America, 2036

In my vision I’m sitting on my couch, watching television with a faceless child, one of several in my ever-growing tribe.  We’re watching another mediocre clip show called I Love the Twentyteens.  Each episode is apparently broken down by year and this one is 2016.

It starts off with various b-list celebrities reminiscing about the time our country had a collective stroke over the Ghostbusters remake.  And then the tone changes and the music gets ominous.  An image of Donald Trump’s face floats across the screen with glowing red eyes, as the voice of Sauron from the Lord of the Rings movies bellows, “I see you,” in the background.  What follows is a flurry of standup comedians and TV personalities laughing about the time Trump thought he’d built a movement.

They talk about the complete meltdown he had when it became clear he wasn’t going to win the election, and how he turned the misogyny and the hate speech up to eleven.  As still images from his campaign trail montage, one into the next, they make jokes about his hideous appearance, his crepe-paper ego, and they marvel that there could ever have been a time when a large segment of the populace could have allowed themselves to be talked into giving that much power to such a petty, horrible man.

The screen crash cuts to video footage of white, screaming mobs at his rallies, shoving people of color and vomiting hate speech all over them.  A comedian’s voice speaks somberly about Trump’s efforts to create civil unrest and derail the whole country out of spite.  Screen grabs of racist threats and calls for revolution on various internet message boards stream across the screen.  If the people couldn’t have their bloated, hate-filled demagogue in the White House then by god, they were going to burn this country to the ground.

“But then he lost and nothing happened,” says a game show host.

“Clinton was inaugurated and nothing was on fire,” says a podcast host.

And the child sitting next to me turns and asks if that’s really what happened.  And I explain to him that yes, these were the same people who didn’t want to pick their own produce, let alone sacrifice their personal comfort for the sake of a political point.  For all their anger and bluster, they were just bloated, racist dinosaurs who hadn’t yet realized they were already extinct.  And the 2016 election was their death rattle.

“It’s like…if you’re going to have a revolution you should really make sure your army is made out of something sturdier than hatred and gout,” says an ageless Michael Ian Black.

And the child and I laughed.

Thesis Stress…

…and other good problems.  I don’t think 2016 was even two weeks old when I got the news that my good friend Gregory Toliver had died.  Gregory was another complicated genius I was fortunate enough to know, and with his passing I’ve come to realize how insanely lucky I am to have known so many like him.  And for now, that’s all I’m going to say about his passing.

2015 was mostly spent working on my MFA and working my full-time job on top of that, so while I did a LOT of writing, I submitted to damn near zero journals.  2016 will be different.  I’ve already submitted to two journals this year.  One of them has already rejected my submission, which is fine.  Toward the end of last year, I read a few poems during the open mic of a poetry reading in Pomona, and after I was asked by Andrew Turner (a friend) to submit one of them to his journal, East Jasmine Review.

There’s going to be a lot of links in this post.  It reminds me of the old geocities days.

Anyway, Andrew asked me to submit it, and I was very flattered and I did, and he published it.  I’m not sure if it’s in the newest issue or just on his site, but whatever.  You should buy the last several issues, EJR is a truly fine publication.  He also asked me to give him a recording of me reading it, so you can read it or listen to it here (I can’t deal with the sound of my recorded voice, but maybe you can):  Psychedelic Codeine Mobius Strip

Week and a half ago, I was asked by my friend David Stone for any of my love-themed poetry for a Valentine’s Day article he was writing for the Press Enterprise.  That article was published yesterday and you can read it here.  It was also published in the print edition.


That’s my friend Cindy Rinne pictured to the left.  Easily the highlight of this last weekend was having one of my poems appear on an image I altered, next to a wedding cake made by my wife, Annette, at the Simply Red exhibition at the dA Center for the Arts.  Annette signed us up to contribute something to the exhibition, and I had no idea what I was doing until about a week ago.

The poem that was quoted in the Press Enterprise yesterday was written very specifically for Annette.  I decided to rewrite it into something a bit more broad, and then she thought it would look nice on a picture of Morro Bay, which is one of our favorite places (and also mentioned in the poem).  Problem was, I couldn’t find any of the pictures I’ve taken of Morro Bay, so I had to find one to work with.  This turned out to be incredibly easy.

I stumbled across the photography of Josh Willems, who I guess is a biologist.  Photography is his hobby, but he’s seriously good at it.  I found this image of Morro Rock on his site (click for hi-res).


Copyright © Josh Willems

Gorgeous, yes?  So I reached out to Josh on Facebook and he got back to me less than 24 hours later, enthusiastically allowing me to use his image.  I’m always amazed by the generosity of the creative folks I encounter.  They’re good people.

But the theme of the exhibit is Simply Red, so I had to run it through Photoshop, which I had to do anyway in order to paste my poem over it.

While I was doing that, Annette was hard at work making an enormous wedding cake, which would be on display for the first few hours of the night, and would then be eaten by the people at the gallery.  Annette is amazing.  Her cakes are genuinely works of art, and they taste fastastic, and if we’d opened our bakery five years before or after the recession, she’d be all over your television.  Anyway, the end result looked like this (click for a better image).


I wish I’d gotten a better picture, this one barely does it justice.  Everything on that cake is edible of course.  Crazy proud of her.  A hi-res version of my image / poem can be seen by clicking on the image below.

Meanwhile, I’m finishing my MFA this year.  Sixteen, seventeen weeks from now, I’ll have my degree and then, ate the age of 47, I’ll have to go out into the world and pretend to be a grownup.  The fuck is that all about?

Easily the one thing that’s going to eat away at my sanity most over these next months is finishing my thesis.  There are two parts to the thesis:  The manuscript, which has to be anywhere between fifty and a hundred pages (mine will be much closer to fifty), and the SOP (Statement of Purpose), which is the academic writing bit.  My manuscript is currently at 45 pages, has a title, and is looking good.

Keep in mind that “looking good” means wildly swinging back and forth between “not feeling embarrassed by it” and “everything I’ve ever written is dog shit.”

when_i_die_tAdded to that, is the fact that a lot of what’s in that manuscript is semi-autobiographical, detailing the complicated, frequently-ugly relationship between my father and I.  Many of the poems in this manuscript have already been published, in one form or another, by other journals so a lot of this is already public.  I’m going to do my best to see the whole thing published, however, which means at some point, I’m going to have to deal with family reaction.

But even that stress is just me working as hard as I can to avoid my SOP.  I have literally zero trouble writing long-winded academic essays, but when you have to write about your own writing?  As though you’re fucking Wordsworth?  Yeah, I’m having real trouble with this.

Q:  How do you write about your writing, taking your work very seriously, without sounding like an asshole?

A:  You don’t.

Maybe.  Or maybe I should just shut up and get back to work.

Life is really, really good right now.

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Who’s The Troll?

“Don’t feed the trolls.”  Once in a while, I apparently have to be reminded what a great piece of advice that is.  I’m at a point in my life where my writing is, once again, my only source of therapy, so I’m back to “thinking out loud” here.  I’m 46 years old and I’m ashamed of the words I’m about to type:

I’ve spent the last hour plus of my life arguing about George R. R. Martin with some random nerd I’ve never met before.

On Facebook, no less.  What a pathetic douche bag.  Me, not the other nerd.  Though he might be that as

The specifics of the argument are irrelevant.  What matters is some friend of a friend wrote something in a comment thread that I passionately disagreed with and instead of saying to myself, “Wow, what a load of horse shit,” I engaged with him.  And it went back and forth – a few times – and our mutual friend said something about backing off, which she should because I hate it when two of my friends starting squabbling in one of my comment threads, but (god I hate Facebook) then neither one of us really backed down and now we’re still arguing even after I started writing this post.  And this is the worst part:

I’m the fucking troll.

I’ve been online about as long as this guy has been alive and I know how to behave.  But I chose not to.  Why?  Fucked if I know.  But yeah, I’m the troll here.  Disgusting.

That doesn’t let him off the hook though, he’s still a condescending

There’s something wrong with me.  His first reply illustrated the lack of rational perspective that’s so prevalent among the more rabid fans of nerd culture (I’m a nerd by the way, we’re all on the same page about that, right?), and a complete unwillingness to take any kind of personal responsibility (and again, we’re talking about a series of fucking books here, not birth control, or something that matters) and I should’ve just walked away.  But I’d already engaged with the guy and it was way too late.

I wonder if this is what it’s like to be a junkie?  To actively, knowingly participate in something you know is wrong?  Probably not.  Regardless, I knew this was a stupid waste of my time, but my lizard brain refused to let go.  I’m the troll.

What a fucking drag.  And here’s something else:  I was genuinely angry with this dude.  I don’t even know him.  He might be a great dude.

He could be.  So I’m getting worked up and I’ve got that anger demon in my gut that just makes me want to invade a small village and destroy their food and water supply, and then, toward the end of this thing, this guy writes that he was about to write a nice message about how good it was to debate with me.

Fucking what?

Couple things here:  First, nothing about what we did was debate.  We were two self-righteous nerds yelling at each other.  Second…good?  What about any of that shit was good?

I guess some people are just hardwired to argue about shit.  I’m really, really not one of those people.  I mean, I’m inclined to argue about shit, especially pointless shit, but it’s an inclination I seriously dislike, and there’s not any part of the process I find enjoyable.  Read three paragraphs back where I mention the anger demon in my gut.  The real term for that is “stress.”  I was stressed out.  This guy enjoyed himself, apparently.  He totally wins.

I totally lose.  I probably shaved like a day off my life over this shit.  And I was a dick to some random dude in the process.

I just apologized to him on Facebook.  Because I’m a middle aged adult and that’s what you do.

Goddammit.  Maybe I’ll be a better person tomorrow.

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens – 60 “Plot Holes” You Need To Calm The Fuck Down About

Before I begin, two things.  First, obviously, this is going to be saturated with spoilers, so if that’s going to ruin your day, please stop reading now.  Second, these articles were written by some guy named Seth Abramson.  They are called 40 Unforgivable Plot Holes in ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ and 20 More Plot Holes in ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’.  They were written for Huff Post and I won’t link to them here because I despise Huff Post, but you can go there and search for them.  I’ve read a ton of Star Wars hate on the internet in the last few days and almost all of it was touched on in these two articles, so while it may seem as though I’m specifically responding to this Seth guy, I’m actually responding to everyone raising these (mostly) impossibly stupid points.  Seth seems like he’s probably a decent person, and my response gets a bit…hostile.  I genuinely don’t mean any of this to be an attack on him, but it’s totally going to come off that way, so uh, sorry, I guess.

Oh, one other thing, just real quick:  I do have actual, genuine anger for all the racist dipshits who can’t wrap their lizard brains around the idea of a black stormtrooper.  Fuck those people.  Anyway, getting on with the list:

  1. Destroying the Death Star was comparatively much, much more difficult than destroying Starkiller Base.  First off, that’s debatable, but for the sake of argument, let’s say it was much harder to destroy the Death Star.  So?  Destroying something smaller turned out to be much more difficult than destroying something much larger.  You’re seriously having trouble with that?
  2. Han Solo “just happens” to find the Millennium Falcon, as soon as Rey and Finn take it off Jakku.  Again, really?  Is it too big a leap to assume that it’d activate some sort of beacon once the engines have been turned on?  And, having said that, let’s address this notion I’ve been seeing lately that goes something like, “If I have to assume things, the writing is bad.”  That’s a highly conditional statement.  If I have to assume things like character motivation, then alright, the writing could’ve been tighter.  If I have to assume that Han’s ship activated a homing beacon of some sort as soon as the engines were powered on in more than a decade, maybe the writers are trusting their audience.
  3. In the light saber duel between Finn and Kylo Ren, Kylo Ren doesn’t automatically use the force to rip Finn a new ass.  Yeah.  Kylo Ren is insanely powerful, but also very clearly NOT a Sith Lord.  He’s a temperamental post adolescent, whose tantrums are routine enough that two stormtroopers recognize them for what they are and just walk the other way so they don’t have to deal with his bullshit.  So maybe he was being an arrogant ass and just toying with Finn?  Could he be cruel enough to do something like that?
  4. Rey becomes nearly as effective a Force-user in a few hours as Luke Skywalker did in a few years.  Two things:  First, no, she doesn’t.  Watch it again.  Second, yes, she becomes surprisingly adept at manipulating the force in a short period of time.  It’s almost as though she’s had some sort of training at a very early point in her life.  But she has no memory of that, so that would have to have been when she was really fucking young, before she retained the memory of it maybe.  And the training clearly was cut short.  What could possibly have happened in order for those conditions to have been met?
  5. When Snoke tells Hux to go get Kylo Ren, Hux apparently finds Ren way too easily.  You’re just looking for shit to complain about at this point.  I’m seriously not even going to offer an explanation because there are too many to choose from.
  6. The reason Ren was slowly bleeding to death — instead of being dead by Rey’s hand — is that a massive a chasm had just miraculously opened up in the several feet between the two of them.  The reason Ren was slowly bleeding was because he’d been shot by Chewbacca.  The chasm opened up because the planet was literally falling apart.  I agree though, it’s just crazy that something that some people were doing nearby might have a consequence for other people in the exact same area.  Crazy.
  7. Rey can speak Wookie. Yeah, it’s like she’s not originally from Jakku.
  8. Apparently Poe surviving the Tie Fighter crash was handled poorly.  This is a plot hole?
  9. What is all this nonsense about the First Order only wanting to destroy the Republic because the Republic is supporting the Resistance? Where did anyone get that idea?  Maybe I need to see the movie again, but the First Order has sided against the Republic AND the resistance.  Also, who gives a shit?  Remember the prequel films?  Remember the idiotic platitudes about Democracy and wondering what politics had to do with Jedi and robots?  Yeah, me too.
  10. For that matter, why is it made to seem like the entire Republic is centered in just one star system?  Again, this is a plot hole?  The answer of course, is “No, this isn’t a plot hole.”  And if something like this is going to prevent your ability to enjoy a popcorn flick, then again, you’re just looking for things to complain about.  In Abramson’s article, he uses this point to ask several other questions:  Isn’t the Republic intergalactic?  Is it?  Where’d you get that idea?  Why did the First Order choose to destroy all the planets and moons visible from Maz Kanata’s home-world, but then initiate a conventional invasion of the latter planet? Why not just fire one more planet-killing beam and destroy Kanata’s planet too?  They wanted the damn map, remember?  If the Republic is in power, why is the Resistance the “Resistance”? What are they resisting? Isn’t the First Order the “Resistance,” as they’re resisting the hegemony of the Republic?  This is a good point and it is something that I wondered about in the movie but once again, it’s not really a plot hole.  Also, who gives a shit?
  11. Kylo Ren is the head of the Knights of Ren, but there are no other Knights of Ren in the movie.  Yes, there are.  They’re clearly seen in Rey’s vision.  Did you need them to be in the present?  Why?  Also, so what?  It’s not okay to introduce the Knights of Ren in the next movie?  Again, this is a plot hole?
  12. Captain Phasma is supposed to be a big-deal character in The Force Awakens, if the merchandising and casting are any indication.  Who gives one single shit about the fucking merchandising?  This isn’t about the goddamn merchandising.  This is about the fucking story you paid twelve bucks to see in a theater.  You found the character underused.  Fine.  Why wasn’t she more of a badass?  Well, she had a fucking rifle to her head.  And she’ll be brought back for the next movie.  But mostly, who gives a solitary fuck about the goddamn merchandising?  It is separate from the story.  Keep your criticism of the story on the fucking story.  Can you tell that any discussion of merchandising makes me angry?
  13. Really? Was there no previous order Finn had ever refused to execute? Was the slaughter on Jakku actually the first naughty thing the First Order had ever required of him?  Apparently, yes.  Is that really too big a stretch?
  14. Finn is an ex-janitor who goes AWOL from a Stormtrooper force numbering in the tens of thousands. Yet he is absolutely convinced, despite being someone of no importance whatsoever to the First Order, that he will be chased across the galaxy for having defected.  Yes, it’s funny how people can sometimes be inclined to make things about themselves, especially when the literal life-or-death stakes of self preservation are added into the mix.  What an asshole.
  15. Let’s be clear: Han’s son joins the First Order, and Luke’s attempts to train new Jedi goes horribly wrong, and both men respond to these setbacks by, well, abandoning the Resistance. Luke freaks out, yes, feels ultimately responsible for the death of an unspecified number of young Jedi in training, many of them likely children, and he bails in search of the first Jedi Temple.  Han, on the other hand, bailed on Leia after she insisted their son be sent to train with Luke.  There’s no reason to think they bailed at the same time for the same reason.  Han is burdened for the rest of his life that he’s been a shitty father and by the burden that his son has turned out to be a bit of a prick.  Luke feels responsible for the deaths of what has to be – bare minimum – several dozen young people.  I say those motivations are reasonable for turning your back on things.
  16. By the end of the movie, the impression is left that every single First Order soldier is dead besides Supreme Leader Snoke, General Hux, and Kylo Ren.  That is absolutely not the impression I had, but what’s your point?  The fact that we’re given this impression makes the climactic discovery of Luke on an isolated island entirely irrelevant. After all, what need does the Resistance have of Luke now?  Leia wants Luke back in the picture to help the resistance effort.  Also he’s her brother and she’s a general and well, that’s how shit works.
  17. Why does General Hux need to gather all of his troops just to tell them he’s about to press a button and destroy the entire Republic?  Again, you’re looking for shit to be angry about.  This isn’t a plot hole.  It’s a bit of political theater.  History is filled with examples of this BS.  George W. Bush dressed up as a pilot for the “mission accomplished” lie he was trying to make stick.  It happens.  And it also serves to heighten the drama of an important moment in the story.  Good lord.
  18. How pissy is it of Luke to (a) abandon the Resistance, and then (b) leave an obnoxiously coy trail of bread-crumbs to sort of (but not really) help people find him (at some unspecified time)?  He didn’t abandon the fucking resistance.  There wasn’t a resistance when he left.  As for the map thing, well, good point actually.  I have some questions about the map.  I expect they’ll be addressed in the next movie.  Though if they aren’t, I’m not going to waste a whole lot of time giving a shit.  Also?  This isn’t a plot hole.  It’s a bit of character motivation / action that you don’t understand.  It’s okay not to know things, people will still like you.
  19. Why wasn’t the Resistance able to access R2D2’s data archives at any point over the course of the many years Luke was gone?  We’re at number 19, and finally, finally, we might have an actual plot hole.  Or it might turn out that Luke ordered R2 to go dormant until the one missing piece of the map had been brought to him.  We’ll have to wait and see.  But congrats, there’s actually kind of a point to this complaint.
  20. When the Resistance finally figures out where Luke is, after looking for him for many years, why do they send only Chewbacca and a random girl who Leia just met to collect him?  Jesusfuckingchrist, I don’t know, maybe because Leia, while not a Jedi, is still a force sensitive, and Rey is clearly a force sensitive and she has the light saber that once belonged to Leia’s brother and father and maybe that’s some sort of, oh, what would you call it?  Sign?  Also, Luke isn’t someone to just be “collected.”  He’s likely going to need some persuading and a girl holding the light saber that was last seen attached to his severed hand might be a compelling fucking argument.
  21. Kylo Ren has such a Force-enabled sense of where his father is in the Galaxy that when his father lands on Starkiller Base, Ren immediately exclaims to himself, “Solo!” Yet a few minutes later, when Ren is just twenty feet from Solo, he can’t detect him — and actually starts searching for him in the wrong direction.  MAYBE THE FORCE DOESN’T HAVE GPS.  GAH!
  22. How lame is Han’s attempt to convert his son?  You.  Are.  A.  Dick.  Seriously, a huge, greasy dick.
  23. Why do Rey and Finn just stand by watching as Ren murders Han? They didn’t know Ren was Han’s son, so the drama on the catwalk must have looked absolutely bizarre to them.  They clearly heard Han identify Ren as his son.  Watch it again, their faces react to that dialogue.
  24. Rey says that the Millennium Falcon is “garbage” and hasn’t been flown in many, many years. Then she gets on board and it basically flies perfectly.  Oh God, shut the fuck up.  Do you remember what Luke called the Millennium Falcon in the first movie?  Ever heard of a callback?
  25. Why does Plutt offer Rey 250 times her usual pay for BB-8 and then, when she says “no,” simply tell some of his heavies to just steal it?  BECAUSE IT’D BE EASIER TO PAY HER FOR IT.  ARE YOU THAT INCAPABLE OF THINKING SHIT THROUGH?
  26. Maz Kanata is a friend to the Resistance.  Is she?  So why is she hiding Luke’s light saber from them?  Is she?
  27. How did Kylo Ren manage to get Darth Vader’s mask into his little fetish den?  Not a plot hole per se, but still odd.  Not a plot hole at all.
  28. How does Finn find Rey’s settlement, given that the film makes clear that all Finn can see, after his Tie Fighter crashes, is endless dunes in every direction?  Survival skills?  Dumb luck?  Not a plot hole.  You see, sometimes stories – especially those of a mythical nature – have elements of luck in them.  Maybe the force was guiding them toward each other?  Who gives a shit?
  29. Who trained Rey to fight with a staff as effectively as she does, given that (a) she is an orphan with no friends or family, and (b) she has never been in a battle, but is, rather, merely a scrap-metal scavenger?  Does she really have no friends?  Which moment in the movie indicated this?  Has she really never been in a fight?  Which moment in the…oh, fuck it.  Also?  She’s been trained.  By Luke.
  30. If Finn is such a good guy that he would try to save Rey the moment he saw she was in distress, doesn’t it further call into question just how in the world the order to kill civilians on Jakku was the first time he’d ever had qualms about doing something the First Order had asked him to do?  It doesn’t.
  31. Given that all Poe knows about Finn is that he’s a First Order defector, why does he seem happy to see Finn just seconds after (and perhaps as) BB-8 tells him Finn is alive?  Yeah, it’s not as though they had a chance to bond while learning to work as a team during a daring escape that almost cost them their lives.  Where do the writers get this shit?
  32. Kylo Ren takes his mask off pretty readily, and in pretty mixed company, for someone determined to wear super uncomfortable headgear perpetually.  Not a plot hole.  Actually, this doesn’t even sound like a complaint.  It’s just an observation.  Also?  Ren isn’t a super villain.  He has no identity to hide.  He’s wearing a mask because his hero, Vader, wore one.
  33. Why does Kylo Ren assign just a single Stormtrooper to guard Rey, the most valuable prisoner in the history of the First Order?  Just shut up.
  34. How do the Rathtars on Han’s freighter get loose? If he’s just keeping them loose in the hanger, why don’t they kill him when he’s walking through the freighter toward the Millennium Falcon, or at any other time? And if he’s got them chained up, how do they escape?  They escape when Rey resets the wrong circuits and the doors to their cells open.
  35. Why do the Rathtars immediately kill every human they encounter — except Finn, who is randomly dragged off just long enough to be rescued?  Because he was behind one of them and it grabbed him with its tentacle.  Were you watching the movie or writing a list of how shitty it was?
  36. Why are all Stormtroopers human (or humanoid)?  Because the Empire and, by extension, the First Order are racist swine.  Which is NOT to say they’d have a problem with a black man being a stormtrooper.  But there’s never been much, if any, alien species in the ranks of the Empire, save for third-party contractors like, say, bounty hunters.  In direct contrast, the Rebels / Resistance clearly have an open-door policy for whoever wants to help fight the bad guys.  This was established in the original trilogy.  Watch them again.
  37. If basically everyone in the Galaxy knows the Force is not a myth — for instance, every single Stormtrooper in the First Order, who has seen Kylo Ren use it or heard tell of him using it; every single person in the Resistance, who knows the Resistance is looking for Luke Skywalker; every single person in the Republic, which was first established in part by the heroism of the Jedi — how is the existence of the Force a total shock to Rey?  Why, for the love of God, are you assuming that “everyone in the galaxy” knows the force is not a myth?  There’s absolutely no reason to think that.  And every reason to think that many people (maybe even most) think it’s a myth.  Or have never even heard of it.  How many of the “plot holes” on this list are just stupid questions based on assumption?
  38. Is Supreme Leader Snoke actually a giant?  NOT A PLOT HOLE.
  39. Why would the First Order spend untold quadrillions of [insert unit of money here] to build the Starkiller Base, when a similar concept and design plan had twice before been destroyed with minimal difficulty by the rebels?  More importantly, why would they let it be named by a 12 year old?  It’s a fucking planet.  Better defenses, longer range?  I don’t know.  Oh wait.  Who gives a shit?  THIS WOULD NEVER HAPPEN IN REALITY.  EVER.  EVER, EVER, EVER.  EVER.  Movie though, right?
  40. Is there any other film franchise in the history of cinema that would be permitted, by its fans and by critics, to recycle so many plot points?  James Bond.  Now blow me.
  41. Starkiller Base has been constructed to allow it to suck all the energy out of a star thousands of times its size. Do the math on that. Or, if you like, do the science-fictional math. Neither is anything but ludicrous; neither shows writing effort.  I’m going to answer this and 42 together.
  42. If Starkiller Base is a weaponized, orbit-locked planet that can’t be flown, it’s the worst weapon ever and not one the First Order would ever have constructed.  Right.  So it probably flies.  That said, Starkiller Base is easily the biggest problem I have with the film.  How does it work?  Why?  Why is it used the way its used?  Isn’t the name kind of silly?  Isn’t there a much better way to spend your money wiping out your enemies with a ruthless efficiency?  And yet, none of that really plays a role in my enjoyment of the movie.  Want to know a secret?  The Death Star is one of the dumbest fucking ideas ever conceived of.  Ever.  Seriously, it’s ludicrous.  And why, for fuck’s sake, would you put a goddamn ventilation shaft that leads straight to the radioactive core of the fucking thing?  That’s just begging someone to destroy it.  Know what?  STAR WARS was fucking great anyway.
  43. Why does Maz Kanata keep her most prized and valuable possession in an unlocked chest in a publicly accessible basement?  Who the fuck would be looking for something literally no one knew existed?
  44. Speaking of Maz Kanata’s cantina, before the heroes enter it, Han (who sure as heck knows from “dangerous”) makes it sound incredibly dodgy — so much so that he tells Rey and Finn not to even look at anything once they’re inside; however, the patrons they encounter couldn’t be friendlier.  Watch it again.  He’s talking about Maz.
  45. When Rey lands on Takodana, she says that she never imagined so much green could exist in the entire galaxy. The problem here is that we also know that every single night Rey dreams of an oceanic world dotted with idyllic and gorgeously lush islands. So maybe she can imagine it, and in fact does so every night?  No, Takodana is more green than the island she dreams of which, you can see in the film, is far more blue due to the vast surrounding ocean.  And mostly, you’re looking for shit to complain about again, knock it off.
  46. Has any film, in any genre, ever allowed a sketchy, background-unknown defector from the Bad Guy camp (Finn) such quick in-person access to the Supreme Commander of the Good Guys (Leia) as we see here, and with so few questions asked?  This is a genuinely great point and it’s one that should’ve been addressed in the movie.  Even one line of dialogue along the lines of, “Don’t worry, he’s cool,” would’ve gone a long way toward addressing this.
  47. Rey remembers quite clearly that she’s been told not to leave Jakku, in fact that memory is so imprinted on her psyche that it’s effectively her Prime Directive, and yet she has no memory whatsoever of the face of the person (or any of the people) who communicated to her that life-defining piece of information. There’s coincidence, and then there’s logical inconsistency. This is the latter.  Seriously, were you watching the movie or not?  She was maybe three years old when she was left on Jakku, and she’s supposed to have perfect recall?  Also, is it beyond the scope of reason that maybe a Jedi, maybe Luke, fucked with her memory?  Jesus.
  48. Why are there Stormtroopers using giant tasers in this film?  Because they’re rad.  And this isn’t a plot hole either, it’s a question about something that doesn’t need explaining.
  49. “Flametroopers” are (a) cool-looking, and (b) have absolutely no place in the Star Wars universe.  No, they totally belong there.  Especially when the First Order wants to set shit on fire.
  50. One more toy-related gripe: certain toys licensed for the movie appear to not be in the movie — suggesting blah blah blah.  Fuck you.  Also, see my previous comment about merchandising versus storytelling.
  51. Since when, in the history of space films, have spacecraft in a well-guarded spaceship hangar needed to be tethered?  Since never.  The real question is, “Why is this the first time we’ve seen such an obvious good idea in these films?”  Seriously, what happens if artificial gravity is turned off for any length of time?  Does everything just float away?  Tethering your ships to the deck is an affordable, low-tech, painfully-obvious good idea.  But you find it silly.  Maybe you should speak with someone who’s served on an aircraft carrier.  Moving on.
  52. Han Solo and Chewbacca have spent nearly every day together for forty years, often fighting off baddies in small skirmishes and giant battles, but Han has never before tried Chewbacca’s bowcaster?  That is apparently the case.  And once again, you are apparently looking for shit to be angry about.  Also, who gives a shit?  Also, not a plot hole.
  53. Returning to the “Tasertrooper”: the only reason Finn doesn’t die in this movie is that a Stormtrooper on Takodana inexplicably chose to fight him with a taser rather than shooting him with a blaster.  No.  That trooper called out “traitor” and then tossed his rifle to the ground.  If he’d fired, Finn could’ve ducked, jumped to one side, blah blah blah.  Quit whining.
  54. For folks trying to hide BB-8 from the First Order, BB-8’s friends sure make some inexplicable, unnecessary decisions to trot him out in public.  This is a valid complaint ONLY in the scene where they visit Moz’s cantina.  But it is a valid point, and they should’ve just left “him” (when in the film did they identify the gender of any droid?) on the ship.  If I recall correctly, BB-8 didn’t even play much of a role in the film again until they got him to the resistance base.
  55. When Finn, a First Order defector who no one knows very well, reveals to Han and Chewie that he’s lied to them about his knowledge of Starkiller Base, and that he’s really only there to rescue his prospective girlfriend, who’s also a big unknown to Han and Chewie, why doesn’t Han let Leia know that they’ve been had?  Probably because in like, half an hour or whatever, Starkiller Base is going to blast the fuck out of Leia and everyone else on whatever planet the resistance base is on.  At this point, the only move is to proceed with the “making it up as you go” tactic that Han has proven he’s so good at in, oh, each of the three previous episodes.  It makes perfect sense.
  56. Why can’t Starkiller Base be used until it’s dark, as Poe (oddly) insists?  Jesus fucking GOD.  IT WASN’T ABOUT WHAT TIME OF DAY IT WAS.  The stupid fucking weapon drains the fucking sun of it’s fucking energy.  Which would do what to the fucking sun?  For all we know it was eleven in the morning, but when the fucking sun dies, it fucking gets dark out.  You’re not even trying to have a good time here, are you?
  57. I know that in sci-fi, people survive crazy crashes all the time — but at some point it gets ridiculous.  You’re right.  Poe should’ve stayed dead.  And then later, when the Millennium Falcon crashes on SKB, Han and Chewie should’ve died.  That would’ve been a great-ass story.  Idiot.
  58. Kylo Ren can read Rey’s mind from a distance, which is why he tells his subordinates that she’s going to steal a plane from the hanger to escape — so why didn’t he know exactly where she was on Starkiller Base? And if he wasn’t reading her mind, and was instead just speculating, where was that foresight when he left a single lightly armed Stormtrooper/James Bond to guard her — despite already knowing she was a Force-user as powerful (or even more powerful) than him?  Because, again, the force doesn’t have GPS.  And again, he only left one guard to attend to a tied up little girl, untrained in the force, because shut up.  And by the way, this isn’t even a fucking complaint, this is you rehashing two previous complaints, most likely because when it comes to whiny lists, 20 is a better number than 19.
  59. A little petty, but still irksome: since when do blaster wounds cause massive bleeding?  Since five minutes into the movie.  Also shut up.  Also who gives a shit?  Also, NOT A PLOT HOLE.  Also, oh my God, yeah, it’s a “little” petty.
  60. Even accepting that Jakku was Finn’s first military assignment of any kind, as many readers of my first article on the film clearly did, are we to assume that he was entirely in the dark about the giant, racist, homicidal, Galaxy-spanning terrorist organization he was mopping floors for?  No, we aren’t to assume that he was entirely in the dark about blah blah blah.  He’d probably been feeling pangs of doubt for a long while.  And we know from the dialogue in the film, which you may have missed while you were busy being angry that you’re not ten years old anymore, that the stormtroopers are basically snatched from their families at birth and then “programmed” to obey via whatever who-gives-a-shit method.  But for some reason, there’s something about Finn that rendered this programming less effective.  Maybe he’s a force sensitive.  We don’t know yet because this is the first of three movies and there’s still more story for them to tell us.  That’s totally okay for those of us who don’t need everything explained to us like we’re children.  So anyway, the programming fails to work on Finn for whatever reason and finally, when he’s in combat for the first time (which is something we know, from his dialogue in the movie, to be true) he’s confronted with the ground-level, real-world horror of the First Order, and he freezes (and, ultimately, makes a decision).  This isn’t even me applying some sort of theory, this is me relating to you, the story I was told when I watched the movie without cynical eyes and ears.  You should give it a shot.  It’s a really fun movie.

So.  What’s the final tally?  Glad you asked.  On a list of 60 complaints, we have the following results:

Actual Plot Hole – 3
Kind of a Good Point – 2
You’re Just a Huge Dick – 1
Rehashing Two Previous Complaints For a Nice Round Number – 1
Petulant Whining / Scraping the Barrel for Shitty HuffPo Content – 53

Go see the movie, it’s a good time.


I just got an email from Seth Abramson, who has written a follow-up article titled, “10 Reasons ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Is the Best ‘Star Wars’ Film Ever Made.”  I still won’t link to it because I still hate Huff Post.  I said at the start of this post that he genuinely seemed like a good guy and he apparently is, because after reading my response to his articles, I wouldn’t hold it against him if he called me a dick back.  And he didn’t, so yeah, good guy.  Or just insanely patient.  Either way, thanks for being decent about it, Mr. Abramson.

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Poet’s Wife at a Poetry Reading

Maroon, hard-ass plastic
chairs arranged, in haphazard
semi-circle around The Podium,
discount chardonnay and store-bought
sweets “breathe” on a folding table.

I am not a poet

I do not speak       in soliloquy,
rhyme, metaphor, or simile.

I do not speak       in the static, soft,
sing-song voice that lures

the waking mind       elsewhere. I speak
straight from the heart, that which
makes me angry        elated        heartbroken.

I am not a poet

I don’t paint pictures       with words,
my life is simple, challenging,

normal, chaotic. I am me, yet
in words, there is truth
beauty        love        life

poetry        is me.


This was written by my wife, Annette, who is a badass for a variety of reasons.  We were at a post-Thanksgiving party / poetry reading the other night and she actually got up and read this in front of the group.  Her first reading in front of a group of people.  She was great and that night might’ve been the highlight of 2015.

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