Musings & Thoughts for Sunday, July 18, 2021, or: When Past & Present Collide

Photo by Sunyu Kim on

Hello, Dear Reader. It’s late morning in New Hometown, Florida on Sunday, July 18, 2021. Currently the temperature is 85˚F (29˚C) under partly sunny skies. With humidity at 53% and the wind blowing from the east-southeast at 7 MPH (8 KM/H), the feels-like temperature is 93˚F (34˚C). Today’s forecast is a repeat of yesterday’s – we are to watch for scattered rain showers, and the high will be 93˚F (34˚C). Tonight, light rain is expected, and the low will be 75˚F (24˚C). The Air Quality Index (AQI is 58 or Moderate.

Grief is like the ocean; it comes in waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.Vicki Harrison

The author and his mom, circa 1963

Today marks the sixth anniversary of the beginning of the end for my mom, as Saturday, July 18, 2015 was the last day when she woke up, had breakfast – her last meal, literally – and then slowly but surely faded until she passed away early on Sunday, July 19.

A mother’s love is always with her children. Losing a mother is one of the deepest sorrows a heart can know. But her goodness, her caring, and her wisdom live on-like a legacy of love that will always be with you. May that love surround you now and bring you peace. – Unknown

I was probably the last person she spoke to before she lapsed into a hard-to-describe state of semiconsciousness around 2 PM Eastern on that hot, muggy, and cloudy Saturday six years ago. And because I still get intensely sad when I dwell on my last moments with my mother, I’d rather not write a long and detailed account of it. Suffice it to say that I did my best to take care of Mom (or, as she preferred to be called, Mami) on her last day with us.

Photo by Ekrulila on

I don’t know what I’ll be doing today after I post this on WordPress beyond taking a shower and getting dressed. I will probably read one of the books on my To Be Read (TBR) pile; I have quite a few books that I’ve started and made some progress with but not quite finished, so I might seek a comfy reading spot and lose myself in a good history book or the novelization of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

I could also pick up where I left off last night with Part 3 of 2017’s The Vietnam War: A Film by Ken Burns & Lynn Novick. I started watching it last night on my Blu-ray player, but I had already binge-watched a bunch of episodes of Amazon’s The Man in the High Castle, so I fell asleep watching The River Styx (January 1964-December 1965), which is about how North Vietnam and the U.S. escalated the conflict by sending combat troops to South Vietnam at a time when that country was experiencing political turmoil and instability.

As you can imagine, I don’t feel like doing much today, but by the same token I don’t want to dwell too much on what happened six years ago today. So I’ll just do my best to find something to distract me and not think too much about the past.

Well, Dear Reader, that’s it for this edition of A Certain Point of View, Too. Stay safe, stay healthy, and I’ll catch you on the sunny side of things.

Musings & Thoughts for Saturday, July 17, 2021, or: The Persistence of (Dark) Memory….

The author and immediate family at their last visit to a South Florida restaurant together, circa Spring of 2013.

Hi, there, Dear Reader. It’s almost noon on Saturday, July 17, 2021, in New Hometown, Florida. It is a hot summer day: the temperature outside is 87˚F (30˚C) under sunny skies. With humidity at 50% and a southeasterly breeze blowing at 7 MPH (12 KM/H), the heat index is 96˚F (36˚C). Today’s forecast calls for scattered rain showers and a high of 93˚F (34˚C). Scattered rain showers will continue throughout the night. The low will be 74˚F (23˚C). The Air Quality Index (AQI) is 32, or Good.

This time of year – July 15-July 20 – is always hard on me. Six years ago, my mother was at home but in under hospice care provided by Catholic Services of Miami. She had been suffering from several ailments – including dementia, issues with her kidneys, a weary heart, and the effects of being confined to a hospital-style bed in what used to be our guest room in a three-bedroom, two-story townhouse – and had just been released from Kendall Regional Hospital after suffering a cardiac event.

Those five days in mid-July of 2015 are indelibly etched into my memory as the saddest, most difficult days of my life. I was simultaneously trying to run the house in my mother’s stead, squabbling with my half-sister Victoria over everything under the sun, and preparing myself for the inevitable death of my mother.

I took this photo with my Samsung smartphone in 2013 as I left our condo to walk the one-third of a mile to the nearby Winn-Dixie store to get groceries.

Of those three main concerns, running the house was perhaps the easiest one. All I had to do in those last days of being my mother’s principal caregiver was to make sure the bills were paid on time, go grocery shopping to keep both of us fed,[1] and cook at least one meal a day. The home health aide – whose name I’ve forgotten – helped keep the downstairs part of the house tidy, but I still vacuumed and washed dishes by hand…chores I had been doing in the two houses I shared with my mother since we moved back to Miami from Colombia back in 1972.

The other two big issues – Mom’s impending demise and my stormy relationship with my half-sister Vicky – were much harder to tackle. And if I am to be totally honest, the former was more a matter of accepting an ugly truth, while the latter was akin to holding a wolf by the ears – I didn’t like it, but I didn’t dare let go. Both were grievous blows in their own way, and I don’t think I’ve recovered from them.

The author and his mother, circa 1963. Family Photo

Paradoxically, even though I am the younger of my mother’s two children and the one who had the closest bond with her, I think I came to terms with my mom’s death even before she died on July 19,2015. I knew that I would miss her terribly once she was physically gone, but I mentally said my “goodbyes” to Mami (as she liked to be called) on Mother’s Day of 2015 rather than by her deathbed on the dreaded date of her passing.

Why do I say this, Dear Reader?

Well, you see, in late April of 2015 I bought the Blu-ray of Evita for Mom as what I strongly suspected would be her last Mother’s Day present. I chose Evita ­– a 1996 musical drama  based on the 1976 concept album of the same name produced by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber, which also inspired a 1978 musical – for two reasons.

(C) 1996, 2012 Buena Vista Home Entertaiment

First, Mom and I had wanted to see Evita when it was in theaters in Miami in late 1996 and early 1997. We invited my Aunt Martha (Mom’s older sister), who was staying at our house for an extended vacation at the time. At first, my aunt seemed enthusiastic and we made arrangements to go with my half-sister, who also said she wanted to go. But on the day that we had set aside to go to the theater where Evita was running, my aunt got cold feet and said, “Que pereza![2]” Mom tried her best to sway her sister, but to no avail. My half-sister, who was already into her second vodka with tonic water, sided with Aunt Martha, so we did not go to see the movie.

The second reason for choosing Evita was that back in 1950, my mother was married to Vicky’s dad, a brilliant surgeon who, with excellent political connections, was appointed to be the chief medical staff member at the Colombian Embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Both Mom and her husband had diplomatic status and, as a result, attended several functions where General Juan Peron and his wife Eva Duarte de Peron (aka “Evita”) were present.

Mom had met Evita at these functions – you know, just the usual reception line stuff where she respectfully said “hello” to Argentina’s First Lady, shook her hand, then moved on – and that’s why she had wanted to see the movie. She was not necessarily a fan of Madonna (who plays the title character) or Jonathan Pryce (who plays Peron), but she liked the music from Evita[3] and was keen on seeing the spectacle in Alan Parker’s movie.

I wish now that I had given Mom her copy of Evita well before her cognitive issues emerged after her fateful 2010 surgery to repair her spine. The 25th Anniversary Blu-ray was released in 2012, and I’d given her a Blu-ray player in 2011, so I could have bought it while Mom could still watch movies and follow their plots without any problems. I was pretty busy dealing with all of my new responsibilities and fending off Vicky’s efforts to take over the running of the house, so I didn’t have clarity of thought a lot of the time. Still…

Of course, by the time I attempted to screen Evita on Mom’s small 720p high-definition TV set in May of 2015, her ability to enjoy movies was gone. She kept saying, “But I’ve already seen this movie!” over and over – I think she was blending her own fractured memories of her time in Argentina and the images on her television – and asked me a few times to turn Evita off. And because Mom also suffered from Sundown Syndrome, I had to acquiesce.

That’s the moment when, in my mind at least, I mentally said Oh, Mom…I love you. I hate to see you go. I didn’t dare say it aloud, but that’s when I knew that Mom would not last all the way to Christmas of 2015 (which Vicky kept on insisting our mother would live to see). Fighting back tears, I stopped the movie at the halfway point, ejected the Blu-ray from the player, and put the disc back in its case.

Mom would linger on, painfully, another two months, but she was steadily fading, one ghastly day at a time.

The author and his mom in 2012.

Dealing with my older half-sister was, is, and probably will be more painful than Mom’s death. I’m in New Hometown in no small part to the conflict between Vicky and me. Our relationship was stormy when Mom was still around and able to play the role of peacemaker, but it became more toxic after Mom became ill and was no longer able to run the house in any way. Vicky got mad when Mom chose me to become the one responsible to pay the bills and do the grocery shopping; I think her mindset was, “Well, I’m the older child, so I should be the decisionmaker here,” but Mom needed someone who could make sure bills were paid in time and that groceries were purchased, laundry washed, and household chores done regularly – and properly. And for good or ill, I was that person.

Vicky helped with my mother’s caregiving, at least as far as the purely medical aspects are concerned. She was, after all, a registered nurse with a specialty in geriatric patients, so she was the one who went with Mom to most of her appointments and talked to the physicians, psychiatrists, therapists, and nurses at Mom’s HMO.[4]

But as far as helping me around the house? Nope. No siree. Her idea of “helping” was to lie down on the bed across from Mom’s and watch TV until it was time for Mom’s late night (10 PM) diaper change, one last blood pressure check, and the giving of a mild sedative to help Mom drift off to sleep.

Other than that, Vicky did not do much. Sometimes she would try to imperiously order me about or get the home health aides to change the layout of the room (which I then would order to be reversed) because she thought Mom would see the TV better from the north or “right side” of the room rather from the south.

I could go on and on with a score of other “why Vicky was more hindrance than help” anecdotes, but I just get angrier and more depressed than I feel already. Suffice it to say that she was passive-aggressive in her efforts to undermine my authority as Mom’s stand-in as head of the household and leave it at that.

As I said earlier, even though there were other reasons why I am here in New Hometown, living under someone else’s roof (financial insecurity being the main one, if truth be told), the estrangement between Vicky and me is the main one.

Well, it’s now well past noon, and the weather has changed (it’s hotter and cloudier) since I started this post, so I’ll just end this long and sorry tale here. Stay safe, stay healthy, and I’ll catch you on the sunny side of things.

[1] It must be said that at this time Mom was not really eating much, even though my half-sister insisted that the home health aide cook meals for her from scratch, as if somehow “homemade” would keep Mom alive. Still, I went to the nearby Winn-Dixie to get the ingredients required for these meals, and of course I’d get food for me as well.

[2] Literally, “What laziness!” Roughly, it means “How boring!”

[3] I had bought her a cassette with the songs from Andrew Lloyd-Webber and Tim Rice’s concept album back in the 1980s for either Mother’s Day, her birthday, or Christmas.

[4] The caveat is that because Vicky had not yet retired – Metropolitan Hospital of Miami would not close till April 30, 2014 – and was still working the 7 AM – 7 PM shift as a nurse, I was the one who had to call the HMO’s pharmacy and re-order Mom’s prescriptions every month. Moreover, I was the one who had to administer the various pills when Vicky was not on “Mom watch.”  By law, the home health aides could not do so. So I did that job, too.

‘Star Wars’ Collectibles & Toys Review: Hasbro Star Wars The Black Series Jar Jar Binks 6-inch Scale Action Figure Review

Image Credit: Hasbro. (C) 2021 Hasbro and Lucasfilm Ltd.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

A clumsy, well-meaning Gungan outcast on Naboo, Jar Jar Binks struggled to prove his worth throughout his life. – Character biographical blurb, Star Wars The Black Series Jar Jar Binks

On January 21, 2021, Hasbro released a new deluxe figure, Star Wars The Black Series Jar Jar Binks in the new-style packaging for the 6-inch scale action figures based on heroes, villains, and sidekicks from the Star Wars multimedia franchise. Based on the computer-generated animated character introduced in writer-director’s 1999 Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (aka Star Wars: The Phantom Menace), Jar Jar Binks represents what is considered by many fans and critics of the Skywalker Saga to be one of the most divisive characters ever created for that story set “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.”

Promotional photo from the Hasbro Pulse website. (C) 2021 Hasbro and Lucasfilm Ltd.

The 6-inch-scale The Black Series Jar Jar Binks deluxe figure is carefully detailed to look like the character from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, featuring premium detail and multiple points of articulation. – Product description blurb, Hasbro Pulse website

Billed by the manufacturer as a “deluxe figure” along the lines of Chewbacca & C-3PO, this 2021 addition to the Star Wars The Black Series collection depicts the character performed and voiced by actor Achmed Best as he appears in the Battle of Naboo sequence in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.

This was the only instance in the live-action Skywalker Saga films in which the hapless Gungan – a guileless, big-hearted, and goofy “accidental hero” with a penchant for getting himself in trouble – gets  to be a Star Wars action hero. Accordingly, the big-eared, stalky-eyed amphibian is equipped with a small arsenal of Gungan weapons.

Jar Jar Binks in his only live-action depiction as an action hero. Here, he stoically wields a cesta. Promotional photo by Hasbro. (C) 2021 Hasbro and Lucasfilm Ltd.

This Star Wars The Black Series deluxe action figure comes with 3 Jar Jar Binks-inspired accessories that make great additions to any Star Wars collection. – Product description blurb, Hasbro Pulse website

The weapons Jar Jar wields here are:

  • A Gungan cesta, which is a kind of spear that can either be used as a two-handed stabbing weapon or a hand-thrown missile
  • A personal hand-held energy shield based on the same tech used to create the larger fambaa-mounted energy shield used in the Battle of Naboo by the Gungan army
  • An “atlatl” throwing stick that hurls energy balls, Gungan weapons that are like sticky grenades designed to short out the delicate electronics of battle droids and Trade Federation tanks

Per David West Reynolds’ Star Wars: The Complete Visual Dictionary:

General Jar Jar

Boss Nass misinterprets Jar Jar’s connections with the newly favored Naboo royalty as maturity and makes him a general in the Gungan Grand Army – much to the dismay of the troops he is to “command.” Jar Jar lives up to their expectations when he panics during combat, falls off his mount, and instantly surrenders when surrounded.  Fortunately, few soldiers pay the new general any attention and, since the Gungans win the battle anyway, Boss Nass is none the wiser.[1]

Though Jar Jar holds the rank of general – a posting that leads eventually to his appointment as Junior Representative from Naboo to the Galactic Congress on Coruscant – he does not wear a formal uniform. Instead, the lanky Gungan wears a kind of brass-colored breastplate over castoff clothes that include a brown sleeveless tank top and old traditional Gungan-style stretch pants. Jar Jar wears no shoes or boots; instead he walks around on his bare but tough stubby-toed feet.

Star Wars The Black Series

Kids and collectors alike can imagine the biggest battles and missions in the Star Wars saga with figures from Star Wars The Black Series! With exquisite features and decoration, this series embodies the quality and realism that Star Wars devotees love. Star Wars The Black Series includes figures, vehicles, and roleplay items from the 40-plus-year legacy of the Star Wars Galaxy, including comics, movies, and animated series. Imagine the excitement and adventure from a galaxy far, far away with figures from Star Wars The Black Series! (Additional products each sold separately. Subject to availability.) – Hasbro promotional blurb touting the Star Wars The Black Series collection

My Take

Image Credit: Hasbro. (C) 2021 Hasbro and Lucasfilm Ltd.

As an outcast, Jar Jar spends much of his time in the Naboo swampland. It’s there that the hapless Gungan encounters a pair of Jedi as they elude enemy forces. – Manufacturer’s product blurb, Hasbro Pulse website

I received my Star Wars The Black Series Jar Jar Binks deluxe figure as part of the Caregiver’s assortment of presents for my 58th birthday in March. She bought me this character figure partly because she knew I did not have a 6-inch scale action figure of Jar Jar in my modest Star Wars The Black Series collection, but I suspect that the primary reason is that she loves Jar Jar Binks – he’s her favorite character from the Star Wars Prequel Trilogy.

I am not as enamored of Jar Jar as the Caregiver, but unlike many Star Wars fans who grew up with George Lucas’s Original Trilogy, I don’t hate the character, either. When I watched Star Wars: The Phantom Menace back in 1999, I knew that he was created as the film’s comedy relief character, just as Artoo Detoo and See Threepio were the Laurel and Hardy element of 1977’s Star Wars (aka Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.

Image Credit: Hasbro. (C) 2021 Hasbro and Lucasfilm Ltd.

Hasbro did a nice job with the sculpt and paint job (aka deco in action figure lingo) for Star Wars The Black Series Jar Jar Binks. The figure is a nice 6-inch scale rendition of the Gungan exile-turned-hero and replicates his gangly, comical features, including the eyestalks with nictitating membranes, the long hailu (earlobes), the orange-hued mottled skin that is suited for camouflage, and Jar Jar’s skinny body and limbs – he apparently does not eat well while in exile, you see – that made him a natural character ready-made as a CGI animated character.

 I have been collecting Star Wars action figures, vehicles, and their accessories for a long time. 43 years, to be exact. I was given my first two 3.75-inch action figures (Artoo Detoo and See Threepio) and the Landspeeder vehicle from the original Kenner Star Wars collection for my 15th birthday in 1978.

Star Wars fans and collectors can display this highly poseable, fully articulated figure, featuring premium deco, in their action figure and vehicle collection.  – Manufacturer’s product blurb, Hasbro Pulse website

Since then, especially in the 1990s and after Hasbro bought its archrival Kenner Parker from Tonka in 1991, Star Wars figures have benefitted from advances in toy manufacturing and design. With computer assisted design/computer assisted manufacturing (CAD/CAM) tools, Hasbro’s U.S.-based designers and China-based factories can now create action figures of various scales that are more “realistic” than their Kenner era ancestors.

Kenner’s first generation figures were nicely done by the standards of the late Seventies and early Eighties, but let’s be honest. The toymaking tools and techniques of the era could not produce small plastic – or in the case of a few droid action figures, vacuum-metal – replicas of humans, robots, or non-human characters seen in the Original Trilogy. Though Kenner got better at creating sculpts of human characters like Han Solo, Princess Leia, or Luke Skywalker between 1978 and 1985, alien and “masked” characters such as Darth Vader and the various Imperial troop variants (Stormtrooper, Biker Scout, TIE Fighter Pilot, and AT-AT Driver) fared better than “barefaced” humans. So did some of the droids, although Kenner opted to do the body detailing of “astromechs” such as Artoo Detoo as wraparound decals instead of sculpting and painting each figure’s “body.”

Another limitation of early Kenner figures was the number of points of articulation (POAS) each character had. Most human and humanoid characters’ figures had five POAs, which are analogous to joints in the human anatomy and allow collectors and kids to pose their figures in action stances. A few figures – the original Chewbacca comes to mind – had only four POAs because Kenner did not add a swivel point at the neck so they could “turn” their heads, and there were a few figures that only had three!

Jar Jar Binks, like most of the figures in Hasbro’s eight-year-old Star Wars The Black Series reflects the company’s efforts to make action figures that are fun for kids to play with but also have authentic-looking detailing and movie-accurate “deco” that appeals to older collectors.

Following trends that began in the early 2000s with Hasbro’s various Star Wars lines of 3.75-inch scale figures (including ones for the original iteration of Star Wars The Black Series), this Jar Jar Binks 6-inch figure has more POAs –  (12) than Kenner’s original Star Wars figures.

Of course, the more POAs a figure is endowed with, the more “toy-like” it looks because the seams in the plastic are difficult to hide. That is true of this figure; those joints, especially the one in Jar Jar Binks’ neck, mars the otherwise life-like look of the character. It can’t be helped though; unless you want to get a totally lifelike but static figurine for display, this is as good as you get for a Star Wars deluxe figure as far as cinematic accuracy is concerned.

Perhaps because Hasbro chose to depict Jar Jar as he appears in the battle scenes from Act III of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, Star Wars The Black Series Jar Jar Binks has a stoic look that is not as goofy-looking as his more comedic smiling countenance in earlier bits of Lucas’s 1999 film.

The packaging follows the conventions of the style introduced last year. The package’s front features a window through which you see Jar Jar Binks and his accessories – the cesta, the atlatl with its energy ball, and Jar Jar’s energy shield – in their accurately detailed glory.

On the reverse side, we see the usual Star Wars The Black Series “info panel” stuff, with the character description blurb (A clumsy, well-meaning Gungan outcast on Naboo, Jar Jar Binks struggled to prove his worth throughout his life) printed in English, French, German, Spanish, and Portuguese along the left side, with a detail from the side panel illustration on the right. Below that, we see that this is figure 01 of this new line from Hasbro, plus copyright and product info in many languages, including Greek, Arabic, Polish, Italian, Greek, Romanian, Swedish, and Finnish.

Although Jar Jar Binks would not have been my first choice had I decided to buy a Star Wars The Black Series action figure from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace on my own (I might have gone for a Darth Maul or Qui-Gon Jinn figure instead), this was a nice gift from the Caregiver for my 58th birthday.

And if truth be told, it’s a nicely done collectible action figure, even taking into consideration those distracting “seams” where the points of articulation are located.

Well, that about wraps it up for this review of a new Star Wars The Black Series collectible figure. I had fun writing it, and I hope you will find it both enjoyable and informative.

Until next time, Dear Reader, stay safe, stay healthy, and find joy in even the small things in life. (Including action figures!) And remember, the Force will be with you…always. 

[1] Star Wars: The Complete Visual Dictionary, 2008 edition, pages 43-44

Musings & Thoughts for Thursday, July 15, 2021, or: Of Noises in the Night and the End of ‘Judge Judy’ is Nigh

Image Credit; Pixabay

Hi, there, Dear Reader. It’s late morning here in New Hometown, Florida on Thursday, July 15, 2021. It is going to be a hot but less rainy day; currently, the temperature is 85˚F (29˚C) under partly sunny skies. With humidity at 50% and the wind blowing from the east-southeast at 6 MPH (10 KM/H), the feels-like temperature is 92˚F (33˚C). Today we can expect partly sunny skies and a high of 92˚F. Tonight, skies will be mostly clear. The low will be 73˚F (23˚C). The Air Quality Index (AQI) reading is 35 or Good.

Man, I’m tired. I fell asleep watching a documentary on Amazon Prime Video, so I don’t know what time I went to bed last night. I do know that I woke up at 2 AM to use the bathroom – then struggled to go back to sleep because J, the Caregiver’s middle child (he’s almost 20 now) made a racket moving heavy items around in his room upstairs for what seemed like hours. I don’t know what the hell J does up In his loft after midnight, and I don’t pry into anyone’s business, but it sounded like a herd of elephants was up in J’s room, which occupies most of the house’s second floor.

I didn’t storm upstairs to tell J to knock off the noise. That’s not my style, and it would probably have caused more problems for everyone If I had. I did go to the kitchen to check the time -it was just past 3 AM -and padded quietly to my room to lie back down on my futon and try to get back to sleep.

Image Credit: Pixabay

I eventually managed to do that, and I woke up around 9 AM. The Caregiver must have the day off from her county job because she and her boyfriend were not home and the usual cup of café con leche was not waiting for me at my place on the kitchenette table. And as I write this, the Couple of the Year is still not here.

I ate a bowl of cereal (Kellogg’s Apple Jacks) and a glass of pineapple juice but decided not to make coffee- I’m too tired to deal with the coffeemaker now –  and came back to my room to write this post on WordPress. But I feel like I went 10 rounds with Muhammad Ali in the boxing ring and lost, that’s how tired I feel.

Anyway, I saw on Wikipedia that the last episode of Judge Judy will air next Friday, thus ending Judge Judy Sheindlin’s 25-season run and setting a record for reality TV longevity as a first-run “judge show” before it heads to perpetual reruns on syndication.

I never was an avid fan of Judge Judy, but my late mother was. So when I was Mom’s primary caregiver and had the early afternoon watch between home health aides, I watched that show from late spring of 2010 and July of 2015 while keeping my mom company.

Since Mom died on July 19, 2015, I have not watched a single episode of Judge Judy on TV. The Caregiver – thankfully – is not a fan, and I believe that in this TV market in Florida it airs when she’s working anyway. I will, from time to time, go to YouTube and watch clips from Judge Judy for the nostalgia of it, but I won’t go to the main TV (the only one with a cable connection that I have access to; D, the eldest of the Caregiver’s three adult kids, has cable in his room, but he never invites me to watch anything, so…) to watch any new episodes.

 I think the news that Judge Judy won’t be airing any new episodes after July 23 is a blip on my radar for two reasons. One, of course, is that I used to cover Entertainment-beat news in high school and college for the student papers, so the fact that TV’s longest-running “reality/arbitration” show is ending (at least as a first-run show) is newsworthy. Unlike The People’s Court, which is a forerunner to Judge Judy, Sheindlin’s show was never canceled and rebooted with a new judge several years later.

The other reason is, of course, that Judge Judy may not have been my favorite show, but it was one of my mother’s Must-See TV baubles. And I, of course, associate the show with the times I spent in her sickroom to keep her company. She appreciated that, I think, and it eases my heart to remember that she liked to have me around when she was stuck in that hospital-style bed for over five years.

The author and his mother a few months at a neighbor’s house during the 2009 Christmas season, a few months before her back issues manifested themselves.

Well, Dear Reader, I’m out of things to say, so I’ll close for now. Stay safe, stay healthy, and I’ll catch you on the sunny side of things.

Musings & Thoughts for Wednesday, July 14, 2021, or: Grief, the Weight of Memory, & Irreconcilable Differences

Image by S. Hermann & F. Richter from Pixabay 

Hi there, Dear Reader. It’s mid- to late morning here in New Hometown, Florida on Wednesday, July 14, 2021 (Bastille Day in France and her overseas departments/dependencies). It’s warm and muggy outside; the current temperature is 79˚F (26˚C) under sunny skies. With humidity at 62% and the wind blowing from the east-northeast at 6 MPH (9 KM/H), the feels-like temperature is 78˚F (25˚C). The forecast for today: thunderstorms will move through the area starting around noon. The high will be 90˚F (32˚C). Tonight, we can expect light rain. The low will be 74˚F (23˚C). The current Air Quality Index (AQI) is 84 or Moderate.

Well, here we are in midweek – aka Hump Day – and one day away from the middle of the month…already! And as I wrote in yesterday’s post, my mood – which is also influenced by the gloom of the darkening skies and afternoon storms – is taking a turn for the worse. Thoughts like Bastille Day 2015 was the last internationally-known holiday my Mom lived to see, and It’s been five years and nine days since I saw my half-sister in a judge’s chambers at the probate court hearing that would determine who inherited Mom’s estate cross my mind, unbidden and unwelcome. And, of course, I feel the weight of memory pressing down on my shoulders as July 19 draws closer and closer.

Our last family outing in the summer of 2013. Smiles are as rare in this photo as IHOPs in Miami-Dade County.

Two nights ago, while I was eating a serving of spaghetti and homemade meatballs  the Caregiver made a most unhelpful suggestion. “Why don’t you write Vicky a letter to see how she is doing?”  

“Love is close to hate when it comes to sisters. You’re as close as two humans can be. You came from the same womb. The same background. Even if you’re poles apart, mentally. That’s why it hurts so much when your sister is unkind. It’s as though part of you is turning against yourself.”
― Jane Corry

I was shocked that the Caregiver, who had read both versions of  Mom’s will (one that Vicky had gotten our mother to make out in 2000, and the 2010 one that Mom drew up to revoke the first) and had been instrumental in helping me find a lawyer to take my case, would suggest such a thing.  Fortunately, I wasn’t chewing  a mouthful of pasta and meatballs, or else I might have choked on it.   

I looked into the Caregiver’s eyes, speared a meatball with my fork, and quietly but firmly said, “No.”

“At least try,” she said as she sipped from a glass that contained cranberry juice mixed with vodka. “It’s been a year since you had any news about her from Juan Manuel, her cousin.[1] Aren’t you curious about how she’s doing?”

“No,” I said tersely, and took a bite of the meatball that was impaled on my fork.

“Maybe she misses you.”

It took every bit of self-control I could muster to keep from laughing. I was trying to eat a mouthful of a delicious homemade meatball, and I didn’t want to choke to death during a discussion about my half-sister. Once I swallowed the morsel of delicately spiced and admittedly delicious Italian-style meatball, I again looked at the obviously tipsy Caregiver and said, “She doesn’t miss me. She misses our mom, I am sure of that. But me? Nah.”

“Alex, it won’t hurt to try.”

Again, I had to summon up my dwindling reserves of self-discipline and good manners. “I tried sending Vicky a copy of Reunion when I published it in 2018. Remember what she did with it?”

The Caregiver sighed. “She sent it back to Amazon.”

“That’s right. She returned it to Amazon. Do you think that a letter from me would help start a reconciliation at this point in time?”

“It might,” the Caregiver said, but not with much conviction.

“You don’t know Vicky the way I do. So, please, drop the subject. I’m not going to write her a letter.”

I pointedly opened the current issue of Time magazine and started reading an article about an Army vet who joined the Oath Keepers, a right-wing, pro-Trump militia group that participated in the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. I knew that I was being rude, but I didn’t want to discuss the issue any further. The Caregiver, who by now should know me well enough, let the matter drop.

To be quite honest, although I sometimes wonder how Vicky is doing these days, especially after the two hip replacements she underwent last year, I have no wish to contact her. None whatsoever.

“A sibling in full spate is always frightening, their anger a surprising powerful defense, their deeper impotence equally powerful, absurd.”― Will Eaves, Murmur

Old Hometown, aka Miami, FL. Image by Ralph Nas from Pixabay 

Seriously. I am in New Hometown, Florida, living in the smallest room of the Caregiver’s house and not in my old townhouse in East Wind Lake Village primarily because of my half-sister’s toxicity. Her Machiavellian machinations (she caused a rift between my Uncle Sixto – my father’s brother – and me when I was in college because she was jealous that he gave me an expensive Apple IIe desktop with a color monitor and a printer in the spring of 1987), and overall shadiness have affected many lives, often in incredibly painful and destructive ways.

How shady is my half-sister? Before Mom died in 2015, she used to tell me that the 2000 will, which I was not a party to when Vicky took Mom to a lawyer’s office, split Mom’s estate thusly: 60% for me, 40% for her; it was actually 50-50 as far as the townhouse was concerned, but more in Vicky’s favor once you added the value of Mom’s bank account and her 1999 Mitsubishi Mirage, which she bought from my former neighbor Rolf Bischof (he and his wife Annette were moving back to Switzerland and could not afford to ship the Mirage across the Pond) in 2003.

Vicky never got the car; Mom sold it about a year before her 2010 back surgery because she was having problems with the blood circulation to her brain and, as a result, could no longer drive because she would get wicked dizzy spells. But if Mom had not revoked the 2000 will and written a new one before the operation – she thought there was a good chance she would not survive due to her delicate health and advanced age – Vicky would have inherited 50% of Mom’s meager bank account and almost nonexistent savings account.

I know all this because when Vicky’s lawyer sent me the letter informing me that there was a hearing scheduled for early June of 2016 regarding my half-sister’s petition for a ruling over a “lost or destroyed will,” he was legally obligated to share a copy of the 2000 will. The Caregiver and I read it, and we were flummoxed by Vicky’s lies about my share being 60%.

As I said before, Vicky is so dishonest and manipulative that she could have taught lessons on double-dealing to Niccolò Machiavelli himself.

My half-sister learned Italian as a third language when she dated an Italian guy in the mid- to late 1980s, so she probably would have gotten along with this dude, too. Image by wgbieber from Pixabay 

So, no. I don’t think I can make another attempt to reconcile with Vicky. I did not start the conflict between us – she did. And since she has never apologized for any of the hateful and dishonest things she said or did to either our mother or me, I have no desire to offer the olive branch – again.

I’m going to do my best to occupy my mind with other things today. I doubt that the weather will allow me to use this computer much once the thunderstorms move in over the next few hours. I can use my laptop on battery power, at least for an hour, so I can mess around with my writing project for a bit. And of course I have lots of books to read on my TBR  pile, so bored I shall not be.

(C) 2021 CBS Studios and Paramount Home Media Distribution

Well, Dear Reader, I’ve reached the end of yet another post for A Certain Point of View. I don’t have much to add, except to mention that I have Paramount’s eight-disc (four 4K UHD, 4 HD Blu-ray) Star Trek: The Original 4-Movie Collection  box set in pre-ordered status on my Amazon account. Paramount will release the 1979-1986 Star Trek films on 4K for the first time on September 7, and even though I’m more of a Star Wars fan than I am a Trekkie, I like those movies and would like to see them on 4K.

With that, then, I humbly taken my leave of you. Maybe I will write a review for you tomorrow instead of a “heavy issues/family Sturm und Drang” rant. I know I have more fun doing reviews, but I often have to write what I have in my mind and not, Dear Reader, what I want to write. So, until next time, stay safe, stay healthy, and keep out of the rain!

[1] Juan Manuel Pereira, Vicky’s first cousin on her father’s side. He died last October.

Musings & Thoughts for Tuesday, July 13, 2021, or: Pulling On Emotional Scabs…Again

A view that I now only see in memories: East Wind Lake near Doral, FL, circa 2015. Photo by the author.

Greetings and salutations, Dear Reader. It is late morning here in New Hometown, Florida on Tuesday, July 13, 2021. It is a hot and muggy day, and it looks as though we are in a typical subtropical summer weather pattern. The current temperature Is 82˚F (28˚C) under sunny skies. With humidity at 63% and the wind blowing from the east-northeast at 6 MPH (10 KM/H), the heat index is 89˚F (32˚C). The forecast for today calls for afternoon thunderstorms that will move through our area. The high will be 91˚F (33˚C). Tonight, we can expect light rain and a low of 74˚F (24˚C). The Air Quality Index (AQI) is 56 or Moderate.

Right now, over my little corner of Florida it is a bit cloudier than the conditions my computer’s Weather app describes. It might be Sunny or Partly Sunny (the status changes along with the weather) at the reporting station where the data is recorded, but overhead it is Cloudy. Per the app’s Hourly forecast page, we will be Partly Sunny till 1 PM Eastern, then the weather will deteriorate as the storms kick in between 3 and 4 this afternoon. It happened yesterday. It will happen today. And it will happen tomorrow, sure as rain.

I am an old Florida hand – I was born in Miami 58 years ago, and with the exception of a six-year stay in Bogota, Colombia and a three-month Semester in Spain stint in Seville, I have lived in this state all my life. The wet, stormy season is as much a part of my life as my love for Star Wars, beautiful women, classical music, and history, so I am used to it. I don’t necessarily like it, especially since Florida is the Lightning Capital of the United States and I’ve already lost a TV (in 1974) and a computer (in 2004) to lightning strikes. But it is a part of life in Florida.

Today I am once again in a melancholy mood. Since 2015, this time of year tends to weigh heavily on my mind. My mom was nearing the end of her life at this time six years ago, and although I do my best to not think about it, inevitably I begin to slip into “Anniversary Mode” as July 19 looms ever nearer. No matter how hard I try to focus on other things – whether they are current events, projects I am working on, or entertainment-related stuff along the lines of books I’m reading, movies I want to get on 4K Blu-ray, or Star Wars figures I have or want to get – the dreaded anniversary of Mom’s death tends to dominate my thought processes.

Let’s face it. I live where I do as a consequence of (a) Mom’s death and (b) the tragic but inevitable estrangement between my older half-sister and me. I obviously could not prevent the former – I am not a deity and can’t stop the ones I love from dying  – and although I did my best to get along with my half-sister, especially over the 28-year span between 1987 and 2015, that also did not go as well as everyone, including Mom, wished it would.

Vicky (standing), Mom, and me during our last family outing, circa 2013.

I mean, seriously. I have been criticized by some of my relatives in Colombia for revealing some of my half-sister’s Trumpian behavior traits in my original Blogger blog (A Certain Point of View) and “destroying” Vicky’s reputation without allowing her to defend herself. But my critics – cousins who have only infrequently seen Vicky and/or me during brief vacations since 1972 – were not witnesses to the many incidents that led to the Big Sibling Schism of 2015. I have not seen any of my cousins since the summer of 1997, and Vicky traveled to Bogota in October of 2015 (three months after Mom died) to be with family while I tried to repair and renovate the townhouse that Mom bequeathed me in her 2010 last will and testament.

I know my half-sister’s modus operandi, and I am sure that when she was in Bogota for a month she had no compunction at all about portraying herself as the victim of her conniving half-brother who cheated her out of her rightful inheritance. Even when Mom was very much alive and in good health (or as good health as possible for a woman who smoked cigarettes from 1940 to early 1994 and had osteoporosis and badly damaged vertebrae in her spine), Vicky had a habit of putting Mom and me down and claiming – unfairly – that she was never invited to dinner at Mom’s house and that our mother only loved me.

If I made a detailed list of all the friends my mother lost – either temporarily or, sadly, permanently – because of Vicky’s incessant campaign of lies, this blog post would be incredibly long and painful to read. Suffice it to say, though, that Mom commented – to me and others she confided in – that as much as she loved her first-born child, there were many things that she could not forgive her for doing, and that the worst offense was how Vicky turned so many people – including a distant cousin of Mom’s, Silvia Restrepo[1] – against her.  

Anyway, yeah. Mid-to-late July is a particularly challenging time for me.  I hate being estranged from my closest surviving blood relative, but our relationship was never a harmonious one to begin with. In all the time that we interacted between 1969 and 2015 (1969 being the year that Vicky rejoined the family after being sent off to a boarding school in Parkersburg, WV), the only time  where “harmony” existed was when we lived in Bogota. I was six in 1969, and because Vicky is nearly 13 years older, we really did not spend a hell of a lot of time together. I was in a Catholic private school (Colegio El Nogal) five days a week and, after school, I did my homework, played with my cousins and friends and watched TV, while Vicky had more grown-up pursuits and was a Red Cross volunteer. So when our paths crossed at home it was almost always a cordial and amicable relationship that we had.

Once we moved to Miami in 1972[2], however, the dynamic changed. Vicky did not want to live in the States and, against the family’s wishes, stayed in Bogota with our great-aunt Gabriela. That did not go well, and our grandparents forced Vicky to rejoin us in Miami in spite of my older half-sister’s wishes. And although I am not a psychologist or psychiatrist, I believe that she blamed me for that unwanted change to her life plans.

In any case, even though I sometimes wish I could find some way to reconcile with Vicky, I do not think that is possible. I do not think that she is capable of admitting that her behavior or actions have been less than honorable, to put it mildly. I am where I am, away from my former house and hometown, mainly because Vicky and I cannot see eye to eye on anything, and because she is not a trustworthy individual.

As I prepare to close this post – it’s already past noon now – I am struck by the fact that my Amazon Music app is playing Tomaso Albinoni’s Adagio in G-minor for Strings and Organ. It fits my mood to a tee!

And on that note, I will bid you goodbye (for now), Dear Reader. Stay safe, stay healthy, and I’ll catch you on the sunny side of things.

[1] I remember this particular incident because my mom and I hosted Silvia at our house at a time when she was down and out in the mid-1980s. I don’t recall how long she lived with us, but I do know it was for more than a month. Silvia was an intelligent and warm woman, and we all got along so well that we were sorry to see her go when she found an apartment and got a new job.

Some time after Silvia had gotten back on her feet, Mom and Vicky were in the midst of one of their periodic tiffs and not talking to each other. Little did we know that Vicky was “cultivating” Silvia after a chance encounter in Dadeland Mall or someplace like that. As was her MO, Vicky befriended Silvia, then, after she gained the older woman’s confidence, began the whole “Mom doesn’t love me” brainwashing process. So convincing is Vicky’s shtick (very similar in style to Donald Trump) that Silvia called my mother and scolded her about being such a bad mother to my half-sister.

Mom was so hurt and angry that she told Silvia to never call her again, and a lifelong friendship ended. Just. Like. That.

Mom later said that several years afterward, when Silvia was dying from cancer, she called Mom from Bogota to tell her the bad news and to apologize for her behavior. According to my mother, Silvia said that Vicky had, over a period of time, told her so many stories of how Mom was indifferent toward her and that, in contrast, she favored me unfairly and that she was left out of many gatherings and was rarely invited over for dinner with us. So convincing were Vicky’s tales that Silvia not only hated Mom, but me as well.

The kicker, Mom said, was that not only did Silvia later find out that Vicky was lying about my mother, but that my half-sister was also stirring up shit about Silvia! I don’t remember what the particulars were; Mom only told this story once, and I did not take notes. I do remember that Mom graciously accepted Silvia’s apology and expressed her regret that the friendship had been damaged by my half-sister, but the damage was done and could not be undone.   

[2] Why did we move back to Miami in 1972? You can read a short account of that here: Growing Up with Cerebral Palsy – Part 2

Book Review: ‘William Shakespeare’s Jedi the Last: Star Wars Part the Eighth’

On July 18, 2018, Philadelphia-based Quirk Books published William Shakespeare’s Jedi the Last: Star Wars Part the Eighth, a non-canonical adaptation of writer-director Rian Johnson’s 2017 film Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi. Written by Ian Doescher, creator of the William Shakespeare’s Star Wars series, it retells the events of the second installment of the Star Wars Sequel Trilogy in the form of a five-act Elizabethan Era stage play written by none other but William Shakespeare.

(C) 2018 Quirk Books and Lucasfilm Ltd. Cover art by Nicolas Delort.

The Force, the Force, my kingdom for the Force!

Is this a lightsaber which I see before me, the handle toward my hand? While valiant Rey entreats Luke Skywalker to take up arms against a sea of troubles, the dreadful First Order pursues the Resistance, full of sound and fury. – From the dust jacket blurb, William Shakespeare’s Jedi the Last: Star Wars Part the Eighth.

Jedi the Last begins where The Force Doth Awaken: Star Wars Part the Seventh left off. Thirty years after the defeat of the Galactic Empire and the deaths of Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader at the Battle of Endor, the New Republic faces a new evil that rose from the ashes of the Empire: the First Order.

Led by the mysterious Supreme Leader Snoke and a retinue that includes General Armitage Hux, Captain Phasma, and Snoke’s ambitious but conflicted Dark Side apprentice, Kylo Ren, formerly known as Ben Solo, the First Order seeks to destroy the Republic and impose a regime based on Palpatine’s Empire on the galaxy.

As in the 2017 film from Lucasfilm, Jedi the Last begins at a dark time for the Resistance led by General Leia Organa Solo. The First Order’s planet-sized Starkiller Base has been destroyed, but the New Republic’s central government is in disarray as a result of the obliteration of the Hosnian Prime system. In the ensuing chaos, Snoke’s heavily armed starfleet and vast armies of stormtroopers have wept across a nearly defenseless galaxy and taken control of many inhabited star systems.

Here’s how Ian Doescher, a Shakespeare buff and Star Wars fan since childhood, reimagines the movie’s title crawl:


Outer space.


CHORUS: The cruel First Order o’er the stars do reign,

For having set th’ Republic on a pyre.

Vile Snoke sends legions forth, thus to attain

Control throughout the galaxy entire.

Alone, the bold Resistance fighteth still –

With General Organa – ‘gainst the dark.

They trust the Jedi Luke Skywalker will

Glow, bright enow, their dampen’d hopes to spark.

Alas, the small Resistance is expos’d –

First Order speeds toward the Rebel base.

Their evil, though, will not run unoppos’d:

A desperate escape proceeds apace.

In time so long ago begins our play,

In burning galaxy far, far away.[1]

As in the film, Jedi the Last begins with the brave but reckless Poe Dameron – one of the Resistance’s best pilots and Leia’s protégé – as he and his astromech companion, BB-8, lead a force of slow, clumsy bombers and a fighter escort on a do-or-die mission to destroy the First Order’s Dreadnaught, the Fulminatrix, to buy time for the Resistance forces that are evacuating the base on the planet D’Qar.

Disobeying Leia’s orders to pull back and preserve his squadrons, Poe attacks the Fulminatrix with his X-wing fighter and destroys the giant ship’s point defense turbolasers to clear a path for the bombers. He succeeds, but the First Order’s TIE fighters overwhelm the escort fighters and shoot down the Resistance Megafortress bombers. Only the self-sacrifice of gunner Paige Tico prevents the total failure of Poe’s mission: at the cost of her life, Paige releases her bomber’s payload onto the massive Dreadnaught, taking it down as her bomber is blasted into oblivion.

The Fulminatrix’s destruction allows the remnants of the Resistance to escape from D’Qar, but Leia, aghast at the losses of ships and pilots, rebukes Poe:

Enter POE DAMERON. LEIA slaps him immediately.

LEIA: Thou art demoted on the instant, Poe.

POE: How can thou speak so, worthy general?

We have a mighty Dreadnaught taken down.

Pray, hear me, this indeed is life itself.

LEIA: And what the cost – in life? In ships? In hope?

POE: ‘Tis but a basic strategy of war:

Once battle hath begun, continue on –

Go not halfway toward a victory.

For if we do, then surely death doth hold

Illimit’ble dominion over all.

LEIA: Pray, pull thy mind from out thy codpiece, Poe.

Full many problems do exist, that may

Not have solution in the cockpit of

A waiting X-wing fighter, there to make

Explosions of whatever bothers thee –

Thou art so talented a pilot, sirrah,

I would thou learn this necessary lesson.

POE: I tell thee, there were heroes on that mission –

I hear the beating of their glorious hearts.

LEIA: Dead heroes – and no leaders. Think upon’t.

Holdo: Thou bettest the survival of th’Resistance
On bad odds, putting ev’ryone at risk?
There is no time for foolish nonsense, Poe.
(Art by Nicolas Delort for Jedi the Last.)

Meanwhile, Rey, a young woman with a strong aptitude in the Force and natural fighting abilities acquired over a lifetime of scavenging on the desert world of Jakku, is on the oceanic planet of Ach-To, site of the original Jedi Temple and home to the self-exiled Jedi Master Luke Skywalker.

Rey was sent to Ach-To by Leia to find Luke and convince him to join the fight against the First Order. However, the galaxy’s sole Jedi Master rebuffs the earnest Rey’s entreaties and tells her in no uncertain terms to let him be:

On Ach-To.


REY: No light doth remain in Kylo Ren.

He growth stronger, is a larger threat.

The foul First Order soon shall hold control

O’er all the major systems. Dost thou see?

We need thy help, cannot succeed without,

We need the Jedi Order to return,

We need a miracle to win this fight,

We need one single man: Luke Skywalker.

LUKE: Nay, ‘tis not so. Ye need no Luke Skywalker.

REY: Hast thou e’en heard a moment of mine utt’rance?

Mayhap thine ears are just as passing poor

As thine indecent stubbornness is great.

LUKE: What is it thou imaginest, pray tell?

I shall walk thither with a laser sword

And face the whole First Order where it stands?

What didst thou hope would happen when thou


Belike in thine odd, folly-fallen brain

Thou thinkest I did come to this, the most

Unfindable location anywhere,

Sans reason, purpose, or consideration?

Go hence.

From the Publisher’s Website

The Star Wars saga continues, with [the] Bard of Avon providing some of the biggest shocks yet! Alack, the valiant Resistance must flee from the scoundrels of the First Order, and it falls to Rey, Finn, Poe, Rose, and BB-8 to take up arms against a sea of troubles. Can they bring Snoke’s schemes to woe, destruction, ruin, and decay? Will Luke Skywalker take the stage once more, and aid General Leia in the winter of her discontent?

Authentic meter, stage directions, reimagined movie scenes and dialogue, and hidden Easter eggs throughout will entertain and impress fans of Star Wars and Shakespeare alike. Every scene and character from the film appears in the play, along with twenty woodcut-style illustrations that depict an Elizabethan version of the Star Wars galaxy. 

The Saga Continues!

(C) 2018 Quirk Books and Lucasfilm Ltd.

In Jedi the Last: Star Wars Part the Eighth, Ian Doescher (the geeky, witty, and talented author of the William Shakespeare’s Star Wars series) takes readers on a delightful journey to the space-fantasy universe created over 40 years ago by writer-director George Lucas – with a twist that is in turn radical and logical.

In a slim 176-page book, Doescher takes a 21st Century film – Star Wars: The Last Jedi – and presents it as an Elizabethan age stage production from the quill of the Bard of Avon, rendered in authentic iambic pentameter and, in the case of Yoda’s famously inverted dialogue, haikus.

As he has done in the previous seven parts of the William Shakespeare’s Star Wars cycle[2], Doescher painstakingly recreates the 2017 Lucasfilm production scene by scene, from the traditional title crawl – presented here as a Prologue spoken by a Shakespearean-style Chorus – all the way to The Last Jedi’s moving (and controversial) denouement on the remote ocean world of Ahch-to.

Jedi the Last is written mostly in iambic pentameter, which was the style used by Shakespeare in his tragedies and comedies for the Elizabethan Era’s stage. Like the Bard, Doescher relies on dialog and soliloquies and only uses sparse stage directions. There are no detailed “action” directions as in a modern stage play or screenplay, just short directions along the lines of Enter REY and LUKE or Luke begins walking away.

But Doescher does more than write modern prose in iambic pentameter. As the author explains in his afterword to Jedi the Last, he uses various techniques to give each character distinctive traits in his, her, or its dialogue:

William Shakespeare’s Jedi the Last 
sticks to the character-specific dialogue conventions that loyal readers have come to expect: Finn using F’s and N’s in each of his lines, Poe’s Edgar Allan Poe’s references, acrostics in Rey’s longer speeches, Yoda speaking in haiku, villains reciting villanelles, R2’s asides to the audience, BB-8’s skip code, Admiral Ackbar’s words ending in -apCaptain Phasma’s words of steel, and even the AT-M6 and AT-AT walkers’ murderers’ scenes. (This time, I borrowed from the murderers’ dialogue in Richard III.  In The Empire Striketh Back, the AT-ATs’ dialogue was borrowed from the murderers in Macbeth. 

The box set that started it all for me in 2014. (C) 2013 Quirk Books and Lucasfilm Ltd.

Born 45 days after the premiere of Star Wars (aka Star Wars – Episode IV: A New Hope) in 1977, Ian Doescher is a Portland (Oregon) writer. He became a fan of George Lucas’s space fantasy saga set “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away” when he saw Return of the Jedi at the age of six.

Doescher also fell in love with the works of Shakespeare as a teen in middle school. He began adapting the original Star Wars trilogy several years ago – having been inspired by watching The Merry Wives of Windsor, Iowa at a Shakespeare festival in Oregon, as well as Quirk Books Jane Austen/zombie mashup Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

Jedi the Last: Star Wars Part the Eighth is a delightful and thought-provoking homage not just to the eighth installment of the “main Saga” created four decades ago by George Lucas and continued by his creative heirs at Lucasfilm, but also to the works of William Shakespeare,  a playwright, poet, and actor who enriched the English language with his comedies, tragedies, histories, and sonnets 400 years ago.

As a writer, reader, and Star Wars fan, I recommend this book to any Star Wars fan or William Shakespeare aficionado who is willing to enjoy this funny but often moving tribute to two different styles of storytelling.  Jedi the Last is truly a wonderful work of literary art.  Though it’s billed as a parody, Doescher’s “mashup” takes the task of adapting Rian Johnson’s screenplay into a 17th Century stage production seriously…but not too seriously. There are plenty of funny lines to lighten up this darkest of the Sequel Trilogy dramas, and artist Nicolas Delort’s woodcut-like cover art and interior illustrations are outstanding, both in their overall quality and their quirky anachronistic charm. 

Product Details

  • Hardcover ISBN: 9781683690870
  • e-Book ISBN: 9781683690887
  • Page Count: 176
  • Release Date: July 10, 2018
  • 18 and up

[1] Here is the original version of the film’s title crawl as written by Rian Johnson:

Episode VIII


The FIRST ORDER reigns.

Having decimated the peaceful

Republic, Supreme Leader Snoke

now deploys his merciless

legions to seize military

control of the galaxy.

Only General Leia Organa’s

band of RESISTANCE fighters

stand against the rising

tyranny, certain that Jedi

Master Luke Skywalker will

return and restore a spark of

hope to the fight.

But the Resistance has been

exposed. As the First Order

speeds toward the Rebel base,

the brave heroes mount a

desperate escape….

[2] In 2020, Doescher completed the Skywalker Saga’s William Shakespeare’s Star Wars cycle with The Merry Rise of Skywalker: Star Wars Part the Ninth.

Musings & Thoughts for Sunday, July 11, 2021, or: How I Spent My Saturday Night

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Hi, there, Dear Reader. It’s early afternoon on Sunday, July 11, 2021 here in New Hometown, Florida.  It’s another hot, muggy, and possibly rainy summer day in this part of the Sunshine State: the current temperature is 86˚F (30˚C) under partly sunny skies. With the wind blowing from the southeast at 6 MPH (10 KM/H) and humidity at 57%, the heat index is 96˚F (36˚C). Today, scattered rain showers are likely to affect our area, and the high will be 90˚F (32˚C). Tonight, skies will be partly cloudy. The low will be 73˚F (23˚C). Today’s Air Quality Index (AQI) is 114, or Poor.

I’m off to a late start with my blog today. I had a restless night; as hard as I tried, I could not fall asleep, so I ended up watching a movie on Amazon Prime Video until the wee hours of the morning. What did I watch, you ask? Nicholas and Alexandra, a 1971 epic historical drama about the last years of Tsar Nicholas II and Tsarina Alexandra’s reign in early 20th Century Russia and the fall of the Romanov dynasty in 1917-18.

Written by James Goldman and based on parts of Robert K. Massie’s eponymous 1967 book, Nicholas and Alexandra was directed by Franklin J. Shaffner, who is perhaps best known for Planet of the Apes (1968) and Patton (1970). The cast is a Who’s Who of mostly British actors, including Michael Jayston (Nicholas), Janet Suzman (Alexandra), Tom Baker of Doctor Who fame (Rasputin), Laurence Olivier (Count Witte). Michael Redgrave (Sazonov), Eric Porter (Stolypin), Harry Andrews (Nicholasha), Ian Holm (Yakovlev, the first Bolshevik official to take custody of the Romanovs in 1918), and Michael Bryant (Lenin).

I think Nicholas and Alexandra did a decent job at encapsulating the decline and fall of the Russian Empire during its titular characters’ reign, and the film (shot in Yugoslavia and Spain by cinematographer Freddy Young) is worth a watch (but not worth buying on home media). It is long (3 hours and 8 minutes, including the intermission) and many scenes have a “shot on a stage” look because Sam Spiegel (the producer) and Schaffner could not film in what was then the Soviet Union. But the acting is decent and – with the exception of one key sequence involving Rasputin – seems to be historically accurate.

I watched most of Nicholas and Alexandra. I stopped watching It at the point where Ian Holm’s Yakovlev turns the captive Romanov’s over to the more murderous Yakov Yurovsky (Alan Webb). Yurovsky is the Bolshevik who executed the Tsar and his family in the infamous Ipatiev House on the night of July 16/17, 1918. I knew what was going to happen, so I turned it off well before that tragic ending.

Art by Nicholas Delort. (C) 2018 Quirk Books and Lucasfilm Ltd.

I slept rather fitfully after that, so now I am a bit tired and sluggish of brain. I did plan to write a review of William Shakespeare’s Jedi the Last: Star Wars Part the Eighth by Ian Doescher, but I think I’ll postpone that for tomorrow.

And, on that note, Dear Reader, I think I’ll stop here and say my goodbyes till tomorrow. It’s getting grayer outside and the light in my room is dimming, and it looks as though we will get some of those scattered rain showers mentioned in the forecast. If it is only rain, I might either finish Nicholas and Alexandra on Amazon Prime Video or watch an “inning” of Baseball. If thunderstorms rear their ugly head, then I’ll read for a while.

Until next time, then, stay safe, stay healthy, and I’ll catch you on the sunny side of things.

Musings & Thoughts for Saturday, July 10, 2021, or: Come Rain or Come Shine (Looks Like I’ll Be Reading Today)

Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger on

Hey, there, Dear Reader. It’s early afternoon here in New Hometown, Florida on Saturday, July 10, 2021. Currently, the temperature is 89˚F (31˚C) under mostly cloudy skies. With humidity at 58% and the wind blowing from the east at 4 MPH (6 KM/H), the feels-like temperature is 103˚F (39˚C). Today’s forecast is typical Florida summer weather: thunderstorms are expected to roll through our area during the afternoon, and the high will be 91˚F (33˚C). Tonight, skies will be partly cloudy. The low will be 74˚F (23˚C). Today’s Air Quality Index (AQI) is 26 or Good.

I took this photo from what used to be my house seven summers ago. A thunderstorm knocked a small tree down with a wicked wind gust. The tree landed on the parking spot assigned to our house. Had my half-sister’s Toyota been parked there, she would not have been happy! (Photo by the author)

Even though I have lived in Florida 52 of my 58 years on Earth – 46 in South Florida and six in the central-Gulf Coast area – I have never really liked the summer season in the Sunshine State. It coincides with half of the six-month-long Atlantic hurricane season, and it is hellishly hot and often punctuated by days of heavy rain and thunderstorms. Worse yet, despite the claims of climate change deniers, our summers get hotter and stormier every year.

(C) 2021 PBS Distribution

I had planned to while away my Saturday by watching movies or a couple of “Innings” from Baseball: A Film by Ken Burns on Blu-ray, but I guess I’ll just have to read a book when the storms get here. I’d rather watch something; I bought the Baseball Blu-rays – despite the fact that Burns decided to crop the frames and change the aspect ratio from the original 1.33:1 to a more “widescreen-friendly” 1.78: 1 – to enjoy the remastered Baseball on my 4K UHD TV. I didn’t buy them so that the box would sit on a shelf and gather dust!

Photo by Ekrulila on

Thankfully – unlike most of the people I share this house with – I love to read, so I’ll just pick a book from my TBR stack, find a cozy corner that is not in my room, and read until the storms subside and it is safe to turn on a TV or computer again.

Other than that, the only news I have is that I seem to be getting over my summer cold. I still don’t feel 100% better; I have a mild headache and my sinuses feel a tad stuffy, but I’m not sneezing or coughing too much. That, folks, is definitely an improvement, so I have some cause for a low-key celebration.

Well, that’s it for this blog post; like I said, I don’t have any more news to report, and from the images on my Weather app’s radar map, it looks like those storms in the forecast will be forming soon. So, until next time, Dear Reader, stay safe, stay healthy, and I’ll catch you on the sunny side of things.  

Musings & Thoughts for Friday, July 9, 2021, or: An Update on My TBR List…and The Streak!

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Hi, Dear Reader. It’s late morning here in New Hometown, Florida on Friday, July 9, 2021. It is a hot morning – noon is not that far away as I start this post – here in my corner of the Sunshine State. Currently, the temperature is 85˚F (30˚C) under sunny skies. With humidity at 51% and the wind blowing from the north-northeast at 1 MPH (1 KM/H), the feels-like temperature is 94˚F (34˚C). Today’s forecast calls for scattered rain showers and a high of 92˚F (33˚C). Tonight, we can expect partly cloudy skies and a low of 73˚F (23˚C). Today’s Air Quality Index (AQI) is 38 or Good.

If you know me in real life – some of you reading this do – or from my many online articles since I started reviewing stuff on Amazon and Epinions 18 years ago, you know that reading is one of my passions. I started reading at an early age – family mythology has it that my maternal grandmother taught me my ABCs even when my father was still alive, and that I could read before I was two years old – and I even still have some of the books I acquired as long ago as the late 1970s.

Because I spend much of my time here at my desk in front of a computer – sometimes too much time – I probably don’t read as much as I used to before the spring of 2010. My life was turned topsy-turvy by my mother’s last half-decade with us, which was marked by a series of illnesses that eventually resulted in her death six years ago (July 19, 2015). An ugly and bitter legal fight with my half-sister Victoria over Mom’s estate, a cross-state move, and adjusting to life in New Hometown have also obliterated any hopes I had of sticking to some of my routines, so I neither watch as much TV or read as many books as I used to before March of 2010.

Nevertheless, I still buy new books every so often. I don’t keep track of how many, but I estimate that I add between 10 to 12 books to my library per annum. Most of the time they’re books about military history or Star Wars-related books (either novels or reference works), but every so often I’ll get writing-related non-fiction titles as well.

As you can imagine, my To Be Read (TBR) pile is…substantial, to say the least. And because the Caregiver crammed me in the smallest room in the house, all of my Billy shelves from Ikea are full, so I actually have a literal TBR pile on my tiny Ikea cubby that is the Caregiver’s notion of the equivalent of a real dresser. And I also have books on my desk and the floor. Most unseemly, but it is what it is.

So far, this is what my current TBR pile of books that I’m actually reading (as opposed to books I’ve read but have no bookshelf space for) looks like.

  • The Napoleonic Wars: A Global Perspective, by Alexander Mikaberidze
  • The Battle of Britain; Five Months That Changed History; May-October 1940, by James Holland
  • Snow & Steel: The Battle of the Bulge, 1944-45, by Peter Caddick-Adams
(C) 2020 Oxford University Press
(C) 2012 St, Martin’s Griffin
(C) 2014 Oxford University Press

I recently finished Art Spiegelman’s The Complete Maus, so I swapped that book from my previous TBR list and started re-reading the Battle of the Bulge book in its stead.

Cover art by Art Spiegelman. (C) 1996 Pantheon Books, a division of Penguin Random House

The Streak

Photo by Olya Kobruseva on

I have not mentioned this before – not on my blog, not on social media, and I only told the Caregiver yesterday – but this post marks the 365th consecutive day with at least one contribution to my A Certain Point of View, Too blog on WordPress.

Yes, that’s right. Since July 9, 2020, I have posted at least one blog post per day. Without fail.

I didn’t deliberately plan on doing this. My original concept when I started this blog – a move prompted by Trump supporters who resorted to apply “cancel culture” methodology and got Facebook to ban my Blogger version of A Certain Point of View in March of 2020 – was to write here and on Blogger on alternating days.

However, after receiving more support from my readers here than from my followers on Blogger, I unconsciously shifted most of my time and energy to this blog. (I still write an occasional post in the original A Certain Point of View because it is still getting readers and generating AdSense revenue. But I like WordPress better!)

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I didn’t want to say anything about The Streak before today because even though I am not extremely superstitious, I didn’t want to announce it and then be “jinxed” by something beyond my control, such as a hurricane strike on New Hometown that would cause a power outage before I reached the 365-consecutive-days-of-posting mark.

However, now that I have crossed that goal line, I can now say, “Hey. I did it! I wrote at least one post per day for a year on this blog!”

I’m going to close for now. Not just because I don’t have anything worth reporting about (my love life being non-existent, and I refuse to make this blog a dull and painful list of complaints about things I can’t control), but because I don’t want to tempt fate and risk ending The Streak because the power went out a nanosecond before I hit the Publish button on WordPresss!

So, see you later, Dear Reader. Stay safe, stay healthy, and I’ll catch you on the sunny side of things.

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