Sunday, December 31, 2017

New Year's Resolution 2017: Mission Accomplished

Back at the start of the year, I decided to make a resolution. I don't usually make
New Year's resolutions, because I know that usually, I can't follow through. I give
up after a matter of just a few short weeks. This year was different. I was going to
do my best to write something every single day in 2017.


In my first article for the year, I wrote: "Plus, by informing my viewing audience
about my resolution, I have forced myself to follow through on my resolution.
I'm going to feel like an idiot if I don't follow through - that's just how I am."


Some days it was easy, and other days it was almost impossible. I would be on
my way to bed, exhausted from the long day of work, and my brain would remind
me Have you written today? And I would groan and stumble over to my computer
to add a few paragraphs to my next article.


The pinnacle of the year of writing had to be the WELS Worship Conference posts
in June and my European vacation back in June and July. Writing never gets
any easier than when you're experiencing something truly special. Both the
Worship Conference and the giant European vacation were amazing events
that were begging for me to write every night. I would sit on my bed wherever
I was in the world and write all the cool stuff that happened that day. I was
incredibly exhausted on some nights, but I knew that I just had to write stuff
down - if I didn't I would forget something in my sleep!


I loved getting messages about my blog posts, too. I didn't get comments on
the blog itself, but in conversations with people they would mention they
enjoyed my posts. Naturally, many of them were talking about those vacation
blogs, but there were other posts, too. One person completely broke down
my recent The Last Jedi blog on Twitter, providing some good counterpoints
to the points that I made.


Aside from this blog, I put together some musical compositions, as well.
One of my favorites was a violin descant for the hymn "By Faith." This
hymn is a new one to our church, but we've had a very talented violinist
play the melody a few times with the congregation. She was going to be playing it
with me as the pianist, and she said she was a bit bored with playing
just the melody. So a few hours later, I sent her my descant after
coming up with it during that morning's Bible Class. (Don't tell Pastor.)
She loved it and has used it a few times since.

This video doesn't have any picture - only audio.



I also composed a piano piece based on a new song, "Christ Begins."
My school was singing that for graduation in June, and I decided to try
my luck at a composition based on that song. I only really had the first
part of the song in my head, but the rest of it took a bit of playing on the
piano to get down. One of my favorite parts ended up just being
something I randomly played as I was thinking of a way to transition
between stanzas of the hymn!



In the winter I really enjoyed writing some short stories, though as
the year progressed (and I went on vacations and started counting
down to The Last Jedi) my writing turned away from them. I enjoyed
the chance to explore genres that I normally didn't write and expand
my writing even more than usual.


Even with the constant writing, I did leave a lot of potential articles on
the cutting room floor, either because I didn't have enough to write a
full article or I was just too tired to think of a way to complete it. For example,
I just attended my first bowl game ever - the Foster Farms Bowl in Santa
Clara, CA. It was a great experience, but I just couldn't figure out a way
to make it a full article. So I'm not writing it.


There were a few days where my resolution didn't get followed,
although they were few. I consider a failure of a New Year's
Resolution to be when a resolution is started, and then unceremoniously
dumped after the first month and never taken up again. At least
when I forgot a day, I picked it up again and kept going.


Thank you, readers, for helping me to follow through on this
resolution. Because I made it public, I was pressured to follow
through (just like I thought I would be) on the writing. I wrote short
stories, compositions, blog posts, letters, journal entries, and
more in these 365 days of 2017. To my delight, I found myself
improving in my writing over the year, and I hope that this
improvement transitions into more writing opportunities in the future!


Don’t be surprised if I don’t post anything on the blog in the
month of January - I’ll be taking a well-deserved break. But
February already promises to be full of exciting events, including the
return of the Winter Olympic Blurb!

If your 2018 New Year’s resolution is to get better at something,
remember that practice makes progress. The more you do that
resolution, the better you’ll be. It won’t happen immediately, and
don’t give up if the improvement doesn’t happen right away. Keep
at it, and suddenly it will be December 31. With confidence
you can announce: Mission Accomplished!

My name is Claire Nat! You can follow me on Twitter @CeePipes, or follow me on Facebook at facebook.com/blurbmusings. Check out my blog for other articles!



Saturday, December 23, 2017

Star Wars Saturday: The Last Jedi In-Depth Look

Last week I gave you some initial thoughts about The Last Jedi after viewing it twice. That second time, I took a little notebook and wrote down some things that came to mind. It was pretty difficult to write stuff down in a darkened movie theater, but I think I did pretty well - and I only wrote over my notes a couple of times.

Without further ado, here's some in-depth musings over the current Star Wars movie:
  • I ended up sitting next to a dad with his kids. The boy next to me was probably in kindergarten or first grade, and he didn't make too much noise during the movie aside from Finn's first appearance, when he whispered excitedly, "Finn!" The cutest moment, though, was when his dad read him the opening crawl. That's something my parents always did, and I was reminded of that when this dad did it.
  • Speaking of the opening crawl, it's said that they hope Luke will restore a "spark of hope to the fight." #NailedIt
  • I enjoyed the extreme zoom shot that opened the movie, but I was not impressed by the delivery or how it was staged. It didn't set a good tone for the movie, but fortunately it was all uphill from there. 
  • General Hux transformed in a few hours from a high-ranking, confident First Order officer to slimy piece of comedic fodder. Not a fan, but the fact that Domhnall Gleeson makes me completely forget that happy-go-lucky Domhnall Gleeson is playing General Hux is credit to his acting skills.
  • Just recently, in The Visual Guide to the Last Jedi, one of my questions about the location of Snap Wexley and Black Squadron was answered. I was so confused why they weren't in any of the Resistance retreat, and feared that even with all the screen time they got in The Force Awakens that maybe they'd been ceremoniously killed off in that ill-planned bombing campaign led by Poe. But they were just off on another mission somewhere. (I'm guessing J.J. is bringing them back in Episode IX.)
    I still was taken out of the movie because other Resistance players (the doctor who told Chewie, "You must be very brave," the thermal oscillator guy, other people that had lines) were suddenly not there. 
  • BB-8 gets the "I got a bad feeling about this" in The Last Jedi, but Poe's response is the best: "Happy beeps here, c'mon."
  • The First Order has a female officer aboard the dreadnaught!
  • I really liked Poe's overall character arc in this movie. At the beginning he disobey's Leia's orders and ends up dooming much of the Resistance fighters in the failed bombing run. In the middle he's learning to trust senior officers because they know what they're doing. By the end he's analyzing and waiting for Leia to put her stamp of approval on his plan. 
  • I thought the transitions between the first few scenes were great. Finn's "Where's Rey" takes us straight to Ahch-To, while Luke's anguished, "Where's Han" takes us to the masked face of Ben Solo. 
  • Some of my moments of glee included every time Rey said, "Master Skywalker." Anakin never earned the rank of Jedi Master, but his son did!
  • I kind of thought the submerged X-Wing would turn into a Chekhov's gun scenario, but nope, it was just fanservice.
  • Going back to the "Where's Han" moment, I was surprised to see that he didn't know. He had cut himself off from the Force that he didn't even know his best friend and brother-in-law had been killed. 
  • How many kids immediately went home after the movie and smashed their Kylo Ren helmets to bits?
  • Every time Rey pleaded to Luke on behalf of the Resistance, it came off a bit stale, like she didn't quite get it. It was strange - Daisy Ridley does such an amazing job, but those lines didn't fly.
  • Luke's comment to Rey: "What do you want me to do? Come out with a laser sword and face down the whole First Order?" #NailedIt
  • If Luke isn't using his full Force powers, the spear fishing that he does is pretty incredible - that's all natural talent!
  • Luke: "Nobody's from nowhere."
    Rey: "Jakku"
    Luke: "...All right that's pretty much nowhere." (Says the boy from The Planet Farthest From the Bright Center of the Universe)
  • The waterbottle in Leia's quarters almost seemed accidentally left there because it looked so modern and manufactured here on earth. 
  • Ben in his starfighter knows exactly where the Raddus' hangar bay is. Anybody else think that maybe he had spent some time in that ship as a kid? 
  • While Han always had to see Ben in order to react to him, Leia and Ben's Force connection is so strong they sense each other just by being close to each other. It felt different from a father-son or sibling connection because Leia carried and birthed her son, and now that same son she reared is trying to destroy where she is. (Thankfully, he can't do it.)
  • I really thought they'd killed Leia after the bridge was blown up. And when they immediately went to a scene on the First Order's Supremacy, I was mad. Is that how they're going to leave Leia? Seriously? How dare they.
    Turns out they just had something else in store for us. And really, I didn't mind Flying Leia. Everyone wanted to see her show off her Force skills, and now that she has, they're all saying, "Well not like that." Just enjoy it, people!
  • Continuing the theme of unmet (but it's okay!) expectations, I was hoping for a scene with Luke flying the Falcon. We didn't get it, but we did get a beautiful reunion between Luke and R2-D2. It could have been so much longer and I would have been okay with it. But what we got was lovely. 
  • I noticed that since the OT Luke has learned how to understand binary. He used to need a translator tablet to understand Artoo's beeps, but now he can respond to everything without one. It made his snarky "Sacred island - watch the language" line even funnier. 
  • To be honest, Luke just saying, "Artoo?" put a giant smile on my face. 
  • Did Poe really think that he was going to take command of the Resistance? It kind of felt like it while that lady was announcing Holdo's promotion. 
  • I enjoyed Holdo's "impusive flyboys" line. She brings it back later in the movie, too.
  • While Poe's character arc is easy to see, Finn's is a little trickier. He recovers, but starts to run from the Resistance because he wants to protect his BFF Rey - his allegiance is to her and not the Resistance. But thanks to his journey with Rose to Canto Bight, his conversations with DJ, and his fights on the Supremacy and Crait make him realize he's not running from the fight anymore. As a matter of fact, he buckles down and is willing to die for that fight. 
  • Numb Finn is funny. Numb Finn-while-trying-to-explain-his-plan-out-loud is even funnier. 
  • I have never been a C-3PO fan, and I thought that this movie was just the perfect amount of Threepio. He had a few quips and Poe got to shoot him down a few times. His odds (and need to get that "-to one" slipped in there) was wonderful.
  • Not impressed by Maz' cameo - it looked like a video game. 
  • I was just as confused as Ben and Rey when it came to their Force link. Ben's slide in the ship's hallway was cute. 
  • If this movie did anything, it humanized Ben and made him a more relatable character. We understood why he was filled with rage so much. While everyone wanted to be Darth Vader from The Empire Strikes Back, everyone is Ben from The Last Jedi at some point in their lives. 
  • I've been able to see artist renderings of the Jedi mosaic on the floor of the Ahch-To cave, and it reminds me of Japanese art. I couldn't tell you what style, but I like it. 
  • Rey's explanation of the force: It helps you "control people and make things...float." 
  • I loved Luke and Rey's Force banter on the cliff. When he says to "reach out" how is she supposed to know what that means? So she reaches out - literally! Her excitement at "feeling" the Force was great. I loved her innocence and his snark.
  • Luke over the past 30 years really spotted the underlying problem of the Jedi - they kept the Force to themselves, when it is actually something that belongs to everyone. The Jedi had become vain and allowed themselves to be romanticized and deified. 
  • He also summarizes the prequels in just a few sentences, and references Darth Sidious for the first time. I like seeing an OT character really make a connection to the prequels. Deal with it, haters.
  • How cute is it that Rey, when talking to Chewie, asks him to ask about Finn if he gets in contact with the Resistance. 
  • Luke says he came to that island to die. #NailedIt
  • I wonder what planet Luke's Jedi academy was on. I'm looking forward to the book series that investigates that academy further, regardless of the fact that we know its outcome. 
  • I really thought Finn was going to break out into song when the camera panned onto him in Canto Bight. That's what Star Wars needs - a musical number!
  • We should have known that DJ was too good to be true. How obvious that he was planted in Rose and Finn's prison cell. 
  • BB-8 isn't just a cute little helper droid - he's a force to be reckoned with! On Canto Bight he takes down those prison guards, and aboard the Supremacy he boards an AT-ST and mows down a few dozen stormtroopers. Don't cross BB-8, that's for sure.
  • Anyone catch that space organ that the fathiers trampled? I now know what my job would be in that galaxy.
  • I laughed at Finn's disbelieving, "Oh, come on!" after their ship on the beach gets blasted before they can reach it.
  • People complain about the Canto Bight scene, but not only was it good for Finn's character development, it also was needed for a change of pace and to provide some cushion in time in the movement of the story. 
  • When Ben and Rey have their conversations, all the background noise is muted. That's how you can tell when the link is over - the background noise comes back. There's also that interesting "Force noise" first introduced in The Force Awakens.
  • Luke actually moves a lot better in his old age. And at the same time, it isn't unrealistic, either, like Count Dooku's moves were in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. (Yup, I used a double negative. Sorry, Mom.)
  • When the back of Yoda's head appeared in the foreground as the camera panned to the left, I was really, really hoping to see the backs of Obi-Wan and Anakin, as well. But it was just Yoda. Which was okay, in the long run. 
  • Speaking of Yoda, I'm going to blame the Star Wars Show (and my own speculative nature) for ruining the surprise for me. At the live-streamed world premiere of The Last Jedi that was shown on December 9, they interviewed Frank Oz on the red carpet. Well, why in the world would they be interviewing Frank Oz, known for being quiet and reserved in real life, unless he was in the new movie? 
  • In my opinion, the Luke-Yoda scene feels a little out of place, but that's not a bad thing. It just takes me to a different movie - The Empire Strikes Back - when Yoda is instructing Luke. And as always, Yoda comes out with some amazing, quotable lines that I'll be seeing on t-shirts and art for years to come. I think Star Wars fans who are teachers (like me) are really going to latch onto a few of them, like
    • "The greatest teacher, failure is."
    • "We are what they grow beyond. That is the burden of masters." (Sidebar: this quote is very similar to what Kakashi says in the Japanese anime Naruto Shippuden.)
  • I think Rian Johnson is interesting for playing out the Poe-Holdo scenes by making us believe that Poe was in the right the whole time and Holdo was hiding something, when actually Holdo was in the right and Poe just needed to sit down and take orders. Of course, that does greatly help his character development - and also teaches us something, too.
  • I want to know what message Chewie would have passed along to Finn from Rey! The point ended up being moot since Rey and Finn met up before Chewie and Finn did, but I'm still curious since we never establish the type of relationship Rey and Finn are trying to be.
  • I absolutely loved the iron misdirect. I actually thought to myself, "Man, that space ship looks way too much like an iron. Do better, Star Wars." And then it turned out to actually be an droid iron. They got me.
  • They kept talking about DJ being a "codebreaker." In Legends days he would have been called  a "slicer," and I just think that's such a cool name. I wish they'd used it. 
  • I didn't catch it the first time, but BB-8 tries to mask his presence on the Supremacy by hiding in a trash can and making mouse droid beeps! 
  • I suspect that in an earlier script, Finn and Rose met up and/or rescued Rey on the Supremacy after her big fight with Ben. People have complained that Finn and Rose's mission on Snoke's ship was pointless, but maybe it wasn't initially? I was very surprised that both Finn and Rey were on the ship in separate missions and never crossed paths.
  • Oh, Phasma. You deserved so much more in the movie. Or you deserved much smaller marketing. One of those two. 
  • If Star Wars has improved anything in the nine movies it's done, it's the anguished screams. Rey's scream as Snoke holds her down and tortures her, as well as Ben's scream when he realizes Luke's plan on Crait, are both incredibly effective. 
  • Leia finally shoots a blaster again! Plus she finally gets into Poe's head that Holdo's mission was never to be a hero - it was to lead the light. 
  • Following Snoke's death and that legendary throne room fight with the Praetorian guards, I thought that Ben and Rey were going to join up. But it's clear that their visions for the future are still way off: Rey is still holding on to the the hope of developing what still exists while Ben is just hoping to get rid of everything in the past because the people of the past have let him down so much.
  • That kamikaze lightspeed crash was so well executed. Anything with a lack of noise just makes it even more effective. And it was beautiful. I want that on a poster.
  • Remember how many stormtroopers there were on that hangar when Finn and Rose were on the ground, about to be executed by space ax? Then they're all gone after the kamikaze lightspeed crash except for a handful? Yeah - the only reason Finn and Rose survive is because Phasma had them on the ground. Thanks, Phasma!
  • I love the smallest gesture Hux makes to get his blaster when Ben is unconscious on the ground, and then Ben wakes up. Sorry, Hux. You have to deal with Force chokes and being Force pushed into the sides of control rooms a little longer.
  • So BB-8 is just Poe's pet? That belly scratch was insanely cute. When I meet BB-8 I'm going to try to do that. 
  • That "salt" scene with Major Emmatt (who is in a bunch of the "Journey to The Force Awakens" books and I'm glad he's still in the fight) is strictly there to show you how the footprints of people on Crait leave red marks. And then when Luke shows up...he doesn't make footprints. (The signs were all there, yet I was still surprised to find he was Force projecting himself there!)
  • The new recording of the Death Star escape music is so epic. I love it so much, and it is placed in the perfect spot of this movie. 
  • A lot of the Resistance plans in The Last Jedi end up being seemingly pointless in the end, but isn't that life? While it seems like it didn't do anything, it actually progresses the character - not the plot. And there was a bunch of character development by the members of the Resistance: Poe learns to be a leader (he tells Finn that the attack run on Crait is too costly and to break it off), Finn learns to stand up and fight instead of run (he is willing to commit suicide to save the Resistance from doom), and Rose fights for the people (person?) she loves instead of the things she hates (she despises war mongers and traitorous snakes in the First Order but risks her life to save Finn from certain death). 
  • I did genuinely think they were going to kill Finn - all signs were pointing to it. I'm so glad they didn't.
  • It was interesting having Rey's climactic scene in the middle of the movie. As a result, she kind of disappears for 30 minutes before magically popping up again in the Falcon and then moving rocks. (Remember what she said the Force was? #NailedIt)
  • And then, there's Luke. Luke, Luke, Luke. He was in total control of this entire showdown with Ben. Be honest - we've rarely seen Luke in complete control in any of the movies. Even when he defeated Vader, he did it while out of control. I can only think of three times in the OT when he had control: 
    • Blowing up the Death Star,
    • Blowing up the AT-AT by himself, and
    • Throwing away his lightsaber and declaring himself a Jedi.
  • All of those instances were short and sweet. Here, it's the entire end of the movie. That pep talk with Yoda really worked!
  • I said that I wanted to hear the "Luke and Leia" theme in this movie if Luke and Leia reunited. They did, and that music came back! I was so excited. (I think I said, "There it is!!!") in the theater. Their scene was more poignant, I think, than the reunion between Leia and Han in The Force Awakens. And when he kissed her on the forehead, it was so sad because of reality.
  • There are so many long shots right on Luke's face. Mark Hamill has always been amazing at showing his feelings right on his face, and Rian took advantage of that in this movie. (Remember how I was so worried that Mark Hamill would ruin the movie by overacting? I'm so glad my worries were unfounded. So many people are saying that this was the best live action performance of his career. It came at just the right time!)
  • Have there always been two suns on Ahch-To? Or is he seeing the twin suns of Tatooine at that point? I'd prefer the latter.
  • My reaction to Luke becoming one with the Force at the theater: hands up, gasp, disbelief. 
  • My reaction now: I'm really close to acceptance. I'll be more accepting of it if he appears in Episode IX as a Force ghost, pestering Ben. (He does say, "See you around, kid." before he disappears.)
  • If Luke had to die, I'm glad it happened this way. I'm glad he didn't get struck down by a lightsaber or blaster bolt or explosion. Instead, he goes, according to Rey, with "peace and purpose." For a man that has dealt with so much angst in his life, it's wonderful that he finished in peace.
Those were all my notes! The more I think about the nuances of the movie, the more I like the movie. I'm excited to read more about those small details of the movie, because it shows how complete the movie was. 

As for rankings, I need to wait a few months to place it down. I believe it will be in the top half of my rankings, but I'm not sure yet where in that half it will be. Just be patient!

Thanks for reading this blog, as well as all of the Star Wars Saturday blogs for 2017. If you haven't read those blogs, they're linked down below. I really enjoyed making these again, and am glad for a little break before we all start ramping up for Episode IX! 

May the Force be with you!


Saturday, December 16, 2017

Star Wars Saturday: The Last Jedi Quick Review


So I had a whole other article planned, but then I got home on Thursday after viewing The Last Jedi and completely erased it. Here is the new article:

Never talk to a passionate Star Wars fan immediately after viewing a new Star Wars movie.

It isn't like they're angry or anything. It's that they just don't know how to process it.

I thought that my initial disappointment after my first viewing of The Force Awakens was because I had been up for almost 24 hours straight watching Star Wars movies. But here I was, coming out of The Last Jedi, a bit sad and confused.

Casual fans of Star Wars will go in, enjoy a star war, and leave. But crazy fans have spent literally years crafting their own hypotheses and ideas. They have said that this plot point MUST happen or else the movie is ruined, or that this character MUST have this backstory or else the movie won't be the same.

The problem with that? We usually don't get what we want, and we suffer through that first showing of Star Wars seeing characters be out of the box and plots move in different directions.

So just give us some time. We'll tell you our actual thoughts either after a good night's sleep, or after a second viewing of the movie.

On Friday I got to see The Last Jedi for a second time, and as had happened before, things were much more enjoyable.

Today I am going to post some quick thoughts about the movie, and next week I'll post my final Star Wars Saturday article for 2017 with a more in-depth look at The Last Jedi.

SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS!

The plot of the movie is definitely not a retread of The Empire Strikes Back. The Resistance spends the entire movie running away (almost in slow motion) from the First Order. Rey's training on Ahch-To is less "training" than "plot revelations." The big lightsaber fight actually isn't the climax of the movie, because the showdown between Ben and Luke is more of a mental battle than a sword duel.

It was different, and I really liked that. The new directions that were in the movie - in how the Resistance made a few errors as they ran, and also the new ways the Force was used - challenged Star Wars fans and encouraged them that it was okay to see these things in a new way.

The characters are all played fantastically. It would be hard for me to find someone whose performance I didn't like and appreciate. I think the closest would be General Hux, who seems to be more slimy and meant for comic relief than the presence he was in The Force Awakens. The new characters, like Rose Tico and Amilyn Holdo, are easily welcomed into the galaxy and don't feel like they were shoehorned in. And, of course, all the returning players are amazing and get really nice character arcs. One of the biggest arcs was by Poe Dameron, who learns how to be a leader.

I liked how much interaction Rey and Ben got with each other. It helped to understand Ben and where he had come from, but also to see how committed Rey is to helping him out...until he firmly decides which path he will take. I did think Ben was coming back to the light, but he had to go off and blame the previous generation for everything bad

All the battles were so much fun to watch - everything is so carefully choreographed and created that it's easy to see how the fights play out. From space to sabers, it is realistic and great.

Does the movie have issues? Yes, with Snoke in particular, who showed that he wasn't a huge need in the trilogy by getting cut in half halfway through the trilogy. Canto Bight could also be seen as a waste of time, if you didn't realize that it was there to just let the main story breathe a little bit before the giant hour-long ending where it all comes together. And Phasma. Just...yeah.

To wrap it up, though, I gotta look at my boy Luke. I was nervous how he would be played in this movie, but I was absolutely thrilled to bits by this performance and by this character. He makes mistakes and tries to run from them, but Rey's insistence and persuasion (and Yoda's advice!) helps him make the right decision and come to the end of the scene like a major bad-ass.

(But did he really have to DIE???????? To propel the story forward with new characters, yes, but in my heart, no! Of course not! Long Live Skywalker!)

All in all, a great movie. It's not what I expected, and I imagine most die-hard Star Wars fans will feel the same. But just give us some time. We'll be back to our excited selves in no time.



Saturday, December 9, 2017

Star Wars Saturday: 30 "Days" of Star Wars


Get this, you guys: this is the final Star Wars Saturday post before The Last Jedi is released on Thursday! I can hardly believe it's almost here, and I'm so excited to post my review for you next Saturday. It probably will just be a quick reaction review, with a more in-depth review the week after, so that I can sit and process what I've just witnessed on the big screen.

I started my daily movie countdown to The Last Jedi on Thursday, when I watched The Phantom Menace. That's right; I chose to go in episodic order instead of release order or machete order. That's just how I am.

For now, I am going to borrow an idea I received from the YouTuber HelloGreedo, who gives reviews, commentary, and snark about Star Wars with his signature stormtrooper helmet on his head. Others are probably doing this, too; it's just that I subscribe to his channel and this is where I first heard it!

With 30 days to go, he started a daily Star Wars Challenge, and he posts about his favorite and least favorite things. There's a list at the beginning of each video, so I am going to do it.

I'm going to cheat a little bit, because I only have one blog post left and there's only 5 days left until I see The Last Jedi. So let's just do all of them at once!

Day 1: your personal favorite Star Wars memory

It used to be my 4:30 a.m. viewing of The Phantom Menace on Opening Day, but I think now it's my 1-day, 7-movie marathon two years ago. It was exhausting, but so much fun! I sat next to two awesome ladies and experienced something I'll never do again. 

Day 2: your all-time favorite character

Luke Skywalker

Day 3: favorite original trilogy movie

Return of the Jedi. It wraps the trilogy, completes a perfect character arc for Luke, and I love both the Jabba's barge scene and the Ewoks. 

Day 4: favorite prequel trilogy movie

Revenge of the Sith

Day 5: all time favorite Star Wars video game

I really like the Star Wars podracer video game for the N64. Honestly? It's the only Star Wars game I've ever played. But I played it a lot, which is more than I can say for basically all non-Mario video games.

Day 6: favorite lightsaber fight

Anakin vs. Obi-Wan in Revenge of the Sith, but only until the shield for the station is broken and all the lava comes. Then it gets quite ridiculous. Before then, though...say what you want - I think it's choreographic perfection!

Day 7: all time favorite scene

Hard to choose, but the triple battle in Return of the Jedi. It has action ("It's a trap!"), tension (Palpatine pulling the strings), comedy (Chewie and Ewoks save the day), and triumph ("I'm a Jedi, like my father before me.")

Day 8: favorite Yoda quote

His first one: "Away with your weapon! I mean you no harm." 

Day 9: favorite fan film

You might get picky about my choice, but it's Belated Media's "What if <insert prequel> were GOOD?" series. He's making his own spin on the movies, which might not be as much of a fan film as you might want, but I don't watch many fan films so this'll have to do! (Plus the art for Episodes II and III was great!)

Day 10: something you wish was different

Luke's Force kick. Which editor got fired because of that gaffe?

Day 11: favorite piece of Star Wars merch that you own

Day 12: an actor you want to see in a Star Wars movie

Someday I'll hear that Zachary Levi is taking his Flynn Rider act to a galaxy far, far away and I'll be really happy. 

Day 13: favorite member of the Rogue One crew

Chirrut Îmwe. That scene with him vs. the stormtroopers was my favorite part of Rogue One and it was waaaaaay too short. 

Day 14: favorite piece of Star Wars music

The "Luke and Leia" suite from Return of the Jedi




Day 15: favorite vehicle in the saga

Luke's X-Wing is still the best. (Will it come out of the ocean in The Last Jedi?!?!?!?)

Day 16: favorite special edition change

Admit it - the Yavin battle is way better in the special edition. 

Day 17: least favorite special edition change

The Jabba scene is cringe-worthy.

Day 18: favorite Star Wars parody

Behold:



Day 19: favorite non-Star Wars movie from a Star Wars actor

I could take the easy route and say Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, but I'm going to go with Frank Oz in Muppet Family Christmas!




Day 20: favorite droid

I find 21-B to be the most pleasant droids. The one that helps out Luke after his Wampa attack in The Empire Strikes Back is so nice. I mean, he says "Take care, sir," as Luke goes out. It seems like he cared about Luke's well being!

Day 21: a Star Wars game you wish existed

The biggest problems I have with Star Wars games is that they're too hard or too easy. I just want a game that is accessible. 

Day 22: the Star Wars anthology film you want

OBI-WAN! OBI-WAN! OBI-WAN!

Day 23: your favorite The Force Awakens moment

Basically every time Han says something quippy. His dialogue is so Han Solo, and after years of reading novels and comics that were trying (and mostly failing) to catch the essence of Han Solo, it was great to hear his words once again come from the pen of Lawrence Kasdan. Ones I always quote:

"And that thing can understand you, too, so watch it."
"Move, ball."
"Listen, Big Deal. You've got another problem. Women always find out. Always."
"I never ask that question until after I've done it."
"Oh, really? You're cold?"

And my favorite...

"That's not how the Force works!"

Day 24: favorite space battle


The giant scene in Return of the Jedi is fantastic, but if we just focus on the space battle, then A New Hope has the most complete and effective story as spacecraft are flying around and destroying each other. You pretty much get invested in every Rebel pilot trying to take down that Death Star.

Day 25: least favorite Star Wars moment

Any time flatulence or poop is involved. (Which actually is quite a lot.)

Day 26: favorite Darth Vader quote

From The Empire Strikes Back: "He's as clumsy as he is stupid."

Day 27: if you were an extra, what scene would you be in?

The Yavin celebration, just to get a few more female characters in there. 

Day 28: director you want to direct a Star Wars movie

Anyone female. I mean, seriously. You want to be at the forefront of gender equality? Get a female director under contract.

Day 29: a prop you'd like to own

Luke's green lightsaber. #ignitethegreen 

Day 30: why you love Star Wars

I could write a longer blog about this one day, but I'll be brief here:

My brother and I are three years apart - he's older than I am, and we didn't get along too well when we were in grade school - I was obnoxious and he was easily annoyed. But the one thing that united us was Star Wars. That was a time when we weren't fighting, but united in our love of the galaxy far, far away.

It continues to this day - we are on opposite sides of the country and we have different jobs, but when we get together I'll know that we'll have a lot of Star Wars to discuss!



So there you have it! 30 days' worth of topics shrunk down into one blog. The next time we meet, we will be discussing The Last Jedi. How immensely exciting!



My name is Claire Nat! You can follow me on Twitter @CeePipes, or follow me on Facebook at facebook.com/blurbmusings. Check out my blog for other articles!


Other Star Wars Saturday Articles:
The State of Star Wars Fandom
Loss in Episode IV
The Galaxy on Television

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Star Wars Saturday: The Galaxy on Television

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, the Star Wars stories aren't limited to movies. Lately, children (and adults) have been able to watch fun, galaxy-filled stories on their own television and computer screens.

Today I am going to highlight two of those shows that were shown on Disney XD over the past few years.

Star Wars Rebels

This show premiered in 2014 and takes place between the events of Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. Much of the story centers around the planet of Lothal and an orphan who lives there named Ezra Bridger. He runs across the path of a ship crew who is doing their best to upend the Empire. Members of the Ghost include Hera Syndulla (a Twi'lek who is the owner and pilot of the ship), Kanan Jarrus (a former Jedi who is still discovering the Force on his own), Sabine Wren (a Mandalorian artist who used to attend the Imperial Academy), Zeb Orrelios (a Lasat who believes he is the last of his kind, and Chopper (a droid owned by Hera who is super sassy).

Through the seasons Ezra discovers that he has a strong connection to the Force, and Kanan takes it upon himself to train him. Sabine confronts her Mandalorian roots and helps to lead the Mandalorian rebellion against the Empire. Hera recruits the Ghost crew to the ever-growing Rebellion cause, eventually becoming a general.

The show is in the middle of its last season, which ends up finishing near the events of Rogue One. Since the productions were happening at the same time, there is crossover between both properties. In Rogue One Chopper appears in the background, and Hera is also mentioned over the intercom system on Yavin IV. In Rebels Saw Gerrera and Mon Mothma both appear and are voiced by the actors that played them in Rogue One (Forest Whitaker and Genevieve O'Reilly, respectively).

Since much of the Rebels crew carried over from the Star Wars: The Clone Wars television show, there are characters who cross over as well. Ahsoka Tano appears, who meets an uncertain demise, as well as Darth Maul (whose demise is more definitive) and Captain Rex (he's still alive at the end). Many more Clone Wars characters also go through the show occasionally.

I hope once Rebels ends someone compiles a list of essential episodes to watch, because there are some gems hidden in amongst some pretty big fluff. That fluff kind of turned me off to Rebels, but there are those that absolutely love the show and love all the fluff that goes with it.


Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures

The partnership between LEGO and Lucasfilm started in 1999, and what started out as simple playsets turned into a multi-platform juggernaut. Video games and movie shorts started in 2005, and eventually television series like The Yoda Chronicles and Droid Tales aired on Disney XD.

The closest we got to canon-level television from the LEGO folks was The Freemaker Adventures, which aired from 2016-2017. Unlike Rebels, The Freemaker Adventures took place between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. The main characters are a trio of siblings who are scavengers, picking up junk after space battles and making new things out of them. (The show utilizes the whole "master builder"-style, which is very popular in LEGO.) Through their adventures they're recruited into the Rebel Alliance.

The main plots of the two seasons - a kyber saber and an Imperial assassin droid - are pretty weak, but I ended up watching The Freemaker Adventures for the subplots and the OT throwbacks. Plus, that period between Episodes V and VI are pretty underdeveloped (considering it's only about a year gap), and they were able to include main characters like Luke and Leia, carry over Rebels characters like Hera, and have some really fun new characters (Durpin and Plumestriker! Graballa the Hutt! Lieutenant Valeria!).

I love the three Freemakers as well. They are unique personalities who are funny. (These scripts are hilarious.) Zander loves piloting spacecraft and creating them, too. Kordi not only is business-savvy, but is great at organizing and becomes a valuable asset to the Rebels. Rowan is the youngest and discovers he has Force powers.

This isn't a canonical story, and I believe the proper term is "canon-adjacent."


These two shows are a fun way to fill in some blanks of the Star Wars story while waiting for more movies to be released. If you're looking for something that will fill your nostalgia buttons, then Rebels is your show. If you'd rather just goof off and enjoy some pretty on-the-spot comedy, then catch The Freemaker Adventures. There's something for everyone!


My name is Claire Nat! You can follow me on Twitter @CeePipes, or follow me on Facebook at facebook.com/blurbmusings. Check out my blog for other articles!


Other Star Wars Saturday Articles:
The State of Star Wars Fandom
Loss in Episode IV