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Gripes, Likes & Theories: Rogue One

If you haven’t seen Rogue One yet, consider yourself warned… ***SPOILERS***

Pardon the stream-of-consciousness post; it may get a bit messy. I’ve seen Rogue One five (yes, 5!) times in the theater now. The latest was on my 13th wedding anniversary (yes, 13th!), which happened to be the same sad day that our favorite Princess passed away.

Though I never had the honor of meeting her, Carrie Fisher always felt like a friend. It never occurred to me as a child that she was old enough to be my mom—she was Princess Leia, and she was my friend. As an adult, of course I appreciate the many facets of her career, advocacy and person. Her biting sarcasm and quick wit balanced with sincerity, something I will always admire. Watching Rogue One hours after learning of her death was harrowing (ironically, my 4th viewing was just hours before her heart attack). The public display of emotion got a bit uglier than I had hoped, what with the heaving shoulders and snot snorting. On the bright side, the Vader bit is impressive even with tear-blurred vision.


Things I loved about R1:

Literally everything in the last hour or so of the film. The battle, the tragic ends*, VADER. Seriously, when the lightsaber illuminates Vader in that dark corridor…ugh, I love it all so hard. That scene is everything I’ve ever wanted from Vader. And it all makes me cry. A. LOT.

*yes, even my Imperial sympathizing heart hurt over that. That said, this should lay to rest rumors of Jyn being Rey’s mom.

For me, the part in which the film really starts feeling like a Star Wars story is as they’re escaping Jedha. From there, I find myself far more engaged in the plot and connecting more with the characters. I really thought at least one of our heroes would make it out, but this ending was much better from an urgency and storytelling angle. That last scene with Jyn and Cassian is soul-crushing in the best way possible. Their chemistry was a brilliant mix of platonic and maybe-could’ve-been-more. I LOVE Cassian! I thought he was as well written as he was acted, which is impressive for a complex character. I would be compelled to watch anything with Diego Luna in it now. Really enjoyed Donnie Yen’s performance as well.

I so appreciate how Gareth Edwards worked it into a piece that’s so layered and nuanced that it feels like a sort of love note to Star Wars. The many thoughtful, lovely references in this feel less nostalgia-gimmicky than TFA (which I also loved but still). It’s a beautiful bridge between the prequels and original trilogy that makes both Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope better.

I think subsequent viewings really do make a big difference for this movie since there just so much to absorb. The first time around, I was delighted to see the original Red Leader and Gold Leader (if you haven’t seen how they made that happen, read this)…though I’m not sure I needed to know how/why Luke inherited the Red Five call sign. I also got a kick out of the complete-fanservice-but-still-fun cameos by Dr. Evazan and Ponda Baba. Took me until the third viewing to finally notice the blue milk in Galen & Lyra Erso’s hovel. I think the CG is also less bothersome after the initial shock. Is ‘shock’ the right word? Whatever.

Except for the vaguely cartoonish mouth movements, I thought the CG on Tarkin & Leia was surprisingly good. My only complaint is that there was perhaps too much full-face Tarkin; it took away the “is it really him?” intrigue and turned it into “oh look, CG!”

K2-SO is probably my favorite droid now (he and BB-8 blow the originals out of the water for me). Not only is K2-SO better than C-3PO, but Alan Tudyk knocks the socks off of Anthony Daniels.


Things I didn’t love about R1:
Saw Gerrera/Forest Whitaker. His existence beyond rescuing Jyn as a child seemed overly contrived and almost entirely unnecessary. Every scene that he’s in makes me eye-roll, and I wasn’t sad when he ‘sacrificed’ himself to the imploding planet. In fact, I would have been glad that he bit it, except that I was eye-rolling so hard from his over-the-top acting that it really just annoyed me. Maybe part of the reason I didn’t like him was the way the character was written, but Whitaker’s melodramatic delivery of the lines didn’t help. His “save the dream” line was arguably the worst in the movie, too—even worse than Vader’s pun about choking on aspirations. And the “truth monster” was just awful. That was definitely the parallel to the rathtars in TFA that should’ve found the cutting room floor.

The score. I will say my frustration with this has diminished a bit with each additional screening. My understanding is that Giacchino had very little time to compose, and for that I am in awe with how relatively good it is. Nevertheless, it lacked a lot of the emotional weight of a John Williams score. It felt particularly lackluster in the title sequence after the prologue.

Speaking of the title sequence, I really missed the opening scroll and classic Star Wars theme. I do understand that Lucasfilm is trying to make it clear that these are not Skywalker-centric stories but I’m not sure how chopping out the expository scroll and iconic strains are supposed to do that.

R2-D2/C-3PO cameo. I guess I didn’t really dislike this, per say, but I think that scene felt really shoehorned on Yavin. Had we seen them on the Tantive cruiser, it would’ve made (more) sense. It seems Threepio has worn out his welcome with me.


Outstanding questions about R1:
Do Death Troopers speak a different language, or were they just suffering from Bane unintelligible syndrome? Friends have speculated they utilize a spy-code that scrambles their transmissions outside of their helmets. I’ll buy that, but I also would’ve liked to hear them speak actual words instead of garbled zombie sounds.

Just how did Evazan & Ponda get off Jedha so we could eventually meet them at the cantina? I assume they were already headed to their departing ship.

Also, why didn’t they show the Mustafar planet ‘tag’ like all of the other planets? Probably just trying to surprise everybody with Vader’s lair but the inconsistency bugged me ever so slightly. Regarding Mustafar, I LOVED seeing Vader’s castle and half expected it to be Hayden Christensen’s head in the bacta tank!

During Jyn’s flashback aboard the U-Wing, we saw her family enjoying drinks with Krennic. Did the view out the apartment windows look like Coruscant to anybody else? Started reading the “Catalyst” novel today and it mentions Galen & Lyra marrying on Coruscant so I think we can assume it was supposed to be.

I want to know more about the relationship between Krennic and Tarkin—I’m currently reading “Catalyst” and hoping to find out more about this. It seems a nice parallel to the dynamic of Kylo Ren and Hux in TFA; almost like a sibling rivalry.

And I guess that about sums it up for the moment…largely because my lunch break is over and I have to get back to work. What say you? Did you love Rogue One, hate it, feel conflicted? Let’s chat in the comments!

#My5Days A Tale of 2 Beaches

A new Star Wars movie came out yesterday!!!! So you probably think you know what I’m blogging about today, right?! Amazingly, Rogue One isn’t the topic. I did see it last night and really loved about 80% of it (the other 20% is up for debate), and I’m going again tonight so we’ll see if that number fluctuates before I post about it exclusively.

Instead, I’m sitting in front of a space heater, watching it sleet outside and reflecting on days spent at the beach. For many people, a day at the beach means hot temperatures, warm water and roasting oneself in sunshine. I prefer something a bit more rustic: rocky shorelines, pine-crested bluffs and the fewer people, the better. Foggy and overcast is A-okay by me, and I’m perfectly content not venturing too far into the waters of the Pacific (COLD!). So it should come as no surprise to anyone here that Washington and Oregon are my go-to happy places.

Back in September, I spent a week on the Oregon Coast with my momma; naturally, we had a fantastic time! Temperatures topped out in the mid-60s, and each day boasted a beautiful mix of sun and clouds. One very special afternoon was dedicated to visiting what is perhaps my favorite place on earth, Indian Beach at Ecola State Park. Just north of the bustling Cannon Beach tourist destination, Ecola is a divine mix of old-growth forest and pristine shoreline. Though hikers and surfers and casual revelers like ourselves typically flock to Ecola, this day was blissfully quiet. Our own perfect little slice of heaven, shared with only 4 or 5 other people and their canine companions. As the golden hour fell before sunset, the tide quieted and mirror-smooth water lapped against the shore, create exquisite reflections of the soaring landscape. I wanted desperately to capture the beauty through the lens of my camera, but I found it difficult to concentrate on that task…instead, I let the serenity of my surroundings wash away my self-imposed anxiety over capturing a perfect image, took in as many mental images as possible and left the rest up to my trusty iPhone.

It’s hard for me to overcome the feeling that every moment needs to be documented. Heaven knows I have enough photographs of even the most trivial bits of life stored on my phone, computer and external hard drives. But when you stand in the midst of natural splendor like Indian Beach, sometimes the strongest desire is to simply soak it all in sans camera. I hope you’ll enjoy the reflections I did capture, imagine the salty brine of crisp ocean air and unplug from the bustle of the season for a moment and do some reflecting of your own.

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In stark contrast to the peace and calm of Oregon, my husband and I found ourselves in Los Angeles at the beginning of December. In addition to christening our new Universal Studios Hollywood annual passes—Wizarding World of Harry Potter with waaaaaaayyy shorter lines than Orlando!!!—I thought it would be great fun to photograph architecture and Hollywood landmarks and all of the things that make Southern California so different from my beloved Pacific Northwest. And then I got sick. Really sick: a 104 fever yielded a diagnosis of flu and pneumonia from the minute clinic in Burbank, CA. So the first 2 days of our trip included quarantine in the hotel room and even without having cable at home, it wasn’t awesome. The nurse practitioner had instructed me to wear a mask if I went in public, which seemed like a miserable option. Instead, we found a loophole: avoid people. As you may know, this is no small task in southern California. With a little help from Google, we drove an hour and a half north of Los Angeles to a quiet beach in Oxnard and were shocked to discover we were the only people there! A couple of fishermen showed up later, but the majority of the day was spent simply walking the shore and breathing in the healing power of the ocean.

Unlike the ragged cliff faces and thick vegetation that leads to Indian Beach, Ormond Beach is surrounded by flatlands that feature a U.S. Navy base to the south and an abandoned (I think?) power plant on the northeast side. Instead of the fairy-tale forest walk to the shore, it felt more like navigating a postapocalyptic wasteland, complete with signs for rattlesnakes. My illness kept my quest for adventure at bay, so I mostly just sat on a little sandy ridge as we waited for sunset over the beautiful, blustery Pacific. I would have preferred to be healthy for our little trip, but the limitations made me slow down and be deliberate about taking care of myself. If that’s not a worthwhile way to spend a “free” day from work, I’m not sure what is.

❊❊❊

I’ve worked for Hallmark Cards 8 years now in various editorial roles, currently as a writer for the e-commerce team. This year, the Creative division decided to start at its core by giving each employee 5 days to use (apart from regular PTO) for finding inspiration and tapping into creative outlets that may not be leveraged in our everyday positions. A couple of days exploring the West Coast were just what I needed to refuel! #My5Days

Inky

Well, this isn’t new anymore (2.5 months already!) but I hadn’t officially shared it here, so…

I got inked! trooper-ink

My only regret is that I didn’t get it somewhere more noticeable. It’s great that I can cover it up so easily, but it’s also a downer not being able to see and show it off. But I’m already plotting my next addition…the Imperial insignia…much to the chagrin of my husband. Just doing my part to keep balance in the Force with all of the current Rebel Alliance cheerleading that’s happening ahead of Rogue One 🙂

An Open Letter to Cubs Fans

Dear Cubbies Fans,

So that was pretty exciting, huh?! Congratulations on seeing a century of loyalty and enthusiasm finally pay off. This was a really fun team to watch, and you all should be very proud of them, your season and your fans!

Before last year, I was a Kansas City girl who was just a toddler the last time the Royals took the World Series championship in 1985. The unthinkable happened in 2014 when we seemingly fluked our way through the playoffs and into the Fall Classic. We found ourselves inexplicably evenly matched with the Giants and our young team fought hard through game 7.

Do you remember how you felt last night in the bottom of the 5th when Hendricks was pulled out in favor of Lester and things got a little scary? Or worse, when Lester was pulled in favor of Chapman and the game tied and things got a lot scary? That gut-wrenching feeling of having victory so very close only to have it snatched away… that’s how Royals fans felt when we lost game 7 in 2014.

I’m so glad that feeling was fleeting for you. By forcing extra innings (and apparently having a “come to Jesus” moment of pulling themselves back together during the rain delay), your boys got the job done! The thrill of that moment simply can’t be matched.

The Royals came back in 2015 to settle unfinished business and hammered the final nail into the Mets’ coffin in game 5 of the series. Your own Ben Zobrist was our own Ben Zobrist then; it’s like the guy is good luck or something. Now I know 30 years is a far cry from 108, but the overwhelming elation we felt was like yours. So having been there fairly recently, I have a little advice for you…

• Accept that bleary eyes and pinch marks are part of your existence for the next week or so. Whether from physical and mental exhaustion or sheer bliss, you’ll probably have shed some tears and lost some sleep. That beautiful, delusional state will make you wonder if this is real life. It is!

• Realize that the crash is inevitable and it will burn a little. Adequate rest is essential to the next 24-48 hours of celebration. Power naps will help tame the cranky little bear inside of you. And for Pete’s sake, eat a Snickers or something.

• Learn to be okay with wearing the same thing as everyone else. You’re all rocking virtually identical WS gear right now, own it. Odds are you’ll be standing in line at the supermarket behind someone sporting the exact same shirt at least a dozen times over the next year.

• Finally, enjoy every single moment of this. Take pictures of parades and parties, but get out from behind the screen or viewfinder and capture mental images too. The sense of community and pride amongst your fellow fans is intoxicating; drink it in.

The Cubs might roar next season for back-to-back appearances (maybe even against the Royals), or they might decide to hibernate a little sometime next summer and blame it on a shortened off-season. You never know when you’ll see your boys in the World Series again, so savor it!

Congrats, Cubbies! Thanks for letting us celebrate history with you. Oh, and somebody hug Bob Newhart for me if you see him around town!

Shaken Not Stirred

I’ve heard it said that time moves in one direction and memory in the other. I would argue there should be an asterisk following that phrase, an asterisk which leads to a very large disclaimer stating both accelerate exponentially with age.

Most days pass without my feeling much like a full-fledged adult. I’m at the teetering point between early-30s and mid-30s, married with a mortgage, car payment, full-time job and 3 little mouths to feed (ok, so they belong to dogs and a cat)…but it seems all that does not an adult make.

What does make me feel very adult-ish is the shift in how I perceive the workings of the world. The statement above about time and memories moving rapidly in opposite directions—that’s new for me. I used to scoff at those who claimed life seemed to speed by after a certain point; now I believe them. Not only do I believe them, I can personally attest to feeling that way.

Last Saturday morning, the start of Labor Day weekend, should have been one for the memory banks. Just after 7am, I awoke from a sound sleep to the sensation of the house shaking. I didn’t think our washing machine was on a spin cycle and the dogs weren’t scratching up against the bed, so my mind jumped to “earthquake.” When the shaking lasted for the better part of a minute, I slid out of bed and peeked into the tall foyer to find the pendant light swaying. The evidence stacked up, but an earthquake in Kansas City?! Tornados are prevalent, flooding and droughts alternate with relative frequency and we get an ice storm that devastates the region every 20 years or so. There’s a reason midwesterners are considered hardy stock!
Earthquakes, though, are something of a head-scratcher even with our proximity to the New Madrid fault (which has been eerily quiet for as long as anyone I know has been alive). But an earthquake it was—5.8 centered in north-central Oklahoma.

The quake was all anyone on local news outlets and social media could talk about… For a couple of hours at least. Without any damage to remind us, the morning’s confusion and subsequent excitement faded. By day’s end it was nothing more than a brief topic of conversation at family gatherings, a cursory impression.

We are a people of short memory. It’s an element of the human condition that is both perpetuated and intensified by the digital age in which we live. Fads explode across our tethered screens and then fizzle like a fleeting shock of static-electricity. I can’t fathom what warp speed time will be when I finally feel like an established adult some day, and I can only hope my aging mind keeps up with the amount of energy it will take to maintain any sort of lasting memories.

 

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