Star Wars: The Force Awakens, My Take

Spoiler Alert: proceed at your own caution. Discussion involves major characters and plot elements that could ruin your movie-going experience if you haven’t seen this film yet.

downloadSo, I saw the move and will admit, some of my predictions were off. However, I did hit the nail on the head as for the main plot. I predicted that Luke would be absent most of the movie and his fate would be in doubt. I predicted the movie would be a search for Luke them for he would be greatly needed to defeat the Empire, or The First Order as it is now called. I was right and wrong on a few other minor points. Here are a few beefs I had with the film in no certain order.

One, General Leia as she is now called, seems to have no real authority in the Resistance. She has the title of general but when the resistance is making plans on their next move, she is completely out of the picture. There seems to be no real leader. Leia is just there for Han Solo to meet and reminisce with. The film would have made more sense if they would have shown her in a leadership role of some sort instead of just standing off the to side while everyone else made the decisions in the planning room without consulting her authority.

Kylo Ren was supposed to be this big bad evil dude with incredible powers in the Force. However, he can’t even defeat a girl who has just had her initial Force experiences. Now I am not complaining about Adam Driver’s performance. He was a good choice and played the part well. The thing that I am disappointed in is the fight scene between Kylo Ren and Rey. As long as the fight took before they were separated by the catastrophe seemed very unrealistic with all things considered. Perhaps it was because he was injured in the leg by a blaster shot earlier and had to keep pounding his thigh but I was a bit disappointed in how easily he was fended off with just a light saber in untrained hands. I think the scene could have used Rey in more of harms way and with a little more luck to supplement her amateur use of the Force.

Others include the Millennium Falcon which has not flown in years sitting on a desert planet fires right up and is able to outmaneuver First Order Tie Fighters at low altitude with no aerodynamic qualities while in the hands of an inexperienced pilot. I also thought the scenes on Takodana where they met Maz Kanata and Rey finds the light saber were a little rushed and hard to follow with the illusions and such. I just thought the whole scene was to abrupt and couldn’t figure out why she went into that area in the first place or why all that was there. Also, Captain Phasma didn’t really make many appearances for how unique the character was. These just made me feel they really had a lot of ideas that were cut out of the final release.

All in all, I thought it was a good movie. The acting was mostly good. The scenes with Kylo Ren were well played until the final fight scene. Snoke was an imposing figure. Rey and Finn I thought were likable characters for being played by relatively unknown actors. Carrie Fiscer just seemed to be there for just a little more than a cameo. Harrison Ford did a pretty good job in spite of his age. The new character Poe actually did justice to the X-wing pilots who in the past were portrayed as a bunch of goofballs.

I also think that they did a good job with the alien characters as they were all minor figures in this movie. No dumb Jar Jar Binks types flopping around. The humor that was in the movie was well placed and timed for relief but not to be over the top silliness like we’ve seen in some of the previous episodes.

Other good things I saw, I liked the close-ups of the X-wing and Tie Fighters. With new technology, the realistic closeups were a good thing to see. The large crashed ships on the desert planet from the past episodes were really cool to see. The dog fights were impressive as well.

I think the 8.9 rating I see on IMDB right now is a little generous.The finale didn’t really have a big setback to the plot. The Planet Destroyer (new version of the Deathstar) was pretty simple to defeat and the end was a little rushed. I’d give it a solid 8.0 with the flaws it had and would recommend it as a vast improvement over the last three installments.

What did you think?


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Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Here is what you are going to see December 18th . . . . . Mark it down.

star-wars-force-awakens-official-posterNo need to scan the internet any more for The Force Awakens story leaks. This is what is going to go down.

In a galaxy far-far away and 30 years past, there is a young storm trooper and Tie Fighter fighter pilot battling for the resurging galactic Empire. His name is Finn. He was raised to do “One thing” but has nothing to fight for, at least as a Storm Trooper. Someone wants Finn to be more than just a storm trooper. The Empire senses he has great potential. Finn turns out to be indecisive not knowing exactly how he fits in any way he turns. He decides to go AWOL from the Empire in search for of a meaning of his life and lands on some desert planet.

Finn meets Rey, some sort of scavenger on this desert planet. Rey doesn’t live for any purpose in life, she just excels in taking care of business at hand no matter how difficult. She is decisive and confident. It is here where Finn gets his light saber, a scavenged object found by Rey in an old ruin.

The Empire finds out where Finn is hiding out, perhaps they know he holds some sort of affinity for accessing dormant powers. Finn and Rey are forced to abandon her home and end up on the run. The talk of all this Force stuff and bringing back the dark ways seem so mythic to the young ones but they do know their lives are in danger.

Finn and Rey seek out refuge and they find her father who turns out to be Han Solo. Rey has all of Han’s short sided problem solving skills. When the going gets tough, Han hands her a retro looking blaster which she uses repeatedly to repel the enemies that are chasing them everywhere they go.

From Finn’s first hand account and Han’s past experiences, they know that a new dark lord has arisen to bring back Darth’s legacy. He awakens the force and every sage in the galaxy gets all upset. The Empire is back and kicking butt. They have scoured the legends of the Old Republic, the Jedi, and Luke Skywalker from the history books and made them out to be legends with a darker side.

Han then tells them the old stories about the Jedi, Luke Skywalker, and Darth Vader. They are skeptical and ask if it is really true. Han says, “It is true, all of it.” The fact that the Empire is bent out of shape over one AWOL Storm Trooper seems a bit odd which leads them to believe that Finn is a very special person with his limited abilities.

Meanwhile Kylo Ren is fully in power and makes a decree to the dead Vader that nothing will stand in their way. Vader’s image inspires Kylo Ren and he embarks upon a mission to find the renegade storm trooper fearing the young man’s potential.

Finn meets some mystic personality who asks, “Who are you?” During the conversation the voice says, “The Force has fallen to you.” Then and there, it is obvious that the Force is strong in Finn and only he can face this new Dark Lord. The main problem is that all the Jedi are dead, even Luke.

They travel to the planet where Leia resides and she is no longer a Queen. Her position has been relegated to a status symbol of a lond dead myth of the old Republic. After the destruction of the original Empire, Luke was in an accident and died, so the legend goes. Lei has no other information nor any power to lend to the fight other than a small band of fighters that are loyal to her. Thus there is no one that can train up Finn to be a Jedi. However, Han has this gut feeling that he didn’t really die and they need a Jedi really bad.

Han only knows one thing to do. The Millinium Falcon warps through the galaxy on a mission to find answers. During one of their stops, Kylo Ren confronts Finn and Finn is nearly killed. Rey and Han create a distraction and allow them all to escape by way of the Millenium Falcon.

Luke was nowhere to be found but a clue they found on the planet leads them to another planet where they search and find an old hermit that tells them that Luke was there at one time but died. Their hopes are dashed. The mission has failed. The galaxy is doomed as a new Death Star is being completed to destroy worlds that don’t comply with the new leadership.

Before they leave, the planet is attacked by a host of Tie Fighters and other bombardments. The planet is under full assault as they look upon the destruction and attempt to help save the small planet. At the last moment, Han tosses Finn a light saber he had been hiding the whole time and tells him, “Go for it son. You were born to do this.”

Finn jumps in and slays some storm troopers and then is overwhelmed and forced into a forest where he confronts Kylo Ren. Kyloe is impressed by Finn’s natural abilities where his mask is knocked off in a fight but Finn is no match for the Dark Lord. Kylo Ren attacks and has Finn in a compromising position but at the last second, Luke Skywalker jumps into the scene with his own light saber and surprises him. Luke disarms Kylo Ren but the Dark Lord has a nasty trick up his sleeve and escapes to fight another day.

Kylo goes home where he regroups and Darth Vader appears in an illusion and vows to help Kylo and give him access to even more power than he had before.

The invasion is repelled and the old clan is reunited with the new players on the scene. Finn has “One thing” he needs to do real bad, confront and extiguish Kylo Ren. Luke agrees to train Finn in the ways of the Force but will there be enough time before Kylo Ren discovers their whereabouts once again and comes calling.

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Price Tower: “The tree that escaped the crowded forest”


Bartlesville, One of Oklahoma’s Architectural Treasures

What is architecture anyway? Is it the vast collection of the various buildings which have been built to please the varying tastes of the various lords of mankind? I think not. No, I know that architecture is life; or at least it is life itself taking form and therefore it is the truest record of life as it was lived in the world yesterday, as it is lived today or ever will be lived…So, architecture I know to be a Great Spirit. 

— Frank Lloyd Wright

Today I want to share with you a prized piece of architecture I had the good fortune of being able to view. While I am a fan of good fantasy writing and fantasy era towers, I enjoy many different forms of art and architecture may be the ultimate art. Especially when the architect is one of the most famous architects of all time. So take a moment if you would and check out this priceless piece of art that stands tall on the praries of northeastern Oklahoma.


Near the heart of Bartlesville, Oklahoma sits this copper banded tower 221 feet tall and 19 floors. Price Tower as it is called is one of only two vertically oriented buildings and the ONLY realized sky scraper in the world conceived by the world famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright. It was built by a local oil pipeline company in 1956 and as of 2007 is a designated National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior. Wright gave it a personal name, “the tree that escaped the crowded forest” as if it had been plucked from the heart of Manhattan and replanted on the prairie.

If you look closely, you can see how the building has a trunk like a tree that is its spine and the floors seem to hang like branched from it supporting the patinated green copper leaves. When you stand at a distance from certain angles, you can see how the vertical building has horizontal bands of concrete, copper, and glass opposed by vertical copper fins.

I took so many pictures because this building looks very different from every angle and each point of view reveals something different about the overall design that Wright put into the structure.It is a building that only one picture cannot capture the entirety of its beauty.PriceTower_4159

In the upper floors of the building, it is said that there are paintings that contain pure gold.

In 1981, Price sold the tower to who else, the Phillips Petroleum Company when Price moved his outfit to Dallas. In 2000, Phillips donated the building to the Price Tower Arts Center but is used for multiple purposes.

If you like architecture and are every in the area, it is worth the detour to go see.


PriceTower_4175 PriceTower_4168


– by J.Wade Harrell,

author of Shadows of Siernod and Flames of Palamarr

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Photography of the Day: Lake Jed Johnson

The granite hills of southwest Oklahoma known as the Wichita Mountains are pictures waiting to be captured.

Jed Johnson Lake Panorama

Jed Johnson Lake Panorama

Jed Johnson Lake

Jed Johson Tower

Red Robin in my back yard

Red Robin in my back yard

– by J.Wade Harrell,

author of Shadows of Siernod and Flames of Palamarr

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Photography of the Day: New Year’s Day in the Wichita Mountains

A beautiful New Years Day in the Wichitas

A sunny winter day, upon an open prairie, a beast from the past finds a nice bed of grass to rest upon and bathe in the afternoon sun. A reminder of how our government once placed a bounty on his kind to starve and freeze out the natives on the plains. Strength and good will always prevail.



A lonely mountain towers over a sea of prairie grass–grass that once fed millions of American Bison which in turned sustained the lives of people who lived in isolated settlements of the great frontier of the Unites States.

Mt. Scott


A tiny creature, the prairie dog, finds something tasty to munch on.

Prarie Dog


The western spirit is alive an well. Nothing illustrates freedom and opportunity as well as the long horned cattle that roamed free in Texas after the Civil War. Cattlemen and cowboys turned this opportunity into venture capital in rounding up these animals to drive hundreds of miles across lawless territory (now Oklahoma), past outlaws and restless natives, to wild cow towns in Kansas. As fences began to pop up along trails, the trails moved farther west. This heard grazes freely on land that lies between two of the greatest cattle trails of all time, the Chisholm and the Great Western, in southwest Oklahoma.



Growing close to the ground, all types of grasses and weeds become dried in the relentless wind that scours the great plains until the next rain or snow. When spring comes, they will green up and sprout new growth before the summer’s searing sun comes to scorch them. Such is the harshness of life on the southern great plains.

Dry Weeds

– by J.Wade Harrell,

author of Shadows of Siernod and Flames of Palamarr

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