Star Wars: Rebels “Blood Sisters”

“Blood Sisters” was better at being a Sabine episode than “Wings of the Master” was at being a Hera episode. Just.

First off: Hiding classified intel in a gonk droid? Genius. I never would have thought of that. Once Sabine figures out who (what?) the courrier is, Ketsu Onyo shows up. Who’s that? She’s a bounty hunter who has a bit of history with Sabine. They bailed out of the Imperial Academy together and became bounty hunters. Then one day, Ketsu left Sabine for dead. That’ll get you unfriended.

Ketsu Onyo is voiced by Gina Torres, and it’s to see (or in this case, hear) another Alias alum in the Star Wars galaxy. The plot of “Blood Sisters” is pretty much as expected: Ketsu and Sabine have it out then hug it out, after teaming up to escape the Imperials. Teamwork and friendship win the day. Yay Team Friends!

I Have Met the Enemy, and I am It

According to the internet, there is a new TV show called The Great Indoors. It stars Joel McHale, and apparently his character likes to make fun of Millennials. To this I say, “Good.” Having a wall covered in participation ribbons does not exempt you from a generational rite of passage. As a Gen X-er, I grew up watching any number of sitcoms featuring Baby Boomer and/or hippie parents who complained about their kids, and longed for the “good old days.” Generation X has been taking it on the chin (sometimes literally) from Boomers for a long time.

If the worst thing that happens to Millennials is that they get their feelings hurt by a television program, they should consider themselves lucky. Baby Boomers threw the World’s Greatest Party, while Gen X was left to clean up the mess.

Boomers had “free love;” Gen X received free condoms. They took all the good drugs; we were told to “Just say ‘No.'” They had Carnaby St.; we had 21 Jump Street. They had Mopar muscle cars; we had Chrysler K-cars. They had Laugh In; we had Hee Haw. They had Woodstock; we had Woodstock ’99. Jefferson Airplane sang “White Rabbit;” while Starship sang “We Built this City.” Now tell me, who got the better deal?

But in some aspects, I had it better than kids today. Generation X had Michael Jackson, the Millennials have… Umm… Justin Bieber? We had Bill Cosby before we found out what a piece of work he is. We have Joan Jett, they have Avril Lavigne. Oh, and if you think Nickelback sucks, you should listen to Creed.

Or not. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.

As much as I hate to admit it, the faults we see in Millennials (real or perceived) are the direct result of the actions of Generation X. Face it folks: we failed them. Has your kid ever asked, “Who’s Paul McCartney?” Well, the fault doesn’t lie with the school system or the government. Generation X failed the Millennials just like the Baby Boomers failed Gen X. As Josephine the plumber used to say: “Shit runs downhill.”

Star Wars: Ahsoka

When it was revealed in the season one finale Of Star Wars: Rebels that Ahsoka Tano was the mysterious rebel agent known as “Fulcrum,” (spoiler alert) the audience wondered what she had been up to since she was last seen in The Clone Wars. “Ahsoka” by E.K. Johnston give us the answers to our questions. Well, some of them anyway. It’s always good to have a bit of mystery.

The story starts about one year after Revenge of the Sith, and Ahsoka is trying to stay off the Empire’s radar as best she can. She has a job as a mechanic at a shipping company, and she is staying with the family whose patriarch owns said firm. One day Ahsoka realizes that her presence is putting the family in danger. So she splits.

She sticks to the Outer Rim worlds because the Empire tends to leave them alone. That’s the good news. The bad news, as you may have guessed, is that the butt end of the galaxy is a haven for all kinds of criminal activity. But there are a few places that that even the Hutts and Black Sun have no use for. One of them is a moon called Raada.

What part of Raada that is flat is used to grow food. The inhabitants either farm the land or work in local shops for local people, since Raada isn’t a tourist destination. Unlike say, Harloff Minor.

It doesn’t take Ahsoka long to find a residence which doubles as a place to repair farm equipment. Life on Raada is quiet, peaceful, and more than a bit boring–just what Ahsoka is looking for. Then the Imperials show up. Those guys are such a buzzkill.

I liked the story, but if I had to nitpick anything about “Ahsoka,” it would be that the bad guys were given a bit of a short shrift. They come across as slight variations on any number of other Imperials we’ve seen over the years. It reminds me of how in the early seasons of The Clone Wars, the Jedi and clones would face off against a potentially interesting villain, then defeat them in under twenty-two minutes.

“Ahsoka” is a young adult novel, but grown ups can enjoy it too. One of my favorite Star Wars novels is Lost Stars, and it’s YA. Both Lost Stars and “Ahsoka” are personal stories, but the former has a much grander scale. “Ahsoka” may have a smaller scope, but so do some great episodes of The Clone Wars and Rebels.

Star Wars: Rebels “Wings of the Master”

“Wings of the Master” is one of those episodes of Rebels for us long time Star Wars fans to geek out over. It turns out that a Mon Calamari called Quarrie designed and built the first B-Wing. I think that’s pretty cool.

Hera tells Quarrie that as a child on Ryloth during the Clone Wars, she developed a desire to be a pilot. It’s a beautiful moment, but that’s all it is–a moment. I’m not saying that we have to know everything about every Star Wars character. We know very little about Yoda, and that’s okay; I like a bit of mystery.

I sometimes fear that now that everything is canon, Lucasfilm will fill in all the gaps. That’s okay, I guess. I’m not one spend my time writing fan fiction or creating head canon.

Season one of Rebels was peppered with characters from the the films, and season two features characters from The Clone Wars. I understand the need to tie Rebels to the Star Wars galaxy at large, but sometimes it seems like whomever is making the decisions doesn’t have faith in the show or the main characters. I and millions of viewers adore the crew of the Ghost, so I have no idea what’s going on.

My Life is neither Rom nor Com (part two)

Romantic comedies occasionally feature a love triangle, because those are always fun. The common scenario has the lead character in a long term relationship, (usually engaged to be married) when out of thin air, their “soul mate” appears. That has never happened to me, but I am sure everyone I have ever dated wished it would happen to them.

The closest thing to a love triangle I have ever experienced is when I meet two women with different personalities, but I like them equally. This is really less of a love triangle and more about being paralyzed by choice, because I am not used to having options. And when I do have options, (all things being equal) I usually make the wrong choice. Do I wear the grey shirt that makes me feel confident, (relatively speaking) or do I wear the blue shirt that brings out the color of my eyes? The usual answer is: It doesn’t matter.

And by “grey shirt” and “blue shirt” I am obviously talking about a Star Wars T-shirt or a Doctor Who T-shirt.

And no, I was not comparing women to shirts. Let me make that clear.

As I was saying: I would be attracted to the more outgoing of the two, most likely because I was hoping for a bit of personality transference, since I am lacking in that department. The problem is that we would often have very little in common.

Meanwhile, I would have deep meaningful conversations with the other woman. Usually it would be about things we had in common. Such as: insecurities, awkward moments, failures, bad dates, crushes, etc. Eventually, we would get around to talking about stuff that happened after lunch. And to make matters worse, the two women would sometimes be friends. So I would end up dating neither, because I don’t want to be that guy.

Speaking of being a guy, I try to identify with the male protagonist in rom-coms. But usually the only thing we have in common is a Y chromosome, which is more than I have in common with women. Obviously. I did pay attention in school once of twice, since Schoolhouse Rock never covered genetics.

Actually, I learned that by watching Kyle XY. I didn’t want to admit I watch ABC Family. Or Freeform. Or whatever they are calling it whenever in the future you are reading this.

Hello, Future People.

My favorite male actors who often appear in rom-coms are *drumroll* Hugh Grant and John Cusack. But you probably guessed that if you read part one. Don’t worry, there won’t be a part three.

*Huge round of applause from the metaphorical audience*

Hugh Grant often plays characters who are awkward, yet charming (I am more the former than the latter). Plus, Grant is English, and has a cool accent. John Cusack plays smart guys who are often confused by women (I am more the latter than the former).

It wasn’t until recently that I figured out my problem, but I am still in the denial phase. It turns out that I am not a Hugh Grant, John Cusack, nor any other leading man–I’m the sidekick. Yep, I’m Jeremy Freaking Pivin.


My Life is neither Rom nor Com (part one)

“Which came first: the music or the misery?” As you probably know, that’s a quote from High Fidelity. It’s part of a monologue in which Rob (played in the film by John Cusack) opines on the belief some people hold about kids who play violent leading to a culture of violence, yet no one ever ponders how listening to thousands of songs about heartache could lead to a life of misery. The thing is that it’s love songs that make me miserable. The same can be said for romantic comedies.

I actually like rom-coms. Well, some of them, anyway. Rock and Roll is an American invention, but the British perfected it; I feel the same way about romantic comedies. Four Weddings and a Funeral is one of my favorite movies; more for the comedy than the romantic aspect. That’s one of the reasons I have watched it so many times over the years, and why it holds up to this day. British rom-coms tend to be less sappy and sentimental than their American counterparts, which I often find hard to watch.

I like Tom Hanks as much as the next person, but I cannot stand Sleepless in Seattle or You’ve Got Mail. I’m not going to list all the genre cliches these films employ, since every other website has already done that. On a positive note, they are more romantic than the Twilight saga, and more comedic than any Nicholas Sparks adaptation.

One of the things that is lost to history (which is probably for the best) is the treatment I wrote for a sequel, right after watching Sleepless in Seattle. My idea was that Bill Pullman’s character (whose only “flaw” was allergies) seeks revenge on Tom and Meg’s characters. He goes to Tom’s impossiblely cool house, and with the help of some tools, sets it adrift. It then floats off toward China; and in what I like to call a “99 Red Ballons situation,” World War III begins. Everyone dies. THE END.

One staple of rom-coms is the “meet cute.” I have never experenced this phenomenon, but then again, I have never been descibed as “cute,” so I guess that one’s on me. The nicest thing anyone ever said to me was, “I wouldn’t spit on him,” which is memory I dredge up every time I have a bad face day.

If I ever do meet someone, it will most likely be described as a “meet awkward,” for I am socially inept. One time, I had what can only be described as a “meet bored.” Well, I was bored anyway. That one did have a awkward ending, though.

She calls me on a Thursday evening and gives me the “We need to talk” routine. She couldn’t talk on the phone, nor at her house, which was only a couple of miles away. No, we had to meet at her favorite spot by the lake, which way out of the way.

When I arrive, she says, “I think we should see other people.” I said, “Okay,” and started to leave. I had been trying to break up with her since we met, but she couldn’t take the hint. Or the statement. I guess it had to be her decision.

She calls me the next evening and asks, “What are you doing tonight?” I reply, “Seeing other people.” It was a lie, because no one wanted to see me. She kept trying to convince me to do something, and by “something,” I could only assume she meant be a taxi service for her, her step-brother, and his a-hole friend (boy, do I have stories about that).

When she realized that I wasn’t about to acquiesce, she had the nerve to ask me for my friend’s phone number. Of course I refused. There are any number of stories I could tell you about her, like the one involving her and a married man, but I won’t.

The Girl on the Train (film review)

Let’s get this out of the way: The Girl on the Train is no Gone Girl. If you have read any reviews, or the novel by Paula Hawkins, you already know that. But that’s not a bad thing. There are lots of things that are not other things and we accept that. We like to compare things because it’s a simple form of shorthand.

Now that the introductory b.s. is over with, I’ll say that The Girl on the Train is a pretty good book, and an okay movie. Could the film version have been better? Yeah, but it was never going to be an Oscar contender. Not that every film has to be.

Rachel (Emily Blunt) is the girl of the title. Every day she takes a train that passes by the house of Scott and Megan Hipwell, (Luke Evans, Haley Bennett) an attractive couple that Rachel makes up stories about in her head to pass the time. It’s a fun thing to do when you’re bored. I do it all the time, and I am sure many of you do it as well. My favorite cinematic version of this is the “Vernon Hardapple” scene in Wonder Boys.

One day, Rachel sees Megan kissing another man (Edgar Ramirez). The next thing you know, Megan has gone missing, and Rachel is desperate to find out what happened to her. The problem is that Rachel is a blackout drunk, and not the most reliable person. Her recollections of the day Megan went missing are vague at best. To further complicate matters, the Hipwells live a few doors down from Rachel’s ex-husband Tom, (Justin Theroux) and his current wife, Anna, (Rebecca Ferguson) neither of whom like Rachel very much.

If I were to compare The Girl on the Train to anything, it would be Rear Window. Except in this case, the window is on a moving train, and the one looking through it is always at least half in the bag. Needless to say, director Tate Taylor is no Alfred Hitchcock, but who is? Brian De Palma? David Fincher?

Taylor did the best he could; the film is very well made, and the cast is superb. The running time is less than two hours (for those that care about such things). The problem for me is that the script by Erica Cressida Wilson hits the high points of the novel, but they don’t have the same impact as the novel. The film isn’t rushed, but I never felt like I had the time to take in the backstories of the various characters.

On the one hand, it may have been a hindrance to have read the novel first, because I knew that so much was missing. On the other hand, I could fill in all the gaps. I wonder what the audience members who hadn’t read The Girl on the Train thought about the movie. Maybe it will intrigue them enough to pick up a copy of the book. Maybe not.