Monthly Archives: December 2019

I Saw a Star War

It’s over. By now, you’ve likely seen episode 9. I’ve seen episode 9. The world has seen episode 9. It’s an episode 9 world. Spoilers below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Episode 9 is ridiculous in many ways. It also has some pretty cool set pieces, some cool events, only 1 or 2 “I wish they hadn’ts.” As is usual for me, someone somewhere else will likely articulate these thoughts better, but I’m having a go anyway. I’ll start with what I liked first:

WHAT I LIKED:

Overall, despite several discardings of Last Jedi, I did like that some pieces were kept. The idea that no one was going to help the Resistance, but they were still holding on to hope was cool. I was happy to see Kylo Ren redeemed – I know some folks were not for that, and I was interested in that as well. But, let’s be real, there was no way JJ Abrams could adequately deliver an evil Kylo Ren.

Lando was great. All the new planets were cool, as were the new monsters and alien species. The pieces of this movie were great:

Chewie learning about Leia was one of the most emotionally gripping few seconds of the entire saga. Here is a hero who has known every major player at some point, and the last of his friends is gone. Touching on his age during the holo-game, and realizing this is a creature who has befriended humans almost exclusively and has had to watch them die – it didn’t need much more, but it was too subtle. However – it stands. Chewie learning about Leia.

John Williams. The scene when help arrives and it is the screen filled to the brim with what are now Resistance fighters. It’s not quite deus ex machina, though it doesn’t make much sense from a logic perspective. What sells the scene is the score – it’s every child playing Star Wars in their backyard come to life, all it’s missing is light sabers.

Rey, Finn, Poe, C3PO, and the actors in general. I still think Daisy Ridley has suffered the most in terms of poor writing – she’s done a lot with some straight garbage. Hers and all of the performances were incredible. Finn is a favorite of mine, but I found Poe had some growth as well. His realization before help arrives that they are going to lose – there’s heavy implication he’s going to call a retreat for the first time in his life.

Finn can use the Force.

Carrie Fisher.

The visual of Palpatine hanging off his health equipment.

Most of the ending is set up well in the movie – which starts me on the stuff I didn’t like.

The PIECES of this movie are great, but the final film is not as good as it’s pieces. I don’t think I’ll ever be satisfied with the shoehorning. Palpatine is straight shoehorned in here. It could have been done more deftly, I’m sure, but I don’t see how. Having Rey be a Palaptine is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard and it would have been a thousand times better to leave that out of it – even with Palpatine returning. Having her be from no one important makes her whole arc FAR more satisfying.

Back stories galore! Maybe not galore, but did the stuff with Poe really add to his character? Kind of? It made for some good humor with Finn, but it didn’t add at all. Having an old friend on the planet (I don’t remember the name) was fine, but they played up his secret past too much – we’re never going to learn about it! It’s not necessary to play him up as a Han Solo analogue where he has a rogueish past.

I almost walked out at Chewbacca’s “death.” Glad I didn’t. Still not sure how I feel about that.

Seriously, all the crap with Palpatine.

I think my biggest gripe is the seams. There wasn’t much of a plan with the original trilogy, no matter what Lucas says. But I personally think the seams are hidden better. It feels like a more complete story. This was a missed opportunity from Force Awakens through now.

I LOVED Last Jedi, but I do think from a trilogy perspective it was an odd execution. It wasn’t interested in being a middle movie of a trilogy, it seemed, and I don’t know how they would have capped it off. But I think it offered up a few threads that would have improved Rise quite a bit. Seeing the legend of Skywalker.

I also think introducing rebel past-Stormtroopers and not capitalizing on that – could they communicate with the Final Order star destroyers at all? Maybe use the comm array to convince some mutinies? I don’t know – the whole final battle was a bit muddy. Mainly because of Palpatine.

Jesus. Why even have Snoke? You know what I hated most about TFA? Snoke. Basically a poor man’s emperor – well, now we know why. Ugh. Missed opportunity! Bringing back Palpatine in spirit form would have been way more satisfying, IMO.

Also, Maz obviously had nothing to do. Why have her there?

I am glad Rose was at least important in a small way – I do think she got short shrift here, obviously. I loved her in TFA, so it’s sad to see that.

Finn and Poe should have kissed at the end. There was an obvious moment for it, and it would have made the whole thing more satisfying. I also think, if you’re going to lean into fan service so heavily, get all the Force Ghosts to show up at the final battle or on Tatooine. If you’re going to lean on rule of cool, go all the way. That’s what I’ve noticed about Abrams – he doesn’t go far enough. End it with Luke, Leia, Vader, Obi-Wan, Yoda, even Mace, Qui-Gon – all of them with her at the end.

“Rey Skywalker” also didn’t land for me. And this movie really needed a scene with the emperor calling him Kylo Ren and him responding “my name is BEN SOLO!”

I still don’t understand how Leia dies.

Anyway, I think the main takeaway of this and the whole trilogy will always be missed opportunity. To be able to get all the old actors and find new ones who are, frankly, bananas great, and whif. This trilogy was like a bowling game where you break 200, but you don’t even try for 300. There’s a better metaphor somewhere.

Still, I do love Star Wars.

Diet Chili

When I lost my weight, one thing that helped was making sure I meal planned. This is very boring, but much easier if you just plan on eating the same food over and over again. One dish that was very, very helpful was what I dubbed Diet Chili. It was cribbed wholesale from an Abs Diet cookbook. I ate this for lunch every day for about a month. It was a huge help!

Basically, you take a pound of ground turkey – get the lean stuff, because you drain it either way – and fry it up. To this I added a can of diced tomatoes and drained cans of sodium free beans and corn. I mixed up the beans each time – sometimes kidney, pinto, or whatever. Then I used an envelope of chili mix from the supermarket, added some water to the whole mess and usually some ground flax.

Voila.

On occasion, I would add some diced chipotles or similar, but nothing none vegetable. The whole pot made 4-5 servings for the week. Very high in fiber, protein, low in fat, virtually no sugar. It was filling and tasted good. If I was feeling a little bored, I’d eat it with corn chips (not too many).

Anyway, one key to really dropping weight is being intentional about what you eat. This was what I fixed first (and adding the walking). I didn’t sweat exercise or any of that – I didn’t even count calories right away. I just started to be intentional about my meals and it was HUGE.

Weight For It

What’s happened the past several months has been a small lifestyle shift. I’ve been a heavy dude for the past several years. There have been fits and starts with jogging and such. About 2-3 years ago I said the heck with it. That I was going to be fine with my body and live my life as is. Which was a good first step, in retrospect.

Let’s not bury the lede – I’ve lost over 40 pounds since July, and they are slowly coming off. I’ve trained up to a 5k. It’s been great. Really great.

Aside from feeling better about how I look, there are other strengths. Once I dropped a few pounds I could feel it – I felt lighter. Lightness makes it easier to move, which makes it easier to lose more. There’s a cycle there. More energy in general has been available. More disgustingly, my bowel movements have been better. More regular, and cleaner.

So, you know, that’s cool.

I didn’t do any fancy tricks or diets or anything like that. It wasn’t even that strong of a feeling. My mental shift came around 278, when I realized how close to 280 I was. 250 had been hard enough, 275 had me feeling low, but that was a final straw.

I started very simply with walking and food tracking. The Food Tracking via My Fitness Pal was key. It was strict for the first few months (I don’t do it as much now) but it kept me very mindful of what I was eating, and also how much. This helped end the snacking – the evening binging at the fridge I’d been doing.

Walking was big as well – making sure I was moving. I did buy a FitBit and I have been strict as can be to hit 10,000 steps a day. There have been a few, but it’s been especially good since I bumped it up to 12,000. And that was really it.

Limiting my calorie intake. Making sure I was walking a lot.

If I’d done nothing else, I still think I’d be on my way down. However, once I dropped and felt better, I started the couch to 5k program and recently finished a 5k race. It was a struggle. I had to fight for some of those practice runs, had to run late in the evening. There were days I had to get up very early. But I did it – and I’m lucky that I could.

But it all came down to putting in the time, and tracking my food. No tricks, no weird diet beverages. Just straight discipline.

It also wasn’t only about losing weight – it is about being fit overall. I’ve still got more fitness to go, but this was a big mind shift.

Anyway, that’s it for today.