Showing 11 - 20 of 103 posts found matching keyword: rant

Let's just go ahead and get this out of the way.

167. (1226.) Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)

I asked Dad what he wanted to do for his birthday yesterday, and to my horror he said "I want to see Star Wars." So I took him to see it. (A child's job is never done.) Dad may not be, but I'm getting too old for this shit.

The original Star Wars wasn't exactly Shakespeare, but neither was it insulting. By comparison, The Last Jedi begs its audience to forget everything it knows about science and society, physics and psychology. I guess that's why it's marketed as a kid's movie — a kid's movie supersaturated with graphic violence, copious death, and a PG-13 rating. Say, if you're going to remake Empire Strikes Back, can you at least keep it under 2.5 hours, please? Sorry, but I can't suspend my disbelief long enough for this level of stupidity anymore.

Ugh. Every time I think about it, I find something new to irritate me. Unjustifiably incompetent Hux. Edsel bumper Phasma. Smug cartoon Snoke. Topless emo Kylo Ren. Horny Rey. Pointless Finn. Stalker Rose. Traitorous mass murderer Po. Atmosphere in space. Gravity-assisted bombers. Belated use of indefensible hyperspace missiles. Not enough Threepio! Aargh!

Was it all bad? No. Mark Hamill steals every scene he's in as Mirror Universe Luke Skywalker. Dead Yoda is the best Yoda. And I particularly enjoyed Benicio Del Toro's parting "maybe." But then how did Del Toro's DJ know the crucial piece of information that led there? Damn it! It's impossible to even praise this movie without tripping into another of its innumerable flaws.

There were parts where I think I could see where director Rian Johnson wanted to take the movie's theme of loss and transcendence. These themes would sit much better in the third act of a trilogy than the second, so why here and now? How much of a role did Disney's executives play in distorting that vision to keep its golden goose laying? I don't know. At this point, I don't care.

The worst of it is that I'm afraid this isn't the last Star Wars film I'll have to see. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. And hate leads to me being in the theater for whatever dreck Disney cranks out next Christmas. Let the past die, Dad!

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In 1977, my father took me to see Star Wars after he had already seen it once. He loved it and wanted me to love it too. I don't remember anything about that experience. I was only 2. However, we did have a VCR — it was huge with faux wood paneling — and I would watch the movie over and over and over again in the years following. We also recorded and rewatched the infamous Holiday Special.

In 1981, my father took me to see Empire Strikes Back in a theater after it had been playing a few weeks. I can't tell you exactly where. All I remember was that it had red walls in the lobby. Though at the time I was disappointed by the cliffhanger ending, I wasn't disappointed enough not to love all the cool new toys. Not long afterwards, my brother accidentally decapitated my original black-vested Han Solo figure, and my parents replaced him with a Han in Hoth gear. What a downgrade. (I retaliated by running over Trey's sensorscope R2-D2 with my bicycle.)

In 1983, my friend Greg Owens saw Return of the Jedi before I did. He complained the movie had too many purple-lipped talking dogs in it. Their catchphrase, Greg said, was "Eat your momma." When I finally saw it (again with my family, again theater unknown though probably in Stone Mountain, GA), his review was borne out. By Christmas, I had all the available Ewok action figures and a Wicket doll.

In 1999, I saw The Phantom Menace at the new Hollywood 24 theater in Atlanta with friends. The movie was fine enough — in fact I think I continue to like it more than many — but I was disappointed by how many people I spoke to seemed to love it for what they put into it, not what it was. Darth Maul, like Boba Fett before him, particularly irked me. Fans decided he was cool because he looked cool. Their love was for a thing they had created in their heads, not a character that had appeared on screen. This realization that fans loved the franchise not for what it was but for what they wanted it to be was the beginning of the end of my love affair with Star Wars. I have a hard time associating with people who worship style over substance.

In 2002, I watched Attack of the Clones at the United Artists Scottsdale Pavilions theater in Arizona with my brother. We both agreed the movie was terrible. Bad acting, worse writing. Between the forced romance and that CGI Artoo video game sequence, this film is almost unwatchable. I distinctly remember saying that the only reason anyone should pay money to see such a thing was to get out of the desert sun.

In 2005, I have no memory of watching Revenge of the Sith. My friend Keith has told me he remembers my laughter at the final reveal of Darth Vader, so I assume I watched it in Atlanta, presumably back at the Hollywood 24. It was awful. How could any so-called fans of the older Star Wars films still love this franchise after old Ben Kenobi was revealed as the kind of man who turned his back on his friends and his responsibilities, "master" Yoda was an isolationist failure, or Vader himself was a tantrum-throwing idiot? Weren't these supposed to be kids movies? Yuck! If this was the Star Wars Universe, I wanted no more part of it.

In 2015, I watched The Force Awakens at some theater on the north side of Atlanta with reserved seating in recliners that kept my feet from touching the ground. I didn't want to see it, but I'd made the mistake of saying I'd watch it if they found a way to bring Han Solo back. They did. I watched. I found it an insulting exercise in nostalgia. (Hey, guys, let's forget all that prequel nonsense. Remember what you liked about Star Wars? Here it is again!) It's now the highest grossing film of all time.

In 2016, I watched Rogue One at Regal Cinemas 11 in Panama City, Florida. It was my father's birthday present. It was a bad present. The movie was yet another excuse for brand reinforcement, a short story intended to fill gaps in the original Star Wars backstory with stereotypical yet well-costumed characters that would make good action figures.

In 2017, Disney released The Last Jedi. A new one already? As if I wasn't burnt out enough. I hear it's different. I hear this one will change everything I've ever thought about Star Wars. I feel like I've heard that before. Maybe I'll see it one day when it comes on television. Maybe. I'm not in any hurry anymore.

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Who wants a Walter health insurance update? No one? Well, you're getting one anyway.

As we all know, Georgia has done its best to destroy any healthcare options for poor individuals like me, and the Republicans controlling the federal government have, to their credit, only managed to make shit worse. So now, for the third year in a row, I have to scramble to figure out what my options are. Too bad no one else seems to know, either.

Blue Cross Blue Shield has withdrawn from offering individual plans where I live in Georgia, leaving me with only Kaiser Permanente (KP) HMO options available under the Affordable Care Act. The problem here is that I cannot keep my doctor, and no urgent care facility within 40 miles or hospital within 70 miles accept the Healthcare Exchange (HIX) plans. That's... not ideal. But it might still be my best choice. At least it theoretically pays for something if, say, I was hit by a bus in New York City.

Not that I have a lot of other choices. I have looked at some off-Marketplace plans, and they are really worthless. Twelve hundred dollars per year gets me a couple of urgent care visits and not much else. Compared to that, I might as well have no insurance and just pay the tax penalty ($695).

So the KP HIX HMO plan looks like the best option for me, though only so long as I make little enough to take advantage of the low-income subsidies. (Sweet spot catch-22: if I make a little more money, I'm priced out of health insurance, and as a male, I wouldn't qualify for Medicare in the state of Georgia even if I earned nothing at all.) It is my understanding that KP has to continue to offer me the subsidies discount if I qualify even though that asshole Trump has vowed not to reimburse them, essentially guaranteeing that next year I'll have no healthcare options at all.

I've been lucky so far, but I can't stay healthy forever, guys.

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I just saw NBC's Chuck Todd say that the President's determination in insisting that "many sides" were culpable in the disaster that was Charlottesville this past weekend robs the Office of the President of its "moral authority."

That's bullshit.

The current president never had any moral authority. He insults people left and right, usually for nothing more than disagreeing with him. He laughed at American P.O.W.s. He bragged about sexual assault. He openly encouraged violence and intolerance. He lied constantly about everything. And that was all before he got into office.

What's he done since then to reclaim the moral high ground? He has tried to sabotage a federal investigation into a foreign government's role in his own election. He constantly attacks the integrity of his own hand-picked staff. He talks trash to Boy Scouts. He openly encourages violence and intolerance. He lies constantly about everything. Is refusing to abide by the Emoluments clause in the Constitution he swore to uphold supposed to be moral?

No, Chuck Todd. The man in the White House didn't lose any moral authority over Charlottesville. He didn't have any to lose. You can't go down from nothing.

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Halloween in August? Boo!

I bitch a lot about how Christmas season in America lasts for two months, which is two months too long. But it's still 3 months until Halloween, and Kroger has already rolled out Halloween decorations before the kids were even back in school.

You might interpret my criticism to say that I'm anti-Halloween, and you'd be right. I'm no fan. However, there's always been plenty of time for me to dislike Halloween during the month of October. There's no reason for it to take up a quarter of the year. There's got to be time for me to hate other things.

I don't know what this sprinting from one commercialized holiday to the next without any regard for the time in between says about American society in the 21st century, but I do know that it can't say anything good.

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Saturday, I went grocery shopping at the "new" Kroger in town. Our second Kroger is larger, posher, and closer to the modern population center than the Kroger I prefer. It has a Starbucks inside! And apparently, its clientele are all witches.

Puddles from the previous hour's rainfall weren't the only things littering the super-sized parking lot. It was nearly impossible to find a parking space because of all the abandoned carts scattered willy-nilly! I'm talking twenty or more. Obviously, the only possible reason for the many, many scattered carts is that the previous shoppers were all witches melted by the unexpected summer shower. I mean, that's science.

But I'm not here to talk about that. I'm here to show you the sight that greeted me when I left the store with my milk and ice cream. Behold:

Gone Krogering

Sunsets like that are worth any number of witches.

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Cinnamon Frosted Flakes are a real thing now. I haven't had them yet, and after watching this commercial, I can tell you I never will. We'll be right back after this message.

Did you hear that guy at the end of the commercial say that Cinnamon Frosted Flakes "tastes like victory"? Does Kellogg's know where that line comes from? Have they never seen Robert Duvall as the satiric Lt. Col. Kilgore in Apocalypse Now?

Apocalypse Now: I love the smell of napalm in the morning

Apocalypse Now: It smells like victory

Once upon a time, art and literature employed allusions to previous works audiences would be familiar with in order to reinforce concepts. In modern America, corporations still use allusions, but they no longer expect the audience to understand them rationally. They only want to trigger an emotional connection. "Oh, yeah. I remember Apocalypse Now. I liked it. I bet I'd like Cinnamon Frosted Flakes."

Kellogg's doesn't care if the actual reference is to napalm, a weapon used to burn people to death. Nor does Dodge care if their products are pitched by Star Wars' oppressive evil Empire. Six Flags gladly names roller coasters after DC Comics serial killers.

So good luck with your new product, Kellogg's, but I still pay attention to who is trying to sell me something. Kilgore can keep his cinnamon. I'll stick with my Sugar Frosted Flakes, the cereal that Superman says is the best.

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Today is the University of Georgia's annual G-Day game practice, the unofficial start of the 2017 hype season. This marks Kirby Smart's second year as head coach. You may recall he was hired to take the team to the next level after Athletic Director Greg McGarity lost faith in Mark Richt. Let's just say that year one wasn't everything Bulldog Nation hoped it would be.

So how does Smart kick off year two? By demanding that the media not report on injuries unless he gives permission. Even if the player breaks his leg in front of a television camera.

What the fuck, Kirby?

Hey, man, I get it. You're a tin-pot dictator who gets paid millions of dollars a year to boss around children. That shit goes to your head. Last year, you somehow convinced the Georgia State legislature to pass a law allowing you to extend delays in responding to open records requests from three days to three months. It's only logical that the next step in your plan for world domination would be to refuse the release of any information at all.

The only question I have is how is this media gag order supposed to help UGA win football games? Did the Bulldogs go 4-4 in SEC games last year because our opponents knew Jacob Eason was a Freshman? Did Vanderbilt get its 3rd win versus Georgia in 22 tries because reporters told them ahead of time that the Bulldogs couldn't stop a 75-yard drive in the final quarter? Did Tennessee's Hail Mary to defeat Georgia with only zeroes showing on the clock happen because they'd read news reports about the secondary's practice habits in the week prior to the game? As I recall, it was Nick Chubb's mother who released information about the extent of his knee injury in 2015, by the way. Good luck stopping her from talking to the press in 2017, Coach.

Hey, sports reporters, if you see something, say something. I have a hunch you'll still have a job in two years. Coach Smart I'm not so sure about.

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Given that earlier this week we saw the Republican majority in the Senate change their own rules to allow them to steal a seat on the Supreme Court, it might be interesting to note that the 17th Amendment to the Constitution became law on this day in 1913. The 17th Amendment calls for Senators to be elected by the people, not appointed by the state legislatures. Try and imagine something like that passing in 2017.

Amending the Constitution requires a 2/3 vote in both houses of Congress. These days, votes are taken almost strictly down party lines. Unless one party or another gains 2/3 of both the House and Senate, modifying the Constitution is impossible. (Perhaps that's why the Republicans deny global warming exists. If they can stall long enough, the liberal coasts will be underwater, and they'll be free to do whatever they want.)

The last Constitutional Amendment to be successfully ratified was the 27th, adopted in 1992. That might seem kind of recent until you realize that the amendment was first proposed as part of the original Bill of Rights in 1789. It had to wait 202 years before final adoption. What does the 27th Amendment do? It prevents Congress from doing the only thing it's likely to agree on: giving itself a pay raise.

At the current level of partisanship in this country, it might be 202 years until we see them agree on anything else.

It's true what they say: Rome didn't fall in a day.

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Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia is raising the monthly health insurance premium on my current health insurance plan to $338 for 2017. That's a 27% increase from monthly 2016 payments. I should probably be thankful it's that low. My 2016 premiums represented a 100% increase over 2015.

Perhaps you're thinking that $338 isn't a lot of money each month. If you can afford better, good for you. However, the Affordable Healthcare Act has destroyed insurance for self-employed professionals like me. The insurers are complaining that they're loosing money on individual plans, and I can understand why. No independent can afford their rates.

I don't think I'm being unreasonable. I don't mind paying for health insurance coverage; I've done it for years. But I don't see why the monthly amounts have grown so out of line with what I can afford. (Especially when it still won't pay for hospital visits!) We're not experiencing rampant inflation, and there doesn't seem to be any shortage of services. So what's driving these impossible costs? Perhaps its a liquidity crisis. We can't save anything for the future if we have to spend every penny paying for right now.

In the past year, my insurance has been billed for $479 worth of doctors fees. Comparing that number against the $4,056 or more I'll have to pay in premiums in 2017, it's clear to me that my best economic option is to cancel my insurance and pay the "individual shared responsibility payment" — the government's name for the ObamaCare penalty tax. At my income bracket, the government will penalize me $695 for the whole year. That leaves enough leeway for eight doctor's visits next year, and I'll still come out ahead!

So if you see me grab my chest and collapse, don't call an ambulance. There's no way I can afford that.

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To be continued...

 

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