My Entertainment Weekend Update

Hello friends, and happy weekend!

So, no Andor episodes to comment on anymore. 😦 But, now that the series is over, I decided to revisit Rogue One again, and yeah, it’s just as good as I remember. And perhaps, if possible, a bit sadder, since I know so much more about Cassian now. And I think it’s official: the Battle of Scarif is my favorite Star Wars battle, hands down. I enjoy the battles in Star Wars for the most part, but almost always my eyes start to glaze over after awhile. Not this one. The battle on the beach, as well as the battle above the planetary shield, is tense and exhilarating. Hmm, maybe I’ll do a list post with favorite Star Wars battles.

I finished Season Three of Poldark a few days ago, and decided to take a break from it for a week or so and watch other things. I love it, but I need a break from the constant drama, lol. There’s a few things on my Amazon Prime watchlist, but I’m not sure what I’ll watch yet. I’ll report back next week.

The covers for Phase Two have been gorgeous so far.

In books, I got my copy of Convergence and have been reading it. I’m about halfway done and I’m really enjoying it. It mostly concerns the “Forever War” between the two planets Eiram and E’ronoh, and a Jedi delagation trying to help with the peace process. Jedi Knight Gella Nattai is trying to find her place in the Order; Axel Greylark, the troubled son of one of the Chancellors, has been sent there by his mother to watch and report back to her. Both Gella and Axel must protect the princess of E’ronoh and the prince of Eiram, who have vowed to end their planets destructive war through a marriage between them. But there are those who don’t want peace, on both sides, and it doesn’t help that the Path of the Hand has gotten involved as well. I’m eager to see how it turns out, since there’s still trouble between these two planets a hundred years later as evidences in one of the Phase One books, which I believe was Into the Dark.

Obi-Wan looks back on some key moments in his life.

I’m not much of a comic book reader, but when I saw an omnibus edition of the recent Obi-Wan Kenobi comic, I had to pre-order it. It comes out on December 13th. I don’t think the comic brought anything super important or earth-shattering to the canon, but look, it’s Obi-Wan. So it will be read and take its place on my shelf.

We got a cover reveal for the Cal Kestis novel coming out next March:

Looks like trouble ahead with Fifth Brother.

I’m eager to get to know these characters, as I’m not a gamer, either. But I’ve always been intrigued by Cal’s story, and had always hoped for a book. Wishes sometimes do come true!

In Marvel, I watched the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 trailer that just dropped, and I’m ready for this. If you haven’t seen it, check it out here:

By the way, I haven’t seen Wakanda Forever yet, but I will watch it when it inevitably drops on Disney Plus soon.

That’s it this week. What’s been entertaining you? Let me know in the comments and we’ll talk about it!

My Entertainment Weekend Update

Hello friends, and happy weekend!

(Spoilery things ahead!)

Maarva incites a riot.

Well, the Andor finale aired this past week, and I enjoyed it for the most part. All the principals were gathering on Farrix, all of them to find Cassian and either kill or capture him. No one did. In fact, none of them even saw him, and while I expected at least one of them to have a confrontation with him, that didn’t happen, either. Cassian ended up working behind the scenes to free Bix from the Imperials.

Otherwise, it was all about Maarva’s funeral and its aftermath. I appreciated the denizens of Farrix defying the Empire’s restrictions on the event, showing up in numbers and at the time they wanted. This is an appropriate defiance; but I hesitate to champion Maarva’s hologram speech during it. The speech itself was fantastic. But I feel like Maarva didn’t think this through. Surely she must have known that the funeral would be supervised by the Imperials. To instigate an uprising from the people of Farrix right then and there seems a bit…irresponsible? She must have known people would be killed. And yes, of course, sacrifices must be made for the Rebellion, etc etc, but these things need to be thought out and planned. I don’t know, I just thought her speech could have been better timed.

Anyway, Luthen shows up to…I’m not sure, check up on Vel and Cinta? Help with Cassian’s murder? At any rate, once chaos breaks out in the town square, he distances himself and heads back to his ship. True to form, he sees such uprisings and outrage necessary for the Rebellion, but doesn’t want to risk his own life. As he’s said, he’s a coward. In the meantime, Cinta kills the ISB guy that has been watching her for days, Syril saves Dedra’s life (the shippers will be going nuts, lol) and Cassian gets Bix out of the hotel. He gets her to a ship along with B2, Brasso, and Pak’s son, who brought a homemade bomb to the funeral. But Cassian doesn’t go with them.

He waits for Luthen in his ship and tells him to either kill him or bring him in (into his inner circle of Rebels). Because Cassian, over the course of the show, has gone from someone who doesn’t care and just tries to survive, to a true believer who wants to fight back. Many of the people he’s met during the show has influenced Cassian’s transformation: Nemik (whose manifesto Cassian has read and is voiced over during the episode), Kino, and Maarva (who sends a message to him through Brasso); and all the inequities and punishments he’s suffered under the Empire, including his father’s unjust execution, bring Cassian around to the man we meet in Rogue One.

We don’t see much of Mon Mothma in this episode, except to see her cleverly trying to throw off the Empire from the missing money in her accounts by blaming Perrin for gambling, knowing her driver is listening in on the conversation. Also, her daughter meets the the thug’s son, and perhaps a marriage will occur. Or not. We’ll have to wait until Season Two to find out.

I thought the episode was fine, but something made it a bit anti-climactic for me. I’m not sure what it was; maybe it was Cassian lurking around and not confronting any of these people who were out to get him. I expected some kind of confrontation. Oh well. I did enjoy the entirety of Season One and am looking forward to Season Two.

The Guardians with the Legendary Kevin Bacon.

I haven’t been watching much Marvel lately (I chose to pass on both Ms. Marvel and She-Hulk), but I did watch the Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special. When I saw the teaser trailer for it some time ago, I thought, oh yeah, I’m SO there for that! Lol. Guardians of the Galaxy is one of my favorite aspects of the Marvel Universe, besides Loki and Dr. Strange, and I knew that I’d enjoy it immensely. It was only about 45 minutes, which was plenty, but it was so fun and amusing and makes me excited for the next Guardians movie (2023?)

The premise of the special is that Mantis and Drax want to do something nice for Peter for Christmas, believing Yondu spoiled it for him some years ago. Since Peter has talked quite a bit about Kevin Bacon to them over the years (mostly about his character from the movie Footloose, which was a favorite of his when he was a kid), they decide to….give Peter Kevin Bacon for Christmas!

Goofy fun ensues as they head to Hollywood in search of Kevin Bacon. If you don’t expect too much from it, it’s really fun. And it’s rather heartwarming in the end, which is what all Christmas specials should be.

The dashing and reckless Ross Poldark.

Anyway, other than that, I’ve been continuing my fevered watching of Poldark. I’m about halfway through Season Three (out of five seasons) and the drama only gets more complicated and juicy. It’s like Jane Austen’s naughty sister, lol. I’m nervous at the start of every episode, wondering what could go wrong next, who will get hurt, what evil George Warleggon will conjure up next. The setting of the show, by the way, is spectacular, with the dramatic cliffs of Cornwall and the boiling ocean waves of the sea a reflection of the character’s churning emotions. I love it!

In books, I’ve finally finished The Obelisk Gate, by N.K. Jemisin, the second book in a trilogy called The Broken Earth series. I’ll probably do a post on all three books when I’m done.

And I finally received Convergence, by Zoraida Cordova, just today, the latest High Republic book in Phase 2. I would have gotten it sooner but I failed to update my payment method when my bank changed some time ago. Oops! Looking forward to starting that one.

That’s about it this week. What’s been entertaining you? Let me know in the comments and we’ll talk about it!

My Entertainment Weekend Update

Hello friends, and happy weekend!

(Some spoilery things ahead!)

Cassian and Melshi work to get off Narkina-5.

This week saw the eleventh and penultimate episode of Andor, “Daughter of Farrix.” The title presumably refers to Maarva, Cassian’s adoptive mother, who has died offscreen. I was a bit surprised by that; I thought she would die during the episode, maybe even when Cassian was there. But no, he finds out by space telephone when he calls home. This is after his escape from Narkina 5, along with Melshi. They have to climb some cliffs barefoot, avoid the Imperials looking for escapees, and then they come across some natives. They capture the two fugitives in some kind of goopy net, and at first it seems they will turn them in for a reward. But then they decide to let them go and help them get off planet, as the Empire has ruined their water, and by extension, their fishing livelihood. Cassian returns to Niamos to retrieve his money from the Aldani heist, and that’s where he makes his call home. He and Melshi decide to split up, and Melshi tells Cassian that he will spread the word about the Empire and what’s happening on Narkina 5.

Meanwhile, Luthen visits Saw and has a cool battle with an Imperial ship, Mon Mothma worries about her daughter, and Syril finds out that Cassian may be going back to Farrix. Basically, this episode is setting everyone up to go to Farrix for a climactic finale, and I can’t wait.

Ross and Demelza.

In other viewing news, I’ve become totally obsessed with a show on Prime called Poldark. It’s a period piece from Masterpiece Theater, starring Aiden Turner (who happened to be a dwarf called Fili in The Hobbit movies–you know, one of the “hot” dwarves, lol). It takes place in 1780’s Cornwall. Ross Poldark has just returned from serving as a soldier for the Crown in the American War for Independence. The British having been defeated, he returns home to his estate at Nampara and finds that his father has died and left the estate in near-ruin, and that Elizabeth, the young woman he loved before leaving for the war, is engaged to be married to his cousin Francis, as everyone thought him dead.

This is how the show of five seasons kicks off, and although I’m only halfway through the second season, so much has happened that my head is spinning, lol. Basically it’s a costume drama soap opera, and I’m loving every minute of it. Oh, and guess who else is in the show? Our very own Syril Karn from Andor! Kyle Soller plays Francis, Ross’s cousin. He’s got blonde curls in this one.

I’d write more about it, but I gotta go and watch the next episode…

What’s been entertaining you lately? Let me know in the comments and we’ll talk about it!

My Entertainment Weekend Update

Hello my friends, and happy weekend!

(Spoilery things ahead!)

He can’t swim.

Andor’s tenth episode, “One Way Out” was probably the best of the series so far. This, of course, was the prison escape episode, and it delivered in so many ways. Now that Kino Loy (played by Andy Serkis) is done with the Empire’s games and is on board, they make a plan. Now that the old man Ulaf died, a new prisoner will be coming in to fill his spot. And that’s when the Imperials will be at their most vulnerable. Cassian finishes sabotaging the water pipe from the refresher, and that leaking water will help disable the electrified floor. Once the new guy is brought in, they attack (poor new guy, he has no idea what’s going on…and ends up dying from a blaster bolt). Once they’re all out and kill the guards, they make their way to the command center and take over. They cut off the power to all the floors, and then Kino makes his speech over the intercom, telling the prisoners they had taken control and were escaping. But more than that, his speech is inspiring to the prisoners, as he tells them to help one another. It’s not “every man for himself”, it’s “if we work together we can get out of here.” So it was heartbreaking when they finally get out and have to jump into the ocean to get away and Kino says he can’t swim. He helped everyone else get out while likely knowing he wouldn’t make it out himself, as it’s obvious he knew they were surrounded by water. I really liked Kino’s story arc, going from a man counting down his days until he gets out and everyone better not ruin that for him, to a man leading everyone out while he himself can’t get out. I hope we find out what happens to him–sent to another prison? Killed? Suicide? Maybe I don’t want to know.

Anyway, there was another big speech in the episode, given by Luthen Rael. He meets with one of the ISB agents, Jung, who is actually a mole and working for the Rebellion. He’s meeting with Luthen to warn him about the ISB laying a trap for Kreeger’s rebel cell, but really he wants to tell Luthen he’s done with this double agent thing. He’s got a baby coming and wants a different life. But Luthen won’t let him, telling him that they have to make sacrifices. Jung asks what Luthen’s sacrificed, and what we get is some sorely-needed insight into this man. Basically, he tells Jung that he’s sacrificed his soul. He’s not a kind man, and he uses the Empire’s own tactics against them. In other words, he’s become what he’s sworn to destroy, all for a victory he suspects he’ll never see.

Someone who’s not ready to sacrifice her soul is Mon Mothma. She meets with this Davos, a “thug” in her estimation, only because she’s desperate for money to cover up what her “charity” is actually doing. She’s willing to pay the man off, but he’s already rich and doesn’t want money. He wants his son to meet her daughter–probably in the hopes of a traditional Chandrilan arranged marriage, likely so he can get closer to the influential and more respectable Coruscant society. Mon balks and is curt at dismissing him. But as he points out her, she’s thinking about it. What is she willing to sacrifice? I’m curious to see how this plays out. Only two more episodes of this season!

A new breed of Blade Runner.

Now that The Rings of Power is done, I need to make that Amazon Prime subscription worth paying, so I’ve added a few things to my watchlist. One of those things is Blade Runner 2049, the sequel to 1984’s Blade Runner that came out a few years ago. I saw it in the theater at the time, and absolutely adored it. I’m a big fan of the original, and wasn’t sure about a sequel. But my doubts were immediately dispelled as I heard that otherworldly music and watched Ryan Gosling totally nail it as a replicant Blade Runner called “K” whose job it is to “retire” older, less compliant Replicants from the past.

During one of his cases, he comes upon a mystery and a miracle: a Replicant woman who gave birth 30 years ago. Sensing the enormity of the event and what such a child represents, K’s boss, Madame, played wonderfully by Robin Wright, orders him to find and kill the (30 year-old) child. But during his investigation, he comes to believe that he, himself, is the child of that long ago miracle.

In the meantime, the creepy corporate billionaire Wallace (played by Jared Leto), who had taken up the reins left by Tyrell Corporation and created new models of Replicants like K who obeyed, also wants to find the child in order to figure out how to make his Replicants with the power to give birth. So he can have more slaves, you see, to dominate the stars. He sends his pet Replicant, the ironically named Love, to follow K during his investigation, a woman who certainly doesn’t know anything about love.

Director Denis Villeneuve’s Los Angeles of 2049 is a bleak and wondrous place, where illusion is the order of the day. Replicants are implanted with false memories, to make them emotionally stable. They know that they’re implanted, they know exactly what they are (and aren’t), but the memories make them feel more human. K has a relationship with a beautiful hologram named Joi, and though her programming is meant to fill every one of K’s desires (except, of course, physical contact, which is solved in a clever way), it certainly seems like Joi is a real person who loves him. And he does love her. Or maybe he’s in love the idea of her. Can you be in love with someone who’s not “real”? She’s an illusion, but K’s feelings about her are not. Does that make her real?

Are Replicants “real”? They’re alive–they breath and bleed and can die–and they’re sentient beings. They have emotions. They’re supposed to obey and not be able to lie, but K breaks both of those rules. It seems moot to me that if one is “born” instead of “made” they’re more real and therefore have more rights. But apparently this child represents something dangerous–the fact that Replicants can reproduce give them more “self-agency.” To Madame, this would be disastrous, leading to a Replicant rebellion; to Wallace, it is the holy grail that would serve his purpose to simply enslave more Replicants.

Some people thought this movie was too long and convoluted, but not me. I loved every single minute of its almost 3 hour runtime. It’s mesmerizing to behold, and offers a lot to chew on. The performances were amazing, especially Ryan Gosling, who was a revelation to me at the time. I wasn’t really familiar with him except for “The Notebook,” lol. But he perfectly captures the nuances of a person who initially accepts the status quo, and then gradually learns who he is (or could be), and what it means to be “human.” Bravo.

Ice Gators

In books, this week I started and finished a rereading of Mission to Disaster, a middle-grade book by Justina Ireland. It’s a Phase 1 High Republic book, and I wanted to revisit it because most of it takes place on Dalna, a planet we see 150 years earlier in Path of Deceit. Basically the Nihil has taken some children prisoner to “recruit’ them, and young Jedi Knight Vernestra Rwho and her Padawan Imri Cantos are on it. Their friend, Avon Starros, a technological genius, has been taken and made to help the Nihil with a weapon that can destroy the planet.

I wanted to see if I could get any insight into Dalna considering the events of Path of Deceit, which also took place on Dalna. What we learn is that something happened on on that planet involving the Jedi, something that went very bad and the Jedi are blamed. Ever since, the Jedi are not trusted, although by the time of Vernestra’s time, there is a Jedi Outpost there. There seems to be some evidence that the Jedi covered up the incident. We don’t get anything like that in Path of Deceit, but I think we will see it later in Phase 2.

That’s about it this week. What’s been entertaining you? Let me know in the comments and we’ll talk about it!

Path of Deceit: Character Gallery

I’m going to admit right off the bat that I didn’t have the energy to do a proper “review” of the first book of The High Republic Phase 2, Path of Deceit, by Justina Ireland and Tessa Gratton. But I did love the book, so instead I’m doing a little tour of the characters through images, which seemed a lot more fun to me.

Kevmo Zink. Kevmo is a Jedi Padawan, a Pantoran who has an exuberant and outgoing personality. He and his master are conducting an investigation on Dalna concerning stolen Force artifacts. He immediately meets Marda Ro, a shy, sweet girl who is a member of the Force cult The Path of the Open Hand, and they are immediately attracted. The problem is, the Path believe that the Force should be “free” and not manipulated in any way, especially the way the Jedi use the Force. It’s a point of contention between them, but they try to understand each other’s differing points of view. Kevmo is a bit flirty for a Jedi, and must be reminded by his master about attachments.

Zallah Macri. Zallah is Kevmo’s Jedi Master. She is Soikan, and therefore very calm and focused, a good counterpoint to Kevmo’s exuberance. She and Kevmo are investigating the theft of a Force artifact from the Queen of Hynestia. When they learn of the Path of the Open Hand, she encourages Kevmo’s friendship with Marda in order to learn more about them and if they are possibly connected to the theft. But they have a difficult time meeting with the Path’s leader, who is called The Mother.

Marda Ro. Marda is a member of the Path of the Open Hand, who watches over and teaches the children of the group. Marda is a true believer, passionate about the Path and their beliefs. They believe that if the Force is manipulated in any way, it has ripple effects and causes damage somewhere else. When she sees Kevmo using the Force simply to float a flower in the air, it greatly upsets her. Marda and her cousin, Yana, are Evereni, a species that is rarely seen in the galaxy and who have a bad reputation. Marda, sheltered on Dalna with the Path since she was a young child, doesn’t understand the prejudice, but does her best to be a good person and member of the group. Marda, unlike her cousin, is quite naive, believing that the Path doesn’t “steal” artifacts, they simply “liberate” them from those who would use them and corrupt the Force. Her cousin is far more cynical, being one of the members who do steal the artifacts, and often kill those who own or guard them. Marda’s beliefs and loyalties will be tested in the book.

The Mother. Her name is Eleni, but everyone calls her The Mother. She didn’t found the Path, and no one really knows where she came from, but she has Force visions that guide her decisions for the Path. When she receives an artifact that looks like a glowing purple egg, she becomes more reclusive, obsessed with the egg and never letting it out of her sight. If she had good intentions previously, she definitely becomes more sinister when the egg comes into her life.

The Herald. The Herald is one of the Elders of the Path and its previous leader. He now defers to the Mother. He is the father of Kor, Yana’s girlfriend, and has a part to play towards the end of the book.

Sunshine Dobbs. A prospector with the unlikely name of Sunshine, Dobbs is the one who brought the purple egg, which he found on a planet beyond the Outer Rim, to the Mother. Immediately upon meeting her, he seemed to fall under her spell, and became willing to do anything for her.

The Nameless. This lovely fellow is the Nameless, also called the Leveler, or Shrii Ka Rai or Eaters of the Force (so not really nameless, right?). He is what eventually came out of the purple egg (clearly a dark side artifact) the Mother tended so lovingly. The Nameless have the power to kill Jedi through utter and extreme fear, turning them to ash. Presumably the Mother will use it against the Jedi and their offensive use of the Force. What other plans she has in mind remains a mystery for now.

This was a great book that hints at the origins of the Nihil and their leader Marchion Ro, who are the main villains in Phase One of The High Republic books. I can’t wait to read the rest of Phase Two to get a clearer picture of what led to the events of Phase One.

My Entertainment Weekend Update

Hello friends, and happy weekend!

(Spoilery stuff ahead!)

This week’s episode of Andor was, as usual, fabulous. The situation in the prison becomes particularly tense, as it becomes clear Cassian is trying to find a way to escape. At the same time, something weird and mysterious happened on Level 2, and we eventually find out that the entire work crew was killed by their murderous electric floors. We only find out towards the end of the show that it was because the Imperials put a prisoner who was supposed to be done with their sentence back into the workforce on a different level. Clearly, no one’s getting out of there alive. Didn’t they realize that the prisoners would figure this out and become outraged? The answer is yes, they did, and no, they don’t care. Kino finally realizes he won’t win at the Empire’s game, and so finally answers Cassian’s question about guards. He will help Cassian with the escape, but I have a feeling he won’t survive it.

The Empire in this show is at its scariest, and we don’t need any Sith to prove that. Bix is tortured by Dedra with sounds. The sound of tortured and dying children, which of course is quite appalling. Dr. Gorst is the freaky sadist who administers the “procedure” and is quite proud of it. I suppose torturers have to be a bit deranged.

Speaking of deranged, Syril Karn seems to have lost whatever marbles he may have had in the first place, stalking Dedra and claiming they’re kindred spirits with red-rimmed, delusional eyes. I have no idea where his story arc is going, but I’m curious to find out. His mother is a peculiar kind of awful, and I kind of feel sorry for him.

And speaking of awful, Perrin continues to be a complete jerk while his wife strives to convince the Senate that they’re still relevant. It falls on deaf ears, of course. The Senate is a sickly thing at this point, corrupt and apathetic. Mon is realizing she will get nowhere in that direction. And she’s also realizing she may have to compromise some of her ideals by dealing with a wealthy thug for a loan to hide a large sum of money missing from her “charity.” I feel like Mon is being pushed into a corner and she’ll have some pretty difficult decisions to make. What is she willing to sacrifice for the Rebellion? Vel turns out to be her cousin, and I have a dreadful feeling she’ll be one of the casualties that will push Mon further toward the Rebel leader she’ll become. And Leida? I honestly don’t know what’s up with that girl. One day she’s a spoiled rich brat; other times, especially at Mon’s parties, she’s a nervous wreck. Is she spying on her mother? Time will tell what role she’ll have to play in the story. Honestly I don’t care what happens to Perrin, as long as he’s either unhappy or dead, lol. I really don’t like that guy.

I can’t wait for next week’s episode, which will undoubtedly be the prison break. And then there will only be two more episodes, which will probably take place on Farrix. I have a feeling Marva will not survive, and this will further push Cassian toward the Rebel leader he will become. This show is truly compelling Star Wars.

Other than watching Andor, I did a rewatch of The Rings of Power this past week, knowing the reveals of the Stranger and Sauron, and those scenes became particularly interesting. Halbrand is, of course, “Hot Sauron,” and the clues are there. I still think I love the Elrond/Durin storyline best, though, believe it or not. They just have this great chemistry. And even though Durin’s father seems like a jerk here, the truth is, he’s right. Once he’s gone and Durin starts to mine the mithril or whatever else he’s delving for, they unleash the Balrog. He wants to help Elrond (and his people, as well as himself and Disa personally), but he’ll end up dooming his own people.

Naturally, I have many questions at the end of Season One: What will Miriel do? (and do I detect a possible romance between her and Elendil? Or am I reading too much into it?) What will Sauron do next? Where is Isildur? (and whatever happened to his brother Anarion?) Is the Stranger really Gandalf? What’s in Rhun? I’ll have to wait a few long years for the answers to those questions.

Other than that, I’m waiting impatiently for the next High Republic novel, Convergence, out on Nov. 22nd, and reading The Obelisk Gate in the meantime.

I also downloaded onto my Kindle Walking in this World, by Julia Cameron, of The Artist’s Way fame. I’ve always liked her and her methods for helping people find their creativity. I just wanted a bit of inspiration as I try to get back into writing. I’m doing her “morning pages,” three pages of longhand writing, mostly stream-of-consciousness. She also prescribes “Artist Dates,” which is simply taking your inner artist out for some fun, which for me means a visit to the used bookstore, browsing an antique store or curiosity shop, going to a movie at the theater, etc. Just something that stimulates and/or delights your senses or the artist in you. She also recommends solitary walking, which I already love to do. I haven’t been doing enough of it lately, though. I think all of these things will be particularly therapeutic for me right now, as I deal with my mother’s recent death.

That’s it this week. What’s been entertaining you? Let me know in the comments and we’ll talk about it!

My Entertainment Weekend Update: What I’ve been up to

Hello friends, and happy weekend!

I’ve been away for awhile. My 86-year-old mom, who broke her hip some six weeks ago, passed away on Oct. 3rd. It was a fairly quick, but painful, decline, and it was the most difficult time of my life (and I’ve been through some stuff). I needed some time to process everything and grieve, and while that will continue for a long while yet, part of me knew that I wanted to get back to blogging soon. One of the things that kept me sane during Mom’s situation, besides my wonderful family, was continuing to read and watch all the stories that I love. It’s pure escapism, yes, but the point is I found small nuggets of joy during a very dark time.

And so, here’s a few of the things that saved me (and I really mean that) the past few months:

First off, let’s talk about Andor. I knew I was probably going to like this show when it was announced, and when I saw the first trailers, I knew I was going to love it. And it really has surpassed all of my expectations. I can’t say that I love it more than, say Obi-Wan Kenobi or The Mandalorian. I just love it differently. Or rather, for different reasons. Andor is the show that I knew Star Wars could be, if its approach changed. It’s “serious” Star Wars. It’s gritty, it’s mature (but not in a Rated-R kind of way; its maturity lies in suggestiveness), it’s political-thriller-noir. In a word, it’s sophisticated, without a lot of the camp or pulp that can define so many Star Wars projects (which I also love, by the way). It’s a slow burn that leads up to explosive violence, and then starts over again.

Andor is different–it doesn’t feel like Star Wars, somehow, but it’s also undeniably Star Wars, if that makes sense. And that might push a lot of people away, while others embrace it. From what I can tell, I’m not seeing any hate towards it, but if you love it, you really love it, or if not, it’s just not your cup of tea. And that’s fine. But I’m totally engrossed and invested, and can’t wait to see the next episode. Oh, and I love the music!

If I’m going to nitpick, it’s something that another blogger pointed out and that I hadn’t really thought about until she did: there aren’t many aliens in this show. There’s a plethora of humans, and on the Empire side I can understand that, since they’re so xenophobic. But everywhere else? Not many. There’s that tall furry guy on Farrix that Cassian talked to, and quite a few in the background on that resort planet he went to. And…that’s it? Now that it’s been pointed out, their absence is glaring to me. Huh. Maybe more will show up in later episodes.

The other show I’ve been watching is The Rings of Power. Season One just ended, and now I have to wait a long time for Season Two, lol. I’m one of the viewers that absolutely loved it. I know there are criticisms, and complaints that it mangles Tolkien’s work. I’m no Tolkien expert, so maybe that’s why I don’t give a fig and love the series. I’m a huge fan of Peter Jackson’s movies, and I’ve read The Lord of the Rings. I’ve tried to read The Silmarillion several times, and simply gave up after awhile. It’s more of a history book rather than a novel, and that just doesn’t work for me. Sorry. But it’s still on my shelf as a kind of reference.

Anyway, I think the writers did what they could to distill the Second Age into something watchable, and it worked for me. I loved all the story arcs, and didn’t feel there were too many. I loved the young versions of Galadriel and Elrond. The supporting characters were wonderful. I especially loved the friendship between Elrond and Durin. I could watch them all day, lol. Arondir was another favorite. I was totally heartbroken that a certain someone turned out to be Sauron, but in hindsight (and a rewatch) it’s not surprising. Some people thought the Harfoots were silly, but I found them charming. What can I say, I’m easily entertained, lol.

One thing that sticks in my craw is that no one can survive a pyroclastic flow from an erupted volcano. We’re talking thousands of degrees here, people. Fantasy show or not, that’s just not within the realm of believability, from a simple biological perspective. But that’s my only nitpick. Otherwise, it’s just a gorgeous and entertaining show.

I also watched all six episodes of Tales of the Jedi. This was a fun group of animated shorts that focused on key moments in the lives of two Jedi during the prequel era: Count Dooku and Ahsoka Tano. At first glance, they seem like very different people, but they have one thing in common: they both became disillusioned with the Jedi and left the Order. But the choices they made leading up to their departure, as well as afterward, show their differences. I loved both story arcs, but we already know quite a bit about Ahsoka; it was Count Dooku’s story that was really interesting. I never read Dooku: Jedi Lost (but I might do so now), but besides that, there really wasn’t that much out there that shed any light on his character and what, exactly, led up to him leaving the Jedi and turning to Sidious. I find I understand his character much better now, and maybe even feel a little bit sorry for him (but only a little). As for Ahsoka, her last episode was a kind of distilled version of the Ahsoka novel, and I’m okay with that. Oh, and Yaddle! It was so cool seeing her in action.

Onto books: I read and loved the Star Wars High Republic novel Path of Deceit, by Justina Ireland and Tessa Gratton. (I originally thought I was going to wait a bit on the High Republic books, but who am I kidding?) It’s a YA novel, the first book out of Phase 2, which takes place 150 years before the events of Phase 1. It takes place on Dalna, a familiar planet from Phase 1, and concerns mostly the two young protagonists: Kevmo Zink, a male Pantoran who is Padawan to Jedi Knight Zallah Macri; and Marda Ro, an Evereni female who is a member of the Force cult The Path of the Open Hand. The Path believes that the Force must be “free,” meaning it should not be manipulated in any way, including, of course, the way the Jedi use the Force. It’s considered a sacrilege. The Jedi are on Dalna investigating the theft of a Force artifact, which happens to have been stolen by the Path (they call it “liberating” the Force by keeping these artifacts from those who would use them).

Kevmo and Marda form an instant attraction, but Marda has a hard time reconciling his Force use, and Kevmo needs to be reminded about attachments from his master. I knew their feelings for each other would only lead to ruin, and I was right. No spoilers, but it’s not a happy ending. And the fact that Marda’s last name is Ro (the same as the main villain in Phase 1) doesn’t bode well, either. I might do a book review in another post later, because I really enjoyed this one and there’s so much to discuss.

On my Kindle, I finished Crash of Fate, by Zoraida Cordova (who happens to be the author of the next HR novel, Convergence, out on November 22nd). This is a YA novel that takes place during the sequel era, at Black Spire Outpost on Batuu. I really enjoyed Black Spire by Delilah Dawson, an adult novel that takes place on Batuu as well, so I thought I’d revisit it. The book was fine–two young people who grew up on Batuu together are reunited years later and fall in love, all the while having adventures together at the Outpost. We see familiar faces and places of the planet, and it’s fun but ultimately rather forgettable. They do eventually run into some Resistance members that have taken up residence there from the book Black Spire, but they’re just making a delivery and it’s a very brief moment. I kind of wish the Resistance played a bigger part in the story, or maybe even seen Vi Moradi. Oh well. At the end of the book it’s implied that the two young people may join the Resistance, but that’s it.

In between Star Wars books I’ve been reading The Broken Earth series by J.K. Nemisin. I’m on the second book of the trilogy, The Obelisk Gate. This series is so absorbing; it’s unlike anything I’ve read before. I can’t even begin to explain it, and this post has gone on long enough, lol, so I’ll just say if you like apocalyptic fantasy, or African-inspired fantasy like the stories of Nnedi Okorafor, you’ll want to read this.

Anyway, that’s what’s been keeping me afloat during this sad time of my life. I thought I wouldn’t be able to focus on anything because of my grief, but I just turned to these things even more fiercely. Mom would have wanted it that way.

Personal Update

Hello my friends, I just wanted to let you all know that I won’t be blogging much in the immediate future. I haven’t posted for a couple of weeks, as I’ve been devoting time to my elderly mother, who broke her hip a few weeks ago. She’s been in the hospital, to a nursing home, to another hospital, and now back to the nursing home. She’s been struggling with dementia, and it’s been difficult for me and my siblings.

On top of that, I’ve had Covid this past week, which has prevented me from even seeing my mom, who I’m very close to. And now my kid’s sick. It’s been very distressing, to say the least. 😦

As always, my love for Star Wars has helped me get through this tough time. I’ve been watching Andor, and it takes me away from my problems for a little while, as well as The Rings of Power. I’ve decided to delay my reading of Phase 2 of the High Republic, at least for a time. Passively watching new shows as they come out is about all I can muster right now, lol.

But I’m sure I’ll be back at some point; I just can’t say when. Until then, I’ll be lurking around on your sites to see what you have to say about our favorite shows and books and commenting once in a while.

Stay safe, stay well, and May the Force Be With You!

Ranking my favorite sci-fi/fantasy franchises

This blog is mostly about Star Wars, but like most fans, there are many other franchises out there that I love. I thought I’d list them here and rank them, based on my level of obsession and commitment. I love them all to varying degrees, but here they are from least favorite to most:

Blade Runner. I’m not sure if this counts as a franchise, since there are only two movies, but I also thought I heard that there’s a series in the works. At any rate, Blade Runner came to my attention in the early 80’s when the first one came out (it was released in 1982) since Harrison Ford was in it. At 12 years old, I was deep into my Star Wars obsession, and had my first celebrity crush on Ford. But I was a bit disappointed in the trailer, since it looked nothing like Star Wars, and Harrison Ford didn’t look like Han Solo, lol. I didn’t actually watch the film until much later, in my twenties, and I absolutely loved it. It just looked cool, and was cerebral in a way Star Wars wasn’t, and realized this was science fiction while Star Wars was fantasy. When Blade Runner 2049 came out in 2017, I was excited about it. Some people either didn’t like it, didn’t understand it, or thought it was way too long and convoluted. I loved it, though. Ryan Gosling was incredible in the role of K/Joe, and it explored all the philosophical themes I loved in the original (what does it mean to be human? What is love? What is real? etc). And Ford was great.

Indiana Jones. Another Ford franchise I’ve loved since childhood. Raiders of the Lost Ark remains one of my favorite nostalgic films. The franchise is low down on my list because the films have been kind of hit or miss. Raiders–awesome. Temple of Doom–gruesome and silly. Last Crusade–awesome. Crystal Skull–disappointing. I’m hoping number five continues the pattern and is awesome, and a fitting farewell to the character.

Mad Max. I first saw Beyond Thunderdome when it came out in 1985. At the time, I thought it was pretty cool, although now I consider it the weakest out of the movies. I backtracked and saw the first two Mad Max films, and while the first one was decent, it was The Road Warrior that cemented my love for the franchise (and young Mel Gibson was extremely easy on the eyes, too). The Road Warrior was quite simply an action masterpiece on wheels, and I’m not someone who’s into action films, really. It has to be action blended with something else, like an existential dystopian journey. When it was announced that there would be a reboot with Tom Hardy as Max, I had my doubts. No one but Mel could play Max. But I was wrong. Tom did a great job, but I was surprised to discover that it wasn’t really Max that did it for me this time; it was Furiosa, played by Charlize Theron. I absolutely love her, and the film has the same high-octane car chases as the originals. I think there’s a Furiosa sequel on the way, and I’m on board.

The Terminator. I missed this one when it first came out in 1984 because I was too young to go see it in the theater. I caught up with it later, and instantly loved it. The idea of it just blew my young mind–a robot coming back through time to kill a woman so she wouldn’t bear a son who would inspire a human rebellion against the machines?? What?? That’s so cool!!!–and Arnold Schwarzenegger was awesome as the Terminator. I also related to Sarah Connor, because she was just some normal waitress who happened to be the mother of John Connor. And oh, the father was the guy who came back in time to protect her from the killer machine. OMG, What???? The son sent his own father back in time so he could be conceived??? It was all so mind-bending to me, lol. And of course, the sequel was fantastic, and Sarah Connor had grown into this badass fighter who would do anything to protect her son. She was one of the first badass women action characters (next to Ellen Ripley, see below) who was inspiring to me at the time. The subsequent sequels were fine, but couldn’t quite recapture the magic, and I think I even skipped the last one or two, I don’t know. But the first two will always be rather high on my list of faves.

Alien(s). This was another instance where I saw the second movie before the first one, and then backtracked. The second Alien movie, simply called Aliens, is by far the best of the bunch. I saw it in the theater and just sat on the edge of my seat teeming with adrenaline the whole time, lol. The aliens are terrifying and gross and Ellen Ripley is one of my female heroes, next to Sarah Connor, naturally. Just a normal woman who got caught up in something that required her to do insanely brave things, not only to survive, but to help those she cared about to survive, too. When I backtracked and saw the first Alien movie, I was surprised at how different it was; it was more of a slow burn that eventually boiled into terror. The subsequent movies weren’t that great, to be honest. The third one was just grim and depressing, and the fourth was kind of weird and unsettling. I like to just pretend the third and fourth never happened, and Ripley and Newt lived happily ever after with Hicks.

Marvel. Marvel is a relatively recent obsession, starting just last summer with the Loki series. I loved it so much, and worked through all the films for several months to catch up. Where had I been all these years? Lol. I will confess, I thought the “comic book movies” silly and for the nerd boys (nevermind that I was, and had been for years, a nerd girl). But Loki opened the door for me, and I’m so glad he did. It was so fun discovering all these movies, and some I absolutely loved, and others, meh, not so much (here’s my ranking of the films). And the D+ shows have been mostly great; I especially loved, besides Loki, Wandavision and Moon Knight. I haven’t been keeping up with the shows–I haven’t watched Ms. Marvel or She-Hulk, which is surprising for me, since they’re female-centric, but I think I just got a case of Marvel fatigue, lol. They’ll always be there and I’ll catch up some day.

Star Trek. Ah, Star Trek. For me, it all started with The Next Generation in the late 80’s. I think I’d seen a few shows of the original series before that, but it didn’t capture my attention like Next Gen. It was silly at times (especially looking back, lol), but it found its rhythm in later seasons and put out excellent episodes. I think it’s the only series of which I’ve seen every single episode (besides Enterprise). I loved Deep Space Nine and Voyager, but didn’t watch all the episodes for one reason or another. Enterprise is another favorite; I have a soft spot for Scott Bakula from Quantum Leap, and just found the show fun and entertaining. The newer shows, like Discovery and Strange New Worlds, I haven’t seen at all, and I’ve only seen the first season of Picard. I hope to remedy that some day. And the films are a whole other thing. I enjoyed some of the films with the original crew (2,4, and 6 specifically), and the Next Gen films were mostly good, particularly First Contact. And the new JJ. Abrams Trek films about the original crew with new actors are quite good, too. I’ll always love Trek and what it represents–mostly, faith in humanity and an examination of science and ethics–and Jean Luc will always be my favorite captain.

Lord of the Rings. This is another relatively new obsession, although this one started over twenty years ago (!) with the release of Peter Jackson’s The Fellowship of the Ring in 2001. I had never read the books before this (but have since read them twice through) nor did I ever feel the need to. But damn, when that first trailer came out, I was gobsmacked! I had to see this movie. And when I did, I just stared up at the screen in awe. This was just something I had never experienced before, besides what I felt with Star Wars. It was gorgeous, stunning, epic, and so full of heart I could barely breathe. It was quite simply one of the best movies I had ever seen, period; at least until The Return of the King came out. That was an experience I’ll never forget. It deserved its gazillion Oscars (okay, eleven, but it really swept that year, and it’s a fantasy film, which had never happened before). I immediately read the books as soon as Fellowship came out, and I enjoyed those. Then I tried The Silmarillion. I knew immediately I wasn’t going to be a LOTR expert or any such thing. There’s just too much. I didn’t get too far before I set it down, defeated. But that’s okay. It’s actually a good reference book as I watch the new Rings of Power show, which has been quite good, though probably doesn’t follow it to the letter. I’ve also been re-watching The Hobbit trilogy, and while it doesn’t reach the heights of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, it’s great fun and has some lore in there, too.

Star Wars. As you might have guessed, this franchise takes the top spot in my heart. I made a blog about it, after all. There’s just something so special about this galaxy far, far away. Maybe because it’s about hope amid relentless tyranny. Maybe it’s the characters and their journeys. Maybe it’s the futuristic space setting, but as the song says, it’s not the future. It’s a fairy tale, a once upon a time in space. Maybe it’s the nostalgia: I fell in love with it when I was ten years old, over forty years ago, and it’s been with me ever since. Whatever the reason, Star Wars will always be a part of me, a meaningful part of me, as weird as that sounds. I mean, I even got a Jedi Order tattoo on my arm last year, to solidify my commitment, lol. And it’s not static; it’s alive and well after all these decades, evolving and adapting and always recreating itself, while still remaining the same at its core: the story of good versus evil, of darkness ever rising, and the light always to meet it.

What are your favorite franchises? Sci-fi/fantasy or not, let me know in the comments and we’ll talk about it!

My Entertainment Weekend Update (Monday Edition)

Hello friends, and happy weekend!

I normally post this on Saturday or Sunday (hence, “weekend”) but I needed some time to watch the first three episodes of The Rings of Power, so here we are. But more on that later.

First, I’ve been getting back into my reading of N.K. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season. It’s such an enthralling story, but I’ve been so busy watching stuff this past week that I haven’t opened the book as much as I would have liked. I did get a big chunk of the book behind me, though, and it doesn’t disappoint. I’ll write more on it when I finish it.

On Kindle, I’ve been slowly reading through A New Hope, which was ghostwritten by Alan Dean Foster. It’s so weird, because the story is the same as the movie, obviously, and some lines taken from it are word for word. But there’s also more dialogue in there than in the movie, which makes sense. Movies pare things down. Or a scene is slightly different. For example, I just read today about the cantina scene in Mos Eisley where Ben Kenobi cuts off the arm of that alien that had been bugging Luke (I forget his name; he didn’t have a name, or a name for the species, for that matter, in the book). But he also cut a couple of characters in half as well. Pretty gruesome, Obi-Wan, lol. The author also makes some references to Earth-related creatures, like dogs or pandas or dinosaurs. It kind of takes me out of the story for a second when the author does that. Oh well.

Skywalker and Kenobi, together again.

I watched Obi-Wan Kenobi: A Jedi’s Return on Disney+ on Wednesday when it dropped, and enjoyed it. I always enjoy these behind-the-scenes shows, but this one was special because I loved the show so much, lol. Just seeing Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen gush about how glad they are to be back in Star Wars just makes my heart happy.

I also finished my rewatch of The Bad Batch, in preparation for Season Two (which was initially on Sept. 28 but now, I hear, has been moved to Jan. 4 of next year). I’m looking forward to seeing them maybe branch out a bit and join the fight against the Empire. I also hope we learn more about Omega; in other words, what is it that makes her so special? What is her enhancement? Yes, she’s good at strategy, but I don’t think that’s it. I’m still holding on to my theory that she’s Force-sensitive, but we’ll see.

Live-action Ezra.

Some casting news has me excited, which is that Eman Esfandi has been cast as Ezra Bridger for the Ahsoka show. I’m not familiar with this actor, but based on his looks alone, I think they nailed it! All he needs is blue eyes, and we have our Ezra. I am chomping at the bit for the Ahsoka show!

I’ve watched the trailers that dropped on D23 day for The Mandalorian S3, Tales of the Jedi, and a new one for Andor. They’re all very exciting. Looks like Mando S3 will be focusing on more Mandalorians, with Din perhaps trying to atone for his “sins.” Personally, I think Din needs to break away from his cult-family and pave his own way. It will be interesting to see how he and Bo-Katan interact and what will become of the Dark Saber.

Dooku and Mace Windu in Tales of the Jedi.

Tales of the Jedi is an animated show that will drop all six episodes at once, I believe. They look to be about Ahsoka, and Count Dooku. This one looks really cool and I’m looking forward to it.

The Andor trailer just shows us more fantastic footage from the upcoming show, and just makes me even more excited to watch. Ten days!

So over the weekend, I watched the first three episodes of The Rings of Power. Yes, I bit the bullet and signed up for Prime. I just really wanted to watch this show, and the free shipping on all the Star Wars books I buy won’t hurt, either. So what do I think of it so far?

The short answer is: I love it. It’s gorgeous, mesmerizing, intriguing, and I love that the creators have made Galadriel the center of the show, among a fascinating ensemble cast.

I’m totally on board for badass Galadriel.

I understand that there are some Tolkien purists who are furious (big surprise) that they’ve “mangled” Tolkien’s mythology. Well, here’s some news: not everyone is familiar with The Silmarillion, Tolkien’s book that contains the stories that the creators have drawn from. I actually have the book on my shelf, it’s been there for decades; I think I managed to read 50 pages of it years ago. Does it bother me that the creators of the show have adapted these stories into something else, something that may appeal to a wider audience? Nope. It’s a great show. And don’t get me started on the racists who complain about the dark-skinned characters in the story; they don’t even deserve a rebuttal.

Anyway, I’m totally invested in this story now. I haven’t thought about Middle-Earth for a long while, but it’s so worth going back. To see Galadriel and Elrond in their relative “youth,” to see characters only touched on in the films, like Durin, Elendil, and Isildur. And the new ones are great; I especially like Arondir, the elf who’s in love with the human woman Bronwynn. I’m really worried about him right about now, lol. Halberd seems to be a kind of Aragorn figure, the man who would be king, but who refuses the call at first. And the Harfoots, a kind of pre-hobbit people, are just charming. Norri is delightful. And who is the tall stranger from the meteorite she helps? I keep thinking he must be a wizard, he just doesn’t know it yet. Or maybe it’s obvious, I don’t know.

There’s a lot of exposition coming from characters, but that’s understandable. There’s so much history in this world, you need to know the context of what’s going on. And the elves tend to speak a bit theatrically, poetically, a bit dramatically, but let’s be honest, they’ve been around for thousands of years; they’re gonna be a little weird, lol.

So yes, I love it, and I can’t wait to see how this all plays out.

What’s been entertaining you? Let me know in the comments and we’ll talk about it!