Back to School at Thirty-Two

This past winter was unusually warm this year, which has lead straight into summer. Spring might have happened, but it was so fast I missed it. As a baker this means that hot dog and hamburger season has started a lot earlier than expected, before the school sliced bread glut has had a chance to die down. So work has been busier than usual for this time of year, which is good and bad. Good because even during a recession people still love our product and that makes me feel good, bad because within the next few days I’m going back to school and I love my job enough that I’m worried how they’ll hold up without me for a couple of months.

So a while back (the timeline seems hazy, looking back) I was in these two absolutely toxic relationships. This first was with my, then, husband and the second was with my job. In hindsight, the relationship with my ex always had some level of unhealthy toxicity, but the job hadn’t always been that way. At that point I’d been in the print industry for almost twelve years and I honestly thought that I was going to be in it forever. The company I worked for had really shitty upper management, whose philosophy seemed to be spend a dollar to save a dime. There was one time where the general manager made a foolish (and ill advised by everyone, including the far superior floor manager) choice that cost the company the equivalent of giving every employee a dollar raise for a year. This was all because he didn’t know what he was doing and his ego refused to listen to the people who did.

I’d had a series of amazing floor managers who not only knew what they were doing, but were great bosses and that was why I stayed. During the end of my print career my life ended up falling apart and I was fired, offered my  old job back and refused. I tried one more foray into print and it was the worst job experience of my life and the shortest I’d ever been employed. Every so often I’ll get a call from a print shop looking to hire me, either from people I used to know in the industry or an old resume that I posted online. So I guess there’s that.

Long story short, instead of doing something that I was learning to hate but was good at, I decided to try something I love, but didn’t know a thing about. Luckily for me, I picked things up fast and found that even if I was baking professionally, I still loved it. I worked through the hell of corporate bread, learned the motions and was able to land a job at a really awesome legitimate bakery (legitimate bakeries are the typically the ones that aren’t chains, if you want real bread don’t go to a grocery store or Cobs). It’s the kind of job where I actually want to better myself, thus the apprenticeship and going back to school.

See, I never went to college after high school. I took college courses for fun and a lot of courses pertaining to print, but I never actually did to college thing. I happened to fall into something I liked at seventeen and did it until I didn’t like it anymore. So here I am, thirty-two and preparing for college. I know a lot of people that went back school far older than I am now, but I’m still nervous. I’m worried at how much older I am than the other students, I’m worried about my pace (from what I’ve heard school pace is painfully slow compared to work pace and I’m not known for my patience) and on the flip-side, I’m worried about the workload(in my school handbook most of the quotes are about people failing and how much harder it is than people thought.). What if I can’t do this? What if it’s too hard? What if I’m too old to pull this off? When I say it aloud or write it down it seems silly and fickle, but when I hear it in my head it’s terrifying.

I’ve already paid my money, taken the time off of work and gotten my back to school shoes (industrial baking shoes!), so I guess I’m doing this no matter how much self doubt I have. So no matter what happens I’m glad I’m doing this, because despite what Yoda says there is a try and I’m going to try my hardest. Who knows, I might just pull this off.

 

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Thoughts on Fuller House

I’ve been getting over a horrible plague that makes my lungs feel like they’re full of slime and I want nothing more than to pull them out and itch them. It’s been a slow go getting better, much slower than when I casually get a cold, but for the first time in about two weeks I can look at the computer without getting a headache.

It was during my down time that I ended up marathoning Fuller House, the sequel/follow up/ continuation of 80’s/90’s hit Full House. Now, I didn’t watch much Full House when it first aired, I was more a fan of Family Matters and Boy Meets World in the big TGIF lineup. I remember it being way too smaultzy for my liking , but during a phase of unemployment in my late teens I watched most of the reruns on TBS, you know because I was going places. However, with hoe much this show was parodied, I could have never watched a single episode and I’d know that Full House that is the story of the recently widowed Danny Tanner, his two heterosexual life partners Jesse and Joey and his three unnaturally adorable daughters DJ, Stephanie and Michelle.

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So remember how when Jurassic World came out and it was pretty much the same thing as Jurassic Park only with fake dinosaurs and less likable characters. Fuller House is kinda like that, only its not pretending to be something new. It picks up where the previous show left off…only twenty-nine years later, but that’s irrelevant, it might as well be the very next day. It’s the exact same thing, save for the Olsen Twins not being involved and after watching the whole thing, that might be one of the better things about it.

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The first episode is horrible and outside of nostalgic purposes, should not be watched. I get it, I get nostalgic too, but after the fifth or sixth original cast member has shown up and the audience has screamed itself hoarse, it gets really irritating. And then the catch phrases start happening…oh the catch phrases…oh dear god the catch phrases. From what I remember Michelle, being the youngest and most marketable of the children, had a slew of fun things she would say that would get a laugh and cheer out of the studio audience. She had so many insufferably cute things to say that I’d forgotten the rest of the cast was just as annoying, just in smaller doses.

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If you can get past the reunion special, which I think is what most people watched, you get a show that’s not great, but interesting. Interesting in a sense of current pop culture vs the late 80’s/ early 90’s pop culture. We were so over saturated by the TGIF shows and their ilk that for the past twenty years, sitcoms have been everything that Full House isn’t…or at least the ones that I’ve had the misfortune of tuning in to.

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This show actually makes my soul hurt.

Fuller House is the story of DJ Tanner-Fuller, who has moved back into her childhood home after the untimely and gruesome death of her noble, self-sacrificing, firefighter of a husband Tommy (other than a plot point he’s not all that important. The series takes place a year after his death and everyone’s moved on. He’s only mentioned to remind us that DJ can be sad or stressed out. His death never brings a sense of tension or sadness. DJ says that she misses him, but the kids don’t really seem to care and for the most part DJ doesn’t either. Other than a firefighter friend, I’m not sure that he’s mentioned by name.), with her three sons, whom just happen to fall into the same age brackets as DJ, Stephanie and Michelle. Because being a single parent doesn’t lead to a lot of humorous situations, DJ is aided by her sister Stephanie and wacky friend Kimmy. If that sounds familiar it’s because it’s the same plot as Full House, only genderbent.

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From what I’ve read Kimmy’s role in the show was originally meant for one or both of the Olsen twins, which would have given us show that wasn’t a carbon copy of the original, but probably not nearly as satisfying. One of the biggest problems with Full House was that once Michelle started talking and had the five or six things she said each episode, she quickly became over saturated and the show became all about her. I don’t think Fuller House would have worked as well as it did with Michelle being there, not only would it have lost its best character (which is surprisingly Kimmy) but it would have lost it’s two best jokes, which poke fun at the Olsens and their success. (Plus, why would the Olsens come back? They’re beyond successful and haven’t shown an interest in acting in years.) I really like the idea of the show’s most over saturated character becoming an unseen character, like Maris Crane on Fraser or Ugly Naked Guy on Friends or even Gwen on American Dad (before they wrecked that joke…and the whole show.).

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Outside of the premise the show follows DJ, Stephanie, Kimmy and their kids as they adjust to their new life, which seems to be the best thing that could have happened to any of them. They live in this strange benign world where there are no emotional consequences for any of their actions. This might be to avoid the old sitcom trope of the classic misunderstanding, lies that backfire or the heartfelt speeches of the original. At one point DJ’s kids find out that she’s started dating again, a big deal is made that she doesn’t want them to find out until the time is right, but when they catch her kissing love interest #1, they don’t care and wish her well. At one point Stephanie pretends the kids are hers to pick up a guy and nothing comes of it. It’s not even a lost plot thread either, she keeps on lying and the episode ends and in a later episode it’s revealed that they’re still seeing each other. I’m not sure if this is refreshing or not; it seems like people in the Fuller House Universe can do whatever they want without worry and become closer because of it.

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No consequences for anything…Except for that one time Stephanie was unlucky for this baseball guy.

I mean the original Full House had more tension, there were arguments, misunderstandings, liars were punished. Fuller House is largely tension free. At one point DJ calls Kimmy out on some bad parenting choices (rewarding her daughter for skipping school and making friends) and instead of an argument Kimmy full on admits that she’s making poor choices and changes her ways. When Kimmy confronts her daughter about skipping school and punishes her, her daughter is pretty cool with it and everyone hugs. No tension whatsoever, but it works. The show does try to add some tension via a love triangle with DJ’s new business partner and her Full House love interest Steve, but everyone’s so likable that it just ends with the two guys admiring each other and going out for beer and pizza. I’d actually really like it if in a later season if those two hook up, because why not. It’d be a fairly tension free way to introduce new love interests for DJ. Hell, they already kissed.

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The whole thing is a little surreal and it almost feels like a dream. It’s a world filled with people that we wished existed, everyone’s the nicest person you’ve ever met, kids are super sweet and never bad, but when they are no one gets hurt and everyone learns a lesson. There’s a part of me that thinks that DJ is actually in a facility somewhere, recovering from the shock and horror of her husband’s brutal death and all of Fuller House is in her head. Everyone from her past is there, she gets to reconnect with her best friend, first love and sister and everyone looks great and is super successful. Either that or there’s a curse on the family where the first born’s spouse will suffer an untimely death, meaning DJ’s eldest should hold off on the girls until he can get in touch with a medium or demon hunter…or something.

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If you liked Full House or at least watched it or can tolerate Millenial nostalgia, give a few episodes a try. It’s not as bad as you think, it’s not as bad as Full House. Hey, if Fuller House does as well as Girl Meets World, then maybe we’ll get one step closer to my dream of a Family Matters Reunion. Let’s face it, the best non-animated television family of the 90’s were the Winslows.

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Brief Thoughts on the Films Nominated for Best Animated Feature

I don’t know much about the film industry. I know that I like movies, usually bad ones. I also know that in the early months of the year movie types gather together to pat each other on the back and give each other little gold statues. The best films, actors and all around movie types rarely win or are even nominated. I’ve only seen one of the films that’s been nominated for best picture, granted, it was a pretty awesome movie. If you’ve read any amount of this blog, then you know that I much prefer animation to live action.

Luckily, there’s an awards show just for animation. The 43rd annual Annie Awards are happening this Saturday and I wish that there was a way that I could watch it. On top of working a double shift, I’m not even sure if it’s a televised event. Either way, I much prefer reading about the Annie’s to the Oscars. One, it covers a wider range of movies and two, it’s about more than what people are wearing. Last years Oscars didn’t even bother to show clips of each of the films nominated for Best Animated Feature. This only leads to my suspicion that the Academy doesn’t really care about the category, but with everything that’s been going on with them lately, we all know they suck.

So awards show, I’m bad at predicting them. Last year I was convinced that Lego Movie was going to take the Oscar and it wasn’t even nominated. Then I was sure that How to Train Your Dragon 2  was going to win because the original How to Train Your Dragon, should have one instead of Toy Story 3(and it won the Annie). While I was pleasantly surprised that Big Hero 6 one, Song of the Sea was the best animated film hands down and I really wish it would have won. Which brings me back to my earlier point that the best film rarely wins.

I want to say that I think the Good Dinosaur was the best animated film of the year. It was so heart warming/ wrenching and it was every western ever made and it had dinosaurs and it was perfect. So I was pretty choked that it wasn’t nominated for an Oscar, but at least it got a nob at the Golden Globes and is nominated for the aforementioned Annie. In the case of both the Oscars and the Annies, I think Inside Out will win. Not only is it superbly animated and a really innovative idea, but it’s also a feel good movie that helps erase the stigma of depression. But I’m pretty awful at picking winners, so I’m probably dead wrong. So in the likely chance that I’m wrong, so for a runner up I’d pick Anomalisa. Personally I found this film a little disappointing, but it’s probably one of the most technically impressive animated movies ever made. It’s one of the few films that came out this year where the characters actually look like real human beings instead of automated fashion dolls.

So  here are some thoughts on the films nominated for Best Animated picture in both the Oscars and the Annies.

I like to find themes in things and last year there was a specific theme in the films nominated for best animated picture last year and that was loss. Four of the five films dealt with the death (or apparent death in the case of Boxtrolls) of a family member, while the tale of Princess Kaguya dealt with the loss of self. This year the theme of the best animated films is largely about identity, finding out who you are and where you fit into the world (All except for maybe Boy and the World as it’s the only one I haven’t seen).

Boy and the World: This is the only film of the nomanies that I haven’t seen. It looks amazing and I want to see it so badly. I’m hoping that it will get a limited release in Calgary like Anomalisa did, but I’m not going to hold my breath. I’m looking forward to it’s DVD relase, which I will snap up the second I can preorder it.

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Shaun the Sheep: This is by far the cutest movie of the year, about a group of sheep lead, by the titular Shaun into the Big City, to find their farmer who has lost his memory. This is the movie that Postman Pat should have been, it stays true to its roots, pokes fun at our shallow society and stays relevant. It also doesn’t need dialogue to make a point and is all the stronger for it.

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The Peanuts Movie: This is probably the weakest of the films, but boy is it pretty. The animation in this movie is so gorgeous and true to its source material that it alone is worth watching for. The story is simple, pretty much what you’d get out of any given Peanuts television special. The best thing about the Peanuts Movie is that Charlie Brown never compromises being Charlie Brown, even while trying to reinvent himself. There are several moments that Charlie Brown has the opportunity to be a jerk for personal gain, but he never gives in and always does the right thing.

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Inside Out: Inside Out is the simply complex story of a girl and her emotions as she’s moved from everything she knows and cares about. It’s probably one of the most clever films I’ve ever seen and it’s one of the few movies I’ve seen in theaters where people were openly weeping.

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The Good Dinosaur: I think that this might be the perfect movie for me. It has everything I love, dinosaurs, tragedy, over whelming cute and amazing animation. This is the best thing Pixar has done. Good Dinosaur is every western ever made, particularly the Boy and his wolf narrative. It does an amazing job of matching dinosaurs with western tropes, which are two of my favourite things in the world. It also made one of my favourite dinosaur movies, The Land Before Time, look like annoying garbage. Seriously, I would not recommend watching those two back to back, it hurts the nostalgia.

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Anomolisa: I wanted this movie to be a lot weirder than it was, but it’s still great regardless. It’s the story of a successful sales writer and the way his mind warps things to justify his awful behaviour. I might have been disappointed with this film when I first saw it, but I’m still talking about it with friends. So there’s that.

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When Marnie Was There: Much like Inside Out, When Marnie was there follows the emotional journey of a young girl and she goes through a bit of an identity crisis. It’s part ghost story, part love story and full of magic and whimsy. There are a lot of twists and turns and it never quite went where I expected, yet the twists never feel forced. It is one of the weaker films that was nominated, but with everything it’s up against that’s not a bad thing.

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Resolutions, good things that happened and comics

I know what you’re thinking, New Years was weeks ago, shouldn’t you have posted this then. Well…I procrastinate sometimes.

2015 was an interesting year. For a lot of people I know it was one of the worst years in recent history, while it wasn’t for me, it wasn’t a great one either. On the good side of things, I got my act together and decided that Baking is what I want to do with the rest of my life and have took the steps to start my apprenticeship and go back to school. I figured out a schedule that keeps my cluster headaches to a minimum and an aftercare treatment that keeps me from turning into a zombie after a cluster. I managed to train my dog to the point where he actually listens, I can now take him on small walks without a leash. It may not seem like much, but he’s a stubborn little bastard. I asked my boyfriend to marry me and he said yes! We’re planning on tying the knot in the summer of 2015.

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I couldn’t find a picture of the engagement so here’s a dinosaur!

On the bad side of things, I put my health, sanity and safety on the line to draw, ink, shade, format and print my comic in a span of two weeks…while working two jobs…during one of the biggest baking holidays of the year. I pulled this off for a book that, other than me and a few people close to me, no one cared about. I didn’t deal with this all that well and I went into a downward spiral where just looking at the damn thing became painful. I went into a sort of slump where it was a little hard to keep on track, I didn’t even like posting things to this blog. It hurt a lot more than I was willing to let on, but after months and months of letting it eat at me, I’m starting to get over it and looking towards the future.

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Sometimes looking at this makes me wanna cry other times I just smile.

Back in the day, when I worked in print, I asked a co-worker if he’d made any New Years Resolutions. I asked this mainly to make conversation, because I hand’t been there that long and it seemed like good small talk. This lead to a rant about societal pressure and conformity and why I shouldn’t be a sheep. There was a lot of ‘Edwards, you shouldn’t make goals because of some arbitrary date, you should do it because you want to,’ he liked to rant about things, even things that contradicted the things he was ranting about. He had a point though, goals should be made because of a sincere want to improve ourselves, not because it’s the New Year and that’s what we’re supposed to do. However, I like the idea of starting fresh and having a big bold deadline to finish my goals by. So here are some of the things I resolve to do before 2017 rolls around.

  1. Fill up all of my old sketch books. I have around ten half finished sketch books just lying around collecting dust. I love drawing, but I’m not great at it, just look at any of the comics I’ve posted here. But I think if I make an effort to fill up those books, I’ll improve. I mean I can’t get any worse.
  2. Apprenticeship. This is an obvious one, since I’ve got most of my hours and have signed up for all of the classes, but I’m really looking forwards to learning new skills and perfecting some old skills.
  3. Wedding. I’ve been married (extremely unsuccessfully) before, so I know that there’s a ton of things that you don’t think about when you decide to get married. I’m gonna stay on top of things, make sure the stress stays to a minimum.
  4.  Produce a draft of my novel that I’m satisfied with. This will be one of the hardest goals I’m trying to do this year, because I can be extremely critical of myself. I love to write, but dislike almost everything I produce. So on top of finishing a project I’ve got to build up the confidence to like what I’ve finished.
  5. Read 50 Books. Self explanatory, I like reading.
  6. Blog once a week. When I first started this blog, I used to post once a week. This was partly because wordpress used to have a little reminder that would tell me that I hadn’t updated. I’m also going to finish all of the half started posts, seriously there are like thirty reviews, stories and whatnot that I’ve started and half finished. This includes my very much ignored Disney Retrospective!
  7. Finish my Yoda Book or Yobo Book, since Yoda is not only the name of my dog, but a wise green alien. A while back I started a children’s book about my dog that was all construction paper cut outs. It’s too cute to pass up on.
  8. Eat seven new meats. Once again self explanatory, I love meat and I’m a bit of hedonist at heart.
  9. Work on a short animated film. This one falls into life goals, I love animation and one day I want to have my name on an animated film.
  10. Go on a trip. Traveling is awesome and I need to do it more.
  11. And finally, work on my comic more. Because even when it breaks my heart, I still love it and I still want to finish it. So part of actually encouraging myself to work of it more, is to get people to actually read it. So if you want, the whole thing is available here to read and if you like your comics in physical form and have two dollars, you can buy a copy here. Expect a lot more about this particular goal over the coming weeks.

So I guess the big thing now is actually doing all of this stuff a goal to keep goals. So for all of you who have trudged through this thanks for reading!

Why the Star Wars Holiday Special is a more Solid Film than Attack of the Clones

The Phantom Menace gets kind of a bum rap for being the worst of the prequels. While not being a good film or even a mediocre one, it’s still miles better than its follow up Attack of the Clones. In fact, I strongly believe that the much belittled Star Wars Holiday Special is the stronger entry in the franchise. What? you might say, that’s crazy; the Holiday Special is a cheap cash in forcing the original cast and seventies celebrities to act out the worst made for TV fare ever, where’s Attack of the Clones is a legitimate film that was nominated for awards and stuff. To that I respectably disagree.

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For the most part, both films are unwatchable, contain gaping plot holes and performances that no one should be proud of. There are some talented people involved in these films too, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, James Earl Jones, Diahann Carroll, Art Carney and my personal hero Bea Arthur, on the Holiday Special side. While Attack of the Clones is star-studded with Ewan MacGreggor, Samuel L. Jackson, Natalie Portman, Christopher Lee and Ian McDiarmid. Based on those casts alone, these movies should me phenomenal, but they’re not. Both of these movies are examples of everything that’s wrong with film making, on both a made for television and theatrical level.

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Picking the better of the two is like asking which was a more pleasant experience, dysentery or an appendicitis. So why bother? Because I like to talk about silly things and I’m waiting to put my thoughts down on the Force Awakens once I’ve seen it five times. So here we are at the crux of awfulness.

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For all of the special effects, top tier actors and over the top lightsaber battles, I’d argue that Attack of the Clones is the worst thing that bears the Star Wars name. Yes the Holiday Special is atrocious in its own special way and is hated by fans and Lucas alike, but it tells a story that’s more in line with what Star Wars is all about. In short, the Holiday special kinda feels like it belongs in the Star Wars Universe. Where’s Attack of the Clones, with all of its political mumbo jumbo and forced love story is creepy and kind of boring and doesn’t fit with the world established by the original trilogy.

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Still don’t think the Holiday Special is better? Here are a bunch of reasons why.

1. The Plot

Attack of the Clones is the story of a young Anakin as he stalks and eventually tricks Padmé into falling in love with him. It also spends an unreasonable amount of time on politics and voting. Seriously, the opening crawl talks about voting. You only get six sentences in that crawl, that is a huge waste. There is also a subplot about a clone army, a chancellor who is probably a sith lord and some more political stuff involving a trade federation.

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The Holiday Special is about the Empire trying to ruin Life Day, the wookiee amalgamation of Thanksgiving and Christmas. It’s a simple plot, but its not really all that bogged down by anything heavy. It further shows that the Empire is awful and oppressive and we get to see a little into Chewbacca’s home life (as irritating as that can be). Now there are a lot of pointless parts and the direction is very unfocused, but it sticks with the themes present in the original Star Wars.

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2. It serves as a better origin story for Boba Fett

Attack of the Clones gives us child Boba Fett as we never wanted to see him before. Part of what makes Boba Fett (and any iconic villain) is that we don’t know a lot about him, we don’t see a human side to him. He’s a cold, calculated badass, we don’t need to see his face, we don’t need to know about his daddy issues and we certainly don’t need to know why he’s a bounty hunter in the first place.

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In one of the better parts of the Holiday Special, the budget for live action becomes too large and the whole thing shifts to animation. This is actually one of the more watchable parts of the special because it’s a little more coherent and the animation isn’t all that bad. Here we meet Boba Fett for the first time; he befriends Luke by saving Han’s life and if it weren’t for those meddling droids he would have found the Rebel’s hideout for the Empire. The Special frames Boba Fett as a true deceiver willing to do anything to get his bounty. It’s also the most Boba Fett has ever done in any of the Star Wars Films.

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3. The Love Story

Attack of the Clones and I’d even argue the Clone Wars after it, has one of the most convoluted, passionless and down right creepy love stories ever put on film. Anakin peruses Padmé as though he’s written the MRA handbook. Every action that Anakin has towards Padmé is super creepy, restraining order creepy. The M’lady scene alone makes me want to shower in bleach. I don’t buy that the determined and for all intents and purposes protagonist from Phantom Menace would behave this way or fall for Anakin. Yes, he is an old friend, but he’s also grown up into a whinny twit who does nothing of note, save for making audience uncomfortable. If Anakin had stuck the the Jedi principles that the prequels had set up, he might been a colder, more mysterious and desirable character. There could have been subtle moments where he fights his feelings towards Padmé because of his Jedi bonds and not only would there have been more romantic tension, but the end pay off would have had a bigger impact.

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The Holiday Special gives us a look into Chewbacca’s home life and the strain that his life of adventuring and saving the galaxy has put on his marriage. There are no subtitles for the wookie dialogue, but you get the impression that Mala is miffed that Chewbacca is always away and that his actions can sometimes bring danger and Jefferson Starship into their home. Yet she’s shown to be deeply concerned for Chewbacca’s well being; her worry is even an excuse to bring the rest of the cast into the movie. Their marriage may not be perfect, but it’s a hell of a lot more believable than anything we’re given in the prequels.

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On a side note, Itchy (Chewbacca’s father) is given a weird fantasy chair as a Life Day Gift, which contains Diahann Carroll. It’s implied (or maybe even stated, its kind of hard to watch) that this is a fantasy of his creation and it’s a human woman singing about how much she wants a wookiee…CREEPY! Yet not as creepy as the courtship of Padmé and Anakin. There’s also a man at the not quite Mos Eisley Cantina who relentlessly hits on the amazing bartender Ackmena, but still doesn’t get his creep on like Anakin.

4. The Setting

Attack of the Clones spans the Galaxy through several CGI worlds that never quite feel tangible. The best scene is night club on Coruscant when Obi-Wan mind tricks some poor schmuck into giving up his life of petty crime. the reason this is one of the few scenes that really work is because most of it is real and it’s a little reminiscent of the cantina scene in a New Hope. It’s also one of the few scenes that feels organic to its setting, everything else is CGI and politics, but that bar scene is pretty Star Wars.

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Most of the Holiday Special is centralized on Kashyyyk, the wookiee homeworld, in Chewbacca’s home. I’m not going to lie, this gets grating. Wookiees aren’t the most eloquent of creatures and without subtitles, it starts to feel like an awkward family dinner. However, in one of the watchable parts, it cuts to a cantina on Tatooine (I’m not sure if it’s Chalmun’s Cantina, but it’s likely in Mos Eisley, given the bar fly’s). The cantina looks and feels like something out of a New Hope and even allows us to see what some of the cantina have been up to since a New Hope. Ponda Baba can be seen on the dance floor grooving out with one arm. We also get to see the grim reality of the empire enforcing curfews on pirate space ports and why it sucks.

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5. The Characters

The prequels contain some of the most wooden lifeless performances that you’ve ever seen and it is 100% not the actors fault. The prequels have amazing actors who are great in everything else they’ve ever been in, save the prequels. However, it’s these off performances that make it hard to form any sort of connection with the characters. The only character, in my opinion, that makes an impact is Obi-Wan and even then the only emotion we really get out of him is exasperated.

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The Holiday Special sees the return of the original cast and even though Harrison Ford doesn’t seem happy to be there, Mark Hamill had recently been in a bad accident and Carrie Fisher seems a little out of it, they’ve got great chemistry together and are still playing the characters we all know and love. The wookiees can be irritating, but a lot of the new characters that we run into are fun or at the very least wacky. I’d personally like to see more about Ackmena the bartender, I wish there was a comic or a short story about her. If someone out there wants to prove me wrong, you will have made my year.

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6. It’s less annoying

An hour or more of wookiees grumbling at each other is far less annoying than ten seconds of Jar Jar Binks doing anything.

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7. The Villain

The Villain of the Holiday special is ultimately Darth Vader, even though he’s seen very little. If that’s not enough, there is still plenty of Empire dickery to go around. Attack of the Clones has Palpatine, but it’s still pretending that he’s not the Sith Lord everyone’s so scared of. There’s also the trade federation and Count Dooku, but it’s all so muddled it’s hard to care. Give me Vader any day.

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8. It’s Tangible

Because of the time it was made in the Holiday Special, other than the animated portion, everything is tangible and likely recycled from a New Hope. It looks low budget, but everything is real, could have been touched at one point. Nothing in Attack of the Clones is real, there wasn’t even a single piece of clone armor made. It feels like an animated picture with people spliced in, which would be fine if it were charming, but it’s not. Say what you will about the quality of the Holiday Special, but it does have that made for TV charm.

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There’s a lot more I could go into, but I think that pretty much sums it up. Yes, the Holiday Special is so bad its good, but Attack of the Clones is so bad its bad. If you have the patience, give them a watch back to back and you might just agree with me.

Secret of Evermore

Have you ever asked yourself if you were a video game character, who would you be?

I have, lots of times, I’ve probably even taken a few quizzes on the matter.


Yeah, no.

Ask yourself that question seriously, out of all the pixelated protagonists out there, who are you? Are you lovable like Pikachu? Overrated cold like Cloud Strife? Or do you meander around like a Sim?
Me, I’d be the main character from Secret of Evermore. What’s Secret of Evermore, you ask? Well, it’s the only American produced game that Squaresoft put out and back in the day it was kind of hated for reasons that don’t make much sense.


Evermore is the story about a kid and their dog getting warped to the land of B-movies and having adventures, which is what I want to have happen to me when I grow up. Because of the flack the game got upon release, it didn’t do too well and it kind of became an obscure title (it didn’t even get a Japanese release.), despite being just as much fun to play as Secret of Mana or Chrono Trigger.


So why pick a character from a game that no one really likes or remembers for that matter? Well, the protagonist is this kid who spends a lot of his time watching bad movies with his dog, most of his dialogue is quotes from these bad movies. Switch the gender or the kid and this is my video game autobiography.


These are a few of the gems from my movie collection. (fun fact: my biggest gripe with Jurassic World was that they had a perfectly good chance to homage the Valley of Gwangi, but didn’t. Doing so would have made a key scene in the movie make loads more sense.) I can quote most of these films, much to the chagrin of my friends and family. I’ve watched every one of these movies with my dog, I’m sure if he could talk he’d be able to quote them too.


Much like the dog in the game, he has a habit of running off and taking us on adventures that don’t seem like adventures at the time.
So if video games and B-movies are your thing and you’ve got a few hours to kill, give Secret of Evermore a chance. It’s by no means an epic game, but like most B fare it sure is fun. You may just find yourself quoting your own favourite movies as you play.


Me, I’m gonna sneak my dog into the next showing of the Lost Adventures of Vexx and see where it takes us.

On Team 12 or how to break your brain with comic books

The following is a somewhat disjointed and long winded take on my wonderful failure of a comic and the long road that brought me here.

As I mentioned in my previous post my boyfriend and I had a booth at the 2015 Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo and that my original plan was to have a table of baked goods. Needless to say that didn’t quite work out and I ended up producing a comic instead. I thought it would be easy, I’ve made comics in the past, I’ve finished Twenty-Four Hour Comic Book Day three years in a row.

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The thing with Twenty Four Hour Comic Day is that it’s all very spur of the moment and whatever you produce has to be in the moment and final. You don’t get the opportunity to go back and change things, whatever goes on the page, stays on the page. There’s no room to edit or expand on your ideas. You’re supposed to go in blind and pull the pages from your head and hand. It’s a great exercise, but it’s not exactly the way writing and drawing a comic works. You don’t get a lot of time, so you lose detail. When you’re artistically challenged like me, everything sort of turns into a blob. Faces become caricatures, arms and legs become too long and hands become stumps.

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Over the past few weeks I’ve been trying to find the best way to talk about Team 12, this strange little idea that’s been swimming around my head for over a decade. You ever have an idea that sits at the back at your mind occasionally popping into the forefront of your thoughts and derailing whatever you’re working on? No? Well that’s what Team 12 is for me.

I think in the long, long ago the seeds for Team 12 were first planted in the form of some poorly written, but well reviewed Digimon fanfiction. From what I remember (this might be a little hazy, as this was well over fifteen years ago) I got tired of the constraints of fanfiction and ended up transplanting all of the original characters from the fanfiction into an original setting and it sort of evolved from there.

At first it was an homage to my favourite movie AKIRA and my favourite comic series The Authority. It was about a group of twelve gifted children that were one day experimented on and trained to become deadly assassins. Eventually they escaped their handlers and reintegrated themselves into the lives they had been ripped from. The whole thing moved at a snails pace, chronicling each year from the protagonists life. I got to the part where the kids escaped and made it back into the real world, when it started to fall apart and turned into a bit of a soap opera. Back then, and maybe now, when posting original stuff online the best way to keep readers was to make sure that there was lots of drama and a healthy dose of slash never hurt either. I think the team made it into adulthood or maybe even teenagehood before the whole thing imploded and I gave up.

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Five years later I’d refined the story a little, converted my prose into a script and started drawing. The setting became an idealistic utopia, torn apart by an attack by a man with superhuman abilities. The focus was changed from their training period and teenage years to the after the attack, with the occasional flashback thrown in for explanation. As I’ve mentioned before and will again and again, I’m not a great artist, but as pitiful as what I put out now, it’s light years ahead of what I used to do. I used the sims as reference material, which just makes the whole thing hilarious. I worked in print at the time and was actually create a really nice copy of it, nice production values at least.

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Unfortunately on the inside it looked like the above image. My art wasn’t the only problem, I introduced too much too fast.Each character was given an introduction page, some even cramming in twelve panels. I’d also made the mistake of drawing out each panel individually without any idea of where it would fit on the page, which lead to a a bunch of different spacing issues. The whole thing was a mess and I shelved it. It looked so horrible I never wanted to draw again.

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But as it always does, it bit me again and I found myself redrawing everything and it didn’t look as awful and that was enough to keep me going. I had a sense of improvement and a couple of pads of comic paper and I was good to go. I decided to focus on fewer characters, all twelve would still be there, but they’d be introduced slowly and some might not be forefront in the first arc. There was a lot more focus on world building and developing the three characters the first arc was going to be focused on. Over all, it was a lot more consistent made more sense and looked a hell of a lot better.

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Still, it was too condensed, quite cluttered and didn’t have any establishing shots. There’s a lot of dialogue and no matter how many times I redo that first issue, there’s always going to be a lot of dialogue. A lot of the dialogue came after the issue had been drawn and there was no way I could fit everything into the pages I had drawn. So I did insert pages and by the time I started doing those pages I was well into issue two and my style had changed a little and those insert pages didn’t look a whole lot like the issue they were being inserted into.

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At the time of my second attempt I was working at the worlds most dysfunctional print shop and actually scanned, fixed up the inks, coloured and inserted dialogue while I was supposed to be working (it was one of those jobs where when there was nothing to do, you pretended to be doing something or worked on personal projects. It was better to look busy than do nothing and there was a lot of down time at that place). As of writing this, the second attempt is the furthest I’ve ever gotten on the project with two issues completed and a third drawn.

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Then my life completely fell apart and that second attempt still really reminds me of that. Part of why I’d immersed my self in the project so deeply was to avoid some serious problems I was having. The way all of that imploded, still makes attempt two hard to look at. Despite the fact that after the fallout I’d plotted out the first arc, I put the whole thing away and I didn’t know if I wanted to touch it again.

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A couple of years passed and I changed careers, I didn’t draw so much but I still participated in twenty four hour comic book day. I tried not to think of my little comic and kept myself busy enough not to think about it. Then the 2015 Calgary Expo happened, my boyfriend and me had a table and because starting a food based business takes more money than I had time to save up for, I decided that I could make a comic in less than a month.

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After all, I’d done Twenty Four Hour Comic Day three years in a row and I’d drawn that first issue twice before. What could possibly go wrong? Well, everything. It didn’t take long to do the inks and pencils and as sad as it was, it was the best thing I had ever drawn. Within two weeks I had a detailed comic that actually made sequential sense and at the time I thought it looked great.

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Then the problems started. All I needed to do was get the thing scanned, touch up my lines, shade and add my dialogue. It should have only taken a week; from what I could remember from my previous attempts a week was more than enough time. Only I was forgetting that I did most of my previous attempts while pretending to work and looking at the dates on my files, it took a lot longer than a week.

I lost a day when I took it to be scanned and UPS not only was it scanned at the wrong dpi and and in B&W instead of greyscale, but the glass was dirty as well. I ended up calling in a favour from a friend to get the job done properly. Shading took way longer than I thought, photoshop crashed and the files that were open became corrupt and unusable. I had to start all over again and now I was a week behind.

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I stopped sleeping. It was not longer twenty-four hour comic day or even forty-eight hour comic book day. I was staying awake for seventy-two hours at a time. Not only was a hazard to myself and everyone around me, but I was hindered in every way possible. I was making mistakes at work and home. I was living and breathing my comic. What little sleep I got was spent worrying about finishing.

After a few snafu’s with trying to put the dialogue in, only finishing after my boyfriend offered to drop it in with a superior knowledge of illustrator, I was finished and with less than a day to get it printed. Despite the fact that it didn’t look great, I got a 100 copies printed. This was partly because after my last go at twenty-four comic book day I’d gotten a couple of messages requesting a printed copy. So I took the chance and brought my finished comic to the Expo.

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After four days I sold one copy. Other than a few close friends, I couldn’t give it away for free. I couldn’t even get my family to read it. Even though I put on a tough face, it got me down and it took me a couple of weeks to recover from everything. I tried not to let it get me down, but it was hard and a little heartbreaking. I’d put everything I had into attempt three and it completely failed.

So here we are a month after the fact and there’s a box or comics sitting in my office, but I think I’m okay with it. I’m still proud of what I achieved and while it might not be the best looking comics or, hell, the worst looking thing out there. I achieved a lot in a short period of time and it’s the most complete attempt at my vision. It’s the only version I can look at and not feel a whole lot of shame. It’s certainly not the best comic, but it’s mine and for the most part, I did it on my own.

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On the Calgary Expo, thoughts on ten years of fun…

This year was the tenth year of the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo. I’ve been to the expo since year one and it always a good time, even if this year was a little lack luster from previous years.

The first time I went to the Expo was right after I moved to Calgary from a small outlying town and the first place I drove my first car. It was the first convention I had ever been too. I remember it being quite sparsely populated, but being a little overwhelmed by just how many vendors there were. I was very unprepared for the whole thing, I’d never seen so many comics in my life. Normally when I go to a convention i have a list of comics I’m missing, movies and trades I’m looking for, but that first time I was a kid in a candy store or more accurately a nerdy girl in her early twenties at her first comic convention. I threw money at booths left right and centre and it’s probably the reason why I have two full runs of the Original Captain Marvel.

There was one creepy moment that’ll I’ll remember for as long as my brain is capable of doing so. I was wandering around the floor, arms full of comics and bootleg movies when a heavyset guy came up to me. He seemed nice enough, if a bit awkward. We talked for a few minutes, when he asked me if he could give me twenty dollars to take a picture with him. I wasn’t dressed up or even in anything that might be considered sexy, just a t-shirt and jeans. He said that he wanted to prove to his friends that he knew a girl and that this was the best way he knew how. We both laughed about it and I got my picture with him, but I told him to keep his twenty. In hindsight, it was kind of creepy, but at the time it was kind of fun and I’d never been around my nerdy peers like that before. (This year the creepiest thing that happened was these douche nozzles in a hate group tried to infiltrate the Expo to harass women and disrupt panels.)

There was a certain purity about that first expo. I don’t remember who the guests were, but that wasn’t who I was coming for. Back then it was all about the comics. In later years I would meet some of my childhood idols at the expo such as Chris Claremont, Peter David, Stan Lee, Adam West and William Shatner. I got to be a VIP two years in a row a booth babe (and I mean that in the loosest possible terms) before that. I would face face highs and lows, compliments and harassment. Yet even when it was at its worst, the expo has always had an awesome staff that was quick to help you out when you were feeling harassed.

Sadly I think that the Expo peaked at year nine, when they had more cool guests than you could shake fist at. There were amazing comic creators, artists, celebrities and just about everything else you’d want to see. All of the best vendors were there, along with a slew of new and old local artists and creators. It was sensory overload at its finest.

Now year ten had the best floor layout of any expo I’ve ever attended. It was easy to get around, it never felt overwhelmingly crowded (at least compared to previous years) and there was a huge tent set up for people to eat. In previous years one of the biggest problems was people finding any space they could to eat their lunch, which lead to a lot of traffic. Now that being said, there was a certain lacklusterness to the whole event. It was fun, don’t get me wrong, but it didn’t seem as epic as previous years.

I think part of the problem was the guests, whom a lot of cancelled and a lot of weren’t up to par with previous years. There were some awesome people, Neil Patrick Harris and Rosario Dawson were booked last minute and when Hayley Atwel was announced it started to feel like a real Expo lineup. However, year nine we got the entire cast of Aliens, this year we got a trio of Cosplayers as headliners. Yeah, they’ve got some great costumes (except for Jessica Nigri, who was outshone by most costumes on the floor), any they’re all very sexy, but when we’ve been treated to such big acts in the past having Cosplayers put on par with the likes of this years other Expo guests such as Hayley Atwel and Rosario Dawson kind of seems like a slap in the face. If you want to impress me with some amazing costumes, bring me the people that made the costumes for Star Wars (Yeah I know Celebration was the same weekend, but still.) So silly little rant over, the big media guests weren’t what they were last year and they didn’t have as many artists and comic writers as they’ve had in the past. Yes the ones they had were amazing, but in sounding like a broken record, not as many as previous years.

I know that this all sounds really whinny and most people reading this will probably think ‘who cares’, but this was the Expo’s tenth anniversary and it felt like no one cared about that. I expected something bigger, something better. In theory this should have been the best expo yet. The whole thing felt like a year two or three expo that had a massive population surge.

Another thing that really disappointed me was that there were a lot of big name vendors that took space away from smaller vendors that had been there previous years. HMV and Indigo/Chapters/Coles are great in the mall, but I can go there any time. Seeing them at the Expo sort of cheapens the whole experience. Besides, if I’m going to buy trades or vinyl figures I’m going to buy them at a locally owned place and not the big box store. But hey, at least the bootleg guy was still there and there was a huge chest to buy dice from…so there was that.

This year was also a little different for me, because along with my boyfriend, I got to be a vendor this year. We had a small table in the Big 4 Building, which while not the most profitable venture was actually a lot of fun and a great learning experience. My original plan for the booth was to do baked goods, being a baker and all. I wanted to do a Pokemon series of cakes, for example you’d have a Charmander cake pop, a Charmelion Cupcake and a Charazard mini cake. I wanted to do macrons that looked like, pokeballs, 1-up mushroom and the rebel and imperial symbols. Unfortunately the cost of setting up a small food based business and getting into a rental kitchen, proved to be too costly. So I engaged in something that exhausted me to the point of near destruction, broke my brain and withdrew me from the world. It was the reason why posts were so scarce and why I was having sleep deprived panic attacks, but we’ll talk about that next time.

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So stay tuned for Team 12…

Just to prove I know nothing about movies…

Yesterday I predicted that the Lego Movie would not only be nominated for best animated feature, but that it would win as well. Today the Oscar Nominations came out and Lego Movie wasn’t even nominated. And that’s kind of fantastic.

I based my prediction on past films that had been nominated and won. And in the past, with the exception of Spirited Away, the best animated film didn’t always win best animated feature. Films that were very meh have been nominated over far superior films and the only factor I could fathom that could cause that was box office money. Except for How to Train Your Dragon 2, Lego Movie made the most. I’ve made an effort to see almost every animated feature that came out this year and you know what, out of everything I saw this year, the top five are nominated. My gut tells me How to Train Your Dragon, but I’m hoping for Song of the Sea.

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