Thoughts about Star Wars Celebration 2017

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Starting tomorrow, the annual Star Wars convention, also known as Celebration, will start in Orlando, Florida. I won’t be attending, but I will be trying to follow along virtually via twitter and the various bloggers out there.

One such blogger,  at Inside the Magic, wrote his top 5 things he hopes will be announced at Celebration here.

I was going to reply on his blog with my own thoughts, but decided to post them here (so I didn’t complain about The Force Awakens on another person’s website).

I am on board with almost all of his hopes.

(5) George at the 40th Anniversary of the release of Star wars panel.

Say what you will, but George created this world and his absence is noticeable in the lack of originality and cohesive character actions in The Force Awakens (no, Han and Leia wouldn’t have failed parenting so hard and no, Luke wouldn’t have run away – I may have blogged about that in excess over the last couple of years). He needs to be there to celebrate the 40th. I hope Disney invited him, and I hope, as you say, he decides to attend.

(4) Announcement of Luke Skywalker / Ben Solo fill-in novels set between Episodes VI and VII

I don’t really care about Ben Solo/Kylo Ren so I am not at all interested in a book about him. I found him to be an entirely annoying character. Yes, I am one of those old “get off my lawn” Original Trilogy folks who really didn’t like TFA (but find things in this rebirth to love: like Rogue One, and especially the TV cartoon Rebels). On the other hand, more Luke Skywalker is always good!

(3) Lando in The Last Jedi! You bet. We need some “hello what have we here” after the depression of TFA. Fingers crossed.

(2) An Obi-wan Kenobi spinoff movie with Ewan and I am there opening day.

(1) Original theatrical release cuts on blu-ray without the special features would make my year. I’m more excited about that potential than The Last Jedi. 🙂

Are any of you going to attend Star Wars Celebration? I wish I could but I can’t convince the rest of my family to go with me, and I’d feel guilty leaving them. Plus, when you add up ticket prices and then the cost of autographs and photos (because why go without getting an autograph), and it’s a rather expensive few days. Still, Star Wars! Maybe next year. I have a feeing there will be many more Celebrations to come.

RSM

 

Carrie Fisher: 1956-2016

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She’s been gone for almost a month now, and I still haven’t been able to put words together here on this blog. I keep waiting for the right words, the best words, but they don’t seem to come. Perhaps they never will. Until then, here are some interim words.

Princess Leia has been a part of my life since I was 8 years old. I almost can’t remember my life without Leia in it. I saw Star Wars when I was a young girl, and immediately started to want to be her (and Luke). I played with my brother’s Star Wars toys. I asked Santa for every Princess Leia action figure and doll they made. I had a doll house and Leia, not some doll, lived in it. I drew her image countless times when I was teaching myself to draw faces. I wrote letters to Carrie Fisher (the kind only a 10 year old can write) and have the autographed picture of her she sent me in response saved in my photo album of Star Wars memorabilia.

Yes, Princess Leia a fictitious character, but she was also a huge part of my childhood. Someone I looked up to. Someone I emulated. I know that the internet is quick to remind everyone who only mentions Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia when they remember that they are missing much of what she was and who she was and what she was important. For the me growing up, Princess Leia was everything.

Growing up, I liked science, math, and engineering. I knew I wanted to do something in the sciences from a very young age. While Leia wasn’t a scientist, she was an ever present example that women were equal to men. Women could be leaders, be looked up to, and take care of themselves and their friends. I never once thought I couldn’t do math, or I couldn’t go to college and graduate school. I never once thought there were things I couldn’t do because I was a woman. I just did them. If Leia could walk in to a room and immediately command respect of those who followed her, I could take advanced calculus and orbital mechanics.

When I heard the news over Christmas break that Carrie Fisher had suffered a cardiac event while on a flight home to LA from London, I braced for the worst. I searched the internet for news of her condition every day. I waited for something positive. When I heard she was in stable condition, I started to hope. Then the news came that she’d passed away and I felt empty. I know that Carrie fought her demons, but she seemed to have possessed some immortal quality. I wasn’t ready to lose her. Her story wasn’t over. She wasn’t done telling it. I wasn’t done listening to it.

My heart goes out to her daughter, Billy. My father died when I was only 26, so I understand the heartbreak of losing a parent (especially one that had their battles with their own chemical demons), just not losing one quite so publicly.

My biggest regret is that I never had the chance to tell Ms Fisher how much she meant to me, how much Princess Leia meant to me. I never got the chance to tell her that I am probably a Rocket Scientist today because her Leia instilled in me the belief that I could do anything I put my mind to. I am sure she heard this same story countless times, and after reading the Princess Diarist,  maybe if I had been able to tell her, I think her response would have been.

” I know.”

Her Universe Annual Christmas Pin

20161202_ghibli_01_ahsokapinIt’s available! In spite of the recent Her Universe/Hot Topic merger, Ashley Eckstein has continued the annual tradition of an autographed Star Wars themed holiday pin included in orders of Her Universe items at Hot Topic for a limited time.

I was actually worried about this one when I learned about Ashley’s new path with Her Universe. I have put in an order at Her Universe on Black Friday every year sine she started offering these free Star Wars limited edition holiday pins with an autograph card. This year the pin is so awesome, I knew I had to have it. It’s a Holiday Ahsoka!

I logged in to Hot Topic early this morning, not quite at the stroke of midnight, but before the kids woke up. Sadly, almost all of the Her Universe Star Wars clothing had sold out of my size. So I bought an item that probably won’t fit me but might just fit my daughter, and was able to get the pin!

Looking forward to wearing this one on Christmas with my family.

Thanks, Ashley, for such a wonderful tradition. I wish you and Her Universe many more years of happiness. Looking forward to what you bring us next year.

RSM

The Books I read in 2015

As I did in 2014, I challenged myself to read 12 books in 12 months during 2015. I am happy to say that I was successful. Without further adieu, here is the list of the 13 books I read over the course of 2015, as cataloged in my Goodreads account (one of my favorite social media resources).

They are a varied collection of books, reflective of my varied interests.  Some of them were books i picked and some were from the book club that my youngest sister tried to start amongst her friends.

  1. November 2015: Moving Target: A Princess Leia Adventure, Cecil Castellucci
  2. November 2015: Career of Evil (Cormoran Strike, #3), Robert Galbraith
  3. November 2015: Aftermath, Chuck Wendig
  4. September 2015: Bellweather Rhapsody, Kate Racily
  5. August 2015: New Dawn, John Jackson Miller
  6. June 2015: A Desperate Fortune, Susanna Kearsley
  7. June 2015: Yes Please, Amy Poehler
  8. April 2015: As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride, Cary Elwes
  9. March 2015: Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness, Susannah Cahalan
  10. February 2015: Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, Cheryl Strayed
  11. February 2015: The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins
  12. January 2015: The Husband’s Secret, Liane Moriarty
  13. January 2015: Where’d You Go, Bernadette, Maria Semple

When I have time,  will go back through this list and give you a quick summary of my thoughts on each one, and whether I bought them in hard cover, in ebook or read them via library ebook loan. I meant to do that with my 2014 reading list, and as you can see I have never gotten to that.  One of these days….

The Books I read in 2014

I used to love to read. < scratch that! I still love to read>

My love of reading started in high school and never really stopped. I’d always be reading a book, and when I’d finish one, I would immediately start the next in my queue. There was a used bookstore near my home, and I’d visit it monthly, to see what books I could add to my own library. First I started with mysteries like Agatha Christie, Sherlock Holmes, and then, inspired by Tolkien, moved onto fantasy and (given my eventual profession) science fiction.

After my children were born, my time available to read dwindled to almost nothing. I was able to finish the last couple of Harry Potter books as they came out, but aside from one or two books here or there, reading just ended up being the last thing on my list of things to accomplish, and as such, was no priority at all.

This year, inspired by Goodreads and the “challenges” the site was promoting, I decided to challenge myself to read 12 books in 12 months. Checking most of the books out of the library using the Overdrive app on my iPad mini, I not only met but exceeded that challenge and managed to read 16 books in 2014.

And here they are, starting chronologically from last January to December, the 16 books I read in 2014. Let’s hope that in 2015 I can manage to read at least that many. I will follow up in a future blog post with a few sentence summary of each one and my recommendation of whether or not I’d read them again (or suggest anyone else read them).

1. Frozen Heat (book #4 in the Nikki Heat series), by Richard Castle
2. Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic, by Alison Bechdel
3. Enders Game (the Ender Quintet #1), by Orson Scott Card
4. A Tale for the Time Being, by Ruth Ozeki
5. Childhood’s End, by Arthur C. Clarke
6. Wonder, by R. J. Palacio
7. Bud, Not Buddy, by Christopher Paul Curtis
8. Murdering my Youth: A memoir, by Cady McClain
9. Disney in Shadow (Kingdom Keepers #3), by Ridley Pearson
10. The Fault in our Stars, by John Green
11. The Splendour Falls, by Susanna Kearsley
12. A Pedigree to Die For (Melanie Travis, #1), by Laurien Berenson
13. The Silkworm (Coromon Strike #2), by Robert Galbraith
14. The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien
15. Will to Lead, by Sheryl Sandberg
16. Number the Stars, by Lois Lowry

Hello 2015 – restarting things here

Wow, so I didn’t write a single blog post all of last year? It’s not that the year was any busier than any other year. It was normal busy. It was just that I didn’t make this blog a priority. I made my family, my work, and just enjoying life a priority.

I don’t entirely feel guilty. In this age of social media, I figure not many people read this blog anyway. If you do read anything i say, it’s most likely on twitter or Facebook.

I am not that big on sharing. That’s probably the largest reason that this site sits to lonely and unloved. I journal, which is mostly for myself and to work through whatever thoughts I need to work through. That probably satisfies any need to share.

Either way, I felt that since I had this space, I’d use it again. But as before, I’m using it mostly for me. I will try to motivate myself to drag again and track those drawings here. I’m also back to reading. My children are old enough that I actually find myself with occasional free time. Filling those free moments with a good book has been wonderful. I’ll track what books I’m reading here.

I hope that 2015 has started out wonderfully for all of you. Looking forward to occasionally posting things. Let’s see how much I actually do when I write another one of these posts this time next year.

Day one of our Multiple Family Disney World Vacation

Port Orleans Riverside dockDisney World trip report time. I promised I’d start going through the Multiple Family Walt Disney World trip that my family and I went on this month (December 2013). In all, five families, myself, my three siblings and our parents, traveled down to spend a week together at Walt Disney World. Not surprisingly, we weren’t all able to arrive at the same time. Based on everyone’s work schedule, and the number of days they wanted to stay at disney, everyone arrived in more of a phased approach.

Because my Mom and I were the ringleaders of this magical trip, and because we’re Disney nerds, we were there first, staying from Saturday to the following Sunday. Eight days. Arriving first gave us a chance to set up everything, and make sure things were ready for the two families arriving the next day and the third family arriving two days later still.

It is a very good thing that we did.

When we booked this trip, through the lovely Disney specialist travel agency Mousefan travel, our agent made sure to code things with Disney as “travel with” to make sure they kept all five of our hotel rooms as close together as possible. When Mom and I (and my family) arrived, we found that four of the five families were together in the same building, and the fifth family was half way across the resort.

This was not good.

My Mom freaked out just a little bit. (It was all internal, but I could tell).

This was also not good.

As it turns out someone on the Disney side of the resort booking messed up . I verified with my travel agent, that she had made sure we were all “travel with.” She had even called earlier that week to make sure the reservation was all set and we’d end up together. So, it was entirely on the part of the Port Orleans Riverside folks.

We had specifically chosen the Port Orleans Riverside because we had a couple of families with five, and didn’t want to go up to either the Art of Animation or a Vacation club resort based on price. The trouble was that two of our five families have three children, making for a family of five but only one of them was seen as an “actual” family of five. The second family of five had a two year old as the fifth. At Disney,under three only counts as half a person in resorts and free at park entry. So, the family with three kids over three was placed in Alligator Bayou somewhere, and the rest of us were in the Magnolia bend section.

This was not at all acceptable to my Mom.

Thankfully, there were two lovely cast members working the check in at the resort, and they worked with the back office (I don’t know what to call reservations, but they had to do a lot of calling to some folks off site) to get us all together.

They offered an option (and I think at this point, it was our only option) where my family and my Mom (my step dad was joining us later because he couldn’t get the whole week off of work) had to rooms in one section of the resort (the Magnolia Bend) that first night, then we would move our stuff over to Alligator Bayou the next night, where we’d be joined by the rest of the families as they arrived. They didn’t have rooms all together until the next night.

That is what we ended up doing. It was hassle for us, because we had to wait for our bags to be picked up in the morning before heading to the parks, then wait for them to be redelivered when we returned from the parks. But in the end, bell services saved the day and managed to get everything where it needed to be.

For the rest of my siblings, they arrived and checked in, then found us in the Alligator Bayou section, never knowing anything had been amiss. In fact, we were all together on the same floor of the same building. The cousins spent every morning, running from room to room as they all woke up. It couldn’t have been more perfect. Everyone enjoyed the resort, and loved the theming over in the bayou section.

Hitch one successfully handled. Much love and thanks to the kind cast members at Port Orleans check in who helped me to keep my Mom from having a very bad day and managing to get her kids and grandkids all together.

Day one down.

Stay tuned for more Disney magic.

I wish Barnes and Noble had its act together

I am a big fan of the Nook. I have a first edition Barnes and Noble nook and enjoy reading on it almost as much as paper. My husband has been taking it on travel with him for the better part of this year, so I haven’t been able to use it. I started to look on ebay to see what other first edition nooks might be going for. They are all less than $50. Might be worth buying one for him to use on travel.

In reality, I’ve been reading my B&N Books on my iPad mini more than on my nook as of late, so one nook in eink for us to share is probably plenty. I like the convience of being able to read in low light conditions, like in bed or when getting my kids to sleep. Plus, I like the response of the mini just a bit more than the nook.

I’ve looked into getting one of the nook HDs in white, and while I really like them, I just can’t justify another tablet when I have an iPad mini, an iPad 2 and an original iPad. What I want is an eink reader to use when I don’t want to carry around a tablet.

Perhaps I am in the minority. I still see the value in having a reader only device as well as a tablet.

I don’t like the kindle. I’ve played with both the fire, the kindle eink and the nook equivalents when Target sold them both; before Target figured out Amazon was their competition. I just don’t like the kindle hardware as much as the nook. Hands down, I prefer the Apple iPad to the Kindle fire experience, but for ereaders, I like the nook better than the kindle. COrrect that, I like the first generation nook better than the kindle. The nook simple touch with is short and squat form factor just doesn’t seem to be as nice as the taller white first generation nook. So, I haven’t made the leap to buy a new nook simple touch to replace my nook while my hubby travels.

I am not entirely sure why I haven’t splurged on the $79 nook simple touch. I think part of it is because I read on the iPad, and don’t need it. Part of it is that I don’t like the simple touch as much as the first gen nook. And part of it is because Barnes and Noble isn’t doing a really good job on the content side of things to go with their hardware. Their site is always so slow. When I try to load it up just to search for a book on my iMac, I usually have to load it, then load it again, and then load it one more time for good measure. I don’t know what sort of server or software drives the back end, but the end user experience is terrible.

I had high hopes that B&N could give Amazon a run. I hope they still do. If they don’t, I worry that that will mean the end of bookstores. Brick and mortar book stores. I miss having a bookstore closer than 45 minutes drive. Sure, most of the physical books I buy these days come, ironically, from Amazon, if there were a bookstore anywhere near me, I could see stopping by there weekly. But the closest one is easily several towns and several 10s of miles away from me. Once the Borders that was 30 minutes away from us closed, there was little else left.

I love bookstores. I used to stop by Waldenbooks in the local mall at least once a week when I was in high school and then college. I always left buying at least one book. I love books. I hope to always have a physical bookstore somewhere in the area. I worry that the chains have forgotten how to sell books. I worry that we the customers have trained them that we just want cheap stuff, and and no longer care about a place where we can sit down, relax, buy a coffee and check out some books.

Above all, I wish that eBooks were all the same format, so you could buy a book electronically once and read it on whatever hardware you liked best. That’s what I as a customer wants. DO enough customers want that to make it worthwhile to the book sellers?

I certainly hope so.
RSM

Do you have an ereader? If you do, tell me about it in the comments and how you like the experience. Do you miss book stores?

642 Things to Write about Challenge: Your most treasured photograph

My fellow blogger, Colleen, who has been so good at keeping up her writing challenge, put out this one a couple of weeks ago.

642 Things to Write About Challenge: Week 7 Your most treasured photograph.”

When I summarized from memory, I thought my Grandma wore blue. It was my Grandpa that was wearing blue, but the photo is pretty much as I described it.

When Colleen posed the topic, two photos came to mind, and they were both of my Grandparents. My maternal grandparents. I responded to her blog post with a summary, from memory of my most treasured photograph. I got a few of the colors wrong, but the description I put up on her site was fairly accurate. Funny enough, we both (Colleen and I) picked photos of our Grandparents. I consider the both of us very lucky to have had Grandparents in our lives that showed us how to live, and love for real

GrandmaGrandpaHawaiiThis photo is from when my Grandparents took their dream vacation in Hawaii, long before I was born. It’s of the two of them, Grandma in a red/pink Hawaiian dress (I had remembered it as blue), Grandpa in a blue Hawaiian shirt (I had remembered it as white, but his pants are white, the shirt is blue) with lei of flowers around his neck. Arms around one another. Smiling.

My grandparents traveled everywhere together: Canada, Mexico, England, France, Ireland, Poland, Germany. They had relatives all over Europe and friends that my Grandpa made when he served in World War II. I think I get my wanderlust from them. I love to stay in one place, but I love to travel and to see new places, meet new people, explore.

Of all the places they ever traveled, it was this trip to Hawaii that they talked about over and over, raved about.  They even redecorated their rec room in the basement (Rec rooms were a very 1950s thing) in a Hawaiian theme. I only know this from photos I’ve seen of the parties they threw, and from the few bits of art that my Grandpa painted to decorate the place.

They were awesome. If there was ever an example of real, true love (the kind that lives through separation during WWII, disagreements and the eventual compromise, raising two kids, sickness and health) it was my grandparents. I still find myself not accepting that they aren’t around any more. They were the kind of people that really should live forever.

I looked at this photo often. The picture I posted here is actually their copy in the old metal frame my Grandma displayed it in. I asked for it when she passed away. When I looked at it, I’d tell myself that someday I would take my family to Hawaii too, and we would walk along the same beaches they did, drinking in the same Island magic (and maybe a cocktail or two). Hopefully sooner rather than later.

Do you have a favorite photo you’d like to share? Head on over to Colleen’s blog and post it there. You can post it here too, but I thought I’d pass along the traffic to her site. 🙂

Enjoy your walk down memory lane.

RSM.

642 Things to Write about Challenge: Week 2

As I started last week, I am continuing to play along with Colleen on her blog, and answering her questions as part of her blogging challenge. I’ve already answered this in the comments section, but thought I’d jump over here to my own blog and add some more to my answer.

This week’s topic is:

“Describe something you wanted badly and once you got it, never used.”

Alright, this one is a rather embarrassing story as well as one that dates myself. I hesitated to even use this one as a launching point for a blog post it was that embarrassing.

When I was between the 8th grade and freshman year in high school, Michael Jackson was huge. This is when “Beat It” and then “Thriller” were chart toppers. He was the thing. I decided that I wanted to own a jacket like the red leather one with the zippers he wore in the video for his song, “Beat It”.

(Take a minute and head on over and enjoy that video. It’s pure early 80s awesomeness.  I’ll wait)

Welcome back. Now, I don’t really remember now why I wanted this jacket so much. My only excuse is that I was 13 or 14 or something and Michael Jackson was cool.

Suffice to say, the jacket was really not me. I am neither red-leather nor shiny zippers (not then, and not now). Thinking back, I remember myself as being fairly invisible in high school. I was quiet. I didn’t join many clubs or extra curricular activities until my senior year. While I didn’t hang with any one particular click, I did have a few really good friends. I certainly wasn’t going to any functions that required me to be sporting a totally trendy with the times Michael Jackson faux jacket.

I think that it was either Sears or JCPenney that sold this cheap pleather knock off of the jacket design. I don’t remember how much I paid for it, but it had to have been something like $45 or $50. When I was in 9th grade, only earning money through baby sitting, this was a lot of money and a lot of hours spent watching children. I saved up over several months, and then finally purchased the jacket.

I never wore it. Not even once.

After purchase, it went into my closet, still in the plastic bag with the hanger sticking out that the department store put over it when I purchased it. I know I tried it on, but with confronted with actually wearing it somewhere, well, I just felt silly. This jacket was not me. I wasn’t all hot pink and neon green like the other 80’s girls. I was more drab olive and tan. Still am. I was immediately embarrassed and upset that I’d spent all this money on a jacket I could never bring myself to wear.

After I went to college, I packed the jacket into a box and put it in my Mom’s basement for storage. After moving out for graduate school, I didn’t bother taking it with me. When I got my first house, the jacket stayed in my Mom’s basement. When she remarried and sold the house, it got lost. I don’t know if it’s still in her basement, or if it got lost.

I’ve never bought anything nearly as out of character and flashy since, unless you count the Star Trek science officer’s uniform I bought that I’ve yet to wear for Halloween. But that’s another story.

RSM.