Today's Mighty Oak


Alright, catching up on a bit of a backlog in addition to some current items, but let’s see what we have today. First up, a favorite web comic/series, Surviving the World is returning with classic reposts! Here’s where he ended it. Class Dismissed.

Science news you can use: don’t drink your whiskey ‘neat’:

The United Methodist Church is splitting over gay issues. As someone who has come out of that on the other side, hey welcome, it’s a bumpy ride. Sorry you have to do this, it’s painful.

This fight (is still going on all across the country) happened in September in Arizona. Their GOP governor said they don’t need to extend non-discrimination protections to gay people, and their supreme court said businesses can deny service to gay people. The fight continues, and is seemingly never ending.

In other disturbing news, the Interior Department cut sexual orientation from their internal discrimination policies as well.

I wrote earlier about my displeasure at Marvel (and Star Wars) for LGBT erasure. The upcoming film, The Eternals, will, for the first time, feature a gay superhero (and kiss). Yes, it’s progress. Should it have taken 11 years? No.

In other movie news, the trailer for the new Wes Anderson film looks amazing:

If you haven’t, check out Eastsiders on Netflix. It was an amazing series, and here’s an interview with the creator.

Stranger Things 4 gives us a present from Russia (with love).

In good news, a New York state park will be named for Marsha P. Johnson!

The Church of England said sex is only for straight, married people. Then they apologized for offending people, not actually changing their minds.

Firefighters who got angry comments when they showed their support for the queer community hit back in an awesome video.

NASA is adding a luxury hotel to the ISS. Spoiler, if you’re reading this, you will not be able to afford visiting.

An awesome video from a favorite creator that I’ve been mulling over: death and minimialism:

The Utah Governor pulled the campaign that put AMAZING art on condoms to prevent STIs. They’re all great, and it’s a shame he pulled them.

Speaking of, the UK has seen a massive decline in HIV infections due to PrEP. No surprise there.

The Catholic bishops in Texas have blasted their governor (who is Catholic)over his rule to not accept refugees. I’m highly, highly critical of the Catholic Church, so I have to give them points when it’s appropriate. Good for them.

Disney is announcing more details of their immersive Star Wars hotel for their resorts, and it looks amazing and I can’t wait to go!

Google pretty much hit it out of the park with their Superbowl ad:

And another great ad, this time from Microsoft:



I almost titled this ‘nerd culture’ instead of pop, but I’m writing about Star Wars and Marvel movies, they’ve long ago crossed over from being in the domain of just the fringe to powerhouse pop culture institutions. And that’s the issue.

By the time of Avengers: Endgame, there had been 23 major motion pictures (I may be off by one or two), eight TV series between ABC and Netflix (plus the ones on CW, but they weren’t really connected, but neither were the ABC/Netflix ones, but that’s a different issue even before you throw Disney+ into the mix….I’m getting off track) and billions of dollars in revenue made.

I still have not seen all of those movies, and I’m probably forgetting lots of small details, but I can count off the top of my head, less than five queer characters. If I’m remembering correctly, the first gay male character we got was on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D (ABC), and was in two episodes before being written off.

So it was such big news that Joe Russo, one of Endgame’s directors, would play the first-ever gay character in a Marvel movie (I’m not sure about Valkeyrie here, I haven’t seen Thor: Ragnarok yet).

It was hyped. It was set to be a huge moment.

The character didn’t even have a name.

Likewise, J.J. Abrams touted the first ever LGBT representation in a Star Wars movie (other media such as comics, books, video games, etc. have had representation before).

Again, it was a huge flop. Two characters, one of which did not have a name, the other was a minor, background character in the sequel trilogy are seen kissing in celebration.

To quote the wonderful article by Rosie Knight:

Queer people’s loves, lives, and partnerships aren’t accidental and don’t only exist when other queer people know them, though in the entire galaxy of the cinematic Star Wars universe we’re yet to see any true queer representation.

The brief and tacked-on moment was a slight that felt pointed after the choice to not pursue the natural chemistry between Poe and Finn, and it also reminded this writer of the Russos’ terrible attempt at “representation” in Avengers: Endgame. So why is there this sudden push to get brownie points for doing the bare minimum? Why don’t these directors just not promise anything and be honest about the fact they’re willing to ignore marginalized audiences?

We’ve seen time and time again the representation matters. It really, really matters.

When young people can see themselves in the franchise they love (and in politics and in sports, the list goes on and on), we have a sense of belonging. A sense that there is a place for us in a world that often feels like it rejects us.

We’re not just some box to be checked, but actual human beings. Including us should not be something that is huge news, especially in 2019 (when these movies came out), but it is because there is such a terrible track record at this point.

I enjoy the Marvel films, and I’ve always loved Star Wars, but it’s hard to see myself in these universes that very clearly have no room for me.

All my best,

Mike



Alright, let’s see what we have today!

First up, the trailer for In The Heights. I saw the show, and am so excited for this movie:

As an independent, I know I don’t (currently) have a say in the democratic primary, but in the last cycle, O’Malley was my pick. And hey look, he’s still feisty!

Speaking of politics, I’ve lost a lot of enthusiasm for Mayor Pete (but, as I wrote about before, I am still really, really proud of his candidacy and his staunch defense of liberal Christianity), and just like before, I don’t think he’ll end up being the nominee. That being said though, he takes a lot of heat unnecessarily for being ‘the wrong kind of gay.’ And that is incredibly hurtful, both within the community and without. There has been some great writing (which of course, I”m missing the link for currently) about Pete and the idea of ‘the best little boy in the world,’ and I think understanding that mentality helps us better understand where he comes from and how he approaches the political realm. All in all though, I’m be voting blue, no matter who.

Dumb Runner knocks it out of the park with their coverage of the 1:59 challenge.

It’s from earlier this year, but still great, the ‘trailer’ for Oscar:

In awesome news from the government (yes, actually), the FCC is setting up a nationwide three-digit suicide hotline.

Someone went through and read every piece of advice Dan Savage has ever dolled out, and they sum up their findings. It’s all great advice!

As we’re in the holidays, if you need a yule log video to cast up to a TV, Nerdist has a good roundup. I typically go with the Darth Vader one.

The amazing mash up of Hamilton and The Mandalorian:

Disney+ is bringing us a Star Wars game show next year!

My friend Nate has an amazing piece about our running team and the lessons he’s learned and how we’re learning from each other (and building each other up). Give it a read.

A reminder from The Oatmeal: be kind.

That’s it for now, have a great one!



In preparation of Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker coming out this week, I rewatched all the films. I took a few notes and observations, collected here for my amusement:

Disney+, Movies Anywhere and my phone

  • Disney+ adds a warning for depictions of tobacco (as well a a seizure warning).
  • There seems to be a lot of small changes in the Disney+ streaming versions. The Star Wars movies that aren’t yet available on the service have trailers and the date they’ll be available for streaming.
  • God, Disney+ has a lot of bugs. It takes forever to sync with Chromecast, there’s a ton of time wasted buffering, lots of starts and stops. The content is great, but the app itself still needs some work.
  • Movies Anywhere is really well put together. I had a digital code for a bunch of the movies, so I finally redeemed them, and was able to easily connect my Google Play Movies account for easy streaming.
  • Every time R2 squealed, I thought I was getting an e-mail (as it’s my notification noise), but that’s my fault.

Episode I: The Phantom Menace

  • This is so bad.
  • Like really bad.
  • Jake Lloyd is really a bad actor.
  • I will say though, the editing in this movie is horrible, and it made Jake Lloyd look even worse than he was.
  • John Williams is a saving grace. This score is epic.
  • Anakin is so whiney.
  • There was a weird, and I think the only instance in the series, of first person view, with C3P0 at one point, and it was so jarring and out of place.
  • The city of Theed is really gorgeous.

Episode II: Attack of the Clones

  • I forgot how amazing of an actor Alan Lee was. I feel like he was underused, although maybe having some space from the awful dialogue in this one helped his character. Either way, he’s missed.
  • Another great score from Williams.
  • The editing is much better compared to Phantom Menace, it’s a lot tighter and that helps.
  • There is however, a lot of bad CGI. All the prequel trilogy suffered from an over-reliance on CGI and green screen technology and it really shows in the effects here (as well as all the acting throughout).
  • Boba Fett is so whiney

Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

  • In the opening crawl, they use the line, “There are heroes on both sides.” That has not aged well after Chartlotesville.
  • I kind of like General Grievous, except for his smokers cough. Respiratory afflictions seem to be a thing in this universe.
  • The Senate battle is still a huge highlight and it stands up.
  • Overall, the prequels are weird. Too much CGI, bad writing and acting and really, an overly complicated plot based around trade negotiations. I’ve always said Lucas can tell whatever stories he wants, but aside from Theed, Ewan McGregor as Obi Wan and Williams’ score, there’s not much from the prequels worth going back to see again.
  • The prequels do mirror and follow the original trilogy in some really neat ways. I’m not sure if that’s intentional or not, but it at least made for some good writing about the subject elsewhere on the Internet.

Solo: A Star Wars Story

  • L3-37 is the best character in this movie.
  • Holy crap, I forgot how awesome this cast is.
  • It got panned, but it’s a fun heist movie. Enjoy it for what it is.
  • That being said, the story takes a bit of an unnecessarily complicated turn to fit in some fan service and connect it to the animated shows (which I haven’t watched)
  • That also being said, it was also clearly set up for a sequel.
  • That also also being said, this movie is just a ton of fan service and in jokes.
  • As mentioned, I haven’t watched any of the animated shows, but at least from the “legends” (which is worth another deep dive) Dathmoir is not where I would have expected Darth Maul to go.
  • Wait, Ron Howard directed this?
  • Both this and Rogue One had so many reshoots, edits and revisions (and so much stuff from the trailers not used), I’m really concerned about Disney meddling too much.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

  • K2-S0 was the best. Why is it always the droids who make the best characters?
  • Tarkin’s voice was just a little bit off, and it was distracting. He and Leia also had that weird “Polar Express” CGI look to them, although at least Tarkin’s scenes were dark enough to hide most of it.
  • Really, no Jedi? Not even Chirrut?
  • Also, can we talk about the relationship Chirrut and Baze have. It’s something deep, but heaven forbid Disney touch anything queer with any nuance or depth.
  • Visually, this is a beautiful movie. Really, really beautiful.
  • I’m curious about edits. This even more so than Solo. There were so many things left out from the first cut.
  • I’d love to see the story of the ‘many Bothans who had to die’ to get the plans for the second Death Star.
  • Leia looked way too young at the end, again, weird use of technology, just a bit of an uncanny valley situation.

Episode IV: A New Hope

  • Luke is whiney.
  • This has such a 70s feel. God lord this is really hokey.
  • The nostalgia is so strong with this movie.
  • But I got swept up by the Death Star attack, a testament to the storytelling
  • There are a lot of weird, little edits on Disney+, I wish everyone would just leave things alone.

Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

  • This is a huge change from IV in terms of tone and feeling.
  • This movie still stands up as easily one of the best in the saga, and is probably the one I’ve watched the most.

Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

  • Ewoks are dumb.
  • Jabba the Hut is listed as playing himself in the credits.

Episode VII: The Force Awakens

  • This movie starts right off the bat with the action, a good choice.
  • This movie is also very much a rehash of the originals and an apology tour for the prequels.
  • Generally I’m meh about this one because so much of it is a rehash and an apology.
  • Kylo is the whiney one.
  • Yeah, Nazis. We get it, the First Order is Nazis.
  • You know what, it’s probably more important than ever that we remember to always punch Nazis in the face. So good on you, J.J.
  • I feel like we needed that deleted scene showing the republic worlds. Otherwise, the First Order destroying that system didn’t seem as consequential.
  • There’s a lot of politics in this, like the prequels, and it could have easily been too much.
  • They do a long one shot in the battle at Maz Kinata’s which is really in vogue, but it was well done and not terribly long.
  • That said, I disliked the last drone/crane shot. It felt like the only one in the series and out of place.
  • There are a lot of legit funny moments in this movie.

Episode VIII: The Last Jedi

  • I really like VIII, I love how different it is, and how it subverts what you think a Star Wars movie should be/should do.
  • And it starts with that subversion tone right off the bat.
  • I do wish had shown some of Leia’s training, otherwise, her saving herself is a bit unbelievable (let’s not unpack that sentence too much, shall we).
  • There was one porg scene too many.
  • I’m still sad they killed off Admiral Akbar, but I get it.
  • I want more Maz. Hoping she’s back for IX.
  • Love the knocking down of cis het white men who try to bulldoze their way through life.
  • Remember how they keep going back to the Force being about balance? Yeah, let’s try to keep that in mind in terms of these movies.
  • I liked the bits on class and wealth inequality, a good addition.
  • “Tear down your legends.” Yeah, see my comments about subversion and balance. Remember, it’s just some movies. Get into them, love them, discuss them, find meaning and stories in them. But don’t tear down others because things don’t fit your insurmountable expectations.
  • I liked the cave scene, it reminded me of the similar scene in V.


Alright, we’re halfway through NaNoWriMo, so a quick break for me to write here.

Comparing a decade of music with DJ Earworm:

Here’s my thought. Michael Bloomberg is going to enter the race just so he can more easily spend money on campaign ads or get around Facebook ad guidelines or something, but he’ll use his fortune to support whoever the Dem candidate is. But who knows if I’ll be right.

I’ve seen this done before with bagpipes, and I love that this trend continues, this time with saxophones!

The trailer for the Star Wars IX:

USA Hockey is adding an indefinite suspension penalty for players using racist or homophobic language.

Trojan is running an awesome campaign about comprehensive sex ed and combating slut-shaming of all forms.

And finally, the trailer for the new season of The Crown:



Alright, let’s see what we have today. First up, the trailer for the Zombieland trailer:

The National Cathedral (which is Episcopalian, by the way), has called out the President’s racism as a clarion call to white supremacists.

Here’s the cast for the Wheel of Time series. And here’s a primer about the the book series.

The Obi-Wan Disney+ series is officially happening! And here’s the trailer for The Mandalorian:

Speaking of Star Wars, how about a lightsaber bionic arm? Yes please!

The trailer for the new series, The Dark Crystal: The Age of Resistance (and the primer for that as well):

This German town will give you money to prove it doesn’t exist.

The trailer for the new season of AHS looks awesome. Slasher summer camp meets the 1980s (seems to be very Stranger Things influenced).

Holy crap, the cast for this show looks amazing and I can’t wait to watch the insanity:

Mayor Pete gives an eloquent and great breakdown about a form of homophobia often encountered.

The administration is once again pushing, this time to SCOTUS, to allow anti-gay workplace discrimination to be legal. Oh, and anti-trans discrimination too.

Brace yourselves, Texas passed a law I agree with! Sending unsolicited nudes is now considered a form of sexual harassment in their legal code!

I guess kind of a good story: a bigoted wedding venue changed their mind about barring a marriage when they couldn’t actually find proof in the bible that interracial marriage was a sin. They still block gay weddings, but hey, it’s nice to hear that they took the time to read and come to the right conclusion.

Guys, guns are totally gay:

Okay, that’s it for now, have a great one!



Alright, let’s see what we have today. Couple Game of Thrones things now that it’s ended. Did you, like everyone, want to see a buddy comedy spin off of Arya and the Hound (as well as Tormund and Jon Snow), here’s the 80’s sitcom opening.

And here’s the haunting rendition (By Florence + The Machine, in the show, it was Podrick that sang it) of Jenny of Oldstone from Game of Thrones:

And if you need some semblance of hope after a certain death, here’s the couple during happier times.

And finally in Game of Thrones, here’s one second from every episode.

A sloth, very slowly of course, thanks a human who helped him out.

The new trailer for the Downton Abbey movie looks awesome (although mostly just fan service, but I’m okay with that):

Good news: Philadelphia can exclude foster care agencies who don’t work with queer families.

Very bad news: The administration has unveiled their policy to allow medical providers to discriminate against queer patients.

And finally today, someone did some fancy refilming and editing of the lightsaber duel in Episode 4. Generally I like it!



Alright, let’s see what we have today. First up, the teaser for Star Wars, Episode IX is out:

Amazon’s Lord of the Rings series is headed to Numenor, and that’s a good thing!

Speaking of Tolkien, there is a new biopic coming out about the man, which I had no idea. The trailer looks good:

The far, far right has taken over Brazil, and they are systematically removing all LGBT references in school textbooks.

The author of The Frontrunner, where my running club gets its name, has died. She was just recently made the first honorary lifetime member by Frontrunners International.

That’s it for now, have a great one!



Alright, let’s see what we have today.  First up, it’s almost time for NaNoWriMo!  This will be my 13th year!

Dominic Monaghan has joined the cast of Star Wars: Episode IX!

In case you (for whatever reason) thought otherwise, the SCOTUS nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, is opposed to same-sex marriage and would certainly rule against it (if there is a conservative majority on the court, it will be back and I’ll lose my rights).

In other horrifying news, the administration has now directed federal contractors that they can discriminate against LGBT people based on ‘religious beliefs.’  Remember when I said that elections have consequences?  Yeah, this is not good.

The anti-gay baker from the Masterpiece decision is back, and now is saying he doesn’t have to serve trans customers.

2 Political Junkies covers the grand jury report about the Catholic Church:

While the Catholic Church was protecting and covering up the sex-crimes of some of its members, let’s all remember that it was also lecturing everyone else on the evils of:
Birth control
Abortion
Masturbation
Sex outside of marriage
Not being straight (i.e. being either “L” or “G” or “B” or “T” and so on)
Any number of other issues regarding “sexual morality”

The word you’re looking for is hypocrisy. Huge blatant hypocrisy.

No amount of contemporary apologies will change that.

Okay, onto some better and more beautiful news, there is a fake final image sent by the Cassini probe, which is beautiful (but fake because it wasn’t the last photo sent).  The last photo is also breathtaking:



I’ve been a local volunteer (municipal liaison) for National Novel Writing Month for a few years now.  It’s so amazing and I love helping participants and kids (through the Young Writers Program) unlock their creative potential and write for 30 days with literary abandon.  NaNoWriMo also runs two camp sessions: participants get to choose what they work on and how they measure success.  This year, I”m jumping in with a great group with the goal to write each day.

A lot of that writing will be here, some of it will not, but getting back into that discipline is something I’d like to practice a bit, and what better way than with an amazing team of writers (all of whom identify as Slytherin but they’ve adopted this Hufflepuff to create the ‘Drunkest Slytherpuff” cabin once again)!

Today’s writing (and many of them, I do have a big backlog) is a ‘normal’ blog post for me, so here we go!

Nerdist asks if George Lucas’ idea for the sequels is what you imagined.  No.  No it is not.  But, in retrospect, it gives more credence to some of the things I hated about the prequels (and again, Star Wars is his creation, he can tell whatever story he likes, we get to choose if we like it or not.  Well…Disney does now).

An amazing parkour video for Pride month:

The next season of American Horror Story will mash up Murder House and Coven.  This is exciting!

The creator of Godwin’s Law has suspended Godwin’s Law.  That’s should tell you where we are in this country right now.

That’s it for now, I’ll be back very soon!

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