The best thing about The Last Jedi

Download PDF

I finally got to see The Last Jedi (after two previous failed attempts, both amazingly sold out afternoon shows, a month after the premier).  I liked it a lot.  My personal rankings of the “main” Star Wars movies is now something like

  1. The Empire Strikes Back
  2. Star Wars (A New Hope)
  3. The Force Awakens
  4. The Last Jedi
  5. The Return of the Jedi
  6. The Revenge of the Sith
  7. The Phantom Menace
  8. The Attack of the Clones

But there was something that really stands out.  Spoilers ahead!

Continue reading “The best thing about The Last Jedi”

The power of the dark side

Download PDF

No, this is not a political post.  🙂

I absolutely tore through the omnibus Kindle editions of the Darth Vader comic (one of several in the rebooted Marvel line).  I guess it really paid off for Amazon to make Volume 1 free to Prime members because it hooked me fast.  I ended up buying Volumes 2 through 4 as well as the crossover event Vader Down.  Combined, they cost me about what a standard novel would, and they were well worth the money.

Oh, spoilers below.

Continue reading “The power of the dark side”

Looking for hive mind help on a course

Download PDF

Actually, on two courses.  The school I’m at (Newark Academy) ends the year with a nine-day “June Term”, wherein students take one class for six hours a day.  June Term classes are supposed to be experiential and rigorous, and maybe a bit weird.  All teachers are supposed to suggest courses; I made three idea proposals and the committee liked two of them.

Now I have to formalize my thinking and write an actual proposal for each.  I’m still (as of 2017 July) in the spitballing stage and thought I could benefit from some outside input.  If you have the time and interest, please follow this link to a Google doc where you can share your thoughts.  (NB: It’s an open edit document so please be civil to one another!)  I am particularly interested in ideas for field trips and for how to organize six-hour days when it can’t be lecture-and-response.

The two courses, by the way, are The End of the World as We Know It: A scientific approach to catastrophe and Seven Days Plus Two: The Art and Science of World Building in Fiction.  The first will be a modified form of a course I ran at Hun, but I think it will need a fair bit of work.

Lost Worlds and A Strange Visitor From Another Planet

Download PDF

I just re-watched the pilot of Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman (1996).  It is actually pretty good, especially for a late-1990s superhero show.  It’s sly and clever, and does a nice job working around its obviously-inadequate effects budget.  There’s real chemistry between Dean Cain and Teri Hatcher, as well.  Hatcher really sells Lois Lane as a modern women, the natural progression of the character’s strong arc since her introduction.

One thing really did stand out to me about this pilot, though, that is both endearing and maybe a little depressing.  The writers went with the “evil businessman” version of Lex Luthor that’s been common since the Crisis on Infinite Earths.  The pilot had to have Lex plotting some nefarious scheme for the sake of pure profit.  But what?

The sabotage of the space program.

Really.  The “Congress of Nations” is about to launch the first 100 colonists to a new space station (Prometheus).  Lex wants to blow up the launch, doom Prometheus, and replace it with Space Station Luthor.  (Of course.)  His motive is the billion-dollar patents that will flow from research done in zero-g on new drugs and treatments.  The loss of the first transport is greeted as a national tragedy.  The launch of the replacement (with the colonists) draws a viewing public all over the world, with everyone on the edge of their seats.

That’s what I find both endearing and sad.  When was the last time our (crewed) space program elicited that sort of enthusiasm?  Heck, we can’t even launch people into space anymore.   For the writers of this show, movement forward into space was the obvious, almost inevitable mark of progress, of there being a future.  It might well be the last time popular TV treated it that way.

And to me, that’s a little sad.  We have miracles and wonders today, of course, but somehow everything seems … small.  Musk and Bezos are slogging forward and dragging us, I suppose, but it certainly doesn’t fire the popular imagination any longer.  I hope we’re just in a holding pattern, waiting for the technology to meet its potential, but I don’t know.

(By the way, Superman — of course — foils the sabotage and lifts the transport into orbit himself.  Because, hey, Superman.)

Review: Star Trek Into Darkness

Download PDF

{originally written 2013 May 23, then banished to the Drafts folder for no good reason when I never got around to finishing it.}

Spoiler-free review:  A solid sophomore outing for the NuTrek crew, but it’s no Wrath of Khan. ====== Spoilers follow =========== Continue reading “Review: Star Trek Into Darkness”

Subverting Stereotypes on the Fury Road

Download PDF

I just finished rewatching Mad Max: Fury Road.  I have to say, I can understand why the film earned the online ire of the so-called men’s rights activists (MRAs). It takes all the high-octane testosterone-drenched tropes of the typical action flick, ramps them up to 11 and, in so doing, exposes the madness that lies at the heart of the culture.

Continue reading “Subverting Stereotypes on the Fury Road”

Review: Agents of SHIELD season finale

Download PDF

I caught up on the end of the season for Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD.  (Yes, it’s that time of summer when I get to catch up on the shows I missed.)  The first season ended with the fallout from Captain America: The Winter Soldier, when the entire Marvel universe was scrambled.  Could Season Two match it?

Short answer: Surprisingly, yes.  Spoilers ho.

Continue reading “Review: Agents of SHIELD season finale”

Review: Doctor Who Season 8 Episode 9: Flatline

Download PDF

Oh, heaven above, Steve Moffat is just determined that we all love Clara, and he’s going to keep forcing tripe like this on us until we give and accept she’s the bestest, most wonderful Companion ever, isn;’t he?

Spoilers below.

Continue reading “Review: Doctor Who Season 8 Episode 9: Flatline”