Monday, April 14, 2008

Long ago, in a galaxy far, far away...

A couple of low-level Imperial gunners, in the midst of a space-battle of epic bloodshed and destruction, improbably decided not to shoot down an escape pod devoid of life-signs -- what, were they trying to save ammo? -- allowing two bumbling robots to make it to safety with the information key to saving the entire galaxy, and Star Wars, the Odyssey of the late 20th century began.

I was four, and I was enraptured. Have been ever since. Sleep-overs at my house included a required marathon of Episodes IV-VI. To this day, my best friend insists she's not sure how the saga ends, as she invariably fell asleep during the Jabba the Hutt scenes.

When the movies were re-tooled for re-release, I dutifully went to every one at the theater, then bought the box set. That box set is what Buddy watches now. We also have The Phantom Menace, but unfortunately I can't stomach Episodes II and III enough to justify purchasing them.

Spike TV ran the whole thing in HD over the past two weekends. I DVR'd, so I could give watching the Hayden Christensen episodes another go, but have already deleted them to make more room for our South Park collection. I STILL haven't made it through Revenge of the Sith in one sitting. I'm not even sure it's called "Revenge of the Sith." Is it? I can't even be bothered to go to IMDB to check...

But I'm saving the old ones. For one thing, my copy of The Empire Strikes Back was lost a few years ago in an... incident. Also, HD truly does do justice to the visuals. I didn't have time to sit through them fully over the weekend, when they were on live, but I called up Return of the Jedi this afternoon, mostly because I didn't feel like actually interacting with my children.

Can you BELIEVE it? Maybe you bought the full DVD box set a couple of years ago and they're like this, so you already knew... they've changed it AGAIN! It's a tiny little thing, at the very end of Jedi, where, ten years ago they redacted the perky "Yuppa Yuppa Ya" Ewok celebration song and added in shots of Bespin, Mos Eisley and Coruscant joining in the fun -- complete with a delightful shot of the Emporer's statue being pulled down in a Coruscant square.

Now they've added a shot from Naboo, which is cool, 'cause Naboo is pretty, but they put it in place of the Emporer's statue being pulled down. That irks me a bit, because I liked that shot, and I only like it more now that the Iraqis (consciously? unconsciously? I could probably look it up... nah) copied the move in Baghdad.

Also, I was gearing up to have to explain (again) to Buddy who the old guy was hanging out with Yoda and Obi-Wan in the final scene, but, oop! He wasn't there! It was Hayden Christensen! I was totally weirded out. I have to admit, it gave me a frisson, like, Oooh, the circle is complete, sort of thing, but at the same time, a girl's gotta ask: three times? Old George has gone and changed this movie now, THREE TIMES? How can that be okay? I mean, I'll be the first to say, it's George's movie, he can damn well do what he pleases with it, but... three times?

The truth of the matter is, and I think I've said this before, the thing that sucks for those of us who fell in love with Star Wars before puberty hit is that, no matter how much George tweaks it, we grew up, but the saga never did. I feel that way about The Neverending Story, too.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

It takes me awhile, but eventually I get it...

I saw the girl who stopped swimming in the window at Park Road Books and thought to myself, Hey, look! I didn't know Joshilyn had written another book. And then I felt a pang of guilt because I had never actually read Joshilyn's book that I did know about -- gods in Alabama. So I went to the library that afternoon, read it in as much as one sitting as I can manage in these small-child-infested days, and then saw the girl who stopped swimming yesterday at Costco, and just finished it about 10 minutes ago, acknowledgements and all.

I'm making it sound like I know Joshilyn personally, which I don't, but I'm closer to knowing her than any other proper author on the planet, and that's what makes the blogosphere so darned cool. I've always been intrigued by the structure of the network that joins one blogger to the next, so you'll have to bear with my while I play Six Degrees of Separation...

When I started up Mean Teacher, I managed to somehow catch the eye of Jay Allen, then author of The Zero Boss. Jay was a card-carrying blogosphere D-lister, and his periodic links to me brought Mean Teacher whatever tiny little fame it ever enjoyed. Through him I found a host of other friendly and interesting bloggers: Goldie, MIM, Robin, possibly Mande (I can't remember if I got to Mande through Jay)... the list continues. Anyway, Jay was a great one for keeping the sphere alive, spotlighting lesser-knowns, sparking wild conversations, and creating opportunities for all us repressed David Foster Wallaces to get our gab on.

One of his best notions was Blogging for Books, a competition in which he and a guest judge, who was a published author, would put out a topic and invite anyone and everyone to submit blog entries on that topic. The guest judge would determine winners and the prize would be one of their books.

Early on I earned an honorable mention with a musing about my ignorant mistreatment of one of my students. After that, I caught the bug good and participated in "B4B" as often as inspiration would allow. Ultimately real life caught up with Jay and he ran out of whatever steam was necessary for keeping B4B alive. Some point after that, though, Mir at Woulda Coulda Shoulda and Joshilyn Jackson took up the torch. I entered one last time -- resulting in a brief, not-particularly personal correspondence with Joshilyn, who hosted the contest at her site -- and actually got third prize. I made another friend on that foray with Deb Richardson, who did not frequent Jay's site but tried out B4B for the first time through Joshilyn.

All this is to say that it was really cool to read two wonderful novels and know that, in a vague and meandering way, I kind of have met the author and she's a very real person. And it was even cooler to think, when learning that the main character in the girl who stopped swimming made art quilts, Hey, I wonder if Joshilyn got that idea from Deb Richardson, who makes stunning art quilts. And it was even cooler to read the acknowledgements at the end of the novel and see Deb's name there, big as day.

I can't recommend both novels enough. I sucked them down like strawberry milkshakes, got very attached to the characters, and was very bummed when they ended. I will be on the hunt for Joshilyn's third novel, Between, Georgia (and full marks to her for capitalization on that title) probably tomorrow.

I'll also probably get around to reading the novel I won, Confessions of a Super Mom, by Melanie Lynne Hauser and to purchasing and reading Trina's books, because she's been a very nice blog buddy with whom I've had actual lovely conversations, and clearly I'm on a roll here.

Many, many of the blogs that were going strong when I joined the sphere are dead or atrophied now, mine included, but I do hope this wonderful, egalitarian world of the brain doesn't implode (as I tongue-in-cheekly predicted it would in my winning B4B essay) as these kinds of connections are the best of what the internet really has to offer.