On the masterwork of Tenet

Christopher Nolan is unarguably one of the most talented filmmakers working today. I’ve loved his work since we saw Memento in a tiny little theater on a whim, and walked out with a different view of what a film could be. His work is smart, it’s challenging, and it’s gripping and engaging. Tenet seems to have received a mixed reception. I don’t think it’s my favorite of his movies, but it is certainly my favoritely crafted. It’s not very easy to follow the actual story, but it dives headfirst into creating a mood. Again, it’s unlike any other film I’ve ever seen, with multiple layers of meta structure. There were a lot of complaints about how the dialogue is inaudible over the blaring soundtrack, but I found that everything that was important for the viewer to know came through clearly enough, and the sound design itself was amazingly immersive and worked as a powerful element of the film’s environment. The action scenes were fresh and intense, the humor is tight and subtly delivered, and the storytelling aims high and almost entirely hits its target.

If you haven’t seen it, my recommendation is to watch it once, think about it for a little while, and then watch it again. Then come back here and enjoy these videos and articles:

A visual breakdown of the car chase scene:

A visual breakdown of the final attack scene:

This is the (real life) historical key to the entire movie, which fundamentally is just a huge pretentious pun:


And some more background on this.

I like this video essay about the craft of the film:

And this may answer some of your lingering questions:

I hope you enjoy this movie as much as I do.

Things about backing up your data

You need to back up your data.

tl;dr: There is no such thing as “a backup”. Do all the things.

To understand why and what the most appropriate way to back up your data is, you need to know what your threat model is – what you are are protecting against.

For the purposes of this discussion, we’ll assume that all data in contained in files. A file tree refers to all files and folders (subdirectories) underneath a root directory.

Some common scenarios:

  1. Your entire computer fails or is lost.
  2. A file is accidentally deleted.
  3. A file is corrupted through program crashes, power loss, or physical disk errors.
  4. You need to access your data on another device.
  5. Malware deletes, corrupts, or encrypts your files.

Some central tenets of backups:

  1. A backup is a copy of known good data that can be restored if needed.
  2. The best backup solutions involved not only multiple backups of each piece of data, but multiple kinds of backups. One backup is of course better than none, but is strongly considered by professionals to be more or less equivalent to having no backups..A good backup strategy involves at least two copies, preferably more, with at least one of them in a different physical location.
  3. Data, more or less, will be split into three large categories that will likely not need to be treated in the same way – content data (your files), configuration data (preferences, encryption keys, configuration files), and caches (temporary data that usually is possible to reconstruct but may be time consuming to do so, or is only important for a running process).
  4. Metadata about files may or may not be important (permissions, modification times, etc…). Generally for content data files they are not critical, but for some configuration files this can be important. This may differ if you’re backing up data for multiple users at once.

Kinds of Backups:

Files can be individually copied one at a time. Generally this is the weakest kind of backup and is reserved for when you know you’re making potentially dangerous edits and may need to restore a single file.

A file sync refers to making a single exact copy of a file tree. Syncs protect against the loss of an entire computer, subject to the last time they were synced. Syncs usually will not protect against file deletions or corruption, and they can be dangerous in that both deletions and corruption may propagate to the synced copy. Some file sync services may have a “trashcan” or “recently deleted files” list where you can restore files, usually within a certain time window (commonly somewhere between 7 and 60 days).

Incremental or versioned backups will keep a point in time of a file. This usually provides the best protection against local data loss.

RAID is not backup, but at higher levels it is handy to survive the death of a single drive with less hassle, and also for hot swapping.

Local vs. Offsite:

Your internet speed and the amount of data you have to back up will greatly affect the utility of online backups for you. This is one of the best use cases for fast upload speeds!

An external hard drive directly connected to the device you’re backing up will be the fastest and most useful connection, but also the most brittle – they can only be used for one device at a time, and share the same physical risks as your primary source. Local backups over the network are somewhat more convenient if you have more than one computer to back up, but are also at physical risk (flood, fire, theft, etc…). Local backups may still be vulnerable to malware.

Cloud backups are the slowest, but also distribute the most risk. They also offer a good level of protection against ransomware.

Scheduling and automation:

Backups can be performed manually (on-demand) or automated according to a schedule. Some kinds of manually-triggered backups can be acceptable if they’re part of a rigorous process (and even then I’d recommend that they be scripted but initiated manually), but for the most part, backups should be completely automated and not require any human intervention to happen. Anything that a human has to do, a human will forget to do.

Verification and Restores:

It can be tricky to know if your backups are working properly. A backup that is corrupted or otherwise unusable is worse than a good backup, because you think you’re protected but you’re not. It’s sometimes possible to run a full verification to ensure that a backup is an exact copy of the original, but this can be very time consuming. The only reall way to know for sure is to do a complete restore and check all of the files, but that may also be impossible to do in a practical way. In that case, spot checking of individual files can help give you some more confidence.

What I do:

Obviously your setup and needs may be different, but here’s what I do. I am entirely on Macs and iOS:

  1. iCloud Documents and iCloud Photo Library. These are sync services that provide some level of protection, but they’re mostly for the convenience of being able to access my data across all of my machines.
  2. Google Drive and Dropbox: These are sync services with some limited versioning. I use these sparingly for occasional sync and sharing purposes.
  3. A lot of other services have their own cloud sync these days, and I make some use of them, but don’t depend on them for backups.
  4. Time Machine on a local USB drive. I use this as my primary backup in case I need to rebuild the entire machine or recover a lot deleted file. It is a full automatic backup of the entire machine with very fine-grained version snapshots and good metadata support, and Apple’s setup process will read directly from it, making it the easiest way to do a full restore.
  5. Local Synology NAS with rsync. This is a sync service I use for making backup copies of specific media folders, automated with a script and run nightly. Synology has some other options for backups which I would probably use if I didn’t have everything else. It doesn’t have great support for file metadata, but that’s fine for what I use it for.
  6. Backblaze. I use this for offsite emergency backups. Restoration is a pain – individual critical files can be downloaded directly, but a full restore involves them shipping you a drive, which takes about two weeks. It doesn’t have great support for file metadata, but if I need to restore from this, things are bad anyway. This is reasonable insurance.

Make sure you keep your credentials/keys for encrypted offsite backup somewhere safe!

In general, the more backups you have and the less you have to think about them the better.

A clean start, long overdue

Nearly four years ago, I suspended my regularly scheduled Beards for New Years annual beard growth in favor of a protest beard.Yesterday, I shaved it off for the clean start I’ve been waiting for. To be honest, I didn’t think It would go this long. I thought for sure he’d be done sooner. We’ve lived with it for too much time, the idea that someone so completely odious could win. The clean start isn’t nearly as clean as I’d like.

Nearly 250k dead, wasted. And more to come.

The Senate narrowly still possibly up for grabs but far from conclusive.

The results should have been a tsunami of refutation. It’s a testament to the strength of it that it was still decisive even through all of the various kinds of voter suppression put into place, the closing of polling places, the purging of rolls, the stripping of voting rights from felons, the mail slowdowns.

With the calling of the election, support for this administration seems to have crumpled overnight like the empty facade some have seen it for all along. I wonder if we could have taken the wind out of the sails earlier, but I’m relieved the rats are finally fleeing the sinking ship. There’s reckoning to be done, but for now, just a sigh of relief, another day tomorrow, and remorse for those we were too late to help.

Of course there are challenges ahead, but it still feels like a new day.

The great wasted opportunities of the Revenge of the Sith with some spoilers and musings about the life we live in and the nature of stories

In preparation for the finale of Clone Wars, I did a binge watch through the highlights of the first seven seasons. The show starts a bit slow and takes some time to get its footing, but once it gets rolling, it’s absolutely great – easily one of the most fully realized elements of the Star Wars universe beyond the original trilogy. It does a great job with fleshing out its corner of the story and breathing life into all of the characters it touches. But there’s one glaring place it falls down – it does not give us any sort of adequate explanation for how Anakin becomes Darth Vader and turns to the Dark Side, or why. This was left to remain with Episode III, which also did a dismal job of showing this transition. It’s simply not believable that the character of Anakin, as he’s portrayed even to the very end of Clone Wars, becomes the greatest villain the universe has ever seen. There are a few glimmers of rule breaking – sometimes he kills someone to fix a problem and Obi-Wan shrugs disapprovingly. But even to the end, he’s still Anakin Skywalker, hero of the Clone Wars, and you’re rooting for him. There’s really no Darth Vader there.

As you might expect, I have a way to fix it.

Let’s back up a bit more and start with something else that’s completely unbelievable – Anakin’s relationship to Padme. As portrayed in Episode II, Padme goes from not really wanting to be around Anakin to being in love with him very quickly. There’s no real explanation offered for this change of heart, though it’s hinted at a bit. Anakin is probably the most powerful Force user… ever. It’s never explicitly stated that this is possible, but we know that the Force can have effects on people who aren’t Force-sensitive. What if the Force could be used to manipulate someone’s emotions and make them fall in love? If that’s not a Dark Side power, I don’t know what is. But what if a sufficiently powerful Force user could do this subconsciously, without even realizing they were doing it? Let’s say that’s what happened. Padme isn’t really in love with Anakin, but she thinks she is due to the effects of the Force, and he doesn’t even realize what’s going on. Things go on like that for a while, their relationship progresses. And then, eventually, she gets pregnant, with at least one extremely powerful Force sensitive fetus (Leia’s Force-sensitivity is up in the air, we’ll discuss that another day). As this child grows within her, a protective aura follows, and she starts to resist and realize what has transpired. Padme goes to the only person she can trust with this information, General Kenobi. Anakin doesn’t understand, he’s confused. Maybe this is the point at which Palpatine throws the switch and convinces Anakin that Padme and Obi-Wan are conspiring against him. In a jealous rage, he confronts them.

Anakin has always been the better warrior, more cunning, more daring, more bold. Obi-Wan is losing, but maintaining his ground. Anakin starts to get frustrated with the fight, and Padme tries to break it up. Anakin loses control and inadvertently unleashes a Force lightning blast, which stands to mortally wound Padme. At the last minute, Obi-Wan inserts his lightsaber into the blast, turning it back on Anakin. The feedback leaves his body badly scarred and damages his limbs. Obi-Wan speaks some reason into him, but it’s too late. Anakin is devastated by what he’s done. His body is wrecked, and his mind is crushed under the weight of years of guilt, brought to a head by the murder of the woman he does truly love. Padme is rushed to a medical droid where the twins are saved, but she doesn’t survive. Palpatine arranges for Anakin to be transferred to his private hospital for special care, but no one ever checks up on him because they’re distracted with the fall of the galactic Senate and the massacre of the Jedi which somehow takes 20 more years to result in the destruction of the Republic.

Anyway: Arise, Lord Vader.

It didn’t have to go specifically this way, there are a lot of other ways to tweak it. Maybe Obi-Wan and Padme have a secret attraction and there’s a love triangle, more motivation for Palpatine to spark. Maybe there’s some other event that doesn’t involve fridging Padme (like even the canon version does). Maybe you don’t like the whole Force lightning thing and that’s too close to how Palpatine got the way he was (but I’d get rid of that too). The point here is that like so much other recent Star Wars, they were so close to having this be epically great, and missed the mark with sloppy storytelling and weak character motivations. Anakin being such a powerful Force user that he can tap into Dark Side powers without even realizing it, and then becoming addicted to it after a mental collapse from accidentally hurting people he loved – that would have been a pretty interesting arc to me. We’re never given a compelling reason why Anakin turned to the Dark Side, and the masterful filling in that the rest of Clone Wars did brings this into even harsher focus.

The great wasted opportunities of the Rise of Skywalker with some spoilers and musings about the life we live in and the nature of stories

I was going to let this go, but I had some followup discussion about my comment about how Finn and the other characters in Rise of Skywalker were wasted, and I needed to get some more thoughts out.

Star Wars story structure has a long history of parallel forks – more than one plotline whose tines interlock. This, I hope you’ll agree, heightens the sense of tension and creates the illusion of a more coherent world. These storylines are independent and sometimes stray, but they connect at key points to bring the characters together emotionally and create meaningful bonds. In the Star Wars mainline trilogies, these storylines have traditionally been: 1) Jedi mysticism, a sense of wonder about and inclusion in the unknown forces and powers that guide the universe. This is the lure of power. 2) the galactic government / Empire / Republic, the background of the structure of how the people in the galaxy fight for what they think is power over other (mostly) humans in the absence of the direct line to power that The Force represents, and 3) the regular people just trying to make a living by trying to ignore the power struggles of the various elites. In the original Trilogy, these storylines are clearly represented by Luke, Leia, and Han, and the interesting parts are where they overlap (Han joins the rebellion after all, Luke and Leia are opposite sides of the same hereditary thirst for power, etc…).

This structure is largely blown apart in the recent Trilogy, but mostly unintentionally, through sloppy storytelling. Let’s look at how this could have gone.

Finn is introduced in a very strong way. He’s a First Order trooper raised in a life of faithful service to the government with a moment of clarity that he’s actually the bad guy. So he defects, and this story… really goes nowhere at all. Finn would have had a much more interesting arc if his realizing he could break away from the First Order could be the seed of an actual rebellion in the First Order. We don’t get any insight into the rank and file of the stormtroopers in the movies, and this could have been a great entry point into that. Are they evil? Are they brainwashed? Are they religious zealots? Are they acting out of fear? Do they think they’re doing the right thing? On the face of it, they’re the legit government, but this story also crosses over to the lines of the regular people. They’re pawns, but they can have some power. Here’s your allegory about the influence of individual actions on collective waves of accomplishment. All it takes is the right spark to trigger a movement.

Poe… I’m not really sure what to do about Poe. The character as written in the trilogy is fairly bland and uninteresting, but I actually liked what they started to do with him in Rise of Skywalker the best out of the three. Exploring his checkered past with the criminal underbelly could have had some crossover with his escape from that world and a similar liberating element to bring others out into legitimate enterprises. I need to think about this one some more.

I don’t have a whole lot to say about Rose except that she’s criminally underutilized in this movie. She could very easily have been worked into all of these plot threads as an actual character with agency. She probably deserves her own movie.

And then there’s Rey. Quite frankly, bringing Palpatine back as the big bad pulling the strings behind the curtain is some bullshit right there. But they could have turned into the wind and pulled an interesting story out of this. I’ve already talked about how it was totally in line with the rest of Star Wars that her parents were nobody and that was fine. It didn’t need to be Palpatine per se, and it didn’t need to be about her lineage – it could have been about the overall influence of the formerly living Sith. Given that light Jedi have a sufficient connection to the Force that they can attain some life after death, it’s not entirely unreasonable for the Sith to be able to do this too. In the Star Wars movies, this has never been straight up resurrection. I would have even been okay with the spirit of Palpatine as part of the Sith collective if it hadn’t been “literally Palpatine’s body and legacy”. Imagine if you will that the crux of this conflict was not “we have to find a thing to find a thing to find the Sith who are trying to conquer the galaxy again and kill Palpatine fucking again” but instead – we need to understand this ability for the dead to keep interfering in the affairs of the living, and in order to stop the Sith from doing it, we also have to cut off the Jedi. We wipe the slate clean. No more Sith coming back from the dead, but also no more Force ghosts of dead Jedi. They could have used this to make a point about the way we hold onto the things we have great memories of in history, and have trouble letting go. We could have made a formal goodbye, and had a proper sacrifice that felt real, with deep emotional consequences. Our heroes get to save the day again, but they also get to pass the baton.

Star Wars is a big part of our modern mythology. The end of this story could have been a powerful fable about enjoying what we’ve done before, honoring it, and letting it go to let something take its place and bloom with a renewed sense of energy. Star Wars has always been about hope, but it’s also been about wanting to know what happens next. I want to want to know what happens next.

Things about The Rise of Skywalker with some spoilers and musings about the life we live in and the nature of stories

I still haven’t fully processed all of my opinions about Rise of Skywalker yet. I disliked a bunch of things about it. I think they made a lot of bad, predictable, and safe choices and were feeling really burned by The Last Jedi but took away entirely the wrong lessons. Despite that, I still had fun in the theater, and I was able to sit back and enjoy the absurdity without deeply caring about it, but the longer I’ve thought with it and looked back on it, the less I’ve liked it. These thoughts aren’t entirely gelled yet, but I guess that’s not any worse than the movie.

This comparison was made to Endgame. Rise of Skywalker’s last minute save is particularly even more egregious, because not only is it forced, but Leia has been asking for the rest of the galaxy to join this fight for two whole movies, and it takes Lando to convince people to show up.

I think it’s interesting that almost all of my issues with The Last Jedi were in the execution, not the core premises, and the things that Rise of Skywalker “fixed” were almost entirely core premises.

Remarkably, I still think Rian Johnson is a great filmmaker and I respect his conviction, despite the train wreck that The Last Jedi was, and even though he’s doubled down on some of his bad choices. I don’t disagree with the intent behind them, I just think he doesn’t have a vision for how to portray those particular choices that meshes with my opinion of what makes a good movie. The Holdo maneuver scene was breathtaking. And yet also hamfisted, telegraphed a mile away, and completely out of place with everything we know about how space travel works in this universe. Not one of Holdo’s character choices makes sense in a Star Wars movie.

I think it was a mistake to make this a trilogy. They could have easily made Rise of Skywalker be two films and taken some extra time to clean up the structure. A lot of elements of it are forced into place and are only there to “wrap things up” at the expense of the story. But even thinking that, at the end of it all, I’m still relieved that the trilogy is over, because the entire thing is a mess and has been a gigantic waste of all of our time. Now that it’s finished, we can all stop talking about it as the elephant in the room, and I hope pick up the space for more interesting stories instead of the mainline. I think that strong mainline is an illusion, covered up by the fact that deviations from it have sucked, not that they were bad because they were deviations. I think deviating from “classic Star Wars” is a narrative choice that they make because people get upset when they deviate badly from it. But that’s because when they have done so, it’s largely been in bad ways. That’s different from all deviations being bad, and I think they’re confusing the two.

This deleted scene could have been used as the root of an actual fifth column within the First Order, and been an actual plot line that helped them win the war instead of just the stupid single Hux spy gag. Or they could have faked it out with that, killed Hux and thought they’d eliminated the spy, only to find that there was a whole organization of them. Maybe this would even have tied into the troopers that had escaped. But it’s never even hinted at.

And that’s the crux of it. I could go on with details about mistakes I think they made, but it amounts to the same thing: Finn’s entire character is wasted, the same way every character in this entire trilogy is wasted. No one has any connection to the larger story in any meaningful way, it’s just some things that happen. We shouldn’t be having this discussion – Star Wars movies should be the best of the entertainment we have. Their stories should be coherent. Their plots should matter, even if that import is only to the characters in the universe itself. We should care about what happens because the characters care. The characters should have meaningful and self-consistent motivations. We shouldn’t walk out of the theater muttering to ourselves about things that made no sense. Great entertainment still exists. Star Wars deserves better than this, and we deserve better than this.

Things about Watchmen with some spoilers and musings about the life we live in and the nature of stories

I’m struggling a little here, because there are so many things to say about the book and its place in history. It is an “important piece of art”(™️), with far more complexity than can be easily expressed. It literally transformed the entire field of comics, and every piece of the genre owes something to it, good or bad. It deserves its reputation as one of the greatest graphic novels of the form, but there are many things about it that are not easy or nice.

It has long been considered unfilmable, not just because of the complexity and harshness of the story, but also because much of its brilliance is inextricably tied to a deep understanding and through deconstruction of comics as an art form. Like his other comic adaptations, Zack Snyder’s take was a shot for shot blocking disaster that completely lacked any inkling of why it was doing what it was doing. Don’t watch it.

But HBO’s new show is kind of amazing, an adaptation that has taken the lens of the book and adapted it to TV and the way media is consumed and informs us today, and has applied that to a modern and culturally relevant story while giving us an unflattering perspective on our ugly history (and consequently, our present), with just enough skewed by the insertion of superheroes that the contrast makes everything even clearer.

I have more to say, but it’s not fully formed yet. I have a few minor quibbles, but the show is a masterwork. It’s hands down one of the finest pieces ever produced for TV, period. Watch it.

Raise the humidity to apply thin film screen protectors without bubbles.

If given a choice, I will always opt for a matte screen over a shiny screen – I dislike screen glare, and I especially hate the way modern screens collect fingerprints. They’re easy to wipe off, sure, but they still accumulate until you do. As a result, I will usually put a matte thin film screen protector on my devices. I’m very fond of the iCarez protectors – they’re cheap and high quality. Applying these comes with a massive annoyance – bubbles under the film. Moving too fast and not smoothing as you go can cause raised areas, but those are fairly easy to eliminate by being careful and pressing a card down from the center to press the bubble to the edge where it can escape. Much more insidious are the bubbles caused by pieces of airborne dust that stick to the screen – if one of those gets trapped under the screen, it can be very difficult to fix. Some screen protectors include little stickers that be used to pull dust bits off of the film, but I haven’t found them to work very well. The best way to deal with these is to prevent them from happening in the first place, and the best way to do that is to reduce the amount of dust in the air and the amount of static on the film that draws the dust to it. Barring a cleanroom environment which you probably don’t have available to you, a good trick here is to apply the film in the bathroom. Close the windows, run the shower on hot for a few minutes to raise the humidity in the room, turn it off and wait a few more minutes for the dust to settle, and then go in and apply the film. Don’t forget to cover the floor with a rug or towel if you need to – bathroom floors are usually very hard and you don’t want to accidentally smash your phone or tablet on the tile when you’re doing this. This method isn’t completely perfect, but it will substantially cut down on dust problems and make this a great deal easier.

That’s it. Good luck!

I never thought they would sink Solo

I saw Solo, and while I was somewhat hesitant going in, I was at least hoping it to be a solid and fun heist movie. The initial reviews seemed to point towards “Alden Ehrenreich isn’t a great Han Solo as we know him, but if you can forget that, it’s all ok”. That would have been just fine, I’m not as emotionally tied to Han Solo as some are. Unfortunately, the movie is a near-complete mess. It’s made up of pieces that could fit together well, but in practice don’t. None of the jokes land with any force, several major plot elements make no sense whatsoever, and it ends up just being a complete waste of time. The movie has nothing interesting to say, there’s no there there, and the entire thing is simply trite. Donald Glover’s performance as Lando is entertaining, particularly his capes, and L3’s robot rebellion is probably the best part of the movie. My overall impression of this movie is that they got a bunch of people in a room to do some free association about what reminds people of Han Solo, and they just made that into a checklist. I imagine something like this:

  • Millennium Falcon. Nice ship. What’s up with the two things in front where there should be one thing?
  • Not the lightsaber guy.
  • The Kessel Run but that line about 12 parsecs never made any sense. Better explain.
  • Sometimes he runs away from things and then accidentally runs into the thing he’s running away from. Do that again! So funny.
  • He used to be a pilot in the Imperial Army.
  • No one has properly examined the provenance of his name. Better explain.
  • He humorously calls his furry friend “Chewie”. That might be short for something. Better explain.
  • Said furry friend likes to play 3D chess. Who does that?
  • Said furry friend was rescued by Han at some point, so he sticks around. Better explain.
  • Remember, no lightsabers, no matter how much you like that noise. Do a thermal detonator joke instead.
  • Lando is a dude.
  • His career before Star Wars is deeply connected to the origins of the Rebellion. No wait, it’s not. Do that anyway though.
  • Holy shit we forgot about the dice.

A brief interlude: the dice are not a thing. The dice are never explained as a thing of importance. They just … appear one day and they’re supposed to be this totem for Han. There were some dice hanging in the Falcon cockpit for one brief moment in the original movie as a joke, they were not inscribed with an alien language, and both this movie and The Last Jedi have somehow latched onto them as if they were some iconic element that represents everything about our favorite gambling scoundrel in one neat little golden package. Except… no. There’s no backstory, there’s no meaning, and there’s no actual emotional weight. On second thought, maybe this is a perfect metaphor for this movie.

Some other things in no particular order that don’t work:

  • The first sequence doesn’t fit together. I guess that trying to escape and then running into the people he was escaping from is “a thing that happens to Han” now, but this is really silly for it to be a thing that happens over and over again. The setup is out of place – it seems like this entire first part was written for a 16 year-old Han, and it might have worked ok if they did that, but then it might have come off as an awkward replay of the opening scene of the Star Trek reboot. 
  • I don’t like that they made Lando an out-and-out cheater. He’s a manipulator, sure, but that entire sequence left me with a really bad taste in my mouth, and that kind of behavior would definitely have gotten him killed at some point along the path _waaaay_ before this. I liked the performance, but this felt really wrong.
  • Qi’ra should not have been a love interest from Han’s childhood (er… earlier adulthood?). Not everything has to be a connected thing. 
  • Han joining the Imperial Army as it’s presented here makes no sense. I haven’t seen Clone Wars or Star Wars Rebels, but this is supposed to be some amount of time before the beginning of Star Wars. The Empire isn’t really THE EMPIRE yet, until the Emperor dissolves the Senate at the beginning of Star Wars. Han joining the Imperial Academy is… signing up to work for the legitimate government. It would be much more believable if that was where he became disillusioned with the atrocities they were committing. Artfully done, this is probably a whole movie by itself.
  • Wait… was Chewbacca straight up murdering and eating people in the pit before Han came along? Somehow he can’t eat a porg, but this is fine?
  • It makes no sense that an orphan from Corellia speaks Kashyyyk.
  • I’m still not sure why the Kessel Run is a thing with a name that people do and other people recognize. 
  • So… L3 is a crusader for robot rights, leads an actual robot rebellion (successfully, I might add), and Lando’s response is “we’re just going to merge you with the navigation computer for the ship condemning you to a lifetime of horrible slavery but at least you’ll be close to me forever… until I lose you in a card game to evidently the galaxy’s worst smuggler who will himself eventually just misplace you and you’ll end up in a junkyard for a while”. But then you’ll end up with Rey, which I guess is nice. Please don’t let this be a thing in the next movie.
  • None of the heists actually make any sense. We can’t invade this rival gang’s turf because we have an uneasy agreement with them, but maybe that’ll be okay because we’re not associated with you, but just in case, bring my extremely highly visible known associate who I throw lavish parties with. And especially don’t bring an ice pack or specially designed canister to help keep this highly unstable chemical from overheating.

I was disappointed that the movie was as bad as I was expecting it to be from the initial trailer. There’s definitely more, but I’m out of energy and really I just wanted to use the pun in the title. So we’ve got that going for us.

How to Play Carcassonne (because the rules are terrible at explaining this)

We play a lot of board games around these parts, and whoa are there a lot of games to play. Carcassonne is somewhat of a classic, but I’ve picked it up a few times over the past few years and not really grokked how to play. After we finally figured it out, I realized the difficulty – the rules don’t explicitly tell you the most important thing you need to know in order to play the game. There is also an excellent iOS version of the game, and the tutorial also inexplicably leaves out this information! But never fear, you’ve made it to the inner sanctum of truth.

These are Meeples:

By Júlio Reis (User:Tintazul) - Original File, CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=306300

And the important thing you need to know is this.

Meeples are how you score points.

Maybe this is obvious, but it’s never spelled out, and it frustrated us to no end. The game is actually pretty simple. On your turn, you get to place a tile, and then you can place a meeple on one of the structures on the tile (field, castle, road, monastery, etc…). You can’t place a meeple in a structure if there’s another meeple in the same connected structure already. If it’s a structure other than a field, you get the meeple back into your pool when you complete the structure and score it. If it’s a field or the structure is incomplete, you leave it down until the end of the game and score it then. That’s it! The rest of the rules are implementation details, and you should read the manual.