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Star Wars: Why I Don’t Like It

Whoa! Before you start throwing tomatoes at me, understand that I don’t like Star Wars, but not because I’m a bad person or because I don’t like sci-fi. I love sci-fi, but Star Wars is not on my list of must haves for sci-fi. I love 2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Trek: First Contact, Terminator, Fifth Element, and Interstellar. Now, yes, I like Star Trek better than Star Wars, but I don’t compare the two and think one is better than the other. Instead, I don’t like Star Wars, and I like Star Trek. They aren’t all that comparable, and I’m not going to in this post. Much. Instead, I’m going to go over all the reasons that make Stars Wars not as good as it could be. Now first off, I haven’t read any of the books or comic books nor watched any of the shows. Like CinemaSins, to me, the books don’t matter. The movies are all the average person gives a crap about and they are the original versions of the story. So let’s dive in. Beware, spoilers below.

The Prequels

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Clear cut fans of Star Wars would have me ignore these entirely, but fanboys think these movies are good, and their suckage should be explained. And they suck for several reasons, not all of them exclusive to being prequels. Comparatively though, they are far worse than the original series.

The Acting

Now, I’m in complete agreement with CinemaSins when they state that every sin in acting in the prequels is actually a sin for George Lucas. The actors of the prequels had nearly no say in any of their performances, from intensity of tone to the circumstances of their lines and body language. Much of this can be seen in Hayden Christianson’s performance, especially in Attack of the Clones. He is sooooo whiny. But as ScreenJunkies pointed out, so was Luke in A New Hope, so most likely this was a decision made by Lucas, not Christianson. Lucas can’t think of teenage boys in any other way than whiny. Admittably, they usually are, as are teenage girls, but that’s not necessarily something an audience wants to see. Unfortunately, for audiences of Attack of the Clones, Lucas decided to showcase Anakin’s whininess far more than Luke’s was in A New Hope, making him nearly unbearable.

Besides that, one way that the acting fell extremely short is the woodenness of the performances from such amazing and award winning actors as Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, and Natalie Portman. Portman, let’s not forget, was nominated for an Oscar when she was a little girl and would go on to win one after the dreadful prequels for Black Swan. But Portman, like all good actors, needs good direction. Her performance in V for Vendetta, while amazing, fell short in a few spots. And she’s quite dull in the MCU Thor movies which is possibly why she’s not returning. The problem with the acting in the prequels wasn’t just that the actors may have not been giving it their all but also that the director wasn’t more demanding of their performances. He seemed perfectly satisfied with very mundane takes. I’m sure on the editing floor that all the takes were poorly performed and that had they chosen the worst takes that the performances could not have been much worse. But besides the poor direction, what made their acting quite so god awful?

Acting is reacting. This is a very old acting saying. It is also very true. And sadly during the prequels, the actors had very little to react to. Not just from their costars that were in the room with them, but also from those costars that weren’t on set with them. How about the fact that in Attack of the Clones Portman takes a bite of a pear slice that isn’t even there? Or all the reaction shots to amazing sights that also weren’t there? CGI benefits audiences by being exactly what the director envisioned and it benefits the studio for now being cheaper than using actual sets. It does not benefit the actors in their performances. It’s hard to react to something that isn’t actually there. It turns actors into mimes and children playing pretend. This isn’t such a bad thing with a little bit of CGI here and there, but the prequels were mainly CGI. It made the performances of the actors seem somewhat silly on top of being wooden at times.

The Writing

Direction and acting are not the only issues with these movies, of course. The starting point, the story and dialogue with which some of the story is conveyed, is also awful. As Mr. Plinket explained in his Red Letter Media reviews of Star Wars, the plot was far too complicated, with multiple climaxes happening at once, and the characters were undeveloped. It is important for stories to be complex, but it is especially important for a movie to come to a single boiling point where everything is wrapped up, not only at the same time but also within the same climatic action. What does that mean exactly? It means subplots and the main plot all need to be resolved within the same scene. Watch the first prequel. In it we have the Queen running an insurgent attack, Anakin in a fighter in the space battle, the two jedi fighting Darth Maul, and Jar Jar Binks taking part in the droid battle. The movie jumps between the four scenes, all of them with completely different tones. None of our main characters are working together. Now watch Marvel’s The Avengers. At the end of this movie, we have our heroes spread out over several blocks of New York, but all battling the same army, all with the same major goal. The same is true in Galaxy Quest. The crew split up, but they are all on the ship together, fighting to save it, then they all come together on the bridge for the actual final battle against Saris. Showing us four different fights, with four different goals, with some of those fights being huge, means that our characters’ actions don’t affect the other characters’ situations right now. Jar Jar Binks’ hijinks on the battlefield have no affect on the jedi fight. So why even show us what Jar Jar is up to?

We don’t care what Jar Jar does, because we don’t care about this character. We also don’t really care about Anakin. We frankly have a hard time caring about any of the characters in these movies because there is really nothing but costume and position to them (as again Mr. Plinket pointed out). Think about Daredevil season one, not only do we root for Matt, but we also root for Wilson Fisk, even if they are at odds. We feel sympathy for both characters. When watching the prequel films, we don’t feel sympathy for any of them. What do any of them actually want? Why do they want it? How are their goals at odds? What will they do if they don’t get what they want? These are important questions that the writers of the prequels never really addressed, so it’s hard for the actors to convey what no one knows, and it’s even harder for an audience to suss it all out and then feel something about that when the focus is on fancy, shiny fights and boring, talky plot points.

The Money-Making Aspects

A lot from the prequels is about making money. The flashy costumes, the different aliens, the pods and spaceships, the light sabers (you thought Anakin kept losing his light saber for story? That doesn’t hold water when Luke is supposed to have his dad’s light saber), and the fact that they were made at all. Did we need more Star Wars? Did we ask for more Star Wars? Most of us did not. We didn’t ask for all those crappy re-edits and remasterings of the originals either. Most of us were content to let it go. But Lucas and co wanted money. This is why there are so many characters, so many costumes, so many different aliens (pretty much none of which were in the original series). So instead of trying to make a good new Star Wars movie (guess what? Not everything needs to be a freaking trilogy) with a good story and in depth characters with interesting motivations, we instead got overly marketed crap that looked like Lucas ate a box of crayons and a tube of glitter glue then vomited into a camera. That’s why, more than any other reason, these movies weren’t good.

The Most Recent Prequel: Spoilers and Spoiled on Rogue One

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I just watched this. It was hard to get through the first half. It had a lot of the prequels’ issue of too much talking and not enough character development. But I will say this and it means a lot: it is the best prequel of any series that I have ever seen. Why? Because the ending was completely unexpected to me. Now, that sounds like a really stupid or impossible statement for a prequel, but it is possible due to the fact that the story of Rogue One is vague from A New Hope. What do we know? Leia ends up with the Death Star plans and a lot of people died for those plans. That’s it. And considering how much Disney wants to make money off of this IP, it was a bold move to go for the ending they did. Some people, however, complained that the tone of A New Hope’s scenes about the actions of Rogue One is completely at odds with what happened in Rogue One: mentions of spies and a diplomatic meeting, the idea that the Empire doesn’t know for certain that the plans to the Death Star have been stolen or that the Death Star has been sabotaged. There was nothing spy-like about Rogue One and saying that Jyn, Cassian, and K-2SO’s infiltration was spying is quite a stretch to my mind. The closest character to being a spy in the movie is Jyn’s father, but he’s not even that because the Rebels think he’s on the side of the Empire.

My Biggest Problem with the Movie

Character Development. First of all: our main two characters are played by the two relatively inexperienced actors: Felicity Jones and Diego Luna. They can’t do the work this script required. They very rarely bring enough depth in the stilted scenes of the first half of the movie that is required since they are given so little to work with. Poor character development is really the fault of writers and directors, but a good actor usually can make an audience get an idea of a character without many lines. Unfortunately, neither of them were really pulling it off. I felt bad for Jones for having so many moments wherein I imagine the script said Look conflicted/sad/angry, instead of giving her an action or line to work with. At one silent point, I thought maybe she was about to vomit. I was wrong. Luna’s character was also a confused mess, the script seemed not to understand the difference between complex and complicated. In his first scene, he kills an ally, for the good of the alliance I suppose, but then doesn’t shoot her father in a later scene. I have no idea what changed his mind about being a stone cold killer for the alliance or why he doesn’t believe her when she tells him her father is innocent or why he then changes his mind and believes her. Again, we don’t know what either of these people really want. When Jyn suddenly decides to care, I couldn’t pinpoint the reason behind the change in motivation. Possibly, because I couldn’t understand her motivation beforehand, though I knew she didn’t seem to care about the fight before. Nor was I sure why she didn’t care. I saw one review in which they said she believed her father was a traitor to the Empire until she saw the message. I didn’t get that sense at all. I got the sense that she believed that her father was kidnapped by the Empire and possibly dead, like her mom. Though, there isn’t much to go on in the beginning of the movie for character development, so any interpretation of her inner thoughts and feelings is valid, which is a major problem.

And they aren’t the only people suffering from a lack of motivation. The others included Zatoichi and his more Dakka buddy. It was understandable why they got on Cassian’s ship. What isn’t clear is why they stuck with him and Jyn throughout the whole movie. Just saying that Zatoichi was following the guiding Force, and his more Dakka buddy was along for the ride, seems like a cop out writing-wise. The Force being the answer whenever the writers can’t come up with a motivation is a little lame. And then there was wheezy and heavy handed Whitaker (again, I don’t really blame him too much for his performance; it’s obvious someone asked him to perform that way), whose motivations were all just “he’s lost his mind”. Even crazys have some kind of internal logic usually based on magical thinking and his didn’t seem to follow any path of reasoning. Even a loopy path. Speaking of would-be crazys, I kept expecting the pilot to do something insane that nearly screwed everything up based on what Whitaker said would happen to the pilot after having that creature probe his mind. I guess, losing one’s mind is just a very, very temporary thing in that case. And as always, there wasn’t enough Alan Tudyk. Just like Transformers 3, 28 Days, and A Knight’s Tale, there is never enough Alan Tudyk. At times, when Cassian would tell him to wait on the ship, I hoped, I prayed, that we would also stay on the ship, so I could see Alan Tudyk shine more. Some might accuse him of simply reprising his role from I, Robot, but the truth is that Sonny was never as acerbic as K-2SO. Nor was K-2SO a carbon copy of C3PO, though his name is very similar for obvious marketing reasons.

All this lack of character development and motivation meant that the last half of the movie, wherein all the greatest moments of character, what with their points of decision, fell somewhat flat because we weren’t sure what we were expecting in the first place. And the final moments of each character was less interesting and impactful than they could have been.

The Worst Moments

When Jyn is trying to “escape” her “rescuers”. I feel like we’ve been here before in other movies. I’m sure this was about showing how “tough” she was, but there was no real reason given for this. I can suss out that maybe Jyn was afraid that these rescuers were after something more sinister since no one is all that friendly in this universe, but that’s not shown in the movie. That’s not work a viewer should do; it’s work the movie should do for the viewer.

Twenty-five minutes into the film, we get a flashback to scenes we watched twenty minutes ago. Thank you for your concern, movie, that I may have suffered a blow to the head in those twenty minutes, but I can assure you I was fine. I not only did not forget what happened at the beginning of the movie but also figured out that the adult woman played by Jones was the little girl from the beginning of the movie just all grown up.

When Whitaker and Jones are stiltedly arguing about how they parted, I couldn’t help but wish that the flashbacks from the point above had been replaced with flashbacks of their parting instead. Show, don’t tell.

When Jyn just had to save that little girl. It’s “character development” but I can name tons of movies that have already done it. The first that comes to mind is Spider-Man. Cliche: kid in the middle of chaos just stands there with no adult supervision just waiting for the chaos to take their life. Enter the main hero to usurp evoloution’s right to take out the person with the least amount of survival instincts. Non-cliche: kid does that and the hero shouts at the kid “Run! You’ve got legs, you idiot!” It may not be nice but at least it isn’t pat. Oh, yeah. That kid died like a couple of hours later along with everyone else in that city, so I’m so glad we had to watch Jyn do that.

Cassian having to stop to watch Jyn be a “badass” in the middle of a fight because the only character development we get is “she’s good at fighting.” But this is another cliche moment. Man watches woman kick ass because she doesn’t need his help.

Zatoichi standing up to fight all of the storm troopers. I double-face-palmed at that moment. ZATOICHI! Don’t get me wrong. I don’t mind the original Zatoichi, but I’m really tired of seeing him pop up in other IPs. Not that I mind Ip Man actor, Donnie Yen. I’m just tired of Zatoichi being in everything (Looking at you Daredevil!).

Every time K-2SO left the screen. Come back, Alan!

When everyone was all split up around the platform that Galen Erso and Olson Krennic were having their confrontation on. What was Jyn trying to do? Why did Zatoichi and his more Dakka buddy leave the ship? Why didn’t Cassian take the shot? I would have much rather have a really tense scene between Erso and Krennic uninterrupted by these questions.

Stardust, stardust, stardust. Remember that word. It’s important. To help you remember, the movie will continuely say it just to be sure. You know, the head injury we suffered earlier makes remembering hard.

Darth Vader’s first scene which was somewhat pathetic in trying to be cool and failing.

The war room scene wherein for seemly no reason Jyn wants to give a rousing speech to the people who have been in charge of the rebellion for years but now just want to give up.

“We’ll find them. We’ll find a way to find them.” The second sentence does not inspire confidence in this mission.

The many, many, many complications of the ending. Let’s go through the list: they don’t know which file is the Death Star plans, they have to work a giant claw to get the file, they have to get a message through the force field to the rebel fleet because they don’t know they’re sending them the file, they need to flip a master switch to get that message out, they also need to hook something up to their communicator to get that message out, oh and the cord isn’t long enough and they’re being shot at, the claw shut down and now they have to jump across a chasm to grab the file, they have to climb the massive filing cabinet to get to the satellite at the top of the building risking falling to a very Star Warsy death, they’ve got to jump through a giant sphincter to get to the satellite (this is very much a Galaxy Quest problem: “What’s the point of a bunch of choppy crushy things in the middle of a hallway?”), the fleet has to destroy the shield being guarded by two destroyers, the satellite is out of alignment, the control panel for the alignment is out on the end of a walkway that risks an even more Stars Warsy death, the sky battle took out the walkway and made it harder to get back to the other panel that will allow the file to be transferred, and the bad guy is standing there with a gun. How about we just boil it down to there are troopers and bad guys in the way instead of these several video game objective-like complications? We didn’t need that many problems. It was already hard. Did they want to pad the time? They could have done that with character development.

How in the world did Cassian get up there? He could barely move. Is the movie trying to convince me he acrobated his way through the slicing sphincter with a lame arm? Doubtful.

Having to watch the individual deaths of Zatoichi, his more Dakka buddy, and the pilot when the whole place exploded literally minutes later.

The Best Moments

Alan Tudyk. I’m not sure how much I’m going to address this point, but I figured I’d bring it up at least one more time.

When K-2SO grabs the grenade out of the air and casually tosses it at the approaching troopers.

The lack of a bunch of new aliens taking center stage. Thank. You. We didn’t need more of that.

K-2SO trying to pretend that he’s taking Cassian and Jyn as his prisoners to a prison because they are his prisoners.

When they put the bag over Zatoichi’s head and he lost it, reminding them he was blind.

Cassian confronting Jyn about how long he’s been in the war and how she needs to get over herself since the war isn’t about her specifically and other people have suffered too and that meant making hard decisions that weren’t pretty. Hey, this movie just got serious.

How everyone died. I wasn’t expecting it. I knew people would die, but I wasn’t expecting that everyone involved in getting the plans, excepting Leia who just got them handed off to her like a bloody relay race, would die. It was somewhat impressive that Disney didn’t try to milk the characters for another two movies. It was bold which is somewhat sad that not turning something into is trilogy is now a bold move.

Darth Vader’s final scene in which he became the walking nightmare of the rebels. Their screams for help were so intense and real, and while I know before the scene that the plans make it out of that hallway, it was so terrifying that I actually was afraid that all would be lost. That was the moment he became cool. Also, good job showing him outclass all of those rebel soldiers without making them look like goobers as they did with the other Jedis in the prequels.

That Cassian and Jyn didn’t kiss. This wasn’t a romance and I was afraid they may try to make it one. I mean, they only knew each other for a couple of days.

In Conclusion

The first half of the movie was mostly painful, but it had its moments. The climax was overly complicated but tied the movie up well. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. I just wish the characters had been better developed so that the ending was more impactful.

The Original Films

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The Basics

We can all remember these movies fondly, especially when we compare them to the prequels. But every time I rewatch them, I can’t help but have things pop into my head that question just how good these movies really are (like when I rewatched Raiders of the Lost Ark recently). We know that for the most part the stories were cribbed from much older work, which can be okay. It’s a hero’s journey meets some old samurai flicks. I don’t have much of a problem with that because there is a lot in the Star Wars universe that wasn’t taken from somewhere else. The specifics, the tech, the aliens, the look. That’s all very original. Or the sources are very well hidden. Leia and Han’s relationship is very much It Happened One Night, but I loved that movie and Star Wars gave it a good homage. Luke was a little whiny, but he grew throughout the three movies and really progressed as a person in his hero’s journey. But the movies have some glaring inconsistencies that refute the idea that Lucas had all of it planned out perfectly before they were moving forward.

Luke and Leia’s kiss is the biggest one. Most writers and directors run like mad from the idea of incest unless that is the whole point of the story they are trying to tell. I, like many others, don’t believe that they had a plan given that scene and the intensity of the kiss to make Luke and Leia siblings. With that point in mind, we’re left to wonder how Luke contacted Leia when he had nearly fallen to his death. Fans often state that it is because they knew she would be a force user as Yoda stated that there was “another”, but I don’t believe they knew who that was going to be. Maybe Lucas did know that Leia was supposed to be Luke’s sister but Empire director, Kershner, or writers, Brackett and Kasdan, didn’t know that and didn’t know who he wanted the other to be. Leia being the other force user on the light side came as a let down anyway. First of all, hindsight said it had to be her or Han because it was doubtful it was going to be someone we hadn’t yet seen or that it would be sound board and muscle man, Chewy. It was a let down though to find out it was Leia because nothing really came of it. She didn’t do anything with this potential. We find out in The Force Awakens that she didn’t do anything with it in all those years either. Like finding out you’re a magical paladin isn’t exciting? I’m not sure why they even teased us with the potential of another Jedi, and a female one, if they weren’t going to do anything with it. It almost feels archaic that nothing came of it.

The other big inconsistency that HISHE has brought up is the idea that Darth Vader is only finding about his children decades after they were born and doesn’t react at all. Not only does he have kids he didn’t know about, but they are fighting on the other side. No, no reaction. No excitement. No regret. No shock. Nothing. This is not how anyone reacts to finding out they have kids they didn’t know about, especially a person who is supposed to be steeped in emotion. We know that they kept Vader’s identity secret from the actors to ensure that it wasn’t leaked but the utter lack of reaction from Vader more likely suggests that there was no plan to make him Luke’s father until the second movie was in the works. It’s called subtext and Vader lacks it completely in the first movie. It also seems that at the end Vader forgot that he tortured Leia; otherwise, he may have expressed some regret for that one thing in particular.

These are minor compared to issues the other movies had. The original three are still pretty good movies with just some fridge logic problems that can be ignored. But those aren’t the only problems these movies suffer from. See below.

The Endless Re-editing

HAN SOLO SHOT FIRST!

I’m sure I don’t have to say much more than that . . . but I will. This has gotten so annoying. I’m never sure which version I will be talking about in a conversation because I haven’t seen every version of these movies. What I know for certain is that no one who knows gun laws would consider Han’s actions in the original version to be out of line. He had a gun on Han and was planning basically to kidnap him. No one thinks Han is in the wrong for shooting first because the situation was already life threatening. No need to wait for the bounty hunter to shoot first. None. Just like there is no need to constantly re-edit these movies in the first place. Oh, CGI didn’t exist in the ’70s and ’80s? Who cares? It existed in the ’90s, and try watching a movie with CGI from that decade without laughing at how bad the CGI is. It’s just as bad and frankly out of place in the original Star Wars trilogy. We didn’t ask for it. We don’t need it. Not in those movies.

Episode VII: Mary Sue Much?


Someone gave me free tickets to go see this movie, so I didn’t even pay to see The Force Awakens, but I still feel cheated. I don’t buy hype for one thing. The more a movie, game, or book is hyped, the more suspious I am. I was very much prepared going into the theatre to be disappointed. And the movie didn’t let me down by letting me down. The opening shot was very much original Star Wars, dynamic and interesting, but the plot and characters were so bad that everything went downhill once people came on screen.

First off, The Force Awakens is just a remake of A New Hope. Another person trying to escape with important information but is captured but manages to send a droid off with that information. Another desert planet where our young hero is stuck and trying to get by but finds the droid with the important information. Due to this, hero gets whisked away on an adventure where they will have to learn about the force and grow, but first they have to call the Milenium Falcon a piece of junk. The bad guy wears a mask and dresses all in black and is “scary”. Hero makes friends along the way that they don’t get along with completely but come to love. They’ve got to get that important information to the rebels. The “I’ve got a bigger penis than the first guy” new Death Star blows up more planets. The old man who’s supposed to be guiding the hero dies. They blow up the “bigger penis” Death Star and there’s a big celebration. Hooray. I was so glad to be forced to watch A New Hope again. Maybe that is the awakening force, forcing audience members who may have again developed amnesia to watch this forty year old movie again. I’m not sure, but the plot was so old at this point that I don’t think any of us needed to see it again.

There seems to be a trend these days in movies of making “bad-ass” female characters. I wouldn’t have a problem with that if it weren’t also a trend that these women are cardboard cutouts with no real inner life (i.e. motivation) and if they weren’t just Mary Sues. Rey is so much of a Mary Sue that it is frankly painful to watch her. Due to the fact that this is just a remake of A New Hope, it brings up comparisons of pacing to the original, so I end up comparing Rey to Luke at first. Then Han Solo. Then Luke again. She is a better pilot than Luke with basically no flying experience. Luke at least knew how to fly a ship. We have no indication that Rey has experience. She’s also better at flying the Milenium Falcon than Han Solo without a good copiolot. She’s also better at mechanics than Han Solo even on the Milenium Falcon which is his ship. Then in one movie, she manages, without a Jedi master helping her, to handedly fight a Sith Lord with master training in a light saber fight, practice telekinesis, and mind control. Compare that to Luke’s pace: one master in the first movie and sucks at light saber fights, second master in the second movie and he learns telekinesis and still isn’t that good at light saber fights, and then in a third movie his second master dies and he knows mind control and is much better at light saber fights. The only possible answer I would accept for why she outpaced Luke so much and without any reasonable setup in the The Force Awakens is if she was literally the Force itself.

But if that is not the answer, then she is way too OP on just the Force use. And even if that is the answer, she’s still OP with the Force and the mechanical and flight abilities. If you’ve ever played a Star Wars RPG, you’ll know that you can’t make Rey as a starting character because it’s broken to make a character have that many different kinds of expertise at the level that she did. By making her this powerful and capable without a reasonable background, as a woman, I felt like Disney was trying to pander to my genitals. Those organs are incapable of thought though, so I feel like they very much missed the mark in creating a powerful and interesting female lead. Jyn was better and she had almost no characterization at all. My brain kept cringing at each new reveal of Rey’s so-called awesomeness. All of it was just unrealistic. It reminds me of something I heard from the writers of Stranger Things. In their first imagining, they introduced Eleven by having her burst a door open with her powers. Then they rethought that. They realized they had eight hours to bring the audience up to that level, so instead we got intrigue and heightened awareness of Eleven, the intensity growing and growing until we were surprised by how serious things got. The other big example is Person of Interest. It started out as an idea of a weekly case but by the end we were facing the end of the world as we know it. Now I know that The Force Awakens didn’t have eight hours or five seasons to bring us to climax, but the original trilogy managed to do it in three movies that were really very good depictions of Luke’s growth as both a person and as a Jedi, so if they were going to copy that movie, why not copy the pace too, which was a far sight better than the pace we got?

There’s also the issue that making a female badass with nearly zero flaws and an impossible plethora of expert skills, especially, with zero training causes a major split in the audience. You have the more story versed half which is pissed off beyond recovery and those who are so overworked and feel so put down by life that they’ll take any schlock that makes them feel good. And then the two start fighting. This is the critics versus the average movie goer. This movie got bad ratings for a reason but with so many people so desperate for a hero that represents them, they’ll even take a bad one. I’d rather have River Tam any day. At least she has problems and flaws.

Both this movie and Rogue One seem to have Disney’s Marketing department shouting at the casting director to make the cast diverse. I have no issue with diversity, but this again felt like pandering. I don’t think Disney wanted to make strong female characters or strong characters of color; I think they just wanted to line their pockets with the money of the vast majority of America. It seems forced. “We need a woman lead! We need a Hispanic man! We need an African-American man! We need a Chinese man! We need a man that no one can easily identify as any one ethnicity!” It’s like they are ticking off boxes. That kind of diversity is a little disgusting to me. I compare it to something like Firefly and see immediately how far short it falls. There are a lot of women in Firefly and two black characters. Disney seems to avoid the African-American woman entirely. Some may argue that Firefly has too many white males but they only make up slightly less than half of the show’s cast and the male to female ratio is also pretty good (4:5). But it doesn’t feel like any of this is forced. Unlike Disney’s recent obsession with diversity. It’s also not even as relaxed as Star Trek: The Next Generation which has again two to three African-Americans, depending on whether or not you count Whoopie Goldberg, and a not as good ratio of male to female characters (6:2), but is better if you count Whoopie Goldberg and Tasha Yar.  So the question becomes for Disney, what is with the one female character? Are women rare in the Star Wars universe? We really only had Leia in the first trilogy. We really only had Padme in the prequels. And now in Rogue One and The Force Awakens we have one per movie. Women make up a large part of the population that I know of since evolutionarily you can have one male to a large number of women and it still work out. One woman to a large number of men is a problem. So where are all the women in Star Wars? If you didn’t notice in my Disney Marketing department shouting sequence above, I only mentioned one woman and mentioned four men. That’s not just a joke. That literally is the casting of Rogue One and The Force Awakens. Any other women in these movies are minor, and that’s typical of Star Wars, so I’m soooo glad that Disney is continuing that tradition. Ethnic women have been complaining more visibly lately of the white washing of women’s issues and look at Disney just proving them right. If Disney really wanted to get with the times, then they should have more female roles, not just a flat lead, and they should provide more variety based on something other than marketing. Danny Glover was not hired for Lethal Weapon because he was black; he was hired because he was the best man for the job. Donner, in fact, hadn’t written that part specifically for a black man, but Glover added so many layers to that character and wasn’t a stereotype that those movies wouldn’t be the same with anyone else. Those movies went in directions we weren’t expecting just because of Danny Glover and Donner’s decision to cast him. That’s the kind of diversity we want in our movies and that was the freaking ’80s. Disney also has a history of avoiding the very delicate subject of sexual orientation, unless it makes no sense, like Beauty and the Beast, which supposedly takes place in a time when being openly gay would problably result is ostrizaton or death. I’m not saying that they need to dive into that diversity like they did with racial diversity as they sucked at that and so far no story has really left room for that kind of character development. Star Wars also is archaic enough of an IP to try to avoid it too, even though even older IPs have dived into that subject with grace and aplomb, so it’s not like it isn’t possible. Disney is just too inept to do it well. So we end up with strange diversity that doesn’t actually mean anything.

Back to the actual movie and not the behind the scenes decisions that disgust me, let’s look at the Big Bad Wolf of the movie. Blech. Kylo Ren is quite possibly the worse super villain ever. I won’t say that he is yet, because I still haven’t been able to sit through Batman vs. Superman and Suicide Squad. First off, he is, as a lot of people call him, Darth Emo, who throws hissy fits like a teenager. For example, why wear the mask if you aren’t disfigured or need it to breathe? Because you want to look imitating and with that face, how could you? When he first took off the mask, I was thrown completely out of the movie when I saw his hair because I couldn’t help but wonder how he got all that hair under the helmet without slicking it back. He didn’t have helmet hair at all. It was like time pauses as he takes off the helmet and a professional hair stylist invisibly cleans, dries, and quaffs his hair. Oh, wait . . . One of his first moments in the movie, he does something “badass” because the people behind the movie thought it looked cool. Not as cool as Han shooting at Vader and Vader just deflecting the shots with only his hand and snatching his pistol out of his hand with the force. So how is Kylo so much more powerful than Vader, the one who was meant to bring balance to the force? No answer? Because it looks cool is not an answer.

The main threat of the movie. The new Death Star, or as I like to call it My-Dick-Is-Bigger-Than-George-Lucas’-Death-Star, is twenty times bigger than the original Death Star. This kind of sequel I’ve-Got-a-Bigger-Dick-Than-the-First-Guy device seems pretty common these days. The first time I saw it was that awful Predators movie, which could have been good, but had to have bigger, badder predators than all the previous movies. Then came The Force Awakens and it’s bigger, badder Death Star. Then just six months later, I was given a free ticket to see Independence Day: Resurgence and a-freaking-gain it had to have a bigger, badder mothership. It had a half hour sequence of the thing showing up and I’m just sitting there bored out of my mind as this thing “lands”. I’m thinking to myself as the ship rips apart huge swaths of land, killing millions of people, how this is just like The Force Awakens, and how the dick measuring needs to freaking stop if we are going to have good sequels. This is not original. It’s not interesting. It’s not impressive. It’s like someone said: “You know how the original had all that great imagery? Let’s use those images again, but make them bigger.” And someone with jello for brains said “Brilliant! Brilliant, I tell you!” Those images in ID were pretty much taken from the original V mini-series anyway. The problem is, though, that while A New Hope and Independence Day were entertaining and interesting on a first view, a rehash of those movies is boring. No matter how much bigger your dick happens to be. Eventually, we just can’t take any bigger. It just becomes painful.

All in All

I’m not a Star Wars fan for so many reasons. From the originals to the latest attempts by Abrams and Disney, the IP has changed dramatically. That’s expected over the forty years that it has been in existence. Those changes haven’t always been for the better. The first bites of this IP were still better than the sugar they’ve been shoving down our throats in recent years and I have to say that I long for forty years ago fresh-faced Lucas and his ideas from then. I don’t feel sorry for him for critic and fan reactions to the prequels, but I do feel sorry for him for what Disney has done to his original concepts.

 
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Posted by on April 5, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Netflix Subtitles Suck

Netflix is my only form of television. I don’t have broadcast, cable, or satellite. I don’t even have any other streaming services. Until recently, I didn’t have the ability to play any of the DVDs I own. I love Netflix. I prefer to any other form of television, but I have a bone to pick with them and it can be summed up in one word: subtitles.

Why They Matter to Me:

I’m not hard of hearing or deaf, but I do have comprehension problems. I typically need two forms of taking in information to understand that information quickly. I tend to repeat what people say to me to confirm what I’ve heard. It’s called echolalia. I tend to reread the same sentence three or four times. So it makes it much easier for me to understand and follow a movie or T.V. show if I can read and hear the dialogue. I can barely stand to watch movies and T.V. shows without subtitles or captions. I’m not big on watching foreign films because of this. I’m not the only person who needs subtitles or captions to fully enjoy television. Those who are hard of hearing or deaf need it even more than I do. A customer who needs this service needs it to be accurate to get the same experience as those who don’t need it.

Problem One: Inaccurate Subtitles

Some shows and movies on Netflix have a very high rating for error in their subtitles. Arrow is the first to come to mind. In one episode, Oliver with his back to the camera says “Thea, I have something to tell you.” but the subtitle says something else entirely. The majority of the time this happens with voiceover or back to the camera shots. This means anyone who is deaf is getting a completely different dialogue than someone who can hear. That’s crazy. Where do these subtitles come from if not from someone watching the show? Most likely they come from a script that the subtitling company was given. It’s a very lazy way of doing subtitles.

Problem Two: Weirdly Placed Subtitles

The show on which this happens the most is American Horror Story. Weirdly, the subtitles are off to the bottom left and some of them are missing, suggesting that the placement of the subtitles has some of them not on screen. Again, it’s like no one watched the show with subtitles to see if the work they did was well done. It’s called proofreading. I do it even months after I’ve posted an article just to make sure I caught all my mistakes. They don’t seem to care to check for mistakes once the subtitle update goes live. Much like Microsoft and how they could giving a flying fart if millions of people find “Dark Grey” a sarcastic taunt and still an extreme eye strain. But I digress. On titles like Lost and Arrow that have people speaking in non-English languages with embedded translation subtitles, it’s kind of strange and infuriating to see [speaks Korean] over the translation of what Jin is actually saying. Thank you so much Closed Captioning Services, Inc.

Problem Three: A Lack of Foreign Translation Subtitles

Closed Captioning Services, Inc. screws us in another way. My favorite scene in all of Lost is in “Exodus Part 1” wherein Jin and Sun reconcile when she gives him the translations from Korean to English. But Netflix says “Screw That!” because there are no embedded subtitles nor Netflix subtitles for that scene. I went online to YouTube to find the scene with subtitles because it was an itch I could not scratch. But this isn’t the only title with this problem. In Galaxy Quest you can’t see what the weird, childlike aliens are saying (though you can if you watch it on T.V. or DVD). Then there is The X-Files which has so many scenes with people speaking so many different languages. Not a single damn translation. Half the episodes of American Dad with Toshi don’t have translations. This is the most infuriating as these subtitles are part of the title. A year or so ago, Netflix did something different with the subtitles and suddenly these translations were gone. This effects everyone who doesn’t speak those languages.

Problem Four: Too Many Foreign Translation Subtitles

In some scenes of Lost (Closed Captioning Services, Inc. strikes again!), we get the embedded subtitles and Netflix subtitles at the same time. This is rare, but it’s kind of hard to read one or the other when they are on top of each other. I’m not even sure how something like this could happen. Is it really so hard to erase all the embedded ones and replace them or how about this? Don’t erase any of the embedded subtitles! Leave them alone. They are part of the title.

Problem Five: The Runaround

Why am I airing my grievances here on my blog instead of to Netflix support? Because every time I report an issue with the subtitles, they don’t seem to care, to have an answer, to understand what I’m talking about, or tell me “they don’t have the rights to those foreign translation subtitles” which sounds like a joke. I’m tired of them not fixing these issues. If they outsource their subtitles, then they should look to hire some other company. If they are in house, then they should fire the person in charge, because they sure do screw up a lot.

Problem Six: Spending Time Doing New Things No One Wants, Instead of Fixing the Problems

Recently, there have been a lot of changes to Netflix. At one point they changed the Recently Watched to Continue Watching. Anything we had watched to completion like a movie would disappear from this list. I hated this change. Upon it happening, Netflix customer support immediately heard how much I disliked it, until they brought back the things I had already watched. Why would it bother me? Because I may watch a film four or five times in a week and I don’t want to go searching for it every time. Netflix most likely has direct data showing that lots of customers do this, so why take away the easiest way to rewatch a title? Now that they’ve put finished titles back in the list, that list order is all messed up. They aren’t in order of most recently watched like before. They are in a random order. Another change is that now when I finish a movie or all the available episodes of a show, Netflix automatically starts playing another title at random. I hate autoplay features, especially those I can’t turn off. I don’t want to watch Mission Impossible II, and Netflix can’t make me. It’s a stupid movie anyway. Then once, I went to play a title and Neflix played a trailer for another title beforehand. I’m sorry, when did Netflix turn into Hulu? (Burn!) They also have a stupid feature that skips Previously Ons and themes that can’t be turned off, even on titles like American Dad and Futurama that have a new and different joke during each opening theme. Once it skipped a Previously On which was fake from The Venture Brothers. Someone isn’t paying attention.

All of the changes came after the first time I brought up the subtitle problems to the customer service, so why did they waste time on these features no one wanted (because come on!) instead of fixing the problems? I know Netflix has caught crap before for censoring subtitles on shows like Breaking Bad, but that was a decision they made (and countermanded), these are almost all mistakes brought on by laziness, incompetence, and/or apathy. Another problem like this is how the video will not load but the audio will start playing for about ten seconds. Here’s an idea: don’t start playing the title until you are ready to play the title. Just a thought. All these problems or features are not an issue on every streaming device. For example, the Windows 8 app freezes the first subtitle and won’t load the rest, but through a browser this isn’t an issue. So don’t think because you aren’t seeing one or more of the problems I’ve mentioned that they don’t exist and that I’m crazy. It’s a matter of who is in charge of subtitles for each device. Different devices require different encoding, so different problems will happen. In fact, you may have noticed problems I haven’t mentioned, like incomplete subtitles (I know those exist).

Now, don’t get me wrong. Out of all the streaming services, Netflix is my favorite. I prefer it over any other. So why am I complaining? Because I don’t want it to get worse. I’ve seen changes that are moving away from what makes Netflix great, and I want Netflix to acknowledge and fix any existing problems brought to their attention by their customers. Otherwise, they are just turning into Hulu. Ooo, burn. Again.

 
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Posted by on June 25, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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College: Not Everyone’s Cup o’ Tea

Why I Bring It Up

I went to college. I also taught at college, first and second year students, but I’m not talking about any of my former students. I’m referring to my general experience of my peers and the research I did to prepare and grow as a university instructor. I’ve seen students take a really long time to get their undergrad, go into extreme debt, and, in some cases, come out the other side with a degree in something they didn’t really care about. I have a problem with the whole system, even if I believe in lifelong education. Let me break down the issues.

Not Old Enough to Drink, Or Vote in Some Cases, Old Enough to Make Lifelong Decisions

I once saw a quote on Tumblr that made me laugh, but also made me want to cry a little. It said something like “College, where you’re asked to decide what you want to do with the rest of your life, but only a few months ago you had to ask for a pass to go to the bathroom.” In high school, students are treated like ten year olds. To some extent this understandable, but students need to be given mounting responsibility in high school to be able to handle the dramatically higher responsibility of college. Otherwise, most students will revolt against the amount of work required of college. Instead, high school students have their hands held all four years, unless they are in honors or AP courses, where they are taught that the quantity of the work they are given is more important than the quality of the work they are given. I’m not just talking about the workload though. Freshman traditionally take on two huge decisions right away: loans and major.

Let’s face it. Even though there are a lot of colleges out there with a lot of scholarships, there are more college students than there are scholarships and aid. This means that students need to supplement paying for college either by working or by getting loans, and for those with a higher tuition and/or less financial stability, both. I’ve heard a lot of students express a lot of pride over the fact that they paid their own way through college by working, not taking a dime in loans, but this is very unempathetic. First, if any job a student can get is not enough to pay for tuition, fees, and books let alone food, shelter, and gas, than that job is only going to make the situation all the more stressful. Then there are those students who are non-traditional, who have an okay paying job but also have house payments and utilities as well as the other things students need to pay for. There are others that can’t supplement their income any further with work because they have time obligations to family: they have family members they have to take care of. But there could even be those traditional students who don’t have other financial obligations or time obligations but have a learning disability and have to focus an extra amount of time to their education to keep their grades up. So in these situations, the students take out loans. So let’s not act like everyone has a choice in this matter. It becomes a choice between a loan or failure in your education. Then let’s remember that the traditional student is 17-18 years old when they make this decision when previously they were treated like a leper to responsibility by those in charge of their education.

Then there is the major. A lot of kids go to college with a dream, some go with their parents looking over their shoulder, and some go with no clue what they want. This isn’t the best time to decide what you’re going to do with the rest of your life. Students are young and haven’t experienced much, as such, chances are if they have an idea what they want to do with their life, that’s going to change in a year or two. Parents who pay for their children’s college think they have a right to say what their child’s major is going to be. After all, it’s their money. Okay, I get that. But does that mean the child owes their career to their parents as well? Probably not. Students should not sacrifice their whole life (a career can make or break a person’s lifelong happiness) just because their parents are willing to pay for their college. Those that go to college with no clue what they want to do with their lives are going because everyone in their lives have told them that they need to go to college for security, but they get there and meander from major to major because they are still trying to figure out what they want. Or they pick a major based on how hireable they think the major will be. Picking the wrong major is an expensive mistake both financially and emotionally. If two years in, a student decides that pre-law isn’t for them, switching to business means a lot of money. Or sticking through with pre-law when it doesn’t excite interest anymore for four years means paying for something that is worthless to the student at the end because even if they do go to law school and become a lawyer, the career is ultimately unfulfilling. So picking the major in the first years of school, forcing students to forego the required exploration through electives which end up being too costly, can end up ruining a student’s career options and finances. That’s a lot of responsibility.

Open Enrollment vs. the Low Standards of High School

It’s not a secret right now that public elementary and secondary schools’ standards have dropped steadily. This means students leaving before they have gained the basic skills expected of them when they reach college age, including reading, writing, and math. Most of these students if they go to college end up at open enrollment universities, where they sink fast. It’s an awful thing to see a student with a loan or a student with an athletic scholarship failing their classes, even when the university does everything they can to help. With instructors, coaches, and tutors all pitching in, a student who doesn’t know how to spell basic words or doesn’t know that every sentence requires a verb is not going to pass, because no matter how much help the student is given, they still have to do the work themselves. Students can put forth all their effort and still fail. This is possibly the saddest thing to see, but a college instructor can’t in good conscience pass them based only on their go get ’em attitude because in gen eds especially, these skills are needed for the student’s future. Most likely these students should be in remedial courses first, but these cases are hard to catch before a student has failed a few courses.

But students with below standard skills and knowledge are not the only issue with incoming freshmen. The other problem is prep for the amount of work involved in college courses. I’ve known first semester courses that have required eight short papers, with a rough draft and peer edit for each along with weekly reading, and that’s one course. To those not in the know, that’s a freshman composition course. Other first year courses involve a lot of work for points spread out so that no one assignment is make or break, at most equaling a letter grade. As students enter more major based courses, there are less assignments but each with more percentage values, meaning students have less baskets to put their eggs in. If a student likes their major this isn’t an issue, but they first have to get through those heavy gen eds. Students who have never taken an AP or honors course don’t really know how heavy college workloads start out. They bridle against all the work. Having been both student and instructor, at the same too as I was a grad student when I was an instructor, I know what an important balance between student effort and instructor empathy is. Teachers need to understand not that students haven’t experienced this before but that their course isn’t the only one their students are taking. Students need to understand that the work is important and that college (while TV and movies have presented the contrary) is not party time but hard work.This means turning assignments in on time, following instructions, showing up to class both physically and mentally, and most of all, communicating to the teacher when a problem occurs. These are the most basic steps to being successful in those gen eds, but oddly, a lot of students have a problem doing these things and get upset when their grade suffers because they didn’t do these things. They can look at their instructor who is penalizing them for failing at these steps as the enemy. Instead, these students need to understand that they are held responsible for doing the work, and the instructor is not their friend but their evaluator as well as their teacher. After the handholding of high school, this is a hard transition to make.

An Education, Not a Business Transaction

Some students think that because money is involved that they are paying for passing grades in their gen eds. Some of this comes from colleges treating students as customers first. It makes the students think the teachers are there to satisfy them instead of to educate them. This is why the adjunctification of universities, especially open enrollment ones, is so detrimental in the long run. When students who don’t like the amount of work involved in gen eds and who think that they are the customer fill out those course evals, they tend to be very harsh on their instructors. If those instructors are adjuncts, they tend to not have their contracts renewed. Unless, that is, those adjuncts lower their standards to please the “customers”. I haven’t had personal experience of this, but I have heard other former adjuncts testify to this occurrence. These lowered standards result in a worse education. I understand why an adjunct would do this; they need to keep their jobs so they can pay their bills and put food on the table. It’s not really their fault. The idea of student as customer and customer satisfaction as a pivotal part of keeping or letting instructors go is terrible for real education. This is why tenured professors can either be the best or worst instructors at a college. Either they are not afraid of customer satisfaction’s effects on their job, so they hold their students to high standards, or they know that firing them is nearly impossible, so they focus less on teaching and more on research. High standard adjuncts don’t always last long and typically end up floating from college to college. I respect them for holding education over customer satisfaction in the hierarchy of importance. But students need to understand that they are not customers. They are paying for a fair and usable education. They are not paying for an A grade. This is not to say, however, that there are no bad teachers. There are. I knew of one instructor who didn’t give students As on their papers if they didn’t argue what the instructor believed. I refused to take any of those classes, mostly because I can’t do something like that and would have failed. I probably would have argued too much with the instructor for her liking. Versus one instructor I had, several times, who encouraged back and forth. Good instruction means challenging students to think, and especially, to think for themselves. It doesn’t change the fact that students have to put forth effort.

Tuition Costs, Why So High?

In 2008 the housing market crashed big time, and that hurt everybody. Government funding was cut for pretty much everybody too. Most of the funding cuts happened from the state governments because most of them were suffering bad and didn’t have the money to spend on their normal programs. A lot of people were mad about this, but you can’t get blood from a stone. So a lot of universities took a big hit in funding. Then FAFSA made the decision to cut off aid to students after a lesser number of semesters. Retroactively. This meant, quite suddenly, some students lost all their aid. This hurt non-traditional students the most because they take less courses per semester, maybe they only take twelve hours when most traditional students take fifteen to eighteen. This means what takes a traditional student ten semesters takes fifteen or more for non-traditional students. The maximum FAFSA didn’t go up in this time. The reason for this change was so that they didn’t have to lower the maximum aid a student could get. It was a major sacrifice, and it hurt a lot of people. Especially considering that because of the funding cuts colleges took, tuition went up. The problem is we have to ask what the tuition is going to? Almost all colleges are constantly under construction. They spruce up old buildings, build new ones, and buy surrounding land. This is not inherently a bad thing, but quality instructors should come first. If the university is knocking down the president’s house to rebuild it but have an adjunct ratio of 3:4, then they don’t have their priorities straight. If their top administrators are making six to seven figures when their instructors don’t have enough offices or classrooms, then they really don’t have their priorities straight. When choosing a college, one has to look at how the money is spent. If the campus tour doesn’t show many classrooms, instructor areas, or dorm rooms, but they show the ritzy community areas instead, one needs to be a little suspect of how high a value they put on the actual education the school provides. This is not to say that a college can’t have nice community areas and provide a good education, but a little more digging than the sales pitch needs to happen before committing to paying that hefty bill.

Not When, But If

Not everyone needs to go to college. Not everyone wants to go to college. Not everyone will succeed at college. This is not a problem. This country is very pro-college, just as it is very pro-house buying (seriously stop telling millennials to take that risk just because the market needs it). Most people think that to make in this world, you need a college degree. Which is strange considering all those people with college degrees who are unemployed. We can brush this off as people who got degrees in the liberal arts as those guys never get jobs, right? Wrong. Some employers aren’t hiring people who have career focused degrees because they have learned that those people don’t have the critical thinking skills that are so important to self-starting and high responsibility jobs. There are a lot of unemployed people with law degrees. There are a lot of unemployed people with business degrees. These “safe” careers aren’t safe at all. Right now, there is no such thing as a safe career. In fact, there probably never is. So college is not the answer. The answer is hard work, networking, and luck.

Conclusion

Don’t assume that college is for you. Assume lifelong learning is for you. We can all stand to learn more at every stage of life. College is no guarantee of happiness and security. If a person goes to college, he or she should use that time to figure out what they want. There should be no time limit on that, even if FAFSA will run out. If a person figures out he or she wants to major in something seemingly useless and unlucrative, then he or she should go for it anyway. We have one chance at happiness. A false sense of security at the cost of this one chance of happiness is a risk not worth taking. People have gone the safe routes and still lost everything mostly because of luck, but also because they didn’t care. It’s much better to make the choices that are right for you as an individual. My life is not perfect, but I am happy because I know that I’m striving for what I want. College was right for me. The colleges I chose were right for me. My majors were right for me. Make sure that the choices you make are the right ones for you.

 
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Posted by on February 2, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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How To Ruin Your Life (Without Even Noticing That You Are)

How To Ruin Your Life (Without Even Noticing That You Are)

A blog post that completely expresses my philosophy on life. Throwing away your dreams for the “safe” option is a waste of your one chance to do what you love. Don’t walk as a zombie in your own life. Choose which direction you go based on what you want despite what anyone tells you.

Thought Catalog

Erin KellyErin Kelly

Understand that life is not a straight line. Life is not a set timeline of milestones. It is okay if you don’t finish school, get married, find a job that supports you, have a family, make money, and live comfortably all by this age, or that age. It’s okay if you do, as long as you understand that if you’re not married by 25, or a Vice President by 30 — or even happy, for that matter — the world isn’t going to condemn you. You are allowed to backtrack. You are allowed to figure out what inspires you. You are allowed time, and I think we often forget that. We choose a program right out of high school because the proper thing to do is to go straight to University. We choose a job right out of University, even if we didn’t love our program, because we just…

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Posted by on December 2, 2014 in Uncategorized