Friday, 28 February 2014

Star Wars Episode VI: Triumph of the Ewoks

Despite the fact Return of the Jedi is often seen as the weakest of the Original Trilogy (and rightly so), it was my favourite Star Wars movie as a kid. Although A New Hope is now my favourite Star Wars movie (and favourite movie period), and while I recognise that The Empire Strikes Back is the best movie of the trilogy, Return of the Jedi will always hold a warm place in my heart.

There are enough scenes of Luke Skywalker being a badass in the first third of the movie while he's rescuing Han Solo to stir those childhood moments when I thought he was the coolest wizard in the galaxy.

Jedis are wizards, right? My 10 year old self could barely comprehend that they occasionally used blasters in addition to light-swords and magic. 

However, it is rather unusual that Luke occupies the cool character role at all. This is because the previous movies had conditioned us to think that he was just a whiny farm boy who also just so happened to have a bitching light-sword and could move things with his mind (if he tried really hard and didn't give up like he generally did because he was a punk and made Yoda sad). In the Episodes IV and V of the Star Wars Saga, one character, and one character only, occupied the coolest-motherfucker-in-the-galaxy role and that was Han Solo.

I'm just going to leave this up here...

Han is the epitome of cool. He radiates cool like the way uranium radiates radiation. It's just what he does. A swashbuckling anti-hero for the ages and galaxies, Han is the perfect wish fulfillment fantasy, equal parts cowboy/outlaw/rogue/ruffian/rock 'n' roller/pilot/pirate/surprisingly sensitive lover, he is a huge part of what makes Star Wars amazing.

Unfortunately, being cryogenic frozen in carbonite had quite the chilling (sorry) impact on Han's cool (I'm so sorry), putting him out of commission for the first third of the film, leaving Luke to pick up the slack.  
"Cloud City Carbonite Freezing - Putting your cool on ice for 50 years!"

Indeed, Return of the Jedi can actually be thought of as a film of two halves. The first half is pure rescue mission with the whole gang trying to save Han's cool from being eternally encased in carbonite as Jabba the Hutt's favourite decoration, leading them to kill bounty hunters and feed the Sarlaac while Han revives. At this stage of the film he is practically as helpless as a child, weak and blinded by the loss of his cool factor.

Although he soon recovers enough for GIF sized witty banter, the healing process was somewhat slow and full recovery took a whole act.

The second half is a bit more interwoven, with a three plotlines occurring simultaneously as Luke confronts the Emperor and Darth Vader, Lando Calrissian flies the Millennium Falcon in a pretty awesome space battle (complete with laser blasts and exploding spaceships) against the Imperial Starfleet, while Han and Leia team up with the teddy bears on Endor to overthrow the Empire.
"Sorry. What? Repeat that last part..." - Han Solo

Although few people like to admit it, the Empire was totally overthrow by a bunch of cuddly jungle teddy bears armed with sticks and stones. No, literally. Amongst their weaponry are such diverse elements as: sticks, stones, slingshots, spears, bows and arrows, but mostly sticks and stones.

I guess your armory is never empty when you can basically just pick up ammunition off the floor. 

While the thought of the evil and galaxy spanning Empire being overthrown by what are essentially forest moon Care Bears is initially upsetting, it actually makes a lot of sense. The Empire was never going to be taken down by another equally formidable military force; remember, the Rebel Alliance was a ragtag bunch of misfits staffed by outlaws and runaway politicians, with little in the way of advanced weaponry (see sticks and stones entry above) or military intelligence.

When your general is a talking calamari whose only military insight is knowing that something is a trap when it is in the process of trapping him, you might be lacking in the battle strategist department.

The Rebellion is constantly on the back-foot, on the run from the Empire, lacking facilities or a stable stronghold, unable to fight the Empire directly due to their small and insufficient military might. Furthermore, we are told by random stoic lady in white, Mon Mothma (who despite never being seen or mentioned again in the movie, is apparently some sort of leader in the Alliance) that the schematics of the new, as yet incomplete, Death Star cost the lives of many Bothan spies to collect.

A Bothan. Obviously.

While this seems rather tragic and raises the stakes due to the price that the information cost, once we learn later that this was false information that the Emperor planted and let them gather to trick the Alliance into attacking the fully armed and operational battle station, it just becomes sad. Because now those poor mammalian anthropoid Bothans died for nothing and were actually quite inept at their job, which was to gather information. Sadly, Bothans make bad spies.


But this just highlights why the military might of teddy bears on a forest moon are the only logical way the Empire could have been defeated: they are the ultimate underdogs.

No, not that Underdog.

And underdogs will always win out against bigger, stronger, and more organised opponents with better intelligence and more advanced technology. It's science.

Pictured: A utterly superior and better equipped starfleet.
Totally doomed.

And that's why Endor's Care Bears are the harbingers of destruction for the Empire. Their cute and non-intimidating physical appearance and pathetic prehistoric weaponry is so hopelessly outclassed by the Stormtroopers blasters, giant AT-ATs (the big walking tanks/killing machines) and speeder bikes that is there is no way the Empire could ever conceive of winning with the odds so strongly in their favour. Really, they should have retreated, it was practically suicide.

You laugh but that's because you forget that this happened.

These forest moon teddy bears are really agents of death for any superior or more technologically advanced enemy force. Really, the greater the size of the enemy force the more doomed they are to crushing and humiliating defeat at the hands (paws?) of those adorable little fur-bags.

Originally, the battle was to set on the Wookie home planet and while that initially sounds unbelievably awesome, it would have inevitably spelt doom for the Rebel Alliance. Wookiees are a fierce, powerful, and technologically advanced race of Sasquatches that rip off the arms of whomever they're playing a friendly game of Dejarik with if they lose.

Fantastic warriors, poor losers.

While I am aware that the "Oh. My. God. A-battle-on-the-Wookiee-home-planet-would-be-frigging-amazing!!!" part of your brain is still flashing, there actually was a battle on the Wookiee home planet. During the Galactic Civil War. Which the good guys (including Wookiees) lost. Because they were just too badass to be anywhere close to the sort of underdog needed to defeat an evil Empire that spanned a whole galaxy.

But behold, the destroyer of empires!

No, in order to defeat a galaxy spanning evil Empire dedicated to the Dark Side and the elimination of democracy, you need an underdog like no other. An underdog so technologically inert they think that whatever sticks or stones lying on the ground are good enough against blasters and metal walking tanks. A race of aliens so utterly cute that it literally makes you sick to your stomach how completely adorable they are.

"Awww, look! It's flying on little wings it made to glide about. And see the tiny rocks it's going to drop on us. Isn't it adorable?" - A Stormtrooper mere seconds before his death.

The Rebel Alliance won against the Empire, not because Luke manage to turn Darth Vader back to the Light Side of the Force or Vader subsequently killing the Emperor, or even Lando Calrissian blowing up the Death Star (Mk.II). Rather, it was the mere fact that Han and Leia got on really well with some Care Bears on a forest moon and convinced them to join their side.

Isn't it?


Hijinks Ensue (read it, it's amazing)

Return of the Jedi Wikipedia page

Ewok Wikipedia page

Bothan Wookieepedia page

Friday, 21 February 2014

Indiana Jones and the Authentic Indian Cuisine of Pankot Palace

Are you planning an exotic journey to that mystical land of Hinduism and sacred cows, India? Then during your stay, please come and enjoy the very best of Indian cuisine at the exquisite Pankot Palace. This beautifully restored Palace is located in North India, just past the nearby village of Mayapore, which is filled with authentically starving and superstitious villagers.

Feel the sense of colonial power which can only be truly experienced when a village of malnourished natives revere you like a god because it looks as though you ate in the last week.

"Maybe if we crowd them, they'll give us some food or at least treat us as something other than stereotypes to be saved." - Superstitious starving villager #6.

Important Notice: A warning though, the spiritual leader of the village may attempt charge you with a perilous quest to return the village's sacred Sivalinga stone which he will alleged was stolen by the village and is kept on Palace premises. This is a fraudulent and baseless accusation he has made several times with little proof more than vague shamanism and the eyewitness accounts of starving natives, who were in all probability most likely hallucinating from hunger.

Pictured: Fraud.
 Not pictured: The good spiritual leader of a desperate people in need.

From Mayapore, you will be able to take the pleasurable and exciting elephant ride to the Palace. Elephants are well known for being the biggest land mammal on the planet and are the number one mode of transportation by the local population in India.

Each elephant comes with its own guide and only takes diesel.

Upon your arrival at the Pankot Palace, you will be graciously welcomed by our friendly staff and no less than the Prime Minister of Pankot Palace, and representative of the Maharajah himself, Chattar Lal.

"Welcome, welcome. Please ignore the murderous cult underneath the Palace."

In regards to the menu, the Palace is renowned the world over for its 100% authentic and totally-not-made-up-bullshit traditional Indian cuisine. With dishes steeped in the vibrant culture and rich heritage of the land, Pankot Palace boasts one of the most impressive Indian restaurants in the world.

Foregoing the largely vegetarian meals that the naive traveler might think are largely embraced by Indian and Hindu people, the Palace's restaurant instead features predominantly carnivorous courses. These extravagant dishes are designed with the sole purpose of shocking the sensitivities of white people by their sheer peculiarity and apparent barbarism.

One of the chef's specialties is a hearty helping of Coiled Wrigglies, a delicious dish sure to induce equal amounts of excitement and squeamishness.

In a matter of seconds one patron shall be overcome with excitement while the other will shriek in terror.
Both reactions will please the chef. He's odd like that.

The snake is a boa constrictor heavenly boiled and stuffed with a special treat, which is why the dish is also known by the alias, Snake Surprise.

The surprise is eels, because of course it is.

Following Coiled Wrigglies (or Snake Surprise), is Crispy Coleoptera, described by the chef as, "Fresh beetles, still in the shell, bursting with meltingly delectable innards." The beetles are boiled alive to lock in flavour and are best enjoyed by accompanying each bite with loud slurping noises and belching.
Mmm, finger-licking good.

Catering for those with a more sensitive palate, if the spices in Crispy Coleoptera are a little too exotic for your liking, you can always have Soup of the Head as an alternative. This thick broth is made from various parts of a sheep's head and has a rich aroma that is truly irresistible.

The eyeballs add flavour.

For the dessert, the Palace boasts the chef's pièce de résistance, Primate Parfait.

It is so undeniably delicious, one could blown one's top. Well, a monkey's.

This delicacy is lovingly presented, consisting of chilled monkey's brain served within the open head of the primate whose grey matter you will soon be digesting. Much like caviar but less salty, Primate Parfait is sure to tantalize the taste-buds and provide a satisfactory conclusion to a wonderful meal.

Photos of guests reactions to the courses are available for purchase at the gift shop upon your departure.

Following the meal, should you wish to enjoy the hospitality of the Palace a little longer, entertainment will be provided by the delightfully barbaric Thuggee cult. Marvel as they perform a human sacrifice to the Hindi god Kali (who never asked for a sacrifice since that's not really her thing).

Watch in amazement as the Head Priest of the Thuggee literally reaches into a man's chest and pulls out his still-beating heart.

Which will then burst into fire! The pyrotechnic team put a lot of effort on that one.

Furthermore, among the many facilities available at the Pankot Palace is the always thrilling mine cart ride, which is sure to set a few hearts thumping, if not a-flaming.

Pankot Palace accepts no responsibility for any injury sustained on the ride while being chased by the Thuggee cult.
Patrons with heart conditions or who are pregnant may not permitted on the ride due to health concerns.

Once the mine cart ride is over, you can enjoy the tranquil and scenic walk across the rope bridge that transverses the gorge.

Although old and rickety, the bridge routinely passes its safety inspections.

In addition to the beautiful natural sights before you, the river below is bursting with wild life, most notably crocodiles.

Don't mind the screams. It's only feeding time.

Fear not about the Thuggee cult if they are still pursuing you and shooting arrows in your general direction, the British Indian Army will come at the last moment to save you and show those heathens what for.

You can tell that these are good Indians because they are wearing blue and have guns. The bad ones wear red and have bows.
The blue ones also have a white guy in charge, because racism.

We at the Pankot Palace really hope you decided to come to our establishment and enjoy the most authentic Indian experience in India, lacking any of that boring 'real' Indian culture but instead bursting to the seams with adventure, shock value, and cultural indifference.

Bookings available now!


Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom Wikipedia entry

Kali Wikipedia entry

Indiana Jones Wiki Dinner Scene

Shashi Tadoor on Temple of Doom and its problematic depiction of Indian culture

Friday, 7 February 2014

They're Superheroes, What's the Worst That Could Happen?

"Where are they now? They are living among us. Average citizens, average heroes, quietly and anonymously continuing to make the world a better place." 

Everyone remembers those stoic words intoned at the end of the newsreel announcing the end of the Super Era with the passing of the Superhero Relocation Program. 

Facing mounting public pressure and a seemingly endless battle in the courts against lawsuits from people the Supers kind of wished they hadn't have saved, the government caved and put the Supers into hiding.

Ah, the halcyon days of 2008, when New Spandex was considered a modern miracle.

Which we all know now was a terrible, terrible idea. For although the Supers were forced into early quiet retirement and forbidden from using their powers, this was not really the case for Super Villains who, already on the wrong side of the law, took the absence of the Supers with villainous glee.

Or alternatively, French smugness.

Following the relocation of the Supers, crime rates spiked while Superhero sightings dropped to all time lows. Although some Villains such as Bomb Voyage (pictured above) did retire due to the scarcity of worthy adversaries to test their villainy, most continued their evil ways unabated.

Ex-villain. Current profession: Street side entertainer/scarer of chidren.

Subsequently, law enforcement officials the world over, lacking the fundamental tool for fighting Super Villains (namely super powers), had their resources stretched to the limit.

It was much better when Elastigirl did all the stretching.

With the police offering little to no resistance, Super Villains such Baron von Ruthless went on vicious crime sprees that ravaged cities. At one point, The Red Menace, who survived his airborn collision with Captain Capitalist, essentially held Newtropolis at ransom. This cost the city millions in taxpayers dollars to subdue the master criminal, leading some to criticise the Superhero Relocation Program with a slight resurgence in support for Supers still in hiding.

This resurgence in support for the return of the Supers has gained even more momentum in light of the events of last month, now referred to as the Syndrome Incident. Buddy Pine, noted technology entrepreneur and a delusional ex-fan of Mr. Incredible, as his alter-ego Syndrome unleashed a giant robot on the city in a foiled attempt to gain public support as a superhero by defeating said giant robot, known as a Omnidroid.

Yes. This man tried to convince the general public he was a superhero and totally not evil.

Luckily for the citizens of Newtropolis, Syndrome's plan was foiled by what appeared to be a new family of Supers dressed in bold red attire, that bears the hallmarks of the distinctive work by that fashion guru for Supers, Edna Mode. 

Fashion genius at work.

Unconfirmed reports suggest that the father and mother of the superhero family appear to be Mr. Incredible, famed hero and the first Super to be sued, and Elastigirl, noted feminist Super. This has led many commentators to conclude that the young speedster and teenage girl who generated force-fields to be their children. Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl were often rumored to be Super power couple by gossip magazines, such as the now-defunct Superhero Weekly. Furthermore, in his last interview before the lawsuits ensued, Mr. Incredible entertained the notion of settling down and starting a family. It seems likely that he got his wish while in the Relocation Program.  

Are these two former Supers now a married couple with a family of Supers?

While police have not issued a statement as of yet, eyewitness accounts and several amateur photos taken by members of the public also place former ice-powered hero, Frozone at the scene. This seems to be confirmed as the lake in the middle of the city is currently covered in ice, despite the high summer temperatures on the day of the Syndrome Incident.

This is an unverified photo of the chilled former Super in action on the scene.

The great success of the family of Supers, unofficially dubbed The Incredibles, in thwarting Syndrome's scheme and destroying the Omnidroid has caused many politicians to reconsider public opinion regarding the Superhero Relocation Program, with calls to revoke the program.

And all it took was a giant robot of death.

If the program is revoked, the Supers may be able to come out of hiding and resume hero work, although this may cause numerous legislative and procedural issues. Regardless, Supers United, a lobby group of opponents of the Superhero Relocation Program started by the late Simon J. Paladino, alias Gazerbeam, seems to be using The Incredibles as figureheads for a push for Supers to come out of hiding. Public opinion seems to be shifting too but it remains to be seen if the program will indeed be revoked in the future.

With this super family anything is possible, especially photogenic publicity shots.


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