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Star Wars, Serendipity and Truth

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Every family has their own Christmas traditions and, in my house, Christmas isn’t Christmas without Star Wars, so I watched the 3 original films again over the holidays, which are, of course, still the best. Little did I think when I sat in the Commodore Cinema, back in the day, watching Star Wars for the first time, that in my lifetime I would see the rise of an evil empire bent on world domination and control. As the globalist bankers, business men and their political puppets come with their vaccine to ‘save’ the world while simultaneously stripping us of our rights, freedoms and health and making a tidy profit for themselves, I can only thank God these people don’t have the ability to travel across the universe. Mind you, I would certainly be in favour of loading them on to a rocket and sending them to a galaxy far, far away.

Christmas is a religious holiday, usurped from the pagans, (if it happened now, you could call it cultural appropriation and start a row about it!) and I would not have considered myself a religious person, although a nephew once remarked that Star Wars isn’t a film in my house, it is a religion. You could do worse, I suppose, than aim to be a Jedi and how cool would it be to have a light sabre? Although, at the present time, I’d happily settle for a Kalashnikov.

Anyway, getting back to religion, I had started to re-read M Scott Peck’s, The Road Less Travelled again. This happened by accident, I was reading Moby Dick on my Kindle at lunchtime at work, and I went to check a note but couldn’t get back to the page I was on, and ended up on a page in the Road Less Travelled on a chapter on religion. In the passage, the author was talking about patients who do not claim to be religious and pointed out that they are, ‘You have a religion…a rather profound one. You worship the truth’. This struck me, maybe it was a serendipitous moment (the gift of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for) or maybe it was just a coincidence, but I gave it some thought and had to agree, truth is my religion which is probably why I am at odds with so many and always have been. When I look around me, I see too many who question nothing and it’s not even that they believe everything they are told, but they pretend to ‘belief’ because it is too much work to act and think independently, and it is much easier to just bleat along with the crowd.  I also realised that not only do I worship at the altar of truth, but on each side of that altar there is a pillar, one to context and the other to perspective, 3 elements that are sadly missing in the cv19 spectacle being played out across the world in the web of lies, deceit, cowardice and fearmongering.

Over Christmas, I was also speaking to someone I hadn’t seen in a while, and who travels a lot for work, especially to China. I won’t say who they are or how I know them, but they were in the Shanghai area in June 2019, and told me that everyone was sick with a respiratory flu. They were unable to meet the boss of the company they were visiting, as the man was so ill he had to go to the hospital for injections to help him breathe. Is there anyone else out there who was in China in 2019 and had a similar experience or knows anyone who did? With all the debates raging over lockdowns and masks, we have taken our eye off the ball regarding the origins of this ‘virus’ and it is a question that still needs to be answered, especially since the residents of Wuhan were able to go out and party on New Year’s eve while we were all locked down.

I still maintain I had this back in January of 2019 and my mother in July 2019, more so now since hearing this. My mother was ill for weeks and the cough she had took months to get rid of, and she is 84 years of age and has diabetes, and survived it. That could explain why I’ve been able to walk around without a mask, travel across the UK and neither me nor anyone I have had contact with has been ill. 2 members of my family circle had mild symptoms (loss of taste and smell for a few days) and that was it.  Maybe we have passed on our immunity. And talking about immunity, where are all the thousands who had it and recovered? Are they still wearing masks or are they spreading their immunity around? If you already had it, you should not need a vaccine or mask either, as you should have immunity now.


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Star Wars - This Rise of Skywalker

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Edited by Aideen Devine, Thursday, 1 Sep 2022, 12:55

I was there, back in 1977, at the Commodore Cinema in Strabane, to witness the beginning of new era in cinematic, cultural and commercial history when Star Wars arrived, transporting us through space and time to a galaxy far, far away and 'May the Force be with you' entered our language and even got its own day (May 4th for those who don't know). I fell in love with Luke, lusted after Han and wanted to be Princess Leia.  I followed my heroes as Luke confronted the dark reality of his origins in the Empire Strikes Back (still the best movie in the entire franchise) and cheered when Luke, Leia and Han won the day, in Return of the Jedi and the evil Empire was finally beaten. Hurrah!

Then, the balance in the force was lost and a darker side took over (commercial interests) but out of loyalty, I stayed the course, suffered through the prequels, almost crying in despair when Jar Jar Binks arrived on screen (What was George Lucas thinking, what was he thinking????). But cheered again when good sense won out, as the back-lash from the fans saw him sidelined in episodes 2 and 3, even if the balance still wasn't quite right and there were huge plot holes.  Then Lucas sold the franchise to Disney and I looked forward in anticipation to see what JJ Abrams would do with it, especially when he had done so well with the reboot of the Star Trek movies.  How naive was I...

I watched The Force Awakens with some trepidation but thought there were some good things in it that could be developed only to have my hopes shattered by The Last Jedi and I felt so let down that I did not even go and see Solo, A Star Wars Story (there is only so much disappointment you can take in a certain time-frame although, I am assured it is a fairly decent film) but still haven't seen it.  

Then, with the announcement that The Rise of Skywalker would be the final film in the series, and since I was there at the start, how could I not be there at the end, I decided to put all negative feelings aside and go see it. I had watched Rogue One again over Christmas (one of the better off-shoots from the Star Wars story) and The Force Awakens. So to fully prepare, I watched The Last Jedi again (just to see if it was as bad as I remembered - it was!) got bored before the end and went to bed. 

So, with the end now in sight,  Sunday evenings being what they are and with no better offers on the table, I decided to go to the cinema and watch The Rise of Skywalker.  It was getting better reviews than The Last Jedi  (which isn't really much of a recommendation) but gave me hope that maybe, just maybe, they had upped their game a bit and since it was the end of the story, hoped that they might have pushed the boat out and made a film in keeping with the spirit of the original trilogy - going out with a bang and not a whimper!

Unfortunately, they didn't!  The Rise of Skywalker, or as I will now refer to it, the Lazarus Episode, (because the dead were being resurrected left, right and centre, although no one could resurrect a good script!) failed for the same reasons that most of the newer films in the franchise have failed. They are not character led, they are led by economics with an over- emphasis on special effects and cute characters, in a puerile attempt to flog us Star War's fans more tat, in thanks for our loyalty over the decades.

My biggest gripe apart from the hole-riven story(?) is with the main character (and I use that term in its lightest sense) Rey, this generation's new 'Luke' (because in the age of gender equality, the lead has to be female this time around).  She has the acting/emotional range of a door, all jolly hockey sticks earnestness or jolly hockey sticks earnestness with tears which really starts to grate after a while. She is so bad, she actually makes Hayden Christensen look good.

John Boyega who played Finn was one of the good characters in this new series and I had an expectation/hope that his character would be developed into something more than he initially appeared. He could at least have had some Jedi training. However, he was badly under used again in this film and can only lead me to conclude that he was there as a 'token' character to check that 'all-inclusive' box that is so important in the world of political correctness today.  

The script/story (if you could even call it that?!) revolves around the 'mysterious' return of the old emperor, Palpatine.  However, this didn't really turn out to be much of a mystery at all, and it quickly became obvious that it was merely a plot device to cover up for the complete lack of originality and ideas by the scriptwriters on how to develop a story or make a decent film. 

In the original Star Wars Trilogy, we had several great individual characters who bounced off each other and gave the film a sense of realism (even if it was set in a galaxy far, far way) and depth. There was no big convoluted plot, just goodies versus baddies in space, add a little sexual tension, some sharp humour and it worked!  

In the new films, even the great characters from the original movies have been lobotomised into blandness.  Leia, who was the feisty heroine leading the rebellion even before Luke and Han got on board, has been reduced into a benign, toothless granny. Same thing with Luke and Han, everyone now appears like a refugee from a Channel 5 Christmas movie, all bland sweetness and cloying com-patriotism.  

I had such hopes but this poor excuse for a movie is just a mess of nothingness with neither rhyme nor reason, a sorry end to a cinematic era.  If there was any reasoning behind it (which I seriously doubt it!) I think it went something like this - Well, we've made a total balls-up of the whole franchise so lets just bring whole sorry mess to an end asap and start over with something else. The fans will still come and see it because it is Star Wars so we'll at least make our money back, then hopefully, we can all forget about it and move on - or words to that effect. I will certainly be doing my best to forget it.

As a long time Star Wars fan, I cannot fully capture the depth of my disappointment. For me, there are really only 3 Star Wars films and those are the 3 originals. And I mean the originals, not the updated version Lucas did a few years ago with more special effects and 'cute characters'. Rogue One is the best of the others and Fan Boys is the fan's, Star Wars film - all worth a look. I will see Solo at some point in the not too distant future but if you are a fan and haven't seen The Rise of Skywalker yet, save yourself some time and money and give it a miss but I know if you're a Star Wars fan, you will still go and see it. 

Ah, Obi Wan, the balance in the Force has been lost. I'm only glad they didn't resurrect you and Yoda to witness the trashing of your legacy. But, as bad as it feels at the moment, word has reached me from a distant galaxy (Ok, from number 3 son) that we are not entirely without hope. Apparently, The Mandalorian, another Star Wars offshoot set after episode 6, is getting very good reviews so for fans mourning the passing of our old friend Star Wars, it may not be RIP just yet. So, as we prepare to jet off again to a galaxy far, far away maybe the lesson to be learned here is that, if you can't do it better, especially when it comes to film classics, then leave it alone.

May the force be with you!


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Mission Impossible/Fallout

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DUN DUN! Du du, DUN! DUN! Du..du, DUN!  DUN! Du..du DUN!...Your mission should you choose to take it, is to go see the latest Mission Impossible instalment and report back...  

Well, just back from watching the latest outing by Tom Cruise in the Mission Impossible series and what a wild ride it was!!  I thought the MI series might been getting a bit played out by now but I have to say I was very pleasantly surprised, I loved every minute of it!  Not everyone's cup of tea, I know, and I also know Tom Cruise has many detractors but I'm not one of them, I do love the Cruiser!  Well, he is one of the heart-throbs of my generation.  I'm not a fan of the Scientology, or any religion for that matter but you have to admit, it's working for him.  He's been at the top of his game for many, many years and still going strong.  

But...back to the movie!  If you like a good action film, and I'm not really a big action movie fan to be honest, I've never seen a Jean Claude or Steven Seagal film but I do like the Mission Impossibles.  Maybe its the music...like the Grand Prix...those opening bars send a little shiver of anticipation up the spine and deliver a nerve-tingling thrill a minute!  Believe me, thrills are thin on the ground around here...what's a girl to do?  Ya gotta takes 'em, where ya gets 'em! 

Anyway, I won't bore you with any details or give anything away but it's a good enough story with plenty of twists and turns so if you're into action movies or Tom Cruise or even Simon Pegg (who I first got to know in Spaced and who I am so jealous of, getting to work with, not just Tom Cruise but also getting parts in Star Trek AND Star Wars!)  then, go see, and enjoy!

As for me, this message will self-destruct in..Phut!

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Star Wars - The Last Jedi

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Edited by Aideen Devine, Monday, 18 Dec 2017, 22:15

I went to see the new Star Wars film last Thursday.   About 10 minutes into the film I realised something about myself that I’ve suspected for some time now.  I was watching a battle, no real spoiler alert here as you know there will be battles in Star Wars but a ship was exploding and falling over and as I was watching it I was thinking, ‘that’s not right because if that happened in space the pieces would just float away’.  Then I saw they were close to a planet and thought ‘unless, of course, it is within the gravitational field of that planet’.  Nerd alert!  The reason I had begun to suspect this was when I was watching  The Big Bang Theory one night, and Sheldon was invited in for coffee and refused saying ‘it was too late for coffee, if you drink coffee at this time of night you’ll not be able to sleep’.  I had actually done this with a male friend of mine one night, although in my defence, I think he did just mean coffee.

Anyway, back to the movie – now I am a huge Star Wars fan so I’m a bit biased in its favour anyway but I wasn’t wholly impressed to be honest.  Marks out of 10 – 6 at best.

Now, the reputation for Star Wars was built on the first 3 films, A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.  The first 2 are, in my opinion, still the best out of the entire series.  Return of the Jedi was good too, and I’ll never forget the chase through the forests of Endor as seen on the big screen for the first time, but the Ewoks?  I had my doubts then and looking back this is the moment for me when things started to go wrong in the Star Wars universe.  Cute characters are not really my thing, R2 works because he is an integral part of the story but when they appear contrived which to my mind the Ewoks were, then, they don’t, at least not for me.  Apparently, it was supposed to be Chewbacca’s home planet of Kashyyyk, a planet of Wookies but the budget wouldn’t run to so many large costumes so they cut them in half and made Ewoks.  I think he should have shelled out for the Wookies, some things are bigger than a budget.  But, in fairness, the story was strong so they didn’t dominate the overall picture and I could live with it.

But as bad as the Ewoks were, there was worse to come and the prequels brought to screen one of the most obnoxious characters ever committed to celluloid or rather cgi, Jar Jar Binks.  I think Lucas should have been certified for this, what was he thinking, I mean, really?  What was he thinking??  Thankfully, the backlash from fans led to his demise and apart from a very brief appearance in Attack of the Clones, he disappeared from the Star Wars universe never to appear again. (I hope)  Note to potential film-makers and directors everywhere.  Cute characters that can be flogged by the bucket load are no substitute for strong storylines, fully developed characters and realistic, even if it is science fiction, events.

Now that I have had a few days to digest it, there are several weaknesses in the film.  Firstly, Kylo Ren, he just doesn’t work, the casting for this part was just wrong, no harm to Adam Driver.  He didn’t do it for me in The Force Awakens and he hasn’t improved any since then.  Maybe he should have kept the mask on and we could have been left to speculate for years as to who was under the mask, like the Stig, but the weakness of his character is epitomised by the fact that he always looks as if he is about to burst into tears.  Another thing too, is his age.  He is too young to be the son of Han and Leia, I mean they looked like pensioners and this guy is only in his twenties.  Maybe he was a menopause baby, all that hormone fluctuation in Leia could go some way to explaining the gurning.  Who knows?

Secondly, Leia.  There is a scene in this movie, and turn away now as there is a spoiler coming, that was almost laughable.  Leia is on the bridge of a ship in the middle of a battle and the bridge is hit and she is sucked out into space.  My initial reaction was, well, thank God for that ( I don’t think she should have been in the new films apart from maybe a brief cameo in The Force Awakens) but then, a miracle, she wakens/comes back to life and flies, like Superman, back into the ship.  Considering that Carrie Fisher has now passed away, well it was a chance missed, and the director certainly shot himself in the foot with that one, didn’t he? 

Thirdly, the character of Luke Skywalker.  Another spoiler coming up.  Luke Skywalker as last seen, was a fully-trained, wise, calm, and in control, Jedi Knight.  Ok, his nephew turning bad might have upset him but not where he’s huffing around like a disgruntled teenager, especially after everything he went through with his father.  I could have understood if he was disillusioned and depressed but again, over-emoting doesn’t compensate for real drama or good writing.  Then, they did something that made no sense at all, they killed Luke off at the end of the film.  Why???  When they had just brought Leia back to life, why would they do such a thing? It just didn’t make any sense at all.  And another thing, it took a long time for Luke to train to become a Jedi, yet Rey managed it in about five minutes, playing around with a light sabre. 

Fourth, comedy moments.  Good comedy does not have to be contrived or forced, it just has to be well written with good timing.  Sticking in a comedic moment to compensate for the holes in the storyline doesn’t do the Star Wars universe justice and is an insult to the fans.  This sin was first committed by Lucas himself when he went back and re-jigged the original films and added ‘cute characters’ and ‘comedy moments’, for which he should have been taken out and flogged or made to watch all Jar-Jar’s scenes on a loop for a month, which would have been a bigger punishment.

However, overall, these are small problems compared to the biggest flaw of all, the actual storyline.

Any Star Wars fan could have written a better storyline, both to the prequels and the sequels.  I have to exclude Rogue One, this one worked apart from a few dodgy CGI moments with Leia and Peter Cushing but because the overall story was convincing, they could be forgiven. 

In continuing the saga, we should have picked up 40 or so years in the future.  Han and Leia are old, and Leia and Luke are like old Yodas, helping to train new recruits and passing on the wisdom of the Force.  This was another thing about Return of the Jedi that pissed me off.  Leia was the one who was leading the rebellion back when Han was still skulking around the universe and Luke was shooting Womp Rats on Tatooine but by the time we got to Return of the Jedi, she had been sidelined.

Anyway, back to the story that should have been written, at this point in the Star Wars universe everyone has enjoyed many decades of peace and harmony.  Then, either Luke’s GRAND-child or Leia and Han’s GRAND-child becomes seduced by the Dark Side as it starts to rise again.   This is where the story should have begun but in the rush to get something on screen and dazzle us with CGI and play on our emotions with ‘cute characters’ and forced ‘comedy’, the sense of the story line was demoted behind the potential to flog us more tat which will for the most part end up in landfill, eventually. 

On the plus side, I do like the new characters of Finn and Rey and it seems obvious that Rey is headed for a fling with Kylo Ren at some future point, a love tug between him and Finn, maybe, will she go for the good guy or the snivelling wimp?  Finn, again a good character but wasted here. 

So, that’s Star Wars Episode 8, if you’re a fan like me, you’ll probably still go and see it, but prepare to be disappointed.  So, I feel there is nothing else I can do but call on that other great Jedi knight…General Kenobi...I watched you many years ago in A New Hope and I regret that I am unable to convey my request in person but if you’re listening, The Force is in a weak and perilous state and the only thing that can save us now is a good writer/director... This is our most desperate hour, if you know someone, use the Force and send them to Disney asap, help us Obi-Wan Kenobi.  You’re our only hope.

 


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Movies & endings

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Edited by Aideen Devine, Monday, 4 Sep 2017, 21:01

I went to see The Dark Tower last week, the film based on the Stephen King books.  I think this was a one off and it wasn’t a bad effort.  Although, I thought, Idris Elba was too young and fresh-looking for the role of The Gunslinger.  In the books Roland is ancient and has been around forever.  Also, it was all a bit too quick for my liking but I won’t complain too much about having to look at Matthew McConaghey, for an hour and a half, or Idris Elba for that matter!

The Dark Tower is a whole epic of 7 books originally (apparently 2 more have been added which I haven’t read) and were all very enjoyable, except for the ending.  If you haven’t read the series, then you’ll have no idea what I’m talking about now, but I’ll try not to give too much away in case they’re on your ‘to read’ list.  The problem I had with the ending, was the very same thing Stephen King referred to in Misery (great book, mediocre film), when Annie Wilkes pulls Paul Sheldon up for cheating with the story like they used to do in the old Saturday shows, when you were sure the hero had died going over the cliff in the locked, burning car, or some such, but by the next week he has somehow managed a miraculous escape.

The Dark Tower had one of those endings.  Roland had moved back in time and was leaving with the horn of Eld after the battle of Jericho Hill but that didn’t make sense to me.  I’m doing an Annie Wilkes now! He would have had to go back and re-fight the battle in order to win it and in my mind he would also have to go back to when he entered Hambry and save Susan Delgado.

I’ve read quite a few Stephen Kings, they are my pleasure in between the heavy stuff.  Misery is my favourite book, and my favourite film adaptation is Stand By Me.  The re-make of It, is out this week and if the trailers are anything to go by, then it’s something to look forward to.  I know a lot of people were disappointed by the ending in the movie first time around so I’m not sure how that’s going to be rectified but what works in fiction doesn’t necessarily work on screen.  Anyway, I won’t spoil it by giving away any details.  However, I will say that the endings of several of Stephen’s more recent novels were disappointing, Under the Dome was one and Joyland another, Revival too, was a bit of a let-down but my biggest disappointment this year, was not a book but a film, the final Planet of the Apes movie, War for Planet of the Apes.

Firstly, it wasn’t a ‘War’, it was a battle and not much of a battle either and from looking at the trailers beforehand; I was expecting WW3 with nukes.  Mind you, the way Donald and the Young ‘Un are squaring up, we could be headed for the real thing any day now!  I’m convinced Lil Kim, could make a case for an Ulster Scots grant with his name!

The big let-down, apart from the ‘war’, was all the emoting that was going on.  It was like an episode of Dr Phil!  Caesar was giving it all the dramatics of rage and burning anger, like an obstreperous teenager.  While Maurice, the big orangutan, was giving out so much deep and meaningful advice, I half expected him to be given his own talk show. 

Then, there were parts of the story that didn’t make sense either.  How did the soldiers manage to capture the other apes when Caesar was following them, and the other apes had been left behind??  Go figure??  The real pity is, the cgi was the best I’ve seen but like so many ‘epics’, too much thought given to the ‘show’ and not enough to the story.  Yes, James Cameron, I’m talking about your Avatar (great visuals, lazy, old, clichéd story) You think you would have learnt from the hash Lucas made with Star Wars!

Anyway, if the books and movies have been disappointing, at least music brings its own rewards and the God of Rock, himself, the one and only Mr Robert Plant, returns to the Ulster Hall in December!  And I will be there! 

The new Star Wars is out then too, lets hope that's 2 bright spots on the December horizon to look forward to.  May the force be with you or rock on!  Whatever, is your wont!


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Star Wars - The Force Awakens

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I've been down with flu for 3 days now and was itching to see the new Star Wars film having avoided all media reports so I would know nothing about it. So I dragged myself from my sick bed yesterday and ventured to the cinema with my sons to see it.  We're all big Star Wars fans in my house.  I won't mention anything about it in case anyone hasn't seen it yet but it was worth the effort.  A much darker film than expected but highly enjoyable and a definite must see for us die hard fans.  I'll get out again for another viewing over Christmas, once I get rid of this dose. 

And as today is the winter solstice, (a special date in my calendar) I'll wish everybody a happy solstice and look forward to the days lengthening again.  (I'm thinking about reclaiming this holiday back again from the Christians)

Anyway, I've decided to finish up with the OU, I've completed 5 years and have my 300 points so I'm going to cash them in and go.  This is the third dose of flu I've had in as many months and it comes at the end of what has been a very tough 3 years both personally and professionally.  At this point I feel completely burned out with study but I also feel I'm missing out on too many other things. I've turned down so many invitations recently and missed out on job opportunities that I'm really resenting the time I have to give to the books so I think it's time to go.  I'm going forward to the new year with a great line from The Force Awakens - the belonging you seek won't be found in the past but in the future - so that's where I'm headed with my degree and hopefully a new job as well come January.

So good luck everybody with your studies and I hope you all have a lovely solstice/winter fest/Christmas and a happy and productive new year.

And for all us Star Wars fans, may the force be with you.


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A300

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First assignment just sent off. As usual, you think you're never going to get it written and then you wish you had another 500 words. Well, I'll sleep peacefully tonight now that it's away and ce sera, sera!!. 

I'm looking forward to my long weekend now, I'm off work Monday and I've so much to catch up with not least the trailer for the new Star Wars film, roll on December!!  Star Wars and Whitesnake to look forward too, it seems that winter may not be so bad after all. May the force be with you as you hurry to get your assignments in.....

Now where did I leave that light sabre,,R2 have you seen it.........?????

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