Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Surf & Turf

Oranges optional
Well, it's pouring outside and my nose is doing the same in here. I dunno, I hit it with Afrin and Claritin and it still pretends like it's Hoover Dam bursting. Think I'll give Ol' Doc Sudafed a shot.

It's been three days since returning from out Long Beach road trip, Becky, Gage and myself. I now feel I have enough distance from it to look back with a clear mind. I thus come to the same
conclusion I did last time we did this:

Next time, we fly.
Lemme 'splain. It's nothing to do with the fact that it was a fun trip, even with the grandson along. Nor it has nothing to do with the fact that the scenery and places we stopped at weren't fun. It's just grueling, that's all. And this is aside from the fact that Gage behaved a lot better then I thought he would. But 2-3 days in a small car with nothing but the radio to keep you company wears me out, plain and simple. I'm gettin' too old for this.
That said, we had a pretty good trip. We got to see my Mom and my brother Mike, went to the Aquarium of The Pacific in Long Beach (IMO, probably the best aquarium I've ever been to - yes, that includes Monterey's) and, best of all, I got to give Gage his first ever experience at Disneyland. he didn't quite get it at first, but after Star Tours he got into it. I've never seen a happier little boy. His favorites were Star Tours and the Jungle Cruise, but he loved every minute of it (even the lines - plus he got a lightsaber out of it). I was one proud grandpa.

He also had his first experience with the ocean. We took him to Laguna Beach and let him frolic in the surf (a mighty cold surf, I might add). He went in up to his ankles but Grandpa went out deeper and entertained him by getting knocked down by waves (something that even happened to him).

My Mom loved him and he bonded well with Mike (they were buds by the time it was over). Even Becky had a good time at the ocean and
Disneyland (which was kinda crowded - typical). After a nice Thanksgiving dinner, we headed home the next day.
Looking back from Pudunk-Land, I find myself cracking a smile when I think of the trip. Yeah, I hope we fly next time but, truthfully, I'd do it again the same way. Why? Check out that last picture. 'Nuff said.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

We'll Always Have Greedo

A useless debate
This last week I picked up The Star Wars Trilogy: Special Edition at Best Buy (they have all 3 films in an exclusive cool-looking metal tin). For those unaware, this is the recent 2-disc releases with Disc 1 being the current Lucas-revamped release and Disc 2 being the original release of the corresponding film, warts and all. I never had a burning desire to own them for my collection, but I felt it was time for Grandson Gage to be exposed to one of the most influental film series of all time. Yes, he's 3, but he loves action films (within reason, although I'm slightly more leinient in this respect than Becky is).

Before I let him watch 'em, I watched the originals. Pretty much what I remembered. No rapture, no geeking out, Nostalgia didn't smack me down, just a great, well-made hunk of storytelling that engaged me.
Then I watched to recent Lucas-doctored releases. First thing I noticed is that the films were cleaned up. A lot. The originals (expecially Part IV) had a kind of grime that was characteristic of films of that period (I chalk it up to the film stock used at the time). I could really see stuff in these versions, especially shots in the Milennium Falcon cockpit. I also appreciated the cleaned-up mattework. No longer did some of the shots of TIE fighters have what looks like this piece of black cardboard following them. So, let's break it down; here's my impressions (in raw form) of the revamps:

A New Hope:
I see the Imperial troops "went native" looking for the driods, riding some kind of lizard-beast...hey, new creatures in, cool...they do blend in nice...hmm, Greedo shot first (more on that later)...Interesting scene with Jabba, but they ended up repeating lot of what Greedo said to Han....get to see a scene with Luke and Biggs, nice...the final trench-fight looks tightened up, really flows...say, now the Death Star blows up reeal good...

The Empire Strikes Back:
Bespin looks the same...basically looks cleaned up, didn't notice any more tweaks outside of a few more aliens in Cloud City...

Return Of The Jedi:
Now this is interesting...more aliens in Jabba's Palace...I like the new number the band does, especially the new singer, plus the other singer can actually move now...good cleanup on the Rancor...funky new mouth on the sand creature...

All in all, a good time. I also listened to the commentaries on these films and I understand what Lucas was trying to do. I don't damn him for it, although previously stating that the original theatrical versions will never again see the light of day was probably not a good PR move. Glad he backtracked here.
I have to say that, while the originals are good, the cleaned-up ones are better. My take is that Lucas wanted to add stuff he always wanted to put in but couldn't at the time, due to budget, current technology, etc. It's also an effort on his part to bring the original trilogy up to match the polish of Parts I-III, so the whole story flows better.

So where does that leave us? With the "Han Shot First" debate. I heard all the arguments pro and con (and I can add one of my own, but it's more like a technical goof - I didn't see any laser scorching on the wall behind Han when he got up) and as far as it goes, it ranks as the Second Stupidest Fan Argument Of All Time. No, let's make that the Stupidest. It ranks right up there with the gamer's "do female dwarves have beards" argument (BTW, they don't, and if you don't like it, bite me
). Ya got both versions now, so watch the one that floats yer Pleasure Barge, okay?
Anyway, Gage loves 'em, no matter which version it is, which is all that matters around here. Lucas, I salute you for your noble effort, even if some want to burn you in effigy. You're aces in my book... ...unless you come out with something like Star Wars VII: Ewoks vs. Gungans. Don't jump that shark, man.