Story Time – Who Ate My Sock?

Episode 19 of Story Time With Michael Kingswood is out today.  In this one, I read my darkly humorous, almost scary short story, Who Ate My Sock?

As usual, I’ve ported the audio over to my podcast.  You can listen below, or download the MP3 from the podcast website.  Or you can subscribe on all the usual suspects: iTunes, Stitcher, etc, etc.  Links are on the podcast website, accessible below.

Enjoy!

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Story Time – The Memory Of Justice

Hi guys.

Although I’ve been bad at publicizing it here, I am continuing to produce my YouTube/Podcast channel.  This week was episode 18 of Story Time With Michael Kingswood, wherein I read my short story, The Memory Of Justice.

And the podcast episode, if you prefer that:

Enjoy!

 

Oh, and in case you were wondering, I do accept tips!  😉

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My Super-Spoilery Thoughts On The Last Jedi

Ok.  It’s Saturday night on 16 December 2017.  I’m watching my boys while my wife is off doing some girl stuff, and I’m going to share with y’all my thoughts about Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

This will be chock full of spoilers.  If you haven’t seen the movie and don’t want spoilers, come back when you’ve seen it.

Got it?

Ok, let’s do this.


I’ve always loved Star Wars.  It’s the first movie I ever saw: in the theater, when I was 2 (or maybe 3.  I was born in ’75.  My parents can’t remember if they brought me to see it when it was first released in ’77 or during its re-release the next year; regardless, I was young).  So you can imagine it had a big impact on how I developed.

I grew up on Star Wars toys, watching the rest of the Trilogy (there is only one, and hallowed be its name) as they came out, and watching Star Trek in syndication.  I remember being completely psyched for Empire, and later for Jedi, and loving all of both of them.  Same with all things Star Trek too, to be honest.

I was also super-psyched for the Special Edition releases, which began as I was getting ready to finish college.  But I was a bit disappointed with them.  Most of the embellishments were dumb, and some (Han shot first, motherfucker!) downright insulting to the characters and the story.

I wanted to like the prequels when they came out.  I failed (or rather, Lucas failed me), except for the third one.  Revenge of the Sith almost came close to being worthy of its name.  Almost.  I actually enjoyed it, more or less.  Still, if you catch me in real life I do not admit said prequel movies actually exist.

But I still loved the Trilogy.  Alas, the only way I could find to own it was DVD versions of the crappy Special Edition.  So I went on E-Bay and bought a laserdisc player and the original THX Surround Sound encoded Laser Discs of the Trilogy in its true form.

I’m not screwing around when I say I love Star Wars.

When Lucas sold Star Wars off to Disney, I had mixed feelings.  On the one hand, how could they possibly screw it up more than he had with the prequels?  On the other hand, Disney isn’t exactly a media company with a soul, if you know what I mean (and I think you do).  But they quickly announced their intention to make more Star Wars movies, and I for a while was psyched.

Then they killed the entire Expanded Universe because reasons.

Now, I hadn’t read much of the EU.  Only the Thrawn Trilogy – and oh boy is THAT an awesome trio of books.

I had held out hope that maybe they’d just turn those into movies, because that would have been epic.  But they crushed that dream.

Still, when The Force Awakens came out, I was excited.  And I mostly liked it.  I had some quibbles, and some more-than-quibbles.  But overall I thought it was a decent re-start.  I even had some theories about some of the mysteries in the film, which I posted about and then recanted after a couple re-watches.

Rogue One didn’t do that much for me, though.  I wanted to like it but just came out as “meh.”

Which is all a long, drawn-out way of saying I’ve been a Star Wars fan for a long time, and though I’ve experienced disappointments over the years I had hopes for this latest release.


The Last Jedi Pretty Much Sucks


There, I said it.

Now, I didn’t hate all of it.  There were some cool gems.  I’ll end with those, so we can head out on a positive light.  But here are my objections to this movie, in no apparent order.

Stupid Humor That Undermines The Story And The Characters

The Trilogy was funny in many places.  But it never came off as though it was trying to be funny.  The humor flowed naturally from the interaction of the characters and the circumstances of the story.

The Last Jedi begins undermining itself from the very beginning.

The first scene: Po is flying his X-Wing, alone, to intercept the First Order fleet.  General Hux (is that the right spelling? Whatever, let’s go with it) is on the bridge, ready to unleash hell.  But he deigns to parlay with the upstart rebels.

And then we’re treated to Po acting like a teenager doing a crank call on his High School Principal.  Hox is taken aback, and why shouldn’t he be?  No serious military commander would ever act that way.

All around me in the theater, people are laughing at this interchange, but it’s a hesitant laughter as though they’re unsure what they should think about it.  Myself, I’m resisting the urge to give myself a concussion from facepalming so hard, because WTF, this scene is so stupid I can’t believe it.

Every other interaction we’ve had with Po to date shows that yeah he’s cocky and a bit of a wise-ass, but he’s super competent and a professional.  So much for that.

If this was the only instance of this sort of idiocy in the movie, it could be forgiven.  But it keeps on happening!

One scene that stands out is when Chewie is roasting his dinner, and those stupid chicken-things look at him all scaredy-pants like, and it makes him feel guilty.  Funny scene.  Kind of.  Not really.

FFS Chewie is a fucking Wookie!

Wookies are fierce, savage, tough, and smart.  Do you see those fangs?

In Jedi, Chewie was ready to rip the raw carcass down from the tree and eat it right there in front of everyone (that got them caught by the Ewoks, but still…).  But now we’re supposed to believe he feels guilty over eating some (cooked?  seriously?) annoying-if-cute chickens, and then later decides to turn them into pets????

The idiotic and undermining attempts at humor go on and on.  They’re not funny, and they never end.

Stupidest Primary Plot Ever

General Hux sums up the idiocy of the movie’s main plot line quite nicely in a scene early on, when he waves his hands at the expansive bridge of his Star Destroyer and asks, “What’s the point of all this if we can’t take out three little cruisers?”

He is right, of course.

That was clearly meant to be another one of those stupid humor moments.  And it did evoke a laugh.  But it also pulled the rug right out from beneath the movie.  Maybe it was intentional, Rian Johnson sort of poking fun at himself in a weird sort of meta self-reference.  But I don’t think he’s smart enough to realize he’d actually done that.

Clearly they intended to parallel Empire with this movie.  But also clearly they didn’t want to match it beat for beat, like JJ did with Force Awakens, so they decided to riff on the theme but do some variations.

They would have been better off going beat for beat, because what they came up with was stupid.

The Resistance (I always thought this was the stupidest thing ever.  How could they possibly be the resistance when the New Republic is ruling the Galaxy?  The First Order would have been the resistance, not the other way around.  But Disney in its unimaginative “wisdom” decided that they had to exactly match the setup of the original movies, so the good guys had to be rebels.  Or something.  Anyway…) fleet is running away.  They have no idea where the hell they’re running away to though, because for some unknowable reason they didn’t have a contingency plan for a backup base that was ready to go.

And somehow the Resistance, which apparently was the undercover arm of the Republic trying to undermine the FO from within or something that makes no sense at all because WTF, despite being an official arm of the Republic military has less than a dozen ships at its disposal, and no resupply capability at all.  Because that makes total sense.  Or not.

And somehow the FO is chasing them through lightspeed, and now the fleet is getting low on fuel as they run away to nowhere because they have no plan to speak of because they suck at life and make the North Korean military look well-trained and competent by comparison with themselves.

But hey, all’s not lost!  Luckily they’re faster than the FO’s big star destroyers, so they can keep just out of range of the FO’s really big guns and fighters.  Which means it’s a chase, and a ticking timebomb plot as the Resistance fleet slowly runs out of gas.

Except…the FO is not constrained by fuel, at least not in the way the Resistance is.  And they have a great big fleet to call on, much bigger than the Resistance’s three little ships.

What’s to stop them from lightspeeding just ahead of the Resistance fleet and cutting them off?  Or just lightspeeding in a whole bunch of other ships to encircle them completely and cut off any route of escape?

Oh.  Right.  That would end the movie with nothing else to do.

*facepalm*

If your main plot makes that little sense and is that easy to break, it needs to be thrown out, and something else done in its place.

The other problem is that this plot traps everyone who is not Rey (who went to find Luke) in a no-escape situation, with not a lot to do.  That leads to further stupidity that I’ll talk over below in order for Po and Finn to not languish in useless misery.

This is a script that needed to be gutted and completely rewritten two years ago, well before shooting began.

Military Idiocy

So after Po is done undermining his character in the movie’s first scene, the Resistance sends in a counter-attack.  Po’s idiocy was designed to lull the FO people into catatonic annoyance, or something, until he was close enough to take out their ship’s point defense systems.

Ok.  I guess.

But then the Resistance sends their attack…and it’s UNGUIDED GRAVITY BOMBS?

SERIOUSLY????

You mean to tell me that a military force that is capable of faster than light travel can’t develop guided standoff weapons?  They have to fly right over their target and drop bombs that won’t go anywhere because they’re already in freefall (these are space ships, remember)?  That’s just unbelievably stupid.

So the resistance gets its butt kicked.  Deservedly so.

Leia is almost killed (we’ll get to that later), and the second in command takes over: an apparent civilian wearing a condescending expression and looking like she got pulled away from the Debutante’s Ball.  Except she’s a Vice Admiral?  Um…ok.  She then proceeds to give the worst pep talk in all of human history, tells them all to piss off, and goes to the bridge.

Po is a little skeptical, as are we.  But he attempts to allay our confusion by mentioning her performance in some battle or other, as though that’s supposed to make it all good.  But it doesn’t, because who the hell is this person and what the hell is the battle he mentioned?

You might say this has been done before, and you’d be right.  In Jedi, Han walks up to Lando and says, “Look at you, a General!”  Lando shrugs and says, “Someone must have told them about my little maneuver at the battle of Taanab.”  And that explains how he got to be a General.

But we already knew Lando.  In Empire, we learned he’s a responsible leader with good management skills (he’d been running Cloud City successfully for years).  And yeah he made a bad deal with Vader, but after he pulled his head out he spent the last part of Empire and the first part of Jedi showing that he’s a stand up guy who’s brave and good in a fight.

Who the hell is this girl?  If we’re to believe she’s a competent military leader, we need a better entrance than she had.

And it gets worse.  She proceeds to completely ignore her senior staff, telling Po to piss off even though he’s quite reasonably asking what’s the plan.  She then shuts herself away on the bridge and doesn’t tell anyone a damn thing until it looks like she’s getting ready to surrender.  As a result, Po gets so desperate he has to do his thing and take command.

And then of course Leia comes back and zaps him (and how TF is she walking around after having been exposed to the vacuum of space for nearly a full minute only a couple hours ago?????).  She and Admiral Airhead have their little “Isn’t he so cute” moment as they load – THE MUTINEER! – into the transport, and they smile at his Alpha sexiness (that at least is believable).  He wakes up on the transport and then the plan is revealed.  The transports have cloaking devices and we’re going to the new base!  How stupid do you feel now, Po?

WTF ARE YOU KIDDING ME????

I call her Admiral Airhead not because she’s a girl but because her actions are so unbelievably stupid and incompetent as to defy belief.

If you’re a military leader, you do NOT make secret plans that only you know.  For one thing, you don’t have time to make the plans; that’s why you have a staff.  They make the plans for you and you approve them.  But discounting that, you don’t keep your plans secret because if you do, your people will be unable to execute them.  You especially don’t keep them secret in dire circumstances like this because you’ll inspire the exact kind of desperate action that Po took, and that’s the last thing you want because it’ll mean everyone dies.

All it would have taken was a one minute conversation.  “Hey Po, we’ve got these cloaking devices, see?  We’re going to run until we get near this other world, and then put them on the transports and sneak over there.  Then we’ll set up our new base and call for help from our allies.”  Then Po would have said, “Roger that.  What do you need me to do?”  And they would have all worked together as a team to solve their problems.

But then Po would not have had anything really substantive to do, being trapped in this stupid ticking timebomb situation as he was.

So instead, the Admiral looks disdainfully at him, acts all high and mighty in true Queen Bee fashion, and very nearly gets them all killed.

But hey, at least she kills herself later to save everyone.  That’s cool.

And good riddance, you stupid bint.

They Ruined Po

This will be quick because I’ve already touched on parts of this.  The movie begins by undermining Po’s character completely.

Later, his actions on the ship under the command of Admiral Airhead are actually fairly reasonable.  But not really.  He stages his little mutiny.  But does he have the sense to talk to the others, get their support first?  No, he just does it and then hopes that folks will go along.

Amazingly, they do.

But then, after he has Admiral Airhead in custody, he just leaves to go to the bridge alone.  He doesn’t tie her up, or put her in a locked room.  Doesn’t really leave any instructions to his (two) people.  He just goes.

Total shocker that his mutiny gets put down in like, three seconds.

(side note – this is one of the few places in the movie where the attempts at humor actually worked, and were in character.  C-3PO on the bridge during the mutiny was awesome!)

Then later, we see his supposed character development.

Leia reprimands him after the attack at the beginning of the movie, rightly pointing out that he just got a lot of people killed and equipment destroyed for no real gain.  He counters that they took out a Dreadnaught!  But really, when you’re on the run for your lives with not a lot of options, you need to preserve your resources.  You don’t go off onto a suicidal mission for no real gain.

Leia was 100% correct on this.  Except you don’t slap your subordinates in a military organization.  And frankly,even were that not the case doing that is out of character for Leia, completely.  She would rip him a new one verbally, and that would be more than sufficient.

Anyway, fast forward to the climax of the film, and we see he’s learned his lesson.  They’re making their assault in those idiotic ski-craft whatever-the-hell-they are things against the FO assault force, and Po realizes they’re overwhelmed and cannot succeed.  So he orders a retreat.

Wow, he really learned from his earlier mistakes, right?

NO!!!!!!!!!

They’re stuck on Hoth-clone, in the Hoth-clone base with only one way out, and the FO is setting up their mini-Death-Star laser to blast a hole in their big-ass door.  Their only hope is to destroy the laser and buy time for their allies to arrive.  This is when you pull out all the stops and go for it.  Only an idiot would pull back to preserve forces that will surely be killed in moments if they don’t achieve their goal right the hell now!

Apparently Po is an idiot.

Thing is, he’s not.  The Po we met in Force Awakens is cocky and a wise-ass, sure.  But he’s completely professional and incredibly competent.  Leia trusts him implicitly (she sent him off on his super secret mission), and he puts the mission and the big picture first.

So who in the hell is this guy impersonating Po in The Last Jedi?  Cause it sure ain’t the guy we met in the last movie.

They Ruined Finn

I like Finn.  Yeah he’s a little bit too clownish, but whatever.  He’s likable.  And in Force Awakens, he has a pretty good character arc.  He starts off as kind of a coward and a weakling, running away from his problems.  Then he meets Rey and does some posing to try to conceal that, but his inadequacies catch up with him and he wimps out again.  But when Rey gets taken by the FO he mans up.  He comes through in the end, overcoming his weaknesses and stepping into the role of a hero.

Pretty great, right?

Forget about it.  Didn’t happen.

In this movie, he’s back to being a clown and a coward, and his first act is, once again, to run away.  Until Rose zaps him, and then she leads him by the nose through their whole side quest.  He only finally starts to be a real character again at then end, when he goes for the suicide run to take out the mini-Death-Star laser.  But Rose fucks that up for him, too.

And then he ends up fawning over her stupid ass.

So he went from being someone who decided, against his own natural instincts, to be a stand up guy to being a pussy who exists solely to serve the whims of an unattractive and annoying girl.

*facepalm*

Moronic Side Plot That Accomplished Nothing

I thought when the puzzle of “How the hell are they tracking us?” came about that there would be a great quest to solve the mystery.  Someone planted a tracking device on the ship.  There’s a traitor aboard.  Something.  And Po and Finn have to figure out what’s going on and solve the problem.

That would have been interesting.

But no, Finn and his new master – sorry, friend who zapped him with a stun gun – figure out the deal without any research just by brainstorming.  And it’s a thingamajiggy on the FO flagship that they have to disable, and Finn knows just where it is because he used to sweep the floors there, or something.  But they need a code breaker to bypass the security system.

Naturally, on an advanced warship such at this, there is not a single person who knows cryptography onboard.  Such a thing would be unheard-of.  I mean warships never…have…people…..like….  Oh.  Never mind.

Yeah, there totally should have been at least a couple Cryptography people attached to the ship.  But whatever, they have to find someone else.

So off they go to the rich casino world (and if they were able to get away from the fleet so easily how come everyone else just didn’t go along too?  Problem solved with much less trouble) to find the code breaker.  Except they never meet the guy they’re looking for.  After wasting time waxing oppression about how evil rich people are, they get arrested…for a parking violation?  Seriously?  They come halfway across the galaxy but they can’t think to land in a parking lot?

And hey look, there’s a random guy in jail with them who is able to pick the lock on their cell, so they bring him back with them instead of the guy they need because reasons.

And then we get more pseudo-intellectual discussion about how nothing matters, and everyone plays everyone, and arms sales blah blah blah blah ugh shoot me now.

But hey, the random guy IS able to get them into the room with the thingamajiggy, except half the FO is there waiting for them.  Along with our old pal Captain Fasma (where the hell has she been all movie?), who gets commended for something.  And then the random guy gets a bunch of money for arranging a deal to betray them (I guess with Fasma but who the hell knows because it’s never shown, foreshadowed, or explained) and he rolls out saying it’s just business.

And then Finn and Fasma fight and he kills her because why not.

At that same time, Admiral Airhead does her self sacrifice thing, cutting the flagship in half as she goes into lightspeed.  And Finn and Rose have to make an escape since their whole reason for being there has now been rendered moot.

This whole lame, uninteresting, and tiresomely pedantic storyline did nothing to advance the plot, added nothing to the movie except 30 minutes that could have been better used drinking beer somewhere else, and accomplished nothing except make us stop liking Finn and wish we had a blaster so we could shoot Rose in her annoying face.

It all should have been cut out in post.  Or better yet, removed from the script during the massive rewrite that I mentioned before was so desperately needed.

Excessive Force Forciness

We all know what the Force is, and we know what Jedi can do with it.  Kind of.  Using it gives a person powers well beyond what any normal human can attain.

But always before, it’s been kind of subtle.

Ben Kenobi twisted the Storm Troopers’ minds a little to get them into Mos Eisley.  Vader did his Force Choke on uppity Imperial officers.  Luke pulled his lightsaber out of the snow.  Later, he learned to move rocks around and see visions of the possible future.  Vader threw boxes at him in Cloud City.  The Emperor shot lightning bolts out of his fingers.

These were all impressive things, but they were not stupendous.  They were limited; being able to tap into the Force did not make a person a God.

No longer.

In this movie, Rey blows apart an entire hut.  We see a scene of Ben doing the same when he and Luke fought.  Rey and Ben communicate telepathically, or something, over the span of many light-years.  Snoke pushes people around at whim, making them float all around the room like balloons.  Luke sends a holographic illusion of himself, real enough that Leia can feel his touch and take the hanging dice from the Falcon when Luke offers them, and fights Ben in real time over the span of many light-years.

And don’t even get me started on the “Leia flying through the vacuum of space like Superwoman as she Forces herself back to the airlock hatch despite her not having trained in the Force at all” bit.  (That was probably the single stupidest scene in the entire movie)

It’s too overpowered.  Not the subtle power that it used to be in the Trilogy.

FFS, Rey makes a tunnel out of dozens of floating boulders at the end so the good guys can escape.  Not one, or a couple, like Luke did while he was training with Yoda, but dozens.

But wait, you say!  Yoda lifted an X-Wing fighter out of the swamp!

True.

He’d been a Jedi Master for 800 years.  Rey has been using for Force for, what, a week?  Two?  It seems like this movie pretty much starts immediately after the last one, since at the beginning they’re evacuating the same base they used in Force Awakens.  So she can’t have been growing in the Force much longer than that.  And she has had basically no one teach her anything about how to do it.

In this movie there is no proportionality in the power of the Force.  No subtlety.  No training required to master it.  It’s just there, and it’s BIG.  And there doesn’t seem to be any limitation to it.

That kind of ruins the Force a bit, if you ask me.

They Ruined Luke

Luke Skywalker is the everyman, from nowhere.  He wants to see the universe and do great things, and he has no idea he has family ties to the great struggle going on in the Galaxy.

He rolls out, takes some lumps, learns great and mystical things, becomes strong and wise, and literally saves the Galaxy from tyrannical evil matched only by the US Government.  Along the way he learns about his family and is forced to confront his fallen father.  He could have killed his father, but instead he chooses to risk himself to save him from the Dark Side, and it is that willingness to sacrifice that pulls Vader back from the brink and induces him to take the Emperor down.

Luke is a hero.  He goes on to establish the Jedi Academy, marries Mara Jade and has some kids, and yeah he struggles with the Dark Side later on but he overcomes.  He has a good life, and leaves a lasting positive mark on humanity and the Galaxy.

Er….

Ok, scratch that last.  That’s from the Expanded Universe that got destroyed.

Now, Luke is fallen.  All of his good qualities gone, as though they had never been.  He’s a loser who was a heartbeat away from killing his own nephew instead of putting forth the effort to guide him toward what is right.  You know, the exact opposite of what he did with Vader, a guy who had directly or indirectly ordered the death of the only family Luke had ever known, tortured and killed Lukes friends and comrades, and cut off Luke’s hand.  That guy.

Luke had ample reason to not want to put any effort into Vader at all, but he did, and it saved Vader’s soul.

But he couldn’t bother to try to reach Ben at all?  He just gave him up to the Dark Side?  And then he slinked off to die instead of trying to right the wrong he’d done?

Ooookaaayyyyy…..

This is not the Luke Skywalker we know and love.

I get it.  People change.  They screw up.  The years press down and folks can become bitter.  But seriously?

Mark Hammil is quoted as saying he hated everything that Johnson had done with the character, thought it was totally wrong, but it was his job to make the director’s vision work so he did.

Have to say, Mark was right.

Captain Fasma Is Useless

So everyone’s favorite girl Stormtrooper is back.  She accomplishes even less than she did in Force Awakens (and that’s saying something).  But hey at least she got killed.  That’s a positive.

Seriously, though, I don’t get the whole “Captain Fasma is so awesome!” thing.  She’s a nothing character who does nothing.  Remove her from the script and you’ve lost…nothing.  So what, is it because she’s a girl?  Ok, but there are other girls who actually matter to the story.  Is it because she looks flashy?

It’s baffling.

Someone will point out that Bobba Fett is way up on the list of most popular Star Wars characters ever, and he really didn’t have much screen time.  True.

But look what he did with that screen time.  He’s the only person in that entire Imperial fleet who was smart enough to figure out Han’s gambit with latching onto the Star Destroyer.  He was sneaky and clever, tracked them to Cloud City, and earned his pay.  Then, when all hell started breaking loose, he was calm and cool, and got his prize away so he could earn his pay again.

Granted, in Jedi he didn’t do squat, and he died in the stupidest way possible.  But still, compare that with Fasma.

What has she actually done to earn any regard at all?  Nothing that I can see besides being a girl.  Sorry, that ain’t good enough.  I was actually hoping we’d get something more substantive out of her in this movie, because her character concept is cool and she does look fairly bad-ass.  Plus I like the actress who plays her and hate to see her talents not used as well as they could be.

But alas….she’s lame.  Again.  And dead.

Oh well.

Fan Service….Because

Yoda had no business being in this movie.

That wasn’t the only jarring fan service that irked me, but it was the most blatant.  They really need to stop this crap.  You can’t just regurgitate the same crap over and over and over.

Well…I guess you can if your only goal is to leech as much lucre out of the franchise as possible before it withers away and dies.  But that does not make for good storytelling.


Geez, What Did You Like?


Like I said, it wasn’t all bad.  It was obviously well made, and there were a number of things I liked, and thought worked really well.

Luke

I know I just said they ruined him. Not taking that back.

But given what the character now was, Hammil did a good job and it worked.  Some of the only attempted humor parts in the movie that actually worked involved Luke.  The “No one’s from nowhere,” “I’m from Jakku,” “Ok that’s pretty much nowhere,” interplay was fun.

The utter panache with which he carried out his gambit at the end with Ben was awesome.  Especially when he walks out of the smoke and flicks the dust off his cloak.  Totally money.

I really like how he and Rey played off each other.  The utter seriousness with which she handed him the lightsaber, followed by his, “Fuck this” carelessness as he tossed it over his shoulder.  Great.

Ruined though the baseline character was, his arc worked well.  He’s depressed, despairing even, but he comes through and finds himself again, triumphing in the end.  It worked.

Snoke

Snoke was awesome, except for that embarrassing first scene on the bridge as he’s chewing Hux out in public (you do that shit behind closed doors, moron!).

I really loved his first interaction with Ben: “You pansy, you got your ass kicked by a girl who never held a lightsaber before!  WTF is wrong with you!”  It entirely answered my single biggest issue with Force Awakens: namely that Rey was far too powerful, far too quickly.

Consider Luke.  In A New Hope he had a little touch of the Force, just enough to let him make a shot that he already knew he could make.  Five story years later, after a bunch of self-training, he can barely pull his lightsaber out of the snow.  Then he gets some more training with Yoda, and after a while he’s gotten stronger.  Just strong enough to get his ass kicked by Vader.  It’s only after another five story years that he’s finally come into his own, able to best Vader and meet the Emperor eye to eye.

Rey, on the other hand, was pulling mind tricks, doing telekinesis, and fighting off mental attacks having not known the Force even existed less than a day before, with no training and no guidance whatsoever.  And then she beat Ben, who had been training with a lightsaber and the Force for years.  Bull.  Shit.

So it was nice for this movie to at least remark on how jacked up that was, even in a backhanded sort of way.

I liked Snoke’s utter confidence and comfort with his position and capabilities.  That said, I didn’t like how quickly he went straight to the mailed fist with Rey.  No attempt at seduction or persuasion, straight to force.  I also don’t get his obsession with Luke.  Luke’s been out of the picture for years.  Seems like he’s no threat.

I don’t like that he died.  I like how he died, but it felt a bit like Darth Maul, losing him so quickly.  We finally see him as an actual character and not some weird holographic image, and he’s interesting and cool.  And then he dies.  There could have been a lot more done with an interesting character like him.

Ben and Rey

Ben’s character is vastly improved from in Force Awakens.  The brattiness is gone, and it’s a lot easier to take him seriously.  We get a lot deeper into his motivations and mindset, and we understand him a lot more.

I would have burned Luke’s school to the ground and run off to Snoke too, if Luke had pulled that crap on me.  Screw him.  At least with Snoke you know he’s a bad guy and where you stand: the knife in the back would not be a surprise.

Rey is better as well, more likable and more believable.

And their interaction is awesome.  They start out as enemies, but not really because there’s this weird bond between them.  And for a while there I thought sure my initial theory about her parents was going to be proven true.

I’m actually glad it wasn’t.  The fact that her parents were just some nobodies, with no connection to anyone – scumbags who sold their daughter for beer money – is actually refreshing, in a way.  There is a little too much incestuous everyone’s-tied-together-somehow schtick in Star Wars sometimes.  And it’s nice that is not the case with her.  She’s not special, except that for whatever reason the Force is strong with her.  Great!

By the end when she goes to Snoke’s ship they’re almost but not quite friends, and you can tell there’s a mutual respect and affection between them if not trust.

I thought it was awesome that they teemed up to take Snoke down.  That fight scene was the coolest scene in the movie: not just because of the choreography (which was cool) but because of the subtext of what was going on between the two of them as they had each others’ back.  But though they had each others’ back, they weren’t on the same page.  Rey thought she’d gotten through to him and he was going to be a good guy now.  Ben just was sick of Snoke’s crap and wanted to break free from him, but he had no desire to help the Resistance at all.

Frankly, I can’t blame him.  And I can’t blame the Resistance’s allies for not showing up either.  Let’s face it: the Resistance sucks.  They’re unimpressive and incompetent girls (seriously. Po’s the only guy in their command structure and they spent the whole movie ignoring or pushing him aside. Yay feminism…I guess?) who went from ruling the Galaxy to being on the run in a single star cruiser over the span of, what, a week?  That’s not confidence inspiring; why would anyone want to back that horse?

Here’s where the movie flopped, yet again.  Rey should have taken Ben’s offered and joined him.

No, seriously.  Why is the FO the evil bad guy?  Poor leadership.  But Snoke’s gone and though Ben’s done some bad stuff he’s not a raving psychopath.  With a calming influence at his side, that FO ship is completely rightable.  It could have been turned from its path into a force for good.   Or Rey could have just gone along and played him.  “Ok let’s do it.  But do something for me: spare my friends.”  And then she could have worked on undermining the FO from within.

That would have been an interesting story.

“But she would have turned to the Dark Side!”

No.  That’s determined by what you do, and why you do it.  Being good =/= being stupid.  Being on one particular team doesn’t mean you’re on the Light side or the Dark side.  That’s a personal thing between you and the Force.

But it doesn’t matter.  The chance for something interesting is gone, and instead we’re back to the same boring underdog rebel thing that’s already been done.  Because no imagination at Disney.  And as a result it looks like Ben’s going to lose the depth of character that he got in this movie and become that raving psychotic.

*sigh*


Ok, I’ve rambled enough, and spent way more time on this than I should have.  This screed is already way up over 6,000 words – that’s a short story, or a couple chapters in the novel I’m working on.  Time to close it up.

Obviously, I was supremely disappointed (but actually not surprised) in this movie.  It just…didn’t work.

Not sure if I’ll be going to see any more Star Wars movies in the future.  Force Awakens, for all its flaws, was still decent and it captured the vibe well.  Rogue One was meh.  This was just bad.  Not a good trend.

Maybe they’ll turn things around, but with the Disney crew running the show, I doubt it.

It’s kind of sad.

Try #5

5th test of @recrypto’s WordPress-Steem plugin.  I just deactivated it, then re-activated it and re-entered all my account info.

Maybe that’ll do it.  We’ll see.

That Didn’t Work

This is my second attempt at posting to Steemit from my blog using the WordPress Steemit plugin.  First time didn’t work; I think I had my private posting key mis-copied.

Here we go again.

Test Post

I recently have been learning about cryptocurrencies.  Or rather, I have returned to learning about cryptocurrencies.  Many years ago I learned the basics of Bitcoin, and never did anything about it.  And now this year it’s skyrocketing and I’ve been kicking myself.

But that’s a long story and not germane to this post.

Anyway, I recently discovered Steemit, a social media platform that’s built on blockchain and utilizes its own currency to reward content and curation.  I made an account there a few days ago, and so far I’m digging it.

The purpose of this post is to see if a WordPress plugin I found, that is supposed to publish my posts from this blog onto Steemit automatically, actually works.

Here goes nothing.

Glimmer Vale – Omnibus Edition

I’ve wanted to put out a boxed set of the Glimmer Vale Chronicles for a while, but I didn’t have the free cash available to get good artwork done.

That hurdle is passed, and James Beveridge (the same guy who did the art for the other Glimmer Vale stories) hooked me up nicely.  So yesterday Glimmer Vale Chronicles Books 1-5 went out into the world.  Now, you can get all of the Glimmer Vale stories currently in existence in one convenient ebook, for one low(er) price.

A compilation of Glimmer Vale Chronicles Books 1-5.

Raedrick Baletier and Julian Hinderbrook are two fighting men on the run from their past. Taking a lightly travelled route home to avoid run-ins with the authorities, they come into the remote mountain valley called Glimmer Vale and find to their chagrin that its primary town, Lydelton, has become besieged by brigands. The brigands have taken up station in the mountain passes, cutting off their means of advance, and of escape. And so Raedrick and Julian accept the town’s offer of employment. Their mission: drive the brigands off and restore peace to the Vale.

They never thought that decision would end up changing their lives forever.

Includes:

Glimmer Vale (Glimmer Vale Chronicles #1)
Out-Dweller (Glimmer Vale Chronicles #2)
Tollard’s Peak (Glimmer Vale Chronicles #3)
Robbed Blind (Glimmer Vale Chronicles #4)
Wedding Gifts (A Glimmer Vale Chronicles Story)
The Falconer’s Stairs (Glimmer Vale Chronicles #5)

You can get it everywhere ebooks are sold.


In other news, it’s Monday, so it’s time for another episode of Story Time With Michael Kingswood.  In this episode we’re continuing our presentation of Veritas Morte, a science fiction novella, narrated by Keith Michaelson.  Links below, and you can find the podcast on all the usual podcast distribution outlets (iTunes, etc).  Please spread the word, like and subscribe through your favorite channel.

Enjoy!

https://youtu.be/SDvvotoTRUg

Story Time With Michael Kingswood

You know I started a video channel a few months back.

I went on a bit of a hiatus from that, for a number of reasons.  Today that ends.  I have restarted the video channel, and added a podcast, wherein I will share audio versions of my work, read by me and by professional voice actors, for fun and (hopefully) profit.  They’ll come out weekly on Mondays until I get tired of doing them or I run out of content – and that will be a while because I’ve got plenty of books and stories to go through.

The podcast can be found on all the various podcast subscription services, or you can click the link on the menu bar above to go directly to the podcast site, where you can find the RSS feed.  The videos will be on YouTube, Vid.Me, Minds.com, and whatever other video sites I can find to share them on.

Go.  Watch and/or listen.

Enjoy.