SW: The Last Jedi (2017)

I loved the entire movie, and probably for the same reason that so many neckbeards hated it.

There may be slight spoilers, so read beyond this at your own peril.

Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely things they could have done better. Interactions that lasted a little too long or felt just a little off. However, the whole of the movie is far better then the parts say it should be. There are so many parts that are so good. However this review has to stay short so I will only cover four.

I love the fact that it destroyed the whole Skywalker bloodline as being the center of the movie and universe. The fact that Rey supposedly is not anyone special, that her family were just drunks means you don’t have to be a Solo or a Skywalker to have the Force choose you or to be able to wield it. Some say that isn’t what the movie says, but I just leave the example of the child at the end using the force to pick up the broom.

I love the fact that Kylo Ren is an obvious stand in for the whiney alt-right man babies. He whines about the same things and throws the same kind of fits. His callous disregard for Rey being uncomfortable with him being shirtless is just one small, tiny example that encapsulates the alt-right self-importance. The whole crying about remaking the empire sparks that same MAGA concept the racists/sexist crowd in real life spouts. It is perfect movie model of real life.

I also am ecstatic that it destroys the expanded universe of Star Wars. I am sorry everyone, but I am old enough to have read those books when they came out but the vast majority of them SUCKED. I mean absolutely sucked with no redeeming quality. I am glad to sacrifice the few good things to get rid of the rest of that garbage. I like that Disney is making a clean slate to entertain and tell a story about that universe, especially once SW IX is done.

However, the final part and best part is making space for people who aren’t white males as heroes and as the center of the story. This is coming from a white male, I am damn tired of the same old tired stories that don’t give everyone else a chance in the spotlight. I can easily watch and love something that has women, alternate orientations, and people of color as the stars. I can identify them as someone to look up to. This benefits everyone, gives us a richer field to choose movies from and puts everyone on the same footing.  I look forward to more of this and I will happily spend my hard earned money supporting these ventures.

The good: The wide range of actors and actresses, the opening up of the universe, and just about everything SJW this movie does.

The bad: There were little things that bothered me, but nothing any other movie would have done. The biggest bad of this is having to wait 2 more years for SW IX.

5th ed. Dungeons and Dragons Player’s Handbook

Player's Handbook (Dungeons & Dragons, 5th Edition)Player’s Handbook by James Wyatt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It has been a long 20 years since I have played Dungeons and Dragons steadily. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I decided to start running it again. What I did find was that the writing itself got a lot better.

The game is less focused on a white male target audience. The artwork does have a few slightly sexier images, but it shows women dressed in realistic armor, it doesn’t assume all adventurers are men only and there is even a part where the book addresses genders and the non-binary possibilities:

“You can play a male or female character without gaining any special benefits or hindrances. Think about how your character does or does not conform to the broader culture’s expectations of sex, gender, and sexual behavior.

You don’t need to be confined to binary notions of sex and gender. The elf god Corellon Larethian is often seen as androgynous or hermaphroditic, for example, and some elves in the multiverse are made in Corellon’s image. You could also play a female character who presents herself as a man, a man who feels trapped in a female body, or a bearded female dwarf who hates being mistaken for a male. Likewise, your character’s sexual orientation is for you to decide.”

That alone wins my heart and shows a thousand steps forward from what I learned in the late 1980s with the Basic and Advanced Dungeons and Dragons.

The new system itself seems pretty tight, but I am still new with it and haven’t fully seen it in action. I am definitely looking forward to playing it more.

The only reason it doesn’t get five stars is because I hate rolling up stats for a character, so many years used to using points and customizing it a little more then that.

I recommend it for everyone!

View all my reviews

2018 New Years Day thoughts

It’s funny, I posted about how I woke up anxious last year on January 1st because I hadn’t heard from my parents as they had passed that year. It was the first time in 45 years that they hadn’t said Happy New Year to me, 25 of which was phone calls right around midnight.

I didn’t think it would happen again, but it did. This morning I woke up, the second New Years since they were gone, and worried for a few moments that they weren’t ok since I hadn’t heard from them. Even stone cold drunk they would call me.

Then I laid in bed for about an hour thinking about them. I know they would be proud of the hubby and I, especially all the surgeries he went through. I don’t think I have even really tried dealing with them being gone. I don’t know how to start it. I do know it bothered me laying in the dark, listening to my husband snore and wishing desperately like a ten year old again that they would call me one more time.

Maybe this year I need to actually work on that. Although I do want to say that this year is looking far better than last year. W’s surgeries are all done, all requirement to stay at this job are satisfied. By the end of this year we will have left this soul crushing job and moved out of this people crushing place and maybe actually get back to being us.

I do war about the job thing. This is probably the most money I will make in my life. The job is super easy to do skill wise. It would pay W’s and myself’s 125k in student loans within four years (not counting the 25k in short term debt this year). The problem being is this job is a complete scam and the people in it are incredibly toxic. I don’t feel any pride in going to work, and over the months I just watch more and more bullshit and it makes me angrier every time. This doesn’t even count that I dislike working for Trump’s administration and the rights they are rolling back on anyone who isn’t a cisgender, heterosexual white male.

I have a lot to talk about with work, and I think I am going to start doing it this year (probably later this month). So for now I am going to look forward to the fact that things are moving forward. My husband is healthy. I am fairly healthy and will be taking steps to address other factors. Most importantly I am going to celebrate the fact that we never have to worry about food being in our fridge or the ability to buy what we need, when we need right now in our lives. This is a first in our lives together (and a first in my 46 year long life ever).

Happy New Year to everyone, may 2018 surpass anything else you have in joy and happiness!

Happy-New-Year-Images-2018-HD-1-1

 

The Punisher (Season 1)

It is my second favorite Netflix Marvel series, following closely behind Jessica Jones.

Let’s get the basics out of the way. The acting is good, the action is fairly steady with a couple of slow points, the direction seems done well. Overall it sits right about where I had hoped on those points.

The series is unique with Punisher and Jessica Jones (and to a lesser extent Luke Cage)as they all were stories that don’t need to even address they are about superheroes. They would stand up alone as stories without powers (much like this year’s Logan).

Having grown up with Vietnam Vets (who were also outlaw MC members) I saw a lot of PTSD upfront and personal. There were nights of explosive violence, resulting in police, jail and hospital emergency rooms.

Other times I saw them drink themselves stupid, cry and break down.

Mostly I just saw them bury it all inside of themselves, causing them to lose jobs, significant others, and get in trouble with the police. They couldn’t fit back into society, and society didn’t want them.

That connection with the Punisher is what felt real for me. More so then a blind lawyer who fought criminals or much worse some punk rich douchebag filled with so much privilege that he whined about everything. Sure there was gratuitous violence, slow parts, all that. However, the story of a man trying to figure out how to get through after the things he  has done was heart stopping for me.

Pros: Great acting, directing, blah blah blah. Most importantly something I could connect with from my life.

Cons: It did get a bit slow and bloated in the middle.

Sign me up for Season 2.

Banshee (Season 1 and 2)

edit note: Originally this was just for season 1, but season 2 is pretty much the same so I will use it for both.

I honestly don’t know where I stand on this show. I do like part of it, but it can be problematic in other areas so its hard to get a solid feeling.

Let’s be honest, this show is a male power fantasy. An ex-con who is a badass prison fighter takes the identity of a sheriff in order to put himself near his old girlfriend and get her to come back to him… after fifteen years. With an Ukrainian mob boss coming after them.

The premise is an old one, but they have some twists in it I like (such as the characters Sugar and Job). The main character “Hood” sleeps with almost everyone (spoiler alert, by season 2 it becomes all).

The first season doesn’t pass the Bechdel test easily. All three women characters (Rebecca, the Amish/bad girl, Ana the ex-girlfriend and Siobhan the deputy) revolve around Hood and I don’t recall in the first season them talking to each other. The only break in the Bechdel test is Ana and her daughter talking, but not sure if that satisfies it for me enough.

I do have to say with this being a Cinemax production that there is a lot of sex that goes with the violence (I think on per episode is the formula). I am surprised though, only one time did it show a woman trying to perform oral sex on the guy and he kind of pushes the woman away, then multiple times it showed a man going down on a woman. That was a very pleasant surprise. Most male power fantasies never show positive sexual interactions for women, but this show does do that.

Other than that, there are some bad ideas… No you aren’t automatically a badass because you are a good prison fighter. Yes, they should eventually figure out you aren’t who you say you are. Oh, and the absolute worst was Ana trying to push away Hood constantly and being fairly horrible to him after he saved her daughter multiple times.

The most negative aspect is the constant attempted sexual assault on women. They don’t ever get away with it, the women (or someone else) usually stops it and gives the assaulters their just desserts. The problem is that its constant and is something the writers reach for every time they want a stressful event for a woman. Bad writing.

Pros: Interesting  story, acting isn’t too bad and the sex scenes are fairly good for a power fantasy.

Cons: Constant use of attempted rape as an event. Lazy writing and too much unbelievableness.

Given all that, I still will watch second season, but from the first episode I am not sure if I will be this generous next review.

Justified (Season 4)

This is absolutely my favorite season as we get to see Boyd Crowder coming back, along with Wynn Duffy and of course Givens.

The writing and acting are still good, nothing to complain about at all. The new story arc isn’t probably the most imaginative, but the whole completed story arc between Raylan and his dad Arlo is absolutely the most gritty real feeling to it.

Pros: Still great acting and writing, but I will be sad to see some of the cast not returning.

Cons: Frustrated with some plot things and how people got treated, but we can’t have everything we want.

 

The Americans (Season 4)

This is sadly the first season I have seen that has slid backwards.

The acting is still great, so no problems there. However the storylines were a lot less interesting. Maybe its because the renowned character actress Margo Martingale didn’t have as big an influence this season.

Let me say that Frank Langella was a high point in the season. He is older now, but still able to push through with his acting and make me feel like he is a real person.

The low points came once again with Paige, the daughter. Now that they have told her who they are, they waffle around telling her no when she throws temper tantrums. That whole situation sucks and I try and fast forward sometimes through those scenes.

The other areas overall was Phillip’s fascination with EST, and more focus on the Rezidentura. None of those were entertaining and I don’t really care to know the people.

Pros: Frank Langella is still keeping it real.

Cons: Slower stories with no payoff, and the whole daughter situation. Can we please move on yet?