Saturday, December 28, 2019

Rise of Skywalker: Likes, Dislikes, and Don't Cares

Ah, so I have received two requests that I get off my derriere and post my thoughts on Rise of Skywalker.  I warn you: some of you will be disappointed.  I do not care that much about continuity or how the force works or anything in Star Wars.  Star Wars has never felt like real science fiction to me, and I don't expect or demand much from it.  I like it to have strong female characters (who don't "die of a broken heart") and some mildly cool scenes that don't center around the edge-of-your-seat tensions of a trade embargo.  I appreciate the increased racial diversity in this recent trilogy, and I detest Joseph Campbell-style jungian-lite symbolism, so my childhood was not "destroyed" by Luke getting all crotchety.

So here is a list of my Likes, Dislikes, and Things I Don't Care About in this last film.


Likes

  • Rey calling Leia “master”
  • Poe and Finn wondering if Rey uses the Force to change them into friendly dinks like she does with the stormtroopers
  • Leia’s lightsaber
  • Chewy’s genuine devastation when Leia dies
  • Chewy finally getting his medal
  • Poe having to admit he was a spice dealer and Finn harassing him about it
  • Threepio just being Threepio, film after film, as if he’s the way Anakin accidentally brought balance to the franchise
  • Finn trying desperately to hold onto Rey and help her against Kylo Ren
  • Kylo Ren finally dying
  • Rey hearing the voices of all the jedi
  • Rey using two lightsabers, Ahsoka Tano-style, to destroy Palpatine
  • The last scene on Tatooine
  • Babu Frik

Dislikes

  • Avoiding a romance between Poe and Finn and substituting a blink-and-you-missed it kiss for two other characters instead
  • Rose’s character not getting enough screen time
  • Luke and Leia not telling Rey she’s a Palpatine even though Obi-wan and Yoda not telling them they are Vader’s kids totally screwed them up for decades
  • Kylo Ren getting redemption
  • Kylo and Rey kissing—ick!
Things I Don’t Care About Because This Is Star Wars and Things Have Not Made Sense Since “Parsec” Was a Measure of Time and the Death Star Could Be Destroyed with One Shot No Matter How Much They Tried to Fix These Things Later, This Is Not Real Science Fiction Please Get Ahold of Yourself

  • The Millennium Falcon skipping around in lightspeed or whatever
  • Palpatine somehow finding enough kyber crystals to make a thousand death star lasers
  • Threepio not just piloting the ship to the place described on the knife if he can’t translate sith language
  • A “dyad in the force”
  • Palpatine hanging from a big hook

Friday, December 27, 2019

The Mandalorian, Episode 6



Well, while many people are viciously arguing about the Rise of Skywalker, I have returned from a visit with family in the mood to review another episode of the Mandalorian.

Mandalorian 6:  “The Prisoner”

Opening with a shot of the ship, which looks a bit like a waffle iron.  Or maybe a retro iron?  Oh, that reminds me of Hardware Wars!  Does anyone else remember Hardware Wars?  That was funny stuff.

Okay, this guy has lots of hair…he is Santa?  Hagrid?  No, his name is Ran.  He speaks with false casualness, like a drug dealer or a mob boss.

Ah, the “ship is part of the deal.”  Or not.  Whatever. “Mando” is going to do a “job” for this guy; jobs for him are “target practice.”  They did “crazy stuff” back in the day.  Wow.   This is not a subtle performance.  Apparently, the Mandalorian was a bad guy in his youth and hung out with bad company, like Henry IV or Han Solo.  Except both of those characters had a sense of humor.

The Mandalorian does not have a sense of humor.

 Okay, so this Red Guy, a Devaronian (his species was first seen in the Cantina bar, in the original Star Wars) seems to have just insulted the Mandalorian’s manhood.  Xi’an, a Twi’lek, has sharp teeth and a sharp knife, and I think this is supposed to be sexual tension.  And…Red Guy calls the Mandalorian “tiny”—that was definitely a penis joke.  Or a penis reference, anyway.  

There are no jokes here.

There is a bug guy droid named Zero, and they are all going to break someone out of a New Republic prison ship; so now they’re going to be bad guys for real.  But it’s okay because…the prison ship is manned by droids?  Oh, right, the Mandalorian hates droids.  Even though he looks and sounds like an automaton. 

I’m starting to wish R2 would show up and zap the Mandalorian a few times.

They find Baby Yoda and think it is a pet.  The Mandaorian does not correct them.  He does not want to draw attention to Baby Yoda, obviously.  Can these mercenaries resist the cuteness of Baby Yoda?  No one can, not really.

Several minutes of boring posturing gives me time to look up how to spell Xi’an’s name.  Then we get to the ship, and the bug droid disables various security measures, letting our…um…our villiains break into the ship.  It is sleek and white inside, completely the opposite of every single ship on The Expanse, which, frankly, I’d rather be watching.

Here is one of those tiny rolling droids like the one Chewbacca growls at on the Death Star.  The red guy shoots this one, activating security defenses and proving, once again, that intellect is not highly valued among these characters.

The Mandalorian gets to shoot some droids, indulging his major character trait.  Woo-hoo!
 
So there is a person, a human person, on this ship.  And our villains immediately begin to make fun of his clothing.   I did not see that coming.  To be honest, it’s pretty ugly; that is not a fashionable shade of blue.  

After the vicious sartorial taunting, they start arguing among themselves while the guy in blue tries not to wet himself.  The Mandalorian tells the others they can’t kill the badly dressed, as he is not a droid, and he himself only enjoys the killing of droids; they argue until Xi’an knocks out the unfashionable human, but he sets off a beeper that will signal the New Republic.  This means they are running out of time, so they start some fires and blow stuff up, and finally get to the right cell.

Inside is Quinn, Xi’an’s brother.  He does not seem worth all this trouble.

Okay, now everyone has spit up and is hunting each other through the ships.  Quinn is obviously an asshole like the rest of them.  The dumb devaronian tries to take off the Mandalorian’s helmet, which we know won’t happen.  It appears that we are now watching an elaborate game of hide-and-seek; even the nice white corridors of the New Republic ship start to flash red, which is kind of annoying.

Bug droid meets baby Yoda and aims a blaster at him, while Baby Yoda lifts his little hand to lay some force action on his ass. He looks at his hand curiously when the Bug Droid is shot, but it's the Mandalorian fulfilling his primary function again…bummer.  Some force blasts would be fun.

The Mandalorian takes Quinn to the hairy guy; everyone else is probably dead.  As will be these guys since the Mandalorian left the beeper / homing device with them.  Yes, here comes a squad of x-wings to blow them up.  Mandalorian gets paid. He flies away and lets Baby Yoda play with a little knob or something. 

The last scene shows all of the bad guys on a New Republic prison ship, so the Mandalorian did not kill them after all.  And…that’s the end.

Another reviewer has said that this seems to be a show about nothing, with no arc and not enough character development to be interesting episodically.  I confess that so far I agree.

Except for Baby Yoda. Baby Yoda is cool.  The next episode features Pig Nolte again, though, so maybe it will be better.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Two More Mandalorian Episodes

You know, there is a guy who hated Full House so much that he reviewed every single episode and nearly lost his mind in the process.  Those reviews are still up.  I do not hate The Mandalorian, but I am not seeing the subtle character-building that I keep hearing about.  Here are two more episodes; feel free to continue to blame that Michelle.


Episode 3: ”The Sin”

We open with Baby Yoda escaping its floaty thing, which is promising.  Baby Yoda tries to eat part of the ship while a hologram discusses turning it over for bounty.  Back into the floaty thing you go, Baby Yoda!  Does anyone really think the Mandalorian will leave the baby with the Bad People?  No one thinks that.

Okay, the Bad People are creepily excited to get Baby Yoda, and they examine it with frightening intensity, then try to distract the Mandalorian with a whole bunch of metal which I guess is what he gets paid with.  To add to his armor or something.  Does he know this makes him like a droid?  He hates droids.  Ah, somebody studied the literary term "irony" in English class; good job, writers, you have created an Inner Conflict.

The Mandalorian takes his metal bounty to this gold-armored woman who makes armor (she is called The Armourer, of course), where some other guys challenge him in a manly way, but since he has followed the Way of the Mandalore or whatever, the woman shuts them down and offers to make him a signet of the CGI rhino, but he says he didn’t really earn it, and I sort of agree with him there.

Much murmuring about The Way, which makes me think of Rogue One, and how many mystic Ways are there in the Star Wars universe, anyway?  The Duchess of Mandalore did not follow this Way; of course, she was killed by Darth Maul, so…I miss Darth Maul.  He was cool.

Okay, here is some kind of flashback to the Mandalorian’s childhood which involved violence and red cloaks.  Was he being raised to be an Imperial Guard?  Surely not.  Anyway, after the unrevealing flashbacks, his new piece of armor or weapon is done, and he…goes to a bar to get a new bounty.  He is kind of pissy that other bounty hunters were also paid to find Baby Yoda.

Uh-oh, he’s breaking the Guild Code by asking what’s going to happen to the baby.  His boss or whatever suggests getting high on spice until his worries go away.  This does not seem like a good idea.

Okay, so his stick-binoculars can see through walls and spy on people, and he hears that they will kill Baby Yoda and extract…something.  I do not know what.  Midichlorians?  But Our Hero will rescue the baby from the Stormtroopers who are definitely not part of the Empire, which is gone.  They shoot like Stormtroopers, though.  I find it hard to believe that the New Order is constructed from this.

There is a fight in an ill-lit warehouse, then he is caught, and then we find out his new armor fires little teeny tiny missiles.  He has rescued Baby Yoda!  Is this the “sin” of the episode’s title?

Back in a bar, which is definitely not in Mos Eisley, all the other bounty hunters’ little pagers go off.  I see, so all of them will be after Baby Yoda and the Mandalorian now.  Now there is a confrontation in the street, and the boss bounty hunter says he’s the Mandalorian’s “only hope”—and that line belongs to Leia, so I hope he gets fried with the flamethrower or something.

Oh, the Mandalorian gets on a floating car driven by a droid, and he hates droids, don’t forget that (it’s one of his major characteristics, you see).  Now they are surrounded, and the flamethrower is out of fuel.  But Baby Yoda makes an Expression and suddenly a bunch of flying Mandalorians appear!  They have jet packs, much to the envy of Our Hero.  Is it Sabine Wren?  No, she’s off with the Ghost, I guess.  Apparently, rescuing the Mandalorian is part of the Way, even if he has broken the Guild Code.

The boss guy follows him to his ship, but gets shot a little bit, and the ship takes off.  Wow, this planet is even gloomy from space.  The ship is called the Razorcrest.  Of course, it is.

Episode 4:

You know how in those old westerns the gunfighter would ride into town, rally the townsfolk, defeat the bad gunfighters, then ride away without even porking the girl?  This is that episode. 

Also, the Mandalorian just about poos his armor at the idea of fighting an AT-ST which…c’mon, the ewoks took those things out with a pile of logs and some twine.  It’s not like he was being asked to fight an AT-AT, after all!  What kind of wussy bounty hunter is this?    

And they accused Roddenberry of making the Wagon Train to the Stars.

Mandalorian, Episode 2




Yes, I am going on with this because I am up too early, my friends, after staying up too late.

Right.  So in this episode there is a little lizard.  I do not know why.  Apparently, Baby Yoda likes watching these baby lizards, but the Mandalorian just sort of kicks them out of the way.  It is still in its little floaty chair like the one Yoda had in Episodes 1-3.  Where did it get this chair?

Okay, now all the music and sound stops for a long, dramatic pause while Things are reflected in the Mandalorian’s armor.  Is this why he does not decorate it like Sabine Wren does hers?  I’m not getting past that any time soon.

Anyway, some orange guys jump out at them, and there is a fight scene.  Baby Yoda just watches, totally chill.  I can see that not much disturbs this child.

The Mandalorian has a wound, and he tries to fix his armor, but he’s not doing a very good job.  Ah, Baby Yoda gets out of his floaty chair and points his little 3-fingered hand with a look of concentration—this means it can use the Force.  Do all the green guys have the power to use the Force?  If so, the Mandalorian doesn’t know it, because he keeps putting the baby back in the floaty chair instead of letting it heal him.  You would think the reputation of Yoda’s species would be well known.  I mean, he and Yaddie were on the Jedi Council, and wouldn’t there have been wanted posters for Yoda under the Empire?  Surely old Palpatine wanted him caught.  Anyway, I am losing track of this episode. 

Okay, the Mandalorian is climbing up the big moving truck that the jawas use.  Jawas?  We are on Tatooine?  They do not like him.  They taunt him and throw things at him from the top of the truck just like the French in Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail.  And…boom, he falls down.  Well, that wasn’t very heroic.  He was beaten by jawas throwing garbage at him.

I see, the jawas have stripped his ship.  It won’t go.  But in this scene Baby Yoda makes an expression and that fills in for the fact that nothing much is happening here.

Off to see the Ugnaught.  The internets tell me that he is called Kuiil and is played by..Nick Nolte?  Really?  That’s…huh.  They talk about the ship or something, but I don’t care at all because Baby Yoda catches a frog and tries to eat it and totally steals the scene.

So they have to try to trade with the jawas to get the parts to put the ship back together, and for a bounty hunter this Mandalorian is a really bad trader.  He fires a flame-thrower at the jawas during negotiations!  Well, that will make the price go up.  I get the feeling that patience and intelligence are not high on the list of the Mandalorian’s personal virtues.

They have to get an egg.  Okay, jawas like eggs.  They seem to like them a whole lot.  There must be a CGI monster involved.

 And, of course, there is.  This seems to be the second manly feat of manhood: defeat the giant, mud-covered CGI rhinoceros and steal its egg.  The writers appear to play a lot of video games.

Now the Mandalorian is covered in mud, and this rhino is no joke.  It laughs at the flame-thrower!  It splashes mud in a fury!  No more shiny armor.  But…what is this?!  Baby Yoda has levitated the rhino!  Judge him by his adorable size, do you?!  Ah, it is too much for
Baby Yoda, and it passes out.  The Mandalorian sticks an 8-inch knife in the rhino and kills it.  What?  That does not seem likely.  Anyway, he has the egg, and the jawas eat it raw.  They appear to be enjoying themselves, and I guess this is the whole plot of this episode.

Hmm…okay, there is more.  They use a big sleigh to haul the ship parts, then there is an 80’s style montage of…putting the ship back together.  But…why is this a montage?  Baby Yoda eventually wakes up, and neither the Mandalorian nor Pig Nolte seem to know what the Force is.  Also, the Mandalorian offers Pig Nolte a job, but he has spoken.  Several times.  Now we fly away from Tatooine, and good riddance.

This is kind of like a really slow moving space Western or something.  I don’t know.  It’s good that it has Baby Yoda, though, because action-packed, it is not.  I have not seen season 4 of the Expanse yet; I should be watching that instead.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Baby Yoda Inspires a Blog Post


After a very long absence, I have returned to the blog, my friends, and I will blog about the Mandalorian, as my friend Michelle has coerced me into finally subscribing to this Disney Plus channel.

Here are my thoughts, very slightly edited, about Episode One.  If you have resisted watching this show but plan to at a later date, desist from reading the blog now!

Okay, the first line is: “Look at his glands.”  I am bemused.

So here is the Mandalorian.  Hmm…I am…disappointed.  Sabine Wren is a Mandalorian, you know, and HER armor is always painted artistically.  Also, she wields the Darksaber, so…this guy just seems to be a bounty hunter.  He loses points for not decorating his armor.  Tim Gunn and I are not happy.

The blue guy that he captures has just referred to Life Day, permanently inscribing the Christmas Special as canon.

I do not quite know how to feel about this.

There is a scene in a bar.  Then there is a scene on a ship.  Now there is another scene in a bar.  Huh.  I may need some wine.

The eyestalk security thing from Return of the Jedi appears, but all it does is scan an i.d. card.  This seems like a waste of technology to me.

I had heard that the fanboys, those who were appalled at a female lead in the last trilogy and got all racist and misogynist all over the internets, really like this show, and I wonder….”You’re outnumbered four-to-one.”  “I like those odds.”…ah, I get it.  Testosterone poisoning all around.  I should have expected that.

Oh! People are eating those Salacious Crumb guys.  I approve of that; I hate that cackling little rat thing.

And now..wtf?  The Mandalorian is being attacked by giant pig lizards that were too close for him to see in his fancy binocular-stick.  And…yes…he punches one with a right hook.  OMG.  I think this is supposed to be like when Luke went to see Obi-Wan in the first movie, but it’s just reminding me of Galaxy Quest.

Is that what they were going for?  Galaxy Quest is a darn good film.  Disney Plus does not have it.  They do have Pete’s Dragon, and that’s 90 minutes of my life I will not be getting back in a hurry, I tell you that.

So this guy…is he an ugnaught?  This guy is making the Mandalorian ride the pig lizards.  He gives him a speech about them.  “You must ride the giant CGI pig lizards like your ancestors in Days of Yore!”  Hee-hee.

Oh, but they are female.  The girl pig lizard monsters eat the men after mating.  That makes sense.  And if you stroke her gently, she calms down, and you can leap upon her! 

The subtext here is…not subtle.  Somewhere the fanboys cheer misogynist clich├ęs.

From a distance, the pig lizards look kind of like sperm with legs, to be honest.  So the CGI monster has been ridden, and the first manly feat of manhood has been accomplished…hurrah!

You know, people write a lot about Mandalorian armor, but I am envying his boots.

Okay, the Ugnaught leads him to a wretched hive of scum and villainy and tells him to blow it up.  Or something.  And here is a droid, a very twisty droid.  This droid is suicidal, clearly.

After the longest blaster fight in Star Wars history, I am blinking at all the damned after images.  They try and fail to hotwire a door.  They use a big weapon captured from the enemy to blow it open.

Yes, the writers have seen Return of the Jedi.  Possibly one too many times.

And…ah!  Baby Yoda at last!  It is so damned cute.  Too cute to let the suicidal droid kill, so Our Hero takes out the droid with one shot (in spite of the fact that it was shot, like, 200 times in the previous scene with no discernible damage).  And the baby is safe. 

All Hail, Mandalorian!  He is a silent, violent bounty hunter who will be humanized by taking care of a cute baby, just like Tom Selleck in Three Men and a Baby.

Which is on Disney Plus.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Return of the Blog and Some Unsolicited Advice


Well, it has been a long, long time, precious readers, and I know I don’t have any followers left, but today is a miserable rainy day, and I decided, why not update the blog?  This will shock and surprise people.  I like shocking and surprising people.

I thought about posting about my purchase of a Device of Spite, and I thought about posting about my inability to stop purchasing lavender scented hair products, but then I thought: oh, the hell with it, let’s tell people how to stop acting on the internet.

Because they are so likely to listen, that’s why.

So, in a follow up to a list of made years ago, here is an updated list of things I want everyone to stop doing on the facebook.  I know that the facebook is now for old people, and I should be talking about tweeting or pinterests or snapchatting or insta-whatever, but while I have accounts on some of these, I never check them.  If these things apply to them, though, be sure to adapt my advice accordingly.

Things I Want People to Stop Doing on Facebook (at Least Where I Can See Them)

1.     “Most people won’t repost this, but…”. Stop.  Just stop it.  Do you want me to hate you?  Do you want everyone to hate you even my cats?  Unless you answered “yes,” then stop this madness right now.
2.     Quoting compliments from one’s students.  Obviously, this is aimed at my fellow academics, which is a bunch of you.  Look, I know it’s awesome to get thank you notes and appreciative comments because we spend so much time getting, well, not that.  I myself have a cork board in my office on which I collect thank you cards and notes from my students.  But it is behind my office door, not on my facebook feed.  Do you really think that when someone sits down and writes you a nice compliment, they expect you to copy that shit and post it on social media?  Don't you understand that you are turning an act of personal appreciation into blatant self-congratulatory narcissism?  Let me put it this way: I’m sure lots of people send heartfelt notes of gratitude to Wonder Woman, but I’m damned sure she doesn’t scan them onto her insta-whatever account in a simultaneous act of self-praise and envy-inducing side-eye at Batman, right?  Right.  Stop it.
3.     Photos of your child’s first poo in the potty.  If you post this on facebook, you are a terrible person, and I hope lice infest your toenails.
4.     Photos of open wounds, infected skin, and unhealed surgery sites.  Most of your friends are not medical doctors or nurses and are not trained to diagnose you on the internet.  Plus, that’s just gross.
5.     A list of everything you accomplished today, including how long it took you to do it, how exhausted you are, and what self-care regimen you are about to undergo.  Look, it’s nice that you baked 200 cookies, sent your latest manuscript to the editor, and knitted six car covers, but I’m celebrating the fact that I ran the dishwasher this morning without forgetting that glass on my coffee table, and you don’t see me begging for praise from the internets, do you?  I mean, be as heroically over-accomplished as you want, but have a little dignity.  Damn.
6.     Anti-vax propaganda.  Not everyone who posts this is stupid.  Some are misinformed.  Some are evil.  Expect to be aggressively informed, by me, if you post this stupid and dangerous bullshit where I can see it.
7.  Squirrels.  YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE, AND SOMEDAY I SHALL HAVE MY REVENGE.

Monday, December 25, 2017

A Brief Scene from My Family's Christmas

[Raise curtain]

My Aunt Nancy, while repeatedly utilizing the "farts-in-a-can" toy borrowed from the children]:

"You know, your Uncle Buck's Aunt Eller, who lived out on Horseshoe Bend Road, she had a naked parrot."

Me:  "A what?"

Aunt Nancy:  "That one was a walking fart!  A naked parrot.  See, we went up there one time, and she had this parrot, about this high (gestures with the fart-in-a-can toy to indicate twelve inches or so) in a cage, and it was stark naked except for a bunch of feathers on its head.  She took it to a pet psychologist..."

Cousin Beth:  "Where are you going?"

Me: "To get my computer and get this stuff down."

Aunt Nancy:  "Oh, that was a wet one!"

Me: "What did the psychologist say?"

Aunt Nancy:  "Well, I guess it had a sickness.  Every time a feather came in, it yanked it straight out.  That's why it was naked.  Hey, give back my farts!"

[Close curtain}