Monthly Archives: May 2016

ESPL Week 21 – Head to Head

The penultimate week in the ESPL saw the clash of the two league leaders in what can only be called the match of the season. Who won? Who will win the championship? There is that and more as we get into Week 21 action.

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Emerald United hosted Vulcan FC in the week opener with a 5-3 victory. Emerald United goals came from Xin Li, Edge Righte (2), and Paco DeJesus (2). Vulcan goals came from Dzung Tran, Casin Klop, and Jacque Lareaux, but it wasn’t enough in the end. Emerald United secured victory in a solid way and solidified a third place for the season.

“Twelve clubs and we came in third,” said Arthur Franklin, Emerald United Manager. “We will build and have a better showing next season. One week left.”

Real Olympia hosted Allen FC and Shazam CM hosted Naval Armada both played to scoreless draws. For Shazam and Naval Armada, their result caps off a lackluster end of the season as both clubs will seek to build for the future.

Halo hosted Wordsmiths to a 3-2 win. Halo’s goals came from Hogi Prince and two from Scott Stennon. Wordsmiths’ goals both came from Wonk O’Riley. Halo had a fair showing for the season but fell short when things mattered in the end.

Shamrock Celtic hosted Gothica in a 4-3 victory, getting the one win they needed to be able to have a shot at winning the championship. Shamrock Celtic’s goals came from Tom Johnson, Marco Kaspazov, and two from Arak Shemin. Gothica’s goals came from Pierre LaFayette, Donovan Righte, and Simon Tarken. In the end, the league leaders lost valuable ground and have a difficult next week ahead. More on that after the final match of the week.

Sporting Black Cats hosted Knightsquare in a scoreless draw, but they were in a very large shadow and almost no one was watching this one except the hard core.

“All we need to do next week is tie,” said Simon Tarken, Gothica team captain. “That’s literally the easiest thing in the world to do, especially in this league. We have an opponent next week that will have to pull out all the stops and all we need to do is finish with a tie to win the championship.”

“We’ve never pulled for another club to win so badly,” said Ephraim Colton, Shamrock Celtic Manager. “Next week, though, Real Olympia has the full support of every single Shamrock Celtic player and supporter. They can win. If Real wins and we win, we win the title. The only way we can win the title is if Real Olympia scores one more goal than Gothica next week.”

“This title is ours,” said Peter Stark, Gothica Manager. “We can’t just tie next week, we need to send a message to the league: we are the champions. This is our championship. We aren’t going to tie next week, we’re going to win.”

“Gothica can’t lose,” said David Archer, ESPL commentator. “They’d have to sit all their starters against Real to lose, that isn’t going to happen. They’ve had some issues in the end but they are walking away with the championship. I know its a week early, but I’d like to congratulate them right now on winning the league. They should have done it with a bigger margin, but that wouldn’t have been a spectacular season finale like we’re going to have.”

“I look forward to next week,” said Martin Thomas, ESPL commentator. “One club will walk away with a championship, the rest will be preparing their clubs for next season. I’m just grateful that there will be a next season, and I’m glad this season ended with such a bang.”

One week left, and then the off season. Are you ready?

The Greatest Show 80: Partial Nudity

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This is the Game of Thrones… no, wait. This has nothing to do with the Game of Thrones… except we might talk about Game of Thrones sometimes. What we really need to be talking about is partial nudity… yeah, that’s the ticket.

Bob returns! He controls the forces that control the zombies (via Xbox controllers and other techy sounding stuff) and he tells us tales of the days before the future. Tricia is also with us and she controls the animals for the upcoming animal-pocalypse. She’s got birds, cats, and all kinds of other fuzzy things under her purrrrrrview. See what I did there? We have Metal Jesus, who is the second coming of Metal Jesus… no, really, because he was only on for the first time last week. And if he doesn’t show up, well, there’s always the master of ceremonies: DJ. He’s the ghost with the most (he’s the Emerald Specter, kids). If bald, fat people were gold, he’s a mountain of gold.

Join us for the live show! Don’t feel left out if you missed out, come by and check us out on YouTube after the fact. Here’s the freaking link: this is a link.

ESPL Week 20 – A Shocking Turn of Events

The chest pounding and bluster is running wild through the league and the race grows tighter as the leaders commit a critical error in the worst possible time. Can the league still go to another club? Let’s find out as we dive into week 20.

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Halo hosted Vulcan FC, Naval Armada hosted Emerald United, and all four clubs failed to score a goal. Their hopes of accomplishing anything meaningful this season were dashed.

Knightsquare hosted Wordsmiths to a 1-1 draw, also resulting in very little for either club. Knightsquare goal scorer Darin Van Pelt was matched by Wordsmiths goal scorer Jason White. Both clubs desperately needed a victory and neither could pull it out in the end.

Allen FC hosted Shamrock Celtic, with the away side winning 1-0 with their goal from Arak Shemin after only 5′ of play. The hopes are kept alive for Celtic.

“We aren’t dead and we aren’t giving up,” said Ephraim Colton, Shamrock Celtic Manager. “This club will be champions and I’ve got my eye on the prize.”

Real Olympia hosted Sporting Black Cats in a scoreless draw.

Shazam CM held Gothica to a draw, 2-2, as they struggled to send a message that they weren’t done fighting yet. Shazam’s goals came from Russell Mantrell and Carlos Marcos. Gothica’s goals came from Simon Tarken and Norman Tavez.

“The league is watching with great interest,” said Martin Thomas, ESPL commentator. “Gothica has stumbled again, something we kept saying they couldn’t do. If Celtic wins next week, we have a bona fide championship race on our hands, coming right down to the wire. Gothica cannot afford to draw or lose the rest of this season. If they want the championship, they need to win to lock that up. This weekly debate isn’t something they can afford to have distracting them.”

“We’re in control of our own destiny,” said Peter Stark, Gothica Manager. “If we win this championship, we set ourselves up as the club to come to for all of the best players in the league. I’m looking to make Gothica a dynasty club, not just a one and done or a once in a while.”

“I want a championship,” said Patrick Barnes, Shamrock Celtic forward. “I can taste a championship. This club can take that cup and be the club to beat but we need to put a stamp on this next week.”

Can Shamrock Celtic defeat Gothica? They get their chance next week. Stay tuned.

The Greatest Show 79: FCBD Special!

GreatestShow570_FireThe good news: the Greatest Show is BACK! The bad news: we have 100% less Bob this week due to him watching a friend’s band at a bar. Boo!

We have Tricia! We have Kevin Couick! We have METAL JESUS! We have DJ! Join us!

ESPL Week 19 – Asserting Dominance

Gothica reasserts their control of the league in a solid victory, one club drops out of the tight race that will see only one team as champion of the league, and the two main commentators for the league weight in on who they believe will be the ultimate ESPL Champions.

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Allen FC and Shazam CM fought to a scoreless draw. Vulcan FC and Real Olympia did the same. All four clubs are seeking the reasons for their lack of definition and all four clubs are already evaluating where they stand for the future.

Sporting Black Cats hosted Gothica as the league leaders won 6-4. Gothica scorers were Norman Tavez, Yuri Petrikoff, Donovan Righte (2), and Guillermo Martinez (2). Sporting scorers were Avondale Borusa, Tsung Bai, Victor Khrushchev, and Kai Funaka. Gothica sends a message with a big score that states they won’t be denied their championship.

“Sporting gave us a run,” said Simon Tarken, Gothica team captain. “We started out really strong and they started to fight back but it wasn’t enough in the end.”

Wordsmiths hosted Naval Armada in a 2-2 draw, ending what many believe is Naval Armada’s best chance at winning the first ESPL championship. Wordsmiths goals came from Kerwin Katzer and Tendo Hiroshima. Naval Armada goals came from Piotr Khrush and Pedro DeJesus.

Emerald United hosted Knightsquare in a 1-0 victory, the sole goal coming from Dae Ho Park. Emerald United keep slim hopes alive with their victory but the fact that Knightsquare held them to a single goal probably means they’ll have issues finishing on top of the league.

Shamrock Celtic hosted Halo in a 3-2 victory, keeping their dreams alive for championship glory. Shamrock Celtic goal scorers were Shamus O’Mara and two from Patrick Barnes. Halo goals came from Hector Cruz and Andrei Ramius.

“I’m going to personally put as many goals into the net as I can,” said Patrick Barnes, Shamrock Celtic forward. “We will be the champions if I have to score a hundred times between now and the final game.”

“The end game is in sight,” said Martin Thomas, ESPL commentator. “Gothica really has a good hold of the championship right now and they just need to maintain their strength they’ve kept this whole time. There isn’t much that anyone else can really do as long as they don’t sit on their laurels. I’m picking Gothica for the championship.”

“Shazam stumbled early,” said David Archer, ESPL commentator. “Emerald United followed shortly thereafter, and now we see Naval Armada stumble. With so much on the line, you can’t afford to stumble this late in the game. Shamrock Celtic and Gothica are in a race, don’t be distracted by the fact that Gothica has a nice margin for error. If they falter, they will lose the league. I don’t personally think they will, though, and I’m calling Gothica for the championship. If Shamrock Celtic can really get a big statement victory in two weeks against Gothica, I think they have a real shot at carrying home the title.”

What will happen? We’re coming down to the wire… see you next week.

SpecterFit 42: The SpecterFit January Event

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For those interested in the SpecterFit January event, this column is almost exclusively about that… if you’re not interested, I’ll see you next week. If you’re still reading, then let’s talk about January and SpecterFit 1.

Up to this point, I’ve been teasing the idea of subtitling the events. Just like the previous WAFFLE stuff, I did still want to keep SpecterFit numbered events around but I think that some subtitles would be nice to help kick things off AND hopefully motivate some folks into jumping on board. Then another idea struck me and I thought that maybe we can have both.

First, without further dancing around the damn tease, here’s the SpecterFit 1 “cover” photo:SpecterFit1

The first idea I had was to name SpecterFit 1 “Genesis,” but I decided to go a different direction and use the word “Origin.” Genesis has a more epic ring to it, but Origin is still the beginning. There will be more epic titles to these events, and that’s where I want to go next. Subtitles and numbered SpecterFit events.

Let’s say that we get through 2017 with 12 SpecterFit events and we’ve subtitled about half of them. Other than Origin for 1, I’ll invent Fitacular for 3, Fitnado for 5, and FitForce for 7. Anymore than that, I’m stretching myself to come up with dummy names. Anyway, let’s look at the lineup.

We’d have 12 SpecterFit events with (in my example) four that have subtitles. We’ll say that 2017 is over and for 2018, we go with SpecterFits 13-24 and add the extra four events that no longer are subtitles but actually named events. So, Fitacular with either be Fitacular 2 or Fitacular 2018. The idea would be to grow the SpecterFit events to keep people moving and getting fit. Interesting?

Anyway, SpecterFit 1: Origin will be from January 1, 2017 to January 31, 2017 and I’ve mentioned that you can get a badge for participating in the event, but you can also get badges for accomplishing your goals. An example of this would be:Origin_Badge

Is this the actual badge for walking? It could be… I’m working on concepts and I whipped this one up in order to show you what kind of badge designs I was toying with. The SpecterFit 1: Origin badge will have a unique design and can only be earned by participating in the event. In fact, all SpecterFit events will have a unique badge.

So, I need some feedback. What kinds of badges do you want? Weight lifted? Walking? Running? I can make all of those, and they will be progressive (win it the first time, it’s bronze, second time it’s silver, third time it’s gold, for example). Those three will be created, and probably flights climbed will be in there for the stair steppers… so, what else do you want to see? Post the ideas in the new SpecterFit forum.

Get fit.

ESPL Week 18 – Gaining Ground

A shot has been fired across the bow of the juggernaught that is Gothica. The league needed Gothica to stumble and that meant someone had to step up to hold them still… someone stepped up in Week 18, so let’s get to the recap!

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Shamrock Celtic hosted Emerald United in their biggest contest short of taking on the lead dog in the league. They succeeded in their mission by winning 2-1, goal scorers Thor Skjelstad and Patrick Barnes. Emerald United’s only goal came from Edge Righte. Shamrock Celtic vaults into second place  with a solid victory over their first big test.

“We failed,” said Arthur Franklin, Emerald United Manager. “We put it all on the line and failed. We aren’t out of the race but this sets us back in a major way.  We need to keep looking forward.”

“Stay focused,” said Ephraim Colton, Shamrock Celtic Manager. “That has been our mantra and we stayed focused against Emerald United. We’re one step closer to the championship.”

Sporting Black Cats hosted Naval Armada, with Naval winning 2-1. Naval Armada goal scorers Pedro DeJesus and Vance Alexander allowed Naval to get the victory. Sporting’s only goal came from Victor Khrushchev.

“Things are looking good for Naval,” said Horatio Antonelli, Naval Armada Manager. “One obstacle is out of the way, we only have a few more to go to take the title.”

Allen FC and Halo fought to a scoreless draw, leaving both clubs floundering in the middle of the table looking for the best finish they can find.

Shazam CM hosted Knightsquare, only scoring one goal (Jackson Alexander) to win 1-0. Knightsquare’s acting manager Jason Druid considered this a solid win, despite the score not reflecting as much.

“We could have easily lost this one by seven or eight goals,” said Jason Druid, acting manager of Knightsquare. “We held Shazam to one goal. They were fuming that they didn’t get more but we held on and kept it to only one. This club has potential and I’d like to see if we can show that potential before the end of the season.”

Gothica hosted Vulcan FC in a 3-3 draw, causing Gothica’s first stumble as the end of the season nears. Gothica goals came from Victor Vesselin, Donovan Righte, and Simon Tarken. Vulcan goals came from Dzung Tran, Tsung Zhang, and Muleaki A’anhi.

“The schoolyard bully showed up and we punched them in the mouth,” said Nathan Bristol, Vulcan FC Manager. “We didn’t do this for anyone but ourselves, so thanking us isn’t necessary. Vulcan is here to show we are a force to contend with and we will keep getting victories until the season is over.”

Real Olympia hosted Wordsmiths in a scoreless draw. Both clubs replaced their managers and neither could seem to gain an advantage in this one.

Overall, the excitement for the championship is heating up. Concern was sprung, however, with the ESPL about the high number of draws in the inaugural season.

“By our best estimates,” said DJ Allen, ESPL founder. “The league is on track to finish at 50% as far as draws are concerned. That is alarmingly high, in my estimation. We will be looking at diversifying the league as much as we can, seeing more definitive results and less draws. If that means offering bonuses for wins, making a salary cap to prevent all the best players from joining a single club, or whatever we can do to make less draws happen. The league officials and I will be investigating options.”

Let’s hope next week is as exciting!

Emerald Specter 13: Star Wars the Series

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Welcome to another edition of the Emerald Specter column, number 13, and I wanted to do something a little off beat for this edition. I wanted to run through a scenario that I don’t believe will happen, but would expect to end the way I detail.

This edition, I’ll be exploring the concept of Star Wars as a television series. I’m running on the fictional theory that maybe the Force Awakens never happened… maybe the Clone Wars or Rebels never happened… let’s just say that someone gets the bright idea to turn Star Wars into a TV series to “revitalize” the franchise.

Hey, Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica are TV series, why not Star Wars?

Keep in mind, I don’t think this will happen. I’m not suggesting this will happen. I am not advocating for anyone to do what I’m going to be writing about, I’m simply coming up with what I think would happen if someone got the bright idea to reboot or reimagine the franchise into a TV series.

Let’s continue, shall we?ES_SWSo, Disney approaches George Lucas, whose dated science fiction franchise needing new life breathed into it, purchases the name, characters, etc and announces to the world that there will be a new series for ABC, Star Wars the Series.

The old school fans cried out in agony and were suddenly silenced when the marketing machine that is Disney starts announcing the casting for the series. The undiscovered young stars they chose, while initially dissed as “shallow imitations” of the originals, starts gaining leverage when clips from the first season are released, fans start slowly coming around… because Disney’s spending on this series make the special effects look better than anything ever seen on TV. Then comes the season, to much applause.

SEASON ONE

ABC sees record viewership for the premiere episode as the escape of Princess Leia with C3PO and R2D2 to Tatooine leaves enough of a change from the original film that people start wondering what the new direction is for this franchise. There was so much buzz, in fact, that the haters tuned in setting a new record for viewing… making the second episode more viewed than the first one!

The first season goes off like gangbusters (I’m not old enough to understand that reference, by the way, but why not use it). Leia and the droids locate Obi Wan Kenobi, who can’t leave without a farm boy named Luke. His Jedi skills allow the group to battle off the Empire, who finally capture Leia but allow Kenobi, Luke Skywalker, and the droids to escape to Mos Espa, where they look for a way to get off Tatooine to save Leia from the Empire.

Enter Han Solo, Chewbacca, and the Millennium Falcon. The group flees the planet and comes across the Death Star, the Imperial super weapon… just as it destroys Alderaan! The group gets captured and things look bleak just as the mid-season ends.

The second half of season one kicks off with the dramatic rescue and fight off the Death Star by the Falcon crew. There is the loss of Obi Wan Kenobi in the escape, which ends the in depth talk of the time before the “Dark Times” and the Jedi of old.

Several encounters with the Empire later, as the Millennium Falcon flees to find the Rebellion, they finally end up on Yavvin, where they finally gain access to the Death Star plans and plot the full scale assault of the Empire’s secret weapon. The clock is ticking as the Empire tracked the Falcon to Yavvin and are almost there, ready to destroy the planet and the bulk of the Rebellion!

The season ends with the epic climax of the battle at Yavvin, where the Rebellion manage to deal a serious blow to the Empire by blowing up the Death Star. Luke Skywalker, the hero of the attack, is joined by the support of Han Solo and Chewbacca in the finale, where they’re awarded medals for their valor… but we see, just before the credits roll, that Darth Vader escaped and has a new mission: find the Force user that destroyed the Death Star.

After the season, which was a resounding success, Disney announces that they’ll produce a second Star Wars series to run between Star Wars the Series, which will be a prequel to the Season One series exploring the era of the Old Republic that the Obi Wan Kenobi character kept talking so much about. Some fans roll their eyes, having hated the prequel movies, but all the fans of this new series are willing to give it a shot… knowing that Disney will be going in a new direction.

The deal is sealed for most fans when they discover the actor playing Obi Wan is returning to be the linchpin of the new series.

SEASON TWO (Star Wars the Series)

Viewership for the second season is high, though not as high as the series premiere. We pick up only one month after the end of season one, where Luke Skywalker arrives on the planet Hoth to join the Rebellion as they prepare to launch their next big offensive, which is to plan a full scale assault of Coruscant to depose the Emperor.

Things are changed, though, when word gets to the Rebellion about bounty hunters looking for key members of the Rebellion, which include the bounty from Jabba the Hut on Han Solo. When Luke starts showing real signs of his Force abilities, the Empire is led to Hoth by Darth Vader sensing where this new Force user is… and discovering the name of his target, Darth Vader contacts the Emperor and passes his information on, changing the focus of the two Sith who are leading the Empire.

When Vader leads the attack on Hoth, the Rebellion repels the attack just long enough to allow the bulk of the forces to escape, to fight another day. The Millennium Falcon is Vader’s sole focus, as the whereabouts of Luke Skywalker force Vader to follow the one lead from season one that he felt was best to locate Luke. Enter Boba Fett, the premier bounty hunter in the galaxy, puts together a plan to capture Han Solo for Jabba the Hutt, his true employer. The first half of the season ends when Luke crashes on Dagobah after exploring a Force vision and losing control of his X Wing. Enter Yoda, the only other Jedi left in the galaxy.

Casting news for the companion series, Star Wars the Old Republic, comes out with who is playing Mace Windu, Qui Gon Jinn, Anakin Skywalker, Darth Maul, Count Dooku, and Palpatine gets the fans really excited to see what is coming for the “between the seasons” series. Disney also announces that Star Wars the Old Republic will be only 13 episodes instead of the 20 that the main Series is. Then we kick off with the second half of the season!

We return to a galaxy far, far away with Luke deep in training to be a Jedi on Dagobah. We see all kinds of weird Force visions and learn the reason Luke doesn’t have to worry about being discovered is that Dagobah is cloaked by the Force, keeping them safe.

In a separate plot, the Millennium Falcon housing Han Solo, Princess Leia, Chewbacca, C3PO, and R2D2 are running from the Star Destroyer fleet through an asteroid field and then to Bespin, where they are introduced to Lando Calrissian. Unbeknownst to the Falcon crew, Boba Fett is on Bespin and has an elaborate trap laid for the crew.

Back with Luke, he starts seeing visions related directly to him, which relate to his friends who will be dealing with the Empire and bounty hunters. He becomes distracted, which sends Yoda into despair that his last pupil won’t stick around to finish his training. Before he departs, Yoda and the ghost of Kenobi plead with Luke to stick with what he’s already learned and not be swayed to the Dark Side of the Force. He promises and leaves, headed for Bespin… the city in the clouds from his visions.

On Bespin, the trap laid for Solo and the others is sprung, implicating Calrissian as a double agent. They resist until Vader shows up, with his fleet, and takes over Bespin by force. Solo is tortured and Vader plans to test the carbon freezing on him for the Emperor’s prize: Luke Skywalker. No longer shrouded from him, Vader senses him impending arrival.

Han Solo is frozen and Boba Fett takes him on Slave One towards Tatooine, where his employer, Jabba the Hutt, will pay him handsomely for his success. Luke arrives too late to stop the plot and ends up coming face to face with Darth Vader, the most dangerous man in the Empire. Their battle lasts an entire episode, ending with the loss of Luke’s hand and the revelation that Vader is his father, just before he is rescued by Leia, Chewbacca, and the cleared Calrissian on the Falcon… we are also given a glimpse of the lair of Jabba the Hutt and what awaits the heroes for season three in the season finale.

The long awaited companion series then starts with a bang!

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SEASON ONE

Qui Gon Jinn and Obi Wan Kenobi are locked in battle with the last Sith, Darth Maul, on Naboo during a dispute on trade routes. The Republic supports Naboo but politics has bogged down the Senate, forcing the Jedi Council to become involved directly. When Maul escapes the battle to fight another day, we learn that he isn’t actually the last Sith but an apprentice to the last Sith Master, Darth Sidious. The plot to take their revenge on the Jedi begins.

Fan reactions to the new series are mixed but viewership rises as the season continues, renewing the faith in those who were worried the prequel series would follow too closely the original Lucas attempt.

The season continued when Princess Amidala, who starts showing an affection towards Jinn’s apprentice Anakin Skywalker, as she is ferried to Coruscant by Jinn and Kenobi to try and sway the Senate to Naboo’s favor. Their arrival is met by Darth Maul and a force of Battle Droids. Count Dooku, one of the strongest Jedi on Coruscant, leads the resistance against Maul but the real fight comes back to Maul vs Qui Gon Jinn.

When Darth Maul ends Jinn’s life in the Coruscant underworld, Kenobi leads Anakin to overcome Maul, resulting in the promotion of Skywalker to full Jedi status by slaying Darth Maul. Count Dooku is approached by Darth Sidious because of his “faltering faith in the Jedi,” recruiting himself a new apprentice that needs very little training. There is a space battle alluded to around Naboo, winning Naboo’s freedom from the trade dispute.

The season ends with Windu, Yoda, and Kenobi discussing the real possibility that Darth Maul wasn’t the Sith Master and what plans the Sith have for the galaxy.

Fans of both series start putting the word out that both series are taking different turns than the original source material and are hopeful that the saga will result in only bigger and better storylines for the future.

SEASON THREE (Star Wars the Series)

The season three opener gets nearly as many viewers as the series premier when the direction for the season came into question just before the launch. Instead of retelling Episode VI, the season starts out with Luke getting his mechanical hand and debating whether or not his path towards becoming a Jedi is right for the galaxy. This is done on Jakku, a planet eerily similar to Tatooine. Leia, Lando, and Chewbacca collect what they can in research to recover Han Solo from Jabba the Hutt while we see the control that Jabba has on Tatooine and surrounding systems.

As the season progresses, we see that the Empire is drawing in towards the inner systems and Coruscant, leaving the outer rim territories largely uncontrolled. This consolidation of power by the Emperor, revealed to be Darth Sidious, is in preparation for the reveal for the new super weapon to replace the Death Star. The exact nature of this super weapon remains a closely guarded secret, even from the audience.

News of the Empire drawing in forces the attention of Admiral Ackbar, Mon Mothma, and the Rebellion  leadership to start formulating a plan of attack. Several small engagements reveal that the super weapon is around the Coruscant system, so spies go in to investigate.

Luke eventually decides to return to Dagobah and finish his training, begin encouraged by the ghost of Kenobi. His secluded training is seen for the rest of the season dealing with Yoda, Force visions, and learning to become a full fledged Jedi.

Leia, Lando, and Chewbacca infiltrate Jabba’s palace, set themselves up in covert positions that enable them to have a chance at freeing Han, and they discover that Boba Fett is far more than he initially appeared. The power struggle between Jabba and Boba forces Boba off world, back to Mandalore, where he no longer threatens Jabba’s hold. When the liberation attempt is made, Leia and Chewbacca are captured by Jabba’s forces, leaving Lando without a viable escape plan and he is forced to remain disguised until help can arrive.

The season finale is the darkest cliffhanger yet, leaving Leia enslaved, Han Solo still trapped in carbonite, Luke driven to leave his training again due to visions, Lando unable to save any of his friends, and the Rebellion discovering the super weapon the Empire was hiding: a Sith Order with hundreds of apprentices being recruited from across the galaxy.

The season finale was met with mixed reviews, though more positive than negative. No one could seem to agree if the remake was better than the original film or if the new direction gave hope that there could be a new and interesting direction for the future of the franchise.

SEASON TWO (Star Wars the Old Republic)

The Senate is torn in half by debate after the destruction of Dantooine, which was blamed on the Union, an alternative to the Republic. The member states of the Union fully withdraw from the Senate and start building an army of droids. Their immediate hostilities force the Senate to begin asking for recruits to fight back, as the Jedi cannot battle the large scale assaults of the Union.

Just when the Senate was faced with the real possibility of being unable to defend the inner systems, the cloners on Kamino contact the new Chancellor Palpatine to report his order has been fulfilled for millions of clone soldiers. Forced into utilizing this fortuitous army, Palpatine gives the Senate the option and they unanimously vote to use the clones while also requiring the Jedi to investigate where this “order” came from, leaving those Jedi not investigating to become the generals of the clones against the increasingly aggressive Union.

Darth Tyrannus, also known as Count Dooku, is leading the Union from behind the scenes. Dooku is also being trained by Darth Sidious in the ways of the Dark Side of the Force. Through this training it is revealed that Darth Sidious and Chancellor Palpatine are one in the same.

The investigation reveals that a long dead Jedi is credited with the order of the clones but the host for the clones reveals he was paid by a man named Tyrannus, linking the clones to the Sith. As the investigators try to report this back, the clones turn on them and kill them, leaving the mystery of the clones hidden.

Windu, Yoda, and Kenobi confer and decide the Jedi are being targeted, as things they are doing in support of the war effort are becoming bad publicity for the Jedi Order as a whole. The season finale sees Anakin Skywalker becoming a personal attache to the Chancellor as a “plant” for the Jedi to figure out who the real enemy is.

Fans were once again mixed on the direction of the entire franchise, so Disney hired six of the top creators in the industry to bring back the large viewership of their first three seasons, as many fans blamed them for “resting on their laurels” from their initial success. Those that made this claim cited the last seasons of Star Wars weren’t nearly as successful. This collaboration caused a delay in the new season but everyone anxiously awaited what would come out of the delay.

SEASON FOUR (Star Wars the Series)

The season four premier was a smash success as Luke leaves Dagobah after Yoda dies, stating he must defeat Darth Vader in order to realize his training to become a full Jedi. He heads straight for Tatooine, where his visions revealed that his friends needed his help.

C3PO and R2D2 are sent to Jabba as gifts, or plants for Luke, to give the would-be Jedi a look inside the inner workings of the criminal underworld, and to provide hope that Lando wasn’t going to be all alone for long.

Attending the Sith Order Academy on Korriban himself, Darth Sidious places the last of the Nightsisters, Asajj Ventress, in charge to teach them all the ways of the Dark Side. Her training from decades before was incomplete, but with Darth Vader needed to run the Empire, only she remained as a viable option for Korriban. Korriban’s location was tough for the Rebellion to discern, as the moon was in orbit around the enormous forest planet of Endor.

Luke’s arrival on Tatooine is big, as he waltzes into Jabba’s palace and announces the imminent death of Jabba if his friends are not released. He’s taken into custody after Luke slays the Rancor in a pit below the palace, angering the crime lord. Jabba is so angered, he releases Han Solo from his carbon prison and plans to feed them all to the Sarlac, a desert creature. The attempt to feed them to the Sarlac is a failure, as Luke used his new lightsaber and a coordinated plan with Lando and Chewbacca to free the others and escape Tatooine. They then rejoin the Rebellion, only then learning of the new Sith Order.

Han Solo and Lando Calrissian join the upper echelons of the Rebellion as generals, with a full scale plan ready to go for a multiple pronged attack. Lando Calrissian would lead the attack on the Imperial fleet in orbit around Coruscant along with Admiral Ackbar. Han Solo, Chewbacca, and Leia would remove the shield protecting Korriban by freeing the natives on Endor and destroying the Imperial machinery. Luke Skywalker would lead the direct attack on Korriban, on the hundreds of barely trained Sith before they could become full Dark Side users.

The season finale sees the attack’s success in question when Luke Skywalker is captured by Darth Vader and taken to Darth Sidious to be swayed towards the Dark Side, Han Solo’s group is overwhelmed by a much larger Imperial contingent than expected, and the fleets clash is dire for the Rebellion when Coruscant hits the largest capitol ship with a planet side canon.

Fans were emboldened as the season went on and the viewership went up again. The hope for the Old Republic spinoff was greater, too, but fans were distraught when they learned that the next season would be the last season.

SEASON THREE (Star Wars the Old Republic)

The season premier of the final season of Old Republic is all about a flashback, showing Anakin and Padme Amidala in a forbidden relationship, growing through events already seen. Their union ends up with Amidala becoming pregnant, which is hidden from Anakin so that he wouldn’t be torn between his duty to the Jedi and leaving the order due to breaking their code.

The season continued with present day machinations of Palpatine maneuvering the mind of Anakin to be receptive to his turn towards the Dark Side. Obi Wan Kenobi detects the turning of Anakin’s mind, reports that to Mace Windu and Yoda, who realize that things are not what they seem.

A covert action to discover the truth leads Mace Windu to enter the Chancellor’s chamber and spy on his activities, forcing a confrontation between Windu and Darth Sidious, framed in Anakin’s eyes as the Jedi attacking the Chancellor during a time of war because they aren’t as popular in the eyes of the Republic. Anakin is the one that strikes down Mace Windu, causing him to fully take the mantle of Darth Vader. Darth Vader solidified his place at Darth Sidious’s side by slaying Darth Tyrannus.

The Union begins falling to the overwhelming clone armies but just as suddenly, the clones turn on their generals and take out nearly all of the Jedi in the galaxy in a matter of days. The only remaining Jedi on Coruscant end up being Kenobi and Yoda, both decide on taking on the two Sith Lords in charge of what was just named the Galactic Empire, replacing the Republic.

Kenobi takes on Skywalker on Mustafar, where the Empire is mining the metals for the Death Star construction. Their battle ends with massive physical damage to Skywalker and Kenobi mistakenly decides to leave him to die among the planet’s molten rivers. Yoda faces Darth Sidious in a battle at the capitol building, where Yoda is overwhelmed by the Dark Lord and driven into hiding on Dagobah.

The series ends with Darth Sidious rebuilding Darth Vader into the mechanical menace we see at the beginning of Star Wars the Series, with both Kenobi and Yoda going into hiding with the child of Anakin being taken into hiding… along with his sister.

Redemption for the companion series was a resounding yes, with the season running slightly longer than 13 episodes. Fans were rejuvenated and very interested in what would happen in the next season of Star Wars the Series.

SEASON FIVE (Star Wars the Series)

Much like the start of the final season of the Old Republic, the Series starts out in flashback… way back… with Darth Sidious training three apprentices to be full Dark Lords of the Sith. They were Darth Maul (formerly known as Savage Opress), Darth Daka (Asajj Ventress), and Darth Ren (whose true identity is not revealed). Their training proceeds to a certain point, when Darth Ren ventures away believing this own training is over. The other two’s destinies are known, and the first episode fills in much of the history of how Palpatine became Sidious… being taught by Darth Plagueis and eventually killing him for the seat of power of the Sith.

The season returns to the present with Darth Vader being pitted against Luke Skywalker by Darth Sidious. Han Solo and company is liberated and the odds are evened by the natives of Endor, the Ewoks, who help take down the shields from Korriban and eventually allow the Rebellion to sweep the Imperial forces off of Endor. With the forces around Coruscant weakened, the return of Han Solo and others to the battle gives the Rebellion the upper hand, forcing the remnants of the Empire to flee from the capitol. As the season progresses, Darth Vader is struck down by Luke Skywalker, but not killed, forcing the Emperor (Darth Sidious) to engage Luke directly. He loses when a hobbling Vader evens the odds after a change of heart, allowing for the Sith to be swept away from the seat of power in the capitol.

All Rebellion forces then begin to converge on Korriban, with Jedi Master Luke Skywalker leading the charge against Asajj Ventress directly. The recruits are all either killed or imprisoned in the raid, leaving the Sith in ruins and Korriban a rumor to the galaxy.

With the season ending in the removal of the Empire, fans were overjoyed to see that the creators really took the series back from the low point in season four, where there was doubts of the reimagining being a success. The direction for the future was of big interest, especially considering the season finale showed that Nemo Ren, formerly Darth Ren, was emerging as a threat with his small band of Knights of Ren seeking their place in the new galactic order of things.

Well… I’m going to stop this little exercise here, but only because I don’t want it to drag on too long… if there is interest, I’d write more about the Star Wars the Series direction. I don’t name actor names because of the “unknowns” factor that I believe the casting would take. I also don’t get too descriptive on episode by episode because then I’m bogged down by the tiny details that don’t need to be fleshed out. Know that the reimagining would be more cohesive, more uniform, and there would be more opportunities for storytelling to go in different directions now that I’ve gotten us through remaking the “Original Trilogy.” My own personal guess would be fleshing out the distant past, maybe a Darth Bane series, and continuing into the future, allowing for a second “current day” series to run concurrently in a different part of the saga. I’m suggesting the second current series would flesh out other parts of the galaxy that aren’t dealing with the “core problems” of the main characters.

So… what do you think? Feedback is welcome.

SpecterFit 41: Cardio

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If you’re paying attention, SpecterFit 41 has skipped a week and now I’m setting a precedent of only having three columns per month… or perhaps, one column short of the full month. Time will tell, but I say all that to say it’s time to talk about the next step of getting fit and moving forward: cardio.

The myth about cardio is that you have to run. Bullshit. Running, while a cardiovascular activity, is not the only method of cardio. In fact, as long as you’re doing something that gets your heart rate up for over 20 minutes counts as cardio. If that is dancing, running, walking, karate, parkour, or whatever, as long as the heart rate is up for at least 20 minutes, you’ve attained cardio goodness.

End of column.

Okay, just kidding.

Nothing you do with your health, short of the eating portion, will be highly effective without cardio. None of your workouts should be considered complete without cardio. Hell, you should both start and end your workout sessions with cardio, something I used to do a lot and now almost never do. Yes, do as I say and not as I do because I’m about to start doing these things again to make my point.

Oh, and I’m 306 as I write this. You’re hopefully starting to notice the downward trend in the number, even though that number isn’t rocketing to the bottom of the scale as fast as everyone would like to see. Why don’t I show you something?HealthBar

This is a screenshot of my actual Health Kit from my iPhone today. I weigh myself every day, which doesn’t mean you should also do this, but because I do I get to observe trends in how I lose weight over long periods of time. Note: there is almost no cardio at all in this trend here, I posted this to show you a little something to talk about before returning to cardio.

My weight does this when I’m losing weight. I’ll have a few “peaks and valleys,” then I’ll have a stiff dip before a slight rise and the peaks and valleys will return. All of this happens on the downward trend.

I can tell you which days I didn’t eat like I should have been eating. You’d think all of those would be the peaks but they aren’t. The body needs a random, unhealthy meal now and again to jump start things. The last unhealthy meal I had on this chart is the third to last dot. Before that, the last peak before the big valley was a cheat meal day. I concentrated on walking a higher number of steps each of the days afterwards and despite my best efforts, the weight will rebound every time before a new trend begins.

Let me get off on a slight tangent.

The experts in fitness say you shouldn’t weight yourself every day. I ignore those experts because I realize that no matter how hard I try, unless I stop eating entirely, I’m going to have peaks and valleys. I weigh myself every day in order to establish these patterns and trends so I can use them to my advantage. When is the next time I should have a cheat meal to keep moving in the right direction? If you look at my chart, you’ll see when I start coming out of that big valley because it will help reestablish the next trend. After today’s dot, I should see another downward slide for a few days before a rebound will occur and I should consider another cheat meal.

I am not discouraged by weight gain because I know that what you see above will happen all the time. If you can understand that about yourself, then you should weigh yourself daily, too. I weigh myself before I eat, drink, shower… I want to get out of bed, hop on the scale, and get my number. If you get into that habit, watch the trends, and you can start moving in the right direction, too.

Thus endeth my tangent.

My knees aren’t in the best shape in the world. I use walking as my primary source of cardio because at my current weight, running just isn’t plausible. I don’t really do a lot of dancing, I don’t want to do aerobics in my living room, and that leaves walking. When I walk, I try to walk to get my heart rate up (and I usually succeed). If you’re bigger, walking is your key to jump start your cardio.

Way back when I started my initial weight loss, I was 328 pounds and I used FitBit to track my steps, weight loss, and caloric intake. Now that I know how to eat, I don’t need to watch my calories so much. I use Argus as my step counter now, and FitBit doesn’t work with Apple’s Health Kit, so I don’t use FitBit nearly as much as I used to… and my goal for steps each day is a minimum of 7,000. Ideally, I’d get at least 10,000 but I’m satisfied with 7,000 per day. The last three days I’ve gotten 8,000+, though I can tell you I’ll have less than that today (unless I go for a walk). I’m wanting to walk because I want the trend to return and cardio helps that.

Cardio gets the blood pumping and gets your body burning calories because your metabolism is heightened. If you want to lose weight, diet is import (diet, not A diet, but your lifestyle of eating), but cardio is second in line. Get moving. Walk a few steps every day. Set yourself a goal and beat that goal. Get more steps. Set a new goal. Beat that goal. Keep moving. You’ll melt off the weight without killing any part of your body. If you sit around on the couch all the time, you aren’t getting cardio done. Cardio is an important key.

I’ll talk more about fitness (and cardio) next time. Hopefully I’ve inspired you to get up and walk. Start with 5,000 step goals and move upward from that. Don’t try to go from 5,000 to 10,000, but at least start with 5,000 and beat that consistently before moving up 1,000-1,500 steps. You’ll love the results.

Get fit.