Very Important.

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Recent Awakenings

Recent Awakenings will be a collection of Star Wars related thoughts I’ve had recently, along with cool items/videos/pictures etc I’ve seen on the internet! I hope you enjoy!

I have now seen the Force Awakens nine times and plan to break ten before it is released on digital medium on April 1st. You would think I’d be sick of it by now but I truly am not. It is such an enjoyable film. After each viewing there is something new to take away. My favorite moments like Finn/Poe’s escape, Rey using the force on the stormtrooper, and Kylo/Rey fight still give me chills. I’ve re-watched the first six films a few times in the last two months as well and it is truly amazing how much it fits.

JJ does a really perfect job of using silence in an otherwise busy and loud movie. There are so many tiny instances of silence in the film that you don’t even realize are there until you start to hear yourself breathe and can feel the intensity or sadness or whatever the scene is portraying. It sucks you into the moment, as if you’re watching over their shoulders. Each moment like that are really profound silences. Particularly with Rey, the silence that surrounds her is perfect. You hear it in the beginning, she doesn’t talk until BB-8 shows up. Then later in various significant moments like finding the lightsaber, or when she uses the Force on the stormtrooper. It is as if the Force is manifested in that silence surrounding her. It is all just extremely beautiful and intense.

I remember back in October watching the Force Awakens trailer for the first time stand standing in my parents living room (and the million times I watched it afterwards.) What a great night, as we bought our marathon tickets that night too. I will talk about the marathon more in the future. I’ve been reminiscing about it a lot lately, a perfect few days. Back to the trailer. It is masterfully crafted. Well, some inspired fan decided to edit TFA style trailers for each of the six Star Wars movies. They’re pretty spectacular. My favorites were A New Hope and Revenge of the Sith. You can check out all six here. Trust me, you’ll love them!

One of my favorite reads of the last few weeks comes from Eleven-ThirtyEight. The blog entry entitled Not Her Father’s Star Wars: Raising a Daughter in the Disney Era by David Tayman. The piece is all about a father introducing his daughter to Star Wars slowly but surely through the age of 2-3. As a person who enjoys the prequels, it was cute to read about how much she enjoyed Padme. This excerpt made my heart swell:

I must have been going at lightspeed, because in mid-March, I introduced her to The Phantom Menace. When it ended, this now officially three-year-old immediately wrapped her blanket around herself like a cloak, declared herself Darth Maul, and started doing lightsaber acrobatics.

Concerned as to what my wife’s response would be to this, I gently suggested she try and pretend to be a good guy. She switches to a Battle Droid (“Hey! Their batteries ran out!”). Eventually, she decided that Queen Amidala is also pretty cool, and started running around barking orders and pew pew pewing things.

If that doesn’t steal your heart, then I’m not sure what will. I’m 24 and still pew-pew things on the regular. Make sure you give the whole piece a read here. One of the greatest joys I’ve felt in recent years has been sharing Star Wars with my niece and nephews just as my dad did when I was young. When I took my niece Allison and nephew James to see the Force Awakens we were leaving and I asked who their favorite was and Allison yells THE GIRL! and James said BB-8. The fandom grows. The way the Star Wars Universe speaks to people of all ages is one of my very favorite things about it. Another snippet:

But most of all, she adores Rey. She dances around the house singing Rey’s theme, and trying (not that successfully) to bang it out on the piano. Once when I asked her if I thought Luke Skywalker would train her as a Jedi, she replied, “Dad, she doesn’t need to learn from Luke. She’s already awesome.”

The Force Awakens digital (4/1) and bluray (4/5) release is right around the corner! Among the special features included is a feature length documentary which is being premiered at SXSW and a behind the scenes look at the very first table reading for TFA. Good Morning America tweeted a small clip that is sure to give you chills: Sneak Peek of the Table Reading.

My wife bought me one of my favorite Star Wars items I’ve ever owned last weekend… A Black Series Yoda Lightsaber! This baby is sweet. The hilt is all metal, the blade is bright and dynamic, and the sounds are loud. It is a beautifully crafted item, better than any lightsaber I’ve had the pleasure of owning. I can see why they go for $150-$200. If an Obi-Wan one comes out, I’m sure to pick that up. If you don’t own one and have the money to do so, I highly recommend purchasing one! They can be a little hard to find online but Toys’r’us restocks them every so often.

A hashtag is floating around twitter #ShowUsYourXWings being retweeted by the super awesome Rogue Squadron book club Rogue Podron. I had to jump in and share mine as I carry mine with me on my arm (also my babe of a wife pictured here.)

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Don’t Wait for the Muse

It’s true, I’ve been hiding from writing. I can’t exactly pinpoint why. I had been chalking it up to the ebb and flow of inspiration but today I sit soaked in shame from the excuse. Even more sad than that, it was inspiration that nudged me this way. Sitting at my desk, listening to newly released old Jeff Buckley demos I got to thinking about the singer I adore so much. He was always in motion, pushing step by step to his goal of perfect music. Even when stunted, like the year leading up to his death, he kept trying. That is what struck me and reminded me that I need to be better. You can’t just put down the pen when the words aren’t flowing, that is what writer’s block wants you to do. You have to continue to jot down words, even if they’re banal and horrible.

After the jolt I decided to consult an old friend. Writers and artists, actually anyone really, should grab a copy of On Writing by Stephen King. I’ll admit, I have not read a ton of his fiction as I’m not the horror type (which most of his writing is, genre-wise) but this bit of prose is somewhat of a bible for me. Every time I need to be shoved in the right direction, I flip through its pages. Today’s read, pregnant with fate, led me to a particular line: “Don’t wait for the muse.” I’m aware that this notion is not horribly groundbreaking but it was a shot in the arm. Certainly a case of right place at the right time however.

Another idea he shared that spoke to me was that one of the reasons for his success is staying married. While I’ve only been married for two and a half weeks now, I’ve been in the relationship for nearly three years. When the swell of realization hit me I messaged her immediately. I said that I needed to be held accountable and I’d share my goals with her so she could remind me. Her response was a simple “Do it up, sunshine.” That’s all it takes. In the last few months when I’ve been my lowest about writing, she never faltered. That’s what love is about, lifting one another up. I’m grateful for that.

So this post is a deceleration of sorts, no more fucking around. As President Bartlet said on the West Wing, “You know what? Break’s over.” 

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A bit of fiction

I walked by the windows of the shop on my way home every day for a year. My steady pace rarely slacked, except in front of a particular pair of pristine glass window panes. No matter the time of year it remained transparent, so much so that it seemed as though there was no window to speak of. An open air shop, while not practical in the midwest due to the frigid winters, would carry a certain charm. Instead, I pretended and dreamed of that unsealed marketplace. Everyday I peered in with tempered enthusiasm. For within the dusty stands directly behind the immaculate window it contradicts sat an item that beckoned itself to me. Over the time in which I had swooned it seemed I may have been the only one to lay eyes on it. Despite the window’s clear perfect complexion, it hid in a dusty shadow – forgotten. A month into the inanimate love affair I decided to do some research. This is a necessity. Year, model, etc. The internet is littered with manuals and guides. I even watched a few tutorial videos. The studying was obsessive, as if it were life or death. Each word traveled into my mind and sunk its teeth in. I wanted to master the possibilities.
Saving up my chips took a considerable amount of time, longer than I would have hoped. Life seems to find a way to get in the way. My car, while dependable, was growing exceedingly older. So new tires and a starter and everything in between seemed to crop up. Then my mother fell ill, so plane tickets and such. To top it all off, the air conditioning cut out in my small home. I thought the landlord would cut the expense, but he is a crusty old man who doesn’t want to be bothered. Absurd but not worth the confrontation. So time crept on, as it does. A year, almost to the day, later I strolled in with a pocket full of bills that I counted and recounted (and then washed my hands repeatedly.) My smile was toothy, despite my mother vowing that it should never be so throughout my childhood. The young woman behind the counter of the pawn shop was the daughter of the shop’s owner. She had taken to flashing me a warm smile as I stalked by each day. Her large halo of hazelnut curly hair framed the glowing smile meticulously. It was a highlight of each day. Now, we spoke! She expressed surprise that I was there, standing in front of her. The sentiment was shared. The day had arrived, I would be the proud owner of that old literary brownstone in the window. She lugged it over, money exchanged hands (her’s far softer than mine.) With my fist clinched, knuckles white around its case’s handle; shoe to pavement I sped home at a blistering pace. Far faster than any in the past year. I felt the need to close us off from the world, drawing the curtains and locking the doors after arriving to my small shotgun home.
Set down on the desk with a mighty clunk, the sound of angelic choirs. Clips actioned open, the lid removed. The shop girl dusted it off before boxing it in the case, I almost wish she hadn’t. It was less familiar without the layer of gray fuzz. The first key, the first click was so loud it made me jump a little. The first letter written on a silky off-white sheet of paper. Only the letter was something odd, not a letter at all! Not the K I had chosen. It did not even remotely resemble such a letter, or any letter in the English alphabet. The small symbol was nothing I had seen before in the online manuals or any walk of life. It was equal parts square and squiggle. My hands rubbed their way across my excited eyes out of habit, as if I were miss-seeing the tiny ink blot. But it stood firm, its confidence abundant. I envied this confidence and wondered where it came from.
My fingers instinctually began to push the other keys with frantic immediacy. They too did not produce anything similar to their counterparts printed on each metal key. More symbols. Each one different, each with a different story to tell. While my mind told me to search them out, to learn their meanings, something held me back. I wanted to know, that was certain. The mystery, the wonder as I squinted at the line of symbols that drew me in. But my head was reeling. Then each one started to pang in my skull, as if each symbol was learning from the other, trying to explain their worth to my soul. In an instant I knew, I knew their message. The typewriter was teaching me the axiom.
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Based off of this prompt: After a year’s wait, you finally strike – it’s yours. But once you get home you discover that it’s nothing – nothing like you thought it’d be…

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500

It is hard for me quantify why I love baseball so much. Baseball is the greatest sport to ever be played. It’s the Great American Pasttime. I was raised to love baseball. Growing up my dad instilled in me the importance of the sport, as his father had with him. My grandfather was a giant Cardinals fan. My parents remind me time and again how much my baseball passion reminds them of him. It is my little way of carrying on his legacy. I’ve spent countless hours in the backyard playing catch with my dad and family. As the mitt pops back and forth, we fill the air between us with discussions of the history of the game. This discussion has evolved over time, beginning with my dad teaching me about the greats such as Musial, Gibson, and Williams and evolving into talks about current greats like Smoltz, Pujols, Jeter, and Ortiz. I’ve loved this game my entire life.

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The Boston Red Sox are like the heart and soul of baseball and my love for it. They went through 86 years of failure, of mishaps, and of heartbreak. And they came through it! Those guys day in and day out play their hearts out. It’s beyond me, it’s beyond you. A lot of my friends and family get annoyed with my mood swings during the season because if the Sox have a bad game, I have a bad day. And when the Sox are killing it, I feel like a million bucks. In recent years it has been particularly up and down. Some of the times have been unbearable like losing seasons and the worst of all, losing a post season berth on the final day of the season. But the highs have been so glorious. 2013 is a season that still, two years removed, I cannot quantify. It was all born of tragedy. The team put an entire city on its back and spent all of October healing wounds. It’s tough to be so wrapped up in something. It takes time and patience. But it’s a passion, it’s a real passion. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Red Sox Nation doesn’t give up. Red Sox Nation fights through it and is there for a heart breaking game 162 loss to fall out of the playoffs, is there for a 93 loss season, and is there when they clinch the division with the best record in all of baseball and go on to win the World Series. These moments are so sweet because we’ve earned them.

I never get sick of it. I follow all 162 games of the season. Factor in the month of spring training and the month of the post season, it is nine months out of every year. And there is nothing in the world like attending a baseball game. It’s the atmosphere that gets me. All the cliched things people say, but they are true. It’s the ballpark franks, the roar of the crowd, the peanuts and cracker jacks, the vendors yelling about how cold their beer is, the hecklers yelling at the players, and seeing your favorite player get up to bat. And even better when they deliver.

I have seen a lot of incredible things at baseball games. Beckett’s one hitter in 2011 the night the Bruins won the cup. Nap’s walk off homer against the Yankees in 2013. A 14 inning a marathon walk off against Oakland in 2011. Carp’s pinch hit 10th inning grand slam at the Trop in 2013. I wasn’t sure I could top it, but Saturday I did.

12004770_10153081388171766_7713911180555057543_nDavid Ortiz is probably the player who has meant the most to the Boston Red Sox franchise. A team with such a storied history, that is a bold statement. The man has meant a tremendous amount to the team, the fans, to the city. Tonight when I went to the game with him sitting at 498 career homers I was less than confident I’d see such a historical moment. Multiple times over the day leading up to it I said incredulously ‘there is no way he hits two in one game for it’ to push the feeling of dread that he may do it Friday, the game I wasn’t going to. After his first inning three run home run for 499 I felt my chances gaining. My heart swelled. I was extremely nervous. Could I be so lucky? In his third at bat he led off the inning, with two strikes on him – an inside pitch. WHACK! To the seats. I was shaking all over. High fives, screaming, hugs, tears welling in my eyes. He had done it. It is the pinnacle of all I love in the game of baseball. David Ortiz, released by the Twins after the 2002 season, became Big Papi in Boston. He is a hero. The 2004 ALCS, in the face of elimination, he put the team on his back. We come back to beat the Yankees and go on to win the first WS the team had seen in 86 years. ‘This is our fucking city.’ 2013, bases loaded with two outs against the Tigers in the ALCS, GRAND SLAM into the bullpen. Going on to bat .688 in the 2013 World Series and taking home his first WS MVP. It goes beyond those moments. It goes beyond these moments. But he started with modest beginnings, a young man with a dream leaving Santo Domingo and coming to America to pursue it. Three World Series rings, one World Series MVP, one ALCS MVP, nine time All-Star, six time Silver Slugger, and now the 27th member in the over one hundred year history of Major League Baseball to hit 500 home runs.

Often it is hard to be a fan. It hurts, it is cruel, it will break your heart. But on Saturday it was a reminder of why you push through, why you shoulder the pain. It is a beautiful game. It is unlike anything in this world and I will love it until my last day.

500!!!!!!!!!

A video posted by Fox C. Mason (@kaitgolightly) on Sep 12, 2015 at 4:43pm PDT

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There has been an awakening…

Happy Force Friday!!!

Okay, so it is actually three days later and Monday now. But, really, Force Friday began Wednesday with the 18 hour unboxing live stream. That was the beginning of a whirlwind of weekend that was equal parts fun and exhausting.

To begin, I had been a little under the weather during the front part of the week. Short of death, nothing was going to keep me from participating in Force Friday. Luckily my lovely fiancée was there to support this and help me get to feeling better.

The tide of my sickness began to turn just in time for the live unboxing stream. What initially sounded a bit unnecessary to me ended up becoming something I thoroughly enjoyed. The real stand outs from the event, for me, being Poe’s black X-Wing, Sphero’s BB-8, and the Millennium Falcon quadcopter but more about that later. The fervor that grew with each hour of the stream (I did sleep for some of them but they showed recaps) was a great lead up to Friday. Grade A job from the marketing people there. Andi Gutierrez and Anthony Carboni were troopers and stayed awake through all 18 hours hosting. Major props there as I’m fairly sure I would have died, sick or not.

When Thursday finally came around I was as giddy as a kid waiting for Christmas (or just myself waiting for Christmas, truth be told.) We decided to head to Toys’r’us when they closed at 9 to scope out the situation. Equipped with water, iPads, and a wallet preparing to get lighter, we were ready. We were greeted by two small groups in front of us (four people in total) already forming the line. The humidity made it pretty awful but we powered through. We all struck up a conversation that would last until they opened the doors at midnight. We found no need for our iPads. Linnea told Josh via text that “these are her people” and it is true. It was nice to immerse myself with people who had the same kind of passion that I normally dealt with on my own. While I’m so grateful to Linnea for going with me, it was nice to compare notes with fellow fanatics. The awesome folks that were first in line have a Facebook group that I gladly joined and am enjoying posting in.

In comparison to them, I felt like a bit of an amateur. They were headed in with the intention of getting one of everything, ultimate collectors. I could only tip my cap. I’m not as much of the collector type. I like to open my toys and enjoy them. But I have complete and total respect for those who do collect, it takes an extreme amount of time, money, and determination. I couldn’t help but be a little envious. 

Some members of 501st showed up. Had to snap a picture. As time crept nearer Linnea and I discussed what I wanted most and a budget (one we’d both blow through and then some.) After a Starbucks run and two large bottles of water were crushed, the time crept closed to midnight. When doors finally opened we snagged our free poster – an excellent Kylo Ren poster, and free Lego brick featuring a first order stormtrooper. We headed for the aisle, my excitement level through the roof really. I quickly grabbed Finn and Poe figurines. Linnea grabbed an Artoo lunch box and the Funko BB-8. The latter garnered some attention as it was the last one and we even had someone try to barter for it. I was slightly disappointed to find that they had none of the large Poe Dameron black X-Wing so Linnea suggested selflessly that we go to Target as well. She’s truly the best, considering she had to be up in six hours at this point.


Target was a total success. Not only did they have Poe’s X-Wing with the figurine but I also picked up a giant 18 inch of, as Oscar Isaac said, “the best damn pilot in the galaxy.” We left Target on cloud 9. I was so glad to share the evening with her and have a blast. Passions are the best when shared with the ones you love.


At the time, I thought this was essentially the end of our mission. Hardly. The worst thing for our bank account that happened was the pre-planned trip to Orlando with my family. The first day there we tried the Super Target where I picked up Rey on her Speeder, a First Order Stormtrooper coffee mug, Linnea got a cute BB-8 shirt, and I bought my nephew a Boba Fett hot wheels car that he clutched all weekend.


From there, we went to the Florida Mall. Also a mistake for our financial responsibility. I bought a set of figurines from the Disney Store. Even though they were just six little figurines for a modest $15, it ended up being one of my best investments. After all of the shopping, back at the condo, I sat on the floor and unboxed them with Luke watching me closely. Sharing this time with him, the same kind of moments I had with my dad during the prequels when I was young, was not lost on me. It is something that means a great deal to me. 

I happened upon the ultimate prize of the weekend at Brookestone: the Sphero BB-8. Being championed by many as the best Star Wars toy of all time, this item is already selling out everywhere. Some have compared its future Christmas sales performance to huge hits such as furbee or tickle me Elmo. Linnea promised to get me one for Christmas but as soon as they started to sell out everywhere we decided to jump the gun. Let me tell you, I do not regret it. The thing is as cool, if not cooler, than I could’ve imagined.  

At the end of it all, I know that I’m really grateful to have Linnea. She puts up with my crazy obsessions and passions. If anything, she encourages them. That’s all you can ask for in life. 101 days until the Force Awakens and I can’t wait.

Not SW related, I got a great book at Sci-Fi City:

A successful weekend indeed.

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State of the Union

The last three weeks of my life have been exciting (and equally tiring) in multiple ways ranging from thrilling to mundane. To begin with, Josh bought a house. We had been wanting to move into a house for as long as I could remember, whether renting or buying. I much prefer this route, as it gives us the freedom to do what we want without consulting a landlord. So we packed up our things from the apartment we’d grown increasingly annoyed with, and began the process. You never realize how much shit you have until you move, that is a certainty. So after an exhaustive move, which was made even more difficult by a dog’s leash tearing two to three layers of skin off of my ring finger in a bloody and tender mess, we settled in. House life suits the three of us immensely. Josh and I have our offices (though I refer to mine as a study.) Linnea set up her sewing table and the kitchen. All of us enjoying our own little galaxies in the house universe. My quality of life, while not awful before, has skyrocketed. I’m exceptionally content. Also, we have a pool and it makes me feel like a child again.

Around the same time as the move I started contributing to thebeardedtrio. This blog involves all information regarding George Lucas, John Williams, and (probably most significant to me) Steven Spielberg. My first post was a wildly successful essay I wrote about the two stages of Spielberg’s film catalogue, revolving around the seminal classic Schindler’s List. (If you haven’t read it, you can do so here.) It felt like a small victory, a sort of validation in the goal to be the best writer I can be. It is easy to let the words flow when you’re writing about something you feel passionately about. Spielberg is certainly a subject that calls to me, he is my hero. I’m on a mission to watch, or re-watch for many, all twenty eight of his films. The biggest hurdle I’ve encountered with that is my desire to revisit my favorites before viewing some of them for the first time. I’ll finish eventually (before the year is out.)

Over the weekend we finally visited Kennedy Space Center. I had been wanting to go back for some time now, having not been since I was a young child. It exceeded my expectations. It was educational and fascinating. Linnea and I made the wise decision to purchase annual passes. I was immediately glad we did because it is simply too much to take in in just one visit. We did not get to everything and many things we glossed over a bit due to time constraints. I’m already looking forward to going back. The best moment, by far, was viewing the relatively new building that houses the Space Shuttle Atlantis. Though the STS has finished, its legacy lives on. This mammoth sucked me in. It left me in wonderment. The space program is a never ending inspiration for me. The fact that we did something, as a country, that we didn’t have to do. Our lives didn’t depend on it, but we did it to explore. We did it to reach something beyond imaginable. Only for the greater good of science. We sent giants into space, the greatest giant there is.

“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win.” – JFK

At my large wooden desk nestled in my study I began working on models and model rocketry. It is a very calming and time consuming hobby. There is something extremely rewarding about holding the model when you’re finished and looking at the intricate details that you did yourself. My first one was a snap together Back to the Future DeLorean. I soon had a craving to do a real model; glue, paint, and all. So I ordered a model of the Hughes H-4 Hercules. Do not dare call it the Spruce Goose to me, it was made out of mostly birch. Howard Hughes is an on going inspiration in my life. He was a modern day renaissance man. I bought a kit to begin making model rockets as well, which I’m hoping to launch at least one this coming weekend. That will be a whole new adventure.

Most importantly, I’ve been making an effort to read more. This may make some who know me well laugh because I’ve always been an avid reader. But I have been feeling as though I’ve been drifting away from it, getting distracted by other mediums. So I’ve dug in. First it was October Sky. I cannot stress enough how much I recommend it. It immediately became an all time favorite. I feel inclined to read it again already. Then I read An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth, which was like a self-help book from two hundred and forty nine miles above. Now I am onto Ready Player One. I’m only forty pages in and can feel myself being pulled into the labyrinth of the story. Full disclosure, it was brought to my attention because Spielberg is doing pre-production to make the film adaption. But the story contains so many elements that I enjoy: gaming, pop culture, dystopian reality, and adventure.

Many other things occupy my thoughts on a daily basis; the new Star Wars films, my novel, writing in general, the Ninja Turtles, my new Apple Watch, and gaming. The last is stirring because there are a few xbox one games being released in the next few months (Star Wars Battlefront, Halo 5, Fallout 4, etc) and my dad just got me a new gaming PC. I think I have spent more time downloading games than playing them, but it will even out. It reminds me of moving in that way, the excitement fizzles a little as you have to unpack everything but once you’re in place, excitement ensues. The new Star Wars, the Force Awakens, is slowly exposing more and more details but is still 122 days away. In JJ We Trust. If it is anywhere as good as Super 8 then we’re in for a treat.

This post may sound like a long string of ramblings about mundane life features, to me it is something more. In An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth, Hadfield says “Life is just a lot better if you feel you’re having 10 wins a day rather than a win every 10 years or so.” Maybe we’d all be better off if we applauded the little things and valued tiny victories. It is my effort to do so.

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