Wednesday, May 20, 2020


Every year, our local museum has a special exhibit of local woodworking talent. I've showcased some pictures from this event before. This set is actually from January, before we went into shelter mode. I wouldn't be surprised if there is no exhibit next year, but I'll guess we'll see. I'm only showing one piece this time because it was amazing. Not that others weren't, but this one had so much going on, I had to take a bunch of pictures just to show the whole thing.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

My Super Secret Instagramming Project

That's both a lie and the truth, the thing about it being super secret. It's not really super secret in that I haven't been hiding it, but I also haven't been talking about it, so I don't think anyone is aware of what I've been doing, which is a bit on purpose, because I wanted to have some content up before I started spreading it around.

Those of you who have been around here know that I do a lot of photography. More photography, lately, than writing, though I am endeavoring to get the writing back on track. I have two basically finished Angel stories that just need to be typed and edited, so I'm hoping to get those up soon. But I also needed something fun to do while doing this whole shelter thing, and I'm running out of photo sets to work from for posting here on the blog. The instagram thing, I suppose, is a way to develop new content, but it's content I won't be posting here. It will be instagram only.

Having said that, I'm not entirely sure how I feel about instagram yet. It's a cumbersome process for me. I do all of my photo work on my computer. I don't think I can even do the kind of stuff I do with my photos on my phone, and, even if I could, I wouldn't want to because of the small screen. Plus, I use my camera much of the time, and I load those photos onto my computer. But you can't upload photos to instagram from a PC, which means I have to send all of the photos I want to upload to my phone first, which I find kind of annoying, but you do what you have to do for the art, right?

And I'm still figuring out all of that. After doing all of the editing work on the first string of photos, I found that instagram wouldn't take the photos at the size they were and was cropping off either the top or the bottom of the photographs, so I had to cut out a story line because I lost that narrative off of the photos. Yeah, sure, I could have re-done them and sent them back to my phone, but I didn't feel like doing that at the time. Oh, well.

SO! First, hop over to instagram and check out my page. THEN! Share it all over the place. It would be nice to have some followers.

No, I'm not sure how long I'll keep this up. I'm also going to be posting new old California pictures, stuff from years ago before I started doing any photo-editing. For now, though, this is a fun side project I'm putting a bit of time into, and I would love for you to check out.

As a bit of a tease, here are the "original" photos that instagram made me trim.

Monday, May 18, 2020

The Full COVID

It all began with some muscle aches. Not that I knew it was the beginning of anything; I just knew that my body ached. More than usual. Look, I'm 50; I have a routine of muscle aches that center around my right shoulder, due to how I sleep on it. I noticed on Sunday or so that my shoulder was aching a bit more than usual and that it had spread those aches all through my back, etc, etc. But that kind of thing happens periodically, anyway, depending on how weirdly I may have slept, and I didn't attribute the ache to anything beyond the usual.

Except that it persisted for a few days which wasn't normal but also not enough to raise any alarm bells.

Let's talk about social distancing for a moment.
California was one of the first states -- Maybe the first? I don't remember -- to go to shelter-in-place, and that was especially true of the Bay area. My family has been doing all of the things. I'm the only one who has been out, because I'm the one designated to grocery shop, that being a thing I do anyway. I wear a mask and wear gloves. I avoid people as much as possible. Since the beginning of March, that's pretty much the only place I've been other than taking the dog out. The Bay area has been one of the most successful places in the United States at "flattening the curve."

I had no reason to have any alarm bells going off.

Wednesday night, while still having muscle aches, I started getting a touch of a sore throat, but I didn't really think much about it. It was late when I started feeling it, and I figured it would be gone by morning.

But I was wrong.

By Thursday morning, I was having the full blown sore throat and wondering where I could have gotten sick. And not just a sore throat; the lymph nodes in my neck were swollen, so my whole neck hurt, inside and out. It ached. That's not a thing I had ever experienced before. By that evening, I had a fever of nearly 102.

There were other symptoms, too, but I'm sure you don't need or want to know about all of them.
I did, however, keep my senses of taste and smell.

California is doing a big push to get testing centers open and do more tests. Tests, after all, are where all the data comes from, and we need the data. A testing center had just opened about an hour away that was running tests on people with COVID symptoms. I drove down Friday afternoon to get tested.

That was a week ago at the time I'm writing this, and I still don't have the results of that test. This is not the fault of California. The testing facility I used is being run by a national group that has been allowed to test in California as part of California's thrust to increase testing. They say they have been overwhelmed (yes, I called them), which is probably true, but it makes the test worthless. To me, at least. By the time I have the results, I'll be over the disease. I suppose the data will be useful to someone.

Needless to say, I'm not exactly happy with any of this. And I'm not talking the being sick part.

Let's look at two things:
First, the opencalifornia people. Or openwhateverstate people.
And I know some of them personally.
These people are ignorant and selfish. That's not an opinion; it's Truth.
I'm not going to break down the minutiae of their argument as to why we should just go on living as normal, because it all comes down to two things:
1. These are people not likely to be affected themselves in any real way if they get COVID-19.
2. If they are not going to feel sick, why should they alter their lives to protect other people?

I know a guy who went to one of the protests at the capitol in Sacramento waving around a sign that said "Facts > Fear."
Here are the facts:
Coronavirus is extremely contagious. That I picked it up is proof of that. I almost never get sick and, yet, I picked up coronavirus despite a mask and gloves and all the stuff. Not that the mask is preventative in that way. But the grocery store requires everyone inside to wear a mask so that anyone who happens to be sick will not as readily spread the disease. I got it anyway.

COVID-19, last time I did the numbers, is about 16 times more deadly than the seasonal flu. All of these people talking about it as if it's just a cold can go shove it up their asses. It's just gaslighting to justify their own selfishness on being able to do what they want to do.

The other thing to look at is the Federal response to all of this, which has been, frankly, pathetic.
I'm also not going to break down the minutiae of this. Remember that train wreck at the beginning of Super 8? Imagine if that whole movie had just been that train wreck. Two hours of slow motion train wreck. That's what this whole thing is like, except we're all on the train and can't do anything to get out of the wreck as it's happening. It all boils down to two things though:
1. "Our" #fakepresident believes that having cases of coronavirus is bad for the economy and, if we have a bad economy, he won't get re-elected.
2. Somehow testing creates the cases of coronavirus. If only we didn't test at all, no one would have it.

And that's where we are. In a society where people think not just that it's okay but that it's their god-given-right to carry guns to state capitol buildings to protest about how their freedom to do whatever the fuck they want is more important than other people's lives. More important than your life. Because, you know, if people die from COVID-19, it's not their problem. Those people were weak and needed to die anyway.

The unobstructed armed protest in Michigan is just another step toward what looks like an inevitable civil war in November. Sorry, but Wuher yelling "no blasters, no blasters" didn't stop Ponda Baba from pulling his and losing his arm for it.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Clone Wars -- "Victory and Death" (Ep. 7.12) & Season 7 Wrap Up

"I have a plan. Don't worry; it's a good one."

I don't have much I want to say about this episode. In other words, I have a lot I want to say about this episode but only with people who have also seen the episode. They did an extraordinary job entwining the plot with the events of Revenge of the Sith, including the ramifications of Order 66, of which Ahsoka feels the full effects. So does Darth Maul.

I talked about some of this in the write up for the previous episode and, honestly, I don't remember what was in the specific episodes at this point. It was more like a movie that had been split into episodes for viewing. I'm sure that's how they meant it, to feel like another movie.
Let's just say the ending is poignant and highlights the differences between Ahsoka and Anakin. I hear there's are some new fan cuts, four hour fan cuts, of Revenge with this final arc of Clone Wars edited in. I may actually have to watch one because I think seeing the divergence of Ahsoka and Anakin, here at the end, would be interesting to watch as it's happening to each of them.

As it turns out, especially with what seems to be Ahsoka's new upcoming return to the live action side of things in the SWU, this is essential viewing. It's definitely top three of all Clone Wars stories.
Which brings me to my issue with season seven...
After the quote.

"I didn't much like being a commander anyway."

Yeah, only one. I was too busy watching to write them down.

If you go back and look at my earlier reviews of the unfinished episodes which were to make up season seven of Clone Wars, you'll see that there are eight episodes reviewed. Four of those were the episodes dealing with the Bad Batch and the search for Echo; the other four were fucking brilliant and, as I said in my reviews at the time, possibly my favorite story arc in all of Clone Wars.
And they cut it.

Not that I don't understand why they cut it: They basically re-did that story in Rebels -- because it's an important story and part of the lead up to Rogue One -- before they knew they were going to go back and finish season seven, so it makes sense they wouldn't want to re-present a story about finding a giant Kaiburr crystal. It doesn't matter that the Clone Wars one was actually first. People wouldn't see it that way.

But, fuck, the Clone Wars story was so much better. I'm probably going to have to see if still has it available, because I would now like to watch it again. And part of what they replaced it with was the lackluster story of Ahsoka and Trace, which was completely unnecessary. But, you know, they had to have four more episodes about... something, so now I know why those felt so throwaway. They were. That's what they came up with to fill the gap of the story they took out.

I guess it comes down to this: Rebels was fine. It was a completely enjoyable show, but it was really... usually, would say popcorn, but I think it was more like rice cakes. And it was specifically meant to appeal to kids. Clone Wars had substance. And I miss it. And I wish they would bring it back.
For good.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Clone Wars -- "Shattered" (Ep. 7.11)

"You actually captured him."

Oh, yes, I failed to mention in the previous Clone Wars post that Ahsok did, indeed, capture Maul.

There's a direct tie-in with Revenge of the Sith this episode via a reproduced scene from the movie. Things are getting real. This is all happening during Obi-Wan's battle with Grievous and just prior to Windu confronting Palpatine. And, man, Mace is cold to Ahsoka. Makes me think he almost deserves what he's about to get.

This is a pretty hard episode to watch, all things considered. As we continue with our parallel Revenge story, we see the execution of Order 66 as it affects Ahsoka. And Rex.
Oh, yeah, and Maul.
It's an interesting alternate view. Not essential but really, really good and highly recommended.

"I wish I was good at something. Other than war."

"...Go cause some chaos. It's what you're good at."

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Clone Wars -- "The Phantom Apprentice" (Ep. 7.10)

"I wonder if the moment may be upon us"

This episode... wow... It's epic in scope. And completely entwined with the events of Revenge of the Sith. In the opening moments we find out that Anakin has, between the previous episode and this one, which is saying a lot considering this episode picks up exactly where the last one left off, murdered Dooku. We learn of the Jedi Council's distrust of Palpatine and the ramifications for Anakin. Well, everyone, but I guess we don't know that, yet, from a chronological perspective.

And Maul still doesn't know that Palpatine is Darth Sidious, at least as far as can be told by the way he talks about Sidious.

I still don't think this arc is "essential" viewing, but it's damn good viewing.
There's a huge battle between the clones and Maul's Mandalorians, then between the Maul's Mandalorians and Bo-Katan's Mandalorians.
And an epic lightsbaer duel between Ahsoka and Maul.

Also, Maul gets excellent dialogue.

This is one you just need to watch, so I'm finished talking about it.

"...I'm afraid your way of thinking is behind the times."

"How charming that you actually believe that statement to be true."

"I can thrive in the chaos that is to come."

"You'll find I have many qualities for you to dislike."

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Clone Wars -- "Old Friends Not Forgotten" (Ep. 7.09)

"I am cautiously optimistic."

Enjoy your Revenge of the Fifth...

It seems that this arc is going to use slightly modified quotes from the movies as titles, though last episode wasn't really part of this arc, just the prelude to it. They're definitely gearing up to the end of the series. The opening of this episode was more like a movie opening than a Clone Wars episode, so much so that my son accused me of having played the wrong show when it started up. And I believed him(!) and backed out of the episode and started it again to make sure. It was the correct one. No opening quote, which was weird, so I pulled a line from the episode instead.

This episode opens with one of those epic Star Wars battle scenes, which we actually haven't had a lot of in Clone Wars, now that I think of it. They come along every so often, but they're not as frequent as you'd think. It's a good scene. Obi-Wan is on the ropes, his troops about to be overrun by battle droids. Until... Oh, but that would be telling. It's fun, though.

Two things are happening in this episode.
One, Ahsoka has returned to Anakin and Obi-Wan for help dealing with Darth Maul. On the one hand, this is clearly an effort to on the part of the writers to bring some closure to this plot line in the series. From an outside view, I'm not sure I like this. Considering what's coming in Rebels (and The Mandalorian, from what I've read), I think the better ending was just having Ahsoka leave and that being the end of it. It's more real. Like Obi-Wan's duel with Vader on the Death Star. From the inside, though, the emotional view, it's very satisfying to have these characters come back together again. So I like it, and I very much enjoy it, but I think it's the easy answer to Ahsoka's departure, not the one that deals with how things really are in life. Like Lucas deciding at the last minute to have Lando and the Falcon survive the assault on the Death Star II rather than having the Falcon consumed in the explosion as was originally planned.

Two, Clone Wars is definitively crossing into movie territory with this episode. [I've just realized I'll have more to say about this later, but I'll get to that in my season wrap up as it doesn't actually pertain to this episode.] Ahsoka has come for help but, at the same time, Coruscant has come under attack by General Grievous. As we know from the opening scene of Revenge of the Sith, Obi-Wan and Anakin are at Coruscant for that battle, so we know, to some extent, what's going to happen here. They are definitely not going with Ahsoka to help deal with Maul.

This is a good episode and, while it may not turn out to be "necessary" or essential viewing, it seems as if this arc is going to make a very nice accompanying story line to Revenge.

"Loyalty means everything to the clones.

"By the way, I killed Maul once; best to capture him. He doesn't seem to stay dead."

Monday, May 4, 2020

Clone Wars -- "Together Again" (Ep. 7.08)

-- You can change who you are, but you cannot run from yourself.

May the 4th be with you...

This arc, what I'm going to call the Trace arc, comes to a close. It didn't redeem itself; it just transitioned into something else.

On the surface, this adventure with Trace and Rafa serves only to put Ahsoka in a place where she can run into Bo-Katan and get caught up in the Mandalorian mess dealing with Darth Maul. And that's fine.
Sort of.
The issue here is that if what they wanted to do was get Ahsoka involved with the far-reaching Maul story line, they could have done it more directly. Having Ahsoka crash onto Trace's landing platform (three episodes ago) is just as arbitrary as having her cross paths with Bo-Katan. They could have gone directly to the pivotal story rather than futz around for four episodes doing nothing.


Except it seems that they wanted Ahsoka to have an epiphany about her Jedi-ness, and they used the convoluted story with Trace and Rafa to get her there. Not that they couldn't have brought Ahsoka to the same place with any number of stories, but I do understand the appeal of using Trace and the whole idea of 1313 to bring Ahsoka to the mental space where Rafa could say to her, "You're the Jedi we always hoped Jedi would be," and Ahsoka would accept it and take back the Jedi mantle, just from outside of the Council.

Sure, I may be jumping the gun on that, but...
Ahsoka goes off with Bo-Katan to deal with a Sith issue, something that's not really her responsibility anymore. Unless it is.
And I know where she's headed, development-wise, since I've already watched Rebels.

I don't know. Maybe I would have enjoyed this arc more if Trace and Rafa weren't so stereotypical and the plot device of not-using-your-powers not so cliche. I do like when we get to see other bits of the SWU we don't usually see, and we got to see both Kessel and the Pyke home world during this arc. I just wish the story had been more engaging.

"You and I were always good, good until she showed up."

"We have to trust each other."

"You're going back to help her so you can one-up her?!"

Friday, May 1, 2020

Clone Wars -- "Dangerous Debt" (Ep. 7.07)

-- Who you were does not have to define who you are.

As I admitted last post, I'm not particularly enjoying this arc. I mean, it's fine; it just doesn't feel... significant. This episode seems like a good metaphor for the whole arc.

So... last episode Ahsoka and her friends tried to pull a fast one on the Pyke after bungling a spice job for them. After seemingly escaping, the Pyke captured them. This episode picks up with them in a Pyke jail cell and being tortured, one by one, for the location of the spice. The spice Trace dumped into space.

BUT! They escape! So it's a prison break episode with no real development as the whole episode is spent with them running from the Pyke. And, spoiler alert: They get re-captured and are back in the jail cell at the end of the episode. Right back where we started.
Unless that's the gag, I hate these kinds of episodes... in anything. What's the point? It feels so throwaway.

Except! While they were cavorting and hi-jinking and trying to get away, we see that they are spotted by some mysterious, hooded figures. Spoiler alert: It's Mandalorians.
Which seems to be the whole point of them escaping, so that they can be spotted by the Mandalorians.
It seems like there should have been a better way to introduce that plot development than an episode of them running away just to end up back in prison.

But what do I know?
I'm only a writer.

"You can't profit from other people's suffering or, at least, I won't let you."

"Looks like you two are getting along better."
"Yeah, well, looks can be deceiving."