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3-23-01 - Vision Impaired

Okay.  So.  I suck.

I ran out of steam yesterday and didn't get my new Vision of the Future done.  I was tired and grouchy and lazy and just wanted to sit on my ass and watch movies and I couldn't wait for the weekend.  Okay?  OKAY???

It'll be ready on Monday!  In the meantime, I got an e-mail from Ken Kaufman, regarding my write-up of Boba Fett.

Boba Fett's first words in The Empire Strikes Back were "As you wish," and as Ken pointed out, in The Princess Bride, "As you wish" really meant "I love you."

Certainly would have put a different spin on Vader and Fett's relationship.  Thanks, Kauf!  Wish I'd thought of that.

Anyway, we'll be back Monday!  This time I'll come prepared.  Scout's honor.



3-22-01 - Boba Fret, Part Deux

Welcome to part two of this week's Henchman of the Week, where we'll continue with Boba Fett's performance appraisal.

(For part one, which was yesterday, click here, and when you're done, either click "Back to Top" or scroll up.  To the top.  Which is here.)


Henchman of the Week:  Boba Fett

Featured in:  Return of the Jedi (1983)

Proficient In:  Ensnaring opponents with grappling cable

Deficient In:  Everything else

Favorite Screensaver:  3D Pipes

Termination:  Rocket malfunction due to blindly swung gaffi stick; flight through the air while shrieking like a little girl; collision with sail barge;  presumed eventual digestion.

Temporary Assignment:  Don't you hate company parties?  I mean, you work with these people forty hours a week, so the last thing you want to do is see them in a social setting.  This might explain why Boba Fett is seen standing alone at Jabba the Hutt's Mercenary Mixer.  I guess he just doesn't mingle well.

(Please note:  newly added footage shows a little more of Fett at the party, walking around and even flirting with a few alien females.  Whatever.)

After a woman with several prehensile tails growing out of her head performs an interpretive dance, and then is dropped into a pit and eaten (a punishment that could easily be adopted for all performance artists), one of Boba Fett's bounty-hunting brethren arrives.  Boushh, as this mercenary is known, approaches Jabba with Chewbacca (Han Solo's longtime companion), a thermal detonator, and the ability to convey detailed information by simply repeating "Kyo-toe.  Kyo-toe."

Fett reacts to the appearance of the grenade by pointing his blaster rifle at Boushh, but as the situation is being mediated, Fett lowers his gun slowly, probably thinking to himself, "Wait a minute.  Why the hell didn't Jabba tell me there was a bounty on Chewbacca, too?  I had him in handcuffs right along with Solo in Bespin."

Well, that's management for ya.

It turns out Boushh is really Princess Leia in disguise, yet as she frees Solo from his carbonite prison, it is revealed that Hutt was onto her the whole time.  How he sees through her intricate ruse yet doesn't ferret out another imposter, Lando Calrissian, whose disguise consists of just a salad bowl on his head, is a mystery (Fett himself certainly should have recognized the former administrator of Bespin).

Luke Skywalker follows up his unsuccessful holographic sales pitch with a unsuccessful cold-call, Leia dresses down for Casual Friday, and everyone is flown out to the sand dunes, where Solo, Skywalker, and Chewbacca are to be fed to the Sarlacc, a big mouth in the desert (no, not Warren Beatty in Ishtar).

Skywalker is prepared for all this, however, and facilitates an escape.  Boba Fett emerges from the employee restroom and, upon seeing Skywalker slicing up underlings with an extension of his manhood, Fett blasts off with his rocket pack.  Despite having at least one long-range weapon in his arsenal, he chooses to land directly next to Skywalker, where he stands nice and still so Skywalker can hack off the end of his gun.  Thanks!

Fett then fires a grappling cord at the distracted Skywalker, whose reflexes are fast enough to deflect lasers but not, apparently, string.  Still, Skywalker multitasks, deflecting a blast from the barge and cutting through Fett's grappling cable in one deft move.  The deflected blast strikes the skiff right behind Fett, who falls to the deck.  Another skiff pulls up, firing wildly, and Skywalker jumps onto it while Fett slowly regains an upright position.  As Skywalker brutally massacres the occupants of the second skiff, Fett takes slow, careful aim at Skywalker's back, then fires, twice, with a wrist-mounted blaster.  The first shot sails off into the sky, missing Skywalker by a good three feet.  We do not see how badly the second shot misses, as Solo, crying "Boba Fett?  Boba Fett?  Where?" spins around blindly and connects with Fett's jetpack with a gaffi stick.

Bad luck!  Fett's rockets are ignited and he flies, squealing like a bald tire, past Skywalker (who is performing an ineffectual, choreographed kick) to crash headlong into the sail barge.  Falling to the sand, he tumbles over and over, into the Sarlacc's maw, where with a final, girlish cry, he is swallowed.  The Sarlacc burps.

From what little we know about the Sarlacc, Fett will be slowly digested over a thousand years... or will he?  Who knows?  Perhaps he'll use his cunning wiles and gadget-laden battlesuit to escape and have further adventures.

Nah.  He'll get digested.

Constructive Criticism:  A poor showing this time out, as Fett bungles nearly everything he sets out to accomplish.  Henchmen, like temps, are hired in times of crisis, and without the ability to think quickly and clearly when the poop hits the paddles, they'll end up in the unemployment line, or, in this case, the mucus-lined digestive tract of a giant all-powerful Tatooine desert creature.

Boba Fett was again played by Jeremy Bulloch.  In the added Special Edition footage, he was played by Don Bies.

Tomorrow:  Vision of the Future!  Probably!



3-21-01 - Boba Fret

Welcome to part one of a two-part Henchman of the Week, where we salute the heavily armed (and poorly trained) temps of the silver screen.

Our subject today appears in two films (three, technically, but I'm not getting into that), so we'll be looking at one film today, and the other tomorrow.


Henchman of the Week:  Boba Fett

Featured in:  The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Specialty:  Bounty hunting, whining

Silliest Accessory:  Knee-pad dart launcher (really!)

Termination:  Not only does Fett survive, he actually completes his assignment.  Weird.

Temporary Assignment:  "Bounty hunters.  We don't need their scum."

These words precede the appearance of Boba Fett, along with a few other intergalactic bounty hunters, standing on board the flagship Executor.  Darth Vader, Vice-President of the Imperial Forces, as well as Human Resources Administrator (Strangling/Promotions Division), has a task for them: the recovery of a space ship called the Millennium Falcon and its passengers.  Vader issues a stern warning, however:  "You are free to use any methods necessary, but I want them alive."

Vader pauses here, and waggles a gloved finger in front of Fett's visor.  "No disintegrations."

It seems Fett's reputation has preceded him, but what sort of reputation is it?  Is he so ruthless that he consistently disintegrates his prey?  Or, as Vader's tone seems to suggest, does Fett routinely fail to capture his quarry and come back with the claim "Oh, that guy I was hunting?  For the bounty?  I, um... I disintegrated him.  Yeah."

(Temps:  next time you don't have a project finished on time, tell your supervisor you disintegrated it.  Dare ya.)

Either way, Fett responds to Vader's warning with a disappointed "As you wish." He knows he's going to have to get some results this time.

Suddenly, the Falcon is spotted, and it seems the bounty hunters may not be needed after all.  However, the Falcon's pilot, Captain Han Solo, performs a daring maneuver, fooling the pursuing Imperials into thinking he has escaped into hyperspace.  In reality, the Falcon is attached to the hull of the star destroyer Avenger.  When the Avenger dumps its space trash, the Falcon drifts away unnoticed... except by Boba Fett, whose ship is also drifting in the stream of refuse (the Empire doesn't have a recycling program, apparently).

How did Fett see through Solo's ruse?  One answer is that he is simply cunning and clever.  At the same time, an argument could be made that once the Falcon was spotted, Vader figured he might not need the bounty hunters, and sent them to lunch to keep them on hand but out of the way.  It's Fett's first day on the job and he doesn't know where the nearest restaurant in this star system is, so he does what all temps do at one time or another:  he eats an un-microwaved burrito in his car, or in this case, his spaceship.  While he's reading a six-month old copy of Entertainment Weekly he found under the back seat, he glances up, and there's the Falcon.

At any rate, he tails the Falcon to Bespin, which is a lot like San Francisco, in that there's a lot of clouds and guys wearing capes.  Vader coerces Lando Calrissian, Bespin's facility administrator (his words, not mine) into luring Solo and his friends to a company luncheon, and easily disarms Solo by using "The Force", which is a mystical power (and, in this galaxy,  probably the title of more than a few aggressive marketing seminars).  Fett slinks into the lunchroom once things are safe.

While Solo is being tortured by what appears to be static electricity, Vader emerges from the torture room and informs Boba (Spanish for "stupid") that he may take Solo to Jabba the Hutt (who has placed the bounty on Solo's head), once Vader has Luke Skywalker, a rebel fighter who Vader is hoping to recruit to Empire, Inc.  Fett (German for "fat") expresses concern over Solo's torture, grumbling "He's no good to me dead."  Vader assures him Solo will not be killed, and Fett uncertainly trails Vader to an elevator, clearly in one of those "Am I supposed to keep following him?" situations that temps often find themselves in.  He eventually turns and leaves.

Vader is hoping to freeze Skywalker in carbonite, but he'd like to test it on Solo to make sure the freezing procedure really locks in freshness as the infomercials claim.  Fett whines about this:  "What if he doesn't survive?  He's worth a lot to me."  Fett is obviously living from paycheck to paycheck, and doesn't seem soothed by Vader's promise to compensate him should Solo die from freezer burn.

Chewbacca, a large hairy creature (and somewhat of a henchman himself) goes berserk and starts knocking down stormtroopers.  Fett raises his BlasTech EE-3 blaster rifle ($99.95, SpaceOffice Depot) to open fire, perhaps hoping to win some points by being proactive, but Vader slaps it away in annoyance.  While Solo calms his pet down, Fett can be seen casting a glance at Vader, as if to say "What was that about?"

Skywalker arrives while Fett and some guards are en route to Fett's ship (named Slave 1, by the way -- Fett, like many temps, obviously spends a lot of time harping about how people in his profession are nothing more than slave labor).  Fett fires a few shots at Skywalker, perhaps still upset he was denied the chance to aerate the wookie, but misses, and scampers away.

At his ship, he has the guards put the frozen Solo in the cargo hold, and takes off.  Solo's friends, now escaped from Imperial hands, fire a few shots, but Fett is gone, on his way to deliver his goods.  And get paid, no doubt.

Constructive Criticism:  Since Vader wanted Solo only to lure Skywalker, and Jabba the Hutt wanted Solo as a coffee table, Fett is essentially getting paid twice for the same bounty.  Still, it's not enough, for he opens his mouth primarily to bitch about money.  This, while annoying, is ultimately effective.  Just as the squeaky wheel gets the grease, the whiny temp gets the green, and Fett got it double.

Boba Fett was played by Jeremy Bulloch, and voiced by Jason Wingreen (uncredited).

Tomorrow:  Fett in Return of the Jedi!



3-20-01 - Lunk In An Elevator

About the only positive aspect of my current job is that since I work with a lot of editors, there's a chance one of them might have some publishing connections.  So, when I see one of them, I try to chat them up a bit and see if I can work the fact that I'm a writer into the conversation, which is tough, because generally the only time I see them is while I'm standing in their offices, getting chewed out over all the grammatical, spelling, and style errors I've made on my latest project.  It's probably not the best time to point out I'm a writer when someone is splashing red ink, Jackson Pollock-like, all over my writing.

So, talking to them in their offices is out.  There's always the hallways, although it's hard to casually mention that I'm a writer to someone briskly walking past me in the opposite direction.  It's like trying to hit on a jogger.

That leaves the elevators.

The elevators in the building are being worked on, so only one of them is functioning at a time, and it's slow, jerky, and filled with dust, despite the big, heavy, padded, industrial work blankets that line the walls of the compartment.  Since I work on the twelfth floor, I spend most of my breaks and lunch hours waiting for the elevator to arrive, as does everyone else, including the editors.

My big break finally comes when I spot an editor waiting for the elevator on the first floor.  I stand next to her and we start talking a bit, and she asks how long I've been a temp, where else I've worked, and if I'm in school (grrr).  Standard stuff.

The elevator arrives, and we get in.  She asks where I live, how I get to work each day, what I had for breakfast, my feelings about campaign finance reform, everything but THE QUESTION.  I'm worried because we're halfway to the twelfth floor now, and I'm running out of time.

Then:  "So, what do you do besides temping?"

Yes!  She asked!  The trap is bait!  The bait is set!  Something is something!

"Well, not much.  What with work and my long commute--"

At this point, it kind of registers in my head that the elevator seems to be getting darker.

"--and all, I don't have a lot of extra--"

It is getting darker.  Are the lights dimming?  Am I going blind?  Whatever, it's not important.

"-- time, but my real interest is--"

I find out why it's getting darker all of the sudden.  It's because one corner of the huge, thick, heavy, padded industrial work blanket has become unhooked from the top of the elevator wall, and is SLOWLY CURLING DOWN OVER MY HEAD.  Slowly, that is, until I notice it.  Then it pounces, falling on me completely.

As I struggle with this huge, dusty blanket, which has the thickness and mass of a queen-size mattress, I hear a ding!, and by the time I get the damn thing attached to the wall again, I'm covered with dirt, the editor has stepped out, and impatient people are streaming in.

Well, I missed my chance.

But at least I got to write about it.



3-19-01 - Missile:Improbable 

(New Diversions this week:  A lot of offices I work in don't install the games that come with Windows, like Solitaire & Minesweeper, and this always pisses me off.  So, I've linked to some applets that will allow you to play those games online.  Links are on the sidebar.  Also: to whichever reader challenged me to Roshambo Rampage last week:  Neener.  I won.)

Since I've started this whole Henchmen of the Week thing, I've been watching a lot of action movies.  Bad action movies.

I watched Mission:Impossible-2 the other day.  It's a relatively new movie, so I won't give anything away about it.  Well, that's not true, I'll give something away, that being this movie sucks.  The actual parts of the movie I'd like to talk about, however, take place before the opening credits, and don't give away any plot points (good thing, too, the movie has few to spare).

First, there's a scene featuring an elderly scientist who has some horrible knowledge about the fate of humankind.  He goes outside while contemplating this, and looks at some children playing Ring-Around-The-Rosie, and they go into slow motion, their playful laughter getting all distant and echoey.

This happens in movies a lot.  Generally, when someone in a movie wants to contemplate some horrible fate for humankind, they go outside and look at kids playing and laughing.  Because children are our future, I guess.  All I know is, if I ever want to contemplate some horrible fate of humankind, I'll have to settle for a slow motion scene of kids picking their noses or wailing like air-raid sirens or destroying public property while yelling "PIKACHU!  PIKACHU!", because that's all I ever see kids doing.

Also before the opening credits, we see Tom Cruise climbing some cliffs.  He's gone on vacation, but his bosses need to get him a message about his new mission, so a helicopter flies by and shoots a missile that sticks into the solid rock of the mountaintop.  Inside the missile are high-tech sunglasses that show Tom Cruise his mission.

Now, this raises a question.  The agency Tom Cruise works for has a missile designed to hold sunglasses and be shot into solid rock.  Okay.  I guess I can buy that.  Still...

Did they have to whip this invention up on the fly when they heard he was going rock-climbing?  The message itself states that they didn't know where Tom Cruise was going on vacation, which, considering the lengthy R&D time, months of testing, and patent paperwork necessary for such a device, leads me to believe they must have invented it sometime back in the 1980's, and have just been dying to use it ever since.

If so, how did they originally pitch the idea to their supervisors?  Didn't anyone frown over the gadget budget and say, "Ya know, guys, I just don't see this as being very cost effective.  I mean, how often are we going to need a missile that holds sunglasses and sticks into a mountain?"

And, every time they heard Tom Cruise was going on vacation, did they leave rock-climbing magazines and brochures on his desk, in hopes he'd go rock-climbing just so they could shoot their missile at him and justify their product?  

What if he went somewhere else on vacation?  What if he went to the beach?  Would the missile bury itself in about four feet of sand and have to be laboriously dug out by Tom Cruise?  That wouldn't be too glamorous.

What if he went scuba diving?

Would they fire it into a manatee?



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All material 2000 - 2001 by Christopher Livingston.  Yeah.  That'll hold up in court.