Star Wars – I Could Do It Better – The Clone War Saga

Once upon a time in a galaxy far way, a mad scientist discovered a way of injecting alien DNA (MIDICHLORIANS!) into the neural tissue of cloned children, warping their growth and lifespan, but creating in their misshapen bodies awesome powers. In defiance of Republic law, which decrees clones are the legal children of their creators, the scientist continues further, fusing clone brains into cyborg bodies, making of living beings mere machines to be programmed and controlled. (The Trade Federation robot soldiers.)

The galaxy recoils in horror at the revelation.

That is, most of the Galaxy does. The outer Rim planets, where the welts of slavery still smart, and where most of the clones’ powers are flatly unneeded, public opinon wants him destroyed. The civilized worlds are also against it, but from a different angle: they want the clones destroyed. Raising the stakes, a handful of advanced prototype clones escape (accidentally killing dozens), and flee to sympathizing Naboo to beg aid and shelter.

Anakin Skywalker, now a junior Jedi Master, is sent to retrieve the escaped clones. He presents them a choice: to stand trial for murder—by extention granting their siblings legal status—or death.

The integrity of the Republic is called into question as the matter goes before the tribunal. The full might of the Jedi are needed ensure the safety of jury, witnesses, and judge as the fate of half a billion clone intelligences hangs in the balance.

Padme, representative of Naboo and leader of the Neutral Bloc (Federation assassins have eliminated the others), is sent to the vote. She knows that when she leaves Naboo she is going to her doom and that deals made are about to come due. For love and pity of Padme, her faithful servant, the Queen arranges for Anakin Skywalker—the Chosen One and the prophesied Healer—to protect her.

The Separatist faction makes the pro-clone position their line in the sand. The Remain faction frames their side of the issue as the rule of law: murder, theft, and destruction of property. (Anakin himself has definite opinions on property: it should stay put. However, he works for Padme).

The Jedi are deeply split and the Order lacks the ability to convince or compel its members to obey. Many simply leave–Obi-Wan among them.

Palpatine/Sidius has ordered Padme to vote Against. He has also called in his second bargain—her child with her choice of his lieutenants, Maul or Tyrannus. Palpatine’s plan is to force the Separatists into action, and trigger a short victorious war. Padme votes as ordered—but flees the Sith apprentices in terror, determined to die first. She can’t outrun her destiny, however, and Anakin convinces her to come with him, to the Separatist army, instead.

When the Senate overrides the jury and orders the clones terminated regardless of the trial, sympathetic worlds send ships to protect them. Shots are fired. The war begins.

The Separatists withdraw from the Republic and, aided by sympathetic Jedi, fight to free the clones. The Centrist planets, militarily weaker, react by consolidating their political power (aka, forming a central dictatorship), and counterattacking. Amid this dangerous landscape, the Sith are a shadowy presence, cutting deals and killing politicians, spying, sabotaging, informing, torturing. The war ravages from planet to planet.

Obi-wan Kenobi is a Separatist general; Anakin commands an elite flight squadron, his callsign Starkiller. (“I knew your father….”)

Some time into the war, Anakin confesses to Padme that he is in part responsible for starting it: he hates the clones as he hates himself, and his offer to them was false: he knew that the Senate would order their deaths, no matter what the courts decided. In atonement, he throws himself into the fight with renewed vigor, leading a reckless raid to the heart of Centrist territory, landing on the clone planet to rescue the remaining children and destroy the factories.

The mad scientist meets an appropriately ironic end in the rubble.

Anakin is covering the evacuee column when an attack fatally cripples his ship. As he is in the middle of his signature slingshot maneuver, the momentum, unchecked, will drag him into the sun. Trapped inside a dead ship, his screams, curses, prayers are heard by many others through the Force—and then, as his ship passes out of view into the brightness, go finally silent.

No training, O Lord, but Hate

There were no leaders to lead us to honor.
(What honor, what honor was there?)
Yet without leaders, we gathered
(In the devil, the devil’s own lair).
There were no bugles to sound our rally,
No levy to mark up our tally.
There were no cannon to shield us,
Nor generals were there to wield us;
No training had we to field us,
Except for our numberless hate.
(No training, O Lord, but hate)

There was no glory to battling;
(All glory, O Lord, be thine)
And came no deep drums rattling
To mark out and steady our line.
There were no heroes among us,
For vengeance or honor or fame;
The tides of dim heavens flung us–
(The tides no man may tame)
The circumstance that stung us
No man may turn or blame.

There were no mourners to sing us
Home to our well-earnéd rest.
No angels came down to wing us
(O Lord, at thy behest)
Nor shield-maids to bring us
To feast with the bold and the best.
Unmarked and undefeated,
Our vengeful legions bide.
Our blades rust where they meted
Death and their owners died.
Where men and wolves competed
The carrion buzzards glide.

There are no omens to herald our waking
(All gone to better men).
No prophesies grant us betaking
Life and a new life again,
Nor sight foretell us partaking
The world in building, then.
Yet we shall be there, remaking–
The world beyond all ken.

Love and Destiny – CDrama Recap – ep 36

Aw, wow, mister teacher was actually really forward: he asked her to make a satchet for him. But Lin Mo told him to get bent, basically. Jingxiu is, meanwhile, asking quite a few questions. Why do I get the feeling that mister teacher is going to get a visit from armed Phoenix ninjas?

Worse, it’s really hard getting Kind Aunty to just freaking back off. But Jingxiu manages it, it looks like: he shows up to the shop and fetches her home. Lol, Aunty thinks he’s really good-looking.

OK, so they are at home…There’s a gift box at the door. It has a book–did Jingxiu order it? I do not know what “Questions about the Flower World” is? He’s got quite a look on his face, there. Lol, he uses magic to put out her candle so she’s not reading it all night.

Antler Puppy is rather upset about this, but she isn’t. But she goes to the kitchen…looking for something…tell me she’s going to eat a peach or something. Jingxiu walks up while she’s searching…hah, she was looking for a flint. But Jingxiu tells her to go to bed.

Meanwhile back in heaven, Yuan Tong is wandering up to Thunder’s palace. Oh. She’s going to spill the beans about Jiu Chen’s heart, isn’t she?

He’s back at the South Pole and we’re cutting back and forth: Thunder is digesting the report. But he’s going to check it out first. Somehow they have to find out what’s running the Demon Tower…this is their divine duty! Thunder personally is going to go do it.

Back on Earth, Mister Teacher is about to get a visit from just one ninja, who is blind but scarier than the other ninjas, really…He introduces himself as Lin Mo’s older brother. From another mother. But Mister Teacher only has to know that they are not siblings but are better than siblings. And why does a well-educated man like Mister Teacher teach elementary school in a backwarkds town, after all? Because he’s probably failed the official exams a few too many times? Anyhow, as her elder brother, You Ain’t Good Enough For Her. (Dramatic soundtrack boom for emphasis.)

Mister Teacher tells him: hey, if you like her that much, go ahead and tell her so.
And who wouldn’t love Lin Mo/Ling Xi?

(Why won’t anyone eat the peaches…OH OH OH Jingxiu smells the wine! It’ll be ready by tomorrow! Tell me it’s extra-strength healing wine!!!?!)
SO THEY’RE ABOUT TO DRINK IT THE NEXT MORNING OH SHIT LIN MO DOESN’T DRINK OH SHIT.

And, oh my gosh. Jingxiu decides to tell her who he is and what his deal is before he drinks the wine. Oh gosh. HAH, lol. There’s a special day of each year where men confess love to women and women confess love to men. So he makes an indirect, but still easily understood, proposal. And then, FINALLY, DRINKS THE WINE.

And, yep, his eyes start to work. Maybe quickly enough to distract him from why he didn’t just get an answer? And he sees Lin Mo/Ling Xi and recognizes her. And now is wondering WTH is up. Since she was able to pull out the darts, she definitely is a Phoenix scion, but…well…

Meanwhile at the South Pole, Thunder has shown up to see the god of war. The doorkeeper tries to ward him off…Thunder bullies his way in, though…Jiu Chen is meditating (painfully?)…Lin Mo is at home in bed…Thunder finds the McGuffin in Jiu Chen’s meditation chamber. And, if’s officially not supposed to be there, so…oh boy.
Jiu Chen asks him to please be reasonable? (…man, I do not even have the words to mock that concept as it applies to the god of thunder.) They fight…and Jiu Chen is already bleeding at the mouth. And their fight disturbs the McGuffin and also Lin Mo starts thrashing in bed. Jingxiu runs over to help her….

Thunder is talking trash (but not winning). Jiu Chen does tell him that the Emperor knows about this….but Thunder doesn’t believe it. He grabs the McGuffin, but Jiu Chen grabs it back and takes the hits for it. Jingxiu sees a red tattoo flash up behind Lin Mo’s ear–demon imprint!

Meanwhile, Jiu Chen is trying his utmost–including kneeling and bowing–to make Thunder LET THIS GO. Thunder is forced to pay attention, if not to be, YOU KNOW, REASONABLE. And he’s got (what he thinks) are salient points. OH GOSH HE SAYS HE UPHOLDS THE HEAVENLY LAWS EVEN IF THEY ARE UNREASONABLE AND THEN TURNS AROUND AND LECTURES JIU CHEN ABOUT DOING THINGS EXCESSIVELY. Ah, and he’s also pretty embarassed that Jiu Chen is kneeling to him. And he storms off.

So Jingxiu has positively ID’d his girl as Ling Xi, the Phoenix Queen’s executed-for-demonic-contamination daughter. And the contamination has not yet been removed.

Meanwhile at the black hole….it still exists.

Jiu Chen is clutching at his heart…

Jingxiu poofs over to…the Lin Mansion? Lin Dad is singing the little alphabet song to himself in Lin Mo’s room. Mom has gone over to fetch him. (It’s been six months since she left.) Dad is missing her and very worried. Jingxiu poofs back in time and watches the other kids bullying Lin Mo…but also Dad being good to her. So, back at the docks, he broods. How the heck did she survive if the god of war personally stabbed her? And what would happen if either heaven or demons knew she was here?

Anyhow, Lin Mo wakes up–and finds out that Jingxiu can see. He doesn’t tell her that it happened when he drank the peach wine, damn. Lol, she immediately starts testing him and he asks if she thinks something is wrong with his brain. But she starts asking what he ate or drank…DUDE NOT THE SEAFOOD DUDE.

Heh, and Lin Mo finally realizes she’s in her underwear.

Jingxiu moseys over to the clinic, and Aunty and Doc Sun are very glad to see he’s better. Heh, and Doc says stop thanking the gods, did the gods give him his medicine? Oh boy. Jingxiu is there with a gift for Matchmaking Kind Aunty, isn’t he…

(oh, it’s that she’ll stop matchmaking.)

ARGH THE EPISODE ENDED AND I HAVE TO WORK IN HALF AN HOUR.

Love and Destiny – CDrama Recap – ep 35

Back at the god of war palace, Shi San is hobbling around and HuaYan is scolding her.

LOL SHI SAN ASKS IF THE BOSS COULD POSSIBLY LIIIIIIIKE LING XI. Hah, they both think it’s out of the question, but, you know, weird…and then Jiu Chen walks in behind Shi San. He continues the scolding and then tells them to go get some of his own medicine for Shi San. What a good boss.

Meanwhile BACK AT THE PEACH TREE FRONT….some peaches have been delivered. Jiu Chen is going to go down and check on her, isn’t he? He doesn’t even know if she’s managed to eat the peaches yet…?

Back at the house, Jingxiu is sitting around, being blind, and making friends with the animals. Except for Antler Puppy. Lin Mo has been accepted as Doctor Sun’s pupil! But, more importantly, Puppy keeps barking at Jingxiu.

Jingxiu is trying to heal himself? Or at least, do magic. He’s getting slightly better, but is haunted by flashbacks. Lin Mo walks in and tries to ask a few questions, but gets shut down. He finally admits that no amount of her medicine will cure his eyes…it might take an immortal pill.

DUDE.

PEACHES.

And at this point, he’s getting worried about what he’s going to do with himself if he is permanently blind. For one thing, he’ll never be able to see her. Dude. Priorities.

Lin Mo tells him to think positive. Look at her–born deaf, but who had a good life anyway, and who found a path to walk. She even says she’s missing her family, including (UGH) Grandma and Lil Sis. But she wants to better herself before she goes back. For ex: learning good medical skills and becoming a famous doctor. Or, perhaps, curing her deafness.

GIRL EAT THE DAMN PEACHES ALREADY. She wants to hear a song first of all.

So they want an immortality pill. Jingxiu promises to get one for her. (PEACHES GUY JUST EAT THE PEACHES RIGHT THERE IN YOUR YARD! OH MAN.)

Back in Occupied Phoenix Land, Orc Commander is reporting a certain amoun of failure in their search for Ling Xi. Rebel Rebel says: follow Jiu Chen and you’ll find her. Orc Commander also says: they don’t know exactly when the Significant Date is. Also, some other evil stuff, etc. Also, where’s Student Rebel? He’s been hanging around the prison cells a lot lately, hasn’t he….

And that’s because Phoenix Princess Baoqing is still in her art-deco cage. And she’s still certain that Brother Jingxiu will come rescue her. But Student tells her what happened to him, and that manages to break through her haughty veneer, as do some other truth bombs re: the Queen and her inability to govern. Student wants her to surrender and swear loyalty, so he can speak up for her to his father. She refuses. He walks off with a think about it. That is not a very good courtship method, kid.

Meanwhile, Kind Aunty Lady is trying to be a matchmaker. This is very nice of her, but LIN MO IS TAKEN STAY AWAYYYY. And it seems that Jingxiu is off at the docks, looking for an immortality pill? A bird flies down to him, and he smiles. He’s back to doing magic in his room, and, it looks like there’s quite a lot of demonic smoke rising. He’s purifying himself, right? (Bloodspit) (faints).

Guess not.

But, Antler Puppy fetches Lin Mo. Oh, it might have worked? He brought the sealing/poison darts to the surface and she pulls them out. Time passes. Lin Mo has tied a string to their arms so she can nap at the table until he wakes up, too.

(Peaches, dude….)

It’s been four days. Is he cured? His magic is, looks like! (EAT PEACHES, PLEASE!) Jingxiu is more stricken by the fact that she managed to pull out the darts (Oh, it’s because only the Phoenix tribe can do that!!)

So meanwhile, Si Ming is showing up at the Fuyun Palace. Shi San tags along after him….why is he being so sneaky so early in the morning? LOL, Jiu Chen’s look of utter impatience when he gets the call. These are the kind of times that can make a stoic swear…

Back at Baoqing’s cage, she tries ordering the soldiers to let her out…yeah, right. But Orc Commander wanders up and mentions that if anything does happen to her, enormous consequences will befall the man who did it…and he gives her back her food. He points out: he might be the enemy, but they’ve never been cruel to her, have they? Baoqing threatens him, too. Orc Commander tells her that she might as well adapt to circumstances, and, oh yeah, no one is going to come save you because you are not the biological princess. And he does dust the kicked-over food off and leave it for her. (But no. NOOOO, Jingxiu wouldn’t forget about her just because he’s found Ling Xi. NOT HIS LIL PSYCHO SISTER NOOOO).

Turns out, Phoenix Queen is imprisoned and kept drugged on magic smoke.

What Si Ming has to report is that there was a certain immortal who, blah blah blah. Jiu Chen tells him to SHUT UP AND STOP TELLING ME GOSSIP. But what Si Ming has in mind is: dude, DO NOT GO to the mortal world under any circumstances. The fire essence isn’t going to keep him going much longer. Also, Si Ming has been informed that if this all blows up, he, Si Ming, will be the scapegoat. Also, if he wears out the fire essence before Ling Xi returns, it’ll all be for nothing because both Teacher and the Emperor are going to take the McGuffin back and then Ling Xi will really be screwed.

Jiu Chen says, “understood.”
Si Ming says, “Oh, then you won’t go?”
Jiu Chen says, “I SAID I UNDERSTOOD.” and storms off to the south pole, where it is at least, quiet.
Si Ming keeps babbling and then lol Jiu Chen backhand-magically slaps him.
Lol, Jiu Chen keeps doing it, too.

So Jingxiu is now starting to ask Lin Mo questions. She doesn’t want to tell. Jingxiu throws his chopsticks at her. They freeze in front of her face and fall to the ground? So he’s thinking she’s a Phoenix scion who is mortal and has not been part of the tribe.

THEY FOUND HIM! Lieutenant reports in! Jingxiu reports that his eyesight will return soon, since his magic is coming back. And he asks about Baoqing! I knew he wouldn’t forget his lil’ Sis! Oh, they are secretly protecting her. Aww.

SO:
The Queen: is being controlled and is locked up.
Rebel Rebel: is waiting for the blood moon to open the black hole and let the demons into the two worlds.
Problem is: Jingxiu was also waiting for that day? He wants Yuandu, the former Phoenix King….and is willing to let the demon king be released?? Not very heroic, dude.

Lieutenant has been gathering the escaped Phoenix remnants.

Jingxiu says: protect Baoqing. She’s always been spoiled, and so she’s probably not taking this well. AWWW I KNEW YOU LOVED YOUR LIL SIS.

Kind Matchmaking Aunty is now hauling Lin Mo to meet a handsome young scholar who is teaching schoolkids. ARGH THIS IS ANNOYING AND UNCOMFORTABLE WHERE IS JIU CHEN?! Anyhow, mister teacher has had an interesting life, so he talks to her. He seems like a really genuinely decent guy. But Lin Mo skates off as soon as she can.

Jingxiu asks why she’s been gone so long, and…wait, someone gave her stuff? JEALOUSY ALERT AHOY!

Repost: Cobra Kai Season 1 – Spoilery QuicReview

cobra-kaiCobra Kai is the Youtube Red sequel to the 1980-something Karate Kid movie. It did well–there’s a second season planned. (I liked it less.) But! Nevertheless, Season 1 was surprisingly popular and gained legs from good word of mouth. I’ll contribute: Cobra Kai is quite good. No, it’s not great–although, bless its heart, it does try. And trying is half the battle. But….not all of it.

Cobra Kai starts off strongly, keeps swinging through the first half, puts its head down and bulls on forward for the last bit…and finishes weak.

The plot: Johnny Lawrence, the bullying blond punk from the original movie, has grown up. He’s a washed-out, borderline alcoholic, deadbeat dad with no prospects and no respect–or self respect. (Daniel LaRusso owns a successful car dealership. Motto: “We kick the competition.” And the bit with the complementary bonsai trees with purchase had me in stitches). Nevertheless, Johnny’s fate changes when he intervenes to help a wimpy kid (Miguel) being bullied. He’s inspired to restart the Cobra Kai dojo and take Miguel as his first student. Other students join as well–fellow outcasts and bullied nerds from the local high school; as Johnny teaches them the the way of the fist, their confidence improves and his life as well.

Barring a few….hitches.

Complicating matters is the fact that Daniel LaRusso has not forgiven Cobra Kai or Johnny for his earlier days of hell, that Miguel ends up dating Daniel’s daughter, or that Johnny’s son ends up as Daniel’s pupil, and the tension is just racheting up….

It all comes to a head at the Tournament.

And there is where it all takes a sharp, short nosedive back into derivative mediocrity.

SPOILERS COMMENCE:

The writers wanted to end the series on a bittersweet note, with a warning about the dangers of ambition/revenge, a warning about how violence really doesn’t solve anything, guys! Don’t try this at home!, some torque to the heartstrings from the family drama, and then the looming shadow of Daddy Issues Past coming to call…ps, pls renew membership so get a next season, thx.

All that is fine, those are valid story options, and each of them has had a degree of setup. Except that the writers went way overboard on every single one. How do they accomplish their end? By turning the final fight into a carbon copy of the original Karate Kid fight, strategically ignoring everybody’s character development, and shoehorning in a hamfisted downer ending in by hook or by crook.

Want to stop being bullied? Even….maybe just a little..take revenge? Only psychopaths want that. All of the Cobra Kai students are suddenly bloodthirsty, surly, cheating maniacs. Why? Because the narrative demands that a Cobra Kai student make an illegal blow against a Miyagi student, temporarily putting him out of the game until he and his teacher decide to reenter the contest, running on sheer will and grit. Why? Because the narrative demands that Johnny be the moral loser. Why? Because second season, pls. PS, “heroes” are losers.

Want to be personally strong and capable of protecting yourself? But violence really doesn’t solve anything! Look! All the kids became bullies once they learned karate! Except they didn’t. Yes, it’s quite possible that they could have gone on to do so, given time and once they realized that they are no longer the underdogs. But one singular “show no mercy” pep talk from the coach doesn’t do that. One incidence of slapping down a bully (or wedgie-ing a bully, or defending yourself and your crush from a bully), doesn’t make you villain material. Hollywood not recognizing this? Is part of the problem.

As far as the tournament goes, only one student was completely out of control and out of line–and Johnny and the referees should both have yanked up him extremely short, immediately, on the first offense (put that back tattoo away, boy). And once he made the illegal strike–in the back, dude?–Johnny should have laid him out cold for jeopardizing Cobra Kai’s reinstatement, and for dishonoring them. The chubby black girl was surly, and should have also been lectured for unsportsmanlike behavior. Two or three lines of dialogue or a backhand to the face (Capital punishment. It works.) would have fixed this.

Some yanking at the heartstrings: Johnny’s son Robby is competing against his own father’s students–especially, against Miguel. Robby is doing it all on his own, having broken  with his own teacher, Daniel, without anyone at all to support him. Miguel, meanwhile, is having to fight the guy that the girl he likes appears to like. (Teenagers, man. GOD I HATE TEENAGERS.)–and he wants to impress his sensei and win the fight, not knowing that Robby is Johnny’s son.

No matter who wins, Johnny is going to lose, and the victory is going to be incomplete and hollow.

This is a good setup.

It could have stood on its own without stacking the damn deck against it.

With the worst of it duly complained about, is the rest of the series good? Yep. It’s funny, it has action, nostalgia (not never too much of it), good characters (although I always wonder why no one ever just gets a GED rather than stay in the toxic environment of TV-High Schools), good pacing and, barring a few failures, mostly intelligent writing.

The cinematography and production appear smooth and well-done.

Also, this series was extremely funny. After the bonsai tree offer, the competitor car dealership offering All-American, low-water-using cacti? LOL. “Who’s that?” “That’s….an illegal I picked up this morning. Brought him in to help out.”

Rated: Four out of five. Second place is only honorable if you didn’t cheat–but check it out anyway.

Unexpected Book Haul

I went thrifting and hit a small but real jackpot. Or actually, a couple of them.

– Louis L’amour – Hondo. (Baader-Meinhof: the name just got mentioned on the amatopia Father’s Day post…)
– Rafael Sabatini – Captain Blood
– Thor Heyerdahl – Kon-tiki
– Honorable mention: Man Eaters of Kumaon, since I already have a print and a digital copy. I also had to leave Last of the Breed, on account of I ran out of quarters.
– Edgar Rice Burroughs:
Tarzan and the Lost Empire
– Tarzan and the Madman
– Tarzan and the Golden Lion
– Tarzan and the Ant Men
– Frank Yerby – The Saracen Blade – ah, I wondered why that name sounded vaguely familiar. He wrote the novel of The Golden Hawk, which I tried but failed to obtain via interlibrary loan. Hm….!
– Poul Anderson – The Winter of the World
– Elizabeth Moon – The Legacy of Gird

Total cost: $4.26

Scorecard #4

– 424 traps
– 5 counties
– 2 state parks
– 3 flat tires
– 3 hay tedders (Maybe? I thought a tedder was the round thing, but apparently it’s the thing with spikes? Two of whatever the round things are and one definitely a tedder, though.)
– 1 disk tiller
– 1 baler
– 1 highboy
– 1 no-till drill
– 2 unmarked cop cars
– 2 lending libraries
– 26 traps in five and a half hours 6/23 WOOT
– 8 *marked* cop cars
– 2 ATVs
– 3 trains
– 1 kid with a mullet
– 1 trap placed yesterday that might already be missing
– Far too many people who don’t use their turn signals
– 1 pizza