Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Clone Wars -- "An Old Friend" (Ep. 6.5)

-- To love is to trust. To trust is to believe.


[Remember, you can sign up to join the Clone Wars Project at any time by clicking this link.]
[Well, actually, considering that we're into season six, now, probably no one new is going to sign up, BUT! Hop over to The Armchair Squid for his take on the current episode.]


Padme has proven to be a very difficult character for the writers of the Clone Wars series. Obviously, she's a character they felt obliged to include, but she doesn't have a place in the action of most of the series, so most of her appearances, like this one, have shoehorned her into stories where she didn't belong. That doesn't mean that some of those stories haven't been good, anyway, but my reaction always tends to be, "What? Why is Padme doing this? She's a senator!" But in this arc she's acting in the position of some kind of bank investigator. I mean, doesn't the Republic have people for this?

It would have been much more interesting if there had been some kind of ongoing political story line that involved her and her role as a senator. That would have made sense.

None of that is to see that this is not going to be a good and/or interesting arc, but I'm still having issues with Padme in a heist plot where she's the one breaking into the bank vault. Sort of.

All of that and the return of Clovis, Padme's ex who betrayed her and with whom Anakin has... issues. As we know, Anakin doesn't handle jealousy well. As my wife said, "Man, he's a real dick." Seriously, Anakin is the jealous boyfriend/husband no one wants to have.

Also, those banking clan dudes are just freaky looking.

Monday, July 24, 2017

The New Civil War

240 years ago, we fought a war that we say was a war for freedom. For independence. But it was only a war for white freedom and white independence. From other white men. At least, that's what it became because the Founding Fathers couldn't work their way through the issue of slavery.

So we had to have another war 150 years ago to finish the first war and state that freedom is for everyone. Freedom is for everyone, no matter their skin color.

Evidently, not everyone got that memo, so, now, here we are again in the midst of another Civil War, the New Civil War. Sure, this time it's not being fought on the battlefield with guns and bullets (yet) because this war is more like a spiritual war. Last time, the Civil War was fought with actual bodies, but, this time, it's being fought for the Soul of America and what kind of soul it will be, and it's mostly being fought in the information realm.

Will we be an America filled with hate and fear, or will we be an America filled with respect and tolerance?
The irony? Those who claim to belong to the religion of love -- and not just love, unconditional love -- are the ones preaching hate and fear the loudest. I suppose they think "god" is racist, too, just like them. I don't think you can come to any other conclusion if you look inside their churches.

Of course, the "Christians" tend to forget that it is the Jews who are "God's" chosen people. I don't seen anywhere in the Bible where it says "God" changed his mind about that, so, maybe, white people shouldn't be so stuck on themselves about how cool and important they are.
But I digress... [Actually, I do digress, because that's for an upcoming post. Sort of.]

But it sort of brings me to my point, and the point is this:
All of this is still about slavery and race. Still.
I mean, Fuck. What the fuck, people? It's been 150 fucking years since the Civil War. It's time to get over it and quit idolizing your fucking moments to racism and slavery. Tear that shit down.
Look, if Germany can do it, so can you.

And my other point, which is that you can't actually talk to those people, and it's time for liberals, those on the left -- whatever you want to call the people who aren't part of the 25-33% of the country who make up these hardcore Conservative GOP asshole Trump-followers -- to stop trying to reach over to the 25-33% of the country who make up these hardcore Conservative GOP asshole Trump-followers and convince them of the wrongness of their ways. They're NOT going to be convinced. Ever. You're wasting your time and, frankly, everyone else's time, too.

Look, these "people" know that Trump is a lying pile of shit -- which is an insult to lying piles of shit, but they don't make words that go low enough to accurately describe what Trump is (and my mind just isn't degenerate enough to make that kind of stuff up) -- and they have repeatedly shown that they don't care. They don't know or care anything about what "America" means or stands for (the fact that there were people who got upset about NPR's presentation of The Declaration of Independence on fucking Independence Day is proof enough of that). They have repeatedly shown that all they care about and, thus, all they know is some deranged fantasy where white people rule the world and they get to lay waste to it as they please without suffering any of the consequences. They are not going to be talked out of that delusion.

The truth is that this is a war. An actual war, and we on the Left need to start treating it as such. This is really not a time for debating. We're long past that. The world is teetering on the brink, a lot of brinks, actually... Maybe it's better to say that world is currently finely balanced on the head of a pin. Anyway, we're all teetering on the edge of destruction, environmental destruction even if there weren't other things, and we have to stop letting asshole idiots make the decisions. Decisions which have as their sole goal of making them more rich and damn the consequences because they won't be around to suffer them.

I'm not saying we need to arm ourselves and take to the streets or anything like that (though it would be disingenuous not to point out that a significant portion of those on the Right have been stockpiling weapons for decades), but it is time to quit pussyfooting around and trying to engage in conversations. Get the fuck out and do things like voting. It's not hard! [There is no reason that Ossoff should have lost in Georgia or that Measure C should have failed here in Sonoma county other than that Liberals didn't get out and vote. And that's just messed up. At that point, you're basically just -- and I'm going to be crude here, even for me -- bending over and taking it.]

Here's the deal:
If you're Liberal or anti-Trump or whatever you want to call yourself and you're whining about how things are going, but you're not doing anything about it, then shut the fuck up! Seriously, if you're not going to take action and do simple things like voting, then you don't have the right to complain. It's time to take this shit seriously. It's not a game.
For all intents and purposes, this really is a war. The New Civil War.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Big Sick (a movie review post)

Have you seen Silicon Valley? You should see Silicon Valley; I love it.
Which has nothing to do with The big sick other than that Kumail Nanjiani is in it, and that's where I first came across him. He's pretty great, actually. The relationship between his character, Dinesh, and Gilfoyle is possibly the best part of the show for me, and I love Silicon Valley. Did I say that already?

So, anyway, when I heard that Kumail was doing a movie... Not just in a movie, but doing a movie. He wrote the movie, too, along with his wife, Emily Gordon, so he wrote and starred in The big sick, and... and it's a fictionalized true story about how he met his wife.

So why should we care about that, you might be asking yourself. Well, a few reasons.
1. It's a touching story.
2. It deals with the complexities of interracial relationships.
3. And intercultural relationships.
4. And, especially, what it's like to be from a Muslim family growing up in the United States. [I use the term "growing up" loosely since Kumail was already 18 when he moved to the US to go to college.]
5. Not to mention that Kumail is a stand-up comic, so it's funny. And romantic. You know, a romantic comedy, and there aren't too many of these around anymore.

Kumail is from Pakistan and plays himself in the movie. His not-yet-wife Emily, who is from North Carolina, is played by Zoe Kazan. That should be enough to tell you that there will be... issues.

Surprisingly, the larger issues for the relationship are from Kumail's side of the family because his mother is determined that he should marry a good Pakistani girl and is working on arranging a marriage for him. Not that the problems are actually because of his family; they're not. The problems are because Kumail neglects to tell his family that he's dating a white girl. And he continues to meet these women his mother is trying to set him up with.

Those dates are more like job interviews. Seriously, they bring what can only be called resumes accompanied by a head shot.

And that should be enough to get you started.

Nanjiani is great in the movie. Of course, he is playing himself (remember: true story), so I suppose you could say that the role was written just for him. Especially since he co-wrote it. Kazan is also good. But I think the true gem of the movie is Holly Hunter. She plays Emily's mother, and she's wonderful.

Oh, also, Ray Romano is in the movie as Emily's father, and he's good, too. Which actually says a lot, because I don't particularly like Romano. Not that I dislike him, per se, but I always thought Everybody Loves Raymond was pretty dumb, so I never developed any kind of liking for him. But he's good in this.

The bottom line is that you should see this movie. No, seriously, see the movie.

The other bottom line is that this movie represents all that is good about America and what America stands for. Kumail Nanjiani is a more valuable member of our society than Trump has ever been or could hope to be. Nanjiani adds value to society and to the world while Trump is just a leech, a parasite, taking value from everything he can to engorge himself only.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Clone Wars -- "Orders" (Ep. 6.4)

-- The popular belief isn't always the correct one.


[Remember, you can sign up to join the Clone Wars Project at any time by clicking this link.]
[Well, actually, considering that we're into season six, now, probably no one new is going to sign up, BUT! Hop over to The Armchair Squid for his take on the current episode.]


What's worse than looking for a needle in a haystack? Looking for a needle in a needlestack,
I mean, sure, the clones have adopted identifying markings and such, but being tasked with finding one specific clone among, at least, thousands... Well, that's a job I wouldn't want to have.

But it is the job of the security forces on Coruscant after Fives take flight after a frame up to make it look like he was trying to assassinate Chancellor Palpatine. And, of course, we know it's a set up, and that's part of what makes this episode so difficult to watch. We know who Palpatine is, and we know how those around him are playing into his hands, and we want to yell at Shaak Ti, "No! Don't do it! Don't leave Fives alone with him!" But she doesn't listen to us.

To say this episode ends tragically is an understatement, because we now know just how close the Jedi came to finding out about Order 66, how close one clone came to changing everything...

For me, that makes Revenge of the Sith even more sad.

Aside from all of that, it seems pretty clear to me as of this episode that Count Dooku had no idea that Darth Sidious and Palpatine were one and the same. Interesting...


"Have you seen this clone?"

Monday, July 17, 2017

The Point of Dissent

When I was young, my mom used to tell me things like, "Don't rock the boat," and, "Don't speak up; it won't do any good," and, "Just go along; it's easier that way." This was never an idea I was able to buy into, even at a young age, probably because I had a string of really great teachers from 4th through 6th grades, teachers who taught me that it was not just okay but good to question authority.

Don't get me wrong; I don't mean questioning authority just for the sake of questioning authority. I mean that you don't accept something just because it's being told to you by someone "in authority." Of course, the fact that I grew up in a house where my father expected to be believed "because he said so" didn't leave me very inclined to think anyone in authority knew what they were talking about.

By high school, I was quite adept at "asking questions" when I thought the person in authority was wrong. That translates into, "I was very good at pointing out when the person in authority was wrong and asking for the data." This was something that especially happened at church where I found out that in most circumstances, because I did my own studying and research, I was the authority on whatever subject we were studying. More so than any of the Sunday school teachers, more so than the youth pastor, and more so than even the pastor in many instances. It was very common for both my pastor and my youth pastor to say to me, "I'm not going to tell you you're right, but you're not wrong."

I felt good about bringing these things up, about dissenting with what was being said, because, frequently, it led to a redaction of false information and/or a correction of what was being taught.

Which brings me to the point of dissent...
It brings me to the point of dissent and, more specifically, why you should bother.
(And I'm not going to elaborate much here; I'm just going to go through the points I want to make.)

1. Dissenting can cause people to take a second look at the information being offered and catch errors that might not otherwise come to light.

2. Dissenting in a matter of a position (such as a political or moral position) [see this series of posts] clearly states which side you are on, which can be incredibly important [just ask all of the Republicans in a couple of years when they lose their spots in the House for not standing up to Trump].

3. Dissenting can give others who agree with you but who are staying quiet the courage to stand up along with you. Sometimes, it takes only one person to stand up and do the right thing to give other people the strength to also stand.

Look, folks, we're at a crux in history. It's not a dissimilar crux to that of the one that caused the American Revolution. There are a few corrupt but rich and seemingly powerful people in control, but there aren't really that many who agree with them, even among those who supposedly agree with them. It's time to dissent.
Rebel.
Resist.