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Nominal Me

I'm falling in love with my camera and taking photos everywhere I go. That, combined with my passions for politics, sports, religion and other things we all agree on, makes this blog persist.

My Photo
Location: Astoria, New York, United States

I'm born in Manhattan and raised in Queens.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Wrestling With Tragedy

Chris Candido passed away at the very young age of 33, reportedly from a blood clot from complications relating to recent surgery.

He had suffered a serious leg injury Sunday, and was denied pain medication for some time. The doctors could see by the tracks in his arm that he was at one time a drug addict, and didn't want to tempt him with more.

This one hits me hard. I was a big fan. On November 19, 1994, I was in Cherry Hill, NJ to watch little known independent wrestler Chris Candido, "managed" by his girlfriend Tammy (soon to be known as Sunny) win the NWA "World Heavyweight title" in a tournament to fill the vacant position.

He showed great promise. In many ways, he stole the show. I was very happy when Chris and Tammy rose through the ranks to go to the WWF, as it was like being aware of a rock band before it hit the big time.

Candido did well there. He was entertaining, even when overshadowed by his mate.

In the years that followed, I would read reports of his drug addiction, and undoubtedly he used steroids to help his career. That was when I was older, and the Internet told me things about the business I didn't want to know...or believe.

I was one of those kids who believed in Santa Claus, and that professional wrestling was real. I was mad when Bob Backlund was attacked by Sgt. Slaughter, as absurd as that sentence may seem right now.

We didn't know. They didn't admit it back then.

When wrestling told me it was all fake, I stopped watching it for quite some time. I had been tricked. At some point though, I had come to the conclusion that it was entertainment, and that I would start watching it again. After all, the business came out in the open and was honest with me.

Except that they weren't. Even though they told me that the "fights" were predetermined, they didn't tell me about the hard schedules, the pain medication, the steroids, and the shattered lives.

Professional wrestling has proven to be a tragic business to be in. The death toll has not gone unnoticed. It is surprising to me that in the talks about baseball and steroids that professional wrestling never came up. Will it take tragedies of the magnitude of this one to make them listen?

I have long since lost track of how many of my childhood heroes and villains have died for my entertainment. Then again, I have long since stopped being a child. I have long since stopped believing in Santa Claus.

The point is somewhat moot today. It does not appear that Candido died because of his lifestyle or his profession, at least not directly. Just bad luck, or bad medical care.

Nevertheless, one has to wonder what it was that I was watching as a kid, and who will be next.

More Sports

Wrestling Deaths: Photos

Thursday, April 28, 2005

My New Favorite Show (For A Short Time At Least)

My only must-see television lately is the new NBC drama "Revelations".

It is a show about the "end of days" which combines many of my favorite interests, religion, science fiction, horror, fantasy, and mystery. While I'm no fan of Bill Pullman, the topics covered and the style of the show make it quite interesting.

Surprisingly enough, while I started watching it because I am a Christian, what is keeping me are the other aspects. Other than a few moments in each episode where the nun, a lead character, spouts off words of faith, it is hardly a Christian drama.

Those looking for "evidence" against faith will find solace in Pullman's character, who plays a scientist, and the plot diverges far away from traditional Christian theology very quickly. Those who find being preached too frustrating, or viewers who have grudges against "religious types," will find a number of unseemly, hypocritical men of the cloth to jeer at.

The mini-series is based on the premise that Pullman and the nun (played by Natascha McElhone) can somehow stop the apocalypse, and has fun stuff like demons and crazy characters that will keep anyone who has watched the sci-fi channel (or any lover of Star Wars and Star Trek) entertained for an hour on a Wednesday night.

It's a quirky, fun, interesting show that only has three episodes left.

Although the Philadelphia Inquirer brings up a good point, if God wants to end the world, we're not going to do much to stop him.

But that's beside the point. It's a fun drama. Catch it on Wednesdays while you can...

...it will be over soon.

More Personal Stuff

A detailed preview by a nun (I think).

TV Tome on Revelations

A Christian reviews the show

Sunday, April 24, 2005

NFL Draft Thoughts

The NFL draft is done! Here is my analysis for the best and worst of this weekend's picks.

I'm sure the fans of Chicago are worried right now, watching their first round draft pick Cedric Benson (above) crying on national TV. His complaints about how "difficult" the draft process is makes me wonder if he's a Chicago-style football player. Will being in a big-market, football-loving city be too much for the young man? We shall see. To me, it seemed that he is a lot like Ricky Williams...a little unstable and mentally weak. But Ricky Williams, who came from the same college and was an idol of Benson, was a great football player. The NFL draft really is a crap shoot.

Ultimately what's great about draft day is that it's the last time opinions matter. These guys will have to perform on the field now. Here are some of the good and bad moves of the past few days:

Good picks:
Ronnie Brown (RB, Miami) will be a very good all around back that will give defenses in the AFC East a lot to handle...
Antrell Rolle (CB, Arizona) is a great big corner who shut down Larry Fitzgerald in college...
Mike Williams (WR, Detroit) makes the Lions offense really, really good...
Marcus Spears (DE, Dallas) is a great use of the draft pick Buffalo gave them last year...
Aaron Rogers (QB, Green Bay) will have time behind Bret Favre to learn the game and is a quality pick at #24. It was a dissapointing day for Rogers, who could have been the first pick, but in the long run going to be Green Bay could be good.

Bad Picks:
Carnell "Cadillac" Williams (RB, Tampa Bay) just does not fit the West Coast offense, and will have to be taught how to catch the ball...
Adam "Pac Man" Jones (CB, Tennesee) is too small to be the sixth player picked in the draft, and would have been a better acquisition laster in the first round...
Matt Jones (WR, Jacksonville) was too high of a pick for a guy who did not play as a reciever in college...

Good Picks:
David Baas (C, San Francisco) will help a weak 49ers offensive line and will learn with QB Alex Smith...
Shaun Cody (DT, Detroit) is a solid second round pick...
Dan Cody (DE, Baltimore) can be scary. There's no doubt that the Ravens love defense, and Cody will more than help them in that regard...
Justin Miller (CB, New "York" Jets) will help the Jets weak secondary and will provide a good kick return threat...

Bad Picks:
Nike Nugent (K-New "York" Jets) is the third highest drafted kicker in NFL history. I doubt he'll be the third best kicker in NFL history, making this a wasted pick...
Roscoe Parrish (WR, Buffalo) was a confusing pick. The Bills need offensive linemen, cornerbacks, and defensive linemen. So they draft an undersized reciever? I'm not sure what the Bills are trying to do...

Good Picks:

Frank Gore (RB, San Francisco) is a good risk-reward for the third round. Gore showed the potential to dominate at the University of Miami, but had two devistating knee injuries. If Gore stays healthy and returns to form, the 49ers will have a great player. If he gets hurt again, it's only a third round pick...
Charlie Frye (QB, Cleveland) could be the next emerging star from the Mid American Conference. The Browns got lucky with this one, with Aaron Rogers falling to the Packers, a team that would have drafted Frye instead. If he develops well, Frye could lead Cleveland's resurgance...
Darryl Blackstock (OLB, Arizona) will provide pass rushing help and will give the Cardinals defense a more aggressive nature...
Maurice Clarett (RB, Denver) was a suprise, but Denver could make my mother a 1,000 yard back. If Clarett stays healthy, the Broncos will make him a star.

Bad Picks:
Kevin Everett (TE, Buffalo) is a "prospect" that does not fit immediate needs for the Bills...

Good Picks:

Kyle Orton (QB, Chicago) will be a good backup for a Bears team really weak at that position. It is Rex Grossman's do-or-die year under new coach Lovie Smith, and Orton will be a good motivating factor...
Dan Buenning (OG, Tampa Bay) is a solid blocker and a good value pick for the fourth ground...
Marion Barber III (RB, Dallas Cowboys) makes it official, the Cowboys have had a great draft. The team is truly in Bill Parcells image now, let's see if he sticks around to see things through...
Raymond "Duke" Newton Preston, III (C, Buffalo) is not the monster offensive powerhouse the Bills could have gotten earlier, but he fits a need. He and new QB J.P. Losman can grow together. He is a good size, and is described as a smart player. If coached well, he could solve one of the problems the Bills have on offense...
Matt Giordano (FS, Indianapolis Colts) is a good value pick at the fourth round, and the fourth pick out of five dedicated to the defense. He is described as a hard hitting player that may eventually help the Colts go to the next level...

Bad Picks:
Ciatrick Fason (RB, Minnesota) seems like a wasted pick to me. The Vikings are strong at this position,and I'm not sure what they are going to do with this guy...

Good Picks (at this point, there really aren't any bad picks):

Daniel Orlovsky (QB, Detroit) may be able to replace Mike McMahon at the third string spot...
Adrian McPherson (QB, New Orleans) is a really good fit for the Saints. There is growing concern about Aaron Brooks, and McPherson is a similar athletic-type quarterback that may in a year or two take the starting spot...
Robert McCune (ILB, Washington) is going to the right team to learn the linebacker position. Redskins Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams may be able to ease McCune into his blitzing system. It's a good pick for a fifth rounder...
Gerald Sensabaugh (SS, Jacksonville) is a player Mel Kiper, Jr. called one of the top safeties in the draft, whatever that means. He's got good size and good speed for a fifth rounder. I'm not sure what Jacksonville's secondary situation is as far as personnel, but statistically they were middle of the road last year. He's considered someone with potential on special teams...
Anthony Alabi (OT, Miami) down the line could help the new Miami running game. Like anyone in the fifth round though, good coaching will have to come to play...
Scott Young (OG, Philadelphia) has good size and strength, and will likely be coached well in Philadelphia...

Good Picks:

Anttaj Hawthorne (DT, Oakland) seems like a great pick, based on his NFL.com bio...
Michael Montgomery II (DE, Green Bay) is a player that could spell for the defensive line. His bio reads as someone who is a fairly good athlete that needs some guidance on mechanics. Coaching might help him make the team...
William Swancutt (DE, Detroit) is described as an overachiever, and he's going to need to be to make the team...
Tab Perry (WR, Cincinnati) seems to have the right size and speed to make the team, and had some exposure to big time football at UCLA...

Good Picks:

Daven Holly (CB, San Francisco) ran a 4.37 40, so his speed makes him a good last-round pick...
Paris Warren (WR, Tampa Bay) is a good selection at the seventh round, and considering some of the hype he was given in the week before the draft I am suprised it took him this long to get there. He'll have to fight to make the team, but the Bucs are in transition, which makes it possible...
Anthony Davis (RB, Indianapolis) was a great college player who had some injury issues this year, including an odd one after he was poked in the eye. If injury free, he could rise through the ranks of special teams play and get reps on the offesnse...


Timmy Chang (QB) of Hawaii is the all time passing leader of the NCAA, which makes him at least worth a pickup...
Gino Guidugli (QB) of Cicinnati has the right size for a QB and is worth at least a training camp spot...
Jason White (QB) won the Heisman and a national championship at Oklahoma. That's got to be worth something...
Tristian "T.A." McLendon (RB) of North Carolina State had more than a few big games in college...
Walter Reyes (RB) of Syracuse at one time led the NCAA in rushing yards. His problem has been that he played on a weak Oragemen team during his career...
Zach Tuiasosopo (FB) of Washington has a lot of natural ability...
Jamaal Brimmer (SS) of UNLV was considered one of the best safeties in college football...

More Sports

Don Banks: Winners and Losers

Friday, April 22, 2005

It's Draft Time!

The NFL draft is tomorrow, and the big question is this: is Alex Smith worth the attention he is getting?

I'm skeptical. He is 6'4", a good height for a QB, and with a 212 lbs. frame is a relatively good size for a rookie in that position (but he will have to gain some weight). He is fast, at least by college standards. He led Utah to an undefeated season, throwing 32 touchdowns to just four interceptions.

Yet I can't get excited about this guy.

He is skinny for his position, and reports say he has less than a cannon of an arm. He is considered a smart quarterback, but will still have to make serious adjustments to the pace and complexity of the NFL. Plus, he played for Utah, and even though they went undefeated I really can't trust someone not from a football factory division.

But the 49ers may be a good fit for him. With the team employing a West Coast offense, Smith will not be asked to throw the long bomb. He'll also have Bill Walsh around to help him work out his sub-par footwork.

It's a crapshoot anyway. Just look at Tom Brady.

More Sports

Alex Smith's Heisman page

Alex Smith's draft profile

More info on Alex Smith

NFL Draft needs chart

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Books: The Star Wars Trilogy (Part III)

Welcome to the third and perhaps final Star Wars trilogy book review. (not sure if I'm going to do Episode I, II, and III book reviews).

The Return of the Jedi, by James Kahn, is by far the best of the three movie novelizations. The characters are developed to a point where it serves the fan of the films well to read it.

Right off the bat, the tone is set by Kahn's description of one of its minor characters, Moff Jerjerrod:

Jerjerrod -- tall, think, arrogant -- was the Death Star commander. He walked without hurry up the ranks of soldiers, to the ramp of the shuttle. Hurry was not in Jerjerrod, for hurry implied a wanting to be elsewhere, and he was a man who distinctively was exactly where he wanted to be. Great men never hurried (he was fond of saying); great men caused others to hurry.

It's a simple paragraph, but one that gives characters like these a real place in the story, something the movie does not try to do.

This storytelling device helps with the movie's major characters as well. When Lando Calrissian is disguised in Jabba the Hut's palace, his motivations are made clear:

Lando had managed to infiltrate this nest of maggots months earlier to see if it was possible to free Solo from Jabba's improsonment. He'd done this for several reasons.

First, because he felt (correctly) that it was his fault Han was in this predicament, and he wanted to make amends -- provided, of course, he could do so without getting hurt. Blending in here, like just one of the pirates, was no problem for Lando, though -- mistaken identity was a way of life with him.

Second, he wanted to join forces with Han's buddies at the top of the Rebel Alliance. They were out to beat the Empire, and he wanted nothing more in his life now than to do just that. The Imperial police had moved in on his action once too often; so this was a grudge match, now. Besides, Lando liked being part of Solo's crowd, since they seemed to be right up at the business end of all the action against the Empire.

Third, Princess Leia had aked him to hep, and he just never could refuse a princess asking for help. Bsides, you never knew how she might thank you some day.

Finally, Lando would have bet anything that Han simply could not be rescued from this place -- and Lando just plain couldn't resist a bet.

Character depth at its finest.

The description of Luke is in a simliar vein:

He was clad in the robe of the Jedi Knight -- a cassock, really -- but bore neither gun nor lightsaber. He stood loosely, without bravado, taking a measure of the place before entering. He was a man now. Wiser, like a man -- older more from loss than from years. Loss of illussions, loss of dependencey. Loss of friends, to war. Loss of sleep, to stress. Loss of laughter. Loss of his hand.

But of all his losses, the greatest was that which came from knowledge, and from the deep recognition that he could never un-know what he knew. So many things he wished he'd never learned. He had aged with the weight of this knowledge.

In the book, it notes that Luke, shortly after getting his hand chopped off, goes back to Ben Kenobi's old cave in Tattoine to make a new lightsaber; it also describes Han Solo's feelings while being in suspended animation, saying "it wasn't just sleepin', it was a big, wide awake Nothin'."

One of the reasons why I read the origial trilogy books was to mine foreshadowings of the new one to come, and Return of the Jedi offers one big, major one. It's not quite a spoiler, as it's in the book, but it's not something that was covered in the movie.

[If you don't want to know how Darth Vader came about, then skip this part (go on past the photo of the Emperor).]

Ben Kenobi, shortly after admitting to Luke that Darth Vader is his father, describes what happened to him years ago.

"You should not think of that machine as your father." It was the teacher speaking again. "When I saw what had become of him, I tried to dissuade him, to draw him back from the dark side. We fought...your father fell into a molten pit. When your father clawed his way out of that fiery pool, the change had been burned into him forever -- he was Darth Vader, without a trade of Anakin Skywalker. Irredeemeably dark. Scarred. Kept alive only by machinery and his own black will..."

Will Anakin fall into a pit? The movie trailer sure seems to imply it.

If you look really carefully at this photo below, a still shot from the recent Episode III trailer, shows a figure engulfed in lava. Is this Anakin/Vader? (Look at the very center of the photo). We shall see.

The subject of Leia was also explained in more detail:

"When your father left, he didn't know your mother was pregnant. Your mother and I knew he would find out eventually, but we wanted to keep you both as safe as possible, for as long as possible. So I took you to live with my brother Owen, on Tatooine...and your mother took Leia to live as the daughter of Senator Organa, on Alderaan."

So Owen Lars, show in Episode II, is Ben Kenobi's brother? Well, that's a part of the Star Wars saga ignored in the movie, as there's no mention of it that I can remember. That would make Anakin and Ben relatives by marriage. Odd.

The character of the Emperor is given quite a bit of depth in the novel, shedding some light on his rise and his methods:

Emperor. It had a certain ring to it. The Republic had crumbled, the Empire was respledent with its own fires, and would always be so -- for the emperor knew what others refused to belive: the dark forces were the strongest.

He'd known this all along, in his heart of hearts -- but relearned it every day: from traitorous lieutenants who betryayed their superiors for favors; from weak-principled functionaries who gave him the secrets of local star systems' governments; from greedy landlords, and sadistic gangsters, and power-hungry politicians. No one was immune, they all craved the dark eneergy at their core. The Emperor had simply recognized this truth, and utlized it -- for his own aggrandizement, of course.

For his soul was the black center of the Empire.

A notable plot difference from the book to the movie is that the Ewoks were very reluctant to help the Rebellion.

In the movie, C3PO tells the tribe of the dramatic story of the Empire, and they are immeidately willing to help. In the book, they say "Chief Chirpa says it's a very moving story, but it really has nothing to do with Ewoks." The Rebels cannot convince them of otherwise, until Wicket, the main character of the Ewoks, gives an impassioned, and quite frankly corny, speeach to his tribal coucil.

"Honorable Elders, we must aid this noble party not less for the trees, but more for the sake of the leaves on the trees."

Yeah, it's as bad as it sounds.

The emotions behind the Vader-Skywalker showdown are done in the way only a good novel can manage.

Luke it seemed, hoped to die long before he faced the Emporer:

He hoped Leia deactivated the deflector shield quickly, and destroyed the Death Star -- now, while all three of them were here. Before anything else happened. For the closer Luke came to the Emperor, the more anythings he feared would happen. A black storm raged inside him. He wanted to kill the Emperor, but then what? Confroont Vader? What would his father do? And what if Luke faced his father first, faced him and -- destroyed him. The thought was at once repugnant and compelling. Destroy Vader -- and then what. For the first time Luke had a brief murky image of himself standing on his father's body, holding his father's blazing power, and sitting at the Emperor's right hand.

That's good stuff. Too bad they didn't get that accross in the movie. The novel gets into the thoughts and dynamics of the three characters in the throne room in a way that makes very compelling reading.

Another fun plot twist is that the Emperor, sensing that the Death Star's shield may be shut off, instructs the Death Star commander to destroy Endor, and all of its inhabitants (including Empire troops) if the shield goes down. It is one last source of character development for the commander, who dies with his battle station.

Again, this is by far the best novel of the three. It's is written better, and it clearly had the next three prequels in mind.

The time is coming!

I can't wait!

More Books

Episode I Review

Episdoe II Review

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Books: The Star Wars Triilogy (Part II)

Welcome to part two of my book review on the Star Wars trilogy. Today I will cover "The Empire Strikes Back" by Donald F. Glut.

Again, I'm going to assume that you are very familiar with Star Wars story, plot, characters, etc. What I am going to primarily do is see what notable additions and subtractions were made to the original trilogy movies, as well as any insight pointing towards the new one (specifically, the upcoming Episode III movie).

The Empire Strikes back is a better book than the Star Wars novel, as the author takes time to describe the inner thoughts of the characters, giving them more depth and, quite frankly, making reading the book more worthwhile.

There is one big difference between this book and the movie however: Yoda is blue.

I'm not kidding.

He is described as:

"The little wizend thing could have been any age. Its face was deeply lined, but was framed with elfin, pointed ears that gave it a look of eternal youth. Long white hair was parted down the middle and hung down on either side of the blue-skinned head. The being was bipedal, and stood on short legs that terminated in tridactyl, almost reptilian feet. It wore rags as gray as the mists of the swamp, and in such tatters that they must have approximated the creature's very age."

So there you have it. Blue Yoda. Green Yoda is better.

In this book, the motivations are explained a little more clearly, as due to the benefits of the medium of a novel. Yet at times, you can tell that the dialogue is a bit clunky and unrefined.

There was a lot of improvement from the writing of the book and the making of the movie in Han Solo's climactic Bespin scene. In the movie, it ends simply with Leia saying "I love you" and Han replying "I know".

That was classic.

The original idea, according to the book, was:

Then Leia pressed her lips to his in a lingering kiss of passion. When their kiss ended, tears were in her eyes. "I love you," she said softly. "I couldn't tell you before, but it's true."

He smiled his familiar cocky smile. "Just remember that, because I'll be back." Then his face grew tender and he kissed her gently on the forehead.

Tears began to roll down her cheeks as Han turned away from her and walked quietly and fearlessly toward the waiting hydraulic platform.

Ugh. I'm really glad they didn't do that.

The books finest moment was its description of the Vader-Skywalker lightsaber duel. While the action is a little different, what makes the books special is its look into the mind of Luke Skywalker:

But Vader did not light his own sword, nor did he make any effort to defend himself as Luke drew nearer. The Dark Lord's only weapon, in fact, was his tempting voice. "Attack," he goaded the young Jedi.

"Destroy me".

Confused by the ploy, Luke hesitated.

"Only by taking your revenge can you save yourself..."

Luke stood locked in place. Should he act on Vader's words and thus use the Force as a tool of revenge? Or should he step away from this battle now, hoping for another chance to fight Vader when he had gained better control?

No, how could he delay the opportunity to destroy this evil being? Here was his chance, now, and he must not delay...

The action then continued.

The Empire novelization is pretty solid. Its only failing is that the film is so much better. But the main characters are developed very well, and the oncoming Leia-Han romance is developed well. Ultimately, fans of the series will enjoy it.

Next, the last, and best book of the original trilogy, Return of the Jedi.

I can't wait!

More Books

Episdoe I Review

Episode III Review

Star Wars picture page

Star Wars Pictures

Friday, April 15, 2005

Books: The Star Wars Trilogy (Part I)

First off, I'll admit that I am a dork. I am really looking forward to Star Wars III (VI): Revenge of the Sith.

So today this blog shall debut a new regular feature, the book review. A long time ago, in a neighborhood somewhat far away, I walked into a book store and bought the Star Wars trilogy. It must have been close to ten years ago. When I started reading it, I just couldn't get through it. Part of it was the big words (I didn't say I was a smart dork) and another was that the writing just didn't compare to the visuals.

Recently I decided to pick it up again, and I'm glad I did. This time, my expectations were to brush up on things before seeing the new movie, and also to see what things were taken out of the original trilogy.

Surprisingly enough, while Return of the Jedi was the less appealing film of the original three, it was the better book. I recommend you read it sometime...but only after you see the next movie (I'll get into that later).

So here is my review of the Star Wars trilogy, in books (Star Wars, by George Lucas; The Empire Strikes Back, by Donald F. Glut; and Return of the Jedi, by James Kahn). I'm going to assume that you're familiar with the Star Wars movies, and thus will focus on the things in the books that were different, for better or for worse.

The first post will be on Star Wars, later called "A New Hope".


Not much extra can be found from reading the Star Wars book. It is very close in its rendition to the movie, with a few notable exceptions.

The first one is the character of Biggs Darklighter, who is given a cameo at the end of the New Hope movie. This is the man who gladly greets Luke shortly before the two, along with other rebel pilots, attack the Death Star. Biggs is killed by Darth Vader in the movie.

We are told little of him in the movie, but he is introduced early in the book as Luke's best friend on Tatooine. For some reason, probably time, his scenes were cut out of the movie (a description of the scenes, as well as a section of the script copy, may be found here.

Biggs has come by to say good-bye to his friend, and to recruit him to the rebellion. Luke, deferring to the wishes of his uncle, declines. Echoing Ben Kenobi and Yoda later on, Biggs retorts, "someday you're going to have to learn to separate what seems to be important from what really is important." Biggs leaves the next day.

Another notable difference is Ben Kenobi's description of the Force, one that is refuted in the Episode I movie. In Episode I, and the website, the Force is quantified by midi-chlorians, living beings that flow in the bloodstream of Jedis. It is a very scientific way of dealing with something that was considered more mystical. It also leads to Internet dorks to ask questions about things like blood transfusions, and if someone can get Jedi powers through them.

The Episode IV (Star Wars) book handles the force much more differently. In Ben Kenobi's words, the Force...

"[I]s an energy field and something more, an aura that at once controls and obeys. It is a nothingness that can accomplish miracles. No one, not even the Jedi scientists were able to truly define the force. Possibly no one ever will. Some times there is as much magic as science in the explanations of the force. Yet what is a magician but a practicing theorist?"

It would have been better for George Lucas to keep it that way. But let's face it, Episode I as a movie was a disaster anyway, for more reasons than that.

In addition, a reference that really jumps out of me was this odd little statement made by a guy called "Blue Leader," who walks up to Luke shortly before the attack on the Death Star and says, "I met your father once when I was just a boy, Luke. He was a great pilot. You'll do all right ou there. If you've got half your father's skill, you'll do a damn sight better than all right."

This leads me to believe that the average rebel soldier has no idea Anikan turns into Darth Vader, otherwise Blue Leader would have walked over to him and said, "your father is a real sunavabitch..."

The most notable reference to Lucas' vision for the "first three" movies however, comes from the book's Prologue. It states that Senator Palpatine:

"[C]aused himself to be elected President of the Republic. he promised to reunite the dissafected among the people and to restore the remembered glory of the Republic.

"Once secure in office he declared himself Emperor, shutting himself away from the populace. Soon he was controlled by the very assistants and boot-lickers he had appointed to high office, and the cries of the people for justice did not reach his ears."


This book does not even come close to bringing you the action and the flavor of the movie, nor does it really add much to it. This was very dissapointing, and halfway through it I was reminded why I had stopped reading it long ago.

But I liked the description of the force in this novel, and the background on Biggs made the scene near the end of the movie make a whole lot more sense.

Coming next: The Review of the Empire Strikes Back, the book.

More Books

My Episode II Review

My Episode III Review

Episdoe II Review

Episode III Review

What is Star Wars Cannon?

Star Wars and Moral Issues

Return of the Jedi Novel References

The Original Star Wars script?

I can't wait!

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Requiem For A Dream

Britney Spears is pregnant.

Although the luster of Britney faded away long ago, straight men all over America (of all ages) are saddened by the news. If you are a guy with working machinery, you at some point in your life (even for a day) had a thing for this girl.

She's now officially ruined it.

It started innocently enough...

...with Baby One More Time.

An artistic masterpiece, Britney changed the face of music with her poetic lyrics and inventive music. Yet with all of her singing and songwriting ability, it was her ability to wear a Catholic school girl's uniform that really made her a star. This was surprising, considering her amazing talents.

She of course then moved on to a more adult look, with even more mature and meaningful music. She was a star, adored and respected by all.

Despite her many talents, however, her music career started to slide. Desperate times caused for desperate measures...so she started making out with really older women on TV. Little did we know then that her geriatric kiss would be the apex of her stardom.

Yes. Then came the hard times.

She injured her knee, preventing her from working out, and then got married to a real loser (i.e., not me), divorced, and then married to a real loser again (i.e. not me again). The "Britney is getting fat" and "Britney smoking" photos began to circulate the Internet. A bright star was fading (or perhaps, exploding).

And now we are left with...

Britney the Mom.

Oh how the mighty have fallen.

More Looking At Things

There were denials a while back, but motherhood was coming.

Even a year ago some speculated about it.

Britney Spears lyrics

Britney Spears' Website

Soccer fans do take things seriously.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Photo Essay: Greeks on Parade

Yesterday, April 10, was Greek Independence Day, in honor of the Hellenic nation's revolution over those "sunavabitch blood sucking Turks," which ended in 1829. To honor it, there was a parade on New York City's Fifth Avenue.

See what that dude holding the Greek flag is wearing? That's a traditional uniform, worn by many, including the Greek army of the revolution. The thing is, the revolution happened in the 1800s. Can you believe they won a war wearing that?

There were tons of Hellenic Americans in the crowd.

Here's more kids wearing the traditional Greek formal wear.

And here's the woman's version of it.

The Greek flag has somewhat of a unique history. No one's really sure what it means, when if was first used, or who designed it, although there are some good theories. No one is really sure what the number of stripes mean, or where the flag came from.

It was a fun parade, with the usual marching bands and such. I got to revel in the glow of my half-Greek pride and enjoy an amazing day in New York.

Greece, according to the CIA.

The Greek Revolution and the Greek State

Images of the Greek Revolution

More of the Greek war of Independence

Here's why they sometimes celebrate on April 10 (although most do it on March 25). Those damn Turks.

The official New York City parade Website.

March 25, Greek Independence Day.

Other photo essays.

Blogs didn't have the impact on the 2004 election that many people predicted. The Moderade Voice has a great post on the subject.

Is Sesame Street changing the cookie monster?

According to this blogger, the selection of prostitutes in Minnesota are not so good.

Dr. Strangejazz is back from Africa. He writes about it today.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Time Warner, Don't Bother

After giving up a grand slam homerun to the Cincinnati Reds on April 6, New York Mets pitcher Mike De Jean stood dejected on the mound, pondering his fate. The Reds would win this game, as well as the other two in the series.

I didn't get to see the game though because Cablevision will not allow Time Warner to air them, as well as the remainder of the season for the city's basketball team, the Knicks.

After losing to the Reds 6-1 yesterday, the Mets are now 0-3 for the first time in 41 years. Back in 1964, when the team was relatively new, the Mets started the season 0-4. This is the "new Mets"?

Not that I would know from watching them.

During the preseason I was annoyed by the impending blackout. I bought into the "new" Mets hype. I thought that this team would be competitive, and that I would miss all but the weekend games being shown on WPIX-11 in New York.

Luckily, I was wrong.

So here's my message to both Time Warner and Cablevision: don't bother.

The Knicks, which got trounced by the New Jersey Nets 110-98 (a game I got to see on the YES Network, since the Jersey team shares the NY TV market), are now one game away from being eliminated from the playoffs. Meanwhile, the Mets are a long way off from being interesting to watch.

With two second-rate teams, it makes the MSG and Fox Sports networks second rate as well, and they should be paid as much. Cablevision executives are out of their mind to think that Time Warner, and by extension, people like me, should pay anything but bargain prices for the networks. After all, you get what you pay for...and you pay for what you get.

Right now I think I'd rather have the two bucks off my cable bill every month than to watch over-priced second stringers play games.

Oh don't worry WPIX, I'll probably tune into the weekend games...just to see if there's any improvement. Hopefully, by the time Cablevision comes to their senses, the Mets will show some uptick.

As for Cablevision, they are proving once again to by hypocrites, as documented today by the New York Post's Phil Mushnick. He writes:

Its latest let-them-eat-radio hassle — this one removing Mets' telecasts from 2.4 million Time-Warner homes — makes for another bowl of bogus. In full-page ads, Cablevision urges victims to "Tell Time Warner Cable that you want your Knicks and Mets games back, or you'll switch to satellite TV."

Oh, really? Why, it was just a few months ago, as home dishes had already begun to provide an alternative to Cablevision's self-serving ways and means, that Cablevision ended a long propaganda campaign that trashed home satellite TV as unreliable, incomplete and expensive.

This campaign ended after Cablevision began to increase its stake in — you guessed it — unreliable, incomplete and expensive home satellite TV.

But masking self-interest with we're-on-your-side nonsense has long been the Cablevision way.

It seems that in the late 1980s, when Cablevision, years before it bought the Garden, lost the rights to air New York Yankee games — they went from SportsChannel to MSG Network — Cablevision then removed MSG from its systems. Years later they would block off the new YES network, which airs Yankees games, trying to squeeze a better fee.

In other words, denying sports fans the ability to watch theif favorite teams, and then blaming others for it, seems to be the M.O. of the company.

Time Warner shouldn't cave in. To be honest, two dollars a month seems to have more reward then spending even two hours watching the Knicks and Mets.

More Sports

I guest blogged at the Bitter Daze site. Check it out.

Planet Moron talks about exit polling in the new papal election. Funny stuff.

Looks like both liberals and conservatives are happy Delay is going down, accoring to this blogger.

Looks like "the future is now" NFL quarterback Mike Vick is spreading herpes. Way to go.

Forest Hills, Queens, native "The Ultimate Warrior," the former World Wrestling Federation heavyweight champion, is apparently now a "conservative" commentator on the lecuture circuit. Comical.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Are We Living Through The Fall of Modern Rome?

[Sorry for no posts over the past few days, my Internet connection was down.]

New Yorkers are never shy about their city. We consider it, and for the most part our country, as the center of the current world. We are the heirs of Athens, Rome, London, Paris, Constantinople, Baghdad (yes Baghdad, check your history), etc. The previous 100 years was called by many the "American Century," with good cause.

Yet every rise has its fall.

This is what struck me when I read Thomas L. Friedman's article in the New York Times Magazine titled "It's a Flat World, After All". It is summed up in one sentence:

''The playing field is being leveled.''

Technology is "making the world flat," and America's natural protectors of our wealthy way of life, education and geography, are quickly being demolished. This is not a sudden process, but something centuries in the making. Friedman writes:

This has been building for a long time. Globalization 1.0 (1492 to 1800) shrank the world from a size large to a size medium, and the dynamic force in that era was countries globalizing for resources and imperial conquest.

Globalization 2.0 (1800 to 2000) shrank the world from a size medium to a size small, and it was spearheaded by companies globalizing for markets and labor. Globalization 3.0 (which started around 2000) is shrinking the world from a size small to a size tiny and flattening the playing field at the same time. And while the dynamic force in Globalization 1.0 was countries globalizing and the dynamic force in Globalization 2.0 was companies globalizing, the dynamic force in Globalization 3.0 -- the thing that gives it its unique character -- is individuals and small groups globalizing.

Individuals must, and can, now ask: where do I fit into the global competition and opportunities of the day, and how can I, on my own, collaborate with others globally? But Globalization 3.0 not only differs from the previous eras in how it is shrinking and flattening the world and in how it is empowering individuals. It is also different in that Globalization 1.0 and 2.0 were driven primarily by European and American companies and countries. But going forward, this will be less and less true.

Globalization 3.0 is not only going to be driven more by individuals but also by a much more diverse -- non-Western, nonwhite -- group of individuals. In Globalization 3.0, you are going to see every color of the human rainbow take part.

But how did this happen? Did some foreign power force this new economic way on us? Not so, says Friedman. We did it, with the Internet boom, by investing in the very devices that the world may use against us. Friedman writes:

[T]he Netscape stock offering triggered the dot-com boom, which triggered the dot-com bubble, which triggered the massive overinvestment of billions of dollars in fiber-optic telecommunications cable. That overinvestment, by companies like Global Crossing, resulted in the willy-nilly creation of a global undersea-underground fiber network, which in turn drove down the cost of transmitting voices, data and images to practically zero, which in turn accidentally made Boston, Bangalore and Beijing next-door neighbors overnight. In sum, what the Netscape revolution did was bring people-to-people connectivity to a whole new level. Suddenly more people could connect with more other people from more different places in more different ways than ever before. <>No country accidentally benefited more from the Netscape moment than India.

''India had no resources and no infrastructure,'' said Dinakar Singh, one of the most respected hedge-fund managers on Wall Street, whose parents earned doctoral degrees in biochemistry from the University of Delhi before emigrating to America. ''It produced people with quality and by quantity.

But many of them rotted on the docks of India like vegetables. Only a relative few could get on ships and get out. Not anymore, because we built this ocean crosser, called fiber-optic cable. For decades you had to leave India to be a professional. Now you can plug into the world from India. You don't have to go to Yale and go to work for Goldman Sachs.'' India could never have afforded to pay for the bandwidth to connect brainy India with high-tech America, so American shareholders paid for it.

Giving others opportunities certainly fits in with our ideals, but in the past that meant immigrating here. In this new world, that won't be needed.

It didn't require our sacrifice either. When it comes down to cold hard cash, and our homes, our jobs, our PS2s, and our comfort level, it could be devastating to Americans. It means we have to work harder, for less, than we are accustomed to. Friedman puts it this way:

We need to get going immediately. It takes 15 years to train a good engineer, because, ladies and gentlemen, this really is rocket science. So parents, throw away the Game Boy, turn off the television and get your kids to work. There is no sugar-coating this: in a flat world, every individual is going to have to run a little faster if he or she wants to advance his or her standard of living. When I was growing up, my parents used to say to me, ''Tom, finish your dinner -- people in China are starving.'' But after sailing to the edges of the flat world for a year, I am now telling my own daughters, ''Girls, finish your homework -- people in China and India are starving for your jobs.''

I don't think we're up for it. Not right now.

Spastically, liberals will ask to roll back globalization. "Let's pass some laws against NAFTA," or similar comments. This will not do. The gun has been fired, and we will not get our bullets back. To try to do so would be like spitting against the wind.

Conservatives will ignore the matter, saying that this is all a good thing. "The market will take care of itself" they will say...until perhaps it is too late.

Much like our American capitalistic empire today, the Roman Empire had became so widespread and diverse that it stopped being "Roman". It had literally built the roads that led to its destruction.

Have we done so, virtually?

More Religion, Science, and Philosophy

The Fall of Rome

The Fall of Rome Image

One of my old posts on soccer has a great new comment (by anonymous). Check it out here.

Do you hate the Red Sox? Then stop by here.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Women's Basketball Takes A Hit

Is Michigan State University's Kelli Roehrig, a monster on the court, the new face of women's college basketball?

I hope not.

I'll be the first to admit that I'm not a huge fan of Women's College Basketball, but I will say that last year's UConn-Tennesee final last year was exciting.

Tonight's Baylor destruction of Michigan State was not, and it wasn't just due to the score. It was due to the play.

Missed shots. Missed layups. Bad shot selection. People just bumping into each other. No eye candy.

Yeah, I'm being honest. No eye candy.

Not that Diana Taurasi of UConn was by any means attractive, but at least she looked like an athlete. She also played like one. She had star power. She was someone that ESPN could (and they did) jam down our throats all season long.

Women's College Basketball didn't have that this year. Nor did it seem to have high quality of play.

I'm sure that Kelli Roehrig of Michigan State earned her way on the team, but she just looked ridiculous out there. She looks more like a professional wrestler than a basketball player...on and off the court.

But then again her team got beat so bad tonight, the whole team looked awful.

It wasn't what the sport needed.

Maybe next year.

I know I'm opening myself to charges of sexism, so please allow me to clarify. Even big, lumbering NBA players like Shaquile O'Neal looks like he excercises, and can make things happen in the paint.

That being said, Stacy Dales-Schuman as an analyst is amazing. Yes, she's eye candy, but she actually makes the sport interesting. She clearly has a passion for the game, and ESPN should use her much more often. Perhaps she should be covering the NBA playoffs for the network? She would be great at it.

More Sports

Friday, April 01, 2005

Photo Essay: Helping A Friend Move

This week, a friend of mine moved from one part of Queens to another.

Here is his stuff, and the empty apartment.

Riviting. I know.

I learned something about myself this day...I am really out of shape.

Steve and Doug are tired, but triumphant!

So is the cat!

Other photo essays.