Haiku Me Friday! It’s snowing…

Wampas and Tauntauns A cold desert in the snow The barren landscape

Wampas and Tauntauns
A cold desert in the snow
The barren landscape

I woke up this morning to an inch of snow.  Yesterday I was thinking to myself about how wonderful it was to finally be walking my dog with sneakers again because all the snow and ice had melted.  I must have jinxed it.

I’ve written about Hoth before in a Haiku but it always comes to the forefront of my mind when winter slams Massachusetts.  We live in a funny area of MA, closer to the coast, but not too close.  We’re on this dividing line where forecasters will often say, “West of I-495 should expect to see 6” or more of snow, whereas East of I-495 will see around 2-4”,” or vice versa depending on if it’s a land storm or a coastal storm.  But we are at that weird dividing line of I-495 so we never know what we are going to get.  Today is only an inch but tomorrow is 4-9” depending on what part of Massachusetts you live.  I would prefer 0” but it looks like I have no say in this matter.

My husband and I always thought we’d move out of here since we despise the winters.  But having family so close when you have children changes everything; I can’t imagine not living near our families now that we have ARM.

I think I just need to reframe my thinking, to go along with my New Year’s resolution to be more positive.  Every time I complain about snow I can think, “At least it’s not Hoth.”  Think about it – Hoth didn’t have any trees or greenery to be seen.  It was pretty desolate.  At least I have trees to look at and I don’t have to wear jackets indoors (ever notice how everyone in the Rebellion is wearing their jackets within Echo Base?).  It’s like when I had finals in college and was stressed.  I would say to myself, “At least the fate of the world doesn’t depend on me dropping a mind-twisting ring into Mt. Doom at Mordor.”  Do not think I’m joking.  I said that to myself at the end of every semester.

Okay, bring on the snowstorm!  At least it’s not Hoth.

 

In other news – I’m hosting my first annual Star Wars party in February.  I can’t believe it took me this long to make it an annual party.  I boba-fett-dancing-gifcan’t stand the month of February.  It’s cold, there’s a lot of snow, and Valentine’s Day is stupid.  Now I have a reason to be more positive!  I’m going to host a Star Wars party every February.  I’m trying to make it as chill as possible…open to anyone, light food, some alcohol and drinks, and one game.

Guess what the game is!

(Pun!)  The attendees have to guess what movie I am going to pick.  If they guess right, they get a prize.  Yup, no one knows what we’re watching until the day of.  This gives me a bit of a manic glee (probably similar to what General Hux experienced as Starkiller Base was charged by the sun) as I love having other people in suspense over something I control.

You guys are welcome to guess too and I’ll also send you a prize if you guess correctly.  But you won’t get the prize until after February 11th

 

Have a great weekend everyone.  I’m working on my books of 2016 post and I’m hoping to be more active here in 2017.  Xoxo.

Taken From Birth

A lot of my thoughts have lately been around my child (obviously) who is now three months old and how much they really do take over your life.  While the first eight weeks felt stagnant and like I was pouring in energy and getting nothing back, I now see changes each and every day and feel like she is growing so fast.

The first eight weeks was tough.  Yeah, it was really tough.  I began to think about how they did it in a galaxy far, far away.  Did they have droids to help them?  Like, babysitting droids?  Droids that somehow knew the magic touch to calm the baby?

All these meandering thoughts led me to think about the Jedi and the First Order Stormtroopers.

Qui Gon says to Shmi (in regards to Anakin):

Had he been born in the Republic, we would have identified him early, and he would have become Jedi…

General Hux counters Kylo:

My men are exceptionally trained — programmed from birth.

I’ve always admired the Jedi, though as I have gotten older I have seen their many flaws as an organization.  But all this thinking led me to wonder: how different are the Stormtroopers from the Jedi?

jedi younglingsWith the Jedi, I found some information online that says the parent’s permission was always asked, but once the child’s mind was opened to the Force, the parent could not take them back.  However, all this was wiped out with the new Disney canon so we essentially don’t know much about the subject of how the young were actually initiated into becoming a Jedi.

The Jedi Order is supposed to be good and uphold justice in the galaxy.  Yet they had a way of identifying young babies, or children, and taking them from their parents to become a Jedi.  I feel conflicted about this.  It seems almost selfish for a parent to refuse to give up their child to become a Jedi since it’s for the greater good of the galaxy.  When you think of how large the Star Wars galaxy is and how few Jedi there are in relation to the number of sentient beings – there aren’t that many Jedi.  At the same time – it’s your child.  How could you be expected to give it up?  Ever?  I look at ARM and I sometimes wonder to myself if I would be able to give her up if Jedi came knocking on my door.  I understand Shmi’s pain a lot better now when she said, “Don’t look back.”

It’s not just your child you’re giving up, you’re giving up your future.  Dreams and plans you had for them.  Little moments that you’ll never get to see.  You’re not allowed to visit them and they will never know who you are.

Then I began to think…is that more or less cruel than General Hux and his stormtroopers?

I’m assuming that Hux doesn’t give a choice to the parents and he wrenches the babies from them.  Then those children are spoon fed First Order young stormtrooperspropaganda day in and day out to make them completely loyal to the First Order.  Their whole life, all they know is the First Order and they live, breathe, and die for the First Order.

Is that really so different from the Jedi?  There are nuances but I find that they feel eerily similar to me.

Both are taken from birth to serve a higher order and both are entrenched in the doctrine of what they serve.  Creepy, right?

In the end, what slightly mollified me was remembering Ahsoka leaving the Jedi Order at the end of The Clone Wars.  I realized that despite the similarities, the Jedi offered something the First Order did not: a choice.  As a Jedi, you had the option to leave the Jedi Order.  If you wanted to give up your life as a Jedi when you got old enough, you were allowed to leave.

I have now begun to wonder if the Jedi who left ever went back to find their family.  If they found them, would they ask why they made the decision to let them go?  Or how hard it was?

The more I think about the Jedi Order, the more jaded I become with them at times.  But did the Jedi do what was right for them as an organization?  Had this been tried and tested many times over the years and they realized that younger children were better to train than older?  Yet, couldn’t there have been a balance between allowing them to know and love their parents while also training to be a Jedi?  Though attachment was forbidden, could it possibly have made them better Jedi in the end (an argument I strongly stand by)?

I don’t have any answers but I do realize now how hard it would be to let my child be taken by strangers, even if they were Jedi.  I’m not sure I could do it, even with how much I love Jedi.  Perhaps that’s the real reason why they had such small numbers – maybe more people had the Force than we know, it’s just that their parents didn’t want to give them up.  😉

Haiku Me Friday! Under the Shadow…

Under the shadow A new dark lord rises up Yet struggles so much

Under the shadow
A new dark lord rises up
Yet struggles so much

This has to be one of my favorite haikus I’ve written in a while.

When I wrote this haiku, I thought that Kylo would be rising up as a dark Force user under the shadow of Darth Vader.  But after watching the bonus disc material that came with TFA, I wonder if perhaps the shadow he felt were his parents: these two prominent figures in the fight against the Empire.  Adam Driver mentioned that his parents were not often there for Kylo Ren as they struggled with the politics of putting a new government together.  So under this shadow, did Kylo Ren turn to the dark side because Snoke offered him attention?  And his struggle with the light side come from the fact that now he finally has his parents attention so he wants to turn back to the light side?

But added to that is the shadow of his grandfather.  He wants so badly to live up to these standards he has set for himself and carry on the legacy of Darth Vader.  Yet as he goes through the process, he constantly battles with the pull to the light side of the Force.  Is this because the light side is stronger (Yoda said it is in ESB) or because of his personality?

It seems like Kylo Ren’s biggest struggle was living under the shadow of his family.  His parents helped rid the galaxy of the Empire.  His grandfather was the most powerful Force user in the galaxy’s history.  His Uncle is the sole remaining Jedi.

And not only does Kylo struggle with the light side, but he also struggles with the respect he feels he deserves as a Sith (or soon-to-be-Sith…I’m still unclear if the Knights of Ren are actually Sith).  Clearly General Hux tolerates him but I’m not sure he respects him as a member of the First Order.  Lor San Tekka derided him as soon as he showed up on Jakku.  Supreme Leader Snoke seems to go back and forth on if he trusts Kylo Ren and I bet he knows he’s taking a gamble with him.  Heck, I would too…the grandson of Darth Vader to possibly use as your tool, even if he ends up dying or turning to the light side would be worth it for a bit.

I’ve come to the conclusion that the shadow of Kylo’s family (Vader, parents) drove him to the dark side where he rose up high due to his natural inclinations with the Force.  But he struggles with the light side and gaining respect from others.

Ahhhh I love it when my haikus force me to think.

Have I convinced any of the Kylo-haters to give him a second chance or rethink about him a bit?

In Which I Defend General Hux and Speculate on Supreme Leader Snoke

General Hux

I think I’m in the minority out there…but I really like General Hux.  I’ve been reading many reviews that label him as a superfluous character in The Force Awakens but I would like to argue that people who are writing about that are missing the point of who he is.

General Hux is a bad guy, sure.  He’s not the main antagonist like Kylo Ren and, possibly in the future, SL Snoke, but he falls more in the realm of a secondary antagonist.  Maybe J.J. was trying to create him to be the new Grand Moff Tarkin but he fell short.  Not in a bad way necessarily, but just because General Hux is different from Tarkin.

General HuxHux represents a new generation of the Empire.  He is the ideal First Order candidate.  Similar to Finn, he was raised with Imperial propaganda as his breakfast, lunch and dinner.  General Hux sincerely believed that the Empire saved the Republic from the Clone Wars and the current New Republic is weak.  He grew up as a beast frothing at his mouth, trapped by the New Republic.  He’s what I would label a First Order Fanatic (FOF…nice ring, right?).

This is where he is different from Grand Moff Tarkin.  Tarkin worked strategically to get the Empire where it was.  Hux believed it was his God given right to rule the galaxy as one of the best Generals in charge of the biggest, baddest base.   Tarkin was someone who firmly believed the Empire should rule the galaxy.  Hux believes the First Order is there to wipe out anyone who doesn’t agree with them and he should be leading it.

He’s a maniac. I love it.

All his thoughts and actions are surrounding the First Order in a way that reminds you of a deranged serial killer.  He’s obsessed with bringing the First Order to the height that the Empire once was.  He steals kids from birth to brainwash them into being perfect stormtroopers for the First Order!  Wow.

Everything he says and does is purely for the First Order. Starkiller base and it’s troops are his tools that he works into perfection.  Even Kylo Ren does not live up to his expectations, possibly because he knows that he has not completed his training or maybe it’s because of his heritage that involves people who so vehemently opposed the Empire, and now, the First Order.  Though Hux makes mistakes, you can see that he genuinely believes he still has the best army in the galaxy, unlike Kylo Ren who shows a moment of weakness when Hux accuses him of purposefully letting BB-8 escape in favor of taking the girl instead.  General Hux hates weakness and hates mistakes, especially large blunders like the one Kylo Ren made.

All this leads me to talk about why I loved his speech.  There were a lot of complaints out there about how it was badly written, but I didn’t even pay attention to what was said.  I was enraptured with Hux’s face because in that moment, he is in his glory.  Everything he has worked so hard for over 30 years is coming to a the epic climax.  His eyes fill with tears and you can see he means every single word of what he is saying to the core of his being.  This is his moment to show the galaxy that General Hux and the First Order are not ones to be trifled with.

He’s crazy.  I love it.

 

Supreme Leader Snoke

There are rumors going around that Snoke is Darth Plagueis.  He looks like someone once dead and most importantly, people are arguing that Snoke’s theme is eerily similar to the music played during ROTS when Palpatine and Anakin discuss Plagueis at the opera.

I sincerely hope that Snoke is not Plagueis.

Why?

Oh, I’m so glad you asked!

Because the more I’ve written in this blog about Palpatine, the more I love his character.  Lucas did an excellent job intertwining Palpatine’s story between both trilogies to see that he was an absolute genius and mastermind in creating the Empire bringing the Sith back into power.  He was, in supreme leader snokeshort, a genius the galaxy had never seen.

Palpatine, as we know, also learned everything he could from his master Darth Plagueis, and then killed him.  He stole everything he learned.

Do you really think that Palpatine would let there be a chance that Plagueis could return?  By doing so, it shows a weakness in Palpatine’s planning and takes away from how amazing and intelligent 60+ years of his life was.

The music being similar is a good argument, but LFL and Disney has a bunch of tricks up their sleeve.  Remember that the previews led us to believe that Finn was the Force user, as opposed to Rey.

Or perhaps Williams is getting up there in years and forgot he already did a very similar piece.

I just don’t like the idea of Snoke being Plagueis because it takes away from Palpatine’s greatness.  I much prefer Snoke being Palpatine resurrected but, for some reason, I just don’t think that’s the case.  I could be wrong, but I think that would be yawn-worthy and hope they don’t do it.  I like Palpatine’s story just the way it is and I don’t think he should be brought back.

It would also be somewhat out-of-character for Disney to bring in a character that was only mentioned in the PT when they are focusing so much on pulling similarities from the OT.  I will argue that the opera scene is one of the most interesting and best acted scenes in the PT and I don’t think anyone could argue with that so perhaps if they take anything from the PT, they go with the Plagueis storyline since it is canon.

If you’re interested in reading all the theories out there on who Snoke is, combined into one place, click here.

But please don’t.  Leave Plagueis to history and leave Palpatine with his body in fragments across the galaxy after the second Death Star was destroyed.

 

Begun, A New Era Has: My review on The Force Awakens

I predicted I would love the movie yesterday and not be able to say anything but great things about it. While I did love and like it a lot, it took a while for me to get into it.  Longer than I thought and I did find some parts that did not sit well with me.

The Force Awakens reminded me of a new pair of shoes.  It was a little uncomfortable at first, something different that I needed to get used to.  But once I had worn it for a significant amount of time, the shoes melded to my feet and I love them.  It tooke a while for me to accept that this movie was the beginning of a new era in Star Wars: new characters, ships, and storylines to get used to.

I felt like the first 2/3 of the movies was story building – a lot of it.  To the point that sometimes I felt that it was a little slow and it was uncomfortable.  Though we were in the universe of Star Wars, it was different.  The galaxy had aged 30 years, the Empire is resurrected in a new form as the First Order, and we aren’t sure what has happened to the Rebellion.  The war that we thought was over is far from over and the Resistance, surprisingly I thought, is still a small faction (albeit more organized) trying to overthrow a large government.

General Notes – Spoiler Territory Ahead

The strengths of this movie pulled from the Original Trilogy with its humorous quips  and little touches that devout Star Wars fans would notice (there were definitely some EU shout outs as well).  The humor mostly came when Han was on screen, so I’d like to see how they are going bb-8to keep the humor going now that he’s dead.  I’m guessing Poe since he had that bad boy funny streak.  The format was like A New Hope in that we followed BB-8 on this journey, similar to how we followed R2-D2 and C-3PO previously.  I loved BB-8 and I understand why everyone fell in love with Artoo when Star Wars first came out.  I want my own BB-8 droid.

The Falcon appeared early in the movie and was the main mode of transportation, but man oh man, does it get beat up.  I cringed every time it hit the sand, but it kind of brought a realness to the situation that I appreciated.

I did not notice the soundtrack as much as I thought I would.  I feel like all the other Star Wars movies had distinct themes that you could go return to and love.  Duel of the Fates, Imperial March, Luke and Leia, Battle of the Heroes, etc.  I didn’t notice anything in The Force Awakens that had me rooting for a new tune.

Once everything was established, and we knew and understood the new characters Finn and Rey, the story began to take off.  The last 1/3 of the movie was Star Wars fun, with a big space complex to destroy (round per usual, but this time in the form of a Death Star converted to a large planet), a lightsaber fight, and some loss of beloved heroes.

In typical Star Wars fashion, there were some plot points that were nicely glossed over that left me scratching my head.  Such as:

  • Where did they get Luke/Anakin’s lightsaber?  Maz Kanata smoothed that over and basically said it was “a story for another time.”
  • Why was the lightsaber “crying” and Rey heard it?  Is this part of the maz kanata lightsaberForce?  Why did it give her all those images?
  • I would have liked to know more about the Republic that was destroyed by Starkiller Base.  It sounds like it was established at the end of ROTJ, but was it an actual governing force in the galaxy?  Is the First Order still the reigning government, or was it similar to a civil war or the Prequel Trilogy with the Separatists and the Republic?  But this time the Republic is the smaller group and the First Order is the larger?
  • R2-D2 basically shutting down didn’t make sense.  It was a neatly thrown in plot point and then he conveniently “woke up” at the end to help the Resistance find Luke…huh?

Characters

I loved Rey.  Rey was my favorite character, no question about it.  They didn’t try to make her a forced “strong female protagonist” as most of Hollywood seems to be trying to do right now.  They made her relatable, a real human being where you understood her actions and the consequences.  She could be male or female, which is what I loved.  There was no push on the romance and even now, I can’t figure out if her and Finn are going to become an “item” or if they are just friends who’ve been through a lot.  I want to know more about her history.  I’m guessing her parents were taken from her?  But who was dragging her away?  Is she somehow related to the Skywalkers?

Mr. Reticent noted that he thought her being captured by Kylo Ren was a Rey Kylo Ren gif“damsel in distress” situation, but I highly disagree.  It made sense with her character.  It allowed her to battle Kylo in the Force, come out victorious, and feel the Force awaken within her.  If they captured Han, it would be a little pointless.  If they captured Finn, there would be so much hullabaloo with him being a previous stormtrooper that there would be too much First Order protocol involved.

I thought Han was still Han, though I did feel like the movie was staged for his death a little too much (who called that?).  I liked his quips, his camaraderie with Chewie was still the same, and I thought it made sense that he was separated from Leia due to their son going to the dark side.  We couldn’t have Han and Leia madly in love because his death would be that much harder.  Abrams and the writers wanted to separate the audience from Han, to not make it *that* hard on us when he died.  Though I didn’t cry when he died, totally expecting it, I did get teary eyed when Rey came off the Falcon and had that moment with Leia.

Though the driving force of the movie was Luke Skywalker, it was frustrating how little they spent on where he had been in the past 30 years.  I know he disappeared due to the failure of his training and starting a New Jedi Order, but it was rushed.  It seems a little out of character for the Luke we know…wouldn’t he have at least stayed in touch with his sister and Han?  I hope we find out much, much more of his backstory in the upcoming films.  When I saw the last shot, I honestly thought, “Oh darn, the movie was just starting to get good.”

Finally, Kylo Ren.  Or, Ben Solo (interesting EU nod).  I went back and forth throughout the movie on whether or not I liked him.  On the one hand, he was not nearly as imposing or intimidating as I’d expect Kylo vs. Finnsomeone on the dark side of the Force to be.  On the other hand, I loved the character struggles he seemed to go through.  It added more layers to a dark side character that we’ve only really seen in Return of the Jedi.  Knowing Kylo was once good and even admits that he’s struggling when it came to his father was an interesting twist for Star Wars.  Vader never admitted he struggled with the light side.  I’m confused as to why he wore the mask, other than to emulate Darth Vader and his obsession with him.  Funnily, and I’m not sure if Abrams meant this, but the tantrums Kylo Ren threw were so much like Anakin that I wanted to pat him on the back and tell him he’s more like Anakin than he knows. I loved Adam Driver’s acting when it came to that moment when he killed his father.  I felt there was a real struggle within him, but when he made his decision, you could see this slight change in his face and oh, it was so perfect.  By the end of the movie, I wish we had more of Kylo and I’m interested to see where he will go in his training with Snoke.

Supreme Leader Snoke.  Where do I begin?  This was my one major gripe with the movie.  I thought he was a horrible addition.  It looks like he jumped straight out of a Tolkien novel/movie, with some zombie thrown in.  I can’t figure out if it was because he was so large or because of his species (whatever he is), but I thought he wasn’t believable.  Every time he came on the screen, the movie felt disjointed and took a step back, instead of forward.  I am curious as to whether it’s because he was so large, which made me think he just looked stupid.  When we see him in future movies, I hope that he is a normal height and not a hologram.  I wanted to see more of Kylo Ren and less of Snoke throughout the movie.

General Hux was like he came straight out of an EU novel: a typical Imperial General.  What I liked most about him was that he seemed to be an equal to Kylo and had no problems calling him out, another difference from the Empire in the Original Trilogy, where everyone was terrified of Vader (shhh…don’t tell Kylo that).  Captain Phasma didn’t have as large of a role as I was hoping, but I appreciate the shout out to female stormtroopers and the fact, again, that Phasma could have been male or female.  Maz Kanata was a nice replacement for Yoda/wise mage, but I’d like to see more of her.  I hope she continues to pop up throughout the new sequels, but is a true guiding force.  General Leia was not given as much screen time as I would have hoped.  She was the same, yet different, but they didn’t explore it much.  She had more of a cameo role than an actual part.  Poe Dameron was interesting and I hope we see more of him in the future.  I think he will be a really strong character, but more please.  More of Poe in the next movie.

star-wars-7-force-awakens-kylo-ren-captain-phasma-general-hux

I believe it took a while for the movie to establish itself, but once the foundation was built, it took my breath away.  Abrams did a great job clearly defining that the baton was being passed onto a new generation, which was one of my highest hopes.  I did not want a movie that only focused on Han, Leia, and Luke again – and this did not disappoint.

The only parts where it fell short for me was the lack of the mystical in the Force and Snoke.  I felt that the Force has always been such an important factor for Star Wars and guides all the movies, so to say, but it wasn’t strong within this movie.  I think we’ll see more of it coming up in the sequels and I certainly hope so.

Overall, I give The Force Awakens a solid B+/A-.  I’m seeing it again tonight so will hopefully have a better understanding and opinion of it once done.

 

Okay, phew, done.  LET’S DISCUSS.