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Soup of This Day #76: In A Galaxy Far Far Away

September 27, 2011

SpaceX's Falcon rocket
The SpaceX Falcon rocket. Named for the Millenium Falcon, which it kinda resembles after some digital touch-ups. Like adding eyebrows – Photo: SpaceX, 2008. SpaceX is not affiliated with Longworth72. Image cropped by Longworth72.

Sebastian Shaw was an English actor. He started his cinematic career in the 30s, gaining a following largely due to his matinee looks. His career was interrupted by war service with the RAF, during which he was shielded from combat and had to fend off autograph hunting comrades. After the war he matured as an actor, becoming an accomplished stage thespian.

In 1982, with his career well into it’s twilight, the 76 year old was contracted to do a couple of scenes in a film. Showing up on set he was recognized by a fellow actor who asked what he was doing there. Shaw replied:

‘I don’t know, dear boy, I think it’s something to do with science-fiction.’

It was a little to do with science-fiction.

Shaw was playing the dying Anakin Skywalker in Return of the Jedi. He was required to speak just 24 words of dialogue, all of it during the scene when Darth Vader is unmasked. Apart from his onscreen death, Shaw returned for the final scene of the trilogy, appearing as 1 of 3 happy ghosts, bopping to the rhythm of triumphant Ewok music.

At least he did in the original.

When George Lucas released the DVDs of the 3 films in 2004, Shaw was absent from the final scene, replaced by Hayden Christensen.

Or a block of wood. It’s honestly hard to tell with Hayden.

Christensen had played a young Anakin in the prequel movies, Episodes 2 and 3.

Or a block of wood had. Maybe oak or possibly cedar.

That was not all. Lucas had Shaw’s eye colour digitally adjusted during the unmasking scene, so as to better reflect the colour of a block of wood. Or Hayden Christensen’s eyes. In addition, Anakin Skywalker carelessly loses his eyebrows in 1 of the prequels so Lucas had them removed from Shaw’s face.

Digitally removed. Let’s be clear about that – Lucas doesn’t appear to have gone after Shaw’s actual eyebrows.

As it happens he couldn’t have anyway as Shaw himself had followed Lord Vader on to a higher calling 2 days shy of Christmas, 1994. He was 89 at the time of his death and I’d like to believe they rolled his coffin on to a Imperial Shuttle for a trip to the forest moon of Endor.

I guess I should come clean a little here – I grew up with Star Wars. And to clarify, that means I grew up with the original 3 movies. None of that prequel garbage for me. In fact, I’ll stipulate for the record right now that there were only 3 Star Wars films. Ever.

We had a host of the figurines, some of whom we launched off the roof with homemade parachutes, meaning that there are slightly less figurines left now. I saw The Empire Strikes Back and Return Of The Jedi in the cinema and most importantly those 3 movies were the only 1s that my brother and I could break curfew for. Yep, if they were on TV then we invoked the sacred and hard-won concession that dictated that we could stay up to whenever to watch them. Regardless of how many times we had already seen them.

We did see them a lot. And this is the key part: We saw them in their original form – as they were upon cinematic debut. The movies were of a time and a place and man were they special.

Which personally makes it disappointing that George Lucas has spent a fair chunk of effort replacing those originals with his edited versions. He’s added scenes, altered dialogue, replaced actors and changed music. Mostly because the films he made in the late 70’s and early 80’s are apparently not what he wanted to make at the time. So now we have Luke Skywalker only kissing his sister in a platonic way, we have Greedo shooting 1st (and missing in a way that suggests he wasn’t great at the whole galactic bounty hunter gig anyway) and we have Sebastian Shaw replaced in the final scene by a lump of redwood Hayden Christensen.

Seriously, it’s hard to tell.

Anyway, even though it’s a fantasy movie series this does feel a bit like a re-write of history. Would that the Sox could do that with the month of September 2011.

The Red Sox have been truly awful this past month. They started it 1.5 games clear of the Yankees and 9 clear of the Rays. 23 days later, heading in to the penultimate series of the regular season, against the Yankees, they were 8 games adrift of New York and a scant 2.5 clear of the Rays for the wildcard slot.

On Saturday it got worse. The Sox dropped Game 1 against the Yankees in New York while the Rays cleaned up the Jays. The Angels too were a part of this fight as they beat the A’s and closed to 2.5 back.

I’ve glossed over things a little there. The Sox didn’t drop the game. Dropping it implies that at some point they had hands on it when, in reality, they weren’t even in the same timezone.

John Lester had the start and he was ok early, i.e. In the 1st. In the 2nd he collapsed like a Tauntaun stuck in a Hoth blizzard after dark. When he was pulled 1.2 innings later he’d already gifted the Yankees 8 runs. The Sox pulled just the 1 of those back in the 7th but by then the Yankees were cruising and they eased it out 9-1. Tellingly, the Sox matched them for hits, 9 apiece, but couldn’t match up on efficiency.

And so on to a Sunday doubleheader and a brutal potential scenario – Get swept by the Yankees and watch the Rays beat the Jays and the 2 outfits would be level with 3 to play. Time to lay it all out, to leave nothing behind, to stand up, to fight.

Only that time was weeks ago and the Sox have been unable to provide much by way of manning the barricades since. In Game 2 on Sunday afternoon they again failed to fire. Making possibly his last Sox start God’s Favourite Knuckleballer had given up 4 across the 1st 3 before the Sox bats could reply. Or Sox bat, singular, as the only reply came from a Jacoby Ellsbury solo shot, his 29th of the season moving him within 1 of becoming the 1st ever 30/30 player in Boston history. He didn’t have long to wait to make the mark, belting his next at bat over the fence for his 2nd solo shot of the day. Sadly, that was it for a tepid Sox outfit, Ellsbury’s lone stand netting both Sox runs in a 6-2 loss. The Empire had blown up Alderaan and were heading for the secret Rebel base on Yavin IV.

To make matters worse the Rays beat the Jays and suddenly it was looking like a wildcard tie. Step up John Lackey. Red 6 (Porkins) as I’d like to call him from now on in.

Be honest, there is a likeness there. And the unwillingness to leave before blowing up – That’s definitely Lackey-esque.

Red 6 started shaky and the Sox were down 3-0 after the 1st, but thereafter he was ok. A Drew RBI single in the 5th pulled 1 back. In the 6th a Gonzalez grounder made it 3-2. In the 7th A Scutaro RBI double and a Varitek RBI single gave the Sox the lead 4-3.

Then in the bottom of the 7th, came a bemusing call from the Sox bench. Red 6 was pulled after allowing 1 on. Yeah I know it sounds strange to call that bemusing given Porkins ability to blow up but see, Red 6 was pitching well this outing. Aceves by contrast has been flat of late and as it turned out he couldn’t get the Sox out of the innings unscathed, giving up the 1 run that somewhat unfairly was tagged to Red 6. So it was 4-4 after 7 and this was fertile ground for the Sox pen – The collapse was surely on the way.

Only it didn’t happen in the 8th, with Bard keeping the Empire quiet. It didn’t happen in the 9th either as Bard handed the ball to Papelbon with bases loaded and 2 out. Papelbon struck out Romine swinging. In the 10th Papelbon struck out 2 more and retired another via a simple pop out. Then in the 11th he just kept going, striking out, flying out and grounding out in that order.

For the 12th Morales gave up a leadoff single but then burnt through 3 outs in quick fashion. In the 13th he let Cano get to 3rd but then extracted the Sox without loss.

And so to the 14th. The Sox were running out of pitching options and the Death Star was slowly bringing it’s weaponry to bear on Boston’s post-season.

Then, with 2 wingmen shielding him from the pursuing Tie Fighters a young Jedi, Jacoby Ellsbury, strong in the ways of baseball stepped up to the plate. Switching off his targeting computer he took a 1-0 fastball and torpedoed it into the exhaust outlet bullpen. It was 7-4 and the surviving Sox raced for Baltimore as Doubront closed it out and the Deathstar exploded.

Yep, the Sox with a 1 game lead going into the last 3 and a new hope was born. Even better, the Empire would surely strike back and since they were playing the Rays across the last 3 this would be good for the Sox. By then Clay Buchholz might be out of the protective carbonite encasing, the young Jedi Ellsbury will hopefully return and the Sox maybe, just maybe can take the fight on to a dramatic final conclusion.

With Ewoks.

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