Saturday, February 05, 2005

The Father, Son and the Holy Force

Yes, I finally saw it yesterday: The One Man Star Wars Trilogy at the Apollo Theater Chicago.

I've been trying to see this for a while. Winter of 2003 was when I first heard of it, but we couldn't get it together. Last month it snowed and snowed and snowed; the theater was incredibly generous and let us reschedule. Last night, it all came together.

The cast:

Charles Ross (Luke Skywalker)

Charles Ross (Han Solo)

Charles Ross (Princess Leia)

Charles Ross (Grand Moff Tarkin)

Charles Ross (Obi-Wan Kenobi)

Charles Ross (C-3PO)

Charles Ross (R2-D2)

Charles Ross (Chewbacca)

Charles Ross (Uncle Owen)

Charles Ross (Aunt Beru)


Charles Ross (Red 2)

Charles Ross (Red 3)

Charles Ross (Gold Leader)

Charles Ross (X Wing Fighter)

Charles Ross (20th Century Fox Fanfare)

Charles Ross (London Symphony Orchestra)


Etc., etc. You get the idea. :-)

Minor annoyance: it was a little hard to hear some of the dialog. Then again, considering I (and just about everyone in the theater) know it by heart anyway, ...

SPOILERS BELOW (but only of the movies, not the play)

It was brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. From the Opening Credits to the Dance of the Death Star to the end of Anakin, it was laugh after laugh after laugh, and smile after smile after smile. It couldn't have been easy to condense six hours of film into and hour and fifteen minute play, but all of that hard work certainly paid off. And the sheer amount of energy and dedication it takes to perform all of those parts solo; it was wonderful, just wonderful.

I sum it up as follows: he made great fun of the movies, in the way that only someone who really loves and enjoys them can do.

I'd love to say more, but I really don't want to spoil it for those who might get a chance to see it. And if you are lucky enough to get a chance, go see it!

His next production: One Man Lord of the Rings.

After the show, he gave us all some advice: if you have a crazy dream, do what it takes and make it happen. Inspiration for us all.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Make Me Money

Yeah, I'm a sellout. I signed up for Google AdSense.

Hey, I have college funds to fund! It'll be interesting to see which earns less money, this or Upromise.

Besides, it is fun to see just what ads show up. Right now, it is all about St-r W-rs. Oh, wait, I don't want to say that, as it will skew the stats even more. What if I say George L-c-s? No, that won't work... And I'm going to the One "Man" show tonight, which I'm planning on writing up, oh noooooooo....

Music Downloading, Part Deux

Remember my very first Bits O' Wit article?

"Given the RIAA's relentless attack on the grannies and toddlers of the world, [...]"

It isn't just live grannies they go after, dead ones are fair game, too.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Prisoners & Pullman & Peons, Oh Boy

Today I was forwarded an interesting article by Philip Zimbardo, the guy who ran the Stanford Prison Experiment and testified for the defense of one of the court martialed soldiers from Abu Ghraib.

"It's not the bad apples, it's the bad barrels that corrupt good people. Understanding the abuses at this Iraqi prison starts with an analysis of both the situational and systematic forces operating on those soldiers working the night shift in that 'little shop of horrors.'"

Don't get me wrong; what happened at Abu Ghraib still sickens me. But I hadn't thought of it from that point of view.

There is something to it. I have been on the receiving end at least twice, albeit in more innocuous settings.

The first time was in seventh grade, where we were doing a simulation of the 1894 Pullman Strike.

"In the 1880s George Pullman built the town of Pullman near Lake Calumet [by Chicago] to manufacture his famous railway sleeping cars. All buildings in the town were company owned and rented to workers, churches and stores."

To simulate this, our teacher divided the class into Workers and Bosses. I was one of the Workers, and we decided to strike. The next day, the Bosses took away our desks (since they owned the "town"). We Workers got angry. Very angry. By the end of that class period, the teacher had to end the game, as the Workers and Bosses were physically pushing each other around (not gently, either). And this was an honor's class!

The other time that comes to mind is playing The Great Dalmuti. Basically, if you are the bottom of the pecking order (also known as The Greater Peon), the rules are set up so that it is (a) very hard to escape that position and (b) you are stuck doing the menial tasks (such as collecting and shuffling the cards) for the Great Dalmuti.

Of course, I was the Greater Peon. The first few rounds were okay, but as time went on my mood started sinking, and I was getting visibly angry when ordered to shuffle. It frustrated me, as I was getting angry at my friends, and I didn't really know why. It was just a game, right?

Subsequently, whenever we played, I noticed the same reaction in whomever was stuck as the Greater Peon.

Now, this is not an excuse for the evil that happened at Abu Ghraib; it is merely an explanation (and only a partial one at that, as our leaders should never, never have let it happened). But we have no chance of stomping it out until we understand it.