Saturday, December 16, 2017

Star Wars: The Last Jedi - A Film for 2017




This is not going to be a comprehensive review of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, though I have a lot of thoughts and a lot of emotions about the film.  Rather this post is about a very specific feeling I got walking out of The Last Jedi that made me realize the film was perfect for this specific time and place in a way I have not seen in a major blockbuster since Captain America: The Winter Soldier.  There was no specific moment like in Revenge of the Sith where the current political situation was referenced so specifically (Anakin's "If you're not with me, then you're my enemy" echoing Bush's "You are with us or you are with the terrorists," for example) but its message is one that is decidedly political and timely.  

The history of the Star Wars cinematic universe is one that has asked us to rely on singular hero figures, namely Skywalkers, whose actions determine the course and fate of the universe.  If the prequels are to believed it was Anakin's turn to the dark side that caused the Empire to rise.  If only he had chosen another path things would be different, he could have defeated the Emperor.  If the original trilogy is to believed, it is Luke's destiny to defeat the Empire by destroying the Emperor and redeeming his father.  The fate of the galaxy, then, rests on the shoulders of individuals.  The Force Awakens doesn't shy away from this premise.  We need to find this map so we can find Luke.  We need Luke because without him we fail. Rey is a Jedi and she needs to train with Luke so that she can continue the legacy.  Maybe Rey is his daughter or niece or Obi Wan's daughter who needs to continue the tradition of singular heroes saving the galaxy.  We need to destroy this one thing, this Death Star, this Starkiller Base, so that we can save everyone.  

The Last Jedi is fundamentally different in its premise and ideology.  In many ways it shares more of its DNA with Rogue One, a story about an anonymous band of rebels who sacrifice themselves for the greater good.  Their sacrifice did not destroy the Empire.  They stole the plans for the first Death Star.  That was all.  Their sacrifice didn't magically upend the political order of the galaxy, it was simply one part in an ongoing war against Imperial aggression. Did their sacrifice matter?  Of course it did.  But given its context, the film forced us to see that even one action doesn't solve a greater problem.  In Return of the Jedi Emperor Palpatine dies.  Snoke apparently replaces him. Who is Snoke?  Does it matter? He was the next guy.  He was Pence.  He was the one who came along.  The truth is there will always be another to come along. Snoke dies and Kylo Ren replaces him.  If Kylo Ren died, Hux would take over.  The Empire and the First Order both are not dependent on the mythology of a singular leader.  Theirs is a vision of domination and control and power.  If you look at the indignant expression on Hux's face when Kylo takes control it is clear that were it not for Kylo's Force abilities he would be out of the First Order entirely, and that certainly doesn't mean that the First Order would be gone.  In fact Ben Solo's pathological obsession with both Rey and his family's legacy is often the cause of the First Order's failures.  He is a liability, not a strength.  I'm sure Hux would have been happy if Luke dispatched him on the sands of Crait.  And galactic domination would go on.  The Last Jedi forces us to see that the world, the galaxy, does not care in the long run about the petty disputes of the Skywalker family.  

The sojourn to Canto Bight, which some critics have said is unnecessary, I felt was an important reminder that the galaxy is comprised of a whole host of people who are neither wearing stormtrooper uniforms nor sitting behind the seat of an X-Wing.  The Kochs of the world, the residents of Canto Bight, are just as culpable for the slaughter as the stormtroopers who carry the weapons they provide, and they will continue on as long as the system in place to give them power exists. That system didn't go away when Darth Vader killed his master and it certainly didn't go away when Kylo Ren killed his.  Last Jedi makes us see that there is no singular hero that can fix all that is wrong with the galaxy, all that is wrong with the world.  Belief in a mythical savior, from all sides of the political spectrum, leads individuals to do stupid things.  Salvation will not come from one politician, one general, one soldier, one sword, one assassin.  The galaxy, and our world too, is the way it is because of the choices and actions of many groups of people: people who are true believers, people only out for themselves, people who seek to profit, people who are apathetic, people who are oppressed, people who are oppressors.  Even if one leader is destroyed, there will be others to take his place.

One thing that was so powerful to me in the film was the way in which it makes its main protagonists and antagonists alike confront the notion of heroism and villainy they have always been lead to believe.  Poe, Finn, and Luke all learn that hubris can lead you to make stupid decisions and that sometimes being the hero means doing something other than what you assumed to be true. Kylo Ren learns that even if you save the girl you don't automatically win her affection and even if you follow in the actions and footsteps of the people who came before you, that doesn't make your power assured. It is beautiful that all four of these men learn these lessons from powerful women who have their own agency. In fact if anything is defeated in this film it is the male ego, which is why I think the film has gotten quite a bit of criticism from men.  The women in the film, specifically Rose Tico, Admiral Holdo, General Leia and Rey, go on their own personal and emotional journeys as well.  Rose realizes that the sacrifice she admired in her sister isn't the only way one can be a hero.  Holdo realized the opposite: that sometimes even when you want to be practical and less reckless that self sacrifice is necessary for the better good.  Leia realizes the lesson Luke was trying to teach her all those years ago on Endor, that this power was in her the whole time, that he would never be the only one that was needed to keep the Force in balance.  Finally Rey learned that good and evil are more complicated things than you wish they would be, that it is the choices we make not a destiny, not an ancestry, that makes us who we are.  Rey is not a Skywalker or a Kenobi or anybody but herself: a powerful wielder of the Force, a hero because she decides to be, because she wants to be.  

As President Obama famously said, "We are the change we seek" and The Last Jedi, while not paraphrasing these words exactly, sets up a future of the Star Wars universe where change comes not from "chosen ones" but from individuals, from ordinary people making choices, learning lessons, failing, growing, helping each other.  Real change to the galaxy will not come from Rey or the maybe 20 or so people who survived from the Resistance, it will come from people on all the worlds across the galaxy.  Nobody is coming to save those enslaved children on Canto Bight, nobody is coming to rescue the other people on Jakku or Tattooine who are oppressed.  Nobody is coming.  It all comes down to you, to us, to the people, to rise up and defend their homeland, to take down their oppressors. The Force does not belong to one group of people and the power of the Force does not belong to Jedi alone.  The Force exists and will exist regardless if people are there to use it to float rocks, and you don't need to be able to float rocks to take down systems of oppression.  We are the Resistance, we are the change. 

Monday, October 02, 2017

The Bad Things

What do I tell her about the bad things?
That they just happen?

Well you see, my dear, sometimes
Your ice cream melts
You don't win the race
You can't go where you want
You get sick
You are teased by kids at school
You see dozens of people have been killed

It's just one of those things.
Is that it?
It's just one of those things?

What do I tell her about a country like that?
That it just is?

Well, you see, my dear, sometimes
People go hungry
People lose everything
People aren't allowed into this country
People can't get health care
People hate other people
People kill

It's just one of those things.
Is that it?
It's just one of those things?

What do I tell her we do about it?
That we do nothing?

Well you see, my dear, sometimes
We raise food prices but not wages
We don't take care of our poor
We restrict immigration
We don't give people medical care
We systemically discriminate
We murder our own citizens

It's just one of those things.
Is that it?
It's just one of those things?

What do I tell her about the president?
That he is monstrous?

Well you see, my dear, sometimes
He profits off our misery
He mocks our pain
He turns away refugees
He doesn't care if we die
He supports white supremacists
He kills us with his words

It shouldn't be this way
Should it?
It shouldn't be this way?

What do I tell her we should do?
That nothing changes?

Well you see, my dear, sometimes
We give to charity
We call Congress
We protest
We tweet our thoughts and prayers
We try to find blame
We cry again

It's just one of those things.
Is that it?
It's just one of those things?

I guess so

Monday, May 08, 2017

Imaginary Conversations: Strange Days

I haven't done an Imaginary Conversation in a while. Enjoy.

"Strange Days"

So you know what's odd?

Everything. Literally everything lately.

Ok, yes, point taken. Actually, that is kind of the whole crux of what my argument was going to be, but thanks for summing it up so succinctly.

 Sorry. You were doing the whole "you know what's weird" and then I was supposed to reply with a "huh" and then we were going to have a conversation.

Pretty much, yeah that was what I was going for

Ok, do you want to start again? Or.. here I will help. What is odd?

Ugh this is not working out how I wanted to

Do you want to talk about something else?

No, I really want to talk about this but now this conversation is going absolutely sideways

You mean how everything is going completely sideways


So what is odd specifically that you wanted to talk about?

Well ok, yeah everything. I wanted to talk about how fucking odd everything is lately. But I guess specifically I wanted to talk about Elon Musk building this giant drill

Still have that hard on for Elon Musk, huh?

I don't have a fucking hard on for Elon Musk the guy is just an asshole capitalist like all of them that's not my fucking point.

Yeesh, sorry.

So my point is that Elon Musk could build this giant drill and then hold people hostage like an honest to god supervillain and people would be like "oh, huh... I guess that's a thing now"

Oh, I see what you are getting at.

Yeah, like he could announce he has a robot army and people wouldn't bat an eye. Like the world has gotten so fucking bonkers that nothing is phasing anybody anymore.

Well, that's not true. People are marching and doing all of that.

Oh I know, I mean... I dunno its hard to articulate. I think we talked about it a while ago where that lady is keeping track of all the crazy shit that happens every week in a totalitarian government so that we can really see how much has changed.

Yeah yeah.. and you were saying something like how so much shit has changed it is hard to even keep track of all the shit that has changed.

 Yes, exactly. It's like... man we have gotten used to the world being fucking bonkers haven't we?

I dunno. I am not "used" to anything. I feel like I am living in some kind of alternate reality still

Oh yes absolutely. I'm not saying that. I guess I mean... It's like we are living in an alternate reality. Like there is just so much fucking horrible crazy shit that if more horrible crazy shit happened it would just be like "ugh jeez more horrible crazy shit. Well that's to be expected in this horrible crazy shit-verse we live in now"

I get ya. Like it is just more shit piled on to the old shit. It isn't new shit anymore. It isn't as surprising.

No, not at all. Its like... well, ok so this is kind of homophobic, but its like how there is this trope now that super anti-gay Republican politicians are actually secretly gay. Like that wasn't a trope that really existed before a bunch of them turned out to be secretly gay. And now it is this, albeit somewhat homophobic, trope that the Congressman doth protest too much. It wouldn't surprise anybody of any super right wing guy was discovered with a secret gay lover because we are just used to that by now. 

I see what you are saying but I absolutely hate that trope as a thing

I know, I just meant it as an example. I didn't mean to offend.

I just fucking hate that shit.  I hate the whole making Trump and Putin gay in pictures shit.  It just reinforces stereotypes about masculinity and homosexuality.  It is total bullshit

I get it, I'm sorry. I just meant the example.  Like it doesn't surprise people anymore, is what I meant. I guess the point I was trying to make is that things are so horrible that more horrible things are just added onto the pile of horrible things that already exist.

But doesn't resigning to the inevitability of horrible things happening enable them to happen?  Isn't it our complacency in things like police violence, our lack of a reaction, that lead to such things becoming normalized?

I guess that is true.  I suppose I was just kind of acknowledging that it is true you know what I mean? It is insane to me that the most bonkers thing could happen and people would just accept it as a matter of course.  It is insane to me that people who voted for Trump still support him even if they believe that Russia helped him win.  Like, its one thing if they don't believe that Russia helped him.  I get that.  Like I get it is hard to know what to believe and fake news and blah blah.  I really do understand that part of it.  But they did this survey and these Trump supporters were like yes they support Trump even if he collaborated with Russia.  Like they are ok with treason now.  When the fuck did THAT happen?  When did people become ok with just whatever?


Really?  Because I kind of feel like this is a newish development. Are you talking about like 9/11 truthers specifically?

Well yes and no.  Mostly just the act itself.  It was insane wasn't it?  They flew airplanes into buildings and caused them to come crashing down, killing thousands of people.  I mean that's not a thing that happens in real life.  That is like some movie shit.  That isn't real.

Yeah it was pretty insane

But it happened.  And from that moment things were just different, things were just a little off. People were more afraid.  People were scared that something like that could happen again.  I mean this thing that nobody thought could possibly happen ever, nobody could imagine, now people were afraid.  It was like Godzilla had come and stomped around and then even if Godzilla died there is this lingering fear like "Oh shit, what if there is another Godzilla."

I think I am following

So the aftermath of 9/11 were all of our shitty wars and all of that.  And the thing is, the way people talked it was as if we lived in a different world.  People who were against torture for their whole lives, who may have even voted Democrat, suddenly started saying things like the terrorists don't deserve sympathy, that torture was ok, that bombing was justified if it got one bad guy.

Ugh, yeah.  I heard so many people I thought were pretty liberal say some seriously jingoistic weird shit in the early 2000s

Those weird impulses didn't go away all because Bush did, all because we had Obama.  I mean, people just started to accept continuous war as a thing.  We have been at war continuously for like 16 years.  Like ok we are mostly done with the war stuff in Afghanistan but not really.  We still have troops on the ground getting killed and killing others.  We have just accepted this. Continuous war was not a normal thing.  But now we just accept it. We accept that in this world "full" of terrorists that it is ok to be continuously at war.

Shit, I never really thought about it that way but yeah you are kind of right

I mean before that we had the Cold War, that was the normal.  It was normal for people to think that nuclear war could happen at any time.  It is new to us thinking about that because we haven't thought about nuclear war in a long time, but that was totally normal for them back then.  Anything completely bonkers becomes normal if it lasts long enough.

You know what is REALLY odd, though?

Ok, I know how to play now.  What?

That we have all these villains.  We have HYDRA basically, but we don't have any superheroes.

Well, I mean come on super powers aren't exactly realistic.

Yeah I know that.  Vigilantes I mean.  I mean even old school Scarlet Pimpernel or Zorro style vigilantes.  Like these poor people are being detained by ICE and deported and stuff and you are telling me that we can't even get like ONE dude dressed as Zorro freeing people from detention centers?  We have these hackers going around releasing emails for the other side, but not ONE is really doing good for the resistance?  What the fuck is up with that?

Oh honey... I have some bad news for you.


People are shitty.

Well, I mean there have to be SOME people who aren't shitty, right?

You would think.  But there you go.  Nobody IS out there dressing up in costume and fighting the man like that.  Yes people are marching, yes people are resisting in ways that might get them arrested and released but nobody is doing that definitely illegal stuff that would get them sent to prison for a long time on behalf of anybody.

Well there are Antifas

Yeah there are Antifas but come on have you seen one of them REALLY do anything other than punch a few Nazis?

Well, that is something right?  What do you want them to do?

You were the one who said you wanted to see superheroes.  I'm just saying that's about all you are going to get.  Nobody's gonna do anything that will get them more than a misdemeanor assault charge or a little dumb vandalism of banks.  What do YOU want them to do?

Well, I probably shouldn't say

If you response to the question is "I probably shouldn't say" then I'm going to DEFINITELY say you shouldn't say and lets get off this topic of conversation as swiftly as possible

Fine without specifics I am just curious why nobody is willing to do more than just punch the occasional Nazi.

Well why aren't you?  You read enough comic books.  You could go to the gym, get jacked, put on a suit and fight crime.

I don't have time to go to the gym like that.  I mean like... I dunno... an ex military person or whatever.  Somebody with skills to actually be a superhero.

You don't have time to go to the gym... that is your response to why you aren't fighting fascism.  I am.. I just don't even have any words.

Oh fuck you.  Why aren't you going out there fighting crime?  You are more fit than I am

Oh, that's a really simple one:  because I enjoy my life and I don't particularly want to die or get incarcerated for the rest of my life.  Also pain is ouchy.

Pain is ouchy.  I just...

What?  You asked.  I mean I tried to tell you.  There aren't superheroes in real life because nobody wants to take risks like that.  We did get Chelsea Manning.  She WAS willing to risk prison to release information she thought would help our country, to reveal things she thought were wrong.  That's about all you are going to get, ya know?  You are asking for some kind of hypothetical person who is hyper competent in multiple ways (fighting, computer skills, espionage), who doesn't have a family or is willing to leave their family behind, and who is willing to put themselves in harms way for no reward other than the betterment of mankind.  This person doesn't exist.  They exist in comics because that is what people wish was real but real people aren't like that.  There isn't anybody in real life who is like that.

Really, you don't think there is anybody like that?

I mean YOU were the one who asked the question.  You were the one who said it was weird.  I'm saying it isn't weird at all.  It is human nature.  We imagine heroes because there aren't any in real life. It is wish fulfillment precisely because it is a wish, not reality.  The reality is, as we have learned in the study of history, that people and their governments are more often shitty than not.  That people are motivated by greed, that absolute power corrupts, that even well-intentioned people do terrible things. I DO still feel like we are living in this strange alternate reality.  I DO feel this sense that things have gotten worse.  I guess I just have started to realize that "bad" is kind of the default.

That's awfully pessimistic isn't it.

I think its realistic.  Even before the election you were talking about how you didn't want to have to join the resistance like you were Katniss or in Star Wars or whatever.  Nobody does.  Those people who were REALLY part of the resistance, the French Resistance?  A whole lot of them died.  We idolize them and we remember them because they were remarkable not because they are the norm.  Making a conscious decision to sacrifice your life for a cause is not something that everybody can do.


Listen.  Everything IS crazy.  Everything IS odd.  Nothing seems to make sense.  And complacency IS bad and by no means should you accept that things are going to be like this forever and get defeatist.  But.... and a BIG but, no hero is going to come and save us.  Heroes don't exist.  I would believe in supervillains before I believe in superheroes.  We don't need heroes, we need people to do the hard work.

That sounds hard

It is



I just hate how shitty everybody has become lately.  How the shitty people have been emboldened by this administration.  What are we supposed to do?

Just be less shitty.  Just do what we can to be less shitty.  That's all anybody can do.

That sucks

I know

A lot

I know



Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Curiouser and Furiouser - A Fast and Furious Watch: Part 8 - Fate of the Furious

Wow!  I can't believe just 7 months ago I had never seen a single Fast and Furious movie and now I got the chance to see one on the big screen for the very first time!  This is a really important milestone.  If you haven't read my other recaps, you can find them here.  This whole thing is full of spoilers.  You have been warned.  On to the recap of Fate of the Furious, a film so bonkers it almost boggles the mind.

Our story begins in Cuba where Letty and Dom have presumably been living for some time.  There is an old fashioned butt jiggling car party, hearkening back to the early years of the series in a charmingly nostalgic way.  As it is Cuba, most of the cars were classics from the 50s, which was novel and  very cool to see.  A young kid, whose name I did not catch but who is identified as Dom's cousin, has run into some trouble with the local butt jiggling car party organizer/ street racer/ maybe gang dude?  Dom has a cousin apparently.  Neat.  Dom's cousin has a shit car and can't race for crap so Dom agrees to race so that he can keep his shit car.  Unfortunately the street racing kingpin dude says Dom has to drive the shit car in the race instead of his nice car.  Uh oh!  Time for Dom to
Newest addition to the crew
magically MacGyver the engine with a Coke can in such a way that it makes it go fast.  Unfortunately this jerry rigging also causes the car to catch on fire in the middle of the race, which Dom manages to win anyway by driving his car in reverse.  He drives a literal flaming car and gets out totally fine without a scratch.  Apparently Dom is Ghost Rider now.  New pitch:  Ghost Rider teams up with the Fast and Furious crew to track down bad guys.  That would be really awesome.  Robbie Reyes Ghost Rider obviously.  You know what I'm just going to say that Robbie Reyes is part of the Fast and Furious team now.  Anywho, Dom wins, but because he has all the money he could possibly want he doesn't take the guy's car from him, settling instead for his respect.  Then he gives his cousin the keys to his nice car since he drove his flaming one off the side of a boardwalk.  Dom is rolling in like Daddy Warbucks handing out cars to everybody.  New pitch: Vin Diesel as Daddy Warbucks.

What is your deal, lady?
Moving on.  Dom and Letty celebrate back and their place, showing more romantic chemistry than they have in some of the other films.  Letty finally knows who she is which is a bonus.  The next day Dom runs into Charlize Theron sporting some really terrible white girl dreads like Rachel Dolezal or some shit.  He stops to help her fix her car but yikes she's really a bad guy who shows him something on a phone and tells him that he needs to betray his whole crew.  WHAT'S IN THE BOX!? I mean the phone.  Charlize's character, whom we later learn is called Cipher, is out here looking like those dudes from the Matrix Reloaded acting all shifty.  I really don't get her whole deal.

We then catch up with Hobbs who is a coach for his daughter's soccer team doing the full dad
I guess this is prob cultural appropriation but it was cute af
thing.  Then he leads the girls in a Haka/ Siva Tau dance to psych out the opposing team.  It is freaking adorable.  Oh and Hobbs has like a fan club of all the moms on the benches because all these suburban white ladies are thirsty as fuck for The Rock.  I mean, who wouldn't be?  Some agent dude shows up and Hobbs is pissed because he's doing the dad thing right now, focusing on listening to Tay Tay in the car with little girls not shooting bad guys.  The Rock is really using a lot of his comedy chops here, which he hasn't really been able to flex in this series.  In fact, I would say pretty definitively that Fate of the Furious has the most intentionally comedic moments of any of the previous films.  A lot of that humor comes from Hobbs, whose first name is Luke I guess, not sure if we ever knew that before.  Given that he doesn't even crack a smile in his first appearance in Fast 5 this is a nice change.  Anyway the agent guy convinces him that he needs to get back to work so he calls in his crew.  Like basically the FF crew are like the Avengers hanging out doing their thing until they get called to fly to Germany or wherever.

Everybody meets up and chases down some dude who stole an EMP and Tej rigs up some cute looking wrecking balls and everything goes great.  Then all of a sudden as they are heading home, Dom turns on the team, steals the EMP, and runs.  Letty is heartbroken, everybody is like WTF.  It pretty much sucks.  Also I guess what they were doing was illegal?  Oh right like because they aren't official agents?  I dunno I really don't understand the organizational structure of how they get their jobs.  At any rate Hobbs is arrested and Mr. Nobody shows up with his douche canoe assistant Little
Now kiss
Nobody who offer Hobbs a deal to work for them and get out of jail but he decides to go to jail anyway.  There he sees Deckard Shaw whose cell is conveniently directly across from his.  Much of the humor from this film comes from the fantastic chemistry between Jason Statham and Dwayne Johnson, whom online people have shipped and I am pretty on board.  They antagonize each other in hilarious ways.  Hobbs straight up starts curling his bench like a weight, having ripped it directly from the wall.  It is some silly dude queer bait posturing, but I enjoy it.  All of a sudden, the doors to the cells open and there is craziness.  Hobbs and Shaw are both throwing a lot of people down, but really they just want to get to each other.  Great running and action in this sequence.  Everybody has their skills in these movies and Statham's is parkour/ running. He is lithe and swift and he climbs fences, leaps over other prisoners and knocks them down.  Anyway they think they have escaped but they are surrounded by Nobody and his men, who orchestrated the whole thing.

Mr. Nobody brings Hobbs and Shaw to the super secret base of whatever organization Nobody happens to work for, and the rest of the crew is already there.  Everybody is pissed that Shaw is there,
I will never forget you, my sweet angel
but then it is revealed that Shaw was recruited by Cipher and I guess isn't such a horrible dude.  Which I would totally buy if HE DIDN'T FUCKING KILL HAN.  This is the part of the movie that is most infuriating to me.  I have read online that the director may have implied that Han is not actually dead or may come back or something like that.  That would be awesome.  But Han's name is not mentioned at all in this entire scene, in the entire movie, as the FF crew interact with the man who killed him/ whom they presume killed him.  If they want to say that Shaw didn't actually kill Han, fine, then this is the scene to do it in.  But the entire rest of the movie is based on the notion that Shaw is just some criminal they reluctantly partner with and not somebody who straight up murdered one of their crew.  I mean the entire last film was a revenge movie against this guy.  His banter with Hobbs is funny (Shaw says Hobbs t-shirt must be cutting off circulation in his brain, Hobbs calls him a tea and crumpets eating criminal son of a bitch) and he plays a vital role, but it really struck me that by not talking about Han at all, the film has a massive plot hole that I couldn't get past.

Anyway, for the sake of the film they need Shaw's help because he has some experience with this Cipher lady who has recruited Dom for reasons unknown.  Roman suggests they use Gods Eye, that nifty Person of Interest machine that can locate anybody anywhere that they were tracking down last film.   Unfortunately, it starts to ping all over the place because Cipher is this crazy hacker lady.  Oh and Ramsey  has heard of her but she thought it was like a whole organization of people because they do such awesome awesome hacking. So yeah basically they are saying that it was this Cipher chick who set everything in motion the last couple of movies and she has really been the big bad all along.  
 Whatever.  It's always one big bad controlling everything.  Charlize Theron is Thanos I guess.  Actually, ok so if Charlize Thanos is trying to get the In-Furious Gauntlet who would be each gem?  Tej/ Ramsey def Mind gem, Hobbs the Power gem, Han the Time Gem (because I'm still convinced he is a time traveller), Dom the Soul gem, Letty the Reality Gem, and Roman the Space Gem I guess because there is no gem of eating crisps and wise assing.

Where was I?  Oh right.  So they are looking for Dom but the thing doesn't work so then Ramsey tries another magical hacking doodle and they figure out that the CALL IS COMING FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE! Cipher and Dom roll in and and shoot up the place and steal Gods Eye.  Everybody is super sad and disappointed in Dom but nobody dies in the attack.  In the aftermath, Letty suggests maybe they call Brian and Mia for help, but apparently his time in this life is done.  I like that they kept Brian the character alive for the sake of the film, living his life in peace away from all this craziness.  Paul will be with us in spirit forever. So Dom and Cipher return to their hidden airplane of doom and we finally figure out why Dom is working for her:  she has kidnapped Elena!  Not only that, Elena apparently had a baby with Dom in that time before Letty came back that he didn't know about and she's got the baby too!  OMG Dom is a dad!!! BABY!!! What?! Alright so now this makes a lot more sense. His child is on the line that's why he is doing what Cipher wants.  When it comes to family, family takes precedence over "family."

The team tries to figure out their next plan of action, which apparently involves Mr. Nobody taking them to a secret garage that is hidden behind a fish processing plant.  The garage has a ton of dope rides, including tanks, because its all the stuff seized from drug dealers over the years.  Cool.  Roman basically cums just walking into the place.  Tej really wants a tank. Back in the legion of doom, Cipher sends Dom on a run to do something but he fakes his car being broken down and sneaks away to talk to Helen Mirren!!  Helen Mirren plays a total badass like street thug gang leader. I love her. She was amazing.  We cut back to the FF crew who are sniping at each other, particularly Hobbs and Shaw who really just need to get a room already.  Actually, can we talk about this because the first few films had SO much queerbaiting that I came to really expect them in the films.  Then as the series took a more action focused turn a lot of those bromance moments went away.  I'm actually kind of glad they found their rhythm again with Hobbs and Shaw.

what is even happening?
Ok back the to movie. Dom returns to Cipher.  I guess there is a plan to get some nuclear launch codes from a Russian diplomat guy so she sends Dom in to retrieve them.  He's expecting to have another crew of drivers to help, but it turns out that Cipher can hack literally every car in the entire city and she sends all these zombie cars to block traffic and do her bidding.  It really is like a zombie movie.  As these movies get more and more sci fi bonkers you can do shit like this.  Remember when it was just about street racing and maybe busting some cocaine dealers?  Simpler times.  Now we have hacked cars raining down from the sky out of a parking garage and driving over curbs and shit.  Dom backs the Russian car into a corner and then gets out looking like fucking Bane with a metal cutter and shit.  What the hell, Dom?  He intimidates the Russian guy into handing over the nuclear codes and then gets in his car.  But the FF crew is here to save the day, including the douche Little Nobody, aka Sir Nobody-Wants-You-In-This-Movie-Please-Go-Away. They get to Dom and all shoot grappling hooks into his car.  But of course, because it is Dom, aka the greatest driver known to man, he manages to evade capture, tear the grappling hooks off, and then takes off on foot.

Shaw chases after Dom, and Dom shoots him.  DAMN!  Letty chases after him too, but he can't bring himself to shoot her also.  Tormund from Game of Thrones, who is like one of Cipher's flunkies DOES pull a gun on Letty, but Dom convinces him to let her go and the two take off with the nuclear codes.  Letty is absolutely heartbroken, though happy that Dom didn't have it in him to actually shoot her.  She believes in him, but she doesn't know what to do.  Dom could have attempted to communicate SOMEWHAT with her, but alas.  Meanwhile, everybody's pretty angry that Dom just murdered Shaw, except for me who remembers Han more than his friends.  My dear Han, by Grapthar's Hammer you shall be avenged.

Fun thoughts
Anyway, Cipher is pissed that Dom couldn't kill Letty so she straight up murders Elena in front of him/ in front of the baby.  I freaking hate fridging, especially when the character serves literally no other purpose than to be a plot device.  Elena deserved better.  Anyway, Cipher then reveals her master plot which is to get nukes so she can hold governments accountable and shit.  Like, I dunno, maybe she's got a point?  We live in odd times where even a mention of nukes in this movie brings to mind the actual world we live in.  Actually, this whole back half of the film with unsecured nukes in this Russian base that had been taken over by separatists was deeply disquieting for me in an era where people are talking about nuking things again.  I guess this is what it was like during the Cold War with all those movies, but I saw those Cold War movies after the Cold War was over so like it wasn't really imminent for me and just a plot device.  Throughout the rest of this movie I couldn't help thinking, "Wait.. ARE the nukes secure?  Could separatists get a hold of them this easily?  Oh shit what the fuck."  This was actually pretty distracting for me, to be honest.  I had a hard time getting out of that weird head space.  Stupid anxiety.  Stupid fucking nukes.

What Roman SHOULD look like after that dip
Moving on.  The crew figures out where the bad guys are heading and try to get there first in all those shiny cars they were looking at before.  Tej gets his tank and he is so happy.  Roman took a Lambo which makes PERFECT sense since they are driving on snow.  Oh Roman, you goof.  So Dom rolls in using that EMP that he stole, which disables all the Russian cars, but somehow doesn't disable his own?  Um.. I'm pretty sure that's now how EMPs work.  Like you can't also be driving a car and use one, bro.  Whatever.  Cipher car jacks a nuclear submarine.  Ramsey and Tej do their techy thing, but then Roman and the douche Little Nobody get trapped in the only room that can disable the nuclear codes and Roman, hilariously, doesn't know how to read Russian.  Tej tries to walk him through it, but Roman is struggling until he saves the day and disables the nukes and saves the world.  Fucking Roman saves the world.  It is as this point I realize that I trust our nuclear codes to Tyrese more than the actual president of the United States.  Odd thoughts to be having during an FF movie.  Now everybody needs to escape, so they all get in their cars and drive away, but wait... Roman drove a freaking Lambo in the middle of the snow and it has no traction and he can't drive away from the Russians who are chasing them.  God Dammit, Roman, you just saved Earth get it together. His car goes into the water but  Tej reaches him with a hook and gets him out, but how Roman is not just dead of exposure is one of the enduring mysteries of this film.

Damn this baby is cute
No longer a mystery are Dom's plans since we finally get to the big reveal that Helen Mirren is Owen and Deckard Shaw's mom.  The whole think with killing Deckard was a ruse and with the help of the Cuban street racing guy, those two dudes from Fast 5 who lost all their money, and Mrs. Shaw, Deckard was spirited away, got his bro out of prison, and now the two Shaw Bros together at last can fuck Cipher's shit up.  Deckard, Han killing fucking Deckard Shaw, saves the day and rescues Dom's baby from the plane.  This does NOT make up for killing Han, but this Pacifier sequel is pretty hilarious.  Deckard punching out dudes, baby just smiling and bouncing along with ear phones in. Dammit, Jason Statham stop being so likable.  This whole scene was just supremely silly and I really enjoyed it.  There have been talks about giving Hobbs and Shaw their own spinoff movie, and I really would not mind it at all if they decided to make it one of those "uh oh Hobbs' daughter snuck in the back seat and now they have to kill people with a little kid tagging along" movies with Deckard as Hobbs' manny.  Jason Statham was really great in Spy and I like seeing him doing more silly stuff. Its a bummer about the whole killing Han and me never being able to forgive him thing.   God this baby is cute.  They got the cutest fucking baby to play Dom's baby.

Anyway, with the Shaw bros doing their thing, Dom is free to kill Tormund and help his buddies.
I can't even explain this.  I won't even try.
Hurray!!  But uh oh, the sub is surfacing and torpedoes are away!  This is the part of the movie that you probably saw in the trailer and thought, "what the fuck is going on why is there a nuclear submarine chasing after street racing cars and a tank and when did these movies become just Brosnan era Bond knock offs."  ICE!  TORPEDOES!  BOMBS!  SHOOTING!  ALL THE THINGS!!  Anyway, everybody is happy that Dom is back and with them but how are we going to get out of this pickle.  Letty and Ramsey share a car and have a conversation about Cipher which I think was the first time this movie passed the Bechdel Test, though don't hold me to that.  A heat seeking missile is heading toward Dom, but he drives around so it hits the sub instead and explodes.  But oh no!  He's out of his car and is going to get burned alive!  Thankfully the crew surrounds him with their cars, protecting him from the flames, which is totally a real thing that cars can do.

Team Cipher blasting of agaaaaaaain 
So Cipher jumps out of the plane with a parachute and manages to escape and surely they will have to track her down in the next film.  Her getting away like that was a very GI Joe/ generic 1980s cartoon way of ending the story.  I'm ok with that. Owen and Deckard save the baby and get control of the plane and all is well.  At the very end of the film everybody is hanging out on a roof having a happy BBQ when Deckard arrives to present Dom with his kid.  It feels like maybe Deckard should have given him his kid sometime before just then?  Like it seems like some time has passed.  Why was Deckard just watching Dom's baby?  Is Deckard just his manny now?  Very confusing.  Anyway, Dom toasts his crew and announces his baby's name: Brian.  Everybody in the movie theater bursts into tears.  Brian will be with us always.  Everybody is happy and having a grand old time and nobody says anything about Deckard, the man who murdered Han, being there too.  Grand old times.


Stray Thoughts:

- Man I really enjoyed Deckard Shaw in this movie and his dumb banter with Hobbs.  Why couldn't they have just said that he didn't really kill Han, or he was brainwashed, or Han was really alive?  I just don't know how they can expect the audience to keep on board with this

- Movie pitch: Furious Babies.  Like either the babies of all the crew OR the whole crew but just as babies street racing strollers and stuff.

- Not all hackers need white people dreads.  Just.. stop

- The way the film ended things with Ramsey, Tej and Roman implied that maybe Ramsey might not be into dudes at all, which I would 100% be on board for.  It would be great if they took that whole fighting over her element out of the film all together and just made her an equal partner.  She is smarter than half the damn team, she doesn't need to be viewed entirely on her relationship with a dude.

- A lot of people didn't like this movie, but I actually enjoyed it IMMENSELY because of how batshit and goofy it was.  It really didn't take itself seriously which was the biggest problem I had with some of the others in the series.  I love batshit goofy movies, dammit.

- Movie pitch: Fast-tastic Voyage.  The FF crew is shrunken down and injected into Dom's blood stream after he develops a rare form of cancer that can only be cured by street racing through his circulatory system

- Movie pitch: Fast and Furiosa.  Cipher sets off a nuclear bomb causing destruction of most of the planet.  Only the FF crew survive and, along with Cipher's twin sister Furiosa, they race through the desolate, scorched landscape searching for peace and security.

- Movie pitch: Fast and Furious but in space.  Its like a pod racing movie or something.

Well that's it for a while.  Thank you for joining me on this furious journey.

And remember: Live your life a quarter mile at a time.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Things I know, Things I don't know - a poem, I guess

I know why the caged bird sings
Well, no I don’t
Maya Angelou knows that
I mean I guess she does
It says so right on the cover
I don’t know, I haven’t read it
But I know that it’s a book

I know the sound my daughter makes
When I tickle her tummy
Which is different from the sound
When she laughs at a joke about butts
She laughs at butts a lot
I don’t know why butts are so funny
But I know they are, even to me

I know the world could be better
I don’t really know how
I mean I guess I do
Maybe the “could” is the problem
I know the world should be better
But maybe it can’t be
I wouldn’t know

I know the wonderful feeling
Of taking off my bra
At the end of a long day
I wish I didn’t wear one at all
In college some people
Commented on my nips showing
And I know that's why I do

I know things now
Many valuable things
That I hadn’t known before
Like lyrics to Sondheim songs
Or knowing how to Google them
In case I switched a word around
Which I know wouldn't be as funny

I know that I don’t remember smells
Like how they do in books
When they say it smelled like
Grandma’s house or something
Maybe I just have a bad smell memory
Which I will now call smemory
So I know what I don’t know

I know I am often jealous
Of other people’s lives
Even though I am pretty content
Well, not really super content
Since I don’t have a lot of
Money or friends or free time
I know things could be better, or should be

I know I am more well travelled
Than some people
But less well travelled than others
And I know my passport is expired
Because I can’t afford to travel
And I feel so cut off
I know I am missing a lot

I know there are things I am bad at
Like cooking and cleaning
And managing my time
Which are bad things to be bad at
I’m also bad at other things too
Like clapping a rhythm or braiding hair
That I know are slightly less important

I know I have a lot of ideas
But I don’t really remember how
To format them into an actual poem
Like is this a poem?
I don’t even know
Maybe it is
And I don’t even know it

I don’t really know how to stop
Stop talking, stop writing, just stop
I know I tend to ramble
And I tend to interrupt people
Which is rude
But I really struggle a lot
With knowing when to stop

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Imaginary Conversations - Quiet

You've been kind of quiet lately


Do you want to talk about anything?  I mean there is a lot going on


You don't want to talk?  Not at all?

I just... I don't even know what to say.  I don't even know what to say that hasn't already been said, that I've already said to you, that other people have said better, that I've seen in the news.  Just... nothing.  Everything is complete and utter shit is that what you want to hear?

I just want to be here for you.  I just want you to know that you have somebody who will listen to you.  If you don't want to talk, don't talk.  That's okay too.



You know what the shittiest thing of all is?


I can't shut it out. I used to be able to.  I mean it is horrible of me, but I used to be able to shut it out.  Before... before the election, before this whole thing I just... I mean I knew people were suffering.  I wasn't dumb.  But I guess I was... well it didn't really affect me directly and I was kind of selfish and shitty and... I dunno I just shut it out.  I mean I got angry, don't get me wrong but... but I didn't think about it constantly.

I mean of course you didn't.  We talked about this after Orlando, I think.  That tragedy causes us to react, that we don't mourn every single person that dies in car accidents or murdered by their spouses or killed in a war.  You can't possibly carry that burden around with you all the time

See... that's my problem.  Its like... it used to be specific.  It used be like... .I dunno... like for a week I would carry Philando Castile's name in my heart and I would think about him and how the police are such shit but then after a week or maybe even less than a week I would let him go.  It was just one... it was like one at a time... or maybe like in the case of Orlando or bigger things its like I would think about those people at once. I would think about one act of terror, one shooting, one thing.  They would be there in my heart and then they would be gone.  I... It was kind of fake.  I know it is fake.  It is like those people who changed their profile to the French flag after the attacks or whatever it is just such superficial mourning bullshit I don't know...

What are you trying to say?

What I'm trying to say is... What I'm trying to say is that it isn't going away anymore.  What I'm trying to say is that even right after those police shootings I would say that is shitty and part of me would move on.  And maybe that was good.  Maybe it was good to move on because I can't carry the anger and sadness with me all the time.  Or maybe it was bad because I allowed myself to be comfortable in my life and not care enough.  I don't know.  In either case I let it go.  I could go to the movies, I could go about my day, I could live my life...

And now?

I can't live anymore

You can't... do you need to talk to somebody?  Are you thinking of hurting yourself?

No, no.. not I can't live... I mean I can't LIVE.  Like... I can't just zone out.  I can't just get drunk and watch a silly movie.  I haven't been able to just completely turn it off.  Even if I'm high and watching old episodes of Parks and Rec I am thinking about how we are completely and totally fucked.  Even when I am looking at cat pictures on my computer, I have another window open of like fucking nuclear bunkers for sale near by.  I haven't been able to read an actual book in ages.  I can't concentrate.  I can't focus.  Every time I lie in bed at night in the dark, in the quiet... The quiet isn't quiet.  My mind is full of thoughts and I can't shut it off.

That's anxiety.

Well no shit

I mean it though, that is the kind of anxiety that you need to get help for.

But I don't want help.  I mean I want help but not the kind pills can give me.  Unless they are pills I can slip into the drink of our new dictator that will take care of the problem permanently.

I thought you said you weren't going to talk like that anymore


It's okay, you just really need to think about what you are saying.

No, you know what?  I'm not sorry.  I'm not fucking sorry.  I want him dead, ok.  That's it.  I am in absolutely no position to take care of it myself, though god I wish I was, but I do.  I know it won't solve all the problems, I know that maybe it won't do anything at all, but god help me I want him dead more than I have ever wanted anything in my life.  He is a fucking cancer.

This kind of thinking isn't healthy and its also kind of... I dunno... like treason-ish

Fuck it.  So often people talk about like using a magical god damn time machine and killing Hitler and whatever and here we are and we don't need any time machine at all and where are all these people now, huh?  Nobody will just go out there and say it.  Well here I am.  I'm saying it.  We need to roll out a god damned guillotine and start the fucking Revolution already

But you aren't, are you

No.  No.  Fuck it.  Fuck. I know.  That's the point.  I am pissed off that nobody is doing anything but I'm not doing anything either.  I guess I just thought there would be people better than me, leaders... I don't know.  And revolutions are bullshit and they never end well and the poor and vulnerable never get all that they hoped for and.... god damn it, nothing really will help will it?

I wouldn't...

No.  I mean that's it. Nothing will fucking help.  Nothing ever changes.  Nothing ever happens.  We are just screwed

I think... and I am not trying to attack you or anything... but I think because you are thinking in extremes you are contenting yourself to inaction and fantasies.  Yes, an actual honest to god revolution would be horrible and bloody and awful for so, so many people.  And yet you seem to think that the only other alternative is helplessness, is just a loss of hope entirely, is a resignation of complete and total destruction.  There has to be some kind of middle path.

I know there is.  I know there does... but I can't even see it.  I can't even see that far.  I feel like I'm drowning and I don't even see land.

So start swimming

But what is the point?  I don't know where to go.  I don't know what direction to swim in.

So you want to just drown?

But... I don't know if this swimming analogy even really works because I'm not even swimming.  To say that I'm swimming implies that I have some kind of control at all.  All I can do is call people and speak to interns.  What the fuck good does that do?  These people don't care.

So do something else


It isn't my job to figure that out for you

Well then what fucking help was that

I said I would be here for you, not that I could solve all your problems that easily


I think there is a march next week are you marching?

Yes I'm marching.  Yes I'm fucking marching.  I would march every god damn day if I felt it would do something.  Well... no.  No I wouldn't, would I?  I need to go to work and I have shit that I am responsible for I am not in a position to actually get arrested or anything.  How did those people do it?  How did they risk so much?  It makes me depressed.

How so?

It makes me depressed that these people risked everything, risked their lives, got beaten and spat on and boycotted even though it was financially hard on them and we sit here and we have a holiday celebrating the best of them, celebrating Dr. King, but when it comes down to it, when it really comes down to it, I am not... I'm not worthy. I am not good enough... I don't stand up.  It is all easier in abstraction, easier to say what you might do when it isn't actually happening.  It is easier to think about in theory.  I'm just mad at myself.

Mad that you don't do enough?

Yes, exactly.  Mad that I say that I will live by the examples of the people who came before me, of the union workers who went on strike in the bitter cold, of the civil rights leaders and on and on... How am I really living by their example as comfortable as I am?  And yet instead of doing something, instead of getting out there, I sit in the quiet and let my anxiety consume me, miserable about the future but feeling incapable of doing anything.  I don't know what to do.

Neither do I

That isn't very helpful

I know

I just have to do something

Maybe we will figure it out together

Would you do that?



Are you feeling more hopeful?


"Eh" is better than no

Yeah, I guess it is.  I guess "eh" is better than no.

I can work with "Eh"

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Saturday Poetry - 5 Minutes At the End of the Pier

5 Minutes At the End of The Pier
I didn’t have much time to spare,
Maybe thirty minutes was all,
So I decided to drive to the beach
And park my car
And walk to the end of the pier
And sit.
As I neared the ocean,
The breeze began to pick up speed.
My hair blew into my eyes,
And my linen shirt caught the wind
Like a sail,
Like a flag.
Everyone else out at the beach
Were wearing sweaters or jackets,
But I just had a linen shirt and jeans.
I must have looked silly in the chill air:
My hair in my face, my shirt flapping.
Most of the people there were fishing:
Standing mutely, their hands in their pockets,
A pole dangling off the side of the pier.
Some talked in hasty Spanish about this or that;
Most were quiet.
If they looked at me, I didn't notice.
As I stepped on the wooden slats,
The wind blowing my hair in my face,
My shirt flapping,
All I saw was the sea:
An empire of blue and green emptiness
The possibilities beyond
The unending line of the horizon
The light reflecting off the water
The faintest outline of the islands
My wind-blown hair partially obstructing my view.
I walked to the end of the pier,
The sound of my footsteps inaudible over the sound
Of the sea
And the wind,
And sat on the bench.
It had taken longer than I thought to walk there;
I supposed I had five minutes,
Just five.
So for five minutes I sat on the bench
At the end of the pier
And I looked out at the unending blue
And I felt the breeze on my face and my hair
And I breathed
And I was suddenly conscious of my breathing.
I was breathing.
When was the last time I had breathed?
I couldn’t remember.
I found that strange.
I looked out at the unending blue and I breathed
I breathed, really breathed, for five minutes
For five minutes at the end of the pier.
And as I sat
And as I breathed
I thought:
I thought about people who had never seen the ocean
I thought about people who would never see the ocean
I thought about people who dreamed of the ocean
That they would never see.
And I looked out on that ocean
And I was thankful;
Thankful I had the ocean
Thankful I lived in California
And thankful that for five minutes
A whole five minutes
I could breathe
As I sat at the end of the pier