Saturday, December 31, 2011

Clone Wars News & Rumors: Obi-Wan Kenobi Four-Part Arc in Season Four

Courtesy of  issue #130 of Star Wars: Insider magazine we already have learned the titles for the remaining episodes of TCW this season.

4.13: "Escape from Kadavo" (1/6/12)
4.14: "A Friend in Need" (1/13/12)
4.15: "Deception" (TBA)
4.16: "Friends and Enemies" (TBA)
4.17: "The Box" (TBA)
4.18: "Crisis on Naboo" (TBA)
4.19: "Massacre: Maul #1?" (TBA)
4.20: "Bounty: Maul #2?" (TBA)
4.21: "Brothers: Maul #3?" (TBA)
4.22: "Revenge: Maul #4?" (TBA)

The current issue of Star Wars: Insider reveals that the previously unannounced four part arc in season four will focus on Obi-Wan Kenobi and it sounds like it will really let actor James Arnold Taylor take center stage.  Many thanks to our friends at JediNews.co.uk for tracking down the source of this information.   Below is a transcription of the brief article.

"Obi-Wan Kenobi is turning villain! Star Wars: The Clone Wars launches a four-episode arc January 13 that finds the legendary Jedi knight going undercover as an evil marksman from the planet Concord Dawn. He'll infiltrate the Republic prison to gain information about a Separatist plot and, while there, he will mix it up with a cadre of vicious bounty hunters, including cult faves Cad Bane, Bossk, Embo, and Boba Fett. 
"Embedding himself in this group is a pretty awful risk for Obi-Wan," says supervising director Dave Filoni. "It'll cause conflict between him and Anakin Skywalker, the kind that will test their relationship. How well do they really know one another? How much do they truly trust each other?" Among the highlights is an awesome obstacle-course tournament in which the inmates, including Obi-Wan, must prove their bad-assness and fight each other for survival. And, teases Filoni, "there just may be a prison break!" -ML"

Friday, December 30, 2011

50 in 50: The Phantom Menace 3D Character Countdown: Day 42: The one that got away


What a cruel mistress fate (or the Force) is.  What if little Anakin Skywalker had never been discovered by Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi?  What if Shmi had not been murdered?  What if Padme had not yielded to Anakin's forbidden advances?  Well the galaxy may have been better off, but it would have been a rather boring story.  

The what if game is fun, but one particular what if is interesting.  What would have happened to Anakin Skywalker if he remained on Tatooine as a slave instead of winning his freedom on the Podrace track.

Well if one little girl on Tatooine had her way, it sounds like Anakin would have been a moisture farmer or perhaps a freighter pilot and Amee Skywalker would have been the mother to some far less interesting children than Luke and Leia.  

Do you remember little Amee?  She was played by George Lucas' daughter, Katie Lucas (writer on TCW) under the name of "Jenna Green."  

Amee's Wookieepedia page may have one of my favorite paragraphs on the wiki;

Amee was surprised to learn that Anakin went on not only to win the Boonta race, but also to leave Tatooine shortly afterward. After Anakin's departure, Amee remained friends with Anakin's mother Shmi. She told the older woman that she planned to marry Anakin Skywalker and leave Tatooine with him. Shmi noted that as she grew older, Amee would swoon at the sight of every handsome young man she met.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Where in the World is Endor Combat Leia? A charitable event to aid Baby Leah


Chris Hothiceplanet, the co-host of the Sarlacc Pit Podcast, the official podcast of Galacticbinder.com has begun a new charitable endeavour to raise awareness and hopefully funds to help support Baby Leah Esquenazi and the mounting medical bills that her family faces in the continued treatment of this little princess.

Leia's Journey for Baby Leah is the name of the effort, details can be read below:


Leia's Journey for Baby Leah Hi,

 I am Princess Leia in my Endor combat outfit and I am traveling the world to help raise awareness and money for "Baby Leah" and her family.
 Below is the personal blog of her family where you can keep up to date on her well being.  http://princessleahdiaries.blogspot.com/
 I have started a Facebook page to house my trip around the world in photos.
http://www.facebook.com/#!/leiasjourney . My trip starts off at the home of the "Sarlacc Pit" podcast in Memphis, TN. I got to tour Memphis today!!! Stopped off at Graceland, Memphis bridge, B.B. King's on Beale Street and the Martin Luther King's Museum.  Where will I got next? Stop by my Facebook page to keep up with my trip.
 If you want me to stop off in your city or country, then let me know on our Facebook page or shoot me an email at hothiceplanet@galacticbinder.com. I am sooooo excited to get this trip started. Day one was a blast. Next stop LA.
 If you would like to make a donation to "Baby Leah" and her family go here:
http://skygunbros-custom-creatures.com/leah_donation

50 in 50: The Phantom Menace 3D Character Countdown: Day 44 & 43: Little Annie's Pals


The dynamic duo of Kitster Banai and W. Wald check in as characters #44 and #43 in our TPM countdown.

Kitster was one of young Anakin Skywalker's best friends and later in life would play a pivotal role in allowing Princess Leia to connect with her father's life on Tatooine (see Tatooine Ghost), long before he would become the towering villain, Darth Vader.  We will ignore Kitster's checkered love life and his interesting work history and just focus on the fact that he had a pretty nifty holocube capturing images of Anakin's victory of the Boonta Eve Classic.

Wald was played by one of Lucas' most used actors, Warwick Davis and continues the naming convention of giving the characters he played a "W" name.  I know it is a completely different character, but every time I watch TPM, and Anakin is working on his podracer, I get excited by seeing the juvenile Greedo.  In universe, Wald would take over Anakin's old "job" at Watto's Junk shop, eventually taking over the business when Watto retired.

Of course Kitster and Wald have their own Wookieepedia pages, you should check them out, Kitster sounds like he may be a good candidate for Jerry Springer.

The Phantom Menace in 3D will be released on February 10, 2012.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

50 in 50: The Phantom Menace 3D Character Countdown: Day 45: Vos Populi


Yesterday's character, posted today because Imperial Slicer Droids attacked my holo-transceiver, focuses on a character that appears in the background of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.

Comic book bad boy and TCW surfer dude Quinlan Vos, the Kiffar with a flair for the Dark Side makes a fleeting appearance in Mos Espa.

While the portrayal of Vos in The Clone Wars animated series seemed a little weird, fans of the Dark Horse comics are pretty strong in their affinity for the character.  It is interesting to see how the comic creators Ostrander and Duursema to the appearance of a random background character and used it for the character they were developing.

For more on the creation of Vos and his characters interesting past, visit Wookieepedia.

Today's character countdown will appear later tonight.  Stay tuned as we visit the rest of the top 50 characters leading to the film's release.

Monday, December 26, 2011

50 in 50: The Phantom Menace 3D Character Countdown: Day 47 & 46: A Pair of Pods


Due to the Christmas Holiday we took a day off, so we are double dipping today with a pair of fun looking creatures.  While the original Star Wars film, A New Hope had it's massive menagerie of aliens in the Cantina scenes, the Prequels saw their diverse alien cast spread more liberally throughout the films.  But for The Phantom Menace, there was one scene that really showed off the diverse alien species in the galaxy far, far away, the Boonta Eve Classic.

Today we take a quick look at a pair of podracers.

Clegg Holdfast and Dud Bolt.

Clegg Holdfast was a Nosaurian male podracer from New Plympto.  What I liked about Clegg was his distinctive horns, his interesting badges and ribbons, and his ability to walk away from a crash.

Dud Bold was a Vulptereen male podracer, who looks like a pre-historic sabertooth crocodile.

If you want to read more about the glorious racing careers of Clegg and Dud visit their Wookieepedia pages.

Review: War Horse



I had high expectations going into Steven Spielberg's latest film, "War Horse."  Unfortunately while the movie had some good scenes and was very impressively shot to focus on the Horse as a character, what ended up on the screen was a bloated two hours and 26 minutes, and lacked for the pacing necessary to sustain such a long film.

I enjoyed the acting in the film, it was very well done.  Of course the landlord's son reminded me of every time The Simpsons showed Mr. Burns as a soldier. The German artillery horse handler reminded me a bit of the Rancor Keeper from Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.

There were some curious choices in the film, particularly showing the execution of two characters when the death of other characters is done off-screen.

There are a number of tremendous shots, two of the most powerful are the shot of the carnage of the first battlefield and later on the mass grave of horses.

There is a rather odd chase scene involving the horse and a tank, which came off as silly to me.  This tank is going after the Germans and instead of chasing the fleeing German troops it is going to chase around a lone rider-less horse? Really ?

The World War I trench warfare was well done and even included some humor.

The cinematography in the final scene came off as over the top and inconsistent with the rest of the film.

In the end, War Horse feels like two movies squeezed together, the story of the humans surrounding the Horse and the story of the Horse.  This would have been a much better film if it was leaner and more focuses in the first hour to hour and a half.  Someone should have locked Spielberg int he editor's room until this film was trimmed to closer to two hours.

For more on War Horse, visit the official site for the movie.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

50 in 50: The Phantom Menace 3D Character Countdown: Day 48: Ric Olie


Today's Christmas Eve edition of the Star Wars: TPM 50 in 50 features another supporting character from Naboo.

Either the character of Ric Olie must have been a pretty good pilot or the film's budget must have been a little tight; because not only was Ric the pilot of Queen Amidala's Nubian Royal Starship (J-Type 327), but he was also the Leader of Bravo Squadron, the Naboo Starfighter flight that took it too the Trade Federation's Droid control ship.

The most important role in the saga that Olie played was probably in his brief tutorial to Anakin Skywalker on Starship piloting.

Learn more about the storied career of Ric Olie at Wookieepedia.

Friday, December 23, 2011

50 in 50: The Phantom Menace 3D Character Countdown: Day 49: Ellberger (Bravo 5)


Today's Star Wars: TPM 3D 50 in 50 we take a look at a unique pilot.

In Star Wars: A New Hope we had old pilots, young pilots, thin pilots and fat pilots.  But the pilots had a couple things in common, they were all human and they were all male.

Fast forward to The Phantom Menace and we had some ladies at the yoke.  I always thought it was neat to see older pilots in the Naboo fighters then you would imagine in the cockpit.  As Wedge explains in the Expanded Universe, fighter piloting is really a job for the young.

Ellberger went by the call sign of "Bravo 5" and was part of the Naboo N-1 Starfighter assault on the Droid Control Ship.  It is interesting to note that the actress that portrayed Ellberger (Celia Imrie) also auditioned to play Shmi Skywalker.

Of course all this was before we had the Star Wars Blu-ray collection and the incredibly entertaining special features.

On Bonus Disc Two there is a collection of deleted scenes entitled, "Battle of Endor: The Lost Rebels."  The highlight of the entire package is an elderly female A-Wing pilot, lovingly referred to as Granny A-Wing by fans.

I love Granny A-Wing and I like to think that Granny is actually an elderly Ellberger still kicking butt. If it is, then at least we know she aged better then Obi-Wan and Anakin.

For more info on Ellberger and her career exploits visit her Wookieepedia page.


Thursday, December 22, 2011

50 in 50: The Phantom Menace 3D Character Countdown: Day 50: TC-14


Welcome to our celebration of Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace in 3D's theatrical release on February 12th, 2012.  In anticipation of Star Wars return to the theaters, we will be taking a look at a different character each day leading up to the Thursday before the release.  50 characters in 50 days.  If your favorite character is omitted, tough cookies, this list is my own and opinions are my own.  Some characters are included merely to suit my whims.

DAY 50: TC-14

This silver C-3PO doppelganger is actually a lady droid.  Not just any lady droid, but one that will serve you tea while you are being assassinated with poison gas and your ride is getting blown to bits.  This is one cold-hearted droid.  I would go so far to say that she is a Femme-bot Fatale; but at least she is polite.

Starwars.com Databank entry on TC-14:

This silver TC-series protocol droid served Nute Gunray and the Neimoidians during their blockade of Naboo. Frequent memory wipes kept the droid strongly loyal to the Trade Federation. It was TC-14, with her feminine personality, which greeted Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi when they attempted to negotiate a settlement with Gunray. TC-14 was sent to detain the Jedi Knights until the Neimoidians could eliminate them.

The Wookieepedia Entry on TC-14 reveals that while TC was spared in Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan's droid slagging party, but the unlucky droid was later aboard the Droid Control Ship that Anakin decided to make go boom.  It is also interesting to learn that the droid was played by John Fensom on set but voiced by actress Lindsay Duncan in the finished film. 





Sunday, December 18, 2011

Diary of a first time PC System Builder: #2 Foraging for Components

After deciding that I was going to construct a desktop computer, I kept two goals in mind.  One I wanted to build a solid system that with some upgrades would be a machine that I could use for a few years without feeling like I was using an antique.  The other goal was to keep the cost of the project reasonable, that meant shopping on a budget.


Component purchase #1:

Thermaltake V4 Black Edition: SECC/Plastic ATX mid Tower Computer Case

Thoughts:  Our current desktop has a Thermaltake case which is solid construction, found this case as one of Amazon's daily deals for under $40 bucks.  Happy with the build quality and astetics. 

Component purchase #2:

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (64-bit OEM)

Hitachi 500GB 7200RPM SATA 3.0 GB/S 3.5" Internal HD

G.Skill Sniper 8GB DDR3 (2x4GB)

Newegg's Black Friday sale yielded some goodies.  The Windows 7 is a system builder disc which means it's only for one computer.  Not a big deal to me and saved me some money on the OS.  For my purposes a SSD seemed like overkill and the mixed reviews on some SSDs made me nervous enough to stay with a traditional HDD.  I don't store a lot of downloaded content, for example music, so HDD size wasn't a huge concern to me.  If I find 500 GB restrictive I will add a second HDD at a later date.  Case has slots for extra HDDs.   G.Skill memory was also on sale.  I will likely purchase 2 more sticks to bring the  system up to 16GB. 

Component purchase #3:

ASRock P67 Extreme4 (B3) LGA 1155 Intel P67 SATA 6Gb/S USB3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard

The motherboard was the hardest decision in the process so far.  Decided to go with an Intel board/CPU over AMD.  This board got pretty solid reviews, though there are some reports of it being buggy.  I got a deal on Newegg as an open box for under $100.  Fingers crossed that everything works on the board otherwise it will be RMA time. 

Component purchase #4:

Intel Core i3-2120 Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz 1155 65W

I wanted a solid processor and I wasn't interested in getting into overclocking at this point.  Between performance and cost I decided to go with this high end i3 instead of the more expensive i5 and i7 chips.  But I may upgrade down the road. 

Component purchase #5:

Cooler Master Intel Core i5 compatible GeminII S RR-CCH-PBU1-GP 120mm Sleeve CPU Cooler

This is one sharp looking CPU cooler.  Great reviews, double checked Cooler Master's website to ensure compatibility and I am excited to get this component on sale as well. 

The Next Steps:


The actual build will not take place until after Christmas.  I am still waiting to see what secondary components I am getting from various family members as gifts, I asked for a wireless adapter, additional memory, additional Thermaltake case fans for the case, etc.  The biggest remaining component purchases are an optical drive and a video card.  Right now I am in the comparison shopping and waiting for a bargain stage on these.  Right now I am leaning towards a GeForce 430 video card and a Lite-On Blu-ray burner.

I plan to cannibalize our current desktop for it's @2 year old 600W power supply.  Unless I find a great deal on a new reliable power supply.  I have had no issues with our current power supply.


Friday, December 16, 2011

Diary of a first time PC System Builder: #1 Ghosts of PCs Past



Regular readers of this site will know that I am a pretty big Star Wars geek.  But I am also a long time computer enthusiast.  I hardly would consider myself an expert in computer hardware and certainly not in computer programming, but I am a very experienced novice user. 

A bit of history.  I am a child of the 1980’s.  My family owned their own pharmacy, I still remember when my Mom brought home an old used PC from the business that became the first computer in our house.  It rocked the old 5.25” floppy disks and I played the heck out of that thing.  “Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego?” and “Math Blaster” where on heavy rotation in that thing.  Of course I also remember using a program at the pharmacy to print out information for a 1st grade report. 

I also remember being at a friend’s house the first time I really saw the Internet in operation, they had Prodigy and it was stunning to see live  updates from the Olympics appear on their computer.  The younger generation has no idea what it was like connecting to the Internet back in the day.  It is stunning to see how far the technology has come just in my life time. 

Of course we also were rocking the Apple IIE, as early as 6th grade I remember having a computer lab class. Let’s be frank, we were still rocking the Apple IIEs among other obsolete PCs at my High School, so when we got a new PC at home it was pretty exciting. 

Mom brought home a new Gateway 2000.  That bad boy clocked in at a stunning Pentium powered 100 MHZ.   I lugged that Gateway off to college, where I met the dreaded blue screen of death for the first time.  After a fitting period of mourning, the decision was made to purchase a new computer.  I was at college so you can understand the direction I went with my next PC.  Or should I say, not a PC at all.  I bought into the idea of the more stable, less vulnerable to virus and hipper computer, I went with an Apple.  We get the first model iBook G3 after they switched from the Clamshell to the more traditional laptop design. 
The iBook served me pretty well in college, aside for some document format issues different professors using different programs and the PC/Apple compatibility issues that I ran into as a new Apple user.  This little computer began what later began a pattern of love and hate that I have with laptops.  You see I am not the most gentle or careful person when it comes to my laptops. 

Shoved in my back pack with lots of big books, dropped from my bed during late night last minute paper typing sessions, and typing about as gently as a inebriated gorilla resulted in some heavy wear and tear on the iBook.  The first thing to go were some of the keys.  Ultimately after about 3 years and countless drops, the power socket and power cord got bent.  One fateful day there were some sparks.  Lets just say things didn’t end well for my poor Apple. 

 After the iBook was interred, I made the decision to be boring and rejoin the hordes of PC owners.  My next computer was an HP laptop.  You will forgive my lack of memory as to the  model, but to make a long story short.  Too much typing on the couch and dropping of the computer led to another power port issue and eventually the computer would no longer get power when plugged in.  That is two laptops down due to my clumsiness so far. 

That brings us just about to now.  Currently we have two PCs in the house.  The one I acquired first was my HP Pavillion dv6000 with its AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-58 (Tyler processor) and its NVIDA GeForce 7150M/nForce630 graffics card.  I upgraded the RAM from the factory 2 x 1GB DDR2 to 2 x 2GB  DDR2 Patriot Memory.  The dv6000 is running Windows Vista, which I don’t really like. Without turning all the fancy Vista graphics off, the PC runs like a snail.   I may be a slow learner but I did learn from my previous laptop issues and was much more careful with my care for the HP.  But sure enough once I was out of the warranty period things started to go wrong.  The first thing to go was the DVD-RW drive.  After that it was the sound card that went.  On top of that I had to send the battery back to HP as part of their battery recall.  So armed with a headset with built in sound card and an exterior optical drive I have a serviceable but aging laptop that has some performance issues.  It tends to freeze up when I have too much going on and gives off an extreme amount of heat even with a laptop cooler fan underneath it. 

The second PC that we own was part of the dowry that my darling wife brought into our marital home.  To make a long story short, there were these two shall we say different characters that worked with my wife.  These two guys were roommates and they both built their own PC’s.  Well these guys decided to move from San Diego and they needed some traveling cash so they sold their PCs to my wife an another co-worker.  The PC my wife’s co-worker purchased died not long after it was purchased.  On my wife’s computer the power supply blew up and lots of lovely smoke billowed out of the computer.  Before we were married my wife dealt with this PC herself and took it to Fry’s (an electronics retailer and repair store) to look at it, assess and effect repairs.  Well the Fry’s guy sold her a new power supply for it, got it running, but the thing still didn’t work right. 

This is when I step in with my limited computer hardware experience.  I tear into this thing.  The some of cable from the motherboard to the front of the case are fried and basically reduced to ash.  The on board sound is gone.  I clean out the burned wires, got it up and running with a new sound card and for about a year the PC was working pretty good.  Then it starts crashing.  Now I have seen the blue screen of death, but an entirely different blue screen started appearing and the PC began getting stuck in a boot cycle where windows wouldn’t load.  Multiple BIOS updates and re-installations of Windows later, we have a fairly stable computer that I don’t trust to last too much longer. 

This is where my love of gadgets and technology starts to give me the itch to get a new computer.  It wasn’t until I started doing my comparison shopping that the idea of building a PC started to interest me.  I originally was looking at laptops.  I am not a heavy PC gamer, so my desires  in looking for a laptop where pretty simple. Fast processor, lots of memory, a Blu-ray drive, HDMI output, high definition screen resolution, and preferably USB 3.0.  I wanted a laptop that I wouldn’t have to think about wanting to upgrade for a few years.  The desire for the Blu-ray drive limited my options.  I wanted to have a PC where I could watch movies on if I was traveling and as a back-up in case or Blu-ray player stopped working or if we were visiting someone without a Blu-ray player we could play our movies on their TVs. 

I wasn’t too impressed with the cost of models/configurations that had the features that I was looking for.  Then the more I thought about it the more I began to think about how rough I was with my laptops and how it may be better for me to go with a desktop.  I do most of my website work and typing at the desktop now, and my old laptop is serviceable enough in a pinch that I really warmed up to the idea of a desktop. To me the advantage of of desktop over a laptop is the ability to get higher performance for comparable price and the ability to modify and upgrade the desktop more easily.  So the more I thought about it, the more the idea of a desktop held some real appeal. 

Now I am a person of varied interest, believe it or not Star Wars isn’t my only interest and Star Wars fandom isn’t my only hobby.  As long as I can remember I was fascinated by technology.  I don’t think my Mom has yet forgiven me for the time I took apart my Casio keyboard because I wanted to see how it worked on the inside.  Let’s just say that the keyboard didn’t go back together very well and it never played music again.  But even though I was fascinated by technology, I never really got into studying it, or focused on engineering like some of my friends.  Even though I never got too deep into the nuts and bolts of technology, the idea of building a computer was something that I remember thinking about way back in High School, but not something that I considered because I thought it was well beyond my knowledge and abilities at the time.  I read some PC magazines and went through a phase were I was watching lots of Tech TV, I have always loved tech but usually more on the consumer level then on the more nuts and bolts level. 

Fast forward to present day and I find myself wanting a fun project and a new computer and this convergence results in my desire for the first time in my life to wade from the kiddy side of the geek pool into slightly deeper water.  Check back soon for the next installment where I describe what kind of PC I want to build and how I went about initial component selection.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Rancho Obi-Wan: Star Wars Collector's Heaven


Did your invitation to the Rancho Obi-Wan Grand Opening get lost in the mail?  Yeah, mine too.  There is good news however, you can now sign up for an annual membership at Rancho Obi-Wan (ROW) to support the private Star Wars collection of Steve Sansweet that has become California Non-profit corporation and museum.

Why sign up for a Rancho Obi-Wan membership?  Well besides some cool stuff, the chance to visit Steve's collection would be any Star Wars fan's dream come true.

Rancho Obi-Wan is located in a residential area, so this won't be like your local museum where you can just show up and look around.

There are a variety of membership levels detailed below, but in addition there are also opportunities to donate and to arrange special events at ROW.  I will probably kick in for an Initiate membership in 2012, but I will have to make a trip up to Petaluma at some point with my wife for a tour, because to me it looks like Geek Disneyland.


ANNUAL MEMBERSHIPS

$35 Initiate
• Quarterly email newsletter with the latest news about ROW
• Mailed welcome letter from Steve Sansweet
• Exclusive Charter Membership card
• Exclusive 2012 Charter Member patch
• $30 discount towards tour-level membership within a year of purchase

$75 Apprentice
• Quarterly email newsletter with the latest news about ROW
• Mailed welcome letter from Steve Sansweet
• Exclusive Charter Membership card
• Exclusive 2012 Charter Member patch
• A Rancho Obi-Wan T-shirt
• $30 discount towards tour-level membership within a year of purchase

$200 Knight
• One tour of Rancho Obi-Wan for 2 people led by Steve Sansweet. Both will get:
• Quarterly email newsletter with the latest news about ROW
• Mailed welcome letter from Steve Sansweet
2011-12-14-02 p.1
• Exclusive Charter Membership card
• Exclusive 2012 Charter Member patch
• A 10% discount on all ROW merchandise
• Up to two additional guests can accompany the tour at $120 each.

$600 Master
• One tour of Rancho Obi-Wan for up to 5 people led by Steve Sansweet. Each guest will get:
• Quarterly email newsletter with the latest news about ROW
• Mailed welcome letter from Steve Sansweet
• Exclusive Charter Membership card
• Exclusive 2012 Charter Member patch
• A 10% discount on all ROW merchandise
• Name recognition in newsletter for each guest
• Up to four additional guests can accompany the tour at $130 each.

$1,300 Grand Master
• One tour of Rancho Obi-Wan for up to 10 people led by Steve Sansweet. Each guest will get:
• Quarterly email newsletter with the latest news about ROW
• Mailed welcome letter from by Steve Sansweet
• Exclusive Charter Membership card
• Exclusive 2012 Charter Member patch
• A 10% discount on all ROW merchandise
• Name recognition in newsletter for each guest or for the group
• Up to nine additional guests can accompany the tour at $140 each.
PLUS: In addition to the items above, ROW is planning members-only events, other special activities,
and exclusive merchandise. Details will be sent to members.

For more info on Rancho Obi-Wan visit their website or contact them at  info@ranchoobiwan.org

Listen to The Star Wars Report Live Tonight! I'll be a guest.


If you haven't listened to the live broadcast of The Star Wars Report then you are missing out.  I will be joining Riley, Bethany, Mark and the cavalcade of chat room characters on this weeks episode of The Star Wars Report broadcasting live on Middle-earth Network Radio.

The show will begin at 8pm EST so tune in and listen to my inane blather.

LINK to SWR on Middle-earth Network Radio

Monday, December 12, 2011

Star Wars: The Clone Wars Episode Titles for all of Season Four Revealed


Star Wars Insider #130 has revealed the remaining titles of this season's episodes.

Episode 4.13: Escape from Kadavo
Episode 4.14: A Friend in Need 
Episode 4.15: Deception
Episode 4.16: Friends and Enemies
Episode 4.17: The Box
Episode 4.18: Crisis on Naboo
Episode 4.19: Massacre
Episode 4.20: Bounty
Episode 4.21: Brothers
Episode 4.22: Revenge

Episode 4.13 will conclude the Slaves of the Republic arc, episode 4.14 will be the Ahsoka/Lux/Death Watch stand alone episode.

It looks like episodes 4.15-4-18 will be one four part arc, and the last four episodes will be the four part Darth Maul arc given the title of episode 4.21.

The tease for Star Wars Insider 131 seems to indicate that we will learn more about the Darth Maul episodes in that magazine,

Stay tuned to the latest breaking Clone Wars news and reactions here.

SOURCE: Star Wars Insider

The Clone Wars News & Rumors: Escape from Kadavo airdate and Ahsoka/Lux episode title and airdate


Star Wars Insider #130 featuring Darth Malgus on the cover gives us a preview of the next two episodes of Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

Episode 4.13 "Escape from Kadavo" will air January 6th, written by Henry Gilroy and directed by Danny Keller.

Episode 4.14 "A Friend in Need" will air January 13th written by TCW Head writer Christian Taylor and directed by the Grand Pooh-bah Dave Filoni.

SOURCE: Star Wars Insider.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Fate of the Jedi News: Apocalypse Rough Page Count



Troy Denning, author of numerous Star Wars books has written the concluding books in the Legacy of the Force series and the forthcoming finale to the Fate of the Jedi series.

Denning is deep in the editing process for Apocalypse and posted his estimation of the final page count on Apocalypse via his Facebook page.
Proofreading Apocalypse page proofs. It looks like the hardcover will be 445 pages, not including the preview chapter of another novel in the back.
Sounds good to me.  I love big Star Wars books.  

Star Wars Deal of the Day: THX 1138 and TFU II


A couple great deals popped up on the interweb today.

Fans of George Lucas' debut film THX 1138 will want to head over to Amazon.com and pick up the Blu-ray for only $9.99 and the DVD for only $5.59.



X-Box 360 owning Star Wars fans will want to check out Newegg.com's deal on The Force Unleashed II Collector's Edition which includes the game as well as a Starkiller USB Flashdrive.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Darth Plagueis Chapter One Excerpt posted by Random House


Want a sneak peak at what will be the most talked about Star Wars book in a long time?

Random House has published an excerpt from James Luceno's Darth Plagueis novel.

It is just a taste of the awesomeness in store for readers. The excerpt previews the fact that the book is broken down into parts and that the first part is set between 67 and 65 BBY.  It features Darth Plagueis and his Master Darth Tenebrous on the Outer Rim planet of Bal'demnic. 

 To read the excerpt visit Random House's Darth Plagueis page.

StarWars.com iperceptions Survey


A funny thing happened on the way to re-watching this past week's episode of The Clone Wars.  A pop-up from Starwars.com, partnering with iperceptions, the official site is soliciting feedback on the design and content of the website. 

This is the first time I have seen this survey when visiting the site and I am not sure how long this has been going on, but be alert Star Wars fans.  There are a bunch of text boxes mixed into the survey for you to tell them what you like and what you dislike about the re-design. 

I put in my 2 cents, I want more content, particularly in the Encyclopedia and TCW episode guides.  I also want a return of Dave Filoni's Episode Commentaries, among other things.  Now it's your turn to let them know what you like and dislike about the new site design.


SOURCE: Starwars.com

Battle Mediation Review: Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Slaves of the Republic (4.12)


Much like the Republic's aid to Kiros, this review is a little late.  Was it worth the wait? No promises. 
After much deliberation I have come to the conclusion that Anakin, Obi-Wan, Ahsoka and Rex make the worst undercover agents ever.  Of course three Jedi and a single Clone against an entire planet of crumb bum Slavers wasn't the most well thought out idea in the first place.

I really dug this episode.  To start of with the Zygerrian ship looks to me stylistically similar to the Jawa Sandcrawler.  This flying Sandcrawler was pretty cool looking.

It is interesting to see where the episode converges with it's comic predecssor and where it diverges.  Overall the story is a pretty direct adaptation.  There are some interesting changes.  Not only to the Zygerrian characters appearances, but to Anakin's disguise (he had an eye patch in the comic), Ahsoka's slave outfit (much more To Catch a Predator in the comic), and some dialogue and scene changes. 

It's pretty clear Anakin is willing to skirt questionable moral decisions whether it be flirting with Queen, allowing a Slave to jump to her death, and potentially allying himself with the Queen to protect his friends, once again showing his problem with attachment. 

There are some obvious parallels between this episode and Return of the Jedi.  Between storing the lightsabers in R2, Anakin's dialogue and wave we see that father and son have a lot in common.

I'm not sure why but Obi-Wan's attempted to free Governor Roshti, had me thinking about  Han Solo and the enslavement and liberation of Chewbacca.  Could you get two more different characters then Obi-Wan Kenobi and Han Solo?  Yet these two very different men both recognized the inherent evil of the institution of slavery and took action in spite of the risk it posed to themselves.  I like to think that Obi-Wan could see beyond Han's scruffy exterior and recognize the character of the man beneath the surface.  I would like to think that this made Obi-Wan's decision to sacrifice himself easier, knowing that Luke had found a friend that he would be able to trust and watch his back.

It was fun to see Ahsoka patiently waiting in her cage and almost Force pushing the Zygerrian off of the building.  You get the sense that Ahsoka has become immensly powerful in the Force and is simply biding her time.  

My favorite parts of the episode where the interaction between Anakin and Queen Miraj Scintal.  Scintal offers a striking departure from the life that Anakin lives, a life of secrets, half truths, and stolen moments with his wife.  Scintal represents all Anakin hates in terms of slavery, but also all he wishes he could be in openness and honesty.  She has the same overflowing confidence that Anakin possesses and the same cruelty that Anakin can flash in his darkest of moments.  I would love to see the Queen's attempted seduction of Anakin be brought to the forefront a little more but that may be a bit much for the shows demographics. 

Rating:  Slaves gets 8.0 electric-whips.  While I really enjoyed this episode and thought it was visually stunning, I would almost have loved it more if the emphasized the Queen's attempted seduction of Anakin, and played up the darkness within Anakin that would have felt drawn to the Queen's dark bargain. 

Direct Link to Watch Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Slaves of the Republic

Next Time on Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Escape from Kadavo

We are in for a bit of a Winter break from The Clone Wars.  It looks like we will be getting at least the full Umbara arc replayed before we see the concluding episode of this current arc.  Friday the 16th The General will be replayed, Friday the 23rd  Plan of Dissent will be replayed, and it is safe to assume on the 30th we will see Carnage of Krell.  That means at the earliest we are looking at January 6th as the earliest date we will see Escape from Kadavo

SOURCES: Starwars.com and Wookieepedia

Star Wars: X-Wing: Mercy Kill: Just about the sickest cover art ever.

I've got four lit and I am so ready for the 10th novel in the X-Wing series, this time in glorious Hardcover edition.  

Artist Mike Bryan really brought the feel of space dog-fighting action to this piece art. 


The cover also has a very Cold War feel to it, with the ship being pursued by the X-Wing immediately reminding me of a camouflaged Soviet MiG fighter jet.  

I am really curious as to what type of ship this is.  It looks to have the cockpit and fuselage of an X-Wing.  I am sure some more avid fan that I can identify this ship readily.  

I also love the intersection of space and atmosphere in this piece of art.  

Starwars.com has a publisher's summary to go along with the cover art:

Outcasts and misfits, spies and warriors, pilots and troublemakers — they’re Wraith Squadron. Founded decades ago by ace pilot Wedge Antilles, this elite intelligence unit, disbanded at the end of a catastrophic civil war, is reunited by former leader Face Loran to find out whether one of the galaxy’s most powerful military officers is a traitor… and whether anyone can stop him if he is. To succeed in their mission, the Wraiths must become thieves, pirates, imposters, forgers, and liars, staying just one step ahead of their enemies and the law!

Mercy Kill is due out August 7, 2012.  I know what I am asking for as a Birthday present.  

SOURCE: Starwars.com

Monday, November 28, 2011

Review: Star Wars: Shadow Games by Michael Reaves and Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff


I usually say that a Star Wars novel, even a mediocre one is better then just about any other book out there.  The reason I feel this way in large part is because of the Expanded Universe that has been created by Lucasfilm and it's licensees.  Even a story that I dislike adds to the tapestry of the Star Wars universe lending additional depth, new characters, and shifting the reader's point of view on events previously established.

That being said, I recently read Star Wars: Shadow Games by Michael Reaves and Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff.  With all due respect to the authors, this is a novel that I haven't really been looking forward to.  The idea to resurrect the Dash Rendar character for a standalone novel, and to set the premise around a galactic celebrity in the person of Holostar Javul Charn, left me wondering what the heck the editors at Lucasbooks and Del Rey were thinking in approving this book.  I kept picturing The Bodyguard with Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston, except with aliens and droids.

There was some trepidation on my part based on continuity issues from Mr. Reaves last series, Coruscant Nights.  Though I will say, I am a fan of some of Mr. Reaves Star Wars works.  The penultimate scene in Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter, in which the lead character Lorn Pavan escapes the clutches of Darth Maul long enough to "safely" entrust a Sith Holocron to Senator Palpatine, is one of my favorite scenes in the Expanded Universe.  I will also say that Reaves' Medstar Duology starring Barriss Offee is a very underrated and off-beat (MASH in Space) set of Star Wars books.

Enough of my ramblings, you want to hear about Shadow Games.  I was pleasantly surprised by this book.  I am a fan of the mystery genre, as child I grew up watching a lot of television and movies.  Some of my favorite re-runs included Scooby-Doo and Murder She Wrote. I also enjoyed a heavy dose of the Hardy Boys series of children's mystery novels.  In Shadow Games there are multiple hidden agendas and multiple mysteries at work, there is a strong who done it element combined with a slow reveal to the reader and the main character about what is truly going on.

The main character of the story and the primary point of view character is Dash Rendar.  We basically follow Dash through the story except for a few minor detours.  We also get a heavy dose of Leebo (Dash's Droid), Javul Charn (the holostar), Han Solo, Eaden Vrill (Dash's partner and Teras Kasi practioner),  and Yanus Melikan (Charn's tour cargo master).

In addition to these characters we also have a number of Imperial and Black Sun characters, and even an assasin, that come in and out of the story and act the foils to our heroes.

I enjoyed the portrayals of both Dash Rendar and Javul Charn in the story, Javul in particular was a much better developed character then I was expecting going in.  It is also interesting in the way that they portrayed Rendar and used Han Solo to contrast and compare the two characters.  Long time fans will be familiar with criticism of Shadows of the Empire, that Rendar was created to be a basic carbon copy of Han because Han was unavailable for use in the story because of that unfortunate business on Cloud City.  Well the portrayal of Han that we get in this book is like Han in the beginning of Episode IV except even more militant in terms of his independence and staying away from causes and women.  I liked the winks in this book to the Han Solo Trilogy by A.C. Crispin and the way that Han's Bria Tharen causes him to look at women and at the Rebellion.

The key to the Dash Rendar in this story is his attachments.  He is a character motivated by bonds of friendship and love, be that to his smuggling partner, his droid, or his would be paramour.  In many ways it's this soft heart combined with the gruff exterior that makes Han Solo such an endearing character and why Dash grew on me in this book.  There a few funny scenes that show the rivalry between these two characters that are so similar.  If they weren't so busy one uping each other, then they might just get along pretty well.

There are some minor quibbles that I have with the book, the biggest thing that stuck out to me was a continuity issue that arises from a throw away line.  One of Javul Charn's hangers on is a fashion designer, who according to the book previously worked for Lando Calrissian, the Baron-Administrator of Cloud City.    When I read this, I couldn't tell why, but something struck me as off about this so I raced to the Wookieepedia to confirm my hunch.  According to the Wook:

A year after the Battle of Yavin, Cloud City was run by Baron Administrator Lando Calrissian, who had won administration of the city from Baron Administrator Dominic Raynor in a Sabacc tournament. Not much later Raynor hired the bounty hunter Bossk to get revenge on Calrissian. Bossk and his group of mercenaries ambushed the new administrator in one Maintenance Level, but were unsuccessful.

It is a very minor line that doesn't factor into the outcome of the novel, but it is this kind of little continuity hiccup that drives the more continuity obsessed fans bonkers.

There was also the labeling of an Imperial Interdictor ship as an "Interceptor Class," vessel.  You understood what they were getting at, but I don't recall ever reading those vessels referred to in that way.

We do get an addition to the ever growing list of in-universe profanity, with the phrase; "womp rat's ass."

There are two pretty big hanging threads that the authors leave open to interpretation or future clarification.  I don't want to give too much away, but lets just stay Reaves an Bohnhoff give us another potential version of events leading up to A New Hope with a nifty potential retcon to solve some preexisting continuity issues.

They also leave this reader wondering about the identity of a certain character, who I think we saw heavily in the Bantam era EU under a different identity.

I enjoyed the say the end of the book dovetailed nicely into A New Hope, but it did so in such a way that there is wiggle room in the timeline.  It is almost like Reaves and Bohnhoff purposefully set certain portions of this story in the sand instead of in stone to avoid continuity issues.

All in all, Shadow Games is an interesting change of genre for a Star Wars novel, a bit more mystery then we are used to seeing and an engaging enough tale to keep my attention all the way through.

It is a solidly average book in terms of the Star Wars publishing line.  Worth a read, but I am not sure how many re-reads it will end up getting on my bookshelf.

To learn more about Star Wars: Shadow Games, you can visit Random House.com.

To learn more about the process behind this book visit, Ms. Bohnhoff's blog.  

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Battle Meditation Review: Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Kidnapped (4.11)




"Slavery, a great tool it is for the rise of the Sith." ~ Grand Master Yoda on the Zygerrian Resurgence 

Despite dealing with the despicable institution of slavery, this week's episode saw a return of humor and our main Jedi characters in a bit of a palate cleanser after the intense dark drama of Umbara.

"Where we are going always reflects where we came from."
Zygerrian slavers are behind the sudden disappearance of an entire colony of people on the planet Kiros. As Anakin and Ahsoka rush to defuse a series of bombs planted by the slavers, Obi-Wan must fight with their imposing leader.
It was nice to see Obi-Wan, Anakin, and Ahsoka return and star in an episode after the Clone-centric arc of Umbara.  You will be hard pressed to find a bigger fan of the Clones then myself, but TCW has a large cast of characters and it is important that we don't go too long without seeing some of the main characters in action.  It was also great to see that at least Clone Trooper Boil is still alive, even though his buddy Waxer didn't make it through the last story arc. 

This episode saw some pretty interesting character development for Ahsoka, but not in the way that we traditionally get character development.  We saw Ahsoka's physical maturation and growth of martial skills in this episode.  While she has always been able to hold her own in a fight, this episode saw Ahsoka kicking some major butt.  Her Force augmented leaping, combined with a fluidity of motion when she threw the detonators into the Droid Tank was very impressive and something I don't think Season 1 or Season 2 Ahsoka would have really been able to do.  We also see a flash at the end of the episode as she is quickly able to subdue and capture Darts D'Nar, otherwise known as the guy who was using Obi-Wan as a punching bag.  Ahsoka is becoming a very formidable warrior in her own right.  

There are interesting parallels between the weaponless Togruta on Kiros and the weaponless world of Alderaan.  In this episode we see an entire planets population pressed into slavery because they choose the path of neutral pacifism.  The episode specifically calls out the fact that the society doesn't have any weapons.  This echos the pleas of Princess Leia when she is aboard the Death Star.
Princess Leia: No! Alderaan is peaceful! We have no weapons, you can't possibly... Governor Tarkin: [impatiently] You would prefer another target, a military target? Then name the system! I grow tired of asking this so it will be the last time: *Where* is the rebel base?
Princess Leia: ...Dantooine. They're on Dantooine.
Governor Tarkin: There. You see, Lord Vader, she can be reasonable. Continue with the operation; you may fire when ready.
Princess Leia: WHAT?
Governor Tarkin: You're far too trusting. Dantooine is too remote to make an effective demonstration - but don't worry; we will deal with your rebel friends soon enough. ~IMBD
On  Alderaan we see an entire planet destroyed by the Death Star, on Kiros we see see the planet left intact but the population totally enslaved by the Separatists and their Battle Droid army.  Alderaan's pacifism combined with it's political agitation against Emperor Palpatine's New Order sealed it's fate.  What planet would be better to test the weapon on then one that cannot fight back and doesn't risk damage tot he battle station on it's test run?

One of the big differences between the situations on Kiros and Alderaan is the state of the galaxy.  While the population of Kiros is under duress, the Jedi Order is lining up to come to their aide.  The Order has it's faults and it's moral blind spots, but the presence of the Order and it's opposition to slavery gives the people of Kiros hope of salvation.  In contrast there is no Jedi Order to protect Alderaan and possibly prevent the planet's destruction.

The moral of  both tales is similar.  It is all well and good to hold to idealist sentiments, but one must recognize the reality of the world or galaxy around you.  There are bad people out there and if you are unable to protect yourself, then you will always be at their mercy.  This rugged individualism is a good lesson for younger viewers of the show to be exposed too.

Perhaps this episode was sponsored by the GBA, the Galactic Blaster Association, a political action committee lobbying for fewer restrictions on blasters in the galaxy far, far away.

Obi-Wan Kenobi, now that is a name I haven't head in a long time on The Clone Wars.  Obi-Wan is one of greatest Jedi Masters during the Clone Wars.  Obi-Wan's strength as a Jedi is his ability to be above average across a broad category of Jedi abilities.  This episode shows us one of his greatest strength and that is the ability to take a beating like a champ.  Rocky Balboa and Hulk Hogan have nothing on Obi-Wan.  In order to give Anakin and Ahsoka time to diffuse Darts D'Nar network of bombs, Obi-Wan takes a pretty brutal hand to hand beat down.

I really enjoyed how quickly Obi-Wan was able to take control of the situation as soon as the battle droid transmission revealed that all the bombs had been deactivated. Seizing and crushing the droids quickly and retrieving his lightsaber.

"I had a dream I was a Jedi. I came back here and freed all the slaves. Have you come to free us?" ~Anakin Skywalker to Qui-Gon Jinn
One of my favorite scenes in the episode begins with Anakin's reaction to Dart D'Nar's request to discuss surrender terms with Obi-Wan.  The flash of pure unadulterated rage that we see from Anakin, was very dark and shows just how deeply scarred he is by his past.  That powerlessness of being a slave is one of the central factors I believe in Anakin's search for power, control and order which helps lead him down the dark path.

It is particularly curious how Obi-Wan reacts to Anakin's seizing of the hologram and his outburst.  This is very un-Jedi like and would seem to be particularly egregious behavior in front of a Padawan and in front of Clone Troopers.  Not very becoming for a General to behave like this.

"I will come back and free you, Mom. I promise." Anakin to Shmi

The scene then flows into a conversation between Obi-Wan and Ahsoka.  This same scene occurs in the comic from which this story arc is being adapted.  I just love this part of the scene because it is the revelation to Ahsoka about Anakin's past as a slave.  This revelation will undoubtedly answer some questions for Ahsoka about her Master, and also put her on guard to try to help him through these issues.

Because of the war and the speculation about Anakin's being the Chosen One, I believe the Jedi Order was more lenient with Anakin then they would have been with the average Padawan or Knight.  In any other situation I believe Anakin would have been forced to confront his past as a slave and deal with those internal issues before he was elevated to Knighthood or given a Padawan.  This fact combined with the flaw of attachment within Obi-Wan which caused him to be too forgiving and too trusting that Anakin would eventually find the peace within himself that always eluded him.

It would be interesting to see what lessons are learned by Anakin, Ahsoka and the Jedi from this arc.  If the Jedi are able to rescue the enslaved people of Kiros, will this surrogate emancipation provide Anakin some comfort over his failures to free his Mother from slavery and ultimately his own feelings of guilt over her death.  Perhaps Obi-Wan and Ahsoka will believe the events of this arc will end up helping Anakin work through his issues and presume that they are no longer a problem.

I particularly liked Yoda's quote in the High Council at the end of the episode, Slavery is a great tool for the Sith because it creates the emotions that the Sith feed off of.  It also has the material benefit of free labor to use as laborers or warriors that Sith Empires have used to build on in the past.  But like many things the wise sage of the Jedi says, there is yet another layer of meaning to this line.  Because the new Sith Empire that is soon to emerge on the galaxy will be built on the back of a single slave in Anakin Skywalker, who in his moment of choosing picks the Dark over the Light, the Sith over the Jedi.

There are some very interesting similarities and differences between the story arc as it appears between the Dark Horse Comics TPB and in the TV show.  The biggest difference is in how they approached the Droid Commander on Kiros.  In the comic, he is a four-armed creature, it appears to be a Besalisk.  We just had four episodes co-staring a new Besalisk character, to follow that up with another Besalisk villian might be a bit much, so I think this editorial decision makes sense.  It also appears that they are combining two characters form the comics into one for the TV show.  In the comics, Anakin, Ahoska, Obi-Wan and Rex stumble upon a Zygerrian Slaver ship in space and board the vessel looking for information on the missing colony.  That ship has a Zygerrian captain who the Jedi subdue and capture the vessel.  It appears that in the TV show they are combining the Separatist Commander and the Zygerrian Captain into the same person in the role of Darts D'Nar.  This change makes sense for another reason besides Besalisk fatigue, it allows them to cut out what is basically a generic episode that would involve them searching an asteroid field and having a running fight aboard a ship.  It allows them to get the story to Zygerria quicker.  In effect this three episode arc will have episode one on Kiros, episode two on Zygeria and episode three on Kadavo.

Rating: This enjoyable episode gets 7.5 exploding droids.  The humor from the battle droids and Obi-Wan always amuses me, and there were some important revelations like Obi-Wan detailing Anakin's history to Ahsoka.  On the whole it was a very fun episode but lacked the mature tone and drama of the previous story arc.  It worked for me, but if handled properly I think next week's middle episode in the arc will be the best one of the three, there is some very interesting exchanges between Anakin and the Zygerrian Queen.

Direct Link to Watch Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Kidnapped (4.11)

Next Time on Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Slaves of the Republic (4.12)


"Those who enslave others inevitably become slaves themselves."
To locate the missing colonists, Anakin, Obi-Wan and Ahsoka go undercover to infiltrate the slavers on Zygerria. Anakin struggles with his emotions as a wily Zygerrian queen forces him to take questionable actions in order to carry out his mission.



Sources:  Starwars.com and Wookieepedia
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