:: Starting with something Star Wars, Simon asks:
While I, too, will rally to the defense of the Prequel trilogy, who would have been better suited to write dialogue for the scripts so that they didn't sound like a smarmy high school drama class production?
Unsurprisingly, I don't grant Simon's premise; I never found the dialogue in the Prequel trilogy all that bad. It's true that Anakin sounded like a smarmy high-school drama kid, but I always figured that was intentional, since he is a smarmy high-school drama kid. I particularly note how most of the really really awful lines, if not all of them, are given to him. I don't think George Lucas ever intended anyone to take his "I don't like sand" pickup line as anything other than a terribly awkward attempt by a very immature kid to impress a girl some years his senior.
And there are good lines scattered all through the Prequel Trilogy, especially in Revenge of the Sith. So for punching-up of the dialogue, I'd have maybe brought in Frank Darabont, or brought back Lawrence Kasdan. It's tempting to say Joss Whedon, but I don't think the tone he tends to achieve in his scripts would have worked terribly well with Star Wars.
:: Roger asks:
Presidents' Day is coming. Who are the five best and the five worst Presidents?
Well, Presidents' Day is over, but anyway, briefly, here's how I'd rank them.
The best, in order of their service:
1. George Washington
2. Thomas Jefferson
3. Abraham Lincoln
5. Harry Truman
and the worst, also in order of their service:
1. James Buchanan
2. Richard Nixon
3. Jimmy Carter
4. Ronald Reagan
5. George W. Bush
Honorable mentions to Thomas Whitmore, Josiah Bartlet, and David Palmer.
:: Belladonna asks:
What was your favorite toy during childhood?
Hmmmm. You know, that is really a hard one. I mean, that one is really hard. The few Star Wars action figures I owned were favorites, of course. I had a couple of remote-control cars that I remember fondly, and a small chemistry set that was quite a bit of fun. I never did much with Hotwheels or similar toy cars. The best bath toy I ever had was a wooden boat with a paddle-wheel that was driven by a rubber band; you rotated the paddle-wheel manually to tighten the band, and then you released the boat in the water, whereupon the rubber band unwound and made the paddle-wheel spin. That thing was cool.
There was also the model railroad set-up that we started building, but never much got beyond the construction of the table and the layout of the track itself. We never decorated the thing, which I look back on as one of the bigger missed opportunities of childhood. To this day, I find something magical about a good model railroad layout.
This is weird! I've never thought about it much, but I really don't remember too many of my toys at all. The books, though -- now those, I remember well.
(And you want to know what's really freaky? I was just thinking of the old handheld electronic game "Merlin", which I liked a lot, and just minutes later, on My Name is Earl, Earl and Randy visit their childhood bedroom whereupon Randy picks up his old Merlin and says that he's been practicing his Tic-Tac-Toe! That kind of thing always spooks me out. Whhhoooaaaaa....)
:: She also asks:
How do you determine what is private and what you are willing to publicly disclose on our blog?
Well, one easy rule is the "Would The Wife kick my ass if I posted this publicly?" policy, which is always a good one to follow. I also try to generally avoid posting too much about The Daughter, because her life is her own. And of course I resolutely never post about work.
I pretty much go on a case-by-case basis on these sorts of things, and there are many things about my life that never show up here. That's not to say many of those things never will show up in this space; I've got a number of proto-posts stashed away that I started writing and later decided against posting, and there are other things in my life that I don't post about directly but toward which I allude vaguely around here sometimes, mainly so readers may see those things and go, "Hmmmmm....", or maybe, "Huh-whuh?!"
More to come over the next few days!