Archive for September, 2008

Childhood Remembered

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

Star Wars Figures

When I was a child the best toys were Star Wars figures []! No arguments from the GI-Joe, He-Man, Thundercats, Transformers, Voltron, or any other fanatics. Kenner Star Wars figures were the best.

And they still are. The picture to the right is a scan of the back of a still-in-the-original-packing Jawa []. Somehow during my childhood this lone figure got lost in my parents bedroom closet and was not given to me—it still has the “Dart Drug” $2.68 price tag on it. On the other hand I have a large number of the Star Wars figures I was given. Sitting in a Darth Vader case that has seen better days.

The figures I do still have in the Darth Vader case are:

  • Prune Face—missing his cape (and gun if he had one.)
  • Klaatu (in Skiff Guard Outfit.)—wasn’t the guy in The Day the Earth Stood Still named Klaatu? If so how can Lucasfilm copyright the name? I even still have his staff!
  • Nikto—who, for some reason, reminds me of the alien in Enemy Mine and in The Last Starfighter.
  • Wicket W. Warrick—who still has his hood but no staff.
  • Rancor Keeper—who is missing both his hood and staff.
  • Teebo—no hood and no staff.
  • AT-ST Driver—no gun.
  • Princess Leia Organa (In Combat Poncho)—not so much anymore, no poncho and no gun.
  • B-Wing Pilot—no gun.
  • Biker Scout—no gun.
  • Boushh—no accessories (that’s really Leia in disguise from Jabba’s palace.)
  • General Madine—sans accessories.
  • Lando Calrissian (Skiff Guard Disguise)—no hood, no staff.
  • Gamorrian Guard—no accessories
  • Weequay—no staff (but I have two of him!)
  • Nien Nunb—no blaster
  • Admiral Ackbar—no, um magic wand
  • Zuckuss—no blaster (but I have two of him too!)
  • Cloud Car Pilot—no accessories
  • Darth Vader—no lightsaber, no cape
  • Bespin Guard—no blaster (it’s the black one.)
  • Two-Onebee (2-1B)—no breathing tube and not medical poke stick either.
  • Luke Skywalker (Bespin Fatigues)—no lightsaber or blaster.
  • Lando Calrissian—no cape and no blaster
  • AT-AT Commander—no blaster
  • Chewbacca—no crazy laser crossbow.
  • Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi—no lightsaber or cape.
  • Han Solo—no blaster.
  • FX-7—with all his ‘legs’.
  • Greedo—no blaster.
  • Bossk (Bounty Hunter)—no blaster.

I also have two figures not listed on the package back to the right:

  • Lumat— no accessories (another Ewok.)
  • Paploo—with his hood still (yet another Ewok.)

I have one blaster rifle that I don’t know who it belonged to. Looks like the Imperial Stormtrooper (Hoth Battle Gear), but I don’t remember ever having him.

Some figures don’t seem to have survived my childhood;

  • Anakin Skywalker—You had to mail order this figure (at least the one I got, Kenner later re-issued it as part of the Power of the Force set with collectors coin, but I don’t remember ever having any of the figures that came with coins. I do remember getting this guy in the mail.) No idea what happened to this guy.
  • The Emperor—I know I had him, I could have sworn he was another mail order figure but since he shows up on the back of the ’83 package I guess he was a regular figure. No idea what happened to this guy.
  • Princes Liea Organa (Bespin Gown)—Lost this figure in a pile of dirt/pea gravel at my grandpa’s house in Pipestone, Minnesota. My sister and I were playing with some of the figures and she got buried in the dirt/pea gravel pile my grandpa had gotten for us to play in (later he used it to re-gravel some of the tractor paths around the farm.) We spent all the rest of the week digging in the pile and walking around the yard and never found it.
  • Luke Skywalker (Jedi Knight Outfit)—I lost Luke playing in the dirt under the sun deck at home with my Tanka trucks. Searched for him all over—no luck. That particular dirt is no longer where it used to be. A few years after I lost Luke my parents had an addition put on the house—a basement bedroom and upstairs kitchen. What used to be under the upstairs sun deck is now under the basement bedroom. Given that they had to cut away the hill and dig out for the foundation I suppose the Luke figure is either somewhere in the back yard where they filled in some of the dirt or where ever they trucked off the rest of the excess dirt.
  • Power Droid—I know I had him, don’t know where he is.
  • Artoo-Detoo (R2-D2) with Sensorscope—Yep had him. Don’t have him now.
  • Jawa—Last I saw him he was without his cloak in my parents basement. No idea where he is today.
  • Logray (Ewok Medicine Man)—I had all the Ewoks.
  • Chief Chirpa—As I saw ‘all the Ewoks.’
  • IG-88—Don’t ask, I don’t know.
  • Death Star Droid—Can’t remember last time I saw him.
  • Luke Skywalker (X-Wing Fighter Pilot)—The last time I can remember him is when he played the skier on a cake my mom decorated for her bosses birthday.

You died when…

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008

“I say to you, this morning, that if you have never found something so dear and precious to you that you will die for it, then you aren’t fit to live.

You may be 38 years old, as I happen to be, and one day, some great opportunity stands before you and calls upon you to stand for some great principle, some great issue, some great cause. And you refuse to do it because you are afraid.

You refuse to do it because you want to live longer. You’re afraid that you will lose your job, or you are afraid that you will be criticized or that you will lose your popularity, or you’re afraid that somebody will stab or shoot or bomb your house. So you refuse to take a stand.

Well, you may go on and live until you are ninety, but you are just as dead at 38 as you would be at ninety.

And the cessation of breathing in your life is but the belated announcement of an earlier death of the spirit.

You died when you refused to stand up for right.

You died when you refused to stand up for truth.

You died when you refused to stand up for justice.”

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., giving a sermon titled “But if Not” at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia in November, 1967, from Democracy Now! [] via Boing Boing [].


Thursday, September 18th, 2008

Yellow Ribbon Campaign Ad

Currently in Singapore the annual “Yellow Ribbon Campaign” [] is getting underway. The campaign’s awareness program is based on the ad above, which can be seen on many bus stops, trains and other public ad boards.

The problem with the ad is the man in the picture is completely covered with tattoos. On first glance it appears the ad is trying to say, “just because I have tattoos does not mean I am a criminal.” But that’s not what the Yellow Ribbon Campaign is about. The Yellow Ribbon Campaign is about helping people who are, in-fact, ex-convicts re-integrate into society, the main goal is to remove the stigma that everyone who has been to prison is a bad person to be shunned.

But the ad is re-enforcing one prejudice while trying to change another. The fact that they chose to show a man with a large amount of tattoos to represent an ex-con is confirming the prejudice that anyone with tattoos must be a criminal. I know in many Asian societies the idea that anyone with tattoos is a member of the Yakuza or Triad is deep seeded, but I find it appalling that it is so deep seeded that the people in charge of the Yellow Ribbon Campaign failed to realize their ad was re-enforcing the stereotype.

Stereotypes are often (though not always) based in part on reality and many hardcore criminals who have been to jail have a large number of tattoos. In Russia the tattoos tell a history of your violence, in the US they tell your gang membership and beliefs—and often a history of your violence. So maybe I’m being too PC and the use of the tattooed guy in the ad is justified or harmless, but I think it is either funny or tragic that a group charged with helping to eradicate one prejudice is using another in their ads.

Nap Time

Friday, September 12th, 2008


So cute! But Anne Geddes [] I am not.


Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008

More than likely the title of this post does not display or displays incorrectly. It should read:

Which is Victoria’s name in written in Chinese Characters or Hànzì []. How it’s pronounced is a complicated matter.

See, one of the official languages in Singapore is Mandarin and in school (assuming she goes to school here in Singapore) Victoria will have to take Mandarin as her mother is Chinese (so it’s considered her ‘Mother tongue’, everyone takes English and their mother tongue.) In Mandarin her Chinese name is pronounced as “Bèi Wǎn Líng.” However, Candice’s family is actually Cantonese, not Han, so they speak the Cantonese dialect not Mandarin. In Cantonese Victoria’s Chinese Name is pronounced as “Bui3 Yun2 Ling4” (the funny numbers is because Cantonese romanization is written in Yale which uses trailing numbers to indicate the tone while Mandarin is written in Hanyu Pinyin which uses diacritics over the vowel sound to indicate the tone.)

What does it mean?

The first character, Bèi or Bui3 [], according to Wiktionary, means “sea shell” or “money/currency.” Money as in they used to use little sea shells as money back in the day before coins.

Wǎn or Yun2 [] (unfortunately the pronunciation is radically different in Mandarin and Cantonese) means “seem” or “as if”.

The final character, Líng or Ling4 [], means “tinkling of jade”.

So the full translation of Victoria’s name should be either “Sea shell, as if tinkling of jade” or “money, as if tinkling of jade.” But as the family name is not really relevant, Wǎn Líng (or Yun2 Ling4) means “as if tinkling of jade” or “Seems [to] tinkle of jade.”

The family name, Bèi (or Bui3) was chosen simply because it has a nice meaning and sounds similar to the first syllable of “Beggerly.” I wanted to use a family name with more meaning, such as Candice’s family name, “Lum” or her mothers or grandmothers family name (Mann or Chan respectively) but apparently there is some silly superstition that a child’s name cannot have the same symbol in it as any of the direct women ancestors in her family tree (similar for boys also) so Lum, Mann and Chan were out. I think just picking random name is silly. The Feng Shui guy said that “bei is nice, it’s the same symbol used in the Chinese version of Beethoven.” I didn’t bother to tell him that Beethoven and Beggerly have different first syllables… Bay and Beh… The other option was to not have a Chinese family name, which i don’t agree with. Oh well. Still it’s a pretty name; “Bèi Wǎn Líng” or “Bui3 Yun2 Ling4.” I hope she likes all the thought that went into it.