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

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.

The return of the All About the Mouse Disney Podcast

aatm-disney-podcastAs you all know, I am a huge Walt Disney World fan. I’m also an ardent member of the Apple ecosystem since forever. So it is natural that I’m also a podcast listener. One of my favorite podcasts on the topic of Walt Disney World was the All About the Mouse Disney Podcast.

It was a sad day back in 2010 when AATM went “off the air” as the two co-hosts decided that life had made it difficult for them to continue to bring out a weekly dose of Magic and Mayhem. Thankfully, just this summer, Bryan and Jonathan decided they had been retired from Disney podcasting long enough and came back better than ever, complete with a new website: All About the Mouse Central.

They’ve been back for about six episodes at the time of my writing this blog post, and each episode has had the same or better level of energy, professionalism, production value and fun as what I remember. Both Bryan and Jonathan have a lot of love for Disney and it shows. They segment their shows with a little banter, some Disney news, some interaction with their listeners, and then a highlight segment which consists of either reviews or interviews with notable folks in the Disney community. The episodes have been a bit long, but since I’ve got a long commute to work, one episode can easily fill both my morning and evening drives.

I’m a bit personally invested in this one because I had the honor of being “interviewed” during one of their episodes through a segment they call MouseCalls. They will randomly call listeners who have signed up and given them their phone number and ask them a series of questions about their favorite things at Disney World. It was a heck of a lot of fun, and I’d encourage all their listeners to sign up and give it a try.

Podcasting is hard. It takes a lot of work both to produce the episodes and to find your nitch and keep it. I’d like to see All About the Mouse continue for a good long while before the guys decide to retire again.

Welcome back guys. You’ve been missed.

RSM

 

Taking Your Children out of School for a Walt Disney World Family Vacation

I am trying to write a blog post about my thoughts on taking my children out of school for a family trip to Walt Disney World. My thoughts and feelings about it have shifted around as my children have grown and continued through school. Basically, I take them out as long as I feel they can make up the work. This is getting harder as they get further along in school.
I started with the following bulleted list of pros and cons. I thought I’d post those here to my blog as a sneak peek into my thoughts and also to ask for inputs from anyone who might read this.
 
Pros
  • Able to pick times with Lower crowds (potentially)
  • Able to pick times with potentially cooler temperatures
  • Might help to coordinate multi-family trips
  • Hard ticket special events: MNSSHP, MVMCP, WDW’s anniversary (Oct 1st), Walt’s birthday (Dec 5)
  • Educational opportunity
Cons
  • Missing class time, especially the first time teacher goes over something
  • Having to make up homework, classwork
  • No perfect attendance
  • Too much work to make up upon return (higher grades especially)
How to mitigate issues
  • Plan long in advance
  • Don’t pick the beginning of the school year when your child and the teachers are just getting into things
  • Let the teachers, school know long in advance of the trip and work with them to make up homework/classwork
  • Pick out dates that are best in terms of testing, homework, projects
  • know your child, Can they make up the work or will they fall behind
What are your thoughts? Send me comments and I will add to what I’ve captured above.

Thank you, Person of Interest

poi_100thEpiCelebration_01

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

This will hold my place – Farewell Person of Interest

PersonOfInterestThe final episode ever of Person of Interest (PoI) aired last night on CBS. My husband is out of town on travel for work and won’t be home until next week, so I haven’t watched it yet. Watching Person of Interest is something we’ve done together since the show aired its vary first episode. We haven’t missed watching an episode together yet. He told me I could watch it on my own, so I don’t have to stay away from the internet until next week but I don’t know that I can go through watching it alone.

I’ve never written about PoI on my blog. Mostly my blog has been Star Wars focused or Castle focused when I wrote about pop culture. The only reason for so few posts about a show I love so much is that I lacked the time to do the show justice. Person of Interest is a fantastic show, layered and poetic, so beautiful in its portrayal of broken people learning how to be better, to be heroes, with the help of a machine.

I plan on purchasing the last episode, as a backup in case our DVR died sometime between now and next Tuesday. I might be able to make it until my husband’s return to watch it, I might not. In either case, I wanted to put something up on my blog about Person of Interest, before it’s gone.

Open letter to the Show Runners of ABC’s Castle

If there is no Kate Beckett, there is no Castle.  Period.

Several years ago, I used to post pretty regular reviews/summaries of episodes of Castle on my blog. So regularly that I’ve made a tab at the top of my blog to link to them. I’m a Nathan Fillion fan, and fell in love with his ruggedly handsome Richard Castle character from the first episode of this mid-season replacement show. While Nathan may have gotten me to start watching, it was the Beckett-Castle relationship, embodied by Stana Katic and Nathan Fillion that got me to stay. From the very beginning, their chemistry was amazing, add to that the fact that the show took what is typically a male dominated profession and instead gave us the amazing Detective Kate Becket and I was hooked.

 

I stopped writing reviews and summaries because I grew unhappy with the direction the show was taking. It focused on a lot of dark stuff. Betrayal. Miscommunications. At it’s heart, it’s a hopeful, zany show with shenanigans wrapped around the serious murder-solving.  Along the way, the show runners forgot that, and made things too dark. Dark is fine. Dark has its place. Castle is not dark.

The season leading up the wedding of Castle and Becket seemed to remember what the fans of the show loved, and gave it to us in spades. Then the show runners traded hands, and the entire tone of the show changed. The ratings have reflected that. For me, I never returned to writing reviews, but I have never stopped watching the show. I used to have to watch it the day it aired (after our children fell asleep) but now I might go a couple of weeks before catching up. I find that telling. I still watch, it’s just not as fun, so I don’t rush to the DVR.

I’ve just read news that neither Stana Katic nor Tamalia Jones will be returning *IF* Castle is renewed this fall. ABC has not announced what will happen to the show going forward, and news is out that the show runners have filmed three different endings, depending on whether the season ender is also a series ender or not.  I do not know whether one of those endings results in Kate Beckett’s death, but if it does, I am done. Here and now. I am done watching this show.

There is no Castle without Beckett. No Beckett without Castle. Sure, I love Ryan and Esposito, and I love them with Castle, but the heart of this show was the two leads. The romance. The love. The teamwork. The episodes were always their strongest when Kate and Richard worked together to solve the crimes. That became painfully evident this season, as the characters underwent a “fake breakup” to throw off some bad guys.

At this point, if ABC has decided that it’s not worth keeping Stana, then I have decided it’s not worth continuing with this show. If the finale doesn’t let Castle and Beckett ride off into the sunset then I am not interested in watching anything further. I won’t watch even a shortened season without Beckett.

The fans deserve a happy ending. The fans deserve Castle and Beckett growing old and catching bad guys. Let them have babies, and save the world. Let us know they will be living the happily ever after that this couple was always meant to have.  Show us a healthy relationship where the wife can continue her career and she and her husband can work together as partners.

But I am not even sure I’ll continue watching to see.

I am beyond disappointed ABC. Whoever is making these decisions has no idea why the fans watch this show. Nor do they appear to care. I know it’s about the money. I just wish it were also about the storytelling and the fans.

I won’t even start my rant about how they are letting go of only the women on the show.

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.”