Saturday, December 4, 2010

Pursuit of Peace Review

This is my first official Clone Wars episode review! Pursuit of Peace aired on December 3rd, 2010 and took place directly before the Season 2 episode Senate Murders.

I thought Pursuit of Peace was a decent episode. In my opinion it lacked the flair and gravitas of the previous episode, Heroes on Both Sides. However there still were some exciting and interesting elements.

I was really put off by the dialog that was mired in political terminology. By referring to the war affecting the Republic's ability to "meet the basic needs of its people", Padme was in effect painting her government as a socialist state. I find it hard to believe that the Republic can both be run by corporations and be so entrenched in its people's welfare. The two just don't mix. There is no way that the Republic could fund, yet alone orchestrate, the healthcare and electricity of trillions of citizens. If that were true, then the CIS would also have to provide these social services to its constituents. I never got the idea from the prequels that Naboo relied on Republic aid to survive...

But there were also a few really cool sequences in this episode. The speeder chase in the middle of the episode was fantastic. It reminded me somewhat of the chase in Attack of the Clones. This episode was certainly a testament to the scale that the Coruscant environment has grown to in Season 3 of the Clone Wars TV series.

The real "moment" in this episode, however, was the final scene. This series has done such a good job of masking Palpatine's intentions thus far, leaving some fans to clamor to see his true side; and finally the Clone Wars is beginning to hint at his evil. I am all for shocking developments at the end of episodes, but I think most will agree that the revelation of the Chancellor's possible duplicity in Pursuit of Peace was much more dramatic and relevant than previous "secrets revealed" this season, namely Ziro the Hutt's involvement in Padme's attempted assassinations.

Overall, I give this episode a "B+". The action was sufficient, and the plot was relevant to the overarching storyline of the series. I just wish some of the political speak was toned down, and Palpatine's puppet-mastery was featured a little more.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Truth of Perception

When I was in grade school I loved learning about the great thinkers of the past, people like Galileo, Newton, and Einstein. The thing I found most interesting about these people is that they discovered truths about the world around us that were contrary to common perception at the time. It blew my mind to imagine that there once was a time and place where people actually thought the earth was flat and all the celestial bodies revolved around it. I was confounded to learn that people once thought mirrors were demonic and bacteria did not exist.

I remember that when I was young I would imagine what it would be like to travel back in time to ancient civilizations and teach people about the world. What would it be like to be the only scribe who knew how to write with an alphabet in Sumer, the only mathematician to know calculus in Babylon, or the only scientist to know the secret of electricity in Rome. I imagined how easy it would be to become a famous inventor thousands of years ago, when there was so many things either unknown or never attempted.

Then I would think about our world as it was in the twentieth century. It seemed like we knew everything, and that it was impossible for one person to consume all the knowledge that the human race possessed. When I was a child, possibilities seemed endless. I thought that our math could solve any problem, and that our science could make any idea a reality. It seemed silly how many false facts our ancestors believed, and it seemed that everything generally believed to be true in the late twentieth century, was true. I never thought I would see the day when our perception would change. Because that would be the day that the truths about the world I knew would change.

We are a decade into the twenty-first century now and we don’t see cars flying in the sky, we can’t teleport objects over phone-lines, and we don’t have robots doing our chores. These things I expected to see in the future when I was a kid. But we can watch movies and video-chat on tiny cell-phones, go to college or even make a living on a computer screen, and talk to famous people on twitter. But these things haven’t shocked me. The things that have shocked me are the truths that have changed.

I woke up today and Pluto was an asteroid. I blinked my eyes and that long necked dinosaur, Brontosaurus, had a different head. I stretched out my arms and HIV was no-longer a deadly virus. I looked at myself in the mirror and realised that our generation and culture were not infallible. They are just like every one before it. Perceptions change; but does the truth change? I believed that Pluto was a planet when I was a kid, but did that make it true then? Can something be true because we think it is true? Or are perception and truth completely separated and different? And what is reality? Is it what we believe? Or is it only what is true?

It is my opinion that there are two ways to view the world. One belief is that things only exist if we see them and they are only true if we believe them to be; we can live in a sea of lies and still be enlightened because we have confidence in what we perceive. The other belief is that some things can exist without us even knowing about them and they are either true or not regardless of our opinion; thus we must know the truth to enlightened, and that truth will never change.

I think these two ways of perception go a long way to determine how we react to our circumstances. And I think both beliefs have their positive and negative qualities. If we believe that truth cannot be changed, we might feel like we can’t make a positive impact on our world, but we can also learn to accept certain things and not be blinded by our own possible misconceptions. And if we believe that truth is only our perception of the world, we might live a life that disparages other people because we don’t believe their emotions to be relevant, but we also can be motivated to change our reality and manipulate circumstances just by our perception of them.

In conclusion, I believe that the knowledge of what things are inherently and unwaveringly true and what things can be changed by our perception, is something that we continue to learn and seek out for our entire lives. I believe that both our understanding of truth and our perception of it determine our reality. So then one question remains. If we are always striving for harmony of knowledge and perception, will we ever reach perfection? Is humanity meant to know everything that there is to know, and to perceive everything in every way that it can be perceived? And is there one or multiple ways for this goal to be accomplished. Is it different for every person? Or is it the same for all of us?

It is my opinion that the best works are those that don’t answer all the questions for us, but the ones that inspire us to ask those questions and think about them. So I am not going to attempt to answer any of the questions I have asked in this work. All I have to say is this. At least once in our life and usually multiple times, we will have to make a decision based on what we think is true or not. And I do not think there is any one way to tell for sure what is the truth that will allow us to make the best decision. But I firmly believe that through our perceptions and experiences in life we will be equipped to determine what is true and what is not. And it will all come down to one thing, what is the selfish choice that ignores past mistakes and does not account for future welfare, and what is the unselfish choice that learns from the past and betters the future. We will all have the opportunity to see the right path, but we will not always chose it. Fortunately life usually affords us many chances to better our decisions, change our perceptions, and discover new truths. And to me, that is the truth of perception.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Timeline of the Clone Wars TV Series

It’s November and I have not posted in a while. But I’ve got something good for my Star Wars loving readers this week! There has been some general confusion about the tumultuous timeline of the recent Clone Wars episodes. This is mostly due to the season 3 premiere episodes that bookended a season 1 episode and a recent episode that swapped the order of the previous 2 season’s finale episodes. The proliferation of out of sequence episodes in season 3 has caused the fan community to clamor for an official Lucasfilm approved timeline. However I believe the writers have left enough clues for us fans to sort the timeline out ourselves, and this blog post is my attempt to do so.

At the time that I’m writing this, Lucasfilm has confirmed the names and descriptions of 55 Clone Wars episodes. Of those episodes, I believe only 6 are out of order chronologically. One of the main criticisms of the series is that the non-linear progression of the episodes takes away from the gradual character development of one of its central characters, Ahsoka Tano. However she does not take part in any of the 6 episodes that I believe are out of place. I will now analyze these 6 episodes and deduce their location in the timeline amongst the other 49 episodes and the Clone Wars movie.

Season 1, episode 16, “The Hidden Enemy”
This episode was the first episode of the TV series that appears to be out of place in the timeline. It tells the story of a clone trooper traitor who sells out the Republic for “freedom” offered to him by the Separatists. The information he sends to Assajj Ventress and the sabotage he commits allow the CIS to gain the upper hand in the Battle of Christophsis. The episode ends with his apprehension and both armies preparing to clash in a major fight amongst the towers of the crystalline city. It can be deduced from this information that “The Hidden Enemy” takes place before the Clone Wars movie, and such has been confirmed by Lucasfilm.

Season 1, episode 22, “Hostage Crisis”
The confusing thing about this episode is that it originally was not believed to be out of sequence. It was not until a recent season 3 episode that this was suspected. “Hostage Crisis” depicts the bounty hunter Cad Bane using a group of senators in his possession as leverage to free Ziro the Hutt from incarceration. Ziro’s time behind bars links this episode to several other episodes that aired in season 3. In the episode “Evil Plans” Ziro is still incarcerated and Bane is shown gaining the information that would allow him to hold the senators hostage in “Hostage Crisis”, and in the following season 3 episode “Hunt for Ziro”, Ziro has been freed from prison and is in the possession of the Hutts. This effectively places “Hostage Crisis” between these 2 season 3 episodes.

Season 2, episode 15, “Senate Murders”
Once again like “Hostage Crisis” this episode was believed to be in the correct place when it aired. However that has been shown to be untrue. The Rodian senator Onaconda Farr is assassinated by one of his aides in “Senate Murders”. This fact has become a vital key to determining this episode’s place in the timeline, since all episodes containing Farr can obviously be assumed as occurring prior to this event. One of the episodes that does contain Farr is “Hostage Crisis”. In addition to this it has been revealed that an upcoming episode “Pursuit of Peace” will take place before “Senate Murders”. Since Pursuit of Peace is the 55th episode of the TV series, “Senate Murders” can be considered the 55th episode chronologically as long as there is no reason to suspect that Pursuit of Peace is out of sequence.

Season 2, episode 16, “Cat and Mouse”
This episode chronicles an epic space battle above the planet Christophsis. The presence of key players in the Battle of Christophsis which takes place in “The Hidden Enemy” and the Clone Wars movie, suggests that this episode is closely related to that battle. Lucasfilm has stated that “Cat and Mouse” is indeed a prequel to “The Hidden Enemy”. Therefore this episode is believed to be the first of the 55 episodes chronologically and is only one of 2 episodes that occurs before the Clone Wars movie.

Season 3, episode 1, “Clone Cadets”
A prequel to the season 1 episode “Rookies”, this episode is 1 of 2 season 3 episodes that bookend “Rookies”.  Since “Rookies” is only the 5th episode of season 1, it is plausible to assume that “Clone Cadets” takes place before the start of season 1. It is also plausible that the sequel to “Rookies”, Arc Troopers, does not have to immediately follow “Rookies” chronologically but occurs in its allotted place after the season 2 finale.

Season 3, episode 3, “Supply Lines”
This episode involves the nuetral Toydarians contemplating whether or not they should help the Republic by allowing them to use their planet as a staging ground to provide relief supplies to the nearby besieged planet of Ryloth. At the end of “Supply Lines” the king of Toydaria is seen requesting to meet with Jedi Master Yoda to discuss joining the Republic. Since this meeting is chronicled is the first episode of season 1 ,“Ambush”, it can be assumed that “Supply Lines” takes place before the start of season 1.

So this is my conclusion about the true chronological order of the 55 Clone Wars episodes and the Clone Wars movie. There are 2 episodes that take place before the Clone Wars movie, there are 2 episodes that occur after the movie but before the onset of season 1, and finally there are 2 episodes that fall towards the end of the 55 known episodes. Before I list these out for you I want to shoot down a common misconception about the order of several episodes. It has been believed that “Hostage Crisis” takes place before the first episode of season 2 “Holocron Heist” for some time. This belief is supported by the fact that Cad Bane’s droid, Todo 360 is functional in the episode that occurs after “Hostage Crisis”, “Hunt for Ziro”, but is destroyed in “Holocron Heist”. However it has been revealed by Lucasfilm that Todo 360 was destroyed first in “Holocron Heist” and then subsequently rebuilt before the episodes surrounding “Hostage Crisis”. Therefore “Holocron Heist” and its 2 sequel episodes do not take place after “Hostage Crisis” like previously assumed, but before “Hostage Crisis” in their allotted place in the timeline after the Ryloth trilogy and before the Second Battle of Geonosis. Thus I believe the Clone Wars episodes are ordered as follows:

1. Cat and Mouse
2. The Hidden Enemy
The Clone Wars movie
3. Clone Cadets
4. Supply Lines
5-24. Season 1
25-44. Season 2
45-50. Season 3 through Evil Plans
51. Hostage Crisis
52. Hunt for Ziro
53. Heroes on Both Sides
54. Pursuit of Peace
55. Senate Murders

56+ Nightsisters through end of season 3

Friday, October 1, 2010

An Editorial on Perception

It has been a few weeks since my last blog post and I have been eagerly awaiting a topic to pop out at me that is worthy of being the central point in my next post. Well finally it has come. And not surprisingly it has to do with Star Wars yet again.

A few days ago it was announced that the six movies in the Star Wars saga are going to be re-released theatrically in a 3-D format in 2012. The first movie to be released will be Episode I: the Phantom Menace. After that the five other movies will most likely be released one per year ending in 2017. The dates are new and the first official confirmation took place this week, but the notion of Star Wars in 3-D has been floating around rumor sites and speculative media for years. A 3-D release was one of the major expected announcements at the Star Wars: Celebration 5 convention in Orlando this past summer. However, instead fans of the franchise were treated to the announcement that the saga would be released on Blu-Ray disc in 2011.

But this blog post is intended to be far from informational. And this is why. I have noticed that a lot of people are disinterested, dismissive, and even angry about the 3-D release. Of course many fans are rejoicing the opportunity to push their Star Wars experience into another dimension, and more still are ecstatic to just see the movies they love on the big screen once again. Yet a sizable amount of casual and even die-hard fans are somewhat less than impressed. These are the phrases that I am hearing, "Can't Lucas leave these films alone!" "Not another version of Star Wars!" "The first three were perfect. Any further changes are mistakes!" "Creativity is dead!!!"

I have this to say! These pessimistic slanderers are jaded and confused! They don't even understand what they are saying. This comes in a time when the masses have an extremely murky grasp on the pulse of Star Wars fandom and the status of the franchise in general. These negative critics who are eager to condemn anything that supersedes the status quo of pop-culture have continued the cynical trend that started 10 years ago when the first Star Wars prequel came out. They have missed everything concerning the saga from its intent to its impact.

And this is my opinion on Star Wars' intent and impact. The saga, both in its appended prequel episodes and its looming 3-D interpretation, is not meant for the cynical, cerebral, cheap-thrill-seeking, superficial, tabloid-mongering, assimilationist generation that has lost touch with the open-eyed, optimistic, organic, compassionate, spontaneous mentality of their youth when they first experienced Star Wars. It is not meant for the people who condemned the more recent Star Wars projects because they failed to represent their jaded view of a complex world. Neither is it meant for the children of these supercilious sensationalists who have fallen into the influence of their parents' negative view on life before they even have a chance to see the beauty of reality. No, Star Wars is meant for the one-person-can-change-the-world, when-I-grow-up-I-can-be-president, fun-loving, eager-eyed youth of the late 70s and early 80s. It is meant for the inexperienced and non-polluted children of the digital revolution. And most importantly, it is meant for the young at heart, the creative, out-of-the-box-thinking adults who tackle our worlds problems with an energetic, childlike attitude and objectivity.

In conclusion, I believe those who cannot see the overwhelming potential in the up-coming 3-D Star Wars releases are sadly blinded to the ideals and moralities that give humanity beauty. For the young, Star Wars provides a thought-provoking, unbiased, wholesome narrative that captures and spurns the imagination and inspires a generation to reach for the stars and push the limits of innovation and prosperity. And for the young at heart, it provides a sanctuary to rest from the unnecessary yet ever-present mundane tediousness and struggle of life and return to the joys and amazements of a simpler time.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Welcome to my world (wow that sounds egotistic!).

I should start by saying something interesting, intelligent, and tastefully humorous right? OK sure. A lot of people call me a nerd. I guess that's because I'm good with computers and math. But I'm down with that. When someone calls me a nerd I just reply, "Yeah, that stands for Naturally-Exceptionally-Respected-Dude. So thanks!"

A little about myself then. I'm 19 years old and a college student in New England. I grew up a Star Wars fan and I still am. When I was 4 years old I got my first Star Wars action figure. I've been collecting ever since and have over 600 figures now :O Yeah, I like Star Wars :D I also like ending sentences with "gleemoticons" ;)

My favorite TV show is Star Wars: the Clone Wars on Cartoon Network. If you don't like it that's OK. As long as you respect it. And if you really, really don't like the Clone Wars you probably shouldn't read this blog, because I'm going to be talking A LOT about it. For example I'll probably say stuff like: "OMG I'M SOOOO EXCITED FOR THE SEASON 3 PREMIERE!!!"

Most people think the Clone Wars movie stunk. I'm not going to lie. But all I have to say is this: It cost 8 million dollars to make and it made 80 million. That would be 1000% revenue. If you want me to put that into perspective, think about this. Most CGI theatrical releases have production budgets between 100 and 200 million, and most of them only make 20 or 30 million more than that. So the Clone Wars mathematically was one of the most successful movies in history.

Then why do so many people think it stinks? Here's why. Because it wasn't even meant to be on the big screen. All the Clone Wars movie was, was the pilot episode to the Clone Wars TV show (which is the highest rated sci-fi CGI series on television.) George Lucas set up a studio, invented an animation program and made a 100 minute movie with a bunch of Star Wars fans. And as the following TV series continued to air, the animation got better, the stories became darker, and the Clone Wars became a sensation. So if you haven't watched it in a while, you should check out season 3, which is in my opinion just as exciting as any other Star Wars entertainment out there.

I can't end this post without talking a bit about my other two passions, New England sports and linguistics. If your scratching your head wondering what the heck "linguistics" is, don't worry. I'll save you the trouble of Googleing it. Linguistics is the study of language. Those kids who participate in the National Spelling Bee probably know a little about that. Where do certain words come from? How are different words in different languages related to each other? Those are linguistic questions. And as far as sports go, I'm going to put it out there right now. I love the Patriots, the Red Sox, and the Celtics. You can hate them or love them too or not even care! I just want you to know that I'll be talking a lot about those teams.

So that will rap this post up for now. Feel free to comment, and please tell you friends about this blog :D