Star Wars: The Force Awakens Just In Time

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As if right on queue there is a disturbance in the Force and the need again has risen for a rebellion against an evil party hell bent on domination and oppressing the weak. Funny how we see the same thing in everyday politics but without special effects. One can’t argue the fact that we are in need of a pleasant diversion to take us away from the sideshow politics that’s going on at the present time, and as popular as Donald Trump seems to be, he is no match for the power of the Force. Star Wars: Episode VII- The Force Awakens is the perfect diversion we all need at this time to take our minds off terrorist, refugees, climate change and the ongoing political theatre that plays out repeatedly on main stream news networks.

When Star Wars: Episode IV- A New Hope hit the movie screens nearly 40 years ago we were blown away by the special effects and for most of us, we were hooked the moment we saw the Imperial star cruiser filling the screen in the opening scene. The movie itself is an old Earth story brought to life in a galaxy far, far away. Take away the futuristic special effects and you have the story of a superior ruler who wants to enslave the universe with his army of storm troopers and a planet killing weapon. And then there is the resistance group who, with very little resources, manages to keep two steps away from being exterminated. It tells the story of beating the odds and believing in your inner self, that “Force” that picks you up when you feel low and hopeless. It tells the story of a typical teenager who wanted to waste time with his friends at Tosche Station instead of doing his chores not knowing his path in life had long been pre-determined. His wanting to leave the planet of Tatooine for better things but instead being caught up in the dreams of an old soldier destined to help a princess in distress. A princess who leads a rag-tag rebel group and after having no other choice, sends her two trusted droids to seek help. We all have heard of the great comedy teams, Abbott and Costello, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, and Laurel and Hardy, and now R2-D2 and C-3PO, who delivered just the right amount of humor through-out the film to keep you smiling, must be recognized as a legitimate comedy team.
That first Star Wars movie had all the elements needed to qualify as one of the greatest movies of all time, danger, heroism, betrayal, swashbuckling, and romance. Qualities that made movies like “Gone With The Wind” an icon in the motion picture industry. Add a light saber, star cruisers, blasters, X-wing fighters and a death star, cast some energetic bit part actors who had fun with the scripts, and you have Star Wars. Sci-Fi addicts were in a galaxy far away with episodes IV, V, and VI, and like all space geeks, craved for more. It takes about 3 years to produce one Star Wars movie, and in the rush to please the masses, Episodes I, II, and III were rushed to completion and turned out to be mediocre films. and while it fed the need, many saw the Force slowly making it’s way into movie hibernation, doomed to a life of folklore and treasured 6 episode box sets. There was talk of an episode VII but George Lucas, at this time in his life, decided that the franchise would stand a better chance of going on in new hands with fresh, young ideas. He sold the rights to Star Wars to Disney for a whopping $4 billion dollars and they immediately announced that there would be an episode VII. From that point the anticipation of the new film was enough to sell more than $50 million dollars in advanced ticket sales with the movie being compared to Avatar which so far holds the top box office record sales of almost $3 billion dollars worldwide.

With all the bad news around the world and the political posturing flooding the airways this is the perfect time for the movie industry to take us away from our troubles if only for a short while. Next stop, that galaxy far, far away. May the Force be with us.



Processed Red Meat; The New Health Threat

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Well if you are the type of person who just enjoyed the outdoor summer life, it included doing plenty of family activities which include grilling meat. It’s been done since cave men first learned to make fire millions of years ago and decided that that chewy Brontosaurus meat got a little more tender when beaten with a rock and burned on a stick. Now that most of the country has finished their summer fun, comes word that eating red meat, particularly processed red meats can make you more susceptible for getting cancer. Talk about raining on the country’s parade. They say that eating lots of red meat puts you in the same boat as the pack-a-day cigarette smoker. Processed red meat has been a mainstay of our diets for years and we all have eaten “mass quantities” over our lifetime, and now we find out that we may have to eat more chicken and fish to stay healthy and pass on that steak.

All red meat is processed, and some processed more than others so how do we as a consumer determine what is the safest of these lethal meats? And what do we say to all those people who gave up smoking tobacco only to find out that the red meat they’re eating is just as deadly. All the health gains they thought they were going to enjoy has just been challenged by constantly eating hormone infused red meat. Naturally the National Beef Association is up in arms about the whole outcome of this “so-called” scientific study. Seems to me that it now leaves the consumer stuck in the middle with that old question, to eat, or not to eat. There is going to be a vast number of people who will now stay away from red meat religiously, and some who will say it’s too late to stop now. Grilling meat also brings into play how we grill these deadly meats. In an attempt at damage control the meat industry has agreed with the recommendation that we refrain from using charcoal when cooking red meats outdoors, and instead use propane.  Score one for Hank Hill.

Charcoal has been used for cooking for so long, we forget that it’s “coal”, which when burned is the dirtiest form of pollution in our atmosphere and we coat the coals with “lighter fluid” and ignite the whole shebang without a second thought about the chemicals flowing into the meat. Turns out that the smokey flavor we love so well doesn’t love us. Those smoke vapors, chemicals, ooze their way into the meat and we have learned to love that “smoked” flavor. In fact, there have been many a feud over whether charcoal is better than propane gas as far as taste goes. So to sum all this up, we are now suppose to eat red processed meat in moderation if at all, and choose chicken and fish when at all possible. How safe is chicken? Every year we hear about chickens raised with powerful antibiotics that make the consumer vulnerable to hard to kill forms of bacteria. Not to mention the high risk of salmonella poisoning which could kill you quicker than red meat. Eating more fish is a crap shoot also and while it may be a good health food, our waters are becoming more and more polluted with chemicals that in turn pollute the fish we eat. It’s a “catch 22”.

Does this mean that we will start seeing warning labels on T-bone steaks? Probably not, the cattle barons in Texas won’t let that happen, but as consumers, we have some choices to make. There may come a day in the future where you may be asking the question that grandma asked in those old Wendy’s commercials, {“Where‘s the beef?”}