Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Letter from the Editor - June 2016

Welcome to June, Fangirls! The weather is evening out into endless heat in the Northern Hemisphere, nights are coming later and leaving sooner, and the movies are giving us a few more of the big summer blockbusters! Here at ProFangirl, we're still expanding and we're looking to pick up a few more girls (or girl-identifiers) to add to the crew! Email me to see what you need to do.

I spent a lot of the last month sick, and as being sick makes me even more introverted, thinking about what I want Professional Fangirl to be. My conclusion, really, is that we're on the right track, but I want it to be more. So we're going to be filling her out in the second half of the year, and I hope you're all going to like what we have in store for you!

Here's what TV has for us this month:

  • Cleverman, an Australian scifi show about the Dreamtime
  • The last season of Beauty and the Beast
  • Outcast, Kirkman's new show that is about demons instead of zombies
  • Preacher hits it's real run through this month
  • A new Voltron special on Netflix
  • Hell on Wheels finally gets to finish up it's last season
  • Last Ship comes back
  • Norman Reedus picks up a reality show about mortorcycles in his downtime from making TWD
  • Wrecked, meant to be Lost if it was a comedy starts it's first season
  • Dead of Summer wants to bring us 80s-set campground horror on TV
And in movies, we've got:
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2
  • Warcraft
  • Finding Dory
  • Independence Day 2 (finally!)
Events this month:
  • 9th: Donald Duck Day
  • 16th: Captain Picard Day
  • 30th: Meteor Watch Day
What're you looking forward to?

Monday, May 23, 2016

12 quick reasons to watch #12Monkeys

  1. It's scifi based on HOPE, and when was the last time that happened?
  2. Moral ambiguity is the name of the game, and it's addictive, not offputting.
  3. Every episode crams five episodes of some lesser show's worth of story into it.
  4. The fans are international, thoughtful, passionate, and dedicated. The creators are open, accessible, and informative. Also often really funny!
  5. It's PACKED with awesome, awesome ideas that no other show has given us.
  6. It's deeply serious, but not bleak or dire--there's funny parts, bizarre parts, and good old gee-whiz awesome parts. It's Big Weird Ideas that blow your mind grounded in 100% human emotional reality.
  7. Remember when Lost and Fringe were all about figuring out the patterns and guessing the answers? It's like that, but it actually gives answers as often as it poses questions!
  8. The love story is literally epic. It transcends time. It also is more than just romantic love--and it involves just about any combination of people you can think of, somehow. 
  9. The whole thing is smart--the characters and their development, the writing, the plotting, how they use time travel and time-travel-story-tropes, the way they assume the audience can keep up.
  10. Women who do things and men who aren't afraid of of them or made powerless!
  11. Hard scifi with a deep emotional core--something a lot of scifi shows miss out on.
  12. Conspiracies! Everywhere! Who doesn't love a conspiracy?

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

A tweeted letter to Syfy about #12Monkeys and their brand

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Tea Science and Professor Layton

For many players I know the most charming and memorable part of the Professor Layton games was the tea mini game. For those of you unfamiliar with the mini game, players would drag and drop ingredients from their organized little compartments and into the waiting white porcelain tea pot.  The eight ingredients, while having resemblances to Chinese medicinals, were on a whole fictitious. Never the less, the idea of balancing flavors through a blend of ingredients into a pleasing brew is one that resonates even in nerd culture. What follows is a beginner’s crash course to blending your own tea flavors.
Firstly, Americans often use the word ‘tea’ to describe any infusion and not just that of the Camellia sinensis (tea plant.) But there are two major differences I would like to discuss with you when it comes to infusing and that is the difference between a tisane and a decoction. A tisane is an infusion prepared by pouring heated water over ingredients and allowing them to steep, this is used for delicate ingredients and ones that have been powdered or otherwise processed to infuse quickly. A decoction is prepared by boiling your ingredients with the water, often done in a pot or steel kettle this is for larger woodier ingredients that take longer to release their flavors. Most commercially produced teas you may purchase are already blended with their ingredients processed at sizes allowing them to all infuse at the same time. This means that those hard, woodier spices such as cinnamon, cloves anise and others generally are included as powders. Regrettably powdered spices infuse fast because they have more surface area exposed, but this increased exposure also means the essential oils are more easily damaged by time, sun and heat. This gives your convenient tea bags a short shelf life. After six months or so you might as well be pouring water over sawdust and this is very convenient for the company that makes them as it results in you either drinking stale tea or throwing out boxes unused.
Insert Laurel’s tea set and with it a whole parade of teapot culture both elegant, practical and largely unknown to the American ‘bag and mug’ audience.  By using a device like a tea pot and putting your ingredients in to freely infuse you can easily recreate that Layton charm we all love. You will also need a nonreactive pot and lid large enough to hold a quart of water.
New to this and don’t have a tea pot? Your cooking pot and a strainer will work even if it’s not an elegant addition to your table. Being the wandering hobbit I am, I myself prefer the best of both worlds with a GSI steel camp kettle.
If you keep an ample and up to date spice cabinet (or know someone who does and will let you borrow their kitchen) you may use these recipes and put your powdered spice ingredients directly into your tea pot. Aren’t you civilized!
Constant Comment
3 Tbs Ceylon
3 tsp dried orange zest
1/8 tsp powdered cinnamon
½ tsp powdered clove
3 Tbs Assam
1 tsp cardamom powder
½ tsp ginger powder
¼ tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp cloves
Pinch of pepper & powdered fennel (or anise)
¼ cup cut hibiscus flowers
1/8 tsp cinnamon
Large pinch of allspice and clove powders

For the rest of us who do life the hard way, a trip to your local import store is in order! There you may find large bags of whole spices and other alchemical looking ingredients at much more reasonable prices. I suggest you go with a friend and divide up the bags.
Before adding the spices to your stove top pot place them on the counter and give them a whack with the bottom of the pot. This breaks them up to infuse more evenly, doing this just before use insures the flavors stay fresh. Pour your water over your selected spices and heat on medium until a gentle boil is reached, turn down to low and simmer for ten minutes. Then turn off the heat and either add the tea to your cooking pot or pour this mixture into your waiting tea pot with the dry tea measured into it and allow to steep according to the tea used.

Constant Comment
Boil 13 cloves with half a cinnamon stick
Pour over 3 tablespoons of Ceylon and 3 teaspoons fresh orange zest
Boil 6 cloves, 2 whole cinnamon sticks, ¼ inch ginger, 10 green cardamom pods, ¼ whole fennel seeds and 5 pepper corns
Pour over scant ¼ cup Assam *please note this chai recipe is meant to be mixed 1:1 with hot milk and sweetened*
Boil 5 allspice berries, 5 cloves and one cinnamon stick
Pour over ¼ cup crushed hibiscus flowers

Large quantities of single house (one source/preparation) teas can be purchased online or at said import store. Another reason to love making your decoction separate from your tea infusion is that you may use ANY type of tea you wish for your final product because you can cool your decoction to the correct brew temp for your base tea. Example, I like Chai with Assam but if that is too much caffeine use the cooled liquid and follow your brew instructions for your favorite green or caffeine free tea leaves. Not a tea drinker? Use the decoction to make your coffee or make it twice as strong with half as much water then add two cups of sugar to make a flavoring syrup for steamed milk drinks. The possibilities are endless!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

#12Monkeys Monkey Musings 4 - I have a problem with Aaron Marker

ETA: I almost didn't publish this because it feels like I'm picking a fight when really I'm asking someone to change my mind? Let's talk, Monkeys.

We in the fandom have been talking a lot lately about who the Witness is. Personally, I think it's going to be Sam, Ramse’s son--mostly because it'll then all literally be one person’s fault, because that one person fought so hard to make sure that kid existed--or one of the Joneses because they are the ones who broke nature to invent time travel. Story-wise, and based mostly on my own personal writing habits and understanding of stories, those are my favorite theories.

But actually--if the Witness is actually a villain and not misunderstood or trapped*--on an emotional level, I’m hoping it's Aaron Marker. Because he's a punk and a weenie and I want him to keep being a villain and not get out of owning up to his weenie-ness so easily as dying.

See, here's the thing. I have a problem with Aaron Marker. The fact that Cassie is so pro-Marker in her anger right now has brought into focus what it is for me: he is a problem.

Cassie loved him in the beginning and it looked like they were set up for a fantastic rich-and-influential-people life. But then Cassie, the woman he's engaged to, who he wants to spend the rest of his life with, is kidnapped--and he doesn't support her through her trauma?

Okay, I get that she's talking about time travel and killer viruses and it looks like she's snapped, but he's the one person in the world who should have been there for her, and he wasn't. From what we’ve seen, he mostly wanted her to stop talking about it and never think about it again--to pretend she was still the same as before--and get back to their lives as if nothing had happened. As if that wouldn't have driven her insane for real.

Then, when he does know for sure that she’s been telling the truth all this time, we never see him apologize for being so unfair to her for two whole years. He just, again, tries to pick up where they left off. He doesn't give her space to mourn her dead partner she was on the phone with when he died, that we see, he just wants to sweep it all under the rug. Again. And she’s lost and lonely and grieving and without purpose again, and goes along with it. Before Cole comes back after Chechnya, she doesn’t look as okay with all this as Marker does, no matter what she says.

And then, when that's blown up again, and they find out they still need to combat the end of the world, his third chance to get on board with the mission the woman he loves is dedicated to whether she likes it or not, he sells them out.

Now, I don't doubt that he loved her. If he's alive, I don't doubt that he’ll say he still does. But it was a small, closed-doors, narrow-minded sort of love that led him to literally be okay with killing the whole world if he gets to keep her--despite the fact that she had already told him that's not acceptable and he knew that she'd been working on this problem for two years. That’s what bothers me the most about his tactics: she specifically said that’s not how this is going to go, and he goes that way anyway--and tries to force her when she won’t go willingly. He was willing to not only sell out Cole, but to cut Cassie off from the only purpose she has in life now, and to hold her hostage while something she could have helped avoid happens all around her.

That's not a good man.

And it's my opinion that he would have still been that man even if the plague was never going to happen and Cole had never shown up. He proved to be the sort who isn't far-sighted enough to think of the many, the sort who isn't secure enough to let his potential wife make her own choices or trust her own experience, and the sort who more than once tries to avoid both dealing with big issues and taking responsibility for actions taken because of them. They would have gotten married and been rich and powerful--and then some other crisis would have shown who he really is.

For all his faults, Cole always believed in Cassie’s intrinsic value and capableness--which, in the beginning, is probably one of the things that drew her to him. He accepted her for what she is, and didn't try to make her fit some mold he had predetermined for her. In fact, he told her not to change, to stay who she is.

And now, in her anger, Cassie has decided that Marker was some wonderful thing and that Cole systematically took that from her. It irks me. I have infinite compassion for the trauma she's going through, but I really hope we get some time with her dealing with what's happened to her and realizing that Marker wasn't good for her, that he never had her own wishes at heart and often directly tried to stop her from making decisions as if she wasn't an autonomous adult, and that Cole has never systematically done anything. I think she’s mourning the life she thought she had and lost more than the person Marker actually was, and is avoiding dealing with the fact that he was always a weenie and they would have all died if Cole hadn’t smashed into her life like he did.

Marker made his own bed. And Cassie needed fuel for anger to keep her alive and sane, so she canonized him and blocked all that, and blamed Cole.

But he's still a weenie.

Think of the reality check Cassie will get if they find out the Witness is Marker. If he's justifying everything he's done with his love for her--if he’s upped his game from letting the world die to actively making it die in an attempt to keep her. Cole will also take the blame for having beaten him and not made sure he was dead in that fire, but that beating was directed by Cassie of her own free will. She made him, and he made himself, and they've been against him all along. That's a story I would love to watch.

I love Noah Bean, so I’m inclined to like him, but he’s made a character that severely bothers me on a personal level--and I think that’s some genius casting. Take this inherently likable guy, and make him this hard-to-define low-grade ordinary-standing-in-the-way-of-epic bad. Make him less bad than the actual baddies, and therefore more ambiguous. And pit him against the heroes. Then, maybe one day, revealing him as a greater villain than they thought. That’s brilliant, and it’s worked so well so far. What potential! 

I fully expect the show to throw every wrench** at me on this topic, like all others, but the story feels unfinished and in the middle of the action, and I’m willing to have my opinion changed...because it’s not a great opinion of the man right now. And, of course, with actual change thrown in, maybe they've already altered him and his story, but still have their own memories of before to deal with...

*Olivia is making me think that either a) the Witness is not telling everyone everything and is more devious than we’ve been led to believe, or b) she’s just saying whatever she wants and calling it the will of the Witness, which would make her worse AND bring the opportunity that she’s USING the Witness rather than serving him.
**Monkey wrenches!

Friday, May 6, 2016

Sami on Captain America : Civil War

Okay, so I went into Civil War worried about several things: 
  • The movie being too grim
  • How they were going to handle the divide in the team and how annoying and contrived it was going to be
  • How much boring and depressing politics was going to be in the discussions about that bill
  • Why Nat wasn't on Cap's side
  • How they were going to handle having so many people in a movie that's supposed to be about Cap
But I really don't think I needed to worry. Captain America : Civil War is not a perfect movie, and not as fantastic as Winter Soldier, but it's still really good and better than Age of Ultron. Spoilers ahead, so don't keep reading if you don't want them!

I really hated the marketing that kept trying to force everyone to pick sides. I think it was unneccessary for the fans to be divided as well as the team, and my favs were spread out across both sides. So that was part of why I wasn't super happy about the idea of everyone splitting down the middle, but in the actual moment of the movie--though I still don't like the advertising--it didn't matter that much. Everyone was just doing what they thought was right, and Cap and Tony actually were forcing everyone's hands, so it was in-line with the theme and the feel of the film itself.

Also, one of my least favorite things about the way this Phase has been going is Tony being more and more afraid of everything. It's fully understandable, and I think it was handled well in his own third movie, but in Ultron it was making him make really stupid decisions, and in Civil War, though he was dealing with it by trying to atone for those stupid decisions, it made him come across as an asshole, manipulating the people he was trying to protect.

The part of that that struck home the best, for me, was where he considered the Avengers his family and just wanted to keep his family together--because his original family hadn't stayed together very well at all. They could have played up the idea of family a little more and not the idea of government oversight--which is distasteful, the way the real world is, but I guess that is why it's there to begin with--but whatever. When Tony was a broken kid looking for a home, that's when he didn't seem like a jerk, and that's when I liked his half of the story best.

I didn't like that all his reasoning was so small--you want to pinion your own wings because you have no self control and you want to keep your girlfriend from dumping you? That was handled better in Ironman 3, and I thought it was resolved. The family angle was bigger and more grand, if you ask me.

Cap's half of the story was more emotionally true, I feel. He'd been looking for Bucky since he lost him, and now he finally had the lead he'd been searching for, only to get it at exactly the worst possible time to be associated with the Winter Soldier. And he did anyway, because Bucky needed him. I like Steve as a rebel for good--he saw exactly how corrupt the government had become last movie and he didn't want a part of that this time...but all his talk about taking your own blame? How exactly was he going to do that for all the literal and emotional damage he has helped cause? Come on, Cap. You gonna go and rebuild those dozens of buildings yourself?*

Bucky is where the heart of the movie was. Sebastian Stan did such an amazing job with all the variations on a character that barely talks--creepy, brainwashed Winter Soldier; shell-shocked survivor trying to lay low and disappear; almost-Bucky trying to deal with what he'd done and figure out how much blame he should get, since he's aware that he's been controlled, but also that it was literally him who did those things. In the reveal scene with Tony's parents, that came to a head: he knew Howard before all this. They had friends in common even if they weren't friends themselves. And he killed him because he was told to and as Winter Soldier, he couldn't not.


It would have been nice to see what Bucky would have done with four other Winter Soldiers, but it was clever how that was side-stepped, and it showed the villain's deviousness really well: he knew exactly how to push all their buttons, and they all fell for it. Now they're all divided and it seems like most of them don't even know just how manipulated they were.

It's a movie about manipulation, I guess.

All the really fun stuff came from everyone else, and there was lots of everyone else involved. Almost too many, but they were handled pretty well, with everyone getting a few moments to shine.

Wanda being still too untrained to really do this super-hero stuff, and her being so upset about her mistakes was a good sign on how her character is going. I really liked how Steve took her under his wind as sort of a little sister. And I liked how totally smitten Vision is with her, but how they didn't force her to like him back the same way, yet. The fact that she's the only one who has a chance against him is encouraging that they're equals if they go with the romance angle, but it also sets them up against each other if they go with comic-stories for either of them about being overpowered. Because damn is Vision unstoppable, and if she can match him, that means she's unstoppable, too. In the big airport-faceoff, both of them were pretty alarming.

Nat actually made sense being on the side of signing the Accords, but I was so much more happy when she switched sides like I'd hoped she would. And it was refreshing not having to have her be the stand-in for missing love interests...though the whole Sharon Carter thing was weird. I loved Nat and Clint basically playing along and not actually fighting each other when everyone else was being super serious about the fight. Clint is a gift, and why don't the two of them have their own movie yet?**

Ant-Man was so much fun, even though his mask made him look like a weird robot baby. I love Scott, and I can't wait until his second movie. All the current fun in the MCU is in these side heroes, and he brings a lot of it here where it's needed to balance the tragedy that is Bucky Barnes. 

Spiderman was GREAT, but not how Tony went and paid him off and threatened to expose his identity to get him to work on Team Ironman. Like. The kid is still in high school. He's an infant compared to these guys you're setting him against, and that's crazy irresponsible and potentially dangerous. Good thing he's damn near indestructible.

Rhodey did not deserve any of this.

Sam Wilson's "I really hate you" was probably his best line in the movie, but my fav part with him was when he and Bucky, both pretty large dudes, were crammed into that tiny car, waiting on Steve. Oh, my god, so much fun, both the argument over seats, and the bro-nod after that weird Steve-Sharon kiss. So great.

And Black Panther! Considering how most of his screentime was devoted to kicking Bucky's ass, he did really well with an enlightened revenge arc--he really seemed to be learning the lessons that everyone else was sort of not learning; he pays attention and lets other people make mistakes instead of making them himself, and that's really interesting in a superhero story. Also, it's amazing that both sides basically respected that he's an actual king and kept his honors.

I think Civil War actually wrapped up the Steve-and-Bucky trilogy more than the Captain America trilogy we thought we were watching up till now, and the main purpose was to mix up the teams more than to tell either Steve or Bucky's stories, but it's a pretty good movie for all that. This obsession the MCU has with everything being OMG THERE'S TWO--yeah, I got tired of that with the two SHIELDs and two HYDRAs, and I'll be glad when they get that out of their system and stop with it already, but it'll be interesting to see how a UN-sanctioned Avengers team and a rogue Avengers team will interact. 

Which one is going to recruit each of the new heroes as they pop up? Which team will Hulk and Thor side with when they get back***, assuming they're not going to just be problems for the teams to deal with? If they are problems to deal with, how will that go with half the team being their friends and half being people who came after they disappeared?

I love that so much of this movie was about the absolute damage these people cause, but it would have been nice if they'd maybe not caused more and proved the point that they do need to be kept in check--it would have made Cap's view stronger if he'd told his team NOT to destroy that airport, those planes, all that cargo and people's belongings, all those cars...Like, did you not listen at all to that totally basic part of the UN powerpoint? 

I also love that Bucky's "I'm not going to kill anyone" became like a theme for the movie. The badguys killed people, but the goodguys made a point not to...though they were totally destroying property, still, and probably breaking a lot of bones.

Things I really want to know now:
  • What is going to happen to Bucky? Who can help him--both with his arm and with all the Hydra mess inside his head?
  • What happened to That Book? Are there other copies of it, or is that the only one? 
  • Just how freaking awesome IS Wakanda? I'm really looking forward to Black Panther now! I wanna see that one lady actually get to kick someone's butt.
  • Will Seb get his wish and get a love story with Nat?
  • Can we trust whoever is in charge of Zemo now? And what's going on with his plan, all creepily alluded to?
  • Where are Steve and Co going to set up shop now that they're technically criminals, even if they're still acting as heroes? What resources will they have?****
  • Who else was at that mid-ocean supermax? Did they get out, too?
  • Are the new Avengers going to get their own movies? I mean, I want Nat and Clint to get one first, but then, can we get Wanda and Vision?
  • Also Falcon. Doesn't that nerd deserve a movie of his own after all he's been through?
Still lingering stories I want to see come back:
  • I mean, Zola can't just be gone, right? Am I really supposed to believe that he uploaded his brain to thousands of too-early-tech computers and survived for decades developing an algorithm to track very specific people, and then he'd just let himself get exploded like that?
  • Hulk. Like, where. What's he doing? Also Fury. Also Thor. Also, where the heck was Maria Hill--doesn't she work for Tony's security firm they've not done much with now?
  • How does any of this affect or interact with SHIELD? Because that show is practically in an alternate universe, it has so little effect on the mainstream, and it's getting annoying. Are we going to have to have three more seasons of this before the Inhumans movie forces them to just admit that Coulson is alive and everything is really stupid with his agency? Come on, this is exactly what SHIELD is supposed to be dealing with, and the Avengers have been without backup for YEARS now because of all this fuckery on the show.
  • Are the Secret Avengers / whatever the heck the Inhuman team on the show is called ever going to have anything to do with the other Avengers?
  • Why are they not making shorts anymore? Because seriously, they could do a lot with these movies that don't exist as shorts--a few Nat and Clint side-missions, Rhodey and Falcon and Wasp and randoms crossovers that they can't work into the movies, etc could all do great things in the shorts. Hell, they could made a whole series based on those who who were recruited after Avegners by Sitwell, and what they've been doing since SHIELD fell!
So, overall, I really enjoyed the movie (despite any complaining above), and I'm excited to see what happens next! I just wish that there had been more actual attempt not to destroy every single thing everywhere, when that was one of the points of the Accords half the movie was fighting. It's going to be super interesting to see how a world that technically doesn't have a superpowered Avengers team anymore--since one half is in hiding and the other half has to get permission--is going to deal with all the weird stuff coming up in the next few movies. 

And I'm super-interested in what's going to lead up to the Infinity Wars and the union of the cosmic MCU and the earth-MCU.

*I would, however, pay good money to see a movie where some ex-Shield nobodies who were used to the grunt work set up a massive construction firm dedicated to cleaning up after superhero fights. You listening, Feige? I'd write that for you.
**I'd write that movie, too, though I'd probably wind up writing them as a triad with Clint's wife, and get shot down on that.
***Weird that the Avengers don't know where either of them are for what could be two years? When will Hulk get his own movie? Weren't they looking for them the way Steve's been looking for Bucky?
****Hank Pym really doesn't like Starks, so maybe he'll foot the bill?

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

May the Fourth Be with You! - Lauren and Star Wars Today

Beware. Here there be Spoilers.

So, the Fourth snuck up on me this year. Usually I line up Star Wars episodes IV, V, and VI and watch them in a glorious build up to the Fourth.

This year I was distracted by a lot of things that came up and didn't realize until yesterday that May the Fourth was imminent. I still ran around all day saying "May the fourth be with you." And replying "And also with you." As one does.

I was a bit bummed that I'd missed my traditional movie run through, but the truth is, Star Wars is never far from my life.

You see... The thing is...

I just recently dug up and played Knights of the Old Republic (KotOR) I and II and I, totally coincidentally, finished my play-through of the second game today, about twenty minutes ago.

I am now filled with unrequited nostalgia for the pre-Disney years of the expanded universe. I understand why Disney chose to make pretty much everything but the original three movies non-cannon. They needed breathing space to write in, they really did.
But I miss Thrawn and his evil blue conquering ways. I miss the mysticism and danger of the New Jedi Order books where the galaxy was under attack by invaders from yet another galaxy, invaders who were invisible in the force.

I even miss LucasArts. KotOR II kind of demanded a sequel and there may never be one now - especially since all the material in the games is essentially just fan fiction.

There were things I liked about The Force Awakens (not the title to be sure, lol), but it didn't give me the satisfied feeling I always got after reading through one of the expanded universe books. I've thought a little about why that is, and I've come to three main points.

1. The Force Awakens DRASTICALLY narrowed the Star Wars universe down and only gave us the familiar old elements to work with. That might be comforting to some after the wretched disappointment of episodes I, II, and III (I could write an essay on all the things they almost did right in those films, which is why they suck so much, actually). But we've had Star Wars for almost 40 years now, and giving us another orphan hero from a sandy planet (even if she's a girl) isn't going to do it for us. It's too much like saying "lets start fresh with absolutely nothing new."
It also feels like the heroes in the original movies accomplished absolutely nothing, which really sucks. Their only legacy is more storm troopers and a brat with a really questionable looking lightsaber that Luke hid from when he got out of control.

2. The Villain isn't compelling. Neither of them. Whichever one is the real villain anyway.
Neither Kylo Ren or Supreme Leader Snoke (however much he looks like damaged Anakin from the Return of the Jedi) can hold a candle to the foreboding figure of Darth Vader. In fact, Kylo's vague worship of his dead grandfather just seems silly.
Vader's introduction as someone holding on to the traditions of the force in a galaxy nearly devoid of those who could channel its power made him interesting. His conviction and brutality toward his people and the rebels alike mad him fear-worthy.
The emperor really gains a lot of his power from the hold he has over Vader. If Darth Vader obeyed the guy, there HAD to be something scary about him. Snoke just pushes around a whiny kid who can't control his temper and destroys five planets that everyone immediately forgets about.

3. The best part of the original movies were the way the characters developed their relationships with each other, and those relationships changed the galaxy. Except now in the new movie, they didn't. And the best part of the new movie was the relationship that Rey was building with Han Solo, but that got cut off before it could do more than hint at something meaningful. Because Rey and Fin are both extremely inconsistent characters, even the hints at friendship and attraction there are watered down. I'm desperately hoping they'll do more with Rey and Leia in the next film... talk about potential for awesomeness, but I don't see it going that way since they tracked Luke down at the end of the film but, once again, there's no relationship there, nothing to make me care about what they might do together going forward.

4. I know I said only three, but I lied. Sort of. This is the part where I admit my own bias a little. I grew up loving Jacen and Jaina Solo and their friends and kid brother, I loved the way Luke and Mara Jade got together, and the birth of their son, Ben, was a HUGE event in my life.
Now Ben is Han and Leia's son, but he goes by Kylo Ren 'cause he hates his parents? It's just tough to give up the old thing when it was so much more satisfying.

I know I griped and maybe that's not what May the Fourth is about, but it's hard not to complain about things that are actually pretty near and dear to your heart. So I thought I'd go out with a list of things I loved about The Force Awakens.

1. BB-8 - he wasn't R2-D2 all over again, but had similar appeal.
2. Poe Dameron - just yes. Totally.
3. General Leia (She's still a princess, dangit! even if Vader blew up her planet. Well, Moff Tarkin did, but anyway).
4. Maz .
5. Rey is a girl (though it sucked that she was a super inconsistent character).
6. Fin (sadly inconsistent character again).
7. Fin and Poe flying and shooting together.
8. The practical effects - thank goodness.
9. Fin using a lightsaber.
10. Han and Leia hugging - though I'm of two minds about their reunion. I liked it better when their marriage was solid.

Now, I think I'll go play some Star Wars Dark Forces before bed...

May the Fourth be with you all!

May The Fourth Be With You!

Hello lovely readers!

Happy Star Wars Day and May The Fourth Be With You! Let's celebrate with one of Sami's amazing creations - Most Adorable Droid, inspired by BB-8! I have always loooved R2D2 and now there's BB-8 to split that love with. I wish I had a droid...

Isn't this polish freaking SPOT ON?! I luuuurve it! This is three thin coats with lots of top coat, because of the big spangles. 

So this is what I think:

And here's a little more cuteness to celebrate!
And don't forget to grab your bottle!

May the Fourth Be With You! - In which Sami rambles about her relationship with Star Wars

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back was my very first movie. I was 11 days old, and when the wompa jumped out at Luke, it was almost Baby's First Headwound, but I think the existence of the film that early in my life left more impression on me than my mom almost dropping me. I grew up in a scifi-friendly household*, playing Star Wars with my brother and sister. I was Sami Skywalker, because I wanted to be a Jedi and Leia didn't have a sword. My brother was usually Han, which I also wouldn't have minded being, because he was cool, but you couldn't fight with my brother once he made a stand when we were kids. My sister, who was probably four or so at this point, was an Ewok because Ewoks don't talk.**

If I blame David Bowie in Labyrinth for my love of bad guys in eyeliner, I blame Han Solo for my love of smugglers that has taken me all the way to Captain Mal in Firefly and beyond, with detours into various pirates movies and any number of space-rebellion stories in between. I think Han and Leia were one of my very first favorite love stories, but there was never a time when they weren't together (until recently), so I don't call them a ship--more like Ship Goals, because they were so great together.

I grew up in a world where Star Wars was always on TV somewhere. My aunt had the Endor movie that people like to not talk about. We had toys. It was this wonderful thing that had always been there, and as I got older, I started to feel lucky that I had lived in a time when Star Wars existed, you know? It introduced me to the Hero's Journey***. It's a huge world and everyone in it has a story and a name. There's spaceships and lasers! I love a spaceship. And best of all, it's got this idea that even people who grow up in the middle of nowhere can be awesome heroes, even tiny angry girls can be fantastic rebel leaders. 

When I was in high school and into college, the prequels started. It was SO GREAT that we were getting new Star Wars! I loved that they existed. I loved that someone was actually making them. I did not love that they weren't super-great, and lacked most of the humor and heart that the original trilogy had--probably because the CGI sucked the life out of it, and they somehow took Natalie Portman, who had been so good in Leon and made her stiff and strange and never really let her be as cool as I wanted he to be. There was a time when I actively hated them, but I've since been softened by decades of "what if they were good" fan edits and rewrites, and none of those awesome stories would exist if the prequels hadn't been made. And also, the new ones probably wouldn't exist, because they proved there was still a market for these stories.

But the prequels came with the original trilogy being re-released into the theatres, and even though I think almost all the special-edition changes were unnecessary, it was so good to see them all shined up and big-screen again. And, of course, the anti-special-edition-ness--which I think, for me, was eventually more because they refused to let us own both editions and were therefore trying to edit my past and what it meant to me--meant I got to go to a con and get my grubby paws on the originals like a rebel smuggler myself!

I wasn't thrilled when Disney bought Star Wars. It also bought Marvel at that time, and that just sort of felt like they were greedily gobbling up everything geeks love, making a geek monopoly we wouldn't have any alternative to if it sucked. 

It didn't suck.

Now we live in a world where we're going to be down-right SPOILED with Star Wars. A movie a year until it stops making money. Episode VII was exactly what I wanted it to be--aware of the originals, but it's own story with awesome new people and wonderful practical effects, and a whole new chapter that doesn't need to fill gaps or condense the past--my biggest issue with the prequels is that they make the rise of the empire and the fall, like, twenty years apart, which makes it seem like Luke is less of a big deal. Before they existed, it sounded like he was bringing down an unstoppable thing that had been around so long there were only a few people fighting it; but if it rose around the time he was born, that's only one generation, and there should have been SO MANY people who remembered what it was like before and fought back. They stole Luke's thunder.

And even better, now, we get to have new Star Wars stories! Flashbacks. Flashes sideways to tell about other stories happening around the edges of the stories we have. A whole new, wide-open future without the need to read seven hundred books that filled all the gaps already. 

I'm so happy that Star Wars can be part of this current Golden Age of Geekiness! It would have been lacking without the galaxy far far away.

What are your memories of Star Wars?

 *My dad's idea, seeing Star Wars in the theatre. Also my dad's idea, watching Star Trek when I was five. I don't see why there's such a divide in the fanbase, like you can't possibly like both at once. They're different things!
**As in "Shut up, Ewoks don't talk!" We were not lovey-dovey siblings.
***Which I have sort of decided needs to be made more...equal, because the proposed Heroine's Journey is boring and why should be boys get all the fun?