Michael Rand started RandBall with hopes that he could convince the world to love jumpsuits as much as he does. So far, he's only succeeded in using the word "redacted" a lot. He welcomes suggestions, news tips, links of pure genius, and pictures of pets in Halloween costumes here, though he already knows he will regret that last part.
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So we had a really odd idea over the holidays -- something that we actually executed. Along with the RandBall Better Half, who conceived of this plan, we watched all six Star Wars movies (thanks to co-worker Kenny C for loaning us the films). Now, both of us went into this excursion with basic but rather limited Star Wars knowledge. Yes, the author of this blog had never seen -- or at least didn't remember seeing -- The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi or two of the three newer films. So we had a pretty clean slate when it comes to assessment.
We asked for guidance from the force (or Twitter) about whether to watch them in "release" order or "story" order -- i.e., watch the new ones or the old ones first. We ended up opting for story order, meaning we watched the newer releases (episodes 1-3) first.
And we watched all six between 11 a.m. on Christmas and 3 p.m. on the 26th. As such, here are your unofficial -- and CONTROVERSIAL, we imagine -- rankings of all six Star Wars movies. These are not straight-up reviews. We are going mostly on gut, enjoyment and movie-making prowess. OK, here we go, in ascending order (worst to best):
6. Star Wars, Episode 4 (aka the original Star Wars): Folks, sorry if you are nostalgic for this movie. But it is easily the worst of the six. Don't tell us Jar Jar Binks ruined this or that. This movie went nowhere, had awful dialogue and couldn't decide which characters it really wanted to develop.
5. Star Wars, Episode 1 (The Phantom Menace): OK, Jar Jar Binks is awful. There was way too much of him in this movie. The pod racing scene is outstanding. And young Anakin Skywalker is awesome. But much of it is convoluted. We can see why this was such a letdown for so many people.
4. Star Wars, Episode 2 (Attack of the Clones): Again, somewhat convoluted. Better fighting scenes. And still far more entertaining than the original Star Wars.
3. Star Wars, Episode 5 (The Empire Strikes Back): A very solid film, where the most dynamic character BY FAR in the entire series (Han Solo) starts to carry scenes.
2. Star Wars, Episode 3 (Revenge of the Sith): We had seen this one already, and seeing it again only confirmed that it is easily the best of the new releases and was in the serious running for best overall. It had the inherent advantage of tying up a lot of loose ends that led into the stories most people already knew, but it was executed very well.
1. Star Wars, Episode 6 (Return of the Jedi): The story was really hitting its stride, with the battle between the light and the dark side. This also has the best ending of all six movies.
Obviously this has nothing to do with sports, and we will soon return you to your regularly scheduled blog content. But, if you are interested, please offer thoughts in the comments.
Somewhere in the course of studying Jody's list of things to do when you can't think of things to do, we stumbled upon the original trailer for "Teen Wolf." Can someone please explain to us how the very next Michael J. Fox movie after "Back to the Future" was a comedy about a teen who turns into a wolf (and is suddenly awesome at basketball)?
Quotes to which you might pay particular attention:
"Give me ... a keg ... of beer."
"An explanation is probably long overdue."
"Did you change your hair?"
Folks, this was just 25 years ago. And now, pure 1980s comedy genius.
The Gophers opened up a new stadium. The Vikings trailed at halftime while rolling out their now-or-never QB. Barack Obama came to the Twin Cities, bringing out the best and worst of public discourse.
But the biggest personal drama of the weekend came Saturday night at Memory Lanes in Minneapolis. See, Friday and Saturday encompassed two days of Lebowski Fest here in our fair city. Friday night's main event was a screening of the movie at First Avenue, while Saturday was a bowling and costume party at Memory Lanes. As someone who enjoys the movie and loves events, we made a commitment months ago to both endeavors.
While the Friday night viewing was very solid, it was the Saturday experience that will live on in our memory. Arriving before doors openened (8 p.m.) in our freshly purchased beige/tan jumpsuit in an attempt to replicate at least the spirit, if not the complete identity, of Karl Hungus, we were ready to roll from the start.
True story: a long, long time ago (like from maybe ages 8-11) we were in a youth bowling league. Though we've never bowled competitively since, those formative years were crucial to us becoming an above-average recreational bowler. The tiny young mind and limbs were like little sponges for bowling knowledge. That said, on Saturday night we would be bowling in a ridiculous jumpsuit, intermittently stuffing our fingers toward three holes in the first ball we picked up, a delicious club sandwich and a couple of the Dude's favorite beverages. If that doesn't sound like a recipe for bowling success, well, you are correct. But it all worked out. Game 1 we rolled a reasonable score. Something around 160, though we left plenty of opportunities out there. We had the trademark flail working. The lane seemed to be giving up stikes like Eric Gregg to Livan Hernandez in Game 5 of the NLCS (not that we're still bitter).
Game 2 started with a thud -- a six on the first ball and a missed spare. An open frame is hardly the way to vault toward success. But quietly we started a run of strong play. Strike here, spare there, strike-strike there, and suddenly we were in business. We had heard rumors that there were rewards for strong bowling at this event, but it didn't really register. We like to think of strong bowling as its own reward. Anyway, the 10th frame arrived and we left two pesky pins on the far right despite a delightful first ball (more on that later). We made the spare and tacked on a 7 to the end of the frame, leaving us tantalizingly close to the magic 200 barrier but still in the clubhouse with a very nice 199.
The magic faded fast in Game 3, but by the middle of Game 4 they announced there were only 5 minutes left in the bowling contest. When time was up, it was announced that the winner rolled a 213 -- well-played, sir. But there was a tie for second and third -- at 199! -- and there was to be a roll-off to see who took what place. Guess you could say we rolled our way into the semis, in a manner of speaking. We headed over to a special lane. The rules were simple: one ball, best score wins, repeat if there is a tie. Our competitor, as you can see in the background of the picture, was dressed as "3,000 years of beautiful tradition, from Moses to Sandy Koufax," which is simply an outstanding costume. We would show you the tablets he brought with Lebowski-based commandments, but some of them just aren't appropriate. There were too many great costumes to name them all, in fact. The best might have been the "Maude" wearing a tattered green bathrobe with a nude-colored body suit underneath. Or the two sets of three who dressed as Autobahn.
In any event, History Man wins the coin flip, rolls first and scores a 9 on his ball. So there is little margin for error, but there is also a sweet reward out there. We pick up our ball and hurl it with full force. It nestles perfectly into the Brooklyn-side pocket, where we've been doing plenty of damage all night. Ah, but this is a differently lane. What might have been a fairly routine strike over on Lane 17 -- like Lonnie Smith scoring routinely on a double to the gap in 1991, not that we're still bitter -- instead left those two [redacted] pins on the right side again.
And so, much like many of those dominant Atlanta Braves teams, we were left to collect a lesser trophy than we had hoped for (not that we're still bitter). In contrast, however, we were still elated. After everything was over, we sat at a table by ourself for 15 minutes drinking water and looking at the beautiful trophy that says "Lebowski Fest Minneapolis 2009 -- Third Place Bowling."
That is how on a weekend during which the Gophers opened TCF Bank Stadium, during which we saw the President deliver a speech and during which we watched the Vikings start their march to Miami, the overriding memory is a cheap plastic trophy from a bowling/costume party celebrating a decade-old movie.
We're pretty sure the Dude abides.