The Last Jedi

I liked it. But unlike The Force Awakens or Rogue One, where I had this visceral love for each, this one left me sitting going “huh.”

That’s not a bad thing. I’ve maintained that Star Wars fans hate changes, and in both instances, Lucasfilm made a couple of really good strategic decisions when they relaunched the franchise: give people what they want, before doing anything too radical with the story. J.J. Abrams was great as a get-the-films-out-of-the-gate sort of guy, because he’s so steeped in nostalgia, but Rian Johnson is a much better visual storyteller, and what we got was a film that really pushed the limits of what we expected a Star Wars film to be. People were understandably nervous about new Star Wars movies after The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith.

I wrote a bit for The Verge about why it was good that we didn’t get answers we wanted about Snoke or Rey’s parents, which essentially boils down to ‘Johnson was permitted to create a story unencumbered by the questions Abrams lined up,’ and I really appreciate that he was able to take and mold Star Wars the way he wanted to, which surprised me: LFL has, after all, fired three of its directors, and extensively reshot two of its films. We’ve seen this with Marvel and other franchises: series that get bogged down with a lot of baggage, which puts the storyteller into a corner.

The more I think about the film, the more I like it: there’s a lot to dig into in the script, visually it’s stunning, and there’s a lot of pushback against the tropes that define the franchise. There are, of course, things that I’ll nitpick at, like the notion that the First Order will waste 16 hours chasing a Resistance fleet. Finn and Rose never quite mesh, and their storyline is a bit of a waste. Phasma was wasted again. But there’s brilliant parts too: the stunning lightsaber fight in Snoke’s throne room, Yoda’s lesson that failure is the greatest teacher (which is on par with his other musings), and other bits, like the Porgs.

It’s a smart film, and if this is the direction that the franchise is going in, I’m really excited to see what’s in store next.


RIP: Madeleine L'Engle

According to Yahoo, Madeleine L’Engle just died. That really sucks. I was a huge fan of her book, A Wrinkle In Time, and some of the other books in the series, although that’s the one that I remember the best. She was 88 years old, and apparently died of natural causes.

Your mobile what?

So, I’ve aquired a new, small, metal/plastic/electronic thingy. I broke down and finally got a cell phone. It’s pretty cool, and I think that I’ve figured out all the things that it does, but I’m sure that it’ll surprise me with some things. This is really the first time that I’ve had a real mobile phone – aside from a TracPhone that was a piece of crap. If anything, it’ll help me keep in touch with people whom I haven’t heard from in a while.

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals – Concert 1

Wow, what a fantastic concert. That’s about all I can say. It was the first time that I’d seen Grace Potter & The Nocturnals in person, and man, they didn’t let me down at all.

They opened up with a bang with Ah Mary and Stop the Bus, then went through a bunch of the other songs from their latest album, with the fantastic Apologies, Lose Some Time and ended up with Big White Gate. They left the stage, and came on again for a second set, this time of favorites, with Farmer John, the Beatles’s Come Together, If I Was From Paris, Eyes on You and Neil Young’s Cortez the Killer, all pretty much one long jam session that just blew the audience away. She mentioned that If I Was From Paris didn’t make it onto the album, and that it’s one of her favorite songs – It’ll be available when the record comes out, although it is on iTunes as a bonus track. She also mentioned that the song Falling or Flying was featured on Grey’s Anatomy, and that they’ve caught some flack for that. It’s interesting to see how far a local Vermonter has really gone.

The band was also loud. I have some doubts that my hearing will return at all this week.
Grace sounds amazing in person. Her voice is a bit higher than I would have thought from the record, and the speakers just couldn’t keep up with their sound, but man, they’ve got as much energy as a rocket and they really sustained it throughout, all the way to the end. Welcome home, Nocturnals. We know you’re home, you’ve awakened the neighbors, and what a fantastic way to ring in the new album. Can’t wait to see her again on the 19th.
Set List
Ah Mary
Stop the Bus
Ain’t No Time
Mr. Columbus
You May See Me
Lose Some Time
Here’s to the Meantime
Falling or Flying
Big White Gate
Unknown – “Girls Say Yeah”
Farmer John
Come Together (The Beatles)
If I Was From Paris
Eye On You
Cortez The Killer (Neil Young)


For a while after I saw Babylon 5, lent to me by a good friend of mine, I wondered what it would have looked like with updated graphics (They’ve extremely dated now). Now, this trailer just hit the web, for the Lost Tales DVD that’s due out next week.

Oh my god, I’m getting chills like you wouldn’t believe just watching some of that.

A Quarter Century

Happy 25th Anniversary to my mom and dad (Yesterday). We had about 60 people over at our house for the afternoon, which was fun, because it was a lot of people that I hadn’t seen for a while. Of course, it meant that there was a lot of explaining about what I was up to, which was good and bad.
Mom and Dad were thrilled, because they didn’t plan it, and they’ve been very happy for the past 25 years. Here’s to another quarter century.

Looking back

I’ve personally been dreading tonight for a good part of the week now. As a bookstore employee, I’ve been preoccupied for a very long time with the upcoming release of the seventh and last Harry Potter novel, which will be released tomorrow, if you’re not willing to go online and search for the scans of the pages that have hit the internet. I’ve been dreading it for a number of reasons, the main one being the sheer amount of people that’ll be coming into our store. Customers have become an irritation of mine for a while now. Whoever said: The customer is always right was probably just some pompus jackass who was annoyed that someone wasn’t waiting on him. (It actually probably wasn’t, but it’s probably been purpetuated by that type of person.) Most of the customers that’ll be in line will be the really excited Harry Potter fans, and this is another wearisome part for me. Because along with them will be the “Harry Potter is the greatest book of all time” and so on sort of speeches and praises that I’ve been hearing more and more of.
Harry Potter is not the next greatest thing in the world. Not even close.
I was first introduced to the series through my sister, when I was a freshman in High School, nearly eight years ago. I was hooked on the first book from the get-go, and must have read it a dozen times. Same with the second and third books. I remember, much to my annoyance, that the day I finished the first book, there was a blizzard here and I was given a three day weekend, when I’d planned on getting the second and third books from the school library. I wasn’t a happy person for that weekend.
I read the forth book, and the fifth when they came out, but by this time, my fanboy love for the series cooled a bit as I discovered other fantasty books that were much better, in terms of reading level and overall plot. Even books considered to be in the same genre, such as Philip Pullman’s Dark Materials and Ursula K. LeGuin’s Earthsea, not to mention LeEngle’s Wrinkle in Time, which I’d rediscovered. In general, better reads.
By the time book six came out, I’d only read book five twice, and until this summer, I’d only given book six a quick read once.
This past June and July, I got all the books together and went through them all, in between other books that I was reading. My opinion on the series is about the same as it was a couple years ago now. They’re fun books. Not the best in the world, and certainly not the best written, but they’re light, fun and entertaining.
In about twelve hours, we’ll be done with the rest of the sales for the evening (about 2 am) and I’ll be home, with a copy of the newest book, because I am interested to see what happens with the series. I remember thinking in high school, then calculating out when the last book would be released, and I came up with it coming out around my last year of college. I remember wondering what would happen in the series over those remaining books, and what would happen in my life over the next decade before I got to read the last volume. Now, I’m out of college, and I can’t help feeling that giddy feeling that a part of my childhood is about to close up. Not even the fanboys can ruin that.

I am Not Dead Yet, I can Laugh and I can Sing

SO, there’s Zombies out and about. Everywhere. The nice thing about living in such a rural state that they’re few and far between. And, fortunently, because Vermont has some really lax gun laws and when some poor sucker does get bitten and infected, well, they’re eliminated pretty darn quickly.
So, I stayed at home for most of the morning, catching up on my reading (I tallied up the page counts of all my books, and it’s like 8700 pages or something like that), reading up on the Falklands War and the Grand Canyon, and added the Zombie Survival Handbook to my to get list.
I had a meeting in town, so I added some reinforcements to my windshield and packed a cricket bat, and drove into school, where I got to talk about my paper and Normandy trip for the Norwich Record, the school’s alumni newsletter. Oddly, there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of zombies around the military college. I thought that I saw a couple, but they turned out to be football players hanging around for summer school. I think. Went over to the pizza place to get lunch, and ended up penned up in the bookstore while a couple lumbered around, while I found a heavy book to swat them with, getting my lunch (although I’m not really hungry any more) and beat a quick retreat to the school again to use the computer. I dread to think about how many will be around the mall where Walden Books is. Fortunently, we’ve got several heavy bibles to hit them with, a long metal pole and numerous copies of the Zombie Survival Handbook, as well as two crazy co-workers, so I think that we’ll be the best off of all the stores. Walmart’s been infested for years, so I think they’re a lost cause.


So, yeah, I’m in London right now. Horribly jet lagged, and about to set out to find another Norwich Student. Made it over okay, revisiting some old haunts. It’s good to be back.