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?

Sorry, I Can’t Relate – I’m a Younger Star Wars Fan

Ever since The Clone Wars came out, I’ve considered myself an “in the middle” Star Wars fan.  I’m not one of the original Star Wars fans who got to see the Original Trilogy in the theaters, nor am I the youngest who have fallen in love with Star Wars through the TV shows and, now, the release of new movies.  I’m smack in the middle…one of the younger fans who grew up on the Prequels.  Maybe we’re not so young now, but I always feel young when I talk to the fans who were there when it all began.

As such, when I do happen to talk to the Star Wars fans who have known a world without Star Wars, I find that there are some things I just can’t understand in terms of experiences and annoyances.

I compiled this list in my head during the past week of feelings I can’t relate to as a Star Wars fan born post-Original Trilogy.

Midi-chlorians

For some reason, this is one of the strongest differences I find between myself and older fans.  I’ve read articles and talked to people who were absolutely heartbroken that Lucas “scientized” the Force.

qui gon jinn and anakinMy understanding is that when you watched ANH, it gave the impression that the Force was so mystical and anyone could use if they had the proper training.  It spoke to fans because they realized that they could have this power.  By the end of ROTJ, fans realized it could be genetic but it was still something completely supernatural.  It couldn’t be explained why someone had the Force and someone didn’t or if it always gets passed down through generations.

When TPM came out and introduced midi-chlorians as the reason for the Force, a lot of older fans were outraged.  They were, and still are, upset that the Force became something you could track and measure by taking a blood sample.

I’ve never been able to relate to this.  I was 12 when TPM came out and even though I had seen the OT beforehand, I never thought much about the Force.  It was just there.  Luke had it.  Vader had it.  It was implied Leia might have it.  So when Qui-Gon starts telling Anakin about midi-chlorians, I thought, “Ah, okay, that makes sense,” and it became part of my Star Wars knowledge almost instantaneously.  I accepted it and moved on.  When people get upset about it, I almost can’t remember a time before midi-chlorians so it doesn’t get me worked up.

Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker’s Father

Alas, I wish I could relate to the shock everyone felt when that was revealed.  But I can’t . I knew Vader was Luke’s father before I watched the movies for the first time.  Even if I was never directly told, it’s such a part of our pop culture that the misquoted, “Luke, I am your father,” is almost I am your father vaderomnipresent.

This is one of those things where I really wish I could have had that older fan experience.  I wish I could be in the theater watching it for the first time and think, “Wait, what?  Did I hear that right?  What did he say?”

But nope.  It’ll never happen like that because I was born post-1980.

Jar Jar Binks

Jar Jar binksThis may come as a surprise, but I don’t hate Jar Jar.  Like the midi-chlorians, since TPM came out when I was 12, Jar Jar became accepted into my Star Wars love with no issues.  It wasn’t until I was older and rewatch the movies that I think he’s annoying.  Yet in 1999, he was just a different alien that, in the end, helped the Jedi and Amidala obtain victory over the Trade Federation.

Even now, I can’t relate to the extreme hatred older fans have for this character.  The cruelness at which fans crucify this character and George Lucas for creating him is baffling to me.  I’ve read that people think he’s a Jamaican stereotype and cruelly berate Lucas in articles for it.  Maybe it’s true, maybe it’s not, but I don’t get it and I can’t relate to it.

The Feeling That Star Wars is Done Forever

I kind of felt like Star Wars as I knew it was over in 2005 after ROTS was released.  I didn’t know where my love for Star Wars would take me.  But even as it ended, there were rumors of an animated Star Wars TV show being released (keep in mind the original TCW, was an animated microseries,star wars comic 1985 ended in 2005 as well).  By 2008, we had a completely new Star Wars to watch, albeit a very different format, but enough to keep the spark there.

I don’t know what it feels like to feel like there is NOTHING.  Sure, Star Wars continued in the form of board games, comics, and some old school video games after ROTJ, but no one thought there would be new movies, TV shows, etc.  The Thrawn Trilogy wasn’t published until the early 1990s so there was a good 8-10 years where all fans had were comics and games.

Props to the older Star Wars fans.  I can’t imagine what it would have been like to be in a Jakku-like planet with absolutely no knowledge that there would ever be more Star Wars movies.

Practical Sets/Effects vs. CGI

This has become a huge debate in the past few years since Abrams was brought on board for TFA.  Any time he or Kathleen Kennedy was interviewed, they stressed about bringing back real sets, real costumes, real locations for the new Star Wars trilogy.  It’s clear that what they were saying is practical = Original Trilogy = what most fans love and CGI = Prequel Trilogy = what most fans dislike.

coruscantI disagree.   The PT is a large part of my life and I don’t think CGI is bad.  What I could possibly concede on is that a) too much CGI was used, and b) the scripts were not well done in the PT.  If you don’t have a good script or storyline, then the CGI is going to be more noticeable.

I loved seeing the planet of Coruscant, the ships in space, and all the interesting planets we got to see because of Lucas’ work with CGI.  One of my favorite scenes is when Artoo fixes the hyperdrive on Queen Amidala’s ship.  Can you imagine how crude that would look without CGI?  I also loved Utapau and the scenes with Obi-Wan riding the Varactyl.  That would not have been possible without CGI.

So I can’t understand where this aversion of CGI comes from.  It also baffles me that KK and Abrams went to such lengths to talk up their practical sets when the movie has a lot of CGI in it.  I’ve said this before, but if you are going to go in one direction or the other, go all the way.  I thought Snoke was one of the most out-of-place characters/moments/scenes in TFA and I know it was due to the CGI.  He might not have looked so out of place in the PT because our minds were used to the special effects.

 

If you’re an older fan, do you disagree with some of what I said?  If you’re a younger fan than me, is there something that perhaps you can’t relate to that I’ve written about?  If you are close to my age, do you agree with what I’ve written?

Royal UK Star Wars Stamps

A few weeks ago, I had someone reach out to me from the Royal Mail in England asking if I wouldn’t mind reviewing their new The Force Awakens stamps.

Um, yes, is that even a question?  First of all, you guys are the Royal Mail and that sounds super official.  Anything English sounds more important.

All jokes aside, they sent me a really nice packet.  It even came with a UV flashlight because each stamp has a special imprint that you can only see when UV light is shining on it.

[I apologize my photos are not too great.  The paper quality was so nice that my phone did not get clear photos]

Here’s what I got:

  • A little pamphlet that describes the story of Star wars so far. It was like spark notes for someone who had never heard of this galaxy far, far away.

Star Wars royal uk stamps summary

  • The collection of Star Wars stamps that have the special UV imprint on it. It’s almost like a secret code that only those with the Force can see.  Or a special flashlight.
  • The stamps come on nice cardstock paper that opens up into a description of the light side of the Force on one side, with a timeline of the Jedi and the Skywalkers.

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  • The other side has a synopsis of the dark side of the Force and a timeline of Anakin and the Empire.

Royal mail uk star wars stamps dark side

  • A little bonus extra sheet of stamps that include the popular vehicles from Star Wars. The UV light does not reveal anything exciting when you shine it on these (sadness), but they do have cool descriptions of the vehicles on the back.

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With all of this, I got a nice envelope where I can keep the stamps protected when not in use.  And honestly…they will never be in use because I live in America.  Yet, even if I lived in the UK, I don’t think I would use these stamps because the presentation is clearly for stamp or Star Wars collectors.

I’m really impressed with the quality of this collector’s set and will definitely not be throwing it away.  Not that I throw Star Wars stuff away (oh, wait, I wonder what happened to my copy of The Crystal Star?), but what I’m trying to say is that it does not look shabby.  I was expecting something very different when they reached out to me – just a sheet of stamps like we get at the post office.  Based on those expectations, I was quite happy with what I received.

I would recommend this item to:

  • Those who want to give a Star Wars fan something to do with Star Wars, but are afraid of getting them something they already have.
  • People who love collecting stamps.
  • Star Wars fans that like collections in nice presentations.
  • Star Wars fans that like something unusual.
  • People who collect items that are available only for a limited amount of time.

There is more than what they just sent me…if you want to check it out or possibly buy your own, click here.

I tried my best to take photos one-handed while I shone the UV flashlight on it:

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Haiku Me Friday! The Little Green Jedi

I’m not sure I’ve written much on Yoda.  Yeah, sure, I mention him here and there but I don’t think I’ve ever really written a post on him.

I believe that’s because over the years I’ve become disillusioned with him.  I loved him when I was younger and his advice is still so solid.  Even now, who can resist saying to themselves…

Do.  Or do not.  There is no try.

…when you are trying to tackle some hurdle, physical or mental?

Yet over the years, and watching the Prequels, I began to think that Yoda just did not get it.  In a way, he was the leader of the Jedi Council (for 800 years, mind you!) and though I do think that he was still wise, I’m not sure he was an encouraging leader with Anakin.  If you’re supposed to lead by example, I’m not sure he was the most understanding.  I think over those hundreds of years, he executed a more watchful lifestyle, instead of stepping in where maybe he was needed.

Sometimes, I see those same traits pop up when Luke comes to train with him and it frustrates me.  I can understand his fear with taking on Luke, he is Anakin’s son after all and we all know how that went, but he also could be your last hope!  Maybe I’m the eternal optimist who feels like you should always hope and not give up.  If Obi-Wan hadn’t said anything, would Yoda have turned away Luke permanently?

But all that aside, he does have some great quotes.  I also loved how he acted so crazy in the beginning of ESB.  Do you guys ever watch that again and laugh?  Even though I’ve seen that movie so many times, I love crazy Yoda!  He is adorable, funny, and so out of character from all the other movies.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from the little green Jedi Master:

  1. Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.
  2. You will know when you are calm, at peace. Passive. A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense, never for attack.
  3. Luke: I can’t believe it. Yoda: That is why you fail.
  4. Anger, fear, aggression; the dark side of the Force are they. Easily they flow, quick to join you in a fight. If once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny, consume you it will.
  5. Heh. Excitement. Heh. A Jedi craves not these things.
  6. Always in motion is the future.

What’s your favorite Yoda quote?  Do you hold him in high esteem or was he never your favorite?

He lived a long time A little Jedi Master Green, wrinkly, and wise

He lived a long time
A little Jedi Master
Green, wrinkly, and wise

Book Review: A New Dawn

a new dawn book cover

First of all, if anyone wants my copy of A New Dawn, I will gladly send it your way for free.  Yup, I’ll pay for shipping too.  If I’m not going to read a book again, I like to share the love and give it to someone else who may appreciate it.  And from there, I hope the book karma continues.

A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller follows the life of Kanan Jarrus and Hera Syndulla before they had formed the crew of Ghost as we know it in Star Wars Rebels.  The novel shows how they met and how they decided to stay together as a team.  Watching SWR, I always loved Kanan and Hera’s relationship.  They have a great friendship and my hope is that Disney does not take it in the direction of a romantic relationship only because I think that it’s so rare to see examples of male/female friendships on TV and in movies…so I love seeing this one that works.  And it works so well.

But how did it get to that point?  When did they first meet?  That’s what A New Dawn goes to show us.  The novel has its moments, and I enjoyed some of it, but there were parts that really bothered me as well.

**Spoiler Warning**

We start off by following Kanan and learning that he’s kind of this lone ranger guy (didn’t see that coming).  He works hard at very standard, physical jobs but doesn’t stick around in a place long enough to make lasting friends.  At one such job, there’s a man named Skelly, a former Clone Wars veteran who knows how to build explosives and understands the workings of the planet Cynda and the damage the Empire is doing to it by mining out thorilide.  Kanan realizes it’s finally time to start leaving this planet because he’s been there too long when the Empire starts showing a special interest in its raw material and sends Count Vidian (cue bad guy music) there to make use of it.  Skelly makes a mess of things and Kanan is forced to stick around a little longer than he would have liked, and by mistake, gets attached to Skelly as the story goes on.

Hera enters the story because she is already part of the Rebellion and they want her to find out what Count Vidian’s up to.  Now, it might not officially be the Rebellion yet, but let’s keep it at that for simplicity’s sake.  As she follows around Count Vidian, she inevitably meets up with Kanan and Skelly where they have a bunch of adventures trying to stop Vidian from destroying Cynda.  Skelly dies, as does Vidian (naturally), and Kanan and Hera go off and form a team together.  Though reluctant to have Kanan as her partner, as she also operates alone in missions, Hera does eventually give in and see the advantage of having Kanan with her due to his personality, ethics, and quick thinking in tight spots.  Having the Force probably helps too.

There’s the basic story.  My real thoughts are:

Pros:

  • Kanan and Hera’s relationship stayed strictly as friends. You can tell Kanan wants something more and finds her SloaneKananattractive, but Hera keeps him at a good distance.  Going into this novel, I was most worried about a romantic back story, but none of that happened.
  • A good amount of female characters. We see a female commanding officer of a Star Destroyer in the Empire: Captain Sloane.  There’s also Hera, Lal Grallik (a woman Besalisk manager who mines thorilide), and Zaluna, a Sullustan Imperial spy, but not by choice. She ends up turning on the Empire and helping out Kanan and Hera.  She was my favorite new character in the novel.  Oh yeah, and there are female stormtroopers. Not sure how I felt about that one as I’m not sure it makes sense.  I always assumed the Empire was largely misogynistic at that point in the timeline.
  • Weirdly, you kind of root for the Empire in a strange way towards the end. Miller does a good job at showing the reader that it’s not always cut and dry, good and bad.  When Sloane plays a part in stopping Count Vidian, despite all the promises he threw to her, you cheer for her even though you have a moment of, “Oh wait – but the Empire is bad.”
  • Kanan does a good job at hiding his abilities in the Force. I think as an author, it can be tempting when you have a character with “superpowers” to bring these into the story consistently.  If I remember correctly, Kanan only showed his Force abilities 3 times in the novel, and twice would make it seem questionable to an outsider.  The last time, he saves him and Hera from impending death (of course) and it makes her see him in a new light. Though the last instance was somewhat predictable, I didn’t mind as much because I knew it had to happen eventually.

Cons:

  • Not enough time with Hera. We did get into her point of view occasionally, but didn’t find out much about her background. There was a lot more of that with Kanan and I felt that though the author could have set out to make this a Kanan/Hera story equally, it felt like there was WAY more emphasis on Kanan.  So in the end, it was a male driven story.
  • The story line as a whole seemed like it was trying just a little too hard and playing a little too safe. Miller wanted to make it as Star Wars as possible, but instead it got boring at times and felt predictable. The plot was very convenient and set up in a way that things fell nicely into place.  He wrapped it up in a nice little box that says “Star War Novel”, when instead, the stories that stand out in the EU are the ones that broke new ground and gave us something different, but felt similar.
  • Speaking of predictable, the main nemesis, Count Vidian was not that interesting. I felt like he was General Grievous all over again.  Intelligent, cyborg-ish, and ruthless.    Whenever we were in his point of view, I realized I just didn’t care.

My main gripe with this book is that I wanted more Hera involvement.  I wanted to understand her character, what drove her to ANewDawnbe so passionate about getting rid of the Empire, and what her past was like.

The best thing out of this book is getting to know a lot more about Kanan and understanding that while the Empire is evil, there are some beings within it that make it even more evil.  And sometimes you have to pick between a lesser evil and greater evil, which was what happened at the end of the novel.  You may not be able to take out the entire Empire, but maybe taking out one horrible Count is enough of a small victory.

I’d give A New Dawn 3/5 stars.  It’s a solid book and there are parts of the novel that felt really Star Wars to me, but there were also quite a few times when I thought Miller was trying a little too hard.

Want to read this book?  Let me know.  I’ll mail it to you.