Archive for the Fun Category

My First Marathon

Posted in Fun, Spotlight with tags , , , on 23 February 2017 by Megan

In my last two posts, I told you all about how Star Wars and I met. Yesterday was twenty years since Return of the Jedi blew my mind and became my favorite movie of all time. Today is twenty years since I first watched the original trilogy in a marathon.

Star Wars Marathons are a sacred tradition that, I’m sure, go all the way back to 1983, though I wasn’t around and can’t personally vouch for that. Three movies though they may be, they are simply parts of a whole, and to do the story justice, they must be watched one after the other.

dscn5206

My first marathon was mismatched and a matter of sheer pragmatism: we only owned A New Hope and V and VI were due to return to the video store the next day. It was a Sunday, and back then a marathon only took about six hours. I had no idea when I would ever get to see E5 or E6 again, so I can tell you I was rapt for the whole thing.

That evening, my diary was bursting with six Star Wars-packed entries in a row; determined not to take up more than one page per entry (for some reason), I turned to the second string — the Lisa Frank diary from the year before that had exactly one empty page left. So February 23 has two separate entries about Star Wars . . . and a rather embarrassingly bad crayon drawing of “Good vs. Evil.”

February 23 also marks the date I heard my first prequel rumor: sure, Star Wars fans had been bandying the idea of a new trilogy for years, but two weeks before, I’d never even heard of Star Wars at all! “Mom said that Corey said that they are coming out with episode I (one) II (two) and III (three) When they were kids!!!”

There’s a tremendous irony to the fact that even though February of 1997 is crammed with diary entries featuring the words “Star Wars,” the same diary goes absolutely silent until October on the subject. I watched A New Hope four times in two weeks (and E5 + E6 twice in two days), had to write sideways in the margins of my diary to cover all my thoughts about it, and yet for all intents and purposes, utterly forgot the movie existed for the next six months.

It’s interesting that just as I had to have Return of the Jedi to really care about the trilogy, I didn’t really care about Star Wars until . . . the Expanded Universe.

And I guess you’ll just have to wait until December for that story. But don’t worry, I’ll post again in October to tell you all about the next big event in my Star Wars life ;)

Twenty Years, Part 2

Posted in Fun, Spotlight with tags , , , , , on 22 February 2017 by Megan

It’s amazing what things stick with you and how clearly they stick. As I said in the last post, I remember with absolute clarity the first time I saw Star Wars: A New Hope. I even remember when I saw E4 for the second time and, with similar exact clarity, when I saw The Phantom Menace in the theater two years later. Ditto Revenge of the Sith. Yet for all that, I don’t remember the first time I saw Empire Strikes Back or Return of the Jedi, even though E6 is my favorite and the most important of the six.

1997vide

The first Star Wars I ever saw!

As I said last time, the first time I ever saw E4 was February 12, 1997. We watched it again the next day — 10 AM on a Thursday, my older sister grabbed me and said, “Hey, see if Mom will let us watch that movie from last night again.” A third, but partial, rewatch occurred again on February 18th, so already there was something major and significant about this movie.

Then, nine days after I saw A New Hope for the first time, Mom rented The Empire Strikes Back. I must have been after her to see it; I’d been watching anniversary interviews with the cast on Rosie and Oprah, not knowing who Billy Dee Williams was as he described angry kids yelling at him for betraying Han Solo. Han Solo got betrayed?! Was he killed?! I had to see this movie! Kroger — which did video rentals back then, if you can believe it — didn’t have any, so I remember Dad pulling a few doors down to the West Coast Video where Mom ran inside. It was raining. Can you believe I remember rain from 20 years ago? Yet I don’t remember the actual moment we sat down to watch the movie.

dscn5197

I didn’t have much to say about it in my diary that night, either. The most significant thing was “It was almost 70 degrees!!!!” followed by how much I hated doing English (ironic given that I later majored in English…)

Then the bombshell. Then Return of the Jedi.

1983 ROTJ Poster

It was partly a bombshell because of how clever my mom is. She went into the video store alone because it was raining and we had groceries in the car. She let me hold the E5 VHS on the way home and put it on top of the TV for viewing. I absolutely took for granted that it would be at least one week before we could get E6. (“Town” was 18 miles away and going in for groceries was a weekly thing.) So I was pretty nonchalant about the cliffhanger ending.

The next day was February 22, a Saturday, and I was replaying The Island of Doctor Brain on our Windows 3.0 Compaq in Dad’s office.

office2

Even though that picture was taken in 2003, Dad’s office pretty much never changed the entire 16 years they lived there. Same computer! So the point is that’s where I was sitting sometime after lunch when I got to this screen:

doctorbrainisland

I’d played the game before, so I knew where all the Easter eggs were — the best thing about Sierra computer games was that you could right-click for jokes. And I called for Mom, always my first response upon a new discovery, and said, “LOOK! I never got that before!!” Right-clicking on the hut at the top left of the screen produced a box of text reading Don’t mess with Jabba the Hut.

We laughed and then Mom got a mischievous glint in her eye. “You want to see what he looks like?” she asked. I was like, Huh? and followed her out of the office, which was right next to their room, and she opened their closet and pulled out the opaque rental case for Return of the Jedi. My mind was absolutely blown that she’d rented both at once and kept it a secret.

So late in the afternoon, before dinner, I tore around the house rounding up Dad and my sister and we started to watch Return of the Jedi as the sun was going down. Huh, guess I remember more than I thought about the moment I first saw E6!

My diary couldn’t even handle all the information I had to unload:

Dear Pal,

We saw return of the Jedi. Lai is Luke’s sister! And Darth Vader is Luke’s father. But the Emperor was killed and Darth became good, only he was killed.

Love Megan

I like Luke, Leia, C3Po R2D2 Ham Solo best.

The clearest thing I remember is that when it was over, I passed by the front door to go upstairs and I stopped to watch the moon rising through the cut glass windows. It was nearly full, huge, and felt closer than ever. No movie had ever made me feel that way before. I loved stories, I loved reading and telling stories, but not even any of them had ever made me feel like that.

I wrote that Han Solo was my favorite, but even then, even before I bothered to notice Luke, he was the reason my imagination caught fire — the hero whose journey was the reason Star Wars changed my life.

Game Time Started

Posted in Fun, Reviews, Spotlight with tags , , , , , on 25 May 2016 by Megan

4A review of Star Wars: The Old Republic, a massively-multiplayer online roleplaying game (MMORPG) which I have officially been playing for exactly one year today.

This is how Star Wars has gone for me: 1997-2005, Oh my gosh Star Wars is the most awesome thing ever and I swear I will know everything about it that was ever created or published because knowledge is power and I will be the most powerful Star Wars fan ever. 2005-2011, Education is distracting and anyway all that new Star Wars stuff is crap written by people who don’t know jack diddly about Star Wars. I know better than all of them so I can’t be bothered to read their stupid ignorance anymore. 2011-2012, New renaissance! Life is good and wow I missed a bunch of Star Wars stuff and need to catch up. 2012, My life is in the dumpster and to top it off, Star Wars has been destroyed. I give up and quit. 2013- New new renaissance! I will NOT be told by a mouse to get out of my fandom! Star Wars is MINE.

This includes games. I never really played Star Wars games, either because I never had computers that could handle the graphics, or Sims took up all of my non-school hours. Dark Forces II was a perennial favorite, but frankly the way everybody went on about Knights of the Old Republic had me pretty confident I was going to ignore it forever. (I don’t like things people go on about.) I didn’t know The Old Republic was separate. I got sick of hearing KOTOR this that and the other and determined never to play.

And then Disney took everything away. Disney made me reevaluate Star Wars. Also, GOG sold games I could install on Windows 7. So I bought KOTOR and decided to give it a try. And then I found out that The Old Republic was something different.

Star_Wars-_The_Old_Republic_cover

Somebody from the Star Wars group encouraged me to get an account, so I chipped into the game with extreme caution. I logged in, did the first scene, walked out into the cantina, and immediately had a panic attack.

It was huge. It was mind-bogglingly, indescribably huge. And every person I saw was a real person who could see me, too. And they were all judging me. I hadn’t even wanted to ask the NPC in KOTOR for the tutorial because I thought he’d think I was an idiot; how could I handle an entire game full of a hundred real life people actively actually judging me walking into walls, getting killed, and behaving with general incompetence?

Sweet relief, the phone rang and I logged out. I genuinely thought at the time that I probably would never log back in again. So my one-year-ago-to-the-day experience was quite truncated.

Funny thing was, I couldn’t stop thinking about that initial cutscene. As much as everything else made me panic, the fact that I could click on buttons and my character actually said real words filled me with awe. Every other game was stuff like “ask about X” and the person replied; there was no first-person dialogue from me. I was suddenly overwhelmed with interest to know what my character would say. So I tiptoed back in.

anmaradi1

She’s a Zabrak because as f2p, I didn’t have any other nonhuman options. I’ve always come up with insane backstory for every character I’ve ever played — seriously, the hours I used to spend as a kid playing Alley Cat, I spent the whole time coming up with complex histories for the cats. So by the time I’d finished creating Anmaradi, she had a rich history — and I truly intended for her to be me if I existed in the era of TOR.

She made me feel like a badass. It wasn’t easy to learn, especially in pre-KOTFE days, especially for someone who had barely even heard the term “MMORPG” before. But the cutscenes kept me coming back and for awhile, I played just cutscene to cutscene.

And then we decided to form a guild. The group expressed interest mainly in a Republic side guild, so I had to make a pub side character. Anmaradi acquired a brother — a Zabrak smuggler with a grudge against the Empire.

Screenshot_2015-06-07_14_10_36_218745

By then, I realized that I was enjoying the game and that I didn’t like KOTOR. I broke my neck to get internet connection in my new apartment because all I wanted to do was play TOR. And with my first long weekend, I bought a hardcopy of the game from Amazon for $9 and finally got to play as a subscriber.

Which made me really want to make a Twi’lek.

Screenshot_2015-07-22_22_14_27_311259

And then we were collaborating with another guild so I decided making an ambassador alt would be a good idea. And because I had cartel coins — and didn’t imagine I’d ever have another use for them — and I like Sith and didn’t really want to play a Jedi anyway, I decided for the ultimate joke, I’d make a Sith Jedi.

0809151831

Safe to say by the time Vulkeen rolled onto the scene, I was addicted. The music was incredible. The graphics were incredible. I was still addicted to cutscenes. There was so much to do, so much to explore.

When I found out that there were Chiss specific interactions, at least for bounty hunters and agents, I embarked on a new quest — to play every class as a Chiss. And just like that, I’d gone from “not logging back in again” to “gonna play the agent and that’s it” to “four characters is plenty” — to “I’m going to play all 8 classes twice.”

It’s addictive. It’s stunning. I’ve never encountered anything like this game before, but I don’t think that’s why it’s so breathtaking. The story, graphics, characters, companions, gear, everything is made with such attention to detail, such attention to Star Wars — real Star Wars, the way George Lucas originally envisioned it — even though it’s 3,000 years before the Battle of Yavin IV, it feels like Star Wars.

I laugh. I cry. I ride tauntauns and fight with lightsabers. The books seem more vivid when I read them, because I know how it feels to fight my way down a corridor of shock troops. I’ve looked up at a Hutt from his beast pit; I’ve told an emperor his overconfidence will be his undoing. I’ve walked a path of pure light and of pure dark and discovered how each can be painful and difficult. I’ve made friends, lost them, avenged them, married them.

And I’m not even halfway through.

TOR is a great gift. Thanks to the Star Wars group person who got me into the game. Thanks to the people who made the game. Thanks to swtorfamily on Twitter.

And thanks a bit to Peter Cushing’s Ghost who caused me to discover another 40% of the game I’d utterly been missing, because she got an account in January and I discovered just how awesome the social aspect of the game can really be.

swtor 2016-05-22 18-26-56-75

Laugh.swtor 2016-05-22 16-05-16-81

Cry.sweetvector

Love.

swtor 2016-04-03 22-01-11-85

Get social.

I now have 13 total “toons” with at least three more in planning. My first has 6 days, 3 hours, 8 minutes of play time, while my second has 5 days, 14 hours, 58 minutes on the second. After racking up 48 days, 17 hours, 56 minutes of total play time in one year (that’s roughly 40% of all non-working, non-sleeping hours!), I couldn’t ask for more from a game 💝

16 Star Wars Books You Should Read in 2016

Posted in Fun, Opinion with tags , , , , on 13 May 2016 by Megan

And unlike the pitiful Disney “17 Villains” list, I won’t have to scrape any barrels to come up with 16 satisfying realcanon reads for the year.

Yes, halfway through Maul (May) is a weird time to give you a list of books to read for the year. But I’m weird, so that fits just fine. Actually, I was inspired by something I saw on Twitter today and thought, “People love lists, and this would be a great topic for a list!” List posts are extremely trendy, so I’ll try to give this a clickbaity promo line and go from there.

jediacademytril

16. Jedi Search
15. Dark Apprentice
14. Champions of the Force

Together, this 1994 trilogy makes up the real Star Wars: Episode VIII as Luke Skywalker battles demons from his run-on with the Dark Side and founds the Jedi school Yoda urged him to create all the way back in Episode VI. Mon Mothma is poisoned and the Sun Crusher is out to destroy whole star systems while a deranged Imperial tries to kidnap Anakin Solo and turn him into a new model Darth Vader.

13. The Truce at Bakura 

If you want to know what happened after Endor, what the day after Return of the Jedi‘s Ewok party was like, then Kathy Tyers has the whole thing right here for you — since 1993.

darksaber

12. Darksaber
11. Planet of Twilight

I know these are both part of the so-called “Callista trilogy” but I will never recommend anyone read Children of the Jedi, ever. Darksaber, however, is one of my favorite books. Soviet-esque Hutts attempt to build a superweapon among their own greedy shortcuts; Crix Madine is a war hero; and Luke gives his weird girlfriend a clip show of the best planets of the original trilogy. Planet of Twilight has some cool moments, a dark side vision of Leia, and the character Leigious Vorn to make it worthwhile.

Corellia_SOF

10. Ambush at Corellia
9. Assault on Selonia
8. Showdown at Centerpoint

This underrated Corellian Trilogy, which joined us in 1995 but which became my first Star Wars book ever in December 1997, is in my opinion a must-read for every treu fan. A chance to glimpse into Han’s past and the reclusive Corellian system turns into a disaster for the Solo family, as an evil cousin takes Han hostage and a sinister archaeology project flings the three kids into their first big adventure. Also, Lando hires Luke to help find him a wife, and lightsaber-wielding Mara and Leia destroy a government building! Non-stop thrills.

Home stretch! These are books with significant birthdays this year —

StarWarsNovelization

7. Star Wars, From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker

Not really Expanded Universe because it doesn’t expand, this adaptation of the 1977 film is historically interesting and significant, not least of all because it’s the first Star Wars anyone in our galaxy ever experienced when it was published in December of 1976. It turns a distinguished 40 years old this year.

6. Jedi Twilight

This ten-year-old novel may be the first book in the Coruscant Nights trilogy (2) (3), but it’s the fourth book in Michael Reeves’ Pavan Saga, so bonus points if you read Shadow Hunter, Battle Surgeons, and Jedi Healer first! Otherwise, it tells the story of a Jedi in hiding who has become a private eye in the wake of Order 66.

Thrawn_CHISS

5. Outbound Flight

Another one turning ten this year: Timothy Zahn’s own prequel to Heir to the Empire, showing how the Chiss made first contact with the Republic and showing us what a lovable old cuss the real Jorus C’boath was in life. Thrawn’s first appearance.

4. The New Rebellion

A book with a mixed reputation, to be sure, New Rebellion is also turning 20 this year and deserves to be remembered for the character of Brakiss, who could have been so much more, and the eerie post-bombing chaos of the Senate chamber. (Who else freaked out when Leia was bleeding from the ears?) The skull-faced villain has his moments. It should not be discarded simply because of an over-the-top scene of Luke lightsaber dueling Mr. Bubble’s evil cousin. Nope! Worth reading.

The gang's all here!

3. Tales of the Bounty Hunters

Bounty hunters — we do need that scum! Visit arguably the best of the short story anthologies from 1996 as some favorite Star Wars authors tell the tales of our favorites, Dengar, IG-88, 4-LOM and Zuckuss, Bossk, and even Boba Fett!

2. Rogue Squadron 

One of my favorites of all time, the perfect book for you if you’re bored with the Big Three and/or Force users and bounty hunting scum just aren’t up your alley. Top Gun x-wing flyboys show you what it’s like to be a real Rogue.

And the #1 book you should read this year —

shadows

Shadows of the Empire turned 20 years old on April 1 (no kidding!). This book is wildly important in the history of Star Wars. You can catch my full review here!

Review: lolwut?

Posted in Fun, Reviews with tags , , , on 31 December 2015 by Megan

Instead of April Fools, I’m going to introduce New Year Fools. Because I got this book for Christmas and just have to share how outrageously kooktastic it is. Also, what else does anyone have to do on New Years Eve at 20 to midnight? Oh, yeah, play Star Wars The Old Republic . . . which is why this is a scheduled post XD

weirdo

The ultimate thing to have mixed feelings about. First of all, it’s extremely visually appealing — that’s the best thing I can say about it. It’s got truly beautiful artwork. It’s also truly insane. On the one hand, I think it’s a very interesting concept, but on the other hand, especially given its copyright date, I feel like it was partly created just to lampoon George Lucas and further undermine his work. “Look, look what kind of stuff he’d give you. But the great Disney will give you better Star Wars.” I’m probably importing a great deal of subtext to even have that thought, but the comic itself doesn’t acknowledge just how much creative license it inevitably took. “This was George’s vision!” they insist — when Lucas himself insisted that his vision was pretty fluid and ended up having little to do with either this comic or the 1977 theatrical release the fanboys crave so much.

DSCN3996

Anyway, when I got it for Christmas, it was something I had never heard of at all. And I remain the most impressed by the really amazing artwork. Since I don’t get anything else out of comics, I do require them to look good, and it looks very good. I really enjoy the style although I don’t know why they used Jay of Jay and Silent Bob as the model for the protagonist.

jaystarkiller

You thought I was exaggerating? I wasn’t. That is clearly the model.

DSCN4465

On the other hand, Vader as the non-Force-sensitive military commander with a cyborg eye is some definite eye-candy. So’s Valorum, the Sith prince who is not Vader. But I’ll get to that in a second.

Anyway, the plot does its job by being an early draft version of the movie we’re all familiar with. Jay Annikin Starkiller is the son of a former Jedi-Bendu; his younger brother has been slain by the evil empire. His father apprentices him to General Skywalker, who is seeking a war with the empire because they’re evil and must be stopped. Princess Leia wants to be heading off to college, but since the Empire has attacked her peaceful homeworld and her father has been killed, that option is off the table. Starkiller and Skywalker escape the planet with Leia’s younger brothers with the aid of the reptilian Han Solo, and they all go to the Wookiee homeworld for some reason. Leia has been captured by Darth Vader and a Sith, so of course Starkiller comes to rescue her. Valorum decides to help Starkiller escape, and then Queen Leia gives Starkiller accolades or whatever.

DSCN4464

Apart from the sheer novelty, the only thing I liked about the story was the Sith Prince fighting alongside the Jedi Padawan to free the princess. That part was actually really cool and I’m sorry no element of it made it into any of the six films. A lot of their dialogue was really charming and it made the villains a little more complex than they ultimately end up being in the movies themselves.

The comic actually manages to have even fewer women than the original trilogy, by virtue of adding nearly 20 men to the character roster but leaving Leia as the only female with any lines. (Her mother and an instantly-abandoned handmaiden appear only briefly.) Normally I prefer my literature light on the ladies, but there was something pretty tired about it in this one. Maybe because the “love story” kicks off with Annikin Starkiller literally beating his love interest unconscious the first time he meets her.

DSCN4461

This is so wrong on so many levels, I was left speechless. First of all, Starkiller is established as a young soldier who has led men into battle, so he’s not some kid. Princess Leia on the other hand is literally departing for her first semester of college — so, a fresh high school graduate is punched unconscious by a war veteran. The real kicker is that he beats her unconscious because she’s insisting he also bring her teenage handmaiden with her to safety. He refuses because his orders didn’t explicitly mention bringing anyone else. So he beats her unconscious. This is NOT okay and I don’t know whose idea it was. Horrifying.

The comic also features some other fun instances of abuse — the senior Starkiller is a hilariously unbalanced half cyborg who whips his son with a whip for being distracted at the news that they are under attack.

DSCN4462

Our heroes! Woo!

DSCN4457

So, yes, a novelty, very entertaining, which I have given a place of honor among all the Star Wars apocrypha that I own. Still more canon than Disney! *ba dum tiss*

Announcing the Winner!

Posted in Announcements, Fun with tags , , , on 28 March 2015 by Megan

And the votes are in! They have been counted and weighed and the winner has been found.

Thanks for joining me on this learning experience as I tried out the brackety thing and ran a contest for who fans would choose for their favorite! Out of a very tricky to choose 64 characters, we made it down to two. These two. These TrEU two whose legend cannot be made legendary, even by a mouse army.

(PS, anyone knows who originally did that image, I love it and want to credit them.) And now, to find out who the winner was — by eight votes —

Continue reading

Final Battle!

Posted in Fun with tags , , on 24 March 2015 by Megan

Okay, whew! It’s been a long, strange trip, guys! I thank you all for playing . . . and now there is one last task you must do before we part ways (until my next bracket challenge). While I consider this final match up a little cliche, most people seem to agree that it’s interesting as well as fitting. These two characters sprang from the same mind, after all, the mind that gave us the EU in 1991 . . .

thrawnmara

MARA JADE VS. ADMIRAL THRAWN

herovillains6

You must vote . . . for the top True Expanded Universe character! Who will be the TrEU Champion?