The last couple weeks have brought a few phenomenally crappy days that I would have liked to sleep through. Thanks go out to Tyler, Jen, Eliana, and Lorelei for their support, to Tori for the pizza and brownies, and to the guys from church for a blessing. They're relatively new to the ward and I've been here for over five years so by all rights I should be the one taking them under my wing and showing them around and stuff, but I guess that's not my thing. And then they asked "Is there anything else we can do for you?" and I never know how to answer such an open-ended question. How much money can I ask for without being rude? I was told there's a spot reserved for me in the Celestial Kingdom. I assume that's metaphorical. What's a "spot" in the Celestial Kingdom? "Here's where you'll be sitting for eternity. It's very comfortable." This is a thought I had while half-awake and delirious. Sometimes I think that should be my excuse for my entire blog.
The other day while Audrey was working at her computer I snuck up on her and put my face really close to hers and waited for her to notice. When she did, she jumped and moaned with fright. I thought that was a rather rude and uncalled for reaction to my new look.
Audrey: That was not nice!
Me: Then why are you smiling?
Audrey: Because it was good.
Me: You should be flattered that I tried to look like you.
Then she left and came back and I pointed out that there was something on her water bottle. She looked at it and then just rolled her eyes at me, which I felt was unfair because I saw someone else scare her with a considerably smaller spider. But apparently I'm a "bad actor" or something.
But a few minutes later, I started to get jealous of the attention she was giving her computer instead of me, so I snarled and made the spider jump on her hand. And somehow that scared her. As you can surmise, it was a very good day.
Reader discretion is advised for this section due to disturbing content.
Even at my ripe old age I still periodically become aware of disgusting or disturbing things that make me wish I didn't live on this planet. And then I often feel compelled to keep looking at them or researching them until I get all the facts and/or become desensitized. For example, I once learned in a roundabout way that a 1995 computer game called "Harvester" has a scene of children eating their mother. I felt compelled to actually look up the scene on YouTube, and I was glad I did because it was far less disturbing than in my imagination. I had imagined the children sitting around a dinner table with their mother's corpse sprawled across it. In the actual scene, however, the mother is very much alive and too tired to pay attention to the children taking bites out of her limbs. She matter-of-factly explains to the player that this is a metaphor for parenthood. So I could rest easy with that.
"Look, tell you what, we'll eat her, if you feel a bit guilty about it afterwards, we can dig a grave and you can throw up in it." (Name that reference)
"Harvester" is still gratuitously disturbing, but another game released that same year makes it look like a church picnic. "Phantasmagoria" was very controversial upon its release and is extremely violent even by today's standards. The backstory is essentially this: a magician messes around with dark arts and gets possessed by a demon that makes him murder a succession of five wives in various horrific ways that I don't feel like describing. Local people just assume these deaths are all bizarre accidents, which is pretty stupid of them. I mean, I'm sure with all the billions of people who have ever lived that some guy has indeed been unlucky enough to have five wives die in bizarre accidents, but his neighbors should have been veeery suspicious. Certainly the fifth wife in this story would seem to have been a few fries short of a Happy Meal - perhaps she fell prey to the gambler's fallacy and wrongly assumed that because four wives had already died in bizarre accidents, it was less likely that she would - but to her credit she figures out what's going on and her lover manages to mortally wound the magician before he kills both of them.
A century or so later, a young couple moves into his mansion. Original, right? The woman goes exploring and accidentally unleashes the demon which, unknown to her, possesses her husband. Over the course of a week she learns the backstory and witnesses all the murders in magic flashbacks. Meanwhile, her husband is becoming more and more of a jerk. In the most controversial scene of the game, which the writer argued was necessary for some reason, he rapes her. And later on he chases her and tries to kill her. Oh, and also there's an old woman and her mentally handicapped son who get killed somewhere along the way. There are several gory death scenes for the protagonist throughout the game if the player fails, most famously getting her head ripped in half. But if the player succeeds, she kills him instead and then dispels the demon. And then she wanders away from the mansion in a daze. The end. I mean, I'm sure there were also years of therapy afterward but those aren't shown.
I haven't played the game or watched a walkthrough of the game and I'm never going to do either of those things, so my knowledge is incomplete, but I think that's about it. Oh, and all the characters are portrayed by live actors. Delightful.
I sort of get why this sort of thing is appealing. It's not meant to be pleasant. You're not supposed to "enjoy" the gore and the pain and the terror, per se. But it is cathartic somehow to experience fear and disgust in controlled environment at times. I think it's similar to the appeal of sad movies and songs. Sometimes I'm not in the mood for "Walking on Sunshine", you know? Which is a great song, don't get me wrong. But sometimes a guy singing about how he wants to die is more helpful because it's like someone is commiserating with you instead of invalidating your problems and telling you to just get over it. And I think this is similar. While most of us try to ignore the ugliness in the world most of the time for our happiness and sanity, there can be something refreshing in a sick kind of way about embracing it now and again. I don't know, maybe this is all crazy talk. But I think I get why people liked this game. It was Sierra's first title to sell over a million units and made their stock value skyrocket.
Myself, like I said, I have no desire to get any more into it than my web research already did. I did recently watch a legit horror movie for the first time (horror comedy musicals don't count and I found "Poltergeist" to be far more weird than scary) and while I don't intend to make a habit of that, I did appreciate the experience. Even though Christopher Lee's and Christopher Walken's acting talents were grossly underused and I'm not just saying that for the obvious reason. But at least the people in "Sleepy Hollow" died quickly. Swish, plop, dead. That reminds me, I wrote a comic script related to that topic.
Horseman: Oogedy boogedy! It is I, the headless man, the spookiest spook that ever spooked!
Tyler: Where's your horse?
Horseman: Oh, I'm not a horseman anymore. Feeding and cleaning up after him was such a hassle.
Tyler: Well, he was part of your trademark. You just aren't distinctive or spooky without him.
Horseman: So... this isn't cutting it?
Tyler: Use the horse, spook.
If it had been more like "Phantasmagoria", way over the top for my tastes, I would have been too squeamish and walked out. That's definitely not my speed. And the reason this sort of thing really bothers me is that while games and movies are fictional, pain is not. And they remind me of that and I hate it. Every type of suffering portrayed in "Phantasmagoria", and worse, has been experienced by someone somewhere. I hate to think about that. Physical pain is the worst in my book. I feel very blessed to just have this emotional crap. Give me depression over a hangnail any day of the week. Oh, and also I was forced to ponder the question of how, demon or no demon, you can be sure that your spouse will never murder you. And the answer is, you can't. Yay. Getting married is an enormous leap of faith. Of course, if their previous four spouses are dead, there's a very slight chance that just might be a teensy little red flag.
Phantasmagoria - Take a Stand
I love listening to music, of course, but on top of that I have a literal addiction to collecting it without regard to whether I actually like it. I've downloaded thousands and thousands of songs from the internet without listening to them first, often just because they were (legally) free. And that includes hundreds of soundtracks from games that I've never played. Now Phantasmagoria is on that list. The music, fortunately, gives no indication of the disturbing stuff. Unfortunately the quality is crap because of how it was compressed. The opening theme, "Consumite Furore" ("Consume With Your Rage"), used a choir of 150 people, but with how the quality was reduced it sounds more like a third that many. Anyway, this cheesy closing song stands out in stark contrast to the overall tone of the game, and redeems it a bit in my eyes. It's a testament to the indomitable human spirit, to having hope in the face of ungodly nightmares that no one should ever have to live through. And it's catchy.
I sketched out three comics for the first time a couple weeks ago, and they came out so awful that I gave them to my co-worker Dory as a passive-aggressive symbol of my barely hidden contempt for her. I should have thought to scan them and share them here as a passive-aggressive symbol of my barely hidden contempt for humanity, but I didn't. Oops.
Alvin was intended to be the main character, but Tyler has been taking over as she grows up, being the most popular character among both of those polled (me and the woman she's named after and inspired by). My document has page after page of Tyler this, Tyler that. At times I have to consciously resist this trend and re-insert Alvin and Rachel. Also, in case you forgot or weren't around when I posted it, the Cracrofts are friends with an alien from Tobin named Mr. Flglmyyysphtsx, whom they call by the nickname "Mr. F" for some reason. Remember that because he'll be important again later. That is, if you even care. I don't know how much anyone besides me cares about these, but I like making posts out of them because it's like doubling the output of my effort.
Jerry Dies (2016)
Regardless of how they may turn out in practice, I want my comics to be funny, yet they're also supposed to cover real world and realistic events that are often not funny. And sometimes that's okay. I think of how "Calvin and Hobbes" sacrificed humor in some storylines, like when their house was robbed or when Calvin found an injured raccoon, and was all the richer for it. I tried to find a balance here because I believe in respecting the deceased, unless of course they were total sacks of crap while alive (cough Hugh Hefner cough), but I haven't got much respect for death itself at all. If it comes painlessly, it could come to me five minutes from now and I'd be fine with that. Geraldine "Jerry" Cracroft is named for my great-grandmother Geraldine "Jerry" Jensen, who died in 2010.
Alvin: Sweetie, I'm sorry to tell you this, but... Grandma Jerry died last night.
Tyler: What? Nooooo!
Alvin: I know it's hard, sweetie. But she was struggling with health problems. It was time, and she's much happier now.
Alvin: I know that doesn't make it any easier...
Tyler: Yeah. Piss off and just let me be sad.
Tyler (in bed): God, I don't know if you exist, and frankly I have my doubts, but if you do, explain something.
Tyler: Why did you take Grandma Jerry away from me? Don't you know that I need her? Don't you know that she understands me?
Tyler: If you just need an old lady, I'll trade you Mrs. Philbinski.
Ivan: Jerry had her requested funeral arrangements all right here. I can't bear to look at them... George?
George: Sure, dad.
George: “Don't waste your money on an expensive fancy coffin. Those are a scam. Most coffins are chosen for their appearance – hello, idiots! It's going to be buried underground!”
Ivan: Heh. Classic Jerry.
George: “'Lifetime guarantee'? Who the crap is going to check on it?”
Yes, they are a scam. Taking advantage of grievers is all too easy. When I die, I'm perfectly content for my body to be thrown in a compost heap, fed to wolves, used for target practice by my enemies, and/or literally anything else. I died. I'm dead. I'm not using it anymore. I'm just speaking for myself, of course, and not advocating doing that to other people's bodies, but there's got to be a middle ground between that and stupidly expensive coffins.
Pastor Hartgraves: We gather this day to celebrate the life of Geraldine Cracroft, who has gone home to the rest of our Lord.
Pastor Hartgraves: Jerry accepted Jesus into her heart, so y'all have nothing to worry about. No fire and brimstone for her.
Pastor Hartgraves: On that note, this is the first time in a while I've seen many of y'all in church...
Ivan: Stay on topic, Pastor Hartgraves.
Alvin: Jerry was a wonderful grandmother. I'll never forget the feeling of love in her house every Sunday dinner, and how it made me want to live up to it.
George: Jerry was the best mother a guy could ask for. I thank God for blessing me with this woman to make me the man I am today.
Ivan: Jerry was a pain in the butt, but she was my pain in the butt.
Panel 1 (and only)
Ivan (to casket): What gives, Jerry?? You can't just leave me in this crazy, mixed up world all alone!
Sid: Dis 'ere's da las' will an' testamen' o' Jerry Cracroft, what's recently deceased.
Bill: Did she leave anything good for me? Her dolls, maybe?
George: Bill! Really!
Susan: I'd be satisfied with just her toaster oven.
Sid: Y'know, mebbe 'er demise was brought on premature by da reindeer incident... Dat was 'er, wasn' it? We could sue Santy Claus agin.
Ivan: I'd like a different lawyer and different grandchildren.
Alvin: What? I didn't say anything!
Sid: Looks like she stiffed y'all anyway. Dere's a buncha charities listed 'ere.
Oh yeah, there was a "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" storyline that I never posted.
Jerry: Hello, Tyler.
Tyler (in bed): What? Grandma Jerry?
Jerry: I'll always be with you, in your heart.
Tyler: Yeah, yeah. That's not the same and you know it.
Jerry: Well, I'm also here as a ghost.
Tyler: That is significantly better.
Jerry: Tyler, death is a part of life. It comes for all of us. We shouldn't fear it or worry about it.
Jerry: I hope you don't even need to think about it for a long time. You have so much potential ahead of you. But when it does come, just think of it as a portal to the next phase of your existence.
Tyler: That's easy for you to say. You died in your sleep.
Jerry: The same principle applies to being eaten alive. Find a happy place.
Ivan Turns 100
I wanted a death for story purposes, but I also like having a super old person who's always just super old and still around. I think specifically of Grandpa from "The Simpsons". Since I'm being semi-realistic here, I had to give mine an actual age. In doing research I was surprised to learn that while living to 100 is obviously now more common than ever, it's still not very common at all. Don't count on living that long because in all likelihood you won't. You're welcome. Ivan Cracroft is named after my great-grandfather Ivan Nicholson, who died in 2005, and incorporates elements of him, his son my grandfather Eugene Nicholson (still living), and my great-grandfather Russell Jensen (husband of the aforementioned Jerry Jensen), who died in 2016 (I used his death year for Jerry's in the story) and was commemorated in this blog post. Of all my great-grandparents, he was around the longest so I knew him best, which unfortunately still isn't saying much.
Alvin: Grandpa Ivan will turn one hundred years old this month.
Rachel: Being a bit prematurely optimistic, aren't you?
(Alvin stares at her)
This is the thought I've always had when I read early centenarian announcements in the Deseret News. One of the refreshing examples of Rachel being more sensible than other people.
Alvin: I want to do something special for Grandpa Ivan's birthday. Something big.
Rachel: Let's get a ton of people to hide in his house and jump out and yell, “Surprise!”
Alvin: Er – he's very old, Rachel.
Rachel: Good point. We'll have to yell real loud.
Tyler: I'm happy for Grandpa Ivan, but I don't understand why people treat one hundred like a sacred number. Just because it's big and round?
Tyler: And why do we idolize multiples of five and ten, for that matter? Why is a twenty-fifth anniversary more significant than a twenty-sixth?
Rachel: It's because we have five fingers on each hand and five toes on each foot, for a total of ten each!
Tyler: Sure, but you're the only person I know who still needs them to count.
Panel 1 (and only)
Rachel (to store worker): Do you have any Lego sets without an age limit of 99?
Ivan: I never expected to be this old. I never wanted to be this old. Life is funny that way.
Ivan: I've seen a lot of changes over my lifetime. Some of them good, some not so much. One of them was losing my companion. I wish she were still here to celebrate this milestone with me.
Ivan: But if she were here today, she'd want us to cut short the pretentious speeches and eat cake.
Tyler (holding plate): You heard the man! Fill 'er up!
Ivan: Another train! Most excellent!
Alvin: I can help you set it up.
Ivan: I know how to set up model trains, Alvin. I've been doing it for over seventy years.
Alvin: Er, right – I just thought –
Ivan: That my eyesight is too poor? That my fingers are too shaky? That I forgot how?
George: Hey, dad, there's another present over here! Let's open it!
Ivan has a huge model train layout, like my grandpa Eugene. I did a story about that which I probably should have shared before this one, but I didn't because I'm just jumping all over the place. Sorry.
Tyler: Grandpa Ivan, I feel like I've been around forever, but I can't imagine being around as long as you.
Ivan: Yeah, it's really something.
Ivan: Every year goes by faster, though. It seems like I was forty just yesterday. And it seems like I've done everything and seen everything and I'm ready to be done.
Tyler: I'd miss you, though.
Ivan: When you get to be a hundred, you may as well just die, but you don't die until you die, you know?
Ivan's punchline is taken verbatim from Charlotte, a woman I knew from the Rocky Mountain Care nursing home. She's gotten her wish since then. She also once said, "When you can't remember how old you are, you're too damn old."
Tyler (in bed): Why didn't you visit Grandpa Ivan for his birthday, Grandma Jerry?
Jerry: But I did, Tyler!
Jerry: It takes a special mind like yours to see, let alone converse with visitors from the beyond. But I often visit him too. I take a great interest in his life.
Tyler: You should murder him so he can be with you again.
Jerry: I thought of that too, but it's against the rules.
Introducing Audrey (2016)
I felt like Tyler needed another nemesis and a powerful figure to run her school. But I always felt sorry for Principal Skinner, so this one has a different dynamic. Principal Donaldson dishes out as well as she takes, so her conflict with Tyler is really a battle of wills with each gaining the upper hand at times. It's also a relationship of mixed feelings as she holds Tyler in high regard despite her exasperation, and tries to encourage her to fulfill her potential. With her introduction, the comic now has three mentor figures for Tyler, the others being Pastor Hartgraves and the ghost of Grandma Jerry. Of course her parents also try to mentor her but she doesn't take them seriously. She only asks Rachel's advice for entertainment purposes.
Audrey: Hey everyone. Thanks for coming out tonight. I'm the new middle and high school principal, Audrey Donaldson, and I'd like to be the first to welcome you all to the next chapter of your lives.
Audrey: Ah yes, Tyler Cracroft. I've heard a lot about you.
Tyler: I'm flattered.
Audrey: Tyler, I do hope we're going to be friends. You'll want me as a friend.
Tyler: How are you so sure of that?
Audrey: Because if I'm not your friend, I can be very... unpleasant.
Tyler: I see.
Audrey: I hope we understand each other, Tyler.
Tyler: Of course. You're challenging me to be more unpleasant than you.
Tyler: So, Audrey –
Audrey: Bzzt. Wrong. You will address me as “Miss Donaldson” or “Principal Donaldson”.
Tyler: Why should I?
Audrey: Because I am an adult and you will treat me with respect.
Tyler: Seventeen-year-olds aren't really adults.
Audrey: I'm twenty-three!
Alvin: Miss Donaldson, I'm so sorry about Tyler.
Audrey: Nothing to be sorry about, Mr. Cracroft.
Audrey: I knew when I took this job that some of the students would be more difficult than others. I relish this challenge and opportunity to make a difference in her life.
Audrey: If she's not a respectable young lady by the time she graduates, I'll resign.
Alvin: But I'm worried you'll commit hara-kiri before then.
Audrey tries various approaches with Tyler, hoping to find something that sticks:
Audrey: Look, Tyler, I understand. You're a teenager. You've got to blow off steam. I was young once too, believe it or not.
Audrey: Listen up, you wretched little delinquent, if we have any more of these unacceptable shenanigans from you there will be serious consequences, capische?
Tyler: I think you're supposed to have two people for “good cop, bad cop”, Principal Donaldson.
Audrey: My secretary took the day off.
Strangely enough, I have several scripts of Tyler in Audrey's office, but have yet to write any explaining what she actually does to get in trouble. Maybe it's better left to the imagination. And also I'm not that creative because I was a very good boy in high school and the only time I went to the principal's office was when my "friends" joked that I had broken a computer when I hit it because it was being slow. (I did hit a computer because it was being slow, but someone else had broken a different one.)
A Couple More Involuntary Celebrity Guest Stars (2018/2019)
Audrey wants her students to have a fun and enriching high school experience, so sometimes she brings in celebrities to talk to them. The real reason is that I think putting real people in my comics is funny.
(At school assembly)
Audrey: Please welcome our special guest, Lea Thompson, here to teach us about the dangers of doing drugs!
[clap clap clap clap clap]
Lea Thompson: Hi, I'm Lea Thompson. You might remember me from such roles as Marty McFly's mom in “Back to the Future”, Marty McFly's mom in “Back to the Future Part II”, and Marty McFly's great-great-grandmother in “Back to the Future Part III”.
Tyler: Weren't you also in “Howard the Duck” and “The Beverly Hillbillies Movie”?
Lea Thompson: Heh heh, I don't know what you're talking about!
(At school assembly)
Audrey: And now please welcome our very special guest, Gal Gadot, star of the “Wonder Woman” mov–
Tyler (off-screen): SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE
Tyler (off-screen): EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE
Tyler (off-screen): EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE
Audrey: We have a fangirl in our midst.
Gal Gadot: You don't say?
Audrey's New Friend (2022)
Yeah, maybe I'm running out of ideas.
Mary: Hello, Tyler, good to see you again. What brings you back here?
Tyler: Hey Mary. Are you familiar with the musical “Little Shop of Horrors”?
Mary: Sure. I played Chiffon in my high school's production.
Tyler: Really? Wow. Okay, so, do you think you could work up something like Audrey II for Principal Donaldson? Not to actually like eat her, but just scare the crap out of her, hopefully.
Tyler: You know, just a harmless little prank. Could you have it in like a week?
Mary: A week? You mock my abilities. See me after school.
I had to think about this. Would Tyler actually try to murder her principal? She's a brat, sure, but not a monster...
Mary: Here's your Audrey II, Tyler, complete with the voice of Levi Stubbs. It does eat meat, but not human. So just feed it sausage or something.
Tyler: Excellent. You're the best, Mary.
Tyler: Et tu, Audrey II?
Audrey II: Feed me, Cracroft! Feed me now.
Tyler: I'm getting chills.
Mary: Thank you.
Audrey II: Did I stutter, punk?
Audrey II: I'm quite comfortable in my masculinity, yet here I am stuck with a cutesy feminine name. There's nothing quite like the embarrassment of having a name from the opposite sex.
Audrey II: Do you get where I'm coming from, Tyler?
Tyler: I can't say that I do.
Audrey II: Feed me, Alvin! Feed me all night long!
Alvin: That's a cute little toy you've got there, Tyler.
Tyler: Thanks, dad.
Tyler: Don't be jealous, Steve, he'll only be here tonight.
Audrey II: What?? You're getting rid of me already?? I promise to be good and not eat anything sentient...
Tyler: I'm sorry, Twoey, but the top predator niche in this house has already been filled.
Audrey II: I talk! I sing! I produce oxygen! Can your lizard do that?
Tyler: So that's the movie you came from. Cool, huh?
Audrey II: Yeah. But I think it would have been better if the plant ate Audrey and Seymour, and then its cuttings rampaged through major cities that were conveniently devoid of children and infants.
Tyler: Well, that's exactly what happened in the original ending, but test audiences hated it. So it was replaced with this light-hearted, romantic ending.
Audrey II: Romantic? Pfeh! It's obvious that Seymour never really loved Audrey.
Audrey II: No. He just wanted to get into her plants.
If you haven't seen the original ending, do so. The rampaging sequence goes on for like ten minutes, is some of the most expensive deleted footage ever filmed, and is all the more impressive for having used no CGI. A lot of people have now come to prefer that ending. I guess my biggest problem with its replacement is how Audrey gets chewed on by a mouth bigger than her whole body and emerges without so much as a scratch. I'm sorry, but she should have died.
Tyler: Hey, Principal Donaldson, I know you don't like me to call you “Audrey”, but that is your name, so I got you this plant named Audrey II.
Audrey: Oh! How immensely flattering and not creepy at all!
Audrey: My classmates were always making dumb jokes about that movie. “Audrey, how's Seymour doing?” “Audrey, how's the plant life?” “Audrey, has your sadistic dentist boyfriend broken your arm lately?”
Tyler: You're taking this in good stride, Principal Donaldson.
Audrey (to Audrey II): And aren't you just the cutest widdle fing! Yes you are! Yes you are!
Audrey II: I think I'm gonna be sick.
Tyler: Well, Principal Donaldson wasn't scared at all. Lame.
Mary: I've failed you? I don't understand... I'm so sorry.
Tyler: No, no, you did great. But she loves that movie and she thinks the plant is cute.
Mary: Well, to each her own. Though I'm surprised, seeing as the characteristics of cuteness are pretty uniform across mammalian species and that plant doesn't have them.
Audrey: More spam, Mr. Audrey, sir?
Audrey II: This is demeaning but I can't help liking it.
"Mr. Audrey, sir" is what the Bride of Frankenstein allegedly called Audrey II after their first encounter, according to the lyrics of "Bad", a song demo that eventually evolved into "Mean Green Mother from Outer Space".
Audrey: Thank you again for the gift, Tyler. I appreciate your thoughtfulness, and I hope you can forgive my suspicions, but... given your track record...
Audrey: I can't be certain this was a true act of altruism. I feel like you may have put Audrey II in my office to cause trouble or incriminate me somehow.
Tyler: What are you saying, Principal Donaldson?
Audrey: I'm saying I think he might be a plant.
Tyler: I'm leaving.
The Cracrofts Go to Comic-Con (2023)
The selection process of the previous comics in this post may have seemed random, but they actually all provided necessary backstory for this story. Maybe it isn't worth the payoff since this one probably appeals to a very narrow demographic, but it appeals to me and this is my blog so here it is. In the interest of space I will keep the rest of my annoying commentary to a minimum.
Alvin: Okay guys, time to plan a vacation. Money's a little tight this year, but I'm sure we can find something fun to do.
Rachel: Let's go see the biggest ball of twine in Minnesota!
Tyler: Let's not and say we did.
Tyler: Let's go to Disneyland.
Alvin: You mean Disney World, right? That's much closer.
Mr. F: Let's go to Comic-Con.
Alvin: Gah! Mr. F, you scared the crap out of me!
Mr. F: My apologies. I thought I was one of the family by now.
Mr. F: My latest assignment is to study the phenomenon of “nerd culture”. I have secured five tickets to Comic-Con, and I would like to bring y'all with me.
Tyler: Count us in! Unless my parents want to be lame.
Alvin: Er – this is most kind of you, Mr. F. I don't know how to thank you.
Mr. F: No thanks necessary. I'm just doing my job.
Alvin: You're literally getting paid to go to Comic-Con?
Mr. F: It's a hard job at times, but someone has to do it.
Tyler: Mr. F, there's only four of us here – I mean, Steve can't come. So I'd like to bring my boyfriend, Zack.
Rachel: Who says Steve can't come? He could be a dewback!
Mr. F: That should be fine. But he doesn't know about me, does he?
Tyler: No. We're not at that point in our relationship.
Mr. F: The more Earthlings know about me, the harder it will be to conduct objective studies. You all must tell him that I am an Earthling in a costume.
Tyler: You're asking me to lie to my boyfriend?
Mr. F: My studies indicate that dishonesty is a vital component of dating.
Tyler: Zack, this is my cousin Fred. Fred, this is my boyfriend Zack.
Zack: A pleasure! That's the sickest costume I've ever seen!
Mr. F: Thank you, Zack. I made it myself.
Tyler: We've got a long way to go, so if you'll get in the car...
Alvin: Nice to see you again, Zack.
Zack: Hey, Mr. Cracroft.
Tyler (off-screen): Nine hundred bottles of Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters on the wall, nine hundred bottles of Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters...
Alvin (to Rachel): I still don't understand what he sees in her.
CD Player: And we're, banned from Argo, every one... banned from Argo just for havin' a little fun...
Mr. F: What is this?
Alvin: Leslie Fish. One of the great filkers of all time. My brother Bill and I saw a bunch of them at cons back in the day... Bill Roper, Frank Hayes, Julia Ecklar, Kathy Mar, Roberta Rogow...
Mr. F: Filkers?
Alvin: “Filk”, originally a typo for “folk”, was the music of nerd culture. Sci-fi and fantasy parodies of songs sometimes hundreds of years old. People would sing it at cons and distribute their homemade tapes.
Rachel: Bill has dozens of those tapes. We got some transferred to CD.
Alvin: Sadly, it peaked in the eighties. There probably won't be many filkers at this one.
Tyler: You've gotta be filking kidding me.
Filk music is real and I love it.
Panel 1 (and only)
(Alvin is dressed as Darth Maul, Rachel as Rey, Tyler as an Amazon warrior, Zack as Harry Potter, Mr. F as himself)
Alvin: At last we will reveal ourselves to the Comic-Con. At last we will have tickets.
Tyler: Don't quit your day job, dad.
Rachel: I just realized that I'm Rachel Rey! Hahahahaha!
Zack (to Mr F): I can't see, like, a zipper or anything!
Mr. F: No offense, Zack, but you're making me uncomfortable.
Alvin: Tyler... promise not to squeal really loud if I tell you some good news.
Tyler: Sure, whatever.
Alvin: Gal Gadot is at this con.
Alvin: You literally just promised not to do that, Tyler!
Alvin: Looks like the few modern filkers are here. Vixy & Tony, the great Luke Ski... Ooh! Jonathan Coulton!
Tyler: If Gal Gadot is here, they can invite the Doodlebops for all I care.
Alvin: Hey, Tom Smith is playing in fifteen minutes.
Tyler: There's a big filking surprise.
Alvin: Tyler Anne Cracroft – actually, that's a good one.
Rachel (to Mr. F): It's funny because he's fat.
Tom Smith has referred to himself as having "an equator instead of a waistline", so I think I'm allowed to call him fat.
Alvin: Okay, Tyler, you and Zack can go see Gal Gadot if you want. Rachel and I will go see Tom Smith. Er, Fred, what do you want to do?
Mr. F: I'm undecided.
Mr. F: This Gal Gadot person must be pretty special, from Tyler's reaction, but I'm very intrigued by this filk music... I suppose I'll watch Tom Smith and leave if I get bored.
Rachel: You probably won't. He's quite the entertainer.
Alvin: Excellent. Okay, Tyler, don't get lost, and meet us back here in – crap.
(Tyler and Zack are gone)
(Becky is dressed as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, David as Dr. Who)
Tyler: Becky! David! Fancy seeing you here.
Becky: Yeah, no thanks to you.
Tyler: We didn't have room in our car for you guys. We took my boyfriend Zack, here, and my cousin Fred.
Zack: Sorry about that.
David: Are you Dr. Who too, Zack?
Zack: No, Harry Potter. Common mistake.
Tyler: I'm actually surprised you guys would come together without me as the “glue”.
Becky: Our parents are under the impression that we don't hate each other.
(At the Tom Smith performance)
Mr. F: Would you consider yourself a typical nerd?
Hot Girl: Oh, totally. I wear glasses sometimes.
Mr. F: I see. And that's all it takes?
Hot Girl: Well, I also saw a Star Wars movie once.
Mr. F: Which one?
Hot Girl: I don't even remember now... oh, and sometimes I play Candy Crush.
(Alvin and Rachel are visibly wincing)
(Ivan is dressed as Gandalf, Bill as Indiana Jones, Susan as Catwoman)
Tyler: Grandpa Ivan! I didn't expect to see – er –
Ivan: A 101-year-old guy walking? As long as I've got my trusty chaperones, I'm fine.
Bill: That's us.
Tyler: Cool, cool. So who are you, Dumbledore?
Tyler: That would have been my second guess.
Ivan: My options are kind of limited since I'm not willing to shave.
Alvin: Shoggoth went ticka-lee-lee!
Rachel: When timbers are shivered and lilies are livered...
Mr. F: Now he's Fenton... lamb of the inferno...
Alvin: No sign of Tyler... I hope she's not harassing poor Gal too much...
Rachel: Who cares? Better her than us. What else is there to go to?
Mr. F: I've got the schedule here.
Alvin: “The Avengers as an Allegory for Anarcho-Communism”. Sounds promising.
Rachel: I'd like to see “In Defense of Hobbit Hunting”.
Mr. F: Hey look, “Fictional Aliens Through the Ages”. I could use a good laugh.
Tyler: Grandpa George. I'm not even surprised anymore. Nice Spock ears.
George: I'm actually Sarek, his father.
Tyler: Right. And Grandma Connie, you must be some kind of discount Amazon warrior. No offense, but mine is better.
Connie: I'm Xena, Warrior Princess.
George: I told her she's too old for it, but there was no stopping her.
Connie: You know it's what Jerry would have worn if she were here.
Mr. F: So, would you describe yourself as a typical nerd?
Bystander 1: Hmm, not so much a nerd as a geek.
Mr. F: I see. Can you explain the difference between those terms?
Bystander 1: Well, many use them interchangeably, but the main difference is that, unlike nerds, geeks like me have social skills and talk normal.
Bystander 2: Hey! Take that back!
Alvin: Try not to start a war while you're here, Mr. F.
Mr. F: Yes, the council would frown on that.
Bystander 1 (off-screen): Kiss my Wookiee!
Bystander 2 (off-screen): By Grabthar's hammer, I shall avenge myself!
Audrey (off-screen): Hello, Tyler. Hello, Zack.
Tyler: Principal Donaldson. What a pleasant surprise.
Zack: I didn't know you were into Comic-Con stuff.
Audrey (off-screen): Always. And conveniently enough, I already had an Audrey II, so...
Tyler: So you dressed up as Seymour Krelbourne.
Audrey: Well, yeah. I hate to do the obvious thing.
Bystander: So what actual franchise are you from?
Mr. F: Er, I'm just a generic alien, representing the universal lore from which all sci-fi springs.
Bystander: Right, but you know those generic aliens are actually an unconscious manifestation of first world guilt, right? Ever noticed how they look like malnourished children?
Mr. F: Er... not as such, no...
Alvin: Can you guess what franchise I'm from?
Bystander: The most overdone one in history?
Tyler: I thought she'd never leave us alone... okay, Gal Gadot should be just up these stairs, second door on the left.
Zack: Hey, can we check this out?
Zack: A panel discussion of Star Trek vs. Star Wars! I've always wanted to see one of those!
Tyler: Seriously? They don't fill the same niche just because they both have “Star” in their name, you know!
Tyler: They may as well discuss X-Men versus X-Files.
Zack: That's up next.
Alvin: Ooh, James Roday and Dulé Hill have a booth!
Rachel: Right next to Felicity Jones and that other guy nobody cares about!
Alvin: And then if we hurry, we can catch Neil Patrick Harris, Nathan Fillion, and Felicia Day!
Rachel: Back from the dead now, is she?
Mr. F: I'm unfamiliar with these people. Are they nerd deities?
Alvin: You could say that.
Rachel: Ooh, Robert Downey Jr.! I wonder if he'll make “that face you make when”?
Zack: That was very interesting. I'd never considered whether or not Scotty could kick Kylo Ren's butt.
Tyler: Yeah, yeah, it was an intellectual tour de force. Let's hurry.
Zack: Which way were we headed when we came in here?
Tyler: Up these stairs.
Zack: You're sure it was the second door on the left?
Bystander (to Tyler): Gal Gadot? She's in the other end of the building.
Judge 1: Your attention please! The winner of this year's costume contest is –
Judge 2: Wait! Look!
Judge 2 (off-screen): You there!
Mr. F: What? Me?
Judge 2 (off-screen): Get up here!
Mr. F: Is my cover blown?
Alvin: Just the opposite, I think.
Tyler: Hey! Where did this crowd come from? Move it! Scootch your bootches!
Zack: Excuse us, please, we're in a bit of a hurry.
Tyler: What the heck is going on here?
Bystander: Michael Bay is going to mud-wrestle JJ Abrams in ten minutes.
Tyler: Nerd culture has hit a new low.
Bystander: It's for charity.
I wanted Stan Lee to be in this, but it turns out he'll probably be dead by the time it takes place, since most people don't live to be 100.
Judge 1: Your attention please! The winner of this year's costume contest is Fred, for his incredibly seamless and lifelike generic alien costume!
Mr. F: Well, thank you kindly, sir.
Alvin: Way to go, Fred!
Bystander: That rotten little... I worked on this costume for five weeks! I was a cinch to win!
Rachel: What are you supposed to be, Captain Picard?
Bystander: Lex Luthor, genius!
Alvin: There you are, sweetie! Did you – oh no...
Tyler (crying): She's gone! We were too late, and she's gone!
Alvin: Oh, sweetie, I'm so sorry...
Tyler: I'm gonna go back to the hotel and cry for a few days.
Rachel: Zack, I have an idea for how you can be Tyler's Jedi Knight in shining armor, but I ought to mention that it could get you arrested.
Zack: I'm game.
Mr. F: May I tag along?
Rachel: Help! Help! This psycho is going to shank me!
Zack: Give me all your “Firefly” merchandise, or else!
Rachel: Oh, if only WONDER WOMAN were here to save me!
Zack: Ha! Wonder Woman isn't real!
Rachel: Well, I can always hope for –
Gal Gadot: The mugger's right, you doofus.
Gal Gadot: Cute little stunt you guys pulled. But you should leave the acting to the professionals.
Zack: But it worked, didn't it?
Gal Gadot: The only reason I'm giving you weirdos two seconds of my time is that I wanted to meet the winner of the costume contest.
Mr. F: I'm just an innocent bystander who's too scared to intervene.
Zack: Well, since you're here, will you come talk to my girlfriend? She's your biggest fan.
Mr. F: I'll let you touch my costume.
Gal Gadot: Sure, whatever.
Zack: Hey, Tyler, there's someone here to see you.
Tyler (off-screen): Tell them to piss off and just let me be sad.
Zack: I'm afraid Wonder Woman doesn't take no for an answer.
Tyler (off-screen): Say what?
Tyler (off-screen): SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE
Rachel: You did good, Mr. F.
Mr. F: Most peculiar. I've never heard another Earthling make that noise.
Gal Gadot: I remember you. I came to your school a few years ago.
Tyler: You remember me?
Gal Gadot: Yeah, not sure that's a good thing, but whatever.
Tyler: Gal – can I call you Gal? – I look up to you more than you can imagine. Not just because of the Wonder Woman character, but because you're also a wonder woman in real life.
Gal Gadot: Well, as we say in the industry, flattery will get you everywhere. If you promise not to squeal, I'll give you an autographed photo of us together.
Tyler: SQU– okay.
Gal Gadot: It feels weird to be idolized. I'm just a person.
Gal Gadot: Just a ridiculously attractive, strong, attractive, rich, attractive, famous, attractive person...
Gal Gadot: Hm, maybe not that weird.
Tyler (stupefied, thinking): I'm breathing the same air as her right now.
Dory was telling me about how all women have self-esteem problems and she said that even Gal Gadot is probably self-conscious about her appearance, so I thought it would be funny if she actually wasn't. Of course as always I made no attempt to emulate the person's real-life personality.
Mr. F: Well, Cracrofts, it's been a pleasure as always. I shall treasure these memories, along with the fraudulently obtained contest prize money.
Alvin: Come back soon! Our door is always open!
Mr. F: I think I will come back soon. If I tell the council that there's much more information for me to obtain, they may allow me to attend the next Comic-Con.
Rachel: You poor thing. Work, work, work.
Tyler: Mr. F, thank you so much for helping me meet Gal Gadot. You're the best – er, second best.
Mr. F: How come you've never asked for an autographed photo with me?
Iceferno - Lost Woods Remix
I think this sounds kind of Halloween-y and also I just love it. The original is one of the best compositions ever created, and this takes it in a whole new direction worthy of its legacy.
One fine autumn Tuesday I was at work listening to Palette-Swap Ninja's "Princess Leia's Stolen Death Star Plans", a brilliant parody of the Beatles' entire "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" album that follows the plot of "A New Hope", when I had the brilliant idea to do my own Star Wars parody. The Cracrofts are all Star Wars fans and have referenced it many times, of course...
Tyler (on Santa's lap): “Good” is a point of view, Santa. The Sith and the Jedi are similar in almost every way, including their quest for greater power.
Santa: Sorry, that's not how it works, kid.
Tyler (waving hand): You will bring me everything on my list.
Santa: Look, kid, there's a line here, so if we could wrap this up...
Tyler: Whatever. I bet you're not even the real Santa.
Santa: I find your lack of faith disturbing.
Alvin: Disney has decided that most of the Star Wars Expanded Universe is no longer canon. More than thirty years of books, comics, video games, and just like that none of them count...
Tyler: So, they're saying that those fictional events in that made-up universe didn't actually happen? The horror!
Alvin: Please let me grieve in peace, Tyler.
...but never so extensively as now, in what is by far the longest storyline I've ever written for this franchise. I churned out twenty-eight strips and then went back and inserted several more because, despite its obvious dependence on the source material, I wanted to have a complete self-contained story with no significant gaps. Though I tried not to totally rip off anyone else's jokes - a daunting task given that this territory has been trodden for forty years - I was heavily influenced by, in addition to the movie itself (duh), the Star Wars stylings of "Phineas and Ferb", "Robot Chicken" (NSFW), "Irregular Webcomic!", "Darths and Droids", and "Surf Rat & Spencer". Sadly, the "Surf Rat & Spencer" website disappeared this year (even though merchandise is still available at Cafe Press) and many of the comics fail to load in Wayback Machine's archive, including the "Surf Wars" saga. This saga recapped the entirety of "A New Hope" leading up to "The Phantom Menace" and was probably my biggest inspiration for this general idea. One of those strips survives because I used it in a blog post last year, so here it is again.
And of course, like most parodies, mine makes fun of Star Wars. I always make fun of the people and franchises I love.
Alvin Cracroft as Luke Skywalker
Rachel Cracroft (Alvin's wife) as Princess Leia Organa
Tyler Cracroft (Alvin and Rachel's daughter) as C-3PO
Steve the Komodo Dragon (the Cracrofts' pet) as R2-D2
Bill Cracroft (Alvin's brother) as Han Solo
Susan Cracroft (Alvin's sister) as Chewbacca
Ivan Cracroft (Alvin's grandfather) as Obi-Wan Kenobi
Geraldine "Jerry" Cracroft (Alvin's grandmother) as Yoda - who isn't in this movie, sorry
George Cracroft (Alvin's father) as Darth Vader
Connie Cracroft (Alvin's mother) as Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin
Some of the characters were chosen because of their similarity to the movie roles, and others because of their contrast. The main reason I put the relations in parentheses is in case anyone needs reminding that Tyler is a girl. And yes, unfortunately there just wasn't a spot for Jerry. I already had to gender-swap three characters to fit the other females.
A Long Time Ago, in a Galaxy Far, Far Away...
Opening Crawl: It is a period of civil war. Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire, if you don't count the “Rebels” cartoon series. During the battle, Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans for the Empire's ultimate weapon...
Opening Crawl: ...the Death Star, an armored space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet. Pursued by the Empire's sinister agents, Princess Leia races home aboard her starship, custodian of the secret plans that can save her people and restore freedom to the galaxy...
Opening Crawl: For those of you keeping track at home, this is a fine example of the storytelling technique known as “in media res”, which is Latin for “into the middle of things”.
What? Breaking the fourth wall in my comics? It can't be... also, yes, I have the opening crawl memorized, not from watching the movie but from listening to this.
Tyler/Threepio: Did you hear that? They've shut down the main reactor. We'll be destroyed for sure. This is madness!
Tyler/Threepio: They'll be no escape for the Princess this time. Serves her right for getting us into this mess.
Tyler/Threepio: You're right, Artoo, it is convenient how none of these laser blasts are hitting us as we take our sweet time waddling through them.
Rachel/Leia: Here, Artoo, I wrote the Death Star plans on this napkin. Keep it in your mouth and regurgitate it when you find Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Stormtrooper 1: There's one! Set for stun!
Rachel/Leia: Welcome to my ship, guys! Can I help you?
Stormtrooper 1: She'll be all right. Inform Lord Vader we have a prisoner.
Stormtrooper 2: I almost feel bad for how easy that was.
George/Vader: You weren't on any mercy mission this time. Several transmissions were beamed to this ship by Rebel spies. I want to know what happened to the plans they sent you.
Rachel/Leia: I don't know what you're talking about.
George/Vader: Don't give me that bantha –
Stormtrooper: Wait, Lord Vader. I think she really means it.
(In the escape pod)
Tyler/Threepio: I almost feel bad, leaving Vader alone with her.
George/Vader (off-screen): You know, the Rebellion that's been going on for fifteen years?? Ring a bell??
Praji: Lord Vader, the battle station plans are not aboard this ship, and no transmissions were made. An escape pod was jettisoned during the fighting, but no life forms were aboard.
George/Vader: What?? Bring me Captain Bolvan at once!
George/Vader: You ordered Lieutenant Hija to hold his fire, captain?
Bolvan: Yes, Lord Vader. I figured there was no way she could have hidden the plans in the escape pod, and it's not like there's such a thing as mechanical beings that don't give life readings, so... uh... so...
Bolvan: I'll just submit my resignation now.
George/Vader (raising fist): That won't be necessary.
Tyler/Threepio: Nice landing, Artoo. Now let's see... our best strategy is to meet up with some Jawas, have them sell us to Obi-Wan Kenobi, and pickpocket the money for ourselves.
Tyler/Threepio: Hello there, Jawas, I wonder if –
Jawa 1: Utinni!
Jawa 2: Utinni!
Tyler/Threepio: I foresee a complication.
Jawa 3: Utinni utinni utinni!
Also, all Jawas look the same to me. I'm sooo racist.
Alvin/Luke: Do you speak Bocce?
Tyler/Threepio: As far as you know.
Alvin/Luke: I'll take these two.
Tyler/Threepio: Do you have family or roommates?
Alvin/Luke: No, I live alone.
Tyler/Threepio: Good, because the Empire will probably burn this place to the ground.
I did some summarizing and simplifying, especially with the Tatooine scenes and end battle, to keep this from going on as long as the actual movie. Even I would get sick of that.
Tyler/Threepio: Artoo! That message was meant for Obi-Wan Kenobi!
Alvin/Luke: Obi-Wan Kenobi?
Alvin/Luke: I wonder if he means old Ben Kenobi?
Tyler/Threepio: We'll find out. So long, sucker!
Alvin/Luke: I haven't even told you where he lives, Threepio.
Tyler/Threepio: Fine. You can come too.
Alvin/Luke: Sand People! They're the worst.
Tyler/Threepio: Are they, Master Luke? And you assume they're all the same? Have you ever taken the time to get to know one?
Alvin/Luke: Well, I – gyah!
(Tusken Raider jumps up and knocks him back)
Tusken Raider: Graah!
Tyler/Threepio: I'm just saying, maybe if you made the first move toward mutual respect...
Tusken Raider: Uuuuur ur ur ur ur!
Tyler/Threepio: Bwahahaha! “Ur ur ur” to you too!
In a short story called "The Moisture Farmer's Tale", Ariq Joanson does make an attempt to befriend the Sand People, and it does work, until... well, just read it.
Panel 1 (and only)
(The Tusken Raiders are fleeing)
Alvin/Luke: Ben? Ben Kenobi? Boy, am I glad to see you!
Tyler/Threepio: Are Sand People easily startled?
Ivan/Obi-Wan: Not in general, but those ones owe me a lot of money.
Alvin/Luke: You fought in the Clone Wars?
Ivan/Obi-Wan: Yes. I was once a Jedi Knight, the same as your father. Which reminds me...
Ivan/Obi-Wan: I have something here for you. Your father wanted you to have this when you were old enough, and since we're about to go on a fool idealistic crusade, well... Your father's lightsaber.
Alvin/Luke: Ooh! What's this button do?
Ivan/Obi-Wan: POINT IT THE OTHER WAY! POINT IT THE OTHER WAY!
Alvin/Luke: How did my father die?
Ivan/Obi-Wan: A young Jedi named Darth Vader, who was a pupil of mine until he turned to evil, helped the Empire hunt down and destroy the Jedi Knights. Vader was seduced by the Dark Side of the Force.
Alvin/Luke: The Force?
Ivan/Obi-Wan: Well, the Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It's an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together.
Tyler/Threepio: Tell him about the midi-chlorians, Obi-Wan!
Ivan/Obi-Wan: Whelp, look at the time. We'd better deliver those plans.
Little-known fact: George Lucas created the midi-chlorians way back with the original movie, but felt that there wasn't time to explain them, so they went unmentioned for twenty-two years. Contrary to popular misunderstanding, midi-chlorians do not create the Force, but just make it accessible to the beings in whose cells they live. The Force itself is still unexplained. I think they actually make sense as a reason for why some people can use the Force and others can't. Also, a real-life mitochondrial bacteria is now named after them. In the Auralnauts universe, midi-chlorians are heroin.
Motti: Your sad devotion to that ancient religion has not helped you conjure up the stolen data tapes, or given you clairvoyance enough to find the Rebels' hidden fort...
George/Vader (choking him): I find your lack of faith disturbing.
Connie/Tarkin: Actually, he has a point.
George/Vader: What?? Whose side are you on, Tarkin?
Connie/Tarkin: I'm just saying, we haven't gotten the plans back or found the base. That's all I'm saying.
George/Vader: Perhaps you'd like to talk with the Princess? She's forgotten everything, and she isn't bluffing!
Motti: Hello! Dying here!
Ivan/Obi-Wan: Mos Eisley Spaceport. You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. Except for Jabba's palace. And the Playboy Mansion.
Alvin/Luke: I'm ready for anything.
Ivan/Obi-Wan: These aren't the droids you're looking for.
Stormtrooper: These aren't the droids we're looking for.
Ivan/Obi-Wan: Bring me a taco.
Alvin/Luke: Ah, Obi-Wan, let's move along.
"Tacos rule!" - George W. Bush
Also, I wrote this jab at the Playboy Mansion the day before Hugh Hefner's death, but out of respect for said death, I now pose this philosophical question: What's the difference between Jabba the Hutt and Hugh Hefner? Answer: Jabba the Hutt is a fictional character.
Wuher: Hey! We don't serve their kind here!
Tyler/Threepio: Bite my shiny metal –
Alvin/Luke: Listen, why don't you wait out by the speeder. We don't want any trouble.
Evazan: I don't like you either. You just watch yourself. We're wanted men. I have the death sentence on twelve systems.
Alvin/Luke: Yeah? I wouldn't go around advertising that fact on a planet crawling with bounty hunters.
(Outside the cantina)
Tyler/Threepio: Listen to them, Artoo, they're having fun without us. Typical.
Wuher (off-screen): No blasters! No blasters!
"Futurama" reference for the win.
Bill/Han: Han Solo. I'm captain of the Millennium Falcon. Chewie here tells me you're looking for passage to the Alderaan system.
Susan/Chewie: Graawr! (Cough cough.) Sorry.
Ivan/Obi-Wan: Yes, indeed, if it's a fast ship.
Bill/Han: Fast ship? You've never heard of the Millennium Falcon?
Ivan/Obi-Wan: Should I have?
Bill/Han: It's the ship that made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs.
Ivan/Obi-Wan: Whoa, Luke, we almost got taken in by this scam artist. Everyone knows a parsec is a unit of distance, not time.
Of course the explanation come up with for this is that the Kessel Run involves going around black holes, and the closer one is willing to get to the black holes, the shorter the route and the faster the time. But in the movie, the look Obi-Wan gives Luke clearly says he doesn't believe a word of it. And hires him anyway. Also, I think the idea of Susan/Chewbacca being able to talk and just having something stuck in her throat is funny. I stole it from "Robot Chicken".
Ivan/Obi-Wan: You'll have to sell your speeder.
Alvin/Luke: Oh, great! What am I supposed to drive when I get back?
Ivan/Obi-Wan: Er... get back?
Alvin/Luke: Yeah. This trip's only going to take a few hours, right?
Tyler/Threepio: Well I'm never coming back to this craphole again.
See, it's funny because in the movie Luke wants to get away from Tatooine... yeah.
Greedo: Oona goota, Solo?
Bill/Han: Yes, Greedo, as a matter of fact, I was just on my way to see your boss.
(Bill/Han shoots Greedo)
Susan/Chewie: Seriously, Han?
Bill/Han: What? Like I'm gonna give him a chance to shoot first?
This one is obvious to any true fan, but I'm not sure about normal people. See here for an explanation of the controversy. Also, in the movie you can see that Chewbacca is only a couple meters away when Greedo confronts Han. Either his hearing isn't very good or he knows how seriously to take Greedo.
Alvin/Luke: What a piece of junk!
Bill/Han: She'll make point five past light speed. She may not look like much, but she's got it where it counts, kid. I've added some special modifications myself.
Alvin/Luke: Modifications? Like what?
Bill/Han: Well, secret floor compartments for smuggling contraband, a backup hard drive, fuzzy dice in the cockpit...
Alvin/Luke: Fuzzy dice? Where'd you get those? I've been meaning to get some for my T-16, but Tosche Station is always out of stock.
Bill/Han: We're a little rushed, so if you'll hurry aboard we'll get out of here.
Stormtrooper (off-screen): Stop that ship! Blast them!
The Millennium Falcon does canonically have a backup hyperdrive, albeit much slower than the main one, which is the post hoc explanation for why it didn't take them years to get to Bespin in Episode V. Because it turns out space is actually really big.
Rachel/Leia: Governor Tarkin! I love what you've done with this place! Lots of gray, with gray highlights.
Connie/Tarkin: Charming to the last. You don't know how hard I found it signing the order to terminate your life!
Rachel/Leia: Well, thanks for making the effort just for me.
Connie/Tarkin: Princess Leia, I'm going to put this in simple words. Tell us where the Rebel base is, or we'll blow up your home planet, Alderaan. Understand?
Rachel/Leia: Well, a tragedy of that magnitude is just too big to register on an emotional level.
George/Vader: You see what I've been dealing with, Tarkin?
Alvin/Luke: What's the matter, Obi-Wan? Did you feel a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced?
Ivan/Obi-Wan: Either that, or I had too much to drink at the cantina.
Ivan/Obi-Wan: You'd better get on with your exercises.
Alvin/Luke: Right. Feel the Force, feel the Force...
Bill/Han: Kid, I've flown from one side of this galaxy to the other. I've seen a lot of strange stuff, but I've never seen anything to make me believe there's one all-powerful “force” controlling everything.
Ivan/Obi-Wan: Han, the Jedi were fighting to save the galaxy nineteen years ago, and you must be at least twenty-five. Don't you remember?
Bill/Han: I didn't pay much attention in school.
Han is actually twenty-nine in "A New Hope", so he was CIRCA TEN YEARS OLD when the Jedi were exterminated. And he's from Corellia, a Core World, not some obscure backwater. Very strange.
Susan/Chewie: Aw, crud.
Tyler/Threepio: He made a fair move. Screaming about it can't help you.
Susan/Chewie: I wasn't screaming, I just –
Bill/Han: Let her have it. It's not wise to upset a Wookiee.
Tyler/Threepio: But sir, no one worries about upsetting a droid.
Bill/Han: That's 'cause droids don't pull people's arms out of their sockets when they lose. Wookiees are known to do that.
Tyler/Threepio: Yeah? I'm made of metal. I'll “let her have it” all right...
Susan/Chewie: Forget it! I'll let the droid win!
Cass: Our scout ships have reached Dantooine. They found the remains of a Rebel base, but they estimate that it has been deserted for some time.
Connie/Tarkin: She lied! She lied to us!
George/Vader: I think she honestly just remembered wrong.
Connie/Tarkin: Terminate her! Immediately!
Connie/Tarkin: And by “immediately”, of course I mean wait a bit in case someone comes to rescue her.
George/Vader: Of course.
Yeah, it was only a couple minutes before the Millennium Falcon showed up and Vader decided that "she may yet be of some use to us", but why did it even take that long? How hard was it to radio Detention Block AA-23 and say "Shoot the Princess"?
Bill/Han: Stand by, Chewie, here we go. Cut in the sublight engines.
Susan/Chewie: Roger roger.
Bill/Han: What the – aw, we've come out of hyperspace into a meteor shower. Some kind of asteroid collision. It's not on any of the charts.
Alvin/Luke: What's going on? Where's the planet?
Bill/Han: Either it's been totally blown away, or we're looking in Alderaan places.
Susan/Chewie: Too soon, Han.
(TIE Fighter zooms past)
Alvin/Luke: It followed us!
Ivan/Obi-Wan: No, it's a short range fighter.
Bill/Han: Well, he ain't going to be around long enough to tell anyone about us.
Alvin/Luke: Look at him. He's headed for that small moon.
Ivan/Obi-Wan: That's no moon. It's a planet.
Bill/Han: You sure? I think it's just an asteroid. Depth perception can be wonky in space.
Ivan/Obi-Wan: It's too smooth to be an asteroid.
Alvin/Luke: I still think it's a moon. Alderaan had a moon, right?
Bill/Han: Well there certainly couldn't have been another planet this close to it.
Susan/Chewie: Hello, guys? Tractor beam?
Rachel isn't the only one who has her moments. Even I can't resist the "men are stupid and women are smart" trope sometimes.
George/Vader: Send a scanning crew on board. I want every part of this ship checked.
Khurgee: Yes, sir.
Stormtrooper 1: We have faster-than-light technology, but our scanning equipment is as big as the Ark of the Covenant?
Stormtrooper 2: The what now?
Bill/Han (beneath floor): They're coming! Okay, when they get here we'll jump them, then lure the guards up and take their uniforms.
Alvin/Luke (beneath floor): They'd better hurry. Chewbacca is sitting on my face.
Susan/Chewie (beneath floor): Sorry about that.
I tried to think of what's the size of the scanning equipment, and all I could think of was the Ark of the Covenant. I initially didn't like that because it's very jarringly not a Star Wars item. But then I figured it was a crossover tribute to "Raiders of the Lost Ark" to reciprocate the hieroglyphic carvings of R2-D2 and C3-PO in that film. (They're not obvious, but you can see them if you look closely.) And besides, I already broke out of the Star Wars galaxy by referencing the Playboy Mansion.
Tyler/Threepio: The tractor beam is coupled to the main reactor in seven locations. A power loss at one of the terminals will allow the ship to leave.
Ivan/Obi-Wan: I don't think you boys can help. I must go alone.
Bill/Han: Whatever you say. I've done more than I bargained for on this trip already.
Alvin/Luke: I want to go with you.
Ivan/Obi-Wan: Your destiny lies along a different path than mine. The Force will be with you... always!
Alvin/Luke: Thank goodness. It'll be nice and safe in here. Did I sound convincing enough?
Bill/Han: You could have waited until he left to do your happy dance.
Alvin/Luke: The Princess? She's here?
Bill/Han: Princess? What's going on?
Tyler/Threepio: I'm afraid she's scheduled to be terminated. Serves her right for getting us into this mess.
Alvin/Luke: Oh no! We've got to do something! They're gonna kill her!
Bill/Han: Better her than me!
Alvin/Luke: She's hot.
Bill/Han: Well why didn't you say so? Let's go!
Tyler/Threepio: Artoo and I will stay here, far away from you idiots.
Some versions of the script actually included this brief exchange that I think should have been kept:
Luke: She's beautiful.
Han: So's life, kid.
Panel 1 (and only)
Childsen: Where are you taking this... thing?
Susan/Chewie: That's hurtful, man.
Rachel/Leia: Aren't you a little short for a stormtrooper?
Alvin/Luke: Huh? Oh, the uniform.
Alvin/Luke: I'm Luke Skywalker, I'm here to rescue you.
Rachel/Leia: Skywalker? That's a sexy name. Did I mention I'm into short guys?
Bill/Han: Can't get out that way!
Alvin/Luke: I'm flattered, Princess, but let's save the flirting for later.
Rachel/Leia: Can you put your helmet back on, Luke? You look better with it.
I wouldn't know flirting if it bit me in the face, but that's what David Morgan-Mar claims "Aren't you a little short for a stormtrooper?" is. He wonders whether Leia is making a ploy to escape, or just already suffering from Stockholm Syndrome.
George/Vader: He is here.
Connie/Tarkin: Obi-Wan Kenobi? What makes you think so?
George/Vader: A tremor in the Force. The last time I felt it was in the presence of my old master.
Connie/Tarkin: Surely he must be dead by now.
Connie/Tarkin: I mean, he would be what, 57 now? Yeesh.
George/Vader: At least I'm pretty sure that old geezer Yoda is dead.
57 is Obi-Wan's canonical age in "A New Hope". Many people think he aged too quickly, but he was only 5-6 years younger than Sir Alec Guinness (the actor playing him), and seeing everyone you know die and then living on Tatooine for nineteen years probably takes a toll on you. I never quite understood Tarkin's logic here. He's well aware that Vader didn't kill Obi-Wan, and none of the Inquisitors etc. have bragged about killing Obi-Wan, so why does he make this assumption?
Bill/Han: He's the brains, sweetheart.
Alvin/Luke: Well I didn't –
Rachel/Leia: Hey, let's see where this grate leads to.
(Rachel/Leia shoots the grate)
Bill/Han: The garbage chute was a really wonderful idea. What an incredible smell you've discovered!
Rachel/Leia: It could be worse. At least there's not an enormous squid-thing to eat us, or moving walls to flatten us.
Dianoga (off-screen): Groan!
Alvin/Luke: There's something alive in here!
Bill/Han: It's your imagination, kid.
Alvin/Luke: Something just moved past my leg! Look! Did you see that?
Rachel/Leia (digging through garbage): Hey, I had a Twi'lek doll just like this when I was little!
I wanted to have Rachel/Leia say "Hey, somebody threw away a perfectly good bantha burger!" but then I remembered that would be a rip-off of "Phineas and Ferb". Sigh. Why is there a Twi'lek doll in the Death Star trash compactor? I imagine that Chief Bast kept it at his desk to remember his little girl who died of space cancer. But then Darth Vader saw it and, not wanting his men to be "soft", threw it away. The distraught and enraged Bast escaped the Death Star's destruction in Tarkin's shuttle, then returned to the Empire claiming to have been gone on a supply run, and after a year or so of patient waiting he got his revenge by recommending the forest moon of Endor as a site for the second Death Star's shield generator, citing the harmlessness of the primitive natives. This needs to be canon, Disney.
Alvin/Luke: The walls are moving!
Rachel/Leia: Oh, good. I've been meaning to do a crash diet.
Alvin/Luke (over comlink): Threepio! Shut down all the garbage mashers on the detention level!
Tyler/Threepio: What's in it for me?
Alvin/Luke (over comlink): Threepio, just do it, you stupid bantha fodder!
Tyler/Threepio: I'd be more respectful if I were in your position, Master Luke.
Ivan/Obi-Wan (thinking): Dum de doo... don't mind me... just deactivating the tractor beam... I'm sure there's no monitors or readouts to alert someone when I do...
Ivan/Obi-Wan (thinking): All these years and still no safety railings? This place is a lawsuit waiting to happen. Where's OSHA when you need them?
Stormtrooper 1: Give me regular reports, please.
Stormtrooper 2: Do you know what's going on?
Stormtrooper 3: Maybe it's another drill.
Ivan/Obi-Wan (thinking): I could use the Force to distract them... or fling them into this bottomless shaft. Hmm...
Ivan/Obi-Wan would be excellent at CinemaSins.
Rachel/Leia: You came in that thing? You're more macho than I thought.
Bill/Han: I don't look macho?
Stormtrooper: It's them! Blast them!
Bill/Han (running after stormtroopers): Get back to the ship!
Susan/Chewie: Oh bother.
Alvin/Luke: Where are you going? Come back!
Rachel/Leia: He certainly has courage.
Alvin/Luke: Good thing we don't actually need him. I'm not such a bad pilot myself.
Alvin/Luke: I think we took a wrong turn!
Rachel/Leia: Ooh, there's an echo! Hello! My name is Rach– I mean Princess Leia!
Alvin/Luke (preparing cable): These stormtroopers don't shoot very well, do they?
Rachel/Leia: Yeah, it's almost like they're letting us go or something. But that would just be silly.
(Rachel/Leia kisses Alvin/Luke)
Rachel/Leia: For luck.
Alvin/Luke: Better give me more luck just to be safe.
George/Vader: I've been waiting for you, Obi-Wan. We meet again, at last. The circle is now complete. When I left you, I was but the learner. Now I am the master.
Ivan/Obi-Wan: Only a master of evil, Darth.
(They begin lightsaber dueling)
George/Vader: Well, yeah. I'm second - er, third in command of the entire galaxy. I have thousands of ships, millions of troops, and a planet-destroying superweapon at my disposal. It's not a bad gig.
Ivan/Obi-Wan: Your point is well taken.
George/Vader: Sheesh, this is the lamest swordfight ever. Remember our last one? When did we get so old?
Ivan/Obi-Wan: Force Shmorce. It hasn't done jack for my arthritis.
Ivan/Obi-Wan (thinking): There's Alvin and the others... if I sacrifice myself, it will distract the Imperials long enough for them to escape, as long as none of them yell really loud or something stupid like that.
Alvin/Luke (off-screen): NO!
George//Vader: What? He disappeared? Qui-Gon didn't disappear. None of the Jedi I saw die in the Clone Wars, or killed myself afterward, disappeared. Why did this jerk disappear?
Stormtrooper: Lord Vader, the Rebels are escaping!
George/Vader: You can't just pull a stunt like this without explaining it, Obi-Wan!
It was supposed to be explained at the end of "Revenge of the Sith". Right before Obi-Wan shows up at Polis Massa, Qui-Gon's spirit was supposed to speak to Yoda while the latter was meditating, and explain that he had discovered a way to live on after death from a Shaman of the Whills, and that he would teach Yoda and Obi-Wan. For some unfathomable reason this scene was cut before Liam Neeson was even brought in to dub it. Of course it remains in the novelization. This was later explained - kind of - in one of the last episodes of "The Clone Wars", also featuring Qui-Gon, where Yoda goes on some kind of vision quest slash acid trip and learns the wisdom to begin obtaining immortality.
Alvin/Luke: I can't believe he's gone...
Rachel/Leia: I can relate a little bit. My planet blew up today. That's kind of similar, right?
Bill/Han: Come on, buddy, we're not out of this yet!
Susan/Chewie: Here they come!
Rachel/Leia: Here they come! Strange that the moon-sized space station only has four TIE Fighters.
Tyler/Threepio: Hey! Master Luke, I called dibs on that turret!
Who knows what Chewie is growling at this point in the movie, but I figured why not have Susan/Chewbacca saying "Here they come!", making Rachel/Leia's repetition of the line useless?
Willard: You're safe! When we heard about Alderaan we feared the worst.
Rachel/Leia: Yeah, fortunately it was just my adopted parents, two billion other people, and countless irreplaceable plant and animal species.
Rebel Technician: So... this droid has the Death Star plans? How do we... uh... retrieve them?
Tyler/Threepio: Spit them out, Artoo. Oh dear. You seem to have swallowed them.
Rebel Technician: Er, so...
Tyler/Threepio: We just need to wait a bit. You're not in a hurry, are you?
Two billion is the canonical population of Alderaan before "A New Hope". Zero is the canonical population of Alderaan after "A New Hope". Is Rachel being dumb, callous, or sarcastic? You decide.
Dodonna: An analysis of the plans provided by Princess Leia shows that we just need to shoot our proton torpedoes into a two-meter-wide thermal exhaust port, and the Death Star will explode.
Wedge: That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard!
Alvin/Luke: No, actually it makes sense.
Alvin/Luke: A laser powerful enough to destroy a planet must generate tons of waste energy. It has to be shunted out somehow. Actually, it's impressive that they could keep the port down to two meters.
Bill/Han: Kid, you are such a nerf herder.
Alvin/Luke: And I used to bulls-eye womp rats in my T-16 back home. They're not much bigger than two meters.
Wedge: That's messed up, Luke.
As much as I love "Rogue One" (How could I not? My wife was in it), I didn't see any particular need to "justify" the Death Star's weakness. They would have done better to explain why there's a long, wide freaking trench leading up to it.
Alvin/Luke: So... you got your reward and you're just leaving then?
Bill/Han: That's right, yeah! My make-out session with the princess was great, but I've got other girls waiting for me. Even if I didn't, you don't think I'd be fool enough to stick around here, do you?
Alvin/Luke: Come on! Why don't you take a look around? You know what's about to happen, what they're up against. They could use a good pilot like you. You're turning your back on them.
Bill/Han: Hm. I am a pretty good pilot, aren't I?
Bill/Han: Why, you sly dog, you almost got me with flattery.
Susan/Chewie: Keep trying! Say something about his abs!
In the original cut of the cantina scene, Han observes Obi-Wan's swordsmanship but is more interested in kissing a woman named Jenny, whom he dismisses with the word "Sweetheart" as Luke and Obi-Wan arrive at his table. It kind of puts a damper on his relationship with Leia to realize that he just abandoned another woman.
Red Leader: All wings report in.
Red Ten (over radio): Red Ten standing by.
Red Seven (over radio): Red Seven standing by.
Red Three (over radio): Red Three standing by.
Red Six (over radio): Red Six standing by.
Red Nine (over radio): Red Nine standing by.
Red Two (over radio): Red Two standing by.
Red Eleven (over radio): Red Eleven standing by.
Alvin/Luke: Red Five standing by. How does this numbering system work, anyway? Why do we report out of order? Why is my number not the highest one, since I'm new?
Red Leader: The previous Red Five died while he was asking questions instead of paying attention.
This probably wasn't worth devoting a strip to.
Wedge (over radio): Heavy fire, boss! Twenty degrees.
Red Leader (over radio): I see it. Stay low.
Alvin/Luke: This is Red Five; I'm going in!
Biggs (over radio): Luke, pull up! Are you all right?
Alvin/Luke: I got a little cooked, but I'm okay. That was so worth it!
Biggs (over radio): I bet I can make a bigger explosion than that!
Alvin/Luke: Yeah? Let's see you try!
Red Leader (over radio): Keep it together, boys.
Goren: Squad leaders, we've picked up a new group of signals. Enemy fighters coming your way.
Rachel/Leia: Judas Priest, this is bad.
Tyler/Threepio: What are you so worried about? Those ships don't even have deflector shields and their pilots are a credit a dozen. We took out four and barely got a scratch, remember?
Rachel/Leia: You're right. It's a good thing they don't have any phenomenal pilots who can use the Force.
(Aboard the Death Star)
George/Vader: Several fighters have broken off from the main group. Come with me!
Red Nine (over radio): It's a hit!
Red Leader (over radio): Negative! It didn't go in. Just impacted on the surface.
Alvin/Luke: Well, stang.
(George/Vader destroys Red Leader's X-Wing)
Red Leader (over radio): Eeeyaaaaaaah!
Alvin/Luke: I should be upset that he's dead, but I'm more upset about me being in charge now.
Wedge (over radio): Me too.
"Stang" is a canonical Star Wars swear word. This blog post is now rated R. But seriously, why does the Rebellion's newest pilot get put in charge while Biggs and Wedge are still around? He may be the best pilot, but he has the least experience working with the squadron.
Alvin/Luke (thinking): Everyone is dead but me. Darth Vader is on my tail. I have to make this shot or the Rebellion will be destroyed forever. This is why I never wanted to leave Tatooine.
Ivan/Obi-Wan (disembodied voice): Use the Force, Luke.
Alvin/Luke: What the –
Ivan/Obi-Wan (disembodied voice): Let go, Luke.
George/Vader: The Force is strong with this one. Which reminds me, I've always hoped that my child is alive... but Obi-Wan would have changed his last name and hidden him on some planet I've never heard of.
Yes, I know Wedge isn't dead, he's just gone, but that takes too long to explain. And the reason Yoda and Obi-Wan hid Luke on Anakin's home planet is that they assumed Vader would stay the heck away from it because of his painful memories there. And that seems reasonable enough. However, Disney has now established that he built a fortress on the planet where he strangled his pregnant wife, lost his remaining three limbs, and became a Crispy Critter, so their assumption may have been a little off. And I see no excuse for the name thing. "Luke Lars"... is that so difficult?
Alvin/Luke (thinking): This is crazy. I barely started my training. But here goes nothing...
Rebel Technician (over radio): His computer's off. Luke, you switched off your targeting computer, what's wrong?
Alvin/Luke (thinking): They must be even more scared than I am.
Alvin/Luke (over radio): Nothing! Nothing, I'm all right!
Rachel/Leia: Luke, Luke, he's our man! If he can't do it, we're all screwed!
Tyler/Threepio: I'm gonna go check the shuttles for, uh, maintenance.
For some reason I found myself needing to pad out space here, and therefore showed more of Alvin/Luke's thought process. This had the unusual effect of making the moment at least as serious, if not more so, than the movie equivalent, in stark contrast to most of this storyline. Which I guess is kind of a nice twist.
(Aboard Death Star)
Loudspeaker: Rebel base in range.
Connie/Tarkin: You may fire when ready. Nothing can stop us now.
Officer: Knock on wood! Knock on wood!
Bill/Han (over radio): Yeehoo!
Bill/Han (over radio): You're all clear, kid! Now let's blow this thing and go home!
Rachel/Leia: I wonder how many deaths he could have prevented if he'd been here from the beginning? Eh, whatever.
And then there's the small matter of Endor. The first time Han tries to plant the charges and destroy the shield generator, he's in a hurry because the Rebel fleet is going to arrive at any moment. But on his second and more successful attempt, while the fleet is in the process of being exterminated, he takes his sweet time and pauses to give the Imperials his sarcastic smile and shrug. How much blood is on his hands?
Panel 1 (and only)
(Alvin's X-Wing and the Millennium Falcon fly away from the explosion of the Death Star)
Bill/Han: Great shot, kid! That was one in a million!
Ivan/Obi-Wan (disembodied voice): Remember, the Force will be with you... always.
Alvin/Luke: You're right, Artoo, it was convenient how they took so long to fire this time.
The novel Death Star explains that Master Chief Gunnery Officer Tenn Graneet was actually stalling because he had felt like crap ever since he realized he was the biggest mass murderer in the history of the galaxy. Thanks to Disney, this wonderful novel is no longer canon. Deleted scenes from "Return of the Jedi" also show the Emperor ordering Moff Jerjerodd to destroy the forest moon of Endor if the Rebels succeed in taking out the shield generator, and then the latter's hesitation in carrying out this order because several of his own men are down there. It raises the stakes for the Rebellion and shows the humanity of a high-ranking Imperial officer, and I think it should have been kept in. How did Artoo and Luke know how long it took to destroy Alderaan? Leia told them, obviously. In the original novelization of "Star Wars", Luke becomes sort of unconscious while using the Force to fire the torpedoes, so the story skips ahead several seconds to when he's actually flying away. I liked that and imitated it here.
Tyler/Threepio: Oh yeah! We bad! We bad! Death Star? More like Dead Star! Suck it, Palpatine! We're coming for you next!
Alvin/Luke: Thanks for the support, Threepio.
Rachel/Luke: Well, you are both very attractive men and it's going to be difficult choosing between you. Right now I'm leaning toward Luke. We seem to have a lot in common.
Bill/Han: A little too much in common, if you ask me.
Rachel/Leia: I'm so sorry, Chewbacca, but I forgot to get you a medal.
Susan/Chewie: No worries, I'm sure it has nothing to do with your latent racism.
Alvin (thinking): Too bad there wasn't room for Grandma Jerry in my dream... I guess she can be Yoda in the sequel.
Alvin: Rachel, I just had the most incredible dream. I dreamed that you and I and Tyler and Steve and a bunch of other family members were characters in the original Star Wars.
Rachel: Eh. Lame.
Rachel: Star Wars parodies have been done to death. Try something original next time.
Ohhh, so that's why they were breaking the fourth wall. Good, I was worried for a while... Anyway, I hope you liked it.
Darthenshmirtz - The Sith-inator
If anyone is still reading at this point, here's a real catchy number from the Phineas and Ferb special. It was a toss-up between this and stormtrooper Candace's "In the Empire", which I will probably share some other time.
Before I begin, of course, along with everyone else I express my condolences, useless though they are, for the latest mass shooting in the only country in the world where mass shootings are a regular occurrence. I am grateful that as usual liberals and conservatives alike were willing to wait a few minutes, out of respect for the dead, before attempting to twist the facts of the event to further their agenda. Not wishing to detract from the spirit of my intended topic, I shall forebear from saying anything more on that for now.
Last weekend was that time of year again, the semi-annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints where I, being the imbecile that anyone who knows me can tell you I am, go to get brainwashed again. This time around I was able to watch it with my beautiful wife, Felicity, who is not yet a member. Praying for her. And it was possibly the best conference I've ever been to, because I did what I was supposed to and came with a question in mind, a question that I've pondered and prayed and fasted and sought advice on for months. And the heavens opened in an incredible way. I also felt inspired and committed to be a better person. I want to be more humble. I want to be more patient. I want to be kinder to my many enemies. I want to stop robbing liquor stores, selling crack, and running over schoolkids in my car. (Bonus points if you get the reference.) But let's be honest, I probably won't.
Between sessions I got into some arguments on Facebook. Filled with a love for my Savior, I tried really, really hard not to insult anyone directly, but alas, the flesh is weak and I failed to avoid dripping with sarcasm. For every intelligent person I can respectfully disagree with, there are a hundred, shall we say, less intelligent people whose confidence is inversely proportional to said intelligence. Whenever I see a comment on an LDS topic that consists solely of the word "CULT!!", I stare and marvel and wonder how long it took this genius to come up with that on his own. One of them deigned to explain his superior logic: "It's a cult, and cults are bad. It should be banned." Yeah, I was just reading the other day about how this cult is installing water filters in scores of Indian villages to save them from fluoride poisoning. Screw this filthy rotten cult. Also, one particularly insightful free thinker blocked me after I called him out for resorting to ad hominem attacks after I refuted his assertion that an "entire generation" is leaving the LDS Church. He really showed me the error of my ways, you bet.
Shut up, Dr. Horrible. Also, to the minions of Satan I saw mocking Elder Robert D. Hales and celebrating his death - I feel sorry for you, truly. Take a good long look in the mirror, if you dare. Following is a list of my favorite talks, including of course the ones that I found most elucidating.
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf - A Yearning for Home
The Saturday morning session started off strong with the second most charismatic speaker available (sorry, but Elder Costa has him beat), and he in turn started off strong by talking about animals. I love animals. I hope I prove worthy to meet my dog again someday. My revelation began already with this talk my ears pricked and my heart warmed at some of his words that could be applied out of context to my own more personalized yearning. "Those who heed the inner call and seek God," President Uchtdorf said, "those who pray, believe, and walk the path the Savior has prepared - even if they stumble along the path at times - receive the consoling assurance that 'all things shall work together for [their] good.'" After this talk I felt inspired to keep doing what I'm already doing - trusting God as I pray for help every day, one step at a time, without seeing the outcome yet.
Elder Dallin H. Oaks - The Plan and the Proclamation
I must admit I have no particular strong feelings on the doctrines espoused in his talk and have struggled with some of them at times (see this essay, for example). I accept them because they're part of the package, and selectively rejecting doctrines in a church like this is logically untenable. But I enjoyed this talk because I love a good controversy, and I knew that by repeating the same things church leaders have been saying for many years, Elder Oaks would generate one. I wasn't disappointed. By taking such unpopular stances and holding firm to them in the face of backlash, setting aside the question of whether they're even correct, Elder Oaks and other General Authorities prove themselves to be men of courage and integrity - certainly more so than most of their critics who require very little to express the rage at them from behind electronic screens. However, unlike many members, I won't pretend to be unaware of why many people find these teachings legitimately painful. But that doesn't make them untrue. There are some things I know to be true that I find very painful myself. Oh, do I ever.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland - Be Ye Therefore Perfect - Eventually
One billion dollars. One. Billion. Dollars. It was just very impactful to me when put in those terms.
Elder Ronald A. Rasband - By Divine Design
This topic was unique enough to keep my attention even if it hadn't been another confirmation of my ponderings on my own dilemma. I have felt that certain individuals are in my life for a reason, and that I need to figure out what it is. I wish God would just tell me what it is. I think I know what it is, but what if I'm wrong? At least this talk tells me I'm on the right track. "Through the experience of my own life’s journey, I know that the Lord will move us on that seeming chessboard to do His work. What may appear to be a random chance is, in fact, overseen by a loving Father in Heaven, who can number the hairs of every head." I know this does not mean, as many think, that God micromanages every detail of everything that ever happens. Rather, he allows events to play out and people to exercise their free will, and foresees that and weaves it into His plan and carries out His purposes one way or another, because come on, He's not so rigid and inflexible that His plan will be ruined if you go left instead of right one day.
President Russel M. Nelson - The Book of Mormon: What Would Your Life Be Like Without it?
I have known the Book of Mormon was true for as long as I've read it. It's just been perfectly obvious to me. I never bothered to pray and ask God if it was true. Then I figured that if I was going to go on a mission and tell people to ask God if it was true, I should have done the same thing, so I tried it - but I couldn't muster the enthusiasm to ask "with full purpose of heart, with real intent" because it seemed pointless to ask a question I already knew the answer to. While I have had many doubts at various times about other doctrines, policies, or events, I could never dismiss the Book of Mormon without lying to myself. Of course this caused quite a bit of cognitive dissonance before everything was resolved. Having said that, am I phenomenal at actually studying it? No. After this talk I hope I will be able to do better, and I am reassured that if I do I will be able to receive more guidance in my aspiration.
President Henry B. Eyring - The Lord Leads His Church
Several weeks ago I met with my bishop for a blessing regarding my issue, and afterward, although he said he couldn't promise what the outcome would be, within the space of a few minutes he told me not once, not twice, but thrice not to give up on it. He said discouragement comes from the devil. I accepted this somewhat easily because it was what I wanted to hear anyway. But I felt that it was a big leap of faith for me. I study a lot of church history and am aware of several of the mistakes that church leaders have made. If even prophets are fallible, I thought, how much more so is a bishop? How can I fully trust him? I made the leap of faith and told God I was making a leap of faith and hoped it would be validated. It was in this talk, where President Eyring explained that "if you have faith that the Lord leads His Church through revelation to those imperfect servants He calls, the Lord will open the windows of heaven to them, as He will to you."
Elder M. Russell Ballard - The Trek Continues!
The greatest thing about this talk was that Elder Ballard gave a nod to one of my church history crushes, Jane Manning James. Her remarkable story is of course more extensive than he could do justice in such a limited time. He was also the one who dedicated her grave marker with the Genesis Group in 2003, and that gives a bit more of an overview. (Her birth date given as 1882 is obviously an error; it should say 1813.)
One day while living with Joseph Smith, his mother gave Jane the opportunity to handle the Urim and Thummim. On a couple of other occasions, Emma Smith offered her the opportunity to be sealed to them, but she didn't understand and declined. In her later years, after Joseph was dead and she understood what she had missed out on, she pleaded with multiple First Presidencies to allow her to be endowed and sealed to him. They courteously refused because of the relatively new policy barring anyone of African descent from priesthood and temple blessings. In 1894 the First Presidency allowed for a special unprecedented ceremony where a white proxy was used to seal her to the Smith family as a servant. (This should not be confused with "slave". She was a servant to them in life, but never a slave, and this position was obviously used in the sealing because she was not a blood relative or spouse.) Jane was understandably less than satisfied with this and continued petitioning to no avail.
I was confused for a long time because both Jane's brother and her husband were named Isaac, which must have been awkward, and after the latter abandoned her she lived with the former until her death. She and her brother Isaac were some of the last people alive who had known Joseph Smith, and so they were treated with great respect and had reserved seats at the front of the Tabernacle. When she died, her obituary was on the front page of the Deseret News, a treatment usually reserved for General Authorities and prominent Utah politicians. President Joseph F. Smith spoke at her funeral. But she was largely forgotten until the racial controversy of the 60s and 70s sparked a renewed interest in black Mormon pioneers. Her temple work was done for her in 1979 by one of the women who wrote about her for the Ensign.
Elder Tad R. Callister - God's Compelling Witness: The Book of Mormon
General Authorities have acknowledged the critics more and more often in recent conferences, and dabbled a bit in apologetics, but I believe this is the most apologetics-heavy conference talk in church history. And most of it's just common sense. From my perspective, secular attempts to explain the existence of the Book of Mormon are frankly pathetic, absurd, laughable, and insufficient if not impossible. I attempted to mock them myself in my less-than-stellar short story "Moroni Saves the World". Despite constant (ridiculous) assurances that there was nothing special about Joseph Smith writing the Book of Mormon, not one critic has ever attempted to meet Hugh Nibley's challenge and duplicate his achievement. Or if they have, they've been too embarrassed by their inevitable failure to mention it to anybody.
Where Elder Callister gives two examples of Book of Mormon details that were unknown in Joseph's day and later vindicated, he could have given scores more. See, for example, the listing in "Boomerang Hits and the Book of Mormon", and then read Mormon's Codex if you're really ambitious. At some point it stretches credulity past its limit to suggest that Joseph Smith made so many lucky guesses, yet that's exactly what critics insist happened. They also still point at a list of alleged anachronisms in the book, ignoring the fact that it used to be much longer, and assuming that we know everything now - just like they did in Joseph's day. The reality is that a very small percentage - 2 or 3 percent if I recall correctly - of Mesoamerican sites have even been excavated. Yes, compared to the alleged alternatives, the story of the angel and the gold plates is far easier to believe. I couldn't help clapping after this talk. I didn't need it, but I liked it.
Elder Stanley G. Ellis - Do We Trust Him? Hard is Good
You know, I'd said to God a few times, in essence, "I'm perfectly willing to endure any pain, make any sacrifice, and wait any number of years to make this thing happen. I will rejoice in my suffering. But if it's not going to happen, then I'd sure like to know that now, and not bother with it." This talk validated my eagerness in an incredible way. Elder Ellis said, "Hard makes us stronger, humbles us, and gives us a chance to prove ourselves." Yes, I thought, let me prove myself! I'll prove myself with the proofiest proof that every proofed!
Elder Neil L. Andersen - The Voice of the Lord
Well, you know, confirmation bias happens to the best of us, and also to me. And the things I was noticing through the Spirit also happened to be the sort of things I wanted to hear anyway, and I was taking some of them out of context. So I worried just a bit that this wasn't a legit way to approach things. And then what did Elder Andersen do in the very last talk of the conference? Related an anecdote of a woman using the Spirit to pick out something he said and apply it in a different context. It was so reassuring my mouth fell open a little, and was the perfect endcap to all the guidance and reassurance I had received up to that point. If you've never had an experience like this, of approaching General Conference with a specific question in mind, you really ought to try it.
I believe that the natural man is to be subjected, not destroyed, and so I feel impressed upon to use my sarcasm for good. A point can often be made far more impactfully through sarcasm than just by stating it. To that end, I created these pages earlier this week, which admittedly are both mostly just quotes with a little bit of commentary:
The Demise of Mormonism
The Hugh Hefner Memorial Page
Next week on this blog: The "Alvin and the Cracrofts" Star Wars Extravaganza
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About the Author
C. Randall Nicholson is a white cisgender Christian male, so you can hate him without guilt, but he's also autistic and asexual, so you can't, unless you're an anti-vaxxer, in which case the feeling is mutual. This blog is where he periodically rants about life, the universe, and/or everything.