Sunday, December 27, 2015

If Once You Start Down the Dark Path, Forever Will It Dominate Your Destiny

If you HAVE NOT SEEN STAR WARS (The Force Awakens Groggily and Looks at the Alarm Clock, Closing Its Eyes and Shaking Its Head), then you should skip this post.

I LOVED The Force Awakens.  I cannot wait for the next one.

This post is (mostly) NOT about what happens in The Force Awakens

This is about what I hoped (and feared) would happen in The Force Awakens.

Earlier this year I accidentally spoilered myself when I ran into a site that ran some of the synopsis for the first script of the movie.

I am way too lazy to look up the quote, but it ran along the line of “Luke Sywalker disappeared after the events of Return of the Jedi and hasn’t been seen since, and the Jedi are pretty much out of the picture”.

Knowing that Force-sensitive individuals are always going to be around and that we keep finding narrative ways to explain how individual Jedi survived the Purge in Episode III Revenge of the Sith, I wasn’t too worried about not seeing any on-screen Jedi action.

With the Lucasfilm announcement that all post-Return of the Jedi fiction was no longer canon, I had just one hope and fear in my head about Luke’s journey, and what it would mean for the new film.

Let’s take an objective look at Luke:
  • Impetuous, impatient, too-old Luke having tantrums on Dagobah, repeatedly failing because the training was too hard.
  • YODA (training Luke): Yes, a Jedi's strength flows from the Force. But beware of the dark side. Anger, fear, aggression; the dark side of the Force are they. Easily they flow, quick to join you in a fight. If once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny, consume you it will, as it did Obi-Wan's apprentice.
  • LUKE: Vader... Is the dark side stronger?
  •  YODA: No, no, no. Quicker, easier, more seductive.
  • LUKE: But how am I to know the good side from the bad?
  •  YODA: You will know... when you are calm, at peace, passive. A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense, NEVER for attack.
  •  Luke’s failure at the cave, and finding his own face in a Sith Lord’s helmet.
  • Impatient Luke failing to raise his X-Wing from the Dagobah swamp because it does not come easily enough. 
  • Luke’s vision of his friends in pain at Bespin.
    • LUKE: But I can help them! I feel the Force!
    •  BEN: But you cannot control it. This is a dangerous time for you, when you will be tempted by the dark side of the Force.
    • YODA: Only a fully trained Jedi Knight with the Force as his ally will conquer Vader and his Emperor. If you end your training now, if you choose the quick and easy path, as Vader did, you will become an agent of evil.
    • BEN: Luke, don't give in to hate - that leads to the dark side.
    • Reckless Luke rushing to Bespin to save his friends anyway (after about a week of training instead of “finishing what he begins”), then getting whupped by Vader and flying debris, losing his hand and getting mollywopped by the whole paternity issue.

  •  THEN, on the Second Death Star:
    • All of Luke’s success in battle against the two Sith lords (each trying to turn Luke and ally against the other) came from anger and aggression. 
    • Luke struck at Palpatine in anger and hate, intending to kill him after the Death Star started picking off Capital ships. 
    • Luke’s anger fueled his later success against Vader in their lightsaber duel.
IF YOU’RE STILL WITH ME after all this, then you can see that (despite periods of attempted calm) Luke already turned to the Dark Side in Return of the Jedi.
  • A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense, NEVER for attack.
  • If once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny, consume you it will, as it did Obi-Wan's apprentice.
  • If you end your training now, if you choose the quick and easy path, as Vader did, you will become an agent of evil.

The heartbreaking story of the Skywalker boys should have come to fruition in The Force Awakens.  The Force Awakens should have featured Luke as the Sith Lord he began to turn himself into in the first trilogy.

THIS DOES NOT MEAN that Luke HAD to be the villain of the story.  In fact, there was plenty of opportunity for real, character-driven drama with Luke playing a heroic role.  The Sith way is driven by self-sacrifice – Kylo Ren did NOT WANT to kill his father; he HAD to sacrifice the father he loved and experience all the pain it brought in order to bring himself the power and irrevocability of the Sith.  We have two more movies left to show us why Ben / Ren left the Light and why he felt he needed the power of the Dark Side.
o   The VERY BEST “Making and Training and Becoming a Sith” manual out there are the following Star Wars books (now non-canon):
§  Traitor, the 2002 novel by Matthew Stover.  It is the thirteenth novel in the New Jedi Order series, and it shows how an ex-Jedi uses some really solid Sith Logic to turn Han and Leia’s son Jacen (a kind, loving young man who has rejected the use of all violence to solve problems) to an understanding that there IS NO Light and Dark Side of the Force – there is only the Force and how we choose to use it.
§  The nine books in the Legacy of the Force series show this kind and thoughtful young man sacrificing bits of his soul piece by piece for the greater good and becoming Darth Caedus: (all the links have brief synopses, but I also highly recommend the books themselves.  Some truly fantastic writing!)

If all of that’s a little much, here’s a more succinct version:

STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS could have still been a rollicking first-movie adventure with much the same story arc.

BUT . . . there was room in the Star Wars universe for a Post-Anakin exploration of what it means to be Sith and still work with (and against) the Resistance and the new Jedi to bring . . .

. . . Order to the galaxy.

Granted, this is the road not taken by Lucasfilm / Disney / JJ Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan.  (unnecessary link:

BUT, what a brave and scary and complex and exciting story this could have been – a story of . . . what?  Redemption? Sacrifice?  Tragedy?

Whatever this story would have been, it would have been thrilling and potentially heartbreaking and above all else . . . compelling.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Addiction is NOT a Rapping Matter!

Health professionals say that recovery from an addiction can only begin when a person admits that they need help.

[deep breath].  My name is Ian, and I am addicted to

For the first twenty-plus years of my life, I was nothing BUT Musical Theater.  I lived and breathed it, was ALWAYS in rehearsal or performance.  Some of my peers are now award-winning performers on Broadway (now THAT’S a functioning addict).

And now here I am, with the soundtrack to Hamilton on infinite loop 
in my bed
in my car
in my home
in my head.

The rest of my family is fine – a little crazed, a little Hamilton-quote-happy, but SURVIVING.  My teen daughter is immersed in Hamilton (but she was just as immersed in Rent two months ago and believe me, Hamilton is a giant step up).

Me?  I need help.  I went looking, and found THIS:
Worse, I have found this musical has infected even the jaded New York Theatre Critics: 

 I would like to take a moment to honor members of this great nation who have already lost their lives to their fatal Hamilton addiction. . . and add my own personal plea for help.  I can only conquer this addiction by FACING IT.  Inside the theater.  If you can help, please send tickets.  And airfare.

The lost . . .

Appreciation and apologies to

Monday, October 12, 2015

AKA: Monday

Calling the Sheriff to come arrest a cat is the kind of thing that can get a person drug tested.

In other news, I called the Sheriff this morning to have a cat arrested. 

Dispatcher: “Is the cat hostile or attacking?”

Me: “No, Ma’am.  But the cat doesn’t work for us and refused to show me its identification. The cat is refusing to leave a secured area, and is not currently under escort.  So I believe this is either your jurisdiction or the TSA’s.”

The drug test lady and the Animal Control lady arrived at the same time.

This story is 100% true.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

I am TOTALLY STEALING Everything in This Post

Comic book fan or not, this is seriously worth reading. I am already a gigantic fan of Kelly Sue DeConnick and her husband Matt Fraction, each of whom are amazing writers.

The following is lifted directly from The Mary Sue article, and it is my own personal takeaway:

"Speaking about her wildly-successful new comic for Image, Bitch Planet, and its catch phrase from which this panel got its name, DeConnick said that “in the world of Bitch Planet, the people who are labeled ‘non-compliant’ have been marginalized and criminalized for being who they are. I can’t speak to the people who have the label or the symbol in real life, because I’m certain their reasons are as varied as they are,” she clarified. “But what I think the statement they’re making is, I am a person who does not fit the box assigned to me. I am too tall or to short or too fat or too black or brown or too indigenous or too atheist or too slutty or too frumpy or too gay or too whatever the fuck it is my culture is going to judge me for today, and I refuse to see myself through your eyes. I refuse to see myself as imperfect because of that. And you will support me or you will get the fuck off.”

And there were many cheers.

When asked by moderator Patrick Reed if they intentionally write comics to inspire social change, DeConnick laughed. “I don’t actually set out to write political pamphlets. I’m always writing story first, and even before that I’m always writing character first – everything is born of character,” she said. “But I think that I have some very strong feelings about some things; in particular, ideas of fairness and justice. And it turns out that melds beautifully with the concepts of feminism, since they’re the same fucking thing.” "

WORD. Goodnight, Folks!

My Loyal Tweeps

Wife: You ready to go run errands with me?

Me: Yes, I'm just sending out this tweet to my adoring fans, and then I'll be ready.

Wife: Your fans?

Me: They're a very vocal subsection of an offshoot of a thriving under-served minority demographic.

Wife: What demographic is that?

Me: People who read what I write. I'm looking at you, @TillamookCheese!
(picture gleefully thieved from

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Spicing Up my Marriage Again

Me: Sitting quietly, reading. Have twice in my life crafted something edible in a kitchen.

Wife: Of Italian Heritage, creates amazing delicious things in the kitchen. Also makes recipe variants for her husband with the Scottish taste buds.

Wife: I am roasting potatoes for you guys, because you all like them. What kind of spices would you like in them?

Me: (blank stare).

Wife (louder and slower): What kind of spices would you like?

Me: I understood the question, I just don't know what to do with it.

Wife: Well, I put Rosemary in the potatoes last time and you didn't eat them.

Me: Ah! I recognize Rosemary! It's associated with that unpleasant taste I find when I bite into something I think is going to be delicious and then I have to find a discreet way to spit it out. You also buy those excellent crackers that have been ruined by Rosemary. Yes! Please don't add that. I also recognize salt and pepper, because they are the spices I use. ...They are spices, correct?

Wife (Shoulders slumped, head bowed, hand over her eyes): Yes, salt and pepper do - barely - qualify as spices.

Me: I also totally recognize Nutmeg and Cinnamon. Please don't put those in the potatoes. Is butter a spice?

Wife (not moving, hand still over eyes): No.

Me: Okay. I'm probably still gonna use some. Also, Bacon. Let's just call bacon a spice for now, and I'm pretty sure we're good. I won't call cheese a spice, but it's gonna happen, too. Also sour cream if we have any. I'll look in the fridge.

Wife (not moving, hand still over eyes): Thanks for the help. I've got it from here.

Note: Now that I am writing this, I think it's important to point out that I also recognize Parsley, Sage, and Thyme from Simon and Garfunkel's song Scarborough Fair. I can even tell you what Parsley tastes like, because I have (regretfully) eaten it when it was the last thing on my plate after the hamburger and fries had been consumed.

Also, I recognize Cardamom is a spice, but every time I hear it mentioned I think it is something a clerk does when an older woman buys liquor. For example, The Spice Girls!

And everybody knows Variety is the spice of life, so I probably should have asked Wife to add it to the potatoes.

Also, every coffee shop ever thinks Pumpkin is a spice every autumn, and there is a blacked-out Spice Channel on my TV because we do not pay for it.

And, I found this picture of some spices!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Rickey Henderson's Jersey Retirement Ceremony

Today I say a reluctant farewell to my 1989 Rickey Henderson Jersey shirt. It has served me well over twenty-seven seasons - three seasons more than Rickey's actual career.

The jersey has long since lost its original color and the threadbare spots in the back have become air conditioning vents, so I have had to finally admit that this jersey deserves to be respectfully laid to rest.

**Note to wife: THIS is when clothing should be retired, and the clothing and I will make the decision JOINTLY. It is a solemn conversation between a man and his elderly garment. Your premature participation is not required. If you feel like suggesting a man's loyal outfit needs to be retired or replaced and that man looks at you as if you are disloyal or insane, it's because you are. Love does not wane just because colors fade.

1989 Rickey Henderson #24 Jersey Shirt: rest in pieces. You will be remembered in my own personal clothing hall of fame.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Why My Car Dealership Loves Me

Me: Hi!  I'm here for my oil change appointment. My tires don't need rotation; I just bought them last week.
Service Writer: We changed your oil . . .
Me: Good. It was getting an attitude.
Service Writer: Your tire tread measures like new . . .
Me: So they didn't wear out much this week?
Service Writer: Your cabin filter is excessively dirty - would you like to change it?
Me: Yeah, I swear a lot in traffic.
Service Writer: Your washer fluid was VERY low.
Me: It's been depressed lately.  Maybe it's because of my language.
Service Writer: Your battery tested well.
Me: I'm SO glad!  It studied VERY hard.  I'll take it out for ice cream as soon as we leave!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

The Internet Fills All Needs.

Wife (not looking up from browsing Interwebs): Oh my God I NEED this!

Me (not looking up from my coffee): Is it a picture of my d***?

Wife: ....... No.

Me: Because sometimes it gets on the Internet when I'm not paying attention.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

The Wife Who Never Says Anything

Wife: Y'know, (opinion about me).

Me: I can tell this is important to you, because you mention it two or three times a week.

Wife: Well, I don't want to be the wife who never says anything about it.

Me: I think we can safely cross that off your list of things to worry about.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Ahhh, a Monday that acts like a Sunday.

My entire family is sleeping in and it's blissful.

I got up and took care of the dog, and now we're sitting quietly together on the sofa and reading (I'm reading comics, the dog is reading Cat Fancy magazine).

As a bonus, I get credit for holding down the fort while doing exactly what I want to do.

Free husband points!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Ian's Time-Honored, Award-Winning Coffee Preparation Routine

Because everybody deserves a fantastic cup of coffee, I will now share with you my time-honored, oft-repeated, award-winning method of coffee preparation for guaranteed five-star enjoyment.

Step 1: Turn on the Keurig machine, because nobody named Ian has the time to f*** around with the actual coffee maker his wife bought. I have driven a 757 and can operate extremely dangerous and complex industrial equipment, but that coffee maker can keep its damn ninja secrets.

Step 2: Select coffee (biodegradable packaging only please, because we love our planet), favorite superhero mug, and add-ons (cream, sugar, chocolate, cocaine, what have you).

Step 3: Select Giant Kidney Failure Cup Size, Press Brew (Although I welcomes ALL cup sizes in general, Giant Kidney Failure is the only Official Ian-Endorsed cup size for coffee).

Step 4: Stop in your tracks as you hear the percussive tinkle of freshly-brewed coffee spattering on the counter because you removed the emergency drip tray and failed to put the cup underneath.

Step 5: Widen eyes to maximum and loudly say your choice of REALLY unacceptable words.

Step 6: Lunge at the counter, simultaneously grabbing the roll of paper towels off the holder and groping the back of the Keurig for the Off switch while getting spattered with the coffee you carefully selected.

Step 7: While breathing deeply, commence low-voltage diatribe against your own repeated stupidity while using many many paper towels to rescue the counter and associated debris from the spillage. Also use the sponge.
NOTE: During Step 7, remember to vary the socially unacceptable vocabulary you use about yourself. Nobody wants to hear the same profanity over and over.
ANOTHER NOTE: If Wife is present, hold up ONE FINGER whenever she begins to speak. The coffee cleanup is a solitary, meditative angry process that does NOT NEED INPUT FROM OTHERS.

Step 8: When cleanup is complete, angrily put away everything you got out in Step 1, because it is time to go to work.

Step 9: Gather keys and put on shoes. Continue negative motivational self-talk.

Step 10: At the front door, meekly and borderline-tearfully thank wife for the newly-brewed coffee she made while you put on your shoes.

BEST. COFFEE. EVER. Every single damn time.
See the drip tray in front of the coffee maker?  I have to remove it to make room for my super-hero travel mug.  THAT'S what enables me to enjoy coffee using my award-winning method.  Also, those plastic non-biodegradable K-cups in the picture?  THAT'S how future cockroach archaeologists will analyze what happened to the human race.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Happy Mother's Day

A happy Happy Mother's Day to all you Moms, and especially to [Wife]​​, whom I watched bear my children, and who perseveres even when we can barely bear our children.

All you Moms ROCK. You do your best -  even so I STILL eat things that have fallen on the floor and nearly poke my eye out playing in the house with sticks and knives.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

I'm a Big Fan of Cleaning

Totally Unnecessary and Obvious Spring Cleaning Tip: When dusting the ceiling fan above your bed, your memory foam mattress may not be the most stable place to stand.

Bonus Unnecessary Tip: When wiping down the fan blades, take care not to scoot accumulated dust off the blade into your face.

I know, NOBODY needs anyone to tell them this.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Parent Thetical

Sleepy Daughter comes to say goodnight and lays still, face down on my bed. I pick up her limp arm using the woven friendship bracelets on her limp wrist. 

Daughter (still face down): Don't. Stop. 

Me (still holding up her arm): Okay, I won't stop.

Daughter: That's not what I said.  I said "Don't - semicolon, period, or exclamation point - stop." 

Me: Oh, I heard "Don't - parens, Stop, end parens."

Daughter (still face down, arm still suspended): For someone so punctual, you suck at punctuation. 

Saturday, February 7, 2015

I Guess It's a Wash

The wife and I keep separate laundry hampers because my work clothes smell like jet fumes and industrial processes and crucial split-second decisions while hers smell like a working mom (Unicorn Rainbow Magic, snickerdoodles, the awesomeness that leaks out when she runs a business and carpool and trains with our dog).

I do my laundry every Saturday because I DO IT RIGHT, not like the rest of the people in this house, and this morning I found some of the wife's Lightly Soiled with Awesome laundry in my hamper.

I am presented with two choices: Do my own laundry and leave hers in there like a dick so she can care for her laundry in the way she would prefer, or take care of her laundry THE RIGHT WAY along with mine.

Anyone who's married and wants to preserve the peace and sanctity of their weekend knows there is only one choice.

WIFE: 1 HUSBAND: Weekend Preserved.

Illegal Dream Sex

I am officially old and busted and spend too much time working.  Even my dreams are polluted by my work life.

I just woke from a dream where I was in charge of inseminating the entire 2015 roster of Sports Illustrated swimsuit models, but the entire dream focused on the legal wrangling about whether that included the new "plus-sized" model that will be featured (but only in an ad).

We never got past the contract negotiations.  Then I woke up.

True story.