Lately I have been catching up on several old podcasts on my daily walk/jogs. Many of these are bands talking through “the glory days” of when they formed, how they got their start, what led to their big break (or not in some cases of underground bands). That reminds me so much of all the times I tried to start bands myself. It was kind of a thing for a lot of people back in the day… that is mostly not a thing these days (although some people still get into the whole band thing occasionally). The picture above from March 1989 is the only band I was ever in that got to play some live “concerts” (although I have played many times as part of the worship band at various churches through the years). I am on the red Peavy bass on the left
These “concerts” were actually high school choir recitals, where one of the choir members asked “hey, can I play some rock songs” and then grabbed me because I was the only bass player they knew. I wasn’t in choir – can’t hold a note to save my life. We had a very juvenile band name (Modnoc – condom spelled backwards) and just played some covers. This pic is from our hard rock cover of “Johnny B. Goode.” We came back later in the night to do an instrumental medley of the James Gun/Spyhunter theme, “Wipeout,” and a couple of other tunes. A year later we reunited to cover Guns ‘n’ Roses “Patience” for the 1990 choir recital.
Through the years I tried to form various heavy metal, punk, industrial, alternative rock, you name it bands. Sometimes I almost got a practice or two going. I wrote a ton of bad songs. Two or three that I would still like to record some day like “Burn the Clinic” and “The Rain Falls on Your Parade.” Nowadays people record entire albums by themselves with just a computer, so you never know. I helped start a Collective to promote some friends that were doing the home recording thing (and in hopes that I would pick up some tips from them). I even got to the point that several people were asking me to design cover art for them (I did it for free on the quick, so I was just all they could afford). I now have my own Discogs page even. You can probably find several articles and reviews I have written out there for various indie outlets about underground bands I tried to help promote. But I never formed a successful band. Rock ‘n’ roll dreams of yet another 80s kid crash and burn.
But I remember how huge the whole “dude, let’s form a band!” thing was back in the day. Everyone swore the guitarist in the pic above was “going somewhere” because he had skill. Life took him in other directions than rock ‘n’ roll stardom – I assume he is happy with that, but I don’t really know. So many news specials about up and coming bands back in the day asked the members what they would do if their band never makes it. They always said “there is no plan b” or something like that (almost none of those bands made it). Only a small percentage even got a record deal, and only a small percentage of record deals even produced a minor hit. But media pushed the narrative that if you just tried hard enough, you could make it. The few bands that made it didn’t really try harder than others, and some notable slacker bands also became famous. It was just a combination of luck and knowing the right people. But you see echoes of that attitude being sold today in narratives about grit and bootstraps. It’s probably rightly referred to as toxicity by some now. But for those of us that never sold it all and moved to L.A. or whatever, we can just look back at it with fond nostalgia and a side eye to that old stack of songs we wrote while wondering if we can afford to buy Pro Tools or not.
The past two weeks it seemed like so many shows wrapped up their summer run – and/or I finally watch all of the episodes of the season that got released all at once. I wish I could do a post on each show, but that would then last until the Fall series are finished. So I’ll just try to do an all-encompassing round up. I’ll also try to stay as spoiler-free as possible, but I won’t guarantee it. You have been warned.
Stranger Things: 80s nostalgia is huge in television (and movies) the past few years, and many credit Stranger Things with fueling the recent surge. Some people think the show got “too big for its britches” as it went along, or became too afraid to kill off main characters… but that is kind of what I love about it. Those two aspects are so… 80s. Obviously, the last season hinted that Hopper would live, and spoiler alert (unless you have watched almost any of the trailers) – he did. Others have complained that Hopper’s story line is a distraction, a sign of lazy writing, or whatever. But again – that is what makes this show such a tribute to the 80s. Shows in the 80s went to weird lengths to NOT kill off beloved characters. Plus, the narrative for the show really, really needed the responsible adults away from the danger in order to work. Anyways, you have probably heard the resurgence of Kate Bush and Metallica due to this season, and its true that two songs become characters of their own at various points. Also, why is no body talking about the fact that they created a high school metalhead Dungeons & Dragons loving character and made him look and act a lot like a young wavy-haired version of Bruce Dickenson of Iron Maiden… and then named him “Eddie”? For those that aren’t aware, “Eddie” is also the name of Iron Maiden’s mascot that is on all of their covers and t-shirts. Anyways, it wasn’t a perfect season, but I loved it.
Obi-Wan Kenobi: There really isn’t a whole lot of 80s nostalgia per se in the Obi-Wan Kenobi series or mini event or whatever it is called. But just by existing it taps into so much nostalgia – most Star Wars fans have been clamoring for a Kenobi-centric movie set in this time period of a galaxy far, far away for quite a while. And yes, they did pull a big bait-and-switch by only featuring a young Luke Skywalker in the trailers and not who the series actually focuses on – but I love that character and the person they picked to play said character (trying not to spoil it in case you haven’t seen it yet). Again, not perfect – but I loved it. The final rematch was epic, the cameos made sense, the redemption arc was fitting, and the way they tied it together to solve some problems with the original movie were a good effort. The original trilogy made Kenobi out to be a bit a of a jerk – lying about some things “from a certain point of view.” The prequel series gave us a really cool uncle-vibe for Kenobi… while making the original trilogy Kenobi even more of jerk. The Kenobi series kind of smooths over a lot of that – giving him a reason he said some of the things he said in the original trilogy, while also showing the struggles he had with knowing whether or not to tell people the full story… because the wrong people knowing the full story puts people’s lives in danger in this series. If they can get a second season and drive these points a little deeper – they may just totally redeem some of Kenobi’s questionable choices in the original series. Maybe.
The Umbrella Academy: The Umbrella Academy is so weird – and I love it. You can always count on some 80s tune to make an appearance in any given season, and this season is no exception. But as with past seasons, they shook things up and did thing differently. Its hard to say much without getting into spoilers, but even the type of apocalypse they face this time is different. And yes, they set-up a very different world at the end of last season – but its even more different than you could imagine. While they handled the Viktor story-line well, it feels like they botched Alison’s story in a few subtle ways. There is a realism to the way she reacted to her personal tragedies (one of the themes throughout this season is how various characters are dealing with the numerous tragedies they have all lived through) – it felt like they took too many shortcuts to get where they took her. But they also threw in a new romance for someone else that developed really fast and somehow didn’t feel forced or shortcut-ed. Go figure. But it was a small gripe in an otherwise entertaining season – and to be honest, pretty much every character snapped at some point in some way, so maybe I am reading too much into it. I have talked with several people that love this show – their brand of quirky weirdness seems to connect with a lot of people out there. Including me. Bring on Season 4!
Start Trek: Strange New Worlds: This series was a pleasant surprise all around: from the surprising way the idea worked in Discovery Season 2, to the surprising speed that they green-lit a series after positive feedback on that season, to the surprisingly entertaining and enjoyable first season they put together. Oh, and how surprisingly well they are integrating this with the original series. A couple of times I realized they were playing out scenes or ideas from the original series, and I swear they were even using music from those original episodes. Some people may like or dislike some of the casting choices for established characters like Spock or Uhura or Nurse Chapel or etc, etc – but they work as a part of this series. Even though the Star Wars series eventually worked out most of the kinks in CGI Luke Skywalker, I think Star Trek went the smart route of casting new people in those roles. Or just having certain characters talk off screen (be on the look out for a Scotty cameo – you might miss it if you only pay attention to the on screen character).
Ms. Marvel: This series is probably the least nostalgia-based series on the list – but it has been such a fun series to watch. I didn’t know a whole lot about the character coming into the series, so the fact that they changed her origin story wasn’t a deal breaker for me. Kamala’s powers are still a bit ill-defined now because of that – and the writers have almost gotten close to the “making up new powers to defeat bigger villains” problem that the CW super hero shows too often rely on – but they have always pulled back so far. And well – that awesome X-Men hint in there? Maybe they didn’t change her powers after all? They are trying new things with super hero stories and it is working out well so far. The way they pulled it together at the end and avoided super hero story cliches about how friends and family react to finding out about super powers was so great. Loved the first season. And that mid-credits scene after the last episode? Near perfection.
The Boys: I know some people have actually stopped watching this series because they went so extreme this season. I have powered through it even though I have seen too many things that I can’t unsee now. If you want to miss some of the wildness of the season, you can probably skip to the last episode and pretty much still follow what has happened. This was supposed to be their “scorched earth” season – and it really was. And the acting and writing were great – they just could have just left a lot more to the imagination for some people. But would it really be The Boys if they did?
The Flash / Superman & Lois: I have been a big fan of The Flash in the past, but it has gone downhill over the past few seasons. This season was… confusing. It was hard to follow all the new rules for all the forces they came up with, and then Flash somehow magically knew he could have new powers to save the day. I think. It was very confusing. They have probably gone on for too many seasons, forcing the writers to come up with wilder and wilder ideas to not just use another speedster villain. But it was still hard to follow. And all of the set-up for “Green Diggle Lantern” turned out to be a big nothing. Sorry for the direct spoiler, but what a waste of time that thread was. Superman & Lois does have a bit more room to tell some more stories, and they had a mostly good season. Superman also magically discovered new powers that he used to save the day and re-write reality with very little practice – so that was weird. And they also dove into one of my biggest pet peeves in Superhero shows: tell your friend that you are a superhero and they get… mad at you for not telling them earlier? No. Usually the more realistic response would be “Oh ^%$# Oh ^%$# Oh ^%$# you are Superman!?!?! Thank you for telling me!” Maybe the anger will come at realizing how much danger you are now in for knowing. But this whole thing of people getting mad for half a season or more at not being told “the truth” earlier? So annoying. At least they only had it last a few episodes in Superman & Lois.
I’m not sure exactly how to describe the music of Ironbunny. Imagine a guitarist that can shred and write catchy 80s metal songs – who also performs in an Iron Man-esque suit of futuristic armor that resembles… you guessed it… a bunny. And he gets big names like Warren DeMartini of Ratt to play with him. But fronting his band are three vocalists that sing and rap like a J-Pop vocal group. Throw in some blinking lights on the guitars and outfits and a story about how Ediee Ironbunny traveled back in time from 300 years in the future to save rock and roll from being overrun by electronic music… and you have Ironbunny.
The band doesn’t seem to have a ton of full songs out, but “23 Twenty Three” and “E.I.B.” (above) as well as “Street Strider” are all excellent 80s hair metal tracks – with modern pop vocals. Their 7-song ep (Tettsui No Alternative) and “Street Strider” seem to be about it. Oh, and if you go to the band’s list of YouTube videos – it is full of the singers reviewing classic 80’s hair metal albums. Unfortunately, the last update from the band was nearly two years ago, telling us that one of the vocalists had to leave the band die to hearing damage. I hope that is not the last we hear of this unique group – mixing metal, pop, SciFi, and 80s nostalgia into one enjoyable package.
One of the things about growing up in Central Texas was that the cities there weren’t large enough to be considered “big,” but not rural enough to be considered “country.” Well, plenty of the smaller towns (like where I grew up) are country, but the main cities like Waco, Temple, and Belton are a bit too big to be “rural.” What that meant was that there were just enough people for someone to say “we need to come up with some entertainment options,” but not enough people around to get something like a Six Flags park going.
Today, of course, it is a different story – entertainment options are everywhere. But in the 1970s and 80s (and even into the 90s and 2000s), there were many attempts to start something – most without the kind of interest and financial backing needed to get very far.
One of the odder ones was Wild Water Coaster – basically two water slides on a hill in the middle of nowhere. What you see in the picture above was all there was. And if the hill looks newly-constructed… that is because it was. They literally scooped a huge mound out of the surrounding dirt and put two water slides on it some time in 1978 or 1979. Two names have been associated with the park by former employees are Andy Hill and Jack Matthews (from Oklahoma). But who they are? Not sure. They apparently had some money to burn on a weird experiment.
This experiment was built along the frontage road of IH-35 in a suburb of Waco called Hewitt. Nowadays, Hewitt has a lot going on. In the late 70s and early 80s, the frontage of I-35 in Hewitt was barren. It was mostly a few billboards and the occasional small gas station for miles. Across the highway were two cemeteries. They literally built this water slide park in the middle of nowhere. And many people in the Waco area still have no idea it existed to this day.
I remember going to it several times as a kid. I thought it was only open one summer, but many people remember it lasting two or three years. But what I remember was that there was a higher and lower slide, and the higher slide was killer on your back because of a sudden drop-off. I think you can see the sudden drop-off on the right side of the photo above about 2/3 of the way up and 2/3 of the way over. So I stuck with the lower option. But like many people, I remember having a blast there as a kid.
However, not everyone has great memories. Apparently this park was not built with safety in mind. People remember how the relaxed oversight led to many broken teeth and noses from people running into each other. There were multiple reports of people getting impetigo from going there too often. At one point, someone went over the edge of the slide and got hurt badly. They had to add a tunnel on the corner where he went over – you can see it in center top of the picture above. But then the tunnel caused people to turn upside down, leaving some of them confused and nearly drowning in the pool at the bottom.
Looking at this now, you have to believe that the owners had plans to expand the park into a lot more. There were no restaurants, no shops, nothing at all around it. But in town was Waco Lion’s Park, where there was not only a double water slide tower, but a large pool, a train, tennis courts, Putt-Putt Golf, and most importantly… food (both an on-grounds burger place famous for good, cheap burgers as well as local restaurants right down the road). Why travel out to the boonies to hit two slides when you could drive across town (or even down the road) to a full blown park? Some people remember that there was a Putt-Putt golf course added the second year, but I don’t really remember that. But it would make sense to try and expand this 15 minute distraction into an actual… destination.
However, it just didn’t last long and by 1980 or 81 the slides suddenly closed. Some say the owners skipped town, others say they filed for bankruptcy. Employees just recall showing up for work one day to a closed park and no final paychecks.
The remains of the park stayed on the hill for years. I remember riding the school bus past them day in and day out as they slowly feel apart. After a few years, someone removed a lot of the park, but a few pieces of the slide were left for some reason. Then the hill was partially dug away – flatted slightly. Who knows how many years or decades later it was finally smoothed out completely. In recent years, Hewitt has started growing and there are, ironically, a ton of restaurants and shops where the park used to be. It probably sat where the Walmart gas pumps or Atwoods parking lot is now.
For decades, most of us forgot about the park altogether, until some Waco nostalgia groups popped up on Facebook. Even still, few of us could remember it’s name. To most of us, it was just “the water slides on 35.” Some people even thought they were closer to a town called Lorena (there could have been some slides down there that I have never heard of, but I am sure these were in Hewitt). The consensus (of two people that could remember) was that it was called “Wild Water Coaster.” Which is so cheesy it’s kind of awesome. But it is also one of many examples of how “entertainment” in smaller towns also came in smaller packages that often were less safe for people than they should have been. I mean… water slides had existed for a long time before this. Designing safe ones should have been a formula by this time.
Or maybe they were, but it was a formula that only the bigger cities could afford?
The kid in me remembers the fun. The adult in me looks at the picture and thinks: that was it? Nothing to do while you weren’t sliding (or weren’t sliding at all), and very little shelter from the Texas sun? Ouch
I’m usually pretty skeptical about claims to “change the world” – I mean, in all honesty you might cause a shift in one aspect of the world. But still… there are a lot of interesting innovations in the world that are moving forward that might make for some cool changes in the future. I know the video I embedded above comes across more as a UFO or Bigfoot expose “documentary,” but get past that and you will get summaries of where various emerging technologies currently stand – and where they are possibly headed in the future:
- GPS 3
- Floating Farms
- Self-Healing Concrete
- Hydrogen Fuel Cells
- Lithium Metal Battery
- 3D Printing
- Fighting Fire with Sound
- Quantum Computing
Some of the trends here they don’t really explore beyond the “wow, cool!” stage. GPT-3 is generally not as far along as the video makes it seems, despite what proponents of AI in Education might want you to believe. AI is probably just never going to become a conscience that can perform deep learning. They also gloss over the privacy problems with connected homes. And block-chain… has some really huge issues. Not just the ones you might have heard in the news recently… there have been major concerns all along with the idea.
But, whether you love all of these ideas or hate every single one of them – this is where a lot of work and development money goes. Best to at least track where all of that is going.
I’m not sure how I stumbled upon Wargirl, but I have been listening to them since the beginning. While the three women/three men band might be based in California, they actually travel and play a lot in various countries in Europe and Central America. Their global focus influences their music, to the point that it is a bit hard to describe exactly what they do sound like. They say something like “world music/garage disco/rock” – and that works. It was hard to pick a favorite song to feature in the video at the end of the post as well.There is the slow, groovy coolness of “How You Feel,” the driving bass of “Poison,” the disco boogie of “Little Girl“… the list goes on and on. I decided to go with “Poison” because it seems to capture everything that works well with the band in one song.
Add to that the fact that guitarist Matt Wignall has a long history before this band in photography and video work, so you can always count on a great visual aspect for their videos and albums. I have four albums of theirs on vinyl – their most recent (Dancing Gold) is a good place to start. Or any of the others. The band (like many) was dormant during the pandemic, but we are starting to see more signs of occasional life on their Facebook page.
So… I don’t know how many of you out there watch modern cartoons. Even if you have kids, you might not watch what they watch beyond the casual first look to see if you think it is okay for your kids. For those that do watch, you might have noticed that modern cartoons are – all over the place. From the rather tame Disney cartoons to the really wild and different ones like The Amazing World of Gumball – there certainly is a range of experiences and styles that didn’t really exist back in the day. Sometimes it is excellent, other times… it isn’t.
I do actually like to watch cartoons with my son. One cartoon that caught my eye is Craig of the Creek. As Wikipedia puts it:
“In the fictional suburban Baltimore/DC area town of Herkleton, Maryland, a boy named Craig Williams and his two friends, Kelsey Pokoly and John Paul “J.P.” Mercer, have their many adventures in the titular creek, described as a kid utopia of untamed wilderness in which tribes of children reign over tree forts and dirt bike ramps.”
But – its a lot more than that. These “tribes” take on all kinds of personalities – from fantasy to futuristic to animalistic to you name it. Kids play different roles, like a trading post owner, a horse, a map maker, a knight, and so on. Kids can live out whatever role they want – and all of the kids are in on the role play.
The show makes clear that this is all role play – in one episode one of the children calls a creek-wide game of “the ground (floor) is lava” and you see several kids immediately “dying” in the lava… but several quick cuts always show that they are safe on the ground and just pretending.
I don’t know who all works on this show, but it’s like they put some many 80s kids’ dream life into cartoon form. So many of us dreamed of living near a creek or other nature area that we could play fantasy games in. I was lucky enough to move next to one in elementary school. We just called it “The Field.” Several of us would romp around that creek area talking about plans to build forts, secret hideouts, and an entire society just like they created in Craig of the Creek. What ultimately thwarted those plans was that we lived in a rural area, and there weren’t enough kids to make our ideas a reality.
But that didn’t stop us from dragging all kinds of wood and junk back there to start forts, island hideouts, and other areas. Where I live, there are certain weeds that grow up straight to at least 7-8 feet tall, forming pretty stiff, staff like husks when they die. They aren’t bamboo, but kind of a close version. They were an endless source of swords, staffs, walking sticks, and magic wands. If we found a patch that grew up around a tree – that soon became a protective maze around our new tree house hideaway.
And yes, there was an actual creek there – it served as our “main route,” our way to find what we needed in the field. We knew where the cliffs, islands, big trees, large ditches, and so on were all along that creek.
There were also weird things that happened back there, too. Once we walked through a wide ditch/almost ravine to go find a swimming hole we liked. On the way back a few minutes later (the water looked too low – meaning there was a higher chance snakes would be in there), we found a brand new arrow lodged in a tree root where we had walked. It was a modern arrow with a large, sharp, metal arrow head. It look a while to pull it out. Why was this not there before? Who would shoot such a nice arrow and then leave it behind? Had it been aimed at us?
Another time, my brother and I were coming over a ridge in a small area with thin-trunked trees that were densely packed. When we got over the hill and to the edge of the woods, we heard a loud “CRACK!” I saw a tree fall over and the shadow of something running away. We thought it was a cow (there were occasionally cows back there to graze) and I yelled “RUN!” We ran away as fast as we could. A week later we decided to see what happened, so we got as many friends as we could and went to investigate. We found the felled tree. Except… it wasn’t chopped at the base. Someone had stacked several 3 foot long sticks in a circular cone shape around the base, and the tree was broken about 5-6 feet above the ground and had been left leaning over – still barely attached at the break.
The more I thought about it – the more I came to believe that the shadow-y running figure was more like a man standing up. How could a cow break over a tree 5-6 feet up? But then again – who could a human do that as well? The lighting was still good in this forest – so why was he so dark? Was it the way he dressed? Was it a Bigfoot-like creature covered in dark fur? We never found out.
Anyways – one month when I was barely in high school, we got a massive amount of rain. The valley that contain The Field turned into a lake (or more accurately, the lake that was at the end of the creek to the Southeast of our house backed up to way Northwest of our house), and everything was submerged for weeks… maybe even months. Features were washed away, trees and plants died, etc. It was pretty much wiped clean. The farmer that owned the land took advantage of that and started using it more for cattle grazing (I think), and we became teenagers and moved on to other things. But it provided us with years of entertainment – and seeing Craig of the Creek reminds me of many of the dreams we had for that area. Some of which were literal – I had several real dreams at night of how we could build up the area – some were more urban, some were of a San Antonio Riverwalk-like experience, others were more like Craig of the Creek.
Above: My brother, Dad, and me in a buttercup-filled opening in The Field in 1983.
The line of trees behind us is where the creek was.
To the right of the picture is where the mysterious forest of Bigfoot started.
The left side of the picture was the way to The Swimming Hole and Arrow Ravine.
The trees on the right side of the photo are obscuring The Cliff – a cut in the creek that created
a 15-foot cliff, the top of which was a favorite destination because it gave you
great views of The Field. Plus there was a tree there with massive thorns (12″+) we liked to collect.
I decided to save up for a while to get an Oculus Quest. Of course, it took longer than expected with the pandemic causing unexpected expenses and many, many new causes to give to. The weird thing about Virtual Reality is that it really has been a part of pop culture for as long as I can remember. The 80s were full of weird news articles, shows, videos, and movies that explored what virtual reality could be like “some day.” Of course, in the 80s we thought we would all be using VR regularly by the 90s. When the 90s came and went, we thought it might be the 00s. Knowing what I now know about technology, none of those predictions were possible. But we sure did dream of the Holodeck being a reality within the “next few years.”
Anyways, I have been playing with various Oculus and Cardboard VR set-ups for a few years. Yes, I know the hype is overblown, and there is no way we are on the verge of a “VR Revolution.” For now – and the foreseeable future – it is still a hobby-like thing for certain people. While the older versions of VR that I played with were cool, I wasn’t that convinced with their long-term ability to hold interest. But once you could start getting devices that would turn your phone into a VR device for $10-20, I started looking around more and thinking there could be some possibilities.
So now that I can get a stand-alone VR headset for around $300, what do I think? Is it fulfilling all of my 80s VR dreams? Well, I will say that the quality and realism is a lot more impressive than any past VR set I have used. I tend to play the Beat Sabre demo over and over again without getting bored. I have taken virtual visits to Petra in Jordan, inside Van Gogh’s Starry Night painting, and surfing on huge waves. All of that is really beyond what I could have imagined in the 80s.
There are many Oculus games that hype the nostalgia aspect – from games that ask “Remember those awesome classic arcade cabinets? Imagine if those were immersive” to games that mimic classic 80s games to even games that simulate being back in the 80s. Of course, all of these games cost money, and then there is a whole eco-system of upgrades and accessories that you can get to improve your experience. Sigh. Of course. Got to keep finding more ways for people to spend money on these things.
Because of that, even with a big push in the mainstream with Star Wars games and slick commercials, I still see a hard road ahead for VR in general. Gamers are probably already locked into their favorite game system with a lot of money spent on games and accessories as it is. Asking them to re-buy all of that is a hard sale for most. Casual gamers are probably already happy with their phone/laptop/desktop games. I don’t really see any Ready Player One style social worlds starting up any time soon. All of the problems with Ready Player One not withstanding, the general idea of The Oasis probably just won’t work any time soon. Because, yes, even the fancy new Quest can give you headaches and motion sickness. I love exploring YouTubeVR videos, but can only take a few at a time. Still, I will see what fun things I can dig up as I look play around. Embedded at the top of this post is my favorite discovery so far – a very immersive run through Van Gogh’s Starry Night painting.
If you look at many of those “so-and-so reacts to some band they have never heard” videos, one of the bands most often brought up in the comments is Band-Maid. Band-Maid is an all-female heavy metal group from Japan that I will probably blog about several times. Songs like “Thrill,” “Dice,” and “The Dragon Cries” are killer heavy metal that would make any jaded 80s metal head a fan. I’m not sure I really get the whole “maid” costume thing, but then again did anyone really get Motley Crue’s or Poison’s stage outfits either?
What I wanted to start out with from this band was apparently an April Fool’s joke, where they announced a new name and style and released a song called “Secret Maiko Lips” as a band called “Band-Maiko.” Maiko is apprentice Geisha. They dressed in more traditional outfits and added several traditional Japanese instruments mixed in. Its a really cool mix of traditional and metal that I could listen to all day.
It seems like many fans liked the sudden change, but it was temporary as they went back to their frantic, heavy hitting metal songs. However, due to the popularity of their side band, they have returned to Band-Maiko to make more songs. So thankfully we haven’t seen the last of this “band.” It seems to my eyes that they are also doing some critique of traditional norms with the visuals in the video. If you look at the translation of the lyrics, they read like a person crying out against a stifling personal situation. But combined with video, they seem to take on multiple meanings.
I know that Disney has said that the Skywalker saga is over, no more trilogies, and that future films will now take place in other times and all of that. But I have had this idea swirling in my head for what I would like to see from the next few Star Wars films, and it involves a trilogy that visits the Skywalker saga again, as well as brings closure to the Star Wars Rebels series. Or maybe with the Mandalorian killing it right now, this could be a Disney+ series?
I shared this idea several months ago on Twitter, so here is a summary of the idea. This would still fit in nicely with the new directions that Season 2 of The Mandalorian is taking, but we will see how long that lasts.
Here is what I would do: I would actually start off back on the island of Ahch-To, right after Luke agrees to train Rey. This would involve cameos from Mark Hamill and Daisey Ridley. Rey would ask Luke about how he started training other Jedi. The rest of the movie/trilogy would be a flashback to the time right after Return of the Jedi as a true sequel to the original trilogy.
Of course, this brings up the question of casting. In some cases, I think we already have some people ready to go. Hamill himself has already pointed out that Sebastian Stan looks a lot like a younger version of himself, so I would get him to play middle-age Luke. You already have Alden Ehrenreich for Han, Joonas Suotamo for Chewie, and so on. There are rumblings that Ehrenreich might be replaced, so that could change. But we do have him and I am fine with that. The trick is how to get Leia in this, because she needs to be there and not some CGI recreation or having her character “out pregnant with Ben” stuff. Just not sure how.
So anyways, the flashback should really start with the tie-in to Rebels. Sabine Wren and Ahsoka Tano discover some clue about what happened to Ezra Bridger after the Purrgils took off with him and Thrawn. The clue leads to the Unknown Regions, so they know they need help. They find Hera Syndulla and convince her to go looking for Ezra. Hera gets Jacen, Zeb Orrelios, Kallus, Chopper, Luke, Han, Chewie, R2-D2, C3P-O, etc to come along as well. They head off in a convoy with the Millennium Falcon, The Ghost, and a few other ships.
On the way to the Unkown regions, Luke talks with Ahsoka and learns a lot about the history of the Jedi and his father. You also see the seeds of his discontent with the Jedi sown. But you also see him learn a lot about how to be a Jedi, as well as how to train Jedi.
They convoy arrives at a planet that is off the charts and has no hyperspace capabilities. It is also a planet embroiled in a civil war. They find that Ezra and Thrawn were left here by the Purrgils. Thrawn quickly assumed power of one side, leaving Ezra no choice to join the other to try and stop him. By now, the two sides have been at war for decades. Upon the arrival of Luke and crew, Thrawn’s spies learn about the fall of the Emperor. Sensing that the new arrivals will shift the power enough so that Ezra’s side will win, as well as a better opportunity elsewhere, Thrawn steals an unnamed ship from the convoy and goes back to Coruscant.
With the future of the planet heading in a better direction, Ezra decides to join the New Republic convoy to chase after Thrawn. On the way there, Luke learns more about the Force from Ezra, leading him to question more. The rest of the Trilogy is about Thrawn trying to rise to power, with the New Republic forming to stop him. There are really enough great books about Thrawn from the original books to create a plot from here on out.
This war would be a different dynamic, because there is no all powerful bad government. One side would be former rebels trying to become an actual good government (but can it be done?) and the other is a side falling apart trying to maintain power (can the reappearance of Thrawn pull it back together?). This would lead to two unstable sides with about equal power trying to fight each other (as well as deal with other factions that form). One on the rise, the other on the descent. It would be a much more complex dynamic, making for more interesting story lines.
Of course, along the way you have to have force ghost cameos from Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker, Kanaan Jarrus, Yoda, Qui-Gon Jinn, Barriss Offee, Aayla Secura, etc. One-armed Mace Windu is found alive in the bowels of Coruscant. Boba Fett flies out of the Sarlacc Pit. Go wild on the fan service 🙂
Oh, and don’t forget that you would also have Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian coming in to help stop Thrawn as well. He would have to take back Cloud City at first, but once Thrawn is a threat Lando would be back to help the fight.
The big question is who to get to play the characters that have only been in cartoons. Or even who to play new characters. I guess Luke is not training Jedi officially at this point, but there is nothing to say that he couldn’t find some other self-trained Jedi like himself that need mentor-ship. Someone once floated the idea of Rosario Dawson for Ahsoka – and that turned out to come true. I thought that was a great idea all along. Make sure to have something for Katee Sackhoff as Bo Katan. Oh, and of course The Mandalorian himself should be in the first movie at least. Give Brie Larson a part of one of the Jedi Luke mentors. While this seems like an idea to rely on existing characters, I’d still like to see some new major parts created for other stars like Letitia Wright. Just don’t do some major mis-match, like the Rock for Thrawn or something like that.
I get the feeling that the powers that be already have plans for many of these characters in current or future Disney+ shows, and I am sure they will do some cool things with them. But if they are looking for ideas, we can discuss my fees at any time 🙂