The Passion of R2D2

The Passion of R2D2

The Passion of R2D2 (2006)

I know what you’re thinking. Why does the Stars Wars droid who burps in squelches deserve a passion? Passions are reserved for gods and geniuses. Christ. Van Gogh — or, at least, Kirk Douglas playing him in Lust for Life. Bardot. Charo. Camille Paglia. Courtney Love (or is the passion aligned against her?). But R2 of the metallic blinking swivelling head? Surely not.

Au contraire. Trust yr. blogger. There’s more than cuddly Ewoks in the dark pockets of the Net. Dare we venture where the Force is no match for the dressed-in-white-plastic armies of sarcasm?

From Big, Fat, Stinking Software — the complete review of Sim R2D2, v.2.0:

Randomly plays R2D2 sounds.

Use it to annoy your coworkers.

Got it? I suspect that’s the same feeling I experienced when a “friend” gave my young daughter one of those cheapo cassette players with a plastic mic.

What’s sadder, I suppose, is that my daughter is now heading off for college — but I still sometimes haul the Belle boombox to my poetry readings — for, you know, enhanced “360 stereo sound” effects.

Meanwhile, the anti-R2 League of Extraordinary Geeks has a full battery pack of complaints:

Like this comment in the form of a short screenplay by Star Wars Commentary — seen on Robot Tees who ask “Is It Okay to Kill Robots?”

Darth Vader: Luke, I am your father.

Luke Skywalker: NO!!!!!!!!!!! Wait. What…?

Darth Vader: I said I’m your father.

Luke Skywalker: I heard what you said, but a Robot can’t have a human son, silly Darth Vader. Therefore, you must die.

Darth Vader: NO!!!!!!!!!

Sound Effects: (Darth Vader dying) Slash! Whoom! Clash!

Luke Skywalker: Took you long enough. Heh…

R2D2: beep beep blop bloop blep (Why have you done this? Why did you kill my father?)

Luke Skywalker: You have seen too much now you must die.

Sound Effects: (R2D2 dying) Slash. Sparkle.

Luke Skywalker: Stupid Robots. Anyone else?

I've burned out and I can't get up...

Please can you stop the noise
I’m trying to get some rest…

–Radiohead, “Paranoid Android”

[Image seen on “The Graveyard” at BattleBricks]

And you don’t want to know some of the enhanced interrogation techniques Jar Jar gets put through.

But to actually have a capital P Passion, R2’s iconic circuits must fail less than Windows and have profoundly influenced popular culture. Imitators abound — from Buck Rogers‘ cloying Twinkie to James Cameron’s “I’ll be back” (in California) Terminator to the new improved Battlestar Galactica‘s sexy, boltless, buff Cylons. But what influenced George Lucas to power up his feedback-gurgling robot in the first place? From we just make it all up as we go along Wikipedia:

Some people believe George Lucas got the look for his robot from a vacuum cleaner. It was Rexair’s Rainbow model D2, sold between 1959 and 1969. This was parodied in an episode of That 70’s Show in a Star Wars themed dream Eric Forman was having. In the dream, Kitty Forman, dressed as a Rebel pilot, is using R2D2 as a vacuum cleaner before using the blue dot on top of R2D2’s head to turn it off so she could answer the door. This is also parodied in the opening sequence of Tripping the Rift.

Often imitated.  Never duplicated.

Suck it up, boys. I clean the galaxy for no (hu)man.

[Image seen on Images de Star Wars!!!]

So, clearly, spirit and funds willing, Mel Gibson could easily have another “passion” smashed film project. Just be sure to take his keys before he insists on driving the X-Wing Fighter home.


Today’s image is fairly new and rendered in QuaSZ before being beat around its titanium temples in Photoshop and Painter. Buzz Pro and Lucis’ Sculpture also helped to prevent rust.

Cross-posted to Blog with a View.


I know Tim will jump on soon and post his own welcome, but while I’m on the line here…

I’d like to greet everyone and say thanks — to contributors, to commenters, and to readers.

You know what’s really cool? Tim and I never officially “opened” Orbit Trap. As people agreed to give of their time and participate, they took the initiative — forged ahead — started posting. I love that. Meanwhile, Tim and I are playing catch-up and still “tweaking” both the blog’s look and the contributor’s list. Look for more on both fronts in the days ahead.

So, now that we’ve started, what can you expect to find on Orbit Trap? Well, our main banner says (or will shortly — we’re still decorating) “revolving around fractal art.” The broad scope is deliberate. Still, in general, give us a hint as to what kinds of postings might pop up? Here’s a few possibilities we mentioned to potential contributors:

Fractal Topics: –math, –programming, –software review, –theory, — history, –research, –ties to other disciplines, –links with the natural world, and so on.

Fractal Art Topics: –examples/images, –discussion, –commentary, –process descriptions, –website reviews, — art communities, –promotion, –prints, –standards, –ethics, — favorite works, –idle musings, –funny stories, and so on.

Digital Art/Computer Graphics Topics: — post-processing, –tutorials, –formulae, –enhancement/rendering strategies, and so on.

But there’s nothing prescriptive — no etched stones. The contributors have carte blanche to explore and examine on their own terms and using whatever creative methods they wish. I think it’s a safe bet readers will be viewers, too. And there won’t be any shortage of art. Or writing either — whether technical, expository, creative, or other. Or tones. Or ideas. Or, sometimes, disagreements. Or, ideally, mutual respect.

Tim and I hope readers will also feel free to participate and collaborate in our lively experiment. Comments are switched on for a reason. And I really like what Lynne said earlier about feeling the loss of fun. Fun. I remember fun. Bring it on.

One more thing. Shakespeare once asked, “What’s in a name?” Tim and I thought about calling this place something practical like The Fractal Blog or whatever. We kicked around some ideas and finally settled on Orbit Trap. As Tim said to me in an email: “Orbit Trap is quickly identified by fractalists as being fractal-related. Also, to me, Orbit Trap suggests a collecting or gathering of different, diverging movements into a single place, and that’s one of the purposes of the blog: to bring together members of an artform that is diverging but still has a common origin.”

What he said.

But…we did consider a few other potential blog names that were voted off the island. Here’s a short list:

Iterate This!!
Seahorse Valley
All Brots, No Wieners
Let’s Bitch About Julia
BailOut Now
MySelf Similar
Deeper Zoom
Hyper But Complex
You Don’t Know Quat
Biomorph Hunt
Spawn of Newton
Lsystem Failure
A Semi-Solid Guess
Z-Real Thing

See? The atmosphere could have been much much worse…

How comments work: After the approval of your very first comment you will be able to post future comments immediately to any posting. Any username or fictitious email is good enough.

One thought on “The Passion of R2D2

  1. I absolutely adored your potential blog names. Here’s some more :)

    When I’ve 64 (layers)
    Apophysis Now!
    Sweet SurRenders
    You’ll Never Get to Heaven if You Steal My Parameter
    Talkin’ ‘Bout My Generator
    Tiny Stalks and Bubbles
    Lord of the Rings II, Mod II
    Won’t You Cosine My Loan?
    Wayne Newton Variations

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