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I saw Star Wars at the tender age of 9, and it would be an understatement to say it was a transformative experience. I guess you could say The Force awakened my inner geek. (See what I did there?)
Then came the modified special-edition re-releases, followed by the prequels, and they did a pretty good job of destroying my inner 9-year-old.
Now, we're just weeks away from "The Force Awakens," and although I've been working hard to avoid spoilers (I'm not even watching the trailers!), I've been keeping my expectations low. J.J. Abrams did a pretty good job resurrecting "Star Trek," but only pretty good. No way will the new "Star Wars" movie be able to recapture the magic. Yeah, I'm still scarred by the prequels.
That's how I felt until last weekend, when I read this Wired interview with Abrams. And, now, dammit, I'm all excited. Turns out he gets it. He seems to understand exactly what made the original movies special and what was all wrong about the prequels.
All this is to say, drop what you're doing, head to your nearest Verizon store (yes, Verizon store), and grab yourself a free Star Wars-themed Google Cardboard VR headset. Then install the newly updated Star Wars app (also free) and check out Jakku Spy. The first segment is short, but still pretty cool. And there are many more to come in the days ahead.
Oh, and what's with all the bonus deals? Simple: I wrote those first, they kept multiplying, and suddenly the post was all bonuses. Enjoy!
Bonus deal: Monument Valley is one of those amazing games that simultaneously delights and messes with your brain. It normally sells for $3.99, but for a limited time, Monument Valley is free for iOS. (Amazon Prime subscribers can get it free for Android and Fire Tablets via Amazon Underground.)
It's not only an award-winner, but also one of the top-rated puzzle games in all three app stores. Not sure how long it'll be free, but definitely sure you should scoop it up while it is. Thanks to CNET's Stephen Shankland for the tip!
Bonus deal 2: Big monitors continue to get small -- small prices, that is. This one blows me away: While supplies last (and they rarely last long), Newegg has the Acer KN242HYL 24-inch desktop monitor for $99.99 shipped. That's after applying coupon code EMCKNAN25 at checkout. This 1080p LED monitor features three inputs (including HDMI), built-in speakers and a ridiculous(ly awesome) three-year warranty. Shut up and take my money, Newegg!
Bonus deal 3: Looking for a cheap VR headset that's not made of cardboard? Good heavens, GearBest has a bunch of them, with prices starting at an impossible $6.50. A good bet appears to be the Ritech Virtual Reality 3D Glasses II for $8.99 shipped (!), as it has a 4.8-star rating from over 60 buyers.
I'm also eyeing (pun!) this VR Shinecon headset for $17.99 shipped, as it appears to have a distance adjustment that would be helpful for farsighted folks like me. Either way, VR + your smartphone = some truly amazing experiences -- and this is just the beginning.
Bonus deal 4: It's beginning to look a lot like free-music season! For a limited time, Google Play has Blake Shelton's "Cheers, It's Christmas", Mariah Carey's "Merry Christmas" and Josh Groban's "Noel" for free. These are complete albums, available for streaming or MP3 download, no strings attached.
Bonus deal 5: Along with Fallout 4, Just Cause 3 is the hot game right now. And while console owners are stuck paying $60 for it, PC gamers can score Just Cause 3 (Windows) for just $29.99 from Cdkeys. Oh, and if you're a new customer, head to Cdkeys' Facebook page and "like" it to get an extra 5 percent off. Final price: $28.49. Between this and Monument Valley, my weekend is now shot (in the most awesome way).