Thursday, March 31, 2016

T'was he best of robots / T'was the worst of robots.

With a title like that, you may have guessed that it is time for another movie review.
(That, or the Borg have assimilated Charles Dickens.)
(Now that I mention it, that might actually be cool.)

And, since I'm a broke, you might have also guessed it's time for a movie review on things that have been out so long that it probably doesn't matter anyway.  Well, keep reading.  There might be some surprises in the end.

Let's start with the "worst of robots".  Star Wars.  And, you know I'm not talking about The Force Awakens yet.  Who's got that kind of bankroll? ;)

No, I hesitate to say this for fear of having my geek card revoked, but I just barely did the prequels.

First, a word in my defense:
I want you to know I was born the same year Star Wars came out in theaters.  I camped out for Episode I.  I even had the Boba Fett action figure as a kid that I played with regularly -- even after the dog chewed off his leg and I replaced his foot with a yellow wire nut.  So don't tell me I'm not a fanboy, okay!

All that to say, by the time Episode II came out I'd had about enough of JarJar to last me so I skipped it.  Also, Spider-Man came out at the same time, which appealed to me more.  (A lot of people must have felt the same, for it really gave the Marvel movie empire a good shove over the top, which I think is still rolling with Avengers, etc, so no bad thing.)

Anyway, I admit the prequels weren't as bad as I was expecting, but here goes:

Episode II - really had no plot of its own.  It was basically the backstory to Episode III.  Just aimless wandering through space from scene to scene.  "Oh, look at that.  Dark Side must be planning something.  Oh well.  On to the next planet."  At least CG Yoda's fighting wasn't as cheezy as I was afraid of it being.  He was okay, but Anakin was an impetuous jerk and Obi Wan was a crusty jerk and I didn't really like either of them.  I ask you: How can a story succeed if you don't care about the protagonist(s)?

Episode III - was better.  At least it had some story.  Even so, it sure seemed like more like it was trying to say "THIS is the reason for THAT in the original" and then maybe some plot if we have time.  Anakin and Obi Wan hadn't improved.  Also, when Palpatene got zapped by Mace Windu his acting got so melodramatic and corny I had a hard time not turning it off.  (Is this really the same franchise that brought together Fischer, Ford, and Hamill?  I ask you!)

 (EDIT:  Palpatene's acting, that is.  Not Mace.  Mace was the the best actor in the whole of the prequels!  Sam L. seriously carried the full weight of all three movies himself when it came to that.)

I remember last year how George Lucas did an interview on the wild success of The Force Awakens, playing the 'arteest', and alleging that Disney stripped the franchise of its artistic merit.  (I just want to hear him say that in a JarJar voice.  All I ask.)  I'd respond to that, in the words of his own movie:
You turned her against me!

No.  You did that yourself.

Okay, so that's that.  The other movie I rented just in case was called Pacific Rim.  I frankly hadn't even heard of it before I walked in to grab Star Wars.

Then I saw the cover and, "Big robots?  Cool."  So I grabbed it.

I must say, it's one of those movies where they jam so much action in before the opening credits even roll that you have to sit up and take interest.   In fact, I hate to say it, but at least as much story happens before the title screen in Pacific Rim then happens in all 3 Star Wars prequels! 

Basic idea:  There's a space portal in the bottom of the Pacific (hence the title) where all these gigantic monsters called Kaiju start coming in to eradicate humanity.  Humans make gigantic robots called Jaegers (not to be confused with Chuck Yeager)  (though he might be good too) to fight these alien monsters.

It looks like Earth is winning until people realize that the aliens are getting stronger a lot faster than the mechs and that in the end humanity must lose!  This gives the film a cool dystopian flair with crushed and crumbling cities, etc.  'The last of the last, going down with guns blazing',  that sort of thing.

The acting is great and the characters have a lot of personality and endearment.  And even though giant robots vs monsters duking it out in major oriental cities has a strong  "Godzilla vs Mecha-Godzilla" leaning, it never comes across as a B movie.

So, in summary:
1) Star Wars prequels?  Meh.  This, you've probably already decided for yourself, so no real news there.

2) Pacific Rim, on the other hand, is a great and action-packed bit of sci-fi that you may not have heard of.  Check it out sometime!

3) Putting it all together, they need a story where Chuck Yeager has to battle a cyborg Charles Dickens. 
...Just think about it, okay?

Live YOUR adventure,
-E.L. Fletcher

 P.S. You may quote me.

Thursday, March 17, 2016


Journal update:

Today we took the kids to the local educational farm.  You know, milking cows, seeing baby goats, petting critters, and riding the poor ponies till their legs fall off.

It vaguely reminds me of the Adam LaRoche scandal thing that we're all supposed to think is important right now.  I haven't been following it, but short description: the guy gets told his kid can't spend so much time in the clubhouse, so dad walks away from an umpteen million dollar contract.

I can go for that.   After all, I quit the cubicle farm so I could see my kids grow up.  And though, yes, having no money coming in gets tight at times, I still regret nothing.

Speaking of income, I've been spending a lot of time lately on the business jambalaya front.  In retrospect, I should have done that a long time ago, but now it needs to be in place so I can actually publish and sell books.  Oops on me.

Got to get in some time with an accountant and/or legal expert and get that sorted out by next week I'm hoping.

The other big thing is that I've taken the plunge and gotten a pinterest account set up.  You can find a link to that on the blog, or there's also a tab under my facebook account.  And, hey, why not, here's a direct link as well.

I've been working hard on it (19 boards and almost 400 pins) and I think there are a lot of things that will add a lot of value for you guys, so check that out sometime.

Well, it is St Patrick's day, and it smells like my corned beef and blarney is about ready, so I'll sign off for now.

Live YOUR adventure!
-E.L. Fletcher

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Church of Tomorrowland

 Just rented Disney's Tomorrowland.

It was quite bad.  I mean, I thought we were past the days where you could use CG to make up for a junk story, but maybe I was wrong.  Plot holes big enough to drive a whatever through.  And, hey, George Clooney hitting on a 10-year-old girl.  That's great. :P

(I might caution you guys that what follows contains spoilers, but really, it seems a bit of a moot point.)

That being said, my mind had plenty of time to wander, so I came up with this nugget of truth:

<bad Jersey accent>
Tomorrowland is joiks!

Think about it:  The premise is how back in the 1960's Tomorrowland's android agents came around and started picking up the best and the brightest of mankind and teleporting them to their great think-tank city.  There they built amazing things like spaceships, giant robots, jet packs, and hover everything.  I think I even caught a hover baby carriage in there.

But the whole point is they were supposed to be doing all this great stuff for mankind, right?  Well, news flash:  no hover stuff in our world yet... even though they invented it 50 years ago!

They just kept it all to themselves.  Thanks a lot guys. :/

Furthermore, the movie contains a full gripe list of what's wrong with the world and shows all kinds of stock footage of riots and mushroom clouds and stuff.  But I've got to ask, WHY IS TOMORROWLAND BUSY BUILDING HOVER-BABY CARRIAGES!??

For that matter, in light of a world about to tear itself apart, all the soaring, pristine, ivory tower schtick seems a little hypocritical if you asked me.  It's almost like their entire charter purpose was to make this world a better place but instead they made their own little world instead where they could be all safe, squeaky clean, and not have to roll up their sleeves and dig into what's really important.

Well that sure describes the Church, doesn't it?  Bam!

So I'm thinking another question from the movie:  What if taking the best-and-brightest out of the world is exactly what made things so bad?  The people who could fix it... weren't there anymore!  They were too busy out in left field inventing hover baby carriages instead.  (You can tell I like that metaphor.)

When Jesus said:
(A very misunderstood verse, IMO.  But that's another topic.)
My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. [...] As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.
John 17:13-19
What if He sent us into the world... because He wanted us to be in the world?  We're not immediately taken away into Heaven where we can make our own Tomorrowland.  We're left here to make a difference!

The world; they want more "good" and less "evil", but without the foundation we have, they don't even know which end's up.  It's a little like they can see the toxic waste spill and they know that's not right.  But then to "fix it" they send in Barney Fife with a mop bucket.  Can we say "worse mess"?


In the end of the movie, Clooney, his 10yo girlfriend, and the irrelevant gal with nice hair have finally ousted the bad guy and decide to get back into the business of making the world a better place.  Hurray!

So what do they do?   They get more agents to start rounding up the best-and-brightest and bring them to Tomorrowland.  Again.  Without changing anything.
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are!
Matthew 23:15
A pet peeve of mine is I think the Pharisees get a bum rap.  "Pharisee = bad guy", we think.

I think that misconception really sells short what could be a lot of powerful stuff.  Pharisees knew the Word of God backwards and forwards.  They tried to do what's right and prayed, well, probably way more than we do, to be honest.  The Pharisees were the GOOD GUYS.  

...Which is precisely why Jesus came down so hard on them.  The rebukes carry a note of, "you claim to be godly... so you should know better than this!"

I think we Christians would do a whole lot better if, when we read rebukes like the one above, we'd take a peek in that mirror and see if we can see ourselves reflected in it.

To sum it up:  We, the Church, like to hole up in our churches -- our own perfect little Tomorrowlands.  Worse, we bring others into the stupid and train them to do the same.  Yet maybe we should be going out into the world (as Somebody once said) to actually shine the light and shake the salt out there where it's needed most.

Maybe to help the casualties we need to actually go to the war zone?
It may not be fun.  It sure won't be safe.  But I tell you this:  it will be an adventure!

Live YOUR adventure!
-E.L. Fletcher

Friday, March 11, 2016


Time to check in and do a quickie journal update.

Not a lot to report in the way of the book release.  Unfortunately the big hiccup right now is the book cover.  You know the thing about "judging a book by it's cover".  Turns out there are enough people that do it anyway that it is a make-or-break element of success.

None of the designs so far have been... how to say it... have been the kind of cover that jumps off the shelf into your cart.

On another note, things around here have warmed up significantly.  I've already had my new hammock out twice.  Though spring is not about relaxation.  Lots of planning and planting to do around the ol' homestead.

Well, that's about all I can say for now.  (Hey, I promised you quick!)
I've got a little boy's birthday to celebrate.

Stay tuned though, because I've got a lot of interesting new blog entries waiting in the list and ready to shoot out soon!

Till then...

Live YOUR adventure!
- E.L. Fletcher