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Thom Dunn is a Boston-based writer, musician, homebrewer, and new media artist. He enjoys Oxford commas, metaphysics, and romantic clichés (especially when they involve whiskey), and he firmly believes that Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" is the single greatest atrocity committed against mankind. He is a graduate of Clarion Writer's Workshop at UCSD ('13) & Emerson College ('08).

Lucasfilm's STAR WARS-themed Holiday Cards From Over the Years

It's common nerd knowledge that the Star Wars Holiday Special premiered in 1978 and was swiftly ignored / forgotten (perhaps an ominous omen of George Lucas's reckless retconning to come — the "Ghost of Star Wars Past," as it were).

But there was another holiday tradition that pre-dated even that made-for-TV mess, one which was not-so-swiftly written out of continuity: Star Wars Holiday Cards. Initially designed and created by Ralph McQuarrie, Lucasfilm's then-resident concept artist, the first batch of cards featured R2-D2 and C-3PO in various holiday grabs and were distributed to employees and investors as a fun little celebration of their success with that little space opera that could. As the Star Wars universe continued and evolved, so did the holiday card tradition, folding new characters into that same old yuletide cheer and eventually opening up to new artists and designers as well. 

(side note, I appreciate Lucasfilm's forward-thinking commitment to non-denominational holiday cheer, and I think we should all follow in their example and replace all holiday greetings with "May the Force be with you." "And also with you.")

(Perhaps most importantly, there were only 2 years where the cards exclusively focused on the prequels — 1999 and 2000, which makes sense, since The Phantom Menace had just come out. So at least Lucasfilm's holiday corniness didn't give much preference to those cinematic abominations? Because frankly, I don't know if I could handle it if they were given preference over the Holiday Special, since neither a coked-up singing Carrie Fisher nor a script written almost entirely in Wookieese is anywhere near as insufferable as Jar Jar Binks.)

(and for the record: no, I don't know what happened to 1987-1993, whether they didn't send out cards at all, or whether I just couldn't find them online)

Republicans Can Be Hipsters, Too

Before I go any further, I just want to make it clear that I love Republicans. Some of my best friends are Republicans. Hell, my dad is an ex-hippy who voted for Obama in '08 and we probably agree on about 85% of policy issues (though occasionally disagree on the most effective means to achieve those agreed-upon ends) and he's a registered Republican, too.

(See what I did there? With the "Some of my best friends are..." thing? That was pretty clever, right?)

But this? This is hilarious.

I truly don't mean this as a post to make fun of Republicans; but rather, to laugh at people who are genuinely out of touch. I also wasn't lying about having Republican friends — I think a lot of people on the quote-unquote "liberal" side of the equation do unfortunately pass judgement on anyone who associates with the "R-word," and assume that they are all bigoted hyper-Christian corporate sellouts, which is both untrue, and unfair. I make no secret that I identify with more progressive social politics (although my expertise when it comes to economic politics is admittedly lacking), but on a very base and literal level, "right wing" means "small government, less intervention" and "left wing" means "more government oversight." Obviously, this is not how things always play out, but that's the trick with partisan politics that force us to choose between big government and liberal social views, or small government and conservative social views; nothing in the real world plays out quite as black-and-white as the options that we're given. That's the crazy part of the political clock, where people on the radical left turn to anarchy which actually has more in common with pure Republicanism (or at least Libertarianism, which has its own set of "better-in-theory" problems).

So tl;dr, I do appreciate this campaign's attempts to say "Hey! Some of us just believe in a free market economy where the government doesn't watch and control our every move! (a completely justifiable belief!) Just because our big-name represented officials in DC support Citizens United and claim 'Christian persecution' while trying to ironically dictate laws to women about their own bodies, doesn't mean that all of us fall into that category!" And again — despite what a lot of people in my liberal circles insist, not everyone who identifies as Republican is a racist homophobic misogynistic hatemonger. So in that way — yeah, okay, this marketing campaign makes sense (although it is a bit strange that all of the major elected officials who identify as Republican — and this does not necessarily extend to local officials because, well, I just don't know — either fall into this category, or else don't speak up against it). And it's certainly true that we probably shouldn't be making fun of other people in general. That being said, it still comes off as a laughably desperate attempt at seeming "cool" and "in-touch with the kids these days" which, man, really isn't helping your cause...

But then, maybe the guy that started this #ImARepublican movement just got me to post something vaguely positive-ish about Republicans on my otherwise-progressive blog. So maybe, just maybe, his secret scheme is working.

Also, let's not forget that Johnny Ramone was a Republican, too (much to the chagrin of Joey Ramone, who wrote this song about Johnny when Johnny married his ex-girlfriend):

Holy Recaps, Batman!

Some of you may have caught the first episode of Gotham last night, the police-procedural-cum-superhero-origin-show about the early days of Gotham City before Bruce Wayne became Batman. As an avid fan of both noir and comic books, I've been looking forward to this show for a while, and I'm excited to announce that I will be handling the weekly Gotham recaps / reviews for Tor.

My overview of the pilot episode is already up (though admittedly, it's rather long and overly-detailed — not unlike the tepid episode itself), so please stop by and add your comments, then join us in the weeks to come!

In the meantime, to tide you over to next week's episode, here's a supercut of every instance of Bruce Wayne's parents being murdered on television and film:

Happy Judgement Day! 17 Years Robopocalypse-Free! #NoFateButWhatWeMake

Three billion human lives ended on August 29th, 1997. The survivors of the nuclear fire called the war Judgment Day. 

(I'm just kidding, of course. The robots haven't killed us. Yet. And neither has that new Terminator reboot with the corny puntmanteau name. But once again, I should qualify it: yet.)

God I love this movie.

That Is A Damn Fine Ice Bucket Challenge

I've mostly stayed out of the whole ALS Ice Bucket Challenge phenomenon, mostly because I'm ambivalent — it's clearly successful in raising awareness (although I don't know how much money it's actually raised, or how important that awareness is in the grand scheme), but I can also be a bit contrary and resistant to jumping on band wagons. (Mostly I just don't care to pour a bucket of ice water on my head or to offer some cleverly deconstruction of this voyeuristic online ritual, so I've resigned myself to leaving it alone, but I don't begrudge anyone who does choose to participate)

That being said, my friend Jason shared this link with me on Facebook, and it was just too good not to share. One of the earliest bonding experiences that Jason and I had as roommates back in 2008 involved David Lynch and a creepy dude Kristoff who had a lisp, an Asian fetish, and a weak stomach, so this felt particularly appropriate.

Also Vladimir Putin. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

Dear Star-Lord: Who Is Your Daddy And What Does He Do?

Continuing my apparently never-ending coverage of Guardians of the Galaxy for Tor.com, this week's article suggests some theories about the identity of Star-Lord's mysterious absent father, as alluded to at the end of the film (oops, sorry, spoilers). Check it out, and share your thoughts in the comments below!

Oh, and also, there's this:

You're welcome.

Re-Creating the Beastie Boys' "Paul's Boutique" From the Original Sample Sources (with bonus visual companion)

I found your next party mix — one hour of straight rockin', all in honor of the late MCA! A group of DJs identified each individual audio sample used to create the Beastie Boys album Paul's Boutique, then went back to the original sources and re-remixed the samples for a whole new take on the album. The three DJs — Cheeba, Moneyshot, and Food, collectively part of Solid Steel — each took a third of the album and re-mixed the sample sources as each one saw fit, creating a new song from the same pieces, which puts a really cool artistic spin (no pun intended) on the idea of sampling. (If you break it down, it's quite post-post-modern — the art of sampling itself is very postmodern in the way it deconstructs and re-examines a source material, and this takes to a whole other level).

You can check out the complete track-listing of samples used over on Soundcloud (along with the breakdown of who mixed what).

As long as we're on the topic of the Beastie Boys, Paolo Gilli created Paul's Boutique: A Visual Companion in honor of the 25th anniversary of the album's release. The film takes its inspiration from the lyrical and sonic landscape of the Beastie Boys' sophomore effort and transforms into an hour-long visual narrative feast of 70s cinema, funky beats, and dirty New York City streets. On his website, the filmmaker explains:

I don’t know how many times I’ve listened to the album in all these years, but at some point the idea began to form in my mind about how cool it would be to have a visual counterpart of the whole record. Only later I discovered that this had been MCA’s plan from the very beginning. The countless pop culture references and the density of the music offer so many possibilities on how to visually approach the record. Also, the urban legend regarding Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moonwhen paired with the movie The Wizard of Oz, basically a result of the concept of synchronicity, had a certain influence on me. [ . . . ]
As I saw tributes in memory of MCA pop up all over the world, I wanted to do something myself. Finally I sat down and began writing what you could call the editing script for Paul’s Boutique - A Visual Companion. The concept was to use all the original videos (Shake Your RumpHey Ladies,Looking Down the Barrel of a Gun and Shadrach) as a kind of skeleton to build around the rest of the movie. [ . . . ]
The Companion evolved after that original script, but in the end we stayed surprisingly close to the original concept. But something else happened, something strange. Some of the ideas I had from the start turned out to be almost as multi-layered as the tracks themselves. Luck, fate, coincidence, karma, call it whatever you want, but out of nothing the weirdest connections between music, lyrics and images came to be. There are some things that only film buffs, hardcore Beastie Boys or Hip Hop fans will get, but that’s not even half of the story. Let’s just say that free association has a big part in how well you will understand the movie. That said, even though we started out with mainly Beastie Boys fans in mind, our goal was to make this an enjoyable viewing experience for everybody else too.

Ch-ch-check it out below (see what I did there?): 

Two Men Arrested For Talking About Nickelback

That's what you get for listening to crappy music...

A nickel sack would be about $5, or a gram of marijuana, which is an absurdly miniscule amount. In Idaho possession with intent to distribute, which this would presumably fall under, provides for up to five years or a maximum $15,000 fine for less than 1 lb. or 25 plants.
The men were not charged with any crime, so presumably their story checked out. But, perhaps the funniest takeaway here, aside from the joke that is our criminalization of marijuana and the waste of time and resources we spend policing it, is that to be on the safe side, we had better all just stop talking about Nickelback altogether, joking or otherwise, just to be safe.

Courtesy of Mediate

Remember Ripley's Power Loader Suit From ALIENS? Yeah, That's A Real Thing Now

You had me at "Robo-suit lets man lift 100kg" (and I don't even know how heavy that is because I'm an ignorant American!)

I mean, James Cameron is a gazillionaire, and he already did that whole ocean exploration thing just because he could, so wouldn't it stand to reason that he also secretly funded the invention of one of the coolest parts of his second-best film?

One man's "Body Extender" is another woman's "Kick The Crap Out Of The Queen Alien & Send Her Out The Airlock," as the saying goes.

Of course, if we consider his underwater adventures to be an extrapolation of his cinematic work on Titanic and The Abyss, the next logical progression from here would be for Cameron to sink his funds into the development of a time-travel robot assassin made of liquid metal. Which, considering how this whole drone thing has been going, is a frighteningly realistic possibility and maybe I act so flip about it and 'cause now maybe the liquid metal time traveling drones are going to come after me next in order to stop me from making this blog post and revealing their secret plans for world domina