A Pupdate Long Time Coming

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As I was milling about the house last night and thinking about this little old blog, it hit me that I hadn’t given a decent Pupdate in a long long time.  At one point, the most popular thing about the Bear Feed was posts about my dog, because let’s face it – he’s hella more interesting than I am.

For those of you new-ish to the Blog (I’m talking to you, Dean, just to see if you are paying attention).  I am talking about Auggie, also known as Auggie the Doggie, AugDog,  Pooper, Pooper Dooper, Farty McFartFart, Dummy, Buddy, and legally known as AKA Fullthrottle’s Gold Rush King.  You may get a few other names I use for him as we go along, but you get the point.  Auggie is a purebred Staffordshire Bull Terrier, important to know because that officially classifies him as an ‘aggressive breed’ in California (more on that later).   He came into my life a little over seven years ago just weaned from his momma and has been pooping up my life ever since.

For the most part, there isn’t much to update about Auggie, he’s just chill.  Little Dude abides.  When I work, he has his routine.  We get up, he does his business, he sleeps all day, I get home, he does his business, I give some belly scratches, and then he sleeps on my bed in the places least comfortable for me.  He’s always been a fan of looking out the window, so I have pushed a recliner into one corner allowing him to get up the three feet to see out the big windows.  Occasionally, he needs to protect me from the evil delivery people or evil squirrels or evil dogs that barked at him first; but otherwise, normal days are normal.  When I am around the house, it can be more of a pain – because SleepyPuppy needs to follow me everywhere and that means he can’t get in his 20 hours of sleep a day.  Plus there is the constant need to tell me to let him go outside even though he just went out 20 minutes ago.

Auggers is generally healthy too.  This year marks the first year he is (in dog years) older than me.  He had a shoulder issue a couple years back, a bone chip that the vet suggested was degenerative and something likely we need to watch for as he goes along.  Oddly enough, the best thing to help this is for him to be a sports fan.   Because Augolicious loves the Green Bay Packers, he wears their jersey all the time (or at least, I put him in the jersey).  This actually helps apply pressure to joints that could degenerate.  Occasionally, I will see a limp or a hitch in his step suggesting he’s feeling pain, but he’ll try to hide it as long as he can.  Other than that and a weird yeasty thing in his ear that was itchy (and he would tend to miss and hit his eye leading to a couple days in the cone of shame), he’s doing pretty good.

Where people do worry is the time I have been spending away from him.  I’m not heartless, I worry about that too … a lot.  That being said, it’s a little bit par for the course.  For the most part of his life, I used PetSmart’s PetHotel to board him.  I started using them in Alaska out of sheer convenience.  They were the closest boarding facility to my house, literally a half-mile away.  We did all our pet shopping and we practiced a ton of our dog training in those aisles.  They loved him there at that South Anchorage branch, too – and I am not just saying that they would send an announcement over the loudspeakers when Auggie came in to be boarded so they could all greet him.  After we left Alaska, it just became a safe choice.  As a national brand, I can rely on each location to have his vet information, background, and contact information without much concern.  Plus I knew their rules.  Because Auggie is an “aggressive breed” (I can’t “quotation mark” that phrase enough, mind you), PetSmart has restrictions – the biggest is he can’t play with other dogs.  So, he just has to play one-on-one with a human (kind of a lose-win if you ask me).  When I lived in Boston, I didn’t have a PetSmart handy, but I drove around with him everywhere … and I mean EVERYWHERE … so when I did board him it was at a local pet hospital where they still loved him (one girl would always do the “Auggie Butt Dance” to mimic the way he gets fired up when seeing people he likes but still has to walk).

Thing is, it’s not the place I keep him.  It’s the amount of time I keep him there.  Auggie spent nearly half his time in boarding in November and December.  In one of my previous posts, I said goodbye to a dear friend.  I went to the friend’s funeral, but the one thing that almost kept me from going was that I had to put Auggie back into the PetSmart after less than 24 hours being out, and that’s after week after week after week.  I was so worried about it, I took a minute to talk to one of the PetSmart people if I was causing any red flags.  I had been in there enough that while I felt I could trust him to be honest with me.  What he said has stuck with me:

“It’s not the amount of time people leave their pets here.  It’s the people themselves.  We know Auggie enough that we know you enough.  And we’re not worried about you.”

So, that’s the news of Fuzzball.  Feel pupdated now.

Let’s Have a Talk About the Jedi

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Alright.  I gave you space.  I gave you time.  I gave you every chance in the world to get yourself up to speed.  I’m ready to risk the heartbreak, the arguments, and most of all the spoilers.

It’s time we discuss Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker – also known as Episode IX (or 9).

I am guessing 99% of you know what film I am talking about, but if you crawled out from under a rock or was marooned on a deserted island for the half-century, let me just give you the scope.  I am, of course, talking about the epic space opera Star Wars.  Starting with eponyms 1977 film, moving making and special effects were radically changed on the back of a storyline and characters that were so easy to love that it was easy for any five-year-old to follow it for the rest of their life.  As the “Episode” suggests, this was the 9th and final in the original ‘trilogy of trilogies’.  There is a plan to make more movies, and the scope of the Star Wars universe is handled in different media, most publicly these days in the Disney+ show “The Mandalorian”, less publically by the now canon 1978 holiday special, but from the scope of the original plan by the show’s developer George Lucas, this was the last of it.

So how did as a Star Wars loving public handle it?  Well, like we handled most Start Wars things for most of the life of the Star Wars Saga … with a lot of bellyaching.

For the record, I loved Rise of Skywalker, but let me get back to it.

The second film released Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (Episode V) is commonly considered the best of all nine films.  Heck, Empire is sometimes placed on a level with the greatest films of all time.  Keeping that in mind, seven films followed, none which matched the greatness of Empire.  The problem I have is that it can be an unfair comparison.   Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (Episode VI) was very good, but was hated by some in the nerd community because of Ewoks – little furry creatures that save the day late in the movie.  Are Ewoks as cool as droids?  No, but that’s no reason to spread hate on a film.

Now, for you Star Wars fans, this isn’t leading me to start to defend Jar Jar Binks — I think we all know where is going to go.   After nearly sixteen years waiting for a new Star Wars movie, the initial crawl told us we would be reward with  – a trade dispute.  The trilogy of episodes I, II, & III wasn’t good, to say the least, but they aren’t without their positives.  Those films failed due to poor dialogue and stale performances through all three movies.  In hindsight, however, much of the mythos, story, and breadth of the Star Wars universe was established in between the whining and establishing the high ground.  The biggest was in The Phantom Menace (Episode I) when … well … let me get back to that point.

After another twenty years, we were finally rewarded with sequels.  I was incredibly excited about this because regardless of what you thought of the prequel trilogy, it was a story we already knew.  I had literally gone nearly 40 years without learning something new about the force, the galaxy, any of that.  The Force Awakens (Episode VII) was a reward.  Some liked it, I loved it.

Where the controversy arose came in the next installment The Last Jedi (Episode VIII) released a couple years ago.  The Star Wars production team made a change in the writer, director, and everything – and many feel this was a problem.  So, I stand by my opinion that I liked the film, though I like it less now than when it first came out.  Again, it was new, it was the world I liked.  It was better than the original trilogy because the performances were energetic, heartfelt, and rich with depth.  It just went in some odd directions.  Rotten Tomatoes, a  site that tracks film reviews to see how people feel about a film, pointed out that film reviewers loved The Last Jedi, but the fans didn’t.  I kept saying “if you don’t like this film, then you don’t deserve nice things”.

This brought us The Rise of Skywalker (Episode IX).  Released in December, I sat with my 3D goggles on hours after it’s release soaking in the IMAX screen for one last go at it.  In short, I loved it.  There were a fair bit of things they did for fan service, but I am a fan and I liked to be serviced.  This film made me laugh out loud, it made me cry real tears, and it made me think about life itself – and put simply, that makes for a very full set of emotions.  I wouldn’t say it stuck the landing the same way Avengers: Endgame did earlier this year, but it was still incredible.  The thing is, the original trilogy was good because actors (even unknown actors) were given the freedom to throw themselves into loveable characters.  One of my favorite moments in all nine movies was the “Light Speed Skipping vs. Dropping a Tree on BB-8” banter near the start of this film – timing, comedic, and rich against sounds dubbed in later was gold.

Then, of course, I started hearing the bellyache.  There was anger over the surprise return of the villain.  There were a lot of beefs about the surprise powers showing up throughout the film.  There were complaints about the ending and open questions.  But most of all, I have heard a lot of people making a stink about the “Diad”.

Put simply, the last three episodes centered on two opponents.  One a Jedi, one a sith (or a bad guy like Darth Vader).  These films focused a lot on how the two seemed to be drawing together but were challenged by their commitment to their side of the force.  In this last film, they gave that a name, calling it a diad.  Some pointed to it and tried to say it was nothing but a forced love interest.  I pointed to it that the whole nine films was leading to that final conclusion.

From nearly the first words spoken about the force, they said it was what creates balance in the known universe.  The balance was the keyword.  During most of these series, the dark side controlled things, which sent the force out of balance.  However, Episode I starts with the Jedi in full control of the force without a single Sith lord known.  They even suggested it was that way for generations.  My argument was, that it was out of balance as well.  The whole of the story followed the rise of dark, the overzealous need to control it, then it’s fall; however, The Force awakened to search for balance and it used the diad to find it.

Granted, tons of questions arose from that, but the bellyaching needs to end.  We were given a massive treat in what this set of movies became.  We were lucky to be given these films, and I feel blessed to have seen them all in the theatre when they were first released.  Star Wars captured my imagination long ago in a small town far far away, and you won’t catch me bellyaching about that.