Dominic Basulto’s Scientific Frontiers: More Implications of Star Wars Land in Disney by the Washington Post

I normally don’t do this, but Dominic Basulto’s article from the Washington Post is so good about the future implications of Star Wars and the new Disney Lands dedicated to the famous movie franchise, that I am posting it in its entirety below along with the origin links, just because I worry that people might not click on the link to take the next step to read it. I want to make it as easy as possible—because it is that good. After reading, make sure to click on the links, check out the sponsors of the Washington Post, because they rely on that kind of revenue, and consider yourself enriched. I wrote about nearly the same type of topic a few days ago, but I thought that Basulto’s article went a bit more to the science implication as opposed to the mythic and was important.

Over the last week I have taken some time to enjoy some of the fun things in life, Star Wars being one of them, and enjoyed enormously the great news coming out of Disney not just for myself, but for many of the reasons that Dominic Basulto illustrated in his article. I spent an entire day catching up on news from the 2015 Gen Con and all the great Star Wars news coming from Fantasy Flight Games. Like the implication of Star Wars upon the world of science, I can see this whole generation exploding into a grand fortissimo that far exceeds politics and contemporary society. As obsessed as the world of politics is currently with Donald Trump, the sheer numbers of these Star Wars supporters pales every other demographic group in comparison, and is evidence of a world tomorrow that will be much different from the world of today. To understand that world I watched hours of footage coming from X-Wing matches at Gen Con and studied what was coming from Fantasy Flight Games. But all that will be quickly eclipsed with the announcement of a Star Wars Land in Disney World. To understand that—dive into Basulto’s world and take a mental snapshot of a world about to arrive.

Over the weekend at the D23 Expo, Disney announced that it planned to create two new 14-acre “Star Wars” theme lands as part of its Disneyland and Disney World parks. The news, predictably, met with approval from the ranks of “Star Wars” supporters at the event.

But the news of Disney’s new theme parks has a far larger significance: it shows the extent to which science fiction is eating the world. And that’s good news — science fiction’s growing mind share of the nation’s youth is creating a stable base of future innovators.

Think about it — the generation that grew up on the Disney animation classics of the post-War era — “Alice in Wonderland” (1951), “Peter Pan” (1953), and “Sleeping Beauty” (1959) — has been replaced by a generation that grew up with “Star Wars” and all the other classic science fiction films of the 1970s and early 1980s. In 1977, the blockbuster film “Star Wars” launched an amazing cult franchise that shows no signs of stopping anytime soon.

That’s one reason why Disney spent $4.05 billion to acquire Lucasfilm Ltd. back in 2012 — the bottom-line realization is that science fiction has come a long way from its early roots as a nerdy niche and is now a platform for future growth. It’s also at the leading edge of creating immersive new experiences. At this weekend’s D23 Expo, Disney chief executive Bob Iger told fans that, “We are creating a jaw-dropping new world” in which “guests will truly become part of a Star Wars story.”

Science fiction is now a family affair and a very lucrative one at that — while kids may outgrow their Cinderella dolls by adolescence, there’s growing proof that they never really outgrow their love of “Star Wars.” Science fiction is the gift that keeps on giving, especially if you’re a huge corporation able to license product after product. There’s enough demand, in fact, to support the creation of sprawling new “Star Wars” theme worlds within already sprawling theme parks.

As science fiction continues to eat the world, which has important implications for how future generations think about science, creativity and innovation.

First and most importantly, think about the new gender roles that science fiction opens up. In the classic Disney fairy tale, what are the roles played by women and girls? They are princesses who spend their whole lives pining for a kiss from Prince Charming. The reason why “Frozen” has been such a phenomenal success for Disney, some have argued, is because it brought forward a new type of heroine – Elsa – who’s okay with her magical ice powers and just wants to be left alone.

Now, contrast that to the roles played by the likes of another princess — the “Star Wars” princess Leia Organa of Alderaan. She’s talented, driven, forceful, a leader and a fighter – and she’s also beautiful and a style icon, by the way. This explosion of possible roles for women, one could argue, has been one of the factors behind the phenomenal success of events such as Comic-Con. The wonderful variety of science fiction roles for women has inspired girls to dress up like their favorite heroines. At this year’s Comic-Con, the male/female ratio was almost exactly 50-50.

Then, think about the technological innovations in your classic Disney fairy tale — you have magic kisses, magic wands and magic abilities such as the ability to fly. You could argue that “Star Wars” offers high-tech updates on these themes — think of the “Star Wars” light saber as the ultimate magic wand, the Millennium Falcon as a way cooler version of a flying elephant, and all the assorted droids, gadgets and intergalactic villains as high-tech versions of the all plot elements in a Disney fairy tale.

There’s a whole sub-genre of innovation that might be characterized as Star Wars innovations — all the amazing innovations that people are trying to bring to fruition because of having watched “Star Wars.” A short list of amazing innovations inspired by “Star Wars” would include laser technology, artificial intelligence, robotics, alternative energy, holograms, prosthetics, genetic engineering and, yes, force field technology.

The reason why science fiction is so powerful as an innovation stimulus is because it creates the need for high-end special effects to create ever more realistic worlds within a science fiction narrative framework. That’s where Lucasfilm plays such an important role — all of those special effects help to push along the narrative in ways that excite the mind. All the great Disney films have a complex narrative filled with great costumes, curses, grudges and family intrigues — but when they’re combined with intergalactic empires and cosmic enemies, science fiction films have much greater ability to win over impressionable hearts and minds.

Still not convinced that science fiction is eating the world? Just wait until Halloween this year. Check out how many people make “Star Wars” a family affair. For every Cinderella and Prince Charming, you’re bound to encounter a Princess Leia and Han Solo. It used to be you needed to go to an event such as Comic-Con to dress up as your favorite science fiction character, soon you’ll be able to do it any day of the year at Disneyland or Disney World.

Dominic Basulto is a futurist and blogger based in New York City

http://www.washingtonpost.com/posttv/national/star-wars-lands-coming-to-disneyland-disney-world/2015/08/16/b60167d6-43ee-11e5-9f53-d1e3ddfd0cda_video.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/star-wars-themed-land-at-planned-at-disney-parks/2015/08/15/e25ea198-43aa-11e5-9f53-d1e3ddfd0cda_story.html?tid=ptv_rellink

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/innovations/wp/2015/08/18/disneys-star-wars-themed-lands-prove-that-science-fiction-has-arrived/

Rich Hoffman

 CLIFFHANGER RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT

Listen to The Blaze Radio Network by CLICKING HERE.

The Millennium Falcon is my Thing: Wonderful news from Disney’s D23 Expo

Stunning is all I have to say about the news out of Disney regarding Star Wars.  Everyone who reads here and knows me understands that I am a Star Wars fan.  They know that my primary love in life is that of mythology and the power of it.  That one of my great personal teachers was the maverick professor at Sarah Lawrence College—Joseph Campbell and that I spent many of my formative years associating with the Joseph Campbell Foundation of which George Lucas was one of the Board of Directors.  And I have said on many occasions that I think the new Star Wars films, and all the books and media that will follow will reshape our modern culture not only regionally, but globally. There is tremendous power in Star Wars and Disney’s marketing machine will only accentuate that in glorious ways that only capitalism can fully extract.  The news around the upcoming film The Force Awakens is exciting.  But that’s not all, a whole slate of new films following that one are upcoming.  All the mythology that the previous six Star Wars films have produced over the last 30 years will soon be eclipsed by the six new films in the pipeline produced over the next six years.  And supporting those will be all new novels, video games, commercial products but best of all a new Star Wars land at the Disney parks.  Click here to read some of my previous work on this topic.  I predicted this a long time ago in a galaxy not so far away. 

For me the biggest news of this century which has stirred in me a delight that is quite epic is the information that not only will Disney build a 14 acre Star Wars specific land in both the Anaheim location and Orlando location, but that a full-sized Millennium Falcon will be present.  That is a game changer in these films that I have been wanting to see my entire life.  And now I’m going to get to see it.   At the D23 Expo over this last weekend Bob Iger released the details and showed the concept art and that just did it for me.  I have been in love with the Millennium Falcon since I was very young and it may actually be stronger today than even when I was a kid because not only through the movies, but the many novels, I have spent a lot of time on that ship in my head—and I completely understand the world it traverses through.  I am very happy that Disney as a company has done precisely what I said they would do with the Star Wars acquisition when they first bought it in 2012 and at the heart of it they intend to keep the Millennium Falcon a central character to the entire saga.

Honestly if Jesus Christ came again to judge the living and the dead on judgment day and I had a chance to attend that or to go see the Millennium Falcon in real life, I would choose the Falcon.  I am pretty stoic when it comes to controlling my emotions.  I don’t get crazy about many things—especially sad things. But I do allow myself to feel elation over positive things, and I really don’t know how I will handle seeing a Millennium Falcon in real life—seriously.  When the place opens I may take a week of vacation just to reside in that land day after day soaking up everything—because I love the Star Wars mythology from top to bottom—and within that world I have a love of the Millennium Falcon that is central to that passion.  Still to this day, out of all the successes and experiences I’ve had—which are quite extraordinary, things I’ve won and achieved—one of the best memories I have ever had was seeing the real life model of the Millennium Falcon in the Smithsonian in 1997.  I really felt when I put my hands against the glass that I had died and gone to heaven.  It was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever put my eyes on.  Given that context I really don’t know how I’ll react to seeing a model of the Falcon in full-scale that I can walk up to and see close.

Han Solo is the modern embodiment of the classic western cowboy.  His quick draw pistol is famous within the Star Wars storyline and his super fast Millennium Falcon gives a tip of the hat to two film genres, the classic car hot rod and a gun fighting cowboy.  Those two things are just impossible not to like—and to top that off, the Falcon was a pirate ship within that galaxy—so I’m not the only one who finds the Millennium Falcon appealing.  I was amazed to see Harrison Ford on stage at D23, and that it was Han Solo who made the cut on the new poster for The Force Awakens.  There will be a new film about specifically Han Solo as a young 20 something that will be exciting, so there is a lot of news coming from Disney to be excited about for—particularly for Millennium Falcon fans.  I know how I feel about all this information, so I can’t help but think of the scientific implications of it.

As recently as last week I was thinking of a way to build a real Millennium Falcon as a real usable space vessel moving to and from earth to explore the reaches of space.  I really don’t think we are that far away, and one design with sentimental value is as good as any other.  The Falcon offers a lot of options for deep space travel particularly in its circular design.  A change of scenery is important when spending a lot of time in space, and the Falcon is cleverly designed for just such an experience.

Also announced at D23 was the new photo for Rogue One which showed Felicity Jones as the main actress standing among a group of daredevils and hackers about to steal the Death Star plans leading up to the original Star Wars film,  A New Hope.  As I looked at that I couldn’t help but wonder if she wasn’t playing Bria Tharen who was one of Han Solo’s girl friends from the Expanded Universe.  If she was her back story could easily be a part of the stand alone Han Solo film coming on May 25th 2018.  I’m already in line!  Likely being that young, Han Solo wouldn’t yet have the Millennium Falcon, but I’m sure it will make an appearance in that film as the ship owned by Lando Calrissian.   It is obvious that Disney, knowing the popularity of the vessel is finding ways to put it in most of the new Star Wars films in some support role or another.  There will also be a Boba Fett film and in that story I’m sure he will be chasing around a younger Han Solo in the Millennium Falcon—so there is a theme emerging that is quite justifiable in placing a full-sized Falcon in the center of the new Star Wars land at Disney.

Knowing the effect the Falcon has had on me I shudder to think of what effect it will have on a new generation who can actually walk up and touch it.  I got goose bumps the first time I saw new footage of the Falcon in a hangar on the Star Tours ride in Orlando.  Part of the ride flies off behind the popular vessel in a dog fight and I was blasted with excitement in just seeing it sit there.  For my birthday this year we went to Dave & Busters just so I could fly the Falcon in the video game there exclusive to the popular gaming destination.  But these are all images that take imagination to enjoy.  They are not something you can put your hands on and feel.  Disney is now taking that step and I am emphatically excited about it.  I think the influence it will have on science for years to come will be extraordinary.  These new films will open up the mythology in ways that nobody thought was possible before and the effect they will have on civilization will be extremely powerful.  Being able to reach out and touch it will just make it that much more influential as a mythic device.  So yes, there is a lot of good news floating around out there.  But for me, nothing is more exciting than the D23 news coming out of Disney.  I would pay $100,000 just to see an actual movie prop of the Falcon on set.  I would spend unknown amounts to see one all dressed up at Disney World.  The Millennium Falcon is my thing—and I share that with a lot of other enthusiasts. It was probably the best thing that Disney could have done with Star Wars—and they are just getting started.  I can’t wait to see what’s next!

Rich Hoffman

 CLIFFHANGER RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT

Listen to The Blaze Radio Network by CLICKING HERE.

The Battle of Two Wolves: Mythic tales from Star Wars 2015 Celebration

It’s important, so I’ll keep talking about it—the Star Wars Celebration showed the outside world just how much potential there is in the Disney owned movie franchise. I’ve been covering that topic for quite some time—I write about the Star Wars video games, the books, the television shows, and the movies often—but the essence of it and the longevity, is the extreme power of the mythology to shape the modern world. Mythology is excessively important to human beings.   As thinking specimens of cell building technology, humans need mythology.   Our childhoods are often rich with mythology, but our adult and old age lives are often much more limited to tabloid type concerns. Our lives are shaped by the kind of mythology that we think about. Star Wars as shown in the videos below by the filmmakers’ themelves from the Celebration event is the best offering that human minds have created in the world of mythology. To understand a bit about the why and how let me bring to your mind a nice little Cherokee Indian legend passed from a wise man to his grandson.

A Native American Cherokee Story – Two Wolves

One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.

He said, “My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us all.

“One is Evil – It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

“The other is Good – It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: “Which wolf wins?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

http://www.firstpeople.us/FP-Html-Legends/TwoWolves-Cherokee.html

Star Wars is the modern update to stories like those old Indian legends. All cultures have some mythological comparison—so having a modern version is extremely important to young people—and old people. That is why the box office numbers for the next Star Wars film will be so outrageously high. There is a hunger for the type of mythology which places values into story form for humans to build their lives around.

Star Wars is essentially the story of the two wolves of Cherokee legend. It’s about feeding good and evil then watching the results. People are so desperately hungry for that type of story telling. There is a reason that westerns were so popular in American culture—because they were essentially about these perilous choices between the good wolf and the bad wolf. Mankind wants to know which one wins, because they want help in determining which wolf to feed.

I know, and have known a lot of bad wolves and I tried to starve the bad out of them in favor of the good. But so often the bad wolf eats the good wolf in these young people’s lives because behind my back they starve the good one and feed the bad. The bad wolf is the squeaky wheel in their life needing the most grease. Many from that side of the tracks of perpetual duality want to justify the actions and social perception of the evil wolf, the bad side of human sentiment, the anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego—as being misunderstood—as if understanding were required to justify the feeding of a bad wolf.

We live in an age where we are told not to judge others—we are told not to judge the good wolf or the bad wolf because they are all wolves and equal under the sky of mother earth. Well, they are not equal, and they cannot co-habitat on earth with one another in peace. Good and evil are at war and if there is any point to life in the realm of four-dimensional reality it is to determine which wolf people will feed—because that will determine the course of your very soul. That is the great test, which wolf will we feed?

Star Wars functions in a fashion as it puts the question toward mankind in the same way that the grandfather did for his grandson. The choice is ours always to make, Star Wars does not tell us which one to feed. It simply says what the results of one wolf will be over the other. That is the purpose of mythology and a society without it is lost—as we have all been for many years—in spite of a very rich culture of story telling. The quality of that story telling has not been very high. Star Wars however is very high quality story telling—it is mythology at its best.

Bob Iger the CEO of the Disney Corporation gave a surprisingly fluid clarification of his understanding of the Star Wars property. He understands quite clearly what his responsibility to mythology is as one of the largest entertainment companies in the world. As I heard him speak it was almost chilling because I can see how this will all play out and it will be earth shattering—just because there are so many people today who are such empty vessels. Star Wars will be like a drink in the desert for them, and it will fill them with choices. No longer will they wonder how to keep the two wolves from eating each other, they will learn to feed one and kill the other—and their lives will suddenly have meaning. That is the power of myth.

That is also why Star Wars: The Force Awakens will make so much money that the movie business will have to totally re-think how it does business. Next to Star Wars, average Hollywood movies will pale in comparison as the global measure made today will far surpass everything that many think are successes. Many bad wolves will speculate that Disney is evil and just out to make money, and that the world has had enough of Star Wars. Those will be those bad wolves who don’t want to share their food with the good—so of course they will say that. But Disney will increase their value to heights they never thought possible—and they’ll soon learn that the price they paid for Lucasfilm was a fraction of the real value. The power of myth is what drives Star Wars, and the hunger for it is in understanding which wolf to feed, the good one or the bad one. The world wants answers to those questions and these days only Star Wars is offering a clear answer. That’s why it is so successful and why I have so much to say about it.

Rich Hoffman

 CLIFFHANGER RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT

Listen to The Blaze Radio Network by CLICKING HERE.

The Difference Between Good Guys and Bad Guys: Previews for Star Wars ‘Battlefront’ and ‘Force Awakens’

I have been saying it for quiet a while, its coming—quick. Its more important than the 2016 presidential election, it has more emotional power than a whole childhood of public school. For many it’s more meaningful than the relationship they have with their parents and siblings. It has more sustenance than any goals obtained in a commitment to a career. For many—a lot more than it used to be—the next six years will be some of the best and most emotional years of their life, and the direction of human society will be decided not by the religions of the world, or the billions and billions of dollars of money spent on education. It will be defined and implemented by the new Star Wars movies that are coming out between 2015 and 2020. Star Wars is already one of the most important cultural phenomenons that exist to human beings. But what will occur over the next five years will shake the foundations of our society to their bare essence. This week during the 2015 Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim, California the preview to the second trailer for The Force Awakens played to the world, and many grown adults reacted in a similar way as seen in this clever Mathew McConaughey clip shown below.

So why all the excitement?

I was very close to taking my family on vacation to Anaheim this year to attend the Star Wars Celebration. The reason we didn’t go is because we are trying to stay a bit on the fence—we are all fairly invested in the Expanded Universe and want to make sure that the new films are not utterly screwed up continuity wise. If we had known that Jaina Solo would be in the new films, we likely would have dropped $20,000 for a no holds vacation to California. But right now we don’t know much about the future of characters we love as a family, and Disney really didn’t get a huge presence into their theme parks yet—which was the other qualifier. It’s only been three years, but I had hoped that Disney would have had more Star Wars specific attractions by now, especially since they put the Celebration event right next to Disneyland. But they didn’t so given the unknowns, we held onto our money for the time being. However, that didn’t mean we couldn’t see what was going on. The event was live streamed for the entire weekend, which my daughter and I watched religiously trying to see each and every interview shown. We were like many millions around the world scrapping up every bit of Star Wars news coming out of the convention—which from a mythology perspective was quite extraordinary.

The reason for all the fuss is that Star Wars is all about values and the world has in many cases been deliberately starved of them to fulfill various political agendas. Star Wars is really the first global influence which clearly attempts to define good and evil in a way that every culture from every segment of society can relate to. Religion used to be that vehicle, but it no longer works properly for most, and Star Wars is filling that void.

Another massive revelation which came out of the convention the day after the movie preview for The Force Awakens was shown was the new Battlefront video game which features Star Wars scenarios in some of the most intense battlefield action seen to date—themed to the original films. I am currently playing Star Wars: Commander on my iPhone 6 just to fill the time between game platforms. My wife and I just finished playing Star Wars: The Old Republic which we played every day for nearly two years and now we are waiting for Battlefront which can be seen in the following clip. This is a new reality that fans around the world can enjoy playing in real-time against real people at all hours of the day no matter where they reside. When Battlefront comes out, I may retire again and spend most of my days playing that game. Here’s why—I never get enough of this type of activity!

One aspect to Star Wars: Commander that continues to amaze me is how many people chose to play on the side of the Empire. In Star Wars the Empire represents the bad guys and I have been mystified as to why people would or could play the bad guys. There is a segment of the population, and I see this extensively in the table top games from Fantasy Flight, like X-Wing and now Armada that roughly half the human population identifies with the bad guys so much they prefer to use them as representatives to themselves while the other half chooses to play on the side of the good. According to many who prefer the bad guys, the Empire is poorly understood and is on the side of institutional justice. There is a power in the bad guys that is attractive to these people and ironically it does affect their morality in real life—it will affect their decisions at the voting booth in favor of marijuana legalization, immigration strategies and generally the size and scope of government. There is quite a science to the natural appeal of those who love bad guys over those who don’t. In Commander there is never a shortage of bad guys to play against in live combat. No matter what time of day or what part of the week there is an Imperial base to attack because that many people love the bad guys of Star Wars so much that they are willing to invest the massive amount of time it takes to build up to a level 8 base—which is what I have.

A common theme throughout the years 2000 through 2010 among from young men who knew me was that many liked the villains of Star Wars much more than the heroes. I was trying to mentor them, most came from homes where the fathers were terrible. They only identified with the bad guys, whereas young men who had strong fathers that they could look up to tended to agree with me, that the good guys were the ones to cheer for in Star Wars. I would get pretty animated at these young boys who loved Boba Fett and Darth Vader over characters like Han and Luke and tell them that there was harm in liking the bad guys, which I still believe probably more so today than I did even then. Yet I could not convince them otherwise because their foundation thoughts were set in stone from early in their youth. I suspect this is the case for many who love Star Wars from the point of view of the bad guys. Somewhere along the line a mentor of some kind let them down, leaving them to turn toward institutional consensus to behold their values.

Of those young people who argued with me in favor of the bad guys over the good every single one of them has had a rough life a decade later. Often drugs were part of their lives, but also they suffer from relationship issues and generally low self-esteem. I still feel if they had listened to me, they would have been greatly improved as human beings but their desire to identify with the bad guys in Star Wars indicates a much more systemic issue than anything that can be quickly cured with some motivational speaking.   If the wires are crossed during their infancy, there isn’t much anybody can do to fix them later unless they recognize the error of their identification.

As a kid, and still now, I could never play the bad guys—I never felt comfortable flying a TIE fighter against an X-Wing fighter in the video game series X-Wing. I could have never put on a Boba Fett costume—and certainly not a stormtrooper. When the game Force Unleashed came out I did not play it at first because you had to play as an agent of Darth Vader—which I couldn’t do. I literally could not physically show aggression toward what I considered to be the good guys in Star Wars. It actually makes me sick to do so—to play a bad guy. I’ve been like that my whole life—down to my earliest moments. In kids both male and female the love of good guys or bad guys seems to come down to the relationship they have with mentors in their lives. If they are short on proper mentors, they tend to love the Empire. If they have several positive mentors in their lives, they love the good guys. One of my nephews really became angry with me when he tried to justify Darth Maul as a cooler character than Obi-Wan Kenobi. He had a really manipulative father—so no matter how much I tried to inspire him to something better, he always snapped right back into loving Darth Maul over Obi-Wan. After several years of trying I stopped—understanding that the static patterns had already been established and it would take a major crisis in his life to shake him into wanting new heroic archetypes.

But what’s great about Star Wars, even those who love the bad guys, is that the stories from that franchise are about essential values and are some of the most powerful works of philosophy and religion currently being explored anywhere. Star Wars is shaping the tone and values of the 21st century and is defining the next thousand years of humanity. It is becoming our new Bible wither or not people like it or not. In a society that is lacking values—purposely implemented—Star Wars and a few other comic related franchises are all they have. In most cases, parents have failed them, schools have failed them, mentors have failed them, entertainment, religion, economics—etc, have all failed them so they turn to Star Wars for the values uttered in those stories. That is why all the emotion over a simple preview in anticipation for one of the most epic experiences most people will ever have even in relation to the life and death of loved ones—the opening of the next Star Wars movie. It’s much more than a film franchise designed to make money as a capitalist endeavor. It is that—but it’s much, much more. Star Wars is about values, and people weep over just hearing the music because it makes them emotional to have those empty voids filled within their minds where values should be—values that have in some cases deliberately been withdrawn as a means to control the population through political efforts. Star Wars is about recreating those values and the result of that endeavor usually puts people on one side or the other. But whichever side it is, they are at least better off than valueless slugs awaiting the commands of a political class that rules by the void of valueless utterances. Star Wars provides those values, and the world is far better off because of it.

Rich Hoffman

 CLIFFHANGER RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT

Listen to The Blaze Radio Network by CLICKING HERE.

Fire Across the Galaxy: A wonderful first season of ‘Rebels’

Star Wars is about substance. The stories and my love for them trace back to my Joseph Campbell Foundation days where George Lucas was one of the original board of directors. I understand and appreciate what he has been trying to do, which I have talked about extensively in other articles. To that effect, the first season of Star Wars: Rebels is about to air as of this writing and my reason for this article is to remind you to tune into Disney XD at 9 PM Eastern time to watch it. Here is a preview of what you will see.

If you think about the themes of that episode, the Empire torturing Kanan for information about the increasing resistance from the Rebellion is a theme that harkens directly back to the end of the great Ayn Rand novel, Atlas Shrugged. In that work John Galt was tortured into compliance for his help in assisting the collective whole of civilization. It’s a mature theme intended for adults in a very grown-up story. Star Wars is obviously for kids. George Lucas is an open supporter of Barack Obama and even has his hands in Chicago politics in paving the way for his Star Wars museum on the shores of Lake Michigan. But, the content of his intentions with the expansion of Star Wars through first the San Francisco operation expansion into the Presidio, then the sale to Disney and the upcoming films is a strategy through myth that I think is excessively important.   Lucas has always been the best articulator of modern philosophy that our world currently knows. He will be remembered at the level of a Socrates, or Plato in bringing mythology, religion, and global cultural understanding to humanity in an excessively positive way. I doubt Lucas would see himself that way—but I do. History will prove me right.

Star Wars: Rebels is one of the best and most important programs on television currently. The season started off slow as it was obvious that the creative people behind the series were getting their feet wet with Star Wars without the hand of Lucas directly guiding them.   But as they completed a few episodes, it is clear that they are off to a roaring beginning to a very dramatic series. I love the show and my wife and I watch it every week. I don’t know that I’m all that excited about the new movies because I have a feeling my favorite character isn’t going to be around much longer, but I love the overall world of Star Wars because of the power it has of harnessing myth in a positive way. Star Wars: Rebels is special because it has captured that power in a way that is appealing to adults and children—it is a truly family oriented show about values.

The depth of ability that Star Wars has to reach into the nature of politics is truly amazing. The range of characters and how they interconnect allows stories to truly explore human nature from the motives of a galactic empire hell-bent on power, to a common smuggler straddling the cracks of the law to make a living the best way possible without squandering away their integrity. It’s a very dramatic portrait of competing ideas that goes well beyond the simplicity of a child’s tale.

For those who know Star Wars, which is most everyone, Darth Vader will be in tonight’s episode. If you are reading this after the date of March 2nd 2015, then this episode will be available at Star Wars.com. Vader is from the original trilogy and is actually the main character through the first six films and the entire Clone Wars animated series that went on for six seasons. Vader will be there to torture Kanan and it will be intriguing. The point of the torture is of course to coerce Kanan into revealing the location of his friends and the greater threat of a larger rebellion emerging from the senate. In a lot of ways the story lines look to be peeled away from the pages of our current history. But what’s important is that they often deal with difficult issues of extreme complexity with a joy that is openly supportive of living life as joyfully as possible.

In the episode leading up to Fire Across the Galaxy the Rebels even under great duress, managed to have a good time finding out information on where their friend and leader is being held—which is on Mustafar—which those who know Revenge of the Sith will know as the planet that made Darth Vader into who he is. Also, Bail Organa makes another appearance revealing that he has all along been the contact the Rebels have been using to get information. So there are some critical plot points that will be revealed in this episode that will serve as a nice cliffhanger to the new season that will begin in the upcoming fall of 2015.

Prior to the release of this episode my wife and I discussed my upcoming birthday and in having some fun with it this year. We spent much of the weekend playing our new favorite game Star Wars: Commander and making plans for the birthday at Dave and Busters having a Star Wars theme party centered on their new arcade game Battle Pod. Star Wars never gets tired to me; it is fun, exciting and full of interesting things to think about if the conflict at large is considered. But more than any of that, the technical achievements to tell those stories never gets old. For instance, it’s been thirty years since the film Return of the Jedi, but in Battle Pod game players gain the opportunity to fly into the second Death Star and blow it up flying the Millennium Falcon which is something I’ve always wanted to do. Battle Pod allows for that kind of experience, which is exactly how I’d want to spend my birthday with my family. I wouldn’t want to go to Dave and Busters really for anything else, but that they have a Battle Pod machine there.

Star Wars is fun, and special, so it is quite a treat to having something as unique as the episode Fire Across the Galaxy coming up on television tonight at 9 PM. If you can make time, be sure to watch it. It’s about a lot of things, but more than anything, it’s about substance. By far, it’s the best kids show on the air. But, because of the serious content underlying the story lines, and the philosophy emerging from them, it’s the best adult show also. It’s just a matter of time before the full impact will be felt. But, tonight’s episode for the uninitiated would be a great place to start. Enjoy!

Rich Hoffman

 CLIFFHANGER RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT

 

New X-Wing Strategies for Scum and Villainy: Lean Han and the Outrider

It has been a busy end of the 2014 year and there really hasn’t been time for all my hobbies. Really, I have too many interests, so my enjoyment of the Star Wars Miniatures game X-Wing has been on hold for a while. I did manage to watch the matches of Paul Heaver at the Worlds X-Wing tournament at Fantasy Flight Games and enjoyed watching his “Fat Han” build dominate the competition. Those matches can be seen below and are well worth viewing for their strategy. X-Wing has become even larger over the last year and there are no signs of it stopping. It’s a fabulous game as I’ve said before—and it keeps getting better. Even with all the innovation that has went into X-Wing from FFG it was great to see the Han Solo build win Worlds. I have used a similar build from the start of X-Wing but it was the addition of the Headhunters and the Artoo card that put the Fat Han build over the top—and Heaver exploited it brilliantly over the course of the 2014 season.

For anyone who has been wondering about the content of the new Star Wars films, hard-core fans know that the rumored abandonment of the Expanded Universe is purely a false flag attempt to throw people off the trail of the actual plot. In the gaming universe, FFG has shown that more than ever the Expanded Universe is shaping the future of Star Wars for the better and for me personally, there has been nothing more exciting than the Wave V addition of the Rebel faction YT-2400 Outrider which fits perfectly into a strategy I had been wanting to work on for the 2015 evolution of the meta game. imageThe news coming out of X-Wing is so exciting that sometimes I wish I could afford to just play that game all the time. I would love to spend the rest of my life playing it all day every day and I’d never tire of it. For guys like Paul Heaver they are able to delve into every aspect of the game strategically which would be a lot of fun. I can maybe get a game of X-Wing in about two times per month. But some people who I know are able to play several times per day and 12 to 20 per week which is the best way to really get good at the game. Now with all the expansions coming into play, there is a lot to keep up with—but its fun trying. For 2015 the biggest news is a Star Destroyer huge ship coming to the Empire faction and the advent of the new Scum and Villainy faction. It is that new faction that had my interest in devising a new strategy in how to deal with them once they hit the market. For me, that will involve the new Outrider.

It took me until February of 2015 to finally get to play a game with the YT-2400 but I’m happy to report that it is the perfect complement to the traditional Fat Han build replacing the old Twin Falcon builds as a viable strategy. The Outrider fits in as a perfect complement to the Falcon with its 360 turret ability, and barrel roll. On the Falcon I typically use Expert Handling ability to get a barrel roll out of the Falcon so having two large ships that can barrel roll in and out of firing arcs is the key to making this a build that I think will work best in dealing with the new faction of Bounty Hunters.

What will set the Scum and Villainy faction apart from the previous Rebel and Empire factions is that the bounty hunters will utilize illegal armaments and dirty tricks. So it will turn the game meta on its head and make the game so much more dramatic—as if it needed it. The addition of the new Boba Fett Firespray under the Scum faction is going to be a really difficult ship to deal with along with IG-88 and other pirates. So firepower will be needed that can fire behind those dirty tricks. That’s where the YT-2400 comes in. The feature build is the use of a Heavy Laser Cannon from range 2-3 to pick off foes from a safe distance using the barrel roll to stay out of the line of fire.

The version of Fat Han that I’m using is a very fast Falcon that I’d call a “Lean Han” and the YT-2400 decked out with a HLC and the Outrider card which allows for that secondary weapon to become the primary. With the two speedy YT family ships on the board at the same time using Han’s re-roll ability to make sure he hits each round, it will be the most effective counter to the meta-game that is coming if you are a Rebel player—which of course I wouldn’t consider playing as anything else. The games I played with the pairing were very successful even against a TIE Swarm so the YT for me is a dream come true.

The guys who are playing double-digit games of X-Wing per week are really lucky. I would consider retiring from all my many tasks and becoming a professional player just because it’s so much fun to play. I think it far surpasses Chess as a game of strategy and is showing signs of maintaining great depth for the future. The game is huge now, but after the next Star Wars film comes out in less than a year it will really explode because of all the new ships and characters who will be made into ships in the game. The Scum and Villainy factions along with the Outrider are great examples of how FFG has used the Expanded Universe to build a great mythological gaming experience and for Star Wars to really work; the new films will need to tap into all this background going into games like X-Wing. Many of the cards offered with the ships come from characters only referenced in the novels and comics, so the direction of X-Wing indicates the direction of the Star Wars franchise from Disney over the next six years. A decade from now X-Wing may be a massive game full of loyal fans that will greatly eclipse what Magic the Gathering is today. It is really fun to watch this phenomenon mature into something special.

I played a game over the weekend at 4 AM and found myself so consumed with the strategy of X-Wing that I felt like I was on vacation from the mundane world of normalcy. It’s no wonder the game is gaining so much in popularity. What’s better is that every month more and more players come to the game as newcomers and with them will come a host of bizarre strategies and attempts at innovation. Right now, Paul Heaver is the top player in the world—for two years in a row. The trick in becoming so good is in figuring out what the new meta game will be, and developing a strategy in how to deal with it. “Fat Han” was last year’s strategy. This year it will have to be something else. For me, it will be a twin Falcon/Outrider build with a Lean Han advancing with great maneuverability through and around obstacles. From my perspective speed and firepower are the only ways to really deal with the Scum and Villainy faction. But we’ll see. Part of the fun with the game is in figuring out those kinds of things—and seeing how they play out in real life against a real player. As usual, FFG is at it again, and stronger than ever. They really are an amazing company. Their products bring me great joy, and I know by the game’s popularity that I’m not alone. It is certainly one of the bright spots in the modern world. Myth made into a community of neat people who give me hope on humanity. I love X-Wing Miniatures.

CLIIFFHANGER RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT

Rich Hoffman

Visit Cliffhanger Research and Development

‘The Force Awakens’ Preview: Canon versus fan boy reinvention–concern on the horizen

I am one of the few people who saw the new Star Wars preview for Episode 7 and did not get all that excited. My daughter and I were at the Barnes and Nobel at Newport on the Levee as she was catching up on the New Jedi Order books and we were talking about the new preview which saw millions upon millions of views depending on where it was seen on YouTube in just 24 hours. Some sources had 24 million views in that time frame whereas the official Star Wars site had over 8 million. I’m not that excited about the new story because for one, Han Solo will likely be killed and unless Lucasfilm follows the story line they have been on for over twenty years with their expanded universe I will not be able to accept a new story canon—as I’m too invested. It just won’t work for me. Once Han Solo is out of the picture, there won’t be anything for me in Star Wars any more. Even if there are the planned Han Solo stand alone films, if they do not follow the storyline of the six novels I have read about the origin of Solo, I will likely reject the movies and stick with the books. The whole thing will only work if Lucasfilm keeps everything in continuity with each other.

I told my daughter to get the New Jedi Order books and continue reading them, because there is some great stuff in that series. It is quite possible by watching the trailer that the Daisy Ridley character is Jaina Solo and that the X-Wing pilot is Jag and that the Sith story line that was built up in the Legacy of the Force novels will be the jumping off point for these new movies. It would make sense. But she reminded me that most franchises—particularly Marvel are mixing and mashing story lines with revision and under those circumstances, Star Wars would be making a huge mistake. I told her that I didn’t think they were that stupid—and I don’t think they are. I think most of the story lines leaked out are false ones meant to keep fans in the dark and in doubt. But, there is the part of me that has been so let down by bad decisions made by other people in the past, that it wouldn’t surprise me if my daughter was right. In that case this next Star Wars film will likely be it for me—and I’m sure I’m not alone.

I just don’t see Lucasfilm isolating all their long-term fans with revisionist history in the overall Star Wars mythology. Scrapping the stories of several New York Times best sellers just doesn’t make any sense for anybody. There are many fans who have been with Star Wars through the lean years so taking away the story arcs that they fell in love with would not give the franchise the fuel to carry the kind of numbers Disney needs out of this mythology. Without question the new Star Wars film, The Force Awakens will do great initial numbers—but realistically—it needs to be a two billion dollar money-maker at the global box office to hold up to the aims that Disney has for it—and if people like me jump off the ship—I don’t see how they get there. There are obviously a new generation of people who will enjoy them but Star Wars just doesn’t benefit from having a split fan base of people who liked Star Wars before Disney took ownership and those after.

There was nothing in the new trailer that told me that my thoughts weren’t the case, so I am still hopeful. But from the new preview I wanted confirmation that Lucasfilm didn’t decide to take the revisionist route in the story arc.   They didn’t give me that assurance—so anxiety toward the new film was my reaction. In many ways my concerns stem from the new cartoon Rebels—which is alright, but you can certainly tell that George Lucas is not a part of the stories anymore. The content in the new Star Wars cartoon is good, and fun—but much too light. The program is being made by fan boys essentially—like myself and that’s fine so long as it doesn’t screw up the overall story lines of the greater mythology. If it does, and these new filmmakers stray off the path—then there is trouble ahead for Star Wars.

It is possible that Rebels will come around once these filmmakers get their teeth deeper into the story and become more comfortable with the characters—but so far I see Lucasfilm and Disney painting themselves into a corner they don’t need to. Without George, I have my doubts that the whole thing will work because of what I’ve so far seen in Rebels and what they didn’t show in the new Force Awakens movie trailer.

Pablo Hildago who is part of the new story group said in his book The Essential Guide to Star Wars that it was possible that Lucas might revise the canon around the films—that the movies were the establishing parameters. Yet Pablo is the essential guide to the expanded universe and with him a major member of the story group—I just can’t see them making decisions that ruin years of publishing from the guide books to the novels. To do that would be a disaster for the Star Wars franchise. For families like mine where we own every single Star Wars book that there ever was—making them suddenly irrelevant would isolate our investment. So from a business perspective, I just don’t see a rejection of the expanded universe canon. It would be the dumbest thing to do in entertainment. I am a die-hard Star Wars fan and the prospect of a change in canon from what I’ve invested twenty years into to suddenly accept something a bunch of fan boys came up with second-hand is not possible. I would lose my enthusiasm for the upcoming films instantly.

But for now the new film looks great from the preview. Basically, if the female lead is Jaina Solo I’m good for a new generation. If it isn’t, then my love of Star Wars essentially stops now and it will become like a James Bond franchise for me which I’ll watch for fun, but cannot buy into the character since Sean Connery stepped away from the movies. Sean Connery was James Bond canon whether or not anybody likes it. Accepting someone else in that role just never worked. Star Wars is even more sensitive to this issue.

So we’ll see. I told my daughter to stick with Star Wars, read New Jedi Order and all the other books because they perfectly set up another movie by the time a reader comes to the end of the Legacy series. But the new preview didn’t do anything personally for me because I wanted to see assurance that Lucasfilm didn’t screw the pooch. In some ways they gave cryptic indications, such as the Ridley character with a lightsaber mounted to the side of a strange vehicle, and the X-Wings flying in formation with someone who could easily be Jag leading. But if those characters aren’t present—then it would be impossible for me to accept a substitute. It would just be too much to kill off the most beloved character in the series and accept a bunch of new characters not part of the twenty plus year canon formed by the novels. Until that confirmation is materialized, I will be skeptical and not all that enthusiastic to see something very good come to a bitter end.

Rich Hoffman

www.OVERMANWARRIOR.com