Lightyear (2022)… spoilers

A green thought bubble

I just saw Lightyear for the second time this week. It was better the second time.

The framework of Lightyear is that it is the movie that Andy from Toy Story watched which led him to fall in love with his Buzz Lightyear toy. In this film, Buzz Lightyear (voiced by Chris Evans) is a Space Ranger devoted to “completing the mission.” His intense focus on that principle costs him a lot. He doesn’t seem have the insight to see that life can have more purpose than just fulfilling a singular goal.

One of the transformations Buzz undergoes is that he comes to a realization that his friends had worthwhile lives without escaping the strange planet that they landed on. He had been convinced that he was a failure when he couldn’t rescue them. Several of the characters make mistakes that seems to be impossible to correct. Their level of distress is managed because a humorous solution exists to solve the problem. However, Buzz revealed that his career started with failures and the confidence of a mentor helped him succeed.

For some, the fact that a woman falls in love with another woman is too much to accept. Their disapproval seems to be reflexive. Diversity in the film is more deeply rooted than the superficial reading of a half-second kiss between two women as a horrific affront. When Alicia Hawthorne (voiced by Uzo Aduba) tells Buzz of her engagement, Buzz asks what “her” name is, indicating that he knew she was attracted to a woman. The final energy crystal had a rainbow of colors, a nod to the rainbow LGBTQ flag.

The story can be choppy with abrupt transitions. It was almost as if they had too much story to stuff into the allotted time so that scenes need to move quickly from one to the next. For example, their visit to a mine seems like an arbitrary plot device. Although the film foreshadows that particular event, other unexpected situations are science fiction cliches. The robotic cat SOX, (voiced by Peter Sohn) is a good comedian. The ludicrous bee-boop bee-boop when the cat is scanning can be silly, but the cat’s running commentary is also light-hearted. The cat also has some surprises built in.

There was a running gag about life on the planet being dangerous or even hostile. Buzz’s initial reaction is to report that the planet is uninhabitable but they stay. Perhaps this initial reaction was part of Buzz’s determination to escape. I couldn’t see the characters expressing many emotions but a crucial turning point, you see a hint of Buzz’s sadness. That tension quickly fades as the adventures restart.

Although the movie wasn’t outstanding, the story was engaging. It was an action science-fiction story and not a psychological commentary. If I wanted the film to make the characters seem more 3 dimensional, I was pretty much dooming myself to be disappointed.

The movie was good enough to see twice and I enjoyed it both times. The first I was able to see it in a local theater before it closed. The last movie I saw before the pandemic began was Onward, another Disney film. Now that both are available on Disney+ and BluRay, I probably won’t be able to see them on the big screen again.

Today’s sad news

The theater I would go to for movies has closed. The closest one near me is on the other side of town and requires driving in some of the most congested parts of Fort Wayne.

Right now, I don’t subscribe to any of the premium services. I’m not sure which, if any, to choose. I don’t have a lot of incentive to subscribe. My TV has been on only a couple of times in the past few months.

Everything Everywhere All and Once news

Film canister

I discovered that they are showing Everything Everywhere All at Once in the local theater again. They had stopped showing for a couple of weeks but now it’s up again. They’re also putting it up at the prime time of 8:30. When I saw it before it was in the afternoon.

the-numbers.com reported that the number of theaters carrying it jumped from 170 to 1490 this weekend. They also had a big jump in the box office receipts. Including international box office receipts, the movie has already collected about 4 times more than it cost to make it. The income per theater hasn’t changed that much this first weekend, but the gross number are a lot better.

So far this year, it’s #1 by a substantial margin in the category “Top 2022 Theater Average at the Domestic Box Office”

I was thinking about going to see it again before it dropped out, but now I’m considering it again. I already saw Lightyear which is gone. I’d also like to see the new Minions and Marvel movies but it’s easy for me to decide to stay home rather than hit the road for a show.

Go see it! It’s really high energy, funny and touching.

Review: Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022)

A movie reel

Everything Everywhere All at Once has an intriguing title. The story seems simple, a family that owns a laundromat needs to organize their business. Diedre Beaubeirdra (Jamie Lee Curtis) is investigating the family’s documents for their tax filing. She becomes a menacing monster terrorizing Evelyn Wang (Michelle Yeoh) throughout the multiverse.

Out of that simple nugget of a story, Evelyn is distracted by her tangled life. She can’t pay attention to what’s going on but denies her wandering attention. Through the film she finds what her life could have been.

Threaded through the story is humor and the ridiculous possibilities of life. Evelyn finds a way to lighten up each situation. She draws strength from the universes that she visits. Her ability to bring silliness is disarming. The film shows flashes of Evelyn in the different lives that comes from alternative choices. She can switch realities that are linked together so that Evelyn acquires new skills or memories.

When the action stops abruptly, there’s just the emotions of the Evelyn and her daughter, Joy (Stephanie Hsu). Their chase ends in a stalemate, and they try to sort out what life means. They sit on the edge of a canyon watching the peaceful beauty.

The energy of the film grows out of control with montages of rapid cuts. The screen flits between brief views of Evelyn in many universes. She speeds through possibilities until she has found the resource that the current quandary needs. Googly eyes are used to represent mischief, inner sight and traversing life’s complexity.

The film balances humor, terror and sentimental feelings as the situation turns dangerous and then ludicrous and then emotionally difficult. A path through the multiverse is not easily mapped out. An app on the phone that the universe jumping version of her husband, Waymond Wang (Ke Huy Quan), helps find the right path. The red pill is pressing a green button on the earpiece of a Bluetooth headset. Evelyn learns there she has so many possibilities because of her imagination and flexibility.

Eventually, she still can’t pay attention but is willing to come “back to earth” and acknowledge her quirks. The changes might not stop, but her zany character is game to find a way through them.

The New Yorker Fiction

One of my favorite magazines is The New Yorker.

The section of the magazine that I appreciate the most is the fiction. The magazine regularly includes a short story. They are something I look forward to each week.

I’ve made a table with links to the stories organized by publication date. Most of the time, the online copy of the magazine also includes an interview with the author and a podcast where the author reads their story. The table includes links to those as well.

The page helps a reader find to the different stories if they want to go back and read an older story.

It’s interesting to notice the authors who have published more than one story since I started tracking them. These include Lauren Groff, Souvankham Thammavongsa and Saïd Sayrafiezadeh.

The table is available is in this blog’s menu as “The New Yorker Fiction

Hats and coffee mugs

In the summer, I forget what it is like to be chilled and cold. The rain is the closest I come to that. I avoid the rain mostly unless I can wear a hat. My wardrobe of hats isn’t very fashionable. I’ve got some baseball caps and some knit stocking caps. Even though I want to keep my head dry, I don’t use them.

I got one of my hats when we were working with Macromedia to make the Flash library work with our screen reader, Window-Eyes. At GW, they complained that I never gave them the swag that we got.

The Macromedia hat is a kind of trophy. When I was at Purdue, I took a computer graphics class. One project was to simulate a 3-d moveable arm. The memorable part was that I did it so well that they gave me a special Megatek coffee mug as a prize. I feel that it is one of my favorite trophies. I still have it 35 plus years later.

I get chilled also when I get stuck working on a project and it seems like I am doing it wrong. This week I’ve been really devoted to a computer program. It is going well. I didn’t get very far but I am getting close. With all the effort that I am putting in, I’m glad that it is coming through.

It is a good day and I want for tomorrow to also be good. If I see people, I could be glad for my striving for a better life.

Alone Tomorrow

I’ll be alone tomorrow.

My friends have found the truth.
I have said it aloud; now I’m in shame.

I thought they would forgive me.
I wanted understanding and acceptance.
Instead, their judgment was unanimous.

Will I be stuck as an eternal “I”?
“We” and “our” are foreign words now.
I know that I have made a grievous error.
With no one to share with, I began to despair.

The days have been passing slowly.
I cannot expect freedom again.
The world around me is black.
I can wish for friends, but it will be in vain.
I will be alone again and again.

William Wayne Smith

One of my worries had been that I do something bad and lose a friend.  My imagination can be vivid so that I can compound simple conflicts into a lost friendship.  If I can’t forgive myself—why would anyone else?

This poem takes that fear to new levels.  Not only have I made a mistake, it is so severe that everyone abandons me.  They reject me because some secret sin had been revealed.

If I am alone, I cannot use “we” and “us” again. This is as if one mistake would be a dead end for my life in the world.

I make mistakes all of the time.   They do not mean that I am unworthy of the caring and friendships that I cherish.

This poem paints a bleak outlook on reality.   I don’t embrace that perspective, but my imagination could bring it forth at times.


I published the poem initially at Alone Tomorrow. The image It takes a lot to give, to ask for help is by 10 Mix licensed with CC-BY-NC 2.0

Nerd sniped!

There is an xkcd comic by Randall Munroe titled Nerd Sniping. In the comic, Black hat creates a game along a busy highway. When a mathematician, engineer, computer scientist or other nerdy type crosses the road, he yells out an interesting problem. He wins points if the victim freezes to think about the problem and is hit by a passing truck. Mathematicians are worth more points than physicists.

Poetically, today I got nerd sniped by a different xkcd comic. Bracket shows a fictional tournament listing people or items that are put against each other. Usually, the names are related by similar sounding names or by theme. For example, Mr. Spock, Doctor Spock and Doctor Octopus make one bracket. I remember a set of polls to run the tournament, but I can’t find a link to it.

I was looking through the list. I saw a few that I recognized but are less well known such as Amanda Palmer. I found one I didn’t know, Mark Shuttleworth. I went to his Wikipedia page and saw instantly why he was on the list.

The nerd sniping happened when I saw how much money he paid to be launched as a space tourist in 2002. The article gave an inflation adjusted value to 6 significant figures which was obviously more precise than is mathematically justified.

I spent an hour fixing that. Most of the time was learning how the {{Inflation}} tag works on Wikipedia. Nerd sniped!

Fortunately, I didn’t get hit by a truck!

Talking with a friend

A meditation I wrote a while ago…

As I spend time with people who care about me, my happiness grows. I don’t feel so lonely. Life seems worthwhile when I can offer my time and spend it with them.

As I grow closer to my friends, we develop jokes that are hidden within our memories. There may be a pun that we’ve said several times. It becomes a cliché that breaks us out into laughter.

When I spend time with nature, I can find a peace. I, by myself, don’t have the power to raise a fawn or grow a forest. I can assist by avoiding the negative, but I cannot do it on my own. 

With a friend, there is a similar peace. I don’t have the power to create it on my own. We like to give each other the priceless gift of caring each time we visit each other.

Keys to our friendship are feelings of love and feeling loved. By building a relationship carefully, feelings of fear and anger are rare. We may have a disagreement, but we don’t allow that to tear down our bridge.

I keep a friend with peace and happiness.

When I do not understand, I ask a question and we communicate. When I don’t say what I meant, we talk about it. I give an answer to explain what I meant.

When we laugh together, we feel happy. We feel a part of a bigger world. We watch each other’s back. Our lives together are enriched.