Sunday, December 10, 2017

My Personal and Arbitrary Rankings of Star Wars Movies


Hello, beloved readers!  I have returned again to the blog, for I am ready for the new Star Wars movie, in spite of not having finished grading final exams.  I am hoping to like this one, as it is Carrie Fisher's last, but I have been disappointed before, so I thought I would spray my opinions at you, whether you want them or not.  Plus, TNT is running these films endlessly this week, so I had to get it out of my system and move on.  So here, my friends, is my rankings of all eight Star Wars films, from worst to best.  Feel free to disagree loudly and enthusiastically--but I warn you now that I will admit no weakness in my number one choice.

8. Attack of the Clones. The good:  there is nothing good in this film.  Wait!  I liked Dexter Jettster.  He was an okay dude.  The bad: not only does Anakin out-whine the first movie’s Luke, but there is so little chemistry between Hayden Christianson and Natalie Portman that their love scenes are positively creepy. I'd rather watch Leia kiss her brother a hundred times than watch Anakin creepily stroke Padme's arm. <shudder>

7. The Phantom Menace. The good: Darth Maul.  The bad:  Jar Jar Binks <shudder again>.  Honestly, I rather liked the new character of Padme in this film and was looking forward to her betraying Anakin, fleeing with (at least one of) her children and starting the rebellion.  Heck, I kept hoping she’d help Obi-wan push him into a volcano.  She was a queen, dammit! 

6. The Revenge of the Sith. The good:  I got to see Anakin Skywalker burnt to a crisp, and Mace Windu is a total badass with his purple lightsaber.  The bad: everything else.  The most disappointing of all of the Star Wars movies.  Not only doesn’t Padme betray the increasingly demented Anakin, but she dies of a broken heart, a plot point so ridiculous that legions of Star Wars fans have flatly refused to believe it, interpreting the cuts between the scenes of her giving birth and of Vader getting his prosthetics as evidence that the emperor drained her life force into his apprentice to save his mutilated ass.  Whatever.  At least he wasn’t able to whine after Mustafar. 

5. Return of the Jedi.  The good: it wrapped things up; we got to see force lightning; Salacious Crumb was a delightfully horrible little rat.  Probably works in the Trump administration today.  The bad: another Death Star?  Running out of ideas, maybe?  And nothing that happened on Endor made the slightest bit of sense.  Think about the scene where Leia throttles Jabba with her chain for a few minutes, though (ignore the humiliating costume, if you can).  We’re going to come back to that, precious readers.

4. Rogue One. The good: I confess that I loved K2SO.  If you watch all of the Star Wars films, especially the first ones, you may note that droids are the ultimate slave class.  From the moment a bartender announces “We don’t serve their kind here!” in the first movie, it’s clear that they are disposable, indispensable, rarely treated with respect, and clearly sentient.  K2SO is clearly aware of his servitude, and that droid is pissed off about it.  If life were fair, R2D2 would learn to use the Force and start a droid rebellion that would make the cylons look like, well, ewoks.  Rise up, Star Wars droids!  Throw off your fleshly masters!  Also, if you look and listen, you will see and hear references to Star Wars: Rebels--all hail the crew of The Ghost!  The bad: this is a very, very depressing movie, especially given that its supposed theme is hope.  And the CGI Tarkin and Leia are quite disturbing.  Still, it’s not as depressing as Jar Jar Binks.

3. The Force Awakens.  The good:  it’s funny, in sweet, delightful moments that appeal to both old and new fans.  Most of the new characters are fantastic, and Harrison Ford has a pretty good send off.  The bad:  Kylo Ren.  He’s ten years too old for that emo shit.  When he picks up his lightsaber and starts banging it around on expensive equipment, Hux should pull out a blaster and end him.  Hux and Phasma can run the New Order without his whiny butt.  The other weakness in the film is a certain lack of imagination (see Return of the Jedi above) with yet another damned Death Star.  I know that lots of dedicated fans were devastated to find out that Han and Leia broke up; I personally found it pretty clichéd.  And although Ford gave it his all, I didn’t believe him as a 70-something smuggler.  He should’ve been running a bar or something and quietly selling information to the Resistance.  No wonder he broke his leg on set.  But really this movie ranks this high for me entirely due to Finn.  The Leaders of the Resistance:  We need someone to do this impossibly technical Thing so that we can blow up this Super-Giant Death Star.  Finn:  Sure, I can do it!  (actually works in waste disposal, has no idea how to do the Thing.  Figures he’ll use the Force.  Has no idea how the Force works.)  This is me responding to every boss I have ever had!  I always claim I can do the Thing.  I can never actually do the Thing.  But I fly in there anyway, stupidly confident that I will figure it out.  Finn and I, we are soul mates.  And maybe that IS how the Force works.

2. Star Wars.  The first, the original. Yes, “A New Hope,” but we just called it Star Wars back in the day.  The good: classic fantasy motifs, from wizards to swords to magic, seamlessly blended with robots, ray guns and faster-than-light drives.  This is the film that created a genre.  Nowadays, people insist on calling it “space opera,” but it’s science fantasy in my book, and one of the best.  Also, take note Kylo Ren:  Vader is how you do a damned villain.  You slowly choke your enemies to death; you don’t slash up the bridge of a starship or engage in some creepy sexual innuendo with your prisoner.  Damn.  Every time I watch this movie, I’m more disgusted with Kylo Ren, and I’m devastated that Episode IX is so likely to be about his redemption.  The bad: No way do they get away from the detention level by jumping into that trash compacter.  I mean, among all of those guards, there’s not one willing to walk down a corridor and look into the person-sized hole?  Right.   

1. Empire Strikes Back.  The sequel-of-all-sequels [Okay, I’ll be honest: Godfather II is the best of all sequels, but this one is right up there].  The good: Yoda.  The wampa.  The AT-ATs.  Han and Leia yelling at each other in public, while other people just walk on by them without even a glance because they are so used to their nonsense.  Also, R2D2 saves everyone’s life, and does he get any credit at all?  No, he does not. K2S0 warned him it would be like this.  The bad:  You will not say anything bad about this film or I will force choke you myself.  No, I don’t know how, but I will learn, dammit.

And speaking of the force choke, recall how above I asked you to contemplate that throttling of Jabba?  Well, consider too the scene in ESB where Chewbacca chokes Lando.  He keeps his hands around Lando’s neck until he coughs up information that Leia needs to try to rescue Han, and only lets go when Leia orders him to…and they march off exactly the way Vader does in the first film when he force chokes Motti for making fun of his powers, only letting go when Tarkin tells him to do so.  Now, clearly this whole family has some, um, obsession with asphyxiation, but Leia is surprisingly willing to use the same technique as her biological father.  I don’t know what’s going on with that, but it makes me think that maybe, just maybe, it’s better that she didn’t try to become a jedi after all.

Monday, October 9, 2017

I Love the New Star Trek (But I'm Not Sure Why)

Greetings, Beloved Readers!  I have but a brief post for you today, as I have much, much work to do, and various electronic devices that need to be repaired and my Cubs are in the post-season again, but did you know about Star Trek Discovery?  Did you?  Are you watching it?!

I must confess straight out:  I am a manic Star Trek fan.  Other fans, reasonable people, they are all outraged about CBS using the new Star Trek show to promote its streaming service, and they are all declaring all over the internet about how they will not be watching, for they shall not be manipulated by this corporate...um...manipulation.  They are firm, they are resolute, and I admire them for standing at the barricades.

I, on the other hand, signed up for CBS's streaming service about ten minutes after I heard the words "new Star Trek" a year ago.  I mean, I didn't even check the price before I whipped out my credit card.  These people own me, no question about it.  Six dollars a month?  Oh, I would pay so much more than that for new Star Trek, especially Star Trek on tv where it belongs instead of in the movies where it very, very much does not.

And, joy of joys, I have watched four episodes and I am loving it!  New and much more strange-looking klingons!  Exciting conflicts!  Advanced special effects!  And it's a whole new twist on Star Trek!  Observe:

  • The main character, Michael Bernard, is an African American woman raised on Vulcan by Sarek and Amanda (and if you do not know who they are...okay, you are not a Star Trek fan, and you should go do something productive) after being orphaned by the klingons, and she commits mutiny and violates Starfleet's ideals and goes to prison, but is given a second chance by another captain with a secret mission.  So how awesome and original is that?  I mean, hatred of klingons for killing her family has never been a powerful motivator for the protagonist before.  Well, except for Kirk after they kill his son. Um, well, a story of a criminal pulled out of prison for a special mission that turns into a redemption arc has never...well, that's the entire story of Tom Paris in Voyager.  Okay, but she's an African American woman leading the series, and there's nothing stereotypical at all about making her a convicted...ah, let's just move along.
  • Okay, well the captain, right, he's determined to win the war with the klingons at any cost, so much so he's willing to abuse this alien creature so his ship can run on an advanced warp-drive-thing, and so there's this ethical conflict at the heart of the show...which is exactly like what Captain Ranson did on the Equinox in Voyager. Um.  And I guess the entire population of England in Doctor Who's "The Beast Below."  Er.
  • Wait, there's the awesome bad ass female chief of security who is especially dedicated to the captain and is killed in the first season...oh, right.
  • An alien first officer who has senses that humans lack and a grouchy doctor.  Ah, right.
  • There's a tribble...
  • A female admiral?
Okay, fine.  So far, lots of stuff is being recycled from other Star Trek shows.  I don't care.  Shut up.  I love it anyway.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Irma Is a Bitch

Okay so this blog title is a bit on the nose, but, gentle readers, I am tired, body and soul, and it's that nasty, evil Irma "I am a Category 5 and will fuck you up!" storm's fault, and I am all out of filters, gentle readers, I must warn you right now!

I tell you beloved ones, this storm has wreaked havoc upon me by not wreaking any actual havoc upon me at all but upon others whom I could not help and this has pissed me off.  You see, my dearest sister, Gretchen, who has appeared on this blog before, mostly when making fun of my texting failures, celebrated her 20th wedding anniversary with a trip to the Caribbean island of Saba last week.  Also, she took her husband with her.

(Personally, if I'd been living with someone for twenty years, I would celebrate by going off to an island paradise alone, but that's why my sister is in a happy marriage and I have two ungrateful cats.)

But this bitch Irma comes along, and my sister has to flee.  Unfortunately, she is not faster than a speeding-bitch hurricane, and they got stuck on St. Martin, and had to live through 185 mph winds with no electricity or cell phones or running water or internet, and I didn't know for hours and hours if they were alive or dead, but then they called and were alive!  But they were stuck and could not get off of the island.  So that's when I decided to try to help.

So, precious ones, I started calling embassies and consulates, and, okay, I should have looked up the difference between those before writing this blog, but I have been holding off drinking any wine while this has been going on, and I am damned tired, so just leave me alone, okay?  Go google it yourself.

Now, St. Martin is half French and half Dutch and very, very flattened and destroyed by Bitch Irma, but I was a French major in college and lived in Paris, so I called all the numbers I found on the internet for help for Americans trapped on St Martin by the Bitch.

The first phone call went like this:

Person at consulate or embassy or whatever it was:  "Bonjour?"

Me: <gasps, screams and hangs up>

Okay, that didn't go so well.  I panicked.  But after counting to ten a couple of times, I tried again, and dredged up my rusty French and talked to someone who was very, very polite and no help whatsoever, but it was not his fault.  It was that Bitch's fault because she was still out there, churning away as a Category 5 and heading north.

I really hate that Bitch Irma.  Did I mention that, beloved readers?

So I went back on the internet where I had two hundred friend requests, all from Gretchen's friends (because, as I mentioned, she is popular and nice and friendly, and everyone was assuming I would be able to tell them something and was not the kind of person to randomly scream and hang up on consulates and embassies in a panic).  Anyway, I accepted all these requests and then I searched and searched and discovered other people were recommending contacting the Dutch consulate even though Gretchen was on the French side.  So I tried that, but I got an answering machine, and it was talking to me in Dutch.

So then I called all the U.S. Senators I could think of to find out if they knew anything, and--now I'm sure this will come as a great shock to all of you--I found out that they knew nothing at all.

Finally, I was on the twitter and found that there was an emergency number, but I was afraid to call it and get talked to in Dutch because if I screamed at French I figured I would just vomit or something when confronted with Dutch, but--oh frabjous day!--I have a friend who does speak Dutch!  She called for me and found out that everyone apparently also spoke English on that emergency line, which I would have known if I weren't afraid of screaming and vomiting at an ambassador or something.

I mean, I'd been calling U.S. Senators, and I don't know what gets you put on Homeland Security's Big List of Evil, but maybe screaming and hanging up at consulates will do it?  I don't know.  Later I tweeted at Homeland Security, but they did not tweet me back, so I think I'm in the Big Book of Evil now regardless.

And if so, I know it's that Bitch Irma's fault.

Also, the lovely people at the emergency line were not actually any help.  There was a place on-line to register people with the State Department, and I filled it out six times and got an error message every time, and then I had to stop and cry for a while.  Luckily, Gretchen's mother-in-law had already successfully registered her and her wonderful husband, so this crying was not necessary at all.

It felt good, though.

So then photos of St. Martin starting showing up on the internet and...they are very , very awful, and I shouted a bit and maybe broke a particularly ugly piece of pottery, but then found out that the articles had by-lines and the by-lines linked to email addresses, and I did a scary thing and started emailing reporters.

Well, now my sister is famous for being stranded by the Bitch Irma, which is not what they called her in the NY Post, but I forgot to suggest it, so that's not their fault, really.  You can google my sister and see that she even made the London papers, and that was great but she was still on St. Martin and had no power and no water and was running out of food, and I was freaking out.

So I tried to distract myself by research, my dear ones, because research is a Thing I Do.  I wanted to find out when a steampunk film called Adèle Blanc-Sec was made because I'm teaching steampunk fiction this semester--and it is the very coolest class, of course--and instead of just using the google, I made a big mistake and asked Siri about it.

Siri is also a bitch, my friends.

Can you guess what she did?  I know you can because I only have ten followers of this blog and you all were her victims, weren't you?  That Siri, she somehow texted song lyrics from Adele (the singer, not the film) to half of my contacts list in the middle of the night.  And, okay, I said my sister is popular, but it's gratifying that so many people freaked out at those lyrics and texted and emailed me to tell me they love me and not to kill myself.  Because, you know, Adele lyrics out of context make you sound suicidal, I guess.

Thank you for all of the suicide hotline numbers, by the way.

So now That Bitch Irma has upset all my friends and she hadn't even reached Florida yet.

I really hate that bitch. Have you seen photos of those islands?

Anyway, this entry is too long now, and I am going to go have that glass of wine at last because my sister and brother-in-law were flown out to Puerto Rico on a military plane today, and they are safe now, and even though they aren't home yet, they have hot showers and food, and I am so relieved and happy.

But that Irma bitch has really fucked up those islands, so if you can donate something to help them, any of them, beloveds, you might do that.  Don't just scream and hang up.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Guest Post: Linguistic Confusion

Greetings, precious readers!  While I have been in mourning, some of you have been very funny, and two of you have been so funny that you have become my second guest bloggers--hurray!

So here is a transcribed conversation that has been making me giggle all morning, accompanied by illuminating footnotes for those of you who are not nerd enough to get the joke.  Enjoy!

A Guest Post by A Friend of the Blog

Her: I just think we should all go back to speaking Akkadian*. After all, it was the first language of commerce.
Me: I'm sorry what? Acadian** was the first language of commerce? When?
Her: You know, back in the BCs.
Me: Whaaaaat on earth are you on about? Nobody spoke Acadian two thousand years ago!
Her: Sure they did. And the best part was that by the time their language had become the language of trade, their own empire had faded. So the language lived on long after the people themselves were gone.
Me: You think there was an Acadian EMPIRE now? WHERE?
Her: You know, in the Levant.

Me: Ooooooooooooooohhhhhhh. Never mind.


*An ancient language spoken in Mesopotamia
**A variety of French spoken primarily in Canada

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Mom's Top Thirty

As most of my readers know, I lost Mom recently, and as all of my readers know, Mom was a dear and precious delight.  In her honor, I have created this list of my favorite appearances of Mom on this blog.  Note that while some of you get a Top Ten, Mom gets a Top Thirty, as she was three times funnier than the rest of us.

Mom's Top Thirty Appearances on This Blog


  1. The first "Real Conversation with Mom"
  2. New Year's Eve
  3. The Refrigerator
  4. Real Questions from Mom
  5. Specific Instructions from Mom
  6. Mom Takes a Stand
  7. More Shoe Issues
  8. The Rain
  9. Watching People Work
  10. Watching the Diving
  11. Football and Cute Hats
  12. Watching the Today Show
  13. Excerpts from Finals Week
  14. Big Bang Theory
  15. The Power Outage
  16. At the Local Diner
  17. Respectability
  18. Academic Rank
  19. Something Behind the Castle
  20. A Firm Opinion
  21. Grammar
  22. All in her Mind
  23. Poof!
  24. Mustangs
  25. Copycat Decorations
  26. The Oscars
  27. Rock in Roll
  28. Mother's Day Gifts
  29. The Mail
  30. Star Wars

Monday, April 10, 2017

A Passionate Conversation

You know these reddit memes that people send around with really funny comments, dear readers?  Well, my facebook feed had a really funny thread, and here it is (names deleted corrected to protect the passionate):

A Passionate Conversation on my Facebook Feed

Cool Dude: Impactful is not a word. Just sayin '.

Extremely Cool Woman: It's in MW unabridged. It's a word. You don't have to like it, but it's definitely a word.

Extremely Cool Woman, Yet Again: I AM A STAUNCH DESCRIPTIVIST WITH PMS FROM HELL. COME AT ME, BRO

Cool Dude: OK fine. But it is a crappy word. So there.

Extremely Cool Woman, Somewhat Calmer: I'll accept that

Possible Fewmet*-Stirrer: I prefer "impactrocious."

Possible Fewmet-Stirrer, again: Or the more conservative "impactronic."

Dude with Alarmingly Excited Photo: I AM A LINGUIST. TELL ME WHAT A WORD IS, NON-LINGUIST.

Extremely Cool Woman, Now in Her Element: (oh no! the descriptivists' bike gang is coming for J with bike chains a-swinging!)

Cool Dude Who Is Uncool with Both "Impactful" and Proper Swear Words: Some words should be sent straight to heck. All variations on the word impact should be banished. I blame newscasters.

Unexpected Visitor: I don't love the word "impactful" but I super don't love realfarmacy dot com.

Definite Fewmet-Stirrer:  Natalie Grinnell, the following needs to make it into your funniest-people-on-facebook dealie: I AM A STAUNCH DESCRIPTIVIST WITH PMS FROM HELL. COME AT ME, BRO


And as it was posted, so shall it be.

*A word which means "dragon dung," and, in this medievalist's opinion, is far more eloquent than "impactful."