Saturday, December 10, 2022

Rogue One/Andor: Crimes Against Star Wars

When Rogue One set the new bar of fan interest in Star Wars (the only recent phenomenon would be Baby Yoda, which ironically actually plays into everything fans hated about the prequels, but let's just continue to pretend otherwise), it was really like a slap in the face to everything that had come before.

But let's explain that, shall we?

George Lucas didn't exactly go out of his way to explain the nature of the Rebel Alliance.  The version we saw in A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi was basically an army that continually fought against the Empire, no matter how mismatched they seemed to be.

The version of the Rebel Alliance as envisioned by Rogue One and its prequel series Andor is at best akin to the French Resistance during WWII, and at worst the Arab insurgencies we typically call terrorists, because they just like to blow things up.  

The version of the Rebel Alliance presented by Lucas was very much in the spirit of the American Revolution, a war fought on conventional terms.  Lucas himself envisioned Star Wars as a response to the Vietnam War, although he didn't go out of his way to make the point.  The North Vietnamese did not fight a conventional war.  (Nor did the Taliban, or the Iraqis.  If anyone would bother to remember how the wars with Native American tribes actually played out, we'd see some actual parallels in history.)  That's why it was such a difficult war to fight, why it dragged on for years, because it was impossible to achieve any real objectives.

The Rebel Alliance engaged the Empire when and where it needed to, fighting on the Empire's terms.  

Lucas never really showed what life was like under the Empire.  We saw Darth Vader, we saw the hooded Emperor, we saw military leaders, we saw Stormtroopers.  We saw leaders of individual worlds working with the Rebellion, though they hid their allegiances as much as possible.

We in essence saw a very small portrait of what life was actually like.  We saw a world that seemed totally untouched by the Empire.  We saw another with a thriving business economy that made a deal with the Empire and was left with a permanent garrison, which meant the loss of autonomy.

We saw so very little.  

We saw smugglers working independently, whose rough lives were totally untouched except for attempts to check their activities by the Empire.  

We saw the Imperial Academy as a viable path for youths in search of a future.  We saw the Rebellion as a romantic ideal.  We saw old heroes hiding away for years.  We saw the offspring of Vader hiding from him, from the Emperor.  We saw the Jedi reduced to the idea of some old religion in the span of only a few decades, both by ordinary people and even those interacting with a remnant within the Empire itself.  

Wev saw an Empire really only interested in control, but leaving powerful regional gangsters in play.

We saw the Rebellion with its own fleet, however small in comparison, hiding away at one location or another, striking out even against the most feared weapons of the Empire.

We did see the Empire use such weapons against entire worlds.  We saw that only the Rebel Alliance seemed at all concerned about this.  But genocidal tyrants are surely known for their outrages.  

We didn't see any efforts to topple the Emperor from power from within.

That would be interesting to see.

We didn't see the Rebels acting as terrorists.

But somehow that's how fans are starting to see them in their preferred new circumstances.  I have a problem with this.  

All the complaints about what Lucas did, what J.J. Abrams, what Rian Johnson did, did they ever fundamentally alter the Star Wars saga?  Did they change the basic character of the good guys?  

If you want to explore the story in ways that haven't been seen before, do it in ways that don't destroy the story.  

Saturday, May 14, 2022

A Cheatsheet to Creating Star Wars

Surprisingly, Star Wars in fact did not simply invent itself into existence.  George Lucas worked on a number of drafts (eventually adapted into an excellent comic book entitled The Star Wars by Jonathan Rinzler and Mike Mayhew) before settling on the story and elements as they first appeared in theaters in 1977.  For the purposes of this article, I am confining myself to inspiration Lucas himself would have had, and not more familiar anecdotes like where John Williams adapted previous film scores for his famous fanfares.  Incredibly, some of this does not seem to have been part of the lore, or at least widely speculated.  

Let's get some of the obvious ingredients out of the way.  Frank Herbert claimed Lucas stole Dune (originally published in 1965) wholesale.  There's certainly some merit, insofar as a desert planet and an upstart hero with budding special abilities from an old society and an empire in the mix goes, but otherwise, in terms of what Star Wars (which is what Star Wars was in 1977, not Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope) was on release, it's kind of a stretch.

Lucas himself always said he originally envisioned Flash Gordon, and only settled on original creations later.  The particular Flash Gordon he had in mind, although it's often said he was inspired by the theatrical serials, was probably the 1954-1955 TV series.  

George Lucas was born on May 14, 1944.  He would have been an ideal kid audience for the series, which was adapted from the comic strip begun in 1934 and first filmed in three movie serials from 1936 to 1940, all before his birth.  

Another avowed source of inspiration for Lucas was The Hidden Fortress, released in 1958, as well as the less well-known The Dam Busters, from 1955, which helped inform the end sequence trench run on the Death Star.

All this is well and good, and well-documented.  Here's where we perhaps find fresh material.

I only read Isaac Asimov's Foundation trilogy a few years back.  Foundation (1951), Foundation and Empire (1952), and Second Foundation (1953) are certainly well-known to genre fans, but are seldom, if ever, talked about in conjunction with Star Wars, and yet, once past the intellectual exercise that is the first book, I found an astounding number of parallels, both in plot and dialogue (just pointing them all out would require a reread and its own article), from throughout the Star Wars saga (one of the more obvious ones being the Mutant being a precursor to the Emperor).

Watching Ben-Hur (1959) as an adult (I only remember watching it as a kid because the climactic chariot race has a few memorable beats that stuck in latent memory) it was impossible not to hear parallels between the British-sounding characters talking about the (Roman) empire in it and the British-sounding characters in Star Wars talking about the Empire, including frequent references to "the emperor" (when in more recent years it's not often you think of the caesars under that term).  It becomes all the more obvious Lucas had Ben-Hur on the brain when he circles around to the prequels later and focuses them on the conflict between adoptive brothers Anakin and Obi-Wan, just as Ben-Hur does with the title character and Messala, who engage in the climactic race after an equally dramatic falling out.

Now, here's where I include some interesting casting choices as part of the mix.

The voice of Darth Vader is one of the signature elements of all Star Wars lore, and here I'm talking about James Earl Jones, and you have surely heard plenty about how that happened.  But what about why?  I happened to be watching old Sherlock Holmes material during the pandemic, when I came upon this scene:


That's the voice of Dr. Watson as portrayed by Howard Marion-Crawford in the 1955 episode "The Case of the Reluctant Carpenter" of the US Sherlock Holmes TV series.  I think you'll agree that it sounds uncannily like Jones, especially as he sounds in the first Star Wars film.  Here's where my point about all the 1950s material the young George Lucas absorbed comes into play.  Whether it was a conscious decision or not, it seems probable to suggest that the future filmmaker heard that voice and filed it away.

The actor himself would have been unavailable when Lucas began filming, having passed away in 1969.  Watching much more of the series you would no doubt be aware that his voice was hardly consistent in its delivery, so that you might never suspect upon watching just any episode.  But to my ear it was unmistakable, and it caused me to take immediate notice.

I previously wrote about Harrison Ford appearing in Gunsmoke (he made two appearances, but the relevant episode is "Whelan's Men" in which he portrays a character named Hobey) in 1973, featuring a scene that nearly exactly parallels the infamous "Han shot first" cantina sequence, a clip I was previously able to include in a post centering on the parallels but now seems unavailable.  But if you happen to be keeping score, it's the twentieth episode of Gunsmoke's eighteenth season.  (If for some reason I had previously misidentified the role, then it's his other appearance, in a different role.)  It's very likely that this was no coincidence.

In the years since Lucas directed the prequels, it's become fashionable to doubt his creative abilities, and even to suggest that the genius of the original films derives from editing.  Pointing out where he came up with various elements isn't to take away from Lucas as the creator of Star Wars, but rather the genius it took to synthesize not only all that material but reconcile it with the ideas he'd already toyed with in order to create a filmable concept.

It may be a saga set in a galaxy far, far away, but for Lucas "long ago" was his childhood, as it often is.  

Saturday, August 07, 2021

The Magnar of Thenn

 I abandoned George R.R. Martin's A Dance with Dragons this morning.  I read nearly eight hundred pages, only a few hundred left before I would've been done.  Dragons is the fifth and to date most recent entry in Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series, the basis for Game of Thrones, which concluded its television run amid ridicule after spending the vast majority of it amid wild acclaim.  Mostly, fans were upset that one of the major characters didn't end up on the Iron Throne, although to be fair, the final occupant was one of them, just not one of their favorites, instead the one who kind of combined King Arthur and Merlin (the whole series one long origin story!) without anyone bothering to notice.

Anyway, I abandoned it because it was terrible, and I was finally fed up with it.  Terrible, not because I disapproved of Martin's lust for sex and violence (the very things that brought so many fans to the TV series), but for his imagination being far more attuned to world-building world-building and world-building rather than anything resembling internal logic.

Granted, I'm not really a fan of fantasy.  My only real interests in fantasy are the Chronicles of Narnia (which is designed to be devoured by eager young readers) and Harry Potter (which began as such and then grew up along the way, like the characters).  While everyone else salivated over Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings films, I observed with restraint from a distance, and found it amusing that he brought the same, if not better, skill to his Hobbit films, and to considerably less acclaim.  I was never a fan of Excalibur, dull and dreary, flashy, desperate.  I liked my Arthur in prose, thank you.

I have a friend who's become increasingly casual over the years, who was a big fantasy fan in high school (I don't know if he still is), and the day I knew there was a massive difference between us was when I read just some of his favorite material, and had the extremely bad form to be honest about how I felt about it, in front of a whole English class (I absolutely still feel bad about it, but to be fair, I rarely know, when I'm actually talking, and it's not joking, if I'm saying the right thing or only what my introvert brain is processing as what I understand and what others probably won't, and my complete inability to bridge the gap between).

I did read the Tolkien books.  I actually read The Hobbit, in grade school, thanks to that friend (although I took greater interest in other recommendations he shared over the years, notably Maniac Magee and Jeff Smith's Bone, both of which remain treasured favorites).  I was reading the Lord of the Rings books in 2000, before the movies began premiering, and in one of the few instances where I care about adaptation fidelity, I will admit one of the problems I had with The Two Towers was Jackson's pointless deviations (although, again, I have no such problem with his inventive storytelling in the later Hobbit films).  I drew the line at The Silmarillion, the kind of Middle-Earth myth fiction that was Tolkien at his most indulgent.  Unreadable drivel.

Martin is Tolkien with about a tenth of the scholarly credentials, and even less imagination.  He's only really concerned with world-building, as I may have suggested earlier.  The whole of Dragons, which again is five books into the series, is a thousand pages of world-building!  Even the dialogue is endless world-building!  He scarcely seems to be aware that advancing the plot is even remotely necessary!  It's all foreboding!  It's every single character dreading what comes next!  Endlessly!  (Quite literally so, as Martin is a decade into writing the sixth book!  Of a projected seven!)

And so much of it is mindless drivel.  As I said, I never really got into fantasy, so it's largely a genre that's a foreign language to me.  As far as I can tell, it's composed almost entirely of the merging of another era's fiction and a fictional version of that era, so that the entire landscape is composed of a merging of fact and fiction.  And as that landscape has developed over the years, it apparently becomes less and less necessary for the fantasy to have any bearing in reality.

Such is Martin's imagination that I counted a number of eras in which his landscape might have seemed to have plausibly drawn from, and vast distances, and time, from which they would exist apart from each other.  Even the conceptions are difficult to reconcile in a context missing a key motivating factor from the real world (the existence of Christianity; if I were entirely cynical about the whole affair, I'd suggest it does exist in the series, but in a number of forms, including the dreaded White Walkers, so that it simultaneously informs the world that is being threatened and the world that threatens it).

But in two elements I did find something to admire.  One was Daenerys Targaryen at last taking flight on one of her dragons, the only sequence I read that wasn't exposition, and the other was a character name I found particularly charming: the Magnar of Thenn.

As a writer, I am particularly partial to cool names.  I love finding them in the real world, and I love using them, or creating them, in my fiction.  The main characters in Martin's work tend to have cool names, and then there's an avalanche of anonymous and yet laboriously named characters no one could ever possibly care about, few of which are interesting in any way except some which do have some interesting feature that will never be drawn on, when even the main characters spend all their time mulling over things rather than, y'know, doing anything.

The Magnar of Thenn gets married.  That's all he does.  But he has an evocative title, one of the few "wildlings" in this particular book to have been given any real depth (I imagine the wildlings represent native populations, whether the Druidic Britains the Romans encountered or, for example, any number of Native American tribes, so calling them wildlings is one of the many lazy copouts Martin is all too happy to settle for; his entire vision of Westeros, again, is all over the place and can never really be properly reconciled), even if only in that title.

I would've been happier to read a book with Dany riding her dragon and the Magnar of Thenn getting married somehow being important to that, and just about everything else being omitted.  Martin writes everything he thinks is interesting.  Most of the time it isn't, and he can't be bothered to tell the difference.

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Jack Nicholson’s Final Role

How Do You Know was released in theaters December 2010.

My mother had just begun her battle with cancer. I was still working at Borders. My niece wasn’t born yet, but she was developing in uterus. 

And this was Jack Nicholson’s final film. It was also James L. Brooks’s final film.

I’m watching it for the first time as I write this. I lost track of Nicholson’s career, how long ago it ended. He’s 84 now, so he retired from acting in his 70s. Watching him in How is actually strange; even though I had seen him in plenty of movies from around that time, including one of my all-time favorites, The Departed, from four years earlier, he clearly seems older. It’s not hugely surprising that he decided he was done. He goes for the usual Nicholson gusto, but doesn’t really have it anymore. And it’s even a pretty small part. He plays at least fourth banana behind leads Reese Witherspoon, Paul Rudd and Owen Wilson (all three known for being extremely likable, and living up to it), and arguably behind even Kathryn Hahn, who at this point was still building her career of stealing scenes in supporting roles.

Nicholson famously dominated the screen. That was his whole thing. He wasn’t by any stretch a conventional leading man, but he ascended assuredly up the Hollywood ladder in the ‘70s until he was his own genre. Somehow he seemed like he’d do it forever, and then he was just gone. And he’s stayed gone for more than a decade.

How was received as a minor rom com, of little note. No one knew it would be Nicholson’s last film, although if you read between the lines you can tell Brooks knew it was his last. And probably even as he was filming, Nicholson did, too. 

The problem with a lot of critics is that they all too often take their job for granted. Witherspoon infuses her performance with the kind of determination to prove herself beyond the Legally Blonde reputation she had theoretically achieved with the Oscar win for Walk the Line, but she knew as well as anyone that when a mainstream leading actress wins one of those, it’s basically a gimme, and nobody really expects anything “good” from them again. And Rudd is Rudd, and Wilson of course is Wilson, which is to say reliably watchable. Rudd still gets taken for granted a decade later, and yeah, so does Wilson.

The thing about movies is that once an initial reception has been registered, it’s very hard to change (even cult films never really break out of cult status). I’m not saying that just because it’s Nicholson’s (and Brooks’) final film, you should consider it, I don’t know, a classic. But it didn’t deserve to be dismissed in 2010, and it does deserve a look in 2021. It’s a good movie with a great cast. But yeah, it’s now got a distinct historic sheen to it, and is well worth the effort of appreciating it for that. 

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

The Rise of Skywalker’s Emperor Explained

Let’s just get out of the way the fact that a lot of fans think The Rise of Skywalker was stupid. Star Wars fans generally have thought the latest Star Wars movie was stupid since Return of the Jedi. It really doesn’t matter what Star Wars fans say. Three trilogies are now complete, the saga is finished, and now fans can go enjoy their adorable Baby Yoda and not bother worrying about their idiot hypocrisy.

Anyway, Rise of Skywalker featured the return of the Emperor. This may be confusing since the Emperor returned, in the comics, years ago. Boba Fett returned in the comics years ago. Darth Maul was brought back long before he popped up at the end of Solo. These things happen. This particular return is somewhat less randomly nonsensical, and let me explain why:

In my personal favorite Star Wars film, Revenge of the Sith, the Emperor, slightly before he became the Emperor, had an illuminating discussion with Anakin Skywalker (best scene in Star Wars history), in which he explains what exactly sets the Sith apart from the Jedi. He says the Sith use the Force “in ways some might find unnatural,” while arguing that they could even prevent death itself. By the end of the movie he’s done exactly that, of course, transforming the horribly mutilated Anakin into Darth Vader. He also states that the Sith have the ability to create life itself.

In the movies, the life of Anakin Skywalker was never fully explained. There’s a theory that the Emperor actually used the Force to impregnate Shmi Skywalker. He likely did much the same to produce the heir who ended up rebelling and leaving Rey on Jakku. At the end of Return of the Jedi, the Emperor seems to have been killed. It’s equally likely he used the dark powers of the Sith to keep himself alive, but in a greatly compromised state, sort of like Voldemort in the Harry Potter saga, until he could find the power to revive himself. He states that all the previous Sith live on in him (he likely stole the Force from them, as he seems to from Mace Windu in Revenge of the Sith; “Unlimited power!), which might explain why he never has an apprentice who’s near his equal, in power or cunning, but also why he covets Anakin so much, because he alone seems to have anywhere near equal access to the Force, aside from Yoda. The ability to resist him is what scares the Emperor the most, because otherwise he always gets exactly what he wants.

Then Rey does what no one else could do, because in his arrogance the Emperor created the very conditions needed to defeat him. And to complete the irony, Rey rejects her lineage and embraces that of the man he literally created to ensure he would never lose his power. Well, yes, she is a Skywalker, if you really think about it...

Saturday, February 22, 2020

US Presidents

I'm not going to attempt to rank them much less come up with some definitive top ten of the very best.  A lot of it is completely relative as it is, although there were some who were mere officeholders and some who attempted great things, some who were caught up in hard times and some who rode good times.  So I'm going to give some thoughts to all the US Presidents, including a +, -, or n, for neutral, indication of their overall impact (with the two most recent receiving that distinction, as it's far too early to rationally judge them). 

  • George Washington (1789-1797) (+) The first and among the easiest consensus as being a positive influence on (father of) his country. 
  • John Adams (1797-1801) (+) These early Presidents almost by default achieved great things, regardless of how even partisan politics this soon threatened to smear their reputations.  The second one was the first victim of this trend, but the dude was great by any reasonable standard.
  • Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809) (+) The first politician to emerge as President, beneficiary of some of the greatest myth-making the country has ever seen, and probably deserves it.
  • James Madison (1809-1817) (+) Arguably the guy who had the most heavy lifting of the early Presidents, at the end of the Founding Fathers era, left holding the bag on the perennially underappreciated War of 1812 climax.
  • James Monroe (1817-1825) (+) Arguably the President who most ensured that the Civil War would eventually happen, but also the bridge between the foundation of the country and the next generation.
  • John Quincy Adams (1825-1829) (+) Arguably better post-Presidency, where his role in attempting to hold the line of the country's moral character set the standard for which the Union was eventually preserved.
  • Andrew Jackson (1829-1837) (-) Here's one of the most famous early Presidents, and the most famous post-Founders era, who solidified the role of petty politics for future generations.
  • Martin Van Buren (1937-1841) (n) Jackson's appointed successor, knew enough not play the game in exactly the same way, likely figured that out when Jackson's policies ultimately proved disastrous.
  • William Henry Harrison (1841) (n) Died almost instantly but election proved that the Jacksonian era was already being repudiated.
  • John Tyler (1841-1845) (n) The politics of character assassination if you don't like the guy in office began with Tyler, "His Accidency," although in practice he proved that the system absolutely worked.  However, after term in office, sullied legacy by signing up with the Confederacy.
  • James Polk (1845-1849) (n) A strong record of expanding American territory ended up producing mixed results leading up to Civil War.
  • Zachary Taylor (1849-1850) (n) Abbreviated term indicated a figure closer to Lincoln than might be expected from obscure legacy.
  • Millard Fillmore (1850-1853) (-) The weakening Presidency meant great politicians were less likely to find themselves in the office, and the others only managed to dig deeper toward Civil War.
  • Franklin Pierce (1853-1857) (-) Virtually guaranteed Civil War.
  • James Buchanan (1857-1861) (-) Guaranteed Civil War.
  • Abraham Lincoln (1861-1865) (+) After winning the war and subsequently being assassinated, elevated to sainthood, but at the time was considered the worst president ever.  But now routinely considered the best.  And he probably was.
  • Andrew Johnson (1865-1869) (+) Everything everyone hated about Lincoln was basically dumped on this guy, given the thankless task of Reconstruction.  And so the petty politics that almost ruined Lincoln, ended up being Johnson's legacy.  Undeservedly.
  • Ulysses S. Grant (1869-1877) (+) Politics were broken well before the Civil War, but somehow everyone likes to blame Grant for the state of affairs he and his predecessor had to deal with.  The fact that the Union held together and we of course still have it today is proof enough that no matter how difficult the process, his and Johnson's work was a success.
  • Rutherford B. Hayes (1877-1881) (+) So thankless a task was Reconstruction that hardly anyone knows this guy even existed today.
  • James A. Garfield (1881) (n) Another brief Presidency and the second assassination, and all he ended up doing was proving how ridiculous politics are.
  • Chester Arthur (1881-1885) (+) A quiet plus here for having the bravery to represent political reform, which at this point was clearly badly needed.
  • Grover Cleveland (1885-1889) (1893-1897) (-) The only nonconsecutive two-term President thus far, he was kind of the personification of the Republican Party's degeneracy, signaling the first cracks that would eventually shatter under Democratic pressure, in fact the party's first (and second) office holder since the Civil War.
  • Benjamin Harrison (1889-1893) (n) The Republicans had this guy in between the Cleveland administrations, but he ended up being blamed for a recession.  Maybe the Civil War had something to do with that? 
  • William McKinley (1897-1901) (+) A return to a more confident Presidency, at last.
  • Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909) (+) Literally enshrined on Mount Rushmore.  The last of the strong Presidents until, well, his cousin.
  • William Taft (1909-1913) (+) Teddy was pretty annoyed that his chosen successor wasn't enough like him.  But close enough.
  • Woodrow Wilson (1913-1921) (-) Democratic Party mythmaking began with this guy, praised as the genius behind the League of Nations, but also the guy Teddy Roosevelt openly despised.  I tend to agree with Teddy.  Also not famous enough for being the bastard who actually screened Birth of a Nation at the White House.
  • Warren Harding (1921-1923) (-) A weak President at pretty much the worst time.  Probably most responsible for the Great Depression.
  • Calvin Coolidge (1923-1929) (-) Harding and Coolidge were literally the Great Depression versions of pre-Civil War Presidents.
  • Herbert Hoover (1929-1933) (+) Blamed for the Great Depression.  Which was ridiculous.  Immediately set about an FDR-type program.  Which didn't even work for FDR until WWII.
  • Franklin Roosevelt (1933-1945) (+) Deserves praise not so much for the New Deal as the brilliant prosecution of WWII.
  • Harry Truman (1945-1953) (-) The asshole who actually dropped not one but two atomic bombs.  History will eventually get around to condemning him.
  • Dwight Eisenhower (1953-1961) (+) Perhaps the last President not to be defined wholly by his political affiliation.  Thankless task of handling the early Cold War.
  • John Kennedy (1961-1963) (+) The last great man in office.
  • Lyndon Johnson (1963-1969) (+) Everything good he did was following the Kennedy playbook. 
  • Richard Nixon (1969-1974) (+) Angered political opponents mostly for successfully completing the ideas of his immediate predecessors (who were technically party rivals).
  • Gerald Ford (1974-1977) (n) Sort of proved how harmless the Nixon administration really was.  And that's about it.
  • Jimmy Carter (1977-1981) (-) Perhaps a really great person, but a terrible President.
  • Ronald Reagan (1981-1989) (+) Ushered in the modern era by ending the Cold War.  Every Democratic Party candidate ever since has had to pretend this didn't happen.  And we're somehow actually letting that work.
  • George Bush (1989-1993) (+) Put the finishing touches on Reagan's administration.
  • Bill Clinton (1993-2001) (n) It's hard to know what exactly he accomplished.  He inherited an economy primed by the accomplishments of his immediate predecessors.  And generally still gets all the credit.
  • George W. Bush (2001-2009) (+) The thankless task of leading the country post-9/11.  And his opponents almost immediately politicized it.
  • Barack Obama (2009-2017) (n) Hard to know what he really accomplished yet.
  • Donald Trump (2017-present) (n) Hard to know what he's really accomplished yet.  Political strife not a legitimate determinant. 

Saturday, January 25, 2020

The End of the World Comes Daily

There he is.

You know he's there,
you've been watching him all day,
and so you know where he is.

Sometimes it comes as a surprise,
but most of the time
you know where he is.

He's still learning.

He's literally learning everything,
because that's what's happening;
everything's new to him.

And most of the time
he loves it.

He loves exploring,
and o god it fills you with joy
knowing how he sees wonder
everywhere.

But then he cries.

Sometimes it isn't obvious
and sometimes it is.

Sometimes,
sometimes,
it's that simple reason,
that he slipped,
or was knocked over,
or tripped,
or in all other words
fell.

And he cries.

He cries like it's the end of the world.

It's the first language we all learn,
the first thing we assume we know,
that the end of the world has come,
again.

And it's like that
over and over again,
and you have to remember,
this is his life,
this is how he's experiencing,
how he's learning,
the world.

And somehow,
it's the end of the world
every day.

And he gets right back up,
sometimes with a little help,
sometimes with a lot,
but he gets right back up,
and then it's another day,
and another,
and he's learning,
and he's growing,
and the world begins
to lurch a little less.

But every now and again,
the world ends again.

And you give him what you can,
you give him love.

Because that's what you do
when the world ends.

What else could there be?

Eventually he will dust himself off,
and it won't be so bad,
and he won't hardly cry at all.

Then, of course,
when he does,
you continue to love him.

Because that's the way the world ends.

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