So if you’re a Trump defender, whether one of his scum voters or a craven congressional worm, you’re obviously comfortable with having a fucking criminal lead you because it makes you feel big and important. You’re a failure of a human being, but fuck it.
Here’s how I know The Rise of Skywalker isn’t up to snuff. Once in theatres was enough for me. I’ll still read the novelization, and will watch it again at home afterwards, but I have no desire to deal with all the crap that attends going to the movies for it.
However, I don’t want to recite a litany of the ways TROS was disappointing. Instead, I want to think through how the film could have been better, given where the story stood at the end of The Last Jedi, and where the film ended.
Let’s start with Leia. I get that they wanted her to play a key role in Kylo/Ben’s redemption, but without actually having Carrie Fisher around, Leia’s presence and death were both super flat. Instead, they could have dealt with her death in the opening crawl, and had the first shot of the film in the Alderaanian graveyard, with the remnants of the Resistance performing a service in her honor. Hell, maybe the first shot is Lando’s ship arriving.
We acknowledge the leadership vacuum in the Resistance. Some look to Poe, but he’s still wrestling with being a hotshot pilot vs. taking on a more prominent leadership role, and hasn’t fully come to grips with what he did in the run-up to the Battle of Crait. Poe is keen on General Calrissian heading things up, but that’s not really Lando’s bag. He digs the title, but doesn’t want the responsibility. Instead, he offers to help use his old contacts to beef up the Resistance. Chewbacca goes with him. Leia’s death also flips out Kylo, and Palpatine uses the opportunity to reach out to him through the Force.
Next, let’s give the Kylo Ren vs. Hux and conflict within the First Order more time to breathe. I actually think this could have been one of the primary story lines of the film. Imagine if we got to watch Resistance leadership pulling itself together at the same time as the First Order is tearing itself apart. Rather than the whole chasing this artifact and that, we could have had Kylo unbalanced by the loss of his mother, pulled towards Palpatine and chasing (with the Knights of Ren, sure) after what to Hux would appear to be phantoms. Disillusioned, he reaches out to the Resistance as part of a play to eliminate Kylo.
Let’s keep the memory wipe of C-3PO, except instead of doing it to translate Sith MapQuest, the Resistance has to do it as part of a scheme to get in contact with Hux, because he can’t get word out from the Star Destroyer he’s based on without getting busted. Think of it as the reverse of what the Rebels did to K-2SO in Rogue One. This gives us an excuse to get our heroes in trouble, put Rey in Kylo’s quarters, etc.
Now that I think about it, this could also have given us a different way to introduce Jannah. I saw a tweet recently suggesting that she could have told Finn she and others left the First Order after they heard about his actions. Imagine taking that a step further, and being able to see them do it on screen because they ran into Finn on a First Order Star Destroyer.
Okay, so at this point let’s say we have Kylo haring off to Exogol, on a promise of power, one-upping grandpappy Vader, etc. He’s dealing with a bunch of Sithy things, including ghosts of Han and Luke getting in his way. The Resistance has to make a decision. Do they go after this new threat, or take advantage of turmoil in the First Order to get a much needed win on that front? Poe wants to do the latter, but ultimately recognizes they don’t have the resources. Rey takes off for Exogol in the Falcon…let’s say with Rose, because the ship is in desperate need of repairs. Finn and Jannah tag along, on the excuse that some First Order knowledge might be useful. Really, Finn is nervous about what Rey and Rose might discuss, and Jannah is infatuated with Finn.
Rey and the gang pause before the final leg to Exogol, where they run into a substantial part of the First Order fleet. They have to fight their way through, with a slight assist from Hux, who sabotages First Order efforts to capture them. In the process, our heroes see Hux get busted, courtesy holo transmission from him. Once they finally make it to Exogol, everyone but Rey focuses on repairs so that they can maybe make it back out alive. They also contact the Resistance to let them know about the fleet and Hux’s predicament.
Poe reasons that Hux is too valuable a resource to lose, and risks going after him. He also contacts Lando, and has him send anyone who can help to a rendezvous point outside the storms near the entry point to Exogol.
So— we still get our big lightsaber fight and space battle going on simultaneously. Yay! A couple changes, though. The Rey/Kylo/Palpatine part is a much more intimate affair. No more arena of whatever the hell those things were, and no fleet of planet-killing Star Destroyers, because Oh. My. God. Just the three of them battling each other and their own demons. Palpatine does his cackling “I have foreseen this” thing. Rey has to deal with being Palpy’s grand baby. Leia speaks through Rey to Kylo, which finally breaks him. On the space battle side, we start quietly as well. Initially there are not enough Resistance ships to risk taking on the First Order fleet, and they keep their distance. The First Order similarly ignores the Resistance ships as not being a threat. However, there is a steady stream of newcomers joining the Resistance. The First Order begins to get nervous, and at some point a hot head arrives and barrels forward to attack, ignoring Poe’s calls for him to stop. This causes confusion on all sides and the battle kicks off in earnest.
On Exogol, Ben and Rey defeat Palpatine, and race to leave before everything crumbles around them. They emerge from the storms in the middle of a now-raging space battle. The storms have increased in severity, and have jacked up the Falcon’s shields, and they’re sitting ducks. Black Squadron swoops in to escort the Falcon to relative safety. We see Poe’s ship, but it’s piloted by Wedge Antilles.
See, fanboys? I can pander, too.
Whatever destroyed Exogol has spread, and the storms surrounding it increase in size and intensity. They begin to swallow up the First Order fleet, which is now trapped between the storms and the Resistance. Poe sees this and orders everyone away, while lightning leaps from one First Order ship to another in a web of destruction that ultimately claims nearly the entire fleet. The Resistance wins the day!
One last thing I would do. Throughout the new trilogy, Rey has been pining for her parents, or trying to find out where she belongs. By the end of TROS, she has been explicitly told she’s more or less heir to the Sith, while she at the same time makes a conscious choice to fight against that. In the epilogue to TROS, Rey does two things that I think are in conflict with each other. She claims the name “Rey Skywalker,” as if claiming the mantle of the light. However, she also sparks a new lightsaber that is a golden yellowish color. This is a color we have seen from Temple Guards Star Wars animated shows, but in the context of Rey’s story I think we can interpret it as Rey forging her own path. I would probably drop the whole “Rey burying lightsabers on Tatooine for Jawas to dig up later” bit, but could easily see a small exchange at the end where one of the other First Order troopers who left with Jannah asks “Rey who?” To which Rey smiles and says, “Just Rey.”
So anyway, if anyone wants to give someone at Lucasfilm my contact information, I’d be happy to talk to them. I know it’s too late for the Skywalker Saga, but maybe I can pitch in on something coming up. 🙃
If you’re curious, the article in question here is With impeachment, America’s epistemic crisis has arrived . It’s well worth a read, and it’s a pity that like a lot of things, the people who really need to read it and take it to heart will do absolutely no such thing, because it’s not blessed by the Grand Poobahs of their tribe.
INT. ORRILL HOUSEHOLD
JASON and STUART are sitting in the piano room. JASON is reading on his laptop, and STUART is next to him, chilling as only a cat can.
Hey, Stuart. Can I get you to email something for me?
It’s just a link to an article I found. I want to send it to Burstyn.
I would, but if I send it, they won’t see it.
They’ve thoroughly blocked me from email. I’m hoping if you send it, maybe it will get through.
Dude, you have plenty of water in your bowl. I just filled it this morning. Can you just send the link for me?
Mrow, mr-mrowr, rr?
It’s about tribal epistemology, and how people on the Right have so walled themselves off from anything that conflicts with what they’ve been told, there is no longer any sense of a shared reality.
Mr-mrowr mrr meow?
Yes, the fact that they would ignore this if it comes from me is ironic.
Thanks, dude. And yes, I promise I’ll check your water.
So…we had to say goodbye to Opie yesterday. I want to say something like “0/5 stars, would not recommend,” but…it was time. The last couple of weeks have been rough on him, and well…like I said, it was time.
Let’s back up. We first met Opie back in 2002 when a local pet store had a bunch of shelter cats for adoption. Chandra first saw Stuart, who was screaming for freedom. She immediately wanted to take hime home. At the same time, she also spotted a little orange kitten, and he joined the family, too. What we didn’t know at the time, was that Opie was harboring some tiny bacteria that would soon wreak havoc on his digestive system. This led to him losing a dangerous amount of weight, and multiple trips to the vet. I don’t remember the entire timeline, but it took a good while for someone to figure out what was going on with him. Even when he was sick though, he still wanted to tussle with Stuart, and would paw at the paintings of kittens on the wall of the vet’s examination room. As scary as this time was, this kind of behavior gave us confidence he would pull through.
At the time, I was working from home, so I kept him company and nursed him back to health. He had a tiny plastic container we converted to a litter box, which we kept just behind my office chair in the basement. I fed him Pedialyte, encouraged him to eat as much as possible, and held him on my lap while I worked. I also cleaned that litterbox immediately after he used it, because Oh My Dear God.
Eventually, he got better and I swear overnight went from being a scrawny little kitten to *bloomp* Opie of the gooshy belly. He never got heavy exactly, but after that he always had kind of the physique of an adorable orange couch potato.
Through this, Opie and I bonded pretty closely. He preferred my lap above all others, and at night slept snuggled up against me. He slept hard, too— especially for a cat. More than once I woke up in the middle of the night convinced I had squished him, and it took a thorough toe-tickling or full body jiggling to get him to respond. As a kitten, he also had a tendency to suckle my armpit, which is where I had to draw the line. As I told him repeatedly, “Opie, that’s weird.”
Not that I was the only one Opie was close to. He and Stuart got along famously, playing and snoozing together, though Opie was never quite as into rough-housing as his brother. Back in Georgia, at dinner time the two would tear through the house, and when Opie was done with the game he would barrel under a small cabinet that was barely big enough for him. This was his timeout spot, which Stuart amazingly respected. Even later in life, the two still got into wrestling matches, though nearly always at Stuart’s instigation. Opie still put up with it, but with more of an air of resignation than full participation. They slept together less as well, but under the right circumstances could still be found sharing my lap, or at least lying in close proximity to each other, and not always just to share body warmth.
And yes, Opie liked Chandra, too, aka “Food Lady.” Frankly, he liked pretty much everyone, although it took him a long time to warm up to strangers. Until recent years, it wasn’t uncommon when we had company for him to bury himself under the covers in the middle of the bed to make an Opie lump, and he wouldn’t come out until they were gone. Once he realized that everyone had scratchies for him, he became much more open to meeting people.
He was also king of the nicknames, going variously by Opie, Opus, Opus Maximus, Professor, Sunshine Boy, Bumper Boy, Freckle Nose, Opie Kenopie, etc.
A note on one of those– when Opie was in a good mood, or just making the rounds, he would bump up against everything in sight– walls, door frames, table legs, people legs, chair legs, people legs again. Sometimes he did this hard enough there would be an audible “thunk.” It was his way of telling you he was happy. One one occasion, he was sitting in a doorway, and for whatever reason, I threw up my hands in glee and shouted, “Opie!” He responded by thunking his shoulder into the doorframe.
Yeah, I’m gonna miss that cat.
I don’t have a lot of good photos, but here are a few of him lounging, snoozing, or asking politely if it is time for one or the other. The top photo is from a few years ago, but the rest are all from this summer.
We just got back from a few days in NYC, and I figured I would share some quickie thoughts…
Our first day there we saw Puffs, which I would describe as kind of a Rosencrantz & Guildenstern take on the Harry Potter franchise. Sadly, this one didn’t do much for me, though there were others in the audience who seemed to be having a good time. I’ll admit I’m not a huge Potter-head, but I don’t think the problem was familiarity with the source material. I got the sense that the cast may have been doing the show for longer than is perhaps healthy— there was more “talking at” than “talking to,” and not much connection between characters that I could feel.
We saw a couple different things at the New York Musical Festival, starting with a talk about putting on a “spectacle”, followed by Illuminati Lizards from Outer Space and Buried. “Lizards” was as campy as you might expect from the name, and reasonably entertaining, if maybe a little…unfocused? I preferred “Buried,” about a pair of serial killers who fall in love. The one thing I would note is that it does that thing you sometimes get in indy comedies from the UK & Ireland, where it’s billed as a comedy but it drifts into more serious territory for healthy chunks of the production.
We only hit one museum this time around, The Museum of Arts and Design. They’ve currently got an exhibition called “Too Fast to Live, Too Young to Die: Punk Graphics 1976-1986”. If you like posters, album covers, zines, etc from that era you’ll get a kick out of it. My only complaint was that there was no exhibition book to go with it.
We decided against the Jazz Museum in Harlem, but we did make it to Amy Ruth’s for soul food. I had “The Reggie Harris,” aka southern honey-dipped fried chicken. I would just call it “so good” and leave it at that, but I think this calls for a “y’all,” as in “so good, y’all.” (Am I doing that right?)
Oh, and the power went out across much of the city. It was nine PM before it hit us and we were already back in the hotel, so didn’t affect our stay much beyond prompting an early bedtime. We had to have just missed walking through a darkened Times Square, though.
The last show we saw was A Musical About Star Wars. After the disappointment of Puffs I was a little trepidatious, but it turned out to be really good! It was warm and funny, and had something more to say than “aren’t fans of Star Wars silly,” which is all I expected from it going in. Of the four shows we saw, this is the one that I would heartily recommend people go see— especially now, when the performers are the writers of the show.
Also, I give air conditioning an A+. We’re going to miss that this weekend.
Democratic leadership remains resistant to impeachment calls. This is despite all the corruption we’ve witnessed since day one of the Trump administration, not to mention everything documented by Robert Muller’s team in their Report on the Investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election. Even the complete stonewalling of the House in their efforts to exercise oversight doesn’t seem to be enough to budge them.
And don’t get me started on the hour-long phone call Trump had with Putin on Friday.
Then last night there was the report from the NY Times that Nancy Pelosi is expressing concern that Trump won’t leave office, even if he loses the 2020 election. This is the same concern that Michael Cohen voiced a while back, if you’ll recall. It sounds hyperbolic, but let’s be honest with ourselves here. Why wouldn’t he try that? He’s been getting away with violating laws and “norms” throughout his administration, and nothing has happened to him. All we get are timid sad faces from Republicans who otherwise are in lockstep with him, and Democrats like Pelosi who act like they’re afraid of their own shadow.
Seriously, go read that NY Times piece. Pelosi’s prescription to guard against what is literally an existential threat to the republic is to “stay mainstream.” What the ever-loving fuck. She is not laying the groundwork here for a fight to save America from a budding dictatorship. She is laying the groundwork to throw up her hands and say, “Well, I guess we didn’t communicate our policies well enough. Oopsie!”
So where does that leave us? We already have gerrymandering and the Electoral College to contend with, both things that work against the popular will of the people. If we toss out election results that the party in power doesn’t like, what are we left with? There’s a line in Parliament’s “Chocolate City” that goes “You don’t need the bullet if you’ve got the ballot.” We all need to keep in mind that the reverse is also true.
So to Nancy and Democrats, you need to impeach the mother forker already. Prove to us that you care about democracy and the rule of law as more than something you use as a line in your campaign fundraising emails.