Best Gift Ever

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Star Wars Christmas

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There are times when the best gift at Christmas…  you are not quite sure if it was intentional or not.  I’ve talked about our relatively chill Christmas day plans for the better part of a week, and I have to say after going through it yesterday it was far better than I could have imagined.  First off we have all this amazing food…  that we will be eating for a week.  On the menu….

  • Chilli-Cheese Rotel Dip
  • Sausage Cheese Balls
  • Pulled BBQ Beef
  • White Chocolate Cranberry Clusters
  • Chocolate Cashew Clusters
  • Snickerdoodles
  • Ranch Pretzels
  • White and Milk Chocolate dipped Pretzels
  • Flakey Biscuits to heap the BBQ Beef on

It was not exactly the most conventional meal, but we grazed happily throughout the course of the original three Star Wars movies.  You cannot have read my blog over the last few months and somehow missed the fact that Star Wars was a major part of my childhood.  I went to see the original when I was roughly 2 years old in the local drive in… and was hooked from that point on.  So for Christmas it was a given that I would end up getting a bunch of Star Wars merchandise from my parents.  The best gift however was this marathon and the effect it seems to have had on my wife.  I am trying to keep my expectations tempered, but maybe just maybe we have another Star Wars fan in the family.

Granted she has always been amazing about my Star Wars thing… and has brought me home various artifacts like Star Wars Legos, or just the other night a cool set of Kylo Ren playing cards.  So even though she didn’t get why the movie was important to me… she was always super awesome about putting up with my thing.  I remember in college she even used to get into the hunt for new action figures, helping me crawl through the racks of figures to find the one or two that I didn’t already have.  The prequels pretty much killed my desire to be surrounded by action figures on my walls…  but I do pick up the occasional figure every now and then and on the wall between my monitors I have Dark Jedi Luke, Jedi Leia, Clone Emperor, Mara Jade, Admiral Thrawn, a snow gear Plo Koon, and a badass Savage Opress figure.  So yesterday I half expected the desire to watch the three originals and then go see the new one… was at least in part a gift for me.  That is until she invited one of her friends along for the journey.  After watching the originals and seeing the new one…. she came home with all of these questions that I can’t really answer before she watches the prequels.  So right now the plan is to spend today marathoning through those as well…  and I am happy as a clam when I say… it was not MY idea to do this.

Keeping it Chill

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There are a lot of things I am into that I think she would also like.  I mean she was a huge fan of the Harry Potter series and got into it long before I did, and is also a fan of the Star Trek series and has been amped to see the newer movies.  So the raw DNA of a Science Fiction and Fantasy fan is there, and I think if I could ever get her interested in say the modern Joss Whedeon Marvel films she would really enjoy them as well.  However with those… we would need to start at the very beginning chronologically and do another Marathon since each movie at least in part fleshes out another corner of the Avengers universe.  All of this said….  I am trying to keep it super chill and not put any pressure on her to like things more than she actually does.  However just having my wife ask me questions about Star Wars…  might be quite possibly the best Christmas gift I have ever received.  I mean I guess it was impossible to live with me for the last two decades and not have SOME of the Star Wars franchise to imprint on her.  She has always liked R2-D2, Chewbacca, The Jawas and the Ewoks…  and she used to laugh when I would throw a blanket over my head and say Utini.

One of the awesome things about our marriage has always been that we could have completely different likes…  but each of us would be supportive over whatever the other person was into.  She has been awesome about the daily blog thing… and the podcast… and this game or that…  because I know they really do put dents in our schedule that are theoretically “untouchable” where I need to be at a keyboard.  Similarly I am cool with the fact that there are many nights where she works in her classroom until 8pm or has this or that church activity that needs attention.  It has always amazed me at just how well we work together, when in truth we don’t have that many shared interests.  At the core has always been this willingness to go along with whatever the other person wants to do… because I think we enjoy seeing the other half excited even if we aren’t that excited ourselves.  All of this said…  I am not expecting a Christmas Miracle… and all of the sudden my wife will be as obsessed with Star Wars as I have been all of these years.  I still think its amazing however for her to be asking the same sorts of questions that I pondered all throughout my childhood and even now have nothing more than vague guesses at.  I think without a doubt though, there will be no question as to whether or not we will be going to the next several movies because if nothing else… she seems hooked on the new generation of films after watching Force Awakens last night.

 

 

 

Sithmas Time Is Here

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Merry Sithmas

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It has been so surreal since the launch of the Force Awakens toy line.  Everywhere I go the world seems to be teeming with Star Wars enthusiasm and with that… comes a bunch of priced to own kitch.  While we have yet to reach anything close to the hype bubble we experienced before the release of Phantom Menace, it is still extremely noticeable.  A few weeks ago I wrote about re-watching the prequels and how I had wondered if maybe I was just too harsh on them at the time.  After re-watching I decided that no… they really were horrible films.  The problem is that for years I let them have control over my enjoyment of the Star Wars universe as a whole, and that frustrates me.  If you were to completely ignore their existence, then honestly the rest of the Universe is still pretty great.  Sure there was some strange stuff on the fridges of the Expanded Universe, but I cannot discount just how phenomenal the Old Republic Era has been.  I remember picking up one of the first Tales of the Jedi comics and being completely blown away at this concept of a universe set essentially 4000 years before the time of Skywalker.  Then as that universe blossomed over the course of sever comic series, and then came to life in the form of the Knights of the Old Republic game, I was absolutely hooked.  Now that I am back roaming around SWTOR, I am realizing I care about this universe far more than I ever realized.

When the game mentions Freedon Nadd or Exar Kun… I remember who they are and what they did in this worlds history.  I remember awesome characters like Nomi Sunrider from the comics, or Jolee Bindo from KOTOR.  When I see a reference to Casus Fett or Mandalore the Ultimate in game… I know who those characters are and can remember reading about them in the comics.  The thing is… it is not just the Old Republic era that is amazing.  Essentially each time another creative force has been given free reign in the fertile Star Wars universe… really awesome things have happened.  For example while the official Prequels are pretty horrible, the Clone Wars cartoon series is amazing.  No one can deny just how awesome Ahsoka Tano as is a character, and just how much more interesting the interaction is between her and Anakin…  than pretty much ANYTHING in the Prequels.  Now if we scan forward we have Star Wars Rebels… also being allowed free reign in the universe, this time within the constraints of the more well known modern era.  Similar to Shadows of the Empire it is weaving its way in and out of events we already know, and doing a great job of making us care about this new cast of characters.

Excitement Grows

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Which leads me to realize…  the times I have really loved Star Wars lately is when someone has been able to wriggle out front under the grasp of George Lucas and run freely creating their own plot lines and characters.  Essentially this is exactly what is happening with Force Awakens… it is all the goodness of the Star Wars universe with none of the harmful effects that Lucas has forced upon it in recent years.  In fact Lucas has been more than a little bit salty when talking about Episode VII and the fact that for the most part Disney ignored his plans to create a movie focused around teenagers.  What is happening is that Disney has become the most powerful marketing juggernaut on the planet, and at the core of their methodology is protecting the bottom line, and with it the long term profitability of the franchises they own.  I am sure there is some computer program somewhere that knows precisely what fans will like, and just how far they are willing to allow the themes to be stretched.  While at some point down the line this might be a bad thing for innovation…  I sincerely doubt they will allow anything even vaguely close to midichlorians to ever happen again.

The only frustration I have with the Disney approach however is that so much of the Universe became ruled “non-canon”.  There were characters like Mara Jade and Grand Admiral Thrawn that were absolutely amazing…  in fact I have action figures for both of them hanging on my wall as well as Clone Emperor Palpatine, Dark Jedi Luke, and Jedi Leia.  Those stories meant a lot to me, and while there were parts of the Expanded Universe that were completely unfollowable… most of it made a certain logical sense at least at one time.  The problem being like most fan centered fiction, it iterated on itself causing the characters to become more distorted and unbelievably heroic as time went on.  It is my hope that they will figure out how to work some of the best characters into the new tales.  There has been rumors that Mara Jade will be introduced as an Inquisitor instead of the Emperors Hand for example, which is fine with me…  so long as she is introduced at all.  Basically I find myself in a strange place, of having hope for Star Wars… when for so many years I lacked it almost entirely.  I imagine as we get closer to the December release of the movie, the cross promotions and Star Wars branded soup cans will start to get annoying.  However in the meantime…  I am reveling in Sithmas.

The Professional

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As of last night I have finished Balmorra and Nar Shadda on the Bounty Hunter and just went through the “intermission” that generally occurs there.  I didn’t really expect to be all that into this storyline, because essentially it was one of the ones that I never intended to actually complete.  While I enjoyed the Trooper storyline, the class itself was not that compelling to me.  Largely I think this was the reason why I ultimately fell out of love with SWTOR after pushing three characters to the then level cap of 50.  Bounty Hunter however feels completely different, and much more action packed.  There are little things like rocket punch and the jet pack charge that make it feel more brutal…  even if the attacks are essentially the same as my trooper vanguard.   The funny thing about the storyline is just how much of myself I can pour into it.  I am playing a very grey bounty hunter, who does not kill anyone for free.  Also as the story goes on I am becoming a bit of a softy, and I am wondering exactly when that will bite me in the ass.  Essentially it does not seem like a very “sith side” storyline so far other than the fact that essentially I am doing everything for the sake of payback… and for a girl.

I imagine over the next few days I will rip through the content quickly and before the end of the weekend start work on the last of two classes.  Not sure what I will be doing next, if it will be the Inquisitor and its constant shock treatment… or if I will go for the Imperial Agent.  As it stands now… I am starting to lean towards Agent.  Whatever the case playing all of these stories is making me fall in love with the Bioware writing all over again.  It is also making me look forward to Fallen Empire and its more story driven focus.  When you ONLY play the class quests, SWTOR becomes a much better game because it has a nice clean story arc that does not get muddied by repeating the same planetary quests over and over again.  At some point I will go back and play some of the quests I missed Sith side, but for the time being I want to push through the classes because each one feels like it adds another piece of a puzzle to the central story arc of this game world.  This is also making me want to go back and get KOTOR 2 working, and actually attempt to beat it this time.  It feels like there is a chunk of storyline that I am missing there, and with it several characters that I really only know by name.  Essentially I am saying by all of this… that once again I am proud to be a Star Wars junkie.