Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Rebels: "Twilight of the Apprentice -- Part Two" (Ep. 2.22)

-- So, the rumors are true; Darth Maul lives.

Star Wars has a long history of apprentices confronting their masters, going all the way back to A New Hope. I suppose this confrontation was inevitable.
And heart-wrenching.
And about time, I suppose.

This is one of those episodes where long-running story threads all come together, and things get serious. Really serious. Consequences happen.
And, then, there's Maul, the wildcard of this two-episode arc, who seems to have set his sights on a new apprentice.

Actually, there's not much to talk about here without being completely spoilery, and this episode is too good for that. It's almost necessary viewing, which could do without watching the whole series if you were willing to be a little vague on some things.

Let's just say this:
Confrontation with the inquisitors.
Maul's motivations revealed.
Confrontation between Ahsoka and her old Master.
Things... change.

I'm really looking forward to season three!

"You're such cowards that you would run from this chance to defeat your enemies."

"I need a lot more training."

Monday, July 30, 2018

Rebels: "Twilight of the Apprentice -- Part One" (Ep. 2.21)

-- "There's always a bit of truth in legends."

And now for the moment I've all been waiting for...!

It's Chopper versus an inquisitor, and Chopper...

Oh, wait, no. That's not what I've been waiting for.

I may have indicated in my review of Solo that I was quite excited by the reintroduction of Darth Maul into the movies. Not that I was ever one of those huge Darth Maul fans after The Phantom Menace. In fact, I wasn't all that impressed with Darth Maul. But, the truth is, he was never supposed to be dead dead. Lucas always intended to bring him back and the only reason he didn't come back in Attack of the Clones was because Ray Park opened his mouth about it within a few weeks of the opening of Phantom, so Lucas brought in Darth Tyranus instead. Still, I can understand people not being thrilled about him being brought back. Being cut in half is pretty final...

Unless you take into account that General Grievous was a heart and a brain and eyes in a robot body. I'm assuming that's all they were able to salvage of his organics. Compared to that, Maul was a veritable treasure trove!

All of that aside, I've found Maul to be a much more interesting character since they brought him back in Clone Wars. Not right at first, but, as they've gone along, they have deepened his character and complicated his motivations. I very much want to see what they have in store for him, and I am going to be sorely aggravated if we don't get the rest of the Solo trilogy, not for Solo but for Maul.

His first appearance here in Rebels is intriguing, which is about all I'm going to say about it until I get a chance to watch part two. I guess you'll just have to come back for that.
Or go watch it yourself.

"You don't exactly outrank me anymore."
"In my book, experience outranks everything."
"Then I definitely outrank you."

Friday, July 27, 2018

Cold Days (a book review post)

Wow! It has been a long time since I read one of these! More than three years according to the date on when I reviewed Ghost Story. Looking back, I remember that I had really wanted to get started on Cold Days pretty much right away, but, well, I didn't have the book yet, and, then, I continued to not have the book for, well, three years. heh I guess that's just how it goes sometimes. Besides, I've been reading other things.

Which I finally needed a break from, evidently, because most of what I've been reading has been on the heavier side, and the Dresden books, in my mind, are still categorized as "light reading." I may have to re-think that after this one, though, and probably actually should have begun to rethink that several books ago. These books are not so "light and fun," anymore, though I suppose I still would not call them heavy.


Obviously, Harry didn't stay dead. Or, well, wasn't quite dead. At any rate, he's back in the land of the living. Although I would guess that we haven't seen the end of the ghost world based on the way that Butcher tends to bring things back around. This book is another example of that, bringing threads back in from all over the place from earlier in the series. It keeps it interesting. You can't ever just be done with one of the books, because it all seems to matter.

That's a good thing, by the way. At least it is in my book.

Maybe it was the long break I had from the Dresden books, but I feel like I enjoyed this one more than I did the last few, though, looking back at my reviews and ratings and things, that's probably not actually true. Except for Turn Coat; that one was definitely the low point of the series so far for me.

Although I will admit that the pop culture references did begin to wear on me after awhile. I don't think there were than in previous books, but it felt like he was trying too hard with them this time. I felt myself being reminded of the Xanth novels and how the quality of the puns went down as the series progressed; the quality went down as the frequency increased. It wasn't quite that bad, here, but I do have to wonder how Harry is able to draw on all of this pop culture seeing as how he can't really watch television and movies. Sure, I get some of it's from his childhood but, really, he's way too current for an isolated wizard. And, no, this isn't a big thing, just something I noticed this time.

The last book, kind of obviously, dealt with how Harry's friends dealt with his death. This book deals with how they deal with him still being alive after thinking he was dead. Who's moved on and who hasn't, so to speak. It's good stuff. Real emotions and all of that. Mostly, it doesn't skimp. Except maybe with Thomas. That seemed a little rushed.

Overall, great addition to the series. He got me with the ending again. I'm a pretty savvy reader and am not frequently surprised at endings, but this two in a row where Butcher has managed to squeeze somethings in that I didn't anticipate. At least one of those things, I probably should have, but, then, all you of you probably should have, too, but I bet you didn't see it coming either. He did a good job of setting that up. I'm looking forward to the next book, Skin Game, and, this time, I already have it!

Monday, July 23, 2018

Rebels: "The Mystery of Chopper Base" (Ep. 2.20)

-- There's  no such thing as a tie. You lose; you die.

Man, I want to be covering these episodes more quickly, but I'm not being able to get them in more than one every few weeks. I feel like I need to take a page out of Ferris Bueller's book or really focus on that line from that Simon & Garfunkel song:
"Slow down; you move too fast.
You've got to make the moment last."
None of which has to do with this episode.

Though maybe the rebels are feeling that way, too...?

Unlike Clone Wars, Rebels is a pretty straightforward show most of the time. It's about what it's about: no layers, no subtext, no background plots. This episode is a bit more complex. On the one hand, they have a very Hoth moment with their new base -- you know, the one Chopper found -- but, on the other, emotional tensions are high because Kanan and Ezra are about to take off with Ahsoka to "deal with" the inquisitors.

One thing is for certain, though, all of them should have learned by now to never say anything like,
"This planet may be hot, dry, and unpleasant, but at least nothing's trying to kill us."
Because as soon as you do, something will start trying to kill you. Like this:

On a normal day, maybe it wouldn't have been such a big deal, but the emotional tension, especially between Hera and Kanan, really raises the stakes. Everything feels very... final.

So, yeah, good episode. I'm hoping this is leading to more complex stories in season three, though I still have a couple more in season two to get through. Hopefully soon...

"Trust me, Hera; I'm excited. This is my excited face."

"We can argue about this later."
"You always change the subject when I start winning!"

Friday, July 20, 2018

The Burr Advice

Obviously, I never knew Aaron Burr so never received any advice from him. I don't really know if he would have uttered the words, "Don't let them know what you're against or what you're for," or not. It doesn't really matter as it's the words I'm dealing with moreso than Burr. Well, moreso than Burr the historical figure. I'm definitely dealing with Burr, the character, from Hamilton.

That said, Burr was a despicable figure, a true scum-of-the-earth human being. And, for what it's worth, I'm willing to go along with Miranda's interpretation of him, on the whole, since it's based on Ron Chernow's book about Hamilton. I would say that Chernow is a more than reliable as a source.

The Burr of the Broadway musical is a conniving piece of trash, a man constantly playing the middle so that he can make sure he comes down on the winning side. A bit of historical curiosity for you: He's the politician who invented going door to door and getting out in the neighborhood, which was not exactly a good thing. He wanted to get people to vote for him because of how friendly he was, how personable he was, not because of what he stood for. He wanted it to be a popularity contest, something like running for class president in high school.

"Vote for me because we could buddies!"

When I was a kid, I was into GI Joe and Transformers. Mostly, I was into the toys, and I collected them and kept them on display in my room. One day, my mom was in my room talking to me about... something I don't remember... when she abruptly inserted, "I wish you didn't have all of these war toys." It was completely out of the blue and, while not exactly confusing, a little confusing.

So I said the logical thing, "Why?"

And she said, "Because if you were ever drafted, you wouldn't be able to tell them you're a pacifist."

Which totally blew my mind. I think I said something like, "Why would I want to tell them that?" I don't really believe in violence as an answer to things, but I'm also not a pacifist. It would never have occurred to me to try to lie to get out of being drafted like, you know, claiming to have bone spurs.

Which brings us back to this idea of keeping your political leanings out of your public life. Not that most of us have a "public" life but, as small as mine is, I do have a public life. The general "wisdom" among my "fellow writers" is that we should keep our politics and our personal beliefs out of our public lives. Rather in the same way that people are saying saying that football players should keep their protests out of sports.

Not that the two things are actually similar. People want football players to keep their mouths shut (or their knees unbent) just so that they don't have to think about what it's like to be African American in America. Writers tell other writers to keep their politics and beliefs to themselves because they'll alienate potential readers if they're open about what they believe.

And that's true. I know that I have lost followers since I started writing politics.

However! The trade off is keeping your mouth shut about the injustices in the world (or, if you're a Trump (#fakepresident) supporter, supporting and praising those injustices). You know why the Nazis succeeded in so much destruction? People kept their mouths shut. People played it safe. People tried not to draw attention to themselves. And you can pfft all you want at this being similar to a pre-WWII Germany, but you can only do that if you're ignorant of the history. Ignorant.

Look, here's the thing:
When I was a kid in school learning about World War II and the Nazis, everyone always said, "Oh, I would never have done that. I wouldn't have kept silent. I would have taken a stand. I would never never never have let anything like that happen or have been a part of it." Everyone said that. But we're in those days right now, the days when people need to stand up and protest fascism and racism and all of the abuses of the Trump (#fakepresident) administration.

Well, for good or ill, all of you out there keeping your mouth shut, we know which side of that equation you would have been on. And all of you out there supporting Trump (#fakepresident), we all know you would have been right in with the Nazi party.
Congratulations on that.

In the end, I'm with Hamilton, "I'd rather be divisive than indecisive; drop the niceties."
Seriously, the Republicans have moved all of this way past "civility." Don't fall for that trap. It's just meant to get you to let them do what they want to do without complaining about it.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Make America Great: Stepping into the Future

While it can't be said that America was ever great in practice, an argument could be made for it having been great in concept. Or, at least, in concept in its own collective consciousness. If that time existed, and I think it did, it was in the post-World War II years and lasted up to around 1970. The assassination of Kennedy and, then, King wounded it, but, really, it was Nixon who drove a stake right into the heart of the idea of American greatness. Then he twisted it around a bit and pissed on the corpse for good measure.

Let's take a quick look at post-WWII America:
First, America had just saved the world. Almost literally. Whether that was actually true or not doesn't matter, because that's how Americans viewed it.
Second, America was helping to rebuild the world, including offering great assistance to peoples who had just been its enemies. Sure, maybe some of that was motivated by the guilt of having nuked Japan but, still, we were doing it.
Third, there was a push toward equality for all. True, it hadn't gotten there, but people began to see it, finally, as a possibility. It brought hope.
Fourth, World War II led the US into a technology boom, which was heightened when Russia launched Sputnik. We had a great focus on education and science and the future, and we really believed that anything and everything was possible.
Fifth, because we believed in the future, we began to build for the future and infrastructure expenditures show it. It was all rather altruistic because it was an idea, not for those doing it, but for those who would come after.

That was the environment the Boomer generation grew up in, one in which there was huge growth, plenty of everything which was handed to them on a platter so they didn't have to work for it, and the future was so bright they had to wear shades. Perhaps, it's no wonder they long for "the good old days."

Of course, their focus is on the physical output of the ideals of a previous generation, ideals they themselves don't hold. They are a generation of consumers and profit and, now, through Trump (#fakepresident), Republicans are engaged in an act of necrophilia. The focus on coal and other dead industries is nothing more than trying to fuck a corpse back to life.

And the worst part? Trump (#fakepresident) is doing it on live TV and twitter for the whole world to watch, dragging us along for the ride. Not that Turkeyneck McConnell, Paul Ryan, and a slew of others aren't humping away with him.

I think the only way to step into the future is to push the Boomers out of power. Probably all of them. Even the "good" ones (and I do think there are some good ones). Leave them to have their orgy of the dead on their own.

It's time to stop letting the future slip away.

Because we are well on our way to not even being on the bus to the future. It's like we were driving that bus, then let China take over, and, now, we're just getting off entirely.

There are so many things on the verge of happening:
Self-driving cars
Flying cars
Sustainable energy
Laser guns! (oh, wait, China already did this!)
a Mars colony
Asteroid mining
Feeding the whole world
Curing cancer
Well, I could go on for a while...

Do you know why none of those things are actually happening? Boomers and their fear of profit loss by not being allowed to rape the Earth and kill species.

It's time to put or focus on the technologies of the future because we can't go there by trying to make coal the fuel of the future. It's the fuel of a long-dead past, and we need to leave it there.

Look, I'm not saying you're ever going to get that personal jetpack, but, if you do, it certainly won't be coal powered. It's time to get rid of the G.Old.P. They are the proverbial weight around our collective neck tying us to the past. Personally, I'm tired of the past.
It's time to step into the future. I want to see it before I'm dead.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Ant-Man and the Wasp (a movie review post)

It's probably fair to say that Ant-Man is the least of the Marvel movies.
But this isn't all about size.

Seriously, though...

As far as Marvel movies go, the Ant-Man movies are a bit of lighthearted fun. Which is not to say that they don't deal with some serious topics, but humor is rather more infused in these movies than in the rest of the offerings from Marvel. Even more so than the Guardians movies.

This is not a bad thing. Really, it means that Marvel provides something for everyone.

Except a rom-com. You could probably make a case for the first Ant-Man filling the rom-com slot, but it's a heist movie and doesn't really hit all the rom-com notes. Man, now, I think Marvel needs to do a rom-com. Maybe with Dazzler once they get the X-Men back from Fox.
Yeah, I'm into this idea...
But I digress.

This movie has Boyd Crowder!!! Um, I mean, Walton Goggins! Have I mentioned before that I love Walton Goggins? Well, I do. Because Justified, the best TV show ever.
Um, where was I...?

In Marvel, actions have consequences, which is one of the best things about the MCU so far (something that Warner Brothers/DC still haven't picked up on), and we pick up with Scott Lang suffering the consequences of getting caught while helping Captain America in Civil War, which also serves as an ongoing conflict throughout the movie: When do you do something because it's the right thing to do even when it's breaking the law? A good thing to be thinking about in our current political climate, I think.

Mostly, though, the movie is a lot of good fun, full of people stealing things back and forth. While the good guys try to rescue Janet Van Dyne from the quantum realm.

The cast, as continues to be the case in all of the Marvel movies, is perfect and amazing. I love Paul Rudd and Michael Pena, and they are great together in these movies, though there's not quite as much of them together in this one as the last one. Did I mention Walton Goggins? WALTON GOGGINS! Randall Park is a lot of fun, too.

Possibly, actually, the weakest casting Marvel has had so far was Corey Stoll in the first Ant-Man movie, which has nothing to do with this one, but it's the only bit of weak casting I can think of in the whole franchise so far.


The movie is a lot of fun. It's probably not quite as good as the first one, but I can't say that with certainty. If you liked the first one, there's no reason you shouldn't like this one and, if you haven't seen the first one, you don't quite need to to see this one, though I would say you should anyway, just for the FUN of it. Oh, and, yes, there is a bit of lead up and crossover with Infinity War, which is not quite a spoiler, but it's something to be aware of if you're into the Avengers but dissed on Ant-Man. It's not like you'll need to see this one before the next Avengers movie, but, again, you probably should. Just for the fun of it.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Neil Diamond and America

Let's be a little Biblical, here, because there's nothing "christian" extremists like more than cherry-picking their Bible verses and misusing them while ignoring the ones that condemn their current actions.

Matthew 5: 13-16 describes the role of the Christian in the world. Be salt and light. Draw men to you. Specifically, "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden." Be a lamp that will share light with everyone because why? It's dumb to light a lamp and cover it with a basket. Seriously, what the fuck good is that?

And, you know, when I was growing up in the Bible Belt in the South, there was this idea that America was supposed to be that city on a hill for the whole world. That we were supposed to draw people to us because we were a beacon of hope. It was therefore unsurprising that Neil Diamond scored  a huge hit in 1981 with his song "America." We celebrated the fact that refugees of all sorts sought the shores of the United States.

Not to mention the Statue of Liberty right there for all to see and declaring:
Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, the tempest-tost to me...
So here we are with this song that celebrates the immigrant and the refugee coming to America, and it's this huge hit. Not just is it a huge hit, but, in many ways, the song burrowed its way into the American subconscious. In a good way, because it's a good song. It's a song that epitomizes Matthew 5:14.

It's such a good song that it has been a traditional part of the fireworks show on the 4th of July here in Sonoma county. Not that we've gone every year in the last two decades, but we've been to an awful lot of them (because that's what you do when you have kids), and that song has been a major part of the music that played along with the fireworks every... single... year.
Until this one.

Okay, I'm not sure if this is the first year they left it out because we actually didn't go to the show the past couple of years, so maybe they cut it out last year. But I'm thinking it was probably this year because, suddenly, that song is... politically controversial.

And, you know, I'm sure they just did it because they wanted the event to be good fun for everyone so why include something that might get some people all twisted up and belligerent, right? Just leave the politics out of it. Like sports. Nothing that might raise the awareness of people.
(Because we wouldn't want people to bother to think.)

However, when you leave out something that has always been integral to your celebration in order to not appear to be making a political statement, you have, then, made a political statement.

At best, that statement is, "We're scared of Republicans and the GOP and what they might do if we play this song that is so obviously pro-immigrant and pro-refugee, so we're going to leave it out so as not cause any trouble."
At worst, you have someone in charge who is a Trump (#fakepresident) supporter who dropped the song so as to remove any and all show of support to the people being currently abused by the government.

It's probably the first because this is Sonoma county, but you can't completely rule out the second because Right-wing fanatical assholes seem to show up everywhere.

But going with the assumption that "America" was left out of the lineup because of cowardice, I have to say, C'mon! This is Sonoma fucking county! If you can't play a song that has always been in the show and give even that much support to the people that Trump (#fakepresident) and his goons are fucking over, then where can you play it? Where can you show support?

Needless to say, I was very disappointed that the song was left out and at the message, intentional or not, that was sent by its absence. We're way beyond coddling the Right at this point. They talk big about civility and how we ought to be being nice to them, but they removed all civility from the conversation when they started kidnapping children and putting them in concentration camps. We're way beyond "playing nice." Not because we are, because they are. They quit playing nice...

Man, they quit playing nice so long ago, it's difficult to remember a time when they were playing nice, but, certainly, all pretense at niceness went out the window when Obama was elected. That's when they really started letting their racism come out for all to see.

All of that to say that whoever put together the fireworks show in Sonoma county this year should be ashamed. They should be ashamed for not being willing to do something as simple as keeping a song in the show that has always been in the show. If you can't do something that small... well, if you can't do something that small...

And if it was a Trump (#fakepresident) supporter who pulled the song, well, that person should just be ashamed for being.

It's seriously time for the Left to start pulling themselves together and standing up to the Conservative fucks who are currently holding the reins of the country. In all the ways, small and big. Especially the small, because everyone can make small gestures of resistance, and we need to all be doing them all the time. The small gestures, even as small as a song, add up.


And they didn't even replace "America" with anything good. It was shitty big band music. Which sounds about like what Trump (#fakepresident) and his ilk want to replace the USA with.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Make America Great: Building a New America

Many of the lessons we learn in life are inadvertent. They're just things we pick up that stick with us somewhat like the gum on your shoe on a hot summer's day that gets all the way up in the cracks and you can't scrape it out no matter how hard you try. One of those moments for me was from my mom.

We were having a... disagreement about something: I don't remember what and maybe it's not really important; after all, it's what she said that matters. Well, it is important to know that it had to do with my performance on something or other at church in relation to the youth group. She was telling me how I wasn't doing a good job or not doing it to my potential or some such. It was the kind of thing my mother never really said to me, maybe because she didn't need to or maybe just because we didn't have those kinds of conversations -- I don't know. We never had those kinds of conversations, but I don't know if it's because we never needed to have them or not. -- but on that day she was, I felt, berating me for some imagined shortfall, and it pissed me off.

There were two things going on here:
The first was that I was doing better than everyone else involved in whatever it was that was going on. By a lot. I felt it was entirely unfair of her to be getting on my back by telling me I wasn't doing a good job when I was ahead of everyone else.
The second was that I knew she was actually right. Whatever it was we were doing, I was only doing just enough to stay in the lead. I wasn't doing a good job, I was doing a "good enough" job. That was what was making me mad, getting called on the fact that I was coasting. And I knew I was coasting, but, if I could get by with coasting and still be doing better than everyone else, why shouldn't I?

So, you know, I did what teenagers do, I yelled at her. Right there in the hall outside of the kitchen at church, because that's where she worked, as the cook at our church. So I yelled at her at church and at work. At least there was no one else around, though, right? I yelled something like, "I'm already doing better than everyone else!"

And she said, probably also yelling, though I don't actually remember, "But you're not doing your best!"

And I probably yelled back, "I don't care," and stormed off down the hall. I do remember the storming part. Because I was mad.

High drama, I know.

But, man, I have never been able to get that out of my head, the difference between being simply better and being best. Not "the best," because that's relative, but actually being at your best. Period. And that it's not enough to simply be better than everyone else, especially if that means you're not making any effort to be in that spot. What's the good of that?

Let's put it another way:
If 10 is "Best," you don't get to claim you're the Best merely by being a 6 while everyone else is a 5 or below. You're just being better than them, not actually being "Best.".

That said, America has never been "Great;" it's merely been "greater."

Even that has not been a claim it could consistently lay claim to, and it's certainly not a claim it can make now when we lead the world in... hmm...
We lead the world in gun deaths.
We lead the world in military spending. So that we can promote more gun deaths.
We lead the world in bullying. Because we have an administration that believes that power should be used to push people around to get what you want.

We do NOT lead the world in education.
We do NOT lead the world in health care.
We do NOT lead the world in science research.
We do NOT lead the world in renewable energy research or implementation.

The point, then, is that we cannot "make America great again," because it was never great to begin with. Which, you know, hurts me to actually say, because I have spent a lifetime, my lifetime, believing in "America."

Of course, I've believed in the ideal of America, not the way it actually turned out. I suppose I just have always we believed, until two years ago, that we were closer to that ideal than we actually were. Which is not close at all.

Having said all of that, America could be great. It could be Great.

  • It could aspire to the ideal of itself!
  • It could believe in education again. Believe that education is the door to the future.
  • It could quit focusing on a past that never existed and actually work on making tomorrow a better place instead of trying to make tomorrow into something that resembles an old b&w TV show.
  • It could promote equality for all people, the way it has always supposed to have been.
  • We could actually become a country of the people, by the people, for the people and quit letting rich old white men and corporations run everything.
Look, today is the day we celebrate stepping away from one egotistical, rich white dude who just wanted to boss people around for his own gain. Maybe we should look at whom we've replaced him with and quit being bossed around by the current egotistical, rich white dude who just wants to boss people around for his own gain.

It's time to make America actually great. It's time to build a new America, the one that should have always existed.

"We hold these truth to be self-evident, that all [people] are created equal, that they are endowed [through creation] with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among [people], deriving their [powers] from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it..."

Don't give consent to the current administration, the current administration which is destructive to Life, to Liberty, and to the pursuit of Happiness.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Der Ring des Nibelungen (final thoughts)

The Ring of the Nibelung is a lot of opera; there's no denying that. Opera isn't like going to the movies, even if they are a similar form of entertainment, and they are a similar form of entertainment. However, it does require quite a bit more concentration to take in something that's in a different language. It can be challenging, especially with something this long.

However, I also think it's worth it. Of course, that's from the guy who will slog through books and movies that I know I'm not going to like just so that I will have the context of it. Or to prove that it's bad. Or whatever. You can take what I say about opera, then, with whatever kind of salt you need to use. But I do like opera, both in theory and in experience. I think it should be a more widespread form of entertainment, and it would be if it could break its bonds of tradition that old, white people have it chained to. Old white people like that opera is seen as some kind of elitist entertainment because it makes them feel superior to other people who don't see opera. But that's a different conversation.

The Ring is a significant achievement in opera-viewing. I didn't really appreciate the extent of that achievement until seeing it. I think it says something that I would be more than willing to see it again. In fact, I want to see it again. It's a complex story, and I think it needs another viewing.

Having said that, I am no "Wagnerian." I didn't find the opera to be any kind of "religious experience," as some people describe it. I've actually been having a hard time coming to terms with that viewpoint, in fact, but, then, some people view Game of Thrones that way and, by comparison, Thrones is so far inferior it's difficult to even call it a work of art.

Which is not to say that The Ring doesn't have its flaws. It actually has what I would consider some pretty significant flaws, the central one being the Ring itself. For a Ring of absolute power, it seems to do very little and fails to protect its wearer at every juncture during the opera. Of course, it's no different than the way magic is used by most authors: It only works when the author wants it to and, for whatever reason, fails the user at plot-opportune moments. So this isn't a just a problem I have with Wagner; it's a problem I tend to have with authors in general, especially when they don't follow the rules they themselves have set up for their work.

Based on the scant knowledge I have of Wagner, I'm going to say that the Ring is a metaphor for technology and that he represents himself within the opera through the character of Wotan. Wagner was not a fan of industrialization and viewed it as somewhat of a curse upon the world, the same way Wotan speaks of the Ring once he has resisted his own temptation to wield its power to control the world (which I found puzzling because Wotan was already in charge of the world, so to speak, so it seemed a bit odd to me that he would, then, feel like he needed the Ring to be in charge of it).

Wotan is a seeker of knowledge and spends lifetimes searching out all the secrets and hidden places of the world. And hatching schemes. Through the first part of the Cycle, Wotan's efforts are going toward building up Valhalla and, by extension, the world. It's his desire to bring into being a champion, a hero, who can wield the Ring and not be corrupted by it. Then, suddenly, at the beginning of Twilight of the Gods, we find that Wotan has retreated into Valhalla and locked all of the gods in with him and is waiting to burn it all down using the wood of what is the equivalent of the World Tree. There will be no escaping for the gods.

Maybe it's the events in The Valkyrie that push him in that direction. It's hard to say because he's still around meddling during the events in Siegfried, but his goals may have already shifted at that point. At any rate, I find the idea of the only way to save the world is to destroy it to be chilling, especially in our current political climate in which so many people actually believe that. The fanatical religious Right, as a group, believe in the apocalypse as a form of salvation and do more and more to usher in a destroyed world, which seems to have been Wagner's view based on the ending of The Ring.

Needless to say, I don't really understand this idea of destroying something in order to save it, but I suppose it is very Biblical. The Flood immediately comes to mind. And Sodom and Gomorrah. It's even a view echoed by the character Delores in Westworld. But I just don't think it's okay to make that decision for someone else. Why should you get to impose your view of whether something is broken or not onto me. Well, you shouldn't.

The question of burning the world down to purify it is particularly relevant today. Much to my horror. It's a little weird to experience that same kind of thought in a piece of work dating back 150 years. It's more than a little weird to find how close we are, right now, to fulfilling Wagner's vision.