The Longest Ride

There comes a moment in every person’s life where the everything seems to crash down. Moments like these are more frequent then we’d like to admit. One minute your life is all good and normal and you feel like “Everything is Awesome” from The LEGO Movie is your theme song. Then all of a sudden. It. Just. Stops.

I’m talking about that level of Earth shattering news that leaves you so shaken that nothing else seems to matter and you feel like you are walking in a fog. No, this isn’t about those huge national events that shock the entire world. Everyone is affected by those, or at least they should be. No, I’m talking about the kinds of things that affect only your microcosm of this globe, as the world around seems to just continue spinning on.

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Blog-Series IV: Star Wars #8 Yoda

His name is said to be derived not only from the Sanskrit word for “warrior” but from the Hebrew word meaning “one who knows”. As such, it is no small wonder that Yoda is more than capable of challenging expectations others may have of him. When Obi-Wan tells Luke to go to the remote world of Dagobah, the young man expects to find a wise and powerful Jedi from which to learn the ways of the Force. Already, Luke has certain expectations in place as to just who or what this wise warrior could be, all of which are radically altered. He found the teacher, just not in the package he expected, and certainly not in the place.

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Geeked Out

It’s probably clear by now to many of my readers that I am a huge Star Wars fan and have been so since I was nine years old. So much so, that my dad, who was a small group leader, offered to let me skip Junior High Church Youth Group and go to an opening day showing of The Phantom Menace. I decided to be a good Christian and go to church. Later that week, dad still surprised the family after we piled into the car, and handed me his Commercial Drivers manual. He told me to turn to a specific page and that was where I found tickets to The Phantom Menace waiting for me as he drove us to the now long closed movie theater at Har-Mar mall. I even got to wait in the front of the line.

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Blog-Series IV: Star Wars #7 : Obi-Wan Kenobi

In the great heroic myths, shortly after the hero receives his call to action, he meets his mentor who helps shape his destiny. This is the case for Luke Skywalker as well. As he listens to the recording stashed inside R2-D2, Luke muses to himself if this person is any relation to Old Ben Kenobi, a strange old hermit who lived beyond the Dune Sea. When he brought this subject up to his uncle, Luke was told that Obi-Wan died about the same time as Luke’s father and told him to clear Artoo’s memory and forget the whole thing.

It probably would have been the end of it, had Artoo not run off that night. The following morning, Luke and Threepio went to find him only to wind up in trouble. Indigenous scavengers called Tusken Raiders or “Sand People” attacked him and nearly killed him, had they not been frightened by a strange noise. Over the hill came an old man wearing a cloak. The old man revived Luke and invited Artoo to come out of hiding, telling him, not to worry and that Luke would be fine.

Obi-Wan Kenobi

Obi-Wan Kenobi

As Luke comes to the boy greats the older man, glad to see him, and tells him how he came out there. Upon the mention of Obi-Wan Ben is stunned as if he saw a ghost, to which Luke asks if he knew him. Ben tells him,

“Obi-Wan Kenobi. Obi-Wan… Now, that’s a name I’ve not heard in a long time. A long time….Oh, he’s not dead… Not yet….But of course I know him. He’s me…I haven’t gone by the name of Obi-Wan since… oh, before you were born.”

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Blog-Series IV: Star Wars #6: Chewbacca

In early 1999 a group of writers gathered together at Skywalker Ranch, the headquarters for LucasFilm and the home of filmmaker George Lucas, to discuss a new series of Star Wars books. Since 1994 Star Wars had spun into a lucrative publishing franchise of expanded universe novels exploring the possible stories of the heroes of Star Wars after the events of Return of the Jedi. However, one of the problems with a massive publishing franchise like this is when you have dozens of writers writing several books, is that it is very easy for them to fall into a formulaic trap. With a few exceptions it seemed as though the Rebel Heroes always went up against some dormant Imperial Faction, or discovered some plans for another planet smashing super-weapon that Emperor Palpatine left hidden in his sock drawer.

With the Special Edition releases of the original trilogy and the Prequels reigniting interest in the franchise, something new was needed to make these books really pop. What was needed was a new threat that could be so powerful as to bring the factions of the Rebellion and the remnants of the Empire together and forge a lasting peace. This series, dubbed The New Jedi Order was going to raise of the stakes of the Star Wars universe and have serious repercussions on the books to follow. It was going to be, as the cliché goes, a real game changer. In order to do this, they would have to do something very difficult to raise those stakes.

As Lucy Wilson, the director of publishing at LucasFilm noted,

 “ In the Star Wars novels published by Bantam, no preexisting Star Wars

Chewbacca

Chewbacca

character ever died. It was our policy that no author could kill anyone who originated first in a script written by George. However, we knew that for anyone to really take a new intergalactic war seriously, and to realize that the New Jedi Order was not just Star Wars fiction as usual, someone who mattered would have to die. This was a unanimous agreement. Who would die was the subject of much debate, however. Our first thought was that the death of Luke Skywalker would have the biggest impact on the readers. However, this was not okay with George Lucas! I think it was Randy Stradley from Dark Horse who said, “Kill the family dog—Chewbacca.” In our own emotional response to this suggestion (it made us unhappy just to come up with the idea), we knew Chewie’s death would generate the biggest reaction from the readers.”

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Collapse

As the first spring storms of the season blew through the Twin Cities Metro, I felt that old familiar pull in my chest. It’s a sensation that has become all too familiar over the past ten years whenever it storms. It hadn’t always been there. In fact, much like a storm, how I acquired this ability to sense storm fronts came rather suddenly.

Ever heard of a spontaneous pneumothroax? Unless you are in the medical field you probably haven’t and to be honest at that time I hadn’t heard of it either. In fact it was the furthest thing from my mind ten years ago. On that day I was thinking more about classes, the “four year plan” for college and beyond, how to become friends with a set of cute twin girls who went to school with me, and of course, cosplaying as Anakin Skywalker for the next Star Wars movie with my buddy who was going as the Emperor.

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Blog-Series IV: Star Wars #5: Han Solo

The Star Wars saga combines a number of different genres to craft it’s mythology. it’s got the knights, wizards and princesses of the fairy tales, the robots and space ships of sci-fi, and even the gun-slinger of the American Western with his trusty sidekick in the form of the smuggler Han Solo. Like the heroes of the old West, Han is introduced in a sleazy saloon, engages in a shoot out with a two-bit bounty hunter, and as we learn has a thing for gambling and beautiful women. His heritage in the Western film is connected further by the fact that his costume was inspired by the one Gary Cooper had worn in the classic film High Noon.

Han doesn’t take any lip from any one, especially a certain princess. He has some of the

Han Solo

Han Solo

best one-liners in the series, largely because actor Harrison for ad-libbed a number of his scenes. Because of his spontaneous attitude and his cynical mind he also grounds the franchise in a level of realism, or at least as realistic as you can get in a movie series filled with lightsabers,  planet smashing super-weapons, wise  sages that sound like a member of the Sesame Street gang, bickering droids, and a mystical energy Force. Everyone else in the galaxy tends to be in awe about this “Force”, but not Han. As he says in the original Star Wars movie,

“Hokey religions and ancient religions ain’t no match for a good blaster at your side…. Kid, I’ve been from one end of the galaxy to the next. I’ve seen a lot of strange things, but I ain’t seen anything that makes me believe in some all-powerful Force that controls… everything. It’s a lot of hocus-pocus and superstitious nonsense. There’s no mystical energy field that controls MY destiny.”

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