Lit Literature member interviews

Discussion in 'Literature' started by Point Given, Jun 6, 2013.

  1. Point Given Mod of Literature and Community

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Dec 12, 2006
    star 5

    And just to add my last two questions before I forget

    19. What are your favorite quotes? (Fictional/said by real people, etc.)

    20. What's the scariest thing that's ever happened to you?
  2. instantdeath Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 22, 2010
    star 5
    Apologies for the delay. Had to do a 12 hour drive yesterday, followed by sleeping most of today. Luckily, I think I can do the last four questions at once this time.

    Because I just know that my

    17. What are your favorite videogames, in and out of Star Wars?

    Both in terms of overall quality and in, well, my development (every heard of the "ten thousand hour rule"? Essentially, it says that if you spend ten thousand hours on anything, you will have become a master at it. Something like 80% of teenagers today have put in their 10,000 hours in video games. While I've never been a complete addict when it comes to games, I can't help being in my generation), I have to mention KOTOR. I've said before how the game was the first Star Wars product I ever really cared about. And that twist... that was my "I am your father" moment. I pity kids who didn't have an "I am your father" moment. Today, I wonder if I would have seen it coming, but playing it as a kid, it really did turn my world upside down.

    I'm really just a fan of Bioware in general. They've had their ups and downs, no question, but frankly, I believe their downs are still better than the highs of most companies. The Mass Effect series remains one of my favorites and, in my opinion, one of gaming's greatest achievements. It has flaws, no question, but anything with ambition does. I can't convey how much I love the concept of cross-title importing. While it's admittedly not used to its full potential in the ME series, I sincerely hope it will be the first of many. And of course, it created a fairly detailed universe in a manner that video games are most suited for (there was an interesting article that I can't find on this, but it essentially boiled down to this: aliens are easier to create through video games, and therefore it's easier to populate your worlds with them and make them seem less human. Which is one reason I sort of feel Mass Effect should have created some more wacky aliens).

    I also really, really loved the Metal Gear Solid series as a kid. Hell, I think being a kid made it much easier to follow the plot. I haven't played them in awhile- since 2008, in fact, the day MGS4 came out- but I imagine I'd still love them. MGS3 and 4 are both masterpieces. Incidentally, both of them have the "honor" of being the only two games I've ever beaten in one sitting. I just can't sit still for long at all, just not wired that way, and this was doubly true as a kid- the fact that those two had me on my ass for 10+ hours is a testament to how absorbed I was.

    Possibly my favorite game, but I'd have to finish it to be sure, is Planescape: Torment. Such a quirky, creative game. Even as someone who loves to read, I haven't tried to read all the dialogue (seems like every random NPC has a history, especially if you decide to play typical RPG-protagonist-douche bag who asks a million questions), but it's uniformly very well written.

    Those are the ones that really stand out. I haven't finished yet, but The Last of Us looks like it could easily join that list. It's everything I loved about Uncharted, but with characters I actually really care about (sorry, Drake, you're funny, but that's about all you are). While I haven't had time to play nearly as much of it as I want, Crusader Kings II is pretty much everything I've ever wanted in a real time strategy game; massive in scale, but putting emphasis on people, and not gigantic armies (though those are fun too, I love the Total War games as well).

    18. What are your hopes for the sequel trilogy? What do you think about the selection of J.J. Abrams and Michael Arndt for director and screenwriter?

    I admit, I was a bit worried by the initial announcement of JJ Abrams, just because I've never been a huge fan. At the time, I had only seen Super 8, which was serviceable, but mostly forgettable and unremarkable to me. It also had a Spielbergian level of over-sentimentality, which is something that, if not done well, will annoy me faster than a five year old with a toy lightsaber (gah). I did get around to watching Star Trek, which of course has its problems, but overall I enjoyed it. Believe it or not, Into Darkness has me a bit more confident, as that movie felt like a Star Wars movie barely even attempting to keep up a facade that it was Star Trek.

    As for Arndt, like many people, I gave Little Miss Sunshine a watch, just to get a handle on his writing. While it will almost certainly bear little similarities with EpVII, it was a fairly well written film (with the father winning the "movie characters I want to hit with a crowbar" award with top marks). The ending was incredibly cheesy, though; it was obviously meant to be heartwarming, but it just didn't hit the right notes for me. Really, I just haven't seen enough from this guy to make a judgment.

    What do I want to see from EpVII? Hard to say, since this answer changes almost daily. Everything at this point is so uncertain, I have a number of things I'd be okay with. Rather than go into details, I'll give some very vague ideas I'd like to see in the film.

    The Luke Skywalker we should be getting in the EU- for the love of Waru, do not try to drag the prequel Jedi's ideologies into Luke's order. As Denning and co. seem to have forgotten, those are the ideologies that plunged the galaxy into darkness for two decades, the ideologies that killed millions of beings. Let Luke find a new way. Let him be the ideal Jedi, not a monk who cuts himself off from the outside world, but who grew up in it.

    General Solo- Already been over this. Just watch the Ender's Game trailer and tell me you don't see General Solo. Even if you do, I'll call you a liar.

    Two generations working together, not at each others throats: Highlight the new heroes, but don't portray the old characters as outdated relics who need to be shown the light. If you're going to use the old cast, use them, and use them well. Any good passing-the-torch story has to, y'know, include an actual passing of the torch. Show us the incredible ideal the new characters have to live up to. Highlight the new characters struggles, of course, since they are the stars.

    Even if it is a new timeline, include nods to the EU- Some will disagree with this one. If you would have asked me this question a year ago, perhaps less, I would have outright refused to listen to anything that had to do with multiple Star Wars continuities. Star Wars is one universe. That's its strength, what makes it unique from other franchises. I think getting into comics has mellowed me on that point somewhat; I've found that I have no problem enjoying, say, the Ultimate Marvel universe while still enjoying the main comics, while still enjoying the movies. Granted, Star Wars is different, because even on Marvel's best day they never have anything even approaching Star War's level of cohesion.

    But if it were just two interpretations? I could live with that. I could go with seeing a new artistic interpretation to one of pop-cultures biggest questions: "what happened after Star Wars?". It's a big question, and like all big questions, it likely doesn't have one answer.

    With all that said, I personally would get a small thrill from being told that, in some way, the EU was being paid attention to, even that it was being mined for ideas. Include EU concepts, ships, aliens. Instead of using nameless extra's, make them EU characters. I'm not sure if these nods should go so far as to, say, name Han and Leia's children Jacen and Jaina- it could get annoying separating the two versions. But if you're going to give Luke a wife, why not make her a redhead named Mara Jade? That small gesture would move stars in terms of pleasing some of the older fans, fans who have paid large amount of money and, perhaps more importantly, spent so much time following the EU. Let the ideas live on, even if they're not identical.

    Star Wars is not modern myth in the way that super heroes are, but it's the closest equivalent cinema has. The main ideas of myths live on, but the details are all but meant to be reinterpreted for later generations.

    19. What are your favorite quotes? (Fictional/said by real people, etc.)

    Well, the one in my sig is pretty nifty, and it comes from what I consider to be a very unlikely source. I do believe it perfectly highlights what I've always considered to be one of the biggest holes in Christian doctrine, though. I was always the kid who would pester my Bible teacher with questions: "so if I killed half the world, but repented and accepted Jesus into my heart, would I get into Heaven?" And the answer was always yes. Ironically, that assurance was something that pushed me away from Christianity. If god lets assholes like that into Heaven, and denies good people that happen to like other gods better, I'd rather be anywhere else.

    Another good one is from H.L. Mencken. "Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.". It's so deliciously cynical. Like all intensely-cynical one-liners, it's not entirely true, but just that small ring of truth is enough to make it powerful.

    Speaking of cynicism, which I'm guilty of from time to time, I really like this quote regarding it, from George Carlin. "Inside every cynical person, there is a disappointed idealist."

    And I like this one from George Orwell. “The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.”

    I have quite a few favorite quotes about writing. This one is good enough to build a writing around (I'd argue Joss Whedon does exactly that).

    "It's easier to make someone cry if you've already made them laugh. And vice versa."

    I believe too many current writers, and by extension current fans, like to cut everything out for the sake of drama. I briefly talked about how I think this is a recurring problem in the post-NJO timeline.


    If I wanted to quote fiction, I could probably spend all day on it. There's a reason I want to be a fiction writer, after all. Reality just can't compare.

    Might as well start with Stover, since one of his greatest strengths is writing extremely quotable prose.

    “Everybody spends their whole lives pretending that **** isn’t random. We trace connections between events, and we invest those connections with meaning. That’s why we all make stories out of our lives. That’s what stories are: ways of pretending that things happen for a reason."

    I'd say that's another point for my fantasy>>>>>reality theory.

    And of course one that was my previous sig. In reference to To Kill a Mockingbird.

    "You're f***ing right Boo Radley. The monster down the block. That's what I get from that book: when the real world comes after everything you love with a knife, you civilized fuckers better pray there's a monster looking out for them."


    I really love this recurring quote from the A Song of Ice and Fire series.

    "The man who reads lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who doesn't read lives only one."

    That's enough for now.

    20. What's the scariest thing that's ever happened to you?

    Scariest? Hmm. I haven't lived what one might call a highly dangerous life. I suppose the closest I've come to death would be the time I got stuck in a tornado, and even then, either from youthful stubbornness or optimism, I never really feared for my life. But it's close enough.

    I was driving home from school- frankly, I shouldn't have been driving at all given the weather, but like I said, I was stubborn- and while I was on the freeway, the storm seemed to spontaneously go insane. One moment it was just windy and raining; the next, it was blinding. Because I'm not completely suicidal, I pulled over. For roughly an hour or so, I had to wait the storm out. Rain buffeted my car to the point where it almost felt like the windows were going to crack. The wind moved it around so much that it felt like some incredibly pissed off god was shaking it around in the palm of his hand. At some point a small tree hit my car.

    It was really only scary in retrospect, though. At the time, I remember being a little bit bored, especially since I couldn't listen to music over the loud rain.

    And that's that. Anything about me that had even the slightest chance of being interesting has been dragged out of me, inch by bloody inch.
    Barriss_Coffee likes this.
  3. instantdeath Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 22, 2010
    star 5
    And I just realized I was gonna write some self-deprecating thing right before this round of questions about how I just know people have been dying without my wisdom, but I forgot to put it in, so it's just a sentence that awkwardly cuts off in the middle. Well, surely you can imagine something funnier than what I'd have written.

    But the good news is, with this interview done I have time to get back to the Jedi Prince thread! Better get to work on that.

    [IMG]
    Last edited by instantdeath, Jul 23, 2013
  4. Point Given Mod of Literature and Community

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Dec 12, 2006
    star 5
    And that's the end of the interview! The floor is now open for anyone to ask instantdeath questions. In a day or so we'll continue with Havac!
  5. CooperTFN TFN EU Staff Emeritus

    VIP
    Member Since:
    Jul 8, 1999
    star 6
    Prepare your splash guards, everyone.
  6. Barriss_Coffee Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2003
    star 6
    Ok Instant, I have a very personal question to ask you. If I'm pushing the boundaries, feel free to report me to the mods for my insolence.


    What, exactly, is your avatar supposed to be?
  7. CooperTFN TFN EU Staff Emeritus

    VIP
    Member Since:
    Jul 8, 1999
    star 6
    Promo image of the band The Residents.

    MUAHAHA LIT FORUM I AM YOUR INSTANTDEATH NOW
  8. instantdeath Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 22, 2010
    star 5
    Yep, The Residents. A crazy avant-garde band (though I'd personally argue that they're more pop deconstructionist than full avant-garde, but that's a whole different conversation) that have somehow managed to hide their identities for over 30 years now. If you have any taste at all for avant-garde/experimental, you won't find many who do it better than them.

    They're artwork tends to be just as crazy as their music. There is a message to the eyeball heads in top hats, but it works just as well as sensational imagery. That's something I love about the band; whether you're listening to them for their brilliant post-modernist genre skewering, or just playing it at a school dance to scare everyone (now that was fun: I believe this was the song I used.. It's one of their less freaky songs), it works on both levels.

    I've gotta be honest, though. I chose it for the black skull dude shaking his fist.
    Last edited by instantdeath, Jul 23, 2013
  9. RC-1991 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 2, 2009
    star 4
    RE: Revan, I've always enjoyed the notion that he was the product of Ulic and Vima.

    Weird, I know.
  10. RC-1991 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 2, 2009
    star 4
    Doublepost, but question for ID:

    Why haven't you finished Malazan yet? [face_waiting]
    Jedi Ben likes this.
  11. Ulicus Lit'ari

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Jul 24, 2005
    star 6
    [face_sick]

    I still hate Hav a little bit for suggesting that possibility when I was on my "Ulic + Nomi = Revan" kick.

    Sadly, he made a good point. They did have more time to get busy. (But given how fast and loose KotOR played with the GSW chronology, I was okay with shoehorning in some extra time on Rhen Var, too :p)
    Last edited by Ulicus, Jul 23, 2013
  12. Havac Some Guy Who Moderates Lit

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2005
    star 7
    Two questions: First, you're obviously passionate about music. What got you so into it, and what genres and artists are your favorites?

    Second, what can we call you that is shorter than "instantdeath"? Instant? Deathie? ID? Innie? Insta?
  13. Ulicus Lit'ari

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Jul 24, 2005
    star 6
  14. instantdeath Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 22, 2010
    star 5
    Because the human brain can only handle a set amount of Crowning Moment's of Awesome?

    Or maybe I'm just too much like Icarium. Something always seems to be there to insure that I never reach the end of the journey :mad:

    I do intend to pick it back up within the next few days, and likely not stop until I reach the end.

    I have to admit I'm not a huge fan of that theory, though I admit to a bias, since I kind of hate both Ulic and Nomi. I'd also use the ol' "makes the galaxy smaller" excuse, but I'

    It's hard to pinpoint one specific point. My dad was a huge classic rock aficionado, so I suppose I was being indoctrinated early. Like most people born in the 90's, I went through a brief phase where I listened to nothing but nu-metal; those were the Dark Times (though I've never lost a nostalgic affection for that stuff). After that, it came gradually. Like every person ever, I got a guitar when I was a pre-teen, but luckily I stuck with it, and have since moved on to playing four other instruments (admittedly using my rather loose definition of "playing").

    I think my obsessive-compulsiveness was responsible for me spending the entirety of my teenage years wearing headphones more than anything. Once I learned how many genres of music there are (hint: there's A LOT), I felt I just had to see what all of them had to offer. Regardless of the medium, genre is something that really fascinates me. I love to see artists pulling different ideas and concepts from a variety of genres and bringing them together to create something new and innovative. I love it just as much when someone can demonstrate an uncanny mastery, or even just an infectious love for it (I'm not a fan of Jack White, but there's a reason so many worship the guy. He's clearly not interested in doing anything new, but at least he does what he does fairly well.)

    I think what I love about music is that it's, in my opinion, the only artform in which anything can be expressed, with the least limitations. Obviously, like with a film or a novel, there does tend to be a structure to follow. Hell, there's an entire field of study. With all of these mediums, rules are made to be broken. But music is the only one in which you can so thoroughly smash the rules to the point they're unrecognizable, put them back together with duck tape, and still get something of true quality. Granted, what you'll get will usually be pretty devisive- there's this strange, undefinable line between stuff like Philip Glass or Merzbow and just annoying noise- but as long as it means something to at least one person, it has worth. I've always been inspired by the story of The Ramones myself; "if these guys can do it, anyone can!"

    All that said, my obsession with music has been dimmed in the past few years, and I think that's for the better. The thing that did it, of course, is the state of the industry. I can and have written essay's on the subject- I literally couldn't be around people while I was writing that damn thing- but suffice it to say that the music industry has steadily changed, from a tolerable evil to an all-consuming creativity Galactus. Essentially, it can be boiled down into something like this: when people say that "music today sucks", they're wrong. There's more music being produced today, and by extension more good music than ever before. What they really mean is that the music industry does its absolute best to highlight the lowest common denominator. While the industry has always had a hand in guiding public taste, thanks to the dawning of the internet, they can practically control it. In more ways than one, the music industry decides what the public buys, through what they choose to promote. It's just not an industry I'm interested in working in. Thankfully, the advent of self publishing looks like it could mark a very important change in the coming years. Within a decade or two, it's very possible that the industry, the Big Four, won't exist at all. Good riddance.

    But enough whining. When it comes to my favorites, I'll always love classic alternative. The Cure, The Smiths, R.E.M., The Go-Betweens, Stone Roses, etc. Radiohead were a very important band for me, as I was inspired by their fearlessness in mixing genres and experimenting early on. Very, very few bands can get away with writing a straight-alternative album, and then an electronica-krautrock album. The Replacements are one of my favorites as well: in more ways than one, this is the band that got me through high school. A love for Beatles-esque pop mixed with the aggressiveness and sincerity of punk music. I'm also a big fan of the genre I've mentioned quite a few times, shoegaze. It's essentially a genre all about creating a "dreamy" atmosphere; it's acid without the acid, and it's freaking brilliant. Loveless is one of those albums everyone should hear. An artistic triumph in every possible fashion. If anyone is curious about the style, here's two wildly different takes on the genre: Slowdive and Ride

    My favorite heavy metal band would definitely be Opeth. They're certainly not for everyone, but I absolutely love them. The dichotomy between the soft, quiet and contemplative sections and the thundering metal sections is masterfully handled. I urge anyone who thinks they despise all things metal to give them a try; their utterly brilliant acoustic segments may just show you the emotional depth a genre that's often inaccurately derided as an outlet for aggressive 14 year old boys can reach. Listen if you don't believe me (though note this one is purely acoustic). Here's something with a slightly turned up metal aesthetic, but rather than angry, it goes for deeply unsettling, creepy and atmospheric, which represents their music as much as anger does). Atheist are also brilliant, but much less accessible than Opeth. Nonetheless, they're ridiculously talented. Indeed, they're sometimes referred to as jazz metal: heavy metal music with the unpredictable time signatures and pure virtuosity often displayed by jazz musicians.[/URL]

    "Classic rock" (I'm not a fan of that term, as it's nothing more than a radio format. Nonetheless, I won't deny it's occasionally helpful) is pretty much been bred into me, so of course I'm a fan of quite a few of them. Like everyone else on earth, I really love The Beatles. What can I say about them, exactly? They were influential, experimental, and most importantly, really damn good. The Who are really great as well; Quadrophenia is a very underrated album. I don't need to say anything about Jimi Hendrix; I'm still not entirely convinced he was human. In terms of somewhat overlooked bands, I'd have to mention The Zombies. Odessey and Oracle is an incredibly baroque pop album.

    My favorite jazz musician would have to be Miles Davis (that's a cliche answer, I know, but I'm not nearly as well versed in jazz as I should be). Favorite hip-hop would have to be DJ Shadow or Outkast. I listen to a lot of classical, but since I usually get them in the form of compilations, I can never remember who composed what. Nonetheless, Beethoven's 9th is one of those rare pieces of music that's exactly as good as everyone says it is.

    As for miscellaneous... The Mountain Goats are pretty important to me as well. I think they (well, it's just a he) was the first person to show me you can make music and still be incredibly funny. The wit in his songs is relentless. Porcupine Tree are fantastic. Depeche Mode's Violator remains one of those albums I have to listen to every once in awhile or I start getting withdrawals. Joy Division need some kind of reward for only recording two albums and changing music history, especially since they only needed their first album.

    I kind of like ID myself... but Ulicus' suggestion isn't bad either. Then again, Deathie is funny in a please-just-kill-me kind of way.
    Last edited by instantdeath, Jul 24, 2013
  15. Jedi Ben Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 19, 1999
    star 6
    Possible answer: It isn't finished! 'tis true....
  16. Point Given Mod of Literature and Community

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Dec 12, 2006
    star 5
    It's now time for our fifth interviewee, noted SKYHOUSE enthusiast @Havac



    Havac


    1. Time for the username question! Why did you choose it? Has it always been your username, or did you go by a different one in the past?

    2. Where are you originally from? Are you currently living there, or did you move elsewhere?

    3. What do you do for a living?
    Last edited by Point Given, Jul 24, 2013
  17. CooperTFN TFN EU Staff Emeritus

    VIP
    Member Since:
    Jul 8, 1999
    star 6
    Does "despair" count?
  18. Point Given Mod of Literature and Community

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Dec 12, 2006
    star 5
  19. AdmiralNick22 Fleet Admiral of Literature

    Manager
    Member Since:
    May 28, 2003
    star 6
    I just want to drop in and say my first memory of my buddy Havac on these boards was a thread he posted about New Republic fleet commanders. He was young, the thread was filled with speculation, but I instantly took a liking to him! :)

    --Adm. Nick
    Havac likes this.
  20. Havac Some Guy Who Moderates Lit

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2005
    star 7
    1. Time for the username question! Why did you choose it? Has it always been your username, or did you go by a different one in the past?

    Yes, in 1998 I secretly registered as DaveAlgonquin, and I only switched to this username after being banned for coating the Welcome New Users section in Chewbacca pornography.

    No, I have always been Havac. When I signed up, I had been lurking without an account for a while, and I knew I wanted a name that wasn't taken, would be unique without tacking a bunch of numbers or a Darth on it, and would sound vaguely cool. I sort of gravitated toward character names as a natural choice, and Havac from Cloak of Deception was the first character I thought of who had a cool-sounding name and wasn't taken. It was more about the sound of the name than the character, since I'm not a particularly big fan of the guy or anything, though I do adore the book. It has resulted in a lot of people calling me "Havoc," though. I don't know if they think they're correcting my spelling, or they're just not paying attention. But it's based on the character! I can spell!


    2. Where are you originally from? Are you currently living there, or did you move elsewhere?

    I'm from Madison, Wisconsin. I grew up in the suburbs, and went to school in the city at UW. So I've never lived anywhere else. I love Madison; it has a really great combination of small size and vibrancy.


    3. What do you do for a living?

    I'm a recovering student. During summers and other breaks since I was sixteen, I've worked for my dad's construction company doing earthmoving. Running scraper, mostly, though there's a lot of other stuff in there. This is a scraper, because no one ever knows what they are:

    [IMG] [IMG]
    [IMG] [IMG]
  21. Point Given Mod of Literature and Community

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Dec 12, 2006
    star 5
    4. How do you rank the Star Wars films. Can you explain your reasoning?

    5. Who are your favorite Star Wars characters? Why?
  22. CooperTFN TFN EU Staff Emeritus

    VIP
    Member Since:
    Jul 8, 1999
    star 6
    Damn you for making me need to Google that.
  23. Havac Some Guy Who Moderates Lit

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2005
    star 7
  24. CooperTFN TFN EU Staff Emeritus

    VIP
    Member Since:
    Jul 8, 1999
    star 6
    I do--I meant that I hated myself for not remembering the reference.
  25. Havac Some Guy Who Moderates Lit

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2005
    star 7
    4. How do you rank the Star Wars films. Can you explain your reasoning?

    Well, a year ago, back when we were on the temp boards, I rewatched the Star Wars movies, because I hadn't watched the prequels since like 2005. I typed up reviews, but didn't get around to posting them anywhere. I know @The Loyal Imperial was interested in seeing them when I mentioned them a while ago, though, and this is as good an excuse as any to drop them. Then I'll address the ordering.

    The Phantom Menace. TPM was burdened with expectations that were almost impossible to meet, and has been subsequently savaged from a lot of quarters. I think a lot of the specifics of that criticism are off-base (the amount of politics isn't too great, showing a young Anakin is not itself the problem), but the fact remains that the film is a great big disappointment, even with realistic expectations. Even making allowances for the fact that he's a kid, Jake Lloyd is just no good as an actor, and much of the other performances are wooden, and saddled with terrible dialogue. Neeson, McGregor, and McDiarmid all appear to have agreed to pretend that they're in a much better film, and any parts focused around them come off much better, but overall the performances are well below the level of the OT.

    The plot around them isn't a part of the problem generally, though I think the film would benefit from a lot of tweaks in that department. The film is generally well shot, and Williams's score is fantastic; remove the slapstick Jar Jar and the film would have been much less a disaster. Upgrade the casting and dialogue and tweak the plot, and it could even have been pretty good. As-is, it's still not a complete loss – it's a film that comes close to working, but is held back by a lot of groan-inducing moments occasioned by Lucas's faltering touch.

    Attack of the Clones. In some ways it comes closer to working than TPM, but in the end it falls much further away from doing so by the way in which the entire Anakin plot completely fails to land. The romance is terrible, and Christensen's acting is lousy and brings out the worst in Portman. The whole romance angle is just catastrophic. Lucas, who spends so much of his time flogging the idea that momentum is central and the audience needs action, should have known better than to completely kill the plot with the pure romance scenes on and in transit to Naboo. Han and Leia worked so well in the OT because it didn't rely on Lucas trying to do a soppy romance plot; they fell in love in the midst of the action going on around them, giving a bigger punch to the plotline of their adventures. In AOTC, however, adventure is ditched completely in favor of "romance scenes" that are anything but.

    Anakin's storyline picks up with the mother plotline on Tatooine, but it too suffers from the biggest problem with Anakin, which is that Lucas had no idea how to handle his fall. A lot of Anakin's character in AOTC seems to be Lucas throwing **** at the wall and seeing what sticks. TPM had him as a nice kid, but rather than seeing a slow corruption, Lucas hits us over the head with whiny resentment of Obi-Wan and the Jedi, attachment issues, the dicatatorial politics bit – it's like Lucas is just trying out ideas, making sure that Anakin has every possible flaw so that he can pick out one to use in ROTS. But the problem is that nothing of Anakin's likeability and positive side is left; he's just a petulant twerp, not a hero. It completely torpedoes the film.

    Obi-Wan's side of the plot is better. The investigation of an attempt on Padme's life, with Obi-Wan going from capturing bounty hunters on Coruscant to investigating an assassination plot, is a really solid concept, but having him just stumble across a mysterious clone army that ties into Palpatine's plan to start the Clone Wars suffers from the film's generally terrible handling of the whole Separatist crisis. It's never clear on exactly what the situation is, and essentially dumps the actual Separatists into the film only at the very end, both criminally underusing the Dooku character and undercutting the whole establishment of the Clone Wars for the films. The ending of the film just sort of becomes "Surprise, bad guys! And here's a big battle! There's a war now." And that's all the actual setup for the Clone Wars that there is. The Geonosis battle isn't particularly engaging, either. The designs are nice, but there's no sense of stakes because we don't know anything about the conflict, and the duel comes off even worse, because Dooku is an enigma introduced twenty minutes ago rather than a villain with whom the film has been building to a confrontation.

    AOTC suffers most from the absolutely terrible cohesion Lucas had in the PT, the making-it-up-as-he-goes-along approach he had to the whole trilogy's plot. He winged it without a clear connective strategy, no big plan, with no real idea where he was going with the films, and as a result TPM set up the characters, but not all the characters, and none of the plot, so AOTC doesn't draw upon TPM meaningfully. AOTC also has much of the stuff it sets up – a lot of Anakin's character, Dooku, the mystery of the origin of the clones – ignored in ROTS when Lucas changed his mind on the fly again. And much as AOTC would have benefited from Lucas having some idea about it and setting it up in TPM, ROTS would have benefited from being set up by AOTC. Instead, AOTC becomes the nexus of the interconnection cluster**** that is the PT. To top it all off, the cinematography is lousy and the score is probably John Williams's least interesting, relying mostly on awkwardly reused themes. AOTC is definitely the worst prequel.

    Revenge of the Sith. ROTS benefits hugely from the fact that this is clearly the one film Lucas wanted to make all along, and from the fact that everyone involved knows this is the end, the big film everyone is waiting for, and really, really wants to stick the landing. The action scenes have some real pop, and the film is generally shot much better than AOTC. The bad acting is much more limited, and the plot bounces from scene to scene with enough energy to cover up its weaker points. The opening sequence, with its bombastic action and lighthearted, heroic Obi-Wan/Anakin camaraderie, appears almost an apology for the previous films, a conscious effort to show that they're going to get it right. And Anakin is handled much better this time around, with a sense of heroism, compromised more subtly by personal flaws, that should have informed AOTC. And that's still the problem, really; AOTC is still the lead-in to this, and Anakin's character doesn't really make any sense as developed. Meanwhile, Count Dooku, the villain AOTC barely introduced, is summarily dismissed at the beginning of the film, with Lucas apparently determined to underuse Christopher Lee as much as possible. Even worse, he's replaced as the disposable antagonist by a guy who wasn't even introduced at all in the last film. But now he's supposed to take over the title of heavy long enough to provide Obi-Wan with a suitable distraction? Huge mistake, and yet another example of the way Lucas's winging-it approach kills the prequels.

    The short shrift given to the political aspect is another problem; the film would have been better with the proto-Rebellion scenes included, as they lend some sense of gravitas to the film and help set up the creation of the Empire and Rebellion both. The biggest mistake, though, is that as much as ROTS improves the presentation and genuinely does do so many of the little things better, like AOTC the core of the film falls apart. Anakin's turn simply isn't convincing. It's much more interesting in concept than it is in execution, and it fails to really convey why Anakin would be willing to suddenly flip his loyalties and supposed values to save his wife. Lucas just isn't capable of a deep enough psychological portrait to get that across sufficiently. Similarly, the final climactic confrontation fizzles, with lousy dialogue both beforehand and during, and staging of the duel itself that's good but not fantastic. It's also intercut with the underwhelming Yoda-Palpatine duel. The total botch made of the birthing scene/Padme's death and Vader's creation doesn't help it, nor does the flippant, afterthoughtish handling of the Qui-Gon Force ghost mysticism or the totally unnecessary, reference-for-reference's sake Death Star scene. The Luke and Leia delivery scenes at least hit the right powerful note to the close the film, but as hard as it tries and as much as it does get right, ROTS is still a deeply flawed film, a much lesser effort than the OT it tries so hard to evoke and on the power of which it coasts too much.

    A New Hope. This is Lucas at the height of his powers, and it's impressive. It's a bold, visionary movie. The opening scene of battling spaceships sliding along the screen grabs the audience, but it cuts from there to our first dialogue scene – between a robot and another robot that carries on its end of the conversation only in untranslated beeps and whistles. Vader's iconic entry is awesome, but our only human protagonist is silent in her first two scenes, has a brief scene with Vader, and then largely disappears until later while the film goes back to following the robots, who take a long time to finally find a human protagonist that the film will follow. Those sort of moves really show off Lucas's tremendous confidence in his space-fantasy adventure. The world-building is masterful, creating a setting and conflict that lend themselves to instant understanding and require almost no exposition, while the sets and dialogue are peppered with suggestions of a much larger universe and backstory existing beyond the bounds of the camera's gaze. Lucas's characters speak to universal archetypes, but are brought to life so well by the great cast that they are more than just types, but fully realized characters. The whole thing is clearly the work of someone with a strong vision and a knack for storytelling. I wish I knew where he went.

    The Empire Strikes Back. This is the movie that takes Star Wars from an adventure serial space fantasy to a saga. There's still adventure in the battles and chases and comedic interaction, but the philosophy of the Force is tackled and the struggle between light and dark sides moves even with the battle between the Empire and Rebellion as a core conflict. Kershner handles the serious, dark developments of the movie with gravitas without losing the light humor of the moments in between.

    We get a great romance between Han and Leia as well as the best duel of the saga and a tremendous opening setpiece in the Battle of Hoth. The existing characters are developed, with Luke and Han displayed in positions of leadership, and Luke developing as a Jedi and Han getting a romance. Leia is the other half of that romance, showing another side to her without losing the prickly strength that makes her interactions so fun. Vader becomes a looming presence over our heroes, with a personal connection made that's still magnificent and stunning. We also get new characters introduced in Yoda and Lando, and both are memorable, plus a brief introduction of the Emperor.

    The only real downside of the film is that it slows down a little between Hoth and the climax – it has to lean on the Millennium Falcon chase to pep up the talkier Dagobah sequence, and while the chase is fun, the movie spends a long time on the same basic scenario. ANH never lingered in the same situation for quite so long, and the plotline does feel a little stretched out. There's also a brief bit when both plotlines are slow, with Han and Leia waiting on Bespin for the real plot there to kick in, but the finale is sure worth it.

    Return of the Jedi. Yes, the Endor plot, with the cuddly Ewoks and everything, is lackluster. I don't have a problem with Lucas wanting to show underestimated local "primitives" contributing to the Empire's downfall, but a cute, comic race of tiny teddy bears is not the way to go about it. But that's really the film's only weak spot.

    The introductory sequence of a confident, mature Luke pulling off an elaborate rescue scheme doesn't connect to the later plot, but it's necessary to get Han out, sets up Luke's character wonderfully, and has the sort of adventure-serial feel of the heroes hopping from adventure to adventure that Lucas is striving for. The Luke-Vader plot in the second half is spectacular, delivering a great redemption for Vader and masterfully introducing Palpatine. Normally, it's hard to introduce a bigger, badder villain in the third installment without it seeming excessive or undercutting the initial big bad villain, especially when that character is still around. The Emperor works, though, largely on the strength of McDiarmid's memorable performance and the way he provides both a temptation for Luke but also a dark pole to oppose Luke in the battle for Vader's soul. Combine that with the great duel and the tremendous score, and this is a highlight of the whole trilogy.

    The other third of the climax, the space battle, is tons of fun, a kinetic, intense battle that provides a total contrast to the first Death Star run. I also love the decision to let Lando, Wedge, and Ackbar anchor that plot, rather than feel the need to push a bigger character into the spotlight. The device of the second Death Star itself is sort of cheesy, but it manages to not be a significant distraction to the film, which doesn't overplay it and focuses instead on Palpatine and the general naval battle. I wish Han and Leia had a better plot on the ground, but at least Han is fun (even if Ford seems to be playing Indiana Jones more than Han now, with a script heavy on Jonesesque touches for his character), there are some great bits like the speeder bike chase, and it's never terrible. The film's strengths are a lot greater than that weakness, though.

    So, for the overall ranking, I would go TESB, ANH, ROTJ, TPM, ROTS, AOTC. Though TESB and ANH are pretty much neck and neck and I could be convinced to switch them. TESB is the great mature, mind-blowing film of the saga, but ANH is so incredibly bold and propulsive (well, except for the slow stretch between the opening battle and Mos Eisley) and fun that you've got to give it respect. ROTJ has flaws, but they're pretty minor compared to the flak it takes, and it's a great finale. The prequels come in much, much lower on the ladder. TPM is the best of them because it really is close to working and it feels the most like a classic, fun Star Wars film adventure. ROTS is okay for a prequel, but it's skating by pretty strongly on OT nostalgia, the big events, and action setpieces, and it doesn't really do what it needs to as far as its whole point of existence goes, and it can't cover that up with the rest of what it does. AOTC is just a disaster zone.

    5. Who are your favorite Star Wars characters? Why?

    I'm really bad at picking a favorite, or even a small select band of favorites, when I have a lot of things I like. But from the films, I love Han and Lando. Han is just a perfect character, and Lando is so horribly underused that it pains me. I'm a total sucker for the fringe element of Star Wars, and we do not get enough scoundrels in the stories. Darth Vader is the greatest villain of all time, period. Palpatine is up there, too, though I more admire the excellence of the character than I'd really call him a favorite. Tarkin is hugely underappreciated. Great villain, fantastic character when used right in the EU, a lot of great elements built up around him, but underused and insufficiently respected. Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon are my favorite Jedi. They and Palpatine are the only truly great characters to come out of the PT (Obi-Wan is, of course, just as awesome in the OT. Guinness kicks all kinds of ass in that role). I would like Count Dooku if they ever did anything good with him. I'm also a total sucker for the Rebel military. Ackbar, Rieekan, and Dodonna are all characters I love to see, and Ackbar especially has been fantastically used in the EU. As for Wedge Antilles . . . he's Wedge Goddamn Antilles. Han, Lando, and the axis of X-wing characters are probably the characters I'm most fanatic about. Wedge, Tycho, SOONTIR MOTHER****ING FEL, Ton Phanan :)_|) , Face, Gavin Darklighter, Corran Horn (though I like Corran more as a Jedi than a pilot), Janson, Hobbie, on and on.

    Moving into the EU, I love Kyle Katarn, and I love Jerec even more. GIVE ME MORE JEREC. I've always been drawn to supporting characters; I like the main characters of most things, but I always get the most intrigued by supporting characters who are off to the side, being badasses in more underappreciated ways, often getting to do more interesting stuff, and I get the most into and passionate about well-drawn minor players. Like, I really want ASOIAF to turn into a Blackfish and Greatjon series. But I love supporting or secondary characters like Booster and Karrde, Ganner Rhysode, Vergere, Harrar, Kenth Hamner, Nick Rostu, and Tholme, lesser-known characters like Darca Nyl, Etahn A'baht, Voss Parck, Raith Sienar, Delta Squad, Teren Rogriss, and the cast of Force Commander (Brenn Tantor! Dellis Tantor! Beri Tulon! Malcor Brashin! Tyr Taskeen!), and people I probably can't even think of right now because they're so obscure, but you'll mention them and I'll be like I LOVE THAT GUY! Among the next generation of mains, I like pretty much all of them. Everybody loves Anakin. Jaina has been so badly handled, but I loved her in the NJO as a pilot. My heart will always belong to Jacen Solo. He pissed me off when I was a kid reading him being all wishy-washy, won me over with Traitor, and quadruple won me over when I went back and reread the NJO and realized just how excellent a character he was and how much we had lost. Ben Skywalker is like the only good thing to come out of the entire post-NJO. I like that smartass detective kid. Jag is awesome and everything about him is awesome and please use his siblings too, story people.

    Outside the main era, I love Roan and Marasiah Fel, Treis Sinde, Wolf and Shado, Gar Stazi, the Rogues . . . pretty much everybody in Legacy other than Cade, basically. I also love Zayne, Gryph, and Jarael. I like the supporting cast for the KOTOR games, too. Canderous, Jolee, HK, Atton, Bastila, Kreia, Bao-Dur, even Carth. I also like anyone who was in Jedi vs. Sith, as they were in Jedi vs. Sith.

    From the villains, I love Zsinj, Nil Spaar, Nom Anor, Gallandro, Thrawn and Pellaeon (sorry, Jello . . . though I'm not so much of a rabid fan, I just appreciate the execution), Darth Sion, the Jedi Covenant, and Sora Bulq. I've said enough names now.