‘Star Wars’ Land Updates: Toy guns and realistic play contribute greatly to a healthy, and sane life


I know there are a lot of big things going on in the world, but from my perspective, some of the most important are happening in Orlando, Florida with the Star Wars Celebration.  The reason is that one of my favorite topic is human cultures, their influences, and how they vary from region to region and I see Star Wars as one of the greatest positive contributors to the future of our human race, psychologically, philosophically, religiously, and scientifically.  It’s a fun topic but under it all I see the potential for tremendous opportunities in the future.  And as we celebrated Easter at my house and I went out to Target and bought up a bunch of Star Wars Nerf guns for the kids to play with on a really nice Sunday in Ohio I watched the footage of the Imagineers at Disney World conducting their Galaxy in the Making update on their two Star Wars themed worlds to be opened in Orlando and Anaheim during 2019.   Check out what they have in store.

I love guns—everything from my favorite .500 Smith & Wesson Magnum to the Star Wars Nerf guns.  My mom bought me for the fun of it a little Cassian Andor Nerf pistol which I wrote about during the Christmas of 2016 because I was deeply impressed with it.  When I was a kid, I loved the Star Wars guns, but they didn’t shoot anything.  That didn’t stop my brother and I from playing war all the time.  There were several years of my youth that playing war with the kids who lived near me was my favorite thing to do and if I had the guns that kids today can buy at Target and Wal-Mart I would literally have been in Heaven.  Star Wars for me was always about gunfights and being able to play some of those gunfights in real life which was just great.  Knowing all the kids were coming over for Easter I stopped by Target to buy their specific Cassian Andor sniper rifle which is just something special.  It has a clip that holds 12 shots which can be fired as fast as you can pull the trigger.  The trigger pull activates a cool little internal light that charges up your glow in the dark Nerf darts and they come out of the gun’s barrel looking like tracer fire.  The gun fires off compressed air generated by a fan which takes away some of the mechanical aspects that might complicate a real AR-15.  The gun operates much better than I would have guessed.  We had a lot of fun with that gun after our Easter Egg hunt.  I now have a nice collection of these Nerf guns and am a real fan.

But the guns and other toys available to kids these days are just part of the Star Wars experience.  The fun is in being able to play in real life what you mythologically experience through the movies.  And as I’ve said, these days the options are much better than what I had when I was a kid.  For instance, my favorite toy when I was a child was my Han Solo “Empire Strikes Back” version blaster which made a whine sound when you pulled the trigger.  The gun itself wasn’t very impressive because it just made a noise—and not a very good noise at that.  But we’re talking 1980 when I had that gun, yet what it symbolized to me was very special.  However, I just bought the Han Solo Nerf Blaster from the Force Awakens and it is very impressive.  These new Nerf guns not only make great blaster noises that sound like what they do in the movies, but they really shoot.  To get both functions to happen seamlessly is part of the magic of these new toys.  What they are talking about doing down in Orlando at Disney World is something that is certainly next step exciting.  If blasters and games from Star Wars are enhancing the kind of imaginative activities that take place at home—those big theme parks have to go well beyond what the movies can offer, and that’s what they are going to do with Star Wars at Hollywood Studios and Disneyland at Anaheim.

When I first started talking about these new Star Wars Lands at the Disney Parks I was very excited about this because as I said then, many new scientists and philosophers will have their imaginations explode in those places.  Yet, what they are doing with Star Wars Land is far beyond what even I imagined. They are going for a full experience here and that’s a game changer for all amusement parks.  The Disney and Lucasfilm employees in charge of this project are really bringing us the future in every category and the results will be jaw dropping.  We’re talking about full scale spaceships like the Millennium Falcon sitting around that people can see and touch. Imperial Walkers in full scale excitement—a new lightsaber technology that will be patented and developed for Disney World—this is very exciting.  Imagination is now merging with real science to tell stories which evoke leaps in further technological develop which we will eventually find in our daily lives.  Ideas are born in such places and that’s what makes them important for discussion.  The people attending the Star Wars Celebration in Orlando are movie geeks.  But the product of their enthusiasm eventually advances our culture because they spend a lot of money on Star Wars products and Disney reinvests that money in new ways to keep them coming back.  But in the process, they all unlock the human potential available to our species, and that is a beautiful thing.

I know a lot of people.  Some of them are big shots in the world—and some of them run comic book stores and spend all their time escaping in fantasy environments.  I’m not some dude living on a mountaintop in the Rocky Mountains who is out of touch with reality—quite the opposite, and honestly I am probably one of the sanest people alive in the world.  My mental health is excellent.  I can’t imagine anybody being healthier than me and I became that way playing with guns all of my life.  And my first experience with guns came from Star Wars.  Later it came from the great westerns of our movie culture—which eventually migrated into what Star Wars became.  Just like our first five years of life where all we do is play, adults do best when they continue playing well into their mature years—because that’s how we learn as people.  And what Disney is doing at their theme parks with Star Wars is a chance to make play a part of our lives in ways never done before.   And there is nothing wrong with that.

Sure Star Wars is about war, and guns, and people dying.  But it’s about ideas and optimism too and moving beyond the things that scare us.  Guns are the first step in that journey because once you learn to master them, you learn not to be afraid and new ideas can then come to your life.  So the toy guns, the light sabers and confronting villains is a part of our life within Star Wars and making it more real only makes the myth making that much more powerful.  The more playing we do in this realm of overcoming our fears—the better we all are and that is precisely what Disney is creating at its theme parks and I think it’s just riveting.  I am very much looking forward to the new Star Wars Land opening up.  But in the meantime, I think I’ll enjoy the Nerf guns and play Star Wars with my grandchildren as much as possible!

Rich Hoffman


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‘The Last Jedi’ Movie Preview from Celebration, Orlando: Ending the Vico Cycle philosophically

IMG_4424I cover a lot of Star Wars news because, as I’ve said before, it’s the best mythological tool that the human race has right now—which sets it clearly apart from other movies.  It’s special and even though Star Wars these days is made by people who likely voted for Hillary Clinton 100%–the people who work at Lucasfilm are the best in the business of making movies on a commercial-scale.  The stories of Star Wars clearly extend beyond modern politics.  I think they are extremely important to our status as a culture on planet earth.  So I pay close attention to Star Wars and enjoy very much when they have their Celebration activities.   It just so happens that this year Celebration is in one of my favorite cities in the world—Orlando, and I find it creatively refreshing to hear the latest news from the Star Wars universe.  And this year, there was a lot of news, some of which is shown below.  But the biggest news was the release of the movie trailer for the next film due out this Christmas.

I’ve loved Star Wars most of my life—it actually opened a lot of doors for me.  I completely understand that Star Wars was intended for 12-year-old children, but in a lot of ways that part of me is still very much alive.  Even if I didn’t have grandkids, and my own kids didn’t still love Star Wars, I’d spend a considerable amount of time enjoying the art and ideas that come out of the Star Wars stories.  I understand why George Lucas made the films and what his source material was and I plunged myself into that world quite dramatically, not as the 12-year-old material for which became Star Wars, but the great literature of James Joyce, Thomas Mann, Joseph Campbell and many great literary figures for which Star Wars was based—including the Holy Bible. Star Wars for me was the gateway to much more serious literature and it has enhanced my life greatly.   So I’m quite open for my joy toward all things Star Wars.

Specifically, what I see in this new trailer for the film that is called The Last Jedi, is a philosophic contemplation on ending the Vico Cycle which is something that was heavily featured in the great literary classic Finnegan’s Wake.  I talk about the Vico Cycle a lot, because our present civilization is at one of those points in our history, so it doesn’t at all surprise me that Star Wars is addressing that very challenging philosophic concept.  George Lucas always said that if there were more Star Wars movies beyond Episode 6 that he’d deal with the philosophic challenges of the life battle between pairs of opposites.  It’s a motif that is as old as human civilization—probably longer.  So yes, Star Wars is all about making movies for kids—but there is more to them than that.  Adults could learn a lot too.

Obviously Han Solo is my favorite character and there is a lot of that guy in me. I saw Star Wars 40 years ago with my parents as a third grader and it stuck with me—especially the character of Han Solo.  I knew that was who I wanted to be when I grew up—and that is largely what happened.  As it turned out, I’m a lot smarter than Han Solo, but I can certainly relate to him.  For my recent 49th birthday my youngest daughter made me the picture featured above, which is what she does.  She’s a marvelous illustrator and this picture of Han Solo fighting it out with stormtroopers using dual pistols is an original picture that can’t be found anywhere else and to me it was quite an astonishing work of art.  She knows I’m excited for the new Han Solo movie coming up within a year or so, where the character is much younger—so she made the picture as a tribute to a much younger Han Solo.  As I’ve said many times also, Han Solo is essentially an Ayn Rand character within Star Wars—and that’s why he’s so popular.  George Lucas may have wanted to have Han transform into a compassionate human being by the end of the series, but the best elements of Han Solo are his Ayn Rand hero traits of acting out of self-interest.  And that is the brilliance of Star Wars—lots of competing ideas can fit into the storytelling and still have a role to play because they are grounded in historical motifs specific to the human race.

When Luke Skywalker says that it’s time for the Jedi to end—he’s talking about a very large idea of taking mankind beyond the pairs of opposites battle that has always been a part of our culture from the beginning. I’ve been thinking about that for a very long time because it is essentially the Vico Cycle, theocracy, aristocracy, democracy, anarchy then rebirth.  And that is a bigger concept than just making a movie for kids.  This stuff is important because it has the potential of taking us all to a new level—as a species.  It’s much more than just a movie or a way for Disney to make money.

For me it’s fun to see my grandkids getting into Star Wars because it at least gives me something to share with them.  My oldest grandson without a whole lot of encouragement has already gone to great lengths to learn all he can about it—which is a great way to have discussions about other topics.  During my birthday celebration, he couldn’t pull himself away from TV where I had Rogue One playing.  As a little boy the hand to hand battles with guns had his mind racing and he was running around the house pretending to shoot at invisible villains—which is very healthy and natural.  It’s a primal concern—especially with little boys.  I’ve spoken in the past also about the great little miracles that Nerf makes as far as Star Wars guns.  These are a lot better than what I grew up with and I have to say that my Han Solo Nerf Blaster is one of my favorite things that I play with around the house.  I will have countless hours of fun with my grandchildren shooting those things and if not for Star Wars—they wouldn’t exist.  The guns and action are part of the Star Wars experience.  Once you get into those, the deeper aspects of the stories become accessible, and if you really go down the rabbit hole—like I did—a whole new world of fresh ideas emerge—and that is a wonderful thing. Even though I’ve been hard on The Force Awakens, my favorite part of that movie is the Rathtar scene and when my grandson comes over he wants me to play the Lego game as Han Solo to beat the Rathtar level because the monsters are scary to him and he likes to see me defeat them.  He amazes me at all his observations even though he’s only four.

I’ve watched all the old Zorro movies and Flash Gordon serials that Star Wars was based on.  I’ve seen all the Akira Kurasawa movies that inspired the Star Wars movie, A New Hope.  But what George Lucas created and these new filmmakers at Lucasfilm under Disney’s ownership are doing is quite a lot more sophisticated.  I think most of the credit goes to Joseph Campbell than anybody—or even John Williams who has created so much wonderful symphonic music for our modern generations that Mozart and Beethoven aren’t even relevant any longer.  Our culture is much richer because of Star Wars than it otherwise would have been, and by the premise of the new movie, there is a lot to look forward to.

Rich Hoffman


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The Best Coverage on ‘Rogue One’ Anywhere: Matt Clark and Rich Hoffman’s ‘Star Wars’ New Year show on WAAM radio

I would dare say that no Star Wars fan anywhere could get a better radio show than the one that Matt Clark and I did on WAAM for what has become an annual event for us.  We didn’t just cover the usual fan elements of the famous Star Wars series, but the cultural aspects and importance that it has on the human race.  To that effect, we covered the latest film Rogue One and contemplated the direction that Lucasfilm is moving the Disney property in and the importance all these events play on the future of not only American society, but that of the entire world.  This is a recording that you’ll get no place else dear reader, one that is far superior to the usual Hollywood press–so enjoy it and share it with a friend.

And Happy New Year!

Rich Hoffman


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Donald Trump and Putin: Carrie Fisher’s death and the root of all success

It has been hilarious to watch the political order of our day react to the potential of a Donald Trump presidency—particularly in relation to Russia.  The assumption is that the political class on planet earth is something of a magical aristocratic entity of supreme knowledge.  Some silly businessman from New York couldn’t possibly know how to deal with Russia’s supreme leader, “Putin.”  After all, business people are “common stock” who are picked by politicians to succeed or fail in life based on their altruistic contributions to charity and events organized by the political establishment.  For me it has been excessively funny to read the many articles in USA Today, Rolling Stone, the New York Times and elsewhere as this supposition has taken place regarding Donald Trump’s reaction to events around the world.  The basic premise of every article is that Trump is not very smart and is poised to be outplayed by every player on the world stage to the disadvantage of America.

Everyone who reads here knows I am a Star Wars fan and I do think it’s sad that Carrie Fisher—the actress who played Princess Leia in the films–died essentially on Christmas Eve of a massive heart attack.  I enjoyed her character in the movies she played and I thought she was a brilliant writer—and a witty personality.  I enjoyed her appearance in The Force Awakens, but honestly, she was a broken person in that film barely able to hold a presence on-screen because she essentially had destroyed herself over the preceding 30 years.  One of the treats for me of the new film Rogue One was that Princess Leia as a nice 19-year-old young lady appeared at the end of the film which restored her reputation a bit in my eyes—and I felt this before the death of Carrie Fisher.  In the original films, Carrie Fisher was turning out to be one of those Hollywood liberal girls who are essentially destroyed before they turned 25.  The drugs and hard living as a pass around celebrity ruined her body making her into a joke by the time she was resurrected in The Force Awakens last year.  I watched her interviews as a 59-year-old and winced many times as she spoke because she was essentially a destroyed human being and she had at least enough wit to make fun of herself over it.  After all, what else was she going to do?

Carrie Fisher’s lifestyle is what killed her—it wasn’t some cruel act of fate—it was years of bad living and taking too much anti-depressant medication—being overweight, then losing weight and straining a body that was already destroyed two decades before.  It was sad to hear just prior to the Donald Trump election of 2016 that Fisher was criticizing the president-elects sniffing during the debates as if he were a “coke head” because she knew from experience.  And that she had written a book featuring her young affair with Harrison Ford attempting to tell the world psychologically that at one point in time, she was “hot.”  Harrison Ford was gracious about the whole episode letting Carrie have a fond reflection of a time when she was a 19-year-old girl sleeping with a 33-year-old married man and running around the streets of London with him in 1976.  He didn’t ask her not to do it, and let it run its course right up to the day she literally died.

As much as I like Star Wars and those actors for the part they played in the movies, I found their public comments about Donald Trump disturbing because they assumed as celebrities they knew something about the world that the rest of us didn’t.   Harrison Ford I think is a great actor, and I admire how well he has kept himself in shape, and he was fun to watch in Force Awakens because he was able to resurrect a good character he helped create over thirty years ago.  But Harrison Ford is still the idiot who gave himself an earring for his 50th birthday because he thought of it as some kind of rebellious proclamation he had earned with advanced age—and he’s maintained that earring now for over 23 years.  I am coming up on my 50th birthday soon, and I can tell you dear reader—I have no temptation of getting an earring.  That’s just never going to happen—so these liberal actors live in some other world and they constantly fail to understand their role in it.


Since Carrie Fisher’s death along with many other celebrities and their fans, those soft minded modernists who get most of their news from People Magazine, and Entertainment Tonight, are sad that in 2016 stars like Prince, David Bowie, Carrie Fisher, George Michael, and many others died giving Generation X a harsh taste of mortality.  What nobody has essentially discussed was that most of those deaths occurred with a common theme of personal use of antidepressants to solve addictive personal problems stemming from poorly managed lives—and that the deaths were not so much a sad proclamation from the gates of Heaven, but just average people who faced crises and disappointments in their lives with real life blandness.  The magic of their imaginations lived through in their music and characters they played through their art—but they were not able to bring that art into their personal lives—which is the real tragedy.   The real Princess Leia would never do drugs or suffer through depression because that character would dominate those emotions and fight through them without chemical aid.  Unfortunately, most people never really get to know these people up close—to smell their bad breath, to see that they have pimples on their foreheads covered up with caked on make-up—so all they know of those stars is what they see in their art. They never know the real people.  It wasn’t that long ago where I went to dinner with a few of the members of the hit television show Beverly Hills 90210 and I was surprised at how average the girls were who were there.  They spoke and acted just like 20-year-old girls in Cincinnati, Ohio where I was from—and they had the same problems.  These are the people who make up our media culture and the same idiots who think that Donald Trump is a joke and not smart enough to deal with major problems around the world.

I had a chance to work in Hollywood, several times if I played it right—and believe me I thought about it. All I would have had to do was laugh at the stupid jokes of those same girls, pander to the intelligence of the 30-something directors and producers and not advertise my conservatism so boisterously.   I never thought it was fair, but honestly the way that culture is now you have to be a pretty superficial underachiever to make it in Hollywood because very few people of any real talent can survive unless they put their face on some really bleeding heart liberal causes—otherwise you are cast out of their aristocratic society.  Washington D.C. operates in much the same way only instead of that aristocratic society being pretty actors and actresses—they are lawyers too afraid of private practice still trying to justify the massive investment their parents spent on their college educations by hiding on K-Street where the easy money and prostitutes are.   Since I didn’t fit in any of those categories and was by instinct a person of action—I had to live authentically, and that meant that my talents needed to be the kind that people wanted to make movies about—not of the type that were about people who wanted to be people who really did things but were afraid to try—then tried to cover up that fear with lots of cocaine and antidepressants coupled with self-destructive sexual relationships.  It is harder to live real life and to a spectacular person that history will want to remember than to be some second-hander actor or politician who thinks it’s cool to get an ear-ring on their 50th birthday—because it helps start dinner conversations with other weak people at mindless Hollywood dinners.

Trump unlike all these other people and celebrities is a man of achievement—a guy who has built himself over and over again and always succeeded.  Success is not an accident—a successful person can have everything stripped away from them—they can have every hard luck issue tossed in their direction—every unforeseen death—every perilous catastrophe and they pound, and pound and pound right on through to see a successful resolution.  That is the common trait of all successful people.  They don’t hide from their problems behind alcohol or other drugs and they don’t yield to personal addictions.  They simply outwork those around them until their personal goals are met.

The best example of this that I’ve ever seen in a popular movie is from the Ridley Scott film, Gladiator.   In that film Maximus the star general of the Roman emperor had everything stripped away from him, his career, his family, his reputation—everything only to be resurrected as a slave to society.  By the end of the film Maximus had risen to the top of Roman society once again to challenge the emperor’s successor in a fight to the death—which truly captured many of the themes our current society are built upon—where does power come from?  Is it granted by the gods?  Is it really in whom you know?  Or does it come from an individual and their personal skills coupled with a daring approach to the problems which befall them?  The answer is in the last offering, everything comes from within—and Donald Trump is a completely self-made man.  The wealth and success he built came from his family and he has literally bent the will of those around him to achieve his objectives.  It took him most of his life to figure out all the elements with the help of a loving wife—his third—but the person who ran for president is essentially a person who never stopped trying and bent the world to his will.  People like that don’t have time for drug addictions and prescription medications—they self-regulate and they always have the answers because they worked hard to get them.

It is for those reasons that Trump will easily deal with Putin and every other world leader who will soon find themselves begging for the approval of the United States.  The world has literally never seen anybody like Trump before on such a stage and no, Hollywood doesn’t understand.  The media doesn’t either because they’ve been taught all their miserable lives that failures and weakness are admirable traits by the same people who are befuddled by Carrie Fisher’s death whose final claim to fame in order to sell her latest book was an affair with Harrison Ford on the set of the first Star Wars film when she was 19-years-old and still uncorrupted by drugs and bad living.  I picked my career path not because it was easy, but because it was hard—because it was more important to me to be free to live my way all hours of the day than to take any direction from the society aristocrats who think freedoms should yield to terrestrial desires for ear rings on 50-year-old birthdays.  And that is the big difference between Donald Trump and everyone else.  Some people merely reflect the actions of others and they become actors, politicians, lawyers and media people.  Others actually do things worth reflecting and that is what Donald Trump is.  What you hear from those social aristocrats toward Donald Trump is not that they think he’s stupid—even though that’s what they say—it’s that they are so weak.  They resent him because he’s everything they aren’t—but it is their future decedents—the giggling girls with pimples on their foreheads and the young males afraid of fire who will tell the stories of such modern heroes—only at a future time when history can forgive their insecurities.  But not before then.

Believe me, Trump will dominate the world stage—easily.  And the value of wealth building among the human race will increase proportionally.  Mark it on your calendar.  Hollywood and their media culture will never understand it because like the emperor from the movie Gladiator, they don’t get their power from within—but from whom they know.  And that is the difference in life between success and failure—or depression and happiness.

Rich Hoffman


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How Hasbro and Nerf May Have Saved the Human Race: ‘Star Wars’, guns and the skills learned while playing

It was a very nice Christmas at our house for many reasons but personally for me Star Wars had returned to it in unexpected ways starting with the fantastic soundtrack by Michael Giacchino.  Even though the song “Approach to Eadu” didn’t make it on the standard soundtrack—it is on the extended cut and is my favorite on the new Star Wars film—the first not to use John Williams as the composer.  I like the song played below quite a lot and for readers here to receive an answer to their ponderings, it is nearly precisely what it sounds like in my brain 24 hours a day 7 days a week.  That piece of music with that particular collection of instruments—and how they are played reflects more accurately than anything I’ve ever heard the type of thinking that goes on in my brain—and I simply love it.  Before talking about the point of this particular article it should be noted that the new Star Wars film Rogue One has done great business at the movie theaters pulling in an additional $140 million domestically the following week of its opening and that is before the Monday after Christmas tallies are added.  That is important for a whole lot of reasons but before continuing, lets enjoy that little Giacchino song.

As kind of a half joke, half serious present my mom gave me a new Nerf Star Wars gun for Christmas so I could play with my grandkids with it.  It was the small version of new Rogue One guns that are popularly sold at Target department stores these days—this one was the smallest Cassian Andor version.  When I opened it I thought it was pretty neat.  I had recently become very respectful of this little business relationship Hasbro has had with Nerf and adding to that the power of the Disney marketing machine with the Star Wars franchise fueling desire, the guns produced recently were far better than the ones I grew up with—that was for sure.  The Nerf cannons that were included on the new Star Wars toy ships particularly the new Millennium Falcon, the U-Wing and the Tie Striker were extremely innovative and actually work great.  No longer while playing dogfight with a couple of Star Wars ships is there any dispute as to whether or not one kid shot down another kid’s ship—the Nerf dart makes it undeniable.  Once I realized how good the ships actually worked I rushed out and bought them all and they are constantly used at my house these days—particularly when the grandkids come over.  I actually look forward to them coming to visit so I can play with these ships with them because they are so functionally good—with sounds, lights and fully firing Nerf dart cannons.

That has led me to being curious about the rather sophisticated market Nerf had on toy guns because if the cannons worked that good on those little Star Wars ships, they must really be good in the guns.  It wasn’t until my mom bought me one that I had a chance to actually use one so most of Christmas was spent for me shooting this new little wonder at empty pop cans set up at the desert table and I can report from about ten feet the guns are accurate enough to knock the cans over—without being any real danger to anybody.  This particular Cassian gun from Rogue One shoots at about 70 feet per second which really surprised me.  And the basic platform was essentially modeled after the real life AR—the cocking mechanism, the location of the safety switch and proximity of the magazine to the trigger are very close to the actual AR-15 dimensions, so kids are learning wonderful firearm skills with these new guns that I thought was important.  But that’s not all, on these Rogue One guns specifically, when you cock them for firing a little light comes on inside the barrel which lights up the dart inside and once you fire it gives off an electronic blaster sound propelling the dart with glow-in-the-dark light through low light conditions like a tracer—so you can see where it’s actually going.  This is great for gun battles with friends to give the illusion of a laser gun fight.  You can see the shots actually coming at you which can make for some really cool play action.

When I was a kid battles with other kids was my favorite activity.  We threw rocks at each other, dirt clots from the tilled garden, anything we could get our hands on to reflect the action of battle—where real consequences for not dodging an incoming projectile provided the proper motivation for moving out-of-the-way.  If we were inside we threw balls at each other—baseballs, footballs, ping-pong balls, bowling pins—anything and I never ever got tired of it.  When I was a teenager of 16 and 17 I would meet other kids in the woods for BB gun fights which was a lot more dangerous, but we had a great time doing this kind of thing and it taught you to be fast.  To this day when something happens that requires me to move quickly, my muscle memory formed from this period in my life gets me out of danger quick.  Nobody sneaks up on me without me knowing it and when I have to jump out-of-the-way from an out-of-control fork lift or a car trying to run me over on a motorcycle, I escape because my reaction time was honed as a kid playing battle all the time with my family and friends.  But what Nerf has done with their new products is give that sense of danger and ramification for unskilled players to suffer under without really causing harm.  If these guns had been available when I was a kid, there would have been a lot fewer stitches, broken arms, and hard feelings.  After playing with the Nerf guns during Christmas I am happy to see such options emerging.

Progressives will read that last paragraph and declare that such violence needs to be erased from our culture.  I heard a story yesterday about one of my very intelligent nephews who is in pre-school and was pretending to be on Mars with a space helmet.  As soon as he opened the helmet he acted like he was suffocating—because he was aware that there isn’t any oxygen on Mars and that there isn’t any air to breathe.  I see in the kid the early signs of real genius—and he’s not the only kid in our family like that—but of course the pre-school is trouble with him because he doesn’t follow directions well, isn’t interested in learning to write his name, he holds his pencil a particular way—and is hesitant to conform to the rules of the masses.  His values of not being able to breath on Mars do not match up with the values of the typical pre-school teacher who just wants the kid to learn the alphabet.  Those teachers and the society which supports them fail to understand that it is inherit in young boys—and some girls—to want to test themselves in battle—it’s in our DNA—and the lessons we learn in fighting—even for play, will carry us into all other endeavors.  If a young warrior needs to learn the alphabet to fly to Mars, they’ll do it—but for really smart kids, there has to be proper motivation.  They just don’t learn things like a mindless drone—they need context—which pre-schools are notoriously terrible at providing—and their public education destinations.

Our decision-making skills are modeled after the urgency of battle and its part of how human beings learn, and if you take that away from the human experience, we actually get dumber as a species.  For instance, I have a granddaughter who is just over a year old.  She’s not old enough to want to play “motherhood” by watching her mom and those around her handle babies and feed them while pretending to make food for people.  But those are just the things she most innately responds to, the gifts she likes and the kind of play she enjoys as a little person developing.  To deny that in her would be catastrophic for her later psychological condition.  Yet my oldest grandson would play fight all day long if he had the opportunity and from those skills will come most of his adult wiring for interacting in life.  To really understand this phenomena play any online game from Battlefield, to Battlefront or Titanfall—just pick one and you’ll see millions of people play fighting over Playstation and Xbox every day at all hours.  The desire to remove guns from society and to “teach” a tendency of violence from human beings has had the negative effect of actually destroying people away from their natural inclinations.  After all, the point of A Christmas Story  was for Ralphie to get a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas which was and still is the dream of most young people—especially boys.  Back in the time of that 1983 film that plays constantly on television during Christmas every year it was westerns which drove that mythological desire for gunplay and the justice that comes from them—but today it is Star Wars—which was always modeled after westerns but have embraced what we know of science and technology with the yearning to tame the next frontier beyond earth’s horizons.  The progressive desire to change that tendency in people has only resulted in stunting the growth of human beings at a fundamental level.

All this is just another reason that it’s good for more Star Wars films to be released which drive this need young people have for working through these primal desires for battle.  Nerf with a partnership at Hasbro have done some great work in making entry-level guns that kids can play with and not get hurt as a market need was created by Star Wars to satisfy the human desire for violence while minds are being formed—not at the late date of a 20-year-old who is too late to learn new things by the time they actually put their hands on a gun.  It is really infuriating to see young twenty-somethings at a gun range trying to shoot a pistol sideways “gangster” style.  You can tell by looking at those kids that they didn’t have a dad who taught them anything and that they didn’t work out these issues as a kid playing in the backyard, because shooting like that is completely inaccurate.  If you try that in a play gun battle with Nerf guns, you’ll get picked apart.  Those 20-year-olds simply mimic movies they’ve seen by rap artists and other progressive attempts at story telling—and are therefore unprepared for adulthood.  The time to teach kids things about guns is early in their life, not later and Nerf with Hasbro have given children that opportunity in a remarkable way fueled by new Star Wars movies.

Guns are a part of the human experience even though progressives would love to see a John Lennon view of the world where there is no violence or a desire for it.  They would prefer sex, drugs and rock and roll to the country singing cowboy teaching their son to properly shoot a .22 rifle for the first time—and that experiment has failed.  The best hope I have for the next generation is to learn more of these basic skills early in life in spite of their public educations—and through Star Wars—which Rogue One is certainly one of the great movies of all time—it gives me hope where Force Awakens took it away—that good things do come from our modern art culture that satisfies the innate needs we all have regardless of our gender orientation.  So in that respect, I had a great Christmas because I learned something about the trend of our society that had been invisible before—because I’m not a kid anymore.  But because my mom gave me a window into that emerging world I see an evolution in human spirit that wasn’t so obvious before except in that particular toy aisle in Target where a problem has been solved, and Hasbro and Nerf are the ones to thank.  Thank God for capitalism!

Rich Hoffman


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The ‘Rogue One’ Review: A New Hope, not only for Star Wars, but the entire movie industry

For me it was an entirely magical experience.  I’ve always loved Star Wars, even though over the last few weeks I had been troubled with the makers at Lucasfilm who obviously were in despair that Donald Trump was the new President of the United States.  After a few weeks of “banter” it became obvious to me that the root of their problem was a regional one.  Lucasfilm is located in San Francisco at the old  Presido so their points of emphasis on all things political lean-to the left.  But prior to Rogue One being released on December 16th 2016 as the first standalone film to be presented in the Star Wars storyline I personally wished Chris Weitz and others at Lucasfilm luck with the opening because I felt that the direction of the series was growing up and going where George Lucas always intended—to be bigger than terrestrial politics and that this new film deserved fresh judgment.  Gareth Edwards as everyone who reads here knows, I think is a wonderful director—as assessed by the 2014 Godzilla film—so I was very eager to see Rogue One on opening night and once I had was met with a number of Star Wars characters in the lobby of my local theater just days before Christmas.  Outside of the Cobb Luxury Theater at Liberty Center, Ohio were brilliant Christmas lights lining the streets as Star Wars music blared from the park across the street in the harsh 20 degree cold.  A little Jawa and Imperial Trooper were outside adding to the excitement as seen in my Twitter update below from that moment.

Rogue One was a bold movie—certainly created by hard-core Star Wars fans and by committee which hurts it a little bit—but the love for the film by all those who made it was really a jaw dropping experience.  It was a fabulous film done with a classic Saturday morning serial style.  The title screen was very distracting at first because it was the first Star Wars film done without the crawl.  We’ve had seven Star Wars films with a grand opening followed by a crawl of text telling us where we were in the story and what was going on and with Rogue One, that was noticeably gone—on purpose.  It felt to me like this Star Wars movie was actually rebelling against our expectations to be its own thing even though by the ending it literally took us to the beginning of Episode IV the very first Star Wars movie from 1977.

I always wondered as a kid what that first major victory of the Rebellion was as mentioned in that text crawl and Rogue One nearly reflected my imagination remarkably well.  After all, A New Hope plunged us all into the middle of the story and we could only guess at the history of the situation based on what the characters told us about it.  The heroes of the Skywalker family and specifically Han Solo were larger than life manifestations of heroism propelled by unnerving optimism and that carried the saga into realms of mythology which has formed our society around philosophic concepts unparalleled in the history of storytelling.  Rogue One and the rebellion before those heroes entered the metaphorical stage noticeably is about average people daring to do extraordinary things under the collective assembly of a rebellion against the empire.  This was evident in the directorial approach of Rogue One which might have been tempted to retell a modern story with epic heroes which would continue on for generations—but instead they stuck to the mode of the story and the Michael Giacchino musical score never tried to outstrip the original John Williams score—even though I think he could compete with Williams if he wanted to.

One thing I know quite a lot about is John Williams music—I think I know every note from every film he’s ever done for every scene put to film.  I listen to John Williams music in my office almost every morning—it is my breakfast for starting a day and the music from A New Hope is so full and rich.  The themes for each character are so fleshed out and defined—it is an unquestioned masterpiece so it is quite a task to ask Michael Giacchino to step in with only about a month of time to score Rogue One which is a film designed to essentially be the first moments of A New Hope.  And the music has that rushed feel not in a bad way, but in the way of Rogue One itself—a band of incomplete and flawed people joining together in rebellion against a tyrannical empire also full of jaded and incomplete people not quite fleshed out as life forms to do battle on the epic planet of Scarif in a kind of grand crescendo.  I have listened very carefully to Michael Giacchino’s score and I think many of his tones are underplayed on purpose to be deliberately fleshed out in A New Hope as Luke Skywalker eventually enters the picture and finds his own guardian angel in the veritable Han Solo at the cantina in Mos Eisley space port.  That’s where the rebellion finally finds its true heroes which they can clip their star onto and finally overtake the empire in the movies we all know so well by now.  By the end of Rogue One the music coalesces into themes that sound nearly right out of the New Hope soundtrack.  Maybe that was on purpose, maybe it just took Giacchino time to find his Star Wars legs—but I think the small amount of time given to him was to evoke that kind of unorganized chaos that often happens with battle only to be brought to a finer point in movies we’ve already seen and that was quite brilliant.  In that way these standalone movies never have to be as good as George Lucas made the originals, or the John Williams music which accompanied our memories.  But the stories of how those events came to be are infinitely fascinating and in that regard Rogue One is a masterpiece of cinema.

Even bolder was the inclusion of old Star Wars characters who are either long passed from life on this earth or too old to ever possibly be seen again as a 19-year-old princess.  The decision to make lifelike full onscreen CGI characters in this day and age of 4K televisions was monstrously bold because every little flaw would be easy to detect.  But these makers of Rogue One had full scenes of the late Peter Cushing speaking to members of the empire under hard light and in close-up—which was bewildering.  Give the movie a standing ovation for not playing it safe.  And it works.  When Princess Leia speaks finally at the end for a brief second accompanied by the strings of Giacchino’s bold soundtrack I looked around me in the theater and there were tears streaming down the faces of the full crowd.  The audience looked as if they had Christmas lights on their faces which glittered in the reflection of the white interior of the Tantive IV—the ship which we first see at the start of A New Hope.  Then suddenly the film cut to credits not letting anybody linger in contemplation which gave the effect of wanting to see it again immediately.  This wasn’t just a movie, or a tip of the hat to a cinematic masterpiece—this was a bold rebellion of conventional cinema history declaring its independence to throw off convention and serve a timeless story with new installments to bridge mankind into the everlasting.

So dear reader, you might understand now the feeling I had when I shot that short video for the Twitter upload.  Until you’ve seen the movie, you won’t understand—it just sounds like music with some people dressed up in front of a movie theater.  But the unconscious connection that those characters had to our mood was very similar to that experience when you’re coming out of church after a particularly inspiring sermon to greet someone you otherwise wouldn’t talk to because you shared a common experience.  They understood how magical the movie was from behind their costumes and they could see the joy on our faces and they played right along.  Rogue One is a great movie without all those secondary considerations, but there is a magic to seeing one of these Star Wars movies on opening night as they now have such a hook into our human culture.  To make it better for me, my wife and I saw Rogue One at the Cinebistro and had a very nice dinner at the theater which I never get tired of.  So it was very nice that the theater management went to the extra step to bring in costumed Star Wars characters to patrol the lobby and had the foresight to set up a booth at the park pavilion at Liberty Center to blare Star Wars music down the street to mix with the Christmas festivities of Holiday shoppers vibrant on a cold December Friday evening.   Yes it was very magical.

I think those tears on the faces of the audience were of pure joy even though it was quite sad to see each member of the Rogue One team get picked apart by the ominous strength of imperial might.  The movie reminded me of The Magnificent Seven—the original starring Yul Brynner who were gunned down at the end trying to save the town.  But the film didn’t end there.  Getting those plans to Princess Leia was like a last-minute play in American football where the losing team had almost no chance of scoring an impossible needed touchdown as a superior opponent set up a tenacious defense.  It didn’t so much matter how many poor rebels were killed so long as before one died they handed the plans to the next so that they might just get the objective to the Tantive IV before Darth Vader killed them all.  The desperation was so evident and the end of the film felt the same as when a team goes into overtime in a football game—and at the end we’re not dealing with an outmatched opponent as we might have thought at the beginning, but two even teams about to do battle to the death in A New Hope (overtime).

I loved Rogue One, I’ll probably go see it many more times while at the theater and I will buy it on the first day its available on Blue-rey.  The film is a gift to the next generation.  My grandchildren will love these new Star Wars movies and I can clearly see the benefit of taking this series well into the future.  My wife and I did some Christmas shopping after the movie and sort of walked around sorting out our feelings about Rogue One.  One of my daughters called me to get my verdict of the film, as she and her husband had seen it already with an advance screening—and she was anxious about my opinions and wanted desperately to share her enthusiasm for the film.  She had to contain her feelings for our sake not to give anything away, and when she called, I was still in stoic mode.  I don’t get emotional about anything unless its extreme joy or anger—except for when I write.  So I mechanically went through the events of the movie with her that I liked, but didn’t come close to articulating the full impact of it until after I had slept on it.  That’s what kind of movie this is.  It’s a no brainer—everyone should see Rogue One.  It’s a special film for a special time and it not only leads to a classic story called A New Hope but it is in and of itself “a new hope” for the entire movie industry.  It’s a feat in and of itself that not only unites people of different political beliefs, world cultures, and young and old alike, but with our primordial past and the hope we all have to live free of tyranny against the natural inclinations by those whose faulty personal identifications seek to imprison us much like Galen Erso was.  That is after all the point of the movie.  Even under duress for his natural brilliance Galen Erso “rebelled” in the only way that he could and hoped that freedom would follow.  And in those tears in that audience I think that most people understood the situation that Galen was in—because in their lives—they are stuck in much the same scenario—thus the brilliance of cinema to reach our hearts in ways that no other mode can.  Rogue One does.  It wasn’t the best movie I’ve ever seen, but I’m a 50-year-old man.  For a lot of young people ages 4 through 15 though—this will be and it will become the standard they measure everything off of in the future.  And that is a very, very, very good thing.

Rich Hoffman


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10 Seconds of Sheer Bliss: ‘Star Wars’ transcending politics and the #dumpstarwars movement

Obviously, many of the makers of the new Star Wars film, Rogue One regionally identify with San Francisco politics, because after all, that is where George Lucas moved his Lucasfilm company just prior to selling his empire to Disney in 2012.  They are not Donald Trump fans and have foolishly engaged in a progressive campaign against the president-elect adopting the same slant as Saturday Night Live has—lampooning Trump and the supporters of the new rebellion in America which they’ve associated as racists, bigots, and homophobes.

Where they’ve gone wrong is in assuming—including Mark Hamill, (Luke Skywalker himself) is that the meaning of Star Wars was always about diversity and togetherness in a collective kind of ooze, as opposed to what the masses actually cleave to making it one of the most popular modern stories of all time.  They obviously don’t understand why Star Wars is successful, and they don’t necessarily need to so long as they stick to the formula that George Lucas started so many years ago.   Rogue One is a war movie inspired from the World War II era, and that involved European politics from a time when nations came together to combat the evil of Hitler—and that is a universal theme everyone can get behind.  I personally like Garth Edwards as a director—he did a great job on the recent Godzilla film, and now that I’ve heard the Michael Giacchino soundtrack for Rogue One, particularly the section shown below at the 1:40 mark, I am getting very excited for the new film.  I wish I could have an hour-long soundtrack of just that kind of music because it reflects how I personally think.  If you could put music to my way of thinking 24 hours a day seven days a week—it would sound like that—that’s it!

I’ve went to the trouble of warning these modern Star Wars makers, like the Rogue One writer, Chris Weitz to story group leader at Lucasfilm Pablo Hidalgo and the director of Episode 8 Rian Johnson through Twitter that they needed to can their opinions because they don’t understand Star Wars in an ethical way so far as it relates to the world outside of Lucasfilm—by way of its art.  I think they are too young and as natural second-handers to George Lucas, they don’t get the appeal because they live in a filmmaking bubble.  Even George Lucas didn’t understand it for most of his life—if he ever did.  In fact, Lucas may have only understood Star Wars after he survived the car crash that nearly killed him and ever since—he has been losing that understanding year by year.  As an artist, he tapped into something by accident and that became something that changed the world philosophically and when film industry employees seek to bring modern political meaning to Star Wars, they cheapen it.  For instance, as Chris Weitz stated about Trump supporters—foolishly—the empire from the Star Wars movies were racists white supremacists and that the villains from Rogue One were much like those who put the New York billionaire into the White House over the corrupt Hillary Clinton—whom many at Lucasfilm were openly supporting.  I reminded all those mentioned above that Finn was a black guy and that Captain Phasma was a woman and as my friend Matt Clark pointed out recently, all of the Clone Troopers were copied from the DNA of Jango Fett—who certainly wasn’t a “white guy.”  So I told Chris that if he thought that’s what made Rogue One tick as a movie—as the writer—then the film would likely suck.


What those Lucasfilm employees obviously don’t understand is that most of the people I know who ran the Trump campaign on the ground level all loved Star Wars and that from their perspective the evil empire was the Democratic Party and the villains were clearly the Clintons.  The destruction of the second Death Star was election day 2016 and we celebrated by pulling down the statue of the evil empress Clinton in the city square of a metaphorical Coruscant.  So we are clearly at odds with each other and our definitions of things are defined by regional relationships—Lucasfilm by the progressive views of the coastal cities of New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles—and the Trump rebellion from the flyover states like Ohio, Georgia, Texas, Indiana and Michigan.  One thing that Star Wars taught me as a young person, which the modern Lucasfilm employees have not yet mastered is that the space opera is best defined on wings of art—the kind James Joyce participated in—which tapped into ancient roots of human experience and that it is there that the keys to understanding the power and success of Star Wars is best applied.

It was only because of Star Wars that I was inspired as a young twenty-something to read the great European classics like The Canterbury Tales and Finnegan’s Wake.  One of those is actually medieval literature while the other is an attempt at preservation of life before the Catholic takeover of Europe specifically in the British Isles.  Star Wars is all about that kind of thing mixed with oriental cultures.   Lucas properly took all of the world’s mythologies and placed them on an infinite tapestry of galactic magnitude and benefited it even more by setting the story long before our modern human history.  The genius of that was to remove the audience from the here and now and place it comfortably in the past so that reflection was possible without the immediacy of modern troubles.  So I literally have spent the last thirty years reading classic literature from around the world because I was inspired by Star Wars as a kid to do so—and I am far better off for it now.  With these new Star Wars films I am hopeful that the same thing happens to millions of other people over the coming decades because there is a real hope that I have that this art of Star Wars will carry mankind to a new level of understanding even in spite of Kathy Kennedy’s immediate desires to find female directors and stick progressive causes into Star Wars which rips the mind away from the transcendental nature which evokes the magic in the first place.  She and Lucasfilm in general understand I think enough to get by.

For instance, Rogue One is really a classic spin on an old World War II movie.  The upcoming Han Solo film which goes into production at the turn of the year 2017 has the art department looking at old Frederic Remington paintings to get the look of that movie to reflect a classic western, so these guys get it, and I look forward to seeing what they get up on the screen.  I understand that we will see a newer Millennium Falcon with some cool paint schemes on it, which will be wonderful as Han Solo is my favorite character.  He’s a very Ayn Rand type of hero.  I am so excited about that project that I’m planning to visit the studio where they are filming while they are there in the first quarter of 2017—because it’s wonderful as a work of art to see those types of elements being put together in something that will inspire the world.  I’m not saying anything more about the Millennium Falcon because it’s all kind of a secret and I respect that.  We’ll all see it soon enough.

The success of the new Han Solo movie will largely depend on how well Rogue One does, so I am rooting for the film to do well.  I won’t be boycotting Star Wars just because the filmmakers at Lucasfilm don’t understand the presidency or modern necessity of Donald Trump.  They’ll get it in hindsight, but if they don’t see it now—I won’t fault them for it.  They have an important job to do in my mind and they need to stick to it.  I will say that I am encouraged by what I’ve seen so far, like that Michael Giacchino film score, and the recent update to the video game Battlefront where there is a DLC featuring Rogue One events which came out this week.  I’ve been playing it and let me just say—it’s quite astonishing.  Additionally, this past week the new VR Mission for X-Wing came out on Playstation and it was jaw dropping cool.  The neatest video game experience I’ve ever had.  There isn’t even a close second and all this is a result of Star Wars newest film Rogue One which has resurrected the science and ambition those films evoked in the 1980s.  I never thought in my wildest imaginings that I’d be able to sit in the cockpit of an X-Wing Fighter and perform dogfighting with other ships around a massive Star Destroyer on the edge of an asteroid field in the most perfect 3D imagery I’ve ever seen.  I say that from the perspective of working with the RealD 3D guys back in 2008 when they were perfecting their cameras for the revolution we see now in movie theaters.  I can only imagine what kind of technical breakthroughs we will see over the next few years as Star Wars continues to inspire science and art to push human understanding and the Trump presidency opens up the purse strings of capitalism to make those ideas happen.  If everyone can’t yet see the big picture—I can deal with that.  But lack of vision doesn’t make people correct in their assumptions.  Chris would do his project and Lucasfilm a tremendous service if he’d just keep his mouth shut and do his job within that context.

Meanwhile I will be one of the first to see Rogue One.  I ordered the soundtrack from Michael Giacchino based exclusively on that clip.  I will now go listen to those few seconds of music at the 1:40 mark for the rest of the day because it’s that kind of thing which feeds my brain—which is my favorite part of my body—and it likes to eat.  Matt Clark and I are planning a Star Wars special on 1600 WAAM on New Year’s Eve and we’ll review the new Rogue One movie and elaborate on all these topics more, once we have had the benefit of seeing the movie and comparing it to the history of the franchise which are shaped in translation by the politics of our time.  So we’ll see.  I’m hopeful, but will reserve my judgment on the product presented.  And as of now, I’m enjoying the possibilities that come with Star Wars and the hope for the human race that often trails in its wake.  I will say this, thank you Michael for that 10 seconds of music shown in the Rogue One scoring session.  Because I love it!

Rich Hoffman


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