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  • Static Pages:


    Space Bear

    Tuesday 19th December 2017

    So, I took about six months off from writing anything into this site. It’s been a weird year around here, just in general; and I simply didn’t have a lot to mention here, when I’ve got a daily webcomic usually covering current events. Otherwise, I’ve mostly just been doing social media every few minutes across twenty-four hours per day.

    Which isn’t to say that nothing’s been going on. In June—like, a matter of minutes after I’d written the last entry into this site—Hunter had this neat idea, since I’m pretty much constantly just sitting here playing Minecraft, that I should find a microphone [since I have a few of those left over from podcasting before podcasting was a word, back in 2001] and record and upload those Let’s Plays everyone else is always doing. Which leads to looking around for any of those microphones, and finding zero of them, and ultimately just ordering a Yeti from; I got a cool black one.

    So I started recording things on July the Fourth. Which, thinking about it now, I probably shoulda been at least mentioning here. But that’s not what happened. Maybe I’ll start doing that. A little like I’ve kinda just done. But with a little more detail.

    Here, now that I’m thinking about it, is the first series, of three:

    Remember to like and subscribe and whatever pavlovian mantra it’s apparently required by law to recite….

    To make things a little messier, I’ve been uploading episodes once a week, and therefore on three different days. And also out of order. So the first one drops on Tuesdays [like today]; the second on Mondays [because that’s when the first episode was ready]; the third on Wednesdays…because it wasn’t Tuesdays or Mondays. And then I didn’t upload any last week, because I kinda forgot.

    I didn’t forget that last week existed, precisely; I just…I was busy.

    Because, then, after October, when I last did much of anything in Minecraft, November began. And that was just gonna be another month, until I decided somewhat beyond the last minute to go ahead and NaNoWriMo a book. Meaning that I skipped the first twenty-one hours, and didn’t start writing until nine at night.

    Which isn’t a problem in NaNoWriMo terms: I hit fifty thousand words within the first couple weeks, and hit the end of the month at ninety. The problem was that I just started writing the thing without much of a plan. Which is arguably how I always start writing things; but, in fact, I usually think a little about what I’m gonna do before I actually start typing.

    In this case, to the extent that I thought about it a little, that was back in 2004, while I was writing the zombiebook. Which then wound up being fifteen hundred pages, just in building up to the end of the world. So I stopped it at the point of no return, and then cut out half the book to make it printable, and then eventually added back in half of the half I’d cut out, and…so that’s on the Kindle now, and it works. So then I had this rough idea about the story after the end of the book, and kept thinking a little about that for the last thirteen years.

    Anyway: I started writing this book with a preproduction of pretty much shrugging and deciding that it was something to do. So, at the moment, it’s a bit of a mess. It starts in some unknown future year, with this guy explaining how the world ended. Which didn’t involve zombies, since it’s not a zombiebook. Meaning that it kinda was a zombiebook, for a second, before I declined to do a zombiebook again. Now it’s about the relatively realworld weirdness of technology converging with fragility; so the guy’s story starts in 1982, when we got the artificial heart within days of the world reacting to the Tylenol Scare with childproofing. I just took that and pulled it to one logical conclusion: the world ending about forty-five years later.

    Mentioning more than that is really spoilery. Even if mentioning only that doesn’t tell you a whole hell of a lot.

    So, again: the novel’s a bit of a mess. Mostly because I postulated a rough date for the end of the world, while I was typing, and then reached that date before I was really ready with half the equation. Probably. I dunno. At the moment, I’m the only one who’s read what I’ve got so far; I could be seeing the whole thing as too little too soon, just because I know what else needs to go in there somewhere. I’ll figure it out. Eventually.

    That gets us into December here. When more things happened. For example: I somehow, like, bruised my fingertips. I didn’t even know that was a thing. But, somehow, I’ve been typing hard and fast enough, doing in cases fifty pages a day, that I woke up one night and hitting keys was excruciating. If you hadn’t guessed, I’m just about over that now; but, for a few days there, I just didn’t do a lot of typing anywhere.

    And then StarWars came out.

    First, back in October, I grabbed tickets online for Thursday. Which was the first strange thing. Because the first cinema to show up online was the Century Sixteen. If that sounds vaguely familiar, it’s probably because some dickweed dressed as Drop Dead Fred shot the place up five and a half years ago. It still exists. It’s not precisely near my house, down here in Broncoland [seriously: pretty much all of the Denver Broncos, past and present, are my neighbours] where one block to the next is Centennial gerrymandering its way into the southern edge of Aurora; but I’d got the tickets before any of the more reasonable cinemas showed up on the list.

    So, I’ve got tickets for this thing up at Aurora Mall. Which isn’t called that anymore. It’s called something else now. By no one. Everyone who lives in DenverMetro calls it Aurora Mall, because that’s what it was for years. The Century Sixteen might have a new name, too; and still no one cares.

    So that presented a couple of weird problems. One was the normal problem: it’s all skeevy up there; I wasn’t entirely certain that we’d get back outta the cinema and still have a car. Even if it was Hunter’s objectively undesirable Jeep. The other was that, for whatever strange reason, the 2D showing [because 3D annoys me] didn’t have reserved seating. The 3D version had reserved seating; just not the one I got tickets for. Which meant that we had to get there a few hours early because, while I had tickets, I hadn’t in those first few seconds that tickets were available been able to lock in the seats I wanted.

    The seats I wanted were the same as I always want: back row, right in the middle. Learned it from Lincoln. Or, more recently, from Drop Dead Fred.

    So, we got there at about three and sat on the carpet, surreptitiously vaping to prevent BrainySmurf from trolling over to lie about being allergic to steam or something, and ultimately got the seats I’d wanted for the showing at seven.

    Saw the film; came home; didn’t mention much about it because my fingertips hurt.

    And also because the film wasn’t even officially released until Friday. And then people didn’t see it until whatever day they’d got tickets for. So about all I mentioned was that I’d liked it.

    Then, other people started mentioning things. Dumb people.

    So, since, at this point, everyone who’s in a hurry to see this thing has seen it, I’m not thinking as much about reviewing the film as I’m thinking about reviewing the dumb people.

    tl;dr: they’re dumb.

    Let’s start with my position on all this: I’m…okay with StarWars.

    This is something that started up when I was a kid. I actually saw the first film, in 1977, on opening night. I was six at the time. So, I was okay with it. Then I saw it a few more times—half of those times by going over to a friend’s house and just watching it in silence as it was projected onto the drive in screen a couple blocks from his place. That was a thing back then. And, to answer your next question: yeah; other nights, the same screen showed stuff that was Rated R, back in the seventies when that still meant something. If you ever doubt that the world has gone completely pussy, realise that there was a time, about forty years ago, when you could drive along a relatively major street and see tits on a screen a few hundred feet away if you looked out the right side of the 1974 Buick Uglywagon.

    Which isn’t the point. Though it is related to a few things. Including childproofing to save the world from Tylenol, five years later.

    As a kid, seeing StarWars, I was okay with it. Saw it a few times. Saw it again, a couple years later, when Lucas retconned in that weird Episode IV thing, bumping what had been being called Star Wars II back to Episode V. Apparently.

    Then Empire came out, and I saw that. And then Jedi. Which…well, two things about that….

    One: that was on Wednesday, 25th May 1983. Back when films generally showed up at a cinema and just…stayed there. For months. Not just StarWars. The cinema I saw Jedi at had two screens; the other one, however unaccountably, was still showing The Man from Snowy River, which had been out for six months. And therefore, everyone who’d ever wanted to see it had seen it, and no one else on the planet cared. But, somehow, the cinema had decided for itself that it was worth hanging on to into May of the next year, just for both old people with dementia who kept going back to see it for the first time.

    So, we’re standing in line, around noon. Jedi’s at seven something, but there was no getting tickets online in advance back then, let alone reserving seats. So, we’re in line because, otherwise, we’d show up at seven and sit there not seeing the film.

    And this little cinema guy, all dressed up as a cinema guy, comes outside. He looks at this line that’s encircling the building before meandering off down the sidewalk toward wherever people standing zero chance in hell of getting a ticket today are…probably wondering why in hell they’re standing in line. And, because it’s daytime and the cinema are showing matinees of films from six months ago, this little guy stands there at the front of the line and bellows out: ‘Is anyone here for “Snowy River”?’

    And the guy standing next to me replies, instantly: ‘This isn’t the line for “Snowy River”?!?’

    And two people with dementia roll their walkers toward the door to see Snowy River because StarWars is for kids.

    Two: we’d recently learned that Jedi was called Return of the Jedi. Which was good. Because Revenge of the Jedi had made no sense. I had, in 1982, argued that, if you wanted a film about revenge, it should be for the sith.

    I mean: it coulda been, like, Revenge of the Empire. But it had to be Revenge of the Sith because we’d already called a film Empire.

    And that’s where I’m not entirely on the KoolAid with what I’m calling Space Bear. And, if that’s arcane for the moment, it’s what Episode VIII was called while they were filming it; it was the Blue Harvest of modern times.

    Because, when I say that I saw Jedi, I mean that I saw the thing from 1983. I’m not calling Space Bear Jedi because that’s taken. Also, I’m not calling it Last, because that’s stupid. And I’m not calling it TLJ because that’s for people who think that referring to things by their initials is cool.

    I’ve got this problem with CSI. The television show. This show thinks that initials are so damned cool that its title is initials. But, worse, characters always talk about GSWs. Know what GSW is? It’s short for Gunshot Wound. And, by short, I mean that it’s got sixty-seven percent more syllables.

    You can use initials when you’re writing, if you must. But, when you’re talking aloud? Last guy who hit me with nine tortured syllables of duh bull you duh bull you duh bull you in front of a website? His corpse will never be found. Not even by See Yes Eye.

    I’m calling it Space Bear. Call a cop. In fact…hang on a sec….

    Changed the title of this post to Space Bear. Which I’m hoping didn’t confuse the CMS. That’s short for Content Management System. Which itself is short for Capricious Serverside Disaster I Should Recode Sometime.

    I’m right on the edge of trashing this whole site and starting over with something that doesn’t confuse itself into 503ing the database a measurable percentage of the time.


    So, we saw Space Bear. Making it the eighth StarWars film I saw on or before opening night. Eleven, counting the Special Ed versions of the first three films. Twelve, counting that 3D version of Menace a few years ago, when Lucas was still tinkering. If you’re wondering about Rogue One: so was I; so I didn’t bother seeing it for about a week; and then it turned out that, yeah, it was boring and insulting and worse than useless.

    But thank hell that we found out that Walrusman and…the other guy were in fact getting death sentences in however many other starsystems; I’d hate for that plothole to remain all gapey for another thirty-nine years….

    Stop. Filling. Holes.

    Seriously: I’m just kinda okay with StarWars. It’s not bad; it’s just not that big a deal.

    So, in seeing Space Bear, I liked it. Like, more than I’ve liked most of the episodes. I liked it approximately this much:

    I really wanted the porg to start singing noot noot….

    And, if that were the topic, we’d be about done here: Space Bear was really pretty good. Like, I can’t think in terms of Best StarWars Films, exactly, since it’s all one long story; it’s like picking the best episode of a television show while marathoning however many seasons the thing ran for. It’s like deciding on the best chapter in a novel: there probably is one, but geeking about Chapter Forty-seven particularly suggests that you’ve got way too much free time.

    Which, when it comes to…what are the StarWars versions of trekkies…you know: the trekkies who are so unforgivably trekkie that they call themselves trekkers? Because, like, wordmagic is a thing, and calling them trekkies lessens their powers of being impossibly both hyperactive and obese? Let’s call them StarWarts. It’s like…I dunno…stalwarts. Yeah. Totally those of undying loyalty to…StarWars; totally not an unsightly blemish on the world of ostensible grownups.

    So, the starwarts saw this thing. They say. And, in some weird mixture of having all their boringly unemployable headcanon makebelieve get disrupted by new and different things, and also the lazy shortcut to waxing intellectual by playing contrarian to everything, they hated it. Accused the real reviewers, whose expertise in reviewing films comes more from comparative analysis learned in college than from whether the film agreed that starwarts are very smart and people like them even if they’re bad at showing it, of being paid shills for Disney. Because that’s how the real world works: people who have reviewed every film to come out in the last few decades with objectivity and checklists are all getting bribes from the same company that forgot to bribe anyone before Iron Man II really kinda sucked. You know who didn’t hate this film? People who have other things going on. People who saw the film, because it was there, who saw a whole different film last week while you were watching The Star Wars Holiday Special in order to feel smarter than something while kinda wishing that it wasn’t no longer canon.

    That, by the way, was when I knew we were gonna have a problem. When Disney announced [is that the right word? I never saw an announcement; I just heard that they’d said so, to someone] that all the contradictory FanFic oozing out of the likes of Alan Dean Foster and dating back to the days of drive ins was no longer canon material. Yeah: Luke and Leia no longer officially splintered a mind’s eye, or whatever. Because duh. It was bad before the second film trashed what was written entirely for the purpose of filming a sequel in the event that StarWars didn’t make enough money to film something better.


    So, now, while critics, who are paid to know what they’re talking about—and not in fact by Disney—tend to like this Space Bear thing: the starwarts hate it to the degree that they’re pretending they get to petition Disney to recant and call the film a joke, then go make a real Episode VIII.

    To date, tens of starwarts have signed that. Welcome to a childproofed world.

    So, for my part, I’m not gonna bother you with what I liked about Space Bear. Or even what I didn’t like about it, though that’s shorter a list. I just wanna talk about these starwarts whose identities are psychotically wrapped up in worshipping a saga about a farmboy who, but for random events, nearly locked into a life of going every day to Tosche Station to lumpishly talk to other purposeless farmboys about whatever thing was more important on Tattooine than letting it go and leaving his comfortzone and getting a damned job.

    ‘ACKCHYUALLY…ever since the XP Thirty-eight came out, my landspeeder, factory sealed in its original Kenner Star Wars A New Hope box with the variant hair colour made special for Sears has soared in value to upwards of seventeen days working fulltime at minimum wage; that’s why I have it on its own shelf in a climatecontrolled room with diffused lighting and have no idea what girls feel like if you touch one.’

    I know: it’s bordering on trite to see starwarts and biological reproduction as mutually exclusive concepts. On the other hand, if there was ever a stereotype rooted in reality….

    But, back on the first hand, the problem is that these people don’t really exist. Can’t. Like, notwithstanding dangerous mental conditions, there’s no way for anyone to see StarWars, at any age, and become this geeked about it organically. Which is to say that these people are pretending.

    Why? Because StarWars, and StarTrek to possibly worse a degree, appeals to average people as something smart. Something holding their shinycentric interest long enough to fool them into thinking that they’re experts on it. And so, now, we’ve taken away Jax the Regrettable BunBun; and we’ve removed the superspecial quality of geeks—starwarts—that they were using to pretend that they were good at something.

    Which sounds harsh. But, seriously: these people are idiots.

    A big problem that the starwarts have with Space Bear is—and, spoilers, if you hadn’t guessed—that Rey’s parents are just random nobodies. Which I can empathise with: I was always a little disappointed to learn that Luke’s dad was just some guy who Darth Vader eventually killed; I’d always hoped that it’d turn out later that, like, Kenobi was lying about that, or something.

    But that’s not a possibility, because Kenobi never lies. Like that time he didn’t lie about not recognising Artoo. Which gave the starwarts something to be smarter than: every word in StarWars being true because it’s infallible, Lucas made a hilarious, dumberthanus mistake when he had Kenobi forget this one astromech thing after only twenty-odd years. Which is stupid on its face: if I were to encounter a model of 80486 laptop similar to the one a friend had in the nineties, I’d know instantly that it was the same Dell despite whatever cosmetic carbon scoring weirdness might have happened to it since about the time Showgirls came out; the laptop I’d borrowed for a minute, in 1995, would come as no surprise if it contained something I’d typed into it before writing the file to a diskette and taking it back to the Amiga I was using at home. What a stupid person Kenobi was—so much dumber than starwarts are.

    So, here’s where we are: I don’t really care if Rey’s parents were junkdealers who abandoned her. A case could be made that that’s as it should be, since everyone else in the galaxy is related and even the starwarts are starting to think that it’s a little too convenient that the ‘droid Luke’s dad built as a kid happened to show up next to the ‘droid his mom had on that SR71 thing while his dad and sister were arguing over whether the stolen data tapes could somehow be beamed to what might or might not have been a consular ship by rebel spies. If she was just no one, then great: that’s what Luke used to be, back when his dad was just Some Guy Vader Killed. It’s kinda what Anakin had been—just a slave possibly created from energy midichlorians. Rey being Just Some Chick might not be as goofy as the rest of the saga, but it’s not all that absurd.

    Though, personally, I’ve got doubts. Because I’m not as gullible as starwarts are. If Ren says she’s Just Some Chick, I’m reluctant to care what he says. Granting that, just objectively, Daisy Ridley is a dead ringer for Jake Lloyd, I’m suspecting that she is related to the Skywalkers.

    ‘It’s possible that they were conceived by the midichlorians…along with their halfbrother, Ben Shapiro.’

    But, let’s say that’s not the case. Maybe she’s just kinda someone, like BroomKid from the end. You know: Bruem Kyde. Who’ll probably get some more official name for his inevitable actionfigure, but which we’re just always gonna call Bruem Kyde, because we’re tired of you caring what Walrusman’s real name was.

    The more I think about it, I seriously wonder if, like, Disney were ultimately expecting a petition signed to date by 166 histrionic morons. Like, WriterDirector Rian Johnson was intentionally trolling the starwarts. It would explain the title, a little: can’t call it Last; won’t call it Jedi; we’re just calling it Space Bear, which is arguably a synonym for tardigrade, which is the grade you give starwarts for effort. I wonder if he did this as a way to get the film to fit into the established saga, but in a way that would appeal to normal people because the starwarts hated it.

    I mean: you can safely alienate the starwarts; they’ll still get their parents to buy them actionfigures and comicbooks and porg snuggies and whatever else comes out. They’ll go back and see this thing a dozen times a week until it’s released on disc. They’ll read the copy of the novelisation that isn’t the copy enshrined for guaranteed appreciative value in the decades to come next to the Special Sears Issue Landspeeder in the wartcave secured behind the keyed entry blastdoor which is really just a normal door and the keypad is ornamental but it chirps affirmingly when you punch in 52577 because that was the day the world changed and made starwarts almost good at something.

    In a real way, the starwarts aren’t the demographic anymore. From a financial standpoint, they’ll go see anything called StarWars if only to sit there hating it. They’ve become the geeks who used to go see The Rocky Horror Picture Show a couple midnights a week so they could heckle the stupid thing—now that the RockyWhores [I’m coining all sorts of things today] are a new generation who must worship this marginally gayfriendly film from a decade when gay was still faggy and that’s why RHPS flunked until it became something to heckle in the eighties after Plan Nine became boring and before The Room replaced both. For starwarts, Space Bear will just be something to hate. To be smarter than. To know that, if anyone cared what they makebelieved in their elliptical NoItShouldBe FanFickle tryharding, they’d have made Episode VIII way better because their headcanon likes them the way aliens like people who pretend to get abducted and deities like people who pretend to talk to deities.

    This was a film for people who see StarWars as just kinda okay. As a buncha films in a series which spans from a podrace lasting for fifteen minutes with zero doubt that this kid wouldn’t die or lose or whatever intended suspense, to a guy in a pub shooting a reptile who’s about to shoot him, to a guy in a mask maybe lying about Luke being his son, to another reptile confirming that that’s true because people were less gullible back then and had doubts that Vader could be trusted, to the guy in the pub getting old and throwing people into the mouths of rathtars because that’s the kinda guy he is, to—now—Superbitch Pinkhair lightspeeding a starship through another starship because it’s neat to see.

    Does it always make sense? Of course not. But, by it, I mean the whole saga to date. With or without Jax the BunBun. There were always flaws in these silly films. There were always people trying to keep secrets which, by being kept, led to worse results than whatever they were hoping to protect. You wanna see a worse secret than Superbitch Pinkhair’s plan to board the lifeboats? Ahem.

    ‘Your aunt and I have talked about it, and…it’s probably time you knew: your dad was that Dick Tater guy; odds are decent that you’re as much of a jedi sorta person as he is; but, since you’ll probably figure that out on your own by pure accident, it wouldn’t kill you to know that you can, like, lift rocks by thinking and astralproject and stuff; your Uncle Ben mentioned that he could probably show you how that all works, incrementally, while guiding you toward being not a dark jedi thing. Anyway: happy fifth birthday; who wants blue icecream….’

    And we’ve talked about lying about parentage….

    ‘That’s what your uncle told you; your parents were filthy junkdealers who sold you to jawas.’

    Worried about long tangents in the middle of a film that do little or nothing to advance the plot? Like going to some casino planet. Or maybe just….

    ‘They say that they are a race of unnamed teddybears whose official title will be known only from their actionfigures; they will perform slapstick antics for half an hour, saving you the trouble of having one human guy distract the stormtroopers while you sneak in and deactivate the shield without their input.’

    What else are the starwarts complaining about…Luke just dying because he’s old and exhausted?

    Worst. Film. In Saga.

    A couple years ago, the starwarts whimpered that Force was too obviously just a remake of StarWars. The first one. Before Lucas started dicking around with things and giving it a title. Now, they’re whimpering that Space Bear is too unlike StarWars. Except that it’s not: there’s really nothing new in this film. Not conceptually.

    ‘Since when can jedi astralproject!!!1 Besides that.’

    Wanna talk about StarWars making people laugh? You’re gonna lose. In 1977, when the jawas shot Artoo and he just fell miserably over? I was the only one in the cinema who didn’t laugh—mostly because I don’t tend to laugh at things. In 1997, when the Special Ed version hit cinemas, it happened again. People have always giggled at StarWars. Okay: maybe no one giggled at JarJar Binks being a clumsy fool in 1999; but, here and there, there’s always been comedic elements. Even Empire—you know: the one truly unassailably perfect StarWars film, in which the Millennium Falcon somehow flew however many parsecs from Hoth to Bespin at sublight speeds in less than a thousand years? Yeah. People laughed at Solo being dragged in and telling Chewie: ‘I feel terrible.’ People laughed at Solo calling it a boring conversation. And at Solo telling Skywalker that dying on Tattooine was convenient. These films never became humourless until JarJar LaughRiot trolled in and became Chris Farley.

    Look. I get it. Space Bear wasn’t what you were expecting. You can’t articulate what you were expecting, or you might accidentally get a job writing for StarWars; but, whatever you were expecting, it was something else. Which raises the next question:

    So what.

    Again: no one cares. As starwarts, you’re gonna go see this thing far too many times, even if your only purpose is to cackle starwartishly at the incompetence of Ed Wood or Ritz O’Brien or Tommy Wiseau. We get it: you’re way smarter than all these people who actually did something, because you say so. So: okay; understood; got better things to do now; but you go look at whatever at Tosche Station….

    And that’s about all I can really say about all this. The starwarts aside, I dug it. As much as I dug Chapter Forty-seven in any given novel. Taken as a whole, StarWars is now two and a half hours longer than it used to be, and it’s still just sorta okay. Better stuff exists; a huge amount of worse stuff exists; I saw the film and it was okay. Once it’s available on disc, I’ll grab it. Which is more than I can say for Rogue One: A StarWars FanFic.

    Anyway: have a webcomic….

    More later….

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    <— Castile

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