Three Years of Hell to Become the Devil: Outgeeking Bainbridge

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Outgeeking Bainbridge

Now, I'd never take on Professor Bainbridge when it comes to wine: I haven't the taste buds. And on corporate law? More fool me to challenge the guy who authors textbooks. But outgeeking? There we're on more equal ground. And I'm afraid that his accusation that George Lucas has sold the soul of Star Wars to the Democrats just rings hollow.

Basically, the good Professor is upset because:

...Lucas betrayed the basic story arc of the Star Wars mythology in order to score these cheap political points. In the original trilogy, Luke struggled against the absolutism of Obi-Wan and Yoda. It was Luke who insisted that there was still good in Vader, which Yoda and Obi-Wan rejected.

The betrayal in question is in having Obi-Wan say to Anakin, after the latter has muttered some you're-for-me-or-against-me line, "Only a Sith thinks in absolutes."

Now, I've not seen the movie yet, and to the best of my knowledge, neither has Prof. Bainbridge, but to my mind his internal critique doesn't hold up. Bainbridge spends a great deal of time talking about how an older (presumably wiser) Obi-Wan was still doctrinaire and absolutist in his consideration of the Force. But if we consider this Obi-Wan to be less mature than Alec Guinness (and who wouldn't), then the plot still hangs together. Obi-wan may just be full of it. And there's no "betrayal" for "cheap political points" so long as the elder Jedi isn't doing anything more than the lightsaber equivalent of Godwin's Law: you know the conversation's over (and someone's limbs are about to go) when somebody mentions the Sith.

So why are so many assuming that Old Kenobi needs to be taken seriously? It seems that the New York Times found political meaning in the film:

"This is how liberty dies - to thunderous applause," Padm observes as senators, their fears and dreams of glory deftly manipulated by Palpatine, vote to give him sweeping new powers. "Revenge of the Sith" is about how a republic dismantles its own democratic principles, about how politics becomes militarized, about how a Manichaean ideology undermines the rational exercise of power. Mr. Lucas is clearly jabbing his light saber in the direction of some real-world political leaders. At one point, Darth Vader, already deep in the thrall of the dark side and echoing the words of George W. Bush, hisses at Obi-Wan, "If you're not with me, you're my enemy." Obi-Wan's response is likely to surface as a bumper sticker during the next election campaign: "Only a Sith thinks in absolutes." You may applaud this editorializing, or you may find it overwrought, but give Mr. Lucas his due. For decades he has been blamed (unjustly) for helping to lead American movies away from their early-70's engagement with political matters, and he deserves credit for trying to bring them back.

Dear goodness, we can only hope. I mean, if Democrats can't do better than Lucas's tin-ear for dialogue for their political bumper stickers, then I suspect the Republicans will get the geek vote. But now the New York Times has done the impossible: it's made me curious about the final Star Wars film.

Let's face it: Lucas is about as subtle as a chainsaw running through a screen door, at least when it comes to dialogue. I'd expect that even if Chewbacca were mouthing Bush-lite rhetoric, you wouldn't need to be Han Solo to figure out the reference. On the other hand, the New York Times could probably scan Beowulf and find hidden anti-Bush meanings.

So who is it? Is George L. taking on George B.? Or is this all a figment of the Times' fevered fantasies? Sadly, I'll have to see the film to find out, because when it comes to a conflict between the Lucas lack of subtext and the Greying Lady's determination to find same, we reach a level of difficulty almost equal to that of the Great Sci Fi Paradox: What happens when a bunch of clueless red-shirts, guaranteed to survive less than three minutes after a beamdown, meets a platoon of Imperial Stormtroopers, who can't hit a barn from inside it?


This article on a Cannes press conference might save you the trouble of going to the movie.
A wise man once pointed out that "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar", and I think someone needs to remind Prof. Bainbridge that sometimes a trashy sci-fi B flick is just a trashy sci-fi B flick.....
The "wise man" was Freud, on the sometimes-noninterpretation-of-dreams. Less well known is his debt to Kipling. The original line went something like "Wine is only wine, but a cigar is a smoke."
I've noticed that people who are absolutist often think that they are nuanced. (Often because they know other people on their own side who are even more extreme, or have unexpressed feelings which are much nastier.)
TTP: I know it was Freud; I was under the impression that the quote was familiar enough that nobody (at least nobody well educated enough to be follwoing a first person narrative of American legal education) needed to be told who said it. :-)
Oh, perhaps I've underestimated folks. I was under the impression that a lot of people didn't know the source. Eh. Also I was trolling for the exact phrasing of the Kipling quote.
"Now, I've not seen the movie yet, and to the best of my knowledge, neither has Prof. Bainbridge..." And thus continues the conservative tradition of critiquing movies without having seen them. :)
If you notice, Dave, the above isn't a critique of a movie, but a series of questions about it. And having now seen the movie, if you want to carry water for Lucas's dialogue, I hope your back's pretty strong.

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Animal House in Byron Bay

Byron Bay e1267061989164 Animal House in Byron BayTraveling, as in life, comes with its ups and downs. You’re always going to win some and lose some. At bat in Australia with a few strikes, it was time for us to win. Or was it?

We heard nothing but fantastic things about the surfer town of Byron Bay, and were excited to settle in there. Just two hours south of Brisbane, the town is centered around beautiful beaches set in a gorgeous bay. Its unique vibe stems from its popularity among hippies, surfers, backpackers and yuppies alike. There are kebab stands and surfer shops alongside glitzy boutique hotels, upscale cafes and wine bars. The streets are lined with wealthy urbanites driving Mercedes behind hoards of hippies clanking along in their mini campervans. On the beach, however, all differences are set aside. Here it’s all about the sun and surf.

Byron Bay Beach e1267163402705 Animal House in Byron Bay

After a few sleepless nights in our carpet-stained room in Brisbane, we didn’t arrive without a high recommendation for our Byron Bay accommodation. We booked the newest budget accommodation in town and with upgraded facilities and stellar ratings, we knew we couldn’t go wrong. Because the cost of a private room was begrudgingly out of budget, I realized I had to suck it up. It was time to experience the digs of a true backpacker: dorm-style living. The idea of it was certainly unappealing, but this was supposed to be a nice place, right?

As day one wore on, I could see our hostel slowly transforming. I wasn’t sure what was happening as it happened, but the bright, cheerful, clean place I had arrived to that morning was quickly taking on a new form. Girls seemed to have traded in their t-shirts and flip-flops for stilettos and spandex, and I hadn’t gotten the memo. The guys had changed out of their swim trunks but still didn’t have shirts on, and the water in their water bottles had now been replaced by Jack Daniels. By 6 p.m. even that friendly guy that worked the front desk had changed agendas. He had now taken position on the patio to do none other than ‘spin.’ Yes, spin as in DJ as in club as in our hostel was becoming a full-blown, boisterous dance club.

ClubScene e1267061922256 Animal House in Byron Bay

Of course I’m all about going out and having a good time, but when it’s practically in your sleeping quarters, that’s when it becomes a problem. After re-confirming we were old, married and boring, we decided we were ready to seek refuge and headed to our room. Peace and quiet? By the looks of it, yes. Our two British female roommates were fast asleep in their beds. Had we scored the jackpot, bunking up with two innocent gals disinterested in the juvenile debauchery? Oh, how wrong we were.

Night 1: Within minutes of laying our heads on the pillows, we awoke to the sound of one of our roommates urinating in the middle of our room. We literally shoved her out the door, only to be re-awoken by the sound of the fire alarm she set off while trying to locate the bathroom.

Night 2: The following night was a Monday, which we presumed had to be more low key. To our dismay, the club scene just grew bigger. Again trying to escape the licentious activities, we retreated to our room where we again found our roommates fast asleep and this time, seemingly sober. High-fiving one another in the dark, we were convinced we wouldn’t have any midnight interruptions. Nonetheless, we were soon awoken to the sound of our other considerate roommate, this time vomiting profusely just feet away from where we slept.

Hostel Dorm Room e1267163777570 Animal House in Byron BayWe soon learned traveling through Australia and partying like it’s 1999 was a kind of rite of passage for teenage Europeans. We found ourselves right in the midst of it. Unfortunately, we lacked the liquid endurance, were a bit past our partying prime and in the end, way out of our league.

We tried desperately to enjoy the all that Byron Bay had to offer, with days on the beach, hikes to the nearby lighthouse and enjoying the low-key café scene but I’m afraid it’s the Animal House accommodations that will leave the indelible mark.

pixel Animal House in Byron Bay

Comments (5)

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  1. roundwego says:

    Australia makes it hard to find good, budget accomodation. Hope you have better luck than us!

  2. We thought about going to Byron Bay but headed south instead. We can relate, though, to your difficulty finding decent and affordable accommodation here. We’re staying in some pretty low-budget places too (but not hostels with party-goers, thankfully). good luck!
    .-= Sarah Lavender Smith´s last blog ..Finding the Best and Worst in Daylesford =-.

  3. Greg says:

    Hilarious! Dormitory stories are a riot.
    Byron Bay is a tricky spot to find lodging… we took an overnight Greyhound there and learned the only accomodation was $160 per night. Ouch. It was onto Surfer’s Paradise after the day in BB. Surfer’s is madness for the same reason you mention above… young and wild Euros. Oh to be young.

  4. roundwego says:

    I thought you would get a kick out of that, B! Of course we pictured you and Trace there in hog heaven. We may have been in the same boat if we were single and 10 years younger!

    - Laura

  5. Brigid Pritchard says:

    HAHAHA! That is exactly how I remember it (insert Tracey and I as your roomies). Literally laughing out loud. Please post something about SYDNEY!!