Archive for the Spotlight 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

The Charlie Rose Interview, a year later

Posted in Spotlight with tags , on 18 January 2017 by Megan

Give or take a couple of weeks. Charlie Rose, a person I have never heard of before, interviewed George Lucas, a person who needs no introduction, in December 2015.

This interview is a huge inconvenience to Disney|Lucasfilm and the monster that is New Star Wars, so as the patrons and defenders of trEU Star Wars, we must never let this interview disappear or become obscure. There are so many great lines in this interview that as I listened to it, I kept thinking of so many things I wanted to touch on, so I’ve decided to do a post about it.

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This is the one I want to start with — George Lucas, the human.

ROSE: Because you have worn all these hats, though — filmmaker, director, storyteller, writer, technological innovator — what do you want the first line of your obituary to say?

LUCAS: I was a great dad. (Long pause.) Or I tried. (Heh.)

And in that pause, he looks like he might cry. Rose seems kind of frustrated and repeats, “But do you consider yourself any of those things first? Writer, director?” And Lucas persists, “Dad.” And there’s something so deeply human in this that I had to stop and write a few words on it.

We all have some vision in our minds of who or what George Lucas is. Star Wars connects with each one of us so deeply that it feels like it’s our own. It feels so deeply our own that we can get irritated with him for not executing our vision of what it should be — but the fact is, while he made the OT for himself, he made the PT for his kids. He tells Rose he quit directing to be a dad. George Lucas is just a human being who made some incredible movies, and he is just a human being who wants to be the best father he can.

This is why, however you feel about him, he deserves our thanks and our respect, and why I am increasingly glad I’ve organized Thanksgeorging Day to try and give him something back for everything he gave us.

Lucas’ humanity also struck me in a surprising way when he explained his motivation for selling the company was concern for his employees; he emphasized that the films he’s interested in making now cannot make money and eventually would run the company into the ground.

Around the half hour mark is when he starts talking about how Star Wars is more than “just a silly kiddie movie” and how people keep failing because they make movies about spaceships and it’s “more than just spaceships.” Around the half hour mark is also when I began wanting to hit Rose in the head with a crowbar for sheer annoyingness. He was the most tedious and frustrating part of listening to this whole thing. I know interviewers tend to do this, but it seriously infuriates me how he kept interrupting Lucas to tell him to keep talking. Dude, you want someone to keep talking, you keep your mouth shut.

Anyway, where was I? Oh!

You’re telling a story using tools. You’re not using tools to tell a story.

In Yoda’s terms — that is why you (Disney) fail. Lucas’ observation is spot on that the American film industry is so constricted, so regulated, that it cannot tolerate innovation or creativity. He controlled his emotions pretty well, but it was clear how much disdain he felt that he sold this franchise and all they did was a glitzy re-cast of the film he made 38 years earlier. Movies are growing increasingly worse, with shallow, confusing plots and bad acting coupled with incredible special effects. Because the industry 1) will only sell what has already sold, and 2) puts the tools first.

This is the interview in which Lucas famously described Disney as “white slavers” — he takes full responsibility for selling, but at the same time grimly observes that the six films are his children and he gave them up to white slavers. The metaphor is clear, grim, and doesn’t break down. What are “white slavers”? In the modern context of Lucas’ interview, and especially coupled with the description of the Star Wars saga as his children, it means sex slavery — forced prostitution, especially of minors. It is undeniable that Disney lured Lucas’ brainchild away from him and is whoring it out for money.

That is why I call Disney and Disney’s treatment of Star Wars immoral.

That is why I will never stop resisting and fighting them.

They turned my best friend into an enslaved child prostitute.

This interview came out during the hype of “The Force Awakens” (many sarcastic air quotes), when Disney was frantically pumping that Lucas loved the movie and loved what they’d done — and this interview has been a huge wrench in their works. They tried to suppress it. We must never forget and or forgive while the injustice continues.

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A few random quotations from the interview that I enjoyed although don’t have any particular comment to make on them:

On art

If you want to say, I want to convey an emotion to another human being — that’s something only human beings can do.

On awards

I’m not much in to awards. It doesn’t mean that much to me because I’ve gone through this. … You’re there to draw eyeballs. … I know it’s about the TV show; it’s not about me.

On Hollywood industry

You’re forced to make a particular kind of movie … I know a lot of Russian filmmakers and they have a lot more freedom than I have. All they have to do is be careful about criticizing the government. Otherwise, they can do whatever they want. You have to adhere to a very narrow line of commercialism.

On politics

[In politics] they are doomed to repeat themselves every few years because they do not listen to history.

Review: Fanboys

Posted in Reviews, Spotlight with tags , on 7 January 2017 by Megan

All right, so this is not a canonical entry. But it’s the seventh greatest movie ever made. I watched it yesterday and was so hit between the eyes at how excellent a film it is that I wanted to review it for you today.

First of all, Fanboys is a movie that could never be made today. All the 1998-authentic fanboy language could get you arrested in the ironically-named “free world” today, but far more striking, imagine supreme hateboys Harry Knowles and Kevin Smith doing appearances in a film that welcomes and praises Lucas’ films for what they are? Geddouddatown. Even beyond that, a group of fanboys like the ones who created the film would no longer be interested in making a heartwarming tale about how Star Wars unites us, binds us in a commonality of love for one man’s genius adaptation of a mythological staple. In the 2010s, “fanboys” are more interested in division and discord than they are about the things we have in common. In a post-2014 version of Fanboys, the protagonists wouldn’t be assaulting Star Trek fans for their differences. They’d be attacking other Star Wars fans who have the gall to love the prequels or call the EU “canon.”

My point is, the world was so much better back before 2010. But I digress. Let’s review the awesome movie, eh?

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I first learned about this movie back in ’06 or ’07; it was a preview before a horror movie (maybe Pulse?) oddly enough, and I was instantly hysterically looking forward to it. A movie about Star Wars fans? A movie about Star Wars fans so excited about Episode I that they go to steal a print? SIGN ME UP. (Remember that before 2011, fanatical prequel hatred didn’t exist or was so rare as to be unheard of.) But the film’s release was delayed and I forgot about it on and off until 2009 when I was finally able to score a copy. I watched it with a best friend as we were on a road trip from seeing another best friend in Maryland. We were staying in a place called . . . well, I forget what it was called, but here’s the last ever picture of me as a person who had not ever torn a toenail off, and the bag that I tore the toenail off with about 12 hours after this picture was taken.

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Also, this is where I was and what I looked like when we watched Fanboys for the first time. I have a weird memory. Okay, so I first saw Fanboys in 2009 right before ripping off my big toenail and experiencing the 2nd worst pain of my life, so that’s fun trivia. The point is that in 2009, I had never encountered any prequel hate despite being a big time fanboy who spent lots of time online with other fanboys. The concept of prequel hate was so foreign to me that I thought the last line of the movie was a joke, and I still inevitably take it as a joke (“What if the film sucks?”)

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It’s Halloween 1998. Windows, Hutch, Linus, and Zoe have been friends since they were kids, and they all love Star Wars — even if Zoe is a stereotype girl who scoffs at their passion; that myth is a little frustrating in its perpetuation — so much so that they reminisce about their childhood plot to drive to Skywalker Ranch and watch Episode I before it comes to theaters. Enter Eric Bottler: he used to be the gang’s fourth, but after graduating high school, he spent three years not talking to any of them except for, apparently, Zoe. After Hutch and Windows see the hostility between Eric and Linus, they take it upon themselves to meet with Eric the next day and tell him something incredibly important — Linus has terminal cancer and has less than six months to live.

This is where Star Wars fans understand each other in a way no one else does. The blow that Linus probably won’t live to see Episode I is as strong on its own as the blow that he is going to die and that Eric has spent the last three years alienated from the man who used to be his best friend. In a desperate attempt to redeem that time, Eric convinces them all to join him on a cross-country road trip to steal the Episode I film like rebel agents obtaining the Death Star plans.

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Ebert, who so rightly hit the nail on the head with his review of Episode I, really missed the point of Fanboys and said it was weak for taking itself too seriously. But that’s just the point. Fanboys take themselves seriously because no one else does. And this is a serious film. As Eric struggles to reconnect with lost friends, and his own lost self, Linus struggles to come to grips with his impending mortality. Windows struggles to make his relationship with females work, and Hutch struggles to make something real of himself. With the backdrop of Linus’ illness (almost tragically cut from the final version), Fanboys is no more a geeky comedy than A New Hope is a Kurosawa film with lasers. There’s something more to it. It follows Lucas’ lead, incorporating the patterns of mythology and elevating its subject matter in a way you’d never expect. It’s a film that can make you laugh as well as cry while celebrating something we all had in common when it came out, before the dark times, before the Disneypire.

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So, yes, Fanboys is both hysterically funny and deeply moving. There are parts of this movie that I’ve wrapped up and stored in my memory to help when things get hard. As I struggled through a year full of unemployment, almost literal homelessness, and a tragic death in the family, I could turn to this film and be reassured that no, it’s not trivial to love Star Wars. Star Wars is not trivial. There’s more to it.

In closing, I’d like to give you my two favorite lessons Fanboys takes from Star Wars. First, regrets can shape you but they shouldn’t define you. Everyone has mistakes, but don’t wish you could undo them. “You’ve got to keep the flaws. Crappy effects, real puppets. That’s what makes it so good, you know?” Linus explains in his last scene. Sometimes I feel like I wear regret like a cloak, and I almost burst into tears hearing that last night as I rewatched it.

Second, “You just gotta find your Death Star. The greatest thing Luke Skywalker ever did was take down that Death Star. You just gotta find that one great thing you can do that makes you live forever.” That’s what Hutch tells Eric as the latter struggles with an ocean of indecision about what to do with himself. Everyone, every life has a “Death Star,” one great thing; you just have to find yours. It’s out there and you will have it one day. That’s a guarantee.

Let Them Eat Canon,

Posted in Announcements, Opinion, Spotlight with tags , , on 3 June 2016 by Megan

or,What Do Those Billboard People Want, Anyway?
An open letter to Lucasfilm in response to the letter they’ve been replying to #GiveUsLegends correspondence.

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In pretty much every article that ever popped up describing the billboard and the fantastic dedication of fan love it represents, the authors were baffled about what “Give Us Legends” is about. You’d think it’d be straightforward. I mean, there’s even a press release on the site! But it’s not just the media — Lucasfilm itself has zero comprehension of what we’re asking for. Check out this letter received by some of our realcanon warriors:

And now, allow me to respond.

Dear Lucasfilm,

Thank you for sending letters back to the dedicated fans who spend time and postage on writing to you begging for the lives of Star Wars characters we all love. It’s amazing and exciting to be acknowledged.

Unfortunately, you have no idea what you’re acknowledging. This communications breakdown between us is why I think this schism in the fanbase is continuing to grow and hurting everyone involved.

You’ve probably heard this famous story. A naive French aristocrat was told, “The peasants have no bread to eat!” This young woman, completely unable to understand the reality of peasant life, merrily replied, “Then let them eat cake!”

No, it probably wasn’t Marie Antoinette who said that, but I’m not here to clear up historical misapprehensions — I’m here to clear up your misapprehension, Lucasfilm. Because I think this conversation has taken place in your offices a time or two since 2014.

Ever since you Order 66’d the Universe, announcing that more than 90% of Star Wars’ unprecedented and record-breaking canon was no longer canon due to your new movies coming out, you have been trying to throw us the bone that “some stuff is going to get integrated.”

For two years, you’ve seemed baffled that we aren’t responding to that with the unbridled enthusiasm you expected. You apparently refuse to ask why we don’t like that, because you keep throwing it in our face over and over again. “We’re going to recycle it. It’s not going away. We’re going to take cool stuff and integrate it. Why aren’t you excited? What is wrong with you?”

Did you ever stop to think that maybe we aren’t excited about you poaching the trEU (that’s True Expanded Universe) because we’re angry about what you did to it in the first place?

"Recycling"

“Recycling”

Fans say “Give us legends,” “We want legends,” “Bring back legends,” but it’s clear that you don’t understand what they’re saying. I’ll be honest: I don’t think they really understand what they’re saying, either.

Because continuation is a side issue. It’s not the main thing. Cutting off the story isn’t where you goofed, Lucasfilm.

Declaring it non-canon is where you goofed.

Take a look at every other reboot and remake in history. You — I mean, your master Disney has done remakes before and not gotten this response. Why? What’s the difference?

The difference is, when Christopher Nolan made Batman Begins, he didn’t issue a press release before the premier saying, “This is super exciting. NONE of the Batman stuff you knew and loved is canon anymore, but I’ve integrated all the best stuff into my new movie, which isn’t a reboot even though it’s meant to replace everything that came before. Actually, none of the Batman stuff that came out until now was canon anyway. Enjoy!”

When Star Trek (2009) hit theaters, it included a bit of timey-wimey whitewash to very graphically emphasize that it took place in an alternate timeline, but Paramount didn’t feel the need to tell all the world’s Trekkers that all prior Star Trek canon was rendered moot and had never, actually, been canon in the first place.

Are you seeing the difference? You’re denying our universe the legitimacy it is owed.

Understand this. If you had said “No, the new movies aren’t going to follow the EU,” no one would have been surprised (Abrams set that precedent with Trek 09), but more importantly, no one would have fought you. People would’ve seen the movie out of curiosity. Pretty much nobody would’ve bothered picketing it because it wouldn’t have been a threat.

Your “nucanon” is a threat to us, Lucasfilm. It’s a threat because you’re taking away the legitimacy of a canon that made your current life possible, replacing it, and treating us like we’re idiots for not loving the decision.

This is bad. It’s bad customer service. It’s bad franchise/fandom relation. Do you see why we’re so insulted when you say that you’re going to cherry-pick the stuff you like and “bring it back”? It’s because you threw it in the trash, said it never counted, and then you’re basically plagiarizing it.

It’s as if the Empire blew up Alderaan, told the people of Alderaan it was for their own good, and then started processing what was left of the planet into cheap furniture to sell back to them.

That’s why continuation is important but it’s not the heart of the issue. The heart of the issue is that you’re lying to us all. Fix it. Make it right, Lucasfilm. It’s not too late!

All you need to do is say, “Yes, Star Wars 1976-2014 is canon, but it’s a separate timeline from the canon of 2015 and after.” People won’t be confused, I promise. Nobody watches Star Trek Into Darkness and is baffled about how it fits with Deep Space 9.

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We get it!

We’re smart. We’re geeks; it’s our defining characteristic. We can figure it out. And then instead of fans spending time and money trying to get your attention to right this wrong, those fans might start dedicating time and attention to checking out your alternate timeline.

Now, I said continuation is important. It is important. A lot of fans feel that continuation is the heart of the issue, which is why there’s all this confusion. But hear me out. Understand that granting us LEGITIMATE CANON STATUS is what you need to do to fix this, but that continuing the storyline is a great idea because it will completely double your profits.

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Do you know how many fans are saying they would try Lords of the Sith if they only had Sword of the Jedi, too? Do you care? You should. You think it’s more trouble than it’s worth monitoring two timelines? I promise, the EU has been self-policing for decades. Give Leland Chee his job back, fire up the holocron, and for pete’s sake give them their Sword of the Jedi.

I can guarantee you that your profits will soar, and that fans, set at ease that the canon they invested in before is solid and available, will be willing and maybe even eager to explore alternate universe options. Star Wars Infinities were always popular. I promise, after all these decades of X-Men, geeks know how to process and keep alternate universes separate.

Think about it.

Sincerely yours,
Rebel till I die,

The Star Wars Realcanon RebeLibrarian.

Dear Mr. Lucas

Posted in Spotlight with tags , on 26 May 2016 by Megan

I have complicated feelings about George Lucas. Really complicated feelings. Sometimes I think, “I don’t like him but I respect him” and then I’m like, “But I don’t respect him much either.” And then I go, “no, this feeling is definitely respect, but I don’t think much of him.”

I own a shirt that says Show us on the trilogy where George hurt you, which, unlike the creators of the shirt, I got in 2014 to express my bitter disappointment over his selling the franchise to “white slavers” (his term). They made the shirt because they’re whiny babies about the prequel trilogy, but I think it sums up my betrayal far better. At the same time, though, I have a shirt boasting George Shot First.

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I don’t know the man; I’ve never met him. These are impressions gleaned from behavior, interviews, biography, etc. But it seems to me that George Lucas is a egotistical control freak with social anxiety and no leadership skills. And if that makes you mad, keep in mind that we’re all humans and have flaws. I’m not criticizing him for his personality. He also has a stunning imagination, more knowledge of film than I could ever gain in a lifetime, and a filmmaker’s vision I could no more aspire to than I could aspire to paint the Mona Lisa. His ability to force control of everything in filming the PT resulted in weaker films than they should have been, but that’s balanced by the fact that the OT is weak in its own ways. So what? I’ve said it before: Star Wars is a coloring book. He gave us broad strokes and we can fill it in how we like. That’s the magic of it. That’s why it has universal appeal.

Even though I don’t like George Lucas very much, I’m awed by his accomplishments and I love his work. I have semi crippling social anxiety myself and know he must be some kind of hero level boss in order to overcome it and produce these films; and lest I become guilty of divorcing the trilogies from the EU, let me acknowledge that the EU ALSO CAME FROM GEORGE LUCAS. This was all his idea, his gift to fans. What did “fans” give him? Bile. A decade of harassment and derision.

I think he was manipulated and deceived into selling the Wars, manipulated like the Jedi Council by Senator Palpatine. And when he was tricked into selling his child to white slavers (as he stated in a 2015 interview Disney tried to hush up), the people who should have stood by him cheered instead. And now he’s had to helplessly watch as people who should have been his friends methodically shred his legacy and leave nothing but ashes and bones like a moisture farm after a Stormtrooper raid.

He deserves better. He deserves to have a true legacy, deserves to be allowed to retire. His mistakes should be acknowledged, but they also shouldn’t be held against him forever. We all have mistakes; ours are shrouded in privacy he’s denied.

So I’m setting aside one day a year to thank him. I’m setting aside the last Thursday of May to send him a thank you letter — the last Thursday in his birthday month, the month that gave us his films, the six greatest movies in the world. I think you should write to him, too. In fact, here’s a form letter you can use.

And here’s mine. My letter which should’ve reached him today — a true fan’s open letter to the creator of the Galaxy Far, Far Away. In celebration of the First Thanksgeorging Day.

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May 23, 2016

George Lucas
Skywalker Ranch
5858 Lucas Valley Rd.
Nicasio, CA 94946

Dear Mr. Lucas,

I’m writing you this letter for a holiday called “Thanksgeorging Day.” It’s an obvious play on “Thanksgiving Day,” celebrated on the last Thursday of May, the month all Star Wars fans set aside to celebrate this wonderful and amazing thing you gave us.

I’m writing to thank you for that. Thank you so much for creating the Star Wars universe. You must have heard this many, many times – but I know you’ve heard other things, less positive things, nasty things as well. I want this holiday to drown out some of that negativity. I hope you can hear the voice of the muffled majority, your fans, the real fanatics who love what you did and are grateful for what you gave us.

It’s the truth: you gave us something no one else did – or could. The spark in your imagination that somehow combined space adventure with mythology and classical themes became a fire, and that fire in turn sparked our imaginations, too.

You once said in an interview that you made films that pleased you, and you were surprised and pleased that they delighted others, too. I just want you to know how much it means to me. Return of the Jedi woke something up in me, gave me my first passion, and the way Star Wars has shaped my life, I think it’s safe to say what you did has helped me become who and what I am today.

It’s not just the films, not just those six pieces of art that defined imagination for generations. It’s the expanded universe you also created, the stories you inspired, the characters you breathed to life and set on journeys written by others. There’s not a day that passes without me thinking about my friends from Star Wars – Luke Skywalker, so much like myself; Qui-Gon Jinn, so much how I’d like to be; even background characters that took on lives of their own, from Wedge Antilles to Lobot.

Your universe has been an encouragement and a pleasure to me when I most needed it. You’ve given me things I can never thank you enough for – but thank you for this universe, for inviting us to join you in it. I’m sorry you’re no longer a part of it, but your Star Wars will always be the (only) Star Wars to me. I just want you to know what a great gift you have given me and fans like me.

Best Regards.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Love.

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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 💝