Archive | December, 2015

“THE FORCE” is Wide Awake

22 Dec

Author’s note – NO “SPOILERS” in this post:

If you haven’t seen the new Star Wars movie, “The Force Awakens,” it’s safe to read this blog entry. You will get no “spoilers” from me.

Our friend, a woman in her early 50s has been so upset because her 20-something son saw the movie before she had a chance to & told her all about it. He thought telling her was funny; not realizing the significance of her connection with Star Wars that spans 38 years, which is a deep & special one. So you won’t get that from me. This entry is simply my take on the movie in general WITHOUT giving anything away. I share our friend’s “investment ….”

 

In a recent interview, Bill Nye: The Science Guy said that Star Trek is REAL while Star Wars is FANTASY. His reasoning was that Star Trek was based on the science of technology; much of which has come to fruition since the first show aired in September 1966. He said that Star Wars is just good fun, with movies filled with an abundance of aliens on every corner … & in every galactic bar … & a far-fetched premise. Being a die-hard Star Trek fan, I wholeheartedly agreed with Mr. Nye. BUT that hasn’t stopped me from enjoying Star Wars & appreciating the characters & their appeal. After all, I was around for the birth of Star Wars 38 years ago. Being a science fiction devotee, I’ve enjoyed the series, although I never saw the last two films. That is the attitude with which I went to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

I frequently write about or mention our friends, Beth & Peter. We do stuff with them & have shared some of life’s similar struggles. I think that fosters a closeness you don’t often have & seldom expect. So this year as a Christmas gift they gave us tickets to the new Star Wars movie – The Force Awakens. They also kicked in a gift card for “movie munchies.” What a wonderful gift! Additionally, our gift to them was a gift card to Regal Cinemas. Fine minds often run in a similar groove.

The Force Awakens opened on Friday & our tickets were for Sunday. We met Beth & Peter & another couple who are also good friends, almost an hour before the barrier was removed & the masses were admitted to the theater. We were early & near the front of the line & thankfully had our tickets, but the line was pretty amazing when we looked behind us 10 minutes after arriving. Willy stuck his phone in the air & took a photo of the impressive line for posterity.

Being there early ensured that we would get 6 seats together.

Loaded down with probably a ton & a half of popcorn among the 6 of us, candy & 16 gallons of beverage, we found wonderful seats. We enjoyed multiple trailers for “Upcoming Attractions” & then the movie began.

And so did the nostalgia …

The Star Wars theme began abruptly with force & bravado.  Again arranged by John Williams & performed by his orchestra, it instantly gave me chills. It threatened to toss me back to 1977 faster than Marty McFly’s DeLorean.

Immediately we were brought up to speed about what was happening in the galaxy by text slowly departing into the recesses of a starfield … reminiscent of “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.”

And the movie began ….

In a very fast-paced beginning we were introduced to not only a new threat in the universe, but to new characters as well. We liked them, which is a huge credit to director, J.J. Abrams who has taken a lot of criticism for his handling of the new Star Trek universe. I thought he handled Star Trek just fine.

While there was a lot of “new” (I instantly fell in love with a new droid), there was also a lot of “familiar;” the area, the aliens, the bad guys. At one point it occurred to me that the audience was being manipulated into the film with all that was familiar, but that thought was followed by realizing I simply didn’t care. It just felt right in a fantasy kind of way.

And then …

THERE was the Millennium Falcon!  When I saw it I got chills & I clapped & laughed … & I almost cried. What an unexpected emotional reaction to the nostalgia! That same reaction would present itself time & again during the nearly three hours of the film.

So caught up in what was happening on the screen, I was totally surprised when Han Solo & Chewbacca made their first appearance. Again I got that combination of chills, laughter & tears & this time it was shared by the audience. EVERYONE cheered & clapped & cheered some more. For me … & for the rest of that cheering crowd,  I’m guessing, … it was like coming home; slipping into a pair of well-worn jeans that have gone soft & shapeless but wrap around you with a kind of comfort that is hard to describe. And from that first toothy grin I realized that I was still in love …. NOT with Han Solo, but with Chewbacca, who hadn’t aged a bit.

It was good seeing the old cast blending comfortably with the energy of the new. I didn’t mind seeing that they had aged, except for Chewy, because in the last 38 years I’ve been aging, too. It seemed like a natural continuum for us all & I found myself embracing OUR maturity.

There is still “The Dark Side” & there is still the “Vader presence.” The Vader of our youth & my memory, though, seemed a bit more sinister & larger than life. But that may be BECAUSE of my youth in 1977. No doubt the Vader of this latest installment is equally as sinister & huge to the youth of today’s audience. When they are interviewed in 38 years, it will be interesting to see how “today’s Vader” affected them.

I think the Vader message today is that there will always be evil in the galaxy. The positive “take away” from this film is that there will always be good to counteract it.

Bottom line is that I LOVED this 7th. installment in the Star Wars series. To quote a Methodist minister who is a close friend of ours & also a science fiction fan, “I’ve got to see it again.”

We didn’t seem to notice that the film was almost three hours long. When it ended we didn’t want it to & wanted to see more. We sat through the credits because we didn’t want it to end & so we could listen to that wonderful John Williams theme one more time.

As expected, the special effects were, well, special & will surely be nominated for many future awards. The costumes were cool & the music was spectacular. It was good solid entertainment that felt like being back home with family we hadn’t seen in a while … maybe like a family reunion today but a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

If I can find anything negative to say about Star Wars: The Force Awakens it is that it was very loud from time to time & I found myself actually sticking my fingers in my ears. But maybe that’s why God invented fingers … for ear-sticking during loud Star Wars scenes.

This movie is good on so many levels & for so many reasons; both from the entertainment standpoint & personally. I’m so glad we didn’t miss it & were able to see it with the early crowd who were untainted by “spoilers,” who shared our enthusiasm & cheered at all the right moments. I’m also glad to have shared it with friends we truly care about.

Who knows what elements actually “click” to make something … some special experience … a success? Whatever … it was a wonderful & memorable evening at the movies.

In the end, though, it was all about “family …”

logo Star Wars

 

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Eggs

12 Dec

There’s this funny thing about doing a blog … there’s something I’ve been wanting to write for a couple of weeks but, since Christmas is approaching faster than seems possible, I’ve just been too busy to write it. But the Christmas tree is finally up & we’re no longer the only people on our block whose outside decorations are still in a box in the attic.  Most of the ‘neighborhood pressure’ is finally off. So I’ve been looking forward to getting that blog entry written at least by next week.

But what happened to that best “laid” plan? Along comes breakfast today & a new carton (is that thing with inside divisions you get eggs in called a carton or a container?) of eggs & suddenly my previous idea has taken a back seat to eggs & I just need to write about them.

Are chickens getting smaller?

I’ve always bought Extra Large eggs because you get more bang for your buck, or at least it seems that way. In the absence of those luxury-size Extra Large eggs at the grocery store I often buy Large Eggs because there’s not a lot of size difference (until recently) & with eggs, to me anyway, size DOES matter.

But does it matter to the chicken?

I keep asking myself that question as the eggs keep getting smaller. Today the Large Eggs that came in the carton as “Large” that I opened for breakfast seemed more like Medium Eggs. So I’m wondering … & this is one of the most serious concerns I’ve had today … if the chickens are the same size but are just more delicate & squatting to produce a Medium-size egg has become a little easier & maybe even simpler than the larger sizes.

I don’t have a clue what goes into the production of an egg at the cellular level but bringing it forth into the world from whatever orifice it erupts must be difficult, if not downright painful. So I’m thinking maybe chickens have become unionized, have taken a vote &, like so many businesses & restaurants today, are downsizing. Since the chickens are really “in charge,” I suppose those people who package & market eggs have to cooperate & label the eggs as they always have, even though the product is smaller. Like jelly & pickles that have a space-taking bubble on the bottom of their jars but charge the same price as those in the previous bubbleless jars, are “worker chickens” demanding ‘same pay for less product?’ It’s a dilemma & we should all be concerned.

What if the chickens are actually getting smaller & trying to keep up with the demands expected of them as compared to their somewhat larger feathered, beaked predecessors? Just where does the “chicken union” step in & make this right? Are smaller chickens geared towards political correctness & prefer to be called “Little Chickens” as opposed to “midget chickens?” Do they find the latter offensive?

And what about the consumers? Just where do we fall in this area of supply & demand? Should we expect honesty in labeling? Should we expect to find Large & Extra Large eggs in cartons with those labels or should we just accept that Medium eggs are in those cartons? Should the consumer take this “laying” down? I think not. I believe we should stand up for “Truth in Labeling,” if there is such a thing & if there isn’t … then there should be.

In the “end,” I believe if we are to accept Medium Eggs in Large or Extra Large Eggs cartons, then the selling establishment should provide us with those “cents off” coupons to compensate. Or simply change the labels. Heck, I don’t even care if the prices stay the same. I just want to KNOW what I’m getting inside those cartons.

Of course, I DO know because I open each carton before purchasing it to see just how many eggs … regardless of size … got smashed during shipping & rather rough handling.

I do want to state here that I have a huge amount of respect for chickens & what they must go through to squat & produce an egg, regardless of size. I hope their union cuts them a fair deal.

Since I don’t use & buy brown eggs, that’s an area I just won’t wander into right now but it does bring up a number of questions right off the bat. Are brown egg producing chickens a specific breed? Do they produce only brown eggs or can an occasional white one slip out & into the egg supply? Are brown eggs bigger & how are THEY labeled … truthfully? Can we trust “truth in labeling” for brown eggs? And do chickens who are brown egg “layers” also have a union????

In today’s world & in support of chickens everywhere I’d just like to say that ALL eggs matter, as does size. And if chickens ever go on strike, I will support them to the “end” & swear never to cross a “chicken picket” line. And honestly, I don’t care which came first – the chicken or the union …

chicken