Re: Episode VII

I went to the 2D showing for my first watch. I hear the opening crawl is awesome in 3D and when I go again probably Saturday I’ll go that route.

As for some non-spoiler review/impressions:

-Yes, it passed the Bechdel test.

-Yes, it feels like a Star Wars movie. It also feels like an adventure movie made this decade, albeit one of the better ones. It works. It’s familiar and new at the same time, in a way I’m happy to see them pull off.

-Of all the previous movies, it reminds me most of A New Hope. Like ANH and The Phantom Menace, this is the movie that introduces the new cast and state of the Star Wars galaxy. The way the story is told, the way the first act of the film builds and gains momentum while we jump between POVs, reminds me a lot of the original.

-…But it moves faster. This is a modern movie, and scenes are a lot tighter than the old movies (the OT and the PT), things are quicker in general. Of course, the OT are more languid in part because they’re films of the 70’s and 80’s and that was more in style at the time; these are the ADHD times, after all. It feels… modern. But scenes don’t drag like they did in the PT, thank the gods.

-Also like ANH, we only get a sketchy idea of the big picture–presumably Episode VIII, like The Empire Strikes Back, will do more to fill in the backstory on what brought us here. The Force Awakens hints at a lot of things, but the main focus is on showing how Rey and Finn, neither of whom know much more about the state of the galaxy than we do, get caught up in events.

-Rey and Finn are both original characters with their own personalities, and neither “replaces” any of the old OT that way. This new trilogy is definitely their journey. There’s a lot of character work going on in this movie, like Abrams was very conscious of the need to lay that groundwork in this movie.

-I like when they’re doing with Kylo Ren and it’s obvious this trilogy is also his story.

-The combat scenes have a lot of energy, and I didn’t notice much shaky cam garbage or lens flare infestation. Nor do climactic battles come away looking like raves. The cinematography as a whole is great, very active.

-There are of course returning themes from the previous soundtracks, but the soundtrack uses them sparingly enough. The one new piece I noticed evolving throughout the movie and could identify by ear by the credits was Rey’s theme.

-It wasn’t perfect but getting into why is spoiler territory. The third act could have been more creative. In some ways it’s too self-referential (see also: Abrams’ Star Trek), but then again, Star Wars became self-referential before the OT was over.

Overall: I want to see it a few more times and let it sink in, but my initial impression is that Episode VII fits in pretty well with the first six. It’s at least as good as Return of the Jedi, and it does a good job setting up for the rest of the sequel trilogy. The way it’s sitting with me tonight I’d give it a B+, and that grade may creep up on repeated viewings.

More anti-memeing

More memes and anti-memes that have crept out of my MSPaint in the past few weeks…

crazyjoshmeme

Apparently this guy is a famous Internet Christian. I was linked to his page on Facebook. Trust me, his actual memes don’t make any more sense than this.

Yeah, let's blame atheism for something religious fanatics did.

Yeah, let’s blame atheism for something religious fanatics did.

Do we have a theme going? I feel like I've been inundated with religious memes recently.

Do we have a theme going? I feel like I’ve been inundated with religious memes recently.

As I was saying... hey, I just react to 'em.

As I was saying… hey, I just react to ’em.

Ah, there's a change of pace.

Ah, there’s a change of pace.

A CNN headline reminded me of an old Family Guy bit. Republicans, get your shit together. Or don't, it's entertaining.

A CNN headline reminded me of an old Family Guy bit. Republicans, get your shit together. Or don’t, it’s entertaining.

Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Comes Again

I was 19 when first I read Stephen King’s The Gunslinger, the first book in his (then incomplete) magnum opus, The Dark Tower. It may have been my first King novel; I’m not sure at this point looking back if I read The Stand before or after ripping through all the Tower books that were out at the time, but I want to say Mid-World was where I entered King’s universe and Captain Trips came later. What I do remember clearly is that from the very first line,

maininblack

which I would call one of the most perfect opening lines in fiction, I was hooked. And seeing as I’ve just made my second trip all the way from that apotheosis of all deserts to Can’-Ka No Rey (my first complete re-read since the final volume was published in 2004), this seems a good time to have a chat about the series.

(Spoilers, gunslinger… but not for you.) Continue reading

Re: this Seinfeld meme about drugs as illumination

seinfeldacid
Yeah, I see that mindset sometimes and it weirds me out. It’s like when you’re a teenager and anything in a book or movie that’s odd has to be explained by “Wow, they must have done so many drugs!” If you take the time to get inside your head and examine yourself and the Universe, you’ll realize the drugs are often unnecessary. All your potential “hideas” are there waiting patiently for your sober brain… it’s a matter of training yourself to think around those corners without need for the crutch of the drug. And besides, whatever you experience on the drug, it’s not the drug itself giving you those thoughts and feelings, it’s your brain chemistry being temporarily changed due to exposure to the drug. It’s still all in you; it’s just a matter of whether you can do it yourself, or whether you want/need the shortcut. Drugs are an effective magic feather sometimes, but it’s still all in your ears.

I have opinions on this because, even if I’ve never been a real drug addict. I smoked a shitton of weed in my mid-20’s to early-30’s, but I was never a crackhead. I was a childhood epileptic, and gods know what else you’d call all the brain damage I suffered from (long story) being born dead. I used to trip like fucking mad, no drugs required, from grade school up through puberty. I would lay in bed when I was 12, seeing geometric patterns and hearing what I thought of as the sound of the Universe in my head, having out of body experiences, vivid and accurate psychic dreams (like the next day’s homework assignments); my senses of time and size would distort wildly, I’d experience other things I can only vaguely recall now and could never put into words. Growing up, my brain was on fire, and if adult me is a little different, it’s because child me learned without any choice in the matter how feeble and subjective our sense of reality can be.

But as I got older, I realized I’d learned another important lesson from those experiences–every dark corner of your brain is open to you. You are the programmer of your own computer. Each and every one of us is the godhead, the buddha, the Universe made flesh, and hard as it can be to remember when life is bearing down on your ass… it is quite possible to control just about anything going on in your body, including your brain. There are monks who have trained to regulate their own body temperatures, for christ’s sake. So anything you want your brain to do, any place in your mind you want to go… it’s open to you. That doesn’t mean it’s easy, and speaking as someone given often to hedonism it can take a metric fuckton of discipline and time I frankly don’t like having to invest when I could be doing other things, but it can be done. And you don’t even need the drug… I eventually found weed was just getting in my way. I’d rather just be the fucking drug, to borrow from Salvador Dali.

Also, it’s been a long goddamn time since I last posted here, but I’ve moved, found new work, and seem to be waking back up to the path I was on a few years back, after having to put those studies aside so I could work on my long-term mental health a while.

Random thoughts on the election cycle starting up again

Or, “Why I won’t vote for Republicans or Democrats for anything, ever.”

Call me tinfoil, but I don’t think the majority of either party gives a damn about social issues or the environment. Republicans talk a big game about god, guns and gays, and Democrats talk a big game about… well, often those same three things, but politicians tend to be liars and there’s no reason to believe the bloodsuckers on either side of the aisle mean the shit they’re trying to sell us. Social issues are the football partisan politicians kick back and forth to distract citizens from the real game going on behind the bleachers. Not that I’m saying issues like marriage rights and the environment aren’t important… but frankly, I think the Dems purposefully get in the way of real progress on those issues just as much as the Reps (mostly by dragging their feet and letting the Reps have their way whenever it seems the Dems might get ahead).

And sure both parties seem to have their true believers (Tea Party candidates, for example, though not the people funding them). But my guess is for the most part it’s all a farce. The longer it takes for a real political revolution in this country, the more both wings of our one-party system benefit from the constant escalation of partisanship. It’s classic divide and conquer; these people read their Sun Tzu. The voters spend their time divided on issues like weed and which genitals can go where and what language you have to hear someone else speaking ahead of you in the line at the DMV, and meanwhile the D’s and R’s both make money hand over fist killing people of the wrong religion overseas, taking bribes to approve medications that wind up on class-action lawsuit commercials a few years down the road, and letting Wall Street make record profits pretending money on paper is the real thing while the national infrastructure collapses. You know, situation normal: all fucked up.

I feel like the Republicans tend to be closer to the “real” government in their public doings, which is to say they’re obviously a front for the military-industrial complex and the intelligence community. Likewise, the Dems seem to be mostly controlled opposition; they talk a big game when they’re the minority party but as soon as they have power they pull the same shit as the Reps, but with better PR. But both parties half-ass it when it comes to social issues, be it banning gays or guns, because the goal seems to be ensuring nothing definitive ever gets done. We are Schrodinger’s electorate, kept in a constant state of flux and unable to ever totally resolve any issue of actual import, a passive audience to a parade of hot button issues that bleed into one another and never go anywhere. Everything is arguing, forever, probably by design.

So frankly, it doesn’t matter who you elect because the people in charge will do what they want on the international scene while the citizens endlessly circle the same local airstrips without ever touching down. If you doubt that, consider that liberal savior and purveyor of hope Barack Obama is well into his second term and Gitmo’s still open, drone strikes have significantly increased since Bush was in office, the PATRIOT Act is still alive and well… Anything the suits in charge behind the scenes actually care about, the machinery of eroding the Bill of Rights and ensuring endless war as a business plan, is the same or worse than it was 8 years ago under Bush. But boy have marriage equality and legal weed been excellent distractions.