Friday, May 25, 2007

Don't underestimate the Force.

Star Wars.

Were the horrible prequel triology not now a permanent part of the story there isn't a doubt on my mind that I'd want to say something today to mark the anniversary of the release of that first film thirty (thirty!) years ago. As it was I almost let the date pass. Almost. Then I read this really heartfelt ode to that wonderful first film and started to reflect and then, finally, to get quite a bit nostalgic.

I remember vividly remember seeing Star Wars as a kid. For my birthday my parents rented a van and took a bunch of my classmates and me to a showing at the now defunct Westgate cinemas. I'd seen a few movies before then but it was still unreal that we had to wait in line for over an hour just to see a movie. The sense of anticipation was crazy.

Everything after the point film started, the lights dimmed and the Twentieth Century Fox came up with those drums played and the end credits over John Williams greatest score is a blur. I remember this film as the first movie that had completely captured my imagination. At no point was I sitting there in a dirty theater with spilled pop and popcorn on the floor- I WAS in a galaxy far, far away having all sorts of adventures with Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and their sidekicks. It was an out of body experience.

I had an older friend named Larry who passed away a couple of years ago of whom which we shared a mutual, and lifetime love of film. Larry had an extensive collection of hand written lists he asked people to write over the years listing their top ten films. I asked Larry one time what was the film that really hooked him on cinema and why. He answered that his favorite move "Shane" had been the first film that had really hit him when he saw it as a child and that "it was the first time I had an out of body experience."

Regardless of the lousy prequels, Jar Jar and the sad, sad decline of George Lucas I still owe Star Wars something very important to who I am. My love of film is a direct result of the imagination and effort of Lucas, Williams and company those thirty years ago. For that I am immensly greatful.

May the force be with you.


Thursday, May 24, 2007

If you want to survive out here, you've got to know where your towel is.

Friday Towel Blogging.

Today is the anniversary of the death of the greatest man the universe has ever had the temerity to squat out- Douglas Adams.

In memory of this great man don't forget to take your towel with you wherever you go.

If you have a minute you might want to play a little bit of the Infocom Text Adventure based on the book. The "Babel Fish" puzzle is universally considered to be the hardest puzzle ever included in a computer game.

(I made that last bit up but it's true.)

Then don't forget to drink a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster in memory of Douglas.

Look! I have one job on this lousy ship, it's *stupid*, but I'm gonna do it! Okay?

In the off chance you haven't seen this already - Olbermann is spot on is right; they were elected to one thing.

They've failed.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

If you want to join the People's Front of Judea, you have to really hate the Romans.

I realized yesterday that although my outrage meter on George W. Bush has long sense maxed out, I still have room for plenty of outrage aimed at Democrats in congress. I am simply livid that they caved to Bush on the Iraq supplemental and basically gave him everything he wanted to let him push this disaster onto the lap of the next President.

There's a whole hell of a lot to say about this and how it's a fundamental betrayal of the will of the American people not to mention just plain stupid politics when dealing with a President as unpopular as Bush, but I just want to address one little canard that crawled out of the mud yesterday - Nicholas Beaudrot's much talked about contention that this is a direct result of Democrats taking power through the election of moderates in Republican districts.

Put aside the dubious methodology to Beaudrot uses to come to this conclusion the bottom line is it's completely irrelevant how Democrats won the last election. What's important is that there was a referendum on George W. Bush and his execution of the war in Iraq. Can anybody name any other national issue that was debated in every district in the country? Can anybody seriously argue that the message voters sent to our leaders was to get our boys the hell out of that quagmire?

Democratic congressmen of all stripes - moderates, liberals, conservatives or martian - were put in power to end this stupid fucking war. Democratic politicians like Pelosi and Reid who fail in that fundamental task aren't just sticking their finger in the eyes of the Democratic base, they're giving the majority of Americans the finger.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Walter, you're wonderful, in a loathsome sort of way.

It's not often that I feel the need to comment on the death of a famous businessman but I was saddened to hear that local tire legend Les Schwab. The couple of bios I've read focused on Schwab's involvement in the community, focus of keeping the corporate headquarters in rural Oregon and commitment to sharing the profits of his company with his workers. All admirable stuff.

But the thing that sticks out in my mind when I think of Schwab's company more than those things is their commitment to providing excellent service to customers. The company stands head and shoulders above any other company I can think of when it comes to provide quality service. In today's world that's just unheard of.

A few years ago the Missus and I were visiting a small Washington burg on a Sunday when the breaks went out on our car. We were able to make it to a Les Schwab that was closing with only a couple of employees left. After explaining the situation to the guys they re-opened the shop just for us and repaired our brakes, only charging us cost and not overtime and refusing tips. That led to one of the only letters I've ever written to a company praising their service.

I wish more American companies followed Schwab's model for service. I'm keeping my finger's crossed that his death doesn't lead to a downturn in such service at the company he ran so successfully.