Helping ‘Star Wars’ newbies finally embrace the Force

Mashable deputy editor Chris Taylor,’s Charlotte Hill, and Lucasfilm’s Pablo Hidalgo sport light sabers at a screening of ‘Star Wars’ for newbies in San Francisco Saturday night.

Daniel Terdiman/CNET)

SAN FRANCISCO–What I’m about to tell you 100 percent true, no matter how much you will want to tell me I’m full of it: There are American adults who have never seen “Star Wars.”

The 1977 George Lucas film is a timeless global phenomenon, and may be one of the most embedded of all our cultural artifacts. It spawned an empire that Disney ended up buying for $4 billion, in large part because of the passion and commitment of its worldwide audience. But still some people, even those who watch other movies, and are part of mainstream society, managed to make it to 2013 without ever seeing it.

For one group of “Star Wars” newbies, though, their lifelong exclusion from one of the biggest clubs on Earth is over.

Take Zeal Caiden, and Jaqueline Marie, for example. A couple for two years, neither had seen what might be alternately called “Star Wars,” “Episode IV,” or “A New Hope.” Until Saturday night, that is, when along with at least a dozen other first-timers (and several dozen “Star Wars” veterans), the pair finally laid eyes on Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia, Darth Vader, and the rest of the gang.

The occasion was a screening for “Star Wars” newbies timed to the global May the 4th Be With You celebrations and hosted by and Mashable deputy editor and “How Star Wars Conquered the Universe” author Chris Taylor.

The drink menu at the screening.

Daniel Terdiman/CNET)

Caiden and Marie didn’t meet or bond over their mutual “Star Wars”-free lives. In fact, the two only recently discovered that neither had seen the movie — a befuddling statistical improbability in my book. But when word went out about Saturday night’s screening — an attempt to set the Guinness World Record for most people to see “Star Wars” for the first time together (in the 21st century) — they knew it was time to do something about one of the gaping holes in their cultural repertoires. “We’re just black sheep,” Caiden said. “But not any more.”

How could it be?

Taylor, who’s in the middle of writing his book, believes that even those who haven’t seen “Star Wars” nonetheless still know its characters, some of its plot, and many of its signature lines. I wanted to see if that was true. I also wanted to know how it was even possible that these otherwise normal folks had skipped one of the 20th century’s biggest cultural touchstones. And what it would be like for them to actually see the movie.

Talking to 32-year-old Jamie Yamaguchi, I heard an explanation I could at least understand. The Oakley, Calif., resident told me her parents were strict and religious and she saw very few movies growing up. “Star Wars” wasn’t one of them.

Yet Yamaguchi’s own young children had seen it, and her lack of having done so was a handicap in helping them understand the film’s subtleties. “They asked me if Luke and Princess Leia know they were brother and sister,” Yamaguchi said. “And I was like, ‘they are?'”

When “Star Wars” isn’t a big part of your life, it simply doesn’t mean all that much. That might explain why Yamaguchi had fallen asleep every time she had tried to watch it before. Saturday night, though, she was determined to finish the task, so she loaded up on coffee beforehand.

I asked her what she knew about the movie. She said she knew about Princess Leia, Obi-Wan Kenobi, R2-D2, and “the gold guy.” “Oh, and Darth Vader,” she added.

Jorge Tovar was a ‘Star Wars’ newbie until Saturday night.

Daniel Terdiman/CNET)

Another one with a vaguely acceptable excuse was Jorge Tovar, 33. He’s from Mexico. I thought about it, though, and decided that it was still incomprehensible. After all, they have “Star Wars” south of the border. But Tovar said he was just never interested in “Star Wars,” despite the fact that when he was a kid he had little R2-D2 and C-3PO action figures. “They were just toys,” he said. “Robots.”

So what did Tovar know of the plot? He said that he knew that the “bad guy is Darth Vader,” and knew the line (from “The Empire Strikes Back”), “Luke, I’m your father.”

Of course, Tovar’s girlfriend said that when she first met him, “He thought the phrase was, ‘Luke, I’m your daddy.'”

The big reveal…not!

The explanation I had the hardest time understand was that of Tami Fisher. A 32-year-old who grew up in Southern California and Utah, she said she just wasn’t interested in movies about space. Then again, she also said her parents limited her movie watching to National Geographic and Care Bears films. As such, “Star Wars” was never a draw.

And what did Fisher know about the movie, or at least the franchise? “I know the big reveal,” she said. “The father-son relationship between whatever their names are.”

I tried not to tell her that she wouldn’t be seeing the big reveal. That didn’t seem fair.

The oath

Before the film began, Taylor stood up and explained the genesis behind the evening’s event. It turns out, he said, that a year ago, it came out that a Mashable writer hadn’t seen “Star Wars.” The reaction of the staff was kind of like “if you saw a live unicorn.”

Clearly, he wanted to do something for the world’s “Star Wars”-less population. This was his chance.

Only one thing remained: administering an oath. “I solemnly swear that I’m about to watch ‘Star Wars’ for the very first time,” he had the newbies recite. “May the force be with you.”


Afterwards, I circled back to some of the newbies to see what they’d thought. They all seemed to have liked the film, even if it maybe didn’t have that much of an impact.

Fisher told me she was “bummed out that the big reveal didn’t happen,” and admitted that she had had expectations after all. She also said that she expected to see “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi” soon.

For her part, Yamaguchi did stay awake through the whole film and said that though she thought “Star Wars” was a little slow, she’d enjoyed it and probably will watch the other films in the series.

Caiden had perhaps the most “Star Wars” experience among the newbies. He’d played hundreds of hours of “Star Wars” video games and had even seen “Episode I: The Phantom Menace.” But even he recognized that he’d done something significant. “It’s been sitting in a time capsule for [decades],” he said, “waiting for us to see it.”

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Stars lined up for Mavs this summer?

As far as setting up the Mavericks’ summer goes, it was a phenomenal first round.

Dwight Howard’s team got swept. Chris Paul’s squad lasted only six games.

Enough seeds of doubt have been planted for the two superstars to at least seriously consider leaving their respective Los Angeles teams.

“I don’t know how this whole thing is going to play out,” Paul told reporters Saturday morning, fresh off the disappointment of getting eliminated by the Memphis Grizzlies, essentially echoing Howard’s comments about the Lakers’ premature playoff departure.

It took a year longer than the Dallas decision-makers hoped and anticipated when they made their difficult post-lockout decisions, but they’ll finally be able to make recruiting pitches to their two primary targets this summer. (Deron Williams, whom the Mavs whiffed on last summer, was Plan C.)

Landing either of the available superstars is still a long shot. (Landing both is a virtual impossibility.)

The Mavs hoped to have the chance to try to take Paul away from New Orleans or Howard away from Orlando. It’ll be a heck of a lot tougher to talk them out of leaving playoff teams in L.A., especially considering that the collective bargaining agreement allows their current teams to offer contracts that feature an extra year and 3-percent-higher annual raises.

But the opportunity is on the table for Mark Cuban and Co. We’ve got plenty of time to delve into the details and the potential details of the pitches over the next two months.

For now, let’s just deal with the basics of the dollars involved.

A max deal for Howard would start with a $20.51 million salary (105 percent of his salary this season). The Lakers can offer him a five-year deal worth $117.95 million. The Mavs and other suitors with enough cap space — the Atlanta Hawks and Houston Rockets (with some financial maneuvering) are the biggest threats — can offer a four-year, $87.6 million deal.

Paul is eligible to make a max salary of $18.67 million next season. The Clippers can offer a five-year, $107.34 million deal. The Mavs and others can offer a four-year, $79.71 million deal.

The Mavs, depending on where the salary cap limit falls within the expected range, will have between $16.6 million and $18.1 million of cap space without any maneuvering this summer.

Creating the cap space necessary to sign Paul could be as simple as waiving Bernard James and Josh Akognon, who have nonguaranteed deals. It might not require the Mavs to move Shawn Marion or Vince Carter, two veterans whom they value.

It wouldn’t be so simple with Howard, although it could help that agent Dan Fegan represents both Howard and Marion, whose contract includes an early termination option he can exercise before free agency begins.

(One potential scenario: Marion opts out of his $9.32 million salary for next season and returns to Dallas after re-signing a three-year deal in the $18 million range. That could be a win-win situation with Marion doubling his guaranteed money and the Mavs keeping their veteran core intact while creating enough space to sign Howard.)

The finances are one reason for Paul to be the Mavs’ preference, but that’d probably be the case anyway.

Coach Rick Carlisle is on record as saying that point guard is the most important position in today’s NBA. Cuban is on record saying that boosting the Mavs’ collective basketball IQ is a major priority. The best way to address both of those areas is to sign CP3, who also doesn’t come with any baggage, unlike the league’s best big man.

Having said that, the Mavs should (and surely would) sign Howard in a heartbeat if Paul decides that he doesn’t want to come to Dallas.

At this point, pulling off one of the pipe dreams appears to be a possibility for Dallas this summer. They might be long shots, but at least the Mavs will have the ball in their hands on July 1.

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Mobile Miscellany: week of April 29th, 2013

Mobile Miscellany week of April 29th, 2013

If you didn’t get enough mobile news during the week, not to worry, because we’ve opened the firehose for the truly hardcore. This week brought a leak of the BlackBerry R-Series smartphone in red, a clever new notification system from the Paranoid Android team and quarterly earnings from Leap Wireless, the parent company of Cricket. These stories and more await after the break. So buy the ticket and take the ride as we explore all that’s happening in the mobile world for this week of April 29th, 2013.

BlackBerry ‘R-Series’ handset leaked in red

Mobile Miscellany week of April 29th, 2013

If the BlackBerry Q10 seems appealing but sits outside of your price range, the company’s R-Series smartphones might be right up your alley, which stand to replace the Curve lineup. We’ve previously seen one of the handsets in white, but this week brought an attractive QWERTY handset that’s draped in red. There’s little new to share in way of specs or pricing, but current rumors peg the R-Series between $300 and $400 off-contract. [Thanks, Joel] [N4BB]

Paranoid Android teases Halo, a pop-up notification system

Mobile Miscellany week of April 29th, 2013

Paranoid Android is building off of its pop-up multitasking feature with a new tease — this time, a system-wide notification system known as Halo that resembles the chat heads from Facebook Home. The idea is to give users immediate access to their notifications, even from within full-screen apps. Thanks to the pop-up multitasking system, you’ll also find the ability to respond to messages and the like, without ever leaving the main app. Halo isn’t yet available to the public, but you can find a preview of what to expect in the following video. [RootzWiki]

Leap Wireless reveals Q1 2013 earnings

Leap Wireless, the parent company of Cricket, revealed that it hemorrhaged cash during the first three months of 2013, which came to light in its latest earnings report. The company posted a net loss of $109 million for Q1, which is based on revenues of $789.9 million. Cricket lost 93,037 customers during the first three months, as compared to 258,000 net additions just one year ago. In all, Cricket currently holds 5.2 million customers and 54 percent of them use smartphones. Going forward, Cricket will introduce five additional LTE smartphones to its roster, most notably the Galaxy S 4. Meanwhile, the company also reported that while iPhone sales have improved since it introduced a financing option, it’s unlikely that Leap will purchase any devices beyond its initial commitment. [FierceWireless]

Other random tidbits

  • CTIA reports that network data usage climbed 69.3 percent between 2011 and 2012, which tipped the charts at 1.468 trillion megabytes for 2012. What’s more, the report also pegs the US market with 326.4 million subscribers and 76.4 million prepaid users. [FierceWireless]
  • Koodo announced that it’ll carry the Nokia Lumia 520 for $150 outright, but hasn’t yet revealed an arrival date. [Mobile Syrup]
  • ATT’s LTE network is now live in Tucson, Ariz.; Mountain Home, Ark.; Cullman, Decatur and Huntsville, Ala.; Lake City and Ocala, Fla.; Bossier and Shreveport, La.; Lansing, Mich.; Biloxi and Gulfport, Miss.; Henderson, N.C.; Mechanicsburg, Pa.; Athens, Corsicana, Huntsville, Lufkin, Nacogdoches and Paris, Texas; and, Petersburg, Va. [Android Central, ATT]
  • Rogers has rebranded its 2600MHz spectrum as LTE Max, and along with that, announced its LTE deployment in 20 new areas — primarily in southern Ontario. [MobileSyrup]
  • EE has activated its LTE network in Aylesbury, Berkhamsted, Billericay, Blackpool, Brentwood, Dewsbury, Huddersfield, Lytham St Annes, Marlow, Pontefract, Thame and Windsor. With the latest additions, 62 towns and cities are now serviced by the carrier’s 4G network. [EE]
  • BlackBerry is now offering users of BlackBerry 7.0 OS an incentive to upgrade to BlackBerry 7.1: a bunch of free apps. Among the selection, you’ll find BeWeather, DriveSafely Pro, FIFA 13, Photo Studio Pro, The Sims 3 Supernatural and many more. The promotion extends now through June 30th and is open to those in France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom. [BlackBerry]
  • Nokia’s latest update of Here Transit brings better integration with Here Drive and Here Maps, and now provides a map view of nearby stations and stops. [WPCentral]
  • LinkedIn released an updated version of its BlackBerry 10 app that allows users to populate their BBM status with LinkedIn updates and follow company pages. [CrackBerry]

Must-read mobile stories

[Cricket photo credit: Cricket Wireless Premier Dealer]

[Mobile Miscellany photo credit: Thristian / Flickr]

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Conan sexes up Martha Stewart’s profile

Conan adds a little romance to the Stewart profile.

Conan/YouTube Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET)

“Only natural pure-bred lambskin condoms.”

This is but one of the requirements on Martha Stewart’s “new” profile.

Perhaps you have been too busy wondering if the world will end this week to focus on its most important news: the fact that Martha Stewart has joined

Many will be fascinated to see how the rather fetching 71-year-old doyenne of domesticity will fare when her writing skills are tossed to the hordes of dubious males who wander that site in search of, well, who knows.

Time magazine has already rooted out her profile. A highly professional picture adorns it, as does fascinating information.

She claims to be 5’9″. She doesn’t seem quite that tall on TV. She also describes herself as “curious, intelligent, entrepreneurial, hard-working, fun, and adventurous.”

Which, to my certain knowledge, describes most Polish women.

Her ultimate and alluring profile picture was chosen by her Facebook fans.

Some, though, might find that profile a touch generic. So Conan O’Brien thought he’d offer a few more telling ingredients that would reassure potential suitors and simultaneously weed out those who are too weedy to take the heat in Stewart’s kitchen.

He has created a video to accompany the profile.

It’s a little more descriptive than her existing efforts.

“I’m looking for a man who can take control when I tell him to,” offers a female voice, over pictures of gorgeous flowers.

“Sex will take place every 44 days and last precisely 12 minutes and 30 seconds,” she continues. There really is nothing wrong with being forthright in demanding precisely what you need.

And one can imagine Stewart does so in real life.

Naturally, when it comes to the aforementioned condoms, Conan went into some very natural detail about how to make them yourself. You have to always be on-brand when you’re an icon.

This is all very amusing, but if one thinks about the serious side of the matter, it’s hard to imagine Stewart finding love on

Those of a commercial bent will believe that she is merely receiving promotional considerations for appearing on the site.

Who is going to sift through the tens of thousands of messages she is sure to get? It is well-known that women on these sites are inundated by messages from men.

Only a small proportion of these men could be classified as anything even bordering sane, healthy, honest, or even single.

Moreover, when is she going to find the time to meet any man who passes through the hundreds of sieves through which she’ll have to filter replies?

Does she have any idea how many frogs she might have to kiss before meeting anyone she could try food with?

Will the poor suitor be vetted by her third assistant, then the second, then the first? How much will he have to reveal before he ever, ever so much as gets to press the flesh with La Stewart?

I should warn her that, should she fail to achieve satisfaction on the site, there may be an uncomfortable aftertaste.

Friends and readers tell me that, after they have resigned from because they couldn’t find even a potential mate, they were inundated with constant, obsessive e-mails telling them that seemingly every member of their target sex was suddenly checking out their profile and desperate to meet them.

An astounding piece of serendipity, that.

That’s what love is all about, isn’t it? Serendipity. Something that online dating cannot truly provide.

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Apple plans ‘aggressive’ move into car integration — report

Apple is already making some inroads into the vehicle market, but the company has much broader plans, according to a new report.

Apple is currently working with
car makers to integrate iPhones and perhaps iPods into car consoles, 9to5Mac is reporting, citing people who claim to have knowledge of its plans. Apple envisions a way for iPhone owners to plug their devices into cars and then use specially optimized versions of Siri and Maps for in-vehicle use.

Last year at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), Apple announced “Eyes-Free Siri,” which was designed for car makers to integrate the voice service into their vehicles. Several companies, including BMW and Toyota signed up for that service.

More to come…

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Title Mavs tracker: Bummer for Corey Brewer

The Mavericks aren’t in the playoffs for the first time since 2000, so we have to find something to fill the time this spring. Might as well keep up with the players from the Mavs’ title team who are scattered throughout the postseason. We’ll have daily updates as long as Mavs championship alums are still alive in the playoffs.

Corey Brewer: The man who will always be remembered in Dallas for being the surprising spark of the Game 1 comeback against the Lakers had a miserable postseason in a much larger role for the Nuggets.

Brewer went 1-for-8 during his two-point performance in the Nuggets’ series-ending Game 6 loss to the Warriors, dropping his field goal percentage to 30.9 for this postseason.

The Nuggets needed Brewer, who averaged 12.1 points per game off the bench this season, to carry more of the offensive burden after starting small forward Danilo Gallinari’s season-ending knee injury. But Brewer slumped during the playoffs and tried to shoot his way out of it to no avail. He averaged 10.8 points in the series, but he was 21-of-68 from the floor and 9-of-36 from 3-point range.

Golden State star Stephen Curry is the only player to attempt more 3-pointers than Brewer this postseason.

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