Hello, everyone. Well...all three of you, anyway.

I've had an extended break from blogging (most of which was unintended) and now I'm back to sully the text-waves with my diseased ramblings once more.

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season. And if you aren't the type to celebrate the annual festivities, then I hope you had a wonderful three months (but, seriously...get a life and start drinking and scarfing delicious food like the rest of us). My family has made it through a rough patch and is doing very well. Nothing but unicorn farts and teddy bears for 2016.

All joking aside, I'm doing very well and things are looking up. I sincerely hope the same for you. Now, on with the show....

As a Christmas gift, I took my son to see the new Star Wars movie, Star Wars: The Force Awakens. (I assume the sequel will be called something like Star Wars: The Force Gets a Cup of Coffee and Shaves Before Commuting to Its Empty Existence at an Office Across Town). Needless to say, my twelve-year-old son loved it. I thought it was 'meh' and am not upset about having to fork over $13, 540 to see it (that's $14 for tickets and $13526 for popcorn). Even though I didn't think the movie was the shizznitt, I didn't feel cheated.

My history with the Star Wars franchise is pretty typical of a 41 year-old American man. I saw the original movies as a kid and thought they were great, full of zoom zoom and boom boom before I new what zoom zoom and boom boom really meant (and in case you don't know yourself, it has to do with boobies). I thought Luke and Han and Chewie and Leia were all great characters and I thought the movies had real dramatic teeth and I defended them as I got older against the slings and arrows of teachers teaching something 'more sophisticated' like Othello or Don DeLillo novels. I even wrote a placement essay for a college entrance embarrassingly entitled "Why Star Wars Is The Greatest Movie Ever".

I got a perfect score on the essay, by the way. Faint praise, perhaps.

Now, I still think Don DeLillo sucks, but I have long since lost my infatuation with all things Star Wars and see them for exactly what they are: a fun romp that doesn't tax the brain too much and separates me from my cash. And that's okay. I don't lose my man juice over Star Wars anymore, but I don't hate it at all. I even have affection for the Prequels (though they are pretty much history's most expensive z-grade movies). I will note one exception for The Empire Strikes Back. TESB is a great movie by any standard and, like Christopher Nolan's 'The Dark Knight', by sheer force-of-quality rises to a height far above its franchise.

Star Wars: The Force Gets Out Of Bed is fun enough to spend a few bucks on and certainly something I would expect 12 year-old boys to love. It's something everyone can enjoy, black or white, boy or girl, dog or cat (living together...MASS HYSTERIA).

Now, if you're one of the five or so people on Earth who haven't seen the movie (or who care about such things), be warned that I am going to talk a bit about Star Wars Wakes Up and will spoil some plot elements.

HERE BE SPOILERS!

1. Rey is ridiculous. Many people call her a Mary Sue and I think they have a point. She isn't really as much a 'feminist badass' as I think the writers were going for mainly because a badass doesn't have every damn thing handed to them at the outset. The snippets of Steinemesque dialogue ('I can run on my own') were contrived and could have been altogether dropped with a little more creativity in the action sequences. It's probably news to a lot of people in the echo chamber of Twitter and Facebook, but women and girls like to be rescued. They don't have to be weak to be rescued now and again. Princess Leia was rescued and she didn't have to sound like Anita Sarkeesian to do it. A strong woman can be matronly and feminine all at once. Ripley (arguably the greatest 'strong woman' to grace the silver screen in decades) in Aliens wasn't butch and the last act of the movie had her basically in the part of a mother protecting her child. And I would not have wanted to mess with Ripley at that point.

Rey learns she has a talent for using the Force and immediately overpowers a highly capable (though undisciplined) Sith-in-training, Kylo Ren. Either this makes Rey way too powerful (to the point of breaking imaginative suspension) or Kylo Ren really sucks as an antagonist. Neither of these are good things. More to the point, the main problem I had is the ease with which Rey hops into the Millennium Falcon as pilots it like Steve McQueen at Le Mans. I mean, I consider myself an excellent driver, but even I have to take a minute when I climb into an unfamiliar car to figure how all the buttons work. There is never any real threat posed toward Rey, either from outside or from her own ignorance.

Regardless, the actress that portrayed Rey was very good.

2. I liked Finn. I thought the writers probably underused his 'ex-stormtrooper' back-story. I would like to see more of him in the sequels. The actor was probably the best in the movie.

3. Phasma (the chrome stormtrooper) was a non-character. She was a walking toy, just like Darth Maul from the prequels. She was a waste.

4. Poe Whatshisface (the guy that Finn rescues) was not much better than Phasma. He seemed a walking plot convenience, but he might turn out to have more to him in a later installment.

5. Han and Chewie were nice to see and pretty much stole every scene they were in. I particularly liked the scene in the snow when Han turns to Chewie. (Chewie: RrrawarrrAAAWARrrrr!   Han: What? You're cold?!). However, I thought the manner in which Han and Chewie were brought into the plot was stupid. I mean, the Falcon was a twentieth the size of his new ship. Economics being what they are, trading my million-ton freighter and all its precious cargo for my outdated empty POS that was worth about $1.50 on the open market would not brighten my day. I actually liked Han's death scene, though it wasn't surprising in the least. I do wish he went out with more of a fight, but I understand restrictions exist because of the actor's age. And though I would've written it differently, the choice was not a bad one.

6. Kylo Ren was an interesting bad guy. I like how he was portrayed as very undisciplined and aggressive. I think having him revealed as Han's son should have come just as he was confronting Han (as should his unmasking). I don't really know what he's going to do in the future...he's interesting, but as thin as a 2-D tortilla.

7. Grand Poobah Snookie (or whatever the heck his name was) was the dumbest thing about the movie. I would have rather seen a return of Jar Jar Binks over him (and it's a pity because I think Andy Serkis is a fine actor).

8. The 'First Order' was also dumb. As was 'The Resistance'. Who the hell is fighting who in this backwater galaxy? If the Empire is kaput, why are the 'Resistance' resisting anything? I don't know why Disney didn't decide to turn the tables and make the former Empire and Rebels switch positions. The Empire could become the Insurgency or something, maybe led by a particularly gifted Admiral. And speaking of that, where the heck does the 'First Order' get all their stuff? Building a sooper-dooper Death Star must cost a bit of cash. It would be like ISIS building a fleet of Super Carriers and all the planes and weapons to stock them. ISIS undertakes military action in the manner it does because it doesn't have the resources to do more. Let's hope they don't get the resources either.

9. The plot was indeed 'the best of Star Wars'. Every scene was cobbled together from one of the previous movies. I understand why Disney did this. It's there first foray into Star Wars since they purchased the franchise from his Beardness. They wanted to play it safe and start from somewhere familiar. My son didn't care because he only saw the original movies once a long time ago. I however will feel cheated if the next movie in the series does the same.

All in all, Star Wars: The Force Bolts Upright Out Of A Sweaty Nightmare was a fun Christmas present for my son and that's all I really care about. Now, back to blogging and writing for the rest of 2016.

P.S. My latest short story, Hack, will be out soon.

Have a wonderful week, everyone!