Bag of Randomness for Monday, December 18, 2017

  • The weekend before Christmas is set aside for all of WifeGeeding’s siblings to travel with their families home to East Texas so their parents can have all their grandchildren together at one time. Unluckily, BoyGeeding was diagnosed with the flu and we couldn’t make the journey. I was really bummed out. Not for me, but for my in-laws, though I will admit when I see my children interact with them it gives me a slight glimpse of how my parents would have been fantastic grandparents. I was bummed out for my kids who lost a chance to play with their cousins and miss out on giving and receiving presents. I was bummed out for WifeGeeding doesn’t get to see her family as often as she’d like and knows these times have a finite limit. Granted, this wasn’t a real tragedy, we don’t live in war-torn Syria and everyone is in relatively good health, but it still bummed me out. To somewhat make up for it, I had a nice floral arrangement delivered on behalf of the kids. It’s also somewhat become a tradition for me to bring my mother-in-law flowers every Christmas gathering and I didn’t want to break a good streak.
  • Our pediatrician isn’t a fan of Tamiflu but said if we’re open to alternative medicine to give elderberry a try. He said his family takes it and studies have shown it helps decrease symptoms of the flu by three days and strengthens the immune system. Here’s a WSJ article about it if you are interested.
  • I bet a lot of parents, one time or another, expecting too much of youth and have caught themselves focusing too much on reprimanding and finding fault and fear it’s become a habit.
  • Behold The Most Hilarious Wildlife Photos of 2017
  • Scientists Figure Out Why Italian Family Can’t Feel Pain
  • I never noticed this on my Amazon app before, but when a package was delivered I got a photo of the package on my front door. In case you are wondering about the doormat, it says “GO AWAY”.
  • Yes, my middle name is Walter. In the picture at the top of the post, I think I’ve got a bit of a Walter White appeal.
  • On Saturday we started to wonder how old DogGeedingII is so we pulled out his AKC pedigree paperwork. It turned out that Saturday was his actual seventh birthday so we threw him a little party.
  • Better late than never: Rome revokes the exile of the poet Ovid, 2,000 years after his death
  • Church news from across the pond – Churches hoping camels will save Christmas
    • Some churches in England have turned to live animals in an attempt to attract church-goers while others are considering conducting their nativity service in a barn in the hope of putting on an exciting show.
  • Mark Hamill Didn’t Tell Carrie Fisher the Big Star Wars Secret | The Graham Norton Show (f-bomb warning)
    • Hamill is a great storyteller and does a great Harrison Ford impression.
  • Spoiler Free Star Wars Thoughts:
    • I watched it 8:30 AM on a Sunday morning by myself. I fear people spoiling things either on purpose or accident. For instance, Corby Davidson saw it and tweeted jokingly that a character died. Simply by joking about it, I now knew that character’s death was out of the realm of possibility. I also saw a heading of an article mentioning what we may be able to infer about a character’s past. That annoyed me because I now know the movie was going to address that character’s past.
    • It was entertaining which I guess is all I can ask for a movie. They took some liberties I appreciated but there were some I just didn’t like. Older generations of fans will like it less than millennials and kids will love it.
    • I’m not going to like a Star Wars movie just because it’s a Star Wars movie. It wasn’t what I hoped for.
    • It felt weird knowing this was the last time I’d see Carrie Fisher as Leia.
    • The best of the Star Wars movies outside of the original trinity would be Rogue One.
  • SPOILER WARNINGS after the jump.

  • Star Wars Thoughts Full of Spoilers
    • Not enough Chewie, totally underutilized.
    • I don’t mind having Leia facing near death, I don’t like how they did it with her floating out in space.
    • I’m not an Adam Driver fan and I don’t like his portrayal as Kylo Ren. But I did like the dialog between him and Rey.
    • Snoke is a mysterious figure in the last film and he just kinda appears in this movie, there’s no real lead up to seeing him in person instead of a hologram. I liked his death, but I didn’t like how the film made it feel like Return of the Jedi by having Rey and Ren do the whole internal struggle of dark and light in front of him. The last film had “I’ve seen this Star Wars plot before” feeling to it and lack originality. There’s a difference between paying homage to the trilogy and being unoriginal. And there’s such a thing as doing it too many times.
    • I liked the white snow covering the red salt of that planet, it made for a cool effect.
    • I like the idea of two different versions or perspectives of Luke’s struggle to kill Kylo Ren in his sleep.
    • I like the porgs but they felt a bit forced just to sell merchandise. I didn’t like the crystal foxes and thought they were just thrown in even though they helped explain an exit out of the cave.
    • The Luke and Leia reunion was pathetic. The last movie was all about finding Luke and when he’s finally on screen he doesn’t speak a word. Fans waited decades to see Luke and Leia on screen together and it’s him simply moseying into a room and she jokes about her hair.
    • I thought they tried to add too much comedy relief, especially when we first see Luke. Speaking of which, was there really any need for a screen crawl? The last movie ended with finding Luke, it should have just picked up right from there.
    • I feel these new Disney movies are taking some liberties with the force and stretching it. You didn’t see these things in the prequels when the Jedi were at their peak, so why should we see them now between Rey, who doesn’t really even know what the force is, and Ren who never completed his training? I didn’t like Luke doing a whole Matrix fighting defense maneuver but did like how he was able to make an image of himself appear elsewhere.
    • I don’t know if I want to see Luke milking an animal ever again. I also would have preferred the island to be remote without any living beings other than animals.
    • Captain Phasma’s role was totally forced.
    • In case you didn’t understand the golden dice.
    • Laura Dern didn’t need purple hair.
    • Poe is a little ADHD for me.
    • R2D3 > BB8.
    • I was expecting more Jedi training. I wanted to see more Jedi training.
    • I liked that moment when Rey was appreciating the rain. Growing up on Jakku she would have never, or rarely, seen rain.
    • I loved seeing Yoda again and the idea that Rey stole all the ancient Jedi texts.
    • I wasn’t a fan of the Rose character and her role felt forced. Basically, we have Finn and Rose go off on a wild goose chase to find a code cracker because the movie needed something for them to do.
      • I thought this article stated it best, specifically this part:
        • More importantly, it’s the rationale behind why Finn and Rose fly off to a random planet modeled off of Monaco so they can disable the technology. This is something the movie does repeatedly, creating problems that didn’t exist before just so its characters can pull off blockbuster high jinks in pursuit of their solutions. In effect, a large chunk of The Last Jedi sees Leia put out of commission so that the other principal characters are kept in the dark about what her trump card is thus leading them to cook up their own half-assed plan to jump into hyperspace but without the enemy fleet following them which requires rewiring the space GPS on the big boss’s ship which in turn means they have to find a “code breaker” who can get them on board without being noticed which in turns means going to a casino where Rose can recount her backstory, motivation, and maybe use both of them to get Finn woke. All this and I haven’t even explained the parenthetical subplots that take place on this casino world because that would take too much time to describe such short parts of the movie that aren’t very memorable anyway. (We’ll also bracket the fact that The Last Jedi managed to make space casinos boring and soulless. What could have been the new trilogy’s Mos Eisley Cantina was instead set dressing for some extremely brief Marx Brothers-style gags).  Had Leia not been forced into a coma by the writers, or had her second-in-command, Vice Admiral Holdo (because Admiral Ackbar is dead, in case you somehow missed that split second, off-screen send-off, RIP) designed to share them with the rest of the crew, Finn and Rose would have known all of this was completely unnecessary. In fact, it would have potentially saved hundreds (thousands?) of lives as Benicio Del Toro, the reward for their sidequest, wouldn’t have been in a position to tell the First Order about the escaping transport vessels Leia had bet the house on all along.And yet despite all of this, the good people still end up on the red salt mine planet and the bad people still chase them there resulting in a final showdown that could have happened half way through the movie since all the stuff that happened in-between turned out to be completely beside the point. It’s almost as if the movie could have spent that hour and a half letting Finn and Rose clean the lower decks of the Rebel Alliance cruiser together and contemplate life, politics, and what kind of world they want to build after the war in scenes that lasted more than a few minutes and didn’t involve the camera cutting every three seconds.
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8 Responses to Bag of Randomness for Monday, December 18, 2017

  1. Nathan Hart says:

    Agree with ALL of your Star Wars observations, and add one more criticism: It was waaaay too long.

    I’m trying not to have a “critical spirit” in life in general, but with a Star Wars movie I think there are certain expectations that are understandable. Like a new U2 album, one can’t be expected to enjoy it simply because they’ve had good albums in the past. A Star Wars movie should deliver in quality (the visuals of the Last Jedi did that, but NOT the plot) and continue the narrative in a meaningful way. This movie felt like a waste of time, a waste of character development, and a waste of narrative advancement.

    Did I enjoy my afternoon in a movie theatre with my 9-yr-old son eating popcorn? Yes. Life is good. PS. He LOVED it.

  2. John Mackovic says:

    I also agree a lot on the Last Jedi. (SPOILERS BELOW)
    – I like how both Luke and Han both mentioned Leia’s hair when they met.
    – I loved that we got a jovial Yoda like we had in the original trilogy.
    – I like Adam Driver’s performance, and Kylo Ren has become my favorite character.
    – Finn and Poe were both great characters in TFA, but were terrible in this movie.
    – I didn’t notice the part with Rey and the rain, good catch.
    – Admiral Ackbar R.I.P.
    – How do you “drop” bombs in space?
    – I don’t think this the last time you will see Carrie Fischer as Leia.
    – TOO LONG, the Finn/Rose stuff was a complete waste of time.

    • Bryan says:

      I’ve seen the 30 “drop” bombs remark several places. Why exactly have we waited until 40 years into the Star Wars franchise to become critical of how they treat physics in space? Gravity aboard spacecraft, sounds, and explosions have all been a prolific part of every moment of the entire franchise. I’ve never once read a serious comment about that until I begin seeing bomb dropping critics show up.

  3. Not Sam says:

    Your observation and intel on elderberry and it’s anti-viral, anti bacterial properties are right on. Up here in Idaho I make my own elixir with the syrup mixed with echinacea, ginseng, cinnamon and sweetened with honey. Three big tablespoons in the morning is just what the doctor ordered.

  4. Bryan says:

    I became very anti-Tamiflu after seeing the reaction my daughter had after taking it. We tried it once when the doctor was concerned she had the flu and didn’t want to wait on a flu test before starting the medicine and about a year later when my wife had it and her doctor gave it to us as a precaution. She had violent changes to her mood that didn’t make sense, even if she wasn’t feeling well.

    I’ve never seen a set of movies criticized and drilled down like Star Wars Episodes 7 and 8. I’m not even sure the prequels faced this kind of scrutiny. I went into both and Rogue One thinking I would just be happy with being entertained and they didn’t let me down in that respect. I saw Last Jedi on Thursday night and caught bits and pieces of the prequels on tv over the weekend and it reminded me that the current iteration of Star Wars is pretty damn good when looked at from a certain frame of reference.

  5. Mr. Mike Honcho says:

    The current trilogy is on par or almost on par with the original. It could never live up to the “newness” of the original. There have been waaaaaaay to many Space based Sci Fi movies since the originals. So, I really like where they balance ties to old, using a similar plot framework, but introducing us to a new cast of characters. And I am very excited that the next trilogy was announced, taking the current cast of characters and world building and taking them in what reportedly will be a “different” direction than previous trilogies.

    Eps 7-8 blow Eps 1-3 out of the water.

    And yes, Rogue one still may be my favorite movie of all in the SW world.

    Other thoughts on Ep 8….

    I have no worries about the Physics of the SW universe. From the very first film the physics we know were turned upside down. So things like bombs falling onto Dreadnoughts really don’t bother me.
    Loved the way Luke ended the battle on Crait. But hated that he died in doing so. But he lived up to his promise to Rey… “I’m never going back.”
    The Leia spacewalk was a bit hokey. It fit in the plot, but still was hokey.
    I believe Porgs wound up in the film because of the Puffins, Gannets and all the other birds that call the island of Skellig Michael home.
    Hated that we never will know more about Snoke.
    Resistance lives are cheap in the new trilogy. I hope they have a great signing bonus.

  6. Ben W. says:

    Last Jedi thoughts (and if this is necessary – SPOILERS):

    – The bombs bothered me at first, and then I realized that if those tracks they were on had any kind of chain-driven propulsion system, that would give them momentum and they would “fall” in whatever direction they were aimed. Alternate theory: they’re magnetic or otherwise attracted to the metal used on First Order ship hulls.

    – Leia’s spacewalk was the worst part of the movie for me. But hey, if it worked for StarLord, it should work for her.

    – I’m glad they killed off Snoke, and the way they did it was great. Leaving room for Kylo to be the “big bad” for the final film was a good move.

    – The cinematography was fantastic. Some of the visuals blew me away, like the scenes on Crait (showing more and more red as the battle progressed, ultimately leaving the battle site looking like a giant wound) and Snoke’s throne room (when those elevator doors opened it was visually stunning). The space battles were well done, and the combination of visual and audio effects when Holdo went into lightspeed through Snoke’s ship was breathtaking.

    – Two versions of the Luke/Kylo story were great – even Luke’s appearance was different, depending on the storyteller.

    – Porgs are DEFINITELY there to sell merchandise, although they did give some comic relief. And it worked – my daughter bought a plush Porg within 10 minutes of seeing one a couple of months ago in the final trailer.

    – Luke/Leia – could they have done more with it? Probably. But the two of them sitting, having a conversation, and John Williams’ “Luke and Leia” theme playing in the background made that theater get awfully dusty.

    – Poe was supposed to die in Force Awakens. They probably shouldn’t have changed that.

    – The Finn/Rose mission was definitely too long. But it wasn’t without purpose – sometimes things happen to advance the plot, and sometimes they happen to advance character development or a theme. I think that did a great job of advancing the theme that this universe is not wholly dependent on the Skywalker clan to save the day, as they aren’t the only ones who are Force sensitive and dreaming of freedom (thanks to the stable boy’s offhand use of the Force in the closing scene). This dovetails nicely with the reveal that Rey is a “nobody” – assuming Kylo wasn’t lying about her parents. So while the Finn/Rose mission was too long, it served a purpose. It also was put into action by Poe – just one more example of him being too aggressive/impetuous and not following orders (character development).

    – Your comment re: Rey and the rain was a great observation. I missed it at the time, but remembered it immediately when I read that. Great job.

    – Ultimately, I understand why this movie is so divisive. I fall on the side of really liking it, but I also really like character stories. And that’s what I think this is: a character story with space battles in between. The transformation of Luke following Return of the Jedi, and then within Last Jedi, is fantastic. It feels fresh and real and human. And I get that people hate it for that very reason – Luke was the ultimate good guy in the original, and we still want him to be that. Heck, even Mark Hamill wanted that, based on his interviews. But this version breathed a freshness and unpredictability into a character that we thought we all knew. Think about it – if the Luke of Return of the Jedi had appeared in this film, the end result would have been immensely predictable. Instead, we get a more complex story that highlights humanity – even the best among us have moments of weakness and flaws – and shows us that our heroes have struggles. And with that, Luke’s ultimate redemption and sacrifice becomes much more compelling than just a rehash of the idealized “legend” figure he had become.

    I get it – it’s a movie and we want our heroes to be superhuman and just kick butt and take names. But after 7 movies, that gets boring. And remember, this director is the guy who did the “Ozymandias” episode of Breaking Bad – one of the most gut-wrenching episodes of television ever produced. Anyone who thought it was just going to be a fluffy popcorn movie was due a surprise. (Side note: I’m kind of excited they’ve given Rian Johnson an entire non-Skywalker trilogy to produce. Can’t wait to see what he does with that.)

    Last Jedi stretched and pushed the conventions of what we’ve come to expect from a Skywalker-saga film. But after 7 of those, did we really need an eighth? I really enjoyed the movie, and think they’ve pushed this story in a way that makes Ep. 9 much less predictable and therefore much more interesting.

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