Me, laying down, waiting in line for tickets to Star Wars in May 1999.
Jeremy’s post on Star Wars has me thinking; now that the Skywalker story is “finished”, I wish they never made the prequels or films 7, 8, 9. I’d like the original trilogy to stand on its own, keep Rogue One and Solo, and have a new trilogy based on Rey without any ties back to Skywalker. Oh, but his ordering is approved by me.
On the cusp of the release of Star Wars Episode IX, I revisited a post I wrote in 2012 regarding Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm from George Lucas.
In it I postulated that Lucasfilm was worth far more than the $4B purchase price but that Lucas structured the deal to make up for that over the long term growth of the combined companies.
It is worth going back and reading that post to see what many were thinking that Disney would do and compare it to what they’ve done so far. I’d say they’ve executed the playbook beautifully.
So how did old George do on this deal?
I haven’t followed along too much to know if he’s done any large sell-offs of his Disney stock or anything. But, remember, he put a cool $2B in cash in his pocket with a single signature on the day the deal finalized. The other $2B was taken in Disney stock – which at the time was trading at around $50/share.
Today the stock is trading at around $150/share.
Assuming he’s sold zero shares, his $2B in Disney stock has nearly tripled in worth already.
But the decision wasn’t all about the money of course. George wasn’t exactly starving at the time this sale went down. How has Disney done in managing the Star Wars franchise and the companies? From my seat, very, very well. It is likely a big reason why Bob Iger is Time’s Businessperson of the Year this year.
The new films in the Star Wars Skylwalker saga has taken their licks – but no worse than in the prequel era. I’d say the sequels have been better reviewed than the prequels by a long shot. The spinoff films of Solo and Rogue One are very good. And The Mandalorian is excellent. Not to mention the Star Wars-related additions to Disneyland and Disney World that are getting rave reviews as well. Oh and the books and toys and comics and everything else. So from a creative stand-point, I think Star Wars has been stewarded better than Lucas could have done on his own.
ILM, Lucas Arts, etc. have all had award winning projects that shipped. There are too many to name but if you look up each company and what they’ve done since 2012, they’ve really done some amazing work and the hits just keep on coming.
Acquisitions rarely go well. In fact, in the tech industry acquisitions almost always go poorly for one reason or another. Disney has proven they can do enormous acquisitions like Pixar, Lucasfilm, and Marvel and create a better result than the sum of their parts. All while George counts his money while eating his popcorn at the movies.
Chris Coleman, on precedent for Darth Sidious making an appearance in Episode IX:
That doesn’t mean that Dark Side users are completely out of luck. The Dark Side is a pathway to many abilities some consider to be unnatural. There are at least two recent examples where followers of the Dark Side were able to have some limited form of life after death.
A good read and breakdown. Glad Chris’s blog is back for this last-go-round in the Skywalker saga.
Ever since I was a kid, I wondered what the scene might have looked like in real time, and how the scene, without slow-motion, would play differently to the audience. So I created it.
I don’t write enough about Star Wars on my blog. For that I’m sorry. But this was too fun to pass at the chance to link to it.
To create this list I sat down and wrote from the top of my head the things I could remember being awesome in 2017. The list isn’t exhaustive. It is just what made an impression on me as being “the best” in each category.
Best Blog: fuzzy notepad
Evee consistently writes well-researched, readable, diatribes on topics that could otherwise be boring yet are fascinating and I hang on every word. Here are a few posts from 2017 to get you started:
Best blog redesign: Colin Walker
When I awarded this to Jason Santa Maria so many years ago it was due to his use of color, contrast, typography. But design isn’t limited to how something looks but also how it works. Colin Walker has spend much of 2017 tweaking his blog’s features in subtle ways to work just the way he wants it to. I’m sure he’ll continue to fiddle with it throughout 2018 but I think we can all learn from Colin’s iterative approach. Keep tweaking.
Best new (to me) blog: Brand New
I’ve known about Brand New for a long time and have stumbled across a post or two over the years. But this year I’ve been pushing myself to learn more visual design and one way was to subscribe to more blogs like this. I find these posts, and the community, to be an excellent resource.
Best service: Spotify
This year I’ve used both Apple Music and Google Play Music to see if I could move away from Spotify. Spotify is in a league all its own, the other two don’t even compare well. Spotify’s machine learning robots just do an amazing job at surfacing music that I would like. It is so good it is eery.
Notable mention: Google Photos. I’ve switch from Apple iCloud Photo Library to Google Photos and I’m consistently being surprised by how much better it is.
Best book: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
This was a tough call. I read some pretty great books this year. But the one that keeps coming up in conversations, the one I’m sharing the most is Ready Player One. I think it is the sci-fi novel that I read this year that most feels like it could happen within a few years.
Best productivity tool: Bullet Journal
Bullet Journaling has made the biggest impact to my productivity and cognitive load than any other app, technique, or method this year. My “version” is slightly different than the default but I’m loving it.
Notable mention: Trello.
Best phone: Google Pixel 2 XL
I’m cobbling together my notes for a “review” of the Pixel 2 XL in the coming weeks but I can say, unequivocally, it is the best phone of the year. For me. I know the Samsung Galaxy Note8 made many people’s list and of course the iPhone X deserves a mention – but for the price, the quality of the hardware, and the software the Pixel 2 XL is an easy winner for me.
Before I get email, know that I have an iPhone X (Eliza’s phone) and I’ve tried the Samsung models. For me it came down to the camera system (which is actually better than the iPhone X in everything but the second lens), the software (Android 8.1 – Samsung is way behind) and the price. The iPhone X will be better next year and, hopefully, iOS 12 will be much, much better than iOS 11. But, as of today, Google is killing it.
One other side note: Google as a personal assistant is so much better than Siri it is jarring. I may have used Siri a few times per month in the past but today I use Google about 10 times per day with nearly zero mistakes.
Best podcast: The West Wing Weekly
If you’re not a fan of The West Wing this choice may not land with you at all. So, for you I would suggest Song Exploder. If you haven’t yet listened to TWWW I suggest starting at the beginning and also watching The West Wing along the way.
Best platform: Instagram
When I deleted my social media accounts and didn’t even look at them for a few months the one I missed the most was Instagram. The platform continues to be one of the best and they continue to add great new features all the time while somehow keeping the app’s history in tact. The day may come when they add a feature that is terrible but so far they’ve done pretty well.
Side note: The algorithmic timeline almost pushed this one out for me. It is nearly inexcusable that this isn’t optional. I sincerely hope they find a way to allow users this option this year.
Notable mention: Micro.blog.
Best browser: Firefox Quantum
Perhaps this should be “most improved browser”? Quantum is a great name for the strides Mozilla has made with Firefox. They continue to improve the browser.
Oddly, Firefox is not my “daily driver”. I am using Chrome due to my switch to Android. (I’m ecstatic that I now can choose a default browser) I may, though, give Firefox a try across the board again soon.
Notable mention: Safari for turning off auto-play videos and ad tracking by default.
Best app: Apollo for Reddit for iOS
Though I’m now using Android I have to list Apollo as the best app. If you ever kill time by looking at Reddit (which I do a few times per week) I have to suggest you try this app. It is so well made you’ll wish it’s developer made every app you use.
Notable mention: Snapseed and Google PhotoScan (search App Stores).
Best code editor: Visual Studio Code
VS Code has improved a lot over the last year and has now overtaking Atom as my default text editor and code editor for all projects. While I still build native apps in Visual Studio most of my web work and text editing happens in VS Code.
The shared workspaces are the big feature for me this year. I can combine several code repositories into a single workspace and use Spotlight to launch all code related to a particular project in less than a second. It also has git and terminal integrated so I’m usually able to do all of my work in a single window.
Best YouTube channel: First We Feast
Specifically, Hot Ones. First We Feast has an interview show called Hot Ones that I just discovered this year and I can’t get enough of it.
Notable mention: MKBHD
Those are all of the categories I wanted to feature this year. Again, I simply pull this list together from the top of my head. Just like all years I saw so many amazing things it’d be very hard to create a real list. I suggest following my blog for all of 2018 because whenever I see something worth linking to I do so.
There are, however, some other companies, people, and products that I think deserve a shout-out. Here they are in no particular order: SpaceX, Khalid, Tom Hanks’ lost gloves tweets, The Last Jedi hype, Chris Stapleton, Joe Rogan’s Powerful JRE Podcast, Amazon Kindle and library loans, letgo, Google Maps, OK Google, Logitech MX Master 2S, USB-C, cast iron pans, Amazon Prime.
See you next year.
I’m excited for The Last Jedi on Saturday. I still have two films to watch before I complete a re-watching the saga in the Machete Order.
Wow, this Machete Order thing got big! After the post first “went viral” and got mentioned on Wired.com, I started getting around 2,000 visitors to it per day, which I thought was a lot. But then in the months before Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens was released, it blew up like Alderaan, peaking at 50,000 visitors DAILY. This year, over 1.5 million unique users visited the page. It’s been nuts.
This sort of thing happens on my blog as well. I have several posts that get tons of seasonal traffic. A few examples are my wireless GoPro file transfer tips, when an NFL game goes into overtime, and my thoughts on Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm. There are a ton more too. I believe my all-time record for a single day’s traffic on a single post was 11,700+ views. So no where near what Hilton gets. These posts get thousands and thousands of hits some weeks and nearly zero others. I think it is fun. I don’t engineer my blog for these types of things.
I’d bet Hilton’s blog is getting hit yet again with the release of The Last Jedi.
#Twitterville we just wrapped production so here’s a special message #StarWars
Follow the link for his video.
Cute. Howard seems to be having a ton of fun with this, which I think is great given the circumstances he walked into. I also think the name is great. It is what Jabba calls Han. SOLO.
This past weekend Eliza and I attended an orchestral presentation by the NEPA Philharmonic that featured musical scores composed by John Williams – my favorite score composer.
Forgive the audio quality, the fact that I forgot to record more than I did, and that at the end I yell “it’s all over” so fast that it is unintelligible. I was quite literally blown away by the presentation. I cried (both at Jurassic Park and during Leia’s theme), I laughed (at the conductor playing the role of Indiana Jones), and my spirits were soaring (during Hook!).
Not my best audio bit so far but definitely my favorite.
Finished Star Wars: Aftermath by Chuck Wendig. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Looking forward to the next two installments as I hear they are even better.
Welcome back JJ!
It’s in the opening crawl of “The Force Awakens.” Luke Skywalker, right now, is the last Jedi. There’s always wiggle room in these movies — everything is from a certain point of view — but coming into our story, he is the actual last of the Jedi. And he’s removed himself and is alone on this island, for reasons unknown.
Earlier this week I rewatched Star Wars Episode VII. It is really great. Most of the criticisms of the film do not hold up well. It is fun, engaging the entire time, and the actors are perfect. And the film fits in perfectly with the other 3 originals.
One thing I’m surprised about, and was reminded of while watching Episode VII, is the ongoing “who is The Last Jedi” discussions that I’ve seen ever since the next movie’s title was announced.
Multiple times during Episode VII – including during the opening crawl – Luke Skywalker is referred to as The Last Jedi.
Some would think that Rey may become the last Jedi. But she isn’t one. Far from it. It took Luke three films to be a Jedi (and even then, it is questionable whether or not the Council would have ever approved him). Rey isn’t a Jedi simply because she closed her eyes once and bested the loose-canon Kylo Ren.
The next movie will be Luke’s movie. While he’s teaching Rey he will be not be on the sidelines.
That being said I believe Luke at his word in the trailer. It is time for the Jedi to end. A new order of things seems to be on the brink. Perhaps someone without so much fear and hate. Someone filled with hope now that Maz Kanata was straight with her regarding her family ever returning. Someone not tied to the Skywalker lineage and thus not having Vader’s rage in them. Perhaps someone like Rey. But what will this new “thing” be? I’m excited to find out.
Lucasfilm’s creative process has been a bit of a mess lately. Rogue One had to undergo extensive reshoots before release, and earlier this year producer Kathleen Kennedy took the extraordinary step of firing directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller of the standalone Han Solo film just two weeks before the end of principal photography. Ron Howard has since been brought on to finish the film, but the 11th-hour move raised questions as to why things were allowed to progress so far — particularly when massive creative differences apparently existed between Kennedy and Lord and Miller.
And now Trevorrow has “bowed out”. Doubtful. More likely shown the door.
There are two ways to look at all the messy, behind-the-scenes, musical chairs that has happened during the tumultuous first 3 films out of Lucasfilm since Disney bought it and Kathleen Kennedy took over.
One the one hand, you can think things are an absolute mess and surely something is wrong over there.
Or, you can look at it the way I believe the truth really is… making productions this large is a very messy and difficult business. This sort of thing happens more often than you and I think about. It is just that Disney and Lucasfilm are under a bit more scrutiny than many other film houses. Also, I like to think that Kathleen Kennedy is doing an amazing job. She’s making the really, really hard choices of completely firing people – forsaking the loss of time, money, and momentum, in order to ship a superior product.
Yes, there were reshoots for Rogue One. But the Rogue One we saw was very, very good. What if she (and, likely, others) didn’t force the issue to do reshoots? What if she didn’t fire the co-directors of the new Han Solo movie and recruit an Oscar-winning replacement? And, what if she kept Trevorrow on (even though he has a fantastic first name)?
It is very easy to point out that things could be wrong. But, it is more likely that this sort of thing is remarkably hard to do without some ego casualties.
My guess is that Episode IX will be better for it. While I enjoyed Jurassic World it was far from great. I think Trevorrow has a bit more work to do before you hand him the most beloved franchise of all time. I say bring in a heavy-hitter that wants a crack at Vader’s kid’s legacy.
Chuck Wendig is writing a Star Wars novel. He writes:
I cannot feel my legs, and I have been drunkenly pirouetting wildly around the house for months, making lightsaber sounds and forcing my four-year-old on a steady regimen of Star Warsy goodness. I am geeking out hardcore over here.
We live in interesting times. Where we can follow the blogs and the tweets of the people that bring us our favorite things.