Fan Art Friday! Homage to the great Princess

After being a total bum and missing last month’s Fan Art Friday, I’m back this month with Mei-Mei.  She picked a great one – a simple picture of Princess Leia so that we could nod our head to the lately departed.

Though this picture is simple, it brought up so many memories for me of who Princess Leia was and how she impacted my life.

I think most importantly – and also most interestingly – was my initial reactions to Leia being a princess.  When I was younger, I grew up like most children my age with the definition of a princess being a Disney Princess: flowing gowns, a prince charming, magic, etc.

Knowing Leia was a princess did not register with me for a few years, only because I had never encountered a princess other than a Disney princess.  What ended up happening is that my brain rejected it because I could not understand it.  I’m not sure how to explain this properly but she did not fit a mold of how I understood princesses to be and therefore I did not think she was a princess.  This was all strangely subconscious.  Obviously I called her “Princess Leia” but I think the title “Princess” became synonymous with her name, and not a title.

It took a few years and some growing up for me to understand that she was still a princess, albeit different from what I was used to.  I ended up loving her for it.

princess-leia-trash-compactorThis woman was a princess, but snarky, witty, and able to stand her ground with other men.  In fact – she was the one who got them out of the trapped Death Star hallway…even though it was a trash compactor.  I loved her line of, “Well, somebody has to save our skins.”

One of the things I loved most about her is the fact that she never really thanked Han and Luke for rescuing her.  The adult part of me thinks that’s horribly rude, but then some of me loves it because I realize that maybe she always knew there would be a way out.  Maybe she knew that she didn’t need men to rescue her so it was just a helpful coincidence that they showed up at the right time.  Of course, Han did it for money so it’s not like she should thank him anyway.

As Princess Leia evolves, she changes from the sarcastic princess, to someone a bit warmer.  I believe the sarcasm and wit were a wall that she used in ANH to hide her true self.  As ANH continues, we see more of the woman she really is towards the end, when she counsels Luke about Han having to choose his own path.  In ESB, she still has the wall, especially with Han, but Leia’s metaphorical wall finally gets destroyed as Han gets physically enveloped by a real wall.  In ROTJ, the Leia we saw in ANH is barely present.

Funnily though, I never found Leia to be a very relatable character.  I loved her, but she was never the one I yearned to be like as I always wanted to be Luke.  But what Leia taught me is perhaps a more valuable lesson – how to hold my own around men.  When I look back at my teenage years, I’m thoroughly embarrassed by the way I would act to get men’s attention.  I would act like a ditz and an airhead because it made men (boys) laugh.  I was degrading my intelligence for their benefit and attention.

With the help of my best friend at the time and watching Star Wars, I realized that Leia would never act like I did.  She was able to show that you can be valued for your honesty, intelligence, humor, and not be held back because you are a woman.  And you can be royalty to boot as well.

So while coloring this picture, I wanted to pay homage to the Princess Leia that I love and knew.  I tried to keep it simple so that it mostly spotlighted her.  I chose colors that came to mind when I thought of Alderaan: rolling green grass and forests with streams of water.   Instead of giving her the title of Princess Leia which took me so long to accept, I gave the title of “Her Worshipfulness”, which Han called her once in ANH.  I surrounded the picture with some of my favorite quotes of hers that meant something to me over the years (sorry, the nerf herder quote had to be cut out due to it being too long).  I attempted to put the Rebel insignia into there as well.

This has to be my favorite coloring piece I have done so far only because of the gravity at which I took it and the memories and feelings it evoked for me.

princess-leia-coloring-book

Carrie Fisher, you will forever be missed as the woman who brought Princess Leia to life.  The Star Wars community mourns your loss and hope the Force is with you wherever you are now.

 

 

The Highs and the Lows: 2016

Another year has come and gone.  I always feel like 12 months is so long in the beginning of the year and then at the end, I feel like it was a blink of an eye.  “The days are long, but the years are short,” is what someone told me when ARM was a newborn and I totally get it now.

This blog didn’t have so well of a year as it did in 2015, primarily for two reasons:

  1. I posted a lot less, and
  2. TFA really helped out my blog last year.

That said, it didn’t do as badly as I feared either!  Only ~7000 views less than last year.  My most viewed post was Costuming & Characters on Princess Leia, followed by the Han Solo, and lastly Luke’s costume analysis.  I remember how long those took to write last year so I’m happy to see they are still getting traction.  My most viewed post that I wrote in 2016 was In Which I Defend General Hux and Speculate on Supreme Leader Snoke.

When searching the Internet, most people came to my site by way of “pregnant Padmé”, “Boushh Scene” and “Princess Leia Endor Ewok costume”.

 

2016, overall, was a great year for me personally.  In fact, there were more highs than lows which is always a GREAT thing, but I feel like the lows had longer effects.

 

The Highs of 2016

  • Obviously my daughter’s birth. With a middle name of Rey, I’m hoping this child grows up strong in the Force, independent; open to change, and a kind hearted person.  After having two failed pregnancies, it was nice to see this come to fruition and meet our own
    One of my favorite photos taken in Ireland

    One of my favorite photos taken in Ireland

    child at last.  I really was hoping she would come to this world on a Star Wars date, but alas, that didn’t happen.  I love her anyway though.  😉

  • We still traveled quite a bit this year: Florida in the earlier part of the year, Ireland and London in October, and Nashville in November.  I went by myself to NYC last month as well.  I’ve wanted to go to Ireland for years so it was nice to finally have that dream of mine come true.  I loved the Western Coast the best and we stayed in a beautiful, relaxing Airbnb right on the coast.  The backyard was a cliff to the ocean! London was way more fun than I thought it would be and I sincerely hope that I get to go back one day. We visited family and stayed for two days and I really wish I had stayed longer!
  • My business continued to thrive, despite having to figure out an unpaid maternity leave. I lost some clients, but also gained some!  I have also learned how to be picky on who I bring on as a client as my new schedule with a young baby does not give me as much availability as before.  But on the other end, I now am working very early in the morning and until late at night, so there is a darker side.

 

The Lows of 2016

  • The election. I actually had a whole post devoted to this, but then scrapped it because I don’t want my blog to be about politics.  But I can write about it briefly here!  In a nutshell – I am a registered Republican, but was/am appalled by Donald Trump.  I am trying to keep an open mind now that he’s been elected, but I do worry about the direction our country is headed.  That said, I did not think padme-gifHillary Clinton was a good choice either…but I thought she was the lesser of two evils.  Trump reminded me of the Empire, in fact, many times uncannily so.  I am hoping I will never need to say Padmé’s famous line of “So this is how liberty dies, with thunderous applause,” during the next four years.
  • My health. My health has taken quite a beating this year and I am still having issues.  I got the flu back in March and let me tell you – when you have any kind of sickness and your pregnant and/or breastfeeding – life gets a whole lot harder!  Being pregnant with the flu was horrible.  You can only take Tylenol, and not a lot of it, but it doesn’t help much.  If I got a coughing fit, I would pee my pants due to the baby sitting on my bladder/extra pressure.  It took a good month and a half for me to feel well again.  Fast forward to mid-October, I get another cold…that hasn’t gone away.  I found out I had strep throat for a few weeks without knowing it.  I took the antibiotics and broke out in a horrible rash.  I stuck with them and though I am slightly better, I am not 100% and it’s been 3 months now.  I went to a naturopath Monday and am hoping I start to get better.  We are experimenting with cutting out lactose for a few weeks (ugh) and she has me on a few different supplements as well.
  • The death of my grandmother and godmother. I was not especially close with my grandmother and she lived in Australia, but it’s still a family member.  I have funny memories of her and she was quite a quirky woman (the complete opposite of my dad).  However, she was older, in a nursing home, and it was an unspoken thought that it was only a matter of time.  But I was close to my godmother, despite the distance.  She died unexpectedly and that is always hard to deal with.  I still have all her texts on my phone and even now, a few months later, I can’t believe she’s gone.
  • This blog and learning a new life with a baby. I’ve definitely been posting a lot less since having ARM.  I knew it would happen but it’s funny how fast the weeks go by.  I’ll have a draft started and it may take me 2 weeks to finish it!  Or, I work on a post and by the time I’m almost done, I change my mind and decide it’s now irrelevant (a lot of Rogue One posts had that happen).  I also haven’t been able to keep with other people’s blogs on WP as much as I would have liked either.  Having a baby is a total adjustment.  Not only with blogging, but with life.  If people joke around that marriage is a ball and chain, life with a baby is that x10!  My life revolves around her nap time.  If something wakes her up too early during her nap time…ugh, I’ve almost had break downs.  Nap time is my time and it’s interesting at how much I cherish those few hours now.  I love her, but it’s hard to take time for yourself.  (Please note that this is barely a “low” of my life – it’s more of a big change)
  • Carrie Fisher’s death. I guess 2016 was not content with the death of Kenny Baker, our beloved Artoo, it also had to take our beautiful princess from us.  I think anyone my age knew that we would be alive to see the main 3 OT characters die, but no one wants a shocker death.  I’m curious as to what this means for the other saga films (she was done filming VIII, but was slated to also appear in IX) and what they are going to do with it.  I don’t want more CGI Leia, but it may be the only option at this point.  Killing her off-screen would be cheap and CGI would suck.  So we’re left in a no win situation.

 

MTFBWY Carrie Fisher on your next adventure

MTFBWY Carrie Fisher on your next adventure

2016 was overall a much better year for me than the past two.  I had very little lows that actually connected to my life, other than the death of my grandmother and godmother.  The birth of my daughter, though an adjustment to my life, has been so amazing.  Now that she is past the newborn stage, I’m loving her more and more every day.  She’s the joy of my life and I look forward to hanging out with her (isn’t that weird?  She can’t even talk).

In 2016, I learned that time passes even when you think it’s going so slowly.  There were moments of doubt, days with little sleep, fatigue due to sickness, and so much but I did learn that the “days are long, but the years are short.”  It’s so, so true.  My goal in 2017 is to appreciate more, love more, complain less.  Easier said than done, but it’s been so easy for me to fall into the complaining trap, especially when sleep deprived.  Is a positive attitude that hard?  Is smiling a struggle?  My goal is to fly a little bit more casual.  I have so much to be thankful for; I am so blessed.  I need to remind myself of that every day.

Thanks to all you guys for sticking around as I posted less in 2016 and my life has continued to evolve.  Here’s to Episode VIII.  Let’s hope Rey is as awesome as she was in TFA and has more personality than Jyn (teehee).

 

MTFBWY.

Rogue One: A Hardened Battle Story or a Soulless Masquerade?

I have issues with Rogue One.  And apparently I have issues completely different from everyone else.

Get ready for a doozy of a review.

My main issue is: I’m not sure I liked the movie.  I keep telling myself that’s okay, and I don’t like AOTC much either, but it’s still weird to realize that I don’t like a Star Wars movie.

The two standout reasons for being disgruntled with the film were:

  1. I did not like Jyn Erso, and
  2. I did not like the cameos of Darth Vader and Princess Leia

I found Jyn to be boring.  Disney and Kathleen Kennedy are doing a great job bringing female protagonists front and center and I really admire them for it.  The whole problem with Jyn is that I don’t believe in her cause.  In fact, did she really have a cause?  Sure, once she saw

This is the same facial expression I had for the entire movie.

This is the same facial expression I had for the entire movie.

the hologram of her dad, she became part of a larger fight (the Rebellion), but I’m not sure I believed her.  Her motivational speech to the Alliance fell flat to me and left me wishing for William Wallace to give her some lessons.

I’m not sure where the writers were going with her character.  I felt like we never really “knew” Jyn.  We were given a little bit of background info on her, her parents, family, and that she knew Saw…but it was so small that it hardly led me to believe that she would all of a sudden become gung ho about the Rebellion.

It also seemed like they wanted to make her a “tough girl”.  I love tough girls.  But tough girls that go haywire at the slightest provocation make me roll my eyes.  Why did she beat up everyone when the Imperial transport was stopped and she was rescued?  Further, if you are going to make her a tough girl and you want to stick with that – why did you have Cassian come in and save the day at the very end?  The entire movie was trying to make Jyn seem independent and tough but I never got to see her independence.  Sure, the point of the movie was this was a team job, but it would have been nice to have ONE MOMENT where Jyn shone without anyone else backing her up.

I can’t remember one line from Jyn because everything she said was unmemorable.  And bland.  And meh.

As for the cameos – I thought both Darth Vader and Princess Leia were unnecessary.  Darth Vader’s spa retreat on Mustafar was weird and do you really think he would have time for weazily little Directors like Krennic?  Even if Krennic is in charge of the Death Star?  No.  Or, if he did want to see Krennic, do you think he would call Krennic to his private sanctuary on Mustafar?  (Please realize I have no problems with Darth Vader having his home on Mustafar and it’s been hinted at before with canon material)

Further, the end scene when Darth Vader kicks some butt is cool.  I agree.  However, it kind of messes up ANH a little bit which irked me.  darth-vader-rogue-oneVader watches the Tantive IV disappear into the galaxy, yet Princess Leia has the nerve to say she’s on a “diplomatic mission to Alderaan”, when they are captured.  Even though we all know she is lying in ANH, now it seems slightly more ridiculous, and on top of that all her statements of being a member of the Imperial Senate makes me wonder…well why were you at Scarif?  Because now we all know she was at Scarif and it’s so RANDOM.  It wasn’t played right.  But okay, I could argue that was minor tweaking of the plot and only something devout fans would recognize.  (It’s not as bad as Leia claiming she remembers her mother, but Padmé dies in childbirth.)

Seeing how Darth Vader was used, I believe it should have been one scene or the other, and even though I have all those issues with the last scene – I would have preferred that scene of Vader kept in the movie versus the Mustafar spa retreat.

Actually, personally, truth speak – I would rather Vader and Leia not be in the movie at all.  I think the movie would have been stronger without them and that Disney should have taken the chance not to pull them into the story and see how people liked it without familiar main characters.

Those are my two issues that seriously detracted from my enjoyment of the movie.  That being done, here is what I liked and didn’t like to smaller degrees.

 

What worked:

  • I liked that Disney took a chance. I like that the movie was different and not what you expected from Star Wars.  It was fun to have new characters and see unexplored areas of the galaxy.
  • No romance. I know this is debatable due to one of the last scenes between Jyn and Cassian, but I liked seeing teamwork and no undercurrents of “Will they, won’t they?” romantic entanglements.
  • Everyone dies! Yes!  I like that!  In fact, I loved it!  I thought the way the deaths played out could have been better.  I’m not sure they really gave the protagonist characters justice with their deaths, but it made so much sense for everyone to die that I really appreciated that step forward in the Star Wars movies.
  • Director Krennic. I really, really liked him.  I thought he was a perfect addition to the Star Wars universe and his death gave his orson-krennic-and-deathtrooperscharacter justice.  The way he strove so hard, yet was kicked and pushed aside by those higher than him really made me feel for him, more than anyone else in the movie.  He was the only one I kind of related to, in a weird way.  He’s very Machiavellian, for realz, but I liked him.
  • Diversity.  I won’t say much on this because it’s been written on plenty by others, but it was refreshing and so totally needed.
  • I liked the revelation of the Death Star purposefully having that exhaust port which is it’s one flaw, done by Galen Erso.  My husband said, “This helps the 4th movie make so much more sense!”  Though I had never really thought about it, it does help ANH make more sense and makes Luke’s victory taste sweeter.
  • CGI Tarkin. I believe I am one of the few people out there that liked CGI Tarkin.  I thought he was really well done and I liked seeing his role in the Star Wars universe expanded on.  I didn’t find his face that disturbing either…I know some people had a lot of trouble with the use of CGI on faces, but I had way more trouble accepting Leia than Tarkin.  Maybe because I thought Leia was unnecessary to the plot, whereas Tarkin moved the plot along so I had no problems accepting the CGI.
  • K-2SO. Thank God for K-2SO.  Without him, the movie would have been very serious and hard to watch.  He was definitely funny and a much needed droid for the Rogue One team.
  • I loved that “Rogue One” could have many different meanings. The fact that Bodhi was the one who made it up, added a completely different layer.  Does Rogue One refer to the rag tag team that goes to Scarif as we are meant to believe?  Or does it refer to Jyn?  Or Bodhi, the deserter Imperial pilot?  Or does it refer to the entire Rebel Alliance?
  • I enjoyed seeing the Rebellion as a more rough and tough team, with Cassian having to murder someone in the beginning of the movie. This guerilla feel to the Alliance felt more real for me.  Cassian was one of my favorite characters, along with Krennic.  I thought he represented someone who had been hurt, knew the price the Rebellion would pay for losing, but still moved forward anyway and would do what it takes to get his team to have home field advantage.
  • The space battle above Scarif. Bravo!  That was wonderfully done, especially the Hammerhead hitting the Star Destroyer.

 

What did not work:

  • Jyn’s character. Boring, unbelievable, and not enough moments to shine.
  • The cameos of Vader and Leia.
  • The entire first half of the movie. Star Wars has a lot of planets, but this movie really jumped around for a while.  They also listed every planet’s name and a description with it, which kind of jolted me out a little bit.  To me, Star Wars is primarily about common themes jedhaand a relatable core. I felt like Rogue One, especially the parts with Saw Gerrera, fell flat in that department.  The beginning was as uneven as Jyn’s ride to the Imperial Base.  It jumped to so many different planets, didn’t flesh out characters, and I even got bored at some points.  I think once they go to Yavin 4 and were trying to convince the Rebel Alliance to steal the Death Star plans and go to Scarif, it started getting a lot better.
  • Motivations.  Not only with the characters but also with the Rebellion.  I couldn’t figure out the motivations of some of the characters and that made it hard for me to connect with them or even care about their death – specifically Baze and Chirrut.  On a larger scale, I had trouble feeling for the Rebellion and rooting for their cause.  I’m a Rebellion girl through and through but this movie made me more interested in the Empire (so weird writing that).   The Empire was where it was at!  They were organized, efficient and had very clear reasons for what they were doing.  I didn’t feel like the Rebellion would inspire hope in me if I was going to choose one or the other.  That left me a little down because I wanted to cheer for who I knew were the good guys, but instead I felt like they needed to get their act together.

The movie and its characters needed more soul.  If this was not a Star Wars movie, would I like it?  Probably not.  I understand why Disney wanted to make this a battle story, and the second half really worked.  But they forgot that what attracts fans and casual viewers to Star Wars in the first place.  If I care about the characters, I care about their fight.  Sadly, I think Rogue One fell short in many aspects of this.

Share your thoughts. Please.

But the Female Lead Theme Music…

I have a little bone to pick with John Williams.  I love him, you know I do and I’ve written posts about the PT music vs. OT music.  I think he is THE greatest composer of this day and age.  While I love Lord of the Rings and its soundtrack, I really don’t think it should have been voted by the BBC as the best soundtrack.  Though it has great themes and music, it’s a little repetitive, whereas Williams’ tracks are always original.

My bone to pick with Mr. Williams started small, but it has lately been gnawing at me a little more: the female themes in Star Wars are lacking, or worse, get forgotten.

There are so few female leads in the saga, but because of that I feel like the main three should get some stellar treatment from Williams.

  • Prequel Trilogy – Padmé Amidala Naberrie
  • Original Trilogy – Princess Leia Organa
  • Sequel Trilogy – Rey (as it stands now)

padme-amidala-coruscantWhen looking at the themes for the PT, I have to ask – what about Padmé?  Why does she not have her own theme?  Padmé is just as an important character as Anakin.  In fact, without Padmé, we would not have Darth Vader – the reason for the saga and why we’ve been following the Skywalker family.  I think John Williams could have done an amazing theme for her and I believe some of her theme, if she had one, shows up in Across the Stars.  The theme is tragic, beautiful, and dark all at the same time.

But unfortunately, and this is where my annoyance also gets stronger in the OT, Across the Stars is a blend of Anakin and Padmé, not Padmé by herself.  It pulls in hints of Anakin’s downfall, a doomed love, and Padmé’s beauty with indications of foreshadowing.

Princess Leia does have her own theme in ANH, which is a step up from Padmé and her lack thereof.  It’s a beautiful theme and really pretty – but we rarely hear it.  There is a snippet of it before she is stunned right in the beginning, but other than that, most of ANH is dominated by brass and some of the Force theme.

I look at the Force theme as Luke’s theme because, obviously, it shows up whenever he is present.  It is similar to the Imperial March being construed as Vader’s theme because it starts playing whenever he looms into the camera.  You’d think that Princess Leia’s theme would also show up when she’s on screen and into the next two films as well.

Unfortunately, Leia’s theme dissolves while the Force theme still rears its head whenever Luke is around for ESB and ROTJ.   What bothersluke-leia-han-gif me more is not the fact that her theme is no longer present – but the fact that Leia’s theme gets pulled into other themes.

Within ESB, there is “Han Solo and the Princess” and in ROTJ there is the beautiful “Luke and Leia”.  Don’t get me wrong – I love “Luke and Leia”.  It’s one of my favorite pieces of ROTJ, but that’s not the point of this post.  It’s like Leia can no longer stand on her own and she becomes interlocked with the two men in her life.  I find it a little jarring because that’s not how I view her character (thankfully) but in terms of the music, the fault lies with Williams.

I do believe that musical themes should evolve – but they should not lose their core identity.  Just like we, as people, evolve through our lives, we still have a core of ourselves that is the same.  Luke’s Force theme shows up interwoven in different pieces throughout the OT and I wish I could see the same with Leia’s.

Water under the bridge at this point.

…Or is it?  Can this pattern be changed with Episode VIII and Rey?

I may like Rey’s theme even more than Leia’s.  Of course I’m biased because my daughter’s middle name is Rey, but the spunky, light-hearted, slightly wistful theme has become part of the weekly repertoire of music I listen to.  It touches my core and brings out something inrey-star-wars me where I almost feel like her at times; an understanding for Rey even though I have no idea what her life is like.  Williams’ music has the power to do that.

Williams said that one of his main reasons for coming back to compose music for Episode VIII was because he didn’t want any other composer writing music for Rey.  I love hearing that and it gives me hope that he keeps the essence of her in the upcoming movie within the score.

My main question and fear is: as Rey evolves as a character, will Williams keep her theme at the core?  Or will he forget it entirely?  Worse, will he blend it with other men?

I never thought I’d have an issue with Williams and his music, but here it is.  I’m also curious to see if Jyn Erso has a theme and if so, what it will sound like.  Or perhaps Michael Giacchino will not have any themes since it’s a standalone film and he’ll break the cycle.

Has anyone else noticed what I wrote about? 

 

Fan Art Friday! Wicket’s Cuteness Overload

I am really happy with the way this Fan Art Friday turned out.  If you read my other ones, especially the ones with characters, there was always some problem I had with the way I colored them.  This time – I am pleased with almost everything.  I love the colors I chose, I’m happy that Wicket turned out slightly similar to how he looks in ROTJ, and when I combined colors they came out the way I envisioned in my head.

Usually I have a lot more to say about my colorings but because I’m so happy with this, there’s very little to go into.  Be sure to check out Mei-Mei‘s picture as well!  For those of you who are new to my blog, Mei-Mei and I have the same coloring book and color the same page monthly and compare/contrast.

Overall, a success!

wicket-2

I know there are fans that hate the Ewoks but I don’t get it.  I’ve written about this before, but stop with the Ewok hate!  Or, at least learn to accept them.  All the complaining in the world won’t get rid of Jar Jar or change the fact that the Empire was brought down by little teddy bears.  I still think that’s one of the coolest takeaways from ROTJ – you can be small, but change the fate of an entire galaxy.  What a great message for so many people!  And further, look what happens when you keep an open mind.

Han Solo wanted to shoot the Ewoks.  His first reaction was to shoot and ask questions later.  Very Han.  Leia and Luke decided to pause and assess the situation.  Maybe they had a good feeling through the Force, knowing with some inkling that the Ewoks could be a great “asset”.  Both did not shoot and possibly create a bad encounter right away.  Sure, they almost got eaten but they still didn’t resort to blowing up the village (I don’t know, if I was tied up to stakes with a fire getting ready to roast me, I would probably not be as calm as Luke) once they were free.  Because of Leia and Luke’s open mind, they befriended the Ewoks.

That friendship with a species they couldn’t understand helped them bring down a government the Rebellion only had a 1% chance of defeating (this fact was in the last Rebels episode so is now canon booya).  Life lessons from Ewoks y’all, life lessons.

 

Stay tuned for next month’s Fan Art Friday!  We’re doing the most feared bounty hunter….(Mei-Mei, it’s the Boba Fett drawing that’s on the left of Grand Moff Tarkin. Closer to the end of the book.)