I haven’t seen Mom since 2 years ago, so even with the pandemic sadly not over (and sometimes I feel like no end in sight), Sarah and I decided it was time to go back to where Mom lived, Hawaii. We’re vaccinated, boosted, and we packed KN95 masks from Project N95 exclusively. We wouldn’t have gone otherwise. We’re also isolating until our test results come back, and 3 days later, we have no symptoms. Get vaccinated, wear a mask, and we can beat this thing if we all just try.
Overall, we had a great time all things considered. The beaches were a bit rough for swimming this time, as you’ll see, but they were great for simply reading.
Oh, and if you followed me on Tumblr, you would have seen these photos as close to realtime as Hawaiian cell coverage allowed. 😉
Update: COVID test finished, we’re negative! Two 6-hour flights, 1 week in Hawaii, 0 COVID. Folks, you can do it too! Get vaccinated, get boosted, and wear a non-counterfeit KN95 or better mask around people unless you’re outdoors.
Consider sharing your voice and experiences with the world this year. If you don’t have a place to write yet, launch your own site with WordPress (and Jetpack) or WordPress.com, or if shorted content is your thing, take Tumblr for a spin. Don’t know what to write yet? Join the Bloganuary Challenge!
I have seen both the theatrical versions and the extended editions many times (I love these films, ok?). The theatrical versions always felt too long, excessive even, a slog. But, the extended editions? The ones that add even more content (some almost an hour)? They feel just right, they’re enjoyable, the time spent watching practically flies.
I’m not going to list the new and extended scenes, because it’s not about them specifically, it’s about their context. They aren’t really meant to be noticed, but their absence can be felt, and I think that is overall why the theatrical versions feel longer than the extended editions. Sure, a lot of films get away with deleted scenes, it’s still a popular bonus feature these days, but these scenes weren’t cut because they were poorly done, unfinished, or didn’t fit. They were cut simply because there was too much material for the average theatergoing audience. When you cut apart films this big, you’re going to be cutting scenes that the rest of the film relies on.
Something a character does 2 hours into the film seems very out of place, but only because about 5 minutes were cut from the first hour that would have informed their decision. Little things that don’t make sense can build up and become a distraction. If you make enough cuts like that, your 3-hour film becomes a 2-hour confusing slog that feels somehow longer than the original version. If you take the time to give that context, everything makes sense, and you’re just along for an enjoyable ride.
By the way, I don’t blame Peter Jackson for any of this. He had an excessive amount of material to adapt, but he also had to consider the attention span of the average theatergoer. I’m just thankful that he released the extended editions in the first place.
If you weren’t a fan of the theatrical versions of these films, grab the extended editions, sit back, and enjoy. You can stream The Lord of the Rings Extended Edition on HBO Max, but you’ll need to buy or rent The Hobbit Extended Edition from your platform of choice. Hopefully you’ll notice the same difference I did.
Joining our heroes is an impressive and ever-growing legion of supporting characters, but perhaps the most interesting are the clone troopers. Voiced by Dee Bradley Baker, many are given their own personality with slight vocal changes and various physical expressions. Perhaps the most iconic is Rex, who serves as Anakin’s second-in-command, and friend and mentor to Ahsoka. It’s hard to describe just how much justice this series did for the clones, but they really did. There are many who are just standard copies, but the show makes clear there some who strive for more individuality, and Dee Bradley Baker has his work cut out for him, sometimes leading whole episodes alone while voicing a variety of clones with slight differences.
Along with expanding the role of the clones, significant insight is presented not only as to how the Jedi train and operate, but also as to what the Force is and how it operates. A trio of episodes beginning with season 3’s Overlords expands on the mythology of the Force from the movies so much that it’s practically redefined entirely.
The show ran for 5 seasons, was picked up by Netflix who rescued its final canceled season, and then given yet-another final season by Disney+. 7 seasons in, is the show done? It’s anyone’s guess! But one thing is for sure, the animation improves dramatically every season.
If you love noir-style detective stories and magic, this is a must-watch series! Narration throughout really makes things easy to follow, especially if you decide to just jump into the middle of the show or watch it out of order. There’s not much character growth, but the characters are all pretty much grown as it is, a benefit of jumping out of a well-established book series. The mystery starts, great characters resolve it, you have fun. What more could you ask for?
Paul Blackthorne stars as Harry Dresden, a talented wizard and noir-style detective type who works as a consultant for the police when they need a “difference perspective” on very unusual cases. Valerie Cruz stars as Lt. Murphy, the only police officer who can stand Harry, and thus often his only source of case work. Terrence Mann stars as Bob, the ghost of an ancient sorcerer cursed to spend eternity bound to his skull, and Harry’s teacher. Conrad Coates stars as Donald Morgan, one of the wizards in charge of policing other wizards, and one who isn’t particularly fond of Harry.
If you know the stories, the actors definitely don’t look the part, but they play their parts to perfection. If you go on to read the books, it’s easy to hear their voices delivering the lines, because they just are these characters. Blackthorne’s Dresden is sloppy, distracted, showy, and focussed and powerful when he needs to be. Cruz’s Murphy is curt, direct, and always focussed on the case at hand. Mann’s Bob is arrogant yet caring, a teacher anyone would be happy to have. Coates’s Morgan is the perfect mix of direct, powerful, and kind when he wants to be.
Sadly, the series only ran for 12 episodes before being canceled, which is a shame, because it’s an absolutely wonderful show to just sit back and relax with. Fortunately, it doesn’t end on a cliffhanger, and if you want more, you can always read the books.