Santa and Grumplings

Santa Lives

I’ve been going through this strange set of emotions since getting out of the movies on Thursday night. ¬†One of the things I am learning about myself is that I am in fact deeply susceptible to nostalgia. ¬†Growing up I honestly thought I was not nostalgic at all, because the things I cared about never seemed to align with the things I was supposed to care about. ¬†Photos for example are just not one of the things I care about that much, and the only time I take a photo of something is when I want to show it to someone else. ¬†I have a pretty good memory when it comes to visual images, and I can always summon up images from the past when I want them… and as such I never placed much value in having a physical representation. ¬†My mother on the other hand… ¬†that is the thing she finds most important in the world and has taken volumes of photos that the world will likely never see… because she never does anything with them. ¬†My nostalgia… seems to be firmly rooted in the things and places that gave me the most joy in the world. ¬†The king of all of this will always be Star Wars, because it truly was my first love. ¬†For so many years I doubted my memories, or at least doubted that I had as much fun with Star Wars as I seemed to remember.

Then Thursday night I watched Force Awakens and remembered just what it was like to experience that level of joy again. ¬†Now I am just riding the giddy contact high of the experience, and looking forward to talking about it with anyone that has already been indoctrinated into the club. ¬†Yesterday there was a sequence of tweets trying to decide when it was time to talk about the movie, and I guess personally… I am going to wait until January 18th. ¬†I am going to give the world a full month to watch it before I start openly talking about spoilers and spreading the world with my theory crafting. ¬†Spoilers are such a weird thing…. because for me personally they do not adversely effect my enjoyment of the movie. ¬†I personally guessed at four or five of the plot points from the movie, and it was in no way tarnished for me when I saw them coming. ¬†In fact there was a bit of strange excitement coursing through me when I realized that things were playing out in one of the ways I had imagined them. ¬†For others though… once something is spoiled it ruins the experience, and as a result I am going to try my best not to ruin anyone else’s.

The “A” Team

Return-of-the-Jedi_612x380_1

I love the Star Wars universe, and while I was greatly disappointed for years… ¬†shows like the Clone Wars and the current Rebels made me remember just how awesome the setting COULD be. ¬†I think they were essentially the gateway to allowing myself to indulge in the hype leading up to Force Awakens. ¬†The problem with Rebels is that as good as it is… ¬†it isn’t the team of characters that I wanted to be engaged with. ¬†Shows like it or Agents of Shield… no matter how amazing they might be… will always be stuck in the rut of being the “B” Team. ¬†These are the characters that are ALSO in the universe…. but aren’t really the characters that you really want to be watching. ¬†While shows like that might raise the excitement level a bit every now and then with a “special guest appearance” you know at the end of the day… you are never really going to get back the characters you care the most about. ¬†While to some extent the new movie is setting up a brand new cast of heroes to take over the throne… in the form of Finn, Rey, Poe and Ren, it still very much feels that we are going on another adventure with the characters we grew up loving: Han, Luke, Leia, Chewie, R2, and C-3PO.

There is a continuity that other derivative products lack, and in a way I am more okay knowing¬†the cast of the original trilogy will always play a secondary role in this new trilogy of movies. ¬†The Avengers are still an active team… and while they exist… Agents of Shield will always be the lesser product. ¬†Similarly no matter how cool Rebels is… and how awesome it is for filling in the gap between the prequels and rebellion era movies… ¬†it will always be the story of people we didn’t know existed until Disney told us they did. ¬†So in the meantime I am going to embrace the joy I am feeling, because there were points yesterday where I wanted to take my hot-wheels Millennium Falcon and go running around the office making “space” noises. ¬†There is a kid inside me that has woken up, that has not been awake since the 80s… and I am perfectly okay with hanging out with him again. ¬†Part of my whole mission to limit the negativity in my life, and to be less cynical… ¬†was to be able to truly feel unbridled joy again… and this movie has paid off in spades. ¬†Sure I am almost forty years old… and sure I probably shouldn’t be enraptured by Star Wars. ¬†To that I say “fuck it” I get to decide what sort of Adult I am going to be, and I choose to be the one that never really grew up inside.

Grumplings

Wow-64 2015-12-19 07-39-42-65

The most annoying part of any in game holiday event… are the things you have to fight other players for to get spawns. ¬†In the new Winter Veil garrison event, you have to fight players for patches of snow on the ground, in the hopes that instead of getting a snowball of various kids… ¬†you get a Grumpling pet. ¬†Last night after looting many piles of snow I managed to get one… and now I am done touching those piles of snow. ¬†I am not going to be one of these players that tries to profit off this event, because it is my hope that by removing myself from the picture others will have an easier time getting their own Grumplings. ¬†Now however I am still going to be completing the daily event… until I get the damned mount. ¬†I’ve decided to send all of my packages to Belgrace my MooCowAdin, because he seems to be the closest to getting all of the appropriate factions for the flying mount. ¬†So among the four characters I have that can do the daily, I am hoping ONE of them gets the stupid mount.

 

Media Consumption 10/24/2015

Week of Star Wars

MediaConsumptionThis week was extremely dominated by my burgeoning love of Star Wars. ¬†I have written many times about how I just was not feeling the franchise after the prequels… and that all of the hype surrounding me has rekindled that little kid inside of me that wanted to be “darfa bader”. ¬†I’ve always loved the empire more than the rebels, and I feel kinda bad about that… but Storm Troopers and Darth Vader…. ¬†come on. ¬†I was sick for a chunk of the week and while home sick… I caught up on a few things… namely Star Wars Rebels. ¬†So without further rambling… lets talk about stuff.

Star Wars: Force Awakens – Trailer 3

This trailer is absolutely amazing and only serves to bump my hype for this movie up to a fever pitch. ¬†This honestly scares me more than a little bit. ¬†I am as excited right now for Force Awakens as I was for Phantom Menace… and we all know how that turned out. ¬†I think the thing that gives me confidence more than anything is the giant trail of money attached to this movie. ¬†Disney paid four billion dollars to purchase the Star Wars franchise… and I think the realize if this movie is the stinker than Phantom Menace was… they have essentially flushed the vast majority of that money down the toilet. ¬†That said I have also come to realize that quite simply I don’t think George Lucas knows how to direct human beings with human emotions. ¬†I’ve recently watched the prequels again… and those movies are full of some really damned good actors… all of which are chewing up scenery with some of the most unnatural dialog and acting I have seen. ¬†You take those same actors and put them in quite literally any other movie and they do amazing jobs… so it has the be the movies themselves that are the problem. ¬†Anyways… enough of that and on to the trailer.

I love the feel of this trailer, how it is a sequence of more fleshed out vignettes this time. ¬†I have gone back and forth on the popular conspiracies and at this point I simply don’t have a clue. ¬†I don’t know why Luke Skywalker isn’t on the movie poster, and I am starting to question if it is him with the robotic hand reaching out to R2-D2. ¬†I am playing this game of “who is the Skywalker”, and I right now I am starting to think that maybe Rey, Finn and Kylo Ren are all connected to the previous trilogy. ¬†I am still leaning heavily towards Kylo Ren being the child of Han and Leia who has now turned to the Dark Side and become essentially a Vader fanboy… since he knows that Vader was essentially his Grandfather. ¬†You see Rey behind the seat of the Millennium Falcon in one of the shots that has come out… so that would lead you to believe that maybe she is ALSO the child of Han and Leia… ¬†maybe sibling to Kylo? ¬†Finn is the one I cannot place… ¬†since we see him wielding a lightsaber we know he is a force sensitive. ¬†Makes me wonder if maybe he is the child of Luke, but with whom. ¬†He could also be the child of Sana Solo which is now apparently the in canon wife of Han. ¬†I feel like a lot of this movie is going to center around Kylo Ren essentially going on an Artifact hunt trying to find relics of Vader, but past that I am not sure of anything. ¬†I am absolutely looking forward to December so I can finally see how the pieces are going to fit together.

Star Wars Rebels

star-wars-rebels-season-2

While sick this week I caught up on watching Star Wars Rebels, which I found out you can stream from the Disney XD website so long as you have a cable provider to validate with. ¬†The only problem with this is that it isn’t really clear where one season ends and the next begins. ¬†At this point I am apparently caught up and into season two, and I have to say this show… is so great and just what we needed to bridge some gap between the prequels and the modern age movies. ¬†This show is essentially about the birth of the Rebellion as we know it episodes four through six. ¬†I’ve talked about the show in the past on my blog, and I will warn you it honestly takes a few episodes before it starts to feel right. ¬†Sabine Wren is awesome… just going to get that out there. ¬†I love Mandalorians and she has this awesome quirky nature that is just great, and I love the fact that she tags her armor every time they take down another imperial target. ¬†I also adore the paint job she did on the captured Tie Fighter.

The coolest part about this show however is the fact that we get to find out what happens to Ahsoka Tano. ¬†That was the biggest problem I had after Clone Wars¬†you weren’t really sure what became of her. ¬†You know she isn’t in any of the prequels… ¬†largely because I don’t think the character existed until the Clone Wars cartoon… but we just know she is not around in any form. ¬†Here we find that she is fighting the good fight and acting as the rebel operative known as “Fulcrum”. ¬†It is awesome to see her again, but we know that issues are going to come up… ¬†and with a brief interaction with Darth Vader he realizes exactly who she is… and that she is still alive. ¬†You are left with the impression that she has her assumptions that Vader is Anakin… ¬†but she isn’t nearly as certain as Vader is in that interaction. ¬†I thought it was awesome that they brought in Commander Cody as well, and it makes me so damned happy that essentially Clone Wars and Rebels are a continuation of the same basic story arc. ¬†I was afraid that all of the great characters that got invented for the Clone Wars show would simply be gone, but now we are seeing them almost all revitalized as part of the Rebels show… which also I believe means they are being inducted into the canon universe. ¬†The hope is that maybe some of these characters will have brief cameos in the new movies as well.

Walking Dead Season 5 – Episode 2

720x405-TWD_602_GP_0518_0043

Wow… this episode. ¬†I thought the first episode was intense with the quarry full of walkers, and herding them down the path. ¬†This episode starts off very benign showing you how the rest of the characters were spending the time while everyone else was out in the field with the walkers. ¬†Then in a manner so quickly that I thought it might literally be a hallucination… ¬†we see the wolves get into Alexandria and just start slaughtering the residents. ¬†We all knew the wolves would eventually get there, and it seems as though either someone jumped the fence in the same way that Carl and Enid have done… ¬†or someone left the damned gate open again. ¬†Last week we theorized as to who was hitting the car horn and leading the walkers of the pack, but this week we find out that it was instead a semi truck that was heading for one of the walls to break it down. ¬†The gun in the guard tower managed to shoot the driver… ¬†but then the driver fell on the horn while dying. ¬†The episode as a whole was just so strange to see how absolutely feral and blindingly fast the wolves were.

The part I am thankful for however is the fact that essentially this incident forced Carol to abandon her disguise. ¬†She had to become the badass we all know she is, but I do think it is significant that she once again took on the disguise of a wolf, much like she took on the disguise of a walker getting into Terminus. ¬†I think this is the sign of something more with her character… I think she got used to having to wear a mask in the years she was in her abusive marriage, and now it is just comfortable for her to keep adopting them in order to stay safe. ¬†This episode however was a tale of two styles conflicting… ¬†the monk like pacifism of Morgan, and the brutal and honest force of Carol. ¬†The body count from this episode was massive and I think in one show we have whittled down the folks in Alexandria to only the reliable and self sufficient ones are left. ¬†The wolves came in and killed all of the sheep as it were… ¬†all of the people who simply could not take care of themselves. ¬†As a result I think Alexandria is going to be a vastly different place in the coming weeks as they have to deal with this horde of walkers bearing down upon the walls. ¬†I am amped for this week to see what happens next.

Sithmas Time Is Here

1080_saber1

Merry Sithmas

20151007_114140

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

1080_saber1

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

swtor 2015-10-07 23-37-28-54

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.