Saturday, March 20, 2010

Han Shot First: A College Essay

I was just going through old college essays and came across one I was and still am particularly fond of. This was one in a series of essays you had to read out loud for this class. I got an A or a B and a bunch of confused looks on this one. Enjoy.

Jason Duarte
ENG 3001

Straight up, a few of you had to have seen the remade Star Wars trilogy that was released in 1997. Or as I like to call them, the children that George Lucas raised and unknowingly molested.

First off, the inserted CGI technology was unnecessary and pretty pointless, if you ask me. Most notably among the remakes, I would like to address a scene in Episode IV, where Greedo, a bounty hunter, tracks Han Solo at a bar, with intentions of killing him.

Now, the story behind this incident is, Han Solo and his companion, Chewbacca, were on their way to drop off a shipment (an illicit narcotic, called “spice”) to Jabba the Hutt, but ditched it when the millennium falcon was boarded and searched by Imperial troops. Greedo travels to the spaceport of Mos Eisley on Tattooine (Luke Skywalker’s home planet) in search of Han Solo, so he can capture him and bring him to Jabba for a lot of reward money. This is the spot where Han and Chewy are currently hiding, looking to gather passengers to enter the depths of the empire. Having said he simply lost the shipment made no difference to Jabba, putting Han in a pretty sticky situation, and that is why there’s a bounty out for Han and Chewy. And as Han and Chewy are doing business with Obi Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker on Tattooine, Greedo forth goes to claim his bounty.

There, now that the setting is in place, Greedo finds Han in a bar on Tattooine. As Solo gets up to leave the bar, Greedo runs into him, with his blaster point blank at Solo's chest. “Going somewhere, Solo?” Greedo asks. “Why yes, Greedo, I was just going to see your boss (Jabba),” replies Solo. Greedo forces Han to sit at a table, while Han is basically trying to cover himself by telling Greedo that he has Jabba’s money and that he was just on his way to give it to him. Greedo replies, “It’s too late. You should’ve paid him while you had the chance.” He then tells Solo that there is such a large price on Han’s head that every bounty hunter in the galaxy will be after him.

So now, to put Solo in an even more uncomfortable situation, he tells Solo how lucky he is that he found him first. Solo replies, “Yeah, well this time, I’ve got the money,” again, trying to get out of basically being killed. Greedo tries to swindle it out of Han, telling him that if he gives Jabba’s money to Greedo, Greedo will forget he ever ran into him. So, nervous, Han tells him that he doesn’t have it with him, and begins to reach for his blaster, as things are getting pretty heated at this point. Greedo is getting pissed off, blaster still pointed at Solo’s chest, and replies, “Jabba’s through with you. He has no time for smugglers who drop their shipments at the first sight of an Imperial cruiser.” So, Han tells him that he didn’t have a choice, that he was searched, where Greedo replies, “Tell it to Jabba. He may only take your ship,” referring to that over his life. So of course, Han gets defensive and says, “Over my dead body.” Greedo tells him he’s been looking forward to it for a long time.

Now, at this precise moment, is what I want to look at. In the original 1977 version of Episode IV, Han, with his hand on his blaster under the table, straight up shoots Greedo right there on the spot, killing him. Then, with no remorse, gets up and smoothly tips the bartender, apologizing for “the mess” on his way out. Now, Han Solo has amazing survival skills. He doesn't look for trouble, but it’s his deciding of what’s right and what is wrong in life or death situations that only further him on the downward spiral. His decisions are basic acts of human survival. Greedo’s new to the bounty hunting game, overly eager to get his reward money, and it’s his lack of carefulness that brings him to his eventual fate. So, fast forward 20 years to 1997, where we have our first remake of the Star Wars trilogy. Before that Episode 1-3 bullshit, which is a 10-page paper in itself. As Lucas was toying around with his stupid CGI effects in the movie, he changed this scene, as he thought it was too “cold-blooded” of Han to shoot Greedo in, well, cold blood and changed it for “kids.” Han was a good guy, and good guys don’t shoot first, according to Lucas. So in the new scene, Greedo shoots first, TWO FEET AWAY FROM HAN, and misses him, hitting the wall. Han, hand still on his blaster, then shoots Greedo in “self defense,” and the scene continues as normal with him walking out.

This is quite possibly the dumbest idea George Lucas has ever come up with next to making Episodes 1-3. Shooting Greedo before Greedo shot him doesn’t make Han cold, it makes him cool. Han Solo is a bad ass, and the pussification of his character hurts the movie, Han’s character and my ability to think logically, because in the end, HAN STILL KILLS GREEDO. Okay. To give Lucas some credit, fine. Children shouldn’t be exposed to such brutality, because maybe they’ll be lead astray when they see a good guy killing someone without any bullets flying at them first. Or as Episode IV would have it, lasers. But what’s ridiculous about changing this scene is that fact that even after pretending he cares about children, he goes and shoots a scene in Episode III where Anakin Skywalker decapitates Count Dooku with two lightsabers because the evil Senator Palpatine told him to. Now, if you ask me, decapitation is more graphic and wrong to a child’s eyes than Han shooting a bad guy before the bad guy shoots him. I was only 11 when I saw the remakes in theaters, but had already grown up on the trilogy. So this was before I fully understood the why aspect of Lucas’ changing the scenes. But at this time, fans were up in arms about this, upset about the scene change, and so to butter up an attempt to make it up to his fans, Lucas occasionally wears a t-shirt that reads, “Han Shot First.” It’s an awesome t-shirt, but it’s a lame attempt at making up for something you completely ruined.

But, the die hard fans got what they wanted before the blasphemy took place. In 1995, the original trilogy was re-released THX re-mastered and adapted from laserdisc. The whole “Greedo shooting first” thing was ridiculous and a huge mistake, made by Lucas. In what he claims was an attempt to make Han’s character better and more sensitive was the worst mistake in cinematography next to casting Paris Hilton as an actress. Actually, no, scratch that. Fans of hers actually want to see her on the big screen. The whole thing was just dumb. Even a storm trooper could have hit Han from the distance Greedo was sitting from him. Jesus Christ, even the editing was bad in that scene. When Greedo fires his shot at Han, Han’s head literally is cropped off and jerks to his right, and then reattaches to his body. It isn’t as bad as it sounds, and is only for a split second, but it is pretty bad. Lucas clearly gave this no time, thought or effort. So that being said and off my chest, great movies like the Star Wars trilogy should be controlled by the fans, because it is their hearts in which this masterpiece of a movie lays, not Lucas’. Let’s just put it this way, if someone came and edited the Bible, making Jesus a bad guy, or changing who killed him, wouldn’t you be pissed too?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Structure and Dysfunction

I figured something out this morning as I was driving to work watching a cop pull someone over. Peace is ultimately unreachable, at least in society. I've always wondered why the cops in my town are jerks but then I thought, maybe we are such good law-abiding citizens that they need to be jerks in order to get revenue (ex: putting up red light cameras, standing on ladders behind structures with binoculars and radioing to your cop friends that so and so isn't wearing a seat belt, etc...)

There's really not that much crime in my town or anything and it's mostly pretty quiet. Anyways, on the greater scale, I was thinking about the whole achieving peace in society ideal and came to the conclusion that even if we as people finally reach that point where a lot more things are self-sufficient and harmonized, the cops would just screw it all up and find unnecessary means to get money by pulling people over, making more things illegal, putting cameras in front of your house, etc...We all know state funding is down so they probably aren't getting much money (or as much as they'd like) that way. Communism looks really good on paper but isn't there a system is applicable and works? If people were more compassionate and less malicious and self-serving (fault of capitalism?), I think it would be a start. What an unrealistic world we live in with an unrealistic standard of living. Is it that hard to just be kind instead of greedy? Materialism is poisonous anyway (says the pack rat/collector nerd). One of these days, I'd like to just let everything go. What a relief that would be. One of these days. You know, when you die, you don't take anything with you. No possessions would be kinda nice though. No anchors. Boredom, maybe. But no anchors. I need to get to work.

All that importance is simply plastic and metal pieces.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Beat Army Wants...YOU!

The brainchild of Mr. Paul Collins (The Nerves/The Beat/Paul Collins Beat, etc...) and I has finally gone live. The Beat Army is growing at a wild rate and I don't think it can be stopped!
What's The Beat Army?

The purpose of The Beat Army is to establish a network of people connected by their love of power pop, punk pop, new wave and rock 'n' roll to help ensure its success at the club level, where rock 'n' roll lives and breathes.

Straight from Paul Collins:

Hello, friends and fans of power pop, classic pop punk, and rock ‘n’ roll! After playing power pop for more than three decades, I feel I have earned the right to ask you to help me and other musicians like me to keep this form of music alive and well.

Therefore, I am taking matters into my own hands and forming THE BEAT ARMY.

When I began playing power pop at age 17, people were telling me rock ‘n’ roll was dead! Three decades later, rock ‘n’ roll is still alive and well. I have witnessed the hysteria over home taping, the advent of the CD, the evolution of quadraphonic to surround sound, sales milestones raised from platinum to triple platinum to quadruple platinum, but nothing’s had more impact than the Internet and all it has meant to our modern life.

Things change and things stay the same, it’s still a thrill to kiss a girl and it’s still damn hard to write a good pop song.

I am committed to continue playing my music for as long as I can. Since there are other like-minded musicians I can perform with like Gentlemen Jesse and his Men out of Atlanta, The Leftovers out of Portland, Deborah Iyall from Romeo Void, John Wicks from The Records and Penelope Houston from The Avengers, as well as new groups that are only just starting out, I see no reason why this can’t happen.

What we need is a network of people who will come out and support our shows and make sure that their friends will come too. This can be achieved easier now more than ever, thanks to the Internet.

With your active support, ticket prices can be lowered while allowing bands to make enough money to continue touring and keep making records, therein preserving this music that we all love - power pop! Furthermore, this gives us a chance to introduce our sounds to new generations of music-lovers who might form their own bands, thereby continuing the power pop tradition for decades to come.

If you share my feelings about this music and want it to endure, then join me and help build THE BEAT ARMY!

Keep on rocking in 2010!

Beat Commander Collins!

If you play in a band and are interested in joining the network, check this out:


Greetings, Power Poppers! I have an offer to propose that I know will work because I have already done it!

Here’s the deal: I need you and your band to help me with my next tour. In return, you’ll benefit from the proceeds, have a great time and become part of a network of power pop/rock ‘n’ roll bands working to help each other and keep the spirit of power pop alive.

You can make this happen by booking shows for us in your area at the cool clubs where you have already played so we can get decent terms and make handshake deals. No fuss - no muss - no agents - no managers.

Furthermore, my guitarist Eric Blakely and I will need a rhythm section. By partnering with your band, we would stay with you for a couple of days to rehearse with your bass player and drummer, who will complete the Paul Collins Beat for the shows you book for us. We are also asking to use two of your amps.

So what’s your return on investment? After taking all the expenses off the top - our airfare (Eric works for United Airlines, so we get a break on that), gas, food, etc... - we split the rest evenly.

My merch is mine and your merch is yours.

We have done this before and everyone has come out with money. More importantly, everyone has a good time. We have played in front of many enthusiastic crowds, who make it all worthwhile!

Now I’m recruiting bands who I can say are in so that THE BEAT ARMY has its core group of musicians for building our power pop/rock ‘n’ roll network. If you like the idea or have questions please send me an email with THE BEAT ARMY in the subject and include this info:

Your name:
Your band’s name:
The number of musicians in your band:
A few of the clubs you play in your area:
Gear you can share:
Transportation options:

Anyone like myself interested in networking and spreading the word, check this out:


Hello, everybody. Beat Commander Collins here. I have called all of you together to help spread the sounds of power pop, vintage pop punk, new wave, and rock ‘n’ roll.

As one of power pop's founding members with The Nerves and The Beat, I am doing all I can to keep this music alive. I recently did a Midwest/East Coast tour with Atlanta’s Gentlemen Jesse and His Men. We played 13 nights and had sellout shows in major markets, ending with a fantastic show at Maxwell's in Hoboken. How did we do this? By getting the word out through the Internet.

Now I'm going one step beyond, setting up an online BEAT ARMY to help propagate power pop music.

On March 28th, I will begin recording a new album with Jim Diamond at his Detroit Ghetto Records studio for Alive/Bomp! Records. Next is a club tour that will bring us to every nook and cranny in this country. Musicians from all over the USA have joined forces with us to make this one of the best tours ever. The thrill I get from connecting with these musicians and you fans is fantastic. It gives me a renewed faith in rock ‘n’ roll!

JOIN US! Help us spread the word. Make each show an event. Bring your friends and family and your cats and dogs. Help us create a party to celebrate this wonderful world of POWER POP!

How can you help? Join THE BEAT ARMY. Sign up by e-mailing us the following info with BEAT ARMY in the subject to Include:

Your name:
Your location:
Skills you can offer:
Names of your favorite bands/performers:
Your favorite clubs:

Also, check us out on Facebook!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Alkaline Trio set list (2.28.2010) @ Metro Chicago, IL

Photos taken by Andy Keil:

It's always a pleasure to see Alkaline Trio rock the Metro. Never does my voice get more exhausted.
"I wonder what the set list was," you think to yourself, as you're sitting at your computer?

Set list:
This Addiction
Dine, Dine My Darling (Matt Skiba's favorite track off the new album)
We've Had Enough
Mr. Chainsaw
Dead On the Floor
Fatally Yours
Crawl (Which then turned into "Paul," by the Smoking Popes at the end)
Stupid Kid
Snake Oil Tanker
Blue Carolina
Private Eye
100 Stories
My Friend Peter
Attitude (By The Misfits, duh!)
San Fransisco

I had to change my jeans after I got home cause they were saturated in protein.