Abstraction by Georgia O’Keiffe


I bet you didn’t realize that Georgia O’Keiffe was also a sculptor!

The Cleveland Museum of Art had a superb exhibit of Georgia O’Keiffe’s work.  This is called abstraction but I think it looks like a hunched over woman.

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Learning How to Mourn

Last year, around this time, I was posting a lot of posts about death.  I posted a chant of Memory Eternal, the last prayer Orthodox Christians pray in their funeral liturgy.  (They are asking God to remember the person.)  I also posted poetry by Walt Whitman about death during the Civil War.

I did that because I had to put my cat down. (I have since gotten another cat.)

Losing my cat hurt far worse than I could have expected.  It made me think a lot about death in general, and how necessary it is to learn how to mourn.

Orthodox Christians consider death an enemy, the last enemy to be destroyed.  At the Easter liturgy they sing about Christ “trampling down death by death.”  From a Christian perspective, this is true.  But death is also a part of life.  It is unavoidable.  Not just death, but decay, and change.  It is inescapable. My co-worker considers it the price we pay for this crazy adventure called life.

I thought about that last year, around the new year.  I was laying on the couch watching The Twilight Zone, and one of the episodes was about death, as many of them were.  I laid there listening to, and feeling, my heart beat.  And I thought about how one day, it will stop beating.  Nothing I do can stop that from happening one day.  I can only delay it.  I was so angry at my Mom, because if it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t have to experience that one day.

I have realized this year that one of the most important lessons we need to learn in life is how to mourn.  I am a novice.  I don’t want any more experience in mourning, but I know it cannot be avoided.

I thought about that when I was deciding whether or not to get another cat.  It hurt so much to lose Sophie, I was afraid of going through that again.  But then I realized that foster cats will die, whether I adopt them or not.  I can’t stop that.  But I could stop one from dying unloved.

Several months later, Fiona has settled in.  I still look at her and think about the fact that she will die one day.  But she will not die unloved.  And that is something.

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Why I Haven’t Seen The Rise of Skywalker (yet)

So, I have taken to writing pieces in advance and publishing them later.  I started writing this on January 18, 2020.  As of this writing, I have not seen The Rise of Skywalker, and I am not sure if I will.


And if you’re wondering, how can I have spoilers for a film I haven’t seen, the answer is, the internet.

If you’ve read anything I’ve read about the Sequel Trilogy, you know that I sensed a presence of a familiar villain from the past.  He was laying in wait, planning destruction, chaos and suffering.  And no, it wasn’t Palpatine.

at arrivals for WESTWORLD Premiere on HBO, TCL Chinese 6 Theatres (formerly Grauman's), Los Angeles, CA September 28, 2016. Photo By: Elizabeth Goodenough/Everett Collection

J.J. Abrams at arrivals for WESTWORLD Premiere on HBO, TCL Chinese 6 Theatres (formerly Grauman”s), Los Angeles, CA September 28, 2016. Photo By: Elizabeth Goodenough

It was JJ.

I have never forgiven JJ Abrams for what he did to Star Trek, when he butchered it and sucked the marrow from its bones for sustenance.  I refused to see TFA in theaters, partly because I am not a Star Wars fan, but more importantly because I had no desire to see JJ Abrams’ take on it.

I strongly suspected and feared that JJ would take the safe and easy way out in ending the films.  I wish I had stated that more strongly than I did (though I still stated it strongly) but it is pretty clear if you look at the timeline of the films.  I haven’t written anything about Star Wars since July, even though people read those posts.  I couldn’t bring myself to care enough about episode 9 to do it.  The trailers didn’t make me excited to see what would come next.

Then I saw the reviews.  And the spoilers.



I have mentioned in passing my hatred for the scene in Star Trek Into Darkness, when JJ rips off Spock’s death by killing Kirk in the same way.  (Don’t worry, JJ Abrams finds a way to cure death and bring Kirk back.  And yes, we have now cured death in the alternate timeline of the Star Trek universe but don’t think about that.  Look!  Flashing lights!  Loud noises!  If the plot moves fast enough you won’t think about how I cured death!)


Sorry, still very bitter.

Thinking about this scene now, and The Rise of Skywalker, it is clear to me that this scene represents the utter limits of JJ’s “storytelling” ability, such as it is.  He knows people like the death of Spock in The Wrath of Kahn, but he does not know why that scene works in the original.  So when he tacks it in his movie as a cheap moment of manipulative nostalgia to disguise is creative bankruptcy, he fails to create the emotional impact of the original films.  Worse, he often creates the opposite emotion intended.

This is very clear when I read about the last scene in The Rise of Skywalker.

In The Rise of Skywalker, Rey ends the trilogy exactly as she begins, alone in the desert.


Rey was not happy in the desert.  She was living a hand to mouth existence, all the while dreaming that her family would come back and rescue her.  There is a moment in TFA when Rey looks at an old woman on Jakku with horror.  She is clearly wondering, “What if my family never comes back for me?  What if I grow old and die here?”

We also see her in TFA an TLJ marveling at green planets and see her joy at experiencing rain.  She loved that.

So she ends her arc in the desert?!?!

Furthermore, Rey wanted a family.  She wanted belonging.  She wanted it to a completely unhealthy degree, because she stays on Jakku, even though she could have left at any time.  Maz recognizes that Rey seeks belonging, and assures her that she cannot find belonging in her past, but rather in her future.

So she ends the trilogy alone, with ghosts and a droid?!?!

Lastly, Rey in TFA is emotionally stunted.  She has a doll in her AT-AT house and playfully wears a helmet.  She literally has the same hairstyle that she had as a child.  (Women reading my blog, how many of you managed to go through your entire teenage years without ever changing your hairstyle once?)

TLJ explored Rey’s coming of age and adolescence, in ways that Freud would have LOVED.  (Think about it.  To have her dark force vision, Rey has to visit a hairy, wet hole.)   TLJ also has Rey change her hairstyle to a more grown up style.

So Rey ends her story back in her childhood hairstyle, sliding down a sand dune, completely reverting to a childlike state?!?!

And to everyone who says, “Well Rey is going to leave Tattooine, she’s not staying there,” I say the following.

First of all, that’s us doing the work of the storytellers.  The storytellers chose to end Rey’s story alone in the desert.

Second of all, film is a visual medium.  What the audience remembers is what the camera tells them.  The Rise of Skywalker shows Rey ending her journey alone in the desert, and that’s what the audience will remember.

Lastly, imagine if The Return of the Jedi ended with Luke going back to Tattooine to play with his toy space ship and complain about getting power converters.  Reverting to a childish state.

The message of the end of The Rise of Skywalker is that nothing has changed, and nothing has mattered.  Rey is no better off for going through her adventure, and arguably she is worse off because she likely has PTSD.

So if nothing changes and nothing matters, why should I waste my time?  It’s not even a question of money, because I actually have a free movie ticket for Cleveland Cinemas, but I don’t want to spend over two hours just to end up exactly in the same place, except arguably worse.

The Rise of Skywalker makes clear what I have known since college: Star Wars is NOT for me.

Star Wars is a series for people who like flashing lights and loud noises and don’t care about stories.  I DEFINITELY have issues with The Last Jedi (I have written about them before), but I found myself defending it largely because most Star Wars fans watched it and said, “What if we took out the good ideas in TLJ and replaced them with BAD ideas?”  Well, the Star Wars fans got their wish.  They got a film chock full of awful, lazy, recycled ideas that are stripped of the original context that made those original ideas function.  I don’t even feel like playing Script Doctor the way I do with TLJ because there aren’t even any salvageable ideas in the script.  What would be the point?

I opened my review of TLJ by talking about how I agree with Rich Evans from Red Letter Media.  He asserted that the Star Wars’ universe is very small and limited, and that nearly all good stories are “too smart for Star Wars.”  I had to admit, watching TLJ, that the parts of TLJ I liked the most were the parts of the movie that were the least “Star Wars-y” and I hated the parts that were the most “Star Wars-y.”

Star Wars fans are happy watching meaningless flashing lights and loud noises.  I demand more from my films.

Maybe, by the time I post this, I will have seen The Rise of Skywalker.  But I kind of doubt it.






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Socialization at Work

I started a new job back in January.  I am enjoying my new job.  People are much happier and far less stressed and miserable than they were at my old job.

But this has opened my eyes to the importance of socialization at work.

My work is still on the phone, but I have time in between phone calls to talk and joke with my co-workers.  Even complaining to them can be helpful, in moderation.

I have heard it said that people who have a friend at work are more likely to stay at a job. I understand why.  That was one thing that made me sad at my last job.  We had great people tjere, but we never got to enjoy each other’s company.

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An American in Paris by George Gershwin

I heard this last year at the Cleveland Orchestra, when they performed the soundtrack to the movie An American in Paris with George Gershwin.

Here is a short taste of the film.  Gene Kelly choreographed it, as well as starred.


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Wade Cup with Animated Script, Iran Seljuk Period


I hadn’t heard of the Seljuk period so I had to look it up.  It was an empire between the 11th and 15th centuries in the Middle East, but it eventually fell to the Ottoman Empire.

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90’s Songs: One Hand In My Pocket by Alanis Morisette

I heard an interview with Alanis Morisette once, where she bemoaned her reputation as angry.  She points out that her songs were far more diverse than that.

This is not an angry song.  Alanis has a very upbeat view of life, but she does not ignore her problems.

I love the line at the end, “And what it all comes down to my friends, is that no one’s really got it figured out just yet.”  I always remind myself of that.  No one has it figured out.  It’s not just me.

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