May the Farce Be With You

When I was young, movies that weren’t quite as well made as the best were called “B movies.” A lot of them were westerns or science fiction (Godzilla comes to mind), but you knew what you were in for and accepted it.

Then along came Star Wars and science fiction movies went A list.

Unfortunately, the current Star Wars movie is a C, and that’s with a touch of grade inflation.

My wife and I went to see it fully expecting top of the line. Well, the visuals were great and the music out of this world, but other than that, the movie had little to recommend. The dialogue was 20th century and Mickey Rooneyish in a way. No, nobody said “Let’s put on a play,” but I kept waiting for it.

For example, in the middle of a battle, someone would pull off a super kill and he and another good guy would pause to celebrate. They didn’t high five, but they did come close. When you’re fighting for your life, you don’t pause.

The movie had rough spots. There was the “death” of pilot superior Poe Dameron early in the movie, only to show up toward the end to help win the day. He quickly explains that he survived the crash and that’s it. Similarly, R2D2 is out of commission but comes back in time to provide a piece of the puzzle that will eventually lead Rey to finding Luke Skywalker.

Then there’s the dialogue between Princess Leia and her husband, Han Solo, about their son who has gone over to the dark side. It was so soapy I have erased it from my memory bank already. I just remember a lot of clichés.

Some people might consider the next sentence a spoiler so if you haven’t seen the movie, stop reading NOW. If you saw the original Star Wars, you pretty much know the plot for the current one.

The movie had three writers, among them J.J. Abrams, who also directed, and is listed as one of the producers for the next Star Trek movie, due out in July. Abrams’ father, Gerald, by the way, has a quick part in the new Star Wars, but no mention, yet, if he’s in the next Star Trek.

I miss Darth Vader. 


Jude Writes Poetry. No Question.

One of my English professors told us that when insurance company executive Wallace Stevens won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1955, one of his colleagues remarked: “Wally writes poetry?”

If you’ve known Pennsylvania newspaper editor Jude  Dippold, you might be as surprised to learn that he, too, is a poet. He’s just published a collection called Crossings, which is available from Finishing Line Press and Amazon.

Despite his long newspaper career in Warren, Pennsylania, Dippold has a degree in philosophy, which one can detect in this collection. One can also sense a bit of newsroom cynicism, and I also picked up on what I thought were autobiographical markers by someone who’s just about my age.

For example, there’s the poem titled “Family Funeral” about cousins burying their elders and now they sit around and “warily size up each other, each unwilling to relinquish the fellowship of death.” At 71, having seen all the aunts and uncles buried (and one sister), I can relate to that.

At least 10 of the 26 poems have something to do with death and dying. One of the longer ones is titled “The Obituary,” and recounts the life of Orrie Pudder, once of Hacker Valley, West Virginia. Pudder died in 2013 and his online obituary includes these sentences: “Spending time at his barber shop in Sugar Grove (Pennsylvania) was a social experience for all that came to him.  He will be missed by all that knew him.”

Dippold ends his poem this way:

“But there was no way
any newspaper could explain
why friendship
so often filled his barbershop
with men who had no need for haircuts.”

One might compare the poem to Frost’s “Death of the Hired Man.”

Despite having an undergraduate degree in English, I never read a lot of poetry beyond most of Emily Dickinson’s work. I’m glad to add Jude Dippold to that list and urge you to check out his collection.