We have French doors in this house. We do not have Freedom doors. I do not put Freedom’s Mustard on my hot dogs. I do not want my legislators to rewrite the scripts of “Family Affair” so Sebastian Cabot’s butler character is named “Mr. Freedom.” What am I supposed to call my niece - someone who has dual American-Freedom citizenship? You like the sound of that distinction?

Holy temporarily satisfying empty symbolic gesture, Batman!

(mashing fist into palm, looking grim and resolute)

Watched part of “Return to the Batcave” last night, a witless piece of shite intended to grind any happy memory you have of the Batman show into the rusty grater of postmodernism. The pacing made continental drift look like the Tour de Freedo - sorry, the Tour de France. The jokes were not. Adam West appears to be utterly mad, and Burt Ward looks like he’s auditioning to play Orson Welles in an all-munchkin production of “The Paul Masson Years.” Frank Gorshin, bless his soul, resembles old fruit at the back of an office refrigerator. Why must every corpse be exhumed and reanimated? Batman happened 37 YEARS AGO. Robin is fifty-eight years old. The cruel trick of Nick at Night and the rest of the nostalgia channels is the way they spray clock-stopping fixative agents on the past, and make it seem contemporary; when you see the stars today, they look like people who reneged on their deal with the devil, and were aged half a century in the blink of an eye. The old stars who had the luck to be filmed in black and white will always be safe; they belong to an age that flourished before the retro-virus infected the culture. You can’t remake Casablanca. You can’t even try -

No, I’m wrong. Give the computer aces another decade, and they’ll give us Casablanca 2: Everyone Still Comes To Rick’s. But by then the distinctions between various eras will be lost, and the past will just be a sampler case of patterns, fonts, colors and postures. I’ll probably be spared a Miami Vice 2020 reunion movie with Crockett and Tubbs chasing the bad guys in golf carts. They’ll just pick the story up where they left off, and thanks to new Dynamic Skeletal-adhering Fabric Algorithms, Tubbs’ shiny suits will reflect the headlights and the wet pavement in a way Michael Mann could only dream about.

Directors are adept at reviving the look of the past, but they rarely seem to grasp what it felt like, how it breathed and moved. Tonight I converted a batch of .avis to .movs, and one of the sequences was a commercial for Lipton Tea, taken from an Arthur Godfrey show. It’s extemporaneous. It’s jovial. It’s interminable. You think Letterman invented the idea of dumping on his bosses? Godfrey sails off on a two-minute riff about the scarcity of chicken in Lipton’s chicken soup. “If you find any, tell us,” he says. He pokes the bowl with his spoon: here, chicky chicky chicky. It’s not what we expect from the REPRESSIVE 50s, but it’s exactly what people expected from Godfrey. The details we take for granted are often the ones that are forgotten, and hence when someone tries to reconstitute a time or a place they miss the things that made it unique. Sixty years from now someone will set a movie in 1996, and I can tell you this: there won’t be a free AOL signup CD anywhere in sight.

I’m playing Jedi Knight 3, and no, this will not be a stupid game review that makes all non-gamers hit the bookmarks to see what’s next in the daily prowl. I will say this - as a first-person shooter, it’s completely bloodless. You shoot a Stormtrooper three times in the leg and he screams and falls down dead. Jango Fett had a glass shin, it seems.

One of the levels requires you to get your Force Powers back; our hero relinquished his mojo, and must pass a series of trials. It’s a big training exercise, really, with all the running and jumping and F-key stabbing that entails, but it’s set in a vast temple complex devoted to the Force. What’s missing? Well, imagine a huge church without icons or stained glass or any sort of religious symbolism, and you have the First Church of Force, Redeemer. It’s an ancient temple built by long-gone Force worshippers, I gather, and it just reminds you what a curiously inert concept of spirituality lies at the heart of the Star Wars saga. The character is reminded to feel the Force, use the Force, trust the Force, call the Force before midnight tonight, and that’s fine; if your bloodstream teems with those midichloridians - the Star Wars version of the Holy Ghost - you might as well learn how to make them march in formation. But as you might expect, my adversary is a fellow who’s given into the Dark Side, and that means he’s bad.

Why? What’s bad about the Dark Side?

Yes yes I know: as Master Big-Ear Troll Doll put it, pain leads to fear, fear leads to anger, anger leads to suffering, suffering leads to psoriasis, etc. But I don’t see any evidence that those who turn to the Dark Side are unhappy in any way. Say what you will about Darth Vader, the man loved his work. Count Dookoo was a merry old soul, in a grimly amused way; the Emperor has the gloaty aura of someone who’s got the universe right where he wants it. He’s having a ball, right up until the moment he gets tossed down the convenient electrified shaft all SuperEvil rulers have installed in their offices. So why is the Dark Side dark?

Because it hurts other people!


It doesn’t hurt those who seem to splash it on like drugstore cologne. The darker you get, in fact, the more power you have to ensure that suffering befalls other people, not you. The lesson of the Force, pure and simple: look out for number one, and keep a sharp eye on number two. It’s just animism with the head of Manichean dualism grafted onto its shoulder. It has no morality. It has no lessons. Everyone gets a translucent afterlife. But you must feel it! Use it wisely! Let it flow through you! Bah: cosmic urine.

But that’s not my real complaint. In the level I just started, I walked into a bar in Nar Shaadaa. You can guess what music was playing: that bloody Cantina song. Ten thousand words, ten million bars: one tune on the jukebox.

At least it’s not “Sister Christian.”

Amazon Honor SystemClick Here to PayLearn More