Wednesday, May 31, 2017

12 Scrabble Words That SHOULD Be Acceptable, But Aren't

A few months ago I did a list of 12 Scrabble Words That Shouldn't Be Acceptable, like "za" and "zzz".
Now, I give you 12 words that are not Scrabble-accepted, but should be.

1. Niggardly. Meaning "stingily", this word used to be acceptable, but was banned in 2013. I guess because it sounds too much like a well-known racial slur? It's an innocent word that should be legit, and the letters aren't that hard to get.

2. Kwyjibo. Yes, this Simpsons-coined word, defined as "a fat, dumb, balding North American ape with no chin", should really be acceptable. It could get you a lot of points, and could even evolve new meanings. Kwyjibo could come to mean "a Fox News-watching conservative senior citizen that is almost always in a grouchy mood."

3. Trumpify. Meaning "to preach hate and use other people's fears for your own advantage." I sense many conservatives may have just stopped reading my post.

4. Friday. Friday is banned because it's a proper noun. But the negative attention that Rebecca Black got for her single "Friday" in 2011 could give "friday" all kinds of new meanings. For example:
  • To unintentionally annoy people. My younger siblings have a habit of fridaying me.
  • To experience massive backlash after posting something online. That Lowes commercial is fridaying online because of the stereotypes it displays.
5. Leftshark. Meaning to become an Internet meme. "That photo has really leftsharked!"

6. Truthiness. As I'm typing this Colbert-coined word, I see that it made it past spell check. Enough said.

7. Tnetennba. This made-up word from a British sitcom has already evolved meanings.

Meaning 1: A word possessing no other function except to attract traffic to a website.
Meaning 2: Someone who looks up words that have been artificially created for the purpose of comedy.

I guess I'm a tnetennba.

8. Farmerous. When you take a census, you count how many people have a certain career. You count how many doctors there are. And you count the farmers, so you can see which region is the most farmerous.

9. iPadry. The use of an iPad is called "iPadry", if you ask me. I am good with my iPadry, but my father is more proficient at it.

10. Pimp. "Pimp" is on the offensive list and has been since 1997. But "pimpmobile" is legit. If "pimpmobile" is in fact legit, then "pimp" should be too. Made even stranger in that the unacceptable word "pimp" passes spell check, but the acceptable word "pimpmobile" does not.

11. Escuela. Hola, adios, and amigo are all legit. But "escuela" is probably used to mean "school" nearly as often - at least in my experiences. (Also, I can't think of "escuela" without thinking of a Sesame Street sketch from 2005:

Grover: Escuela means.... FISHBOWL!
Kids: (in unison) No, Professor Grover! Escuela means school!

12. Ushnuu. Ushnuu is a word coined by Alex P. Keaton in an episode of Family Ties. Alex says that it's Greek for "towel off". I ushnuu after every shower and always think of Alex's word when I ushnuu. Ushnuu is also a good word because it gets rid of your Us. As for my loyal blog readers, I would never try to get rid of you. You do not need a Q to be useful (and maybe the U in Scrabble doesn't either).

Monday, May 22, 2017

10 Most Loathsome Grinch Rehashes

Today we're going to talk about one of the most famous fictional characters of all time - Dr. Seuss's Grinch. This nasty anti-Christmas creature can make a wondrous claim - no fictional work has been rehashed, rewritten, and/or parodied more times than Dr. Seuss's 1957 book, How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

I appreciate the story of the Grinch, and tune in every year when NBC shows the classic animated TV short based on the book. But, though I am not an active Christian, I believe the story is incomplete without mentioning Jesus. How could the Grinch learn that Christmas means "a little bit more" without the story saying what that is?

And, if you're wondering why I'm doing this post on May 22, I'll tell you. The Grinch has been one of my pet peeves for about five years, and one entry on this list will tell why. I am seeking to calm an anxiety by writing this, so respect my efforts.

Here are ten alternate versions, most of them Christianizations, of the Grinch that I find loathsome.
And no, the 2000 movie with Jim Carrey is not on the list.

10. How the Trump Stole America. This one is a wonderful piece of work, except that it was written by a Hillary supporter, and since I identify as an independent and was equally dissatisfied with both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, that makes this poem loathsome in my mind. Also, the poem makes Hillary Clinton look kind, good, and qualified, and says that America already was great. I disagree with both statements. This poem is just too biased for me to like it, and America will never be great until it is what Sarah Harrison, the winner of the 2017 Doodle 4 Google contest, hopes it will be someday.
And, yes, America is not already like this.

9. The Great Church Robbery. This is a 1998 poem by Christian skit writer Fred Passmore. I love the story and all, but there are three big problems. First, the rhythm of the story is inconsistent from line to line. Second, the story, but not the actual text of the poem, mimic the original story. And third, it's not set at Christmas. It's simply set on "Sunday".

"The Great Church Robbery" replaces Whoville with a church, the Whos with the church patrons, and the Grinch with a grouchy old man named Mr. DeWitt. Mr. DeWitt disguises himself, not as Santa Claus, but as a blind man (which also serves as an allegory for his lack of spiritual "sight") and steals all the musical instruments, Bibles, and hymnals from the church. And, this being a Christian version of the story, you can probably tell where the story goes from there.

My problems with the rhythm being inconsistent and text not mimicking the original story, I thought, can be solved. Passmore's poem begins:

The church was known for its love and affection
and invited folks in from every direction. 
But to one neighbor, named Mr. DeWitt,
Their invitations didn't matter one bit.

If Passmore wanted to truly channel Seuss, and I think he should have, he would have begun the poem:

Everyone in the church liked to worship a lot,
But Mr. DeWitt, who lived on the mountain above, he did not!

As a bonus, it narrows the four lines down to two.

8. How the Binch Killed Innocent Americans. This story stars the Binch (Osama bin Laden + the Grinch) as he destroys the Twin Towers, then sees that his act of evil has brought America together rather than tearing it apart. Osama would never do such a thing, but since this is a Grinch reworking, the Binch has to have a change of heart.

This poem was written by a single issue political third party - the Pacifist Party, who dissolved a few years after the terrorist attacks, and who believed if appropriately dealt with, Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda would stop the violence. That was far-fetched.

7. The Great Christmas Church Robbery. This one is almost identical in plot points to Fred Passmore's The Great Church Robbery, only it attempts to solve a problem that I pointed out about Passmore's poem by setting the story at Christmas (Passmore's poem was not). Like the Passmore poem, "The Great Christmas Church Robbery" replaces Whoville with a church, the Whos with the church patrons, and the Grinch with - get this - a ten year old girl named Sarah McScorn, who fakes blindness and robs a church, just like Mr. DeWitt. The story is no better than Passmore's at having consistent rhythm and mimicking the famous lines of the original.

This poem was written as a church play in 2007. I hypothesize that the church wanted to do the Passmore poem, but 1) wanted it to be set at Christmas, when it wasn't, and 2) didn't think a child could play an old man. A possible other hypothesis is that the church believed their child actors could relate to a child character more easily.

Just my two cents.

6. How the Gunman Stole Christmas. The gunman is Adam Lanza, the man who killed 26 children at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT in 2012, right? Wrong! This poem was written two years before Sandy Hook, and thus was oddly prophetic. Except that the ending is horrible. After thinking he's shot a bunch of children, the unnamed gunman takes a look back at the school, expecting to see police cars and dead bodies - but the kids are alive, and playing as usual! The twist is, the kids' hearts were so full of love and goodness that the bullets could not cause them any pain! 

This poem was written by a non-profit organization that works against gun violence. All on this entry is said, except that I've written a screenplay about the Sandy Hook tragedy. You really should read it.

5. The Nutcracker vs. The Grinch. This one isn't a poem, but rather, a Montana ballet mistress brought the Grinch into her Nutcracker. Assuming you know the story of "The Nutcracker", in this version, it is the Grinch, rather than the Mouse King, who invades Clara's house and battles the Nutcracker. After the battle, Clara inspires the Grinch's change of heart. In the second act, the Grinch falls in love with the Sugar Plum Fairy and even dances the Grand Pas de Deux at the end with her.

The choreographer says the mashing together of the two Christmas classics was "meant to be". I beg to differ.

And a side note that won't make you laugh unless you watch Seinfeld: The dancer who played the Grinch was from the Ukraine.

4. How the Grinch Found the Christ in Christmas. What makes this one weird is that like entries number 7 and 9, Whoville becomes a church, the Whos become the church patrons...but the Grinch is still the Grinch. That is, this poem has plopped the cartoonish Grinch in the middle of the real, factual planet Earth. Among humans. Like Fred Passmore's "The Great Church Robbery", the rhythm of the story is inconsistent. The story, written by Valerie Lynch, who probably belongs to a Protestant faction I've never heard of (I grew up in a Catholic household), begins:

Every Christian in church liked Christmas a lot...
But the Grinch, who lived just above the church, did not!

Those lines above have poor rhythm, if any rhythm at all.

The Grinch hated Christmas! The whole Christmas season!
He did not know God loved him, and that was the reason. 
He thought that Christians' heads weren't screwed on just right.
He thought they were crazy, and looked for a fight.
He said, "God doesn't love me, and God doesn't care!
Hypocritical Christians throw their hands in the air,
They worship Jesus, who doesn't exist.
It's just an excuse to buy shiny new gifts."

I'm slightly taken aback by the fact that the poem makes the church simply a "Christian" church. This is because I believe there's more conflict between Catholics and Protestants than there is between Christians as a whole and other religions.

The absurdity of this work is only reinforced when Cindy Lou Who becomes Mary Sue, the pastor's daughter. Life advice #1138: Never name your girl Mary Sue. Why?

Because "Mary Sue" is a popular term for a one-dimensional goody-goody female fictional character. A Mary Sue has no depth. A Mary Sue is a straight line. And that's exactly what Mary Sue is in this story.

The Grinch robs the church, like Mr. DeWitt and Sarah McScorn, but keeps the Santa disguise (he does not disguise as a blind man). The story then plays out like you'd expect a Christian version of the Grinch to.

3. How Mr. Sleazy Robbed the Church. Here we have our fourth Grinch character to rob a church and our third to fake blindness. Only this one looks like it's set in Southern California in the late 1980s. Mr. Sleazy is a sleazy young man who hates everything simply because he's too lazy to have any love in his heart, and Cindy Lou Who is now a girl named Alyssa Arroyo, which sounds Hispanic, and there are a lot of Hispanic people in Southern California. The church in this story is hip and Californian too, having a full Christian musical group to play their songs, no bells, and no organ. Excuse my Southern California lingo, but that story is just bombdigity.

2. Jesus Came For Us All. This poem, in its efforts to be true to history, becomes less true to the original Grinch story, which I think matters more. The Biblical king Herod is cast as the Grinch, and a big part of doing a Grinch reworking is that your antagonist has to go good. King Herod never went "good" by Christian standards.

So it is not Herod's heart that grows, but "the world's." And although the story does keep the "He himself" bit in the last line, it refers to Jesus, not Herod.

If you want to rework the Grinch, and make it Biblical, here are some tips. Make the Grinch character a rich and powerful man who has heard the promised one is coming and wants to "stop this baby from coming. But how?" So he disguises as a desert bandit and attacks Mary and Joseph on their donkey. He separates them, as does a sandstorm, but he reaches their destination and finds that Mary and Joseph made it anyway, and cue the change of heart when he sees the baby.

1. Gammy's take. My grandmother's 2011 poem, in which the Grinch raids a condominium in Whoville, Maryland and gets taught about Jesus by the Finelli family.

When my grandmother originally sent out the poem, it was my sister who taught the Grinch about Jesus. When I complained about this, Gammy re-issued the poem, this time with me telling the Grinch about Jesus. This, however, didn't change the mass incorrect portrayal of me and my family (which I failed to notice until Gammy released the second version of the poem). The Finellis, as Gammy seemed to see them, were nothing more or less than a bunch of goody-goody evangelists. The biggest offense may have been the fact that Gammy was giving my own creative talent competition, which could motivate or offend me.

I cannot even quote the poem, for my grandmother offended me so heavily with it that the poem could have been what made me less active a Christian.

Thus ends my long list. It's because of my #1 entry that I even made the list. Ever since, I have been trying to write a Christian version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas that is actually good. Soon, I will do so. I will ask my grandmother for help... if the memory does not make me cry along the way. True, our relationship has never been the same. But this could fix it. I will write a Christian version of the Grinch. I will carve the stiff roast beast that this task is.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

10 Best Moments of 2017, So Far

2017 has brought many things exciting for my family, and none of them are Trump-related. Although I strive to break free of the chains holding me in this house, I am trying to help myself look on the bright side as much as possible, so here are 10 good moments from 2016.

1. Star Wars Celebration Orlando. You open with a panel featuring Kathleen Kennedy, George Lucas, Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Hayden Christensen, Ian McDiarmid, Billy Dee Williams, Warwick Davis, Peter Mayhew, Anthony Daniels, and John Williams. You get to see thousands of fans in costume. You eat pizza. You get your picture with Mark Hamill. You get Star Wars Monopoly for a real steal. And you beat Star Wars authors at Star Wars Jeopardy. If that isn't the good life, I don't know what is.

2. Ask Me Another. If you don't know, Ask Me Another is an NPR hour of puzzles, word games, and trivia that I like to listen to. Their puzzles are genius and usually multi-step. I like the music parody games the best: "OK, we've rewritten "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" to be about things that aren't high enough. Just kidding - we've rewritten it to be about real and fictional mountains."

3. Scrabble. I still play a lot - and I heard Scrabble added "Zqvjkzx" to their dictionary. Zqvjkzx is the Azerbaijani word for grape juice. No kidding.

4. Risk. Sure, Dad took over the world, but I lasted a while, and we all got to see the Seinfeld clip where Kramer and Newman are on the subway and are playing.

Kramer: The Ukraine is feeble. It's weak. I think it's time to put the hurt on the Ukraine.
Ukrainian standing nearby: Excuse me, I come from Ukraine. You not say Ukraine weak.
Kramer: We're just playing a game.
Ukrainian: Ukraine is game to you? How about if I take your little board and SMASH IT! (smashes board)

However, in actuality, the Ukraine is not a territory on the Risk board.

5. The Nutcracker vs. The Grinch. I have an enormous love for the classic Christmas ballet The Nutcracker, and have been working on my own version for a couple years (no kidding), but I recently discovered a very strange version. Assuming you know the story of the this version performed by a Montana ballet company, instead of fighting the Mouse King, the Nutcracker fights the Grinch. Yes, that Grinch. After becoming a prince, the Nutcracker and the little girl Clara help the Grinch's heart grow three sizes. Then the Grinch falls for the Sugar Plum Fairy in the second act and dances the big dance at the end with her. This is real.

P.S. The dancer who played the Grinch is from the Ukraine.

6. Zzyzx Road. I recently also learned there's an obscure desert road between Los Angeles and Las Vegas by the name of Zzyzx Road. Just an interesting piece of trivia that I wanted to share.

7. De Singin' Clam. Not to be confused with a poem I once wrote in which I wondered if my mother would still love me if I were a slimy clam. No, this is from the defunct Dora the Explorer television series on Nickelodeon. I found a bootleg episode online in which this clam pops up out of nowhere and sings a song. The clam sounds like Bob Marley and has bad grammar too, and is all-around racist. How did that innocent little show get away with this?

8. Poke me in the coconut. If you're on the Internet ever in your life, you've probably seen the Bad Lip Reading "Seagulls (Stop It Now)" video. The one with Yoda singing about the seagulls poking him in the head. So I got this brilliant idea of something to do when we go to the beach this summer. We tie a piece of bread to the head of my stuffed Yoda backpack. We bait real seagulls. They attack him. We take video and send it to Bad Lip Reading.

9. New kid on the street. Just go to my Sesame Street "Meet Julia" review to learn what I thought of this one.

10. Cherish the memories, love life today. And finally, a screenplay I wrote, "The Sun Shines in Heaven", tells the story of the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting from a unique perspective. The screenplay link will be posted on the blog very soon.

Bonus: Beauty and the Beast.  Yup, I saw the live-action remake of a film I loved as a child. Much better than the original...though I didn't know Emma Watson could sing. Perhaps she could star in the Harry Potter musical...if there ever is one.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Top 10 Star Wars Duos

Two can be stronger than one, and I'm celebrating that by counting down my top 10 Star Wars duos.

10. Kanan Jarrus & Hera Syndulla
Spectre 1 and Spectre 2. They're good leaders of the rebel faction Star Wars Rebels showcases, and work well with each other and the rest of the rebel team.

9. Luke Skywalker & R2-D2
A boy and his faithful beeping astromech. Luke flies with R2 in his X-wing, R2 helped show where Luke was hiding in The Force Awakens, R2 retrieved Luke's lamp while Yoda beat the droid (I'll take questions later).

8. Finn & Poe Dameron
They seemed like best friends the minute Finn rescued Poe in The Force Awakens. Poe even let Finn keep his jacket, and that shows they are truly friends.

7. Chirrut Imwe & Baze Malbus
Two friends played by two Chinese actors who are already friends. They were helpful members of the Rogue One team, but like the rest of the team, gave their lives to save the Death Star plans.

6. Lando Calrissian & Lobot
Lando really couldn't do without Lobot. Lobot is forever connected to the Cloud City central computer and Lando relies on him for communication throughout Cloud City.

5. Darth Vader & Emperor Palpatine
This evil pair is only more evil because both of its members want to destroy the other...which really complicates things. But Palpatine and Vader still show good traits of a good pairing.

4. Anakin Skywalker & Padme Amidala
The forbidden lovers. Anakin and Padme share a bond that few lovers can share. Anakin protected Padme and fell to the dark side to protect her. Padme is a good shot with a blaster and Anakin is a great lightsaber duelist and pilot.

3. Qui-Gon Jinn & Obi-Wan Kenobi
Master and Padawan. Of all the Master and Padawan pairs in Star Wars, this is my favorite. Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan are both skilled with a lightsaber, and when they fight together, as seen at the end of The Phantom Menace, that just shows why Episode I is my favorite of the prequels. Comments are disabled, so you can't voice your disapproval.

2. Han Solo & Chewbacca
"Chewie, we're home," Han tells Chewbacca when they return to the Falcon in The Force Awakens. Chewbacca and Han are an incredible team, one muscular, the other a skilled pilot and shot. These two have been together for so long, and it will be hard for Chewbacca to go on without Han. [SPOILER: Han dies in The Force Awakens]

1. C-3PO & R2-D2
Two droids that argue, bicker, and hit each other with their metallic parts, C-3PO and R2-D2 are still the best of friends. C-3PO constantly worries, while R2-D2 is a faithful little beeper. These two are in it to the end, they have seen all eras of Star Wars, and it's unlikely one will ever lose the other.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Yub-Nub Translation

“Ewok Song”

(Ewoks….We are Ewoks)

(Heroic beings are we, and we have won again)

(Happy, we are happy)

(Heroic beings are we, and we have won again)

(Celebrate the Ewoks)

(Celebrate the Happiness)

(Celebrate the Glory)

(Embrace the Love)

(Glorious, we are glorious)

(The glory comes from the trees)

(Upon our humble home!)

(Celebrate the Ewoks)

(Celebrate the Happiness)

(Celebrate the Force)
(Embrace the Love)

(Embrace the Love...Embrace the Love)

Top 10 Star Wars Lightsabers

The lightsaber is everyone's favorite Star Wars weapon and comes in many varieties. Here are my top 10.

10. Palpatine's lightsaber

This elegant style suits a powerful Sith Lord and Galactic Emperor.

9. Gungi (Wookiee youngling from Clone Wars) lightsaber
A wooden lightsaber fit for a Wookiee.

8. Mace Windu's lightsaber
Sleek, bright, and cool - just like Mace Windu.

7. Imperial Inquisitor lightsaber

Two spinning red blades on a disk.

6. Count Dooku's lightsaber

The curved hilt allows for one-handed combat.

5. Darth Maul's lightsaber

Double cool and double bladed.

4. Ezra Bridger's first lightsaber

Turn it on its side and it can be a blaster.

3. Kylo Ren's lightsaber

This unique crossguard lightsaber has been iconic since the first trailer for The Force Awakens came out.

2. Anakin Skywalker's/Luke Skywalker's/Finn's/Rey's Lightsaber

The lightsaber of legends. Would have been my #1 because of its storied history, but it isn't as memorable in design as...

1. Yoda's Lightsaber

Small and fast, with a mini-hilt and mini-blade, and a green color matching its owner. I picked this #1 because along with the #2, it's one of the Star Wars lightsabers that you really remember the appearance of.

Top 10 Star Wars Sidekicks

Note: We're not including Jedi or Sith apprentices. If we did, then that makes Darth Vader a sidekick.

10. Todo 360 (Cad Bane's droid from the Holocron Heist episode of Clone Wars)
The perfect sidekick for a bounty hunter. This little droid is cute and ominous at the same time, and can fly around and perform nearly any function.

9. Bib Fortuna
He's kind of evil, he seems reliable, and he is gullible (as Luke showed us with his Jedi mind trick). Only what kind of a name is Bib Fortuna? This Star Wars name has always struck me as weird.

8. Lobot
Although he speaks not a word, Lobot's cybernetic head implants make him memorable. Lobot is hooked up to Cloud City's central computer system and is as reliable as a computer, for he essentially is one.

7. Kitster
As obnoxious (if he is at all) as his best friend Anakin Skywalker, Kitster is a supportive friend and with the little he does and says in the movie, is still a memorable character.

6. Salacious Crumb (Jabba's little monkey bird lizard guy)
I'm taking this opportunity to share how the character got his name: Creature shop designer Phil Tippett went with some friends to a bar as they were thinking of a name for the character. At the end of their bar excursion, Tippett said to his compatriots, "Hang on a second guys while I tie my soolacious", instead of "shoelaces", because he'd had a couple pints. Salacious evolved from "Soolacious".

5. Chopper
Chopper, the grumpy old astromech droid from Rebels (and Rogue One! Did you catch his cameo appearance?) complains a lot, but is mature enough to accept his job at all times.

4. Nien Nunb
Yaba yaba yaba. Yaba yaba yaba yaba yaba yaba yaba. Yaba? Yaba yaba. Although he speaks mainly in yabas, Nien Nunb helped destroy two massive armed space stations and has a memorable physical appearance. He is an alien called a Sullustan. Sullustans have incredible navigation skills and it's impossible for them to get lost.

3. Chewbacca
He could have been #1, but people might want a sidekick that felt more like a sidekick and doesn't rip your arms off. And a droid doesn't, so...

2. BB-8
Little BB-8 is the rolling droid from the new movie The Force Awakens. BB-8 is a bit of a chatterbox, but its (yes, its - BB-8 is androgynous, er, androidgynous, hee hee) ability to go extremely fast on its big wheel and thumbs-up scene reinforce what a good sidekick BB-8 is. But it hasn't exactly been the same kind of galactic hero as...

1. R2-D2
R2-D2. The ultimate best friend. This droid will do many things for you as a reliable sidekick, including but not limited to:

  • Starship repair
  • Watching over you at your bedside
  • Hiding secret information
  • Electrocuting foes
  • Flying to the rescue
This makes R2-D2 a good #1. Beep whoot ooo.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

May the Fourth Be With You!

Got this today from Star Wars Force for Change Initiative.


Top 10 Star Wars Sound Effects

10. Sando Aqua Monster
This is actually a baby crying, played very slowly. Ben Burtt (pictured above) created this sound and many of the others on this list.

9. Poggle
He speaks in clicks, burps, and farts, and all of these are gravelly. Poggle expresses a lot through just a few sounds...albeit disgusting ones, so he's not very high up on this list.

8. TIE Fighter
If Star Wars went by science, we wouldn't have this sound, for there is no sound in space. The high-pitched squeals of the TIE fighter make it haunting and spellbinding at the same time.

7. Podracer
Whether it's the loud engines of Sebulba's podracer or the sound of Quadinaros's podracer blowing up,
all podracer sounds are a modified version of an electric toothbrush. Yes, a toothbrush.

6. Seismic Charge
First, there's nothing. Then, a very loud something. Jango Fett's seismic charges are fear-inspiring and create a lasting impact, enough to make you work in the sound department.

5. Blaster
The blaster is one of the definitive sounds of Star Wars and science fiction in general (although in my opinion, Star Wars is fantasy, not sci-fi), being quick, high-pitched, and appropriately striking.

4. R2-D2 Beeping
R2-D2 expresses joy, sadness, and can even give the occasional sing-song response. Ben Burtt would create in beeps what he thought R2 was saying in English: "I'm hungry", or "Look out, the stormtroopers are coming", or "Gee, look at that explosion."

3. Darth Vader Breathing
This ominous sound helped restore George Lucas's faith in his villain and is synonymous with the iconic character.

2. Chewbacca
Another sound synonymous with the character. Chewbacca expresses many emotions through his growls, which are a combination of many animal sounds.

1. Lightsabers
The ultimate sound effect from a galaxy far, far away. The unique hum and clash of a lightsaber was developed by Ben Burtt using an elaborate sound machine, playing many different sounds at different pitches and speeds.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Top 10 Star Wars Lightsaber Battles (Movies Only)

10. Anakin and Obi-Wan vs. Dooku (Revenge of the Sith)
This is a great duel that shows many sides to Anakin, but Obi-Wan didn't do enough in it, and Palpatine telling Anakin to "do it" is just memetically weird.

9. Mace Windu vs. Palpatine (Revenge of the Sith)
The galaxy's phantom menace becomes real in this one, but what makes Mace Windu so much better and more steadfast than those three other Jedi Palpatine killed?

8. Yoda vs. Dooku (Attack of the Clones, pictured above)
Yoda's leaping style in this short little duel shows no one is a match for him. Yoda's mini-lightsaber is called a shoto. "Carry a shoto, I do."

7. Finn and Rey vs. Kylo Ren (The Force Awakens)
We had yet to see a duel in Star Wars in the middle of nature - they were always in some technological-looking setting. This duel in the snow is a memorable moment from the newest installment in Star Wars, but I still wished the music for it would have been better.

6. Yoda vs. Palpatine (Revenge of the Sith)
Yoda shows his mobile self in this duel as well, as he puts his immense Force powers to the test against the Emperor. I like how the end of this duel shows how strong Yoda's claws are, as he clings to and scrapes a Senate platform.

5. Obi-Wan vs. Darth Vader (Star Wars)
It's not the actual duel that makes this one interesting, but the emotional touches. Could it be more emotional with these two former friends meeting after so long? Perhaps with a flashback to their first battle...

4. Obi-Wan vs. Darth Vader (Revenge of the Sith)
Which is next on the list. This emotional lava duel is an incredible spectacle of visual effects. Only I wish Vader's lightsaber would have been red during this duel.

3. Luke vs. Darth Vader (Return of the Jedi)
This emotional conflict between a father and a son could have had more and better music, but is an appropriate ending to the film, but there's a goof that kind of screws it up. Vader's lightsaber blade has a shadow. Oops.

2. Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan vs. Darth Maul (The Phantom Menace)
This is how you set music to a lightsaber duel. Darth Maul is an incredible evil force, so much that it is a two-on-one fight and the Jedi still seem like the underdogs, and John Williams's "Duel of the Fates" score is incredibly good.

1. Luke vs. Darth Vader (The Empire Strikes Back)
When people hear the words "lightsaber duel", it's this one they think of, but like so many other duels on this list, I wish John Williams had scored it better, perhaps with a choral ensemble like "Duel of the Fates". The real reason this made the list, however is the ending of the duel, which is the stuff of legend. 

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Top 10 Star Wars Starfighters

10. Vulture Droid/Droid Starfighter
Is it a droid? Is it a starfighter? Actually it's both. It's one of the creepiest looking starfighters in Star Wars, and was also one of the first Star Wars Lego sets (set 7111 Droid Fighter - 1999)

9. Kom'rk Class Mandalorian Starfighter
Perfect for a terrorist group called Death Watch. These sleek Mandalorian starfighters pack a punch with their quick speed and excellent laser maneuverability.

8. ARC-170 Starfighter
This clone-piloted starfighter is seen in the Battle over Coruscant in Revenge of the Sith. It's a reliable ship that also needs two clones to pilot.

7. Y-Wing
The Y-Wing was first used by the Republic during the Clone Wars and eventually became part of the Rebel fleet. Its design makes it a good ship for any battle.

6. B-Wing
The B-Wing has a gyroscopic rotating cockpit and is the largest single-pilot starfighter in the Rebel fleet. It can fly up, down, left, and right, but hardly needs to turn to do it.

5. Jedi Starfighter
Jedi have chosen well with this design, which comes in Interceptor forms, regular pointed forms, and even a pod-like form for Yoda to pilot.

4. A-Wing
A-wings are small, speedy, and can destroy an Imperial Super Star Destroyer, as Return of the Jedi showed. Being small and speedy is something you should value in your starfighter.

3. Naboo Starfighter
This elegant ship is as sleek as the Kom'rk, and flies as well as a Podracer. Although I wish it didn't look so computer-generated...

2. X-Wing (seen above)
This starfighter is an iconic Star Wars space vehicle, and took down the first Death Star. X-wing pilots read like a "Who's Who" of Star Wars icons. All we can hope for is that Luke will pilot one again as an old man.

1. TIE Fighter
The fastest, most varied, and most incredible starfighter Star Wars has ever produced. There's the regular TIE, the Darth Vader TIE Advanced, the Double TIE, the TIE Interceptor...I could go on, but it's time to TIE this list up.

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