Once upon a time, MTV would actually play awesome music videos and produce exceptional original programming, like the cartoon below. Yes, I know it sounds like I must be making this up, but it’s actually true!
Directed J.J. Abrams
Produced by Michael Bay
Starring Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, Shia LaBeouf as Commander Ultmer, William Shatner as Darth Roughshod, CG-Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as Viceroy Pliff-Plaff, Will Smith as Yoda, Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool, Miley Cyrus as Hannah Montana, and Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow
Rated G by the Motion Picture Association of America
Synopsis: After the Empire is defeated again by the Resistance, it conceives a new plan to build the Solar Annihilator, a super-maniacal ultra-weapon comprised of 12 Starkiller Bases and 103 Death Stars, all within the same solar system. The Solar Annihilator’s destructive power is unlike anything the universe has ever seen: each death satellite draws power from the nearby star and coordinates a destructive blast with the other 114 death satellites. The resulting force is so powerful that it would destroy the entire galaxy. The Empire is now completely unhinged and willing to defeat the Resistance at any cost, even if it means destroying themselves in the process.
After issuing its demands to the entire galaxy—that is, complete control over every living creature in existence by the Empire’s new leader, Darth Roughshod—the Resistance mounts an attack. Having found so much success in the past by destroying previous Empire super-weapons by blowing up their core, the Resistance Council instructs its top fighters to attempt to fly into the center of the system’s star and detonate a new type of explosive to trigger supernova expansion. This quickly proves to be a very poor strategy as many skilled pilots are incinerated in the beginning of the conflict. Bewildered, the Resistance suspends its attack and leaves the Solar Annihilator system to regroup, recruit support from more governments, and come up with a more effective plan to defeat the Empire.
Displeased that his troops were unable to defeat the Resistance, and that his opponent is gaining support from the rest of the galaxy, Darth Roughshod announces that he is going to fire the Solar Annihilator in 21 days and prove to everyone that he is more cruel and evil than any other Sith lord before, especially Darth Vader. Every advanced civilization supporting the Resistance decides to send their best and most experienced warriors in a unified effort to save the galaxy. Among these warriors are Chewbacca, Boba Fett’s brother Earla Fett, and Jar Jar Binks.
The Resistance finds that they will barely have enough time to get everyone to the Solar Annihilator before it fires, and that instead of blowing up the central star they will need to destruct every Starkiller Base and Death Star from the inside, one by one. Realizing how tedious this will be, and having to deal with so much petty bickering amongst the leaders of so many civilizations, the Resistance Council secretly begins to wonder if it might just be best to let the Empire destroy the galaxy. Morale is low, but the offensive is carried out anyway and a perilous star trek is made to the Solar Annihilator.
Upon arrival, Resistance fighters find that they only have seven hours to disable the ultra-weapon before it fires. They begin by blowing up Starkiller Bases and Death Stars in a series of dramatic, yet incredibly repetitive, cinematic sequences. After six and a half hours, only about half of the death satellites are destroyed. The Resistance Council hopes that this has been enough to prevent the destruction of the galaxy, but Darth Roughshod announces that with half the firepower he will still be able to destroy half the galaxy! His cruel chuckle echoes throughout space as he begins the firing sequence…
But there is an engineering malfunction somewhere in the array and the Solar Annihilator is unable to fire! Darth Roughshod becomes enraged and commands his top engineering staff to simultaneously swallow their own tongues, then he enters a Tie Fighter and joins the fray. Encouraged by this unexpected yet highly probable development, the Resistance doubles down on its attack and remounts its effort to destroy the horrible weapon. Jar Jar Binks, inspired by his fellow fighters, decides to enter an X-wing and join the battle.
Having never flown a ship before, Jar Jar nearly crashes into everything around him and manages to botch the attacks on three Death Stars. After much high-jinks intended for intellectually bereft children, Jar Jar finds himself near a Starkiller Base and sees that a portion of it is discharging electricity somewhat erratically. Darth Roughshod senses a disturbance in the force and flies to Jar Jar’s location. It is there that he finds the malfunctioning hyper-coupler and sends out a high-priority space-email to his remaining engineering staff, instructing them to replace the coupler immediately. The firing sequence begins again and half of the galaxy is destroyed!
Panicked and confused, Jar Jar begins pressing buttons randomly in his ship. This causes him to collide with Darth Roughshod and they both crash into the Starkiller Base. Jar Jar quickly finds another Tie fighter and escapes back to the Resistance mostly unharmed, but Darth Roughshod is nearly burned to death. The medical staff on the Starkiller Base, lacking the necessary instrumentation to stabilize the Sith lord’s condition, determines that the best way to save his life is to put him in one of Darth Vader’s spare suits. Darth Roughshod lives, but his commanders lose much respect for him because it confirms what they always suspected: that he is secretly trying to be Darth Vader. (Throughout the rest of the movie, his subordinates call him Lord Vader and snicker; he always corrects them by saying, “No! It’s Lord Roughshod, you fools!”)
The Resistance destroys or disables the remaining death satellites and returns to its headquarters. After reviewing the events that led to the destruction of half the galaxy, the council finds that this unimaginable devastation could have been avoided if Jar Jar Binks had not stolen an X-wing. They order his execution, and the complete eradication of the Gungan people, but through more high-jinks Jar Jar is able to escape to his home planet before they are able to arrest him.
Darth Roughshod learns of the Resistance’s plan and, feeling a profound mutual hatred for Jar Jar, agrees to help them in the extermination of the Gungans. The Resistance and Empire announce that they will be working together to ensure that Jar Jar is punished for his misdeeds and that such a calamity will never happen again.
Through the great stress of possibly losing his people, Jar Jar Binks begins to develop a special relationship with the force. Yoda visits him in visions and explains that everyone has turned to the dark side and he and the Gungans are the only ones who haven’t taken a path of evil. He constructs a light saber and, over the course of the next three weeks, becomes a master Jedi.
After the combined military forces of the Empire and Resistance arrive at the Gungan’s home world, Jar Jar meets Darth Roughshod and his four-pronged light saber. After a fierce battle, they both destroy one another’s light sabers. Unfortunately for Jar Jar, Darth Roughshod is a highly experienced UFC fighter and beats the living shit out of him and is then forced to swallow his own tongue. After Jar Jar’s death, the Jedi are once again destroyed and a final attack begins against the Gungans. But just when defeat seems inevitable, the Ewoks arrive to protect the Gungans and comedic violence ensues.
In the end, the the Ewoks are eradicated alongside Jar Jar’s people, and the universe erupts in joy. Balance is finally brought to the force and peace dawns for the remaining half of the Galaxy. War never occurs again until the end of time. Emperor Palpatine suddenly appears from out of nowhere, laughs and says, “It is done!”
Years later, the galaxy comes to understand that if not for Jar Jar, this new era of peace would not have been possible. Jar Jar and the Gungans are celebrated throughout the universe for their selfless behavior, bravery, and personal sacrifice. For the concluding scene, Mickey Mouse, Kermit the Frog, Deadpool, Hannah Montanna, and Captain Jack Sparrow join Darth Roughshod and they all begin singing If We Were a Movie . This epic finale signals to the audience that Star Wars is finally over, forever.
Ask anybody out there and they’ll tell you that the foundation of a great baseball player starts with the understanding of some basic fundamentals: running, stretching, physical conditioning. These are the things that prepare your body for the many challenges a baseball player faces. I heard that bullshit thrown at me all my damn life. You know what Kenny Powers says? Fundamentals are the crutch of the talentless. This one coach tried to put me on a weight training program and I was all like, “You and your weights can fuck off somewhere—I’m not lifting that shit! It’s heavy! You tell me why I need strength training when I’m strong enough to throw a goddamn 100mph pitch! Fuck that!”
See, in life, when you have talent, all the other shit doesn’t matter. If we were on an island with no weights and no running drills, who would be on top then? The guy with the talent.
In a nutshell, you can train all you want. You can work on your catching, on your throwing, on your running… hell, it might even be enough to get you into the majors. But in order to be a standout… an all-star… a champion… you need more than hard work and dedication. You need something that you can’t work for. You need a blessing from God Almighty.
Year by year, I find myself making new emotional divestments from Christmas and the winter holidays. Even when I was younger and still felt the Christmas spirit, I always sensed that there is something not quite right with how we collectively behave during this season. So many expectations, yet so many inevitable upsets and shortcomings. So many nonreligious (and religious) people celebrating Jesus’s birthday with ornaments, presents, and deforested fir trees. So much unbridled consumerism: people utterly possessed, shopping the same way as someone who has been wandering through the desert—parched—for days on end and desperate for the smallest sip of water.
My current sentiments towards Christmas developed gradually—that is, I didn’t just wake up one morning and decide that it wasn’t my thing. They started with objective observations in my youth, some of which are mentioned above, and became cemented into place a little more than a decade ago when I had a string of really fucking terrible holiday seasons. I still held on to the traditional ideals though, because abandoning them would be abandoning a way of life that was familiar and that is dear to so many. (I was already well off the beaten path and certainly didn’t need something like this to put me even more out of step with John and Jane Doe.)
Yet, due to the unpredictability of life and circumstances that were beyond my control, I was fighting a battle that I couldn’t win. I didn’t fully understand this, however, and every subsequent Christmas became increasingly grueling. Then suddenly something happened that deftly released me of this burden:
One year, after a party on Christmas Eve that I was obliged to attend, I returned to my place and sat in darkness on the couch trying to process everything that was happening in my life, as it existed then, on the backdrop of yet another Christmas season. It was after midnight, so early Christmas morning. I only wanted to shut my brain off and fall asleep, but couldn’t. I turned on the television and began flipping through the channels. Eventually, I saw that the movie Aliens had just started. “How peculiar,” I thought to myself, “that somebody would play Aliens on Christmas morning.” I sat there for quite a while just staring at the listing on the TV menu before me. The more I thought about it, the more I began to realize that watching Aliens early Christmas morning was somehow exactly the right thing for me to do at that moment. I was up until almost 3:00am giggling at the perfect portions of sci-fi action and violence that were being fed to me through my television screen. By the end of the movie, I could have guiltlessly and gleefully barked at the mythical fat man himself: “Screw you, Santa! Take a hike! And to hell with all your silver bells, candy canes, and asshole reindeer!”
Somehow, in such a ridiculous and absurd moment, I came to feel joy during a time of year that, for me, had become associated with profoundly unpositive feelings: feelings that then compounded and became so much more than just an absence of joy.
Now, even after so much time, I continue to find new benefits from my break with Christmas. For example, I only buy gifts for people when I find something that is genuinely useful, instead of subscribing to the bullshit notion of compulsory gift-giving. Not only does this save me time and money, but it also makes the gesture of giving someone a present more meaningful. A couple of years back, I bought chocolate coffee beans and chocolate almonds for many of my coworkers. Last year, I didn’t buy anybody anything! This year, I gave presents to two people: 1) a Batman Christmas tree ornament for one of my best childhood buds, and 2) a 32″ HDTV and Blu-Ray disc player for my hippie uncle who had never before laid his eyes on a high-definition television signal.
Sometimes I do miss the sweet intoxication of winter holiday cheer and everything that comes with it—eating too much, drinking too much, spending too much—but not for very long. When I visited my uncle on Christmas day, he was eating a Wendy’s hamburger meal and watching the third annual Kaiju Christmas , a 96 hour Godzilla marathon from December 23rd through the 26th on the El Rey Network . He was already happy, and the new TV and disc player were just a bonus. After all, HD Godzilla holds absolutely no meaning whatsoever (but we did take a break a little later in the day to watch Baby Driver together and he finally got his first dose of modern television fidelity).
These days, watching Aliens during the holiday season is just one of those things that I always do. It makes me feel good, in a weird way, and helps keep me grounded during a crazy time of the year. And given recent events, I think I’m going to start mixing in some old school Godzilla flicks. I’ve been meaning to watch them anyway and now I have exactly the reason I needed to make it a priority.