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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The Brazilian Liquid Diet

FRUIT3 The Brazilian Liquid DietHydration is key in a land of sand and sun. In Brazil, however, rest assured: you will not go thirsty.

God’s greatest gifts to liquid lovers can be found in abundance in Brazil. Here strong coffee, succulent fruit juices and refreshing beer flow like water. In the thirst-quenching capital of the Southern Hemisphere, the wide variety of beverage options do more than keep your palate moist and your lips puckering for more. Brazil’s liquid offerings just might reveal the very best of the rich and colorful culture of the country.

The Dark Stuff

coffeesmall1 300x200 The Brazilian Liquid DietBrazilians take their coffee seriously. Piping hot, thick as oil and excessively sweet, coffee is enjoyed often and at all times of the day. Morning, noon or night, it’s served strong and sweet out of mini plastic or Styrofoam cups. Despite its sugary taste, most Brazilians find their coffee can never be sweet enough and often add additional sugar packets into the miniature, espresso-size cups.

Coffee is typically consumed at a corner lanchonete, a cafe reminiscent of the American diner scene where curving chrome countertops hover over a row of faux-leather bar stools. Here you’ll find Brazilians bellying up for the hourly fix of hot brew. True to their innate affability, Brazilians drink their coffee standing up while mingling among strangers as if they were old friends.

Fruit Around the Clock

Coco1 200x300 The Brazilian Liquid DietBrazil boasts a different fruit for every hour of the day. Mamao (papaya), abacaxi (pineapple), maracajá (passion fruit), uva (grape), acerola (cherry), laranjá (orange) and moranga (strawberry) don’t begin to put a dent in the list of the pure variety of offerings. In fact, there are so many fruits that many don’t even have an English translation. Only in Brazil do you find the sweet juice of fruits like ingá or abui and rare liquid blends with cashew nuts and avocados.

Fruit juice, known as suco, is undoubtedly a major Brazilian highlight. The tropical delights are sold at juice stands lining nearly every corner of every street of Brazil. At each stand you have your pick from 15-20 different fruits that are blended into a fresh, frothy wonderfulness you won’t find elsewhere. Spend time experimenting, mixing and matching juices to find the perfect combo that best suits your palate. For those looking for a little more filling option, opt for mixing your fruit juice with banana or milk for a creamy fruit shake known as a vitamina.

All Hail the King

Beer21 300x226 The Brazilian Liquid DietIf beverages were a Brazilian royal family, beer would certainly be king. It’s consumed all day, every day. Before, during and after every meal, it’s the beverage of choice and is the classic accompaniment to every aspect of Brazilian social life.

When it comes to the kind of beer, however, anything goes. Common brands include Antarctica, Brahma, Skol and Kaiser with the best beers found in the regional offerings, like Bohemia and Petropolis. Though Brazilians are likely to drink whatever is available, they are extremely particular about how their beer is served. It must be ice cold, near frozen, and garnished with a few ice chips. Beer temperature is such a serious matter that all coolers are strategically set to 24-26 degrees Farenheit to ensure the optimum drinking temperature is achieved.

Beer drinking is an unrivaled social activity. It’s typically served tall and proud in a 600 millileter bottle with a couple small cups meant to be shared among everyone at the table and comes clad in its own extra-large, insulated coozie to keep it’s desired temperature. Such an integral part of Brazilian culture has beer drinking become that one of these tall boys can be ordered without uttering a single word. Simply raise three fingers in the air and delivery of a tall, icy brew will arrive in no time.

For those around the world travelers thirsty for an authentic taste of Brazilian life, you can certainly find it by adhering to a strict Brazilian liquid diet. Coffee buzz and sugar high aside, you will never go parched.

pixel The Brazilian Liquid Diet

Comments (4)

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  1. roundwego says:

    Thanks, Adriana. We are certainly missing the fresh sucos, acai and Bohemia now that we are no longer in Brazil! But we will be back.

  2. Adriana says:

    I found your blog on twitter, I´m glad you came to Brazil! it seems you have a good idea about our drinking habits! ;) hope you enjoyed it! and yes, we are very picky about our beer temperature!
    also, fresh fruit juice is a must!!

  3. Dave and Deb says:

    In Canada Brahma Beer had a great campaign for the past couple of summers. The have a cute little jingle that goes Brahma the Bear of Summer. You can’t hear the tune in my head, but I am singing it as I type. Nice post, I love the photo with the beer, it looks like paradise in the background.

  4. Anil says:

    I’ve noticed in many parts of the world outside of the US people drink more – of about everything except water!