when it was all new and fresh. Hell, I’ve even heard the Damn Kids™ of today think the first film in the saga — I will not call it A New Hope, sorry — is kind of boring and slow-paced. (Terrible to be so jaded at such a young age!) But that’s not how it used to be.

Here’s a fun little reminder of what it was like when Star Wars was the most exciting, mind-blowing movie-going experience we’d ever had, courtesy of YouTube user William Forsche. It’s an audio recording he made inside a crowded theater on a summer day in 1977. It’s pretty fun to hear the audience grow quieter during Luke’s Death Star trench run… then absolutely silent when “the Death Star has cleared the planet…” and Artoo gets taken out, followed by a spontaneous eruption of joyous applause (and even some tension-relieving laughter) as Han Solo and the Falcon arrive in the nick of time, and again when the DS explodes, and again as the closing credits begin. And check out William’s “pew! pew! pew!” sounds at the very end of the recording, as he and his mom are walking to the car. We all did that, didn’t we? That’s what the experience of the original Star Wars was like. When was the last time you applauded at the end of a big summertime action movie? (I think I did at Godzilla last summer, but you take my point…)

Nice montage of vintage photos, too. As much as I still love the Star Wars franchise and all the imagery associated with it, my very favorite iconography remains the stuff that came out in those very earliest years between Star Wars and Empire, 1977-80…

I found this on Boing Boing, of course.


Give It a Rest, Haters!

A week ago Thursday was a big day for me. Oh, sure, there was that whole eye-surgery thing, but there was also the little matter of the second trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. (You didn’t think I was going to let that pass without mention, did you?) Seriously, the timing couldn’t have been better, as the trailer hit the InterWebs at just about the very moment when my anxiety over having my corneas sliced open with frickin’ laserbeams was hitting its peak. But you know what? Two-and-a-half minutes in that galaxy far, far away proved to be quite a wonderful stress reliever: I laughed, I cried, I even beat my fists on my desktop in a paroxysm of sheer glee. Yes, it remains to be seen whether the actual movie will be any good, but as far as the trailer goes… let’s just say Han and Chewie weren’t the only ones who felt like they’d come home.

But that warm afterglow never lasts long here in the 21st century, does it? Especially when it comes to anything Star Wars. My vision was still hazy the day after my surgery when I ran across this sour little turd-in-the-punchbowl in an online discussion of the new trailer:

If JJ Abrams wants to give Star Wars fans a complete nerdgasm, one brief shot of a grave marked “Jar Jar Binks” would cause the theater to erupt in several minutes of applause.

Really? We’re still bitching about Jar Jar Binks? The Phantom Menace was released sixteen years ago, in 1999. Let me repeat that slowly and loudly for anyone who’s not paying attention: Six. Teen.Years. Hell, it’s been a decade since Revenge of the Sith. An entire generation of kids of has grown up with the prequels and are having kids of their own (at least here in Utah). But the disgruntled fanboys are still whinging about about the prequels in general and particularly about poor old Jar Jar Binks.

Enough already.

You know, I’d lately been thinking that all the rage and snottiness that sucked the fun out of being a Star Wars fan over the past two decades was on the wane. I was naive enough to imagine that the sale of Lucasfilm to Disney and George Lucas retiring might finally quiet the howling echoes of the Great Disappointment, and that The Force Awakens would mark the beginning of a new era. But as Jack Nicholson memorably said in the final scene of The Two Jakes, it just never goes away.

I wish the hell it would, because it’s gotten really boring, people. The Force Awakens opens in a mere eight months, and I’m sure it will be filled with all sorts of new things for fans to bitch about. (I can hardly wait. And yes, that’s sarcasm, in case you couldn’t tell.) In the meantime, though, can we please just stop talking about the prequels and frickin’ Jar Jar Binks?

Incidentally, you do realize there are people who actually like the prequels, right? Or at least don’t think they’re all that bad? There’s far from a mass cultural consensus on them, even though it often seems that way. And a lot of those folks I mentioned who grew up on them downright love them. Shockingly enough, they have a different perspective than their elders and they are every bit as passionate about their own opinions. And there even some elder Star Wars fans who are cool with the prequels too… our colleague Jaquandor, for example. You won’t find a more eloquent defender of them, or of the franchise in general. But no matter. I don’t want to open this can of worms again. I know I’m taking a risk of that merely by posting this plea, but I’m so damn tired of all the bile. I really want to enjoy being a fan of this thing again without all the constant bickering. Somebody, please just make it stop