Best Buy: I’m Done With You

I am a reasonable guy, but I’ve spent approximately 5 hours today either on hold, explaining the situation over and over again, or getting transferred to Citibank which is on my side of this issue.

So, I’ll explain this one last time before sending you packing permanently.

Today, I used the Best Buy app on my phone to make a purchase with my Best Buy Credit Card provided by Citibank. It’s the store card, the one that’s only usable at Best Buy and I’ve had it for a number of years. I have a $2,000.00 limit, and had a balance of approximately $1,250 at the start of this story of woe. So, basically I had about $750 available credit, which was sufficient for my purchase.

I added a Logitech 4k webcam, and two SteelSeries Apex Pro keyboards (one for me, one for my girlfriend) to my cart. Because I was feeling rather generous and like a sucker, I added a $10.00 donation to St. Jude Children’s Hospital and Best Buy’s Geek Squad extended warranty to all of the physical items I was ordering. The grand total, including taxes, was approximately $567.76, which is fine, because it’s below the approximate $750.00 I had available. All was well and I checked out.

About 3 minutes after I made the purchase, I got an email and a text saying that I needed to update my payment information. I was confused. I checked to make sure the purchase was on my Best Buy Credit Card, which I have used numerous times before, and it was. I checked to make sure the billing address on the card was correct, it was. I checked the account balance and saw that there was an easily explained mystery, but it lead me down the right path: The account balance still showed $1,25x, the limit showed $2,000, but the available credit was just about $180. The easily explained mystery of the discrepancy is no real mystery at all: Citibank had approved the purchase. But since they had the discrepancy, I decided to call them first and confirm the purchase went through.

So, after almost no time on hold at all, I started speaking with the first Citibank customer service representative that confirmed that the purchase was completely fine, and that they had the exact purchase amount for the main transaction ($557.76) and it was approved. They were happy. I was moderately happy and I was about to hang up. Instead of hanging up, I asked if they could give me the authorization codes for the purchase and they happily provided them. So, needless to say, Citibank is not on my shit list.

I then called Best Buy’s customer service, was given an expected hold time of less than 3 minutes, which was actually about 20 minutes. No big deal, that happens especially with customer service around the big shopping dates like Christmas. I got to the rep, and explained the situation, cheerfully providing my account information and a summary of what appears to have happened. He looked at the account and vehemently denied that there was any problem between their system and Citibank. “The order failed for some reason,” he told me, and suggested I take it up with Citibank. I explained that I had just spoken with them and they approved it. He said he’d put me in touch with the payment department and transferred me. To Citibank. I confirmed that this was, indeed, Citibank and confirmed with them that the order had been successful, then called Best Buy back.

Same hold music, same 3 minute expected wait, same ~20 minute wait, different rep. Explained the situation again, and was again told that this was an issue with Citibank. Oh! I forgot something! The first and second reps had retried the transaction without telling me, and decided it was a problem with Citibank or that I was too close to my limit because their attempts to retry it failed. That’s where my [starting] account balance, the successful charge, and my credit limit come into play… So, if I have an effective balance (starting balance and successful charge) of approximately $1,800.00, it doesn’t take a mathematics degree to know that an additional purchase of $557 would not go through because of the $2,000 limit. Before I realized that they were hitting the retry button, I was transferred to Citibank for the second time.

My third trip through Best Buy’s hold system was initiated at my request by Citibank and it was the first time I got in touch with someone that actually understood what I was telling them and made an effort to get me in touch with a manager. Here’s a little secret that most people don’t think about when calling customer service or technical support: the first line of “defense,” as it were — the front lines answering the telephone or responding via chats — have basically no power. Their jobs are to take information down, see if they can solve the problem, provide canned answers, and, when really pressed, to escalate the situation to the next level, usually a supervisor or manager. This third person understood that there was really nothing he could do for me after I explained everything, and told him that his retrying the payment wasn’t solving anything because of the effective balance on the account and my limit. He attempted to get me in touch with a manager for the better part of the 45 minutes we were on the phone before we got disconnected. He was the first (and possibly only) person that documented what was going on with the order. I wish I remembered his name so I could at least give him a pat on the back rather than the middle finger that I’m giving to Best Buy as a whole from here on out.

In any case, this particular gentleman did manage to speak to a supervisor that suggested that I cancel the order and place it again with a different payment method. The problem with that is that because Best Buy’s order system doesn’t acknowledge that Citibank successfully charged my account for the order, it would not be refunded with Citibank, and I’d end up paying for the order twice: once now and once over time with Citibank. That’s a nonstarter. It’s possible that after 3 days, that Citibank will cancel the purchase because Best Buy didn’t follow up on it in any way, but Citibank’s reps were quite confident that I would see the purchase in 3 days on my credit card statement because everything looked perfectly routine and normal from their side. I pointed this out to this fine rep and he agreed with me. He put me on hold again to speak with his supervisor and then I was disconnected a short while later.

Call number four was the same routine: wait 20+ minutes, identify myself, explain the situation again, but this time the rep had the added benefit of seeing the previous guy’s notes. This time, I was put on hold and ended up getting transferred to Geek Squad, Best Buy’s technical support people. Neither they nor I have any idea why the hell I was transferred to technical support. The decent human being at Geek Squad also told me that #4 had added to my order information that I had been charged twice for the order. I told him I had not, just that I didn’t want to pay for this order twice. We spoke for a bit, he apologized to me constantly, and tried to get me in touch with the Purchase Support team. I’m not sure if I ever actually spoke with them because the remaining calls that I’m not going to cover involved additional disconnects (which I suspect were deliberate), more transfers to Citibank, and way too much aggravation as I kept getting promised to speak to or receive a call from a manager.

Again, to the third guy’s credit, I did receive one call back from Best Buy while I was on the phone with someone else, but no message was left, let alone contact information for following up.

In total, I spent over 5 hours on the phone trying to get this resolved today, and accomplished nothing except the realization that I’d much rather give Jeff “Dr Evil” Bezos my money than set foot in or spend another dime with Best Buy. Once my Best Buy Credit Card by Citibank is paid off (which I’m going to do in the next month), I’m done with Best Buy.

Now, if some manager or executive would like to reach out to me and help me get this sorted, I’ll gladly speak with you/them, but I’m not holding my breath. All I wanted to do was get the order fixed, get the merchandise Citibank and I agree I paid for, and call it a day, but that’s clearly not possible with Best Buy’s customer service system.

Oh, one more thing… After the last straw, I called Citibank to ask them to dispute/charge-back the purchase (which will have to wait a few days), and in all, Best Buy’s various representatives tried retrying the purchase a total of 11 times today, most of which were after I explained how the math works.

A Dreamlight Valley Conspiracy Theory

Before I go any further with this, I’m just making this up for fun, not to ruin anyone’s day or experience with the game. Frankly and honestly, I started playing it on Wednesday and I’m probably enjoying it as much as everyone else is. This conspiracy theory of mine popped up last weekend when I was teasing my girlfriend, and I immediately apologized to her for the way I could see it was making her feel. So, please don’t let this post ruin your experience or opinion of the game, just take it in the spirit I’m presenting it: a bit of fun with a little thought behind the premise. Oh and SPOILERS!!!

Continue reading

The Torch Has Been Passed

I could sit here and talk about everything that is Avengers: Endgame but I’d rather not. This will be adjacent though; as the title says, the torch has been passed to the next generation, or in MCU-speak, phase. You know me, I’m not going to speak honestly without spoilers, I’m just going to speak honestly. This is your first and last chance to stop reading.

So, the status at the culmination of Endgame: Vision, Iron Man, and Black Widow are dead, Steve Rogers retired, having passed on the Captain America title to Sam Wilson (Falcon), and Thor ran off with the Guardians of the Galaxy. Hulk probably will continue to live the celebrity life, Hawkeye looking out for and raising his family. All the other characters are alive and presumably well, and not likely done with their adventures; or so we can expect from the known movie schedule.

What more is there to say?

A lot actually. There are multiple hints that this is not the end of the Avengers saga… Certainly not the individual members, but also for the team as a whole.

The first hint was that Tony made a set of armor for Pepper as a birthday gift or anniversary present or whatever. We know she got it because of her appearance in the film’s climax. Second, while he was already a hero and Avenger, Sam is now Cap. Third, Thor made a joke when aboard the Milano with the Guardians, “Asgardians of the Galaxy”, which happens to be a very real comic Marvel is doing, where Asgardians joined forces with the Guardians.

But I think the biggest hint is the one no one saw… But heard. Although I didn’t stay through the end credits myself, I was aware of the sound of metal clanging at the end of the credits. This, as many people of pointed out, it’s very reminiscent of Tony’s work on the first prototype in the first Iron Man film. There’s a simple reason for it… The cycle begins anew.

Valkyrie will take the place of Thor on Earth; Thor handed her the throne of Asgard before he left. Sam is the new Cap. So who is the new Iron Man? Well… It would be easy to say Pepper; she has the suit, is familiar with the capabilities, has Tony’s lab, and undoubtedly support from the other Avengers and Rhody (War Machine). But I’m going to go out on a limb, using the Marvel Comics links I’ve mentioned already, and say Riri Williams, the spiritual successor Tony already had in the comics introduced a few years ago. She currently goes by the name Ironheart, and here’s why I think she’ll take Stark’s place.

But first, a full disclosure… I only know what I’ve read of Ironheart and what I believe of her. I have not read any of the comics in which she appears, not because of how I feel about her or what she represents, but just because I haven’t bought any comics since before she was introduced. I keep minor tabs on them; I was a big Iron Man, War Machine, West Coast Avengers/Avengers West Coast fan back in the day, and frankly I like the idea of Ironheart.

So here’s why I think she’s up… While a lot of us really liked Tony Stark as portrayed by RDJ, a lot of people were not fans of his money, his ego, his personality. Tony’s chief advantage was also his greatest weakness: he was rich and had advantages no one else did as a result. From little I know about Riri, she came from the exact opposite background. She didn’t have money or power, she had her mind, curiosity, and strength of her beliefs to recreate the Iron Man technology but herself. She’s self built, from scratch, disadvantaged all the way. More importantly, not only is she a woman, she’s black. Part of the criticism of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is the lack of gender and racial diversity. That has greatly improved since Black Panther, but there’s always room to do more. Riri Williams, Ironheart, is both. The sound of metal being pounded is the sound of the cycle starting again with Riri creating her first suit of armor. The metaphorical, and quite possibly literal, torch being passed is, in my opinion, to Miss Williams who will take her place along side the new Captain, the new Asgardian monarch, and all the Avengers the MCU has collected over the years.

So… What do you think?

Spiderman: Into The Spiderverse

Spiderman was never my hero. Don’t get me wrong, I never disliked him… He just wasn’t my spirit animal, as it were. He was one of the many, many heroes I saw and respected, even liked. But he’s not the one I wanted to grow up to be. Superman was that guy… Now before you go and get upset thinking I’m in the DC side of that great DC-Marvel holy war, I owned and read far more Marvel comics than I did DC, but the thing is I read what I liked to read, and I looked up to who I wanted to be. For me, that was Superman/Captain America, though I recognize and respect the fact that we live in a world that needs Batman/Iron Man more. (Someday I’ll make my case for those parallels here, but this is about Spidey, so…)

I have friends that are diehard Spiderman fans, and I have frequently tried to stay awake while they explained why he’s the best. I have to admit that I loved a number of the mythos’s villains, and found a number of the stories interesting. But it wasn’t mine or for me. I kept in touch with it primarily for the various connections to the X-Men and Avengers, but I don’t think I ever ran out and bought a Spiderman t-shirt or hat or even keychain. I enjoyed, for the most part, the Toby McGuire films — Thomas Hayden Church’s Sandman was the best character in any of them though! Fight me! — but I couldn’t even tell you the name of the guy in the Amazing Reboots. And I’m not interested enough to look it up. I think Tom Holland, if he can keep himself from being banned from Hollywood films, is doing a great job as the current iteration, but still, Spiderman just wasn’t really for me.

I saw the trailer for Into The Spiderverse early this year, I don’t remember what movie it was in front of, but I thought the art style and idea was a bit weird. I mentally wrote it off, and wrongly assumed it was a videogame.

I just got out of the theater and all I can say is Spiderman still isn’t “my hero”, but this is my Spiderman movie.

I already knew of Miles Morales and his status as “ultimate Spiderman”, though honestly I didn’t know much about him. I also knew about Spider Gwen, and there’s some part of my brain that remembers Peter Porker… But what I didn’t anticipate was how well all these different takes on Spiderman would work together, and not feel redundant. Hell, at least 3 of the Spidermen present in the film were different versions of Peter Parker himself, just from different eras or different lengths of time having been there web slinger we all know. My favorite version, honestly, was Noir Spiderman, who was simply put, black and white in terms of costume and morals, and in his own words, the wind goes wherever he goes… So his trenchcoat was perpetually flapping in the wind. And as luck would have it, he was voiced by Nick Cage… God bless him!

Any way, the different takes on the character were just one facet of the film. It wouldn’t be a Spiderman film without a heavy dose of morality, character building for both the audience and the hero, and the moment of truth/rise to the occasion birth of the hero climax. We get that. We get that in a lot of films, frankly. But it was different in Spiderverse because it was actually fun instead of intense or over the top. The film made it a point to show that Miles is a kid and that none of the other Spider-peeps expected him to just go out and fight the bad guy. Peter even points out that he just wasn’t ready yet towards the end of the film. Perhaps in one of the most grown up moments I’ve seen in a comic book based movie, I’m an animated movie period, Peter chooses to sacrifice himself to save all the other Spider-peeps because it was the only way since Miles wasn’t ready. And he demonstrates to the kid that he just wasn’t ready without being brutal or unfair.

I’m rambling and have lost all sense of form but suffice it to say, I liked this movie. I’ll be happy to add it to my collection once it’s available.

It’s Time to Invoke the 25th Amendment

I try not to talk politics, period. Like religion, politics is one of the most divisive subjects that can be discussed. It can turn brother against brother, mother against daughter, and civilized human beings into raving lunatics. I very rarely bring it up in face to face conversations with friends and family, and discuss politics even less on social media or my websites.

That said, it’s time to invoke the 25th amendment of the Constitution.

If it wasn’t already clear to the majority of my fellow citizens of the United States, Donald Trump from the moment he started his presidential campaign has repeatedly said exactly what the audience in front of him at the time has wanted to hear, unashamedly contradicting himself when it would bring cheers. He proved during the campaign that he had no grasp of the actual powers and limitations of the office and he continues to believe, or at least speak as if he believes, that the law serves the president and that said president is above the law, that the government serves the president and should do what he wants without question or debate (as if he were a king or emperor), and that whatever isn’t positive about him or he dislikes is fake, illegal, or a conspiracy. Anytime someone stands up to him or fails to perform as he expects, he screams of disloyalty and that they’re criminals and need to be turned over for prosecution, even when no law has actually been broken.

Mr Trump would much prefer that justice and the department of that name serve him and his needs. From the earliest days after he took office, his appointees have been investigated, indicted, convicted, and sentenced, and that’s without the probe into his campaign and it’s possible (and very likely) ties to Russia. Factor Putin into the picture, and Trump is actively working to prevent the justice department from doing its job which, given our due process system, puts the presumption of innocence on his side. He can’t take the chance that they’ll actually find enough evidence to act against him so he’s actively trying to stop the investigation. The only reason that makes sense is because there is indeed evidence that would bring him down.

With the number of his own appointees leaving (perhaps “fleeing” is a better word) the White House regularly, some of which brokering deals with the justice department or with publishers, the book by legendary journalist Bob Woodward, and one of Trump’s senior officials admitting [anonymously] that there’s a group actively working to keep him in line… Trump is clearly not fit to serve as President.

This goes beyond being a Democrat or Republican. We Democrats lost the election, big deal, we still want what’s best for the country. The Republicans in Congress have been trying to keep Mr Trump in check since the inauguration, trying to make him operate and appear like a normal president should and would, denouncing his behavior and comments only when absolutely necessary, but only putting in the bare minimum effort in pushing his agenda. We know that a Republican lead Congress with a Republican president can do a lot together; it happened with George W. Bush, but this Congress seems awfully reluctant to even try. The reason is simply that they’re trying to out last him.

We have reached a point where enough people on both sides of the political spectrum in this company agree on the issue of whether or not Trump should sit in the oval office, and I think the answer is clearly “no, he shouldn’t.” While impeachment has long been the dirty word most Democrats haven’t wanted to use, it is clear that it’s no longer necessary. Invoke the 25th amendment; the president is too mentally unstable and incapable to serve the office and the people of the United States.

I miss the internet

As the title says, I miss the internet. No, I haven’t been away from my computer, my tablet, or my phone for a while. I haven’t given up being a tech addicted brat. I just mean that the internet that we have today is not the internet I used to know.

I didn’t grow up on the internet. There was no world wide web when I was a kid. Email was barely getting standardized when I was born. You couldn’t view pictures online when I first got connected unless you had a rare but specialized client or knew a few tricks. You had to download the file to your computer using a file transfer protocol like X, Y, or Z modem, then use a utility to view them. There was no video to be found.

More importantly, there wasn’t nearly as much negativity, hate, misinformation or outright lies on the internet.

My internet thrived on dozens of different services, enabling people to chat with one another. While that still can be done, perhaps even more efficiently than in those days, the mediums are now saturated with messages of anger and hate no matter the subject. On my internet, two people that vigorously disagreed with one another could still maintain civility and discuss the subject without threats, SWAT’ing, or even foul language. Perhaps people were just better on my internet and in my youth.

The problem with the internet came with the eased ability to access it. When it was difficult to find an internet service provider and few people even heard of the internet, people valued the contacts they made and communications they had. There was little or no spam in those days, and people made valiant efforts to provide facts and truth on the services back then. Sure, there was still illegal activity even then, the Usenet newsgroups were just as filled with illegal content as they are now, but more often than not, the internet was a welcoming place, friendly to most if not everyone.

Then along came the web, providing an ease of use the internet hadn’t known, and binding together or replacing many of the services we’d known. With ease of use came more users, with more users came the bullshit humanity always drags along with it. Hate. Greed. Lies and deception. Crime.

I’m not saying I don’t like the last twenty years worth of development on the internet, but I am saying that it would be a lot better place if people would stop being the worst people they can be on it and in the real world, and start trying to be civil again. Stop the hate; there’s no reason to hate or hurt anyone. Listen to opinions other than your own or those that agree with you. Even if you don’t change your mind, there’s almost always something to learn and have less to fight about because you have put in some effort to understanding. Stop the pointless hate of celebrities that acted in some movie you didn’t like; they probably didn’t write their parts, they just played them out. If you don’t like it, don’t see it or its franchise if it has one. Don’t make celebrities into gods… For fucks sake, no one should become rich and powerful because someone stole or leaked a tape of them having sex!

Try to be better people. That’s what I’m saying. Try to be better people and that will translate and transform the internet. Please. I miss the way things used to be.

Update March 11, 2019: It seems that the father of the web doesn’t disagree with me.

Donald Trump’s Cult of Personality

Cult of Personality (Wikipedia):

cult of personality arises when an individual uses mass media, propaganda, or other methods to create an idealized, heroic, and at times worshipful image, often through unquestioning flattery and praise.

With less than 30 days to go in the United States’ 2016 presidential elections, it finally occurred to me what’s really going on. While one candidate is a legitimate but flawed politician, the other has seriously and continuously appeared to be a lunatic that needs mental help and yet has some how managed to make it to the final round of the greatest and most grave stage.
For months, I’ve attributed Trump’s successes to the fringe of society that blindly support their favorite celebrities. These are the people that made Paris Hilton and the entire Kardashian family famous and keep them stuck in the headlines. Most people, I’d wager, don’t give a damn about these celebrities that are famous for nothing, yet none of us can fully escape hearing about them on a regular basis without seeming like lunatics ourselves.

But then along comes Donald Trump, who was given a platform to reinvigorate his celebrity status with The Apprentice. Because he’s been a businessman — successful or not depends on the eye of the beholder — this same fringe celebrity worshipping group takes him seriously and ignores what a terrible human being he is.

That is the textbook definition of a cult of personality. This is why so many Republican politicians got eliminated from the 2016 campaign for president. It had absolutely nothing to do with their qualifications, their platform, or outlook but had everything to do with essentially mass hysteria and the strengthening of the Trump Reality Distortion Field as the numbers in the cult swelled.

And you know what? That’s not even the worst part. In some tiny, unloved dark part of my soul, I actually kind of feel bad for Trump. He doesn’t see that he’s surrounded himself with Yes Men that tell him everything and only that he wants to hear. A Yes Man, as you might guess, only gives positive answers to their employers, they’re enablers in the worst sense of the word. A Yes Man would willingly lie to their boss or champion despite overwhelming facts because it’s their job on the line. As an example, Trump’s senior campaign staff refused to tell him that he lost the first debate for days afterwards, kept feeding him unscientific poll results that told him he won overwhelmingly, and then slowly started informing him otherwise as the week went on. Similarly, one of Trump’s own sons tweeted an electoral count map from Five Thirty Eight today showing him leading Clinton nation wide, when the truth of the map was that it was with a specific set of male only voters. (The map with all voters represented showed that Trump was losing by more than 100 electoral votes.)

The bottom line is that because Trump has been the rich boss literally for decades, he doesn’t have a soul around him to tell him the truth. That’s how he can go out and make bold statements that are completely false, or outright lie… He has no one to set him straight and make it mean something to him. If he doesn’t like what he hears, he fires the person and moves on. There’s no one that can hold him accountable so he has lost the ability to distinguish between fact and fiction. He has lost the ability to be ethical and to make moral decisions.

That’s why that tiny bit of my soul feels sorry for Donald Trump.

While I am a Democrat, I’m not voting for Hilary because I think she’s the perfect candidate. (My candidate was Bernie.) I’m voting for her because I don’t want to see what a country lead by a delusional, detached madman would look like. Hilary was not the best candidate for president, in my opinion, but she’s the best of what’s left. She and her husband have actively helped the black community of which I’m a part, and appreciatively the city of Detroit, which gave birth to me. I respect her ability and determination to do what’s right, and more importantly, she knows what it’s like to work hard for something and to watch as it falls apart due to no fault of her own. Donald Trump, on the other hand, only looks for advantages for himself, and when he fails, his Yes Men make everything alright for him so he doesn’t have to deal with the outcome of his failure.

I wonder how he’ll deal with his failure to become president. How will those Yes Men clean this up?

Castle: A Questionable End

(I wrote this a while back, when it was timely but never posted it. I felt I needed more time to digest the series finale before publishing it, but in the end, I still feel the same. So, here it is at long last.)

Last night, the final episode of one of my all time favorite shows aired, and I came away disappointed. I understand that there were cast problems, or at least rumors of such, in the last weeks of filming, but the whole episode was something of a mess.
The thing that bothered me most about the episode is that both Castle and Beckett not only looked a bit odd but behaved that way too. There was just something about their individual appearances that just didn’t look right, and I suppose it could be traced back to the rumors, whether true or not, of the fights Fillion and Katic had been having. Or maybe it was a deliberate action on the parts of the makeup department in an attempt to show the stress the two characters were experiencing. I can’t say. Hell, I can’t even say what it is about their appearances that didn’t look right. But the characters’ appearances were wrong and there was something about both the script and performances that didn’t gel well either.
The whole episode felt forced, which I suppose it was. The ending was especially bad; while they triumphed over yet another bad guy, both were shot and, in my opinion, appeared to be mortally wounded. Yet, seconds after they clasped hands while bleeding out on the floor, we got an ellipsis, passage of seven years, and little children running about the happy couple’s home.
I don’t know whether to consider that trite, a stab at a choose your own ending storytelling, or an indication that the narrator is unreliable. In any case, the explanations fall short for me.
Though I would have loved to have Castle and Beckett live out their lives with children, everything after them bleeding on the floor rang even more hollow than the rest of the episode.
Frankly, this was not the ending I expected or feel the fans of the show deserved, whether or not the couple lived or died. This was a very u n-Castle episode, and I can only be happy there will be no follow-up to explain what really happened there. Like a novel, the book of Castle is closed for me and I’ll remember the many chapters with great fondness, though I’ll forevermore wish I’d never read the ending.

So, I Didn’t Hate It…

Due to circumstances beyond my control, I was not a part of the Star Wars: The Force Awakens record breaking opening though I did see the film today. I liked it. Like, in fact, isn’t a strong enough word; I was impressed with it. Enough, in fact to see it twice today. This is the first time ever that I’ve paid to see the same movie twice in theaters on the same day. (Albeit, once was in IMAX and the other wasn’t, though both were in 3D.)
My summary is that it was a very enjoyable film and I found no major issues with it. A friend nitpicked a particular point where the Resistance didn’t attack some First Order ships, to which I countered the First Order was kind enough to not attack the Millennium Falcon despite the precedence they set earlier in the film. Nonetheless, that was the only item I think is really worth considering a possible flaw.
There is the presumed death of a major character that I think is worth discussing. Contrary to my normal spoiler laden attitude, I’m going to avoid specifics, but this particular character dies in a fashion that leaves room for debate as to whether he or she is actually dead. The thing is, even though we see the attack that leads to the presumption of death, we don’t see the final disposition of the body and there are two objects at the location that could be escape vehicles. In film, the presumption of death is but actual death; usually the body has to be seen laying dead with on screen to be actual death. Given the actor’s health and age, I think that the character may have actually died despite what I’m saying here, but there’s a chance, however slight the odds, that he or she might have lived. To quote Han Solo, “never tell me the odds”, usually because they can be beaten.
Now to the heart of this post… As much as I enjoyed the film, as good as I thought it was, there was no need it necessity to invalidate all of the expanded universe comics and novels. No need at all. With some relatively minor changes to the movie we got, the film could’ve been consistent with the novels leading up to and including the Fate of the Jedi series of novels without destroying the plot. You could make the argument that FotJ is built on 20+ actual years covering 30+ book years and thus too much baggage to carry into the new trilogy, but then The Force Awakens and its new trilogy is reinventing those fictional 30 years from scratch, and still has to explain what happened. It could be argued that it was too much work to research and properly place all that lore in context in order to write the script, but for the bulk of the Star Wars fans, that lore has been Star Wars since the original run of Jedi ended decades ago, and the effort to include and build on it would have been appreciated so much more than simply giving us a good film. Instead, there are a lot of rabid fans like myself that enjoyed this film, but are sitting on 30+ books that are now completely meaningless. I saw some Force Awakens books at Barnes and Noble, after the second time through, and I couldn’t even bear to read the synopsis because the new LucasFilm, the Disney LucasFilm, is willing to trample all over the memories, dreams and wallets of those that have helped this franchise not only live when there was no hope for new films, but thrive! I can’t abide that by purchasing books or merchandise that would give the impression that I find that forgivable. I just can’t.
Many, many years ago, I accepted that there would be no films beyond the original trilogy. Then Timothy Zahn wrote the Thrawn trilogy (as I call it; Heir to the Empire and its sequels) and I had hope that one day there would be more books and maybe a new film. Lucas then promised the prequels and made them; they weren’t perfect, but I mostly enjoyed them. The books were still there and the films were working in concert with the books; virtually nothing contradicted anything else in the films or the books. The books advanced over 30 years while expanding the events and scale of the characters and conflicts. They delighted and amazed, bringing joy and sorrow and we were thankful for them. Then in one fell swoop, it was all rendered obsolete in favor of the new regime. How can I support that?
I don’t blame J.J. Abrams for it; it probably wasn’t his call or even within the scope of his power or influence though he did build upon the new ground that paved over the Expanded Universe, its creators and writers, and its fans. But I sincerely feel that someone owes those creators, writers, and fans a sincere apology for the loss of both time and money by this abandonment. I think until there is such an apology, there will always be a rift between those of us that supported the Star Wars franchise in the years between the original trilogy and the prequels, between the prequels and the new era, and the new direction of the mythos. There’ll be an open wound that just won’t heal with time.

Jedi Ruined Star Wars? WTF?!?!

I’m writing this post in response to a few of my fellow Cinema Studies majors wrote about on Facebook, How “Return of the Jedi” Ruined “Star Wars” Forever; forgive me for ranting and responding as if I was continuing an already in-progress conversation, because I am. As always, this is my two cents.

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