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    Entries in star wars (9)


    Star Wars preview on Wisconsin Public Radio


    Star Wars -- Shakespeare Mashup: A Review of Ian Doescher’s ‘William Shakespeare’s Tragedy of the Sith’s Revenge’

    In “The Empire Strikes Back,” Yoda admonishes his apprentice, Luke Skywalker, saying, “Wars not make one great.” Later, in “Return of the Jedi,” he quips, “When 900 years old you reach, look as good you will not.”

    In case you didn’t catch on, Yoda inverts his syntax. In other words, Yoda practically speaks Shakespearean.

    And in Ian Doescher’s best-selling “Star Wars” / Shakespeare mash-ups, so does every character in George Lucas’s science-fictional universe of Wookiees, droids and the Force.

    Read the rest of my review of Ian Doescher’s ‘William Shakespeare’s Tragedy of the Sith’s Revenge’ for the New York Times.


    Apparently this is what I look like when I'm talking about Star Wars

    I was on WGBH's Greater Boston to talk about The Force Awakens. Apparently this is what I look like when I'm talking about Star Wars. Watch the full video here.


    Star Wars Means Different Things to Different Generation

    In four decades and over six movies, “Star Wars” has infused our culture like a Force unto itself. Devotees view George Lucas’s universe of lightsaber duels, spaceship dogfights, and father-son conflicts as holy writ. Even casual fans are counting down to the release of the long-awaited Episode VII, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” on Friday.

    But what “Star Wars” means to its admirers, and the expectations they bring to the new installment, depends not just on personal taste but on how old they were when they initially encountered the epic science-fiction saga — and on where, for them, the story began. 

    Read the rest of my story over at the Boston Globe.



    Donna Karan, You're Our Only Hope: "Star Wars" Hits Fashion Week

    Nerdy "Star Wars"-themed gowns --- emblazoned with images of Yoda, C-3PO, Death Star, Luke and Tatooine --- have hit the runaway over at New York's Fashion Week.

    Click to read more ...


    What's down that rabbit hole or in that wardrobe? ‘Epic’ follows tradition of children’s fictions bridging earthly, fantasy realms 

    Movies about worlds disconnected from our own are commonplace. Think of the many science fiction and fantasy narratives that lie along the “Star Wars” to “The Lord of the Rings” continuum. These separate realities are filled with orcs and wizards, siths and spaceships. Humans may live there, but we Earthlings can’t visit them. No magic door leads from Boston to Tatooine, no trip down a rabbit hole or along the Red Line arrives in Middle-earth. “Epic” belongs to a different but equally longstanding tradition of fiction that bridges our world to other realms. Via some gateway, a journey is made to a kind of Neverland or Narnia. The trope is as old and dark as the burrow in “Alice in Wonderland” and Dorothy’s twister in “The Wizard of Oz.” You can follow these tunnels from “Labyrinth” to “Pan’s Labyrinth,” through “Harry Potter” and “Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief” and beyond to every story that maps that liminal space between us and some parallel place.

    Click to read more ...


    Stunning Stormtrooper Cake Hits the Spot

    Unable to shoot straight. Weak in the knees. Apt to fall for Jedi mind tricks, and fall over at the weakest of laser blasts.

    In the Lucas universe, the typical stormtrooper is portrayed as a hapless soldier in service of the Empire.

    Stormtroopers don’t tend to be very yummy, either … we assume.

    But this footsoldier (pictured at left) was solidly-built, very tasty, and served not only Darth Vader. He also served several hundred hungry science fiction fans.

    A crew from Boston-based Amanda Oakleaf Cakes worked like crazed jawas for two weeks to complete this 6-foot, 4-inch high, edible Imperial stormtrooper.

    Constructed of white cake, Rice Krispies Treats and fondant (an icing made from sugar used to decorate and sculpt pastries), it weighed 300 pounds — and was devoured this weekend at the Arisia science fiction and fantasy convention by some 600 conventioneers in just two hours.

    “Everyone assumes that because it’s such a crazy cake we must be ‘cheating’ in some way, but this isn’t the case,” said head baker Amanda Oakleaf. ”All sculpted and tiered cakes you see, be they ours or others, have some type of inner structure as cake simply collapses if staked over eight inches high.”

    Creating the stormtrooper wasn’t easy as cake. Much like in sculpting with clay, making this massive dessert required an interior armature to support the cake. Oakleaf and her team made one from iron pipe, wrapped in plastic for food safety purposes. Every four inches (vertically), they inserted a cardboard divider to separate layers of cake, and every eight inches they attached a masonite board, secured to the iron pipe with pipe clamps.

    “This does a number of things, including making the cake incredibly sturdy, but also making it easy to slice and serve,” said Oakleaf. The arms were made of solid sugar “because they were too narrow to use cake.” The lower legs below the knees and the bottom of the head were made of Rice Krispies Treats. She said the overall percentage of Krispie was 15 percent or less; the majority of the cake was, well, cake.

    “The main reason that we used Krispie at all wasn’t because we couldn’t have used cake, but rather we just wanted to get a head start and Krispies stay fresher a lot longer than the cake does. Cake is a very time sensitive medium, and that is always our biggest challenge. Once it comes out of the oven the clock is running on freshness.”

    Amanda Oakleaf started her cake business with her husband Tyler Oakleaf out of their bedroom apartment in 2008. Now they’ve expanded into a storefront in Winthrop, MA (just outside Boston) and currently employ ten cake artists.

    Their previous best was a 5-foot tall Dora the Explorer cake for a Food Network Challenge a few years back. “Her head was massive (3 feet wide),” Oakleaf remembered. “It ended up crashing to the ground when we moved it to the judging table when the inner support slipped out of its socket.”

    For now there are no plans for other geek-themed cakes. But, there’s always the possibility of a special request.

    “We are a completely custom bakery so we take the orders as they come in,” Oakleaf said. “It’s always fun, and always a challenge.”

    See a photo gallery of the entire construction process here at the website for Amanda Oakleaf Cakes.

    And may the fondant be with you, always.

    (photos courtesy of Amanda Oakleaf)

    [This post originally appeared on GeekDad/]


    The Uncle in Carbonite

    I was drawing pictures with my nephew Jack.

    “What shall we draw?” I asked.

    “Let’s draw Star Wars,” Jack said, innocently enough.

    We began to draw Star Wars. Jack drew a guy, then a box. Next he drew a face and feet in the box. Then he made a line so the guy next to the box had an arm that touched the guy in the box.

    “What the heck is that?” I asked.

    “That’s me,” Jack said, adding his name to the figure on the left.

    “So what is that?”

    “How do you spell ‘carbonite’?” Jack asked, a big smile beaming across his face. He started to giggle.

    “C-A-R …” I began. He began to write. The kid was seven. “B-O-N … I-T-E.”  Then he added another word: “E-T-H-A-N-[space]-I-N.”

    The giggling commenced.

    “Wait. Is that me?”

    More giggling from Jack.

    I was incredulous. “You little … So, that makes you … Boba Fett?”

    Uncontrollable giggling. “Uncle Ethan! You’re trapped in carbonite!”

    Read the rest on's Geek Dad


    Avatar is about transformation

    Avatar is about transformation

    (originally posted on, SUNDAY JANUARY 10, 2010 10:43AM EST)
    Like many action-adventure, science fiction and fantasy movies of recent years—Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Batman, Transformers, to name only a few—James Cameron’s Avatar taps into our primal selves. That pick-up-your-battle-ax and kill mentality, long suppressed by so-called society, still courses in our veins. Movies let us “just do it.” We travel to richly-imagined parallel worlds and watch a hero like Aragorn kick major orc butt. We cheer, and secretly wish that we were him.
    What distinguishes Avatar from its vicarious derring-do ilk is that the plot touches directly on this craving for transformation.
    Jake Sully, the protagonist, is a paraplegic trapped by his body. Controlling his blue-skinned, feline Na’vi avatar on the jungle planet Pandora, he springs to life. Sully becomes a stand-in for all of us—the post-industrial, post-blue collar office worker stuck in our civilized ways. We are effectively paralyzed too, chained to our desks and DSL lines, far from Eden, far from nature, far from the magical thinking of yore.
    The appeal may be about something larger, too. There’s a spiritual and communal emptiness that Avatar speaks to. Is it odd to look to a movie for moral guidance or a life philosophy? Not really. Here’s why: our technology-driven ways don't include sage advice, only how to connect, transmit, download, upload (and, you might argue, make us feel awfully anxious and scattered in the process). Chaos, not harmony. Besides, organized religion is corrupt, scandal-ridden, archaic (or so many think). The material world is mundane, despoiled, an ecological mess. No wonder that our jaded Jake is lured by the Na’vi belief in a vast bio-spiritual neural network, like the Star Wars universe’s “the Force,” that connects all Pandoran organisms like a warm-and-fuzzy fiber optic cable.
    Sitting in the multiplex, 3D glasses draped on our faces, we’re asked to fantasize like Sully. Isn’t this how we were meant to live, and might live again? Hunting the forest, leaping through the canopy, killing beasts, taming others, enacting meaningful rituals? It’s the same dream offered by Tolkien’s Middle-earth—to be peaceful, nature-bonded hobbits, quietly growing crops, smoking pipes, drinking ale and laughing. An alluring fantasy life to be sure. And one perhaps worth fighting for.