Hey, Mom! The Explanation.

Here's the permanent dedicated link to my first Hey, Mom! post and the explanation of the feature it contains.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #924 - Blondie and Kermit - Musical Monday 1801.15


Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #924 - Blondie and Kermit - Musical Monday 1801.15

Hi Mom,

It's MLK Day, and I am not posting anything directly related to MLK Day. I am not posting a video by an African-American artist either. Not because I don't want to. But when a writer I follow reminded me of this video's existence, I queued it up to share today before thinking about how it would be scheduled for MLK Day.

And yet, "The Rainbow Connection" is a great MLK Day song. It's a lot like MLK's "I have a dream" speech. It's basically the same sentiment.

Plus, I have shared plenty of music by African-Americans over the years, and to share something like that on this day, seem gratuitous, forced, less meaningful.

So, here's "The Rainbow Connection" with Debbie Harry and Kermit. I know the title reads "Blondie," which is not accurate as the rest of the band is not in the video, but I felt Blondie was easier to read than Debbie Harry in a short title, and more attention getting. So...

This is a great video.

I am happy be reminded of it.

Short Musical Monday today, which is one day later, because, you know, as usual, I fell behind, and I am catching up.


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Reflect and connect.

Have someone give you a kiss, and tell you that I love you, Mom.

I miss you so very much, Mom.

Talk to you tomorrow, Mom.

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- Days ago = 926 days ago

- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1801.15 - 10:10

NEW (written 1708.27) NOTE on time: I am now in the same time zone as Google! So, when I post at 10:10 a.m. PDT to coincide with the time of your death, Mom, I am now actually posting late, so it's really 1:10 p.m. EDT. But I will continue to use the time stamp of 10:10 a.m. to remember the time of your death, Mom. I know this only matters to me, and to you, Mom.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #923 - Alan Trammel - HOF - Nicest Guy in Sports


Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #923 - Alan Trammel - HOF - Nicest Guy in Sports

Hi Mom,

Just a share today, mainly.

I haven't posted on Baseball in a while.

But Spring Training will start in a little over a month with pitchers and catchers reporting sooner than that. And recently, two of the greatest Detroit Tigers ever were elected to the Hall of Fame -- Jack Morris and Alan Trammell.

Trammell is my favorite sports player of all time, my favorite Baseball player, and my favorite Detroit Tiger. It's no contest.

I do agree with many that Sweet Lou Whitaker deserves to be enshrined in Cooperstown along with Trammell.

Also, there's been a great deal written on the impact of electing Morris and how his numbers compare to other pitchers, like Mike Mussina, Curt Schilling, and others like David Cone, Kevin Brown, and Dennis Martinez.

http://www.espn.com/blog/sweetspot/post/_/id/85069/how-jack-morris-complicates-future-of-hall-of-fame-pitcher-selections

Anyway, hats of to Trammell and Morris, though especially Trammell.

Link to original -

https://www.detroitathletic.com/blog/2018/01/09/trammells-hall-fame-election-accompanies-stature-one-baseballs-nicest-guys/

Trammell’s Hall of Fame election accompanies his stature as one of baseball’s nicest guys

This jersey was worn by Alan Trammell during the
1983 season. (Photo credit: National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum)
 I have to be honest with you. I didn’t think Alan Trammell was going to get the necessary votes to enter the Hall of Fame through the Modern Baseball Era Committee. I just didn’t hear much buzz about Trammell heading into the vote and thought we might see a complete shutout across the board. Thankfully, as is often the case, I was wrong, as both Trammell and another Detroit Tigers legend, Jack Morris, received the necessary support for election to the Hall of Fame. As a result, we’re expecting Cooperstown, NY to become “Detroit East” on the weekend of July 27-30, when this year’s Induction Ceremony takes place.

That is not to say that Trammell is not deserving. He most certainly is. Prior to his election, Hall of Fame expert and Sports Illustrated writer Jay Jaffe championed Trammell as more than worthy of Cooperstown enshrinement. Here is what Jaffe wrote:
“On the traditional merits, Trammell looks like a solid Hall of Fame candidate. His 2,365 hits (2,232 as a shortstop, ninth since 1913) and 185 homers (177 as a shortstop, 12th in that span) may not be in the class of Ripken and Yount, but it’s a substantial résumé when accompanied by his All-Star appearances and Gold Gloves; it’s worth noting that Trammell spent far more time at the position (2,139 games, 11th all-time) than Yount (1,479). He scores 118 on Bill James’ Hall of Fame Monitor metric with 100 representing “a good possibility” and 130 a virtual cinch.

“In terms of advanced metrics, Trammell’s 132 batting runs—the offensive component of WAR—is 20th at the position, better than 10 of the 21 Hall of Fame shortstops.”
Even before his deserved election in December, Trammell’s presence was already felt in Cooperstown. He has visited our small village in upstate New York on several occasions, including twice as an active player participating in the annual Hall of Fame Game (1984 and 1995). As manager, he also took his team to Doubleday Field in 2005 for the Hall of Fame Game when Detroit squared off against the Red Sox. In more recent years, he has made two appearances in the Hall of Fame Classic, a game that features retired legends. In making those visits, Trammell has made quite an impression on Hall of Fame staff. He has been friendly, cordial, and down-to-earth, qualities that are not always evident with celebrities, baseball or otherwise. Trammell is clearly a likable guy, which explains why a number of staff members expressed their satisfaction when they heard that Trammell had received the votes needed for election.
Trammell’s impact on Cooperstown has also been felt in another way. Since 1987, the Hall of Fame collection has included one of Trammell’s game-worn jerseys. More specifically, it’s a Tigers home jersey from the 1983 season. Made of white polyester and in excellent condition, it’s a size 40 (I thought it would be smaller) and features seven buttons running down the front. It has all the standard features of the Tigers’ iconic uniform, including the Old English “D” and the dark blue piping.
Also on the front and near the bottom of the jersey, we notice three different labels that have been sewn into the jersey. One label says “Wilson/40” to indicate the brand and the size, while also including washing instructions. There is a second label, which has the No. 83, a reference to the season that the jersey was used. The third label has the No. 3, which indicates Trammell’s uniform number.
Right next to the label are some words written in black marker. They say “Jim Schmakel/Hall of Fame/ 10/26/87.” Schmakel is the name of the Tigers’ longtime clubhouse manager who has been on the job for 40 years. Schmakel himself did not make the donation; that was made by Dan Ewald, the Tigers’ former public relations director, back in 1987.
On the surface, the 1983 season might not stand out immediately for Trammell or the Tigers, but it did represent one of Trammell’s best years. He compiled an OPS of .856, the third highest figure of his career, ranking behind only his near MVP performance of 1987 and his surprising comeback season of 1993. Trammell batted .319, hit 14 home runs, stole a career-high 30 bases, led the American League in sacrifice hits (with 15), and also won the Gold Glove Award at shortstop against stiff competition. Additionally, Trammell finished 15th in the league’s MVP race; he likely would have finished higher if the Tigers had won the American League East. But at 92 wins and 70 losses, the Tigers placed second, six games back of the league champion Baltimore Orioles.
Thirty five years have passed since that season, but it’s likely that the jersey would still fit Trammell. He has put on virtually no weight since his playing days, and has kept himself in such good condition that he continues to play in the Hall of Fame Classic even though he’s roughly 20 years older than most of the other participants. Like most of us, Trammell’s face shows signs of age, but his body does not. Even as he approaches his 60th birthday (coming up in February), Trammell continues to amaze.
I imagine that Trammell will be taking a look at this 1983 jersey in the coming weeks. Along with Morris and the other members of the class of 2018 (to be revealed on January 24), Trammell will be visiting Cooperstown this winter for his orientation tour. These tours, which were first introduced in the late 1990s, are designed to give each inductee the chance to tour the Hall of Fame and its archive, while learning about the schedule of activities that will take place during Hall of Fame Weekend. They also give new Hall of Famers a chance to start planning the content of their induction speeches, which will take place on the Sunday of the big weekend.  
It wouldn’t surprise me if Trammell comes back to the Hall for a second time in May, when the annual Classic takes place. And then, of course, he will make the most important visit of the year in July, when he officially joins his Tigers jersey—and a few other personal artifacts, like a ball that he and Lou Whitaker once signed—here in Cooperstown. That will make for a special day, and a day that will leave many of our staff members smiling. They know that Trammell is one of the good ones.
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Reflect and connect.

Have someone give you a kiss, and tell you that I love you, Mom.

I miss you so very much, Mom.

Talk to you tomorrow, Mom.

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- Days ago = 925 days ago

- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1801.14 - 10:10

NEW (written 1708.27) NOTE on time: I am now in the same time zone as Google! So, when I post at 10:10 a.m. PDT to coincide with the time of your death, Mom, I am now actually posting late, so it's really 1:10 p.m. EDT. But I will continue to use the time stamp of 10:10 a.m. to remember the time of your death, Mom. I know this only matters to me, and to you, Mom.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #922 - Central Station, a review


Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #922 - Central Station, a review

Hi Mom,

Usually, I do not review a book until I finish it. And lately, I have stacks and stacks of books that I have not reviewed. It's a time investment thing. It's due to my struggles to consistently produce original content.

However, with this book, due to the narration, I felt compelled to post a review of the audio book even before completing it.

Amusingly, I have only posted two other reviews to Audible, both due to terrible narrator.

I love the cover art. The book is interesting. It deserves awards. For me, there's something missing, but I am not sure what, and I cannot be certain that what I am missing is not due to the terrible narrator.

I will add to what I wrote below that the narrator improves when he reproduces dialogue. It's the narrative and exposition in which his pitch and cadences are extremely annoying and almost impossible to listen to.

Though I did not review, I also really disliked the narrator for Wizard's First Rule, and I will never be certain if the book is bad or the narrator ruined it for me. Though I am leaning toward the story and the novel, despite its popularity, being terrible. One of Stephen King's narrator's, notably the one who did The Talsiman, was particularly awful.

When listening to a book, the narrator makes or breaks the thing. Much like a comic book. Great writing cannot save terrible art. But fantastic art can save poor to mediocre writing. The same concept holds true for narration: great narration can elevate a mediocre novel, but poor narration will ruin a listening experience, even when the novel is good or great.

I may have re-read this book at some point the old fashioned way, with eyes on the page.


Review posted to AUDIBLE today, 1801.13:

Lavie Tidhar’s novel Central Station is well lauded and applauded in SF circles: shortlist for the Arthur C. Clarke Award, was a finalist for the Locus Awards, and only two weeks ago has been awarded the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best science fiction of the year.

Though there is some legitimacy in the book reading like a series of vignettes due to parts being previously published, the whole does hang together. Readers will come for the inventive world-building and the multi-cultural perspectives. Not many modern SF novels buzz like the eponymous interplanetary hub of the novel's title located between Jewish Tel Aviv and Arab Jaffa.

One element that's especially fascinating is the "Conversation": "Billions of humans, uncounted billions of digitals and machines, all talking, chattering, sharing at once. Images, text, voice, recordings, all-immersive memcordist media, gamesworlds spill-over—it came on her at once, and she reeled against it.”

I recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys science fiction. The data vampire (Strigoi), the damaged cyborg soldier (Robotnik), and the powerful aliens (the Others) create a rich and engaging tapestry of SF quite unlike anything out there right now.

When I see praise from one of my favorite writers, Warren Ellis, it gives me pause: "It's all of science fiction distilled into a single book." ―Warren Ellis, author of Transmetropolitan and Gun Machine. His recommnedation brought me to the book.

So as just a book, to read, I give it high praise; however, I elected to listen to the audio book. The narration by Jeff Harding is atrocious. I rarely write reviews, and when I do, I am unlikely to be so ruthless in my criticism. I feel compelled to warn people away from this narration. Look at other reviews for the audio. Most of them cannot endure the narrator. I am enduring because I trust Ellis, and I am unlikely to move this book to my reading queue, and so audio is my vehicle to consume this book.

As a vocalist, Harding has a nice, bass voice. But he has no clue how to use it. Most sentences or phrases end on an up pitch, and even when he brings the pitch down to "end" a passage, there's still a hint of a rising note to the tone that makes none of the sentences end effectively. His cadences are repetitive and mind-numbing. It's very difficult to extract meaning from the narration given how he has chosen to read. There's no variation to his rhythms at all, either. If I didn't want to read the book so badly, and already stacked up in my traditional, non-audio queue, I might abandon this audio as many other reviewers have.

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Reflect and connect.

Have someone give you a kiss, and tell you that I love you, Mom.

I miss you so very much, Mom.

Talk to you tomorrow, Mom.

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- Days ago = 924 days ago

- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1801.13 - 10:10

NEW (written 1708.27) NOTE on time: I am now in the same time zone as Google! So, when I post at 10:10 a.m. PDT to coincide with the time of your death, Mom, I am now actually posting late, so it's really 1:10 p.m. EDT. But I will continue to use the time stamp of 10:10 a.m. to remember the time of your death, Mom. I know this only matters to me, and to you, Mom.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #921 - No Books for Prisoners


Photo Credit: Jay Mallin/ZUMA Press/Newscom
Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #921 - No Books for Prisoners

Hi Mom,

So if another instance of banning Dungeons and Dragons was not bad enough, the banning of most books to prisoners in some prison systems in some states, namely New York state, has me very angry.

Read the article. Why Texas would ban Where's Waldo? is baffling.

There's a myth being perpetuated by movies and TV that prisoners have access to a wide variety of books and can become more literate in prison if they choose. But this is not true. In some states, it may be true. But in others, like Texas, inmates cannot even "read" (look at the pictures in) Where's Waldo?

I see reading as a human right.

I believe in rehabilitation, remorse, forgiveness, fresh starts.

How can we hope to ameliorate the condition without reading?

At least, in New Jersey, the government is giving its inmates access to a "dangerous" book.

http://reason.com/blog/2018/01/09/new-jersey-backs-off-prison-ban-off-the







Hours after the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) accused it of censorship, New Jersey prison officials rolled back a ban on Michelle Alexander's influential critique of mass incarceration, The New Jim Crow.
The ACLU discovered the book was banned in two New Jersey prisons through a public records request. The Intercept reports:
"The ban on 'The New Jim Crow' violates the right to free speech enshrined in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and the correlative protection of Article 1, paragraph 6 of the New Jersey Constitution," ACLU attorneys Tess Borden and Alexander Shalom wrote to Gary Lanigan, commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Corrections.
The ban also points to some blood-boiling ironies.
"Michelle Alexander's book chronicles how people of color are not just locked in, but locked out of civic life, and New Jersey has exiled them even further by banning this text specifically for them," said ACLU-NJ Executive Director Amol Sinha in a statement. "The ratios and percentages of mass incarceration play out in terms of human lives. Keeping a book that examines a national tragedy out of the hands of the people mired within it adds insult to injury."

Shortly after that, NBC reported that officials were lifting the ban at those two prisons and reviewing their policies.
Unfortunately, New Jersey was not an outlier. State prison systems ban thousands upon thousands of books.
At least as of 2015, the North Carolina prison system also banned The New Jim Crow, along with hundreds of other titles.
Texas, one of the most censorious prison systems in the nation, bans roughly 10,000 publications, including The Color PurpleWhere's Waldo?, and John Pfaff's Locked In, another book on mass incarceration. It does, however, allow Mein Kampf.
Just last week, new rules went into effect at three New York prisons banning care packages that aren't purchased through one of five approved vendors. State officials say the policy, which will eventually go statewide, is meant to crack down on contraband. But prison rights organizations say the move will severely restrict what inmates can receive, including books.
NYC Books Through Bars, a volunteer group that sends free books to inmates across the country for free, wrote in a letter last week to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo that "this draconian restriction closes off so much of the world to thousands of people":
The approved vendors' catalogs are currently limited to the following books: five romance novels, fourteen bibles and other religious texts, twenty­four drawing or coloring books, twenty­one puzzle books, eleven guitar, chess, and how­to books, one dictionary, and one thesaurus. No books that help people learn to overcome addictions or learn how to improve as parents. No Jane Austen, Ernest Hemingway, Maya Angelou, or other literature that helps people connect with what it means to be human. No texts that help provide skills essential to finding and maintaining work after release from prison. No books about health, about history, about almost anything inside or outside the prison walls.
Reason, too, has had run-ins with prison censors. Issues of Reason have been impounded by Florida and Arizona prison officials. The latter found my cover story on the deplorable conditions inside the Washington, D.C., jail "detrimental to the safe, secure, and orderly operation of the institution."
And in what is surely the crown jewel of stupid prison bans, in 2010 the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the Wisconsin prison system's ban on Dungeons & Dragons. The game constitutes a gang threat, according to very serious prison officials.

C.J. Ciaramella is a criminal justice reporter at Reason.

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Reflect and connect.

Have someone give you a kiss, and tell you that I love you, Mom.

I miss you so very much, Mom.

Talk to you tomorrow, Mom.

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- Days ago = 923 days ago

- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1801.12 - 10:10

NEW (written 1708.27) NOTE on time: I am now in the same time zone as Google! So, when I post at 10:10 a.m. PDT to coincide with the time of your death, Mom, I am now actually posting late, so it's really 1:10 p.m. EDT. But I will continue to use the time stamp of 10:10 a.m. to remember the time of your death, Mom. I know this only matters to me, and to you, Mom.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #920 - It's not Always Nice - Star Wars and the Last Jedi


Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #920 - It's not Always Nice - Star Wars and the Last Jedi

Hi Mom, No Throwback Thursday today unless it's the Throwback to see some pictures of Luke Skywalker from the films of the 1970s and 1980s.

Though I wrote a few thoughts on The Last Jedi in yesterday's blog, today's entry is mostly a straight share as I could not possibly write anything as good as this article from TOR by Emily Asher-Perrin, at least not in the time I have to do such things like write blog entries. Or I should say, the time I allow myself for such things.

I love this: "Luke Skywalker's super power has always been compassion."

That's the key concept to take away if you don't want to read the whole article, but it's a good read.

https://www.tor.com/2018/01/04/luke-skywalker-isnt-supposed-to-be-nice/

Luke Skywalker Isn’t Supposed to Be “Nice”



It’s that time again. Time for me to talk about Luke Skywalker—Jedi Master, colorful milk enthusiast, champion spear fisherman, galactic treasure—and the multitude of ways that he continues to be generally fabulous while no one notices. Even now, when it should have become pretty darned obvious. When there is an entire film dedicated to the obviousness of this.
And yes, I am talking about The Last Jedi.
Spoilers ahead.
Look, I’ve said it all before. Luke Skywalker is not a bland Wonder Bread hero, despite his humble farmboy beginnings and seeming obsession with power converters. He spends the entirety of Return of the Jedi kicking ass in a very personal, understated way. He has his own goals and he sticks to them. This helpfully speeds up the demise of the worst overlord the galaxy has ever known, but also robs him of a father. Such is the nature of the universe, particularly where the Force is involved.
But now that Luke has reemerged decades later for his final bow, some people are crying foul. It’s a betrayal, they say. The boy they knew and loved would never behave this way. Even Mark Hamill himself had reservations about what lay in store for Luke, though he admitted that he appreciated the tale when all was said and done. It didn’t stop fans from creating memes and comments and screeds denouncing him.


As the sort of kid who grew up loving Luke Skywalker, pretending to be him as I vaulted from playground equipment and around sandboxes, the ire is bemusing. This story is not fluffy or comforting, but it is imminently worthy of my childhood champion because it explores the very nature of his exalted and seemingly untouchable status as the Good Man Who Does Great Deeds. The last chapter of Luke’s story is bound up not in mythologizing and enshrining him in that lofty cocoon, but instead turns us toward an ugly, devastating fact: heroes are people.
*dramatic music cue*
Some folks have realized this and are taking it to mean that Star Wars is finally shaking a finger at its fans, deconstructing its place in the cultural zeitgeist and having a little laugh at the terrifying level of devotion it has inspired. But that’s an underwhelming take from where I’m standing. Yes, we get attached to stories that we love, but that’s a common human practice. Craving stories, seeking them out, relating to the characters within them, that’s all as human as learning to walk and getting hungry. But taking on the uncomfortable task of reminding us that our heroes are human? Really, truly messy and complicated and often unworthy of awe? That’s a massive responsibility that no one will thank you for, no matter how dearly they need to be reminded.
This is the central theme of The Last Jedi, one that the film tackles with a violent sort of glee. It’s not merely that heroes can make mistakes or occasionally do the wrong thing; the film is examining heroism as a concept, as a systematic construct that binds the very people it should comfort. “Heroes” come with rules and standards, expectations and meaning. “Legends” are not history, they are the stories we tell to elevate history into doctrine.
Luke Skywalker knows this better than most. His father was sold to him as a hero of a bygone era, then morphed slowly before his eyes into a terrible villain. But Luke did not redeem Anakin Skywalker out of a desire to recapture the hero he once was—he did it to find his father. Heroes are people, and the person that existed beyond the great knight Obi-Wan Kenobi spoke of with such reverence is precisely who Luke hoped to discover when he met Darth Vader on Endor.
Years later, when Rey arrives on Ahch-To, Luke has soured on the concept of heroes and legends. His father was no hero, and neither were his mentors. He has learned enough about the Jedi Order to understand the incredible hubris that led to their demise. He has also taken up the space where they once existed in the galactic collective consciousness, even though it’s the last thing he ever wanted. It’s all well and good to hear those stories and take them to heart, but it’s something else entirely when that hero and legend is you, when your very person is meant to embody symbols and devotion and feelings that you never intended to evoke. When people spin tales about acts you may or may not have committed, when your name is used to create a hush in crowded rooms. When the only resistance standing between the galaxy and total fascist domination is waiting for you to show up and signal that the fight isn’t over.
Being a hero doesn’t stop you from being human, and that is perhaps the greatest tragedy of the cosmos… or the greatest joke. Luke can’t decide which when Rey shows up with Anakin’s old lightsaber, but to start, he treats it as the latter. He chucks away the saber. He slams doors in her face. He makes himself and his life as weird and ignoble as possible, harkening back to Yoda’s old method of teaching—be some kooky old guy, see if they scare off. When she doesn’t turn tail and run, and he agrees to teach her a little, he cackles at her understanding of the Force and the Jedi. He tells her that he’s not going to walk out there with a “lasersword” and face down the latest threat to the galaxy because the Force is not a parlor trick for intimidation and clever schemes. He invites her to learn what it is for herself, to sense its presence throughout the galaxy. And as she observes this balance, the light and the dark, Luke offers her the most important lesson of all:
“The Force does not belong to the Jedi. To say that if the Jedi die, the light dies, is vanity—can’t you see that?”
This is an essential lesson on multiple fronts, but it is also in indictment of heroism and the power granted to those who achieve that designation. The Jedi do not own virtue or good deeds or the key to balancing the galaxy. They are not the arbiters of these things, they do not speak for the Force in any capacity. The stories that grew up around them—the legends—made them believe that they were and they could, and this is ultimately what led to their destruction. Calling yourself a “servant of the Force” at the same time that you are working as the long arm of a government to aid only one side in a gruesome war is well beyond a contradiction, and Luke is in the perfect position to see this long arc for what it is; he caused the same devastation on a smaller scale when he tried to follow their example, losing his temple and students when Ben Solo fell to the dark side.

He frames the failures of the Jedi the same way he frames his own: vanity at believing that the ancient religion and framework was so needed that the universe couldn’t be without them. After being groomed to take up the mantle of a dead Order, Luke discovers that his impetus behind this decision was misguided, his execution deeply flawed. Thinking as the Jedi did requires thinking in terms of legacy—his fear of Ben turning to the dark side isn’t merely the fear of an uncle for his nephew, it is the fear of the Jedi being wiped out all over again, of his tutelage resulting in another Vader, of more devastation caused by heroes and legends who should be beyond such mortal mistakes. But heroes are people. And Luke’s split-second of weakness precipitates the very terror he was trying to keep at bay.
Shutting himself away in an unknown corner of the galaxy surely seemed like the most satisfying option. Go find the origin point of the Jedi and just crumble away there, like all the other relics. Divorce himself from the Force and wait to die. Unfortunately, vanishing acts only fuel legends. Luke Skywalker tried to forget the galaxy, but the galaxy wasn’t about to forget him.
When Rey arrives, the fight for that galaxy is well underway, and this mysterious young woman from nowhere is in desperate need of instruction. Luke wants no part in another gargantuan mistake that puts the galaxy at risk, but he does need someone to take ownership over what he’s learned in this ruin of a religion because knowledge is always of value. Rey seems up for it, though she has very little time… echoing his own education to a tee. He gives her a baseline, some philosophical mores to cling to as she moves forward, but his wisdom is only a small measure of his usefulness to her. Rey needs a count of the missteps that came before, of course, but most important of all—she’s looking for confirmation that she belongs in this story. By taking her desire to learn about the Force seriously, Luke gives her that. And as Yoda later tells him, that’s pretty much how it’s meant to go: “We are what they grow beyond. That is the burden of all masters.”

Rey alone doesn’t need a careful guiding light, but the galaxy needs Luke Skywalker. The tragedy of heroes is that they are people whose lives ultimately aren’t their own—heroism of the legendary kind exists to serve others. It doesn’t matter that Luke Skywalker is hurting, that he’s frightened, that he has made mistakes he has decided he cannot atone for. He tried to cut himself off from the Force, to hide away from everyone who would put him on a pedestal, and now he recognizes the choice was never his. He opens himself back up to the Force. He connects with his sister. He is pulled back into the fight.
When he sees Leia and apologizes for his failures and his fear, she forgives him and tells him that she knows it’s time to give up on her son, that he’s gone for good. Luke replies with his finest kernel of wisdom yet—“No one’s ever really gone.” And it’s important to clarify, he doesn’t mean that he’s going to drag his nephew back and forcibly turn him to the light side with hugs and a batch of homemade soup. Luke understands that aspects of people—the good, the bad, the forgotten, the hidden—don’t disappear just because they change. That people who die and fade away leave pieces of themselves behind. That they are all one with the Force, and so they are never truly diminished. And at those words, he prepares to unleash the Luke Skywalker of years past. The Good Man who once blew up a Death Star, who defeated an Emperor without ever laying a hand on him, who believed he could train the next generation to be better than the last.
He steps outside with his lasersword to take on the whole First Order.
Every hero has a superpower, even the ones who don’t exist between the pages of comic books. Some have words, some have technical know-how. Some are very strong, others are wise beyond measure. The thing that makes Luke Skywalker the guy who can get this done is his possession of a particular superpower. But it’s not his ability to use the Force, or fly an X-Wing, or talk jovially with astromech droids.
No, Luke Skywalker’s superpower is—has always been—compassion.


All of his strengths, and indeed his foibles, are bound up in compassion. When Luke makes mistakes it is because he cannot put his concern for others aside and still function—rushing off to Cloud City and accidentally confronting Darth Vader before he’s fully trained, or fearing for the galaxy at large when he looks into his nephew’s mind and sees what he has become. And when he does what is needed, it is that same compassion guiding his actions—insisting on rescuing a princess he has never met in the midst of an enemy battle station he has just boarded, or leaving the Rebels on Endor to try and convince his father to turn away from the dark side.
Luke Skywalker’s greatest asset was never his desire to become a Jedi—it was his desire to look beyond outward appearances and access what lies beneath. A lost sister behind a fearless rebel leader. A dear heart behind a sarcastic space pirate. A lonely old man behind half-truths told from a certain point of view. A trapped soul withering under layers of machinery, anger, and sorrow. That he can use the Force is entirely secondary; Luke Skywalker became a hero because of his heart.
Compassion is one of the greatest attributes a person can possess. It is the antidote to shortsightedness and cruelty. But we should never make the mistake of thinking that compassion is synonymous with niceness. Kindess, too, is not niceness. But audiences expected Luke to be nice in The Last Jedi. He’s the hero, after all. Heroes are supposed to behave, to show courtesy, to model the attributes we associate with goodness and civility. Ergo, Luke Skywalker should be nice to Rey. He should be nice to Ben Solo. He should shake hands with each member of the Resistance and smile until his face hurts.
But heroes are people, remember? And niceness has never defeated demons.
When the time comes, Luke Skywalker faces Ben Solo with clear and enduring compassion. But not niceness, because that wouldn’t turn Ben’s heart in any case. While Luke failed him years back by surrendering to a moment of sheer panic, it doesn’t change the fact that the boy he trained was headed down this path with or without his input. Snoke leads Rey to believe that Ben had a different possible future, that he has always been conflicted, but the truth of the matter is far simpler and more painful to stomach.
You see, Anakin Skywalker never wanted to be Darth Vader. It was a mantle that he was strapped into against his will. But Ben Solo wants to be Kylo Ren with every fiber of his being.
Luke knows he cannot use the same script here that he used on his father, cannot chip away at a facade born of lies and unimaginable pain. Ben chose to be here because this is the destiny he longed for, and so Luke can only tell him the truth: that killing the people you love doesn’t erase them from existence. That one petulant temper isn’t enough to bring down the Resistance. That Rey has all the knowledge she requires to pick up where the Jedi left off, and do it better than Luke ever could. He shows his nephew compassion by offering closure, but also by refusing to placate him. He isn’t nice—but he is kind.

And at the same time, he shows compassion for the whole galaxy by giving them what they need: the sight of Luke Skywalker joining the fight one last time to save the Resistance. Leia always understood this best, raised as a princess and mired in symbols her entire life. She knows what legends are, what heroes are for. She didn’t call on Luke because she thought he could fix this terrible mess—she knows better than anyone how tenuous hope can be and what revives it. The names, the history, the stories…
“General Kenobi, years ago you served my father in the Clone Wars.”
“The Jedi were the guardians of peace and justice in the Old Republic. Before the dark times. Before the Empire.”
“This is the ship that made the Kessel Run in fourteen parsecs?”
Luke Skywalker is the greatest hero the galaxy has to offer because he understands better than anyone that heroes are people. That being a legend isn’t really about what you do, but why you do it and who you do it for. And that is exactly what I expect from the character I spent years trying to emulate, to learn from. Luke Skywalker is still and always my hero because he knows that is his explicit role in the universe—to be what I need. To give me hope. To soothe my fears with his unflappable presence. To face down monsters and brush imaginary dust from his shoulder and keep my friends safe from harm.
Heroes are people. But it takes a very special sort of person to uphold that status for others when you are called upon. The Last Jedi is not an assassination of heroism—it is a treatise on why heroes have such power over us. And it answers that question by giving one of our greatest heroes an ending worthy of his name.
Emily Asher-Perrin is apparently not done crying over Luke Skywalker yet. (She’s kidding, she will never be done crying.) You can bug her on Twitter and Tumblr, and read more of her work here and elsewhere.
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Reflect and connect.

Have someone give you a kiss, and tell you that I love you, Mom.

I miss you so very much, Mom.

Talk to you tomorrow, Mom.

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- Days ago = 922 days ago

- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1801.11 - 10:10

NEW (written 1708.27) NOTE on time: I am now in the same time zone as Google! So, when I post at 10:10 a.m. PDT to coincide with the time of your death, Mom, I am now actually posting late, so it's really 1:10 p.m. EDT. But I will continue to use the time stamp of 10:10 a.m. to remember the time of your death, Mom. I know this only matters to me, and to you, Mom.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #919 - Interstellar Overdrive - the bookstore


Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #919 - Interstellar Overdrive - the bookstore

Hi Mom, So, I almost caused an accident when I spotted this bookstore.

I have been told to stop making comparisons between Michigan, even Kalamazoo, and Woodland or Vancouver or even Portland.

Well, Kalamazoo (in fact all of Michigan) does not have something like this: an all-science fiction bookstore!

I used to go off on my own during family trips to find such book stores or make special pilgrimages with friends, such as visiting The Stars Our Destination book store in Chicago, which no longer exists. I had to use the Internet to verify that I was not crazy and that I had visited this place in reality and not my dreams.

Just like Wax Trax, which I know I visited but had to check to make sure it no longer existed: Wiki, official.

Once, during a family trip to Washington DC, while in my teens, I went off on my own to find a SF-only bookstore and ended up in Murderville, Washington DC, something like 20 blocks from the store as that's as close as I could get on the Metro. I have made many journeys to reach such book stores.

So imagine how thrilled I was to find such a store only a few miles from my new home in Vancouver!

The store is actually named "Interstellar Overdrive" after the PINK FLOYD song from Piper at the Gates of Dawn.

I plan many excursions here. I like places with a little disarray.

The place is run by a married couple as seen in the photo. The store has a FACEBOOK PAGE.

I love the selection they have, and they passed my test of having books on the shelf by Edmund Cooper. I knew they would pass my test before I even looked. It's my test for the depth of the selection. I was told that they have 16,000 different titles (not copies, titles).

It's an excellent place.

I want to re-read A Wrinkle in Time, so I had them save a copy for me.

I am sure I will have more to report in future entries.




All classes are in session as of next week (I will have four, finally, for the first time since I moved), and the full intensity Grading Hell starts the following week.

So, in other news, I took some time during my "vacation" to go see the new Star Wars film, The Last Jedi.

I liked it.

I am not sure I fully understand the sully fan ruckus.

I will probably not produce a full review as there are so many other things I have wanted to write and have not, but here's some thoughts.

So yeah, not bad at all. I liked it. I saw it on IMAX with very few people in attendance, which was perfect.

It was long, but it never really dragged. I loved the Leia stuff. I loved that she used the Force. I expected her to die, though, so that was strange. Clearly she was supposed to be in the next film.
I like the Luke story. That was great stuff.
And Kylo Ren was not nearly as annoying as in The Force Awakens.
I could make quibbles, such as Laura Dern's character and her relationship with Leia not being well set up or explored, but at 2 1/2 hrs, that was maybe a sacrifice that was acceptable.

I love the new characters, especially Rose and Poe. I am excited for the next installment, even the in between young Han project directed by Ron Howard!



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Reflect and connect.

Have someone give you a kiss, and tell you that I love you, Mom.

I miss you so very much, Mom.

Talk to you tomorrow, Mom.

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- Days ago = 921 days ago

- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1801.10 - 10:10

NEW (written 1708.27) NOTE on time: I am now in the same time zone as Google! So, when I post at 10:10 a.m. PDT to coincide with the time of your death, Mom, I am now actually posting late, so it's really 1:10 p.m. EDT. But I will continue to use the time stamp of 10:10 a.m. to remember the time of your death, Mom. I know this only matters to me, and to you, Mom.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #918 - Portland Rocks - OHSU and Screen Door


Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #918 - Portland Rocks - OHSU and Screen Door

Hey Mom,

I have always been quite critical of graffiti. In fact, it has been my mission as a teacher to advocate for smart, literate, and even positive graffiti in class rooms throughout my career. When I read a poem with an amazing line, like Emily Dickinson's "she dances like a bomb," I would encourage students to write that in bathroom stalls rather than pictures penises or insulting BS about some woman's status as a "slut."

Liesel had a doctor's appointment on the OHSU campus very early Tuesday morning, and so I agreed to go with her to make the drive easier and less stressful. We left at 6 a.m. and hit traffic a couple of miles from the bridge. All the exits along the I5 feed tons of traffic, Portland-bound into the highway. Once we reached the bridge, the traffic cleared. It was all merging bottleneck, slow-down.

The OHSU campus is up one of Portland's hills, served by the sky gondola, which next time we may take up there.

The hospital is as beautiful as the drive. There are many cool architectural features that Dad would love to see, Mom.

After the appointment, we let the Google-verse guide us to a breakfast place in the Sellwood neighborhood called  SCREEN DOOR.

I was impressed by the graffiti.

I have finally found a part of the country in which all aspects of life fit with my ethics, lifestyle, beliefs, and principles. Portland is that place. My heart may be in Michigan for many reasons -- sports teams being only one such reason -- but my comfort level and affinity for Portland and its people is growing. Yes, the previous sentence is correct if affinity/comfort level is seen as a single thing, which is how I regard it.

Seeing this bit of graffiti in the "WC" -- Screen Door does not have "gendered" bathrooms -- made me so happy. It had the desired effect. It was an uplifting message. It was a beautiful and inspiring thing.

But all the graffiti in that bathroom was positive. That's because Portland and the people of Portland are generally very positive, happy, and good.

Tuesday was a good day.

One of the best yet.

I will share the second reason why Tuesday was so grand tomorrow.

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Reflect and connect.

Have someone give you a kiss, and tell you that I love you, Mom.

I miss you so very much, Mom.

Talk to you tomorrow, Mom.

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- Days ago = 920 days ago

- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1801.09 - 10:10

NEW (written 1708.27) NOTE on time: I am now in the same time zone as Google! So, when I post at 10:10 a.m. PDT to coincide with the time of your death, Mom, I am now actually posting late, so it's really 1:10 p.m. EDT. But I will continue to use the time stamp of 10:10 a.m. to remember the time of your death, Mom. I know this only matters to me, and to you, Mom.