Sorry, You Can’t Have a Pink Lightsaber

pink lightsaber

Something kind of remarkable happened last week in a completely not-that-big-of-a-deal way.

The video game Star Wars: The Old Republic — a giant, massively multiplayer online game (think World of Warcraft) set in the Star Wars universe — introduced “same-gender romance” options for players in its latest content expansion.

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Foster Cat and Ruminations on Jedi

tiny animal

Shameless cute kitten picture: deployed.

Last week we started fostering a kitten from the shelter — hence the lack of a Friday post, which I’m blaming on kitten-sitting. Apparently his name is Xander because someone at the shelter is as big a “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” fan as fiancee Caitlin. He has a weird eye that we’re hoping will heal and from which we must pick boogers. He continually steps in his own poop and then gets mad when I have to dunk him in the sink to clean him up. He also likes to sit in my lap pretty much constantly, which is as good an excuse as any to wear sweatpants all day.

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Missing the moon’s first visitor

armstrong on the moon

I was born 16 years after humans first walked on the moon.

It was years before I actually started to understand what the event meant. Two men had walked on a shore so distant, it floats in the sky. They ventured into the Sea of Tranquility and found it alien. They left boot prints upon another world.

The adventures of fictional characters into the reaches of space are among the things that inspired me throughout my life. The exploration of unknown worlds is something with which I’ve always been fascinated, and stories such as those drove me to start telling stories of my own, and the stories of others.

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Looking to the Gaming Community for New Stories

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Something you learn quickly when working at a small video gaming website like the one for which I work, GameFront.com, is that access of any kind is really hard to come by.

Quickly, it becomes really difficult to execute what you might call “journalism” in other circles. Doing research and getting interviews with the people who actually make the games you’re writing about is notoriously difficult, and the entire industry is under tight controls by public relations companies. The game-making industry controls the message as best as it can, whenever it can, regardless of what the message is. Innocuous questions go unanswered all the time because information control is power in this industry, and publishers wield it. It’s hard to blame them, really.

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The Phil Hornshaw Accumulating-Stuff-Does-Not-Make-You-A-Real-Adult Selloff

So it begins.

Standing in the garage the other day, I saw large masses of garbage, in big boxes, which have stood like a squat useless shanty town taking up space for nearly seven months.

So I grabbed one of those boxes, tossed it in my car, and lugged it around with me for a week. On it was thick black Sharpie formed into hasty, wobbly words in my packing script: “FRAGILE. Toys, DVDs, video games.”

Reading it, I felt like a child.

For the next week, I drove to my usual haunts. I spent Sunday and Monday at Mom’s; Tuesday with Caitlin at her parents’ place; Wednesday at Dad’s; Thursday and Friday at Caitlin’s; Saturday and Sunday at Dad’s. During this time, I dug through the box whenever I had fifteen minutes to spare. I dug out various crap, items that had at one point held significance for me, but which now had lost luster. Holding various toys, I wondered just why I had needed so much plastic.

I’m not the greatest salesman, which you’ll come to realize momentarily, because for me, this stuff is useless. Worse, it’s money I spent that I could be using on something important — like gas. Or new tires. Or the apartment in California to which new tires and gas will spirit me.

The first of September marks the first major push to accomplish two goals: the unloading of dead weight and the gathering of greenbacks with which to propel myself and Caitlin M. Foyt into the next step of our life.

Here’s why I’m a bad salesman.

Like toys and other such stuff? Buy mine! It’s good.

The First of the Random Bits of Technology

Samsung Instinct

I bitch about this phone some, but a lot of people really like it. In fact, the phone is pretty smart. It’s got a decent camera. It picks up e-mail. It has a functional GPS and map generator. It has picture mail. It’s cool in a lot of ways. The physical condition is a little scuffed up, and you have to jiggle the wire to make sure the thing makes good contact to charge, but otherwise it works just as well as when I got it. Plus I’m including both my car charger and my wall charger, both of which were made by Rocketfish.

By the way, I’m ditching it in favor of an iPhone. It’s for some freelance work I’ve started. More to follow when I’m at liberty to discuss it.

The “Star Wars” Mighty Muggs

Return of the Jedi” Darth Vader

It’s Vader. His head’s reversible, taking him from the classic helmet to the half-dead face of redemption. He also includes the lightsaber and his right hand comes off to recreate your favorite amputation-filled scenes.

Han Solo in his Hoth gear from “The Empire Strikes Back”

This is the Han Solo who goes out into the frozen wastes to save one Luke Skywalker from certain doom. He’s pretty badass and includes his custom blaster pistol. You should buy this, or your tauntaun could freeze before the first marker.

C-3PO

He’s one of the rarer Mighty Muggs, usually tougher to find, and selling for a lot more on eBay than what I’m selling him for. He’s in really good shape. But no, he doesn’t like you either.

Plo Koon

This guy’s a major character in “The Clone Wars” CGI cartoon show. In the feature films of the non-animated variety, he’s one of the many Jedi who get killed relatively easily in Episode III. Comes with the blue lightsaber. Generally looks kinda gross.

Chewbacca

Winner of the Halloween costume contest, the bear-growl-voiced first mate of the Millennium Falcon looks like he’s ready for business, especially with his crossbow-style bowcaster blaster, which is included.

Grand Moff Tarkin

Evacuate? In our moment of triumph? I think you underestimate how cool Grand Moff Tarkin, played by the illustrious Peter Cushing (not here, though, this is a plastic toy), would look on your mantel, book shelf or desk. He’s the dude in charge of the Death Star, who rides it right up until it turns into a huge fireball, and when re-examined later, a huge fireball that spews a ridiculous shockwave on only one axis instead of in every direction, as one would expect when something round explodes. But I digress into science…

Snowtrooper

As seen momentarily in “The Empire Strikes Back,” this is a stormtrooper, equipped to deal with snow. You know he’s built to fight in the snow by his skirt. He’s very slightly scuffed on top of his helmet. But he’s also cheaper.

Shocktrooper

I think this guy is from “The Clone Wars,” or maybe from some video game (“The Force Unleashed,” I think), but he’s some kinda stormtrooper-looking guy and he’s pretty cool. he’s a little scuffed (white paint with other paint on top just doesn’t do well), but he’s way cheap also.

Bid on ’em, guys. Help me to light the fuse to the rocket boosters that’ll carry me to the proverbial moon that is adulthood! Please!

One of those existential moments, but also involving ‘Star Wars’

A ludicrous Twitter exchange involving my sister and one of her best friends threw into sharp relief how ridiculous my life is.

For the better part of an hour, we jokingly discussed starting a 1950s-style leather jacket-wearing gang not unlike what you’ve seen in “West Side Story.” After discussing possible names (involving crushing, skulls, lasers, souls, and being old and obsolete), we started to talk about being in the gang, where we’d have our clubhouse, training ourselves for extensive snapping, etc.

The entire discussion included no fewer than:
19 references to “Star Wars”
2 references to “The Venture Bros.”
1 reference to “West Side Story”
1 reference to “Star Trek”
2 references to Oprah
2 references to Dr. Phil
2 references to the Jonas Bros.

This while the laptop sat on my lap and I played the new “Ghostbusters” video game. On a Saturday night. Alone.

What’s insane is not that I was freakin’ great at the game of making totally obscure “Star Wars” references during this conversation (and I am); what’s insane is that I remember so much from movies and, often, large portions of my own life are a little hazy.

For example, I was trying to think back on my childhood the other day, specifically the areas of right around fourth and fifth grade. I can’t remember much of anything from those years, except that I was, in a vague way, unhappy. Picked on, probably.

But I can recite most every line from “A New Hope” in succession with a high degree of accuracy. I could act that entire movie out with improvised sets and costumes if I wanted, on very short notice, by myself.

That’s sad in a lot of ways. How is it that “Star Wars” had a greater effect on me than fourth grade?

It’s not like I’m ashamed of my intense nerdiness. “Star Wars” is a morality tale of our time. It’s a quintessential battle between good and evil. Aspiring to be like heroes from movies isn’t a bad thing, I think, especially when it was experiences like laying on the living room floor, chin on hands, watching “The Empire Strikes Back” with Dad that shaped me into the man I am today. I want to be a writer because of Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader and Stephen King and George Lucas and Michael Crichton and Chuck Palahniuk and Philip K. Dick. I want to make movies because of Alan Grant and Ian Malcolm and Johnny Five and Rick Deckard and Arnold Schwartzeneggar and Ellen Ripley and George Romero.

But it is a little ri-goddamn-diculous.

I write this post as I dig away at a new zombie story for the “Wrath of the Damned” blog. There’s another ridiculous nerd outlet. And what I do remember of school included a lot of being made fun of (like when I wore this Vader t-shirt mocking an old Uncle Sam poster that said “I want you! For the Galactic Empire.” And douches were like, “you want me?” “No, Darth Vader wants you — to die!” Should have said that). Specifically for things that I liked and was passionate about.

Guess my point is this: The things we like, the things we make, have the potential to be huge. I don’t think I’d be the same person I am today if Indiana Jones didn’t exist. I’m almost positive I’ve never had an impact like that on a person.

And I can count on one hand the people who have had as much an impact on me as Luke Skywalker.

Makes you (or me) think about to what exactly your life amounts. And your work. I wonder if anyone I know would count me on the same hand as Luke Skywalker. Or hell, even Flash Gordon. Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Timon and Pumba.

And on a similar note, I guess I need to get writing, because I know exactly where the bar is set.