I'll be answering the questions left in the comments thread here in spurts, so by all means, keep asking away. The first batch is courtesy of that gentle giant, Jaquandor, who asks:
1. Right back at you: one change you'd make in the Star Wars prequels, and why. (I asked him this question in his "Ask Me Anything" post.) Get rid of Jake Lloyd. As I've said many times before, I like the Star Wars prequels very, very much, but do think the first is the weakest, and in large part due to the remarkably bad performance by Lloyd. Maybe it's Lucas' inability to work with kids? Or is Lloyd simply bad? I don't know. But Lloyd's Anakin is just a flat-out unskilled, unconvincing performance - stilted, cardboard line readings and as unnatural a presence as all get out. And this is in a film that, by design (and appropriately so), features some very mannered and unnatural acting. A good performance in that key role would, I think, have had a cascade effect of improving several other elements of the film that fans and critics have had troubles with--improving the film disproportionately.
2. You're still solidly in the pro-ER camp, so: you can remake the show so one character from the pilot has never left. Which character would it be?
John Carter. All the other original characters were older, and it makes sense that they'd no longer be at the same hospital. Having Carter as a constant from the beginning to the end would have given the show a clear character arc - from newbie to senior voice of wisdom - from the first to the last episode. That they did do this to some extent I like (after all, Carter only left a season ago or so)- but Wylie's leaving took that very nice structural element of the show away, and it's felt it, I think, this last year. That being said, the "Carter goes to Africa" stuff has always felt very natural to me and right for the character- I would love it if in the last season, whenever that might be, Wylie did return for more than an episode or two - say the last eight or ten, to really tie the whole show together.
3. You once took me to task for basically impugning the fair state of New Jersey, as though the state consists of nothing more than what can be seen from the Jersey Turnpike. So: what's so great about New Jersey? (Seriously: sing your state's praises!)
From my perch in Northeastern New Jersey I am no more than:
- An hour from the capital of the freakin' world (in fact I go there five days a week to work). The wellspring of the musical theater I love, more art and culture than can possibly be indulged in in one lifetime, great and history-laden sports franchises, some of the world's best restaurants, the list goes on.
- An hour and a half from some great beaches - relatively warm water (in the 70s this late in the season), good waves, clean sand, boardwalk attractions for the kids. Jersey's beached have a reputation for being dirty, with polluted waters, but the truth is far from the rumor.
- An hour and a half or so from the Delaware water gap - hiking, rafting, beautiful mountain scenery.
And even closer by, there are: Loads of charming, cozy towns. A not-too-shabby arts scene. Lazy Sunday rides through farmland, small towns, state parks. All the shopping you could hope for - from megamalls and huge bookstores to boutiques and unique shops. A great Ivy league and a great State university only 40 minutes from each other. The real question is what does Jersey not have (or at least have access to)?
4. Describe, from bottom slice of bread to top, your favorite sandwich.
I get it every Tuesday in the cafeteria at work: Lettuce. Thinly sliced red onion. Shredded carrots. A generous dolloping of chunky blue cheese dressing. A fair-sized splash of hot sauce. A more-than-generous heaping of fried, boneless, buffalo chicken pieces. All placed on a a large, jalapeno-flecked wrap, and wrapped up nice and tight. A small slice of heaven.
5. God comes down from the sky and tells you that you can have any career you want, but it MUST be one that involves intensive physical labor. (Assume he'll equip you with the physique, if you don't have it already.) What career do you choose?
How are you defining "physical labor?" If you simply mean a career that involves strenuous physical activity, the answer is easy - NBA basketball player. I love playing basketball, but, as the fated would have it, pretty much suck at it. On top of that I'm, well, how should I put this, a little fat and lazy, so when I DO play, I get winded ridiculously easily. AND I have a bum knee (torn ACL). So a career where I would get to play the game on a high level, with the requisite ability and necessary physical prowess? Sign me up. Now, if you didn't mean to include athletics, if that's cheating, I'd go with construction. I'm whatever the opposite of handy is, so if God were to see fit to magically endow me with a carpenter's skills and sense . . .
Keep the questions coming, readers!