Amazon Smile Redirect Extensions

Surely, if you’re a dedicated Amazon user, you’ve seen advertised or used Amazon Smile, the Foundation that donates 0.5% of the purchase price to a charity of your choice with every transaction. I’ve been a Amazon Prime member for almost 5 years and an Amazon Smile user for 3. In those years only 8 of what is probably hundreds of transactions have counted towards Amazon Smile. Why? My blasted memory.

The catch to this wonderful Amazon service is that your browser must be directed to smile.amazon.com for the purchase to count. When you click a link from a Google search or shop from the app, amazon.com is the default, making it difficult to really make use of what the foundation is offering. There are solutions for absent-minded yet conscientious people like me though. To start, there is a bookmarklet that you can add, but you still have to remember to click it and then search for what you wanted. Amazon offers a more advanced assistant that will redirect you to Amazon Smile but this won’t help with links or Google searches. It’s not a bad tool for the frequent Amazon shopper, but you still have to remember it's there.

After a bit of searching, I’ve found browser extensions for each of the three primary browsers that simply redirect any link heading to amazon.com to smile.amazon.com without any further input nescessary. To start, I recommend making sure you’re logged in to Amazon Smile, then follow the directions for each extension below.


Smile Always for Google Chrome

After waffling between Safari and Chrome again last year, I ended up in Google’s playpen once more. The best option for Amazon Smile redirects here is Smile Always by Josh Haimson and Dan Elitzer. Simply install the extension from the Chrome Web Store and you’re good to go.

KeepOnSmiling for Safari

Inspired by Smile Always, Craig S. Bosma created a similar plugin for Safari users with the same goal in mind. KeepOnSmiling is a small plugin that avoids the annoying page reloads of similar Safari extensions in just three lines of Javascript.

To install, visit Craig’s github and download the folder and proceed with the following directions.

  1. Go to Safari->Preferences->Advanced
  2. Check “Show Develop menu in menu bar”
  3. Go to Safari->Show Extension Builder
  4. Click on the “+” on bottom left and choose “Add Extension…”
  5. Choose the KeepOnSmiling.safariextension folder which you download from GitHub.
  6. Choose “Install”

Smile Redirect for Firefox

This add-on for Mozilla’s browser is as simple and direct as the name. Download T. Scott Barnes’ extension from Mozilla’s add-on directory and you’re ready to go.


If you don’t have a charity in mind, but like the idea of donating through your purchases at Amazon, consider donating to HHT Foundation International Inc. as I do. This mission of this foundation is to find a cure for Hereditary Hemorrhagic Telangiectasia while saving the lives and improving the well-being of individuals and families affected by HHT. I chose this foundation before losing a friend to HHT a few years ago. More information about the disease and the foundation can be found here.

BF #18: No Sequel, Kid

Mike and I watched a documentary about those actors you don't remember from Star Wars and what they are doing now.

In the eighteenth episode of Bantha Fodder, Mike and Jacob do some Star Wars news catch-up and talk about Elstree 1976, a documentary about Star Wars' unsung heroes and forgotten faces and the legacy the film left upon them.

Find the show on Twitter and at banthafodder.fm.

WTG #022: Apple Music

I'm back again on Welcome To Geekdom to talk about Apple Music, the streaming service I use to access the rarites and unstreamables that were formally found only on my external hard drive.

I've been playing around in the Apple Music ecosystem quite a bit, so if you use Apple Music and want to learn a little more about the more advanced capabilities of iCloud Music Library, maybe this will teach you a thing or two.

Jacob Tender returns to talk about the complex features of Apple Music.

You can find a feed of every podcast appearance I make on shows outside of my own here.

BF #17: Luke Will Have Lines

The title for Episode VIII is out, so Mike and I started picking apart what it could mean. We make a few plot predictions and talk about our favorite moments in our first year as Star Wars podcasters. Thank you to everyone who has supported the show in its first year. If you haven't checked us out yet, consider subscribing using any of the links at the top of our website. If you have, consider leaving us a review on iTunes. It helps the show grow!

In the seventeenth episode of Bantha Fodder, Mike and Jacob discuss Episode VIII's title, 'The Last Jedi.' They make some early predictions and reminisce on year one of Bantha Fodder!

Find the show on Twitter and at banthafodder.fm.

VBR #23: 'Personal Mario Arcade Machine', with guest James Cassar

James and I recorded an episode of Variable Bitrate together in Chicago. Unfortunately, it was shit. Time constraints and the weariness of walking and talking for 3 hours around Navy Pier didn't allow us to do the thing justice. I still wanted him on the show, so we did it a week after we got home.

As long as I've known him, James has been inextricably tied to the band Modern Baseball in ways that I didn't fully understand. This episode should provide some context to that association and James' own perception of that entaglement.

Verified Twitter user James Cassar is a music industry writer, label owner, and podcaster. We discuss his start with Modern Vinyl, the formation of Near Mint, association with Modern Baseball, and his impending memoir.

Find the show on Twitter and on iTunes. If you'd like to sponsor the show, drop me a line here.

Evazan and Baba: A Tale Of Misadventure and Cosmetic Surgery

The Cantina Cast has published a peice of mine on two of my favorite Star Wars "background" characters. This is a complete history of Doctor Cornelius Evazan and his mate Ponda Baba. These characters are the subjects of Bantha Fodder's 2016 holiday special. My thank you to Rebecca Benjamin for publishing.

Encore 141: Hobbies, Work, and Everything Between

First time on Encore, the Chorus.fm podcast. Thomas can no longer commit to a steady podcasting schedule, so Jason has been asking some folks to fill in as guests. I was happy to oblige.

On this week’s episode of Encore I am joined by special guest Jacob Tender. This week we discuss AbsolutePunk.net, SpinMedia, UnderTheGun and a lot of behind the scenes chaos that plagued the music web community over the past few years. Then we move into a discussion about creating things and the balance between hobbies, work, and everything between. We look at what it’s like to create things, when to know if they’ve failed, and why it is we both feel a need to create and put things out into the world. There’s also talk about the new MacBooks with Touchbar, some thoughts on AirPods, as well as collecting media and how we track what we listen to, read, and watch.

I don't advertise it much, but I do have a feed for all of my podcast appearances outside of my own shows. Vain? Probably. Subscribe to Deanna's new show on iTunes or Overcast.

BF #16: She Does Not Rebel

We both saw Rogue One, one more than the other. We pretty much talk about that. This is a great starter episode for anyone who hasn't checked out the show so far.

In the sixteenth episode of Bantha Fodder, Mike and Jacob discuss Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. They dig into the premise, characters, and connections to the greater saga.

Find the show on Twitter and at banthafodder.fm.

My Favorite Things 2016: Games

In 2016, I’ve been making an effort to play more games. A few years back, I bought a PS4 I hardly ever use. [1] This year, I bought an iPhone 7 with enough storage to justify carrying games around with me. The following list is comprised of games for either my console or my mobile. Most of these games are new. Several are not, but have been on my “must play” list for some time.

  1. Firewatch (PS4, Campo Santo)
  2. The Last Of Us (Remastered) (PS4, Naughty Dog)
  3. Mini Metro (iOS, Codepoint Ltd.)
  4. Journey (PS4, That Game Company)
  5. Pokémon Go (iOS, Niantic)

As you can see, with the exception of the mobile games, I love a game with a good story. If you have any recommendations for games I should play this year, send me a tweet.

  1. curbsideaudio is my PSN name, but please message me your real name if you send me a request.

My Favorite Things 2016: Television

I didn't watch a whole lot of movies this year. Instead, I watched quite a bit of TV. I finally got the stones to finish the The Newsroom, which is my favorite show. I recently learned about Hardware, an old British sitcom featuring Martin Freeman, that lasted just two seasons, but really registered with me. I've also been watching Malcolm In The Middle as my "no-thought-required" bedtime program. Mae and I finished Lost, watched through Sherlock, and rewatched Friends for what must be the dozenth time. I also caught up on Doctor Who, which remains fantastic, and Star Wars: Rebels which gets better every season. Oh, and how can I forget Silicon Valley? For a third year in a row I've binged that show in a night.

This year also brought a lot of great new TV. These are my favorites.

  1. Horace and Pete (Louis C.K., Independent)
  2. Westworld (HBO)
  3. The Night Of (HBO)
  4. Atlanta (FOX)
  5. Luke Cage (Netflix)

My Favorite Things 2016: Movies

In 2016, I saw more movies in theaters than usual but less in film overall. Mae and I spent a lot of time watching older sagas like Star Wars, Oceans 11-13, Indiana Jones, and the Bourne saga. Otherwise, it's really been more of a TV year for me. These are the movies that came out in 2016 that I enjoyed.

  1. Don't Think Twice ✮✮✮✮✮
  2. Kubo and The Two Strings ✮✮✮✮½
  3. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story ✮✮✮✮
  4. Sully ✮✮✮✮
  5. Deadpool ✮✮✮✮
  6. Zootopia ✮✮✮✮
  7. Make Happy (Bo Burnham stand-up special) ✮✮✮✮
  8. Secret Life Of Pets ✮✮✮½
  9. Finding Dory ✮✮✮½
  10. Pee-wee's Big Holiday ✮✮✮½

I've been absent on Letterboxd for some time. I want to remedy that in 2017. Recommend me your favorite films of the year on Twitter. You can follow me on Letterboxd here.

My Favorite Things 2016: Music

Despite hosting a podcast revolving almost entirely around movers and shakers in the alternative music industry, I’ve listened to very little new music this year. Of that, an even smaller percentage has stuck. The result is a shorter list than usual.

LPs

  1. Blonde - Frank Ocean
  2. Cardinal - Pinegrove
  3. I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It - The 1975
  4. Malibu - Anderson .Paak
  5. Coloring Book - Change the Rapper
  6. Endless - Frank Ocean
  7. Zoetic - The Rocket Summer
  8. The Colour In Anything - James Blake
  9. Run The Jewels 3 - Run The Jewels
  10. Birds In The Trap Sing McKnight - Travis Scott

EPs

  1. A Place To Rest My Head - King Neptune
  2. II - Young In The City
  3. There’s No One New Around You - Pronoun
  4. Swim Against The Tide - The Japanese House
  5. Singles - nothing,nowhere.

2016: A Year In Review

Within the last month or so, I’ve been hit with a bit of the blues [1]. You know, just the down-in-the-dumpies surrounding just about everything I normally set my mind to. As a result, the podcast and my writing here has been less frequent. I haven’t been creating as much lately and that’s been bumming me out, pulling me deeper into this nasty rut. While stewing in my discontent, it came to mind that 2016 has been, without question, the fastest year of my adult life—full of accomplishments and experiments alike. To break the cycle, I’m listing those out.

Achievement Get: Live Away From Home w/ Mae for 1 Year

In October of 2015, I moved out of my Dad’s house and into an apartment with my girlfriend and dog. That was a big move for a lot of reasons and the experience has been interesting and trying at times, but mostly it’s been a lot of fun. I think having our own space has really helped us grow as partners. I know it certainly has for me individually. While I’m still not hip to the clean sink every night sort of routine adulthood, having an office of my own that’s separate from my bedroom and removed from where I relax has allowed me to create things like never before. It’s also allowed me to collect an embarrassing amount of Star Wars-related merchandise.

Achievement Get: Be In Two Weddings

On another personal note, I was asked to be a groomsman in two of my dearest friend’s weddings. So here’s to them. Thank you, James and Lisa Shotwell for giving Mae and I an excuse to revisit the Western shores of the mitten and join your family (and many of our UTG brethren) in such a beautiful day. Thank you Tyler and Tara Regan for introducing Mae and I to each other in the first place and asking us both to be a part of your special day. Hauling an actual TARDIS to your wedding is high on my list of coolest things I’ve accomplished this year.

Achievement Get: Kill A Blog

2016 marked the end of the start. My humble beginnings in entertainment criticism and web administration began at Under The Gun Review. The site died with little fanfare back in June, but will remain online due to the savvy and generosity of my good friend Terin Stock. It’s still weird to know that UTG will no longer update. I have a lot of great memories tied up in that blog. I met a lot of amazing people and was afforded incredible opportunities as a result of it as well. Still, at least we shut it down knowing we got the damn thing back from SPIN.

Achievement Get: Make Your App Store Debut

In collaboration with artist Chris Fafalios (of Punchline ), I published a sticker pack application for iOS that is available on the App Store. I’m no app developer by any means, but making this happen required some learning and patience. In the end, I’m thrilled that Celebrity Friends exists.

Achievement Get: Do SXSW

Last year I was asked to speak on two panels at SXSW Music in Austin, Texas. Not only were our panels actually picked, but they both went really well! I had a blast meeting friends for the first time, exploring the city, take my first Uber, and watching some of my favorite artists perform multiple times. The experience was unreal.

Digital Distribution & Security: The End Of Music Piracy

Knowing how to securely share your new and unreleased music with industry professionals and journalists alike is one of the most important things you need to know. This panel investigated the best methods for promotional distribution today, and highlighted those that best allow for customization of presentation, as well as digital security (watermarking, takedowns, etc.).

Speakers: James Shotwell - Haulix Jacob Tender - Alternative Press Magazine Jen Appel - Catalyst Publicity Group Joshua Hammond - Another Reybee Production

No Basic Pitches: Publicity By The Journalists

When it comes to the proper pitch, it’s important to remember the audience you are trying to reach out to: PEOPLE. Most successful publicists start off as journalists, and those who don’t can sometimes lack the perspective necessary to provide a successful pitch to a potential writer.

Speakers: Maria Gironas - Substream Magazine Josh Hammond - Another Reybee Production Angela Mastrogiacomo - Muddy Paw PR Jacob Tender - Bottle Cap

Download audio from this session here.

Achievement Get: Break Into The Rap Game

With my “partner in rhyme” and Bantha Fodder Co-Host Mike Comite, I busted out some dope verses as the lovechild of Childish Gambino and Donald Glover’s soon-to-be Star Wars credit, Lando Calrissian. “Rebellious Landino” uses the beat from “Freaks and Geeks” and is the most underappreciated thing I’ve done all year.

Achievement Get: Podcast Like Crazy

I’ve appeared on various podcasts through the past several years, but this is the year I began podcasting on my own. In 2016 I published three shows and appeared on many others.

Here’s a final tally:

Variable Bitrate: 23 Episodes
Bantha Fodder: 16 Episodes
Stranger Things Things: 2 Episodes [2]
As Guest / Co-host: 6 Episodes

That leaves a grand total of 47 podcasts in 52 weeks. Not too shabby. Now, if I learned anything about podcasting this year it’s this:

First, the gear does matter (to me). You can podcast for free with your cell phone if you wanted to, but to make something that sounds right you need the right equipment. I upped my audio production game with a new microphone, interface, and plenty of accessories to record some audio I’m truly proud of.

Second, You have to work very hard to upload consistently. I did the weekly thing for 21 consecutive weeks. I do wish I would have kept it going at that pace, but scheduling gets tough and I couldn’t keep up.

Some stats on upload frequency and episode length:

Bantha Fodder: 1 Episode every 23.64 days with an average length of 1:02:01
Variable Bitrate: 1 Episode every 8.82 days with an average length of 01:25:30

Third, never be afraid to try something new [3]. VBR started out rigid, following a strict formula every time. Loosening that up made the entire process from prep to publish so much easier. Conversations flowed better, more interesting topics sprung out of nowhere, and edits became a lot less tedious. With Bantha Fodder, we played with the format and production of the show constantly and the show as become more goofy and fun than any Star Wars show I’ve ever heard. From this we got our first single and a Christmas special.

Fourth, It’s always easier to be on someone else’s show. Always. I provide part of a conversation and an export of my local audio and the rest happens elsewhere. No mess. I love it and I’m happy to fill in or appear on anyone’s show at any time.

Lastly, always have whiskey handy to lube the conversation.

Achievement Get: Survive

It’s been a good year. As bummed as I’ve been lately, I’m trying to remember that. My work-life has been stressful, which impacts my personal life on more levels than I’m comfortable with, but I’ve got a lot going on the side that makes me happy and proud. I have no idea what I’ll be making in 2017, but I’m eager to find out.


  1. SEE: Seasonal Affective Disorder, undiagnosed.  ↩

  2. SEE: FAIL  ↩

  3. In fact, do something new often.  ↩


Featured Posts from 2016

BF #15: The Night After Jedha: A Holiday Special

Bantha Fodder is celebrating the holidays the only way they know how, with dorky references to background characters in their favorite science fiction franchise.

In the fifteenth episode of Bantha Fodder, Mike and Jacob are up late waiting for Santa Claus. To pass the time, Jacob reads Mike a story about The Night After Jedha, a holiday favorite!

Find the show on Twitter and at banthafodder.fm.

'Rogue One': My Initial Examination

‘Rogue One’: My Initial Examination

This review contains spoilers. Reading beyond this paragraph means you’ve either seen the movie and care to read insights into the plot of The Force Awakens, or you simply want to ruin a possibly phenomenal movie-going experience for yourself. You’ve been warned.


“I fear nothing. All is as the Force wills it.” -Chirrut Îmwe

For the second year in a row, I’ve seen a brand new Star Wars movie in theaters. As incredible as it was in December of 2015, it most definitely still is now. Rogue One has arrived and I’m thrilled to commit my observations to paper for yet another wonderful film in the Star Wars franchise.

It’s difficult to place expectations for a Star Wars stand-alone film when there is no precedent in which to compare it to. The Holiday Special surely doesn’t count, making this the first of it’s kind. Fitting, isn’t it, that the film be called Rogue One? While the film follows familiar themes of hope, trust, and rebellion that have run hot through the veins of every Star Wars film to date, it lacks one thing that truly set it apart from the very beginning: a crawl.

This isn’t news. The absence of a crawl was announced months ago and I wasn’t surprised when the movie simply began. The change of tempo did put me on the edge of my highly uncomfortable Cinemark seat, however. Moments like this are littered throughout the film and often worked to the film’s advantage. In a way, altering or leaving things out of a Star Wars film that we expect are nods in themselves to the traditions we are accustomed to as fans. A cheery example is when K2-SO begins to say “I have a bad feeling about this” before being quickly cut off by Cassian Andor and Jyn Erso. I loved that. So while the crawl not being there certainly felt weird, the movie did not hurt for it. In fact, the opening scenes involving a young Jyn Erso and her family made the film’s companion book Rogue One: Catalyst that much better. Putting faces to names and showing the fall-out between two old friends, Galen Erso and Orson Krennic. [1] From those opening shots, we’re taken through time and space to various scenes around the galaxy, captioned by location cards each hop along the way to the main plot. This is the start of when the film’s roots in Hollywood military begin to show.

Rogue One hit several classic war film notes like special ops surveilling in the rain, battles on a tropical beach of a pacific-like front, and risky infiltration operations. What I think the movie lacked was the camaraderie of typical war films. Sure, the Rogue One team all fought for the same cause, but the heart between the lot of them just wasn’t there until the very end. Throughout acts I and II, the only believable relationships I saw were between Baze Malbus and Chirrut Îmwe and K2SO and Jyn. Don’t get me wrong, there wasn’t a poor performance to be seen. Still, there was an air of unfamiliarity between the characters in tight quarters that I couldn’t quite reassign to their circumstance. Even in the thick of Act III, there was a moment where Baze refers to Jyn as “little sister” which felt incredibly out of place considering this was their first one on one moment in the entire film.

The stars of the cast were certainly Ben Mendelsohn as Krennic and Alan Tudyk as K2SO. Mendelsohn’s sheer charisma leaps off of the screen from the first scene and doesn’t falter. Tudyk delivered the most unique droid performance since C–3PO’s debut and provided a vast majority of the levity throughout the picture. Both delivered exemplary performances and went beyond the job. I wish I could say as much for Felicity Jones, who I adored in The Theory Of Everything and Breathe In and Diego Luna who’s off-screen personality is a joy to behold. Alas, after a first screening, I don’t feel as much for those two characters as I expected I might. The majority of Jyn’s heart and gusto was shown off in trailers that contained a LOT of unused footage. It’s as if the production went a completely different direction with her levels of spunk and attitude. Remember that line, “I rebel?” I do and it’s sad that her stand-offishness was washed away. I thought Jyn would be the rebel the Rebellion didn’t want, but needed. That role went the way of Saw Gerrera. Still, I think Jones did a fine job and I still enjoy her character even it was flattened. In Luna’s case, I don’t think he was used to his strengths. Andor is a pretty serious guy from start to finish. It seems to me that he would have some real depth of character to become who he is to the cause. I just didn’t believe what Luna was selling half of the time. A second watch let me see a little deeper into the conflict running through his head, but I still think he just short of nailing it.

Despite my frequent dismissal of the controversial reshoots last year, I compare the trailer footage and the final product and see a pretty major reworking of the film’s structure that leads me to only one conclusion: Act I fails due to content overload. In the first third, there are too many planets and too many characters coming in and out of play. By the time the scenes are set for Eadu and Scarif, we’ve met a number of players and seen several planets that hold no bearing on the remainder of the plot. Yet these locations are marked with title cards that generally signify importance. “Commit this to memory” types of cues that don’t make sense for scenes that are just two minutes long. This fast-paced style of filmmaking didn’t help us get to know Bodhi Rook much better and hardly necessitated him at all until he’s needed to land a stolen Imperial ship and transmit to the Alliance fleet from Scarif. This includes the scene with Bor Gullet, a tentacled monster that can read thoughts and leave those it touches mad (but only for a few hours apparently, then you’re fine). Bor Gullet’s owner, the paranoid Saw Gerrera also played nearly no part except to facilitate Jyn’s retrieval of Galen’s message and to lead the plot to Jedha.

While the film and it’s characters suffered from pacing, I feel that Edwards and his casting team did an excellent job from the standpoint of diversity. Rogue One broadened the spectrum of race in Star Wars far beyond that of The Force Awakens. Riz Ahmed, though English, comes from a Pakistani background.[2] Donnie Yen and Jiang Wen were both born in China while Diego Luna is of Mexican heritage. The three of them do not speak English as their primary language. If you look at the core Rogue One team, there’s not a caucasian dude among them-Tudyk’s voice not withstanding. One woman, three men of diverse backgrounds, and a droid. Fantastic.

I touched briefly on nostalgia in the opening of this piece, but I want to dive more deeply into details I noticed while watching opening night. Firstly, blue milk! Nothing says Star Wars like a tall glass of Bantha juice. This was an easy one to pick up on from the start as a gesture of good will from Edwards and his team. As a fan of Easter Eggs and visual callbacks, I stayed alert and paid much more attention to this movie’s background than to that of The Force Awakens my first time around. What I noticed was a much richer atmosphere that felt deeper and more elaborate than the desolate depot on Jakku or even the more lively cantina at Takodana.

From the streets Andor traverses to meet his source to Jedha City’s diverse array of inhabitants. Even Yavin 4 had several species—new and old—mixed together and roving about in a believable way. Among them, some familiar faces surprised me. Of course R2D2 and C3PO made their cameo, along with Chopper if you pay close enough attention. A General Syndulla is even called for on the com in the hanger, meaning that at least Hera makes it through the Rebels television series along with the Ghost ship which is parked within the rebel base. On Jedha, we see Cassian and Jyn bump into a pair on the street who address them with immediate disrespect. Sound familiar? Think back to Luke’s first encounter with a bully on Tatooine. Yep. Same guys. Ponda Baba (my favorite cantina patron and inspiration for an impending Bantha Fodder Christmas tale) and a wilder looking Doctor Evazan (Baba’s drinking buddy) are just there, roaming about. [3] In Saw Gerrera’s complex a withering Twi’lek named Beezer Fortuna is seen sitting at a table in a wonderful panning shot. Beezer shares the surname of Jabba’s left-hand man Bib Fortuna and was created from early artwork for the same.

That’s not all that came from the annals of the Star Wars archives. Briefly after their brush with Baba and Evazan, Jyn talks briefly with Îmwe who is described by Cassian as a Guardians of the Whills, a clear callback to George Lucas’ initial pitch for the Star Wars story as told by immortal beings called Whills.[4] The basis for the Whills turned into the general idea of the Force. Still, with Jedha being as significant to the Jedi and those that followed them as it is described, I feel as if the newly canonized concept of the Whills may reemerge in Episode VIII. [5] Most interestingly though, was the reintroduction of Darth Vader’s castle. In the early stages of Empire Strikes Back, Ralph McQuarrie produced artwork for Darth Vader’s private residence. A castle first on a snowy planet, then moved to a molten one (this McQuarrie thumbnail particularly resembles what’s on screen) not unlike Mustafar. [6] This idea was used in several EU games and books, but now that it’s canon, it adds an entire new layer to what we know of Vader. The entire sequence there is one of the most memorable and surprising of the entire film.

While I’m on the topic of Vader, let’s quickly run through a few more major surprises in this movie. The idea of bringing Peter Cushing’s likeness back to the silver screen for the role of Grand Moff Tarkin was brought up over a year ago now and met with nearly unanimous reservation. Personally, I expected a 3D rendering in a hologram type of situation. What I got was a fully realized and impeccably detailed 3D model of an actor that died in 1994. [7] Turns out the role was played by Guy Henry and then elaborately reconfigured into Cushing’s form. Incredible work, honestly. There was a point in time where we sailed through the uncanny valley where things were almost too real to be real. I feel we’ve officially passed that. If Tarkin doesn’t prove that, perhaps Red or Gold Leader did in Rogue One’s climactic operation on Scarif. If not them, certainly Princess Leia was convincing enough to send a shock through your system as it did mine. These visual tricks by the ILM team were not only clever—they knew they could be clever before they even started the modeling—they were realistic, which is a ridiculously difficult thing to tackle when you’re creating new characters let alone mimicking actual human beings from another time. Bravo team.

A few more quick observations before I finish this up and open up the novelization to compare. There is a scene were Cassian Andor communicates live with Yavin 4 in the middle of a hyperspace run. Is that possible? The “T–15’s are obsolete” joke was a good chuckle for those dorks that caught it. The use of the stolen Imperial Hammerhead ships was really fantastic. The shot of two bright white Star Destroyers slowly falling through a planetary shield gate was a thing of sheer beauty. The set-up for this sequence goes back to an early episode of Rebels season 2. Krennic being killed dead on by the super weapon shortly after was a brilliant piece of poetry. I adored every bit of his downfall.

Rogue One takes a story Star Wars fans are overly familiar with at concept level and opens it up into a rapid-fire journey of new possibilities with the franchise. From start to finish, the film is packed with lovely bits of fan service and a fresh take on the war that rages on in the galaxy. Rogue One gives us new characters to love and more of some that we’ve loved for decades. While much of Rogue One feels like Star Wars, there’s something more to it. Maybe it’s too nuanced to pinpoint after a first watch; but even though it felt new, it felt right too.

EDITORS NOTE: This review was updated on 12/19 to include and amend thoughts after a second viewing.


  1. I highly recommend reading it. Buy it here.  ↩

  2. Watch The Night Of. Fantastic television. I binged it in one sitting.  ↩

  3. Leaving just in time, apparently. As Jedha was blown to bits soon thereafter. They deserved that drink at Wuher’s.  ↩

  4. Technically, it’s not the first canonical reference to the Whills. A passage from the Journal of the Whills opened the novelization of The Force Awakens by Alan Dean Foster. This only counts as canon wherein it lines up with the film however. Tricky stuff.  ↩

  5. Entertainment Weekly was given a timeline map that connects Rogue One to Episode VIII. Hollywood Reporter didn’t offer anything plausible.  ↩

  6. And it may very well be on Mustafar, after all.  ↩

  7. Edwards spoke about this to Radio Times.  ↩

John Mayer - "Love On The Weekend"

John Mayer has been teasing his return to pop music for some time, most notably through his Instagram.[1] Of late, he’s been touring with The Grateful Dead as a member of their band.

It’s a bit of stretch to say that his last two studio records, Born & Raised and Paradise Valley weren’t pop releases. Yet the lurking notion that I’ve had following the guy has been that he’s coming back around to the guitar-driven pop that propelled his career through the early ’00s. The era I’m referring to started with Room For Squares and left off with Battle Studies, the last record he would record before several years of recovery from a granuloma in his throat. This medical setback made touring and recording very difficult for him and drove him to travel extensively until locking himself away in a somewhat secluded state to write the records fans weren’t sure were even coming.

Those records are fantastic peices of work in their own right, meandering tunes meant for long lengths of road travel and relaxed evenings at home before a fire. Still, it’s easy to miss the more straightforward trajectory of his career pre-granuloma. I for one loved Battle Studies for its simplicity and straight-forward pop melodies. A return to this, as I believe Mayer has been teasing, isn’t nescessary for me as a fan, but an interesting after a change of pace in is maturity on and off record.

So came “Love On The Weekend”, a single off of his forthcoming record believed to be titled The Search For Everything.[2] The guitar tones themselves harken back to a time in his discography before the western hats and bolo ties, but not not so much as the lyrcism of the track. As much as I try to follow my gut feeling that this is a progression from Battle Studies—a feeling drawn to comparison by songs such as “Half Of My Heart”—my head tells me this particular track leans more—at least instrumentally—towards Paradise Valley. Truthfully, it splits the difference in a way that Born & Raised didn’t. At it’s core, “Love On The Weekend” meanders while driving home a more youthful story than songs of the latest pairing of records.

“Love On The Weekend” is really quite enjoyable and even on the second listen, I found myself singing along. It’s available on all streaming platforms now as a nice appetizer for a full-length record.


  1. His is a quality follow, as far as celebrity Instagram accounts go.  ↩

  2. It’s worth noting that when li.st first began, John Mayer dropped a note with The Search For Everything as the title with what appears to be lyrics. Is this the title track?  ↩

Bantha Fodder Presents: "Rebellious Landino"

Cover artwork by Jacob Tender

Cover artwork by Jacob Tender

As mentioned previously, my Bantha Fodder cohost Mike Comite and I love audio production. I'd say that our podcast is about 75% about the Star Wars universe and the remaining bit is about trying new things with our format, mixes, and extraneous things to collaborate on. This week, along with our latest episode, Mike and I put together a remix of Childish Gambino's "Freaks & Geeks" from the perspective of Lando Calrissian, a Star Wars character being brought back to the screen by Gambino himself, Donald Glover.

I wrote and performed the song and Mike mixed and mastered it for cohesion and clarity. I think the result is pretty cool and can be found for free on either Soundcloud or Bandcamp.

You might be asking, "So Jake, this song is hot fire. Does this mean you've entered the rap game?" Not really, but don't expect this to be the last song you hear from Bantha Fodder. We've got some ideas.

VBR #21: 'People Don't Talk About Relationships Enough', with guest Dan Cox

My friend Dan Cox and I have followed an eerily similar trail since 2010. We get deep into the weeds of early 2010 leak blogs, music blogs, and Internet social justice. Dan is genuinely a fan of my show and I know that because he won't stop texting me about it. I'm genuinely a fan of Dan and always have been, which makes this one of my favorite shows to date.

For years, Dan Cox cultivated a massive following of passionate fans for his blog, Pup Fresh. Between himself and his partner Willy, Pup Fresh created a spot for themselves in the scene without invitation. They use their following to spread their opinions about controversial topics in the scene. That seemed to wear Dan out to the point that he’s separated himself from the brand for his sake and the blog’s. Now he spends way too much money on vinyl.

Find the show on Twitter and on iTunes. If you'd like to sponsor the show, drop me a line here.

BF #14: Aim Higher, Please!

Mike and I love messing with the format, trying new production techniques, and finding fun things to do with the podcast. I think we really stumbled upon something great this time.

In the fourteenth episode of Bantha Fodder, Mike and Jacob discuss the known castings for the young Han Solo movie that's set for 2019. The two of them struggle over the pronunciation of the lead actor's surname and Rebellious Landino makes his studio debut.

Find the show on Twitter and at banthafodder.fm.

Welcome to Geekdom #007: Star Wars Rebels

I'm back again on Welcome To Geekdom to talk about Star Wars: Rebels, an animated show that started really great and getting better all the time.

Jacob Tender returns to talk all about Star Wars Rebels.

I don't advertise it much, but I do have a feed for all of my podcast appearances outside of my own shows. Vain? Probably. Subscribe to Deanna's new show on iTunes or Overcast.