Looks like my "posting every day in November" thing has fallen apart a bit. I blame it on the sleepy chemicals in turkey. And, the anticipatory laziness that gripped me before actually eating any turkey in the days before Thanksgiving. In fact, I was so anticipatorially lazy that I did not help AT ALL on Thanksgiving, either with cooking or cleaning up. Instead I busied myself by "entertaining" my 9- and 11-year-old cousins by watching Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back back-to-back. Great babysitting, self!
I was surprised to find that I didn't remember the plot of the Star Wars movies in that much detail, or the amount of cheesy acting and technical nonsense dialogue. As the Phantom Menace and those other Whiny Anakin movies demonstrated by way of contrast, George Lucas was lucky Harrison Ford et al were so good in the first few. Also: the version we were watching was the "remastered" one released 5 or 10 years ago, and the stuff that was changed from the original was HIDEOUS. In the scene when Han Solo shoots the bounty hunter in the bar, they've changed it so the bounty hunter shoots first. The whole point is that Han is a badass and not particularly burdened by moral considerations! Also, why would the bounty hunter miss at nearly point-blank range? Then in the very next scene, when Han goes to get his ship to take Luke and Obi Wan to Alderan, who shows up but Jabba the Hut, looking shiny, computer-generated, and nonthreatening, to tell him "oh, ok, you can pay me later." This totally dilutes the threat of the unseen, offscreen Jabba who sends bounty hunters after Han.
So George Lucas produced awesome movies despite himself. Good lesson for us all. Happy Thanksgiving!