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You Say You Want a Resolution

Sad but true (someecards.com)

I know more than a week of the New Year has passed—and that theoretically, resolutions are supposed to start on day one—but sometimes it isn’t that easy to decide what to change about yourself or your approach to life. This is especially true when you finally quit smoking and complete an ongoing resolution you have never been able to complete before, as I did last year. To be honest, this is probably the first resolution I have ever completed, which makes this year’s list a bit more challenging… but not by much since I have loads of things upon which to focus in 2016.

So without further ado, this year I resolve to…

Celebrate the end of the 2016 presidential campaign. The election won’t happen until November, but at least there is a finish line in sight. And I’ll be happy when the news outlets stop reporting on every dumbass thing the GOP says and instead return to important news—like what Kanye and the Kardashians have been up to lately.

The cast of “Rogue One” (Disney)

Look forward to the next Star Wars-themed film without letting it control my life. Like most nerds from a galaxy not so far away, I awaited the latest installment of the famous sci-fi epic by reading nearly everything published about Star Wars: The Force Awakens. And I’m not even talking about mainstream reports, like casting decisions and potential plotlines. I’m referring instead to every rumor, set photo, fan theory and possible spoiler that ever dropped online about the J.J. Abrams-directed film. Now I have Rogue One to look forward to next December, only this time I’ll try to ignore all the hype and simply enjoy the final product once it’s released.

Exercise and start eating better. This is little more than the obligatory resolution I always include but never complete. Sure, I normally start off well, but my motivation fades with each new PS4 video game release or Netflix binge. Will 2016 be different? Only time will tell, but I’m certainly making no promises.

Time to get stress out in 2016 (mybodytutor.com)

Live in the present. Stress is obviously a killer. And each year, I find myself stressing more and more about things I can’t control, like the future and, in many ways, even the past. It’s time to face the fact that life will never be what it once was—and none of us truly know how life will be years or even decades from now (provided we make it that far). Living in the present and letting stress roll off our backs is basically all we can do, so that’s what I’ll strive for this year, as well.

Spend more time with friends. Actually, this should read “make friends with whom I can spend time,” but there’s no point in splitting hairs. We all know how busy life can be. Once you get up, go to work, leave work, run errands, return home, cook dinner, clean up and unwind, there really isn’t a lot of free time left—at least not during the work week. And although my favorite weekend routine is to lay around wearing sweatpants, watching television and playing video games, I understand how important human interaction can be. It’s time to get me some of that!

Olivia Wilde would be a good match (acelebritymag.com)

Reinvigorate the passion for my career. Like many of you, I began my work life as kind of an idealist—ready to make a difference in the world by helping college students achieve their goals and dreams. I still do this, of course, but the wide-eyed optimism of my youth has been replaced by a darker, more pessimistic nature. And the last thing I want to become is one of those “toxic people” you read about on Facebook—the ones positive people are encouraged to kick to the curb in order to improve their own lives. I may be older and wiser—in some ways more than others—but that doesn’t mean I have to give in to all the negativity. It’s time to take a more positive approach and to remember that life is what you make it.

Find a good woman. Former girlfriends should not read this as a criticism since I’ve been fortunate enough to date some really good women in the past. Sadly, though, this hasn’t been the case recently since I haven’t been dating at all. After my marriage fell apart, the last thing I wanted was to embroil myself in another relationship, but now I’m getting tired of being alone—and being my own romantic partner. Perhaps Match.com can help me find a suitable replacement for my right hand (and sometimes my left, since variety is the spice of life).

Get creative. Writing has always been one of my greatest pleasures. Unfortunately, I just haven’t felt very creative for the past few years, so the only writing I’ve done has been here on Gnostic Bent. This year, though, I hope to branch out and start writing fiction, film treatments and screenplays again. Perhaps nothing will come of them, but at least I’ll feel like I’m accomplishing something once more.

I’m sure that I could go on and on—since there are so many things I would like to change about myself in 2016—but I have bored you enough with my New Year’s resolutions. Now it’s time for action. And with any luck, my end-of-the-year post will focus on how much I actually accomplished this year, rather than how many of my resolutions again went unfulfilled. Only time will tell, I guess, but at least I have something that I haven’t had in a long time: hope. And right now, that is good enough for me.

Happy New Year, peeps!

Merry Xmas from Gnostic Bent!

Star Wars Xmas - Lucasfilm

Happy holidays from a galaxy near you! (Lucasfilm)

Figured Out

Crispy - The Chive

For some reason, these action figures never caught on with kids (The Chive)

 

The Dark Side

Imperial Dark - The Chive

In this case, the “force” you feel is impending urination (The Chive)

 

The Star Wars Bowl!

If Super Bowl XLIX was held in a galaxy far, far away, these are the teams that would be facing off this year:

Wattos vs. Jedis (John Raya/Disney)

Wattos vs. Jedis (John Raya/Disney)

To check out Star Wars helmets for all 32 teams, head on over to Geekologie. And thanks to Mexican artist John Raya for the killer designs!

Jedi Babies

Two adorable toddlers dressed as Darth Vader and Princess Leia engage in a fierce lightsaber battle over a cupcake. Click through to find out who wins. <span class=meta>Oscar Rene/YouTube</span>

Using the force was never this adorable (Oscar Rene/YouTube)

With Episode VII set to open roughly a year from now, Star Wars buzz is starting to build and even toddlers and babies are getting into the spirit.

Take this VIDEO from filmmaker Oscar Rene Lozoya II entitled Star Wars Jedi Babies – Crib Wars Episode I: The Baby Menace. It features his kids as characters from a galaxy far, far away—and it could not be cuter.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Theater Thrills to Come!

The Goonies back in the day and today (Funny Junk)

The Goonies back in the day and today (Funny Junk)

Few things are better to a cinephile like me than to wake up Monday morning and learn that two of your favorite films—or film franchises—will be returning to theaters in the near future.

The first will be a sequel to the awesome 1985 adventure film The Goonies, which easily ranks as one of my favorite childhood movies. Rumors about a sequel have been floating around Hollywood for years—some involving a possible Broadway musical based on the film (which thankfully have stopped)—but no one has been able to get this thing done yet. Of course, it now looks as if this could change thanks in large part to director Richard Donner, who spoiled the surprise in a recent interview with TMZ.

“We’re doing a sequel,” Donner said as he signed autographs for his fans. This actually confirms what Goonies actor Sean Astin said when asked about a possible sequel in 2012: “It will happen. I’m 1000 percent certain there will be a sequel. I will bet my children on it.”

That’s good enough for me. And I can’t wait until Goonies 2 hits the Big Screen!

Of course, my excitement for the next film knows no bounds since I have been a science fiction geek for most of my life. And no science fiction franchise fuels my excitement more than… you guessed it… Star Wars!

Coming soon to a galaxy near you! (Disney/Sensible Reason)

Coming soon to a galaxy near you! (Disney/Sensible Reason)

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter on April 2, Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn indicated that shooting on Star Wars: Episode VII had begun in earnest and should be ready for release in December 2015. Unfortunately, he wouldn’t reveal much else—especially about casting, which Horn claimed was nearly complete—but he did mention a few tidbits worth recounting here.

The first is that the screenplay was co-written by two very talented Star Wars fans—Lawrence Kasdan (who penned The Empire Strikes Back) and J.J. Abrams—following an early draft by Michael Arndt. And if you ask me, only die-hard fans can produce a film worthy of carrying the Star Wars moniker.

The second tidbit likely isn’t new information, but Horn also mentioned that the new story would pick up “where 6 left off—and where 6 left off is 35 years ago by the time this is released.”

In other words, it won’t be easy to “connect the dots” between 1983’s Return of the Jedi and this new chapter—or the new trilogy, for that matter. I’m sure George Lucas is still receiving hate mail for his prequel films, which some fans feel should be viewed separately from the original trilogy. Granted, I feel he did the best he could to “set the stage” for the middle three episodes—aside from including Jar Jar Binks and casting that annoying, talentless kid as young Anakin—but this new trilogy should have much less work to do in this respect. After all, it won’t be limited by its connection to the Star Wars canon, or forced to tie up any loose ends, and can instead focus on new characters, new worlds and—most importantly—new ideas.

And this, dear readers, has me more excited about going to the theater than I have likely ever been. Now all we have to do is wait!

Laser Guns: Step One

PHOTO: The Laser Weapon System (LaWS) temporarily installed aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Dewey (DDG 105) in San Diego, Calif., July 30, 2012, is a technology demonstrator built by the Naval Sea Systems Command from commercial fiber solid state

It’s portable, but still has a way to go (courtesy of John F. Williams/US Navy)

On Monday, United States Navy leaders made an announcement that could forever change the business of war. It could also bring Star Wars nerds like me one step closer to owning a laser pistol like Han Solo or a laser rifle like a Stormtrooper.

Early next year, the Navy plans to deploy their latest weapon on the USS Ponce warship: a solid-state laser capable of destroying fast-moving drones and even small boats. See it in action HERE.

And we’re not talking about some prototype, either. This thing will be ready for action as soon as it leaves port.

I guess this will have to wait (property of LucasFilm/Disney)

“The system has been tested and proven,” a defense official said of the new $31 million dollar laser system. “So while it’s going on the Ponce as a demonstration, it is a system that can be used in real-world scenarios.”

In other words, our enemies better watch out. This laser may not be perfect. It can’t bend around corners or anything, and seems to have trouble with the horizon and the Earth’s curvature. Even these could be worked out in later versions, though.

I know this technology is in its infancy and that I will likely be dead two times over before I’ll ever own a laser pistol, but a Han Solo fan can dream, right? And since technology seems to be advancing so quickly these days, it is at least possible that I could own one. Or may be killed by one, but hey… being the first victim of laser homicide has its benefits, too.

My son will have to reap them in my absence, but I’ll take what I can get!

Racist LEGOs? Please…

Jabba’s Palace or poorly-designed mosque? (courtesy of LEGO)

If you ask me, some people are far too sensitive.

Earlier this year, Time magazine ran an article about a LEGO toy and asked readers if it seemed racist. This particular toy comes from the Star Wars universe—Jabba’s Palace—and to me, it looks pretty cool.

Sadly, not everyone agrees.

One group that was offended by this toy was the Turkish Cultural Community of Austria (TCCA), who claimed the toy looked too much like mosques and other religious structures in Beirut and Istanbul. They also claimed that some of the figures included with the LEGO set—characters the company isn’t even responsible for creating—reflect negatively on different racial groups in Asia.

To them, Jabba’s palace reinforces “racial prejudice and vulgar insinuations against… Orientals and Asians as sneaky and criminal personalities (slaveholders, leaders of criminal organizations, terrorists, criminals, murderers, human sacrifice)…” and so on, and so forth.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but don’t most Asian people frown upon the term Orientals? From what I understand, this descriptor is just as offensive as calling a Spanish person a wetback or a Caucasian a honkie.

Either way, it doesn’t seem very politically correct.

At any rate, LEGO has elected to pull Jabba’s Palace from store shelves, but not because some people consider it racist. Here’s their official statement on the matter:

“A few media have reported that the product is being discontinued due to the mentioned criticism. This is, however, not correct … As a normal process products in the LEGO Star Wars assortment usually have a life-cycle of one to three years after which they leave the assortment and may be renewed after some years. The LEGO Star Wars product Jabba’s Palace 9516 was planned from the beginning to be in the assortment only until the end of 2013 as new exciting models from the Star Wars universe will follow.”

Of course, the TCCA views this move as some kind of victory or confirmation that their racial claims were warranted: “We are very grateful and congratulate LEGO on the decision to take Jabba’s Palace out of production.”

Give me a small break.

Have things deteriorated so much in our civilization that even harmless children’s toys can be accused of being racist?

I would understand if someone produced an Al-Qaeda Ken doll or Barbie with slanted eyes, but Star Wars? How can fictional characters from a movie released more than two decades ago suddenly become racist and offensive? And where were these complainers when the film was first released?

Now that’s offensive! (courtesy of LucasFilm/Disney)

It boggles the mind to think that in the age of technological enlightenment and increasing tolerance, people would still take offense to something so ridiculous. Sure, there are times when products do reinforce racial prejudices or insult particular groups, but this surely isn’t one of them.

Freaking Jar Jar Binks was more offensive than Jabba and his crew, for goodness sake.

If you ask me, it’s time for people to stop being so hypersensitive, to take more things at face value and to understand that when it comes to breaking down racial barriers—especially where children are concerned—good parenting will help more than criticizing some kids’ toy.

Why not focus your attention on that for a change?

The Force Unleashed

The three lead protagonists of Star Wars, from...

Are they coming back to a galaxy near you? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ever since the Walt Disney Company purchased Lucasfilm, the force behind the Star Wars franchise (pun intended), and announced it would produce a plethora of new films, television shows and other tantalizing products—maybe even a theme park—rumors have been flying.

The most attention has been focused on the next film set for release in 2015 and tentatively known as Star Wars 7. I’m sure someone will give it a much snappier title later.

According to the first reports, several cast members from the original trilogy had signed on to appear in the next film. Among them were Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia) and the elusive, earring-wearing Harrison Ford (Han Solo). A week later, none of them were on-board. Fisher’s rep even went so far as to claim that her initial agreement was “a joke.”

Then came George Lucas, the great and powerful Oz of the Star Wars universe.

In a recent interview with Bloomberg Businessweek, Lucas claimed that the three stars had already been signed to appear in the next Star Wars film before Disney ever purchased Lucasfilm. They were at least in the final stages of negotiation.

“We were negotiating with them,” Lucas said. “I won’t say whether the negotiations were successful or not.”

George Lucas

George Lucas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The fact that George backtracked a little after “spilling the beans” makes me think he knows more than he’s telling us. I wouldn’t be surprised if there really were contracts signed by the Holy Trinity of science fiction characters… um… I mean actors.

My bad.

To a Star Wars nut like me, this seems like good news even though all of these folks are pushing retirement age. For now, it seems we can expect at least a cameo appearance from each of them. Unless something else changes, that is. And we all know it probably will.

Regardless of what happens with Mark, Carrie and Harrison, I must say that I am EXTREMELY excited for the next episode in my favorite film franchise of all time. J.J. Abrams is directing. Oscar winner Michael Arndt is writing the screenplay. George Lucas is consulting. What more could you want, right?

I’ll tell you what. If you’re like me—especially when it comes to Star Wars—you want more. It’s as simple as that. And thanks to Walt Disney, there could be more on the way soon.

Recent reports suggest there could be a series of spinoff films focusing on different characters in the Star Wars universe. In fact, some of these films may already be in development. According to E! Entertainment, Lawrence Kasdan and Simon Kinberg are teaming up to work on screenplays not connected to the new trilogy.

Kasdan has Star Wars “street cred” for writing both The Empire Strikes Back—by far my favorite of all the films—and Return of the JediKinberg wrote the screenplay for Sherlock Holmes, which also carries some weight. Put them together and you have one hell of a creative force, though.

Dare I say, a force unleashed?

I wonder which character will get the first spinoff? If I had to guess, I’d say it’s Boba Fett, who was always a pretty cool dude. What people don’t know is that he didn’t really die in the Sarlaac’s belly. His Mandalorian armor protected him enough that he was able to climb out and survive.

Boba Fett, the most well-known Mandalorian in ...

Boba Fett (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How much of a nerd am I for knowing that?

I’m not sure what happened to Boba Fett after that harrowing experience. As long as he didn’t hit the talk show circuit, though, it would probably make for a very entertaining film.

Chewbacca would be an interesting choice if he could communicate in something more than roars, growls and grumbles. Watching a film with subtitles and Wookies just wouldn’t work, especially for younger fans.

Honestly, I don’t care which characters are “spun off” because they will still provide me with more wholesome Star Wars entertainment. And if I hear anything else worth sharing, I’ll be sure to post it here, my fellow Jedi and Sith warriors.

Until then, may the Force be with you!

Told you I was a nerd.

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