Thursday, December 26, 2019

What's RIGHT with Star Wars, Part 1

Let me say from the beginning that I am a Star Wars fan.

Let me also say from the start—no burying the lead here—that I really enjoyed The Rise of Skywalker. I went in not expecting much and was happy—nay, excited—to have my expectations blown away by a fun movie, an enjoyable movie, a stunning movie, maybe even a great movie.
I write this now after reading a review this morning by a “critic” that I would love to link to but I was reading the thing on my phone and then someone texted me and when I got through with that I had somehow lost the article and couldn’t get it back. This particular critic did not like Rise of Skywalker and the ostensible purpose of the article was to express that ROS was a let-down of all the promise of The Last Jedi. Ostensibly, I say, because the main thrust of the article was really that anyone who didn’t prefer TLJ to ROS (and all other movies) was some sort of Luddite who probably shouldn’t be allowed into the movie theater anymore or be issued a driver’s license.

I’m not sure, but I wonder if this were the same reviewer who two years ago wrote an article about how The Last Jedi was not the Star Wars movie we wanted but was probably the Star Wars movie we deserved. The theme to both of these reviews was that they (the reviewer, who may be singular) know better than we peasants what sort of movies are not only better, but should be enjoyed.
Let me state here, before we go further, that I regard The Last Jedi as the worst/least of the Star Wars movies—coming in behind even the Ewok movies, the Clone Wars movie (remember: that series started with a 90 minute movie that premiered in theaters), but ahead of the Star Wars Holiday Special but only because SWHS had Bea Arthur.

There are myriad articles and comments about what’s wrong with TLJ, some of which make points I disagree with. I don’t dislike the movie because of how it treated Luke. I do not object to the so-called Holdo Maneuver. In fact, that was probably my favorite moment from that film and it seemed, to me, in keeping with the first thing Han Solo ever told us about hyperspace: “Traveling through hyperspace ain't like dusting crops, boy! Without precise calculations we could fly right through a star or bounce too close to a supernova and that'd end your trip real quick, wouldn't it?” In other words, hyperspace travel required calculations to take one around obstacles. It was why Han couldn’t just take off into hyperspace immediately.

What turned me off about TLJ (keeping in mind that I’ve never said I hate it, just that it was the worst Star Wars movie—just as there are many episodes of other shows that I don’t like, while still calling myself a huge fan of the show/series) was when Holdo took over. Yes, I had read the novel where she was introduced as one of Leia’s oldest friends. Yes, I know that another novel speaks of her being a hero of the rebellion and, presumably, the Resistance. But in TLJ Poe Dameron, who we have been shown as a hero of the Resistance, has never seen this woman before even though she has the rank of Admiral. I found it reasonable that he would rebel against her leadership. So Holdo, buoyed by nothing more than her own sense of self-importance, kicks this known hero to the curb and while we may be allowed to sympathize with Poe, it still seemed like we were supposed to think she was doing the right thing. Her Holdo Maneuver being withheld until she’s gotten the maximum number of those in her command killed makes me think otherwise. “But, chain of command!” someone objects, which I could go along with if she—like the rest of the people on that ship—were in uniform. She just looked like someone on her way to a ball.

You may be thinking that’s a pretty tiny reason to bump an entire movie to 14th position in a field some say only has 11 entrants, but it’s not. Poe, a hero of the Resistance, was given a commander he had no reason to respect and told to respect her just as we were given a middlin’ movie and told by our movie-going betters to respect it even though we were pretty sure this particular emperor was underdressed.

Some of those who defend/champion TLJ want us to think its director “challenged” us by making us think about old things in new ways. Granted, he did make me think about Empire Strikes Back through all the things he borrowed from that great movie (like, oh, I don’t know, the plot?). But his changes didn’t come across to me as profound, just as a guy who looks at a story he wants to tell, based on an older story, and makes fairly random changes just for the sake of making changes. (For another record, I do not look down on or want to argue with people who really enjoyed TLJ. I just a] haven’t met any and 2] I just don’t want them or anyone looking down on me over my opinion about a movie where space wizards fight each other with glow rods.)

TLJ seemed like that old game we used to play in school where one person would write a paragraph, then the next person would have to pick up where that paragraph left off. When most of us got to be anyone other than the first writer, we would write outlandish paragraphs in an attempt to sabotage whoever had to follow us. At the end of the row would be some poor sap who had one paragraph to try to wrap up this literary monstrosity.

In steps JJ Abrams. He wrote the first paragraph, The Force Awakens, and while it was kind of a replay of A New Hope, it was fairly entertaining and fun (and, at the time, the 7th-best movie out of the 7 numbered movies). Apparently a glutton for punishment, he agreed to come back and direct the ninth episode. Contrary to what you might have read, he didn’t ditch or negate TLJ, but he didn’t give it any more stature than was absolutely necessary. As someone who has probably read 80-90% of the Star Wars novels to date, in my mind I regard TLJ as one of the better novels that came out between the movies: it informs my view of the Star Wars Universe, but it’s not something I need to return to.
Personally, I think JJ did a great job! And I say this with a long history (depicted in other blogs and even my comic strip) of not being a fan of JJ Abrams’ work. (I hated what he did with Trek, got bored with Lost, was appalled by the one episode of Felicity I tried to watch [which, granted, is probably not a sufficient sample size]) and still rank TFA as 13th out of the 14.

But The Rise of Skywalker was just what I wanted. And maybe that’s the real rub for this whole argument: Star Wars became (a long time ago, in a galaxy right, right here) the kind of movie/phenomena that leads all of us fans to take ownership of it. I know how Luke should act! I am sure the New Republic wouldn’t have done that! Abrams acknowledged this in a recent interview when—though some probably object that he was pandering—he stated that those who hate his new movie aren’t wrong and neither are those who love it. The reality is that we fans all have such strong feelings about these movies that any movie made (or book written) will not please everyone.
In broad themes, The Rise of Skywalker provided what I wanted: heroic battles, humor, humor sometimes oddly placed, pathos, death, triumph, new and old characters, call-backs that didn’t feel like rehashes, and a spectacular John Williams score.

[More to Come … ]

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

The Women in My Novels

Heather Fitch and Melinda Overstreet are nothing like my wife. I think, if anything, they are conglomerations of all the girls I wished I could date back in school but never had the nerve to ask out. The real-life girls probably weren’t as together as Heather and Melinda, but in my young, immature mind, I didn’t realize that. “Gosh! She looks perfect so surely she is!!” 

So, if there’s a maturity in my thinking that comes out in the books, Sonya Kiel (in A Star Falls on Oklahoma) is probably in a line with Heather in Melinda in that she looks perfect, but hopefully is a little more realistic with her flaws. But she’s also a fantasy in that I see these young starlets and “influencers” in the news that are certainly outwardly pretty, but as I read about their constant break-ups and melt-downs, I can’t help but think that, in the long run, they would have been better off—especially spiritually—to have never been “discovered” and stayed in their small town somewhere, involved in a local church, etc. But I can see where, if you’re 22 years old and the world is throwing millions of dollars and lots of adoration at you, it would be nigh-impossible to turn that down. 

Then, the secondary problem within this is all the young people who are being influenced by these influencers and thinking that’s the way their life should be. Of course, it’s all portrayed in the media as so fun and glamorous (even the pics of some 40-something star stumbling drunk out of a bachelor party), which just adds to the problem. I have no idea what to do about the problem in a world-wide sense … short of another flood, but we know that’s not going to happen. Though, personally, I haven’t seen a rainbow since last summer.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

My New Favorite Movie List

  1. It’s a Wonderful Life
  2. Field of Dreams
  3. Star Wars – A New Hope
  4. The Lord of the Rings – The Fellowship of the Ring
  5. The Natural
  6. Snowball Express
  7. Star Wars – The Empire Strikes Back
  8. Jeremiah Johnson
  9. The Great Waldo Pepper
  10.   Cars
  11.   Raiders of the Lost Ark
  12.   Casablanca
  13.   The Great Escape
  14.   Lord of the Rings – The Return of the King
  15.   Star Wars – Rogue One
  16.   Star Wars – Revenge of the Sith
  17.   The Incredibles
  18.   Return to Mayberry
  19.   The Peanuts Movie
  20.   Wall-E / Up (tie)
  21.   Star Trek II – The Wrath of Kahn
  22.   Pot O’ Gold
  23.   Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
  24.   The Sacketts
  25.   Brave
  26.   Cars 3
  27.   Cars 2
  28.   The Christmas Gift
  29.   The Chronicles of Narnia – The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
  30.   Groundhog Day
  31.   Star Wars – Solo
  32.   Harvey
  33.   Tomorrowland
  34.   Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown
  35.   The Chronicles of Narnia – Prince Caspian
  36.   Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
  37.   North By Northwest
  38.   The Spirit of St. Louis
  39.   The Chronicles of Narnia – The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
  40.   The Lord of the Rings – The Two Towers
  41.   Star Trek IV – The Voyage Home
  42.   Support Your Local Sheriff
  43.   The Hobbit – An Unexpected Journey
  44.   Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
  45.   High Noon
  46.   Muppet Christmas Carol
  47.   Star Wars – Attack of the Clones
  48.   Flash Gordon (1980)
  49.   The Lone Ranger (2012)
  50.   Rear Window
  51.   Monty Python and the Holy Grail
  52.   Funny Farm
  53.   UHF
  54.   Galaxy Quest
  55.   Star Wars – Return of the Jedi
  56.   Star Wars – The Phantom Menace
  57.   National Treasure
  58.   Ghostbusters
  59.   Soul Surfer
  60.   The Incredibles 2
  61.   The Avengers (Marvel)
  62.   The Hobbit – Desolation of Smaug (extended edition)
  63.   The Hobbit – Battle of the Five Armies (extended edition)
  64.   Aladdin (Disney)
  65.   The Swiss Family Robinson (Disney)
  66.   The Rescuers
  67.   A Boy Named Charlie Brown
  68.   Robin Hood – The Prince of Thieves
  69.   The Apple Dumpling Gang
  70.   Charlie and the Angel
  71.   The Living Daylights
  72.   Return to Snowy River
  73.   Bend of the River
  74.   Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
  75.   Edward Scissorhands
  76.   Dances with Wolves
  77.   The Final Countdown
  78.   The Fugitive
  79.   Tron
  80.   Tron: Legacy
  81.   Eight Men Out
  82.   Ghostbusters II
  83.   The Hunt for Red October
  84.   Independence Day
  85.   The Man From Snowy River
  86.   Night at the Museum – Battle for the Smithsonian
  87.   Night at the Museum
  88.   You Can’t Take It With You
  89.   No Time for Sergeants
  90.   Operation Petticoat
  91.   Unconquered
  92.   Rustler’s Rhapsody
  93.   You Only Live Twice
  94.   Lost Horizon
  95.   Strange Brew
  96.   McFarland USA
  97.   Bullitt
  98.   Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown
  99.   Star Wars – The Force Awakens
  100.   Christopher Robin
  101.   National Treasure 2
  102.   The Man Who Knew Too Much
  103.   Meet John Doe
  104.   Mr. Deeds Goes to Town
  105. Rescuers Down Unde

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Remake "Star Wars"? Please, no.

Crowd-Sourced Remakes
There is a petition going around on the internet, supposedly enhanced by the idea that the signatories will pitch in their own money, attempting to get Disney to let them—the signatories—remake Star Wars – The Last Jedi.

Leaving aside the absurdity of Disney (or any studio) allowing that to happen for any amount of money, can you imagine just how bad that movie would be?!? Probably not. I’m not sure the human mind is capable of conceiving such a disaster.

It all stems from the fact that there are a lot of Star Wars fans who didn’t like The Last Jedi. Having many years to practice being unhinged, they have decided that they not only don’t like it, it was awful, terrible, horrible, and everyone associated with it except Mark Hamill should be taken out and shot—preferably in a non-vital organ so that their deaths will be slow and painful.

OK, I get not liking the movie. There are a lot of movies I haven’t liked. And, truthfully, The Last Jedi is my least favorite of the 10 Star Wars theatrically-released movies so far. But I have only ever walked out of one movie in my life (Star Trek 10—The Search for a Plot) and that was because the projector broke and they gave us all our money back.

Now, don’t get the idea that I am just a casual fan of Star Wars. I have movies I-VII (plus Rogue One) on DVD & Blu-Ray, I have read about 75% of the novels, have hundreds of the comic books, and am frequently seen in Star Wars T-shirts. I do well at Star Wars trivia, I’ve seen Rebels and most of Clone Wars, I have the Lego Millennium Falcon, I had a dog named Obi … and you get the point. It would not be a stretch to say I love Star Wars.

But I wasn’t crazy about The Last Jedi. I thought it had a lot of great moments, but—for me—they added up to an unsatisfying whole. So, while it’s been out on disk for a while now, I still haven’t bought a copy. Don’t know if I will (but it’s probable). Part of me is thinking maybe TLJ will be rescued by Episode IX*, but then I remember that IX is being directed by JJ Abrams, who is notorious for bringing projects to an unsatisfying conclusion (see Lost, or, well, everything else he’s made). So counting on Abrams to bring it all home is like that moment when your favorite team sends in that reliever who seems as likely to blow the 8 run lead as to hold it.

Having established my bona fides as a Star Wars fan, and expressed my own displeasure with TLJ, what I don’t understand are those people who hate TLJ. I mean, absolutely hate it. Some of them are so clearly unhinged as to declare that a movie (A MOVIE!!) has now ruined their childhood, but even some of the moderately hinged ones appear to be frothing at the mouth as they type out screeds against a film that is apparently the worst thing they have ever seen. (I would say that they are typing these words from their parents’ basement, but that may not be true. They may well be typing them from their law office, their comfortable summer bungalow, or even the RV behind their parents’ house where they sometimes attempt to bring chicks who they have met at the local comic book store.**)

Seriously, how do you let a movie ruin your life? Even if IX is worse than VIII, I will still happily—joyfully even—watch I-VI plus Rogue and Solo. I will even continue to play Star Wars Trivial Pursuit with my family because I have one edition that covers episodes IV-VI and another that covers I-VI (the only movies I will ever think of as true canon) and while I’ll watch the other four (and probably five, once IX is out), it’s not going to diminish my life in any way if they aren’t as enjoyable as the first six. Even if Rian Johnson’s planned trilogy*** doesn’t come up to snuff, and even if those miscreants responsible for Game of Porn make a Star Wars trilogy as abominable as their TV show, it won’t diminish the fact that I will still love I-VI.

Now, back to my opening statement: this remake the dreamers think they can persuade Disney to let them do, would just be awful because—trite though it may have become—too many cooks do spoil the broth. Would everyone who contributes to the cause be allowed a vote on whether Poe’s X-wing gets blown up or not, or whether Kylo and Rey get together? If not, why not? Will the person who started the crowd-fund be the director, or have a say in the hiring of one, or is there a committee in charge? Who selects them? And why would I think they would be any better at telling a story than Abrams, Johnson or that guy on the corner who thinks he’s directing a movie when he waves at traffic?

In short, as many faults as I personally found in TLJ, I am confident that this proposed remake would be infinitely worse.

* Some of you may not remember, but way back in 1980 there were people (a minority, but they existed) who claimed that Empire Strikes Back had ruined the saga because Han was frozen and the rebellion was losing and, surely, Darth Vader had just lied to Luke.
** This is, of course, said in jest as there are [almost] no chicks at comic book stores.
*** I’m not as down on this idea as some fans are. As I understand it, Johnson’s planned trilogy will be set somewhere else in the Star Wars universe, or, at least, not concern the Skywalker family. It could be that, given his own story to tell and not having to fit it into some committee’s paint-by-numbers plan, it will be better that TLJ because it will be solely his. Plus, I look at Rogue One and Solo and a clear takeaway for me is that the movies are better the less JJ Abrams has to do with them.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

My 20 Favorite Movie Soundtracks of All-Time

Yes, I have already told you about my 101 favorite movies, which you can see here, and which may need to be expanded because Cars 3 should be on the list. Considering that got me to thinking about what my favorite soundtracks are.

It may be no surprise that nineteen of the twenty soundtracks here are from movies that are on my list of 101 favorite movies because, often, a soundtrack makes a movie. Can you imagine what Star Wars would have been like without John Williams' iconic score? Or a decent movie is made great by the soundtrack. (I'm looking at you #6!)

Anyway, in no particular order other than numerical by preference ...

20. Pride and Prejudice by Dario Marianelli
     This is the only soundtrack on this list for which the accompanying movie is not on my list of favorite movies/ In spite of the fact that the movie is filled with very attractive young women, I've tried to watch it and just lose interest. However, the DVD of it I got for my wife came with a CD of the soundtrack and I have fallen in love with that. To the point that I even thought, "I should give that movie another try!" Uh-huh, just couldn't get going on it.

19. The Chronicles of Narnia – Prince Caspian by Harry Gregson-Williams
     This is my favorite of the three Narnian soundtracks mainly because of the songs "This is Home" by Switchfoot and "The Call" by Regina Spektor. The orchestral parts, by Harry Gregson-Williams, are good, too, and evoke the best scenes from the movie.

18. Tron: Legacy by Daft Punk
     I have never cared for Daft Punk, but their work on this movie was phenomenal. Probably, in my opinion, because of the movie, which lifts the music. No, it's the music which lifts ... no ... it's just an almost perfect blend of music and movie and both would be mediocre without the other.

17. The Natural by Randy Newman
     Fresh off making fun of short people, Newman penned this almost perfect soundtrack. So many moments that capture the screen action so magnificently that when I listen I am seeing the Whammer strike out or Roy knocking the cover off the ball or, best of all, Roy rounding the bases in slow motion while the lights of the ballpark explode and rain down on the field for no easily explainable reason.

16. Casablanca by Max Steiner and Herman Hupfeld
     OK, I'll admit: the soundtrack for "Casablanca" is pretty forgettable, with two notable exceptions. The first I'll mention is the scene where the Nazis are singing their national anthem, but then all the French people stand up and start singing their anthem, only louder, and drown the Germans out. And then, there's the song everyone who has seen "Casablanca" associates with this movie: "As Time Goes By". The funny thing is: it wasn't supposed to be in the movie at all. They had planned another song to be the key to the movie but couldn't get the rights in time and went with the "filler tune" they had been using all through rehearsals. I have no idea what tune they wanted, but can you imagine "Casablanca" without Dooley Wilson singing "As Time Goes By"? (I can't.)

15. Who Framed Roger Rabbit by Alan Silvestri
     This is an excellent soundtrack that could be ranked much higher just on the strength of the moving and haunting "Valiant and Valiant". The rest of it varies from good to fun. It wasn't until I got the soundtrack (as opposed to just listening to it during the movie) that I realized that as Eddie Valiant enters Toontown the 'toons are all singing, "Smile, Darn Ya, Smile!"

14. Star Trek: Insurrection by Jerry Goldsmith
     The opening song for this soundtrack is the best, but there are good tunes all the way through. I also like the soundtracks for Star Trek II and IV, but this is my favorite Trek score (though the closing music for IV is probably my favorite single tune from a Trek movie).

13. The Man From Snowy River by Bruce Rowland
     A beautiful soundtrack that just makes you want to snap a whip while riding across a prairie down-under. It also kind of makes you want to ride a horse over a cliff, so make sure you are firmly ensconced in a chair before listening.

12. The Lone Ranger by Hans Zimmerman
     This much-maligned movie (which I thoroughly enjoyed) has a fantastic soundtrack. Of course, the one tune most people remember from it is Zimmerman's treatment of the "William Tell Overture", but there are actually several good pieces. "Never Take Off the Mask" and "Home" are both stand-out numbers.

11. Tomorrowland by Micheal Giacchino
     Michael Giachinno has had some wonderful soundtracks over the last few years, including "The Incredibles", "John Carter", the recent "Planet of the Apes" movies and even "Rogue One" (replacing John Williams is no mean feat for anyone), but this is my favorite of all his works. This was also a great movie that many people never saw and one of those where the music and movie blend together to make a very good whole.

10. Brave by Patrick Doyle
     "Brave" is a great animated movie, but it would have only been a "good animated movie" without Patrick Doyle's music. He perfectly captures the lush Scottish countryside, the fierce warriors, and even the mysticism of the wee little wood-carver. The final song, "Merida's Home", is one of my all-time favorite tunes. Special props need to be given to Julie Fowlis for her excellent "Touch the Sky", "Into the Open Air" and "Tha Mo Ghoal Air Aird a Chuan" which gets the award for "best tune to be used in the trailer but not appear in the movie for some reason."

9. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull by John Williams
     Some may question this selection because they don't like this Indy movie as well as the other three. I really enjoy this movie, but I like its soundtrack the best out of all the Indiana Jones movies because of the way John Williams worked in tunes from the three previous movies in addition to all the new music he wrote for it. Listen to the finale and you'll see your favorite moments from all of Dr. Jones' career.

8. Lord of the Rings – The Fellowship of the Ring by Howard Shore
     As I considered this, I knew some bit of Howard Shore's work on Peter Jackson's Tolkien movies would make the list, but I couldn't decide on which one. All six soundtracks are beautiful and stirring and I listen to them frequently. I even have a playlist where I can listen to all six movies in order, which is really handy if I'm driving somewhere that will take me 9 hours to get there. I chose "Fellowship" mainly because it launched the whole series and because of the Enya song "May It Be". I enjoy all six of Jackson's movies, and none of them would be as good without Shore's accompaniment.

7. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves by Michael Kamen
     A soundtrack so good it is now used by another studio to introduce all of their on-DVD trailers even though it wasn't made by that studio. 8 tracks of orchestral music and every one of them is musical perfection. Even the add-on songs by Bryan Adams and Jeff Lynne are worth listening to--though it took me a long time to figure out where the Lynne song appears in the movie.

6. Edward Scissorhands by Danny Elfman
     No one is more surprised than I am that I like something from the leader of Oingo-Boingo this much. I enjoy the movie, but this is one of those cases where the movie without the soundtrack would only be so-so at best. "Cookie Factory" is one of those tunes that will make you see the scene it goes with in your mind (even if you've never seen the movie) but the best song on the CD is the tragically short "Ice Dance".

5. Cars by Randy Newman
     If you look at my list of favorite movies, you'll see that this is the most recent movie in the top ten. A big part of that is this soundtrack. From the opening notes of "Real Gone" (voiced by Cheryl Crow) to the closing tones of "The Big Race", Newman's music makes this movie about anthropomorphic cars just seem that much more real. And, for the record, Newman's song "Our Town", sung by the great James Taylor, should have won the Academy Award.

4. The Great Escape by Elmer Bernstein
     Start playing the opening notes from the theme music and you've already won the hearts of everyone who ever saw the movie. "Isn't that the one where Steve McQueen jumps the motorcycle over the fence?" they will ask. It's a phenomenal movie, one of the best war movies ever made, but Bernstein's score is the glue that holds it all together. Admit it: you're humming that opening scherzo now.

3. Star Wars – The Empire Strikes Back by John Williams
     John Williams could have easily had eleven soundtracks on this list just from Star Wars and Indiana Jones movies, but for reasons known only to me (maybe), I thought I should narrow it down to one from each of the two series. I like all 7 "Star Wars" scores but I picked this one for its introduction of "Darth Vader's Theme", which is almost as iconic as the "Star Wars Theme" itself.

2. Field of Dreams by James Horner
     The second best movie ever made, has the second-best music ever recorded (if you ask me). So, considering the first place votes are split on the two lists, if this were one of those weird parliamentary votes, it might mean "Field of Dreams" wins ... something. From the opening, whimsical notes that back up Ray telling us how he bought a farm, to the misty night music of Doc Graham walking in the moonlight, to the final notes of a father playing catch with his son, every note evokes a moment from the movie, and every moment of the movie sparks the tune. 

1. A Bridge Too Far by John Addison
     Listen to the main theme from this movie and you'll see what I mean. Maybe you won't rate it as the best (you're entitled to your opinion, no matter how wrong), but I think you'll agree that it's stirring and catchy and everything a movie score is supposed to be.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Ezekiel and the Double Standard

A man is accused of having beat up a woman. As a result, he's being suspended from his job for 6 weeks. In his multimillion dollar business, that means he will also take a huge hit to the wallet. He's a professional athlete, so this is also a punishment on his team because they will be without his services for those 6 weeks and he's an integral part of their plans.

If he truly did what he was a accused of, I have no problem with the punishment.

What I don't get, though, is that our modern culture keeps telling us that there is no such thing as "man" or "woman", that such distinctions are strictly the choice of the one using them.

Incongruous picture of the highest military post in the U.S. Army
So why was it wrong for this guy to punch a woman? Shouldn't she be able to take it as well as any man?

The answer is two-fold. First, the cultural watchdogs who take care of such things live and die by the double standard. Like that woman who gave birth a couple weeks ago while thinking she's a man and getting a lot of publicity because men aren't supposed to be able to give birth (hint: they still can't) and then getting more publicity when she said her baby was a "boy" (i.e. saddling him with a gender stereotype from birth) and receiving no backlash from the useful idiots in the press who think she's a he, these same who have no problem in telling us that men and women are the same until a moment when they can advance another agenda by saying they aren't.

Second, and I stand by this: men and women are different. And while there are plenty of women in this world who could beat me up if they so desired, the reality is that--on average--men are stronger than women and, therefore, have an advantage in face-to-face fights. For millennia, then, it's been a standard rule of human behavior that men do not hit women. I think this rule also has some grounding in the idea that men should honor the gender of their mother, wife and daughters by treating all women with respect.

So, for the record, I whole-heartedly agree that if this young man struck the woman as alleged he should pay a penalty. I'm just surprised the SJWs agree with me.

P.S. Just as a matter of curiosity, would this guy have received the same penalty if he had struck a woman who self-identifies as a man and it could be proven that the blow had nothing to do with gender? (Maybe if there were witnesses to testify that they were arguing politics or sports.)

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Amazon is Not the Problem

The American mall, that symbol of the 1980s, is going away. People who once took haunting photographs of failing Detroit, have now moved on to taking haunting photographs of semi-abandoned shopping malls. (Here’s hoping they next move on to taking pictures of the offices of congresspersons who have been voted out of office.)

People, some of whom are actually writers—a subset within that who are even good writers—have written articles to lament the disappearance of these malls. Somewhere in the article, and in most other articles about the state of the American retail front, there will be a statement or two blaming the problem on the behemoth known as Amazon.

Can I offer another side to this argument?

It’s not Amazon’s fault.

No, I’m not saying Amazon is perfect. Neither am I saying that I’m happy these other companies are going out of business (and putting my friends and neighbors out of work). I’m just saying that if it hadn’t been Amazon, it would have been someone else. (For grins, look up an international company called AliBaba and then tell me Amazon’s the problem.)

Go back 80 to 100 years and look at the American neighborhood. Every neighborhood had one (or sometimes more than one) grocery store. It was about the size of our modern convenience store, but it had groceries and sometimes a few sundries. But then came super-markets, which drove the little stores out of business (and I’m sure there were articles in the paper then saying this was the apocalypse for American retail). Service stations got replaced by convenience stores, photo developers got replaced by digital cameras and personal printers, and newspapers are getting replaced by the web. And one of these days, something will probably replace Wal-Mart and Amazon—whether something bigger and less personal or smaller and more friendly, I have no idea (but it will be interesting to see).

For anyone sitting here thinking, “Amazon’s too big to go away”, that was probably said about the above-mentioned industries. The thing is: things change. Right now, Amazon (Bezos) has been the beneficiary of spotting the change and jumping on it at the right time. He might continue doing that for the rest of his life, but the odds are that one of these days Amazon/Bezos will miss some indicator someone else saw and another company or industry will jump to the fore. Amazon will lay people off or Wal-Mart will close stores or Love’s will shutter some convenience stores. Yes, it will be hard on some people, and I’m not trying to discount that, but it’s not necessarily anything sinister.

It's Not Amazon's fault.

It’s just the way the world is.