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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Paradise Found: Praia da Pipa

4143722644 44a52cab68 300x225 Paradise Found: Praia da PipaAfter suffering through some rather basic accommodations in Olinda, where I shared showers with armies of ants, slept in hole-ridden sheets and awoke in pools of sweat, it was time for a splurge of sorts. And splurge we did.

Pipa found its way on our around the world travel itinerary after rave reviews from some fellow travelers. We heard of spectacular beaches and a low-key charm. We were not disappointed.

Nestled on a peninsula two hours south of Natal, the bus ride into Pipa was incredible. Arriving just in time for the 5:30 p.m. sunset (typical in northern Brazil even in summer due to the proximity to the Equator), we passed through small towns, lined with barefoot children and homes consisting of no more than a tin roof and a pile of bricks. Though life was simple, lives seemed rich. Set against a backdrop of infinite blue sky, forests of palm trees and hundred foot cliffs that drop into the sea, their homes are surrounded by some of the most beautiful landscapes I’ve ever seen. Winding around a deep blue lake feeding into the Atlantic Ocean, we were welcomed by a brilliant sky in a symphony of colors above the town of Pipa.

Finding a place to stay is always a dreaded task. It usually comes after hours in one, two or three uncomfortable buses where temperatures are either sizzling hot or frigid cold. It typically follows hours of lugging around our heavy packs on sun burnt backs. It often involves a clueless examination of vague city maps while quizzing puzzled locals in our broken Portuguese on their orientation skills. It generally results in settling for the closest accommodation option and rarely the finest.

We found heaven, this time, however, at the delightful Pousada Xama (pronounced Shama) on the edge of town. Clean, charming and cozy, I felt as if we were staying at a five star hotel. The grounds were lush, with flowers and coconut trees lining every inch of the place. We had a comfy room and a private patio with a hammock where we spent hours reading and planning our days. They served a fantastic cafe de manha (breakfast) each morning and a beautiful pool to lounge in after a hard day at the beach was a welcomed luxury.

4144171411 0079782bfa 300x199 Paradise Found: Praia da PipaThe beaches of Pipa, in my novice opinion, are some of the top beaches in Brazil. Much like the surrounding towns, Pipa is perched up on a cliff made of red rock, looking down to the water. There are several beaches to choose from. You can spend your day at Praia de Golfinhos (Dolphin Beach), a dolphin reserve where you often find dolphins swimming and feeding their young at low tide. There’s Praia do Amor (Love Beach), where the water is a vibrant aqua green, waves twice my height and dotted with the area’s best surfers. Then there is a plethora of surrounding beaches tucked into the cliff side where you can walk for miles without seeing another footprint in the sand.

Pipa, for us, was vacation. We were spoiled with our accommodations and beaches, and loved every second of it. The beauty of long-term travel is finding a place you really love and deciding to extend your stay just because you can. A three day visit quickly turned into a week-long stay. We met some great people at our pousada, including an Israeli Argentine couple on their honeymoon, who we tagged along with trying to relive the magic. We spent an afternoon on a kayak trip around the nearby lake and through the surrounding streams and watched sunset each night from a cliff overlooking the beaches. While we spotted no dolphins, we were amazed to see an elusive baby cougar on the hunt while on a hike at sunset.

We spent our Thanksgiving here in Pipa, and while the meal itself could be forgotten, our time in Pipa will be fondly remembered.

pixel Paradise Found: Praia da Pipa

Comments (4)

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  1. roundwego says:

    Molly, it is incredible. Not sure what that crazy sister-in-law of yours was thinking moving to Chicago! Only kidding, we are looking forward to a White Christmas.

  2. Molly says:

    Sounds incredible! So jealous….We miss you guys!

  3. roundwego says:

    Thanks, Court! A little slice of heaven indeed. Always welcome a nice splurge + amazing beaches.

  4. Courtney says:

    Great post Laura! Glad you guys found a little slice of heaven!