December 18th, 2015


The REAL American Way!

We're going to inaugurate a new series/theme here on Hurtling Butt-First Through Time called "Defer to the Despots!"  It's going to be all about how in America, as in many parts of the world, we talk a good game, we bluster and strut (like that?  "bluster and strut?"  That's a keeper!) and proclaim our principles and lofty intentions and then we . . . defer to the despots every time.

The despot may be a Koch brother, Wayne LaPierre, an ISIS don, an industry (Big Pharma comes to mind), a mob of mouth-breathing imbeciles (the Tea Party comes to mind) or anyone else who wants to control our thoughts and rule our lives to their own advantage.  The only sure thing is that we Americans will roll over and let them have their way, that's what we do.  We've become a nation and a society that is OK with twenty first graders and their teachers being shot in the face with an assault rifle.

You say you're not OK with that?  What have you done to keep it from happening again (and again and again and again)?  Did you even raise your voice?  I didn't.  I defered to the Despots, 'cause that's what we do here in America.  Even if we make a noise, it's all theater.  What we actually do . . . is . . . nothing.

Film at 11:00 . . .

Oh, and, by the way:

Surf Green and Seafoam Green are two completely different things. Well, maybe not completely different. They are enough alike that they are often mistaken for one another and you generally have to look at them side by side to really appreciate the difference, but having said that, if two things are supposed to be the same color and you paint one thing Seafoam Green and the other Surf Green and then put them up next to each other, you're going to get laughed right out of the dining hall there. I'm sayin' it so you don't have to, OK?

"Star Wars All Over Again," doncha know

So, of course, they did a credible job in every way on the new Star Wars Episode VII. Great visuals, state-of-the-art FX, top drawer acting and directing, and writing worthy of the very pinnacle of comic-book/sci-fi franchisery. And, yes, I enjoyed it, but . . . (there had to be a "but" in there, right?) . . .

You know what it didn't have? Anything original. This installment is a remake/compilation of the first three (IV, V & VI) episodes, maybe just the first two. Okay, first two and a half. It is kind of re-establishing the franchise on the ground broken by the Great Start Wars, the Star Wars before Ewoks or Jar Jar Binks. The story and production values that launched one of the best known, best loved sci-fi franchises of all time are reborn, rebaptised, as it were, washing away the sin and corruption of goody-two-shoes pre-tween commercialism. The original Star Wars was commercial as hell, but it made tons and tons of money for the right reason: IT WAS FUCKING GOOD! When Lucas introduced singing Ewoks, I was dating a woman who worshiped Marry Martin and Ethel Merman and all things bright and sunny---and totally fucking phony. She loved the Ewoks. Lucas took my dark, gritty action-based sci-fi away from me and handed it to this goofy woman who I was fast falling out of love with for other reasons.

Anyway, this episode walks the marshmallow-filled nougat back to the salt and grease foundations and premises of the original. What it doesn't do, though, is add anything to the story line or really advance it at all. Rey is now Luke, Leia is the General in charge of the resistance, Obi Wan's character gets parceled out to Han and Old Luke and others. Ren, of course, takes over for Darth Vader, but they're all acting out the story line of the first episode(s). There are cinemagraphic homages to the famous Star Wars bar scene, and the Old Death Star (now played very capably by the New Death Star) and the desert planet where Luke felt marooned as a child.

It will be interesting to see if they pick up the story line and go somewhere new with it in Episodes VIII and IX. We saw what happened when Lucas tried to expand upon a winning story line. Can Abrams and Company do better now that they have freshly poured concrete under their feet?  Huh?