November 15, 2010 § 6 Comments
Behind every great cultural event, there is an equally great internet conspiracy theory. I think we can all agree on that. I think we can also all agree that I am a nerd. Unfortunately I’m about to inflict the strongest type of nerd-thinking on you, helpless readers: the power of the conspiracy theory that only a nerd would invent. Indeed, this post is about two very different cultural phenomena: Harry Potter and Star Wars. But are they that different? Or are they, in fact, eerily similar?? I present, for your entertainment and edification, my completely original and totally serious 5 point conspiracy theory on why Harry Potter is essentially Star Wars for people who hate guns and love glasses. (Does anyone in Star Wars wear glasses? Anyone at all?)
Point 1. Tom Riddle & Anakin are both incredibly gifted children. They are also without fathers. Anakin’s mother claims that there was no father for Anakin, while Tom’s Muggle father is completely detached from his son’s life. These two strangely talented children are fostered from a young age with the best of the best in their magical worlds. Tom resides at Hogwarts, under the keen eye of Albus Dumbledore, and Anakin is being trained as a Padawan by Obi-Wan Kenobi. However, neither of these two kiddos can stick to the straight and narrow. Anakin’s a whiner who can’t suppress the slightest bit of emotion. He makes Fall Out Boy sound like a bunch of stoic Marines. And Tom Riddle gets the giggles at the sight of anyone in excruciating agony. They both end up becoming quite the accomplished killers and decide they need to get rid of their garbage normal names and rig themselves out with a fancy new moniker. Anakin becomes Darth Vader, a name that, funnily enough, means huge emo crybaby in Tuskan. Tom Riddle dons a dark robe and the sinister name Lord Voldemort, of which the only anagram I can puzzle out is Lord Dolt Mover.
Point 2. Anakin and Lord Voldemort suffer an unusually similar fate. Anakin is having crazy emo dreams about his beloved Padme dying in childbirth, and Voldemort just heard this random prophecy about a baby boy who can kill him. Both of these jerks have no qualms about murdering children.
Anakin sells himself to the Dark Side in order to keep his babies from killing his sweetheart, but of course selling yourself to the Dark Side never pans out. He ends up in a very believable fight with Obi-Wan that involves light-sabers, flowing lava rivers, huge chunks of rocks splashing into the flowing lava rivers, buildings collapsing, a lava waterfall, and a planet being destroyed. Obi-Wan schools Anakin in the Jedi art of pain by cutting off his legs and arm. All Anakin can muster up for this torment is an anguished squeal of “I hate you!” I can almost cut him some slack for this lame reply because he’s being incinerated into a pulpy mess of flesh and baldness, but then… He doesn’t die!
Meanwhile, Voldemort is also tackling some foes. He tracks down Lily and James Potter and their baby boy Harry, chuckles a “high, cold laugh” (a detail mentioned in the books every third chapter) and attempts to kill them. However, love, the power that Anakin makes too much of and Voldemort not enough, is here to save the day. Lily gives her own life in order to save Harry and her heroic maternal action causes Voldy’s Killing Curse to rebound on himself. Suddenly, he’s the one squealing like a wand-stuck pig and he crawls off to Albania (who goes to Albania!??) to: A. pout and B. recover the shattered pieces of his despicable soul. (Apparently, his nose was the one piece of his soul he never quite managed to find.) He doesn’t die, either!
Point 3. Let’s move on to the next generation of Potter and Star Wars characters. Harry Potter and Luke Skywalker are both given to their respective aunt & uncle in the aftermath of their parents’ deaths/robotic transformation. They both grow up completely unaware of their remarkable history. They lead boring and pathetic lives and no one expects great things from them at all. (No one… or everyone who has a brain?)
Turns out Luke and Harry both do have important stuff to get done in their lives! Luke discovers Obi-Wan hiding out in the desert and begins training in the Force with him. Harry heads off to Hogwarts, where Dumbledore’s speeches alternate between random words and the wisest things ever said by a non-centaur. They both discover this deep, mysteeeeerious connection within themselves to the baddest villains in their neighborhood. Luke can sense when Vader’s around. Harry channels Voldemort on a regular basis. They both have this connection because a part of their evil foes lives within them. In Luke’s case, it’s coming straight from his DNA, and Harry’s got that piece of Voldemort’s soul clinging to his own like a remora. (I bet that’s the nose piece! Omg that’s where his nose went!)
Luke and Harry also manage to be trained by absolute masters of their respective arts, the same ones who trained the bad guys. However in this go-round, both of the mentors die in order that their students might live. (Luke’s training then passes on to Yoda, which is utter nonsense. It’s such cheating to have your mentor die and then boom, there’s another one waiting in the wings for you and he’s even better than the first.)
Point 4. A few more details: Luke’s got the wise-cracking ladies man Han Solo as his best bud, and Harry pals around with the goofball Ron Weasley. Hagrid and Chewbacca are both gentle giants who can rip your arms off in the blink of an eye, and they basically speak the same language. Harry and Luke each have a really close, attractive, female friend who is like/actually their sister. Droids <=> house elves. They serve humans, can do intelligent/magical things humans can’t, have emotions, and put themselves at risk all the time for their owners. The Rancor that Luke has to kill is the Heir of Slytherin basilisk. Think on it: Luke goes to Jabba’s lair to rescue Leia and Han, and Harry’s gotta make it to the cavern to save Ginny. They meet a terrible creature and slay it with their mighty hero strength and intellect. It’s just part of life’s unfairness that Harry is greeted by adulation, respect, and the House Cup after his actions while Luke is condemned to the Sarlacc and a new definition of pain and suffering as he is slowly digested over a thousand years.
Point 5. Let me ask you a question: If you had to choose between a colored light-activated saber that sparks and glows as it’s twirled through the air and is completely capable of killing your enemy with a single slash, or a dragon/phoenix/unicorn-endowed wooden wand that sparks and glows as it’s twirled through the air and is completely capable of killing your enemy with a single slash… which would you pick? You don’t know, right??? Because they are both the most completely awesome weapons ever created! I can’t even decide and I’ve been pondering the question since I thought of it ten minutes ago. The choice between a cherry wood wand with unicorn hair or a bright pink lightsaber is so difficult, I think my mind just imploded.
By this time, I’m rather confident that I’ve made each and every one of you a believer in my conspiracy theory. All of my meticulously researched data and astounding comparisons are irrefutable. Harry Potter and Star Wars share a bond so tight it’s like they’re encased in carbonite together. I am proud to have added my masterpiece to the many accurate and impressively factual conspiracy theories the Internet contains.
(EDIT: Okay, in my search for theory accuracy, I just Googled “Does anyone in Star Wars wear glasses”. OMG, ppl. There are message board threads about this. There are Wiki Facts about this. There are huge raging debates on whether Star Wars spin-off characters count as glasses-wearing people. Wild.)
November 5, 2010 § 3 Comments
Have you ever gone to eat at a fancy little restaurant and felt distinctly uncomfortable? You aren’t sure, but you have the sneaking, unpleasant suspicion that the entire wait staff is laughing at you. Don’t worry, you’re most likely wrong. Unlike the common cinematic portrayal of restaurant workers, we don’t laugh at everyone who comes in. Nor do we in any way, shape, or form, harm or change your food. If you work in a serious restaurant, where people actually love food and aren’t just cooking it because it’s the job mandated by their work-release program, the food is sacred. The food is untouchable. And the only people we laugh at are the ones who deserve it.
Let’s take a closer look at a few things you should or shouldn’t do if you’d like to avoid your wait staff making you the next horrific kitchen tale.
Picture this: you walk out of a giant arena with your sweetheart, having just enjoyed a lovely hockey game/country concert/Stars Wars: The Musical. You are hungry and in the mood for gazing into your darling’s eyes over a plate of pasta and a glass of red. There is a restaurant nearby. Do you really think you are the only people out of the 12,000 Jedi knights that are leaving the arena who will be hungry?? You should have made a reservation!! Now you will walk into our restaurant, along with about thirty other tables and a few random stormtrooper squads, all at the same time, and expect to be seated and served promptly. This is completely silly. I’m not saying: don’t go to the restaurant if you haven’t made a reservation. Whatever, we will deal with it and only curse you out in the kitchen where you can’t hear us, not to your lightsaber-loving face. I’m saying, think ahead. Plan ahead. Or even just call the restaurant and say: do you have room for two plus a giant stuffed Ewok in twenty minutes? At least then we will have some idea of the inter-galactic hordes that are about to descend on our little version of the Mos Eisley Cantina. Simply put, reservations are thoughtful and appreciated. (PS- No droids. This goes without saying.)
Let’s move to my personal favorite: the unforgiveable steak & ketchup eater. If you order a filet mignon, that darling of steaks, its juices oozing pink and brown across your plate, and then squirt a bloody lycopene and high fructose corn syrup goo on it, we will demean you in our minds and in our kitchen. You have just obliterated your filet’s rich warm taste and buttery texture beneath sugary processed slop. Pay attention, because this is the exact moment in time when your server will give you a pitying look across the dining room and disappear through a door. If your suspicion is that he is relaying your mignon faux pas to the entire staff, your suspicion is correct. Let’s take a walk through that swinging door and into the other universe of the restaurant. The chefs are brandishing knives right now at the thought of your flagrant degradation, the hostess is giggling behind her palm at the vile oaths they hurl at you, and the server is rolling his eyes and thinking there’s no tip in the world big enough to make his job worthwhile. The dishwasher is sighing, thinking of how he would’ve treasured the steak bite by bite, or perhaps sold it to the delivery guy for some smack, and the busboy? Oh, the busboy is just wondering if there’s going to be any leftovers from the buffet next door, don’t worry about him.
Back out to the dining room for our last tip. And that’s just what this is about: tips. People who have never worked in a restaurant before seem to have this odd idea that servers and their tips are still stuck in the 1940s. Newsflash, stockbrokers: Our economy is the same as yours. 10% tip may have sufficed when you went to Hank’s Dogs & Burgers with a girl you were only dating because she resembled Rita Hayworth, but it’s not quite making the grade here in 2010. 15% for good service is acceptable, 20% is ideal. (Anything above that and either you got exemplary service, you’re newly in love, or you’ve waited tables before too. Thanks for understanding.) If you’re worried about cutting it close to your dinnertime spending limit, do a little mental arithmetic with prices before you order your food and drink. That way, the end result isn’t a nasty surprise that more often than not causes you to tip poorly and leaves your server shaking his fist and blaspheming your gods as he and the hostess watch you hop into your dark red 2011 Porsche and peel out of the parking lot whilst chattering on your iPhone 8000.
In summation, there are really only a few key points to remember when dining at a fine restaurant. Be thoughtful, be patient, be understanding. Servers are human too; we aren’t robots able to produce a culinary miracle to satisfy your slightest craving at a moment’s notice. If you treat us terribly, just be prepared to know we’ve given you your own little nickname in the kitchen and, trust me, it’s not flattering. Neither is the portrait the servers and hostess are painting of you to the people who don’t leave the kitchen.
However, if you’re fun, polite, and tip us well, you’ll be treated to an amazing dinner, servers who remember your name and favorite table, and probably even a drink on the house occasionally! And nothing’s more fun than free wine, right?
(Disclaimer: I hope you all know this is slightly tongue-in-cheek. I do work at a restaurant but I’ve never compared a customer to an Ol’ Yeller loving, illerate country bumpkin who tracked muddy footprints across our carpet. And honestly the whole ‘wine on the house’ thing depends on if your boss is a skinflint or not. And I’m not really as much of a nerd as that whole Star Wars paragraph makes me out to be. Really!)