Time to Update the Blog

I was playing around with my very neglected blog while writing my post about the Tigers at Disney’s Animal Kingdom when I discovered that the WordPress Theme I had chosen is now retired. I tried to edit a couple of things here and there and it seemed like I couldn’t do it.  So, if I want to keep thing blog up, I guess it’s time to look into the themes that are available on WordPress and see if one of those appeals to me.

I don’t spend much time on this blog. I have ideas of things to write but lack the time to sit down and actually write them. Really, this means I value other things on my to do list more than writing a blog post here or there.

This all means that I am not willing to either buy a them (because some of the WordPress themes cost money) or design one from scratch. Guess that means some changes might be coming in the near future.

Stay tuned.

RSM

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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.”

RSM Review: Ahsoka (novel) by E. K. Johnston

ahsokanovelThis one is a tough one for me to review. I have mixed feelings about the book itself, so I don’t know what to say about it.

I love Ahsoka Tano. She’s fast become one of my top two favorite characters in all of the Star Wars universe, second only to Leia. I saw the original Star Wars when I was 8, and have been a devoted fan ever since. I’ve read a ton of the Expanded Universe novels and am trying to come to grips with it all having been reclassified as Legends. This universe is one my favorite places to visit.

I loved Ahsoka since she first appears in the Clone Wars cartoon movie, even though most found her annoying. As she grew and matured throughout the course of the Clone Wars TV show, I loved her even more. When she returned to the Rebels cartoon, I was beyond overjoyed. That’s about how I felt when I found out a book would be coming out with more of her story.

Overall, I enjoyed the book, but only found parts of it that made me feel that same sense of joy. I attribute most of this to the completely forgettable secondary characters with which Ashoka spends almost the entirety of the book living interacting with. I just didn’t care about any of them. I know we’re supposed to, but they were so bland that I had trouble even remembering their names.

The only new characters that I found remotely interesting were the other Togruta who owned the bar on the planet where most of the action takes place and a young force sensitive girl that Ahsoka met prior to the main action of the novel.

There are a series of anecdotes of things that happened prior to the novel every few chapters. Darth Maul and Captain Rex appear in them and answer some open questions from the Clone Wars. I enjoyed these vignettes a great deal. My favorite part happened toward the end of the book and involved an old friend. I won’t mention it here in case it spoils things. These chapter were what I was hoping the entire book would be like, and added to my disinterest in the main storyline.

As the book ended, I was actually excited for what could be the next book. I felt like this book served as a set up to what will be some really amazing stories. Thankfully this book sold really well (it went to #1 on the on New York Times YA best sellers list), so I am hopeful that there are more Ahsoka stories to come.

My review: The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher

princess-diaristI am near the end of The Princess Diarist, by Carrie Fisher, as I type this review. I didn’t actually read the book, but rather have borrowed the audio book from the library so I can listen to Carrie Fisher (and her daughter) narrate it to me. This has made all the difference. Carrie is not Princess Leia, and she’s wrestled with this her whole life. But I think she means it when she says that being Leia has been something important to her, and something she hasn’t ever really regretted.

There are some spoilers in the next paragraph but nothing that hasn’t already been mentioned on every website and review.

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I found the chapters about her affair with Harrison Ford when she was 19 and he was in his early 30s while they were filming the original Star Wars in 1979 to be really heartbreaking. Her daughter reads pages from the diary she kept at the time, and which she found recently sending her on a trip down memory lane. The diary entries are brilliant. They capture the raw emotions of a young, inexperienced, 19 year old woman in love with an older man. Harrison doesn’t necessary come across as much of a romantic knight in shining armor, but Carrie’s not really trying to make him come across as anything other than what he was. Her honesty is really impressive. She makes no judgment, just presents what happened. She regrets the adultery, but I think she doesn’t really regret the relationship. I suspect she is still just a little bit in love with him and always will be.

Heck, when I was 19 myself (and younger) I had my own crush on Harrison Ford (or rather Han Solo) so I can completely understand her plight.

I was a young girl when I first saw Star Wars, and it completely changed my life. I am where I am today (at NASA) and what I am today (A rocket Scientist) in large part to having experienced Star Wars. Princess Leia was a huge part of that. Here’s a woman who’s strong, brave, and not in need of saving. She’s not just a woman, she’s a princess and a leader. No one questions her authority. No one makes mention that she’s a girl. In fact, being a girl is just something she happens to be not something that defines her.

I just cannot say enough about my love of Leia as created by Carrie. That Carrie could create Leia as she did in spite of the turmoil in her young heart while filming Star Wars is very impressive.

Overall, having listened to this book, I feel like I have settled down to hear to some very personal thoughts and memories from someone I’ve admired for her on screen persona for almost my entire life. I caution parents out there, that it’s definitely not safe to listen to while children are within earshot. There is a lot of salty language and talk of rather adult themes of sex, adultery and drugs. I listened to it in the car after having dropped my children off at school.

I am glad I checked this one out. I’ve meant to read others of Carrie Fisher’s books. She has a very talented writing style and unique voice.
Thank you for sharing all of it Ms. Fisher. It was appreciated.

Sharing some of my birthday pixie dust

Wednesday was my birthday. Since I’m fairly far into my adult years, I don’t want for much on my birthday. I buy Disney Vera Bradley or Dooney and Bourke purses when I see them and don’t wait for special days or for my husband to buy them for me (or I buy them and give them to him to give to me!) In fact, the birthday wish I shared on my FaceBook page was a note reminding my friends that even if we don’t agree we can still be kind. This is especially important to me as I watch the country fight over this darned election.

In keeping with my birthday week, I shared a little pixie dust and magic with a stranger this morning. I am not overly religious but I am a person of faith, and when I am quiet and listen inside to that little voice that urges me to do good things, I feel like there’s something more than just me in this universe. I listened to that little voice this morning, and it has filled me with much happiness.

I was at Target, picking up candy for the office and for my children to give out at Halloween when I stopped to get my birthday drink from the Starbucks. A very pregnant Mom with an adorable little daughter who had to be somewhere around 1 1/2 got into line behind me. As I was waiting for my Pumpkin Spice Latte, the mom chatted along with her daughter, giving her stickers to put into her book to keep her pleasantly busy as they waited for their coffee. She ordered a Latte, and when her daughter gently asked for a muffin (complete with a “please”) I was overcome with the urge to treat them to their order. I don’t know why. It just felt like what I should do.

So I asked her if I might treat her and her daughter, and she graciously accepted. Then I went on to compliment her on her the brilliant sticker and notebook idea to help her daughter to also enjoy shopping. She told me that her husband is in the Army and they move around a lot. She stumbled on the sticker trick when they stopped in a Target’s dollar aisle and ever since then, it’s been her lifeline to keep her daughter busy on plane flights or shopping trips. I asked if her husband was in town, and she said he’s currently deployed outside of DC at an Army base, training to be an combat doctor and undergoing combat simulations right now. They’ve been apart for a bit, but will get to see him this weekend.

That’s why my little voice told me to treat her. She’s raising an amazing little girl, probably mostly on her own, with warmth and love and caring. She’s about to have another one. It was obvious that she was very pregnant, but I didn’t ask what she’s having or when she’s due. But soon, she’ll be raising two little ones most likely on her own in new towns away from family while her husband spends time away. I have so much love and respect for this woman, for the kindness she showed to her daughter, and for the kindness she brought into my morning.

Thank you, little voice, celestial energy, God, for urging me to spread some love this morning. It came back to me as so much more than what it cost me to buy that latte and muffin.

Today, the world is a slightly better place than it was yesterday. That’s really my birthday wish.

Thank you, Person of Interest

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It was a week of waiting for me, before I could watch the Final Episode ever of Person of Interest. My husband was out of town, and I just couldn’t watch it without him. While he was gone, I watched the last four episodes of season 5 with my children to get us all ready to watch the finale as soon as Dad got home.

I will write up my own thoughts and review of “return 0” in another post. This one is a post of thanks. Thank you to the amazing cast, writers, producers, and creators for giving me a series that touched my head, my heart and my soul. I will miss this show more than I can say, but it ended so perfectly, it feels not like I’ve lost it but just that I have reached an ending.

As The Machine learned in the finale, if we are remembered, if we are loved after we are gone, we never really die. Person of Interest, you will never really die.

Thank you,

RSM

Searching for my people

This post was something I wrote about 4 months ago right after having seen The Force Awakens. For whatever reason, I never scheduled it to post. I “bleeped” out the swear words of the person I was quoting. Insert your own swear words as you read it in your head.  I thought I’d post it now to time it with the release of the movie on DVD, blu ray and digital download:

I’ve spent the time since seeing The Force Awakens searching for others out there who, like me, didn’t like the movie. I’ve found them, and by and large they dislike it for the same reasons.  Here’s a quote I found today that made me smile.

“My real problem? This movie makes many of our core, classic heroes look like *bleeping* quitters and/or *bleep*. They ran into trouble between movies, and almost all of them (save Leia and Threepio) decided to *bleep* quit in response and go cry in a corner.”

 

 

Something I love: Star Wars Rebels

star-wars-rebels-season-2-keyart-1536x864-531987300980I thought I’d add a post to my site that was Star Wars related, but wasn’t another one of my diatribes lamenting the mischaracterization of Han and Leia in The Force Awakens. If you can all accept that I’m right and JJ Abrams got those characters wrong, I can accept that TFA (changing the Han and Leia stuff) is welcome in the Star Wars canon. Really that’s all I am asking.

This post is about another post George Lucas Lucasfilm addition to the Star Wars saga, currently airing on Disney XD: Star Wars Rebels. I cannot tell you how much I love Rebels. I immediately fell in love with it on its very first episode of its first season. Now in season two, this show feels like A New Hope, in a way that The Force Awakens tried to but failed (in my mind). It had the courage to show us new characters, and earn our love for them before introducing us to previously established characters (something  The Force Awakens almost did – those first 30 minutes were almost there, and then they ruined it with dead bead Dad Han).  And when Rebels did an episode that followed the beats of rescuing the Princess from the Death Star from A New Hope and using a stolen Imperial shuttle complete with codes from Return of the Jedi, it did so on the small screen with winks and nods that never felt forced (no pun intended) unlike another recent Star Wars property on the big screen.

This season, my favorite former Jedi (Ahsoka Tano) has joined the cast, and I am completely in adoration of her character arc. She is hands down my favorite character to come out of anything outside of the Original Trilogy and I was overjoyed when her creator, David Filoni, spared her from the slaughter of the famous Order 66 at the end of Season 5 of the Clone Wars. I am firmly in the camp of folks who love her so much that we never want to see her killed off. Since she’s no longer a Jedi, I don’t see any conflict with existing canon in having her survive the events leading up to A New Hope.

This past week’s episode, The Shroud of Darkness, was a particularly Jedi heavy one and is perhaps my favorite of the series so far. Since this post is getting a little long, I’ll post my thoughts in my next blog post.  If you haven’t started watching Star Wars Rebels, I’d catch up on DVD, iTunes or via the Disney XD app, and join the fun.

Until my next post,

May the Force be with You.

I’ve seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens…(no specific spoilers)

Knowing that I am hugely devoted Star Wars fan, a few of my friends have asked me whether or not I liked Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I feel like saying yes or no is in itself a spoiler, so I haven’t answered them. In fact, I have a spoiler-filled opinion blog piece all written, but since the movie just came out, I will hold off on making it live on my blog. It just felt good to get it all down “on virtual paper.”

For now, I will give you only part of the blog post as my answer to the question and then post the whole thing at a later time.

Let me set the stage, so that you’re not thinking I am some fair-weather fan. I saw Star Wars, then only called Star Wars, in the theaters at the age of 8 in 1977. You can do the math. It stirred me like no entertainment had up to then and ever would after. Only The Empire Strikes Back would come close to recreating those feelings for me. I have since watched the original trilogy easily over 100 times each. I know all of the dialog. I can see a frame grab and begin reciting lines from that scene on. I hear the music and I know exactly what’s happening. I’ve been a fangirl since before fangirls became the rage all over twitter.

Did I like the movie? In a word, no. I didn’t like it. In fact, I was ready for it to end long before it did.

I leave it to the masses to follow Star Wars from now on. I know why you like it. It’s a good enough film. It’s got good characters and beautiful special effects. It just did too many things to break my heart. I can’t feel anything but sad thinking about it, and I don’t really ever want to watch it again. Instead, I will sit back with my original trilogy and ignore what has happened in TFA while I imagine my own future.