The Last Jedi: Rise of the Flopbuster

The Last Jedi is a heckuva movie, to echo the famously glowing review US President George W Bush gave the FEMA manager who handled a hurricane in New Orleans. It has broken everything it touched: It broke Luke Skywalker, it broke the critics, it broke China, it broke Star Wars itself, and now it’s broken the Internet. For the last month – since the end of December – there’s been an eerie silence spreading across pop culture news websites and social media. There’s also been a loud and angry fanbase, but the professional media have been deliberately silencing and diverting attention away form this.

It’s early to call, but I think this silence will in retrospect turn out to be a very large mistake.

Of course I may be terribly mistaken when I say this movie ‘broke Star Wars itself’. The First Franchise of Blockbuster Motion Pictures is hard to kill; George Lucas gave it a darn good shot with the Prequels and yet, like Han Solo in the Special Edition, it just dodged and came back stronger. We all assume Disney will be able to crank out five, six, ten of the things, Star Wars until the world ends. They’ve only made three so far. What’s one bad film, even assuming it is bad?

It’s just that, if you’ll pardon the expression, I have a bad feeling. If you squint past the professional critics and look at the ‘underground’ review sites (a good one is Rotten Tomatoes User Reviews) you see that for some people – and we still don’t know how many, but I’m one – this is a very, very bad movie. So bad it’s killed any desire even to watch the next one for obsessive completeness (nobody does obsessive completeness like Star Wars fans; the Prequels weeded out all the weaklings).

* was just dumb, it breaks my heart at how bad this is..
* Arrgh, the more I think about this movie. The more I get disappointed. Just like Star Trek into Darkness killed the Star Trek franchise . I think this movie just killed Star War
* Such a disappointment. I think many fans who watched and idolized Luke Skywalker when they were children will be repulsed by the weak, pointless ending of their childhood hero.
* Absolutely dire. Words escape me how truly abysmal this film is. My 40 year love affair with Star Wars is finally over.
* It leaves no investment for Episode 9. None. And this is allegedly part 2 of a trilogy. But it doesn’t advance the story, apart from one character (but only just).

I suspect these feelings being expressed are real because this is how I feel. For the first time in my life I have no desire to see another Star Wars movie, ever. Worse, the movie didn’t even end on a cliffhanger. It resolved all its threads; it left its protagonists (such as they are) with neither danger nor hope. We don’t like them, any of them. We feel no impulse to care about their lives beyond this point. There’s just… nothing left. All is vanity, folly and a chasing after the wind.

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The Last Jedi: On Letting The Past Die, Or Killing It

In 1977, George Lucas, his wife Marcia, and a few close friends made something extraordinary. For 40 years we’ve been unable to stop thinking about the strange little comic book movie that could, Star Wars.

In 1999, Lucas released a new film – The Phantom Menace – that failed as spectacularly as Star Wars had succeeded. It made Star Wars fans angry. But it didn’t stop us thinking about it. We were consumed with how to fix the Prequels. How the Original Trilogy was so good when the Prequels were so bad. What bizarre kabalistic art theories might be constructed in which the storytelling of the Prequels made any kind of sense?

But in 2017, finally, Rian Johnson has achieved the feat even Lucas couldn’t: He’s managed to make me – and many others – just plain not want any Star Wars anymore.

(There are spoilers and wrong opinions beyond the jump).

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Increasingly Inaccurately Named

Well, that was (un)expected. My 80s synthpop playlist project is now a quadrilogy.

I’d been thinking since the last one that I did have quite a few loose ends left over from Tomorrow, mostly on the Space and New Age themes, but it’s taken me several months to find enough puzzle pieces in Youtube’s junk drawer to be able to fit something together that worked for me, thematically and musically. And again maintaining the ‘concept playlist’ fiction that it’s a soundtrack to a cyberpunk science fiction film series that was never made.

But yay, we have liftoff at last! This one really does bring the project to a close, I think: I have Tomorrow, sort of generalised widescreen space opera, which then unpacks into a thematic trilogy on nuclear war, rebellion, and transformation. 16 tracks each (because it’s synthpop, it has to be a power of 2) at about an hour each, 48 tracks in total. Until the tide washes in and the Youtube sandcastles fall.

This one is a little slower and more meditative, due to its more New Age themes, but there’s still a pop and Italo Disco thread running through it.

If you missed the first post with the other three, here they are:

1. Tomorrow (58 minutes)

1. Radiant Energy (64 minutes)

2. Solid State Revolution (55 mins)


4. Now They Are Dreams (57 minutes)

01. Instant Music – Everybody’s Gotta Mutate (1981, Germany)
02. Synthi and Gert – Sister Susie’s Synthesizer (1978, Germany)
03. Blondie – Fade Away and Radiate (1978, USA)
04. Freur – Doot-Doot (1983, Wales)
05. Daemion – Human Arcade (1982, England)
06. Delia Derbyshire – Mattachin (1963, England)
07. Eurythmics – It’s Alright (Baby’s Coming Back) (1985, England)
08. Spectral Display – You Don’t Know (1982, Netherlands)
09. Donna Summer – I Feel Love (1977, USA)
10. The Techno Orchestra – Mechanical Ballet (1982, England)
11. Monsoon – Wings of the Dawn (Prem Kravita) (1982, England)
12. Planetary Peace – Medicine Wheel (1980, USA)
13. Telepathic – We Are Telepathique (1982, France)
14. Suzanne Ciani – System 55 (2015, USA)
15. Peter Schilling – Major Tom (Coming Home) (1982, Germany)
16. Katrina and the Waves – Love Shine A Light (1997, England)

Dataspace 9: A Tower of Nulls, And Awkward Sets

Dataspace 0: Those Memex Dreams Again
Dataspace 1: In Search of a Data Model
Dataspace 2: Revenge of the Data Model
Dataspace 3: It Came From The S-Expressions
Dataspace 4: The Term-inator

I want a Memex. Roughly, I want some kind of personal but shareable information desktop where I can enter very small pieces of data, cluster them into large chunks of data, and – most importantly – point to any of these small pieces of data from any of these chunks.

‘Pointable data’ needs a data model. The data model that I am currently exploring is what I call term-expressions (or T-expressions): a modified S-expression syntax and semantics that allows a list to end with (or even simply be, with no preceding list) a logical term in the Prolog sense.

Looking at term-expressions, one of the first things we notice is that there are a large number of null-like terms. I’m wondering what the meaning of these varieties of null might be.

  • The simplest null-like term is the nil pair or empty list: ()
  • The next one is the empty term : (/)
  • Then we have the empty set (if can think of /all as a set) or empty union:  (/all)
  • Then, for every other term functor X, the empty X: (/X)

An interesting question is whether terms correspond to types, (and if so, in what particular type system) or whether the notion of ‘type’ is unrelated to what we’re looking at here.

Continue reading Dataspace 9: A Tower of Nulls, And Awkward Sets