Tag Archives: han solo

Movie Review: Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)

He did it all for the wookie…the wookie…so you can take that cookie…and stick it up your…

Sorry.  BQB here with a review of “Solo: A Star Wars Story.”

I don’t know why I expected this movie to suck bantha dookie.  Probably because “The Last Jedi” sucked so much of it, that I lost faith in the Force completely.  This film renewed it though.  My official opinion is that it doesn’t suck at all.  In fact, it’s quite good.

Should I spoil the plot?  Probably not.  Suffice to say, it’s an origin story, and somehow director Ron Howard, without even casting Tom Hanks as he does in many of his other movies, gives us something that feels original and yet, it satisfies all of us long suffering nerds who know “Star Wars” inside out and have a checklist of things we want to see in a Han Solo biopic.

How did Han (Alden Ehrenreich) get that infamous blaster?  How did he become a great pilot?  How did win a card game against Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover) to get his mitts on the Millenium Falcon?  How did he complete the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs? And, most importantly, how did he meet his big, furry, BFF, the one and only Chewbacca?

All these questions and more are answered and they’re answered thoughtfully – like, not just a nod to all of us old geeks who want to see the pop culture of our youth remain intact in today’s films.  But it’s not done in such a stodgy manner that (I assume) the youngsters who may not get all the references won’t still enjoy it.

Ehrenreich plays Han well as an anti-hero who is in it for himself, yet when given the chance to do good over bad, picks the former.  As Han always has, he makes it up as he goes along, often infuriating his colleagues with his imperfection and fly by the seat of his pants style, even though few ever realize that when the chips are down, sometimes you just have to punch it and hope for the best.

Donald Glover is the living, breathing reincarnation of a young Billy Dee Williams, part homage and part parody of everyone’s favorite self-absorbed, duplicitous space gambler.  From his closet filled with way too many capes to his attempts to narrate his own biography into a hologram recorder, Glover manages to make us laugh, though there are some scenes where we see his softer side and he makes us cry.  It’s almost enough to make us wonder when will Disney make a Lando standalone?

Emilia Clarke thrills as Han’s love interest, Qi’ra.  I’d been worried about her.  While she’s always a delight as the Khaleesi on “Game of Thrones,” her movie career got off to a bad start with the godawful “Terminator: Genisys.”  I never thought the problem in that movie was her so much as a) the script sucked and b) she was miscast, recruited to play the ultra butch lady soldier Sarah Connor even though she’s the very definition of femininity.

Here, she excels as the stuck up priss, the hot babe Han is happy to be bossed around by, hoping that one day by doing so, he’ll get to complete her Kessel run in 12 parsecs.  Thankfully, she does so well that the Terminator film has been terminated from my memory.

Woody Harrelson, Thandie Newton and Jon Favreau’s voice round out the cast as a troop of ne’er-do-wells who give Han his introduction to the criminal underworld of space, with Woody’s Beckett serving as Han’s impromptu father figure.

For awhile, I did wonder if Paul Bettany, known to us as Jarvis and later, the Vision in “The Avengers” was miscast.  Could the proper Brit play a sinister mob boss?  Turns out, he can and he does.

Overall, it’s great, and I do think its success proves one thing – the best films in this franchise are set during the Vader/Palpatine Empire years.  Perhaps one day, some great writing team will come up with a fantastic premise for a future for “Star Wars,” but they haven’t done it yet, and should probably keep the tales set during the Empire’s reign until they do.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

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Movie Review – Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)

OH MY GOD! OH MY GOD! OH MY GOD!

Hey there, 3.5 readers. Due to some fancy footwork I, Bookshelf Q. Battler, was able to attend an advanced screening of the movie every sci-fi nerd has been dying to see and I can’t contain myself any longer!

SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS!

OK.  You’ve been warned.  May the force be with you if you read further.

OK, here we go.  Sorry about that.  I calmed down. I’m fine now.

Our story begins with Rey, a young junk trader who happens upon the wrecked hull of an old, crashed star destroyer. Carefully, and with the assistance of her trusty companion BB-8, she lowers herself into the belly of the ship to look around and see if there’s anything she can scavenge.

Oh, what does she find? Oh it’s so amazing. I don’t think I will spoil it for you just yet. I want your jaw to drop when you see it.  Go see it then come back here and tell me about it.

BUT – a contingent of stormtroopers patrolling the area want it too and Rey has to beat feet out of there.  Poor little BB-8 can barely keep up. He beeps and boops a number of complaints on the way out.

All seems doomed until….HOORAY!!!! Han Solo and Chewbacca, now in their advanced age, happen to be flying by in the Millennium Falcon after getting into some mischief and they blast the shit out of the storm troopers and save Rey.

Han’s all like, “Well I hope there’s a good reason why I stuck my neck out for you kid.”

And Rey shows Han and Chewie the artifact that she’s found. Chewie goes bonkers and wants no part of this (which he communicates through a series of growls that Han translates) but Han talks him into helping out.

Han explains to Rey that the only man that can help them now is Luke Skywalker, who we learn has been ex-communicated from the Jedi order because…

Oh geez.  Should I tell you? It’s really a big spoiler. In fact, it was a very bold decision by Disney if you ask me.

Luke Skywalker is a) gay and b) has married a male alien, Fazli Sekpo (sorry, I’m not sure if I’m spelling that right. Fazli is a Kweloni, a humanoid race with yellow scales and a permanently furrowed brow. I don’t know if Fazli is just angry all the time or if that’s just what Kwelonis look like.

I can tell you this is a movie that could not have been made ten years ago but due to our socially progressive modern society, we can accept the fact that Luke is homosexual but still remains our trusty, beloved hero after all of these years.

I discussed this choice with my friends on the way home. Everyone was cool with Luke being gay.  That wasn’t a problem. We were divided on whether or not it was ok to be with someone outside of your species though.

One buddy of mine declared “that’s totally bestiality!” and I was like, well, no, Fazli is a sentient, intelligent being so why would it be wrong to have a relationship with a being like that?

And then he was all like, “Well if my dog started talking I wouldn’t marry him!”

And then I was like, “Fazli’s a bit more advanced than your dog, you closed minded caveman!”

Then we both apologized.  But I tell you just from what I see on social media, a lot of people are having this same argument. People are going to be talking about it a long time.

Personally, I think that sucks that Luke was kicked out of the Jedi order for being with the man he loves. The Jedis say it wasn’t for that.  You just aren’t allowed to marry anyone as a Jedi.  Love interferes with your Jedi training. Anakin wasn’t allowed to marry Amidala after all.  Are the Jedis on the level or are they anti gay rights? I don’t know.

There is a theory that we might find out Fazli is actually a woman in a future movie.  We may just not understand what that particular alien race is like and maybe we assume certain things that Fazli does make him a man when he’s actually a woman. There were some hints at that.  I don’t think so.  But we’ll see.

OK.  Moving on. That wasn’t even the biggest controversy. So Captain Phasma is pissed.  Totally pissed that her storm troopers lost Rey.  So she sends a squad after Rey, but Finn, a storm trooper, has second thoughts and bails out the mission.

He doesn’t want to be a storm trooper anymore. He’s felt this way a long time.  He has been able to do odd things since he was a child.  Move things with his hand and so on.  He kept it to himself.  He grew up on a planet run by Empire holdouts (led by the dastardly Kylo Ren) and they’ve declared anyone with Jedi like abilities will be executed, so Finn always kept his abilities to himself.

But no longer.  He can’t allow a woman his age to become storm trooper blast fodder. So he tracks down Rey, Han and Chewie and Luke and they get together and plan out their next move.

They are summoned by Princess Leia Organa, now Queen Leia.  You see, she was chosen by the good beings of Naboo to hold the throne her mother once held.

It was a split decision between the humans and the gungans. Jar Jar makes a brief cameo as the deciding vote in Leia’s favor.  Everyone booed and screamed and threw popcorn and tomatoes and shit at the screen.

Leia is married to Lando Calrissian now and Billy Dee Williams looks good for a dude pushing 80.  He cheats on Leia often with hot green space babes though, and Leia misses Han.

Han misses Leia too and they agree that if they get through this ordeal alive, that Leia will divorce Lando and marry Han.  Chewie will officiate, having been an ordained minister for years.

C3P0 and R2D2 are the surprise villains of this flick.  They’re tired of being the comic relief for six f$%king movies and want in on the real action.  So they give up the Falcon’s location to Kylo Ren, who calls Captain Phasma in to blow all the heroes up and that is it.

That’s how it ends.  With every character from Star Wars you ever loved being totally dead.  The only one left is Jar Jar, who dawns Darth Vader’s mask (the item Rey found in the beginning) and pledges to finish what Darth started.  Jar Jar and “Ani” were old pod racing buddies after all.

Jesus, you read this far?  You’re very dedicated. OK.  Admission.  This is all made up and I did not see the movie at all.  I hope to soon.  And they should adopt this post as the script for the sequel.

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens Prediction

Game of Thrones has introduced us to the possibility that despite our hatred of one side or the other, it is possible to come to a realization of how that side came to be.

Case in point. Jaime Lannister.  He’s smarmy. Arrogant. But he did kill the original king. It earned him mockery in the form of the “Kingslayer” nickname, though no one cared enough to not participate in the subsequent takeover of the kingdom. He saved the day, but the people he saved it for hate him.  Its tough not to be jaded.

So my hunch is things will become less clear than light vs. dark sides of the Force. Each side will have their own reasoning for fighting.  Naturally, we get behind Han and Chewie et. al, but we’ll get why the bad guys do what they do, how they were driven to it.

And while I’d be very surprised if JJ Abrams breaks our hearts and turns Luke Skywalker into a villain, a climate in which audiences seek out motivations as to why villains do what they do does make a Skywalker villain more possible than ever.

I hope it doesn’t happen. I’d be very surprised.

Also, it is entirely possible this film will be just three hours of Jar Jar Binks reading a dictionary.

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Pop Culture Mysteries – Case File #002 – Who Shot First? (Part 6 – Conclusion)

PREVIOUSLY ON POP CULTURE MYSTERIES:

Part 1        Part 4

Part 2        Part 5

Part 3

AND NOW THE POP CULTURE MYSTERIES CONTINUE…

Like a snow cone in my underpants, this case was growing colder and more uncomfortable by the minute.

Hatcher ponders the possibilities.

I consider myself an expert marksman.  You don’t have to take my word for it.  Just ask any of the thousand plus Nazis I introduced to the undertaker.  Those fellas won’t be goose stepping anywhere anytime soon.

Yet, after watching the infamous Han vs. Greedo scene, I was plum out of luck and more mixed up than a cat in a blender.  (FYI Attorney Donnelly reminds readers to keep their cats out of their blenders.)

It was time to turn to the stack of research Agnes found for me.  I had the old gal print it out because I hate staring at those beep boop machine screens.  They’re creepy and like a trip to a discount gynecologist, they leave me feeling strained in more ways than one.

OBSERVATION # 1 – The Scene Has Changed Over the Years 

When I was a boy in Bayonne, a movie came out once and that was it.  Now, they’re re-released every so often.  The motion picture people change it around a little bit, maybe draw a mustache on a fella or put a hat on a guy or something and bammo, they feel justified to over charge John Q. Public to take in a flick they’ve already dished the dough out to watch the first go around.

Here’s what on site on the Interwhatever had on the topic:

“To say “Han shot first” is to refer, often with distaste, to George Lucas’s changes to the original trilogy. Often cited by film purists, this phrase more specifically refers to the changes made to A New Hope Special Edition, in the scene involving the characters Han Solo and Greedo in the cantina. In the original version, after Greedo says “I’ve been looking forward to this moment for a long time” (talking about killing Han), Han replies “Yes, I bet you have” and shoots Greedo under the table while Greedo was pointing a blaster at him (the phrase “Han Shot First” is thus misleading, since only Han shoots in the original version). In the special edition, Greedo shoots at Han and misses, without explanation, from point blank range, and then Han shoots him. Later, it was altered again to have Han and Greedo shooting at almost the same time (though Greedo still shoots first), with Greedo still missing from point blank range. With such a short time between each shot, it could be assumed that Han was already planning to shoot Greedo, rather than reacting to Greedo’s shot.”

“Han Shot First” – Wookieepedia, the Star Wars Wiki

Funny, if that’s the case, maybe my brain was tricked because I swore I saw/heard two shots in the 1977 version but then again, maybe that’s what I was expecting since the “Who shot first?” debate was emblazoned in my brain like a rancher’s brand in a steer’s rump roast.

OBSERVATION #2Han Shooting First is Important for Han’s Character Development

Any good guy can take a shot at a palooka who knows it’s coming but it takes a real ice cold so and so to wack a guy without fair warning.

That’s just not sportsmanlike.

But Han Solo isn’t your typical white hat.  He’s an anti-hero.  He’s a man who starts out as being in it for himself but later grows a conscience and devotes himself to the rebel cause.

Thus, for fans of this rogue ne’er-do-well, the idea that Han got a shot off before Greedo knew what hit him is appealing.  Watering it down to make it look like Han gave the green guy a fighting chance is not.

OBSERVATION #3 – Lucas and Ford

George Lucas is the creator of this whole shebang, so you’d think his word would carry some weight.

Personally, I never trust a man who wears that much plaid.

As stated in one news story:

Lucas has insisted that the change was to clear up his original intent — which wasn’t to have Solo appear to be a “cold-blooded killer.” He told The Hollywood Reporter that the original version was not as cut and dried as fans remember. “I put a little wider shot in there that made it clear that Greedo is the one who shot first,” he said.

Reddit Asked Harrison Ford Who Shot First, The Washington Post, April 14, 2014

One might think the fans would go with what the man who made the films they love but then again, it’s been made clear to me through multiple sources that the character known as “Jar Jar Binks” caused Lucas’ credit with sci-fi buffs to take a swan dive into the deep end of the pool.

Further, that same article reports that when asked who shot first, Harrison Ford, the actor who played Solo, responded, “I don’t care.”

Not surprising.  Agnes is a movie buff herself and she tells me Ford is a bit rough around the edges.  Happens to all of us when we get older.

CONCLUSION:  It doesn’t matter.

I hate to leave a case open-ended but this one is up for interpretation.  If you want Han to be a stone cold killer who puts himself over basic rules of fairness, then you’re happy to think he plugged a hole in an alien, catching said alien unawares. You want Han to have shot first (and also to have been the only shooter).

If you want Han to be a respectable type, you’d prefer that he got a shot in after Greedo missed, or that he shot second.

Personally, I don’t like it when history is revised.  We figure out who we are only by taking a good long look at where we came from, so if Solo’s the type of guy who’d sucker blast an unsuspecting alien, then so be it.  No use sugar coating it.

Mr. Lucas did his fans a disservice with his edits, in this gumshoe’s opinion.

But let’s face it.  My opinion plus five cents will get you a steaming cup of joe.

Races use words like “first” and “second.”

A gun battle is not your typical race.

Sure it’s a race to see who can squeeze off a precise, lethal shot first but first or second doesn’t really matter a whole hill of beans.

In this sleuth’s book, the dead guy left on the table lost and the guy who walked away won.

That’s all there is to it.

MOVIE DISCUSSED:

Star Wars

Originally released as “Star Wars” in 1977, later referred to as Episode IV: A New Hope once the prequels arrived.

shutterstock_278169329

Copyright (c) Bookshelf Q. Battler 2015.  All Rights Reserved.

Images courtesy of a shutterstock.com license.

Do you have a Pop Culture Mystery?  Put Hatcher on the case.  Drop it in the comments on this site or tweet it to @bookshelfbattle #popculturemysteries.

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Pop Culture Mysteries – Case File #002 – Who Shot First? (Part 5)

PREVIOUSLY ON POP CULTURE MYSTERIES…

PART 1 – Hatcher recalls old times.

PART 2 – Delilah pays our resident gumshoe a visit.  She comes bearing gifts.  (Actually, not really.  BQB expects them to be returned with their original packaging intact.

PART 3 – A gentleman caller whisks Delilah off to a night at the opera.  Hatcher wishes he could trade places with whoever this guy is.

PART 4 – Agnes the Librarian helps Hatcher with his technological illiteracy once again.

AND NOW THE POP CULTURE MYSTERIES CONTINUE…

I was dumbstruck.  It felt like that feeling you get when you find out your wife has been two-timing you with every yokel from here to Papa New Guinea.  It was a combination of anger and confusion and I wasn’t sure which one was winning out.

“What the hell happened?”  I asked old Agnes as she closed the movie player gadget.

BQB EDITORIAL NOTE:  I’d say, “SPOILER ALERT” but really, if you haven’t seen Star Wars yet, I scoff at your nerd credentials.  Back to Jake.

“The rebels won,”  Agnes said.  “Luke destroyed the Death Star.”

“With one shot?”  I asked.  “Unlikely.”

One shot my oily hide.  I lost count of all the Nazis I had to shoot before I made a dent in the Third Reich and this kid in his bathrobe does it in one try?

Sure, and if you believe that, I’ve got a bridge I’d like to sell you at a reasonable price.  Goes all the way to Brooklyn.

“So does Luke get to make whoopie with that space princess or what?”  I asked.

Agnes looked at me like I’d just grown a second head.

“You really don’t know much about the world, do you?”  Agnes asked.

“Oh, let me guess,”  I said.  “He tells her to hit the bricks because he doesn’t like those big buns on her head, right?  Some fellas can be so vain.”

“I think I’ll just let you find out on your own when you watch the next one,”  Agnes said as she handed me a flyer.

It read:

INTRODUCTION TO COMPUTER TECHNOLOGY

Wednesdays at 10 am

Computer Room C

Learn the basics of personal computing.  Word processing, information management, surfing the Internet and more.

Refreshments served.

Librarian Agnes Abernathy, Instructor

“What’s all this then?”  I asked.  “If you’re selling something, I already gave at the office, see?”

“It’s a free class,”  Agnes said.  “It’s mostly filled by seniors who’ve never seen a computer before.  I have to say I’ve never seen someone your age with such a lack of technical knowledge.  You’d be my youngest student ever but I think you’d really benefit.”

“Sorry sister,”  I said.  “School’s out for this palooka.  ‘Less learnin,’ more earnin,’ as my old man used to say.”

“There’s a free sandwich platter.”

“Sold,”  I said without hesitation.

I was never one to turn down free grub.

I made my way back to my office.  The details of Han Solo’s encounter with Greedo were fresh in my mind.

I jotted it all down.  Here are my notes along with crime scene recreations I produced using Mr. Battler’s toys, er I mean his research products:

1)  Solo’s in the Mos Eisley Cantina.  That old timer, Obi Wan Kadoobie Whatever describes it as:  a “wretched hive of scum and villainy.”  Kind of reminds me of Mugsy’s joint, the Gilded Lilly.

2)  Greedo’s an ugly mug, a green alien of some kind.  Big blank eyes and a pair of horns on his head that look like they should be attached to a kid’s bicycle.  He ‘aint winning any beauty contests any time soon.

3)  He’s also a bounty hunter.  Seems Han did some smuggling for Jabba the Hutt, a space gangster.  Dropped the goods when he spotted the space authorities and now he Jabba wants compensation, so much that he’s put a price on Han’s head.  Let me tell you, 3.5 readers, if there’s one position you don’t want to be in, it’s owing money to an organized crime boss.

4)  Greedo’s a bounty hunter and pulls a pistol on Han.  Han tells the galoot he’s got Jabba’s money.  Greedo tells him to hand it over and maybe he’ll forget he saw him.  I suppose degenerates are the same everywhere, even in outer space.  None of them can be trusted.

Greedo pulls a piece on Han.

Greedo pulls a piece on Han.

5)  Han pulls a fake-out.  He looks up and to the left while reaching down for his pistol with his right hand.  A shrewd move.  As an ex-boxer, I’m more than familiar with the “fake-left, jab right” routine.  Make your opponent think your mind’s elsewhere then strike in a way he’d never expect.

The Fake Out (I need to retake this photo with Han looking to his left but you get the gist.)

The Fake Out (I need to retake this photo with Han looking to his left but you get the gist.)

6) Greedo tells Han maybe Jabba will only take the Millenium Falcon (Han’s ship).  Han’s reply?  “Over my dead body.”  I like this fella’s moxie.  I had an old caddy I felt the same way about.

7)  GREEDO:  That’s the idea.  I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time.

HAN:  Yes, I bet you have.

8)  Assumedly, Han pulls his shooting iron out at some point without the knowledge of his assailant. We never actually see this happen because there’s a table in the way.  (We see him take the safety off, but we never actually see him take out the gun.)

My apologies.  Mr. Battler was too cheap to spring for a doll house table.  Assume Greedo can't see Han's piece, thus giving the rogue pilot the element of surprise.

My apologies. Mr. Battler was too cheap to spring for a doll house table. Assume Greedo can’t see Han’s piece, thus giving the rogue pilot the element of surprise.

9)  Upon Han’s, “Yes, I bet you have.”  There’s two blasts and some smoke and then the green man’s head hits the table.  He’s stone cold dead.

Solo - 1, Greedo - 0

Solo – 1, Greedo – 0

10)  Han, tough guy that he is, stands up like nothing happened and walks out, pitching the barkeep some money as an apology for the corpse he left behind.  Classy guy.

11)  Just for kicks, I imagine what it would look like if Han gave Greedo a celebratory curb stomp:

Eat space boot, loser!

Eat space boot, loser!

So, what did I learn from all this?

As often happens in real life when shit goes down, the Han vs. Greedo encounter was over and done with in the blink of an eye. Both shots were fired so fast that this investigator was left clueless.

Alas, after viewing the source material and conducting my own crime scene recreation exercise, I was no closer to blowing the lid off this can of worms than I was before I started.

I’d have to review what the experts had to say.

What are the major Han vs. Greedo theories?  Next time on Pop Culture Mysteries.

Copyright (c) 2015 Bookshelf Q. Battler.  All Rights Reserved.

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Pop Culture Mysteries – Case File #002 – Who Shot First? (Part 2)

PREVIOUSLY ON POP CULTURE MYSTERIES…

READ PART 1 – Jake receives a request from Bookshelf Q. Battler to investigate whether Han or Greedo shot first in the original Star Wars (1977) film.  Our resident gumshoe is reminded of a similar encounter he had with mobster Tips Malone.

The case had come to a standstill.  I had zero leads and even less patience.

“I give up,” I said as I put my feet up on my desk and drifted back to sleep.

“Who shot first?  Who cares?  Why does it even matter?”

Hatcher types his report.

Hatcher types his report.

The enchanting face of Delilah K. Donnelly filled my dreams but alas, it was all for naught.

My chances of getting up close and personal with that blonde bombshell?

About the same as a duck billed platypus walking into a room without anyone laughing.

An hour later, there was a knock on my office door.

I ignored it.  More knocks.

“Beat it, Jack!”  I yelled.  “I’m closed!”

Another knock.

“Mr. Hatcher?”

It was Delilah.  I jumped out of my chair faster than the 6:15 to Walla Walla, Washington.

I found a mirror and straightened my fedora.  I was a mess but then again, I always was.  Most private dicks usually are.  Par for the course in the criminal catching racket.

Delilah K. Donnelly, BQB's Attorney

Delilah K. Donnelly, BQB’s Attorney

I opened the door and there she was, my dream girl all decked out from stem to stern in a gorgeous dress.

Such a fashion maven. I doubt she ever took two steps away from home without gussying up and polishing herself shinier than a hay penny.

“Mr. Hatcher,”  Delilah said. “I dare say your mother would be appalled that you kept a lady waiting.”

“She would indeed, Ms. Donnelly, she would indeed,” I said as I showed her in and pulled out a chair for her.  “Unfortunately, I had to make myself presentable.”

“Are you still working on that?”  Delilah asked as she pinched her nose, oblivious to the fact that her insult struck my heart with the precision of an arrow shot by Robin Hood’s bow.  “It smells like a distillery in here.”

“Yes,” I said as I grabbed a flask off my desk and shoved it into a drawer.  “One of uh, my clients, left that here.  Poor drunk fellow.  Can’t get enough of the stuff.  Me personally, I rarely touch the devil’s juice.”

“I should hope not,”  Delilah said as she sparked up one of her filtered cigarettes.  “I worry about the integrity of individuals with addictions, Mr. Hatcher.”

I thought about pointing out that smoking was, in fact, an addiction but the gears cranking away in my brain indicated to me that such a statement wouldn’t take me very far in my quest to separate Ms. Donnelly from her fine fashions.

“To what do I owe this pleasure?”  I asked.

The lady lawyer plopped a plastic bag on my desk.  I opened it up and found these fellas inside:

The Suspects

The Suspects

“What in the name of Dwight D. Eisenhower is all this then?”  I asked.

“Research,”  Delilah said.  “Mr. Battler sent me to a store to purchase these toys and asked that I deliver them posthaste in the hopes that they will help you solve your second pop culture mystery.”

“I don’t get it,” I said as I held one of them up.  “What am I supposed to do with these guys?”

“Well,”  Delilah said as she blew out a smoke ring.  “They’re toys are they not?  You simply play with them, Mr. Hatcher, and see what happens next.”

Will Hatcher crack the case?  The story continues tomorrow…

Copyright (c) Bookshelf Q. Battler 2015.  All Rights Reserved.

Detective and blonde woman images courtesy of a shutterstock.com license.

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Pop Culture Mysteries – Case File #002 – Who Shot First? (Part 1)

By:  Jake Hatcher, Official Bookshelf Battle Private Eye

POP CULTURE MYSTERY QUESTION:  Han or Greedo: Who Shot First?

It was early morning. My five o’clock shadow had become a midnight blackout. I needed a shave like a madman needs sanity.

A ray of sunlight kissed my face but I was too tired to pucker. I closed the blinds and leaned back in my chair, my trusty fedora covering my face, leaving me in my own little world.

I drifted off in a space between slumber and reality, hovering on the verge of both but not quite entering into either. It’s nice when you’re too sleepy to care, but not too tired to enjoy it.

The sensation was short lived. I heard the scraping sound of an envelope being pushed underneath my door.

It was from Delilah. My new employer’s attorney had my heart twisted in knots though I’m sure the feeling only went one way.

Isn’t it strange how quickly we become attracted to that which we can’t have?

I opened up the envelope and read it.

Detective Hatcher,

A rogue pilot and a green alien walk into a bar. They shoot at each another. One lives. One dies.

That’s not the setup of a hilarious joke. It’s the beginning of your next pop culture mystery.

“Who shot first – Han or Greedo?” That’s been a question on the minds of geeks, dweebs, nerds, and assorted poindexters since the original Star Wars graced the big screen in 1977.

Some think Greedo shot first. Others believe it was Han. Both sides have their arguments. Both have their critics and detractors. It’s a question that has raged through the geekosphere for years with no resolution in sight.

I want you to provide that resolution, Hatcher. Did Han shoot first? Did Greedo? My 3.5 readers want answers!

Sincerely,

Bookshelf Q. Battler,
Blogger-In-Chief
Bookshelf Battle Blog

I crumpled up the paper and tossed it into my waste basket. Green aliens and space pilots shooting at each other. Who cares?

During my World War II days, over a thousand Nazis had taken shots at me. I’m still here. They’re not. It never mattered to me who shot first as long as I was the last man standing.

First?  Second?  Doesn't matter.  Betsy always comes out on top.

First? Second? Doesn’t matter. Betsy always comes out on top.

Delilah’s men had set up my office with fancy new fangled beep boop machines.

There was a big one on the desk and a little one I was expected to carry around with me.

Of all the phony baloney cock and bull inventions of this new world, the “cell phone” is the one I least understand.

Seriously, I walk out the door and I still have to be reachable by every Tom, Dick and Harry from here to Kalamazoo? In my day, if a fella wasn’t around when you called him, you’d just call him back later.  There wasn’t anything so important it couldn’t wait.

Now everyone wants to call everyone else all the time, day or night and the ironic part is that few people ever have anything important to say.

“Who shot first?

That very question took this old gumshoe’s mind back to late 1948.

I was around three years in on the job as an LA cop and had been promoted quickly to Detective. My partner was the irascible Mickey Finn. Believe it or not but back in those days, I actually liked the guy. Of course, that was before I caught him playing doctor with the first Mrs. Hatcher.

The Gilded Lilly. What a dive. I’d seen city trash dumps with better character and more respectable clientele.

Mugsy

Mugsy “I’m Just a Legitimate Businessman” McGillicuddy

It was owned by one Mugsy McGillicuddy. Back then, Old Mugsy was the boss to end all crime bosses in the City of Angels. The man was bald as a cueball, uglier than original sin, and was so fat that he bared a striking resemblance to three hundred pounds of crap stuffed into a one hundred pound bag.

Mickey and I strolled through the front door, dressed in our finest business attire. The bird on stage tickled our eardrums with her high notes while waitresses peddled cigarettes and cheap hooch. The whole place stunk with a mixture of smoke and dime store perfume. Kind of reminds me of my second ex-wife, come to think of it.

In the back corner booth, there was a rogue’s galley of ne’er-do-wells. It was a veritable who’s who of LA scumbaggery.

There was Ratface Wally. He wasn’t actually that bad looking but he’d squealed on his old New York Boss, Carmine Labrazza, singing a song for the coppers like he was auditioning for the opera. Mugsy had taken Wally under his wing, giving him protection in exchange for underworld secrets regarding his East Coast competition. That was one of the many reasons why Mugsy was universally despised, even by his fellow wiseguys.

Then there was Handsome Hank. It was an ironic nickname, like calling a fella Lefty when he’s a righty or Slim when he’s fat. That chump looked like the Gestapo had goose stepped all over his money maker, then turned around and did it again.

Sitting in between them was Tips Malone. They called him “Tips” because he was always generous with his billfold, doling out the cash to every dame that smiled at him. Tips was the man Mickey and I had come to see. After all, he was Mugsy’s second-in-command.

“Officers!” Tips said. “I’d offer you a drink but I know fine upstanding law men such as yourselves wouldn’t have anything to do with it.”

“You’re right,” I replied.

“Speak for yourself,” Mickey said. “Whiskey, straight up.”

Tips snapped his fingers to get the attention of a short, perky waitress who immediately ran off to get Mickey’s drink.

Boozing on the job. The warning signs of Mickey’s dirt bag ways were there. I just wish I’d seen them before it was too late.

“Where’s Mugsy?” I asked. “We’re here to serve an arrest warrant on him on a silver platter.”

“You’d run in a fine, respectable businessman like Mr. McGillicuddy?” Tips asked.

“We’re gonna lock up that big lug and bury the key smack dab in the middle of the Great Mojave,” I answered.

Tips clapped his hands, feigning applause.

“Bravo, Detective Hatcher,” Tips said. “Bravo. What a boy scout you are. I’m afraid I can’t help you, though. I haven’t spoken to Mr. McGillicuddy in days.”

“Hold on while I hitch up my boots,” I said. “Sounds like it’s going to get pretty deep in here, see?”

Mickey Finn - Hatcher's Ex-Partner and Self-Declared Life of the Party.  Hatcher and Finn were friends before Mickey danced the horizontal mattress mambo with Trixie, Hatcher's First Wife.

Mickey Finn – Hatcher’s Ex-Partner and Self-Declared Life of the Party.

The waitress brought Mickey’s drink. Old Mick sucked it down like it was liquid gold. Irony is a bitch in blue suede shoes, isn’t she? Back then, I was the sober one and Mickey was the palooka who was three sheets to the wind and ready to set sail to any port in town.  Today, I’m sad to say it’s vice versa.

“Fellas,” Tips said. “Why don’t you leave us a moment?”

Wally and Hank got out of dodge while the getting was good. Mickey was buzzed but not too plastered to realize that the other shoe was about to drop. Gutless coward that he was, he didn’t want to be anywhere around when it happened.

“Pardon me while I visit the little boy’s room,” Mickey said. “You two behave now.”

As soon as we were alone, I heard the unmistakable sound of a clicking revolver coming from Tips’ direction. He’d had it pointed at me underneath the table the entire time.

“I think you’d better get back on the horse you rode in on, copper,” Tips said.

I opened up my trench coat and gave the felonious goon a peak at Old Betsy. She was sitting snuggly in her holster, just itching for a fight.

“I have a toy too and I came to play, see?”

“I’d expect nothing less,” Tips replied. “But surely you realize I have the drop on you. I’ll have you deader than a doornail before you can even reach for your shooting iron.”

“Maybe,” I said. “Or maybe you’re such a lousy shot that I’ll paint the walls with your brains before you know what hit you, see?”

Things were getting heated. The “sees” started flying back and forth across the table like a squad of supercharged geese.

“Maybe you I’ll shoot your schnozola off your stupid face to remind you not to poke it where it doesn’t belong, see?” Tips said.

“Yeah?” I asked. “Well, maybe I’ll fill you full of so many holes you’ll be able to do commercials for the Acme Swiss Cheese Company, see?”

“See?”

“See.”

“See?”

“See.”

It was a see-off.

“You ‘aint a bad guy Hatcher,” Tips said. “But you’re in over your head. Maybe you ought to learn a little something from your
partner about how to play ball. We’ve had Old Mick on the payroll for quite some time now. You can get a little bit of the green stuff for looking the other way too.”

“I could do that,” I said. “But I’d never be able to look the other way from my soul and it would ache worse than a monkey stuck in a meat grinder if I sell out to a two-bit hood like you, Malone.”

Tips Malone - Gentleman Gangster

Tips Malone – Gentleman Gangster

Tips nodded and raised his left hand in a “stop” motion.  With his right, he sat his revolver down on the table.

“Sportsmanship Hatcher,”  my adversary said.  “Let’s start with our steel on the table.”

I had to admire the guy.  He had the drop on me and he gave it up to play fair.  I retrieved Betsy and sat her on the table in front of me.

“Is that a Schotzenhauer?”  Tips asked.

“Sure is,”  I replied.  “Model P58.”

“What a beauty,”  Tips said.  “She see a lot of action in the war?”

“Lost count after I sent a thousand Nazis to meet their maker,”  I said.  “They had a lot of explaining to do.”

“Won’t we all?”  Tips asked.  “Won’t we all.”

“On three then?”  I asked.

“On three.”

I said one.  Tips said two.

There was no three.

Just two loud BLAM BLAMS!

Tips was stone cold dead with a hole in his forehead deeper than the Grand Canyon. I was fine. Tips had always been a notoriously bad shot and I knew it. Hell, I used it to my advantage.

To this day, I’m not sure who shot first. It was possible that I’d popped Tips’ head open like a ripe casaba melon only to have him squeeze off an errant round in the last reflex movement of his pathetic life.

Then again, as I looked at the hole in the wall just a few inches away from my head, it dawned on me that Tips might have squeezed off the first round and missed, his lousy aim giving me the chance I needed to get the drop on him.

Good Old Betsy. After an all Nazi diet for years, she was hungry for any degenerate she could find.

And LA had an endless supply of them.

I walked to the bar and found Mickey.  He was working on round number three.

“Hatch my boy!” Mickey said as he patted me on the back. “Have one with your partner!”

I plopped a one-dollar bill on the bar as an apology to the barkeep for the mess I was about to leave him with.

“Sorry Mac,” I said. “Big pile of trash back there for you.”

“Happens once a day in this joint, copper,” the bartender said as he ran a white cloth up and down the bar for no apparent reason. “You might want to skeedaddle before Wally and Hank come back though.”

I plopped my hand down on Mickey’s shoulder.

“Just one more,” my partner said.

“For Christ Sakes, man!” I said, giving Mickey a taste of my backhand. “You’re an officer of the law! Get ahold of yourself!”

“Well excuse me Father Hatcher,” Mickey said with slurred speech as he walked out the door with me. “I didn’t know you’d joined the priesthood.”

“Stuff it, Mick,” I said. “I think we need to have a talk about proper police procedure. You’re due for a refresher, see?”

My mind drifted for awhile. Finally, the flashback was over and I was concentrating on my 2015 life again.

“I don’t know how I’ll ever figure out which one of these space weirdos shot first,” I said, staring at Mr. Battler’s letter in my hand. “Same thing happened to me and I’m not sure myself.”

Who shot first?  Han or Greedo?  Star Wars fans, stop by bookshelfbattle.com tomorrow for a discussion of this vexing question!

Copyright (C) Bookshelf Q. Battler 2015.  All Rights Reserved.

All images in this post courtesy of a shutterstock.com license.

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Pop Culture Mysteries!!!

A brand new episode of Pop Culture Mysteries starts tomorrow…

“Hmm…my powers of deduction lead me to believe this dame croaked from boredom. Probably didn’t read enough of the Bookshelf Battle Blog, see?”

Jake Hatcher, Official Bookshelf Blog Private Eye, has agreed to solve 100 pop culture mysteries and submit his findings right here on bookshelfbattle.com

Need to refresh your memory?  Better check out the previous episodes, see?

Pop Culture Mysteries:  Enter the Blond

Pop Culture Mysteries:  Case File #001 – Here’s a Story (Question Answered – What happened to the original Brady Bunch spouses aka Mike’s first wife and Carol’s first husband?)

Who better to solve a mystery than Jake Hatcher, a hardboiled film noir style detective who fell asleep in his office above an LA Chinese restaurant in 1955, woke up in 2014, and spent a year trying to figure out what happened before Bookshelf Q. Battler’s Attorney, the delicious dish Delilah K. Donnelly, offered him the chance to make 500 smackers?  (That’s a lot of dough in 1955, see?)

Do you have a question about popular culture?  Is there a plot hole in your favorite TV show or movie you’d like explained?  Is there a celebrity meltdown you’d like to know more about?  An entertainment myth you want debunked?

Put Hatcher on the case!

SUBMIT YOUR POP CULTURE MYSTERY QUESTIONS TO:

TWITTER –  @bookshelfbattle    #popculturemysteries

BQB’s Google Plus Page

Or just drop it in the comments here.

Hell, if you can get past her constant complaining, Liddie Laurent will even explain how you can read Pop Culture Mysteries on Wattpad.

Together, we can help Hatcher solve 100 mysteries and go back to his own time with a big bag of five dollar bills, which he will use to live like a king.

Tomorrow’s Pop Culture Mystery:  Han or Greedo – who shot first?

Man investigating murder victim image courtesy of a shutterstock.com license.

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My Contributions to Star Wars Voicemail

#starwarsvoicemail is blowing up on twitter. Here are my contributions:

And my favorite, though I suppose it is a little dark:

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