Archives for posts with tag: Star Wars

If you know me, then you know that I like to play dress up. The more refined nerds call it ‘costuming.’ If you’re not one, then you’ve at least seen one. You know, they’re the grown folks playing dress up, as if any day is Halloween.

Adam and Eve

This costume looks even worse on black people.

I came across a comment made by a friend of a friend (on Facebook, where else?) who said that he wished he could afford costuming. I have to admit – that’s the worst excuse I ever come across when it comes to playing dress up. I suppose what these people were saying is that they really wish they had the money to do a really great, detailed, “screen accurate” costume. But still, I find it disturbing.

First, it’s a bit of a misnomer to believe that expensive costumes are good, and that cheap costumes are, well, cheap. Nothing could be further from the truth.

If you’ve ever been to one of those Halloween shops, you’ll know that they’re shoddy (at best) and expensive for what they are. And yes, I’ve bought costumes at those places (for my kids, FOR MY KIDS!!!) Mostly because I didn’t have the time to make my son an Optimus Prime costume.

Sure, it looks like I'm defecating, but I'm really chasing a bounty.

On the flip side, there are plenty of ‘cheap’ costumes that don’t look cheap at all. I know a girl that made a great Zam Wesell costume and she did it fairly cheap. I don’t remember what she spent on it, but for roughly what she would have paid at a costume store, she got something immensely more ‘realistic.’ Not to brag, but I made my own Vader costume. Yes, it cost quite a bit (around $600 total), but only because I spent $100 on a helmet, $100 on a saber, and $40 on boots. I suppose that still sounds like a lot of money, but it wasn’t all at once. I bought pieces here and there. And in the original version, I used a turtle neck tshirt and sweatpants for the undersuit. I upgraded to vinyl a few dollars later.

My point is that you CAN spend a lot of money on a costume, but why? If you have the time and patience, you can really knock out some good looking costumes for relatively cheap.

The balance is where to put your time and effort, and where to spend your money. If you’re looking to make a Jedi costume, you could make your own saber, but it may be worth the time and money to order something online. Unless you’re a whiz with circuits and batteries and stuff…

A Jedi costume is probably one of the easiest costumes to put together. My biggest suggestion is to shop around at fabric stores until you find the fabric you want at the price you don’t mind paying. I know some guys won’t settle for less than wool lined with silk, and that’s going to be expensive. But you can get some cheaper material and not line it and come out with a tunic that is less than $20! Compare that to the Halloween shops, and you’ll soon realize that this is the way to go for anything resembling a ‘real’ costume.

I’ve done a few Jedi tunics, and I have some suggestions. If you live in an area that’s typically warm and possibly humid, I’d really suggest that you stick with natural fibers. They breathe, whereas the synthetics get stuffy quick – especially if you’re working on your jump flips and saber twirls.

Oh, and look for fabrics with texture. They really add a lot to the look. Steer clear of broadcloth. It’s synthetic, hot, and looks really plain. Trust me on this – my first one was made with some beige broadcloth. But, I spent all of about $10 on fabric, so not a total loss.

Dresses. Jedi's love 'em.

One of the benefits of the Jedi costume is that you don’t have to go with one look. If you watch the Geonosis Battle in Episode II, you’ll see that the overall look is similar, but they’re all different. In fact, that one Jedi is wearing a DRESS!!!

The thing to keep in mind is that Jedi need to stay with neutral, earth tones (I disagree with the greens, but hey, it’s your Jedi.) The main thing is that you have a tunic, tabbards, sash and light saber. It’s also smart to match the colors. Have different colored tabbards and sash, but make sure they go with your tunic…

Pants. This should really be the easiest part of the costume. Grab some khakis and go with it. I have a pair of thin piped corduroys that work well for a Kenobi costume. But just about any khakis should work. I saw a guy at Celebration III who had a fantastic Jedi Tunic, but was wearing blue jeans. WHAT? The kid could have just headed out to Goodwill and picked up some khaki pants! I dubbed the guy “Casual Friday Jedi.” Don’t be that guy.

Now, there are a couple of pieces to this costume that can be done cheaply, but can be expensive as well.

BOOTS: I was able to pick up some Frye boots for $75 on ebay. I’ve worn them a lot, and they need to be resoled (bonus to ‘real’ boots.) But I’ve seen plenty of costumes that use the cheap $20 vinyl pirate boots that typically show up at those Halloween stores. The downside is that they aren’t very durable and will ultimately crack and fall apart after any extended use, but for the price you could get about 6 or 7 pairs for what you’d pay for cheap ‘real’ boots. And then there’s the whole “detail” part. If you look at Anakin’s and Obi Wan’s boots, you’ll see that they have some neat details that you don’t get with the cheap boots. That’s the trade off… Unless of course you’re a boot maker.

BELT: I’ve seen belts on ebay go for over $100! Which is insane, considering it’s just some leather strapping with some detail parts. I made my first belt. I looked through women’s belts at various stores until I found something that would work. One side had a suede texture, and the other was a marbled leather look. So I separated the front and back and then cut the belt to the size I needed. And, I was able to make pouches with the left over material. I used a buckle I found at a fabric store, and never got around to putting the food capsules on, but no one’s ever noticed. Except the guys thinking I should join one of the bigger costuming groups.

Hopefully you’ll be on your way to making a Jedi costume soon. If you are and need some advice, ask and I’ll be glad to help out.  You don’t have to spend a lot of money, you just have to know where to spend your time, and where to spend your money. I suppose if I were to make a Star Wars analogy, I’d say that buying your costumes is like the Dark Side – quicker, easier, more seductive. Making your costume from scratch is like the Light Side, patience, my young apprentice.

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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.

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.