Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Clone Wars -- "Hunt for Ziro" (Ep. 3.9)

-- Love comes in all shapes and sizes.

[Remember, you can sign up to join the Clone Wars Project at any time by clicking this link.]

I don't often wonder about the lifespans of the various races in Star Wars because, well, they're aliens. We know that Chewbacca is more than 200 years old and that Yoda is somewhere north of 900, but there's not a lot of revelation about the lifespans of any other of the races. However, we also know that Jabba the Hutt was already a power on Tatooine during The Phantom Menace and was, evidently, still in his prime when he was killed during Return of the Jedi. Along with Jabba, we have Sy Snootles; she was with Jabba in "Hunt for Ziro" and still with him during Jedi. How long does a Pa'lowick live? Because she still seemed pretty spry during her musical number in the movie.

So the action in "Hunt for Ziro" picks up right after the season one ending episode, "Hostage Crisis." We go back to find out why, exactly, Cad Bane rescued Ziro to begin with. We also find out that Ziro had a previous relationship with Snootles...
Um... No, I don't even want to think about that.
And it seems that Hutts really do have a thing for twi'leks. Or maybe it's just that everyone has a thing for twi'leks. They do seem to be every sentient beings favorite dancers.

But Cad Bane!

Oh, wait... We also get to meet Quinlan Vos, a Jedi that Obi-Wan, to put it nicely, doesn't seem to care for. This particular thing is interesting to me, because, really, we are almost always presented with Jedi who all get along with each other and have no real issues. Sure, they have disagreements, but they seem to all like each other just fine. However, Vos is a Jedi Obi-Wan seems to have a strong personal dislike for. He's too undisciplined. At least, that's how it seemed to me.

But, as any good Jedi should, Obi-Wan doesn't let his own feelings get in the way of what he needs to do, and Vos and Kenobi work with each other to track down Ziro.

And, of course, run afoul of Cad Bane. That's a good fight scene and shows just how capable Bane is. The episode is worth it for that scene alone.

Monday, May 30, 2016

How the System Failed My Son: Part Two -- Confirmation Bias

The real problems began in 2nd grade...

I just want to point out here that no child should be having problems with school in 2nd grade, at least not problems arising from school itself. Or from the teacher. The kids are just kids. I mean, they are really just kids, and the teachers... Well the teachers should be the adults. [Including when dealing with obnoxious kids in 1st grade. You don't dump them out of your class because you don't want to deal with them. (If you missed the first post, go back and read it.)]

This part is actually very difficult for me to write:
1. Because my inclination is to go into all of the details, both about how the school works (it's a charter school, so not a "regular" public school) and about all of the things that happened while my son was in this woman's class (a 2nd/3rd class group, so he was in there for two years), and that would take too long. That would have to be many, many posts.
2. Because the teacher was not just a horrible teacher but a horrible person, and a large part of me wants to delve into how horrible she was.
3. Because this teacher is directly responsible for my son hating school, something he's never gotten over.

For context, though, undermining a teacher's authority is one of the worst things a parent can do when working in their child's classroom. Usually, it's just the teacher's authority with their own kid, but I've seen it where particular parents have undermined entire classes. As such, it's something I'm keenly aware of and take special pains not to do. Because of this, and because it was at the beginning of my son's first year in the class, I didn't say anything when the teacher began teaching about the "original 12 colonies of the United States."

Honestly, the first time she said it, and because I didn't know her yet, I thought it must just be a slip of the tongue, and I figured she'd correct herself. The second time, I was still in the mindset that it must be a slip, because why would anyone say that? Any adult, that is. By the time I'd realized that she was actually teaching the class that there were 12 original colonies, it was much too late for me to say anything. As it turns out, that was probably actually a good thing, because she was one of those "I'm right because I'm the teacher" kind of people, and nothing good would have come from me trying to correct her in the middle of class.

Instead, on the way home, I explained to my kid all of the correct information. Also, I let him know that he should always ask me if he had any question at all about what he was being taught, which, upon occasion, he did.

But none of this was the problem.

The problem was that he was bored. Not bored of being in school, bored of the work. He was bored of the work because he already knew everything they were doing, and he was tired of doing the same old repetitious stuff every day. We had a long conversation about it so that I could be sure that that's what he meant and not the typical "I'd rather be outside playing" that you'd expect from a kid. The truth was that my kid would have rather been inside doing scholastic-type material or reading, but he wanted something interesting and something challenging to do. He hated "busy work," and everything they did felt like that to him.

Before I go on, there are two things you should know:
1. He's a perfectionist, so he's willing to keep working on something until he has it the way he wants it. Nothing is "good enough" just because someone else says it's good enough.
2. Also, he tends to be rather slow and deliberate with the things he does, even eating. He's almost always the last person to be finished. He doesn't believe in speeding through anything just to get it finished.

And did I mention he was bored?
He didn't want to do the work, and getting my son to do anything he doesn't want to do is like trying to stuff a cat into a toilet. He's willing to just sit and stare, lost in his thoughts about things he'd rather be doing, than do busywork or stuff he sees as a waste of time. [We've spent a good portion of the past eight years or so, everyday, trying to stuff him into a toilet.] Everything they were doing in his 2nd grade class, he saw as a waste of time.

One other thing of note that you should remember in relation to what I am about to say:
Whenever the teacher needed someone to read aloud in class, she always relied on my son because he was by far the best reader. By far. He didn't just read the individual words (as did most of the kids in the class); he read the sentences and was able to read with appropriate emotion.

Now, I knew that he was well beyond the material they were working on in class, but I hadn't known, until he told me, that it was an issue for him. After we talked about it, though, I went to the teacher. I didn't go to her with a request for him to be promoted to 3rd grade, though, because that wouldn't have affected any change in his situation. He was already doing 3rd grade math and already in the most advanced reading group in the 2nd/3rd grade class. All I wanted was for him to be given some more challenging work.

Look, I get how difficult it can be to deal with one kid who is different in a class of 20-30 kids. One child with special needs. It can disrupt the entire class dynamic. The problem is that there is no provision for children on the upper end of the spectrum. If it's a child on the lower end of the spectrum, we have provisions for that... when they can be identified, not that that always happens, but the help is there for kids with disabilities or behavioral issues or whatever. I knew I was asking something difficult, asking that my kid be given special consideration.

I also believe that that is the job of the teacher.

I say that as someone who has spent time in the classroom, not someone with some vague idea of what ought to be happening.

But I wasn't prepared for the response I got...

I explained that the work was too easy for him and that he was bored in class and that he needed more challenging work and... well... she stared at me then told me I was wrong. Not only did she tell me that I was wrong, she explained to me as if I was dense or a little on the dumb side that my child was learning disabled. Somewhere in there she dropped the word stupid. She cited how slowly he worked and that he was almost always the last kid finished with his work. I'm sure by the time she was finished I was staring blankly because I was having trouble comprehending that she was telling me the utter shit she was spewing in all seriousness.

Completely ignoring that he was the best reader of the 40+ kids in the 2nd/3rd grade block, completely ignoring that he was already in 3rd grade math, completely ignoring that he never needed help or further instruction on any of his work, completely ignoring that his papers were always 100% correct; she stood there and told me that my kid, because he worked slowly (and she didn't like slow workers), was developmentally disabled.

And that's where the real problems began...

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Clone Wars -- "Evil Plans" (Ep. 3.8)

-- A failure in planning is a plan for failure.

[Remember, you can sign up to join the Clone Wars Project at any time by clicking this link.]

This episode: Padme throws a party!
Which I don't know how I feel about. I'm sure it wasn't intentional, but it seems so sexist to have Padme be throwing a party. A party that just has to be perfect. And she's fretting over it. It seems so cliche.

That's not really what the episode is about, though. It's just an excuse for the droids, R2 and 3PO, to get sent on an errand... so that they can be captured by Cad Bane. Yea! Cad Bane is back! But not really enough in this episode since the action centers around the droids.

The problem here is that Bane is, basically, waiting for the droids so he can capture them, but he had no idea they'd be sent on an errand unaccompanied, so the logic here doesn't work for me.

Nor do I find it believable that R2 just takes off for a droid spa treatment.

[And this is where I got interrupted while writing this and lost my train of thought.]

At any rate, there are a lot of little details like that that don't work if you think about it too hard (or at all), but, still, I liked the episode well enough. I find R2 and 3PO together enjoyable, and there really isn't much of that in Clone Wars. It was a nice diversion that also is setting the groundwork for the next episode.

But that would be telling...

Monday, May 23, 2016

How the System Failed My Son: Part One -- What's Love Got To Do With It?

It's no secret that the education system in the US is in trouble. It has been for decades, study after study showing the decline in performance among millennials in the United States as compared to millennials in the rest of the developed world. The PISA has shown a steady decline in US results going back to when the OECD first started doing the testing more than a decade ago. You can visit their site here if you're really interested.

But this is not really a post about the education system and what I think, after being involved in it in three different states, is wrong with it. Nor is it a post about how to fix it. Or a post about who or what caused it or who or what should fix it.

No, this is a post about my son, my younger son, and how the system has failed him, specifically.

Now, let me make one thing abundantly clear, my son is smart. Brilliant, even. And I know that's what all parents say about their kids and they probably even believe it, but I'm not saying this from any point of bragging, and the things I'm writing about here are facts, not beliefs. Look, my kid is probably smarter than me, and I don't say that lightly. To put this in perspective, if we're talking about the 1% of smart people, I'm that. I also don't say that to brag. It's an objective, testable thing, and I want you to understand what I'm saying about my kid in this post.

Which is to say that if there's anyone the system should not have failed, it's my son. Smart kids, really smart kids, not the ones who are just a bit above average, should not have to struggle through school the way they so frequently do.

So what happened?

It all started in 1st grade.

[Note: Much of what I'm going to talk about throughout this post is stuff I personally witnessed while working in the various classes at my kids' school.]

There were three smart kids in my son's 1st grade class.

The first one was very obnoxious and a know-it-all. When given assignments, he would flat out refuse and say that he didn't have to do the work because he already knew how to do it. He would also make comments about how smart he was and that the teacher was dumb. Remember, this is a 1st grader. It didn't take long for the teacher to get tired of dealing with him and transfer him up to 2nd grade... just to get him out of her hair.

The second one was also obnoxious and, actually, a troublemaker. His mother was on staff at the school, and he was frequently sent to her classroom to sit because he was in trouble. His strength was math, but he was a poor reader, and the teacher actually gave him over to my son to tutor in reading. And my son, a 1st grader!, was really good in that capacity. But, then, my son was already independently reading Harry Potter in 1st grade.

After the first boy got bumped up to 2nd grade, the second boy's mother put in a request to have her son, also, get bumped to 2nd grade, and it was granted. I can only assume that that happened because she was on staff. That and the boy was a troublemaker whom the teacher was glad to be rid of. But, remember, he was only advanced in math and was actually a bit behind in reading.

Now, I found it a bit annoying that the first kid got promoted, but he was actually smart enough for it. He might have been obnoxious (and, actually, that boy got better as he grew older), but he was a bright kid and was telling the truth when he said he already knew how to do the work they were doing. He's probably on about the same level as my son, math wise, but he never rose to the same level in other areas as my kid.

That the second boy also got promoted, though, made me mad. Both we cases of kids being rewarded for their bad behavior, but the second boy didn't actually deserve it academically. (And to draw a comparison, he did not grow out of his obnoxious behavior and remained a troublemaker all the way through middle school.)

So I went to the principal and requested that my son, also, be promoted. She said it had to come at the recommendation of the teacher. So I went to the teacher one day after school when I was picking my kids up. It went something like this:
Me: I'd like to have Phillip promoted to 2nd grade.
Teacher: Why do you want to do that?
Me: Phillip is at least as capable as <student 1> and more capable than <student 2>. Phillip was tutoring him in reading, after all. If they are going to be promoted, Phillip deserves to also be promoted.
Teacher (at this point, she pulled Phillip to her and hugged him against her): Oh, no, I could never promote Phillip this soon; I love him too much. He's the sweetest boy in the class.

I kind of stared blankly at her, because how do you respond to that? You want to think that teachers have the best interest of the kids at heart but, although it was great to hear her say how much she liked my kid, it was clear that she was more interested in her own well-being than what was good for the kids in the class. It didn't take her response to me to show that because she already had when she promoted the other two kids because she was tired of dealing with them.

To make matters worse, there was a boy with Asperger's in the class, and Phillip was the only kid he felt comfortable with. In fact, my son and that boy were best friends all the way through elementary school. Basically, until the other boy left the school and it became too difficult for them to maintain their friendship.

The long and the short of it is that, after my wife and I discussed it, we decided that it wasn't worth a fight to get him moved up to 2nd grade. It was, after all, only 1st grade, and it would all work itself out, right?


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Clone Wars -- "Assassin" (Ep. 3.7)

-- The future has many paths: Choose wisely.

[Remember, you can sign up to join the Clone Wars Project at any time by clicking this link.]

Remember when Aurra Sing died? Yeah, me, neither, because, as it turns out, she didn't die. Which is why I was rather confused at the end of "Lethal Trackdown." I kept thinking, "I don't remember her dying." Because she didn't, and, now, she's back. Thanks to Hondo.

The episode itself is about an assassination attempt on the life of Padme, or, more specifically, Ahsoka's vision of said attempt. Or Ahsoka's vision of Aurra Sing. Well, let's just call it an episode about learning to trust yourself and your own instincts.

Now, I want to take a break from the episode itself for a moment:
I sort of hate the whole "trust yourself" or "trust your instincts" message. That's what it is: a message. And it's a message that has pervaded our society. For instance, a new study has shown that young, first-time mothers, especially teenage ones, are more likely to trust their instincts than the recommended scientific advice when it has to do with their babies; as a result, infant deaths due to things like suffocation are on the rise. The mother just felt like the baby needed that fluffy blanket despite the fact that it's a suffocation risk. It's that whole, "My opinion is as good as your fact," thing, and, well, it's not. Sure, you're entitled to believe in whatever stupid thing you want to believe in, but it doesn't make it valid just because you believe it or because your instincts tell you it's what you ought to do.

Having said that, trusting one's instincts is valid for a Jedi, because a Jedi has the Force; we, however, do not. There is a distinct difference between believing in oneself and doing whatever it is you feel is right in any given moment.

So, yeah, Ahsoka has to learn to trust in herself and her visions... and Padme's life hangs in the balance.

It's a good, solid episode with some teaching from Yoda, since Anakin's off on a mission in this one.

Monday, May 16, 2016

A Study in Super Heroes: Part Three -- Telling the Story

In many ways, prior to 2008, there were only four super heroes: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and Spider-Man. At least, that was it as far as the world as a whole was concerned.
Let's just say that Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman were already iconic characters around the world by the time Marvel Comics came into existence in the 60s, and Spider-Man, due to his cartoon and snappy theme song

was the only Marvel super hero to break into universal awareness the way that DC's trinity had.

However, the world of comics shifted in 1961 with the publication of Marvel's first super hero comic, The Fantastic Four. Marvel changed comic books from a medium that was character driven to one that was story driven, and not just the individual story but the world story. Marvel quickly became the #1 comic book company and, really, has remained there for the last 50 years.

That didn't mean that people, the mass of people, knew who Marvel's heroes were, though, because the 50s reduced comic books from something mainstream into a tiny niche group reserved for kids and socially awkward teenage boys. Until 2000, that is, when the X-Men movie came out. That was the turning point for comics becoming mainstream again, except as movies. (Because, honestly, comic books themselves are too expensive for people to be able to follow more than a few at a time.)

The success of X-Men and, in 2002, Spider-Man proved that super heroes other than Batman and Superman could support movie franchises. However, Marvel had licensed both of those properties to other studios, studios who proved that they didn't actually care about the stories involved, only in making money off of popular characters. Why worry about a good story when everyone will come see the movie anyway, right? (I'm especially looking at you, Fox, for making X-Men Origins: Wolverine.)

Marvel decided they could do better, wanted to do better, but they had already licensed out the only two properties they had (X-Men and Spider-Man) with any real name recognition. They would have to use characters whom people really didn't have an awareness of, and that would mean the stories would have to be strong.

And that's what they did. They told good stories.

I mean, not only did Marvel spend five years and five movies to work up to The Avengers, but Captain America: Civil War is a perfect example of how important story is to Marvel. Not only did they weave elements of two different story lines into a solid climax story, they did it with 12 super heroes in it, and they did it pretty flawlessly and with characters that most people had never heard of before Iron Man came out in 2008. The achievement is rather astounding. Sure, you need to have seen the other movies for this one to work, but that's what story-telling is.

On the other hand, DC, via Warner Brothers (who owns them), continues to struggle with building any kind of coherent story in their movie universe, if you can even call it that at this point. They continue to rely on the drawing power of their characters and what they think people already know about them rather than craft any kind of story that can hold water longer than one of those paper cups you made as a kid from folding up a piece of notebook paper. You can look at their most recent release, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, to see that. They don't even bother to introduce Wonder Woman or tell you anything about her other than that she was alive during World War I. They are all about the money and, if people will go see the movie just for the characters, why bother to add a story.

Not that that hasn't worked for them. To some extent. Batman/Superman did bring in $325 million domestically ($865m worldwide), but it took it more than a month to do that, and it was projected to break $400m (domestically), which it failed to do. In just 10 days, Civil War has pulled in $300 million domestically (and nearly $1B (yes, $1,000,000,000) worldwide). And we're not even talking about their Rotten Tomatoes scores. I think it's safe to say, at least where super heroes are concerned, at least for the moment, that story beats characters.

Friday, May 13, 2016

A Study in Super Heroes: Part Two -- Civil War (review)

Captain America: Civil War is a complicated movie full of complicated issues, but the main conflict centers around individual freedom. How much of our personal liberty, our personal right to make choices, should we give up for the well-being of the whole, for society? Should that ever be compelled?

That's a tough question in these days of border walls and religious exclusions. There is something to be said for providing protection and safety for society, but how much of our freedom should we give up for that? How much should be required and how much should be by choice?

But the actual question is, "Is the movie good?" That's not a tough question, though it does have a complication. If you've been following the Marvel movies, this movie is great. Incredible. It has everything in it you could want and Spider-Man! (And Spider-Man was amazing (Pun totally intended).)

The complication is that if you haven't been following the Marvel movies (and why haven't you!?!?), this is not the place to jump in. It's not enough to have just seen the Captain America movies or just seen the Avengers movies, you need to have seen all four of those to really understand what's happening in this movie. And, so, while I can understand that being frustrating for someone coming into this without the background, it's so very satisfying to see a complex story come together like this, and, honestly, in a way that I'm pretty sure has never been done before.

I'm tempted to break the movie down and walk through it, but I don't want to spoil it for anyone, so I'm not going to do that. Also, there's no real reason to talk about the principal actors. All of them gave the kinds of performances you've come to expect. Chris Evans and Robert Downey, Jr. are incomparable. And I love Anthony Mackie as The Falcon. I think he's tremendous.

However, let's look at the new guys:

Chadwick Boseman: The Black Panther has never been a character I've followed all that closely. Wakanda is interesting, but it's never been sustainable as a setting for a comic book series much like the ocean has never been sustainable as a setting for a Namor series (or an Aquaman one, for that matter). Inevitably, they have to bring those characters into "our" world, and they have never, at least back in when I was reading comics, managed to successfully integrate those characters in a way that made them interesting as primary characters. I hope that changes, because Boseman was excellent as the Panther. He brought just the right amount of gravitas to the role.

Tom Holland: Spider-Man, on the other hand, is a character I've followed closely. Since I was, like, four or five. Maguire's Spider-Man has remained one of my top three super hero movies and portrayals. He really just nailed the role. Holland seems to have returned to that mold, the geeky high school student, something never quite believable from Garfield. To cut it short, Holland was perfect. I have been ambivalent about another Spider-Man re-boot, but I'm now quite looking forward to Spider-Man: Homecoming (and not just because of the ties to this movie).

Emily VanCamp: Okay, so, technically, she's not a new-comer, but she steps up her role in Civil War, so I'm going to treat her as one. She's good. She's good opposite Evans, at any rate. I'd say I need to reserve judgement to see what they do with the character, but it's not clear there will be any further development for the character. At any rate, I'm satisfied.

Daniel Bruhl: Ah, now, this one could be controversial, because the Zemo of the movie is certainly not the Zemo of the comic books. I'm okay with that. The movie universe is not congruent with the comic universe. I'm okay with that, too. And it's probably better that Zemo wasn't running around with a purple hood on his head. Bruhl does a great job in the role. He's convincing. And that's really all anyone can ask of an actor: Did he make you believe?

It's fair to say that I'm biased in favor of these movies, but I think it's safe to say that my bias has somewhat negated by how successful they've been. Marvel has not just made flashy super hero movies; Marvel has made good, even great, movies. They just happen to have super heroes in them.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Clone Wars -- "The Academy" (Ep. 3.6)

-- Those who enforce the law must obey the law.

[Remember, you can sign up to join the Clone Wars Project at any time by clicking this link.]

We remain on Mandalore as we pick up where the previous episode left off. Satine has requested that a Jedi be sent to their Academy to teach a class about the dangers of government corruption; they send Ahsoka. The Mandalorians require that she not be armed while on the planet, so she has to hand her lightsaber over to Anakin when he drops her off.

The logic around the whole setup for this episode is a little fuzzy to me, even considering that the request for a Jedi is a political feint. Even accounting for the true purpose, the false purpose doesn't quite make sense, and I can't accept that Anakin would leave Ahsoka without her lightsaber considering the ongoing importance placed on them: "Your lightsaber is your life." Of course, it's good to see every once in a while just how much a Jedi (even a Padawan) can do without a 'saber, but I couldn't buy into it.

It's not a horrible episode, but it's definitely not going to make any lists of my favorite episodes, even if it is on Mandalore and even if Satine is in it. The whole story was orchestrated to reveal who the high up corrupt official is, which would be fine except that it feels contrived. Not that all stories aren't contrived, but you don't want them to feel that way.

Monday, May 9, 2016

A Study in Super Heroes: Part One -- Batman vs Superman (review)

Yeah, so, fine, I'm a bit late with this, but I've been busy and only just now got around to seeing it. That's kind of okay, though, because it moved to the cheap theater last week, and I got to go see it for $3.50, about all it's worth. However, it was actually worth that, unlike the last Superman movie or, say, the Green Lantern movie (I saw Green Lantern for free and still felt ripped off).

I'm not going to go through the movie the way I usually do with these things. Let's just say the story was... flimsy. Like a balsa wood airplane, the kind you get at the supermarket for... I was going to say for $0.99, but I bet those planes cost more than that, now. They're great for the first half a dozen or so throws, then things start falling off, then they start refusing to go back into their assigned places, right before they start splintering. Basically, you get one good afternoon of play with one before it goes into the trash. This movie is like that, good for one afternoon of play before the plot falls apart and you begin to wonder what actually happened.

Of course, what actually happened was a contrived scenario to get Batman and Superman to fight. Um... yeah... That's all I'm going to say about that.

Let's do this:

The Good:
Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne. In fact, you could say that was the awesome. Definitely the best part of the movie. Affleck should have always been Batman. Or, I should say, Bruce. He's great as Batman, too, but, face it, that's the easy part. The part every previous star of the Batman movies since Burton's Batman came out has failed at has been portraying a convincing Bruce Wayne. [Okay, well, Clooney was a good Wayne, but the Batman fail in that one was so epic (no fault of Clooney's (seriously? nipples on the suit?)) that it has discolored everything about it.]

The Bad:
The opening sequence giving Batman's origin. Again.
The dream sequence Batman has of the future where Superman has taken over the world. It was long and added nothing to the movie. I get that they were trying to... I don't know... incorporate more of Miller's Dark Knight, but that sequence was gratuitous and pointless.
Wayne as an alcoholic. No, it's not stated, but it's certainly implicit. And dumb.

The Good:
Surprisingly, Henry Cavill as Superman. I don't think much of Cavill just on a general basis. I thought he was adequate in Man of Steel and horrible in The Man from U.N.C.L.E., although, to be fair, it was a pretty awful movie, so it may not have been his fault. However, he pulled off a fairly convincing portrayal of a brooding Superman, unsure of himself and his place in the world.

The Bad:
Basically everything to do with Lois Lane.
Look, I like Amy Adams. I think she's a great actress. But Lois is supposed to be a strong, forceful personality, and Adams doesn't bring that to the table. She's just too tentative. Plus, in this, she's often Lois ex machina, showing up at opportune moments to deliver vital information. Or whatever.

The Good:
Jesse Eisenberg as the Joker. Oh, wait, he wasn't the Joker? Well, he gave a great performance as whoever it was he was supposed to be.

The Bad:
Lex Luthor. Or Alexander Luthor, Jr. The character played by Eisenberg. The character is completely inexplicable. He's a perfect example of how DC or Warner Brothers or whoever has written themselves into a hole they can't get out of because they continue to do everything from a pantsing standpoint. They killed Lex and they killed the Joker, so they just make up a new character with the same name as the villain they want to use and tack a Jr. onto it. Lame.

The Good:
Gal Godot as Wonder Woman. I don't really understand all the fanboy rage over Godot in this role. She looked good as Wonder Woman and pulled off the character more than adequately.

The Bad:
Wonder Woman. Why is she even in this film? It would have been just as plausible and, possibly, more believable, if she'd just shown up for the fight sequence. That's really the only believable moment for her being in the movie, anyway. They just need her in the movie because she's part of the Holy Trinity of super heroes and, if Warner Brothers wants to pull off a Justice League movie, they have to center it around all three of those heroes: Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman.

The Bad:
Perry White. There are no words for how poorly they have translated White into this movie, and Fishburne does nothing to help the character out.
Jeremy Irons as Alfred.
Doomsday. Everything about Doomsday. There's nothing about the character or his origin in the movie that rises above stupid. Mostly, it's moronic.

It's not a horrible movie. That's really the best thing that can be said about it. And I'd rather watch it again than to ever think about seeing, say, The Revenant again. Or Green Lantern. It's probably even worth it to see it on the big screen. But it's not a good movie. It's not even brain candy. At best, it's a piece of that hard candy your grandmother kept in a dish on the end table under the lamp, but it's all melted together, and you can't get any of it out without getting a knife or something and, then, once you have the broken piece you finally pry out of the reef-like structure, you can't tell what it's supposed to taste like, because you have parts of three or four different pieces of candy all stuck together. You try to suck on it but you end spitting it out into the metal trashcan next to the table where it sticks to the bottom and you try in vain to pretend that it wasn't you who spit it in there. [Not based on any actual event that ever happened to me.]

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Clone Wars -- "Corruption" (Ep. 3.5) (Gadreel)

-- The challenge of hope is to overcome corruption.

[Remember, you can sign up to join the Clone Wars Project at any time by clicking this link.]

One thing I think (know) people often (almost always) miss about the prequels, especially The Phantom Menace, is how much political commentary is contained therein. People get all distracted and wound up by Jar Jar and miss everything else. Some of everything else being a kind of warning about the state of politics, right now, and I think we can see even more of what was in Phantom going on in the US, right now, with the polarization of Congress and the fear-mongering of the Republicans, especially Donald Trumpatine. This episode touches on the same material.

And it's eerily reminiscent of the water issue in Flint, Michigan.

All of that said, I like seeing Satine back even without Obi-Wan in the story.

Mandalore is having some issues due to the fallout of the previous Mandalore story line in which they assert their neutrality. Now, no one will trade with them, and things like food prices are skyrocketing. Corruption and the black market are booming. That's really all you need to know. That and Padme joins Satine in an investigation dealing with sick school children.

Just go watch it.

Now for Angel week!
"Gadreel" is FREE! today! Go get a copy!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

It's Angel Week! (Asbeel)

So, yeah, I know we just had a whole month of Angels, but, you know, promotions and stuff. So, this week there will be FREE! Angel stories. Just because.

Today, "Asbeel" is FREE! Totally. Completely. Go get it.
Yes, now.
You don't even have to come back. Go read, instead.

Oh, and remember, it contains adult material.