Today's Mighty Oak

Alright, let’s see what we have today. First up, with Mardi Gras parades cancelled, residents instead decorated their porches as floats, and they are amazing!

Pigments are fascinating and so complex. And to prove that, we have the first new shade of blue…in 200 years.

And speaking of things that are blue, a gemologist opened a rock and found a geode that looks like Cookie Monster!

We have a ton of work to do (pandemic, dismantling ICE, climate change, employment, racial inequity, the list goes on), but in some good news, President Biden signed the most substantive LGBT protections order ever. We still need to pass the Equality Act, but this is a great stop-gap.

Great news for the county, and sad news for those of us in PA, Dr. Rachel Levine has been tapped to join the administration as the Assistant Health Secretary!

Fun news: The USPS is partnering with Lucasfilm to do a set of stamps commemorating the droids of Star Wars!

Frightening news: Microsoft has patented a chatbot specifically used to recreate personalities, such as those of people who have died. I can see the therapeutic uses of this. But also, this could easily be exploited in so many bad ways.

That’s it for now, have a great one!

I’m all done with my NaNoWriMo novel, so now I can finally get through some of my RSS feeds, here’s what I’ve found:

The combination Star Wars/Indiana Jones you didn’t know you needed.

Now you can get a giant Ritz cracker that doubles as a serving tray.

Brian Sims discusses why queer people thrive in politics: empathy.

The bottles you need to stock your bar.

What August Wilson can teach us about the current Supreme Court.

Alright, that’s it, short update today, have a great one!

The world is awful, and there’s a lot going on, but let’s see what we have. First up, let’s calm down a bit with a beautiful exploration on Canon in D:

Dumb Runner (The Onion but for running) had two great articles which made me laugh a lot recently. The first, local runner receives photos from his virtual marathon and one that is so true locally, ‘without the marathon, residents scramble to find something else to bitch about.’

Brass players (and percussionists, opera singers, etc), be the change you (and hero) you want to see in this world.

Feeling down? Here’s Chris Hemsworth to tell you, yes you, how awesome you are!

We’re getting a new Star Wars Holiday Special! Which….that is news, but this time it’s Lego!

Also, here’s how we should swap the titles of the Star Wars movies around.

Okay, buckle up, getting to politics. First up, the Mass Dem party coordinated with the College Democrats of Mass to try to levy false sexual abuse accusations at a gay candidate in the primary. The whole thing is dirty and reeks of homophobia, as well as a misunderstanding of the dynamics of gay relationships.

AT the DNC, Michelle Obama was immaculate (transcript here):

Likewise, President Obama set out in the starkest of terms what is at stake (transcript here):

On the final night of the convention, Julia Louis-Dreyfus was extremely funny, and since I enjoyed VEEP so much, a nice touch!

Pete Buttigieg had a moving moment talking about his marriage as he was introducing Biden.

And then finally, the acceptance speech:

Since then, of course, things have gotten worse, with more stoking of hatred and violence, but in a stirring move, the Mets and Marlins left their game and left a BLM shirt draped over home plate.

And finally, the NBA has come to agreement to turn their arenas into voting sites!

That’s it for today. Have a great one, wash your hands, wear your mask, double check your voter registration and make a plan to vote!

Alright, let’s see what we have today. First up, the crew of Queer Eye makes over my favorite sports mascot, Gritty!

A thing which I did not exists, is the Boston Typewriter Orchestra. And they’ve done an at-home concert!

Also in musical news, a saxophonist accompanies himself!

Sam Smith has an amazing cover of Coldplay’s, “Fix You:”

In uplifting news, John Boyega (Star Wars) delivers a great speech at a BLM protest!

We’ve had some good SCOTUS rulings lately (And some bad ones), but buried detail in the earth-shattering workplace discrimination ruling is the Trojan Horse that we’ll be seeing next: religious liberty laws. This fight is far from over, but for now, we can celebrate the bit of ground we gained.

And speaking of queer rights, the fascist in the White House used the anniversary of the Pulse massacre to remove healthcare rights for trans people.

Ending on something fun, The Hamilton Polka!

Alright, let’s see what have today. First up, and most importantly, a reminder for November:

Tom Holland and Chris Pratt want to start an Avengers DnD game and I’m all for it!

This comic is relevant to my career.

There were so many things I loved about Mayor Pete (and of course, things I didn’t), but his representation matters so, so much. Here is just one example of it, something I would have never dreamed of seeing growing up.

Also in political news, and especially after he’s been attacked for it, I love this ad from Bernie.

And in great news to help flip the Senate, Democratic challengers are leading in four tight races against incumbents!

An amazing look at the sets of The Mandalorian.

Aaron Schock is fucking trash.

Romero’s Day of the Dead is getting a new treatment as a short-run series on SyFy.

But in sad news from SyFy (although not wholly unexpected), The Magicians will end at the end of this season. An amazing show and book series, although both very different from each other.

And finally, bringing it back to the comic linked above, here’s some trucks in a towing contest:

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,


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:

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