Jul 102018
 

Gregariousness is optional for most introvertsI’m a homebody. I think many of my friends, family and co-workers don’t understand what that means. The definition is as simple it sounds “a person who prefers staying at home.” When I was in college I did attend quite a few parties and football games; I even helped start a tailgating tradition that is still going to this day. College were my gregarious years, all that is different now. I am, undoubtedly, an introvert and for introverts, gregariousness is optional.

I don’t mind small social gatherings, as long as they are short. In large social gatherings I eventually feel uncomfortable, even among my peers. I hate cliché small talk. Why does small talk always involve the weather? A piece of my soul dies every time I say something about the weather because I’m uncomfortable or bored. My home is my sanctuary, a place where my thoughts can dwell without explanation or judgement. It is the biggest reason I am more productive working at home than sitting in a cubicle.

Bewilderment is Two Sided

A while back I wrote a post about how I do not like the beach. My desk chair or recliner is an environment I greatly prefer over sitting on a sandy beach. I know that is probably as bewildering to you as I am bewildered by your bewilderment. (Wait, what did I just say there?) In other words, you are confused that I don’t like the beach because everyone likes the beach. However, I’m confused because you find that confusing. Why is it so hard to believe that I would rather sit at home, in air conditioning, reading a book or playing video games than sitting on the beach? This kind of goes back to that feeling of discomfort or boredom.

Just sitting there is boring, not to mention that I burn very easily and I hate sweating (unless I’ve earned it, i.e. jogging). I cannot sit comfortably reading a book while baking in the sun and if I have to make “cliché small talk”, I’d prefer not to have to squint to do it. The more effort it takes to be comfortable the more uncomfortable I feel. I’m using the beach as an example because it best illustrates the dichotomy. While going to the bar or singing karaoke is a fun activity for most, sitting at home reading, working on projects around the house or tinkering on the computer is equally as entertaining. If I find those things comparable, why do I prefer the latter? By now that answer should be obvious … Home Sweet Home.

/cheers


When I was a kid, it was a huge insult to be a geek. Now it’s a point of pride in a weird way.” – J.J. Abrams

Jun 202018
 

Ahsoka (Star Wars)Ahsoka by E.K. Johnston
My rating: 

The description of this book states “Fans have long wondered what happened to Ahsoka…” and I am one of those fans. Ahsoka Tano is one of my favorite Jedi from the Clone Wars series. Ashley Eckstein brings such wonderful life to the character and her contributions to the Star Wars universe are extraordinary.

Order 66 has been issued and Ahsoka survived. As with most Jedi that escaped the slaughter, she is in exile, hiding who she is to stay alive. She finds herself on the distant moon of Raada, trying to live a quiet life, away from the Empire. However, hiding from the Empire is easier said than done when a detachment shows up and begins enslaving the farmers of the planet. Ahsoka may have to remember who she is and why she became a Jedi to help free the people.

This is a fairly short book and, therefore, a quick read. We all know that Ahsoka is a bad ass Jedi, Anakin Skywalker was her Master after all. After what she has seen during the Clone Wars and the eradication of the Jedi, her mental state seems accurately depicted in this book. I love how the author gives us glimpses of more Force sensitive users, despite the fact that the Jedi are “all but extinct”. I also love how the author shows us more about Jedi teachings, including how a Jedi chooses their lightsaber crystals; this book, in particular, provides an interesting twist.

If you love Ahsoka as much as I do, I definitely recommend this book. It’s a great filler story between the end of Clone Wars and Rebels.

View all my reviews

diablo3-reading“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
– Dr. Seuss

 

Jun 172018
 

Incredibles 2Incredibles 2

Directed By: Brad Bird
StarringCraig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Samuel L. Jackson

My Rating: 

It’s been 14 years since the last Incredibles movie. During the 14 years, animated movie fans have been clamoring, relentless for the sequel. Disney/Pixar finally gave in to the cacophony. I don’t know why it took over a decade to produce a sequel. I understand animation takes quite a bit of work, but perhaps it was the challenge of bringing the entire cast back.

Whatever the case may be, they pick up exactly where the last movie ended. The family of heroes work together, in a group storming sort of way, to thwart Underminer. An ambitious mogul sees the value super heroes bring to society after defeating Underminer. He recruits Elastigirl to help him show the world that Super Heroes should not be illegal, while Mr. Incredible has to play Mr. Mom. Of course, a new nefarious and enigmatic villain appears, The Screenslaver, which puts these plans, and all super heroes, in jeopardy.

Biggs Review

I really enjoyed this movie. I love the fact that it literally begins where the last one ends. It’s almost as if the past 14 years never happened, which is probably Pixar’s intention. I love the role reversal of Elastigirl moonlighting as a covert super hero, even listening to police scanners, just like her husband in the first movie. I felt like the movie was slow at times, particularly during the time when Elastigirl is just beginning her “new job”. They tried to balance it out with Mr. Incredible dealing with Jack-Jack getting his powers; while it was funny I don’t think it was successful. Perhaps they should have introduced “The Screenslaver” a bit earlier, to liven up the plot sooner.

As with all Pixar movies, this movie is not without its Easter Eggs. Of course John Ratzenberger is in the film, reprising the role of Underminer. A Pixar movie is not complete without their good luck charm. I feel like there is some homage paid to Tony Stark/Iron Man. Deavor explains that one of the houses he owns he acquired from an “eccentric billionaire” that wanted to be able to “come and go without notice”. If you have seen all the Iron Man movies, you may notice that the living room has a striking resemblance to the one in Tony Stark’s house.

I’d say, if you’ve got the time, go see it (after you’ve seen the Solo movie). Take your kids, my 4-year-old enjoyed it. I don’t think it’s worth the extra fees for 3D or BigD, a simple digital viewing is the more worthwhile, economic choice.

/cheers

film_reel“The screen is a magic medium. It has such power that it can retain interest as it conveys emotions and moods that no other art form can hope to tackle.”
– Stanley Kubrick

 

Jun 162018
 

Gromit
2005-2018

Last week was a rough week. I was sick about half the week and on the day when I was vomiting and running a temperature of 102, we lost Gromit. He had a mild seizure in the kitchen, we rushed him to the vet and they found a weak pulse. They then instructed us to take him to the emergency vet where he went into cardiac arrest upon arrival. They revived him but explained that there is fluid around his heart and he is likely to experience repeated issues. The most humane thing to do, for him, was to let him go. It was really hard for me not to be there. Tuesday, June 5th 2018 is one of the worst days of my life.

Just Don’t Laugh Too Hard

Gromit came from a pet store in the UP Mall in South Bend; he was about three months old. However, he was still younger, by about three months, than our other dog Gus. They are also completely different breeds where Gus is about half the size. Despite the difference in genetics, they were brothers at heart. I may even be so bold as to say they were figuratively and literally akin to Lenny and George from Of Mice and Men. While he was trainable, Gromit wasn’t the smartest dog I’ve had (although he was house trained sooner than Gus). However his vapid demeanor was part of his charm. You knew when he was a happy dog, although behind that smile you can tell it was a thoughtless void.

The dog loved to give kisses. If he sets his mind to licking you, he will find any exposed skin to complete his mission. If you found yourself in a vulnerable position (ex: on the bed or the couch) and laughing hysterically, you may soon find him in your face. I was the common victim of Gromit’s tongue bathing. He was maniacal about it; literally pinning me down thus making me laugh harder. The experience was never too awful, aside from the fact that his breath smelled awful! I don’t know if gingivitis is or halitosis was part of the breed but there were other health related issues common to Wheaten’s.

Life with a Soft Coated Wheaten

He was afraid of everything, even Sphero BB-8

Gromit was a pure bred Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier. Unlike Gus, whom we researched before we bought him, Gromit was on a whim. We didn’t know anything about Wheaten’s prior to bringing him home. One thing is certain, he was afraid of everything. My little Sphero BB-8, dish towels, anything that made a noise (so just about every toddler toy we own).

An ailment common to Wheaten’s was a sensitive stomach. It’s highly recommended not to suddenly change their dog food. He did seem to suffer from stomach issues; acid reflux seemed to be a something we dealt with regularly. Unfortunately his solution seemed to be swallow anything he could find lying around on the floor, including our toddler’s socks.

Wheaten’s are hypoallergenic but he had allergies, which may have been something that contributed to his stomach issues. He had a mild allergy to yeast, which is often found in dogs skin. Yes, he was literally allergic to his own skin.

The older he got he did become a bit more aggressive, especially toward other dogs. He was not aggressive toward our other dog until starting about a year ago. Apparently this behavior is common in the breed. We had to be careful if he was around any other dogs; unfortunately he was in his kennel often during visits. Despite his bizarre allergies and his weird temperament when he was older, he was a good dog. We miss him and the house does feel emptier.

minions_icon

I could accomplish so much more if I only had minions!

 

Jun 112018
 

I am still fuming from the news that Kelly Marie Tran was driven off social media because of bullying. Whoever these “manbabies” are have no place among Star Wars fans (or human beings). It’s all right to like or dislike the prequels or the new movies, but it’s utterly despicable to use racist and sexist language to force someone from social media. Especially someone as charming and wonderful as Kelly Marie Tran.

“Manbabies” is an accurate description for these alleged “fans”, a label applied by Rian Johnson in a tweet. Actually there are a few tweets in which Rian Johnson and Mark Hamill shutdown all these awful haters. You can express your disagreement of the new movies without resorting to bigotry and racism.

“Give Us Legends” the Scapegoat

The group of cowards responsible for this atrocious behavior attempted to throw “Give Us Legends” under the bus. I appreciate what GUL wants to do and I am more inclined to believe they were not involved with this act of bullying. A few days after the story broke, the website “Making Star Wars” published an article that implicates “Give Us Legends” as the culprits behind the racist attacks. While I could not find any source to back up the article, I found several sources that exonerated GUL.

If you are unfamiliar with “Give Us Legends”, they are a group of avid Star Wars fans that are respectfully urging Disney to continue the Legends canon. When Disney “debunked” the Expanded Universe, they coined the debunked canon as “Legends”. The article from “Making Star Wars” is successful in skewing your perception of GUL, however, their Facebook page absolves them. I initially thought they were among the group of whiny “manbabies” wishing to stop Disney from rewriting EU canon. However, they are simply asking for Disney to continue expanding the “Legends” canon as well as their new post-Jedi canon. I support that notion!

Kelly Marie Tran is Amazing

In a more recent post I discuss how Star Wars is more gender neutral because of strong female characters. Now I’m not going to preach about gender equality. An actor or character’s gender, race, creed, color or sexual orientation are irrelevant to the story. I don’t know why any of those characteristics need to be singled out in any capacity.

Be that as it may, Kelly Marie Tran’s character is Rose Tico (if you didn’t know). Rose is a mechanic on the Raddus, the cruiser that becomes the flagship for General Leia during the evacuation of D’Qar. While a good mechanic, she stays below the radar until her sister is killed during the bombing of the dreadnaught. Rose rises up to become another strong female character in the Star Wars universe. She is a welcome addition to the likes of Daisy Ridley, Ashley Eckstein and Carrie Fisher.

Since the disgusting display of human indecency, there has been a huge outpouring of support by the actual Star Wars fans. It’s unfortunate that Kelly Marie Tran has left social media because I think she would appreciate it. I hope she sees it eventually, because I look forward to seeing more Rose in the next movie.

/MTFBWY

The Force. It calls to you. Just let it in.

 

Jun 042018
 

Solo A Star Wars StorySolo: A Star Wars Story

Directed By: Ron Howard
Starring: Alden Ehrenreich, Donald Glover, Emilia Clarke

My Rating: 

Let’s face it, this movie was doomed from the moment it was announced. It’s poor opening weekend is as lackluster as the fan reaction of the original announcement. Critics are all pathetic so I could care less what they think; and I generally ignore the fare-weather fans. Admittedly, I have been skeptical of this movie since its announcement, but I prefer to keep an open mind.

For what it’s worth, calling it a “flop” seems a little harsh and unfair. How can you expect a movie to succeed when it was mired in doubt and disappointment since its announcement? Obviously people made up their minds before the movie was even released. It’s destiny was determined before it even had a chance. Ranting about fake fans aside, time to discuss what I think of the movie.

Biggs Review

This line from ESB has a much deeper and humorous meaning, now

**Spoiler Alert** Han, Chewie and Lando survive! Haha. I couldn’t resist. The negative expectations for this movie are completely unwarranted. If you have not seen this movie because of a preconceived notion that it’s a flop, then stop listening to the Internet and go anyway. I really enjoyed this movie! Much more than I was expecting. Alden Ehrenreich isn’t as terrible as he was in Beautiful Creatures, he actually does surprisingly well (maybe even better than Hayden Christensen). Donald Glover is a brilliant Lando Calrissian, I am really looking forward to see him in the Lando movie! Honestly, Donald Glover’s performance isn’t surprising, Woody Harrelson, however, is the biggest surprise. I cannot recall too many action rolls for Woody Harrelson but the battle sequence on the tram is really impressive. He makes a better Beckett than he does Haymitch (sorry Hunger Games fans).

There are two things I have to criticize about the movie, which is why I only gave it 4 stars instead of 5. First, I did not find Lady Proxima terribly impressive or intimidating. A large, purple alien worm is not a scary crime lord nor does she fit the Corellia fauna. I’m sure they wanted to use something other than a Hutt as a crime boss, but even a large slug appears more menacing. The second thing, Han actually attempting to speak Wookie the first time he meets Chewbacca. I understand his predicament warrants an alien language, but it didn’t feel like a “Han” thing to do.

And then there is the music.

The Soundtrack Is Amazing

The music is just as important to a movie as the acting, plot and story. If the soundtrack is excellent, 9 times out of 10, so is the movie. The one exception, in my experience, is Ang Lee’s Hulk movie (amazing soundtrack, mediocre movie). Now when you think Star Wars soundtrack, everyone always thinks John Williams. The man IS Star Wars music. You may be surprised to learn that John Williams did not compose this soundtrack. In fact he only composes for the main saga (FYI, Michael Giacchino is the composer for Rogue One).

John Powell is the composer for Solo A Star Wars Story. Powell is mostly known for his work on the How To Train Your Dragon movies and the Jason Bourne movies. I bought, and listened to, the soundtrack a week before I even saw the movie. The music draws you in so quickly it amazes me John Williams isn’t the composer. However, he clearly collaborated with Powell as there is a track that is a montage of some of the original music. In fact, I may be so bold as to say this soundtrack is better than the Rogue One soundtrack and the John Williams montage gives credence to that assertion.

This movie is definitely worth seeing at least once in the theater. Ignore the trolls, the fake fans and the critics and go with an open mind and I think you will find it very entertaining.

/MTFBWY

Breathe. Just breathe. Now reach out.