ps238principal (ps238principal) wrote,

He wants our memories to have a "Special Edition," too...

I talk to a great many people who dislike any bad-mouthing of George Lucas and what he does with his own creation, the Star Wars franchise. However, I don't know anyone who thought the alteration of the scene involving Greedo being redone so that Han Solo didn't shoot first was a good idea. Han was a pirate, a smuggler, and, let's face it, a criminal. His journey from hooligan to hero is one of the best things about the Star Wars saga, and Lucas didn't do any favors to his work by changing it. That's practically ancient history, but there's a new twist. Now, Lucas is claiming that Han never shot first. He says:

"The controversy over who shot first, Greedo or Han Solo, in Episode IV, what I did was try to clean up the confusion, but obviously it upset people because they wanted Solo [who seemed to be the one who shot first in the original] to be a cold-blooded killer, but he actually isn’t. It had been done in all close-ups and it was confusing about who did what to whom. I put a little wider shot in there that made it clear that Greedo is the one who shot first, but everyone wanted to think that Han shot first, because they wanted to think that he actually just gunned him down."

First up, George, you can re-do and re-master and re-shoot your films all you want, but don't try to start claiming we've always been at war with Eurasia. Secondly, we fans don't want Solo "to be a cold-blooded killer." What we want is to see how a person goes from being a self-centered felon who works for the intergalactic mob to being a leader in a struggle to overthrow an evil empire. Instead, you want us to think he's all about fair play while he traffics stolen goods and who knows what else? As exhibit B that he's trying to alter the timeline, here's an excerpt from the original 1976 script for A New Hope:

HAN: Even I get boarded sometimes. Do you think I had a choice?

Han Solo slowly reaches for his gun under the table.

GREEDO: You can tell that to Jabba. He may only take your ship.

HAN: Over my dead body.

GREEDO: That's the idea. I've been looking forward to killing you for
a long time.

HAN: Yes, I'll bet you have.

       Suddenly the slimy alien disappears in a blinding flash of
       light. Han pulls his smoking gun from beneath the table as the
       other patron look on in bemused amazement. Han gets up and
       starts out of the cantina, flipping the bartender some coins
       as he leaves.

HAN: Sorry about the mess.

So Han was drawing his gun and expecting that Greedo would miss, then he'd pull the trigger? Even law enforcement shoots when they get the chance if a gun is being waved in their face, and I'm pretty sure that Solo is about as far from a cop as you can get without giving him a Thompson in a violin case. What's truly mystifying about this whole thing is why Lucas isn't doing what I'd expect: Embracing the love people had for that scene as something he meant to do, that it's his gift as a master storyteller on display as a perfect moment of establishing a character. Maybe he's got this weird "heroes must always be heroes even when they're criminals" thing in his brain that won't let him ever see Han as anything but the General for the Rebellion he eventually becomes. I'm almost thinking someone could make a great "Brewster's Millions" version of Lucas' life, where a schlub inherits some amazing empire built on a nerdy sci-fi franchise, but to collect on the billions it's generated, he has 30 days to make everyone hate said franchise. If anyone wants to start filming, be sure to save the footage in its raw form so you can add a bunch of CGI to it later for the "special edition."

I'm now too exhausted to say much about the revival in the works for Space: 1999 2099. I predict that at least one villain in the show will be defeated by Spider-Man 2099. If not, the writers need to be fired. :)

Moving on, in my travels around Skyrim as I "scout locations" for Interrupt Request, I'm getting the feeling that Bethesda may have over reached a bit on how their engine and game mechanics can handle what they want to let you do. Specifically, I'm referring to becoming an assassin with the Dark Brotherhood. I'm probably going to skip those missions for IRQ, but they're interesting for some parts of the story structure (along with the bits where you're in an iron coffin). The Dark Brotherhood does have a few odd practices for an organization devoted to killing for hire; If you're a secretive and shadowy bunch, having a distinctive uniform that's presumably to be used "on the job" probably is a sign you need to re-think the whole "secretive" thing. Also, "assassination" can be anything from a high one-handed weapon skill + dagger + sneak attack (which is pretty expected) to what I'd call the "unskilled but willing to try" school of assassination, which is often much noisier and has more undesired attention involved. No experience? The Dark Brotherhood is hiring (as is everyone else, so maybe it's a regional thing)! I did find it odd you couldn't ever use disguises or even factional dress as in Fallout New Vegas, which would have not only made infiltration more fun, it would have made it seem more "real." Nobody seemed to question when I showed up to impersonate someone or pass myself off as a soldier while dressed in the robes of an archmage and an ancient stone mask that boosted my powers.

But the assassin quests highlight something I like about Skyrim: No morality scoring system. While I always strive to keep my karma in Fallout high, as it generally gets you more loot/good stuff in the long run, not having it in this game makes my decisions more poignant. I don't have a preset notification system that awards me "good" and "bad" points for doing things, so I have to decide based on my own if I want to ally myself with people who kill strangers for money. Also, I'm not penalized for doing something that I consider to actually be in line with goals I've pursued as "good." For example, in the assassins quests, I'm eventually given the chance to take out a really, really important political leader. In Fallout, assassination of this sort would probably be a "Bad Karma" activity, but I'd spent time earlier in the game fighting against this guy's armies. I figure that ending his existence would be within my character's scope (though signing up with the Dark Brotherhood in the first place might not have been, I guess). It's kind of like finding a game with no repeated combat taunts; you start to think that maybe less is more in some cases.

After my voice returned and I was no coughing like a chronic smoker who'd just gotten a face full of fresh-ground pepper and mold spores, I was able to record and edit the fifth Interrupt Request episode. My "special guest" who joins in about halfway through was fun to have along, though it made combat difficult. Also, if anyone is concerned, my setup doesn't allow him to actually hear the game as it goes, so mostly he gets into the scenery and strange people running past... and "falling asleep." Maybe at some point I can let him listen in, as soon as I can find a headphone line splitter and get him to agree to wearing any kind of headphones (at low volume, of course).

By the way, these videos aren't just a way that I can come up with a "legitimate" excuse for playing video games. They're to get me used to uploading stuff that I have a more personal hand in via some kind of performance. I'm also hoping that I can get to some decent level of speaking skill if I have to listen to myself without resorting to some kind of dull course in how to run one's mouth. I've got another video project idea in mind, and this one would be completely original. However, I need to do some green screen work, and Adobe products aren't working for me. I've followed the tutorials but it's not working for some reason. I could still tinker with it, but I'm wondering if there's simpler or more straightforward application out there that doesn't have so many bells and whistles that I don't really need. I've heard Sony Vegas is good, as is iMovie, but I don't have a Mac, so... anything out there from freeware to "it came with my camera" to "it's expensive, but any idiot can use it" to suggest? Thanks in advance!

- So that whole space core mod thing for Skyrim might be more than just an amusing item for your inventory. There's a suspicion that it may lead to a Portal 2-themed quest, somewhere. Now if only we can get a shout of "Fus Ro SPAAAAAACE!"
- Speaking of science, here's a page of images and a sales video for an IBM cold war era defense system. It's kind of like the hulking old man to the W.O.P.R. computer from Wargames.
- Errors of Reflection is a "spot the difference" game, except the nearly-identical scenes are shown as reflections of one another.
- There's no concrete studies that Minecraft players are obsessive in any way, even if they're trying to build a scale model of Azeroth
- I've seen a great many things done with old VW Microbuses, but this was a new one for me.
- Concept cars are so passe. So instead, here's a gallery of concept flying cars. The "flying" part is also largely conceptual, so just enjoy them the same way you might enjoy vehicles from The 5th Element or something similar.
- This, also, is concept art, but I can see some intrepid modder making it reality in short order: The Xbox of Bag End.
- Deciding that he's not going to come back, the FBI has released Steve Jobs' FBI file. I'm sure mine will eventually just say "Who?"
- Yes, it's a Gawker site, and the language is hyperbolic in the use of the title "Death Stars," but it's still rather disturbing that airspace has been opened up to drone traffic, which could be everything from a live Google Street View to pretty much anyone else.
- If Steven Moffat really wants to give his fans the biggest present they could ask for, this would be the trailer for it.
- Double Fine, the company lauded for their imaginative video game, Psychonauts, has hit $1 million with its kickstarter campaign to fund a new adventure game.
- Here's a good way to start the weekend: Super Mario Bros Crossover 2.0. Play Super Mario Bros as any number of classic Nintendo characters... if you can. Some heroes just aren't made for the Mushroom Kingdom.
Tags: bad ideas, george lucas, greedo, han solo, movie making, reboots, skyrim, space 1999, star wars
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The scary thing about Double Fine's $1 million Kickstarter thing isn't that they got the money.. it's that they got the money IN ONE DAY. Within about eight hours, they had reached their $400K goal, and then the internet got wind of things.

I think the hope among the internetsia* is that if they show love to Double Fine, then they will make Psychonauts 2, especially with Notch saying he's willing to throw his hat into the ring.

*I may have just coined a new word.
Kickstarter is such an appealing concept. I want to try it out at some point, but I want all my ducks in a row before I do.

I really hope nobody figures out how to corporatize or mess it up; it's looking like a really good model for bypassing a lot of editorial and middleman red tape that would keep otherwise interesting projects from happening.
As for flying cars, I'm personally rather fond of the design of the Moller Skycar, which is an ACTUAL flying car, albiet one in development hell.

Not so much the current iteration, with the folding wings, but the previous ones where it just had the four double turbines.


February 10 2012, 16:57:05 UTC 4 years ago Edited:  February 10 2012, 17:00:07 UTC

Which Moller Skycar, there have been about 20 different variations, at least 5 different companies and at least one SEC investigation and a hefty fine and an injuction from trading. Even if Moller ever was interested in flying cars back in the 60's, for a long time it's just been a scam to suck in starry eyed idealists with more money than sense.
I've always been wondering where the efficiency comes in. I thought it would be cool if we had flying/hovering cars that wouldn't need paved streets per se, so that interstates could be made of whatever we wanted so long as it was flat (like grass, zen garden gravel, etc.) and that would save us a bundle on energy needed for construction/maintenance. I do keep seeing interesting ideas about using roads for incidental energy generation from solar collection or cars having special tires with electricity pickups, but neither that nor the cars what soar seem to ever get their act together completely.
The only real benefit is that there's much less congestion. With high-rises, population scales in 3 dimensions, while ability to drive around only scales in 2 dimensions. You can mitigate this a bit by using Tokyo-style stacked freeways, but there's a reason driving downtown in most large cities sucks.

With flying cars, a road twice as wide can carry four times as much traffic over a given span, rather than two times.

That said, the energy cost of keeping a car on top of a road is zero. The energy cost of keeping an aircraft in the air, is much more than zero. Likewise the energy cost of generating acceleration in a car by using tires to exert force on the *entire planet*, is much less than the energy cost of generating thrust by moving air aft very quickly.

There are loopholes in this argument; you could imagine an air corridor that's one big solenoid magnet dragging cars along with an alternating field, for instance, which gets around the "using air for thrust" problem. But that has its own difficulties (resistive losses or cryostat losses for the coils, and the fact that you're induction-heating everything in the corridor that isn't extremely well shielded, to start with).

Long story short, there's a reason cars weren't replaced with ultralight aircraft or helicopters decades ago. Both of those proposals were floated; the concept art is quite amusing.
Oh, I never said it wasn't vaporware... though he's got prototypes aplenty, some of which have performed well in the ground tests. But yeah, a lot of folks are of the 'we'll believe it when we see it' school.

Anyway.. the main advantage would be as a replacement for helicopters for news and police, as well as corporate jets for smaller companies.
Moller actually developed some interesting turbine technology, but has never really done much with it.

He apparently recently adapted some of his prototypes into a fairly decent UAV design. If potential buyers can overcome understandable scepticism, we may still see Moller products flying, just not aircars.
I'm thinking the biggest hurdle to flying vehicles is going to be pilots giving up control. I'm imagining a setup like Coruscant or New York in The 5th Element. In order to not have flaming wrecks plummeting from the sky, people with their hands on the controls either need three extra licenses to "drive," or the onboard navigation system is programed to let the human "pretend" to pilot the car, just to make them not feel useless. :)

Then there's parking. On the up side, those rooftop spots on garages won't be so frowned upon anymore, I suppose.


February 10 2012, 23:56:06 UTC 4 years ago Edited:  February 10 2012, 23:58:11 UTC

You are right about the pilots/drivers having to give up control.

There are already autodrive systems in trial were cars are controlled by an onboard system which can receive and react to traffic info and commands from a central location, it's not a stretch seeing similar systems as a requirement for flying cars. And once the infrastructure is in place, it's likely to become a requirement for all Civil Aviation.

In fact modern passenger aircraft are already mostly flown by the autopilot. Several recent crashes were caused by inexperienced pilots not knowing what to do in a situation that the autopilot was unable to react to. Situations like successful dead stick landings will become much rarer as the supremely skilled elder generation of airline pilots retire, or even get laid of because they are basically overqualified and a junior pilot can do the job far cheaper.
The traffic accident problem might actually get better instead of worse - as long as certain precautions are taken. The memebase image about "imagine this pile-up happening over your house" raises a very good point, in that any aircraft can do a lot of damage if it goes where it isn't supposed to, and it's harder to keep on track in that regard - but if you do manage to have designated flight areas (either enforced by autopilot lock-outs, or just by having flight paths in a trench instead of in the sky), then it becomes a lot _harder_ to have the kind of pile-up you get on a 2D highway: cars that collide, _fall_, and aren't obstacles to cars that are still moving.

So, while you'd still get rubberneckers looking at the wreckage, there are up-sides as well as down-sides.

That said, I doubt it'll happen: driving on the ground is intrinsically more fuel-efficient than moving air around to stay aloft, and idiot-resistant traffic barriers are much easier to implement on roads than in the sky.
You should see Alexandre Phillipe's The People vs. George Lucas, which is done as a very fair approach to this dysfunctional relationship between George and his fans. George has a long pattern of doing things his way in spite of resistance to his ideas. The film chronicles how George took the way the studio altered American Graffiti and panned THX 1138, and he detested it. He has a problem not so much with authority, but with someone saying "I don't like that."

And that attitude has translated into the Prequels, which were not collaborative in the sense that most good films are. He doesn't use his actors; he sees them more like props. He claims that he makes his films for kids; but he seems to be completely out of touch with how children imagine things, and at the same time seems to think that inappropriate material is okay for a children's film (i.e. assassinations, forced amputations, torture and suggested rape, hookers, drug use and dealing, and other things). The film People vs. George Lucas makes a good point that George probably never expected Star Wars to be as successful and popular as he imagined, and that there might be a lot of pressure from a lot of different sources for him to keep making Star Wars. He wants to be a rebel; but he ended up becoming an empire.

This is the most angry, serious and forceful I've ever seen you, Mr. Williams. But I agree with you. You're absolutely right. It's frustrating how George Lucas is being so self-deceptive and blind to the nature of his characters and what they represent. I salute you for standing up for this, Mr. Williams. :-)