Richard Jewell, the Movie Review: To understand what’s happening now everyone should watch this great film by Clint Eastwood

The movie, Richard Jewell is certainly one of those that every Trump supporter should see, and those considering becoming one. No wonder it has not done well at the box office, the last time I saw such an antagonistic hatred of a movie was the Atlas Shrugged films for many of the same reasons. Critics hated the movie, it essentially comes down to institutionalism against individual rights when movies take the side of individuals, the college trained movie critics become synonymous with anger at those who challenge their understanding of the world, which was forged in such places as Harvard, Yale, Oxford and Princeton, or some of their copy cats teaching those who didn’t do so well on their ACT tests. When people want to know why the media and our government rally to each other’s needs so often, and so quickly, well, they were all taught in the same places to march to whims of the institutions while those who didn’t enjoy the experience become everybody else. But the best products of our modern education systems, our unionized government schools or our best colleges essentially become guys like the featured FBI agent played by Jon Hamm’s Tom Shaw or the newspaper reporter hot to get any story and generally bored with life, Olivia Wilde’s Kathy Scruggs. And it was those two who were playing around with each other sexually who came up with the whole story against Richard Jewell, because they needed somebody to be the face of terrorism, even if the guy was completely innocent.

There is a Kathy Scruggs in every newsroom from all sides of the sexes. There are guy versions, but this one played by Olivia Wilde was fantastic, and very close to many of the people I have known in the media. 89-year-old Clint Eastwood, who directed this picture with the experience of a man who has been around and seen everything is likely the only person who could have directed Olivia Wilde with such realism. She reminded me of a not so disgusting scum bag as Eastwood showed in his Dirty Harry film Sudden Impact, the bar whore who was the central figure behind the rapes of the two leading girls. For these characters wreaking other people’s lives is a kind of game that they love playing. It fills a void in their lives that they work very hard to hide from other people and they are dangerous. But make no mistake about it, there is a Kathy Scruggs in every newsroom to some extent or another. She is not an exceptionally evil person, she is as common as a raindrop in the world of the media, and it takes a director like Clint Eastwood to pull that kind of performance out of an actress who might otherwise not feel comfortable going to such a dark place.

We all know the story, but as I was watching this movie, I was thinking that this is exactly what has been happening to the Trump administration. Kathy Scruggs might as well have been Lisa Page in the middle of the FBI investigation against President Trump. Sexual manipulation is not a new thing for women to play against horny, stupid men, and Peter Strzok was no exception. Not all people are as flamboyant about their behavior as Scruggs was, they hide their actions better. But these kinds of things are happening all the time at every level of our society, and if you get in the way of their actions, another Richard Jewell is born. We only know of Richard Jewell because the profile of the case was a big one. There are Richard Jewell types losing their jobs every day, or being denied promotions for all the same reasons. What Trump captured of the FBI and the media in Richard Jewell was an examination into the kinds of people who are really part of these classes of people, and it wasn’t pretty.

What happened to Richard Jewell, with the attempted entrapments by the FBI was exactly what happened to Roger Stone in the early morning raid of his home at 5 AM with the CNN reporter tipped off and waiting to capture the images of an arrested Trump confidant to splash on the television at the earliest moment. Or what about pinning down Michael Flynn without a lawyer while attempting to get him to give false testimony by pretending to be his friend in the early days of the White House transition? You can’t lie to an FBI agent, it’s against the law—but they sure can lie to you, or control the evidence in such a way to make you look bad if it makes them look good in the process. This movie Richard Jewell showed how those things happen in a very legally valid way. We should all question ourselves in why we have given the government so much power over us. Well, I’d say it’s because there’s a bit of Richard Jewell in all of us, a do gooder who just wants to live a good life and we don’t want to think that people are so dishonest as Tom Shaw or Kathy Scruggs.

The problem with institutionalists like the villains in the movie Richard Jewell is that the villains see value for themselves in supporting the institutions at all cost, even at the price of humanity. And to the rest of us, we can’t even comprehend such evil, yet we face it every day. Occasionally we get fighters who know the system better than the bad guys like the attorney in the film played by Sam Rockwell, Watson Bryant. President Trump comes to mind as a person who has made so much money in life and seen every trick in the book that he can sidestep the institutionalists easily. But those not so experienced around Trump were not so difficult to pluck into the trash bins of trouble. One little misstatement at that level and you are going to jail, while gang members, thugs, and illegal aliens roam our streets unimpeded. If you lie to an FBI agent when they set up the deceit themselves to trap you in it, and you are going to jail to show their power. It’s a bad, nasty game that many fear almost more than death, and it’s sad that we have allowed it to take such a hold of all our lives.

The problem though isn’t that we are stupid, its that we have been short to admit to ourselves that people are as bad as Kathy Scruggs and Tom Shaw. We find it astonishing that they would take it for granted that we’d just naturally believe them and that we’d put up with their evil ways because we all want to believe in the good in people. But some people just don’t have it in them. They adhere so well to the institutions because as people they are broken likely from birth, and there is nothing to hold them together but the rigid rules for which they control. Whether it’s the FBI or the media, the rules are built to serve the institutions and when they need some diversion, they can always pick on the latest Richard Jewell—the good guy who is so well intentioned that he can’t see the evil that is at work right in front of his face. Yet we all see it, and its not just in the Jewell case, but it’s happening right now to our president by that same FBI. Only that story is a much bigger one that many just aren’t ready to admit has been happening. But to see it for all its possibilities, everyone should see Richard Jewell. Its one of those types of movies for our times.

Rich Hoffman

Solo: A Star Wars Story Box office discussion–what it means to everyone–and nobody cares about China

Box office numbers are often a good thermometer into what the world is thinking, and I pay attention to them closely, and sadly the new Star Wars movie Solo: A Star Wars Story is falling well short of the kind of numbers its going to need to make. I found it interesting to see how many news outlets were already writing stories on Friday about how dismal the box office numbers were for the new Star Wars movie, like The Hollywood Reporter for instance. Their story was that Solo was bombing big time in China. Well, since when was China the market decider for films, they are communists, more aligned with the villains in these stories? Solo: A Star Wars Story is all about freedom and I’m sure the “state” wasn’t all that happy with the film, and that whether or not people saw the film or even advertised it so that their billion people had access to it is probably a big factor. Asians especially in China are not big on the Star Wars films, but that’s OK, they haven’t been a big part of the box office numbers all this time—who really needs them now? Solo isn’t any different, yet The Hollywood Reporter was almost as happy as a kid on Christmas Day to learn that China was not supporting the new Star Wars picture. There’s a lot going on with this one which justifies a good long discussion.  (CLICK HERE FOR MY REVIEW OF THE FILM)

First of all, I don’t think the poor box office numbers so far reflect that Solo: A Star Wars Story is a bad movie. If you took the box office numbers of Infinity War and Deadpool 2 and released Solo: A Star Wars Story on a light release month, such as April I think this Star Wars movie would be on track easily to achieve a billion dollars at the box office, but with some competition out there, it would appear there is only so much money on the table to divide up between all the movies, and that’s not a bad thing for theater owners. I often say that Hollywood has let down all the personal investments that theater owners have to shoulder with less than stout productions that drive their concessions. That certainly isn’t the problem currently, there are a lot of movies released right now, and coming up as the summer unfolds which should help theater owners sell lots of popcorn. Hollywood owes them for always being available to display the Hollywood product to the public. That same public has a lot to do on Memorial Day weekend, that’s when the pools open in the states and people typically have things to do outside. In America Memorial Day weekend was pretty nice except for some flash flooding in the eastern part of the country. Everywhere else it was sunny and hot—and people spent time outside. May 25th may have been a traditional release date for Star Wars, but it’s no longer a great weekend for opening a movie because it’s the gateway to summer and people are often doing a lot of things that involve going outside.

Additionally, there are problems for Star Wars to overcome, the entertainment media is trying to do with Lucasfilm and Disney what the general media is trying to do with President Trump, and that is torpedo anything that they do that’s good, because everyone else is struggling to compete. Disney is going to make a lot of money this summer between the Marvel films and Pixar’s Incredibles 2—many in the entertainment business are very happy to see a Star Wars movie get bad press, because it’s a shot at Disney as a media company they are competing with. It’s like how the rest of the NFL teams around the country enjoy it when the New England Patriots lose a game, or Tom Brady throws an occasional interception. The trade media rushes out to talk about how Tom Brady is too old and is losing it. But the very next week Brady will throw for 400 yards and have a quarterback rating over 100 and the Patriots will win by 24 points over whoever they are playing. Disney and its tent pole of Star Wars is a big presence in the marketplace and the second handers love to see trouble happening in the Star Wars universe.

But then there is the very legitimate problem that I have talked about before and that is the mistake that Kathleen Kennedy and her story group at Lucasfilm has made in throwing out the extended universe of Star Wars and pushing very progressive themes in these new Star Wars movies cramming PC culture down the throats of the fans who clearly don’t want those elements in these movies. To me the Lucasfilm efforts with Solo: A Star Wars Story went a long way to fixing those problems with the fan base where some still want to enjoy new instalments, while others want to boycott the films in hopes that Disney will fire Kathleen Kennedy for messing with the elements that made Star Wars great to begin with. Nobody cared that Princess Leia was a bit of a feminist in the original A New Hope. George Lucas tried to make people happy by putting a black guy in the stories with the character of Lando. But in general, the heroes were white people, especially men and Kennedy has been very active to change that. But while doing so she literally destroyed two of the most popular female characters that fans loved, Jaina Solo, Han’s very strong daughter, and the wife of Luke Skywalker, Mara Jade. Fans who read the books went on a lot of journeys with those characters over two decades and suddenly fans were told that those people didn’t exist in Star Wars anymore, and that has caused a lot of consternation. When The Last Jedi failed to reveal who the parents of Rey were—many people were hoping that she was actually Jaina which would at least explain why she is flying around in Han Solo’s precious Millennium Falcon—a lot of fans stepped away from Star Wars at that point and now this second film in only a year has hit theaters and people are ambivalent about it. The Last Jedi was a very progressive movie that really split the fanbase, from not revealing the parentage of Rey, to the killing of Luke and the obvious progressive messages of feminism and sacrifice where everyone was blowing themselves up instead of taking the fight to the enemy, it’s that which made it so the fans stepped away from Solo: A Star Wars Story.

I have been enjoying the new Star Wars stuff the best I could. I have not been a fan of what Lucasfilm has done. I was a big fan of the Star Wars EU and I think Lucasfilm could have easily have just picked up these stories where the books left off and would have done something really special. However, I think the value of the movies and all the merchandise that is coming from the franchise does far more good than bad. I think Lucasfilm and Disney made a major mistake with Star Wars and that they are trying to remedy that now. For me Solo: A Star Wars Story was a huge step in that direction—of making things right with the fans. But its obvious that the fans are going to make Disney and ultimately Lucasfilm earn back that respect which is where things are today. There was a boycott of this latest Han Solo movie and it had an impact on the final ticket sales. As the word is getting out, because Solo: A Star Wars Story is pretty good—I think its one of the best and is certainly on par with the original films somewhere in quality of story telling between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. But the film is more fun like A New Hope was. I like the prequel films but can admit that Solo: A Star Wars Story is better than those films and it is certainly better than The Force Awakens. But these new young actors are making a name for themselves, the young Alden Ehrenreich is earning his respect from the fans little by little. Many fans have been sitting on the fence with Solo: A Star Wars Story because they weren’t sure how to feel about a new actor taking over for the legendary Harrison Ford. If this latest Star Wars film does anything it shows fans that its possible to have a younger actor playing an old favorite, and because of that I think Solo: A Star Wars Story will have good legs into the future of the franchise, and people will come back to the films and forgive Lucasfilm and Disney for their mistakes with the first three films made since the acquisition in 2012.

Alden Ehrenreich is a smart young actor with a good head on his shoulders, and he likes playing Han Solo in Star Wars. He’s good for the franchise and understands that taking less money for the opportunity to do more films like this makes good business sense because it could place him in Hollywood as the next big demand actor—like Harrison Ford was. With all that under consideration I think Disney certainly put the cards down on the table with this one holding nothing back promotionally. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that they spent $500 million on the movie and are worried at this point of making that money back, which I think they will. But they spent the money expecting a billion in return and that could cool them on launching the other projects that are in the pipeline. Hopefully they let Lucasfilm go forward with the budgets on those new films, the Kenobi film, the Boba Fett film, the Rian series, and of course at least two more movies about the young Han Solo—as well as a whole bunch of other films not yet released. It’s not too late to make these films into the kind of successes that were experienced with Marvel—but getting the fan base back on board is the key.

To win back the audience, and this is just my advice, do with it whatever you want Lucasfilm, you have to get Mara Jade and Jaina Solo into Episode Nine as its being directed now with J.J. Abrams. Everyone gets what they want if that happens, Kennedy gets her strong female leads, Luke has a reason for being so distressed in The Last Jedi, and Rey gets a name and a reason for having the Falcon with Chewie as her co-pilot. A new trilogy featuring Jaina could even take things further 30 years after Episode Nine—the possibilities are endless. It took Marvel ten films to build up the kind of anticipation that was seen in Infinity War, Star Wars could do something very similar, but they’ll have to earn back the fans, and Solo: A Star Wars Story was a big first step. Hopefully Disney doesn’t get cold feet after they study these box office results and consider whether fans will support two Star Wars movies in the same year. They will, and they will support three or four a year if Disney will make them and be very profitable with $200 million budgets. But it will take more movies like Solo: A Star Wars Story to earn back that fan trust, not more movies like The Last Jedi or even The Force Awakens. The nostalgia wore off and now reality is there for Star Wars films, going forward, people want to see new ground that pays respect to what they know from the original EU—and fans don’t want to be preached to with gay characters, or black characters, or women. They just want to see a story set in a galaxy far, far away that will endure for centuries—and not fall out of favor with whatever new political movements come in the next few decades. Star Wars fans want their traditions, and they want the long view—and its their money that Disney wants, so it’s up to the giant entertainment company to give it to them.

I think I’ve listened to the new Han Solo theme from the John Powell soundtrack back to back for a solid four days now and I love it, it’s so full of optimism. It reminds me of how it was when Christopher Nolan’s Dark Night series started back in 2008, with a movie that many people didn’t think was needed because at that point Batman had been done so many times. The Nolan trilogy built up a nice audience and earned a reputation by the fans that they trusted and supported. Those films each went on to make over a billion dollars each. Iron Man the first Avenger film also came out that year with a fantastic performance by Robert Downey Jr. The film only grossed around $500 million globally much like I think this new Han Solo movie will make, but it became the glue that built up those next nine Marvel films. Disney purchased Marvel shortly after that film’s release and the rest is now history, and has been very successful. It has allowed Disney to make obscure films like The Black Panther, which I thought was pretty good—which would have never been made unless there was a need for the ever-expanding universe. Star Wars could do better, but the fan base will have to be built and listening to that soundtrack of Solo: A Star Wars Story that new Han Solo theme could serve as a nice light in the darkness for all the Disney executives timid about the next stage of the adventure. The best thing to do would be to support the effort and not panic, there is a lot of good that came out of Solo, and it hints at how things truly could be now that it looks like Lucasfilm is starting to figure out how to make these Star Wars movies without the guidance of George Lucas. The John Williams contribution is absolutely brilliant and I hope that everyone involved can use it to launch something really special, because the opportunity is certainly there.

Rich Hoffman
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Hollywood Down 8% in 2017: Trading politics for profit to destroy an industry

This is far more important than most people think—the movie box office for July of 2017 was down 8% from the same period a year ago.  Additionally Disney has lost around 4 million subscribers to its Disney Channels over the past three years as kids turn to other forms of entertainment.  More and more homes are cutting their cable service as it’s just too expensive for what people get,  and theater owners are struggling to survive with Hollywood giving them very little to work with to justify the big investment that a movie ticket costs these days.  That same home theater market is keeping people home more rather than go to the theater to see movies that could otherwise just be seen on Netflix.  If you couple all that with the Donald Trump versus the media battle—which will hurt traditional media extensively, the entertainment industry is in big trouble—which I have been saying for a long time.  All the stocks are down for the theater owners—which I feel sorry for.  The distributors have let them down by pushing a product that was just too liberal for mainstream American audiences and now they’ve all been hung out to dry.

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/box-office-hollywoods-franchise-crisis-worsens-july-fourth-1018493

http://www.tubefilter.com/2017/07/05/disney-channel-freeform-ratings-falling/

For about 20 years I bounced around with tentative meetings within Hollywood.  For me it was more than a treasure hunt, I really wanted to make movies and to contribute to the library of wonderful movies that I had grown up with.  The business end was something I didn’t have much patience for since most of the people running the industry were radically more liberal than I was.  So I’d get a project floating around out there but it would go cold.  The money guys were also liberal so the project proposals I suggested were either heavily scrutinized with extensive re-writes to soften them up, or they just weren’t getting off the ground.  In a few cases I was offered positions in the industry, but my wife didn’t want to move to California—and without living in such a way that you could network in that town, it was pretty much impossible to get any project off the ground.  I went to several film festivals, won a few screenwriting awards and ended up doing a few bull whip stunts for legitimate studios but the last time I flew back from Hollywood in 2008 I knew that the industry was in trouble from a business perspective.   They weren’t going to make it which made me sad, because I liked traditional Hollywood—I always liked Howard Hughes, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Albert Hitchcock, John Wayne and Clint Eastwood.  These new filmmakers in Hollywood were too political and I was from a flyover state so things just weren’t going to work out.  After that last trip I put my focus into other business opportunities and waited for the inevitable which is now upon us.

Movies cost too much to make, the labor unions which represent all the industry people has forced them all to think too collectively to stay in touch with the American people.  Reading with great interest how the Han Solo movie fell apart at Lucasfilm it’s obvious that the new generation is just too soft and manipulated by their director’s guilds—into liberal politics which the movie going audiences can’t stand.   Even though I warned of all this years ago, and have written extensively about it since, it still hurts to see an entire industry collapsing on itself.  The Hollywood product is now on life support with only a few big Disney releases carrying most of the industry.  Warner Bros. has done well with Wonder Woman, and Marvel had their usual hits with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2.   Small films like Baby Driver did respectable business, but big films like Pirates of the Caribbean 5 were down a quarter from the previous installment worldwide and that isn’t good news.   Critics have been hard on these new movies as they have an extreme political slant to most reviews and once the Rotten Tomatoes scores hit online people are so turned off they just don’t go see these films and that cycle is worsening.

Hollywood is about more than just the movies themselves—it’s about an entire industry from print media like Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, to the television shows Inside Edition and Entertainment Tonight.   Critics for the big newspapers have national audiences in some cases and they have abused their relationships and let that stardom go to their heads giving themselves the power to sink or swim a picture—so essentially they have cut off their own noses to spite their faces.  I remember a very specific day in Glendale, California where several day time television programs were set up on the same street to shoot exteriors and I was having lunch with some people who worked the trade publications who were full of themselves way too dangerously.  I tried to make them aware of the fragile eco system that was on full display and they had the kind of attitude that the gravy train was going to go on forever.  Well, within two years every one of those people was out of a job and their publications had folded.   They should have listened, but of course they didn’t.  Most of those big name trade publications won’t be around much longer because nobody really cares what they have to say. The media stars they talk about are today far more political than they used to be and they have aligned themselves against Trump who is set to be a very popular and successful president, and now there just aren’t enough fans of their material to carry them into the next decade.

There are going to be a lot of bankruptcies—and even the Disney Company will feel the squeeze.  While I continue to be very impressed with what Disney is doing at their parks and with the Star Wars movies as one giant mythology spanning many platforms—computer games, etc—they still rely too much on theater owners to distribute their core products and those theater owners need more than just Disney to stay afloat.   They need every weekend to have people wanting to go to the theaters to buy over-priced popcorn and soda to watch a movie they don’t want to wait for release on the home market where likely the televisions they have at home is far better than what is offered at the theater.  I will have to add that when my wife and I went to see The Book of Henry that the Regal Cinemas we went to had adjusted their prices down for popcorn and pop to a very reasonable level.  The theater owners out there are doing their jobs and adjusting to the marketplace, but Hollywood hasn’t.  They keep making the same crap and trying to repackage it instead of turning loose people with great ideas to constantly keep material fresh.  I know I wasn’t the only one trying to get new ideas to production companies—it was mainly a cultural problem.   Studio execs were too interested in getting laid at the multiple parties around town by telling chicks that they were for this liberal cause or that—so they were making decisions at the executive level in producing products that American audiences did not want to see.   Once they got their blow job they had already committed their studio to ten films for production the next year which nobody would want to see because of their overly liberalized political overtones.   Sure the chick who was giving blow jobs at the party liked the Matt Damon movie about fracking—but nobody in America wanted to see it and the budget was blown.

So the industry is toast—it won’t recover in its present form.  Of course there will be investment opportunities in new styles of media, but the Hollywood game is over.  The industry just hasn’t come to terms with it yet.  There are a few $1 billion dollar earners yet to be released in 2017 but it won’t be enough.  By the end of the year the gains will be so far down that they won’t even be worth discussing.   And life outside of Hollywood will go on.   All I can say to those people who were so haughty 10 years ago is that I sincerely tried to tell you this would happen, but you didn’t listen.  I wish you had.  So now it’s time to pay—and it will be painful.  But you people did it to yourselves.   America will be great again and Hollywood has removed itself from being a part of it—and that’s a damn shame.

Rich Hoffman

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‘Baby Driver’: Reflections where facts are more dramatic than fiction

Even through the new film Baby Driver isn’t quite out yet I think it’s safe to say that my own car chase story Tail of the Dragon is still the most intense action packed of its kind ever put to paper by a human mind to date.  But I’ll have to say, when I wrote that story, I was thinking about movies done in the style of this soon to be Edger Wright classic.  There is room in our culture for a lot more of these types of stories and this one has hit me hard with anticipation for many personal reasons. First of all, since I first heard the song “Radar Love” by the Dutch Band Golden Earring in 1973 I have wanted to see it used as a backdrop for a car chase of some kind and it looks like Edger Wright has done it.  Second of all, by the previews shown so far, the main character of Baby played by Ansel Elgort looks remarkably biographical to my real life between my 17th and 19th years of life.  After all it was those experiences which provoked me to write Tail of the Dragon to begin with—to get all that out on paper.  So it makes me very happy to see movies like Baby Driver getting made and that several of the Fast and Furious movies have continued to push great box office numbers in theaters.  I hope the same for this one—I am very excited for it.

I’ve alluded to it before but after watching these trailers it may be time to get a little more specific because the Baby character just in these previews speaks to me with quite a bit of reflection.  I understand his dilemma.  It was only a month or so ago where a political enemy of mine had looked me up on one of those online searches trying to get dirt on me, and they were stunned at what came back to them.  It showed over 17 hostile interactions with law enforcement and this person sent me that information hoping to get some leverage on me because I’m now living the life of a respectable citizen and they thought I wanted to hide that past.  What they didn’t know is that I consider my actions back then—at that critical juncture between youth and adulthood–to be very respectable—even though it might have been on the wrong side of the law. All I ever wanted was freedom—real freedom—and I wanted to be a millionaire quickly and just step over the nonsense of fighting it out the way I saw was making other people miserable.  I did live heavily in the fast lane and I was willing to use those skills to acquire all the money I could to launch a family and when I found the right girl for me—those people didn’t want to let me out of that lifestyle—and many conflicts ensued.

If I were ever have been said to have an addiction it was probably speed, the kind you get from driving a car extremely fast.  Like I said, as a youth when I first heard the song “Radar Love,” I was thinking of it playing to excessive speed in very fast cars.  The very first person I remember admiring as a young man was Evel Knievel so even at ages 5, 6, and 7 moving fast and recklessly was pretty much all I thought about—so when I was finally able to turn 16 and buy my own car I was ready and I quickly made a reputation for myself. My very first traffic ticket for excessive speed was on the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving in 1984 where I was in a race with a Trans Am that clearly out powered my car at the time.  So the only way to win was to have more nerve than he did—so I flew through a swarm of cops parked at the Tri-County Mall in Cincinnati on the wrong side of the road at well over a 100 MPH—against the traffic.  When the police got the radar gun on me they caught my speed at 85 MPH in a 35 zone.  They would have taken me to jail for reckless operation but one call to the Sharonville police station told them to just issue me the ticket.  I was under the protection of the senior judge in that district and literally had a get out of jail free pass given to me by him—because I did work on the side for him which was related to a mob outfit in Chicago—and they wanted me free to do it.

The way that Kevin Spacey’s character is portrayed in Baby Driver reminds me precisely of one of my first “bosses.”  This guy ran a car dealership that I worked for and from that I had to do more than just sell new and used cars.  I did repo work and they liked me because I had no reservations about danger—as people obviously didn’t like having their cars taken back when they failed to make payments. I was always very eager to sneak up to someone’s house and take their car without being shot, and people did shoot at me while doing this kind of thing.  It was very exciting and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  These days repo guys aren’t allowed to do some of the things we did to get our cars back so for me it was a unique opportunity to live very dangerously and get away with it legally—and make great money doing it.  But then again, the car dealership was a front at the time for cocaine dealing—as a way to launder the money and all these repo jobs were ways that this Kevin Spacey style “boss” could check to make sure I wouldn’t be a rat—because they needed a driver to help deliver regionally.

I had my limits of course.  I didn’t mind the danger or the drama of court appearances and the continuous threat of jail—but I did not like drugs.  So when the dealership sent me with another senior car salesman down to Over-the-Rhine to deliver cocaine to a distributer operating across from Union Terminal it was in my precious car which had survived many high-speed encounters and for which I was particularly attached to.  Of course they didn’t tell me what we were doing—they let me believe that the whole operation was going to be a unique repo job, so I didn’t ask what was in the suitcase in my back seat. But I did think it was strange that we didn’t take a company car on this effort—as we typically did.  This was my car and the salesman smoked—and because we were not in a company car I had a little sign on my dashboard telling passengers that there was no smoking allowed. In fact, people who knew me also knew my very strict policy against drug use. So this forty something drug dealer who was very rich I might add, was very upset with  my rules and promised that I’d have a hard time when we got back to the office.  So things weren’t getting off to a good start. When we arrived to the destination he left the suitcase in my back seat and told me he’d be right back as he went to the door of the townhouse where the target lived. While he was in there I took a peek at what was in the suitcase and I saw that it was cocaine.

Over the years up to that point I had a reputation of not flinching at anything.  I knew some of these people I was working with were serious criminals and some were very powerful politicians and sports stars.  I was with them as a body-guard at times even though I was very young, and as an assurance that no matter what happened I was their ticket out of it.  They had never asked me to directly commit a crime—but rather used me as a lifeline back to freedom—and I was very dependable.  But, I had just met my future wife and I was thinking of living a normal life that we could build a family with—and once you’ve been invited to those types of circles—they don’t want you out flapping your mouth about every little thing you’ve seen.  They’d prefer you to be dead or with them—there really isn’t any middle ground.  So with drugs in my backseat I left that guy down there and headed back to the sales office where the mission started and reported back to my Kevin Spacey looking boss that his partner at the dealership was selling drugs.  He looked at me exasperated.  “You left him there?”  Of course I had to tell him yes and there was about a half hour of excessive panic because this Over-the-Rhine distributer had a ruthless reputation and now he had to call in for help while he was in hostile territory.  I was commanded to go back and get him for which I refused.  They had to send someone else.

Maybe I’ll write about the details sometime about what happened next but needless to say the Baby Driver plot reminds me of the two weeks that followed. I can really sympathize with the Baby character especially at that time in my life.  I wanted to be married to this wonderful new girl and I wanted away from those types of people—and it wasn’t easy.  A lot of people got into a lot of trouble and I had to drive very fast a lot to stay out of both jail and this side of the dirt—because these people did play for keeps. It seemed like a long time then, because at only 19 years of age, time moves more slowly, but in reality it was all over in just a few months.  Things worked out for me the way I needed them to.  It was a tough adjustment to live without the level of money I was used to.  Just out of high school I made twice as much money as my dad did at the prime of his career, but my country club wife assured me that she wanted to do everything clean and that holds true to this very day.  It took a while, but eventually I was able to climb out of that hole in my lifestyle—and it was all worth it—especially being able to live and tell about it.

It doesn’t happen often but just watching the previews for this new Baby Driver movie set to “Radar Love” took my mind instantly to this very turbulent time and I won’t even pretend that it was all bad. I loved living like that. It was fun to live beyond the rules and to be so good at things that people would literally do anything to make it so you could keep doing it.  For the first seven years of my marriage I didn’t have a driver’s license because once I stepped away from that life the courts crashed down on me and it wasn’t easy—the penalties were severe.  That past kept clawing away at me trying to either pull me back in, or destroy me in the process—it took about an entire decade to finally outpace that lifestyle I had before my marriage.  People had to die off and the fast life caught up to many of them who did manage to live for the next decade.  They either destroyed themselves or they ended up in jail.  There wasn’t really any middle ground.

Needless to say, I feel a connection to Baby Driver and I really hope it does good business during its run.  Speaking from experience I think what’s worse than a life of crime is a life not lived.  The spontaneity of life is a magical thing and you often don’t really see it until you are pushed well beyond your comfort levels.  And even though he is villainous in this movie Kevy Spacey’s character is right—people do love a good heist—they do need something to talk about over their “lattés” Thinking of “Radar Love” and the way the scenes played out for the preview of Baby Driver, I feel quite a lot of satisfaction knowing that I gave plenty of stories that have been talked about over a great many lattés.  And in the great theater of living, that’s not a bad thing.  I can’t wait to see Baby Driver.

Rich Hoffman

Sign up for Second Call Defense here:  http://www.secondcalldefense.org/?affiliate=20707  Use my name to get added benefits.

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“Interstellar” Epiphany and Soundtrack Review: A 50th Anniversary at Virgin Galactic’s first space resort

I had an epiphany that my wife and I were stepping off a Virgin Galactic vessel into the first hotel of their design floating above the earth with the horizon spinning outside of a massive lobby window. It is Virgin’s first hotel in space established as a resort location rivaling the Atlantis vacation destination in the Bahamas complete with an indoor water park covered with large glass windows looking out into the vastness of space. The lobby was lush and expensive with exotic restaurants all offering outrageously epic views out every window. The moon is always full and casts a constant—haunting shadow through every object and mixed with the brilliant light shining off the earth is a bluish hue that has never been replicated by any light on the home planet. It’s our 50th wedding anniversary and we have a $5000 bottle of wine to mark the year of this writing to celebrate our first week-long vacation in space. We have worked hard and deserve to pamper ourselves with a very expensive outing that will mark many years of persistence. In the lobby is playing the old soundtrack to the classic 2014 movie Interstellar, which has by then become the standard of music referencing space. It was that award-winning Christopher Nolan movie that changed it all and set the tone for the second world-wide space race causing Hilton, Marriott and Virgin Galactic to build the first space stations catering to tourism. Virgin was the first to achieve it.

The majestic views out of the multiple windows demand the music of Interstellar because nothing else would be sufficient. The hotel operators just play constantly the old Hans Zimmer soundtrack to help alleviate the shock of being grounded so firmly to the floor as the view outside swirls around like a marry-go-round. It takes some getting used to for some people; some actually throw up with the disorienting effect of the earth’s horizon spinning around so rhythmically. There are trash cans stationed along the pathway toward the check-in counter large enough for visitors to dump their stomachs in the most graceful way possible. A cleaning crew quickly removes the contents so not to alter the smell of space—that rusty metal odor mixed with the fragrance of lobby vegetation that is intended carefully to greet guests as they step off the shuttle from their journey below.

We walk to the counter as track 7 on that enchanting soundtrack plays with organs chiming to the tempo of a clock’s second hand—the earth still swirling, the light from the moon and sun moving around the room casting shadows in all directions hauntingly. Bright overhead lights on the ceiling between more large windows cast stabilizing light so that the lobby looks to be the only stable element of a universe in chaos outside—which adds to the otherworldly sensation of a species raised on a planet where the sun rises and falls every 12 hours and the horizon is always fixed. Here, the sun is always out, the moon is always full, and the horizon never stills—it spins perpetually so to provide an earth like gravity for the visitors—some who are already in their swimming suits and heading for the massive domed Water Park behind the check-in counter.

My wife and I aren’t sick; the music brings our minds to ease with a familiarity that we know well. We have listened to that soundtrack every week for the last 25 years and know its notes by heart. Before checking in we just listen to it while we sit in one of the lobby seats and watch the Virgin Galactic shuttle pull away from the docking station and head back to earth with its navigational thrusters silently pushing it back into a declination orbit to Spaceport America—our home launch point. In another three hours that same ship will be back with more visitors and within 30 minutes another ship will arrive from Spaceport America and fifteen minutes after that, one from Space Port Japan, then one from Spaceport Europe. Because Virgin Galactic has brought the Internet to Africa—they now have one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Soon they will have their own spaceport in right in the middle of the Congo.

My wife and I head to our rooms and prepare for dinner. We spend five solid hours drinking our expensive bottle of wine sitting on our hotel bed watching the world turn—literally. And we cherish that this event has finally been made possible after many years of dreaming. The whole time we listen to our well-played soundtrack for the several hundred thousandth time—Interstellar, as we have always loved it and likely always will.

That soundtrack actually only came out a few days ago, on November 17, 2014, so my son-in-law rushed to Barnes and Nobel to get it for he and my daughter the moment it was unloaded from the delivery truck. They spent their evening listening to it while eating Chinese food from their favorite restaurant—and they gave me a copy. They have already seen the movie twice and are looking for ways to see it many more times. In what’s being touted as a first-of-its-kind promotion, Paramount and AMC Theatres are offering movie patrons in North America the chance to see Christopher Nolan‘s Interstellar as many times as they want, for one price.

As with any deal, there are rules. Those who want to participate must be members of the AMC Stubs program, which has an annual fee of $12.

The unlimited tickets will be available for sale to AMC Stubs members at 330 AMC theater across the country, including AMC Imax locations. The price will range from $19.99 to $34.99, depending upon the location (currently, the average cost of a movie ticket price in the U.S. is $8.08.

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/paramount-amc-theatres-partner-unlimited-749512

Interstellar requires for most people many viewings just to understand everything that is happening. Many critics of the film on their first viewings were used to a more conventional film experience and didn’t know what to make of some of the sound issues. As I said in my review—I think I was the first and only one to date to point it out—the sound in Interstellar was entirely on purpose. Christopher Nolan wanted there to be times where the events overwhelmed the sound made by the actors—because in real life—that happens often.

“I’ve always loved films that approach sound in an impressionistic way and that is an unusual approach for a mainstream blockbuster, but I feel it’s the right approach for this experiential film,” Christopher Nolan said, speaking for the first time in detail about the use of sound in his new film.

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/behind-screen/christopher-nolan-breaks-silence-interstellar-749465

It is because of this approach to sound that the Interstellar soundtrack was so exceptionally good—and is why it will become the inspiration for all that I described above. When my kids gave me the first copy of the soundtrack and I played it for much of the day on Tuesday and Wednesday listening to it many, many times—it was easy to conclude that it was a masterpiece. I remember the music being great during the movie, but listening to it by itself, it was simply phenomenal as it steps up and well beyond anything that’s ever been attempted. The closest that I can think of is Philip Glass—but the Hans Zimmer approach comes with a much bolder, and narrative link to the future by drawing so historically on the past.

Blasting through the track on the soundtrack titled “S.T.A.Y” all that I began this writing above occurred with the epiphany. Many of the world’s problems seemed so miniscule and the minds that made them that way even less relevant. I could literally reach out and touch that future space station/hotel as if I were there, as if I could smell it, taste it and walk across its vast floors with Richard Branson still alive and standing in the corner welcoming his guests with long flowing locks still beyond his shoulders with a smile from ear to ear.

At dinner in my epiphany there was a guest who played in the center of a vast dinning hall with a clear picture of the moon out the distant window—again spinning around with rhythmic precision upon a large glass piano lit from beneath with blue lights that made it look like it was made out of ice. That guest was an elderly Hans Zimmer playing the Interstellar soundtrack live with a deeply personal concert, graced too with a smile from ear to ear knowing that it was his soundtrack that helped build this palace of achievement in defiance of the earthly stupidity which attempted to shackle man’s ankles to earth forever. His music helped free those shackles to usher in this entirely new age of dreamers, fortune hunters and lovers of science and possibility. It was and would be the best dinner of our lives. Happy 50th Anniversary to us—and it was.

Rich Hoffman

www.OVERMANWARRIOR.com

Godzilla For President: A review of the new Gareth Edwards masterpiece

What would you get if Alfred Hitchcock, Steven Spielberg, and Akira Kurosawa all made a movie—it would be Gareth Edwards new Godzilla film.  That is not to say for a second that Edwards is a copy-cat filmmaker paying homage to his boyhood heroes.  The 2014 Godzilla film released by Legendary Pictures is simply that good, and is sincere in its tip of the hat to those great filmmakers.  While watching I kept thinking of films like Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Jaws, Jurassic Park, Birds, Ran, Dreams without attempting for a second to show its superiority to the classic Godzilla movies—but rather being very respectful of them.  If there is a tight rope of movie marketing, authenticity to a beloved character, and the necessity to navigate the needs of the movie industry, Gareth Edwards just propelled himself into one of the top filmmakers in the world forever by walking it cleanly.  The new Godzilla film is simply astonishing.  I have read the reviews and spoken to several people who had seen the movie and I have come to realize that the movie is so vast in its scale that most viewers can only grip one of the many plot lines of the film.  Being spoiled spoon fed movie goers for so many years; they have forgotten the old Hitchcock films and likely didn’t bother with Kurosawa due to the subtitles.  Well, Edwards didn’t have that problem and has simply made a masterpiece that will have a major impact on film history.   I know good when I see it and this Godzilla film is great, incredible, astonishingly beautiful, captivating in virtually every way, and is simply a benchmark film redefining the genre of monster movies.  This Godzilla movie is what Cloverfield wanted to be.  It is simply jaw-dropping grand.  It will take several viewings for everything to settle in and history will study this movie as a masterpiece of modern film.

While waiting in line to see the movie I wrote yesterday’s article about Godzilla.  CLICK HERE TO REVIEW.  So I am already a fan of the 60-year-old monster.  I had to take a few hours after watching the movie to calm down and check my emotions to ensure that I wasn’t just being inflammatory with my enthusiasm.  After rolling around in bed for about 10 hours unable to sleep still excited about this Godzilla film I have concluded that perhaps I haven’t been excited enough.  Four key scenes will explain why without giving away the movie.  The first is the birthday metaphor so carefully weaved into the Bryan Cranston portion of the story.  It was remarkably powerful, and so subtle that most viewers appear to have missed it upon their first viewing.  It was a touch of Steven Spielberg that I haven’t seen from a filmmaker since the film Always.  Then there was the flaming train engine coming out of an intense fog at night across a railroad bridge.  The film quality looked as though it belonged on the pages of National Geographic.  The cinematic effort of that shot was simply mind-blowing.  Then there was the airport scene where the power had gone out across an Hawaiian city then came back on to reveal a giant monster destroying everything—with the main characters rushing toward the devastation.  There has been nothing like that done in movie since Jurassic Park, The Lost World, and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.  It was over-the-top exciting, but never so much that it came out campy.  Godzilla pays tribute to these beloved old films without insulting them with direct mimicry.   Then there is the airdrop into the city of San Francisco during the monster fight.  The only filmmaker who ever attempted portions of these kinds of visuals is Akira Kurosawa.  The colors, the atmospheric conditions, the ceremonial aspect of the scene, the immensity of the whole enterprise culminated in that portion of the movie and was simply magnificent.  Edwards was well aware of his geography during the entire film.  The film went from extreme long shots of a storm over the city with the tiny troops falling toward their apparent doom with swirling cumulus nimbus clouds reaching into the upper atmosphere.  Then there are the hand-held shots as they fall through the cloud layer and into the destruction of the city while Godzilla is fighting with the monsters.  All these were cut together with the same level of continuity and it was seamless.  The long view of existence right along with the human perspective was astonishing.  I can’t say it has ever been done more effectively than what Edwards did in this movie.  There was a scene from Close Encounters years ago where the shadow of the mother ship was cast against the ground at night over the unaware human drivers of a truck.  That shot was incredibly difficult to pull off and came from the mind of a very young Steven Spielberg before he got old and stuffy.  I can’t recall another filmmaker trying such a thing since then—until this Godzilla movie.  It is hard to do such atmospheric scenes and Spielberg has given up on trying now that he is in his “mature” years.  But the ambition of Edwards deserves recognition as film schools will study this scene for years attempting to break down its effectiveness.

Speaking of geography it was impressive to tie in events happening halfway around the globe in simultaneous bits of story.  For instance, Las Vegas gets attacked by a monster as Godzilla is hunting the beast from the Pacific Ocean just off the coast of Hawaii.  The extra attention to little details like proximity of terrain to each other in a world shrunk by Google Earth was so refreshing that even smart people seeing the movie will be impressed that Edwards thought of them while staging scenes.  The characters in this Godzilla film were intelligent, and cared about the circumstances around them.  That was refreshing.

Then there was the soundtrack which was equally remarkable.  I had never knowingly heard any of Alexandre Desplat’s work until this film, but it was quite powerful.  Desplat certainly tapped into great film scores by John Williams, particularly Jaws because it was evident in the film score.  The resemblance to that classic piece was unmistakable.  I have listened to the soundtracks of Jurassic Park and The Lost World countless times, and the notes and cues from Godzilla are right in line with those pieces.  It was yet another circumstance of welcomed surprise in a film full of them.  There was a raw majestic energy included with the music that was as big as Godzilla and the story line itself.

The character of Godzilla unlike the past had a deep intelligence to him, a knowing alertness to the circumstances of civilization and his desire to advance it.  That is a new element to these kinds of monster films, Godzilla was quite well aware of his ancient role as a kind of protector of man’s achievements.  He wasn’t interested in the mindless toppling of buildings and power lines, but of hunting down and destroying the monsters which were destroying the cities of earth.  There has been a lot of talk about Godzilla being a boon to nature—reminding mankind that it is not in charge.  Yet if Godzilla were so interested in nature, he would have allowed the giant creatures—MUTOs (Massive Unidentified terrestrial Organisms) to breed and hatch their babies which are all they really wanted to do.  From the vantage point of Godzilla mankind’s creations are pretty insignificant, yet he consciously made a decision to pick mankind over the MUTO creatures.  Several times in Godzilla’s efforts were close-ups on his weary face as if he had been fighting this battle for several millennia.  Edwards smartly captured this intelligence and made this Godzilla much less primal, and much more sophisticated.  As strange as it sounds the creature seemed so smart that I wouldn’t have been shocked if he didn’t sit down with some tea and discuss James Joyce as a literary endeavor.  He was what I described in my referred article written prior to seeing the film as a kind of overman.

Godzilla is movie making at its absolute best.  There isn’t anything better out now and hasn’t been in many years.  Even the epic nature of Peter Jackson’s Hobbit films can’t hold a candle to Godzilla.  This monster film is a benchmark for these types of things that will set the bar very high.  Many reviewers continue to compare Godzilla 2014 to Pacific Rim, but the two aren’t even close.   The only thing they have in common is that both films deal with large creatures.  Godzilla is about so much more.  It’s a movie that needs to be seen many times to understand, and even more times for just the sheer entertainment value of it.  The cost of seeing the movie is worth the climax of the film itself.  They simply don’t get better than that and will still be fun after the 100th viewing.  Godzilla 2014 will become the next favorite film of many little boys desperately seeking something meaningful in their young lives.  But for the adults who grew up with the old versions, this Edwards film is a sheer work of art that will be difficult for any filmmaker to surpass for many, many years.  It is a treasure onto itself and a gift to every creature with eyes, ears and an imagination.  I give Godzilla an enthusiastic thumb up with both hands and both big toes and a smile from ear to ear.  It is movie making at its absolute best and then some and will never be forgotten in my household likely being played continuously forever once it hits Blue Ray.  In the meantime, I will go see it again.

Rich Hoffman

  www.OVERMANWARRIOR.com

 

The Lone Ranger’s Nominate a Hero Award: Nominate a local hero who rides for “Justice” in your community

Ahead of Disney’s new Lone Ranger film they are running a promotion for all fighters for justice to receive an advance screening of their new film prior to its July 3rd release.  Given the kind of readers who frequent Overmanwarrior’s Wisdom, there are more than a few such people in Southern Ohio who deserve a ticket.

Nominate a local hero or agency who rides for Justice in your community to receive the Lone Ranger Ride for Justice Award and an advance screening of Disney’s The Lone Ranger.  Post your nominations to @LoneRanger on Twitter with the #LRRideforJustice and your city of residence, to honor your local heroes.

https://www.facebook.com/notes/the-lone-ranger/nominate-a-hero/10151668716963373

Pick a local hero and honor them with a nomination!  And be sure to see The Lone Ranger for the 4th of July!   Click here to read my thoughts and tradition with The Lone Ranger!

“HIGH HO SILVER–AWAY!” CLICK HERE FOR MORE!

Rich Hoffman

www.tailofthedragonbook.com

  

The Millennium Falcon: Keeping dreams alive through James Luceno and Chris Lee

One of the questions I get asked most often is how I have remained so diversified over the years, and so passionate over such a wide variety of subjects and still maintain my optimism.  My answer is often difficult and obscure in articulating, and most do not understand once they have heard it, but symbols are a powerful ally into healing the mind from the many unfathomable tribulations it might encounter in a lifetime—and when a mind beholds a symbol it holds in reverence, it becomes possible to always calibrate ones thoughts to the values that are most functional, and beloved.  Religions often use such symbols to focus their minds on eternity, or spiritual awakening.  Voodoo priests use symbols to focus their minds to speaking to those who have crossed over dimensional understanding.  Shamans use symbols to invoke focus on the problems at hand that only have answers in the world of the unknown.    I have always needed something that does all that and more, and for me, the symbol that I most reverently adhere to is the Millennium Falcon from Star Wars, the intergalactic starship that is the hero of the entire saga, and has been a representation of complete freedom as shown in that fantasy epic from a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.Millennium Falcon

The picture shown above is one that I have had on my freestanding Craftsman tool box that I have had for years as I worked in machine shops and other assembly plants where exotic tools were needed to perform the task at hand, and as every real man knows, the size of a man’s tool box says a lot about the level of the mind that owns it, and their ability to solve problems—and my tool boxes have always been big.  While my co-workers would fill their opened tool box lids with pictures of women in various states of undress, hot rod cars, and images from their favorite sports teams, my tool box had pictures of the Millennium Falcon pasted all over it as it has been a long-standing dream of mine to build an actual full-scale model of that famous movie space ship, and looking at those old construction photos from The Empire Strikes Back has always inspired me to think outside the box, and to never allow my mind to linger on the impossible.   The Millennium Falcon for me is a symbol of always having hope, never surrendering even when the odds are terrible, and trusting that effort will always triumph over technical superiority.  I wrote recently about my intention to build a real Millennium Falcon for $15 million dollars that actually flies with anti-gravity technology.  CLICK HERE FOR REVIEW.  In Tennessee there is a small group that is planning to build a replica of the Millennium Falcon for similar education purposes, which I am very excited to see.  CLICK THE LINK BELOW TO VISIT AND OFFER SUPPORT:

http://fullscalefalcon.com/

I adore people like those at Full Scale Falcon.com.  I wish the world was filled with more of them.

I have made it no secret that the car in my new novel Tail of the Dragon was inspired heavily from the Millennium Falcon in Star Wars and many times in my life, I have looked reverently to that classic star ship to reset my thinking on any given topic.  My wife can attest that I engage the engines to my electronic Millennium Falcon that sits right next to our bed every night before I go to sleep.  So I did what I promised myself I would do after a contentious election season in 2012 and that is give myself a break.  I decided to rest from all the heavy-duty philosophy and history that I typically read and pulled a book off our book selves that my wife read last year and had been urging me to give a chance, James Luceno’s novel called Millennium Falcon.

To be honest I did not think the book would be any good and the reason I did not read it earlier was because I needed to finish a few books ahead of it on the Star Wars timeline from the Legacy of the Force series, so just picking the book up to read was not as easy as just reading one book.  Millennium Falcon is a sort of bridge book between the Legacy series and the Fate of the Jedi series, so I didn’t want to spoil anything for myself.  I waited till I had a chance to get to it when I wasn’t so busy.  After the election and all the very heavy reading I did after November 6th 2012 going through books like War and Peace, The Golden Bough and many others, I decided to catch up on some of the Star Wars books from the Legacy and Fate series as well as the Old Republic novels.

James Luceno’s book Millennium Falcon was marvelous, and well worth the wait.  I didn’t know how much I had been wanting to read it, or how much I would enjoy it, because the story is about the 100 year lifespan of the Millennium Falcon from its construction on an assembly line to almost the events that will lead up to the new films that Disney is about to produce, Episodes 7 through 9.  In the Millennium Falcon’s long history under many different owners featuring crime lords, galactic pirates, rogue politicians, fortune hunters, medical innovators, circus performers, and rebel heroes it is literally a star ship that has launched a thousand fates—perhaps billions.  The Millennium Falcon is to Star Wars what the Black Pearl is to Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean.  The Millennium Falcon is a hot rod pirate ship and is simply the coolest piece of technology ever put into a movie.  Unlike other famous movie star ships, the Falcon represents individuality, and freedom which is why I behold it as a symbol still after all these years.

I enjoyed every page thoroughly of Luceno’s book as he takes readers on a heck of a fun story into the Millennium Falcon’s past which was unknown previously in the Star Wars mythology.  I didn’t think it would be possible for a skeptical 45 year-old man to be as excited as a 10-year-old boy over a fictional symbol of freedom in a galaxy that only exists in the mind.   But after reading the book it made me think even more seriously about someday walking through a real Millennium Falcon that I build for real function, or one like the good people at Full Scale Falcon.com are building to inspire a whole new generation  of young people to reach for the stars.  The Millennium Falcon has a special place in the hearts and minds of millions and as this evolution has occurred I am more proud than ever that I displayed those original construction pictures so prominently on my tool box, which are still there.  The only difference is that the big stand up unit I used for staying gainfully employed is now in my garage.  That tool box got me through some hard times as I worked excessively hard to make a living for my growing family, and never let my co-workers provoke me into removing my pictures of the Millennium Falcon from my tool box in favor of girls in bikinis.  I can honestly say that the Millennium Falcon is sexier than any lingerie model in any state of super normal sign stimuli pose.

I feel that my life has reflected the fictional history of the Millennium Falcon after reading the Luceno novel, which I never would have known prior.  But there is something destructive and positive at the same time in reaching for one’s individual freedom and sovereignty, and the Millennium Falcon represents that quest.  And I’m not alone in my sentiments.  Good people like Chris Lee at Full Scale Falcon.com feel it as strongly as I do, and are taking actions to make the Millennium Falcon a reality that young people can touch, smell, and walk through—and from those young minds are the next great inventions that will bestow upon the human race a wave of miracles that will usher in a new day in the long story of all of us.  Everything starts with a thought, and a symbol can hold those thoughts into focus as the turbulence of life tries to wash away our dreams.  Holding onto our symbols can keep those dreams anchored to the foundations of our souls.

That is why I LOVE the Millennium Falcon!

And if you’d like, visit me while I take a personal vacation, not in some faraway place, but on Star Wars: The Old Republic.  CLICK HERE TO SEE MORE.

Rich Hoffman

www.tailofthedragonbook.com

  

Tom Cruise in the film ‘Jack Reacher’: The Future of ‘Tail of the Dragon?’

The number one comment that readers of my new novel Tail of the Dragon ask me is when will it be a movie, because the car chase in the book—which takes place over half of the story is so stunningly exciting that they want to see it up on the silver screen. I have been telling them that it’s not likely to be soon, because Hollywood isn’t making many car chase films these days, not like they did in the 1970s, which was my inspiration behind the book. On top of that–I am a conservative writer, and while Hollywood does endorse far left political activists like George Clooney and Sean Penn, it does not have a tolerance for people as fiscally and socially conservative as I am. So the list of producers and actors out there that would be able to take Tail of the Dragon from a novel and put it up on a movie screen in the manner that it is written is pretty short.

The other big problem is that the main character of Rick Stevens is so iconic, and strong that Hollywood isn’t producing actors that are able to reach the kind of emotional firmness that can capture the hero of Tail of the Dragon with the proper valor required. In these more politically left leaning times, characters like Rick Stevens are way too sure of themselves, and that is currently out of fashion in American film—where it used to be common place in Hollywood. Tail of the Dragon is in essence dedicated to all the great car chases of my youth set into overdrive. To accurately portray the high-speed chases that Rick Stevens embarks on in Tail of the Dragon it would require an actor like Steve McQueen, or a Burt Reynolds type who is actually a tough guy in real life–a thrill seeker, and would need to be a professional driver in some regard. Because the stunts that would be required to put Tail of the Dragon up on the silver screen would be unlike anything ever filmed before in any motion picture—so I don’t have much hope of finding the right combination of studio involvement, actor skill level, and financial commitment. CLICK HERE FOR SOME OF MY PREVIOUS WORK IN HOLLYWOOD. That is until I saw the clip below on Top Gear discussing the new Tom Cruise film Jack Reacher—which looks very promising.

It would take an actor/producer like Tom Cruise to bring the larger than life character of Rick Stevens to film, and it appears Cruise is back in that kind of character generating business, as his Jack Reacher looks like the kind of old-fashion throwback to the decades prior to 1990 filmmaking. That shouldn’t surprise me as Cruise is from Cincinnati just as Steven Spielberg is along with George Clooney and it takes someone from the Midwest to understand a story that takes place in the heart of the country. Tail of the Dragon is truly a modern version of Smokey and the Bandit and the great Tom Cruise classic Days of Thunder, so Tom Cruise would be a good fit—if the stars lined up properly.

I knew when I wrote the novel that it was a bit out of fashion in the present day as it makes no attempt to be contemporary except for the fact that the 700 HP 1977 Firebird in the story runs off a special vegetable oil fuel mixture which is very much in line with modern technical achievement, but the rest of the story is good ol ‘fashioned storytelling that is unapologetic in its larger-than-life presentation. I figured that sometime over the next 20 years such personal valor as exhibited from Rick Stevens in Tail of the Dragon would come back into style, and at that time there might be a chance for such a grand story to find its way to the silver screen.

I am delighted to see that Tom Cruise is back at it with Jack Reacher because honestly, I have missed these types of films terribly. The Fast and Furious films are good, but there is human nobility that is missing from those characters that is all too common in so many modern stories. Tom Cruise made his living for many years playing larger than life characters in films like Top Gun, Days of Thunder, and Mission Impossible, so there are still actors/producers in Hollywood who are capable of getting behind the wheel of a car like the one in Tail of the Dragon and telling the story of Rick Stevens and his bold, high-speed adventure through the mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina.

In the meantime, I think I’m going to go see Jack Reacher and relish in Tom Cruise’s latest movie. There is a part of me that is rooting for Cruise to make a comeback to the silver screen, because honestly, I think Hollywood needs him.

To learn more about Tail of the Dragon CLICK HERE.

And how fast is Tail of the Dragon?  CLICK HERE!

Rich Hoffman

www.tailofthedragonbook.com

  

George Lucas the Great Anthropologist: What ‘Star Wars’ means under the flag of Walt Disney

In the small political battles of our day—the ones over which idea is better than the other, I see such conflicts to be minor squabbles in the scheme of existence.  I prefer always the long view of looking at big things with much distance between myself and the object so I can see the situation clearly.  When I have to engage against competing tribes of political view who attempt to interrupt my enjoyment of the long view I am all too happy to display their conquered scalps as trophies of war, but I am very aware that such things are small insignificant victories upon the tapestry of living.  When battles are raging around you, political or otherwise, there are only two choices, win or become a victim.  Choosing not to play is a choice towards becoming a victim.

I will have to thank my friend over at the Atlas Shrugged site Galt’s Gulch, Dr. Brett for being the first to break the news to me that Lucasfilm had been sold to Disney for $4 billion dollars.  As any who read here clearly know, I think a lot of Star Wars, and specifically George Lucas, so the news that Lucas has officially hung up a company he built all his life as a sole proprietor was very sad for me, almost as sad as losing a loved one to a death.  I respect deeply the creative environment that Lucas utilized to build Star Wars into one of the most recognizable names in the entire world.  I respect all the companies of George Lucas because he maintained his ownership of them the way he should have, and he never yielded to pressure to make his films into anything but what they are.  He reserved his right to make films like Howard the Duck which were bombs, but he also made wonderfully powerful films like Tucker: A Man and His Dreams, Willow, and of course the Indiana Jones series which has changed dramatically the entire field of archaeology and anthropology.  But it was and is Star Wars that made all those films possible, films that couldn’t be made by anybody else no matter how big the studio or the personalities behind them were.

It might seem that no amount of news could eclipse the massive Hurricane Sandy that had shut down the eastern United States, but news that Star Wars was now under the tent of the Disney Company eclipsed the tragedy of that event–even of the presidential elections.  The news that Star Wars was now owned by Disney and that the company fully intended to make more Star Wars films rocked the world of Twitter, Facebook and news organizations all over the world with shock and awe.

I grew up with Star Wars; I raised my family on Star Wars.  Star Wars is one of the great sacred bonds that my wife and I share.  We love it, have watched the movies thousands of times, and read all the books.  In fact, she has read every single Star Wars book ever written. They take up an entire section of our home.  I enjoy watching Family Guy primarily because of all the parodies that Seth McFarland has done as a tribute to Star Wars.  I get along most with Star Wars geeks and adults who aren’t afraid to admit that they love the films.  My father-in-law and I have always shared an intense love for Star Wars.  My nephews and I have stayed up entire nights playing Star Wars video games, and those memories still bond us as busy adults.  Star Wars is always a dominate topic at every Christmas and Thanksgiving Dinner on both sides of the family.  It is also the most commonly given gift for birthdays and Christmas in my family on both sides for over 30 years now.  For me the love of the films are not an immature reach for eternal youth and fantasy, but rather, the long view at philosophy and life in general that they offer against the backdrop of fantasy in a far away time and space that allows ideas to reside in neutral territory.  I find it repulsive when some fans accuse George Lucas of turning Star Wars into simply a cash cow, or that he sold out to the big and powerful Disney—allowing his sole creation to be turned over to some evil empire of the Disney Company.  They simply don’t understand the situation and how the dots connect.

I have spent considerable time explaining at this site Overmanwarrior’s Wisdom why some people believe making money is bad—where those ideas came from, and actually how they hold society back.  This is why I propose that Ayn Rand’s ideas are far more relevant philosophically for mankind than Karl Marx and that if one idea must be refined philosophically over another it should be those of Rand over Marx.  Those reflections can be heard clearly in the opinions of Star Wars by the general public, but one thing that Star Wars does is unite people who would otherwise not be able to talk politics.

For instance, many of the writers of The Huffington Post who might argue with me about the merits of socialism versus capitalism share a love and passion for Star Wars Many who believe that Star Wars is just a movie don’t understand why it is such a phenomena, but Star Wars is not just a movie intending to make money, but a tool that George Lucas has utilized to create the most important, and powerful mythology human civilization has ever known and it is intended to take Earth from a .7 Type Civilization that it is now, to a Type 1 Civilization on it’s way to an accelerated Type 2 with an intent to become a Type 3 and still have a basic philosophy that will hold up to such an expansion.  For people who think Star Wars is just a silly movie, they do not understand that the foundation blocks of any civilization is its basic philosophy that is reinforced by its mythology, and Star Wars created by George Lucas is intended to be a giant mythology.  Disney as a company envisioned by Uncle Walt was created to interpret and communicate mythology to the world, not to just make money.  What most people miss due to the fact that they have been taught to hate money is that Lucasfilm and the Walt Disney Company have billions of dollars of value between them because they offer a very good product—but the value of that product is cultural enrichment through mythological creation that improves the general philosophy of all human beings.  While it is true that Star Wars is geared for children, the messages within that mythology contribute greatly to the improvement of world-wide philosophy.  Lucas and Disney both as heads of their companies have managed to perfectly bring together two important attributes necessary to human survival, the ability to produce wealth, and to use that wealth to dramatically improve the living conditions of mankind.

The limits so far with Star Wars is that George Lucas has been the “brand” of his company.  He has become so big that anything done in Star Wars as a story, because they are so important mythically speaking to so many millions of people, is distracting, even limiting.  I believe Lucas being the “way ahead of the curve” kind of guy that he is has recognized this and has positioned his company, its employees, and the product of Star Wars itself through the television experiment of Clone Wars on the Cartoon Network to make this move with Disney at a very reasonable price.  Disney, as a giant company with no direct face that is the “brand” can take Star Wars to places it could not otherwise go being headed by George Lucas.  Disney has the ability to build an entire Star Wars park so visitors can actually walk around in the Star Wars Universe.  They can expand on the television, the movies, even the video games.  Disney has the power to take Star Wars from a household name and make it a room to room name within that household.

To understand why I think this move to Disney for Star Wars might have a severe impact for the positive it would require knowledge of George Lucas as I have, so to know what he is most likely thinking.  Back in the 1990’s George Lucas was a board member for The Joseph Campbell Foundation who was being carried on by Campbell’s wife Jean after Campbell’s death of which I was also a member.  Lucas has always been interested in using Star Wars to bring young people to the study of comparative religion and world mythology studies.  Few people know it, but Lucas always wanted to be an Anthropologist and books like The Golden Bough and The Hero with A Thousand Faces had a powerful impact on him as a youth and he has always planned to use Star Wars as a way to introduce youth to higher philosophical concepts.  To understand to what extent Lucas has been committed to this just look at his company Lucas Learning.  I would bet everything I have and everything I ever obtain on the notion that Lucas has intentionally planned to inspire young people to reach for the stars with the stories of Star Wars in fields of science, medicine, politics, art, virtually every aspect of society, and Lucas has done this as an anthropology/archaeology enthusiast, not as a film maker.  Lucas, never really wanted to be a film maker, but instead used film making to communicate his interest in cultural studies.  It is his interest in anthropology that gives the Star Wars Universe such a rich texture, that far exceeds any other science fiction endeavor so far to date.  And I believe the result of this investment Lucas has made in civilization will be the necessary mythological tool that is needed to continue the social evolution into a Type 1 Civilization where religious barriers, scientific limitations, and politics get in the way of arriving at these necessary human advancements.  This was why George Lucas made Episodes 1 through 3 the way he did about Galactic Republics and the demise of governments in spite of the efforts of the noble Jedi Knights.   Lucas solved the political problems of his galaxy that has embraced laissez-faire capitalism but is not regulated by untrustworthy politicians, by using Jedi Knights who are governed by a deep commitment to philosophy, not crony capitalism that goes on between gangsters, pirates and politicians, to maintain order.

In a 1964 article on searching for extraterrestrial civilizations, the Soviet astronomer Nikolai Kardashev suggested using radio telescopes to detect energy signals from other solar systems in which there might be civilizations of three levels of advancement: Type 1 can harness all of the energy of its home planet; Type 2 can harvest all of the power of its sun; and Type 3 can master the energy from its entire galaxy.

Based on our energy efficiency at the time, in 1973 the astronomer Carl Sagan estimated that Earth represented a Type 0.7 civilization on a Type 0 to Type 1 scale. (More current assessments put us at 0.72.) As the Kardashevian scale is logarithmic — where any increase in power consumption requires a huge leap in power production — we have a ways before 1.0.

Fossil fuels won’t get us there. Renewable sources such as solar, wind and geothermal are a good start, and coupled to nuclear power could eventually get us to Type 1.  More  info can be found at this article.

http://articles.latimes.com/2008/jul/22/opinion/oe-shermer22

Nothing ever starts until the human mind can behold the concept.  From there, invention and personal innovation will bridge the gaps.  Currently, politically, our global societies are locked between a struggle between individualism and collectivism as political systems of all types are struggling to maintain the former power bases of class society indentured to resources controlled by the very few, whether that few are crony capitalists, socialists, pirates, thieves, looters, or kingdoms.  The future is moving away from these kinds of regionalized controls and the internet is the first step in that particular direction.  But there are still religions that are standing in the way of life expectancy and medicine, and governments that are restricting space travel as the human race is pushing violently against the limits of the past.  Star Wars is a giant leap forward, but at the same time, into the past so to join in the minds of mankind with the possibilities of now.  In Star Wars the galaxy they are living in is coming close to a Type 3 as they are able to travel across the entire Galaxy through hyperspace routes that are like intergalactic highways through worm holes in space.  Such a concept is scientifically viable and scientists are beginning to seriously think about such things—because of Star Wars.  And the utilization of the religious aspect of Star Wars, which is the Force follows many aspects that are just being discovered in quantum mechanics and presents them in story form in ways that human minds can find a practical use in the randomness of ideas.  I could literally go on and on about this type of thinking, but in short, Star Wars is a big galaxy that has a lot of very fresh ideas in it from communication devices to propulsion systems, and those scientific concepts are quickly finding their way into the everyday lives of our current civilization.

Further, Disney as a company is about to do something that I think Walt Disney always fantasized about–it is about to take a bold step forward from a market driven motion picture market place and become a truly world power that will benefit the lives of the entire planet.  For instance, China because it is a communist country only allows 10 foreign films to show in their country per year, which is actually a big step for them.  The people of China are already looking forward to the next installment of Iron Man that is gearing up for a tremendous 2013 release—again another property by Disney who is uniquely positioned to take such a powerful mythology as the Marvel Comic properties and present them to a world hungry for the ideas in those stories.  This is greatly helping China become more and more prone to the free market in all manners of business, slowly but surely brushing aside the kind of communism that has held those people down for over 60 years now.  Star Wars has the potential to communicate those types of messages to a mass audience perhaps 10 times more powerfully, because the texture and depth of Star Wars is so deep and engrossing, and if Earth is to become a Type 1 Civilization, the same idea has to be held in the mind over most of the world.  In other words, the people of China cannot think so much more different from those in The United States.  But the lifestyle of The United States cannot be brought down just to level the playing field globally, but the rest of the world must be brought up to the level of America.  The best way to do that is to export American ideas, like Star Wars to those countries so they can understand what they should be doing, and how to do it.

I feel sorry for some of my fellow adults who share my age, but not my youthful optimism.  They truly believe that Star Wars is just another movie like everything else designed to make money for Lucas, or Disney.  In fact in the days after this big announcement of Disney buying Lucasfilm that was the first thing that most people said to me, “Looks like Lucas just got even richer.”  Those same people rush their kids to soccer practice while they update their Facebook accounts religiously and po-poo anything that isn’t rooted in the reality of their current busy lives.  Their kids feel the magic on Christmas morning hoping they get a new Star Wars toy, or on Halloween when they get to dress up like a Jedi Knight.  The parents feel the magic just a bit when they walk down the isles at Target and look at all the Star Wars toys designed specifically to massage the mind of young people by the toy makers in a plot Lucas hatched decades ago to expand the consciousness of the human race by beholding in their minds all of life’s potential.

When I was a little kid, I wanted the full-sized Millennium Falcon from Star Wars for Christmas like nothing else.  This would be way back in 1980.  But my parents couldn’t afford it, because it was really expensive.  So I built my own Millennium Falcon out of a card board box that I played with for years.  Once I got older and could afford to buy it myself, the toy had been off the market for a number of years, so I was never able to get it.  But in 1995, prior to the Special Editions in 1997 Lucasfilm released all the old toys only updated with new manufacturing techniques complete with the “battle worn” condition made so popular in the films.  That year for Christmas my wife bought me the new electronic Millennium Falcon with the updated paint scheme and everyday since that Christmas I have proudly set it next to my bed where I engage the engines every night before I go to sleep.  Every night.  And what’s strange is that it still has the same batteries in it from 1995, and they still work.  Call it the FORCE!  When I have had to fix a number of complicated problems around the house from broken dishwashers to electrical problems I have sometimes stared at that toy for hours pushing the buttons and thinking about the problem at hand which often frames the answer for me with perspective.  The toy for me is a symbol of innovation and technical marvel, so it often elevates my logical trouble shooting thinking.  That magic has stayed with me my whole life so far and doesn’t appear to be abating.  And I know I’m not alone.

Under Disney, these toys, the books, the multiple nick-knacks will flood the marketplace and without question a sector of the population who hates money will call the whole ordeal a symbol of capitalist excess that is just making a lot of money for Disney and its shareholders.  But the estimates from people like George Lucas are that the money drives the product and allows more people to experience such magic, and even the most hardened skeptic against capitalism or fantasy stories knows that they too feel a little of that magic when the media blankets the release of a new film, or they hear the famous tune to Star Wars which indicates to the ear that something great awaits the witness of the story at hand, they feel the magic.  Lucas has attended many of the Star Wars Celebration events that take place each year, and he has seen the multitude of grown adults who share with their children love for a mythology that makes more sense to them than the reality of their daily life.  With Disney now pushing the mythology machine of Star Wars, these events will explode with interest by even more people. Already the Star Wars weekends at Hollywood Studios in Florida that take place from May to June is so packed that the visitors have to use the parking lots at Epcot Center and Animal Kingdom to hold all the extra Star Wars fans.  That was before Disney owned Star Wars.  Now, it is certain that the parks in Florida will have a continued and much, much larger presence during the entire year and new generations will catch the fever even more than in the past, because if Disney does with Star Wars what they did with The Avengers the possibilities for how big Star Wars may become is immeasurable.

I have my doubts that the new Star Wars films will be as good as Episode 4 and Episode 5.  But I have no doubt they can be as good as the other four.  The proof is in the Cartoon Network episodes of The Clone Wars currently on television every Saturday morning at 9:30 AM.  With that in mind, Disney could make Star Wars movies for centuries, because the material is that rich, and is so vast that the plot lines are literally infinite.  I believe that with Disney at the helm of Star Wars, the ideas contained within it will find their way to every corner of the globe and in that way, will put every human being on common ground for the first time since the Tower of Babel separated all human beings with foreign language.   That is what it will take to move Earth to a Type 1 Civilization, and Star Wars is the best hope for getting there.

So, in a lot of ways the news announced on October 30th 2012 has seismic consequences for every human being on planet Earth.  Star Wars is not just another movie, and it is not just another product of Hollywood.  It is modern mythology that surpasses the work of the Iliad, all the Greek classics, the Book of the Dead from Egypt, War and Peace, or all the works of Shakespeare, anything ever done in literature.  It is the next step put into visual form what human beings are supposed to be working toward and they weren’t created superficially by whim from the mind of George Lucas, but are mythic characters dusted off from past stories and placed into the future for all to see with common eyes transcending language, political, and sociological backgrounds.  That is the magic of Star Wars and the potential impact that the decision to move Lucasfilm under the umbrella of Disney can explode into uncharted waters never before seen by–anybody.

So I’m a fan of the move even though it does sadden me.  The sadness is a selfish one, which I wish to preserve what Star Wars meant to me growing up, wanting to freeze-frame those films in time for my own enjoyment and memory.  But I see the strategy and like Lucas I want the same thing.  I want to see a world that embraces capitalism, embraces technical advancement, embraces philosophy, and never losses its belief in the limitless potential of the human imagination.  There are only two directions possible at this juncture in history one where societies regress backward, or one where they move forward into space, colonizing the moon, Mars, and planets beyond with the effortless propulsion utilized in Star Wars.  And the inventors of those future technologies are probably not yet even born, but will grow up in a world where Star Wars entices their minds with sounds and images plunging their imaginations into fantasy yearning for a Christmas toy under the tree to open and play with while they work out all the problems of advanced propulsion systems, gravity manipulation, and medical miracles performed without the added complication of losing their very souls to a shackled embrace of institutional imprisonment which always threatens to cast the mind of man back to the creation of fire.

That is what the Disney purchase of Lucasfilm means, and why it is very good. Also as  a side note to George Lucas, when he enrolled in Modesto Junior college to become an anthropologist, and a philosopher he succeeded as both and those titles many years from now will come to describe him once all the concept of filmmaker is lost to the scrolls of time.  Not only was he successful in studying the past and developing an expertise of history, but he has also changed the future for the better in ways that are subtle, yet unfathomably powerful for a civilization that is teetering on the brink and may yet survive thanks to Star Wars.

And…………………..for me, Han Shot First! 

Rich Hoffman

www.tailofthedragonbook.com

 

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