dark swan review – spoilers

It is time once again to return to the magical beautiful world of Once Upon a Time and do some reviews of Season 5 part 1, in which Emma takes on a new role. Emma is now the Dark One, and there are more than a few consequences to her choice at the end of Season 4. These we will be discussing here in depth, so there will be spoilers. Armed with that knowledge…here we go…

As we begin the episode, even younger Emma is watching the Sword and Stone animated movie at the theater and she steals a candy bar. She is about to indulge when Merlin (as an usher) shows up and gives her a warning not to mess with Excalibur. Love the foreshadowing in the beginning, but I’m not sure that scenario in the best way to set that up.

We then pick up the story from when Season 4 ended, just after Emma becomes the Dark One and vanishes. Hook is crushed and angry at the same time when he is unable to summon her with the dagger. The heroes enlist the help of the Apprentice and after tricking Zelena to open the portal with the Apprentice’s wand, they are able to get to Emma. Even after becoming the Dark One, Emma still unites the heroes in a common cause – but this time she’s the one who needs saving.

Another new thing is the connection of Excalibur to the Dark One’s dagger. This is something I didn’t expect, but it sets up a connection between the heroes’ world and Camelot, which we need to justify the purpose for being in that world and the new characters that we meet. Jennifer Morrison is absolutely killing it as the Dark One, and her scenes with Apparition Rumple were brilliant. I love how Emma’s inner struggle is displayed visually by the devil on her shoulder(Rumple), which he portrays with his awesome evilness.

The new characters add more than a little spice. I can’t point to any miscast characters in the whole history of OUAT, and season 5 brings even more examples of this. King Arthur is just how anyone could have pictured him, although there is an unwelcome surprise as we delve deeper into the Camelot story. Merida is very strong and she was the perfect first opponent for Emma’s first test. This time Emma’s family saves her, and Killian leads the way. It’s amazing how the relationship between Regina and Emma has developed to the point where they understand and trust each other. That she gives Regina the dagger shows a shift in their roles. Standout moments include the expected snark between Regina / Zelena, and the delicious one-liners with Hook and Regina. Regina’s all over this episode and that’s a great thing. All the plot twists and turns almost make you forget about the convenient loss of memory device that has been completely overplayed at this point.

why this all matters

America isn’t easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, ’cause it’s gonna put up a fight. It’s gonna say “You want free speech? Let’s see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who’s standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours. You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country can’t just be a flag; the symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then, you can stand up and sing about the “land of the free”.
-President Andrew Shepard in “The American President”-

This is a quote. From a movie. Written by a screenwriter who was / is probably on the opposite side of the political aisle from me. This was a brilliant speech given by President Andrew Shepard in The American President. At the heart of this nation, at the start of our founding, this is who we were. Do we believe this still? Or do we now live in a country where dissent is not only discouraged, but condemned by those who we have unconscionably given the right to tell us what to think and what to believe. Whether you agree with gay marriage or whether you don’t, both opinions should be respected, and no one should be forced by the government to violate your own beliefs. It’s a legitimate fear in these modern times to believe that this is starting to happen for those who hold strong religious beliefs. Check the daily news. There are more and more stories of religious persecution happening HERE IN AMERICA. It needs to stop. We need to stand up for the rights of free speech and freedom of religion for all, not just those who agree with what’s currently popular. If not now, when?

Respect everyone. Love everyone. But don’t be afraid to stand up for what you believe, no matter how unpopular your opinion may be. Once we surrender to political correctness, we lose our individuality. We lose our souls. Most importantly, we stop fighting the fights that NEED to be fought. We can’t give up. The freedoms we have here in America only exist when they are guarded and passionately defended by each and every one of us. Will you take up this challenge? I will.

once upon a time season 4 finale

Obligatory disclaimers ahead – there will be many spoilers because there is much to discuss about the detailed plot points involved in the Season 4 finale of Once Upon a Time. (Have I mentioned lately how much I adore this show and the way the writers tell these stories?) I’ll give you a minute to escape from this post.

Still here? Good.

First of all, all the OMGs. What the writers did here with the flipped script (heroes acting like villains) is nothing short of brilliant. Some transformations worked better than others, such as Regina playing as the fairytale land version of Snow. I enjoyed watching that version of Regina, and the costume really worked for her. On the other hand, the evil Snow and Charming were truly terrifying. Snow White, in her original bandit role, was a character to be respected for her outlaw skills, but when paired with no moral compass, that made her truly feared as the Evil Queen character.

It was an interesting strategy to make the Author a villain.  This wasn’t something I expected, simply because the heroes and villains in the original book were so accurately depicted as the characters we saw play out in the past few seasons.  Snow / Charming – good.  Regina / Rumplestiltskin -bad.  But the character development was never quite that simple.  We saw Snow temporarily embrace the dark side.  We saw Regina and Rumple display some positive qualities that made them appear worthy of redemption, even though the goodness never quite sticks to the Dark One.  Let me add to that thought – THIS IS AS IT SHOULD BE.  Rumple should never be completely redeemed.  If that happens, Once will be ruined for me.

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i have some ideas about smartwatches

Dear makers of wearable technology-

Listen up and pay attention. I have some words of wisdom to impart to you regarding “the next big thing”, which should bear some resemblance to previous attempts that you all seem to have ignored on your way to smartwatch perfection. So the following is for you, Apple, Google, Samsung, LG, and all current makers of “wearables” that tell time digitally.

This is part of our smartwatch past. Remember this one? It’s called an Abacus WristNet. There’s even a vintage Amazon page for it here.fossil smartwatch

 

This was a marriage between Fossil and MSN Direct (which provided the data service to push important data DIRECTLY TO THE WATCH). No Bluetooth available and no phone connection required – and yet data was received by the watch. This is truly revolutionary stuff (#sarc). It had its own data plan, and you could get sports scores, weather, and even national news. It’s a good-looking watch. The monochrome display is nothing to write home about, but it does the job.

You may ask, what is the point of mentioning vintage technology long abandoned as a commercial failure? Good question. The answer is that this ancient attempt nails many of the features today’s smartwatches should have to be truly useful to the average person.

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on the same theme

Read this.

I think the whole idea here is finding ways to keep you sane while you’re in a holding pattern,  and you still have those great expectations of the future.  This is about preparing properly for when that future arrives, and being ready for it.  It gives me hope to know that I’m not a powerless player in my own life, if that makes sense.

life, love, and politics

It has been awhile since I have posted here.  Chalk it up to apathy, or laziness, or the simple fact that there have been far more important things distracting me from my random musings on television, sports and awesome tunes.  Let me explain where my head and heart are right now. Long musings ahead…

In my very first post on this blog, I wrote this:

Perhaps we have lost our ability to believe in something bigger than ourselves.  We can easily lose sight of the bigger picture when we get bogged down in the details. We look at the fortunate fools who still believe and trust in the power of a big dream, and we are envious. We are envious because we used to be where they are. We know better now. We are smarter, too smart to believe, to dream, or to act like our lives mean something.

Here’s to the ones who haven’t become jaded and cynical enough to settle for being ordinary. Dreamers with a plan can change the world.  We have seen it throughout history. We can’t all be singers, or actors, or people with a great big stage to influence huge crowds of people, but we all have a part to play. We can make a difference where we are.  This is too easily forgotten. Don’t lose the belief in the impossible. That is what makes us feel alive. That is what keeps us from being ordinary and settling for an existence that can never satisfy us.

In this life evolution, every day should be a chance to become more inspired and more motivated to live the life we were born to live, and to be the people we were created to be.  When I lost my full-time job over a year ago, it changed a great many things about my life.  Some know-it-all egghead might call this a paradigm shift which was long overdue.  Simply put, I had to make a decision to get on with my life, and find a new career doing what I love to do.  This was the easy part.  Embracing the return to the retail world has been a challenge, and the only saving grace I have is knowing that this will not be my future.

Some of us are lucky enough to have people in our lives who inspire us by their example and their passion for doing what they love, in addition to having mad skills in their field.  I count myself as knowing a few people like this,  and they have my enduring thanks for existing and generally being awesome in all things.

Hope is a powerful emotion, because without it, we are lost and our actions and lives end up being a reflection of misdirection and confusion. We need to know, not just suspect, that the future will be better for us because we are consciously acting to make that the case.  Too often we are spectators in our own lives, and no life has reflected this to this point more than my own.  But once the decision is made to move the ball forward, that’s where the joy comes in, no matter what small insignificant annoying thing happens in your daily life.

This is where I want to be.  This is where I want to take my life.  We all must make those decisions for ourselves, and we must choose to actively pursue the life we want, in concert with our families and our faith.  This is how we achieve joy, no matter what circumstance of life comes our way.

Just a few thoughts.  Thanks for reading.  XOXO.

ugh

At what point does a fan completely give up on their favorite team because the organization making all the decisions is totally stupid?  I guess the answer is that a true fan doesn’t abandon a team for this reason, but the Mets organization is completely stretching the limits of what a sane fan should have to endure.

You would think that a baseball lifer such as current Mets GM Sandy Alderson would be able to make a few more quality personnel decisions than he has, but somehow GMs with much smaller budgets do a lot more quality work with their resources than he does.   Now, it is entirely possible that he is hamstrung in decision-making by the Wilpons, but still…this level of mediocrity should not be tolerated.  It has been years since the Mets have been serious contenders for NL East titles or playoffs, and it is time to find someone to blame for this.

Hope is not a strategy – as some speaking in political terms have been known to say.  We need a plan, an exit strategy from the mediocrity if you will.  If the Mets have scouts who are not even close to making accurate player evaluations, we need new ones.  The thing is, I don’t know who is responsible for this mess.  I just want it to be fixed.   Firing Terry Collins is not the answer.  I suspect the blame should be placed on whoever evaluates this underachieving roster.  So whoever that is, fire them and find someone else.  What’s Billy Beane doing these days?  Give him some money to play with and see what happens.

random thoughts on the ouat season finale

Before I get to Sunday’s epic finale, let me just comment on the previous episode – I was very pleased to see that the writers allowed Henry to get his memories back and restored his belief in magic and the triumph of good vs. evil that has been the driving force in this series.

While there have been some compelling storylines with the adults on Once Upon a Time,  it is my belief that Henry is a critical part to making the fairytale real for the viewers.  I just wish that they hadn’t waited so long in this group of episodes to involve him.

Now to the adults – Zelena’s gone.  Good, although somehow I suspect she will be back at some point.  I really enjoyed her as a villain, and I’m glad the slight attempt to redeem her failed.  I mean, yes, in real life, bad people usually have some trigger in their past that causes them to choose the dark side and continue to make the wrong decisions about situations confronting them.  But in the world of Disney, villains have to remain villains.  Unless of course, said villains are the Evil Queen and Rumple….

Speaking of,  the finale brought an interesting twist to Regina’s story.   The reappearance of Robin Hood’s wife (thanks to Emma’s successful rescue attempt) will cause her to fight off some pretty dark thoughts and inclination to strike out against Emma.  We shall see if Regina’s redemption is permanent or whether she will return to being the Evil Queen.  My suspicion is that even though this is a crushing blow for her, her love for Henry and for Robin Hood will keep her from doing anything to Emma or to Robin’s wife.

I was actually rooting for Regina and Robin Hood as a couple, because I want her to be happy.  She has tried to change, and love changes people in a permanent way.  Is it bad that I want something to happen to Robin’s wife?  She seems perfectly lovely, but I just cannot let go of the idea of Regina and Robin Hood together.   Maybe this can be resolved without killing off his wife.  If so, that works for me.

I will keep saying this- Belle deserves a better man than Rumple.  The wedding was beautiful, but somehow this couple doesn’t work as well in Storybrooke as it does in the fairytale world.

So far I am 0 for 3 in the couples I support to continue into the next season together.   The next couple breaks this streak – Emma and Hook.

Many interesting things happened with those two in the finale – Emma wearing fairytale clothes (and a red princess dress!) and the two of them dancing at the ball being just two of those things.  I loved seeing Emma looking so girly and pretty for once.  It was such an awesome change.  I love Emma’s strength as a character, and her wardrobe usually reflects the tough woman she is, but it was nice to see a different side of her in this episode.

Even though I would not mind seeing Neal return somehow, I am now completely sold on Emma and Hook as a couple.  He is madly in love with her.  What other pirate would sell his ship to be with the woman he loves?  In pirate terms, that is quite a serious commitment, and I am glad Emma recognized that act as the sacrifice that it was.  Yay for Emma and Hook.  I am happy that she finally recognizes that Hook is worthy of her attention.

Last random thought – we saw ice coming from some unknown figure’s hand – is this supposed to be Elsa from Frozen?  If so, I cannot wait to see what direction they take her character next season.  So excited for the fall season.  I have a few unanswered questions that need to be resolved.