Flashback 1978: “Star Wars” Invades TV

Just because Wookiee Life Day has come and gone, doesn’t mean there isn’t more to learn about its beginnings in the Star Wars Holiday Special. ~ Darran

“Star Wars” Invades TV (Originally printed in StarLog Magazine No. 19: Feb 1979)

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   A behind-the-scenes look at the CBS Star Wars TV special, a star-studded affair that broke all the rules regarding the dos and don’ts of television.

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Star Wars: Celebrate Wookiee Life Day: 17, November

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Back in 2007 I added Ben to the cast photo… just because 😉 The Holiday Special: Special Edition, if you will.

cantina_denizens_6-1088x816-436321435263   A long time ago, on TVs far, far away, a great adventure took place. It was November 17th in 1978, well over a year after Star Wars was released as a rave success. I was eight years old and, like the rest of the nation (perhaps the world), was STARVING for more Star Wars. The Force was strong with me and it awakened something new in my life. It was the true blossoming of my Geekness.

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How Did You Spend Life Day?

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   While most of the world, and even geekdom, just spends November 17th like it would any other day, I enjoy the gift of Star Wars. The magic and wonder that was instilled in me back in May of 1977 hasn’t faded. There are many dates that we can celebrate the galaxy, far, far away, and I do celebrate the 4th of May along with the anniversaries. It is silly? Sure. Is made up foolishness? Yep, but so is EVERYTHING else that doesn’t involve natural means (sleep, eat, etc…). I don’t apologize for enjoying what I enjoy and how I choose to enjoy it. Star Wars is something I celebrate every day, but it gets special focus on certain days of the year. November 17th is one of those days.

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   Did I watch the Holiday Special? No, I just didn’t have enough time. My day included listening to some awesome podcasts, a great Taco Tuesday at work, spending time with my family (my lovely wife, little dog, bird & rabbit) and sharing my love of Star Wars. How did you spend Life Day?

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   We are less than one month out of the continuation of the saga. Are you ready for The Force Awakens? Yet another cause to celebrate 😉

This Week’s Geek Movie at the Quantum Cave, “Captain America” (1979)

Cap on the Small Screen   I don’t have much to say about this one. Nostalgia is a hell of a thing. This isn’t influenced by heady memories from a halcyon age, but I like it. It’s not a great movie. It’s not even a good movie. What it is is a snapshot of a bygone age and it takes me back, way back. Reb Brown did a good job, as good as he could, and all in all it’s entertaining.

   Here is the plot from Wikipedia. I would re-write one but this is all you need to know:

c4cdf6d753ac1a1037dbb0d5adbc9bcf   Steve Rogers is a character in contemporary times whose father was a 1940s government agent. The very patriotic attitude of Steve’s father earned him the nickname Captain America, and his father is spoken of as having been murdered. Rogers, a former Marine now making what little living he makes as an artist, is inspired by this story to sketch a super-hero. After receiving potentially fatal injuries in an accident, he is administered an experimental chemical called the FLAGFull Latent Ability Gain — formula (at one point referred to as a “super-steroid”) which not only saves his life but also enhances his body with heightened strength and reflexes. These new abilities lead Dr. Simon Mills (Len Birman), the research biochemist and intelligence official who had told Rogers about his father, to recruit him and give Steve a costume based on his drawing. As Captain America, he also makes significant use of a specialized reconstruction of the van he has been driving, out the rear of which can be launched a modified motorcycle. Its functions include a rocket thrust for a fast start out of the van, a jet boost for increased speed, a setting to allow the bike to be ridden with less noise for stealthier movement and a hang glider structure which can allow the bike to glide to the ground with some forward momentum, although it must be jettisoned upon landing.

Cult Movie Essentials: The Kung Fu Classic, Invincible Shaolin (1978)

61vsgjqompL._SY606_   This one has to be in my top 5 of all time Kung Fu Flicks! It is also known as “Unbeatable Dragon”. The word Dragon had to be in just about every American release of a Martial Arts movie to have any traction or gravitas. When I moved to Reno, NV, in 1987 I found a teacher that was teaching Wing Chun Kuen (Ip Man > Leung Sheung > Kenneth Chung system) Kung Fu. After my first lesson I thought that it seemed very familiar as I sat in my car. I raced home and popped this movie into my VCR and I was right! The son of the Southern Shaolin school’s teacher (Sifu) was taught the exact style that I was learning. By this time I was already familiar with the movie for about 6 years. It gave my real life a connection with a fun, stylised, fantasy. It has been almost 30 years since that first lesson, not my first or last art to be learned, I now teach and I still watch this cult classic!

CULT FACTION

Invincible Shaolin is the second proper Venoms movie, following on from Five Venoms.  Legendary director Chang Cheh returns to explore how the Ching Governments attempts to stamp out the influence of the Shaolin – a theme he also explored in Heroes Two.

The plot involves an evil Qing general (Wong Lung Wei) who comes up with a brilliant plan to rid the Qing Empire once and for all of the Shaolin masters. He invites three Northern Shaolin experts to his mansion and has them fight the in a contest against three novice Southern Shaolin men already present at his mansion. By royal decree, Shaolin was required to supply experts to teach the Qing troops martial arts.

The Northern Shaolin experts easily and decisively win against the South Shaolin men. After the contest, the general visits the South Shaolin men in their quarters later that night and secretly kills…

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