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Posts Tagged ‘Star Wars’

My favorite movie is Star Wars. Star Wars: A New Hope, to be precise. I chose this favorite movie at some point during high school, and it stuck.

Now, some people will argue that The Empire Strikes Back is a superior movie, and I don’t disagree with this. However, high school me had a copy of Star Wars on VHS (without commercials, even, which was a big score) that I could watch over and over again. High school me did not have a copy of The Empire Strikes Back. (And when I eventually got one, it DID have commercials.) So Star Wars has the nostalgia win there. Also, The Empire Strikes Back has that cliffhanger ending, which means you don’t get a complete viewing experience unless you then watch Return of the Jedi, and Return of the Jedi is definitely NOT my favorite movie. Whereas Star Wars has a complete story arc contained in its two hours.

Star Wars has a lot of things going for it. Light sabers. Comic relief droids. Space ships. The neat blue lines that signal a jump to lightspeed. A kick ass princess with a sharp tongue (although alas, she is the only female character, which I consider to be one of the movie’s worst flaws). A walking carpet. An iconic bad guy who can be identified by sound, not just sight. High stakes. Guts, glory, and scoundrels.

The iconic villain also has a very recognizable silhouette.

But the reason Star Wars is my favorite movie? The emotions it evokes in me and the way I feel after I watch it. When Luke succeeds against all odds, blowing up the Deathstar and saving the entire Rebel Alliance, it reminds me of what is possible. It pumps me up and makes me feel ready to tackle my own life, my own goals, and my own problems. This feeling was valuable back when I was eleven and has continued to be inspiring ever since.

I love that Luke is just some guy, and nobody really thinks he has what it takes to make such a difference. (Well, no one except Obi Wan, anyway.) But through hard work (we don’t get to see it, but it’s implied that he’s spent large amounts of time on flying and target practice before the movie starts), courage, and belief in himself, he is able to rise above other people’s expectations of him and do his true best.

We all receive negative messages about our capabilities at some point. There are always the naysayers who think (and sometimes tell us) that we don’t have what it takes to accomplish our goals. Sometimes the loudest naysayer of all is inside our own heads. What I love about Star Wars is that it reminds me to ignore these naysayers. It reminds me that I won’t know my capabilities unless I fully commit. It encourages me to dream and strive and achieve my own personal best.

What about you? What movie inspires you? What movie makes you feel like you can take on the world?

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I just got back from my more-or-less annual visit to Disneyland. This year one of my stated purposes was to check out the redone Star Tours ride. I heard the new ride featured some large number of possible combinations (I heard the number fifty-four being bandied around), but the details I garnered were somewhat fuzzy. Obviously the thing to do was to go check it out in person and see for myself.

With much glee my friends and I proceeded to ride Star Tours many times (I think my personal total was around seven) and break down its intricacies. Following is a detailed report on the new ride, so if you want to be surprised, read no further.

Star Tours has always been a movie experience attached to a “theater” styled as a space vehicle that moves in conjunction with the movie. The newest iteration adds 3D to the mix. I have to say, I’m not a huge fan of 3D in general, and noticed the 3D effects in the new ride only rarely. Unfortunately, the addition was enough to make my husband ill, though, so if you have troubles with 3D movies or 3D video games, be warned that you’ll probably have trouble on this ride as well.

The other big change to the ride is its variability. Before, the ride consisted of a single adventure that was always exactly the same every time you rode. Personally I didn’t mind this because the adventure included a Death Star trench run, so you know, I kind of wanted it to be the same every time because for me, trench run equals awesome sauce. But I can see that other visitors might have found the same old, same old to be ho-hum.

The new ride’s experience is divided into four distinct sections:

SECTION 1: Beginning
A. The ship begins in a dockyard area that includes many stormtroopers. In the background, Hans Solo is visible in front of the Millennium Falcon, arguing with more stormtroopers. A robot attaches to the front windshield of the ship and determines that a rebel spy is aboard (a photo of one of the audience members is shown at this time). Both your ship and the Millennium Falcon shoot their way out and make the jump to light speed.
B. The ship begins in a dockyard area and is then approached by Darth Vader. He makes demands for the rebel spy on the ship to be delivered to him (again, a photo shown of one audience member). He uses the force to control the ship, but then the ship shoots at him and escapes. BONUS: Darth Vader uses his light saber to deflect the ship’s shots.

SECTION 2: First location
A. Hoth: Your ship visits the ice planet of Hoth. It gets involved in a battle not unlike the Hoth battle at the beginning of The Empire Strikes Back.
B. Kashyyyk: Your ships visits the forest Wookie planet of Kashyyyk. It gets mixed up with some speeders not unlike those from the Endor parts of Return of the Jedi.
C. Tatooine: Your ship visits the desert planet of Tatooine and participates in a pod race not unlike the pod race in that new Star Wars movie whose name I have blocked from my mind.

SECTION 3: Holographic transmission
All three of these are essentially the same message, saying that the ship must deliver the rebel spy safely to coordinates that are being transmitted to R2-D2. The Princess Leia message has the additional bonus of quoting passages from her famous message from A New Hope.
A. Yoda
B. Princess Leia
C. Admiral Ackbar

SECTION 4: Second location
A. The bounty hunter sequence: Bobo Fett is trying to blow up your ship. There might be some asteroids involved. There is definitely a Death Star involved, I think probably Return of the Jedi era.
B. Coruscant: The ship emerges from light speed into a gigantic space battle and eventually plummets down into Coruscant below, where it must contend with crazy big city traffic, in a scene reminiscent of one of those pesky movies whose names I do not know and they all blur together anyway.
C. Naboo: The ship is escorted from space down into Naboo and ends up plummeting underwater to see the underwater city, followed by a journey to the core of the planet. Jar-Jar Binks makes a cameo here.

I have mixed feelings about this remake of the ride, honestly. I love that the ride has so much variety, and I really like getting to visit different areas of the Star Wars universe. However, the transitions between the sections are often a bit shaky at best. And, perhaps more importantly, there is no trench run. Other fans will share the understanding of how tragic that statement truly is.

However, I was selected during one ride to be the rebel spy, and Darth Vader himself demanded that I be handed over immediately. Was this moment of equal coolness to the trench run? No, probably not, but it was pretty good all the same.

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I really thought I would generate more disagreement from last week’s post on critiques, which goes to show that I have no idea whatsoever about such things.  In any case, it made me realize that the backbone project is really more about me putting myself and my opinions out there, regardless of whether doing so sparks disagreement.  (Also, “weenie” has become my new favorite word. My favorite word before that was “insouciant.” I think this is clear evidence that I am getting stupider by the minute.) However, I promised you could disagree with me, and I feel like I failed to deliver. Which brings us to my backbone project post #2.

As you know, I’m a science fiction and fantasy writer, so it should come as no big surprise that I have accumulated some geek cred over the years. But like most geeks, I have some holes in my preferences. Sometimes even gaping ones. I blame it on hanging out with musicians and psych majors all those years. Totally different kinds of geekdom.

Now, I figure most of you will be able to find something to disagree about in my pet peeves of geekdom list. Seriously. Think of it as your mission. I know you can do it.

1. Dr. Who: I have to plead ignorance to all the old seasons of Dr. Who, as I began watching this show with the reboot. I was okay with Seasons 1 and 2, but Season 3? Are you freaking kidding me? I was simultaneously bored, jumpy in an unpleasant way, and disgusted by the new companion Martha until I just couldn’t take it anymore. And what’s with the plots? Deus ex machina after deus ex machina. I watched “The Doctor’s Wife” and read on the internet that it made everyone cry. Seriously? I was just disgusted that once again, all the episode was about was Amy Pond calling the Doctor and begging to be rescued. Maybe I’ve just been unfortunate about the Amy Pond episodes I’ve seen (which, to be fair, haven’t been many), but all she does is need to be rescued! Yet another companion wasted.

2. the novels of Neil Gaiman: particularly American Gods. I could barely finish it because the pacing was so slow. I expect this to generate actual hate mail, so you see how brave I am being. I just don’t get it all the hype. I mean, yes, Neil Gaiman is like the rock star of writers. And he’s done some stuff that I’ve appreciated: The Graveyard Book, parts of Neverwhere (although I wanted to kick the protagonist in the teeth), that short story about Snow White and vampires. But I just don’t understand the massive hysteria surrounding him and his work. Mind you, I keep trying. But so far, no dice.

3. Anime: My geeky friends first exposed me to anime via Cowboy Bebop, and I was okay with it. I think this made them overly optimistic, because they then showed me a bunch of random, really weird and twisted anime, and it’s ruined me. I’m not kidding. Someone suggests watching anime and I look at them like they’ve grown a third head. My poor husband suffers because of it, but there it is. I just have no interest. It took a huge effort for me to consent to watch Porco Rosso and I could see that it had merit, but the ennui is so overpowering, I kind of don’t care.

4. Agricola: Gah! Resource management at its most boring. The players seem to barely interact, and the whole game is about … wait for it … being a farmer? Yeah, because that’s what I’ve been dreaming about doing my entire life. There aren’t even any silly pictures of beans on cards so you can pretend that you’re collecting an exotic bevy of circus performers instead of farming. Plus I already ran a business for seven years. I don’t want my board games to feel exactly the same as what I could get paid to do. I just don’t.

5. WoW: Okay, I’ve never played WoW, and you know what? I hope I never play WoW because as far as I can tell, that game is crack. It will suck me in, and I will run around like a mindless little medicated drone from Brave New World, and I will never ever escape. Not only that, but I won’t even realize how much time I’m spending doing essentially boring and repetitive things. Because I don’t waste enough time on the internet as it is. Plus WoW steals my friends. It makes them too busy to do things like hang out with me and email me. Which gives it an extra black mark in my book.

6. Lord of the Rings (the books): I know Ferrett already blogged about this, but I still think it deserves a mention. I like the movies. I’ve been wanting to see them again, in fact. But I’ve never made it to the end of the trilogy of books. I read the first two when I was eleven, and then I had to wait for the next library trip to read the last one, at which point I’d lost interest. I tried reading them again before the movies came out, and The Two Towers killed me. I wanted something to happen so badly. But instead it just went on and on about the trees and the pain and the journeying, until Frodo’s pain became my pain. Literally.

7. D&D: I like RPGs. I miss playing them. But I don’t miss D&D. Why not? First, because the only way I could ever make it at all fun for myself was by playing a caricature of my class who was generally of lower than average intelligence. After awhile, that got pretty old. Second, the storytelling seems to have the same average depth as my own at age seven playing with my Barbies. There’s bad guys. Must kill. Slash, hack. The end. Now there’s more bad guys. Slash, hack. Etc. I mean, there’s not even the romantic subplots that my Barbies enjoyed. Third, with the newest edition, it seems that even more emphasis is placed on fighting (who knew it was possible?) and that grid makes combat last forever. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against some fighting in a campaign, but all fighting and no story makes me fall asleep.

All right, what did I get wrong? I bet you can give me several good reasons why the things above are actually super awesome. My tingling spider sense tells me so. And, for additional kicks, you can share your own geekdom pet peeves. I dare someone to lay into Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Or Star Wars Episode 4. Or Ender’s Game. Let the smack talk begin!

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The poll is closed, and the winner is….

ZOE from Firefly!

And no, I’m sure that has absolutely nothing to do with this blogger’s stated preference for Zoe, but rather reflects the amazing taste of my readership.

Runner up: Spock

Which one do you like better, the old or new?  I think Leonard Nimoy is too classic to resist.

And, finally, neither Chewbacca nor his Spaceballs counterpart Barf got any votes.  Given that my private prediction was that Chewbacca would win (well, either Chewbacca or Spock), I feel just a little bit silly.  But here’s a photo anyway, mostly because I’ll take any excuse to post something Star Wars-related.

And that’s your bit of Friday silliness before the much-needed weekend.  Next week, I’m planning a series of posts on creativity, so stop on by!

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For my own amusement, feel free to explain why you chose who you chose or suggest a write-in candidate.

This poll will be open for voting for one week, so go ahead and weigh in!

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