Dec 212015

episodevii(No spoilers.)

I remember a lot of hand-wringing when Disney paid George Lucas $4,000,000,000 in cash for the Star Wars franchise. I never understood that. I thought Disney buying Star Wars was the best thing that could have happened to the franchise. “They’ll ruin it!” came the cries.


Paid any attention to what the old man himself’s been doing with it lately? And have you not noticed how effectively Disney cares for extremely profitable popular culture? No worries.

As I’ve said probably a dozen times on, I am not an opening weekend sort of fellow. I don’t enjoy hustle and bustle that isn’t largely of my own making. Wherever I’m going, I try to be there when you’re not.

That applied to the new Star Wars film. “No problem,” I said. “We’ll go see it maybe December 29 or 30, when the worst of the after-Christmas sales have abated.”

Then I started thinking: the longer I wait, the more likely it’ll be spoiled for me. This is the first Star Wars movie in 10 years, and the first one in 32 years for which I had no idea of the basic plot. Am I going to let that happen?

No. I didn’t. Lea, the boys, and I attended a 3D showing of Star Wars: The Force Awakens at Monaco Pictures today.

It’s exceedingly difficult to say anything specific about Episode VII without giving bits away, so I’m not going to try. For Star Wars, the tiniest details of plot, character, or setting are spoilers to a great many people—even those who don’t normally tend to take offense at such. So I’ll stay with these three generalities:

  • There are several important casting decisions here, because this is a bit of a handoff picture, is it not? I mean, it’s not quite so blatant as Star Trek Generations, but you go into Episode VII knowing the need to pass the baton is there. We loved all of the new characters and can’t wait to see what they do and where they go. Conversely, familiar friends have grown older authentically and satisfyingly.
  • Now that it’s technologically possible to depict pretty much anything with CGI, the artistic aspects of things like spaceship battles are the only consideration. What you can do is no longer an interesting question. What should you do? There are three major battle sequences that will have you grinning like an idiot as you take them in. The 3D serves them well, though I’m also looking forward to seeing them brighter in 2D.
  • As the originals did, Episode VII gets the humor right. The balance is satisfying. Never too much; always appropriate for the scene.

Primarily for Aaron’s benefit, but also because we knew we’d enjoy it too, we watched all six of the preceding films before going today. We watched them in release order, so IV-V-VI-I-II-III. The prequels have taken a sustained beating since they were released, and their reputations certainly didn’t need this context. I’m not as hard on Episodes I-III as many, but it’s hard to imagine them not forever occupying the bottom three slots in Star Wars rank-’em-first-to-worst.

If you hear a knock on Star Wars: The Force Awakens, it’s that it’s derivative. This comment is borderline asinine. Star Wars is a good narrative, but it’s certainly never been about plot novelty. Its excellence is built on relentlessly and fastidiously fleshing out its worlds and inhabitants; on bringing its universe to life within you. It may do so more effectively than any other story the human animal has yet told. It’s magical because you go for the ride so completely, not because it tells you something new.

(News flash: plot wasn’t the point of this guy either.)

I will see it at least once again, because I want to see it in 2D. I may even travel to see an IMAX presentation. I suppose a better seventh Star Wars film could have been made, but I can’t tell you how. The Force Awakens delivers on every level. Make haste.


 Posted by at 4:34 pm
Dec 192015

The Clarion Project has put together an excellent 15-minute documentary on radical Islam called By The Numbers. Soberly presented by Sunni Muslim and anti-terrorism activist Raheel Raza, it provides rigorous documentation of the magnitude of this single greatest threat to civilized society.

Many people believe that radical Islam and Islam are two separate things; that the former has nothing to do with the legitimate religion, and that anyone who claims otherwise is racist and/or propagating hate. If you are one of these people, please take the time to watch this program.

 Posted by at 11:07 am
Dec 172015
  • Star Wars! Hope I can avoid spoilers for a week or ten days, because…
  • …my need to interact with the outside world has begun to fade for 2015. Terrible or wonderful that such is one of my favorite things about Christmas?
  • Deep Purple finally goes into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame next year, along with two acts who would have become good candidates for the worst snub (Cheap Trick and Chicago). So who is the worst snub now? Iron Maiden, maybe? Ronnie James Dio, who shamefully wasn’t inducted with Black Sabbath?
  • Ex-Intergraphers, start getting your goodbyes ready for Buildings 20, 30, and all of the 17s. They will be assimilated. Wow, that Peoplequarium is going to be enormous.
  • I just learned that Lea’s mom is getting her a Pandora charm bracelet for Christmas. This is fantastic news. In 21 years of getting Lea presents, I have never had such a reliable arena in which to operate. She’s very hard to buy for.
  • Scratched my cheese straw itch. A half-teaspoon of Mongoose hot sauce added to a standard recipe produces appealing heat. Now, bring on the homemade Chex Mix!
  • If the current forecast holds, I’m wearing shorts and a T-shirt in Christmas Day. I remember one year not too long ago we had our last freeze in January. Wonder if we’re headed for another winter like that?
 Posted by at 2:47 pm
Dec 162015

The frenzy is abating just a bit. And I can’t believe I just typed that. Now I’ll probably wreck my car or the refrigerator will die or a black widow will bite me tomorrow.

Upward practices are successfully underway, and that has helped a great deal. I appreciate my coaches stepping up. Now I’m gathering referee and scorekeeper volunteers, working on the game schedule, and getting a uniform return together. I think I’ve already said it once: I’m definitely doing this next year, just so I can avoid the rookie mistakes I’ve made this year. David, if you’re reading, you can commit me for 2017.

(I mean to be Upward director. Not, you know, committed. Although, I bet a lot less would be expected of me in such an environment.)

I’m working on this post in between making cheese straws for my work lunch tomorrow. I’m doing three heat levels: medium, hot, and blow the back of your head out. (Far more medium by volume than anything else.)

As taxing as the rest of this end of the year has been, my Christmas shopping has been pretty set-’em-up-knock-’em-down. A rare perfect gift for my father emerged, and I slapped one out of the park for the boys that they’ll never see coming.

Maybe I’ll write something that is considered and of high quality sometime soon. Thank you for reading

 Posted by at 9:18 pm
Dec 142015

I am really enjoying being back on Facebook. I love the rekindling of relationships that mean something to me, yet need Facebook to stay alive. (That’s a thing, and I’m not going to agonize over its shortcomings.) I love the supercharging it gives my closest relationships. And, I love the practicalities of being plugged back in closely to Rocket City Mom, Rocket City Bloggers, and so forth.

What I really love is my decision to stay apolitical, or very close to it, on Facebook. Because since I wrote this post, it’s gotten much worse. Touched on it in current context here, really before I really got a good taste of it.

A good taste of it is unpleasant. This week I have seen multiple, otherwise apparently reasonable people say “if you support >insert candidate name here<, then unfriend me now.”

That’s where we really are.

People, we can’t be there and make it as a civilized society.

Much of the time, those with whom I most vociferously disagree want a society that looks very much like the society I want. We simply disagree on the respective efficacies of the approaches to get there.

We must recognize one another as thinking, reasonable people who have reached different conclusions. We must dissect the forces that have influenced our respective concludings.

Most critically, we must decide once and for all whether it’s more important that we work together for solutions, or that we score nasty little points.

 Posted by at 11:15 pm