It’s been pretty hectic this last week. Had quite a few gigs this week, and the big one is almost finished. Should be done this afternoon at the latest. Once it’s done and uploaded, I’ll be posting links so that you guys can all watch them and comment and hopefully get them into the finals.

I shot a comedy show, Humor for Heroes, last Monday and am in the process of finishing that up. Wednesday was Corridor, which I haven’t even touched yet, and last night (and tonight) I shot for Gy Odom and Curtis Hammill. And I’ll get to that after the other two gigs are done.

And next Friday I have another comedy gig to shoot at Hotties Bar and Grill in San Antonio. It’s a new venue for me, so I’ll have to leave early so I can figure out what I need to do to set up properly.

And right now, I’m looking into selling my Canon XL2 and getting a Canon T2i. There are a few reasons as to why I want to do this. One, it’s full 1080p HD video for less than $900. Even the cheapest 1080p pro camcorders start at $2500. And if I want to get that ‘film’ look that the DSLRs get, I have to buy an adapter and then buy lenses. So, I could get a good rig for about $1500 with DSLR, or I could get something equivalent using an HD camcorder for about $7500. Even if math isn’t your strong suit, it should be fairly evident which is a better deal.

Another thing to consider is the media. Right now, I’m shooting on tape. Which is okay, but for every minute of video I take, I have to spend a minute capturing it to the computer. So, if the gig is a 2 hr comedy show, I have 2 hrs of video I have to play onto the computer. THEN, I can start editing.

With DSLR, I just take the SDHC card and pop it into the computer and can begin editing in seconds. And, if I’m shooting something with multiple takes, I can review the clips and only put those clips onto the computer.

Even with the HVX200a, the P2 cards are expensive compared to the same size SD card. So what’s the point?

Size. My XL2 is arguably the best Standard Definition camera on the market. There aren’t many SD cameras out there that are better. When I show up to a shoot with my XL2 and people see me piecing it together, they are impressed. I never fail to get a compliment when I’m out (unless I’m doing the normal gigs, and people are used to it).

However, if I showed up with what amounts to a still camera, people aren’t as impressed. In their heads, it’s a still camera. It’s not a video camera. It’s not impressive. Yes, it’s nicer than their little point and shoot jobber, but it’s not an intimidating impressive machine. It’s something they think they can get off the shelf at BestBuy. Which technically they can.

So what’s next week? The normal gigs, editing these vids, and hopefully getting a new T2i…

Staged.

Is this thing on?

Last night was the weekly open mic at Corridor – my comedy home. Every week is fun, but last night was a bit different.

I started off my evening of comedy by heading over to Michael Nieto’s place. The one and only Wade Word was over and they were recording their podcast, “Before the Show” (caution, language). I was surprised to see Curtis Hammill there. So this particular episode of BTS could be quite interesting. I know I had a good time. We wrapped up and headed out to Corridor.

As always, the show started late.  There were quite a few people in the main room at J’s Bistro, but the lounge was strictly comics. There was a new guy, who slightly resembled a Zack Galifianakis. The people in the main room? His friends. The kicker? None of them wanted to pay the $5 to get in. At first. Then they all relented and got themselves inside. And of course, Galifianakis-man had to comment on that. He was the first guy up for the night.

This guy wasn't there.

I had asked my good friend, Nick Kukowski to come out and run the camera so that I could concentrate on comedy. Last week, I showed up without the camera and it was a great time. I wanted to keep that going, so I asked Nick to help out. The deal was I’d split the cash we made. Which was $14. Go us! But I must admit, it was nice to be able to just do what I do without having to stress about the camera. I didn’t realize how much of a toll that takes on the comic side of myself.

I got everything set up, and Nick rolled in. I showed him how I had things set up and chatted for a bit while we all waited for Galifianakis, Jr. to get his people inside. And then we started.

Oh, I should mention, the guy who runs the place, Nick Aluotto, has been choosing the host of the open mic a few minutes before the show starts. That was another thing we were waiting on. He picked Paul Roca, and once he got the list together, we got rolling.

And what a ride it was.

I didn’t stay in the lounge area often, I stayed in the main room and talked with the other comics. It’s refreshing to talk comedy and life while comedy and life is happening. While Galifianakis Jr. was on, Curtis walked up to me and voiced his concern, which was the same concern I had just had myself.

We were both concerned that when this guy was done on stage, all his friends would leave and we’d all be stuck doing comedy for each other. It’s fine, we’ve done that before, but it’s an odd thing. Comics don’t really do comedy when it’s just comics, they talk smack and just do a bunch of ‘inside’ jokes. So even if someone walks in, they don’t get the comedy. Fortunately, the friends stayed and the show rolled on.

Later on, Curtis and I would realize that since the guys were scraping up funds to see a show, they’d get the most of their money and stay the whole two and a half hours. That’s two bucks an hour. What a bargain.

If I may digress here, one thing I’ve noticed about stand up comics is that when someone first starts doing comedy, they bring friends. Sometimes it’s four or five friends, but many times it’s something like 8 to 10. Then for the second outing, there’s fewer friends, if it was 8 before, it’s 5 now. And this trend continues until the comic can’t even get the spouse to show. And as time goes on, you get a bunch of comics watching comedy with a bunch of comics. Especially in San Marcos where comedy takes a back seat to drinking and dancing. In Austin, it’s not a big deal, because there are plenty of people who wander in, or specifically look for comedy.

Perspective

Like these people, comedy isn't always straight up.

I wandered in and out of the room, and noticed that the crowd wasn’t shy – meaning a couple of people didn’t mind joining in the show, even though they weren’t invited. One guy in particular was constantly heckling. I’m not sure what his deal was, but he was the sort of heckler that thinks he’s adding to the performance. Unfortunately, this is seldom the case.

I’m going to take a minute and break the illusion of comedy. The reason comedy works so well is because it’s well rehearsed. It’s rehearsed to be energetic and off-the-cuff. Bad comedy is bad not so much because of the material, but because the performance. Imagine if Louie CK just mumbled his jokes in a very sloppy way. Or if Brian Regan just sat in a chair relating his Pie Joke in a very A.D.D. manner? It wouldn’t play. The reason it’s funny is because it comes of as new. Fresh. As if the comic just thought it up on the way over. If you notice, comics will almost always say something happened recently. They saw something on the way in. They had something happen yesterday. Or last week. It’s always timely. That’s part of the illusion. I saw a comic last year, and saw him again recently. He has an airplane joke. It was the same both times. And both times it happened last week. To the uninitiated, it comes off as he just thought it up. To the comics, we know that it probably never happened. But the illusion is there.

This is part of the problem with the heckler. The heckler believes in the illusion, and that the comic really is living in the moment. Sadly, most comics aren’t that great on their feet and can’t really handle the immediacy of an idiot in the crowd. Even more sad is the fact that the comics that can, usually default to verbally abusing the heckler. It works, and most times shuts up the heckler, but not always.

Heckler UMP

Not your typical Heckler.

So this guy was talking all night. Adding little comments here and there. I can’t say how the other comics handled it, because I was in and out of the room. I know a couple comics addressed it and did their best to shut him up. I imagine others just ignored the guy. Either way, it’s not a fun experience for the comic, and truthfully, the audience tends to really frown on it too. Any heckler video you see on YouTube usually ends with the crowd cheering the comic, because they really can’t do anything to the heckler to make them stop. It’s up to the comic or the establishment.

Which brings me to another point. A lot of comics look forward to dealing with a heckler. When they know there’s a heckler in the audience, they start ignoring their material and start concentrating on that heckler. They want to get some practice in dealing with these guys. The truth is, as a comic, you’re going to see a heckler fairly often. More often than one would like usually. So when a comic does get the chance, the comic will take it.

It’s not always the case. It’s not always funny. And it’s not always the best thing for the night. The trick to dealing with a heckler is to walk that line between doing material, handling the heckler, and not offending the audience. It’s a tricky, fun walk to take. I’ve personally had two hecklers in my short time on stage. Once was from a drunk lady who had been a bit distracting and practically ruined David McQuary’s set that night. She was leaving when I got on stage and I sort of agged her on. She stayed and magic happened.

Last night was my second time handling a heckler. I don’t have video up yet, but I will, and I’ll post the link in the comments. Hopefully.

After the show, the heckler stuck around and then apologized to various people about what he did. He actually told me, “I’m funny, I’m actually funny!” which was really annoying, because this is our craft. Imagine if you’re a CPA and some guy comes in and starts manipulating your numbers and then says, “I’m good with numbers, I really am!” Yeah, not funny either way.

But we all encouraged him to show up next week and get on stage. I don’t know if he will, but if he does, I’ll put his video up just on principle.

Hey, thanks for reading folks – I really appreciate it.

Sony HeadphonesThey’re Sony. Sue me.

I have a set of cheap Sony headphones that I use when I’m recording video to monitor the sound. They’re actually my second pair. First pair broke. The current pair are fine, but they’ve seen better days.

Earlier this year, I saw a pair of headphones that were pretty cool. And another friend just recently got a pair of these. I was looking around the internet this morning, and found that there is a third company producing headphones.

Yes, three different companies are putting out Star Wars themed headsets – Taito, Funko, and Coloud. I found it surprising that there was more than one company making headphones, but even more so when I found the third. I don’t understand it because LFL tends to just go with one company to produce an item. For instance, Master Replicas (now Factory Entertainment from what I see) used to make the Force FX sabers. Now Hasbro has that job.

I have you now.

These were inside the pilot's helmets.

I’ve gotten to hold the Funko Rebel Alliance headphones. It was some time ago, but they seemed nice. A little smaller on the ears than what I’d need for what I’d use them for. They seemed like a good pair of headphones to have just for casual listening. I definitely wouldn’t consider them studio monitor worthy. From what I remember, these were semi embossed, but they may not be. There’s quite a bit of detail on some of the headphones, but on others, it looks like a stencil or sticker stuck on the side. The Boba Fett ones look really cool on the band, but the ears seem to just have a sticker of Fett on it. That seems sort of cheap to me. Also, each earpiece has a wire coming from it. I try to stay away from these types, because the dual wire setup gets caught on things. Many times I’ve plugged things into my camera THROUGH that loop. Annoying. They’re listed at $25, but you may find them for $20 on the ‘net.

BooWeep

With all the bells and whistles.

I haven’t gotten to see or use the Taito versions, but they seem to be a little bigger and a little more durable. A friend of mine who got the R2 version said they were nice, but a little plastic-y feeling. The R2 headphones are chrome, with blue earphones and top (felt?). The sides are the top pattern of R2’s dome. I can see why they feel cheap and plastic, because they are. The chrome on it is that same chrome you seen on kids toys. The C-3P0 ones are similar, but the sides are 3P0’s eyes, they’re gold, and the ears and top are black. The Vader ones just have a red stencil of Vader’s helmet, and the ears and top are red on a black set of headphones. I can’t tell by the pictures, but it’s highly possible each headphone has a wire coming from it. And as I mentioned above, I find it annoying. Listed at $25.

Heavy breathing

I hope these play more than just heavy breathing.

Lastly is Coloud. Apparently all they do is make merchandised headphones. They have Hello Kitty, NHL, Marvel, and Fame (Really?). They have three different Star Wars headphones. Vader – black with red accents (see pic). Star Wars – black with gold Star Wars on a flying starfield. Rebel – white with orange and black accents. They also feature the single wire from one side of the headphones, which is really a plus. They also feature a coiled wire which allows for some tension and less tangling with normal use. I was impressed with these (although I’ve not used them) because the website actually has specs for these.  But these come at a little higher price – $40. If I get a chance to test these out (which I believe to be better than the Sony’s I’m using now), I’d be able to really decide how good these are. The single, coiled cord is worth it to me, really. Add the Vader on the side, and to me it’s worth the $15 extra bucks – everything else being equal.

Each of these headphones seem nice enough. The Funko headphones seem to have the edge to the casual listener, because there are quite a few of them to choose from. Some of the designs are really nice, but others seem to be nothing more than a stencil/sticker on it with color coordinated plastic parts.

Irony

Does anyone else see the irony in this picture?

The Taito ones seem to be a bit more detailed than the Funkos, but there are only three versions. The two toned look is a plus, and the 3P0 and R2 designs seem to be rather inspired.

Burnt.

Of course, I could be completely wrong and we all end up like Owen and Beru.


The Coloud ones are not as inspired as the Taitos, but the quality seems to be there. The higher price tag would probably turn off the casual listener, and the hard core fan would probably shy away from the designs. For instance, I prefer the Funko Rebel headphones to the Coloud Rebel headphones based solely on the design. But the Coloud Vader seems much better than the Funko or the Taito Vader.

Overall, the Coloud headphones are worth the extra $15, simply because they seem like headphones first and Star Wars ads second. The other brands are more dedicated to the fans, and for a casual mp3 listener, they’re more ‘involved’ than the Coloud. Taito has a good offering with the droid headphones, but for a Fett fan, the obvious choice is Funko.

UPDATE – I think I found out why there are three different companies making headphones. Coloud is based out of Canada, Taito is either Japan or China, and I think Funko is here in the States. I may be wrong on this all around, but it’s all I could figure.

Chicken?

Almost had this for dinner.

Shortly after posting the last blog, I wandered to the cafeteria to see what was for dinner. BBQ chicken. Smelled great, but I wasn’t feeling chicken twice today.

They’re doing painting in the one section of the hospital where it’s just a dog leg trip around the corner to the cafeteria. So that meant I had to go through the “restricted area” to get to the cafeteria. Not a big deal, but the door to go back the same way locked when it shut. Great.

Walked around to the ER, where two security guards were. They asked me a question, and I told them I was going to the women’s center. The lady told me that she was working that area and would escort me. What was odd is that she had a tracheotomy. I didn’t understand at first why her voice was all raspy. Then I got it. She told me I could park out front – which I told her I had. I suppose she was under the assumption I just got there. Nope. Been here all day, thanks.

When I got back to the room, I got a text message from Christy. Doc had just broke her water and she was at 3 cm. So, since I didn’t get dinner at the cafeteria, I headed to Carl’s Jr. Which, I noted, I was the thinnest person in the place. Anyway, I ate, and went back to the hospital.

It was about an hour after I got back that the anesthesiologist showed up. Christy was happy. After the epidural, the nurse checked and Christy was at about 5. Now more waiting.

Reach

Yeah, I'm just putting these in here now.

Apparently, 8pm is about the time everyone checks facebook, because that’s when all the messages started flowing in. At some point, the baby bed started going off with a ding dong carnival sound. Then almost immediately afterwards, something else started beeping. And the phone got text messages. SHeeesh. Lots of noise!

It’s almost 9pm now. Grey’s Anatomy is wrapping up and Christy’s watching. I’m typing this up and waiting for the final stretch, which should be soon.

I hope.

I went to bed about 12:30a this morning. Mostly because I stayed up playing Halo: Reach. Hey, we had a good team and we were dropping opponents all over those maps. Big Team Battle, if you’re curious.

HaloReach

How can you sleep when there's so many kills to get?

I fell asleep almost immediately. Next thing I know, it’s 6:30a and it’s time to get the kids up and rolling. Christy got up and got ready to head over to the doctor’s office.

Quentin was especially grumpy this morning. He didn’t want his cereal. He didn’t want to get up. He didn’t want to get dressed. He didn’t want to go to Nana’s. He did, however, want to play Xbox. As much as I would have loved to sit next to him and make that happen, it just wasn’t the time.

Spider-Mug

The only way my mug could get cooler is if it spit webs.

David and Zada did well. I had to prod Zada a bit – she’s always a little slow to make it happen in the morning. She’s actually been a little groggy in the morning, not sure why. But by ten after seven, we were all ready to head out.

But I couldn’t find my coffee mug. CURSE YOU MISSING MUG.

We got to the school, David and Zada got out, and they were both excited because they knew they’d see their new sister this afternoon. David was talking about how he was going to tell his whole class. Zada told her class yesterday. Makes me feel good, because I wasn’t the only one who didn’t catch that it was supposed to be today. Apparently there is something to the miscommunication between men and women.  Hopefully we’ll be able send some pictures to school with them tomorrow. Pretty sure we won’t be sending Macy tomorrow.

Bom bom bada bom bom.

Quentin may one day dance as great as the Late King of Pop.

I dropped Quentin off at my mom’s, but he wasn’t too pleased about it. I’m not sure where he wanted to go, but it was not Nana’s at that point. He got out of the car and put his backpack on (diaper bag). Then he just froze. He stood there. I tried to pull his arm to get him to walk up the steps, but he wasn’t moving his feet. It was rather humorous, really. Think Michael Jackson in “Smooth Criminal.” Eventually I got him inside and I grabbed my mom’s keys to put the booster seats in her car. She’ll be picking up Deezo and Chickie this afternoon.

When I was getting Q’ball out of the car, I spotted it. My MUG!!! Sweet. Caffeine will be mine!!! Needless to say, I was pleased.

I pulled up to the hospital and headed to Christy’s room. She was already set up and ready to make things happen. The nurses hadn’t hooked up the IV and they were still doing the blood work. I was still sleepy, so I tried napping in the rocking chair. No go. Then the nurse pointed out that the arm of the couch slides out and makes a cool little bed. So I took a little nap. About 30 minutes worth. A little longer than I normally do, but refreshing.

Puzzle

This game is fun, especially when you're waiting on a baby.

Christy’s been hanging out, just watching TV. Waiting. I got some coffee, came back. Played on the iPod (which, by the way, the hospital’s verification thing doesn’t like Safari), went and got some more coffee and called my sister in law to give her the heads up. She said she wanted to call, but because she has a bad habit of calling as the baby is coming out, she’d wait until we called her.

When I got back into the room, Christy told me they started the Pitocin. That’s good, means we’re progressing. The nurse popped in to see if the doc had stopped in. He hadn’t. Apparently he’s performing a C-section right now. So, we waited.

chicken dinner

Almost exactly what I ate for lunch.

I looked up and realized that it was almost one o’clock. I realized that there was a chance that the cafeteria may close soon and I didn’t want to have to leave the hospital to grab a bite. Seems like last time I was here, I tried to get to the cafeteria but missed it. And I didn’t miss lunch. Fried chicken, mashed potatoes, mixed veggies and a soda. MMMmmm good. I didn’t tell Christy, though. Didn’t seem right. They’ve given her broth, jello, and water. Yum.

No, no, NO!

I may forget to bring diapers, but I usually don't substitute fruit.

Just before 2p, my mom called. She was running out of diapers for Quentin. I thought I had enough, but who knows. Apparently she either changes a lot of diapers or she changes no diapers. There’s no rhyme or reason, apparently. I usually get about 3 or 4 a day, sometimes. But I’m not sure how many were in the bag. I do know that I had gotten some out to take with us but forgot to take them… oops.

Christy suggested I go get some and drop them off. So I headed to the house, picked up the ones I pulled out originally (still neatly stacked on the coffee table) and headed out. I pulled up to my mom’s, knocked on the door, and went in. Quentin was sacked out on the floor, as he normally does. I put the diapers on the table, grabbed a soda, and then helped my mom get him into the car. She was about to head out to pick up D and Z. I headed back to the hospital, and she off to the school.

snoozin

Despite the decor of the delivery room, the seating arrangements were no where near as comfy.

I came back and everything was the same. No doc, no baby. No nothing. The lights were out/dimmed, which made me want to take a nap. I did shut my eyes for a minute. Who knew waiting would be so tiring?

And for the next two hours, we just waited. Christy’s contractions were coming about every 3 minutes. No real change, and no doctor. It’s rather disappointing. I was hoping to have been celebrating by 5pm. Christy was really tired of being stuck in the bed.

It’s 5:30p right now – and there’s no baby…

I’ll post more later. Sorry no baby yet. 😦

Vader's kid

This isn't me.

My wife’s been pregnant for quite some time now. I forget when it happened, but it was obviously earlier this year. February? Who knows. I stopped paying attention after she told me we were adding another member to the family that didn’t eat out of a bowl on the floor.

Everything’s been progressing normally. She’s gone through the typical things she always goes through. She has had some issues with her legs cramping and her ankles swelling, but it’s because she works retail and she’s been on her feet for 9 or so hours a day. Other than that, everything has been pretty similar to the other three pregnancies. So normal, in fact, that I really haven’t been paying much attention to how far along we’ve gotten.

Baby be reading, dog

Daddy, it says here you have a knack for not paying attention.

With the other kids, we induced. They were all ‘big,’ and they were anywhere from 9-12 days early. Apparently the hospital has changed policies on induction. I suppose some doctors have been ‘abusing’ the induction thing – because the hospital won’t schedule inductions more than a week from the due date. That would be fine, I suppose, but there’s some issue on the due dates. The date the hospital likes is Nov. 7th. There’s also a Nov. 3rd date that’s out there and depending how you calculate it, there can be some discretion. Based on the baby’s growth, we were looking more towards the 3rd.

On Tuesday, my wife went in early for her normal appointment with her doc. Afterwards she called me to let me know we were going to induce after all due to some ingenuity of the doc. The way she told me sounded like she was going to go in for her appointment next week at the normal time, and then on Thursday they would get things rolling. That’s the information that got processed in my tiny little bald head.

But that’s not the real info.

I thought I had a full week and two days to get things handled. I thought it was rather odd that my wife was pressing me to do things when I had a while to get it all taken care of. Oops. In the car this morning, I said that I was planning on getting over to the Velveeta Room tomorrow night to record comedy. She looked at me like I was the most insensitive jerk she’s ever known. That’s when it came out that we were not only on different pages, we were in completely different books. Yeah, slight change of plans.

WHO IS THIS?

My mom looks nothing like this. And really, who has corded phones?

I went into overdrive, making those calls and trying to correct things. A quick status update on Facebook and a few emails changing the plans I’d made for things. Everything is still sort of in limbo – I haven’t gotten in touch with my mom. I need her to watch Q-Ball for us. He can’t really be running around the delivery room. Mostly because he’s going to be yanking crap and breaking things. Adorable as he is, he’s not really going to be instrumental in bringing Macy into the world. Plus, he may remember some things, and truly, there are some things that only need to be seen by a doctor…

So what now? Well, there’s still a lot of things that need to be done. Christy pointed out that we should re-arrange the bedroom, which was cool with me when I thought we had a week. Not so cool when it’s just a day or so. Ugh.

I have some things that I have to do work wise. No Thursday night, obviously, but Friday I need to go to Austin with a client to pick up gear. Friday night is taping comedy in San Antonio. Saturday is some time out doing some foot work for the client. I think Saturday night is free, but Sunday is all about knocking out these spots for the client. I’m sort of sad, really. I’m more excited about knocking out these spots on Sunday than I am having a kid. I know. I’m going to the land of fire and brimstone. Which is quite nice this time of year, from what I’ve heard.

Today will be spent making sure everything is ready for tomorrow. I was really hoping to play some good games of Halo today, but I suppose that’s not going to happen. I am sad I won’t be making another “Daily Challenge” today. But that’s fine, I suppose.

Also, if you enjoy watching kids, let me know. Added bonus if you don’t mind watching kids while I’m playing Halo.

Halo Reach

If Halo:Reach had been out earlier this year, I probably wouldn't be posting this blog right now.

Phoning

So, when exactly do you think Lucas lost his mind?

Yesterday I wrote this. I basically talked about what I’d do if handed the task of redefining the prequels. This sparked a
conversation with a friend about just following something blindly – not religion (besides, I don’t consider faith blind, more on that later) – but specifically dealing with Star Wars.

I remember the exact moment when I stopped believing in Star Wars blindly. I don’t remember the exact date per se, but I do remember the exact moment.

TIE Pilot

The big gun doubles as a crutch.

It was in 1996. Kenner/Hasbro had just launched a whole new set of Star Wars figures. I found a whole bunch at the Wal-Mart in Ft. Walton Beach. That should have been my first clue – hundreds of figures on the shelves. I had a cart, and I was putting two of everything into the cart. I remember looking into the cart and realizing that what I was doing – at that specific moment – was the same thing thousands of other Star Wars Fans were doing at the same time.

Hording. “Collecting.” Stockpiling.

And I definitely wasn’t the only one. In that store, there were other people doing something similar – at the same time! For some reason, we all thought these were going to be worth something. We all thought that we were going to be able to sell that one figure for hundreds of dollars. We all were looking to capitalize off the popularity. And I’m sure a lot of us were looking for that nostalgia. But I personally couldn’t get very nostalgic when Luke and Han looked more like Hans and Franz.

I still bought a bunch of figures. I still have them. Some are boxed, some are loose. I used the loose ones to decorate my room. They’re neat, but I have no misconceptions that they’re going to be worth anything. I have pretty much taken the idea that they’re all going to be worth less than what I paid. As in, I probably couldn’t give them away.

Bendems.

And you thought Jar Jar was a bad idea.

There was nothing even remotely nostalgic about these toys. They didn’t feel magical. They didn’t look magical. Sure, the 70’s version of Luke and Vader were far from “screen accurate,” but they had that magic that enabled little boys and girls to use their imagination and pretend that Luke could bend his elbows and that Vader could slash his saber without looking like he was strapped to a board. Telescoping sabers were fantastic – you really couldn’t lose one unless you really tried. What we ended up with were pieces of plastic that would adorn some geeks wall as a tribute to his “fanhood.”

That’s not to say that the Star Wars toys now aren’t fantastic – they are. Marvels. I found one of the HUGE Millennium Falcons on clearance at Wal-Mart once. It’s magnificent. The new AT-AT looks to be just as awesome. But to me, at least, they don’t have that magic.

The one thing that really dealt a blow to my ‘faith’ had to be the Bend’ems. This were little rubbery figures that you could shape and move. They also said they were “collectable,” (they meant collectible) which really was a slap in the face. There was nothing worth saving with these things. No craftsmanship. Not even reasonably attractive. The original Kenner figures were far more attractive, even with only 4 sometimes 5 points of articulation.

Sam I am. Hot Damn.

I can't believe I bought a Mace Windu Bend'em.

But because I’m not into the gluttony of “collecting” Star Wars, it doesn’t preclude me from still loving what I loved originally. I can respect a fan’s opinion, and I can respect the different aspects of Star Wars that someone may be into. What I can’t respect is the sad devotion to an ancient religion collection. No one is above reproach. Even Lucas, who has bestowed upon us arguably the most influential movie in the 20th century, is not above skepticism.

At the end of the day, I owe Lucas a huge amount of gratitude for giving me access to what I consider to be the greatest thing a young boy could ever dream of. I owe him gratitude. I don’t keep gratitude in my wallet.

The moral of the story is that it’s okay to enjoy something, but don’t let that appreciation blind you to the bad things. I love Star Wars. I always will, but I don’t let that love trick me into buying everything that has a Star Wars label on it. I love what Lucas birthed into the entertainment world, but I don’t let it blind me. I think it was fantastic that George Lucas gave us his Star Wars, but that doesn’t mean I have to love everything he shoves on us.

NO?

This makes as much sense as the special editions and the prequels.

There are a couple of things in the Star Wars Universe that are very divisive – the first big divisive point is the Special Editions. The specific item in that is Greedo shooting. Not even that he shot ‘first,’ but that he shot at all. Originally, Han had a ‘preemptive strike’ against his would-be assailant. Now, well… let’s not get into that.

The other big rift, and you could say a by-product of the Special Editions, is the prequels.

Truth be told, all Star Wars fans were excited to be getting more Star Wars. I’m not going to lie, I never questioned the movies while I was watching them. I just soaked them in and loved them. Not all of them, and they didn’t seem as magical as they should have been. Later on, I became a bit more critical.

The Phantom Menace

At one point, we believed

I wouldn’t say that these movies were all horrible – but they sure lack in the magic department.

Say what you will, but the signs were there. Lucas went crazy sometime in the mid-80’s I think. If you list the things you dislike about the prequels, do yourself a favor and go back and watch Return of the Jedi. All that stuff was there – it just wasn’t magnified. A recent interview with Gary Kurtz shows that by the time Jedi rolled around, Lucas was much more interested in toy sales than ‘artistic integrity.’  With that in mind, look back at the prequels, and you’ll see that there are TONS of characters in the movies. Why? Because more characters equals more toys which means more money. I even recently saw a “Clone Wars” tank that was based on some stuff from the Galactic Battlegrounds game.  But I digress – Lucas went nuts before he started writing the prequel scripts.

I recently had a thought about the movies. The thought was that the prequels should have all been done in one, single, epic, possibly 3 hr movie. All questions could have been handled, loose ends wrapped up, and we could have all walked away with a smile.

Unfortunately, Empire Strikes Back gave us Episode V, and subsequently Episode IV: A New Hope. Therefore, that means we have to have 3 movies, er, episodes that come before what I still call “Star Wars.” So what did we get? A bunch of nonsense and filler. Why do we need 30 minutes of pod-racing? Why is there a distinct absence of warring in the stars in a movie that is specifically titled, “Star Wars?”

Revenge.

Master, do you find it odd I've not flown a starfighter since I was nine?

If you look at the 3 prequels, you’ll see a very limited amount of space battles. Even though there is quite a bit of space travel, there’s very little actual “Star Wars.” In the original “Star Wars,” we OPEN UP THE MOVIE with a giant ship being chased and gunned down by an even MORE GIANT STAR SHIP! What do we get in the prequels? An obligatory star shot. Of a ship. Landing on a planet. Or a space station. Oh, yeah, I’m sorry. We delve right into battle in Episode III, but at that point it was more like, “Hey, we almost forgot to have space battle. Here’s space battle!”

Something tells me that a lot of “We’ll fix it in post” was used during the “filming” of all three movies.

Now I’ve told you all that in order to give you my thoughts on what the three prequels should have been.

All Lies

I was once a Jedi Knight... like, uh... hmmm. OH! Your Dad! Your Dad was a...


Remember that scene in “Star Wars,” where Old Ben is talking to young Luke about Kenobi and Anakin being Jedi Knights and such? Yeah, me too. And it’s that scene that really gives us the prequels. If it weren’t for that scene, we wouldn’t have gotten the prequels. So in my version, it’s this particular conversation that becomes lies.

In my prequels, it’s this line that turns out to be nothing more than Kenobi trying his best to get Luke to fix the problems of the Jedi that turned the Galaxy into ‘turmoil.’

Think about it – what do you see of the Empire? They blew up Alderaan. That’s about it. Everyone else in the galaxy seems to be doing just fine. In the cantina scene, there’s a good chance that the stormtroopers could have really just arrested everyone in there – but they didn’t. They just moseyed on like everything was cool. Which is my point – except for blowing up a planet (Crazed rogue military commander), the Empire really wasn’t that bad.

Luke points out that his dad was just a navigator on a spice freighter. Which Lucas made sure was ‘sorta’ true by adding some things to the “Clone Wars” series to make sure that even that wasn’t a lie.

Here’s where I make my changes – not to “Star Wars,” but to the prequels.

Anakin really is a navigator on a spice freighter. It’s a bit convoluted, but Watto’s operation is bigger, and an older Anakin (about 12-13) is a navigator in Watto’s recently expanded cargo operation.  Qui-Gon recognizes Anakin’s ability, and cons Watto out of Anakin. In my head, he trades Jar-Jar for Anakin. Yeah, that’s about right.

Qui-Gon takes Anakin to the council, but they don’t approve his training – because Anakin’s not quite as adept in the Force as Qui-Gon believes. They do bring him into the Jedi fold, but more to fine tune his abilities and have him fly the larger craft for the Jedi. Qui-Gon is able to request Anakin as his ‘personal driver’ and introduces him to Kenobi. Kenobi doesn’t like Anakin, because Kenobi thinks everyone who isn’t a Jedi is beneath him.

Episode I pretty much happens the way it does, but not with Anakin blowing up the control ship. Rather Anakin is able to fly a transport into the control ship and have commandos blow it up from the inside. Anakin gets recognition, but only as an after thought.

This starts Anakin down the path of the darkside. Palpatine begins to understand what is going on and by the time we get to Episode II, we find that Anakin has become more of a personal driver for Palpatine. Occassionally, he flies for the Jedi. Palpatine gives Anakin some rudimentary training in the ‘jedi’ arts, and sees the potential. Palpatine makes sure that Anakin is very in touch with the Jedi Council – making him a sort of driver for Yoda and Mace. Palpatine is also making sure bad things happen so that he can get his cloned army approved.

Oh, and it’s not Padme, the Queen, that Anakin falls for, but one of the handmaidens. It makes it a lot less awkward for him to have a relationship. Since he’s not really a Jedi, he pretty much runs around undetected.

In Episode III, we see that Anakin has gotten good, and the council is starting to consider allowing Anakin to become a Jedi – mostly because the war has started to thin resources.

In a final turn, we see that the council changes their minds, and continue to treat Anakin as hired help. Palpatine reveals himself to Anakin and invites him to turn to the dark side. So he does. And then we get pretty much the ending of “Sith” like it plays out, but not with that stupid Padme bit. No, Anakin’s hate and training with Palpatine turned him into a killing machine. Kenobi shows up and is able to defeat Anakin because he’s more patient, trained as a Jedi, not as a Sith. When Anakin is revived as the Vader we know, he vows to destroy the Jedi.

And then we get a much more vicious Vader, because he’s out killing Jedi because they denied him his glory as a Jedi.

Then when we get to Kenobi trying to seduce Luke, we see that it was Kenobi’s lies that brought down the Empire, not the redemption of Vader.

Bombad. What is it?

In my world, this game never existed.

Hey, it may not be great, but it’s better than what we got from Lucas.

In May of 2000, I shaved my head. With a razor. I took it down to the skin. I learned a lot that summer.

I learned that the people who dislike bald heads the most are old people. I assume that’s because of the connotations that go along with a shaved head.

Kids don’t care if you have no hair. It doesn’t matter to them – I assume they’ve not been subjected to hate via a bald man. Old people, I can only surmise, were all beaten up by a bald man. Or at least had their lunch money taken away.

Black folks aren’t real pleased with a bald white guy – with a goatee – but they don’t hate immediately.

I found I got a lot more respect from people when my head was bald. An example – I went to work one morning shortly after shaving my noggin. There was a girl working who wasn’t exactly MENSA material. I don’t remember what she said, but I turned and arced an eyebrow at her. She stopped, and said, “That was stupid, wasn’t it?” I replied, “Yes. Don’t talk to me anymore today.” Then I turned and walked away. It. Was. Awesome.

I think the reason I got more respect is because hair is goofy. Well, sometimes it’s goofy – but it does draw away the expressions of the face. There are a couple of pictures on my Facebook page – and I’m doing the arced eyebrow thing in both. One I have hair. One I don’t. No one’s told me that I was evil with hair. Without hair, I’m compared to the guy that formed the Satanic Church. Same face. Same goatee. Different head. But I did some photoshop work to the bald one to really bring out the contrast. Even if I did that to the haired picture, it wouldn’t be intimidating in the least.

Those were all things I learned on how it looked from the outside – but there’s a whole thing about what it’s like from the inside.

A lot of people think that being bald means cooler head. It does not. Having a little hair – stubble – is cool, but having no hair is very hot. Why? Hair acts like a radiator. Tiny little fins that draw the heat from the head and allows the wind to cool it off. Having a lot of hair is very hot – because it acts like an insulator. Having short hair acts like a radiator, allowing the heat to be drawn away. Having no hair… well that heat just sits there. People have a hard time believing this. I try explaining, but they look at me like I’m dumb. So I do the arcing eyebrow thing. I call it intimidating knowledge.

Hair grows fast when it’s short. If I didn’t shave my head at least once every 2 days, I’d have crazy stubble. Not a problem, right? Wrong. I nearly broke my neck the first time I tried to take a t-shirt off. The back of the shirt caught the stubble on the back of my head and BOOM. Velcro. My stubbly hair was like the hooks, and the t-shirt was like the loops. And wearing caps was painful at times. The inside of the hat would stick to my head, and pulling it off was a bit painful. Again, velcro.

Razor bumps. I don’t get razor bumps on my face, but I get them on my scalp. I assume it’s because my skin is sensitive on my head, but not on my face. Typically bumps occur because someone has curly hair, and the curls dig back into the skin. My hair is about as straight as it gets. So often I’d use stuff from the ‘ethnic care’ aisle at Wal-Mart. Bump Stopper II is what I preferred. Actually, it was really the only thing I could find. But it worked. Plus it also helped darken my scalp to make it match my face.

One night, I watched a movie with Christy – at her apartment. Her roommate had rented a movie, and because the roommate felt keeping the AC at 60°, it was cold. I ended up being under the vent. I got sick. Not like really sick, but sore throat, not feel goo sick. Once I got my head warm, it was good.

Oh, and my head would stick to the pillows too. Not horrible, but slightly annoying.

I’m sure there’s other things about shaving my head I’m missing here – but these are the main things I remember.

And yeah, I know it’s about to get cold, but I’m considering shaving my head again…

I like helping people. There’s something inside of me that yearns to help people whenever I can. Even people who I don’t think deserve it – I help out to some degree. And I feel good about it. I have never regretted helping someone out. Even if it has put me at a disadvantage at the time, it usually comes back in multiples and is beneficial.

Sometimes people try to take advantage of this. And yes, I will help them to an extent – but a lot of times the help is, “What would you do if I wasn’t here?” (Thanks Steve Langevin!) Sometimes the best help you can give is self-worth and self-confidence. You know, “give a man a fish…”

The biggest problem I’ve ever faced is that people tend to mistake kindness for weakness, as if me being helpful is the same as me not having a spine. But I can usually solve this issue by showing the opposite. I can be helpful and unbending.

At the core of my being, my Christianity is that I believe in second chances, trusting others, being tolerant, and accepting people for who they are. All I can do as a servant of Christ is to show others what’s out there. All I can do is talk about God and Jesus. I can’t make them believe. I can’t make them convert. But I can be a friend and show them the wonderful things that happen when you put your faith in Jesus and let Him guide your life.

I don’t always make the right decisions, but if I ask for God’s help and listen, He tells me what to do. And yes, God talks to me. I think it’s different for everyone. I have a friend that got a message from God through someone who was but a chance encounter. I have gotten messages from God through the TV. I know it sounds odd, but it happened.

There was a point where I felt like I needed to give up comedy. I felt as though I was done with it. I prayed and asked for God’s guidance, and I got it. From various things on TV. One was from Desperate Housewives, another from Conan, and I can’t remember right now what the third one was -but the message from all three were ‘stand-up comedy.’ I took that to mean I should continue along this path.

I don’t know why I’m supposed to keep doing comedy. The only thing that I really can see is that I’m supposed to go into this thing and be the shining light. Comedy will always have the dark, dirty side, but I think I’ve inspired others to work on clean material. I know I’ve made an impression on a few people, so maybe I’ll continue to do that and help people see that Christianity isn’t that “Fire and Brimstone – You’re going to HELL!” that is so prevalent in our society. It’s about trusting in God when the odds are against you. It’s about doing the best you can and helping others when you’re not really in a position to help anyone – including yourself!

Maybe you’re not a Christian. Maybe you don’t believe in God. There’s nothing I can do or say to prove to you one way or the other. And truthfully, all I can do is relate my experiences. What those do for you is up to how you receive them. Sometimes a person isn’t ready to receive that message, but that message stays there, and will come back later when that person is ready. It’s sort of like that moment at the end of “The Sixth Sense,” where it’s revealed that Bruce Willis’ character was dead the whole time. What was perceived originally changes when new info is introduced.

Do me a favor – take a moment and look at your life. Maybe you’re really happy where you are. Maybe you’re battling depression for some unknown reason. Maybe things are fine, but you feel as though something is missing. Look around you – God is everywhere, and God loves you. God is love. God does not hate anyone. He does not hate “fags.” He doesn’t hate anyone. He loves us all and wants us to come to him and let him be the guide in our lives.

I think one of the biggest hurdles is that people think that God solves all the problems and when He doesn’t, they lose faith. That’s not how it works. You have to work at being a Christian. You have to have a dialog with God. You have to be willing to make those sacrifices He asks of you. I don’t think God makes people rich with money, but he makes them valuable as people.

At least that’s how I’ve seen it.