Old Man Blogs At Cloud

*clears throat, steps up to the podium, taps microphone* We should all get back to blogging. Listen, I know. I know. It’s blogging. It’s old. It’s telegrams and buggy whips. I get…

Yes, he doesn’t watch his language, but he makes some good points here. (Besides which, watching one’s language is a form of self-censorship, and therefore execrable, right?)

Source: Old Man Blogs At Cloud

The Rise of Skywalker

I think this is legal to reproduce. Hope so.

Fair Warning: I try not to put out overt spoilers, but if you haven’t seen the movie The Rise of Skywalker but think you may want to, it is possible you’ll learn something that you’d rather not know. 

I posted my official review of the movie Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker on my Facebook timeline. Here is it again: I liked it. I’m not reviewing the movie here so much as I am trying to address some of what I’ve seen as criticism of the film, much of which might seem legitimate ifyou don’t know the whole story of the creation of Star Wars.

George Lucas was a friend of Joseph Campbell, who is most famous for his tome The Power of Myth. In that volume he outlines the mythic hero’s journey, something many writers refer to as they try to produce the next Odyssey (I know I do.) One reason for this is that, when you apply Campbell’s ideas to famous literature, then tend to work almost perfectly. I mentioned The Odyssey already, which is literally a classic example, but almost any book that lasts in popularity can be analyzed according to Campbell’s ideas.  Huckleberry Finn? Yep. Catch 22? Indeed.  War and Peace? You bet! (I’m quoting Alexa with that line.) Mister Lucas wanted to make a new epic adventure using what he learned from talking with Campbell, and from reading  The Power of Myth. And he did. And, it works.

In the beginning of any mythic hero’s journey, things aren’t all that horrible. This is no surprise, given that the Journey is, to Campbell, a coming of age story. A nine-year-old kid isn’t difficult at all to be around. In fact, they can be fun, until puberty hits, and then things get strange indeed. This is why the first couple, maybe the first three,  Star Wars movies (going by Chapter number, not release dates) are less exciting than, say, Episode IV, which is when the hero, personified by Luke Skywalker, is torn away from his everyday world and into a world of strange creatures, strange circumstances, and strange powers, which he starts learning for himself. It’s worth knowing that prior to Episode IV, most of the plot unfolds for young Aniken (the first representative of the growing child) not all that far from home. Not  exactly home, but prior to Episode III, not that far away, either. In Episode III, all that learning and logic gets seduced by “The Dark Side,” which is probablly best seen as a metaphor for all that stuff that hits one at puberty. But, people don’t routinely turn permanently bad at that point, do they?

No, because their better nature is called off into strange (for a child) territory where it learns how to be a human being and take it’s place in society. And, of course that dark side being is father to the better nature. What else could it be? And sooner or later Luke has to kill it, but actually redeems his father before the man dies. So, Aniken dies connected to the good guys again. Except that there is plenty more dark side to deal with. You’ve ditched your nine-year-old judgement, but now what? It’s so tempting to run with that wild dark nature, to steal that pair of shoes, to cheat, lie and be obnoxious. That’s what people do, and the youth (no longer a kid since Vader is gone) has to deal with that. Which brings us into the final trilogy, with Rey and Ren as opposite sides of what is, mythically speaking, the same person. Yin and Yang, if you will. Both halves come to understand that they are joined spiritually, and eventually the better nature must confront, and embrace, the darkness, which results in the person’s dark side becoming a great strength, which helps the young adult finally to throw off the temptations of adolescence and emerge a adult who accepts who and what she is. And that is the secret of overcoming the dark side: embracing it, accepting it as a part of you, and using it. Rey embraces Ren in the end, and shortly after he is no more. This after they, together, overcome the greatest darkness that threatens them (and our fictional galaxy far far away,) which boils down simply to succumbing to fear of the darkness rather than confronting it. Okay, big spoiler in the next paragraph. Sorry. Stop here if you don’t want to know the very end.

In the final scene of the nine episodes, Rey, who has represented the hero in the last three movies, returns to the very farm where Luke was living when it all started. (The first three chapters are prologue, really.) An old woman asks her for her name and she says, “Rey.” “Rey what?” “Rey Skywalker.” (Her family name is not Skywalker. I’ll leave that for you to discover as you watch.)

So, is it pandering to  Star Wars fans? Hell yes it is! But what if that pandering is exactly what is needed to properly close out the myth? What if it is so satisfying precisely because it is so successful in completing Lucas’s original mission? I’m pretty sure that such is the case. The criticisms I’ve seen all appear to come from people who do not understand that basic fact, nor even how to properly construct a story. But, as they say, everybody’s a critic. Not everybody is a creative writer, are they?

And, honestly, I’m sad that the series is over. Sure, there will be plenty of stories that can be crafted in the  Star Wars universe. Heck, I’m into the Mandalorian bigly, especially that cute child, as they call it. You know, “Baby Yoda?” But the big story, which I first saw in a theater in Bowling Green, Ohio, in 1977, is over. No more speculation. No more trying to come up with a plausible solution to the whole thing. The writers, may they live long and prosper (yes, that was deliberate,) have done an excellent job of it. And Rey? Well, she’s a Jedi, and out living her life. Probablly a dull one compared to what her predecessors went through. I doubt if it would be all that interesting to follow the mythical hero of  Star Wars any further. It’s kind of like with my own kids. I was sad as Hell to see them grow up. And proud as Hell to see them grow up. They don’t need me any more. And I’ll live without a new  Star Wars episode. I just hope they get that kid to a safe place!

 

Crisis Mode

Walapai Trading Post in Peach Springs, Arizona

There is a book titled Generations: The History of America’s Futureby Strauss and Howe. (The Link goes to Amazon.) It is a book about the cyclical theory of history, and it posits four main generational types. What’s important for this writing is that the cycle repeats roughly every 80 years, more or less. (This is not absolute. The Civil War, for example, threw the entire process off by at least twenty years.) Eighty years ago World War Two had started, on September 1st. In fact, every eighty years (more or less) there happens a crisis that seems likely to end civilization, if not life as we know it. The authors believed that the next crisis (as of 1980) would probably be environmental.

One of the principal ways of determining the validity of a hypothesis is how well it predicts future events. Environmental crisis, huh? Imagine that.

We are most certainly at an environmental crisis. The only place on the planet where this fact is at all political is in the USA, and that’s because the Koch brothers and their friends want it to be, because they make their living (and a great one it is) from fossil fuels. Everywhere else, it’s science, not politics. Sigh. So, we find ourselves in a situation where life as we know it is threatened, and our fearless leader (I know, no comments, it’s sarcastic) is determined to return to the days of big coal and big oil. He’s on the side of climate change denial, politically. So, we may well be pretty completely screwed if we don’t figure out what to do and damned fast, huh? It absolutely consumes some people, this crusade to “save the planet” (a ridiculous term as the planet is perfectly healthy even if too warm for humans.) It is, in short, a marvelous distraction from what must be done in a free society every, oh, eighty years or so.

I mean, it is time to shift to a new paradigm on how we organize and operate as a society. And, as always, the opposition to the shift is extreme. And extremely obvious, except that we’re distracted by the crisis, as has been the case since the days of Queen Elizabeth I. Last time, the way out of the economic doldrums was consumerism, flagrant overuse of materials, automobile culture, and spending more than you make. It’s been fun, and that’s a fact. My generation, children of the Baby Boom that followed World War II, is an example of what those authors call an “Idealist” generation, given to introspection, social rebellion, and things like running naked through the woods. What, it happened before Woodstock? Oh, heck yeah. You ever read about the Transcendentalists? Ever wonder why Thoreau was so popular with Boomers? Fellow travelers, folks. The reason that Idealist generations get that way is because their parents, very Civic-minded and trusting of institutions, had a rough row to hoe, and they make damned sure that their children don’t suffer the way they did. In this cycle, this has led to, in recent decades, a belief that life should be fair and painless, which causes great distortion of reality, which is seldom fair, and never painless. Nobody, absolutely nobody, has ever been able to “have it all.” Besides which, the culture of Postwar America is now threatening to end our ability to live on this best of all possible planets. (We evolved here, so this is not hyperbole.)

One thing we’ll need is for everyone, and by that I mean everyone, not just “white” people, to contribute their knowledge, skill, and intelligence. Big paradigm shift there: everybody contributes to their abilities. (I know that sounds like Marx, but it isn’t. Karl was a nice guy, but way to much a dreamer to be useful.) They old idea of a “white” race lording it over other, inferior races, which goes back to needing an excuse for enslaving people, is one of the ideas that are going to need to fall. Also, the idea that bigger is better, that we need automobiles (we need convenient, affordable transportation, which doesn’t have to be automobiles per se,) and that the goal of any corporation is to enrich the stockholders, all useful since WWII, are also in need of replacement. In fact, I’m pretty sure that the current “Conservative” backlash evidenced in the current administration is due to the fact that, on some level, even the Koch brothers can see what has to happen. If your entire identity is tied up in the old paradigms, well, friend, you are not going to be happy about the change.

In conclusion, and you knew there would be one, we will overcome the crisis in climate. it will, in fact, provide a hell of a lot of work for a hell of a lot of people. And the new paradigm, not yet fully formed, will be slipped in behind all the fuss over climate. And, if past cycles are any indication, Generation X will provide the leadership, and Millennials the front-line expertise, to do it. Gen X will, of course, receive no credit, because such is the fate of those caught between Idealist and Civic zeitgeists. (I truly am sorry, but I’m only one guy.) The current Conservatives will, in fact, hate the next twenty years, and spend the remainder of their days complaining about how great it used to be and how awful it is now. Think the opening of All in the Family. And, yes, it appears, and will appear even more so in the next few years, that we have failed, and that civilization is doomed. And, in a sense, it is, as our no longer useful paradigms are tossed into the trash to make room for the new.

Well, that’s my opinion, anyhow.

Technical Write Up for Full Repair and Replacement of Keel Bolts — OddGodfrey: The Oddly Compelling Story of a Sailing Circumnavigation of the World

This article provides the planning process, safety notes, and explanation of both procedure and cost results for the full repair and replacement of fifteen keel bolts on a 1981 Vintage Bob Perry Designed Valiant 40 sailboat.

Source: Technical Write Up for Full Repair and Replacement of Keel Bolts — OddGodfrey: The Oddly Compelling Story of a Sailing Circumnavigation of the World

Another Mile Down the Rails of Enlightenment — OddGodfrey: The Oddly Compelling Story of a Sailing Circumnavigation of the World

“Meditation brings wisdom; lack of meditation leaves ignorance.” The Buddha. The train station is as I imagined it. Silver train cars line up with their toes against the yellow line, waiting for their passengers to embark. Glossy floors reflect the shadows of people bustling around, readying th

Nepalese princes and puke, oh, my!

Source: Another Mile Down the Rails of Enlightenment — OddGodfrey: The Oddly Compelling Story of a Sailing Circumnavigation of the World

Smokey Pai and Expensive Train Food — OddGodfrey: The Oddly Compelling Story of a Sailing Circumnavigation of the World

Our route to Pei curls and bounces over some of the steepest terrain and sharpest curves we’ve driven on our journey to date. Trucks loaded three stories tall with bamboo poles or cement bags, coconuts, or almost anything else you can think of blurp road dust out from under their oblong tires. As

Source: Smokey Pai and Expensive Train Food — OddGodfrey: The Oddly Compelling Story of a Sailing Circumnavigation of the World

R. E. S. P. E. C. T.

Made famous by Toulouse Latrec. you’ll find it in Paris.

One thing that seems to be in short supply in America these days is respect. I mean respect for each other’s basic humanity. I guess it is largely because social media seems so anonymous, and can in fact be so, that I see so many cases of someone blaming entire groups of people (MAGA wearers, liberals, conservatives, Democrats, Republicans, Rastafarians, Pastafarians, Vegans, meat eaters, women, men, and whoever created mosquitoes, for examples.) I’ll tell you this right now, folks, if you do that, you’ve just lost your argument. Sure, it feels good, but it just shows your own weakness. Ironic, that. Anyway, interpersonal respect is what keeps a society functioning. Respect of authority isn’t it. Respect of social position isn’t it. Respect of wealth or job title isn’t it. It is simply respect for the basic humanity of another person. That is what we need to cultivate, and stat.

We might look to France for some guidance on this, because the French are very much committed to respecting each other’s basic humanity. My first morning ever in France, in 1976, I went to a change booth in a train station (no ATMs in those days) and received a stern lecture from the change lady on how to be polite in society. Fortunately for me, I took her lesson to heart. Not only in France, but after I returned home. I generally say hello, goodbye, please, and thank-you. For years I took that as basic courtesy, and was at first amazed at how much easier simply being polite made things. But, to the French, it is courtesy, yes, but also much more.

In France, the word for hello is “bonjour.” Literally that means “good day,” but it has been used as “hello” for so long that people had to adopt “bonne journée,” which originally meant “good trip you can take out and back in one day.” FYI. Anyhow, you first say “Good Day” and then you add, “Madame” or Monsieur.” Madame literally means “My Lady.” Monsieur literally means “My Lord.” So, no matter who you address in France, you are saying, “Hello, My Lady,” or “Hello, My Lord.” Sounds a bit over the top, but it works. If the President of France wants to speak to a beggar on the corner, the President must first say, “Hello, My Lord” or “Hello, My Lady.” Only then is it proper to begin a conversation. This is why sometimes Americans believe the French to be impolite: because in America we don’t go for such ceremony, and anyway, shouldn’t the shopkeeper say hello first? (Sometimes they do. I would, but it isn’t required.) No matter who you are addressing, it is assumed that you are invading their personal space, and you owe them the simple acknowledgement of that fact, which is to say, a polite greeting. Is the beggar on the corner a Lord or Lady? Probably not, but by using those terms, you grant them the basic dignity due to any human being.

When you combine this basic respect with the French educational goal of being able to discuss literally anything without getting personal, you end up with a polite society where it is considered normal to argue. (No, shopkeepers won’t argue with you. Once you’ve exchanged “bonjours” they’ll be so eager to help that you’ll almost feel guilty.) Imagine a society where arguments were not the Monty Python type (No they aren’t!) but rather reasoned and defensible. We could have that, if we respected each other. We certainly don’t need to go to the lengths of calling each other My Lord or My Lady. In fact, a bunch of patriots once fought a war for the right to eliminate Lords and Ladies. But we can still be respectful. A few suggestions:

  • Don’t call people names. Not even if you hate them. Remember, as we writers occasionally point out, that everyone is the hero of their own story. You may not agree with their reasoning, but you can respect their right to an opinion without getting snarky.
  • Say hello to everyone you expect to interact with, and to anyone on the street with whom you happen to lock eyes. And when you want something from someone, say “please,” and after you get it, say “thank-you.” and Maybe throw in a Sir or Ma’am to really seal the deal. (Yes, watered down versions of those old titles, but still appreciated.)
  • Don’t blame groups, any groups, for society’s problems. We are all members of society, so we all contribute, each in our own way, to the problems. Boomers didn’t wreck the world (trust me,) nor are they any better than any other generation. We all have our quirks. Millenials aren’t lazy. Generation X has never slacked. And Generation Z, while pretty young yet, will make a great contribution (that history will forget) to the welfare of humankind. (Such generations always do. The last one invented rock and roll. They called them “silent,” ironically.)
  • Don’t get over invested in a particular world view. For one thing, in philosophical terms, it’s as likely as not that you have some significant information wrong.
  • Stay cool, stay respectful.

Ladies and Lords, we can do this. We can make America better simply be being mutually respectful. And, very importantly, by being respectful even of those who don’t respect us. In that case, remember, that’s their problem, not yours. Okay?

Great. Now go forth and be respectfully kind to each other! Thank you.

An Enlightening Observation: We Are NOT Where We are Supposed to Be — OddGodfrey: The Oddly Compelling Story of a Sailing Circumnavigation of the World

We enjoy a cozy sleep in the Opium Den, and wake to nosh on what is becoming one of my favorite savory breakfast items: the Thai chicken and sausage porridge. Taking the wheel of the rental car, I lean forward in my seat to scan the menagerie of traffic I must cross to depart the parking lot. “O

Source: An Enlightening Observation: We Are NOT Where We are Supposed to Be — OddGodfrey: The Oddly Compelling Story of a Sailing Circumnavigation of the World

New Buddha Blue Buddha — OddGodfrey: The Oddly Compelling Story of a Sailing Circumnavigation of the World

Chanting from the Laos side of the Mekong river woke me with sunrise. I stepped through our hotel door and found a seat on the grass outside to watch fog curl around the riverbank, rise to a soft mist then dissipate toward the mountains in the distance. We get on the road before breakfast, hoping

Source: New Buddha Blue Buddha — OddGodfrey: The Oddly Compelling Story of a Sailing Circumnavigation of the World