Tag Archives: Star Wars

Amazon Daily Deals Goes ‘Star Wars’ Crazy on May the Fourth (Be With You)

Daily Deals 050416

Apparently someone inside Amazon is very aware of today’s date, and has programmed the Daily Deals accordingly. Check out just some of the Star Wars-related stuff (much of it kitchen gadgets) on special sale today:

Star Wars Death Star Kitchen Timer for $14.

Star Wars Lightsaber BBQ Tongs With Sounds for $24.

Star Wars Death Star Spatula for $12.

Star Wars Lightsaber Bottle Opener With Sounds for $20.

Angry Birds Star Wars AT-AT Attack Battle Game for $17.

There’s loads more, so click through and take a look around.

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Happy Family Day, Ontario (And Everyone Else)

Happy Family Day to all my peeps in Ontario (Canada)!  First celebrated in 2008, Family Day takes place on the third Monday of every February and is intended to give working parents a day dedicated to spending quality time with their families. Today marks the third annual Family Day in Ontario (Alberta and Saskatchewan also recognize the holiday) and I hope everyone has a chance to enjoy the day.

My family doesn’t have a whole lot planned for Family Day this year. We’re in the midst of a major home reno (work began a few weeks ago and walls on the main floor start coming down on Friday), so we’re a little limited in what we can do at the moment. Moving is always a pain, but I’ve discovered that this is possibly worse -much of the house still has to be packed up so it’s not really accessible, but there’s a generous smattering of drywall dust everywhere. My poor hard drives… It’s snowing right now, so I think we’ll grab the sleds and walk to the local toboggan hill for an hour or two. I also have a LEGO Millenium Falcon set sitting in the van (no, not that one) that we might tackle. Maybe some assemble-your-own nachos, a roaring fire, hot chocolate and a movie will round the day out. If I have enough energy and I can find the cookie sheets, I’ll bake enough cookies to be able to throw a few containers in the freezer and keep me going through the coming “no oven or stove access” weeks. Then it’s back to packing up what’s left of the kitchen and looking forward to a few weeks of nightly BBQing…

Family Day at the ROM.       Image from the Royal Ontario Museum.

Family Day at the ROM. Image from the Royal Ontario Museum.

If you live in Ontario and you’re looking for some last minute ideas for family activities today, here are a few possibilities:

  • Ottawa: The Museum of Civilization and the War Museum are offering free admission for kids under 18 (one child per adult) today. Winterlude is also underway.
  • The Toronto Zoo is offering free admission on Monday for kids under 12 who bring a valentine for their favorite bug (one child per adult). The Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto is including Mesozoic Monsters with museum admission
  • Victoria Park in London is offering a free Family Day Skate, all day on Monday and Circle R Ranch is holding an open house with free hay rides and hot chocolate.
  • Waterloo Public Square in Waterloo has a free family skate along with a food fair, magician, music, face painting and additional activities.
  • Geeky dads and moms in Hamilton might want to check out the Family Day Toy and Collectible Show/Sale that promises Star Wars toys, action figures and plenty of other interesting ways to spend a little money (admission $2, kids under 10 are free).
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This Week in the Clone Wars: Duchess Satine Goes Rogue

Satine is pursued by a member of the mysterious Death Watch in “Duchess of Mandalore,” an all-new episode of STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS premiering at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT Friday, February 12 on Cartoon Network. TM & © 2010 Lucasfilm Ltd. All rights reserved.

Satine is pursued by a member of the mysterious Death Watch in “Duchess of Mandalore,” an all-new episode of STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS premiering at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT Friday, February 12 on Cartoon Network. TM & © 2010 Lucasfilm Ltd. All rights reserved.

This is the third episode of the Deathwatch story arc on Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and Duchess Satine Kryze is in more trouble than ever. As the dissident Mandalorian faction Deathwatch ramps up their efforts to assassinate her, Duchess Satine takes the investigation into her own hands.

Anna Graves, who voices Satine, admires her character’s stand for peace:

“Satine is struggling with many fires now, and trying to keep them from merging into one large inferno that can’t be put out. . . . She wants peace above all else, and will shout it as loud as she can. Historical pacifists are often met with more hatred and violence, but that seems to push someone like Satine to fight for peace even harder. I think with any culture that idolizes war and violence, some people will naturally rebel against that traditional way of thinking and focus their efforts on peace and tranquility. I’m sure a lot of people agree with her views, but I’m sure there are just as many who don’t. Her neutrality in The Clone Wars is such a beautiful cry for love and peace, which throughout history has upset those who idolize power and control.”

She does admit, though, that the real appeal of the Mandalore plot is less with the pacifist Duches and more with her would-be assassins:

“I see Mandalore as an old world, full of history and tradition. After years of glimpses into Mandalorian lore, it’s exciting to get new facts and faces. . . . Every fan has their own reasons for loving Mandalore, but Boba Fett opened the door with his intriguing armor and history as a bounty hunter. I know fans will want to hear more about Death Watch – and those who oppose them. To be a small part of that history is so exciting. Add a little Mandalorian-Jedi romance, and that’s good stuff!”

Here’s the clip:

It’s noteworthy that, as viewers, we’re in more or less the same position as Deathwatch: spoiling for a fight between the Republic and the armored warriors.

The episode premieres Friday at 9pm Eastern on The Cartoon Network


These Are the Folds You’re Looking For: Star Wars Origami

Hubert de Lartigues Millennium Falcon Origami

Hubert de Lartigue's Millennium Falcon Origami

Hubert de Lartigue takes Parisian subway tickets and turns them into Star Wars ships–the Millennium Falcon, X-wing fighters, TIE fighters, and imperial shuttles have all come under the loving touch of his x-acto knife.  At de Lartigue’s website, you can find tutorials for the X-wing and the Millennium Falcon. (The latter a mere 9 pages long!)

While the Paris locale adds a touch of class to de Lartigue’s creations, there are many, many cool Star Wars origami projects out there:

Got a favorite sci-fi origami image?  Link to it in comments.


Chewie Says: “Lots of Snowwwwrrggh!”

Centimeters v. inches? Meters v. feet?

Come on, we’re GeekDads. We measure snow a little differently. May I present the soon-to-be-galactically-adopted Giant Vintage Kenner Chewbacca Scale.

Image: John Booth

Image: John Booth

Chewie reported to his post around 9:00 p.m. EST Friday, Feb. 5, when the above photo was taken. (For the record, there was virtually no snow on the ground Friday morning.)

At 5:45 a.m. EST Saturday, Feb. 6, everybody’s favorite Wookiee was little more than a snowbump on the Hoth plains, thanks to the big storm that moved through overnight.

Image: John Booth

Image: John Booth

“Grrrrrgmph!”

(Translation: “Hey, Han? Next time, YOU be the [Wookiee expletive] decoy.”)


This Week in The Clone Wars: Obi-Wan’s Got a Past

Obi-Wan Kenobi and Duchess Satine Kryze of Mandalore prepare to fend off an attack in “Voyage of Temptation,” an all-new episode of STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS premiering at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT Friday, February 5 on Cartoon Network. TM & © 2010 Lucasfilm Ltd. All rights reserved.

Obi-Wan Kenobi and Duchess Satine Kryze of Mandalore prepare to fend off an attack in “Voyage of Temptation,” an all-new episode of STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS premiering at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT Friday, February 5 on Cartoon Network. TM & © 2010 Lucasfilm Ltd. All rights reserved.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars has long suggested that Anakin Skywalker is not the only Jedi to struggle with attachment. The relationship between a Padawan and master can produce attachments that must be overcome, as Ahsoka has been learning. The series has also occasionally hinted that Obi-Wan might not be wholly unsympathetic to Anakin’s predicament. (Readers of the Jedi Apprentice series will hardly be shocked at the idea of Obi-Wan in a relationship.) Those hints are dragged out into the open in this week’s episode, “Voyage of Temptation.”

It turns out that Obi-Wan and the Mandalorian Duchess Satine Kryze have a history, and their trip to Coruscant, dodging Separatist assassin droids all the way, provides ample opportunity to pick at old wounds:

Series writer Henry Gilroy explains that the idea of showing Obi-Wan struggling with attachment was a powerful one–in part because one would have to imagine a woman powerful enough in her own right to elicit his interest:

“I always wondered what would happen if Obi-Wan had been put in the same position as Anakin – specifically meeting and falling in love with a woman. . . . Would he be able to maintain his vow to the Jedi at the cost of true love? We know how Anakin dealt with this, but how would Obi-Wan fare against the same temptation? I think a lot of people have had relationships that never really got a chance to flourish, and there’s always that ‘what if…’ sort of feeling. Even people in healthy, happy relationships ponder their old flames and think about what might have been. I think it really broadens Obi-Wan as a character. He’s revealed as a man – someone we relate to because he has romantic feelings like the rest of us, even though he’s a Jedi.

Satine’s a formidable woman in all regards – extremely intelligent, incorruptible, passionate and beautiful, with a great devotion to peace. She might come off as stuffy, but that is because she knows she’s in a den of wolves and must appear powerful and unshakable. . . . Throughout history, some of the most powerful figures – like Gandhi and Dr. King – were pacifists who literally changed the world by refusing to fight. There’s so much fighting in The Clone Wars; when someone is brave enough to speak up to try and stop it, that voice becomes like a light in the darkness, strong and memorable. Satine’s resolved to always use peaceful means to end conflicts. The Jedi are peacekeepers, but they carry swords; if they have to use violence to end conflict, they will. That’s unacceptable to Satine; she believes that if you bring a weapon to negotiations, you don’t want peace. So, she’s upset that the Jedi have allowed themselves to be drawn into the war, because it is everything that they are supposed to be against.”

Despite all the talk of pacifism and of smoldering loves, there are also some excellent battle sequences. They’re small, but assassin probes are a difficult opponent for Anakin and the clones:

“Voyage of Temptation” airs Friday at 9pm on the Cartoon Network.


The 10 Most Useful Gadgets From Science Fiction and Comics

Photo by Mogi Vicentini; used under Creative Commons Attribution license.

Photo by Mogi Vicentini; used under Creative Commons Attribution license.

Every geek occasionally suffers from gadget envy. Even if you’re such an early adopter that you’re already waiting in line to get an iPad, your personal collection of gadgetry is limited by that pesky thing we call “reality.” Go ahead, tell me you haven’t, while watching Star Trek, thought about how handy it would be to have a transporter. And who hasn’t — usually right after saying or doing something stupid, or upon seeing a long shot win a race — wished he had a time machine?

So here, then, is a list of the top ten most useful gadgets from science fiction and comic books. I’ve restricted myself to one gizmo per source, because I could write a whole list based only on Star Trek or Star Wars, for examples. And I’ve also tried to focus on devices that would be useful without being incredibly dangerous — hence, no lightsaber (because you know you’d slice off an important body part thirty seconds after turning it on), no time machine (because paradoxes have that whole destroying-the space-time-continuum problem Doc Brown warned us about), and no transporter (because, as awesome as the idea is, I’m with Dr. McCoy that being disassembled and reassembled sounds rife with potential for serious problems). Oh, and James Bond movies are just too easy to use as source material, so they’re out as well.

10. The gesture computer interface from Minority Report - Was there any geek who saw this film who didn’t feel a bit disappointed when he came home and sat down at his gesture-ignoring computer? The interface was seriously cool, and, unlike many (if not most) futuristic computer interfaces in movies, actually seemed like it might be usable.

9. Mr. Fusion from the Back to the Future movies - I know the folks who made the trilogy threw Mr. Fusion in at the end of the first film because it was funny, and then were forced to stick with it when making parts II and III. But it raises some serious questions, like: If they have a device in the future that can create a fusion reaction powerful enough to generate (at least) 1.21 gigawatts of electricity out of a few pounds of garbage, why the heck do they still use gasoline in their cars? (We know they do, because not only does the DeLorean still use gas after its “hover conversion,” but we also see a Texaco station being run by robots.)

8. KITT from Knight Rider - OK, so calling this “science fiction” is a bit of a stretch, but, really, KITT rocked. Speaking from my own experience, I think most guys who watched Knight Rider wanted to be Michael Knight not so much because David Hasselhoff was that handsome or awesome, but because he got to ride in KITT. Granted, KITT’s AI frequently made him annoying, but mostly he did cool James Bond-type stuff, but was even cooler than any of Bond’s cars. And he was voiced by William Daniels, which is also pretty cool.

7. The sonic screwdriver from Doctor Who - Sure, it’s a classic deus ex machina, which is why the writers (wisely) try not to have the Doctor use it too often. But consider that, while having a frequently-used deus ex machina in a TV show is a bad thing, it would be astonishingly useful to have one in real life. I, for one, would be perfectly willing to have a device that could get me out of pretty much any trouble in which I might find myself, no matter how dull that might be for those watching me.

6. Iron Man’s armor - There’s a part of me that, intellectually, knows that there’s no feasible way to make such a suit without it being crushingly heavy. Then there’s the part of me that really, really wants it to actually exist, especially the version that outflew the jets. That would completely be worth wearing a heavy metal suit, though has it ever occurred to anyone to consider how incredibly inconvenient it would be to be Iron Man and have to use the bathroom?

5. The Green Lantern Corps power ring - The whole ineffectual-against-yellow thing aside, the GLC power rings are indisputably kickass. I mean, you can even use a power ring to create another power ring, which should set off a few alarm bells for anyone with even an elementary knowledge of physics, but that ability  just makes it even more awesome. And, really, there are enough loopholes to get around the yellow thing. It does lead one to wonder, though: Would a jar of mustard be an effective weapon against the GLC? Inquiring minds want to know.

4. The universal translator from Star Trek - How incredible is the Star Trek universal translator? It’s so incredible that it even beats out the Babel Fish, since the latter only works one way. Of course, it’s clear to anyone with half a brain that the device was only invented (essentially as a retcon) because it allowed the writers to avoid including a scene dealing with language differences in practically every episode. But consider how incredibly useful it would be, even if it would send every interpreter on Earth to the unemployment office.

3. The neuralizer from Men in Black - Who hasn’t wanted to be able to modify someone else’s memory, or his own? It would be very, very easy to go wild with one of these, of course, so they would have to be restricted only to people with impeccable ethics. But think how convenient it would be: “Honey, look here for a second. [FLASH] I didn’t forget our anniversary. In fact, I brought you breakfast in bed, and gave you your gift first thing in the morning… and it was wrapped really well!” Of course the movies didn’t address the question of what you should do if the person whose memory you want to rewrite happens to be wearing sunglasses, but that’s a minor quibble.

2. R2-D2 from Star Wars (obviously) - C3PO is an irritating, bumbling fool when you get right down to it. R2-D2, on the other hand, is smart, funny, and astonishingly useful. He’s got attachments galore, and can hack into any computer anywhere just by plugging into it. He’s got enough room to store your lightsaber, should you need him to, and consider: if he can do partial repairs on an X-Wing in mid flight, think what he could do with your car!

1. The matter compiler from Neal Stephenson’s The Diamond Age - It’s essentially the same as the replicator from Star Trek, but I don’t want to violate my one-item-per-source rule. (See also Charles Stross’s Singularity Sky, with its cornucopia machine.) A machine such as this would have  countless uses — and imagine the ads: “You thought it was quick and easy making coffee from a one-use pod! Now just say ‘Coffee, Kona, hot, with half-and-half,’ and there you have it!”

What didn’t I list that I should have? Please leave a comment.


This Week in The Clone Wars: Mandalorians (Finally!) and Jon Favreau

Mandalorian warriors prepare for battle in “The Mandalore Plot,” an all-new episode of STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS premiering at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT Friday, January 29 on Cartoon Network. TM & © 2010 Lucasfilm Ltd. All rights reserved.

Mandalorian warriors prepare for battle in “The Mandalore Plot,” an all-new episode of STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS premiering at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT Friday, January 29 on Cartoon Network. TM & © 2010 Lucasfilm Ltd. All rights reserved.

Since Season Two was pitched as “Rise of the Bounty Hunters,” and since the iconic Star Wars bounty hunters are probably Jango and Boba Fett, there has been a palpable desire for Mandalorian characters. This week, with “The Mandalore Plot,” the wait is finally over, as a three-episode story reveals much more detail about the warrior culture.

According to Dave Filoni, Supervising Director of The Clone Wars, the first thing to remember is that we don’t really know that much about the Mandalorians yet:

“people immediately think of the iconic Fett armor, because that’s all we’ve had to go on for so many years; it’s mysterious, and we’ve built up that mystique as fans. But Boba and Jango Fett aren’t necessarily what I would consider accurate representatives of the Mando culture. They’re bounty hunters and outlaws – totally rogue. If you go way back to the original concepts, the Mandalorians were a group of supercommando troops; it’s only now that George is really bringing that to the screen. They’re in the series because he wanted to define their culture, to explore the foundations of this warrior faction.”

That phrase “warrior faction” is important: Karen Traviss had already said back in December that the Mandalorians were being ret-conned as a pacifist culture.

Apparently, though, fans weren’t the only ones anxious to see a proper Mandalorian-Jedi battle. Filoni reports that this has been a desire of the crew since the earliest days of the show:

“This was a running joke among the crew early in the production. . . A lot of people on the crew wanted to see the Mandalorians – especially our head writer, Henry Gilroy – but they were off-limits to us at the time. George definitely has a sense of pace, and of a natural order for Star Wars storytelling; plus, it’s his universe, so we had to set aside our Mando ideas for the time being. Ultimately, though, he came back around and gave us his blueprint for how he wanted to see the Mandalorian culture represented, which is great because they bring so much to the conflict. The first season was pretty straightforward; we had the Republic versus the Separatists. But now we have these splinter groups – like the Mandos, the bounty hunters, and the Geonosians – who each bring something totally different to the table.”

Any episode arc featuring the Mandalorians was going to be highly-anticipated; the fact that Jon Favreau is the voice of the lead Mandalorian tightens the screw one notch more:

“I had mentioned that I would love to do a voice, and that I’d done voices before – and the idea for me to play a Mandalorian came up. I wasn’t holding out for a cool character, but I think the Mandalorians are probably the ones that the die-hards are going to be the most curious about . . . I grew up a fan of Star Wars. It was the first time I had ever experienced that really iconic, mythic archetypal storytelling. What’s fun about Star Wars is that it still has as much relevance and impact now as it did then. It seems to be a set of characters and a world that is timeless, and every generation seems to embrace. So it’s fun to be able to share with my family and my kids the excitement that I had when I was young.”

Here’s the clip:


Dueling Star Wars LEGO Chess Sets

Flickr user Levork / Creative Commons Licensed

Flickr user Levork / Creative Commons Licensed

Great minds really do think alike. Here are several awesome Star Wars-themed chess sets built out of LEGO bricks:

If you build a set, be sure to share it in the GeekDad Flickr pool so we can all enjoy!


This Week in The Clone Wars: Ahsoka’s Lost Lightsaber

Ahsoka Tano realizes that her Jedi weapon has been stolen in “Lightsaber Lost,” an all-new episode of STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS premiering at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT Friday, January 22 on Cartoon Network. TM & © 2010 Lucasfilm Ltd. All rights reserved.

Ahsoka Tano realizes that her Jedi weapon has been stolen in “Lightsaber Lost,” an all-new episode of STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS premiering at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT Friday, January 22 on Cartoon Network. TM & © 2010 Lucasfilm Ltd. All rights reserved.

The last several episodes of Star Wars: The Clone Wars have been jam-packed with high-quality battles. But it wouldn’t be the Star Wars Universe if you didn’t take a break every now and again for some pseudo-mystical spirituality, in which a galaxy far, far away starts to sound a bit like the home of California-style New Age gurus.

Enter this week’s episode, “Lightsaber Lost,” in which Ahsoka Tano’s lightsaber is stolen and she must turn to the much older Jedi, Tera Sinube, to navigate the criminal underworld of Coruscant and recover it.  Along the way, Sinube tries to moderate Ahsoka’s headstrong manner, which she’s been perfecting under Anakin.

Clone Wars supervising director Dave Filoni plays up the spiritual/psychological development angle in this episode:

“To a certain extent, audiences are coming to expect the combat storylines from the series, but there’s a lot more to Star Wars than the war itself; I think this episode really resonates because it captures a particularly nostalgic aspect. We got to focus on aspects that don’t get as much screen time when we’re in the middle of a battle . . . It’s also interesting to look at the various influences on Ahsoka from a different perspective. She’s being trained by Anakin, who eventually becomes Darth Vader. It’s an interesting dynamic, because we don’t necessarily know what happens to her – except for the fact that she doesn’t appear in Episode III. Because we see her in these high-intensity situations, it’s easy to forget that she’s still a child and that she’s impressionable. She’s definitely still learning – from Anakin, but also from her own experiences, from her mistakes, from those around her. She’s making her own choices, deciding her own values. How that will affect her ultimate destiny remains to be seen. When we screened this episode for the crew, almost everyone ranked it among their favorites for the season; I think it’s because it stirs up some of those questions, and in a way that has a distinct Star Wars feel.”

Meanwhile, the director of “Lightsaber Lost,” Giancarlo Volpe, stresses that the episode’s funny, as well as spiritual:

“Comedy belongs in Star Wars as much as anything . . . Filmmaking actually plays a lot off of contrast – such as the contrast between a wicked villain and a benevolent hero, or between slow, emotional scenes and really fast-paced action. The more you emphasize one side, the more extreme the other becomes. They work hand in hand. I think if Clone Wars always took itself too seriously, it would no longer feel like the movies.

[Tera Sinube is] efinitely a caricature of his own philosophy. He keeps telling Ahsoka she’s too frantic and moving too fast. She needs to slow down and really listen to her intuition, and trust her feelings.  We played that up in everything from the way he moves to the way he talks . . . To me, it’s very much like Obi-Wan telling Luke to trust his feelings, and to use the Force during the attack on the Death Star. Ahsoka is so anxious about getting her lightsaber back, her own anxiety interferes with her ability to track it down. When she stops and calms herself, the truth is revealed. That’s great stuff! It’s just one of those classic spiritual aspects of Star Wars that I can’t get enough of.”

Here’s the clip!