Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Best Of Everything 100-day 100-question Star Wars Blogathon, Question 10

Here is, for no reason other than it's what I was watching with the sound off while I talked on the phone, a video of a girl with a hula hoop:

I'ts 4:48 p.m. as I type this. I didn't mean to post it so late but that's what happens when one works for a living, I'm told, on which subject: everyone congratulate Rusty for not being fired!

Some updates on extra points: earning 5 points for mentioning the Blogathon on their blog are Grumpy Bulldog, who actually got 10 for mentioning it on his blog and another blog; Andrew Leon previously earned 5 points for that, too. You get 5 points every time you mention it in a new post, but you have to let me know so I can go add the points in with each new one.

Anyhoo! Grumpy got yesterday's question, and has now moved into second place. I thought yesterday's question was a little weak, myself, but remember, I'm Plagiarizing fair-using these from a book, so it's not me, it's the guy who got paid money to ask questions about something someone else created. USA! USA!

The R4-P17 is an "astromech" droid. Andrew Leon, who is apparently a rabid anti-droidite, took issue with calling a droid a co-pilot in his comment, but again: I didn't write the book about someone else's creations, I simply am using the stuff someone else wrote about stuff someone else created. (That sentence actually describes almost to a T what 90% of a lawyer's job is.)

But on that subject: Why shouldn't a droid (the word is copyrighted, so I'm really courting lawsuits, here) be a co-pilot? The 'droids in Star Wars are sentient, aren't they?

Or are they?

I would Google the question "Are the 'droids in Star Wars sentient or not?" except that (a) it's already 5:00 p.m. now and I'm officially working overtime, and (b) I'm going to leave that open to debate in the comments, and (c) I'm also a little stunned by the fact that there is something called the "Brickipedia," and we live in a world where people have enough time to create entire websites devoted to Legos.

Not that I'm arguing against that, since The Best Of Everything is pretty much an electronic monument to half-baked ideas and lost productivity, but still... I try to temper the amount of time and money I spend doing stupid or wasteful stuff with an equal amount of time doing nice/charitable/good stuff, and I'm pretty successful at that, so keep in mind that while I've now spent 15 minutes doing this, I also today agreed to represent a woman in a legal case that she can't really afford to hire me on, for less than I would ordinarily charge to do so because she started crying when she realized she couldn't afford me, and I'm counting on that somehow evening out when I go face The Great Astromech In The Sky, where I expect I'll have an easier time than Andrew, what with him being against equal rights for 'droids and all...

... and really, wouldn't it be terrifyingly awesome if when you died, you went up to Heaven and faced a giant, bearded R2-D2 who beeped questions at you and judged your life?

This is all going nowhere and I'm tired. I will wrap up by pointing out that if you wanted to get a Lego version of R4-P17, you are sadly out of luck because Lego only produced the dome rather than the entire body of the 'droid.

Here's today's question:

What was Chancellor Valorum's homeworld?

As always, first correct answer gets the points; today's question is worth 21. I will also give 10 bonus points to anyone who, in their comment, presents a compelling case for or against the sentience of 'droids, with 5 extra points if you manage to work into the explanation that Hula Hoop girl.

Do Pizza Samples Really Exist (and 117 Other Ways* Of Looking At Life)(*Give Or Take):

How will not paying attention to Paris Hilton destroy the universe? What can be learned about the ultimate nature of good and evil from looking at Peyton Manning and the Kite-Eating Tree? Whose hair is responsible for Hollywood as we know it? In the first part of this book, these and a great many other questions you didn't know you had are answered, in essays that begin by musing about something as prosaic as lime jello and end by pondering the ineluctable, including what "ineluctable means."

In the second half, slice-of-life essays give you a glimpse into the mind of the man behind the thoughts: a man who rescued his children from an inflatable castle but debated whether he should listen to the radio on the way to doing so, a man who was accused by his wife of wanting to use crocodiles as babysitters (and who didn't rule that out.)

"Do Pizza Samples Really Exist?" collects up two prior books from the author, comprising the best of his early work in humorous, thoughtful essays on everything. Buy it on your Kindle for just $0.99!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Best Of Everything 100-day 100-question Star Wars Blogathon, Question 9

Welcome to newcomer to the Blogathon, Nancy and her husband! Nancy must have realized that even nine questions in, it's still anyone's Blogathon. And nice to see Michael Offutt's self-inflicted boycott can be broken by Jennifer Lopez's nipple. I knew repeating that phrase like a mantra would win. And people at my office acted offended!

On with the blogathon itself (official rules here, Nancy and other newbies)

As the old saying goes, "With Andrew Leon's kids in school, the gorgs will be small-sized amphibians found on several planets and favored as food by many humanoid species."

Grumpy Bulldog, who knows his way around a space-invasive-species (which is, of course, one of two ways an animal could be found on several planets, the other being convergent evolution, but convergent evolution is much rarer than some people would have you believe, which is why the people in the Star Wars universe either aren't human at all but merely look human, or the people in the Star Wars universe exist in the same universe as Cylons and accordingly humans on Earth were all created in a bathtub -- we're all Han Solos, now -- or Rusty's relativity theory is correct, but, then, saying "relativity is correct" is how scientists end all arguments now, including whether or not velociraptors ever actually existed (they didn't) so let's finish up the sentence I began with the clause "gets the 15 points."

In the Star Wars universe, evolution progresses at a phenomenal rate. Says the Wookiepedia:

There were many species of gorgs, including long-tailed, three-eyed, and four-eyed varieties. Different types of gorgs were eventually introduced to the populations of Naboo and its moon of Rori, where they evolved to become large, flesh-eating creatures. Gorgs were also known to be mutated by bio-engineers. One such mutation resulted in the successful growth of a chubafly. The chubafly was essentially a colorful gorg, but with wings that made it capable of flying.

I'm no scientist (I just play one on TV), but consider: no person alive has witnessed one life form evolving into another, and in fact some lifeforms (the coelacanth, for example) have stubbornly not evolved at all.

Now, that may be because their biological niches haven't changed enough to require them to adapt any further (or it may be that the Intelligent Designer isn't bothering to modify His work; Hello, Texan readers! I see you!) but Darwin's finches have remained Darwin's finches since Darwin saw his finches.

So we're back to Spontaneous Universes, with our slow-moving universe existing alongside the Hyperspeed Star Wars Universe.

And speaking of spontaneous universes, here's something for Starwarsophiles to ponder: while I don't know exactly when gorgs became a thing in the Star Wars universe, I do know when they became a thing in the Fraggle Rock universe:

On the outside of another exit from Fraggle Rock, through a well, live a family of Gorgs, giant furry humanoids standing 22 feet (6.7 m) tall. The husband and wife of the family call themselves the King...and Queen...of the Universe, with their son Junior ... as its Prince and their heir, but to all appearances working as simple farmers with a hut and garden patch. The second episode of the first season reveals that the Gorgs have never actually met anyone besides themselves in years ("I've never met a real subject before!"), suggesting that King and Queen of the Universe are self-bestowed titles. The Gorgs regard Fraggles as pests, which steal radishes from their garden. In one episode it is revealed that the Gorgs use radishes to make "anti-vanishing cream" that prevents them from becoming invisible. So the three main races of the Fraggle Rock universe — Fraggles, Doozers and Gorgs — are all dependent on the radishes for different reasons. While the King and Queen consider the Fraggles disgusting vermin, Junior enjoys chasing, catching and keeping them like a boy would lizards and bugs. Junior has no friends, and perhaps pursues the Fraggles just so he has someone to talk to.


So. There's that. I loved Fraggle Rock. Unfortunately for me, Mr F and Mr Bunches don't care for it, so I'm stuck watching Blue's Clues most days.

Today's question is worth 13 points. As always, the first correct answer in the comments gets it, but every comment is an entry in the Weekly Prize Drawing, which this week will include a Mystery Prize AND a copy of Rusty Webb's phenomenal book "A Dead God's Wrath" .

Here is the actual question, and it's about time:

Who was Obi-Wan's Delta-7 Copilot?

A. Anakin Skywalker
B. R5-P9
C. R4-P17
D. Qui-Gon Jinn.

Want to check the standings? Click here.

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Best Of Everything 100-day 100-question Star Wars Blogathon, Question 8

New to this? You can still win! Here's the official rules.

I should probably mention the Academy Awards here, given that they just occurred last night and so it's topical, and also since there was a bit of Star Wars in one of those film montages, which I'd put here but nobody has bothered to put it on the Internet because everyone is too worried about whether they saw a bit of Jennifer Lopez's nipple. (Answer: yes.)

There was that, and there was Miss Piggy's voice being all wrong, and then there was Billy Crystal doing the absolute worst James Earl Jones impression I've ever heard; how do you imitate James Earl Jones and not do Darth Vader?

And there is your Not Really Related To Star Wars Oscar wrap-up.

Yesterday's answer was Padme Amidala, so Rusty got the 10 points and has closed to within 1/3 of Andrew Leon's points -- with 93 questions left, it's still anybody's Blogathon, so if you haven't yet entered, get a guess in there! Plus, remember that each comment, right or not, is an entry in the Weekly Prize Drawing. Last week's prize went to Rusty, too, as his Wookiephilia paid off, and this week's prize will include a free copy of Rusty's awesome book A Dead God's Wrath.

Anyway: The question, which has very little to do with Jennifer Lopez's nipple:

Into which category do gorgs fall?

A. Amphibian
B. Reptilian
C. Mammalian
D. Insectoid.

I don't actually know what a gorg is, so in retrospect, maybe this has everything to do with Jennifer Lopez's nipple.

Or maybe it's just that you can't mention "Jennifer Lopez's nipple" enough. As always, first correct answer gets the points; today's question is worth 15 points.

Here's something interesting: The original 1977 trailer for Star Wars:

I was 8 when that came out. Imagine, though, a time when a George Lucas movie was sold by pointing out that Lucas had directed American Graffiti.

Also of interest? Although the movie began with A long time ago..., the trailer says "Somewhere in space this may all be happening right now," which not only gives an argument against all the nerds who always point out that Star Wars was way in the distant past, but also might literally be true, given that scientists think that the nature of infinite space and time means that universes are spontaneously being created all the time and we just don't know it.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Best Of Everything 100-day 100-question Star Wars Blogathon, Question 7

New to this? You can still win! Here's the official rules.

This is why we can't have nice things: Yesterday's question asked for the seemingly innocuous answer to what was the dominant feature on a made-up planet and ended up exposing the fact that planets often have more than one dominant feature! Can you imagine? I mean, when I look around Earth I certainly see just the one feature (Ron Paul supporters), but apparently planets in the Old Republic had several different features to them, and also, apparently, people really watch movies in a way that I don't, so I will put several controversies to rest right here:

1. Rusty gets the points for his answer, because he was the first to name a dominant feature of Planet Lunchmeat. (Bulbous plants was another feature, but Andrew didn't come up with that until after Rusty got his answer in.)(I'd like to point out again that I'm not making up these questions; I'm making fair use of questions someone else made up, since my own nature is not to be inquisitive at all.)

2. The Death Star that was being built at the end of Revenge of The Sith was obviously a flawed version, perhaps the beta-test Death Star, which is why it took 20 years to build but then was blown up almost instantly, and that is the ultimate lesson why you don't want to be an early-adopter of technology. People who held out for Death Star 2.0 probably got unlimited data plans and a voice assistant they could pretend did more than recognize key words.

So the official standings have been updated: Andrew Leon kept his hefty lead hefty by getting the 10 points for the bonus questions.

I also did the drawing for the first Weekly Bonus Prize; this week's Weekly Bonus Prize is a free e-copy of my book the After, a book which is taking the world by storm (and by "the world" I mean Grumpy Bulldog, who gave it a good review even without me paying him to do so.) The winner of the first Weekly Prize is...

Rusty! Whose persistence in repeatedly saying Wookies got him enough entries to win the random drawing. Rusty: Click here to email me the address you want the e-book sent to (if you don't have an e-reader, let me know.)

Remember: All comments are an entry in the drawing for the weekly prize. Next week's Weekly Prize is still a mystery, but will include a free copy of Rusty's book, which I will buy for the winner along with the other part of the prize.

So: If you have something to hawk, try to win a weekly prize because now you see what'll happen.

Anyway: The question today:

Who said "So this is how liberty dies -- with thunderous applause"?

It's worth 10 points. First correct answer gets the points.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Best Of Everything 100-day 100-question Star Wars Blogathon, Question 6

New to this? You can still win! Here's the official rules.

Say it with me: Andrew Leon got the points for Question 5, but I will award 10 bonus points if you can also say who else that actor played in the movies -- you don't have to be the first; just leave the character's name in a comment today and collect your 10 bonus points.

And that's not even today's QUESTION! Which I will get to in a moment, before I point out something silly about the Star Wars Universe, today that silly point being something that was said in this otherwise-interesting article from Mother Jones about how cost-effective the Death Star might have been to build. Kevin Drum, the author, calculates that the Death Star would have been super-cheap, relatively speaking; by my math, the Death Star as a percentage of the Empire's Gross Domestic Product would be the equivalent of what the US spends on NPR these days.

That's not my quibble. My quibble is this: Kevin Drum says that "the original Death Star took a couple of decades to build," and where does that come from?

we accept that there's no Death Star in progress when the Empire begins at the close of Revenge of the Sith -- not a given, because remember those clones were around for a long time -- then the Death Star is fully operational when Luke and Han get captured and then blow it up (which means by the way that the Death Star, first pronounced fully operational at the start of A New Hope lasted what, weeks? Tops?)

(Which also means that Luke completed his X-Wing training in perhaps several hours, since it was established that he'd never been off Tatooine before but he was able to pilot an X-Wing in the Battle of Yavin, which means in turn that whatever Academy Luke was pining for in the beginning of A New Hope must have been the equivalent of the University Of Phoenix, but also which means, as I think about it, that Luke was going to join the Empire, wasn't he? The Rebels didn't have an Academy, did they?)

Anyhoo: Aside from the fact that nobody on board the Falcon had any idea what the Death Star was and so the Empire managed to keep a planet-sized weapon a secret from everyone including Han Solo whose business it was to keep track of where the Empire was so he wouldn't have to keep dumping his cargo and incurring the wrath of Jabba and a secret like that would be hard to keep for "a couple of decades," -- I mean, we haven't even been able to keep any of our government secrets from Ron Paul, which is how he knows about the AIDS -- the fact is it didn't take decades to build the Death Star, it took about a year or so.

I know that because between A New Hope and Return of the Jedi, the built a second one, and while I'm not entirely clear on that timeframe, it couldn't have been very long, could it? Everyone was about the same age in Part VI as they were in Part IV, so unless Death Star building technology took a quantum leap in about two years -- absurd, given that other technology had actually not advanced much in the two decades the movies took -- the Death Star actually took only a few months to build.

To compare Star Wars' tech levels to our own, consider: We first announced plans to build the International Space Station in 1993; we 19 years later have a station that can only hold 6 people and hardly has room for a decent trash compactor monster. The Space Shuttle, which is probably the most complicated machine humans have ever built, began being designed in the 1940s before launching in 1981.

Oh, you're waiting for the question? It's worth 17 points:

What was the dominant feature of the surface of Saleucami?

You don't know how hard it was not to type "salami" there. Took me three tries. As always, first correct answer in the comments wins but every answer is an entry in the Weekly Prize Drawing -- with the first winner announced TOMORROW!

And: you still get 5 points per mention on your blog; make a mention of it, and let me know so I can give you the points. Why, you could've caught Andrew Leon already! Don't you feel foolish for not realizing it. Just go mention me, say, 100 times. (Use the picture taken from my good side.)

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How much time did you spend dealing with your website or other tech problems this week?

Having considered that, consider this: Are you a tech company? If not,why spend so much time worrying about and working on something that you don't want to do for a living, when Online Business Systems can take care of that?

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Look at my company: We're a law office. The more time I spend on tech systems, the less time I spend on whatever it is lawyers do all day that we charge thousands of dollars for. I don't want to worry about my tech; I want someone else to take care of it for me. That's why I looked up Online Business Systems on LinkedIn, and you should, too.

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Best Of Everything 100-day 100-question Star Wars Blogathon, Question 5

Lando Calrissian, who has become an adjective, was the answer to yesterday's question. Andrew Leon got the points; I've actually got that set to autotype in now, so all you other people need to be a little quicker on the trigger finger.

But as for Andrew:

Today's question is worth 32 points.

Who played Ki-Adi-Mundi in Attack Of the Clones?

That's Ki-Adi-Mundi over there to the right, looking like a sentient frosted asparagus.

Once you're done answering, you should definitely go read Grumpy Bulldog's fanfic, Return To Tattoine: Here's a thrilling excerpt from Chapter One:

The bomber was clawing for altitude and heading for space, not wanting any part of the X-Wing. Artoo beeped a warning and Luke saw that two TIE Interceptors had dropped in behind him. Luke banked the fighter to the right and one of the TIE Interceptors sped past him. The other interceptor was still on his tail and Luke pulled the fighter up, jinking to the left and right. Luke finished the loop, ending up upside down with his nose pointed at the TIE Interceptor. Luke stabbed the fire button and one laser sawed off the TIE Interceptor’s right solar panel. The TIE Interceptor smashed into the jungle and Luke felt shots bang against his shields.

Luke smiled as he put his throttle to nearly zero. The rookie TIE Interceptor pilot didn’t notice that had slowed until he was just about to crash into the fighter. The Imperial pilot climbed and flew over the X-Wing, too distracted to fire his guns. As the TIE Interceptor passed overhead, Luke put it in his sights and opened fire. The TIE Interceptor broke apart and exploded. Luke booted in the X-Wing’s afterburners and climbed towards space.

The X-Wing broke through the atmosphere and Luke could see the huge Star Destroyer in orbit over the nearly helpless world. Two old corvettes were shooting at the Star Destroyer and launching Z95 Headhunters to deal with the horde of TIE fighters

Grumpy's fanfic raises the question: can you be sued for writing fan fiction? The answer is yes -- even if the fan fiction you're writing is intended to benefit the person who created the original work. Consider the case of Anderson v. Stallone, in which a guy named Anderson (of course) saw the movie Rocky III and wrote a script treatment for Rocky IV. He then shopped it around to various studios, and said he was promised a bunch of money to produce the script.

Turns out Stallone made Rocky IV, but didn't pay Anderson, and apparently Stallone used Anderson's concept for the movie. But when Anderson sued for royalties, the Court ruled in Stallone's favor, finding that the movie revolved around the concept of the Rocky characters and that it wouldn't exist without using them.

Which is something to thinLinkk about if you've got that script for Star Wars VII: A New New Hope that you're about to send off to Lucas.

As usual, standings are here, don't forget you get 5 points for mentioning the Blogathon on your blog (5 points for each post mentioning it) and as always, first correct answer gets the points but Every! Comment! Is! An! Entry! In! The! Weekly! Drawing!

And if you think that was annoying to read, try! typing! that! way!

Here's Lando Calrissian as a Green Lantern, because why the heck not?

Valentine & Kebartas can help you avoid trouble? You bet.

Take it from someone who knows: if you're owed money, you need a good collection agent. I know this because in the 2% of my day I spend doing something other than trying to stump Andrew Leon with Star Wars trivia, I work as a lawyer who frequently has to deal with collection agents that are over the top or flat-out illegal.

And that can do more than simply prevent you from getting paid what you're owed: it can cost you money, as illegal collection activities can result in lawsuits being filed against you.

That's where someone like Valentine & Kebartas comes in. Valentine & Kebartas, according to their website, has been around since 1994 when two experienced collectors formed the company, with the core concept being stellar performance centered around constant communication with their client.

That latter part is important: I can't tell you how often I've talked to debt collectors and said something like "Give me some verification of the amount owed," only to learn not only that they didn't have it, but they couldn't get it -- which means that my clients aren't inclined to pay a debt they can't communicate about.

Valentine & Kebartas says they keep that focus by having the heads of the company right in the call center -- so this doesn't seem to be a boiler room operation intent on simply making as many phone calls as possible.

Good debt collectors can reduce that pile of accounts receivable to cash in your hands -- and great debt collectors do it without exposing you to liability. If you think Valentine & Kebartas might serve your needs, click that link and learn more.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Best Of Everything 100-day 100-question Star Wars Blogathon, Question 4

Andrew Leon, who clearly had way too much time on his hands at some point in his life, correctly identified this:

As the answer to question 3. That's a Pa'lowick, and if you want to carry on a conversation with Andrew I suggest you read more about them here, a site that notes that "Storytelling and song were integral parts of [Pa'lowick] culture," which kind of seems superfluous: has there been any culture of which storytelling and song weren't an integral part? I mean, it's like saying "eating and drinking are important parts of the culture of humanity." While the amount of work people put into creating the Star Wars universe seems impressive, delving into the details of it seems more and more like it's just the creation of spambots that are overpopulating the comments on my blogs since Michael Offutt complained loudly enough about the captchas to get me to remove them (only to have him not bother commenting after that.) Those robots that they got to write sports stories are probably responsible for churning out 98% of the Star Wars universe, too.

Andrew now has a commanding lead with 56 points -- but there's opportunities to catch up even if you know nothing about Star Wars, such as by mentioning the Blogathon on your blog (5 points per posted mention!). And you could get today's question right. It's worth 36 points:

Who was Gold Leader In the Battle Of Endor?

Again: No hints this time.

But if it helps, based on Andrew Leon's reference in his answer to a dirty hutt fetish, I did some digging for Star Wars fanfics. Fan fiction being an integral part of the Star Wars culture, of course, and I found the Star Wars Fan Fiction Archive, home of over 24,527 stories about Star Wars, one of which involves what appears to be a semi-erotic story of Obi Wan, Qui Gon, and the Curious Pa'lowick: Jewel Bugs, by ardavenport, begins thusly:

Obi-Wan Kenobi was warm under the hood of his robe. Not quite too warm to take it off. Not quite. Next to him, Qui-Gon Jinn sat up straight in his seat as well, his arms folded before him. Their thighs were pressed close together on the cushy seat, expansively wide for a single diminutive native of this world, but only just wide enough for two adult Humans from a Core World of the Galactic Republic. Their car thrummed rhythmically with their forward motion on the elevated rail it traveled on, the low rumble of the transport, slightly audible through the soundproofing, felt through the body just as much as the ear. And the Force. Obi-Wan felt his Master's presence most strongly, like the shared body heat where their robes, legs and arms touched. There were no stray thoughts between them, just the Force. It flowed through them, like the breath of life, renewing their travel weary bodies. . . .
It's getting hot in here! Remember: First correct answer gets those 36 points; but every comment is an entry in the Weekly Prize Drawing!

Want to see the standings? Click here.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Best Of Everything 100-day 100-question Star Wars Blogathon, Question 3

The answer to where Obi Wan met NYPD Blue after beating up not-yet-Darth Vader was A: Polis Massa, which was not only the birthplace of A New Hope Skywalker and his sister, Oh, Yeah, We Need A Plot Twist Organa, but also may not have been a planet at all, since according to this site, Polis Massa was originally a planet that then was destroyed.

Whatever. If I had a buck for every civilization that was destroyed by a mysterious cataclysm, leaving behind an asteroid field which would not, in all probability, have planetoids of such bulk that they could have molten lava cores making for a climactic final battle in which Obi Wan walks away from a dying Anakin Skywalker because for some reason the Force, which operates solely through bacteria, does not let you go on the offensive but does let you turn your back on a dying helpless man ...

... where was I?

...Grumpy Bulldog got the 9 points, and is now in the lead. Today's question is worth a whopping (and the maximum point value), FIFTY points, though, so a correct answer will be a commanding advantage, just three questions in:

What is the proper name for the amphibious beings marked by plump, squat bodies atop long slender legs, beings which use their almost human-like lips to snack on marlello duck eggs?

No hints this time. Remember: First correct answer in the comments gets the points, but every comment is an entry in the Weekly Prize Drawing.


Here's your Star Wars Pop Culture fix for the day:

Have you ever wanted to go to a formal medal-awarding ceremony where the Rebel Alliance gives out prizes for spending about 1 hour of time helping them out while completely ignoring the many sacrifices made by all the other rebels who helped build the base on Yavin's moon, gather the weapons, get the intelligence about the Death Star and serve as your wingmen in the raid... but you just didn't have anything to wear?

These Rebel Alliance Star Wars Glitter Shoes, actually available on ETSY, are just the thing for the adoptive-Princess who has to go in front of the assembled forces but didn't have time to shop because she was stuck in a holding cell just above a completely-extraneous garbage bay. Available in up to size 12, for the man who wants to dress up as Princess Leia.

Points standings here. Link

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Best Of Everything 100-day 100-question Star Wars Blogathon, Question 2

Yesterday's answer was C: Black Two; Andrew Leon gets the points.

As the "Wookiepedia" says:

"Mauler" Mithel, designated DS-61-2, was a Human TIE pilot specially trained to be Darth Vader's left wingman as a member of Vader's Black Squadron. He flew the TIE/ln starfighter designated Black 2 during the Battle of Yavin.

Remember, I did not make any of this up.

This comes from a book.

That someone got paid to write.

Think about that as you craft whatever blogfest post you're working on today. You could've just made up some crap about a TIE fighter pilot and gotten a billion dollars.

Also, there is probably some money to be made in a skit in which Barney from How I Met Your Mother is chosen to be Darth Vader's wingman over Mithel.

Question Two: Where did Obi Wan meet Bail Organa and Yoda after defeating Anakin Skywalker?

A: Polis Massa
B: Naboo
C: Tatooine
D: Dagobah

Believe it or not, every word in that question was English. Today's question is worth 9 points.

Here's a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the Star Wars music:

Here's the standings so far, but only Andrew Leon will care.

As always: First correct answer in the comments gets those 9 points... and the lead... but every comment is an entry in the Weekly Prize Drawing! I capitalized those letters, so you know it's a big deal.

The Great Star Wars Blogathon: The Standings!

Your leader board:

Andrew Leon: 36,630. (Andrew's the author of the great YA book, The House On The Corner. Click here to go to his blog.)

 P.T. Dilloway: 31,121. Author Patrick Dilloway blogs here, and wrote the excellent book Where You Belong, available here.)

Rusty Webb: 4,022, Blogger at The Blutonian Death Egg, author of the great novella A Dead God's Wrath.

Michael Offutt, 302 1/2, author of  the great sci-fi book Slipstream, which you can read about on Goodreads)

Lara Schiffbauer: 0. Lara blogs at Lara Schiffbauer's Motivation For Creation, and has written and published several short stories including "Bear Hug," a sci-fi story that can be read here.

Sandra Ulbrich Almazan 600.  Sandra blogs here, and wrote "Lyon's Legacy."  

Alex J. Cavanaugh, 0 (gave his points to others!) author of the already-here and bestselling sci-fi books CassaFire and CassaStar, which you can read about here)

Cindy Borgne, author of Vallar, 130. Cindy blogs at Dreamer's Perch.

"Sam" Leon: 105 Son of Andrew, author of great Star Wars/House on the Corner fan fiction.

Susan Roebuck, 105. Susan wrote the coming-of-age romance novel Perfect Score, and blogs at

The Golden Eagle, 105 This anonymous (?) blogger writes at The Eagle's Aerial Perspective.

Matthew Macnish: 50. Matthew blogs at The Quintessentially Questionable Query Experiment and has a bunch of really good writing up at his blog page.

Stephen Hayes, 10.  Stephen blogs (hilariously) at The Chubby Chatterbox.

Lucy Adams, 10.  Lucy blogs at "Lucy Adams," and if you say that enough the words won't feel like they have any meaning anymore. 

Sherri Lackey, 10. Sherri has written "The Armorian Empires Trilogy," which is "sci-fi with a splash of steampunk." She blogs at Sherri's Graphomania.

Maurice Mitchell: 10. Maurice blogs at The Geek Twins, and Film Sketchr (the concept art and storyboarding blog.)

Did you earn bonus points that you haven't been awarded? Here's a list of bonus points you could win:1. You get 5 points for mentioning the Blogathon on your blog.
2. You get 50 points for referring someone: Here's how THAT works: you get someone else to enter the Blogathon. That person leaves a comment saying "[ your name here ] got me to enter this." Then THEY get 50 points, and YOU get 50 points -- and you can do this as often as you can find people to start taking part (and so can they!)

3. You get 100 points for entering the Biweekly Blogfest Star Wars Writing Challenge. The current challenge ends 3/25. Details here.

If you should have earned points but don't see them here, let me know in the comments.


Monday, February 20, 2012

The Best Of Everything 100-day 100-question Star Wars Blogathon, Question 1

And so it begins... (Official RULES here!)
Today's question is worth 6 points.:

Who honed his piloting skills by poaching Bothan Sky Dragons?

It's multiple choice, so the options are:

A. Black One
B. Red Six
C. Black Two.
D. Red Five.

Remember: First correct answer in the comments gets those six points, but EVERY comment is entered in the weekly drawing for a prize!

Maybe this'll help? Probably not:

Sunday, February 19, 2012


Don't just stand there staring at more Princess Leias than you've ever seen in your life! Click the picture!

Maybe next year we'll all have a Slipstream, by Michael Offutt, premiere party and dress in costume as one of his characters?

You probably think, what with it being late February and Valentine's Day having just ended and us nearing spring, and all, that this is a weird time to be thinking about Halloween Costumes, but you would be wrong.

Or maybe you'd be right. Maybe it is weird to think about Halloween costumes in February, but even if it is, I can't help it: I've got costumes on my mind, and specifically how I never really get a chance to wear costumes anymore.

I mean, in the movies, people are always going to costume parties, and dressing up in a Wonder woman costume or Movie costumes or something, and it seems like there's a costume party every 10 minutes on TV shows, but in real life, nothing: Kerplooft, which is a word, and it means no costume parties.

Making Halloween about the only time adults can wear costumes and even then we don't, really, which is kind of a shame. I mean, if wearing costumes is fun at Halloween, it should be fun other times. Maybe I should start that off -- start having costume parties and encouraging people to dress up. I could throw, maybe, an Oscar party and have people dress in costume to attend. Or maybe wear baseball-movie related costumes to Opening Day of baseball, or college-movie theme costumes to a NCAA Tournament party.

Something, anyway. It seems such a shame that we only dress up one time per year.

Hey, sorry I've been away...

But I've been sick. The full story begins this way:

I've been in the hospital for a week, and this is the beginning of why. During that time, I didn't shave and my hair was messy and yet I looked nothing like Ryan Gosling, which doesn't seem fair. But his picture is here because you don't want to see a picture of me with a 5-day beard and messy hair.

I was, in the end, reduced to trying to think up a way that all the doctors and nurses and those other people who walk into a hospital room and do stuff for a while but (sadly) do not inject you with anything, or at least take anything from you -- what are they doing in the hospital if they're not there to add a fluid to you or take a fluid from you -- to get all of those people into a room somewhere, where I would then add someone who would not ordinarily be there, a husband, or brother, or out-of-town aunt who does crazy stuff, and all these people would be sitting around talking and it would go like this:

Doctor One, [the one who won't really make eye contact and talk a lot about tech stuff]: We've run every test we can think of, and haven't really found anything.

Doctor Two, [the one who filled in for the doctor the first day who I liked better but Doctor Two grew on me]: We could run all the tests again.

...and continues here...

Saturday, February 11, 2012

It's like turning your browser into a refrigerator... in a good way.

Here is how I keep track of books and stories and things I want to remember that I read online:

Step 1: Read about something online, think “I would like to buy that thing, but cannot do so right now because I am at work, and theoretically working.”

(Yes, I think in a very formal way. Manners are important and if your private self starts taking advantage of you, all is lost.)

Step 2: Cut and past the URL of the thing I want into an email.

Step 3: Email that URL to myself.

Step 4: Get 100 other emails that day.

Step 5: Stumble across the old email six months later, think “Who emailed THIS to ME? ME? I did this? I’m a spammer!”

Step 6: Turn myself in for the good of the country.

Frankly, I can’t keep doing hard time in jail everytime someone posts a book I’d like to read, but what else could I do? I’m a true patriot.

NOW, though! Ah, now! I have a new thing I can do that will put those days in federal anti-spamming prison behind me. (They put spammers in prison in Cincinnati.  THE HORRORS!) Now, I have clipix.

Clipix is this great new site that lets me organize all those things I see online and keep them handy – plus share them with other people.  All I had to do was sign up using my Twitter account (you can use Facebook, too); it was literally a two-click process.  Then I had the button to drag to my browser bar, and after that, I was free to surf the web and take reminders with just another click or two.

So this morning, for example, I headed over to Martian Lit to see what was new there, and found “And Still Your Fingers On Your Lips,” a short story I wanted to download tonight and read.

So I clicked “Clip” and a window opened:

Clips Martian Lit

Asking me which clipboard I’d like to add this to. I put it in books to read, and headed off to surf other stuff, knowing later on tonight I’d be able to quickly find it when I needed it.

Everything and anything can be clipped, which is great: I can have reminders for CDs I want, blog posts I liked and want to mention on my own blog, news stories to share… and that’s the even neater part of Clipix: They have something called “Syncboards,” which lets you and your friends or family “clip collaboratively,” meaning you can add a clip to the clipboard and everyone sees it – or anything THEY add, you can see.

So a group of bloggers, for example, could slip a blogfest article or post to vote on or run. A family could put the gifts they want on a Syncboard.  It’s a way to instantly share with a select group of people something you liked on the Internet.


And they have “Multiboards,” which groups your clipboards so you can have all your blog clippings in one article.

What’s really interesting is the part for publishers: If you put a clipboard link on your blog or website, people will be more likely to clip the articles they like and they’ll be more likely to share or come back, because it’s SO EASY.

I signed up for this and I love it. You should to: think: what would I use Clipix for? If I’ve missed a use, tell me in the comments.  Want to know more? Like them on Facebook ( or follow them on @clipix on Twitter (!/clipix). They’ve even got an iPhone app so you can clip while you’re doing other stuff!

In fact, I would clip THIS POST. (I’d clip ALL my posts, if I were you, but start with this one.)

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Friday, February 10, 2012

And now for your most obscure "Star Wars Reference" ever. (Star Wars References.)

I've been sitting on this one for a while until the nerdiness/hipsterish/hoity-toityness of it all overwhelmed me today and I couldn't resist posting about it anymore, although truth be told, the other reason I didn't want to post about it was that I am always, always overwhelmed with an overwhelming urge to participate in weird hobbies when I read about them.

This is something I first realized about myself when I read my first issue of The New Yorker ever, something I did while sitting in the waiting room of the local hospital's ER while Sweetie was treated for a kidney stone; Sweetie gets kidney stones infrequently but always in the dead of night, and I have to then take her down to the ER to get shot up with painkillers so that she can get back to sleep, and so can I.

About 6 years ago or so, I was doing my semiannual waiting in the ER and the only things to do to pass the time (this being before Kindles and smartphones) was watch TV, which was tuned to a NASCAR-ish station and was being watched by a guy I think was infectious, or read one of the magazines they had: Woman's Weekly or something, and The New Yorker.

Well, after I finished reading all the cartoons in the The New Yorker, Sweetie wasn't done yet, so I had to read something else and I read an article about homing pigeon racing.

A fascinating, bewildering article about homing pigeon racing that noted all the different breeds of pigeons including one that gets around exclusively by doing somersaults. Which is a thing people always accuse me of making up when I mention it in conversation but which I am not: It really is a real thing, and just typing about it made me want one all over again.

Anyway, by the time Sweetie was cured or whatever, I had a hankering to raise homing pigeons and briefly contemplated using her drugged state to get her to agree to let me start doing just that. My better nature/exhaustion took over and I am, as we sit here today, still homingpigeonless, but not for lack of wanting.

Since then, every single thing I read about people doing -- almost without fail -- makes me want to do that thing. Sea Kayaker catches an octopus?

I want to do it -- even though I don't like kayaks. Or fishing. Or octopi. Well, I kind of like octopi.

People raising chickens in their backyard? When our city discussed an ordinance to regulate how many chickens you could raise, I realized you could raise chickens in your backyard and almost went out to buy one right then and there.

I even, briefly, wanted to learn to knit. Because I read an article on Yarn Bombing.

So I haven't wanted to go back to the brief period of time last October when I wanted to grow heirloom plants, something that I started wanting to do even though I can't even properly dig a garden (and hate nature) when I read an article in The New Yorker about heirloom seeds and fancy cooker-y down south and other things I generally find kind of obnoxious but also compelling -- a secret jealousy that I harbor forcing me to outwardly scorn all those things that I actually want to do.

The article, called "True Grits," talked about a guy trying to revive "real" Southern cooking (like the kind, maybe, that called for William Howard Taft to eat a opossum) and part of the article dealt with a guy who was getting "heirloom" seeds which are apparently seeds that have been around a long time and aren't genetically modified to be 54% Twinkie like the seeds we modern 21st century people have, resulting in plants that are way tastier and also far more likely to fall victim to some sort of crop blight and leave the world starving, but whatever -- it's haute cuisine, right, not survival of the human race -- and as part of the story (which, in reality, did make me want to grow heirloom plants) after the writer got done talking about killing pigs and eating them, the writer got to talking about a how a guy had quit his job and gone into business buying rare, heirloom seeds and selling them to fancy restauranteurs, with a network of farmers in thirty states working for him growing things like feral chickpeas and garlic bulbs, and never mind that I can't stand vegetables and like my food so far removed from any identifiable part of the food chain that I might as well eat nothing but freeze-dried astronaut ice cream, I wanted to grow heirloom seeds and I kind of want to, now.

Which brings me, finally, to the Star Wars Reference: Talking about that guy, one customer said:

"80 percent of what I put into the ground is from Glenn. He's the godfather of it all. He's the Obi Wan Kenobi."

Point of order: That video at the start of the post? That guy actually has the powers of the Sith. Get it right, people.

Thursday, February 09, 2012


Thursday Scramble! is when I take a post from one of my blogs and put it on all of my blogs, to show you what you're missing if you're a uniblogolist. Which is a thing. Today's random number came up with Lesbian Zombies Are Taking Over The World!, so I decided to give you the first-ever post from that site, a good intro to the ongoing serialized sci-fi erotic story that is taking the world (well, three people) by storm:

WARNING! NSFW! (I'm not just saying that to guarantee that you'll read it, but I'm sure it had that effect.)


"Lesbian zombies are taking over the world!" Reverend Tommy hollered. He was in a lather.

So was I but that's because Brigitte was sitting next to me and had her hand on my knee. Above my knee, actually. Her little, soft, pink hand was resting right where my miniskirt would end if I wore my miniskirt to the Church of Our Savior of Living People Only, but I don't wear it there because Reverend Tommy wouldn't approve.

He wouldn't approve of my thoughts, either, or of what Brigitte and I had been doing just before we left for church in our church-y clothes: We'd been having sex, which Reverend Tommy disapproved of. Reverend Tommy disapproves of any sex, and he's not one of those preachers who say they disapprove of sex but then they're fucking the girls (or the boys) behind the curtains by the chapel; he was the real deal. Reverend Tommy hated only one thing more than sex, and that was zombies. And he hated only one thing more than zombies, and that was lesbian zombies.

That's what he was tearing on about, and it made me wish that Brigitte and I had not rushed to get there because if I'd known the whole sermon was going to be about nothing but how I'm supposed to be taking over the world, I would have skipped. But I doubt Brigitte would have skipped. She's not like that. Even though she's a lesbian, she's very religious. I don't know how she got mixed up with the Church of the Savior of Living People Only. I don't know how she got mixed up with me, either. She's going to be mighty confused when she finds out. If she finds out.

And I don't want to let her find out. Not yet, anyway, because I've got plans. I may just make her like me, for one thing. But even if I don't, I can't resist her lips. That's what almost made us late for church. I took a look at her lips as she was putting lipstick on them, and couldn't resist. Without even strapping on my bra, I had to lean over behind her and turn her head to face me and started kissing her.

I pushed my tongue into her mouth, forcing her lips apart so I could feel them on either side of my tongue, soft and pliable and gently sucking on my tongue and she pushed her tongue into my mouth, so I tried to return the favor, but my lips are always a little dry, probably (I think) as a result of being me and probably because I'm not very ladylike except in public and I associate wet, soft, moist lips with ladies. We kissed like that for a while, pressing our lips more and more firmly together, and I couldn't take it anymore, I wanted those lips everywhere else on me. I moved her mouth away from mine and stared into her eyes for a few moments and then lowered her head down to my breast. She took the hint, and she took my nipple and she nuzzled it and sucked on it. God, her lips were so soft that I almost came right then and I cupped her hands in mine...

So you can see why we were almost late. And here's Reverend Tommy, who's actually not a bad guy except he says I'm going to hell and he wants to kill me, and I don't even know why, ranting and raving:

"These lesbian zombies walk among us. They dress like us, they talk like us, they look like us..." although technically, Reverend Tommy, I don't look like you, because you are a man, I wanted to say. Brigitte squeezed my thigh. I thought she did it inadvertently but she leaned over and said

"They don't look like him," in a whisper that tickled my ear and made me start to perspire. She was so much like me already! Could I make her more like me? Would she like me more if she were more like me? Word games in my mind were better than Reverend Tommy:

"And they will come out in broad daylight and mock us, and then after dark they will steal into our houses and steal your wives and your daughters, they will corrupt them and drag them down to the bowels of hell with them. They move freely between the Life and the Afterlife."

That startled me. Do I? Do I move freely between the Life and the Afterlife? I'd never thought of it. Maybe those dreams I have where I go to Hell aren't just dreams?

"And they will leave our women in the fires of Hell and return to take your souls and eat them." I looked around, furtively. We sat midway back in the Church, and the Church attendance was evenly divided between men and women and children. Most of them were attentively listening to Reverend Tommy. Some of the women looked a little flushed. I guess maybe they wouldn't mind a little corrupting.

"And Jesus doesn't want them. He wants YOU. He wants to save you, but you've got to be vigilant against the newest trick of the devil. The lesbian zombies are out there. They are after your souls, and they are taking over the world!"

I should a few things straight.

First, I am a lesbian.

Second, I am not a zombie. I don't think so, anyway. I'm not a revenant, either, because nobody controls me. I'm some kind of creation. I think that because none of my parts match. I have dark black, straight hair, but my pubic hair is brown. My left hand is larger than my right and doesn't look the same. I have one green eye and one blue eye and who ever heard of that? Plus, my right shoe is size 6 and my left shoe is size 9. I have a slight limp. At least my torso appears to be all one piece and I don't have any scars, so I'm not a Frankenstein. I don't think. I've never met anyone like me. Or at least, anyone who I knew was like me.

Third, I'm not sure why I'm here. Not here in the Church of Our Savior Of Living People Only. I'm here because Brigitte goes here and I'll do anything for those lips. Not here in this town, either. I wandered here a few months ago after living in New York City for a while and then deciding that I couldn't go on working at a diner and wondering why I didn't have parents, or didn't rememer any parents, or even a childhood, or even anything before one day I was just there, working at the diner and serving people egg platters and refilling their coffee without any idea of who I really was. People called me by my name (Rachel) and seemed to know me but nobody talked to me much and I didn't live with anyone. That first day was kind of scary -- I left work at 5 and I didn't know why I was leaving at 5 because I didn't remember being scheduled to work or even that I worked or who anyone was, and then I started walking home and got on the subway but I didn't know what a subway was, and I was riding the subway and I realized that I was going home but I didn't know where home was or if I had one at all.

I got really scared, then, and then tried to clear my mind and relax, which worked because when I stopped thinking about it I just headed home, which turned out to be a kind of crummy little studio apartment that had a view of a wall and some furniture and a TV in it. So maybe someone is controlling me because I went home, but I don't think so because why would they let me just wander away?

But fourth, I think maybe I am trying to take over the world.

Go on to part two-- Meet Doc-- by clicking this link.

Or click here if you'd like to download the entire story for free.