My Spoiler Free, Overly Nostalgic, Review of Star Wars

 

I know, I know…I’m a book blog. What the heck am I doing reviewing a movie that basically everyone is going to see? Am I jumping on a the nerdy bandwagon? Am I making a grab for followers or interest? Or am I just writing a piece about something that made me have some feels?

I’ll give you a hint…it’s the last one.

So here’s the thing. I have a very mixed relationship with Star Wars. There are things about it that I love: lightsabres, robots, and intergalactic space politics. But there are also things that I loathe: a heavy focus on what is “light” and what is “dark”, poorly done cultures (wookies can’t pronounce their own names), and a serious lack of speaking female roles.

But, all that being said, Star Wars has a very special place in my heart.

I was seven when I got the chicken pox. It would be a day or two before the spots showed up but I still felt like my head had been hit by a hammer and the only thing I could nibble was cheese. I was spending Sunday, as usual, with my grandparents. My Grandmother assumed I was sick and tucked me unto the couch with a pile of blankets and put on one of the five VHS tapes that she owned, it wasn’t holding my attention.

By the time the quirky nun was getting the VonTrap children to sing about does and rays I was hurling up my cheddar lunch. It was not a good day. My Grandpa took pity on me and lifted me from the couch into his lap and put a rag on my forehead and a cup of water in my hands. He smelled of cigars and cedar, which was a great improvement from the scent of cheddar vomit.

“Here,” he said switching the video tapes. “Let’s watch this instead.”

He put in A New Hope and I was caught up from the first scrolling words….which he had to stop a time or two so I could catch up. I was enamored with Han Solo and desperate to have a robot friend before the first hour was done. I was lost in a world of wonder.

We watched the first two movies that day, and the final one the following Sunday while I smelled of calamine lotion and oatmeal. By the end I was cheering and dancing and happy as a clam that teddy bears had saved the universe.

Hey, I was seven, don’t judge me.

I can’t say that I was a fan then. I was a kid and would go on to explore a billion things before I was swept up in the Jedi/Sith craze. I saw the prequals when they came out. I played about a dozen video games with the star wars theme. I own two versions of the pen and paper role playing game. There is an entire shelf on my entertainment center for all the Star Wars moving pictures that I own (including both The Clone Wars, and Clone Wars). My closet has not one, not two, but THREE different outfits for the setting that I’ve put together for conventions.

To be honest, in doing all that, I never felt that same wonder that I had as a child, tucked in my grandfathers lap, watching the story unfold.

But there I was, standing in the rain and cold, wearing my x-wing pilot inspired dress, sharing with all the other early view fanatics that couldn’t wait until Friday to see the film. I was, once again, not feeling great but I wasn’t going to have anything spoiled for me by going a few days later. I crowded into the cinema with a popcorn and a massive stack of lemonade and waited to feel whisked away once more.

And to be honest there were moments when I felt it.

Sure you’ve got to sit through about thirty minutes of previews that you could watch on you tube, and there was a woman sitting in front of me that kept checking her phone. But despite that I did experience that ‘lost in the story’ sensation intermittently throughout the film.

And yeah, it’s only intermittently.

What the film does well:

-The beginning
-It incorporates the original characters with ease. They feel like their own people continuing on their own stories.
-The new characters don’t feel like a rehash of the old characters, though there are some similarities.
-BB8…oh my god.
-Combat/Action sequences
-Introducing worlds
-Tugging at your heartstrings
-The cinematic score

What the film does not do well:
-Pacing
-Character growth/change happens in several sudden moments that felt…weird.
-The ending

The stories foundation was pretty great. I loved the idea of it. Once i read through the opening scroll I was like ‘fuck yeah, that is a great story idea’.  But the film seemed to be focusing too hard on drawing some parallels with the original trilogy that it sort of forgot to be its own thing.

Also the ‘big reveals’ that happened during the course of the film weren’t handled very well. I wasn’t hit in the gut with them, but rather poked in the chest. I feel that this was predominately a pacing problem. The story unfolds awkwardly, with the history given in tossed around banter rather than flashbacks or poignantly expressed  dialogue.

I think this heavy handed style was do, in no small part, to JJ Abrams style of direction. I have seen it in other films and I’m hoping that Rian Johnson (director of Looper and The Brothers Bloom) can even out the pacing issues and help bring star wars to it’s new era.

Overall I give the film a 7/10. It was worth seeing. I did not feel that my time was wasted, but rather felt my inner editor going ‘okay, that’s cool, but what if you moved that here’.

A Death in the Family

Tomorrow is my grandmother’s funeral. I wont be there. It’s not that I don’t want to be, even though I kind of don’t; and it’s not because I can’t, though that is most certainly true. I have, however, been asked to help write the eulogy because I am “the one who can write” in my family. In doing this I discovered a few surprising things.

I loved my Grandma Donna, but sometimes it was very hard to like her. She grew up in a very different time, but that is no excuse for some of the things she did. She was the kind of woman who made you finish everything on your plate, even if you didn’t put it together yourself, because you ought to be thankful for what you had. While I understand the concept the practice never made me any more thankful for my food; but it made me a lot more thankful  for the family dog.

She did not often say “I love you” or tell me when I did a good job. She was quick to point out when I had made mistakes. She was ruthlessly disgusted by anyone she thought was ‘fat’ and she didn’t care for whining of any variety. Homosexuality was a sin and girls ought to put time into their appearance; but not too much.

She once told my seven year old sister who was still recovering from several stomach surgeries that she was getting fat.

Do not mistake me, not everything about my Grandmother was harsh. She taught me how to make a dollar stretch, how to sew my own clothes, how to alter hemlines. She wanted me to be a self sufficient woman. My first cooking lesson was at her elbow and from her I learned the magic that turned a seed into a plant to dinner.

It was because of my grandmother that I know all the words to The Wizard of Oz and the Sound of Music. She introduced me to thrift stores, and romance novels. She had a large impact on the person that I am today.

But I learned, in writing this little snippet, that if she hadn’t been my grandmother I probably wouldn’t have loved her much.

 

Dashing Through the Snow Fun

So, the lovely Stephanie the bibliophile to have a little yule-tied fun and participate in this little tag. Since I practice Yule I’m going to be using the non-denominational term of ‘holidays’ as often as possible.

The Rules:

  1. Thank The Curator- Stephanie you rock.
  2. Tag 5 People To Spread The Christmas Joy! (do I know five people?)
  3. Have Fun!

Name a book you would like to see under your Christmas tree.

So fun story, I just put together my Yule list and like…it’s almost entirely books. Like…seriously. It’s forty books and a kitchen-aid. That’s what I want; books and food. But that’s not really what the question is asking.

I don’t know that there is a specific book I want more than anything else. I think that I’m looking for a new series to get lost in. I’m wishing that someone could put a book in my hands that completely grips me, I feel like it’s been a long time since I loved, laughed, and cried with characters and I’d like that feeling again.

Barring all that I’ll take a copy of Circling the Sun by Paula McLain

A book you’ll be reading during the Christmas Season.

I’ll be reading All I Want for Christmas is a Vampire by Kerrelyn Sparks because why not enjoy a little paranormal romance with my egg nog? Aside from that I will be working on the Valor series by Tanya Huff, because sci-fi.

Favourite Christmas Movie.

For me The Muppets are the Holidays. I don’t know why or what it is, but Kermit THE Frog playing Bob Cratchit and Caligula/Alfred Pennyworth as Scrooge just makes my season. I will be watching a Muppet Christmas Carol on repeat til someone hates me.

Do you like snow?

Gosh yes. I love the cold, I love the snow, I love the way it feels to go from frolicking outside to curling up on the couch with a warm drink, a kitty cat, and a good book. Also, my family is kinda adorable in the snow.

Name a character you you would like to spend your Christmas day with.

Ack! Just one? Alright, well I am thoroughly in love with Nathaniel from Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake series. I mean, what’s not to love about a long haired house husband were-leopard who just wants his lady to be happy? He can cook for me anytime.

To give or to receive?

Both. Honestly. I’m of the opinion that if you do only one or the other then something gets lost. But it I absolutely HAVE to pick one, I’d say give, because over the past few years I’ve bonded with two amazing friends and I seriously just want to shower them with happiness.

What fictional place would you like to spend Christmas at?

Tortall, specifically Corus, the capital. Because fantasy holidays with knights and magic and heroes sounds amazing.

Fondest Christmas memory?

My first Christmas on my own. I was working three jobs, my roommates were all gone for the holidays, my mom had just moved three states away and most of my family had gone to Georgia to get together. I had prepared to be alone.

It was somewhere around 11 in the morning when the guy I had been dating for about a month and a half showed up with a pile of gifts and all the makings for a Christmas dinner. We celebrated together before going to a comic book shop that stayed open on the holidays. It was wonderful.

Can you say Christmas tree ten times FAST  in a row (pronouncing it correctly!)

…apparently I can not.

Well that was adorable good fun! I’m going to tag:

I’m tagging:

  1. The Adorably Awesome Shannon
  2. Elegances Icy  Lovely and inspirational
  3. Hannah, the proofreader of talent!
  4. Aimee, The Intellectual Readhead over at this Book Blog
  5. Angelique, a glorious new face for me.

Taking My Own Advice

So a while back I published a blog post about the importance of stepping away from your work. I was pretty specific about why a writer needs to take their time away from a written piece and just come back to it later. Have I mentioned that I really hate taking my own advice?

Ugh.

For those of you who have been following me for a bit you know that I recently participated in NaNo. I managed to get my very first book written. I didn’t write the 50k novel. It is most definitely a novella, but I wrote it.

Did I practice what I preached and take time away from that work before I started editing? Yes, I did, but only just barely. The very next day I went out and immediately printed out all 157 sheets of The Dominatrix and The Beast. I rubbed my cheek against the warm pages like an overly affectionate cat and wiggled in barely contained happiness at my own awesomeness.

I took it home, I got out my red pen, and I stopped.

I really want to jump into the indie author pool. I’m frothing to throw my work into the digital ring….or some other mishmash of cliches. But, and it’s a Sir Mix-A-Lot sized ‘but’, my work deserves to be given every chance to be awesome.

*sigh*

So I guess this means I have to take a step back and work on something else. The question, I guess, is what should I do? Should I try my hand at writing short fiction? Should I work on books two, three, and four in the Domina Claire series? Should I poke at that sci-fi novel I’ve been wanting to try my hand at?

So many questions! What about you guys? When you finish one work how do you know what to work on next?

NaNoWriMo- I cheated

Okay, so the entire point of NaNoWriMo is to finish an 50k manuscript in the month of November. It’s an amazing concept and one that I have mixed feelings about. I’ve made those known a little over a month ago. However, I hate tearing something down when I haven’t given it a real go. So I did.

Sorta.

Here’s the thing. I did the outline. I planned it based off of how many words per chapter I usually average. Weird thing, what I average for short stories is not what I average for full fledged novels. Whoops. So, I got to the end of my outline and it turned out to be 35k.

And it only got to 35k because I went back and edited things to flesh them out a bit more.

So, I did not stick my the strictest rules of NaNo. I’m okay with that. I wrote other things by the end of the month and had put forth 50,137 words; give or take a hundred depending on what word count program I was using. I’m proud that I was capable of writing that much. However, I know that some of the things that I wrote will never see the light of day. There is a part of me that firmly believes that I would have better spent my time working on something else.

Now, don’t get me wrong. The idea of NaNo, and the organization is doing some great things. It is supporting people through getting through that hump of getting a manuscript out and down. I appreciate that. I do have a work to show for it. It got me into the habit of writing every day and made me work through some things that I was sorta flagging on.

My final verdict on the processes? I think it’s great for some people, but probably not for me.