Papi, what is happening to you?: The unforgiving reality of old age

Visiting my Dad , whom I call Papi in Spanish, has been a sweet and sour experience.  I came to visit him in Puerto Rico for a few days… because I miss him and  I wanted to see him again.

During the time I spent with him during these few days , I start questionning again the absurdity of this existence.   What is, if any, the purpose of this life ?  Why are we born to simply die and cease to exist at the end?

Papi was an active man who worked very hard, had many friends and went to many parties.  He was known as having a good sense of humor and making jokes all the time.  He always dressed up with the latest fashion and style.  Papi often took good care of his belongings, particularly his hair.    He also has been a jovial and friendly individual.  He laughed hysterically and made jokes with his friends about politics and life in general. He enjoyed drinking with friends and eating spicy food.

He went to the army for a short period of time, but he often reminded us of his military routine.   Papi married my mom and had four sons.  He worked hard at a pharmacy warehouse . I remember visiting him at his job which was upstairs.   Papi would buy me candy and sandwiches “medianoche” for mid morning snack.   He also taught me one time how to ride my bike, how to take a shower, and how to clean my shoes.  He was very particular about his personal belongings.

Now most of that is gone.  He can barely walk and is more forgetful.  He is in his late 70s and does not eat very much. He is retired and can barely take care of himself.  It’s almost like he has become a different person.   It makes me wonder,  what is happening to my Papi?

In spite of the changes, he continues to do certain things that shows glimpses of who Papi really is. He enjoys doing word search puzzles.   Papi sometimes still makes the kind of jokes he used to make.  He remembers most of his family members and friends.

I can’t help but to question again the reason for this existence.   The purpose of us living in this state of awareness we call “life” if at the end it is going to be gone.  My Papi was a jovial and active man.  Now he is a weak and serious old man.   Like the winter that comes and takes away all the beauty of the trees and the flowers and the sunshine, so does old age take away the sunshine that I often found in my Papi.   Will there be a spring after this?

Most of Papi is already gone.  Most of what he reflected has faded away.

I guess Papi is not completely gone.  At least not in my heart.

Review of Star Wars: Force Awakens Movie

   Although I have never done a movie review, I will make an exception.  I waited with excitement to watch the last episode of Star Wars.  I guess I had a lot of expectations of it, having been a big fan of this saga, and actually having just a few of my expectations met. Here is my review on Star Wars Episode 7: The Force Awakens.  

Although this film has been mostly a disappointment, I will start with the positive feedback.  In overall, the plot is a pretty good one.  I like the idea of the search for Luke Skywalker after his attempt to start a new league of Jedis.   I also enjoyed watching new evil characters starting a First Order, very similar to the original Empire.  Most of the characters are also excellent choices, including Rey, Finn, Poe Dameron,  Maz Kanata (who I think may be a Jedi master) , and BB-8 (who happens to be the cutest robot I have seen).  Also the return of the classic characters like Han Solo, Leia Organa, Chewbacca, C3-PO, and R2 D2, was more than I expected.  The  visual effects are excellent, particularly the Millennium falcon flying inside the abandoned space ships.  By the way, the scenes of fallen ships in the desert was a nice link to the previous movie; a reminder of the fallen empire and the introduction to a new way of life in the galaxy.  It was almost like witnessing a cemetery of the old empire.

Finn was a very likable guy struggling with leaving the First Order and joining the Resistance, which resembles a lot with Anakin’s struggles during the second and third movie, and Han Solo’s indecisiveness about joining the Rebellion.   He was comical while trying to protect Rey from all kinds of trouble, like Han Solo protected Leia.  Rey is also a great fighter who I think may be Han Solo and Leia’s daughter, but we are not supposed to know that yet ( and therefore Kylo Ren’s sister, which explains his trouble to completely control her mind.)  I was also relieved to see a lot of action with light sabers, but not too much, as in Revenge of the Sith.  The X wings fighting against the First Order fighters was also a pleasant return to the classic Star Wars space battles we all love to see.  It was literally 30 years from the last episode, which can justify all the changes that have occurred, and plenty of time for the First Order to rise, Leia leaving Solo,  and people forgetting about the reality of the Force.

Now, to the negative part of my review (which happens to be the most, I have to admit).  Why isn’t there more of an introduction to Rey’s life besides being a scavenger and lonely girl?  And how did she manage to adopt Jedi skills , such as controlling the storm trooper’s mind and actually beating Kylo Ren in a light saber fight?  Only if she would have been trained somehow by another Jedi could she have actually done some of these tricks.  Luke wasn’t able to do any of these if it weren’t for Obi Wan Kenobi’s initial trainings.   

Then there was way too much humor throughout the movie.  I mean, it started with Poe Dameron with his sarcastic attitude, then Finn’s character attempting to rescue Rey, then Han Solo (which is expected), then it was Kylo Ren’s rage that was somehow marked by a hint of amusement,  instead of maintaining his scary and evil demeanor.  Kylo’s anger (as opposed to Anakin and Darth Vader) was more like the anger of an evil Disney character (no surprise there).

Another disappointment was the lack of diversity in alien characters in some scenes, such as when Han Solo and Chewbacca confront old foes in his big ship.  They all happen to be humans.  And how did Han Solo lose the Millenium Falcon and somehow found it while Rey and Finn were in it?  But then there were too many new Alien characters inside Maz Kanata’s palace which we have never seen before.  What about Captain Phasma? Couldn’t she be a more evil looking character, maybe a blue skinned Twi-Lek or a red skinned Togruta?

Going back to Kylo’s character, he was a total disaster.  First of all, he should not have taken his ugly mask off at all.  He should have kept it to maintain the suspense and his evil and scary demeanor.  How did he even get a hold of Darth Vader’s burned mask?  There was also few explanations of his reasons for leaving the Jedi school and turning to the dark side.   How can he have some much power with the Force, but is unable to beat Rey with a light saber?  Kylo also should not have taken his mask off when his father, Han Solo, demanded it.  By the way, the idea of the main villain being Han’s son is ridiculous.  It  would have been more appealing if Kylo was Luke’s son instead.  But anyways, the scene when Han Solo confronts Kylo, which he calls by his real name, Ben, would be a little better if Kylo was actually walking with guards and then asks the guards to leave.  Then Han approaches peacefully and  Kylo refuses to take off his mask, exchanges some words , and then turns around and walks away from Han Solo.  Han then attempts to stop Ben by following  him and putting his hands on Kylo’s shoulder, and at that moment , a storm troopers comes back (maybe Captain Phasma) and shoots and kills Han Solo thinking that Kylo is being attacked.  Then Han Solo would die a more honorable death while his son watches him fall in despair and more rage.  And then all of this would have been even better if nobody knows Han was actually his father until Kylo yells “Father…!” while  Han Solo falls. Then Chewbacca shoots the storm trooper and Kylo gets away.

Although Rey was a good character, it would be more realistic and would make more sense if she would have received at least minimal training in the Force before being able to control the storm trooper’s mind to release her and beat Kylo at the final battle.  Maybe Rey could have kept a hologram of Luke or another Jedi Master with instructions about the Force from early age (a gift from an old Jedi master perhaps).  Rey would have begun to feel the Force by practicing techniques and meditation, but without a lightsaber.  When she meets Han Solo and then is given Luke’s lightsaber, she is convinced she can become a Jedi.  Maz Kanata ( which I insist is a Jedi Master) starts training Rey during her visit, and this is when she starts having all those visions, but then gets scared and abandons the light saber.  And this is when Kylo attacks again and takes her hostage, and Finn keeps the lightsaber and ends up rescuing her.

Luke Skywalker should have also showed up sooner in the movie.  But I was relieved  he showed up at the end which gives me hope that  he will play a much active role in the next movie.  I also noticed there was a lot of similarities between this movie and  the fourth episode: A New Hope.  For instance, Rey’s rise from a simple desert girl to a fearless fighter mirrors Luke’s rise from a farmer’s boy to an X Wing pilot.  Also Finn’s funny character and his ambivalence to join the Resistance is similar to Han Solo’s character and ambivalence to join the Rebellion.  Kylo’s sudden attack at the beginning of the movie is almost the same as Darth Vader’s attack at the beginning of A New Hope (they both are attempting to find information from a droid, and end up taking a rebel as hostage).  In both movies the Millennium Falcon is stolen and people hide under its floors.  In both movies the Rebels have a plot to destroy the villain’s main weapon of mass destruction. In both movies a young girl is being rescued from the bad guys, and the main villain ends up fighting with his lightsaber while the huge evil ship is being destroyed by rebels.

In summary, The Force Awakens could have been a much better movie.  I am actually glad there is a big chance that an Episode 8 will come with  Luke as the main character.  I am hoping Rey is fully trained as a Jedi (and probably tempted to join the dark side) , Finn returns as Han Solo’s replacement, and that Kylo matures and becomes more evil and powerful.


May the Force be with you.

Alien Invasion

“War of the Worlds”, “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”, “The Blob”, “Independence Day”, “Arrival”, “Mars Attacks”, “Battle: Los Angeles”,” V” ,  “Signs”, “AVP”, “Men in Black”, “The Invasion”, “The X Files” “Cloverfield”, “Transformers”, and the list goes on and on. What do these films have in common? Alien invasion. Correct me if I am wrong, but it seems that Hollywood, and all of us who like watching these kinds of movies, are attracted to the possibility of one day being visited by extraterrestrial beings, and not only being visited, be victims of an attack beyond what we, as human beings, have ever experienced. Why? What is the reason that we are so attracted to this kind of global disaster? It is almost as if we wish we are attacked by something beyond our technology. It almost seems as if we are not content with the stories that we can create about life here on earth, but want other beingsIndependenceDay to come and destroy us all. Aren’t we satisfied with who we are? Are we that bad, that we wish for something to come crashing down from the sky and vaporize us all?

Of course, in all of these movies, we fight back and end up winning. But the aliens continue to come!! There is no end to it! And I haven’t even mentioned other kinds of humankind extinction threats also found in Hollywood,  such as natural disasters (“2012”), spiritual raptures (“Left Behind”), and computers taking over the world (“Terminator”). It is amazing how much we want to imagine being snatched out of existence.

And at the same time, we don’t grow anymore as a community.    We continue to fight each other, to distant each other, to compete with one another.  Maybe it is a good idea if aliens come and wipe us all up and teach us a lesson. But seriously speaking, what is up with our ways of communicating with each other?  Are we ever going to learn to accept our differences, fight for equality, and give a helping hand to those in need?  We have a serious problem with communication, which can explain the wars that we endure.  We fear each other so much, that we close the door behind us when we go home.  We want to avoid personal contact so much that we are obsessed with using computerized social networks.  We all need to heal from our tendency to defend ourselves from each other.  We need to stop fearing being rejected by others, and be brave enough to communicate.  We might agree with improving our communication, but then we get up in the morning, go about our business, clock in and out, and go back to our homes, without making the effort of genuinely and honestly reaching out to others.  It is pathetic.  No wonder we dream of a world where aliens come and clean this planet up.  WarofWorlds