Monthly Archives: December 2015

The Force Awakens… Tired and Confused

Star_Wars_Episode_VII_The_Force_Awakens

So I saw The Force Awakens on Christmas Eve.

Based on initial viewing – meh.

First the good points (and I’m going to be quick).

It did not look like the prequels, it had the look (so far as you can try such a thing) and feel (you can never really go back…) of the originals.

Also I knew as soon as the usual episode scroll rides to the top of the screen that we were not going to get bogged down in senate debates and Jedi council meetings, and conversations that take place on a couch, etc. We were going to get what we came for.

Unfortunately that brings right to the bad. I was almost, no I was, hoping for a council meeting, a senate debate or something. This was a JJ Abrams Star Wars, all guff and action and not a single attempt to explain anything.

Now explanation is not always necessary. In movies in particular, if you can express it through action instead of explanation through dialogue, that is the proper way. In Return of the Jedi we needed no explanation to know what is going on behind the mask as the Emperor is electrocuting his son before his eyes.

But The Force Awakens, as  I said, is a JJ Abrams film, he delights in doing things that have to have an explanation and then refuses to do so. It is as if the man enjoys pushing people out of the world of his own films.

Firstly, the trailers for The Force Awakens all had the black storm trooper (he is black when he takes off that helmet, his uniform is as any other stormtrooper) he looks like a man that has just suddenly emerged from a terrorizing nightmare. We are led to believe that this is the person of the new trilogy. But it is not, it belongs to some little girl. A girl who serves the modernly well-worn bromidic falsehood that little girls can fight and defeat men twice her size.

And that would be fine, if we were given some plausible (plausible here is plausible by the rules of the world created) reason for why she can do this. For instance, waif, Carrie Moss’s character, Trinity, in The Matrix Continue reading

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No, I Actually Haven’t Yet (and then I start rambling about the prequels again…)

Luke-trial

No, I haven’t been to see the new Star Wars yet. I am a Jedi, I will see it in all patience when the time comes! Really though the wife doesn’t want to get sardined into an overpacked theater with a thousand cell phones. So I’ll wait until she’s ready.

She better not wait long. I’ve heard almost nothing but good things about it. It has a 95% rating at Rotten Tomatoes (which is one more than The Empire Strikes Back). Not infallible, but pretty impressive… most impressive. I doubt Abrams has beat out Empire for best Star Wars film (although he did have one of the screenwriters from Empire, Lawrence Kasdan) and I think it more that people are starved for even a decent (speculating, haven’t seen it yet) Star Wars installment after Lucas spent 8 years taking a giant dump on some of our childhoods.

I am assuming he stayed away from annoying children’s characters and fart and poodoo jokes and the like. George Lucas got the wrong idea about his films at some point (you can see it in The Return of the Jedi – teddy bears defeat the Imperial forces? really?). While the films were suitable for children to view, they were not by that fact children films. Herbie the Love Bug was a children’s film plain and simple.

Actually, one could contest whether the Star Wars films were ever suitable for children (at least below a certain age). You are talking about a monster (Darth Vader was a mechanical monster, half man, half machine) that ran an Empire of Nazi/totalitarian themes (Stormtroopers) who burnt some poor farm kids aunt and uncle to a crisp. An old wizard that gets cut down. And, let’s not forget a holocaust when a million (billion?) people are murdered by a giant laser. The body count in the original Star Wars was probably the biggest ever. Not onscreen, but still.

The second movie was even darker although the body count went down. We find that the monster who has just cut off the farm boy’s hand is his father. How’s that for an idea in a young kids mind? We have torture and not just torture, but torture for no reason. As Han said when his torture was over, “they didn’t even ask me any questions.”

The word for today kids is Sadism! Say it after me.

I’m not saying a kid couldn’t watch it, but saying it was intended for children from its inception just makes me wonder what kind of sick person you are then. Genocide? That’s a children’s theme for ya.

Lucas continued and intensified this confusion in his slipshod and confused prequels. Where in the same series you have the fart jokes for kids and the lizard poo poo jokes and the kid-friendly (but adult enraging) characters in a movie with the slaughter of who knows how many children. Numerous severed limbs. Pure evil, extermination of an entire class (the Jedi).

The prequels didn’t even have the benefit of being uplifting in any way like Continue reading


Richard Dawkins Baffled by 99% of Reality

This clip is hilarious. I could also have titled this Stick to Your Profession. Forget about the first part of the clip where they ask a guy if he believes in the story of Lot and he says yes because Jesus believed it (I really don’t know how he knows Jesus believed it – did anyone ever ask Jesus, “Hey, you believe that story about Lot and his daughters and his wife turning to salt?”).

At around 1:48 a Jewish woman to Dawkin’s left tells him, according to her, what the moral of the story is. And Dawkin’s response is so typical of a certain modern mentality who thinks all truth as mere relating of facts.

“Why not just say “Argue about it?” he asks, “Why wrap it up?” Yes, Dawkins, perhaps we should just go through all poetry, all stories, all art through all of time and strip the plain text message out of it and we can dispense with the art itself.

Why write a story about never giving up and keeping your hope in X alive? Why not just say “Don’t give up.” You just saved thousands of words.

All of art, of philosophy, of theology is beyond Dawkin’s ability to comprehend. He does not understand the basic functioning of the human mind. We are not moved by formula, nor by memes (which don’t even exist as he thinks they do) nor by mere plain injunctions.

I used to be a very staunch atheist up until a few years ago. I say staunch, but I was no creature like Dawkins who I find uncouth. But I knew never to argue outside my ken. I would never argue about the crucifixion of Christ knowing almost nothing about it theologically.

As Dawkins does at 2:57. This betrays a staggering lack of sophistication, reading comprehension and/or laziness. Dawkins trick is to always present the religious story from the point of utter ignorance and present that as the truth of the story. If you are going to argue against the story of man’s redemption through the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, at least be familiar with the material.

People worship this Dawkins guy like some sort of atheist crusader hero. When I was an atheist, I considered this guy an embarrassment.

The Jewish lady at 5:55 explains why the Bible is not The Cat in the Hat. Dawkins represents the distortion, the temporary oasis from the real hardships of life that a good portion of westerners have been able to enjoy for so long.

Again demonstrating his complete lack of understanding of human nature at 7:25 he asks, “Why bother with the Bible at all when we can go straight to moral philosophy?”

We do not ingest morality from the philosophers. We ingest morality through art. Anybody ever seen a mother blundering through Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics when choosing how to instruct he son on right behavior? Or how about Kant’s Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals? How about a little Hegel?

9:35 he begins to expound on the Ten Commandments, well, the first few anyway, and then has to have their meaning explained to him. I believe this man’s problem is arrogance. He does not even bother to know his material first. It’s not like this stuff flew off the shelf last Tuesday.

Again, you can disagree with the meaning of the commandments, but you have to get the meaning right first. There are philosophers that have objected to the actual meaning of those commandments. Dawkins, unable to see past his ego, presents his complete lack of comprehension as the challenge.

At 11:05 Dawkins, seeing he is not winning any points goes for the insult to the ancients. See, when I mentioned Aristotle’s Nicomachean ethics I forgot to mention that Dawkin’s would not have meant that as moral philosophy. Those people were ignorant. No, what he would mean by moral philosophy would be something that is written within the last twenty years. Something with an eye to science, a bowed knee to science. He is deservedly booed for this remark.

I truly think the man is simply not worth listening to. I think it is simple rabble rousing and ego stroking. Listening to the piece you will here him waver repeatedly between the Bible is terrible, why read it. To he respects is as literature. To it was written by ignorant people so why bother.

The Jewish lady sitting next to him belts him a real good one at 11:50. At 12:35 he lists other people we could listen to such as Confucius and Buddha… eh… what? Did they not also live in the ignorant era? If we’re not going to pay attention to ignorant Jewish scribes, as he puts it, because they lived long ago, why would we listen to other people from just as long ago?

And who says a Jew or a Christian couldn’t get something from Buddha or Confucius? Apparently he’s never heard of Thomas Merton the Trappist monk.

If you want to hear real atheist arguments go read St. Thomas. Dawkins is just a fool. But a fool for the modern mind hence his drone followers.

In exactly the same vein, Neil deGrasse Tyson wants all you bitches to stop saying the poem Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star to your kids – cuz that ain’t how the shit works, man. Get on the science train people. You’re going to permanently fuck your child’s brain if you recite that poem to them and not a scientific description to them from an astronomical textbook.

Just kidding. He does sort of say that, but only because I didn’t have the whole context of the interview. I don’t mind Tyson, he keeps his foot out of his mouth pretty well. His commentary on dark matter and the God of the Gaps is spot on.

 


A Science Fiction Roundtable

While putzing around on YouTube last night, I stumbled upon this 24 minute clip from show I’ve never heard of called Nightcap: Conversations on the Arts and Letters. Apparently it was on a station called Alpha Repertory Television Service (ARTS) a forerunner, or the parent of, the current A&E channel. A&E stands for arts and entertainment, which, if anyone has seen the channel in recent years (like the last 20) it is about neither art nor entertainment.

The guests are none other than Isaac Asimov, Harlan Ellison, and Gene Wolfe. It is a very entertaining discussion whether or not you enjoy science fiction. I like how one of the hosts, the one that appears drunk, comes to the realization somewhere around the later third of the program: “Hey, you mean you guys don’t just shit on a piece of paper?”

It was the first time I had ever seen Wolfe in action. Not what I expected, he seems so ordinary. Like the guy that would be handing you a cut of lamb from behind the counter. Perhaps it was because he was in the company of eccentrics. Asimov with those giant muttonchops and Ellison with those goofy glasses.

Ah, just watch the thing, alright? They don’t do stuff like that anymore – not on television. Well, perhaps they do on channel 1098 on the Platinum Comcast package as some throw-in that no one watches because – well… the Kardashians – or whatever people are wasting their minds on these days.

Maybe PBS still does stuff like this, I don’t know


Christmas Can’t be More Commercial: Part 5 trillion

Capitalism Magazine has, yet again, decided to publish Leonard Peikoff’s inane Christmas Should Be More Commercial.

And I promise I will thoroughly mock it this year as I have for the last two or three years. If, that is, there is any further room for mocking. It is none too terribly deep of an article.

 

 

 


Drood

Drood by Dan Simmons

This is not a review because I have not read it. I was doing my monthly trip to Half-Priced Books and ran across this tome. I loved Dan Simmons’ Hyperion Cantos series. So after an hour of browsing and coming up empty I was heading for the door when I passed this:

DROODcover-7_lg

I had to have it. First, it is obvious what the reference is with the misty image of the man in the top hat and the name Drood. It had something to do with Charles Dicken’s last, unfinished, work, The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Knowing a little of Dicken’s life and the fact that it is told by Dan Simmons, how could you not buy it?

Coming in at 771 pages, it will be the longest book I have read in quite some time. I can’t even remember the last one that clocked in over 500. Although if I consider science fiction trilogies (which are really 900 page books broken into pieces for marketability) then I read such lengths all the time. If I consider that many novels I’ve read over the years are six part series, then I read 1500 to 2100 page novels all the time.

I also want to read Simmons’ Carrion Comfort  which I have seen make it onto many a top horror novels of all-time lists and Stephen King listed it as one of the great horror novels of the 20th century (or so I’ve heard). I haven’t sunk my teeth into a new horror in quite some time.

One thing you’ll notice if you look up some of Simmons’ work is the one star reviews. Nearly every one of which decries the length of the work in question. Sometimes a book is too long, just like a movie that just doesn’t end when it should. But I get the impression that many of these complaints are not due to the author being long winded, but to the readers being a little too modern. There is something to be said for a work that goes for longer than 500 pages. There is a further immersion into that world. You stay just a little longer. If it is done right, you partly live in that world for a time while walking around in the regular one.

Regular one. Heh, and how regular is that?