It’s about time I started talking to myself about technology in my parked car again. My audio equipment is still in storage, but I’m fresh out of folks who want to listen to my rants about The Open Web, so I guess I’ll be giving you a call every once in a while. Until yesterday, End Userwas a missed opportunity for a podcast title.
Do be sure to visit Anchor’s Technology featured section to find (sortof) similar podcasts by hosts who have real diplomas, but you certainly don’t need one to call in anytime.
It’s opening night at the Bagdad Theater on Hawthorne in Southeast Portland and hardly anybody’s bothered to show up. Less than 20% of the venue’s 500 seats are occupied by the time the host takes the stage to introduce Solo, but those who are here for the last Thursday showing have been shouting, whooping, and gurgling bad approximations of wookiee noises since the screen cut to black from its ad slideshow. If my middle row can be assumed an accurate sample, only a handful of these are “fans” enough to feel compelled to wear a Star Wars t-shirt. As I grab my last cocktail, the bartender tells me that only 300 folks showed up for the evening matinee, though he himself was “excited” to see the movie — one of a minority among Portlanders, apparently, who still give a shit about Star Wars.
By design, Solo: A Star Wars Story is a slightly more complex film than The Episodes in the same way Rogue One was, if a bit better executed, narratively. First, please rest assured that Alden Ehrenreich assumes the Han Solo persona as truly as anyone could — he triumphed through a ridiculously extensive casting process, and is certainly handsome enough (if not more conventionally so than his predecessor) to consistently look the part. He actually bears an unsettling resemblance in features and mannerisms to one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met and that through-and-through boyishness particularly makes sense here, set in Han’s formative, earnest youth — the stated purpose of the film’s existence. Franchise fanatics, then, should be content. (It’s a good thing CGI-ing the main character in a live action film isn’t quite a low-risk option yet.) And yes, Donald Glover completely steals the vain, infinitely stylish Lando Calrissian and inevitably makes one wish to see him cast again. Personally, I am very tired of seeing Woody Harrelson, though all the components of his public persona should all but ensure his likability. From what I saw in Three Billboards, I’d concede that he is as talented of an actor as I am capable of appreciating, but his role as Tobias Beckett in Solo couldn’t possibly be substantial enough to actually make use of his craft.
Though I don’t believe in “spoilers,” or use of the term to bait readers, it’s worth stating for the record what everyone should know by now: there simply aren’t spoilers in a Star Wars movie — every human being on Earth knows too much about the formula to ever have any of these films’ comparatively irrelevant plots “ruined.” The most surprising, historically-significant decision of this whole production was the omission of the traditional yellow type opening crawl over a backdrop of distant stars, which I genuinely found myself missing. (Apparently it wasn’t present in Rogue One, either — I just failed to catch it.) I was very pleased to see my own number one favorite device of the franchise used within this film’s first ten minutes: crimelords and gang leaders as hugely magnified variations of the creeping and crawling creatures our instincts are planned to abhor. Solo’s first villain — the gigantic, wormlike boss Lady Proxima (Linda Hunt) — is completely inconsequential, and only appears in a single scene, but the practice of grossly oversized monstrosities leaving absolutely nothing of a baddie’s essence to be extrapolated by the audience from nuance is one of very few ways these films are let loose, and it openly shits on the more pretentious viewer’s assumptions about good writing, which I think big money movies should feel more comfortable doing, generally.
This first act begins on Han’s home planet Corellia — the bleaker urban, industrial, working-class counterpart to the clean capitol cityworld Coruscant — with his rather predictable mission to escape Lady Proxima’s sphere of control with his girl, Qi-ra (Emilia Clarke,) who could and should have been more creatively named, given her importance not as her own character with depth to develop (a no-no for a female role, Gourd help us,) but as Han’s mirror image to grow darkly apart, proving that he — The Good Guy - is unquestionably more morally fortified than anyone else in the whole goddamned universe. After having been drug through so very many, I couldn’t tell you at this point how to make the introductory escape action of this sort of production more exciting and less formulaic. Big surprise — their plan goes awry, and Qi-ra is prevented from leaving the planet with Han, who’s immediate (and I mean immediate)solution is his enlistment in the Imperial Navy via the recruiting station right there in the damned spaceport (during which the film takes the liberty of seizing his surname’s explanation) to serve the English in their grand conquest of the universe. Bizarrely, he manages to serve as a grunt for three whole years of complicity in unmentioned atrocities until he encounters the disguised criminal Wise Old Woody in the middle of pulling a job with his two-person crew. The team doesn’t agree to bring Solo along until he meets an asset in Chewbacca for the first time as he briefly inhabits another of the classic Star Wars trap: the hungry monster in a shadow-filled mud pit, but is spared the wrath because of his introductory grasp on Chewie’s shrieking language (called Shyriiwook) in which he manages to sufficiently pitch the advantages of his survival, and the two escape, chained together. Observing the addition of Wookiee to the deal, the crew briefly debates the prospect’s new value in providing “needed muscle,” which convinces Woody to return for them and kicks off a series of case studies in this film’s bizarre attitude toward the commodification of the oppressed.
However, in a rare depiction of his volition, Chewbacca is briefly consulted before the two seek to be formally included on the job, and is even asked around a campfire, later, what he’s shooting for in life at the moment, to which he responds“finding my family/tribe.” Despite having spent a whole three hellish years in the trenches with the British, the romantic Han Solo declares his primary motivation for all of it still lies in his desire to return to Corellia and rescue Qi’ra. In their stolen Imperial ship, the lot descend on a snowy mountain-traversing Maglev to steal the Uranium it’s transporting in a scene that’s straight up jacked from animated family classic The Polar Express, but… oh no!… A gaggle of “marauders”called the Cloud Riders (yet another throwaway proper noun) roll up on those speeder bikes from Endor (except these can fly,) and screw up everything so badly that both of Woody’s crew end up dead and the booty scuttled. After the fact, Woody reveals to Han that the job was contracted by yet another carelessly-named crime syndicate — Crimson Dawn, and that his only possible course of action is now vigorous brown nosing to its leader, Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany)((aka Scarred Jarvis,)) in the waning hope he’ll spare his life to make another attempt. Following this information, he firmly suggests that Han and Chewie fuck off, lest their faces become known in the underworld, dooming them to serving it forever, apparently. Already, this vague presumption of Han’s purity which all of the protagonists must constantly venerate in martyrdom is getting tiresome, as is the dynamic of his insistence against them.
Naturally, both Chewie and Han end up along for a visit to Scarred Jarvis’ tower yacht, where the latter very conveniently stumbles upon none other than his long lost love, Qi-ra in the bar. Despite having spent the past three years at war in unspeakable conditions thinking only of how to liberate and be reunited with her, he isn’t bothered to express more than the moderately-excited and surprised hug you’d expect of someone who’s just run into the kid down the cul-de-sac from their childhood home who used to ride her bike over for popsicles on Sunday afternoons. While he does rehearse for her the tale of their reunification as his one motivation for everything since they were separated — including his presence there, “right now,” he follows the profession up quite abruptly with the sly suggestion that they fuck as soon as possible. True to trope, she is jaded and indefinite as she distantly implies her binds of servitude while flashing the tattoo of the extremely-forgettable and innocuous Crimson Dawn logo on her right wrist. (The total lameness of the brands in this movie must be intentional. I can think of no other explanation.)
The evil Scarred Jarvis is then introduced, quickly stealing the crown for Best Host of all Star Wars Antagonists before politely asking Woody why he shouldn’t kill the lot of them. As per his infinite luck, Han pulls the idea of stealing unrefined Uranium out of his ass, which has somehow never occurred to anyone else in the room, despite their unanimous top-of-the-head knowledge of the single location where it is mined. Shortly, the merry three plus Qi-ra conveniently in tow are off to a casino-esque establishment to find Lando, who Qi-ra describes as “attractive, stylish, charming,” and like adjectives, to Han’s obvious sexual chagrin, which is furthered by his subsequent loss of a card game with Lando’s ship — the Millennium Falcon, of course — in the stakes. Of course, the attractive, beautifully-dressed black man only bests Solo — the earnest, simpleton, Good Guy white dude who wears the same outfit for decades — in front of Qi-ra, the female prize by way of sleight-of-hand, the film shamelessly playing on that strange insecurity white guys have about their partners’ secretly everpresent and very powerful temptation to dump them without warning for black cock. Further emasculation is inflicted on poor little Han when Lando turns his oh-so-crafty(actually just very charismatic) charm upon Qi-ra, who reveals that she’s the boss of the gig. The final blow to Han’s dickitude is cast when he tries to enter the negotiation between thEEEEEEe two and Lando chides “the adults are speaking,” but eventually agrees to provide them a lift for a 25% cut, so the lot make preparations to leave.
Enter my new favorite character of the franchise, Lando Calrissian’s co-pilot, L3-37 (voiced by Phoebe Waller-Bridge,) or “L3,” the proudly sentient, violently revolutionary pro-rights droid who is introduced as she is pleading with two fighting droids in a square cage surrounded by screaming spectators (easy does it on that thematic slavery) to circumvent their “fighting programs” because they “don’t have to do this.” Though Lando and the crew behave like her duress is foolish and unimportant — pulling her away to the Falcon — she is allowed another opportunity to free droids very soon, but not before Solo’s single short private conversation between two female characters.
On the way to Kessel, Qi-ra stops by the cockpit and converses with L3. Until recently, I was unaware of what’s largely regarded as the worst habit of male writers with female characters: if and when they have a one-on-one conversation between another female character, it’s only about other male characters. Sure enough, L3 begins by insisting to Qi-ra that Han is in love with her, insisting by the objective findings of her sensors — which Qi-ra uncharacteristically denies like a bashful little girl before L3 contiues on about Lando’s longtime love for her, and why it must remain unrequited, which we are encouraged to laugh at by the doubt Qi-ra voices without much hesitation regarding the hypothetical union’s sexual mechanics because it’s so preposterous.(I’ll get back to that in a moment.)
When the team arrives on Kessel and infiltrates the mine, L3 creates a “distraction” when she begins removing the restraining bolts from droids in the control room, calling the practice savage, or uncivilized, or maybe barbarian — I don’t quite remember. As she frees them without any noticeable detraction from her duties as Seth Green of the heist — hacking controls, remotely opening doors, and all that — the droids begin to help free others in an exponentially multiplying circle of liberation until they become a rowdy mob who’s cute acts of rebellion are spaced throughout a few minutes of screentime in short jumpcuts off the other crew as they fight deeper into the mine. With the most significant emphasis ever placed upon Chewbacca in Star Wars history, he halts when he spies slave Wookiees struggling to find off enforcers and informs Han that he’s going to break off and assist them. Since Chewie’s only allowed to speak to the audience through Han’s retorts and never directly, it’s impossible to know how he phrased it, exactly, but from my perspective, his appeared to be the expression of a wish to do what Han had to agree to release him to do, as would a master, not a “partner.” Of course, Solo does agree, albeit hesitantly, because he’s The Good Guy, while quite inconsiderately expressing his desire to see Chewie again soon instead of wishing him success. However, releasing him to free his people (as per his primary life goal, expressed before,) means that Han has to load twelve of the super heavy unrefined Uranium tubes onto the cart all by himself and push it fully loaded at least 50 whole yards without the assistance of his big strong slave. Boy, what a pain in the ass! He’s spared his laboring, though, when Chewbacca returns after no time at all with the enslaved Wookiees he’s just heroically rescued, who he then immediately asks to assist his master in pushing the cart — performing the same labor they were forced to do under the enslavement they were supposedly liberated from, seconds before.
The heist has inadvertently (nice, huge emphasis on inadvertently) ignited a slave rebellion throughout the mine, which serves the crew only as a distraction for the guards. The chaos is interrupted a half dozen times or so by those jumpcuts back to the control room of adorable little droids enacting their pitifully amusing revenge on the equipment — slapping a keyboard with a cookie sheet-like pan, stomping on a control panel, etc. — while L3 shouts parodical quasi-Marxist battlecries, which… yes… include referring to the freed droids as “comrades.” She even radios Lando at one point and triumphantly proclaims that she’s “found her true calling.”
By the time the Uranium cart is within its last few yards of the awaiting Falcon, the riot has reached the landing bay and the guards around its perimeter have readjusted their priorities to disabling the ship’s landing gear. This interrupts Lando in the cockpit, who has chosen this time to work on dictating his autobiography because he’s a man who bothers to dresses himself well and is therefore oh so maniacally, comically, and unreasonably vain! How berserk! Still looking good as hell, he emerges and stands on the ramp to cover the rest of the crew’s return and loading of the dangerous Uranium with blaster fire, shouting the obligatory intermittent “come on, hurry up,” until L3appears, also firing a blaster and shouting until she arrives in front of Lando, before noticing some commotion(?) with droids behind her and turning around, again fervently shouting more liberation cries. Lando doesn’t budge from the Falcon’s side, but yells after her, until he watches as she is shot repeatedly and falls, prompting him to run to her side. Filmed unnecessarily gruesomely, her head and shoulders separate from what’s left of her lower body when he first tries to hoist her up. Of course, his recklessness gets him shot in the arm, so Chewie returns to carry them both to the safety of the ship, where the injured Lando holds her head lovingly in his arms for her last moments, repeating “I can fix you, I can fix you.”
Now, I understand that Star Wars movies (or their reviews, for that matter) are not the sort of entertainment one seeks out in order to examine the dynamics of power structures or elaborate cultural symbolism, but they all contain a significant amount of both. The sterile, cold, and bureaucratic Galactic Empire is the British Empire, the Rebellion and the Republic are the United States or its colonial precursors, the Jedi are vaguely Native American, and the Death Star is the Boston Tea Party. You’ve recognized this, I’m sure because it’s shoved in your ears most explicitly by their accents, and less so in your face by aesthetic influences, tactical philosophies, command etiquette, and posture, even. Solo’s main character is soaking in American Old Westness, which may or may not have led to its liberal saturation with the themes of individual rights, slavery, and liberation. Regardless, they’re certainly present, and most of them disturbingly for comedic effect.
As a silent character to the audience, it’s understandable that Chewbacca had too many limitations to occupy a strong second to Han Solo’s lead in the narrative’s eye, and perhaps the relationship between the two as portrayed in the previous films reeked so strongly of servitude that it was an inevitable element when the time came to write them their very own movie. In direct contrast to the firm place of all droids in the social hierarchy of the last 9 movies — addressing humans as “Master,” unapologetically spoken of as property, and traded and/or gifted as such by both protagonists and antagonists, etc. — what we see of Lando and L3 together is a genuinely and complexly affectionate partnership between equals, which Solo makes an effort to emphasize, if only to laugh at.
In response to the forced violence between two drones for spectator sport, L3 is completely enraged, and she cries (among other things) “we are sentient!,” but her distress is trivialized as hysterical distraction (see: Django Unchained.) When she suggests to Qi-ra that Lando (who is already illegitimized as a cheating narcissist, and therefore effeminate) is attracted to her, it’s a joke (whichmany in my audience laughed at) at the expense of her trivialized sexuality. After she triumphs and declares the liberation of her kind to be her true cause, she is immediately destroyed fighting for its sake, yet her ideology is not once acknowledged by her fleshy companions, and her body is quickly gutted for the data on her “central processing unit” as it’s interfaced with the Falcon. Granted, Lando does thoughtfully muse “she’s part of the ship now” shortly afterward, which would be nice, if you’d forgotten his last words were an outright lie. Lastly, it’s worth noting how apathetic the main characters themselves are toward the Kessel miners, especially as they are packing up to leave, when the camera pans over the chaotic struggle between the liberated and their guards in very close proximity to the awaiting Falcon, yet there was not a suggestion that they would even considerletting them take refuge from the violence in their very spacious freighter. Aside from Han’s or Qi-ra’s, Solo treats liberation as charming or amusing, nothing more.
Anyway, the crown jewel of Solo for many fans will probably be the scene of the infamous Kessel Run, when Han Solo and Chewbacca first take the helm(?) of the Millennium Falcon with Lando injured and L3 dissected, using her “navigational database” to plot a very risky shortcut around the scary space cloud by the scary space squid and the scary space hole in order to make it to the site of the refinery before the volatile Uranium explodes. Once there, darn old flakey Lando fucks the hell of in the Falcon right as the Cloud Riders roll up, but whoa! their leader is actually a very young woman with freckles! She describes the atrocities of Crimson Dawn and suggests that Han (who’snow the established decisionmaker for whatever reason) give them the Uranium in order to establish “the beginning of a rebellion,” which we can safely assume is The Rebellion, which does beg one to wonder why Solo never once bragged among the later rebellion about having started the whole thing in the other films, considering that — whaddya know — he says yes!
Woody, however, says he’s going to retire upon the news of this decision before immediately reappearing again on Scarred Jarvis’ yacht after he’s revealed to have betrayed the Uranium ruse to him. Qi-ra ends up killing Scarred Jarvis, saving Han, but after promising to follow him and escape, she rings up the late Scarred Jarvis’ boss — a Sith Zabrak who, I would argue, is not necessarily Darth Maul, though he probably is — and informs him that her boss is dead and she’s assumed his post. As Han and Woody meet again in an Old West standoff (complete with sand,) the latter insists one more time that Qi-ra is not who Han thinks she is (as Jarvis and Qi-ra herself have also said repeatedly,) describing her as “a survivor,” before Han kills him in self-defense.
Finally, after seeing the Cloud Riders off with the Uranium, Han finds Lando once again in a card game — this time taking care to disable his sleight-of-hand device beforehand so that he wins the Millennium Falcon, “fair and square,” and we cut to Solo (who seems remarkably upbeat considering the recent betrayal of the lover he’d longed years to reunite with) and Chewie in her cockpit as they tie in that one last knot by declaring their destination, Tatooine, before roaring off into hyperspace, leaving the credit roll in their wake.
Over two years ago, I concluded my first work for Extratone about The Force Awakens by arguing that Star Wars on the big screen should be allowed to die in favor of investing the time, energy, and funding they require in the pursuit of something new, but the industry still appears to believe that nostalgia is a surer bet where profits are concerned, at least, even after two whole decades of mind-numbing reanimated properties. I didn’t catch The Last Jedi until recently, which was remarkably well-done measured against the others as a Star Wars movie, but certainly didn’t aim to achieve much more. Clearly, there must be some truth in Hollywood’s cowardice about original properties- especially when it comes to the sort of fantasy armed with potent but unguided emotional bombs that define the Star Wars universe, so it wouldn’t make much sense to revive my old diatribe, here. (Though I can assure you that I will be relentless if this horseshit continues for much longer.) The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, though, were episodic titles for the family, and these spinoffs that began with Rogue One are supposed to be for… well, I’m not entirely sure. In reality, they’ve only moved the proverbial bar up a very wee bit to the family who occasionally says “shit,” because they’re not intellectually stimulating enough to justify themselves as Big Boy-only productions. Or, they wouldn’t be, were they not part of this franchise.
The truth is, the fans have grown up, and they… I… will still buy a ticket for the smallest crumb of hope that a product of this huge machine will be capable of making us feel even a fraction of what we felt as children watching the original films. For me, The Force Awakens actually did, once, in that blast of horns before the opening crawl, but it hasn’t happened since, and I should certainly stop expecting or wanting to expect that it will. For others, it’s still working. Though there was a fraction of who I expected to be in attendance with me, they did laugh at a handful of (mostly fascist) moments, and whooped, hollered, and even clapped for a few seconds at the end. I’m surprised opening night wasn’t packed because Portland is the single most nostalgia-addicted culture I’ve ever seen anywhere in the United States. Then again, there are a billion theaters here, so perhaps the sample is just lousy. We’ll see how tomorrow and Sunday go, but I’d be surprised if any boxoffice records were broken.
In the past, when film enthusiasts andfans have described Han Solo as “the best character in Star Wars,” they’ve actually been praising his potential as a character, not his material itself, and Solo’s most effective function as a franchise film was to shut that praise down. Han was not at all denied his movie — this is his movie — and it provided him the screentime to show us who he truly is and why we really like him so much: he doesn’t fucking change. The secret to Han Solo’s moral and emotional resiliency is nothing more than halted development. The same old inner conflict between the tough, ruthlessly self-interested persona he does his best to project for everyone around him and the consistent reality of his soft insides was presented in his first scene way back in 1977, and we’re now sure that he was unable to make any progress toward its resolution despite openly and obviously brooding over it for an entire lifetime: from at least as early as his young adulthood in this film until his death at the hands of his little Sith son. There is 0 variation. He always comes back for the cause at the crucial moment after declaring himself through with it. Without fail, he’ll sacrifice the entirety of any self-making enterprise for just about any underdog with a problem who crosses his path. (Which probably explains his constantly-fleeting success as a smuggler well into gray hair and jowls.) Solo is abundantly clear about Han’s true nature and very willing to expose how uninteresting it is. When he first proclaims to Qi-ra that he’s become “an outlaw,” she shuts him down with the film’s ultimate quote, insisting that she “knows who [he] really is: the good guy.”
If the video game-despising fans will bear with me for a moment, it’s worth noting that Bioware’s Star Wars: The Old Republic MMORPG is the most interesting and extensive source of nuanced narrative in the IP (it holds the world record for the largest voiceover project ever produced,) and most of it can now be experienced without actually playing the game. Like Solo, it’s set pre-saga, but considerably before — a few centuries, if I remember correctly, which gave the writers a gigantic opportunity to both expand and predestine the universe. There are eight different class stories with around 50 cumulative hours of dialog, each. A few are relatively unimaginative, but the majority are complex, exciting, emotionally-involved tales that create very rich characters, and all of them can be streamed in their entirety on YouTube. If you are willing to see the potential of a Han Solo-like character fulfilled in a different medium, the Smuggler class story is a pretty damned engaging exploration of the kind outlaw with conflicted identity issues angle.
From my perspective, Solo’s frequent less-than-subtle maltreatment of some very brutal and sensitive power relationships makes it the most toxic of the Star Wars films yet, and I assume it ended up that way, unnecessarily because Ron Howard is an all-American son of a bitch. If these titles are going to continue to be passed around between bigwhig directors, future unpleasantries are inevitable. Notably, I’ve yet to see any mention of these disturbing themes from the respectable authorities of the film criticism establishment, who’ve been overwhelmingly charmed by Solo’s nostalgia. Take from that whatever you will.
If we continue to love the character Han Solo, it’ll be in the same way we love our earnest, foolish, emotionally-stunted manchild fathers who’s developmental inadequacies are often embarrassing, sometimes abusive, and thoroughly pitiful. Solo leaves no more room for an idealized, elegant perception of this character — he’s no more than a pretty good guy with a lifelong addiction to thrill-seeking and a shitload of luck.
To declare unequivocally whether or not Solo: A Star Wars Story is worth a trip the cinema with your date, your children, or just your own damned conscience would require me to disregard a whole host of complicating factors, but if you’ve stuck it this far with me, you’d have a lot to disregard yourself to jump in. I’d advise that parents watch it themselves before deciding whether or not it’s something worth adding to your child’s life. Of those of you like me who’ll tow the line despite what you know and watch a Star Wars film alone on opening night in delirium hoping for just a drop from the Fountain of Youth, I would ask: how long are we really going to keep kidding ourselves?
Today, after positing on whether or not a pastry was in fact the namesake of the battleship Bismarck, I was told by its owner — a local woman of a far-from-excusable age — that “[I] should be on that big bang show.” Upon such fuckery, I looked her in her eyes and informed her that she’d just changed my plans for the night: I was now going to go home, wrap my lips around the barrel of my Beretta, and blow my brains out. I should’ve known better than to so jest with a boomer immediately after receiving such glaring indicators of minimal intellectual function, but I fell for the hope — as I often do, to no avail — that such a jarring reaction would encourage reflection on her foul, tragically misled sentiments regarding the general state of youth, and perhaps even spare a peer or two from future tribulation.
Instead, she called the police.
Three round cops found me, an hour later, approaching hesitantly. Strangely enough, they were chuckling — maybe to a little joke about all the recent hubbub on the radio covering a recent wave of blatantly negligent medical care in American prisons, though I hope nervous laughter is just SOP when responding to a suicide threat. As all Columbia cops always are toward me, they were aggravatingly genuine and hilariously understanding. I began by simply recreating my interaction with their summoner, quoting her word-for-word, and — I swear to my new Lord — all three immediately released a choral “ohhhhh” in unison. I’ll never know for sure if they actually assimilated the reality of the situation so quickly, but it’d certainly seem that way.
Clearly, I should’ve threatened her life.
Despite the day-to-day expression of our recurring wisdoms, habits, instincts, patterns and cycles of cultural metamorphosis in the discourse, the stream of “well, you know they were sayin’ the world was going to end when I was in elementary school” to my ear has fallen abruptly silent since the inauguration. Our parents and grandparents are both impossibly fortunate and unfortunate, having to duck out as the most multiplicative (read: sickest) cerebral orgy in the history of mankind will just’ve begun nibbling on the slope to its climax. We’ll be lucky if we’ll still be able to articulate our goodbyes by the time they reach the door. Nonsense does a fuckin number on perceived wisdom, but the gaps are widening at a dangerous pace. Tectonic or domestic, we are all straddling expanding space, and the chill of its draft is now stealing too much of our heat to ignore.
Though it is entertaining in the moment (and otherwise redundant,) it would not be well-to-do of me now — nor was it, then — to leave the conversation in edgy absurdity. Though a part of me would like to campaign for Sheldon to be reclassified as an expletive, in disgust, I must — as an adult in all-out sprint to make up for stalled emotional development — note that such a display of concern should’ve been at least reciprocated with a bit of explanation, if not appreciation, though I won’t condone wasting public employee time for a misunderstood retort from a complete stranger.
It’s not news — the Theory is providing some ghoulishly skewed portrayal of less-than-forty pseudointellectuals. Though my savior’s time is obviously worth very little to her, the fact that she spent any quantity of anything at all engaging with even a decidedly mainstream generationally ambassadorial bridge could be regarded — if stretched — as the result of a curious seed, which has skyrocketed in human value, as of late. It is undiscouragable. Read the trail a bit, and you’ll find that your frustration is simply an expression of the terror that’s ignited by the stagnancy of their pace.
It’s great that you’ve managed to inch over to modern-ish sitcoms from Judge Judy and Independence Day, mom, but you’re gonna have to really pick up the pace and work on following a few body modification communities on the darknet.
If an absence of solutions are the crux of the blog, here I’m now gloating.
To whom does the commoner look to for such solutions when they’d prefer not to terrorize their kooky middle age parents into a half century of brutal fasting under vows of silence?
The Big Thinkers! The Men of the Hour.
Yes, men. All Big Bumbling Billionaire Imbeciles.
Elon Musk cannot be the Nicola Tesla of the 21st century, or even the 20th, for that matter, because literally every mechanically-minded professional I’ve ever heard talk about battery technology has condemned it in some manner as an inescapable dead end, developmentally. Perhaps, then, the champion of electrochemical storage is the* False Prophet.
No, I’m not capable of citing research or conjuring Mars-capable spacecraft, but I’ve been a bit too preoccupied with my country’s class war and its 10% adult illiteracy rate. It’s all well and good to be privy to romanticism, but it’s not the 1960s anymore. Even Howard Hughes would be more concerned for the wellness of the species than our continued reach for the stars, were he still alive.
Well. Maybe not… Charles Lindbergh would be, though.
We spent the 1990s preparing to rid ourselves of history because the smartest among us foresaw some facsimile of the renaissance we are currently experiencing. If they’dT been shown a glimpse of some statistics on the volume of media we consume, they’d exclaim of their pride — no doubt — in their species’ capability to progress, and perhaps even their own contribution to it. However, extended observation of an average American’s day-to-day life would be lamented, in disgust, and a huge portion of the blame can be placed on one t-shirt-touting cyberyokel: Mark Zuckerberg. His name is stupid, his spawn is ruining my life, and he continues to insist upon saying shit that frightens the bejesus out of me. Zuckbrain is fucking scary. “Wiring the globe” is fucking scary. Jarvis is fucking scary. But Fuck, himself wouldn’t be at all intimidating without his money. The scariest bit is the lack of class in the criticisms of his intellectual influence. Farhad Manjoo’s attention has been diligent and premium as a Timeser’s should be, but the same occupation bars him from authoring with the color of unsubstantiated claims. Mine does not.
Elon Musk is not an apologetic genius. He’s willing to joke about his intellectual distance from the planet and its populace on Twitter. Apparently, his mind’s even surpassed the need to punctuate. Crazy.
Google is well on it’s way to becoming the neo-Vatican… yada yada yada, but they’re too far gone — I do not have the expertise to address them. Fuck, though, is a singular short-sleeved, Even Stevens-haired young man without so much as private office space (even though his sentiments on breathing room at home are obviously inverse.)
Clearly, it’s all just to protect him from the truth:
The Apostle John’s Book of Revelation is about Facebook.
Fuck’s cyberchild is the horseman, the beasts, and the plagues, stuffed into one tyrannical website.
And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.
If I can repeatedly trigger accidental voice calls on Fuckbook Messenger, don’t tell me it’s not possible to inadvertently live stream myself on the pot.
The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.
Of course, it’s unlikely that Mark’s essence was bred entirely of evil, but — like Tump, in many ways — he is an excruciatingly wealthy idiot. Though he is spending 2017 touring the United States, he doesn’t seem to be all that interested in actually closing the gap between himself and the rest of us, which suggests that he only wants us to throw us off his extra-terrestrial, xenophobic scent. I can’t imagine what The Mothership would really want with my Amazon browsing history, though.
And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe.
Just to be clear, he is not The Antikhristos. He’d better not be, anyway. I’d be absolutely Livid with Lucifer if his choice of a figurehead for his Big Plan was such a Fucking dork .
I mean… if Fuck wanted to spend his time crafting 6000-word essays, why the Fuck didn’t he just build a Fucking CMS back in his Jesse Eisenberg era instead of the actual weekly-updated tower of digital Babylon? Surely, Satan would know better than to waste resources and pulverize creativity by ordering his Demonic Dev team to release regular builds for build’s sake rather than on a per-need basis, but that’d be because The Tempter is an authority on incentives as thoroughly as Fuck isn’t.
If you’re equipped with the privilege of literacy, you’ve been reading a lot about Fuckbook’s political consequences, recently. Frankly, it’s about Fucking time, but I’m compelled to emphasize that the most significant motor driving the politik is fueled by the eldest, fossilized portions of our thought meat. According to Manjoo, “the News Feed team’s ultimate mission is to figure out what users want,” dipping in Fuckbook’s ocean of action data, searching for a soul.
Yet another Fuckism that suggests he’s an alien: everybody knows that nobody knows what they want.
There’s a central mechanic of our brains that by nature wreaks a whole helluva lot of contradiction. If you’ve ever mentioned ADHD with your doctor, or know a hypochondriac/adderall fiend who has, you may have heard it described as “the lizard brain.” Simply put, it’s the brain stem, and it’s responsible for the most basal and primitively emotional instincts and habits; an anti-intellectual agitant, arguing at all times for the course of action with the most immediate gratification. The Great Clickbait War of 2013 was a startling demonstration that revealed the strength of the hold Fuckbook had (and still has) on these reptilian bits — the true location of its power.
“In surveys, people kept telling Facebook that they hated teasing headlines. But if that was true, why were they clicking on them?”
Volition is the Word of the Day.
Here, we must once again invoke an ancient parable from the wise foretellings of the Disney film, Smart House: when dealing with human beings, boundless compliance quickly leads to abject misery for all parties involved.
Mindlessly, habitually , endlessly clicking … this is how we die.
Something about Fuck’s direction is fundamentally poisonous to the human mind. Yes, he is assuredly too Fucking democratic, but misinformation is far from the only form of evil his creation has assumed. If you can jog your memory back a bit, you’ll remember a much wider variety of brain-rotting filth.
In lapses of their existences’ finitude, the 40-something second cousins of the world may still send you the occasional Can Crunch Saga invite, jarring you back to Jr. High in 2009, and forever associating themselves in your mind with the horrors of mortality and
f u c k b o o k g a m e s .
More than one sixth of all living eyes see Fuckbook every single day, placing its consumption behind only eating and drinking as the most universally human activity. Mr. Fuck achieved his vision and became perhaps the greatest purveyor of words who’s ever lived. He’s taught (or… is teaching) us a few very profound things about ourselves.
Capability is not the whole of the equation. Ability on its own cannot guarantee growth, but it can often result in decay. Discussion does not inherently lead to connection. Population is not a cure for isolation.
That said, I must begrudgingly admit to you that I, myself am one of the 100 million users who’ve depended upon a “very meaningful” Facebook group for a “physical support structure” for which I have Fuck to thank.
I’ve spent half of my existence watching cheesy barnstorming movies, whirling around die-cast biplanes, seeking out stories from old pilots — military and commercial, and eventually trained to become one myself. As regular activities at young ages do, aviation became deeply ingrained into my identity, but my local community is very sparse — it’s not exactly cool, these days. On Fuckbook, an unofficial group for members of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association has allowed me to stay connected to the rest of the world’s Soaring Nerds, which is no small deal. It’s the only forum which I am compelled to participate in with 100% sincerity and emotional effect.
Photos of members standing proudly next to their first airplane, or of adolescent students in a similar pose after their first solo, or of three old white rubes on a hangar picnic, laughing around a fold-up table full of rudimentary ham sandwiches in front of two gleaming Stearmans…
They tug around on my heart like nothing else in life can.
I stopped flying lessons at 16 because I began to see behind the naivety of my childhood perception of what it meant to fly commercially and realized that I was unequipped for- and uninterested in the sort of challenges it presented. I haven’t flown in seven years, but the community will always have a tremendous dividend of my core being.
These days, not a single person in my day-to-day life knows or cares about aviation, which wouldn’t be laudable whatsoever were it not so emotionally necessary for me.
A few days ago, a member shared a photo with the group of Charles Lindbergh’s modified Ryan cockpit, captioned “what airplane am I?”
In my youth, Lindbergh fulfilled my closest equivalent to the ‘childhood hero’ role. My grandmother bought me a first-edition copy of The Spirit of St.Louis from a small town bookshop when I was six or seven, and I carried it literally everywhere with me until middle school. I watched the Jimmy Stewart film tens and tens of times, and I cried when I saw the Spirit in the flesh at the Smithsonian, yet I’ve never had an informed conversation about any of it with another human being. It really warmed me to see how many of the comments were correct answers.
Breaking news: it’s nice to know that there are other people on Earth who give a shit about the same things you do.
Again — aspiration should always be encouraged. This is Fuck’s vision for his creation, and it is feasible, even for myself. At least his public persona — however valid or invalid it may be — is making a huge effort to have positive consequence, even if his idiocy is imbuing itself in all of humanity. Fuck is too powerful to be exempted from responsibility for what Fuckbook’s done to the Western psyche over the past decade, but — like the Christian god — perhaps all we need require is his repentance.
He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.
The meteorological complaints you’ve been hearing from mid-Missouri since Friday aren’t inappropriate this time — the middlefolk faced one of their most fatal enemies — a well-laid minefield of black ice. It slowed our timid, ABS-oblivious society to ten percent or less of its already near-postmortem pace. (For God’s sake, at least learn why you needn’t pump your brakes before you opt for infotainment extras or… get your driver’s license.)I woke up with the same debt and imminent expenses as I did the day before and without any more intention of buying a premium laptop than I’ve had for the two years I’ve gone without one.
Without the concept of mobile computing in its entirety, actually. I knew I’d lost my desire to carry a loose bluetooth keyboard around everywhere in case some insight were to fall upon me heavy enough to justify reaching for it over my 6S Plus in a public venue, hunched and squinting. There’s still nothing better at cranking out copy than the Lap Top Computer, I suppose. I was holding out for a truly-substantial alternative to Windows 10 and macOS, wanting to be enchanted by lite delights like Acer’s cheeky Chromebook R11, but had decided in self-pity that I’d probably never be able to stand a new operating system ever again.
My mom graciously decided to take me mall shopping for Christmas, which is comforting in its tradition of vapid routine. The state of a given midwestern metropolis’s mall is a keen indicator of the culture’s soul, I’ve found, and ours is mostly crewed by destitute alcoholics, who are my closest kin, and therefore my most appropriate company for the holidays.
Even now, when the somber corners are not quite so desolate. The acoustic sensation cannot be experienced anywhere else — the battlecries of the Me Generation’s pop reproduced by hateful diaphragms behind their white plastic ceiling facades and absorbed again by palletloads of mass-manufactured stonewashed denim, seemingly coming from a far-off wholesale nether no matter where in the store you’ve been buried. Ours is a few decades old, now — weathered and alone, which accentuates the whole dystopia with a resolute air of infinity, as if it’s certain it will outlast me. It probably will.
The last time I was in the market for a laptop, there was little room for aesthetics in the equation. We have been taught this past decade that beautiful devices come in fruit form, only. Somehow, I allowed myself to integrate the ridiculous sentiment that MacBooks were the only option for anyone with any reverence for tactile experience. As I expect you’re aware of to at least some degree by now, Apple’s diligent study of desirability over the years is the singular force behind their lordship, and it’s the token MO of tech opinion to confuse it with sex appeal, resulting in expressions like “[apple hardware device] is sexy,” which is a pityingly desperate delusion. Do you actually find brushed aluminum appealing in any bodily sense?
We did once, of course. Your infatuation with the stuff probably peaked the moment you first grazed it, and — if you’re anything like me — you could be harboring more aesthetic frustration with their longstanding occupation than you think. Infatuation must be starved to survive, and we’ve been eating up Apples by the bushel for a decade.
But really, though — by the billion.
I saw images in that Spectre review which I was completely satisfied with. I watched that new HP logo as it traveled through the frames, stupefied. Out of precious ignorance, I experienced real desire in that undesirable place. (Which could actually represent some sort of defeat on my part, but I’m not too bothered.)
And in the midst of those desolate people in their fortress of mediocrity, my mom and I hatched a plan to indulge upon the best part of desolation — impulsive, subsidized gluttony. We’d stop by the pharmacy to fill my anti-depressant script before renavigating Bourgeois Bumper Cars to get to Best Buy, where she’d let me use her credit line to purchase my final choice in the segment.
I could’ve sworn it made good sense to me, once — in Middle School, when my friend and I were spending most of our free time emulating the first generation of tech-reviewing YouTubers — but now, it reminds me of a darkwood restaurant with its closing fluorescents on, shining in the inverse frequency of a bug zapper — casting a more effectively-repelling ambiance for the human psyche than anything else I’m capable of dreaming up, at least.
I used to fucking visit that store for no purpose but to see and experience the diluted bit of the handset renaissance with enough momentum to coast its way here. I probably spent a full sixty minutes wandering around by my own volition on a handful of occasions. But these days, I am perturbed from the onset in a big way. There are too many blue vape enthusiasts on the sales floor at any given time, and they all want me to leave. They loaf around the carcass of consumer technology’s passion, not realizing, I guess, that I already know it ’twas they who killed it. (The stench is strongest by the wearables.) It’s eerie how little the Big Box itself has changed, considering the decade their goods have traveled.
Under a fittingly-gray sky, I wash my pill down with La Croix and a Kind bar to preempt the appropriate rumination in my mouth as we inch toward my Final Financial Doom with the spooked sliders. Though we never exceed 5mph, there are abandoned vehicles littering the shoulders and medians in varyingly absurd orientations. But I do not jest — today, I am silent, for I am one of them.
By the time we reach the store, my medicine has once again placed my soul in Safe Mode, so we shuffle into the grotesque thing. There are four employees in sight — no one else — and they all send their beady eyes my way. I have too much purpose in my consumerist jowls to pause, though, so I rush to the laptops near the opposite wall in an attempt to get an early estimate on my current level of personal computing idiocy. Naturally, my Mom snags one of another four associates immediately. In this work, I shall refer to him as Zoroaster.
Despite having never seen 80% of the displayed devices in person before, I am able to spot the Spectres quickly, which is a good sign. I am immediately elated by the contrast to the depressing mushbooks I remember HP making in the oughts. The bezel… the brilliance of the display… the details of the visible body. I open Extratone. I open The Verge. I am hoping that Windows 10 will not be as much of a kicker as I’ve expected.
I’m not a minute before Mom and Zoroaster have found the new MacBook Pros. Nobody remembers the password to the 13-inch, but the 15 is showing off its “deep blacks” and “Space Gray” mood. The Verge looks phenomenal, and its icon in the touchbar catches my eye. I manage to use it to switch tabs, the less-attuned degenerate in me noting the extra spanning required over CMD-TAB.
“Have you tried the new keyboard?” asks Zoroaster.
I hadn’t. It’s as indescribable as you’ve heard, but suggests legitimacy is Apple’s effort to bridge the transition from physical keyboards to their touch replacement. Terrifying legitimacy.
“You get used to it,” he says.
I open Pages and click out something ridiculous. Yeah… click. I’m sure there’s a better onomatopoeia available by way of just about any technology website, but I didn’t bother to study the sensation after realizing that it’s a con for my number one use of a Portable Computer: clacking.
It’s not as if the thing isn’t gorgeous, though, in its way. After years of usership, I can tell you that it is undoubtedly a superb execution of the MacBook marque. It’s polished. It’s The New One. But it is also bleak and slateish. Some might even say dystopian.
Do I want to carry such a thing around with me everywhere? Do I even want to carry it out of the store? What will I tell my friends?
What will I tell my staff?
$2,000 of my future spent on what is now a piece of distinctly establishment design… I return to the x360 to see what can be done about Windows’ appearance these days.
Purple-gray taskbars… Hm.
It’s a sale.
Let me be honest with you — I spent some ninety minutes going between the two. Even if I’d endured the shame and self-disappointment of choosing the MacBook Pro, the simple grunt of the challenge the Spectre presents to it is no small milestone. As Zoroaster scrambles to remove my new machine from The Hanging Jail, I am drained from the decision, but aware that my perspective on the world has changed. I’ve been working on an editorial for the past few weeks that’s mostly alarmed howling about the industry’s utter lack of passion, as of late, but seeing the Windows-running department’s devices and their matured design — finally beautiful without obvious Apple influence — had truly revived some little flame of hope within me.
Lithe Zoroaster was confused by UPCs a bit, as is understandable, and began juggling three Spectre boxes atop the prison lift, screaming the numbers — one at a time from each device — to his bewildered disciple, below.Throughout the later half of the whole ordeal, I’d had company — some sort of blonde working man who’d also braved the frictionless waste to calm himself with debt. I’d been elated at the opportunity for companionship, at first, but he’d found himself unable to escape the store’s bespoke Apple Hole. I did my best to help him, but failed hoist his girth from the 15’s benchmark suction. I’d left him there, bound. May my dreams n’er be haunted by the fading portrait of his tortured, middle class face.
As the Best Boys did their dance, he somberly came to my side. The grimace he’d worn in the struggle had fallen away. I knew what was coming before he formed the defeated words: “go ahead and grab me the 500 while you’re up there.” As one should when they stumble upon a stranger’s funeral, I bowed my head.
Here begins the part that sorta makes me look like an idiot… After signing my mother’s lengthy loan agreement, Zoroaster — the little devil — asked if I wanted the Special Edition, just behind me. I’d stopped by last year’s Big Boy Spectre — the ballsy-ass copper-toned masterpiece — and had wished for a moment that the look could’ve carried to the fresher x360. The monospace Hewlett-Packard logo blinded me, and the unlit display (it hadn’t been set up yet) concealed the wider bezel of… The older Spectre 13t, with which I write, now. I didn’t notice my blunder until after our treacherous return, and could not care less.