Champion: Angel and the changing definition of a hero

What Ho Wee Readers, for anyone who subscribes to my Wee Mailing List, you will remember that come last update I talked about the various shows that I binged watch during this apocalypse, we’re all currently living through. And if you remember well, one of those shows was the Buffy spin-off, Angel staring David Boreanaz as the titular hero.

For anyone not in the know, Angel ran from 1999-2004 and centered round Buffy Summers’ former flame: Angel, most notable for being a vampire with a soul. It was originally envisioned as a kind of supernatural detective show, being more focused on case-by-case episodes and less on overarching soap-opera-esc storylines that had become Buffy’s bread and butter by that point. And for, roughly a season and a half it did that – and I’d say it did it really well. For while Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a show confined to its allegories – confusing as they became in season six – Angel could let itself be more flexible with the monsters and ideas it wanted to try out. Girl who electrocutes people, sure go ahead! Psychic demon who can read your destiny when you sing Karaoke? Hell, why not make him a recurring character.

Of course, anyone even remotely familiar with it will know that this notion of Angel as a case-by-case show didn’t last very long. And by around let’s say half-way through season 2, with the resurrection of (spoilers!!) Angel’s sire Darla, the show’s plot very quickly became just as soap-operay if not more so as Buffy before it. And I’m not even saying that as a bad thing, a lot of these plots were really interesting and unique – my personal favorite is the mystical pregnancy storyline in season 3 (the show did have several over the course of its five season long run, but this was by far the best). I’m just trying to give you a clear idea on what the show was and what it became: a paranormal detective show, to a supernatural soap-opera to, whatever they were trying to do with season 5. But throughout all that change the one constant in the show remains the focus on Angel; just like it’s parent show, while all the characters are given some form of development and plotlines of their own, ultimately, it’s our title hero that keeps the main share of the focus.

And that’s fine, in fact given the ever-shifting nature of both these shows, having the focus on a main central character is probably a good grounding factor. That being said if I did have one complaint it’s that, and I realised this at the beginning of season 4, I actually find Angel really annoying as a character.  

I know, I know liking characters is completely objective, and it’s not like Buffy Summers doesn’t have her share of people that find her annoying – I’ve never been one of them, but I do acknowledge their existence. And me finding Angel annoying (at least in the later seasons) really shouldn’t be enough of a topic to make a whole blogpost about. After all I found Cordelia unlikable and annoying right up to the end of season 3, when the last shot of her actual character was shown, and I’m not going to rant about that for over a thousand words. And yet what I found interesting about this revolution is when it happened: Angel is describing what he believes makes a champion.

Angel: Nothing in the world is the way it ought to be. It’s harsh, and cruel. But that’s why there’s us – champions. Doesn’t matter where we come from, what we’ve done or suffered, or even if we make difference. We live as though the world is as it should be, to show it what it can be. You’re not a part of that yet. I hope you will be.

As the main character, and a main character that is heavily favored by the writers to come out on top in any moral argument (except for season 5 for some strange reason, he was arguably doing a lot better than previous seasons) – Angel’s views on what makes a champion a champion holds a lot more wait then the other supporting cast. And come season four Angel’s definition of a champion is someone who lives morally, regardless of whether he succeeds at actually helping people. The methods matter more than the outcome.

It’s an interesting take on the concept of a champion, and strangely one that seems at least partially opposed to the definition that was laid out in Angel’s very first episode by the character of Doyle. Namely that a champion is someone who helps the helpless. And that was it, no disqualifiers, no strangely specific moral hoops, just be of use to people that need you. Under this definition absolutely anyone could be a champion, and you didn’t necessarily have to kick vampire butt to do it. We can see this in characters like Anne (a character who started in Buffy, but who comes back in Angel) who runs a home for homeless teens. She is literally helping the helpless, thus by Doyle’s definition of the word she is a champion even though we never see her handle a stake once.   It’s also notable that in her first episode we’re shown her grappling with a presumably morally dubious action, of accepting money for her children’s home even though it comes from Wolfram & Heart (the main bad guy of the series). While the episode does give a sort of work around, where she can get the money and not take it from Wolfram & Hart (Angel steals it for her) it’s interesting that the money still ends up splatted in blood (it’s a long story) that she quite literally has to wipe off. But in the end, she takes it because that ill-gotten money will do more for her kids, then her clean conscious ever could.

I’m not saying that being a completely morally upstanding person, who doesn’t compromise on their principles should be in anyway excluded from someone who saves innocents (particularly in fiction). I’m a big fan of characters like Captain America in that regard (both Steve Rogers and Sam Wilson). And if that had been how Angel had started off characterizing what it means to be a champion, that would be fine, but it didn’t and that’s what strange.      

But I know what you’re thinking right about now; Wee Lassie, this has all been very well written and clearly well thought out, but why does it matter?   So, the show Angel plays fast and loose with some of the dictionary, it’s not like the enjoyment of the entire show was predicated on it. And I’ll follow you to that peer, no there are large sections of Angel that are not ruined at all by this, fun characters, good episodes all throughout even the shakiest of seasons. You could in fact go several episodes in a row where this flip flopping on meaning bears no ill effect on the likability of their stories at all. But then, you go back and try and binge watch all five seasons and cracks begin to show.

The idea of being a champion, or at least of Angel being a champion is baked into the very core of the show. In much the same way that Buffy being a Slayer was baked into the very core of her show. In fact, as Angel goes on it seems that the word is used as the show’s version of a slayer, thematically speaking. But the difference is ‘a slayer’ was created by Joss Whedon and his merry team of writers to be its own specific thing. And a specific thing that is very well explained in the show itself. However, a Champion by contrast is not only a pre-existing concept, but it’s one that with its flip flopping on meaning, the show makes accidentally nebulous. It’s fine to tell us Angel is a champion, or so and so was a champion, but when the show’s own narrative can’t seem to keep the meaning of the word consistent, how are we supposed to interrupt that? Do they mean Angel helps, the helpless? Or that he is entirely good and virtuous? Perhaps it only means that he intends to do good? And as such when characters state with utter certainty that he is a champion or he is the real the champion, it comes off as false. Or at the very least, as a character not speaking as themselves but rather as a puppet for the writers to shill their pet.

So, I think the only question that remains is why change the definition at all? Well to answer that I could just tell you the conclusion I’ve come to, but I’d think it would be far more entertaining for the both of us, to show you instead.

So cast your eyes below, as I review several of the characters (both hero and antagonist) and see by the strictures of both definitions of the word, if they are champions.

Holtz

One of the most successful, non-superpowered vampire hunters in the Buffyverse. After Angel raped and killed his wife, snapped his infant son’s neck, and turned his daughter into a vampire, Holtz spent the rest of his life seeking vengeance. Ending in him making a deal with a demon, showing up in the 21st century and making all sorts of trouble for the main characters.

Definition 1: Helps the Helpless

Yes, both before Angelus destroys his family and afterwards. Even at his most antagonistic Holts helps the helpless because he’s still killing Vampires. In one of his first scenes with his acolyte Justine he kills a vampire right in front of her; we’re meant to take this as a dark reflection of a slayer and watcher relationship. Holtz is manipulating her, and yet I’ve never been able to get all the people; the people that had he been allowed to continue living, that vampire would have murdered, out of my head. The action may have been done for less than pure reasons, and yet it is still helping the helpless.

Judges say:

A Champion

Definition 2: Lives an entirely Moral Life

Before Angelus kills his family, it’s impossible to say for sure but given everything we’re shown of his family’s deaths, it seems likely that he did live an entirely good, moral life. Between their deaths and him making a pact with that demon, while he is consumed with vengeance, it seems likely he still lived a virtuous life beyond that. After the demon, no, his every waking breath is dedicated to vengeance on Angel; leading an idolised virtuous life is not a priority at all.

Judges Say:

No Longer a Champion

Gunn

 A good man, and a truly skilled Vampire Hunter whose been hunting the nasty things since he was twelve.

Definition 1: Helps the Helpless

Like most of the Angel investigation team, Gunn is a difficult one to pin down in this regard. When he first arrives on the scene, he is defending his neighbourhood from a nest of vampires, and putting himself in considerable danger to do so. So that seems pretty cut and dry, and yet when he joins the AI team officially in season two things become a little murkier. They all ‘help the helpless’ but much like the rest of the AI team, Gunn becomes much too reliant on Cordelia’s visions to tell him where he should help, and therefore when she is not there to give them, he does nothing. That’s not even me being unkind, that’s stated in the show itself. And then there’s season three and four’s whole debacle but I’ll get into that more later.

And then we have Season 5, which I was very complementary to in my last newsletter – but then again that was before I saw the disastrous end of it all and realised, they had absolutely no idea where they were going with it at all. But regardless, Charles Gunn has one of the more interesting storylines, with him fully embracing the power the AI team now wields as the leaders of Wolfram & Heart. With that kind of money, they can do more than just save individual victims from the things that go bump in the night. They can help with the aftermath, set up funds and homes for children that lost their parents to vampires; and really start to make a change in how the fight against evil is won. In other words help the helpless at the most fundamental level.

Judges say:

Season 2 – Champion

Season 3-4 – Not a Champion

Season 5 – A Champion, though of a different kind than before.

Definition 2: Lives an entirely Moral Life

Well, that’s the hard thing about this definition, because it’s so vague it’s difficult to attribute it to anyone. If it means living life by your own moral standards, then we could say that baring a brief time in season 4 Gunn is a champion throughout Angel. Even in season five before (spoilers) Fred’s death. The same could be said if it means living a moral life as seen by wider society, since in season 2 he is protecting his neighborhood and helping out at a homeless center; while in season 3-4 he’s still fighting the good fight, just getting paid for it. And season 5, well season five was a mess for everybody. However, if the definition only refers to what Angel sees as a moral life, then we can only assume his oppion holds the narrative weight for what defines a champion. And his oppion on Gunn is problematic, he seems to view him as a stupid if well-meaning kid when they first meet; nothing but extra muscle when he’s working for Angel Incorporated, and a moral traitor in season 5 when they’re working for Wolfram and Heart.

Judges say

Inconclusive

Connor

Angel’s son, born from two vampires (Angel and Darla) and raised in a hell dimension by Holtz. Honestly it makes less sense in context.

Definition 1: Helps the Helpless

Connor helps a lot of people in season 3 and early season 4 (arguably more than Angel). So, for a time he is a champion; however, than the main arch of season 4 happened and well…everything shot downhill from there.

Judges Say

Only for a short time.

Definition 2: Lives an entirely Moral Life

By all forms of this definition that I laid out in Gunn’s section no, it’s sad but no. It’s clear if you really look at it that Connor only views himself as a moral individual when he first returns from Hell seeking to kill Angel. If we look at it from a wider society perspective, he once again falls short, since his rescues come off as more wanting to hunt things than actually saving people. And then we have Angel, and since that petulant speech up nearer the beginning of this post was directed at Connor, we don’t need to dig that hard to find what the soulful blood sucker thinks of his offspring.

Judges Say:

Not a Champion

Angel

A Vampire who has a soul.

Definition 1: Helps the Helpless

In seasons 1 to 2, I would say yes without a drop of hesitation in my voice. But then everything changed when the Darla storyline attacked. But all joking aside, when Darla (Angel’s sire and former lover) was resurrected, Angel’s obsession with first her and then getting revenge for her turned him from a bland if inoffensive heroic character to a raging douche bag who hurt everyone and everything around him. And while this change was clearly intentional, and something that the plot encouraged Angel to move beyond, it revealed a nastiness to Angel’s character that he never really did.

But a mildly unpleasant hero is a still a hero, and then we got season three, and with the introduction of the miraculous birth of Darla and Angel’s son, Angel as someone who must continually prove that he is a champion is almost forgotten. While the ‘helping the helpless’ doesn’t completely stop, as this is still at least pretending to be a monster of the week show, it’s notable that that’s no longer the focus of the show. In fact, as I mentioned in Gunn’s section without the visions or some kind of monetary insensitive, neither Angel or his team seem very interested in helping anyone.

And then we have season 5, where Angel is counterintuitively at his most passive in regards to his ability to do heroic deeds, and his most desperate to be a champion. I found it very hard to ignore while watching Angel whine about being in charge of Wolfram &Heart (the LA branch anyway) that his main complaint was often that he no longer felt like a hero. This was even despite the fact that he’d been given proof that not only were they still helping people, but on a much larger scale than they ever could have in their previous location.

Judges Say:

To begin with, but lost his motivation for the fight along the way.

Definition 2: Lives an entirely Moral Life

Given the speech up there he clearly thinks he does, but honestly given some of his decisions particularly at the end of season 5 – I won’t give anything away just in case this mainly negative post has for some reason made someone want to check out the show, but his actions are truly disgusting – it would be hard to argue that this view of himself lined up in anyway with reality.

In seasons 1-4 we could claim that he is living a somewhat moral life in regards to how society at large sees it. He isn’t hurting anyone – which as a vampire, even a vampire with a soul, he is quite capable of doing – and he’s for the most part fighting the forces of evil. This only changes is season 5 when Angel is arguable at his most morally dubious (or at least a moral dubiousness that the writers will admit to); though strangely this is a moral failing that comes not from within Angel himself, but is rather forced upon him. By Wolfram & Heart, by the Black Circle, even by the more human members of his team. Angel is passive in his fall from grace; even the choice to join Wolfram & Heart didn’t come about from a character flaw as it arguably did for the rest of AI, but from the truly noble desire to save his child.

It’s almost as if the world bends around Angel, so that in his own standards at least, he can continue to call himself a champion

Judges say

I’ll leave this up to the reader.

So, if you’ve been following my tangent this far, you may have guessed where I’m going with this. That is, if you follow the series of events throughout series 3-4 it is clear that with the arrival of his son and all the plot-threads that came with that, Angel’s main focus turned inward rather than outward. All the energy that would have in the past been dedicated to helping as many of the helpless as he could, now stayed focused on protecting his son, providing for his son, and later in the season (spoilers) reclaiming his son. None bad priorities by any account, but all focused on the good of the few (and in particular the few that Angel considers his) rather than the good of the many. I’m not criticizing this, merely noting it as a fact in the show’s change of direction. Because in truth for the story this shouldn’t have necessarily be an issue. After all, unlike say Buffy herself Angel is not locked into his role as a hero, he is not a slayer. In the past he has chosen to fight evil in part to redeem himself, but often just because he felt it was the right thing to do – but he could stop, he could walk away or choose to turn his back on the world and the fight to preserve it. And yet to do so would be to give up being a champion; because being a champion on those early episodes was an active concept you had to keep performing. Help the helpless, or you weren’t a champion. Now they could have done this, made Angel have to decide what mattered more to him, the ones he loved, or he’s supposed great destiny. That would actually be a very interesting storyline, one that not even its parent show managed to tackle.

Except…as I noted before, the writers seemed really married to the idea of a “champion” being the Angel equivalent of Buffy’s “slayer”. Angel was the star of the show; therefore, he must be a champion. So, if the definition of “champion” as someone who helps the helpless no longer fit him, then the definition must be changed. Because in the end, that’s all Angel had. Unlike characters like Buffy or Spike, or heck even Xander there wasn’t really much to Angel. He could be blandly heroic, or mysterious, but once you got past that to what should have been the character that lay beyond, there wasn’t really much of anything. While Spike could flip flop from enemy to ally like he was having some kind of spasm, and still remain entertaining through his well-defined personality; and Buffy could confront the realities of life alongside her destiny as the Slayer, because of her innately heroic and loving nature; with Angel, you really had to take the writers word for it that he was interesting beyond the notion that he was a champion.

But the reality is just because you keep telling us someone is a champion, doesn’t make us belive it.

If you’ve enjoyed this terribly delayed rant of mine, remember to follow the wee blog if you haven’t already and don’t forget to check me out on Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and Goodreads for all that good stuff. And click the button at the bottom of the post to buy me a wee cup of coffee on Kofi. Also don’t forget to sign up for the Wee Mailing List by the 27th of September to find out which three Angel characters would have done better in Buffy (hint the last one will surprise you). So, until next time Wee Readers, don’t forget to stay safe, stay awake and have a very bonny day.

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The Devil’s in the Barnacle – the deceptive power of the narrative voice in How I met your Mother

What Ho Wee Readers – well it’s been a rough couple of years hasn’t it, but I feel like we’re reach end of the tunnel. Soon the only mask any of us will be forced to look at is that stupid one we wear each Halloween.  But until that day, I think it’s important to focus on the positive – and while the lockdowns across the world have had many, many downsides – one of the upsides for those of us whose situation wasn’t threatened by it, was the extra time the lockdown offered to go on a streaming binge.  To finally watch through all those shows you’d liked in passing, but never had the time to fully commit to before. Well, you’re stuck in your house trying not to dwell on the apocalypse we’re all currently living through – what else you gonna do? Wow, that was a long and rather bitter way to introduce our current topic; I apologies wee readers, I don’t know where that came from.

Anyway, long story short – this lockdown I binged watched ‘How I Met your Mother’. For those of you not in the know, ‘How I met your mother’ was a sitcom that ran from 2005 to 2014, staring Josh Radnor as Main Character Ted Mosby and Bob Saget as Ted’s older self as he narrates the story of how he met their mother to his two kids. Alongside Ted on his journey to meet the love of his life – which spans a full nine seasons – is Ted’s best friend from college Marshall Eriksen played by Jason Segel; Marshall’s fiancé Lily Aldrin play by Alyson Hannigan (from Buffy fame); new girl Robin Scherbatsky played by Cobie Smulders (before the Avengers) and finally my favorite character (yes, I’m a giant cliché) playboy Barney Stinson played by Neil Patrick Harris.

It is a show that has been accused of being a rip-off of Friends, a criticism that while I think is a little harsh and not quite seeing the whole scope of either show, is at least somewhat correct in some of the minor details. For instance, while I don’t actually think either Lily or Marshall has any similarities to Monica and Chandler, other than being a married couple – which if you’ll stay with me isn’t a similarity, so much as a common form of relationship ; on the other hand, the other three main characters do have some noticeable similarities to the cast of Friends.  Take Ted Mosby our protagonist, who is so similar to Ross Gellar that he might as well have been cloned. Hey look at that, they’re both teachers at a university, and they even have the exact same hairstyle – I smell foul play.  Then we have Robin, who while being slightly more of an original person than Ted, does have some strong shared traits with Rachel – being the newest member of the gang, dating the nerdy sensitive professor, and being career goal oriented – and Monica – her difficult relationship with her parents, her tom boyish nature and her hair colour. At last, and most bizarrely of all we have our boy Barney Stinson who seems to be a weird amalgamation of Chandler’s unknowable corporate life, Joey’s womanizing, and Phoebe’s wild mood swings, hair colour, and abandonment by her father, and reconnection with his second family years later. I made that last one sound a lot similar that it appeared on screen, but I just find it weird that two such different characters like Barney Stinson and Phoebe Buffay have so much in common.

But strange similarities aside what I find the biggest difference between these two sitcoms is the narrative voice. 

What I mean is that when we watch an episode of Friends, no matter how ridiculous the characters may be acting, that is what actually happened in their lives. There’s no hint to the audience that anything we’re being shown is a lie to the characters, or that there’s some stronger narrative force pulling them forward beyond their own dumb decisions. Ross and Rachel sleep together and Rachel becomes pregnant; yes, the people watching might think that that was done to get a good story, or heighten the drama between the on-and-off-again-couple, but to the characters that was just something that happened in their lives. The same cannot be said about ‘How I met your Mother’. Because in the end ‘How I met your mother’ is not actually show about a group of friends figuring their lives out in New York, it’s the show about Ted Mosby telling his kids how he figured his life out.

It’s such a simple plot device, and yet it changes the way we view everything about this show. It transforms what would have been a still decently funny show, with suspiciously strong similarities to Friends, into something much more interesting, and indeed memorable. For that framing device, that ever present narrative voice, provides a second barrier between the realty of the audience and the reality of the characters. To take a famous example, just because we see one of the characters get high from a sandwich instead of weed; doesn’t mean that in the universe of How I met your Mother, sandwiches are a narcotic.  It’s not like Friends where when we look at the screen all we see is the reality of that fictional universe. There are two realities of the Himym universe: the one the audience sees (the memories of older Ted); and the one the characters actually experienced (the true reality of the Himym universe).

Of course, this observation is nothing particularly new – the narrative voice of older Ted often admits when he changes things, or outright forgets facts and even the names of the women he dated. One of my favorite instances of this was the episode ‘Bagpipes’; where the sound of the aforementioned pipes replaces the actual sex noises Ted’s upstairs neighbors were making in the true reality. It’s interesting to note that in one episode of Friends Monica and Rachel have a similar problem with their upstairs neighbor, but there’s no hint of the show trying to hide what those noises actually are.  Honestly, I think the bagpipes make it funnier. But regardless, all this leads us to the conclusion that the narrative voice cannot be trusted.

And I know what your gonna say, well gee Wee Lassie, that’s a lot words for Ted is an unreliable narrator; whose okay with telling his kids about all the women he slept with over the years, but somehow thinks they need to be shielded from the reality that their father used to smoke pot. I say to that, wow, that was a specific thing to say that I entirely agree with. But beyond that, my actual point is that Ted as the unreliable narrator goes beyond the parts of the story where he obviously slips up or forgets something. It goes beyond what the audience can clearly recognize as the lie. Yes, for those of you in the deep know, I am going – very briefly – into that theory.

I refer of course to the fan theory started on Reddit that Older Ted portrays Barney as a serial womanize, and let’s face it, a bit of a douche – so that when he reveals that he wants to pursue his friend’s ex-wife romantically, his kids will be all on bored. There is some legitimacy to this theory – beyond viewers wanting to enjoy a problematic character with a morally clean conscience. In fact, Neil Patrick Harris (Barney’s actor) subscribes to it himself; citing episodes like “The Bad Patch” – where Barney and Robin are unhappy in their relationship and so let themselves go. This includes Robin losing large chunks of her hair and teeth and Barney gain 75lb. However, voiceover Ted admits to his kids that while Barney and Robin only let themselves go a little bit, this is what it felt like to him. Thus, Harris concludes, there is evidence for Ted’s revisions to his friends lives (I paraphrase of course). I thought my sandwich example was funnier, but you do you Harris, you do you.

However here in 2021 on The Wee Writing Lassie Blog, I would like to make an amendment to this theory. Oh, not that it’s not happening – giving all the evidence, and support from some of the creative talent behind Barney Stinson, it clearly is. But rather why it’s happening. That is, in the theory Ted is deliberately portraying Barney as a jerk, because he wants his kids to support Ted and Robin’s relationship. And yet in that pre-recorded ending, it is the kids themselves who reach this conclusion, and Ted who is shocked by it. Of course, he could just be lying, but giving the romantic framing of the final shot of Ted with the blue French horn – it is unlikely the writers intended for Ted to be quite so intentionally manipulative of his own children. Thus, the reality the audience must accept, is that Ted did intend to tell his kids how he met their mother – as the title suggests – but unconsciously revealed how he’s actually always loved Aunt Robin.

So thus, Ted portraying one of his close friends as such a terrible person, with the intention of pursuing Robin, is simply not plausible in the show’s reality. And yet, you can’t exactly argue that some of the things Ted says about Barney aren’t deliberately intended to make his kids think less of their surrogate uncle. I mean the Playbook alone is horrific if you look past the humour of the series. But that leaves the hanging question, why is Ted doing this, if it indeed has nothing to do with Robin?

Well to that I say, it may have nothing to do with Ted’s feelings for Robin, but it absolutely has everything to do with Ted’s feelings for himself. That is as the kind of man Ted wants both himself and his kids to see him as. A good guy, a terrific friend, a gifted intellectual, whose only flaw if you could really call it a flaw was that in his younger years he always went after the wrong woman. But really that’s a side effect of him being a hopeless romantic, something he himself has to bear, and nothing he dumps on other people time and time again. For any of you even vaguely familiar with the various plots and episodes of How I met your Mother, you may recognize this as complete horseshit. Ted has indeed many flaws – not least among which is that his absurdly specific list of requirements for his perfect woman, makes him treat the many real women he dates through the course of the nine seasons of Himym, terribly. Even managing to dump the same girl twice, both times on her birthday. But I’m not going to focus on the terrible way he treats women – not because there isn’t enough to talk about (there very much is) but because others have done so more thoroughly and better than I’d ever have the time to.

Check out The Take’s video on the subject here.

No, instead as the title might suggest, today we’re going to look at the way he treats his friends – and in particular, Barney Stinson. Ted treats Barney like shit, I mean don’t get me wrong Ted treats most people in his life like complete shit, but unlike the others the narrative passively implies that the audience should see Ted’s mistreatment of Barney as commendable. Or at the very least something that we shouldn’t condemn Ted for.

After all Barney is awful, so why shouldn’t he constantly be put down by the man he views as his best friend? Why shouldn’t he be actively excluded from the friend group when Ted no longer has need of his wingman services (s02e10: Single Stamina – where after four fifths of the group end up paired together, they no longer want to go out [even to get a beer], with the unsubtle implication they only needed to do that because they were single before, actively excluding Barney who is still single from the group. And if this sounds like it goes completely against the previous characterisation of Lilly and Marshall, who have been in a relationship from the beginning and never acted like this before, and Robin who has always enjoyed her independence and excitement in her life even when she’s in a relationship, then you’d be right. This was only a plot device to get Barney [now desperate for someone to hang out with] to invite his gay brother James over and start the real plot but I digress.) Why shouldn’t Ted think of Barney dying as sad only because of all the enjoyment he (Ted) might miss out on watching his wild antics? (s06e18: A Change of Heart – an episode in which Ted also compares Barney to an animal, again after talking about the possibility of his dying).

Of course, – we could make the same argument of all the characters. Besides a few general sweet moments, they do treat and speak to each other rather awfully. It could just be how their dynamic has grown up. Thus, to fully make the argument that Ted treats Barney badly enough, for him to cast his close friend as the cad in his stories to make himself look somewhat more heroic – I would like to highlight three separate occurrences were there were no such excuse. This wasn’t just friends ribbing on each other, this wasn’t just the swing of the conversation or a plot contrivance – at least not completely – these were three instances where Ted treats Barney like complete dogshite.

3. The Exile

In the sixteenth episode of season three, Barney and Robin sleep together. That is, it, Ted and Robin have been broken up for about a year by this time, in fact Ted is deep into a relationship with Stella (the woman who would later leave him at the alter); and Barney and Robin are both single at the time. There’s none of Barney’s usual trickery involved, they were just two people who grew close, and ended up in bed together. And yet the following episode (The Goat: S03e17) treats the action like it was some great crime committed against Ted, with both Barney and Robin consumed with guilt, and later individually confessing to Ted what they did.

Ted of course forgives…Robin, Barney however, yeah not so much. Now before anyone says anything, I don’t actually think Ted deciding that he can no longer be friends with Barney is the bad in this situation. Sure, it was hurtful to Barney, and the reason it happened was both incredibly stupid and more than a little sexist; however, cutting off a friend who you find toxic, or just unpleasant, is not a bad thing by any accounts. Sometimes friendships just don’t work and forcing them could do more harm to both parties involved, than a clean break ever could. But that’s just my oppion. No, my actual issue with this plot point is the execution and the fall out – namely the way Ted ends the friendship comes off remarkably cold and almost cruel. He tells Barney that earlier that day he was packing a box away labelled ‘things I no longer need’, and that maybe Barney belongs in that box. It’s dehumanizing and degrading, to be compared to a thing, particularly a thing that only has value so long as it earns its keep.

Sure, things can be said in anger that we don’t really mean – but the point is Ted isn’t a real person that can hide behind that excuse. He’s a fictional character, more importantly he’s a fictional character that his writers expect the audience to like and sympathize with.  There were other ways to phrase Ted ending his friendship with Barney: ‘I don’t trust you anymore’; ‘I can’t do this anymore’, ‘we’re done’. All still upsetting to Barney, but all ending with a Ted that is still somewhat sympathetic. I say somewhat because the reason for his anger and hurt, is very nebulous considering what a shift in the group dynamic it’s going to cause. Why is Ted so angry? Is he still in love with Robin, then why is he still leading Stella on? And if he’s not in love with Robin, then is it really Barney? Is it him going a step too far in Ted’s eyes? It’s never made entirely clear, which I find very irritating especially considering this nebulous anger has just banished Barney from the group.

Because, in reality that’s what I particularly hate about this storyline – because when Ted drops Barney seemingly everyone else does too.  Ted is not, nor should he ever be the thing that holds the five friends together. And yet Marshall makes note of how he’s losing the high-five calluses in his hands, and misses Barney – implying that without Ted’s approval Barney is no longer allowed to be friends with Marshall, Lily or even newcomer Robin. With the only time (Robin) being seen hanging out with Barney during his separation with Ted is when he explicitly blackmails her to do so.

If ‘How I met your Mother’ were a straight narrative to audience experience like Friends or the Big Bang Theory, then the only thing we could chalk this up to is bad writing. After all, all three of the other members of the group have had plenty of opportunities to grow closer with Barney independent of their shared connection with Ted. Marshall with his work, Robin with her similar interests to the playboy; and while I can’t think of a particularly instance Barney and Lily grew closer before the split, in season 4 she is the first one he confessed his love for Robin to. So, it’s not a leap to presume that their connection was already pretty strong. Therefore, it doesn’t completely make sense for these three characters to drop Barney, just because Ted has. However, it completely makes sense for Ted to presume they have. Ah narrative voice, you’ve saved yet another chunkily written arch – sort of, it’s still a poorly explored idea, that ends with my favorite character getting run over by a bus. (Oh spoilers, just in case that wasn’t obvious). But at least everyone’s in character now.

2. The Locket

I was slightly reluctant to include this one in my ‘Barney-been-done-wrong List’ because Robin is also hurt by this action – but in the end I decided to go through with it, because considering just how much its implied Barney loves Robin, this would probably hurt him twice as much.

First though a little background on one of the character foibles of Ms. Robin Charles Scherbatsky Jr. (Yes, that is her full name). She subconsciously sabotages her relationships. She and her partner will be going along just fine for a while, then she gets spooked (usually about the increase level of intimacy in the relationship) and she will fixate on something she doesn’t like about said partner, and start pulling away. This is spelled out by the characters explicitly during a relationship in a one-off episode; but we actually see a much subtler version of this phenomenon happening over the course of the series. Most noticeably both times she ends up with Barney.

I won’t go into the first time, as that ends for different reasons that don’t feed into my argument at all. So, for simplicity’s sake we’ll jump straight into the second time Robin has a bit of a wobble in regards to her relationship to Barney. She’s decided that she needs to find her grandmother’s locket, that she buried in central park during a visit to New York when she was fourteen – so that it can be her something old on her wedding day. Long rambling story short, she can’t find it; and so, must continue on with the wedding without the presence of her grandma’s locket. Hoping for some strange reason that this doesn’t mean that the universe is telling her not to get married to Barney. Which if that sounds like an excuse to cut and run without examining the deeper reasons behind that impulse, congratulations, you’ve read my mind.

In the end, after a lot of hoo-ha, Ted ends up with the locket – I’d try to explain how, but honestly it doesn’t really make sense. But the important thing is that Ted ends up with the locket and decides to give it to Robin on her Wedding Day, to one of his best friends. The locket that he knows Robin had decided was some kind of arbitrary sign on whether or not she should marry Barney; that for some reason she’s decided the man who finds that locket should be the one she marries. That same locket whose search was the instigator to Ted and Robin’s weird moment the previous season – when they held hands in the rain.  Ted decides to give this locket as a wedding present for Robin, or thinly veiled reason to leave Barney at the alter and run away with Ted, you pick. What I’m saying is that this is Ted trying to break up the wedding.

And that’s not just my own conspiracy, that’s stated in the show itself. Lily tells him time and again, not to give Robin the locket as it will ruin the wedding – going so far as to tackle Ted to the ground. I like Lily, she’s kind of awesome like that. Even Ted’s narrative voice implies that he will ruin the wedding, and possibly everything else, if he gives Robin that locket. And what happens, he gives Robin that locket and she tries it run away from the wedding. And if she hadn’t bumped into ‘the mother’ and received some good solid advice, she might have even gone through with it. Thanks Ted, thanks for all your wonderful help.

1.    The GNB Building

Look everything before this you could explain away through Robin and Ted’s feelings for each other – which do seem to be there in one form or other for most of the nine season long run of the show. Maybe Ted was just so in love with Robin – without knowing it – that he was just too angry when she slept with Barney to think rationally; causing him to lash out and say those terrible, terrible things. And maybe he was just so overwhelmed with his unresolved feelings for Robin, that he ended up bringing the physical embodiment of her relationship insecurities to her wedding to his best friend. It doesn’t mean he’s a bad man, just one that’s kind of stupid when it comes to relationships which is…yeah, kind of in character.

But this…no, there is no excuse for this next one.

Okay, backstory time, let’s take a long breath and say this as quickly as possible so that we can get into the ripping Ted Mosby a new one. Everyone with me, deep breath, and here we go:

So, Barney got Ted a job at GNB as the architect for the bank’s new headquarters; but when the building was cancelled Ted got fired by Barney’s hire ups and found a job teaching instead. However, to make his friend’s dream come true, when the project started back up again, Barney put his own job on the line to make sure they would hire Ted as the architect.

After some chicanery, Ted agreed to come on to the project, realising after all that it was his dream to build a building in New York. However, the plot thickens when Ted meets Zoey, an apparently attractive protester – the only snag in the new love story is that the thing Zoey is protesting now is the destruction of the historical Arcadian hotel, which is being blown up to make way for Ted’s new building. Oh dear, oh and she’s married but never fear Wee Readers, this is How I met your Mother – I’m sure the writers will fix that for Ted soon enough. And what’ll you know, that’s exactly what happens – Zoey breaks up with husband, her and Ted get together, but there’s till the tension of the looming GNB building between them.

However, after a night spent at the fairly horrible Arcadian Hotel, where Zoey opens up to why she’s really trying to save it – I won’t ruin the reason here, you’ll just have to watch the show yourself – Ted decides to take her side in the whole matter. Planning to declare that he thinks the hotel should be a historic landmark to a community that is going to decide whether of not it should be.

So, all ends happy right?

Wait, I hear you say…didn’t Barney put his job on the line so Ted could get this position? And to that I say, thank you wee Reader; you’ve made my segway into the next part so much easier now.

 It’s made clear both to the audience and the friend group that if the GNB building is not built, Barney will be fired. And considering what we know of the company he works for, ‘being fired’ seems likely to be another way of saying ‘being murdered’. Now, of course, I’m not saying that Ted’s actions – if such an outcome had happened – would have been directly responsible for Barney’s death. Of course, that blame would lie at the feet of his actual murderer. But it is interesting to note his reaction when he hears that Barney might lose his job. Unlike say someone like Marshall – who had also been going after the GNB project due to the cruel way he was treated by the company – Ted shows no guilt whatsoever, or even an acknowledgement of the consequences of his actions. Being more annoyed at Barney, and strangely smug in his relationship with Zoey.

He’s putting his best friend’s carrier, livelihood and future physical well-being on the line, not only seemingly on a whim, but for a girl he clearly doesn’t actually love, or for that matter even like most of the time. And yet he does it all with a smile on his face.

It could be easy to blame Zoey for the friction within the group, and indeed the narrative of Ted’s story goes out of its way to place more of the blame for what happens on her shoulders and away from Ted’s. Positioning Zoey and Barney almost like two opposing forces fighting over, if not Ted’s soul, then the chance to achieve his love and affection completely. For him to choose them over everyone else. But as with Barney, it’s important for the viewer to remember whose side of the story we’re hearing. Ted might seem like a great guy, motivated by a desire for love, friendship and the need to do the right thing but that’s simply not true. Because in the end what motivates Ted to choose Barney’s side is not concern for a person who by now could be considered a very close friend, or any perceived flaw in Zoey as a romantic partner, but rather in a desire to see his own dream – that of designing a building in New York city – come true.  That is, when given the chance to choose between the welfare of his friends, or the welfare of a woman he supposedly loves, Ted will always priorities himself above all others.

But of course, that’s nothing new when it comes to sitcom protagonists – thus what I find actually interesting about Ted Mosby is not that he is in fact a terrible person. But rather that on some level he is aware that he is a terrible person. Or at the very least that his actions were not the conduct of the likable guy, bleeding heart romantic, and all around lovable doof that he wants his kids to see him as. But what is he to do then? He can’t have his kids hating him just because of mistakes he made in the past. And he has a purpose with this tale – both intentionally and unintentionally – so he can’t leave too much out either. Thus, Ted does the only thing he can do, given the circumstances, he creates a contrasting jerk. A character in his story that his kids will look at and think, okay so my dad ran away with Victoria on her wedding day, and then dumped her several months later – but at least he’s not Barney Stinson. It’s not about Robin consciously, not really, it was just that someone had to fill the role of the jerk in the group, and it might as well be Barney Stinson. And who cares if he’s probably ruined his kid’s relationship with their surrogate uncle, the important thing here is Ted comes out looking good. Because in the end Ted’s feelings come before all.

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Poldark Season 5 – Expensive Fanfiction

What Ho Wee readers, how has everyone been lately? I know, I know stupid question – the answer is almost always awful nowadays. But I’m not here to complain about the general state of…terribleness with the world today (to see some of that check out the posts here, here, here, here and here); but rather to offer some brief escape from thinking about it. By obsessing over a tv show that ended over a year ago.

I speak of course of Poldark, Season Five – which aired all the way back in the far-off year of 2019. For those of you not in the know, Poldark was a television series that ran from 2015-2019, based on the book series of the same name by author Winston Graham. Set in Cornwall during the late 1700s, the show stars Aidan Turner (Killi from the Hobbit for all you Tolkien nuts) as Ross Poldark a soldier freshly returned from the revisionary war in America, to discover his father dead and Elizabeth the woman he (Ross) loved to now be engaged to his cousin.

The show follows Ross as he copes with these losses, starts back up his father’s old mine, marries his kitchen maid, clashes with the Warleggan’s (a family of bankers that are on the up and coming in society through any means necessary) and battles his self-destructive tendencies. The first four seasons roughly adapt the first seven books – with some alterations to make the heroic characters more palpable to twenty-first century audiences – and then the writers hit a snag. You see the books have a time skip of about eleven years between book seven and eight and well…the show couldn’t really do that. Maybe if they’d intended to make more seasons – after all Vikings used a time skip and it stayed…well not good, but it didn’t become bad because of the time skip. However, the fifth season was to be their last and the fourth ended with Elizabeth’s death while given birth to George Warleggan’s child. No doubt skipping the years of grief would have felt cheap.

The only choice then…was to make up their own story to end their series.

The intension of this new story, or so claimed the lead writer in an interview, was to bridge the gap between the struggling hot-headed politician that was Ross Poldark before the time skip and the government secret agent that was Ross Poldark after the skip. Which meant that not only were they going to have figure out how such a change of circumstances psychically came about – but also show the evolution, or at least the start of it, of Ross’ emotional maturity. Because let me tell you, Wee Readers, the Ross Poldark of season’s one to four would not be capable of long-term espionage.

So, we have the beginnings of what could be the best season of Poldark yet; a deeper look into our hero and the flaws that so often hold him back; espionage and dealing with the death of Elizabeth. All good stuff. And the season five we got was…a mess. It’s one of the worst…no, no qualifier, it is the worst series of Poldark to date. And I’m including the original 1970s version in that as well.

So, what we have to ask ourselves is…what went wrong?

Why was this so bad?

Well…for starters it’s disconnected.

What do I mean, well – all the first four series were based strongly on cause and effect. Basically, plot point A happens and thus Plot point B is the result. Ross leads a mob of people down to the beach to scavenge a crashed Warleggan ship at the end one season, and thus next season the Warleggan’s try to have him executed. You see, cause and effect. Big events, like births or deaths, or marriages were jumping off points for new and exciting plotlines, but they were all connected to what came before. At the end of season four we got at least three big jumping off points: that is, the beginning of the Cornish Bank (of which Ross is a founding member); Drake and Morwenna’s wedding and of course, the death of Elizabeth.

So, what did we get for the main A plot for Season 5? Well…Ross tries to save his old war buddy (that the audience has never seen or heard of before) from the Gallows and on the way discovers corruption in England and Jamaica. And while on paper that’s not a bad story – this is the final season of Poldark; presumably the last time we’ll ever see of this version of the characters, so it’s weird to focus so heavily on a plotline that not only requires so many new characters, but that wasn’t even hinted at in the earlier seasons. This feels like just some random adventure that Poldark is going on, not the culmination of a five-season long character arch to get over his worst impulsions and delusions.

That’s not to say that the jumping points aren’t used – the fallout from Elizabeth’s death is used strongly in George Warleggan’s storyline where he starts to go mad from grief. Drake’s and Morwenna’s arch this season directly steps off from their wedding and the Cornish bank…well…the Cornish bank is mentioned once. And I do mean mentioned.

Yet perhaps – and I do want to emphasise that word – all of that could have been overlooked if it had followed through with any of its other promises. That is, when setting out to make this final series the writers of Poldark, clearly had an original idea of what they wanted to accomplish. They needed to get Poldark to grow up; provide a bridging gap for the series and the rest of the Poldark books the audience might go on to read after this mess was finished; and most importantly, but strangely not focused on, they needed to provide an ending for the characters we had been with for nearly five years now.

And they tried to go about this by…introducing a character we had never met before, who was a real person and making the whole series about him. Okay, the idea was that this guy would be Ross’ hero, and a bit like him…on steroids… and thus when he finally died Ross would have a realisation that there but the grace of god goes I and thus get his act together. Except, this guy dies in the sixth episode, of an eight-episode season – so not only do neither the writers, the characters or the audience have much time to truly delve into the implications of ‘there but the grace of god go I’ but then suddenly in the last two episodes we’re deep into the next plot.

Disconnection seeps into the very pours of this show. You see instead of accomplishing their original intentions; or having Ross grow up and become a secret agent with the one major storyline, and then have a bunch of slightly more minor ones weaved in a long side to give the other characters some kind of ending – the Poldark staff for some reason chose to split that original purpose over two story lines that had little to nothing to do with each other.

Grow up already Poldark – went to Plotline A about failing to save his hero, and realising ‘there but the grace of god’.

While…

And become a secret agent – went to an overloaded plotline about the French mounting a secret invasion, that they crammed into the last two episodes

Which really steps into the second reason why this season was so absolutely terrible…namely that disconnection –  it’s incredibly overcrowded. In the first episode alone, we have the beginning of six whole storylines that all have to come to some kind of conclusion, within a run time of only eight episodes.

A – Ross tries to save old war buddy and fails realising ‘there but the grace of god goes I’

B – While Ross is away in London, his wife (Demelza) has to start running the Mill and the house in his absence and runs into some trouble with the local riff raff. Particularly the new maid, who seems to have taken a dislike to Demelza for…some reason.

C – After the death of his wife Elizabeth, Sir George Warleggan begins to hear her voice, beginning his quick descended into madness.

D – After a long period of separation and one half of them stuck in a marriage with a repeat rapist, Drake Carn – brother of Demelza – and Morwenna have finally married – but she can’t bear to be touched, and thus begins the long road to recovery.

E – Geoffrey Charles – son of Elizabeth and Nephew of Ross – meets a girl at an Abolishment meeting and falls hard. But trouble starts when it’s revealed that her father wants to marry her off to Geoffrey Charles own step father – the mad sir George.

Whoops I almost forgot…

F – Dwight – best friend of Ross and notable doctor – is being hailed by The Royal Society of physicians

 And

G – Dwight and Caroline fight tension in their marriage after the death of their baby daughter.

Wow, that is a lot even just to write out; and that’s not even taking into account the fact that most of these storylines involve at least five new major characters. All of them having to be established, fleshed out and given some reason why the audience should care. Meaning that they have to be given a lot more screen time. Except, here’s the thing I don’t care about Poldark’s jerk friend, and it doesn’t matter how much screen time you give him – or how many characters or good ideas you screw over, in an attempt to make him more likable – I am never going to like him because he is a jerk.

So, when it all comes down to it, what have we accomplished here? Well other than asserting that Poldark season 5 was crapper than the Democrats choice of leadership; we have established some of the core failings of the series – namely its disconnection and it’s over focus on new (and frankly kind of boring) characters in favour of delving deeper into the ones that were already there to work with.

While these are major failings of the series, ultimately, I find them closer to symptoms of the original problem. That problem being that the writers just didn’t really seem interested in writing for Poldark anymore.

During an interview on the production of season 5 lead writer Debbie Horsfield talked about her discovery of the historical figure Ned Despard – the man who would be made into Ross’ never before heard from friend – and his former slave/ kitchen maid wife Kitty Despand, seemingly with more interest than the actual characters in Poldark. Yes, let’s give focus to these people over everyone else, lets craft the story around them and this historical godfather of crime. I mean who needs an actual proper end for a five-year long series of high intense drama – let’s just write our own historical / Poldark crossover fanfiction and hope no one noticed.

Because in the end that’s what this was, it was fanfiction – legal and very expensive fanfiction.  Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate fanfiction – quite the opposite actually – having written more than a few in my time, that would be the height of hypocrisy.  If this story had appeared on AO3 or even Fanfiction.net…well it still wouldn’t be good, but it would be a lot more enjoyable. Because there are things to enjoy in this story…the Carnes marriage trouble, Sir George’s Madness … but there’s never enough of them to make up for what it lacks, and that is ultimately the correct social lens for which to view it.

What on earth am I talk about now?

Well, take for instance, if we were to consume – in this case watch or read – this story through the lens of the social world of reading fanfiction then we would experience it as maybe a decent story. Yeah it pulls focus away from the characters we’re actually here to see, but it is interesting to learn about these real people…and that scene with George running along the cliffs in his nightgown, that was just the best. We do not enter into reading a fanfiction with preconceived expectation that it will give us a satisfying ending to a tv show. Even the best of them cannot do that for they are not cannon – and thus we do not expect that of them.

But we do of the final season of a tv show.

That is to say, if you wart people to enjoy your Poldark fanfiction – maybe you should just cut out the middle man and start an AO3 account. Just saying, it would save a lot of money.

If you’ve enjoyed this wee rant of mine about, let’s face it complete nonsense, don’t forget to follow the wee blog if you haven’t already. Also check me out on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Goodreads. Also, to receive new posts and supplementary material not generally available on the main blog, sign up for the Wee Mailing List. Sign up by the  1st of February and find out exactly how I would have fixed the disaster that was Poldark Season 5. If you have any thoughts on said disaster, or just Poldark in general drop a comment below and let me know. Until next time my Wee Readers and Subscribers, get plenty of vitamin D, try not to vote in anymore tyrants and have a very bonny day.

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Whore, Slut, Bitch: The Wrong way to insult a Politician

Politicians are a bit shit, aren’t they? I think we can all agree on that account. Whether we be English and forced into another pointless lockdown by an over grown blob monster in a blond wig. Welsh, and unable to buy non-essential items from our supermarkets. Irish…I’m not entirely sure what the Irish are doing right now but it’s 2020, so it can’t be anything good. American and trapped in a choice between a kinda racist jerk (Trump) and someone who is more than likely a pedophile, and also racist, and senile (Biden).

Or you could be Scottish like me up here in the north, and have the party that was supposed to be building a long-term plan for independence destroy the economy. Making it by the way, very unlikely that we’ll ever get independence again.

What I’m trying to say is that I’m not overly fond of politicians right now.

But for the sake of this post’s topic, let’s just say that I hate Nicola Sturgeon.

No more than that I wish death upon her.

Let her be smothered by her own stupid tartan mask.

Now before anyone gets upset, I’m not actively plotting the death of a politician. I just really need you to understand the depth of my hatred for this woman. So that you don’t mistake what I say next, as coming from any actual sympathy, or fondness, for Sturgeon herself.

Because as the title may suggest, if there’s a right way to insult our darling politicians, then there’s a wrong way too.

For instance, say I was to get so angry at Nicola Sturgeon one day – you know because she’s ruining my country and whatnot – that I was to call her a pigwhore. Now why would that be wrong? That’s right, although a knee jerk reaction for many of us, instantly insulting a woman’s sexuality is a by-product of our still very patriarchal society.  But that can’t be right, I hear you shout – I call male politicians whores all the time.

Boris Johnson is particularly deserving of such a title. But really think about it, when you hear someone call someone a man-whore, it doesn’t sound like a really cutting insult, it sounds like a joke. And that’s because in our cultural lexicon, it really is. It’s funny to call a man a sex worker, because clearly that’s something that just doesn’t happen. Sex work is thought of as a woman’s domain, okay…let’s pretend that’s even remotely true. Either way, you don’t have a particularly good insult on your hands.

So, you say, you can’t call her a whore – by surely calling her a pig is fine. A greasy, smelly, dirt ridding pig. Look at her, look at what she did to Alex Salmond – she’s filth. And while I agree that she very much is, why is your first instinct to insult her appearance rather than her actions? Would you do so for a man? I mean don’t get me wrong, we do insult men’s looks: Trump’s hair looks like a tribble, Biden looks like death incarnate, Boris is a toad and I swear to god Keir Starmer is the reincarnation of a shovel. And while that is also missing the point of why we hate these men so very much – as should be fairly obvious by now, it does take on a slightly more troubling meaning when it’s a woman. Years of oppression, punching down and all that. I know, I know, patriarchy ruins everything.

Of course, sexism isn’t the only bigotry we have to be careful about using when we display our righteous anger to the coldblooded butchers that run our world. Well…the British one anyway. For instance, if I were to say that Sturgeon’s haircut makes her look like a wizened little man of a hundred and eighty-five, that could be construed as transphobic… possibly I’m not certain, please feel free to correct me in the comments. But it’s certainly slightly ageist; after all, why is it a bad thing that she looks like a little old man of a hundred and eighty-five? Sucks all of the joy out of an insult. You only want to hit the leech of a politician, but you end up being cruel to some innocent person instead.

While there is some ground to the argument that the modern notion of political correctness can rather perversely be used to shut down real political discourse – it cannot be denied that when we insult a politician using hate speech, we dilute our own insult and rob it of both its intended meaning and value.

Damn it, I hear you say – it’s practically impossible to insult the murderers running my country using the slurs, and rhetoric the internet has prepared me to use. So, I’m just gonna make up my own words.

And well…yeah. It’s certainly fun to make up your insults, and it defiantly frees you of the danger of offence, or miss fire on an innocent. It’s fun to call Nicola Sturgeon a Fuzzwopple; or Keir Starmer a Bolderfups; or even Obama and the Clintons EvilDennjsydfjai. But you see the problem there, too right? The words are fun to say and they certainly don’t hurt anyone, but they also just don’t mean anything. We only really understand that these are insults by the tone in which they are said, and with written media we don’t even have that. We’ve gone from one extreme of just offending and insulting everybody, to the other end of the spectrum where we’re not even really insulting our intended target.

So then, what’s the answer – how can we express our anger, in a way that won’t hurt someone innocent and yet still actually expresses our hatred?

Honestly the answer seems to be the simplest: just be honest about why you’re actually angry.

Why do I hate Nicola Sturgeon? She’s ruining my country, by gutting the economy and encouraging the worst of Scottish racist tendencies within her followers. Not because she is a woman with a stupid haircut and an old man face.

I hate Keir Starmer because he is surgically removing the actually left-wing members from the Labour party – and if that sounds counter intuitive, well, congratulations you have a fully developed sense of earth logic, it’s a pity the Blairites don’t. I do not hate him because he has a shovel face.

I don’t trust Obama, not because he has a set of clownish ears or (ridiculously enough) anything at all to do with his race; but because people seem to conveniently forget his war crimes every time they want to compare him favourably next to their political villain of the week. He’s also a little too chummy with sexual predators and, you know, other proven war criminals.

Biden and the Clintons are those sexual predators and other proven war criminals.

Twitter is saying we might have a third lockdown, no…no…clearly the reason I hate Boris Johnson is because he looks like a shaggy dog that was turned human through a series of horribly cruel laboratory experiments.

There is probably a list longer than the entirety of the bible why people don’t like, or take issue with Donald Trump and I can guarantee you that when it comes down to it; not one of them involves his skin being orange or his hair being ridiculous.

Well that’s me, that’s my rude little rant done. If you’ve enjoyed this excuse to call the politicians of the Western World as many rude things as I can get away with, to try and express my rage in a somewhat healthy way, then follow the Wee Blog, if you haven’t already. Also check me out on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, and GoodReads. Also check out my Short Story page, to see if my fiction is as racey as my posts; and don’t forget to sign up for the Wee Mailing list before the 19th of December, to see some of the insults that were a bit too rude even for this post. Also, before I go, I’d just like to say something:  I focused on western politicians, and these ones in particular because they were honestly the ones I knew the most about, and therefore have the most intimate hate for. If you think there was any I left out, that I should have mentioned, please mention them down below in the comments.  All I ask is that you be as inventive and colourful in your language as possible. And for those of you wondering why I didn’t go harder after Trump, this is a blog post about how to insult politicians and if you have trouble insulting as big a target as Donald Trump, then nothing I could say would help.  Until next time Wee Readers, have a bonny day and if I don’t see you before then, have a very merry Christmas.

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The Wee Writing Lassie’s Top Ten “Dumb” Videos to watch while the World Burns

What ho, Wee Readers! Well, that last post got kind of deep and thoughtful, strange for something that was suppose to be about distracting yourself from the terribleness of the world right now. I mean I think it was a good post, it just wasn’t what I planned for when I started out – so with this one, it is just going to be relaxing fluff, I swear. So why not sit back, relax, and join me as I go through the top ten “dumb” videos to watch while the world burns. Yeah, that sounds simple – I can stick to that. It’s not like I’m incapable of finding simple joy in things anymore.

10. Watchmojo – Top 10 Best Simpsons Couch Gags

So far so…mostly…good.

9. Collegehumour – Everyday is a Holiday on Twitter

Yeah, Twitter…I’m sure there’s nothing distressing trending on there right now. I am acing this.

8. The Take – Why Ted is the Villain of How I Met Your Mother

Okay, so reevaluating media you used to like due to the outdated and horrifying implications of the writing. Well, when is that ever not relevant?

7. Studio C – Clue Murder Mystery Scandal

A billionaire confesses to multiple crimes due to the bare minimum of prodding from a police officer. Comedy Sketch, or Bill Gates future?

6. The Nostalgia Critic – The Adam Sandler Song

I’m sure….Adam Sandler’s not accused of anything. You know, right now.

5. Pop Culture Detective – Stranger Things, Belligerent Romance and the Danger of Nostalgia

Okay, so maybe ‘Dumb Videos’ was a tad too restrictive a bar to reach. It’s still distracting though so, I can do this.

4. Rachel Bloom – I Don’t Care About Award Shows

Oh my God, award shows are gonna become unwatchable if all those allegations of the Hollywood elites turn out to be true. No! No, I’m not going to let my mind drift to there again.

3. Adam Ruins Everything – Why Billionaire Philanthropy is Not So Selfless 

Wow, this video just suddenly got very relevant. So…yeah…we’ve established I hate Bill Gates and now we’re moving on.

2.Overly Sarcastic Productions – Just For Funsies: College, Hell, What’s the Difference?

Ha! Ha! I did it! It may not be dumb but there’s nothing in this video that could remind anyone of the awful state of the world. Except…exams were canceled due to fear of Covid19. No, no, I can do this – there are no knew comparisons! After all, we’re not in any kind of hell….it’s not like people are being terrible to each other by illegally policing the wearing of face-masks inside of shops. Maybe even accosting people with disabilities that prevent them from wearing a mask, demanding that they prove said disability. Something, which as we all should know by now is a violation of not only basic decency, but actual human rights. But I mean, what lunatic would do that?

1. AwakenWithJP – What it’s Like to Believe Everything the Media Tells You

You see that introduction up there where I promise this was just going to be a nice list of dumb videos to get you through a tough time? Yeah, that was a lie, I apologize for that.

If you’ve enjoyed this misleading little journey don’t forget to follow the wee blog if you haven’t already. Also check me out on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, Tumblr and Goodreads. And sign up for the Wee Mailing List for brand new content…eventually. So until next time, my Wee Readers, remember to get plenty of sun, laugh as much as you can, eat healthy and from here in Scotland, have a bonny day.

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Small Restbites of Relief – or thank god, I don’t have to think for a minute.

Relax

Hi there, I’m the Wee Writing Lassie – you may remember me from such blog posts like ‘The Ultimate Lockdown Reading List’ or ‘The Great Star Wars Lockdown Binge’ and many more titles, sometimes not even involving the word Lockdown at all. I’m here today to ask you, the Wee Reader, a question. Actually, it’s a bunch of questions, and they’re all rhetorical so don’t feel pressed to answer them in the comments down below. Seriously, this is just part of the bit I’m doing.

Have you been locked in your house for an extended period of time, in what can only be called some kind of illegal imprisonment? Terrified you might catch the 21st equivalent of the plague? Your favorite celebrities no longer watchable after some very distressing allegations? Fighting off the slow creep of depression laced boredom and apathy that comes from being unable to go farther than five miles from your house for nearly three months? Well, then you need Small Restbites of Relief – the guaranteed way that you, yes you can forget your troubles and all the troubles of the world for even the smallest measure of time.

Warning: Restbites are not a cure for actual depression, and should really not be treated like they are.  Also, not all Restbites will work for everyone, Restbites of Relief are a personal thing and really should be judged on a case by case basis. Honestly, the only reason the Wee Lassie is doing this blog like this, rather than in a top ten list like a sane person, is because she thought it would be funny and we all really need a good laugh right now. May cause bloating and dry mouth.

Six

Do you feel physically bogged down under the weight of the corruption in your government? Are politicians you once liked suddenly seeming no longer so brash and shiny? Well take a step back in time with me, Wee Readers, into a land where everyone was pretty much just as bad, but with the proviso that they’re now all long dead – so they can’t ruin your life.

The Musical Six is a retelling of the lives of Henry VIII’s six wives, as if they were a girl band. And not just any kind of girl band either, no, a Spice Girls like band. Complete with terrible cockney accents and all. There’s something so relaxing about not having to worry if the political figures being sung about are up and about doing evil today for, like I said before, they’re all dead.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.

Does the madness of the world feel like it’s about to break you? Has just going out to the shops become a walk through that book with the title you don’t want to say, because you’ll sound like a crazy person? Well join me in the sweet escape of life told from the point of view of an actual crazy person. No, Rachel Bloom is not crazy but her character certainly is – and as you watch the total complete mess she makes of her life, before they put her on meds, you can feel relaxed in knowing that at least no one has ever stalked you across the country in a futile attempt to fix their own fractured psyche. I mean, that you know of.

Community

Getting frustrated about the giant hole in your tooth that should have been fixed weeks ago and is now filling your mouth with a terrible taste? No, just me?  Well that’s probably for the best, seeing as how the show Community has absolutely nothing to do with that. I just needed an outlet for my frustration at the current lack of any Dentists open! Anyway, unlike the world today, Community is an enjoyably insane show.

The show Community tells the tale of a group of roughly seven students at a community college, and their wacky teachers and the hi-jinks that follow. While characters often change, with new ones brought to the forefront to the replace the old ones after their actor either left, or in the case of Chevy Chase, asked to leave – the roles these characters played, stayed somewhat consistent.

They have:

The sarcastic leading man – Supplied by the character of Jeff, a lawyer who faked his law degree and now has to go back to college. 

The dippy freedom fighter – supplied by the character of Britta, an activist who has never once voted.

The Meta One – Abed, who I particularly enjoy not only because he’s a very likable character, and his meta humour is hilarious, but because he’s a depiction of an autistic character who isn’t also a complete dick.

The Cool Geek – Troy, a former football star who lost his scholarship when he injured himself takes this role for the first five seasons, and then kind of no one does after Donald Glover left to focus on his music.

The Motherly one – this role is filled by the character of Shirley, a mother of three who first joined the college after her husband ran off with a stripper, for the first five seasons and then sort of left empty for the sixth.

The Control freak – Annie, a recovering drug addict with a penchant for dramatics, and selling out the school at the earliest opportunity. A fact that she rarely gets called out on.

The Oldest member– A role filled by the character of Pierce in the first four seasons before Chevy Chase was fired. After which the character of Hickey – played by Johnathan Banks from Breaking Bad – took up the mantle as the oldest member of the group. Although unlike Pierce, Hickey was a teacher instead of a student. After Johnathan Banks left to go star in Better Call Saul, the role was taken up by the character of Elroy played by Keith David.

Now you might say, this is all well and good Wee Lassie, but you’ve not really said much about the show itself. Well, in answer I could say that Community is such an ever changing and wacky show that it’s hard to summarize it without either giving the game away or, focusing too much on an element that won’t be prevalent throughout the whole series. Yes, I could say that, but instead I’ll make the far more logical point and ask you if you were thinking about the depressing state of the world through that whole spiel? No? Well then, I think I’ve proven my point now haven’t I?

Coco

Not all Pixar films age well, in fact some of them are probably going to become practically unwatchable, if those allocations we’ve all heard about turn out to be in anyway factual. However, I advise not to focus on how depressing potentially losing the Toy Stories or Finding Nemo is, and start giving some attention to the properties that Pixar and Disney have not given unnecessary sequels to. And there are many such films, most not even needing big names to help tell their story – films like Ratatouille, Up, Brave, Wall.e, Inside Out, A Bug’s Life (god I haven’t seen that one in yonks) but my favorite of all of them is the film Coco. I mean for god’s sake, Coco’s aged so well you’d almost think it was written by time travelers from 2020. And no, I won’t explain what I mean by that, you’re just going to have to watch the film for yourself and try to figure it out.

Coco is set on Día de los Muertos, or The Mexican Day of the Dead to us Westerners. A festival taking place at the beginning of November that celebrates the dead, and their connection to the living.  If I’m getting any of this wrong, I apologise, this film is literally my only exposure to this festival, as I live in rural Scotland and never saw the Book of Life.

It’s difficult to describe what I love about this movie without giving away the several turns and twists  the story takes but suffice to say this film may leave you in tears, but isn’t it nice to be crying about something other than the complete collapse of our society for a change?  If you watch anything today, let it be this film – seriously it’s just the best.

Eating take out that didn’t come from those big chains

Lost faith in those big corporations that seem inexplicably to be open despite the fact that more pressing and needed services – like libraries and dentists and hospitals, remain closed or severely limited? Yet despite that, still missing the ease of a takeout dinner? Then why not try your more local takeout restaurants– which thanks to this awful, awful situation is now practically all of them. Although I say this coming from a place of previous distrust with the big chains – particularly McDonald’s – because apparently for the first twenty odd years of my vegan life, that meat fat was just so important to the taste of their chips. Chips, you have to go out of your way to make them not vegan. Ehem, anyway – try something local, you’ll be helping out a smaller business and taking money away from the big chains without missing out on having takeout.

Walks on the Beach

Exercise is extremely important to our health. This has always been a known fact, since the beginning of time humans have known that after a run, you generally feel better than you did before.  Of course, that could just have been from not getting eaten by whatever giant creature you just so happened to have pissed off that day, but you know the same thought applies. Whatever the case you’ll feel better after a nice run in the fresh air, and what’s better than then fresh air – fresh sea air, my Wee Readers! Sea air, salt water and general excise have all been found on the beach. So, take yourself and any loved ones you haven’t been forcibly separated from yet, down to the beach today – and improve your immune system and subsequent mental health.

Or at least you could, if they hadn’t shut all the beaches. I mean I don’t think they’ve done that in Scotland yet, but that’s only because our weather is so bad…IT DOES IT FOR THEM.

Sun

The Sun is a beautiful thing and you should get as much of it as you can during this pandemic – not only because of its benefits to your overall health, but also specifically your mental health. Sunlight increases the release of the hormone serotonin, which boosts your mood and helps a person feel calm and focused. Which is probably why the majority of the really fun, gift giving holidays are held at the darkest times of year when we get less sun.

So, until that one obviously evil billionaire who we’ve all collectively just chosen to trust with our health for some unknown and never specified reason, succeeds in his plan to dim the sun with poisonous levels of dust in the air  – you should get as much sun as you can.

Corona Buffy

 And now we have the final Restbite, coming in last because technically speaking it’s not a full Restbite at all. However, I mention it now because I feel it emphasizes the point that this very strange blog post is trying to make; that is, that staying up to date with world events should go hand in hand with, keeping yourself sane with moments of brevity. Which this small twitter account does perfectly, as it couples articles on deep subject matter with the ever-lovable, and often sarcastic Buffy Gifs, to make their point. Seriously go check it out here and follow this thing – they don’t post often, but it’s always interesting when they do.

If you’ve enjoyed these Brief Restbites of Relief, don’t forget to check me out on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Goodreads, Tumblr and Instagram. Remember, while it’s important to stay up to date with the goings on in the world right now – disturbing as they are – it is equally important to take care of your own mental health. It’s easy to get bogged down with the weight of everything these days, and anything you can do to relieve that, even if it’s just laughing at a stupid YouTube video, is not wrong. You’re not stupid or small for getting excited for the next episode of your soap, or the next installment of your favorite book series. Wow…that got kind of overly deep for a second…well, I suppose that’s what comes from blogging during a pandemic. Until next time my Wee Readers, get plenty of sunshine, have a bonny day and…let’s hope this is all over by Christmas.

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The Great Star Wars Lockdown Binge

What ho Wee Readers, and welcome to The Great Star Wars Lockdown Binge. I know, I know, sometimes it feels like this Lockdown is going on forever. And I won’t lie, two months is a ridiculously long time to be stuck in your house – I mean if it wasn’t for streaming services like Disney Plus or Amazon Prime, I’d have snapped along time ago. Turning to more positive subjects…surprise, I’ve got a Disney Plus account now, and of course the only thing to do when one forks over the nearly sixty quid for a subscription, is to force her family to join her in the Great Star Wars Binge. Knowing of course that because they are locked in the house with her, they can’t say no forever.

‘The Great Star Wars Binge’, as I have so coined it, consists of all eleven canonical films – that is, the prequels, the originals, the sequels and both anthology films – along with the two canon series I can in anyway justified making my family watch: The Mandalorian and The Clone Wars. I did plan to watch Rebels as well, but it just never happened. We also did not watch Resistance, because I don’t care how long they keep us locked in here like we’e prisoners. Nothing will make me watch that willingly.

The scoring for each film shall go as follows:

0 – Could Not Be made to Watch

1 – Crap

2 – Just Barely Above Crap

3 – Technically not a bad film, but did not grab me at all

4 – A Good film, but nothing more than that

5 – Absolutely excellent – would watch again

Anything higher than 5 – best film on earth, I am going to binge watch this for the rest of my life. This is what I will be watching on my deathbed.

Right, on with the show.

Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace

The first installment of the groundbreaking prequel trilogy – telling the story of the fall and corruption of the Jedi knight Anakin Skywalker into the sinister Sith Lord Darth Vader. This is a highly under-rated film full of political intrigue, and questions of the true culpability of the republic and the Jedi in the continuation of the practice of Slavery within the Galaxy. Yes, the republic has less influence in the outer rim planets – but you’d still think the Jedi would make some attempt to free one of their new members mothers from a life of slavery.

Mum’s Rating: 6 / 5

Dad’s Rating: 3 / 5

Wee Lassie’s Rating: 5 / 5

Final Rating: 14

Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones

Jump forward a couple of years and now our young Vader is played by Hayden Christensen. Half love story, half spy thriller – revealing the first sinister steps of Senator Palpatine’s plan to control the galaxy through fear. Creating a fake war, with both sides basically under his control, a plan so dastardly and ingenious that not even the Jedi can see what they are walking into. Palpatine is awesome…I mean evil, completely evil, not cool, or one of my favorite characters…completely evil.

Mum’s Rating: 4 /5

Dad’s Rating: 3 / 5

Wee Lassie’s Rating: 4/5

Final Rating: 11

Star Wars: Episode III – The Revenge of the Sith

The culminating episode of the tragedy of Anakin Skywalker, this is my favorite Star Wars film. Everything set up in the last two films comes to beautiful fruition in this tragic film in which a man tormented with dreams of his wife dying in labor – the same kind of dreams that preceded his own mother’s death – seeks the dark arts for a way, anyway, to prevent her death. In the end he ends up betraying his colleges, his friends, his family – all in the name of the power to save the woman he loves. Who dies anyway, from a broken heart. God I love this movie!

Mum’s Rating: 3.5 / 5

Dad’s Rating: 3 / 5

Wee Lassie’s Rating: 7 / 5

Final Rating: 13.5

The Clone Wars – The Seige of Mandalore

Set between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith – the Clone Wars tells a fascinating story of the war that ultimately destroyed not only the Republic but the Jedi as well. However for this Star Wars Lockdown Binge, we only watched the four last episodes – covering the siege of Mandalore and Order 66 – because it’s ‘unreasonable’ to expect people to wait the length of a seven season cartoon, before the next star wars film.

Mum’s Rating: 4 / 5

Dad’s Rating: 0 / 5

Wee Lassie’s Rating: 4 / 5

Final Rating: 8

Solo: A Star Wars Story

Or as I like to call it, Star Wars : Episode 3.5 – Solo Eleven. Yes, ultimately at it’s heart Solo is is a heist film, coincidentally set in the Star Wars Universe. And I’m not saying that as a bad thing either, the Star Wars franchise needs to grow and expand if it’s to stay relevant, and trying out new forms of story and film is how you do that. The fact that it tells the backstory of one of science fiction’s most iconic characters, is really just the cherry on top of an excellent adrenaline filled heist flick. The reason it lost a point for me was that it was so adrenaline filled that watching it made me feel like I was having a panic attack – which does somewhat take away my enjoyment of the film.

Mum’s Rating: 3 / 5

Dad’s Rating: 5 / 5

Wee Lassie’s Rating: 4 / 5

Final Rating: 12

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

While Solo is the Heist film of the Star Wars franchise, Rogue One is the war movie. I know, I know – technically all the Star Wars films are war movies, but you know what I mean. While the numbered films are grand and epic, with bright flashing laser swords and high crashing drama – this film is hard and gritty. While the other nine are flying up in their ex-wings trying to be the hero who blows up the deathstar – the people of this film are down on the ground sacrificing their lives so that those ex-wings even have the chance to play the hero.

Mum’s Rating: 5 / 5

Dad’s Rating: 4 / 5

Wee Lassie’s Rating: 5 / 5

Final Rating: 14

Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope

I’ll just say this now, to get it out of the way, I truly believe that the blowing up the Death Star scene is the worst part of not just this Star Wars film, but the entire franchise. It goes on much too long, and the only interesting development happens right at the end – Han’s arrival and Luke’s success. That being said, this isn’t a bad film, in fact I very much enjoyed the rest of it – just not enough to give it a 5.

Mum’s Rating: 4 / 5

Dad’s Rating: 3 / 5

Wee Lassie’s Rating: 3 / 5

Final Rating: 10

Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back

This is a good film, undoubtedly but I would hesitate to say that this is where Star Wars peaked. Although to be fair, Star Wars is such a large franchise – both in the legend and canon sense – that to say it peaks at any one place, no matter it’s individual merit – is the height of absurdity. Although, having said that, they never have quite topped the shock of the plot twist of Luke’s true Father, though goodness knows they’ve certainly tried.

Mum’s Rating: 4 / 5

Dad’s Rating: 5 / 5

Wee Lassie’s Rating: 4 / 5

Final Rating: 13

Star Wars: Episode VI – The Return of the Jedi

This is my favorite of the three original films, and I’m not too proud to admit that the Ewoks play a large part of that. In fact I’m even going to be so bold as to say that they are the best part of the film overall. Or at least the parts that they occupy – the ground battle on the moon of Endor – are much better than some of the parts in which they did not – that is, Luke’s confrontation with the Emperor. I don’t mean to throw shade at something that so many people – including myself – enjoy, but when you’ve just come from Prequel Palpatine’s careful manipulations of not only his future student, but the entire Galaxy, Original Palpatine’s expectation for Luke to turn and join him because he hurt his friends, is almost ludicrous in its stupidity. That’s not how motivation works, Emperor, you used to know that.

Mum’s Rating: 4 / 5

Dad’s Rating: 3 / 5

Wee Lassie’s Rating: 5 / 5

Final Rating: 12

The Mandalorian

Baby Yoda. Baby Yoda. Baby YODA. BABY YODA! Oh yeah and there’s something about a Mandalorian but be honest…that’s not why we’re tuning in.

Mum’s Rating: 5 / 5

Dad’s Rating: 3 / 5

Wee Lassie’s Rating: 5 / 5

Final Rating: 13

Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens

Look down at those scores, now look back at me, now down at the scores again. I swear I did not go into The Force Awakens intending to give it such a high score. I still hold fast to the view that its plot is just a tad too similar to A New Hope’s to be coincidental. However having now watched both films very close together in a short amount of time, I have now amended this theory somewhat. While both films follow the same story beats, to an almost religious level – young hero/heroine from a backwards sand covered planet finds a droid with important information that she/he has to deliver to the Rebellion/Resistance so they can stop the Empire /First Order – the Force Awakens plot seems to stand as a superior version. Things that still don’t exactly make a great deal of sense to me in a New Hope – like why were the plans for the death star being sent to Obi Wan Kenobi specifically – seemed to go far more smoothly in this new version of the story. In the Force Awakens, Rey finds the droid by accident and then bumps into Finn determined to finish Poe Dameron’s last mission, again by chance. The resistance itself doesn’t give the call to adventure for these two heroes, unlike Luke and Kenobi. I mean I know you could say that Lea was under attack and she had to think fast – but Rouge One reveals that it was always the plan to give Kenobi the plans, so I’m not sure what the endgame was for that idea.

Mum’s Rating: 5 / 5

Dad’s Rating: 8 / 5

Wee Lassie’s Rating: 5 / 5

Final Rating: 18

Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi

I will stand on my pedestal and say that this is absolutely the worst of the three sequel films. Of course, saying that is less of a condemnation than you’d think. I genially think that taken out of context, all three films are well made, good films that anyone would enjoy. However in the context of the Star Wars franchise, I don’t think it adds much – I did like the emphasis on the force being something that belongs to everyone rather than just the Jedi, but that was completely disregarded in the next film so it didn’t really matter .

Mum’s Rating: 4.5 / 5

Dad’s Rating: 3 / 5

Wee Lassie’s Rating: 4 / 5

Final Rating: 11.5

Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker

I liked this film. It was a good fun film, its story was exciting and it didn’t rely on just copying the plot from the originals like the first two sequel films did. Also – and I know many people may disagree with me on this – but I liked where the characters ended up in their respective arcs. That being said, I’d be lying if I claimed the addition of Palpatine in this film didn’t feel a bit tacked on to the overall sequel trilogy’s story.

Mum’s Rating: 5 / 5

Dad’s Rating: 3 / 5

Wee Lassie’s Rating: 4 / 5

Final Rating: 12

In the Race for which is the superior Star Wars property – that I was able to make the others watch – we have:

In the rear The Clone Wars, limping along with an 8, from two people that enjoyed it but didn’t love it.

Barely two points ahead we can spot Episode IV: A New Hope, lagging with a 10.

Just a step beyond that you can see Attack of the Clones with a proudly won 11, and the only interesting love story in all of new canon. With the Last Jedi, only a hair’s breath in front with an 11.5.

Next up we have the shocking trio of Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker and Solo: A Star wars Story, each sporting a shinny new 12 to their name.

Baby Yoda and his Mandalorian guardian are making good time; alongside Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back with their ratings of 13. Revenge of the Sith, not too far in front with it’s hard fought for 13.5.

In joint second place, Rouge One: A Star Wars Story and Episode I: The Phantom Menace prove that the sacrifices have all been worth it with their solid ratings of 14.

And finally leading the way, in a shocking twist of fate to most Star Wars fans – Episode VII: The Force Awakens is winning this race, with an astounding rating of 18.

Do you agree with my parents and I’s ratings, would you have chosen differently? If so, drop me line down in the comments – Star Wars opinions are as varied as its fans and each deserves a voice. If you’ve enjoyed this look into the deep sense of obsessive fandom and boredom that provoked this binge during Lockdown, remember to follow the Wee Blog if you haven’t already. Also check me out on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Facebook and Goodreads. And sign up for The Wee Mailing List to receive all new content. Until next time Wee Readers, have a bonny day and may the force be with you.

Just a brief note before we leave, if you’ve enjoyed this and other posts like it on the Wee Writing Lassie, why not buy me a Wee Cup of Coffee, or drop me a tip over on Ko-fi. Which is linked to the image below.

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The Wee Lassie’s Top Ten Foods that keep your Immune System Healthy

If you’ve been following my blog for a while – hi original wee readers, you know who you are – you should know that I am a Vegan. In fact my whole family are vegans. I was raised vegan from the age of two. But what you may not have guessed is that we are mega-vegans – don’t google that I made it up on the spot. Some of us don’t eat gluten, we all drink major green smoothies and of course all our food is organic. We even grow our own greens that we blend up and eat in our green smoothies. Yes, we’re those kind of people – and that is awesome, particularly right now during a pandemic when health is on absolutely everyone’s minds. Wow there’s no way that didn’t come off as bragging…anyway, here are the top ten foods that keep your immune system healthy.

10. Carrots

Photo by mali maeder on Pexels.com

For a while these were very hard to get at Tesco, which I view as a positive thing for our society, seeing how healthy carrots actually are for you. A single carrot has 12,028 units of Vitamin A -; Vitamin C; B Vitamins; Vitamin E and the minerals of iron, Zinc and Copper – all of which help keep the immune system up and running for cold and flue season, or the odd pandemic.

9. Broccoli

Photo by Buenosia Carol on Pexels.com

Come on, part of you must have known Broccoli would be on this list eventually – it’s no one’s favorite vegetable, but we all know its good for us. This green veg is high in lutein, a compound antioxidant, and sulforaphane. Along with nutrients such as magnesium, phosphorus, Zinc and iron.All of which, as you may have guessed help keep us healthy.

8. Onions

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My god do I love onions, which is a good thing because not only are my family’s store cupboards just filled with the things, but they are mega good for the immune system. Onions are filled with selenium, sulfur compounds, Zinc, and vitamin C. Also, they are an excellent source of quercetin. They are also an antioxidant which have antiviral properties, and they also have histamine regulating effects.

7. Garlic

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Garlic is a magic food. Not only can it keep away the bite of Dracula, but it’s a natural antibiotic. I’ve been eating it raw before every meal, and my cough’s almost gone. Of course, eating raw garlic isn’t for everyone – it’s barely for me – but never fear, there’s no ends of the dishes Garlic can be put into. Soups, sauces, pies – you name it, it’ll be made much better with a dash of Garlic.

6. Red Cabbage

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Cabbage is great; it boosts the immune system, fights inflammation and arthritis; makes healthy bones and reduces risk of Osteoporosis. It also helps fight chronic diseases and encourages a healthy gut. And it tastes delicious with vinegar.

5. Pears

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As juicy when ripe as they are hard when not, pears are rich in flavonoid antioxidants which help fight inflammation and may decrease your risk of diseases.

4. Nuts

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Ages past Brazil nuts we’re considered one of the nine sacred nuts. They brought wisdom to those that ate them. Today they can help your body prepare for any battles ahead. Nuts are a great source of zinc, along with selenium which is particularly found in Brazil nuts, but all nuts will boost your immune system.

2. Nettles

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Nettles, absolutely one of the ingredients to professor Snape’s most potent potions. These stinging weeds are high in Vitamins A,C,K and B; Minerals like Calcium and iron; Healthy Fats; Polyphenols, Amino acids and Pigments like Beta-carotene, or luteoxanthin. They have been known to reduce inflammation; help hay fever and enlarged prostate symptoms, along with high blood pressure and blood sugar control.

However, one of the best things about Nettles is how available they are; they literally grow everywhere, so much so that we’ve labeled them as weeds all across the western world. Odds are likely they’re even growing somewhere close to you right now. Word to the wise though, if you’re picking them yourself wear gloves and avoid nettles with flowers, if they’ve got flowers they’re no good and should be left alone. As for the shops, while I have never encountered fresh nettles – nettle tea is delicious, and just as immune system boosting as the fresh stuff. Plus, and I don’t know if this is an official result of such tea, but I always find it calms me right down after I’ve had a bout of anxiety.

1. Avocados

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Avocados are a super food, flat out just a super food, with a capital S. If you’ve been following my blog you may have heard me speak about these amazing things before – they certainly fit well in any kind of smoothie. In fact it’s amazing how versatile they are – avocados blended with coco make a lovely chocolate mousse. However I personally love them in Guacamole, since it’s so easy to make and combines other immune system boosting food, like Garlic – but there are hundreds of other different uses for them, whether you’re spreading them mashed on toast, or just chopping them into your salad. What makes this versatility so exciting – besides the taste that is – is just how rich in nutrients the Avocado is.

They contain Vitamins K, C, B5, B6, A, B1, B2, and B3; along with nutrients like Folate, Potassium, magnesium, maganeses, copper, iron, zinc, and phosphorous. Each Avocado also contains 160 calories, 2 grams of protein, 15 grams of healthy fats, 9 grams of Carbs and 7 of fiber. Making them, the ultimate immune boosting food.

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