Thursday, May 31, 2007

Thursday Thirteen - 8 - 13 Things I Love About the "Star Wars" Saga

1 - Thirty years ago this month, "Star Wars" was released as a risk for 20th Century Fox. No one had any faith in it, including the main actors who had been given percentage points in the merchandising. This was a way to keep their salaries down in order to use the available funds for the groundbreaking special effects George Lucas' team was making up as they went along.

I was 12 years old when I stood in that line-up with my family, unaware my life would change the moment the opening credits burst with their trumpet fanfare onto the screen.

The impact that one low-budget independent film has made on Hollywood is immense. The merchandise tie-ins, the summer blockbuster and the big heroic happy ending (this was a resurgence of nostalgia at the time, as films in the late 70's tended toward gritty realism and ambiguity, as in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" and "Network".)

2 - George Lucas

In "It's a Wonderful Life" terms, where would we be if there had been no George?

A high-fidelity sound reproduction system for movie theaters, screening rooms, home theaters, computer speakers, gaming consoles, and car audio systems.

Visual effects company responsible for most of what we enjoy today in films like "The Chronicles of Narnia" and "Pirates of the Caribbean".

The summer movie blockbuster began in the summer of 1977 with the May release of "Star Wars".

3 - The opening title sequence of the film. It was a very operatic, breathtaking, hairs-on-the-back-of-your-neck raising transportation into a world as far away from the everyday as you could dream up.

4 - The film score of John Williams. I sat with the double album soundtrack for hours and hours, reading his liner notes explaining the different themes he'd written for each character or major story theme. I closed my eyes and identified every time the themes would emerge.

5 - The opening sequence, where a rebel ship heads for the planet in the distance. Then rumbling from what seemed like all sides, before the days of intricately-placed multiple speakers, an Imperial Star Destroyer chased the rebel ship, gliding over our heads for an impossible 10 seconds or so. I knew I wasn't in Kansas anymore.

6 - Lightsaber duels! I live for heart-pounding sword fights, so lightsaber duals really do it for me.

The first time I saw the 3-person fight in "Phantom Menace" I thought I might explode from bliss. The 100% commitment of the actors as combatants, coupled with the chill-inducing choral theme still fills me with an unmatched thrill. I'll always remember the reaction of the man sitting behind me when Darth Maul's second blade extended. On opening day no one knew about it yet. The 2nd blade appeared and he said, "Oh my God," with the tone of voice suggesting he could now die a happy man.

7 - The final battle between Obi Wan and Anakin. I'd been picturing it since I read the backstory in "American Cinematographer" magazine all those summers ago. I love Obi Wan's emotional pain and the gruesome level of no-holds-barred in this all-important sequence.

8 - The Master and Apprentice relationship. This moves me in real life. I find it very evident in the arts. There is a lot of mentoring that goes on in dance, acting, writing, filmmaking, singing, playing instruments - you name it. I can always sense the hands reaching through time, passing on the knowledge from one generation to the next.

9 - Luke Skywalker.

My tween crush!

10 - Han Solo

The reluctant hero.

11 - Princess Leia

What a refreshing female screen presence!

12 - Obi Wan Kenobi

Ewan McGregor is one of my favorite actors. When I found out he'd be playing the younger Obi Wan, I couldn't believe my luck! I truly admire his efforts to tie his mannerisms and performance to those of Alec Guinness. Really bridges the two sets of films.

The tragic story arc for his character really draws me in. Who knew Obi Wan would end up being so integral to the saga?

13 - Qui-Gon Jin

Liam Neeson is another favorite actor. I love his flawed character here. His stature, his belief in Anakin and the loyalty he inspires in Obi Wan is very touching.

I always like the way Liam Neeson holds his blades like a bat. Gives his opponent the sense that he's about to clobber him.

Or cleave him in two...

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Wordless Wednesday - 2

Spiderman 3

I went to the writer's retreat the weekend Spidey opened, so it's been awhile that Brad and I have been attempting to go. All the spring weather has been hard on my migraine-prone head. I'm never good with spring and fall, with extreme temperature rises and dips.

So every time we made tentative plans to see it, we always gave up on the idea because I knew I couldn't bear the noise and flashing and intense color. Besides, I wanted to be able to enjoy it.

Well, today my head settled down, so I met up with Brad after work for a quick bite to eat and a date at the movies. It was worth the wait - we both really enjoyed it. James Franco had a really strong story arc as Harry, Peter Parker's friend. And the turbulence between Peter and Mary Jane is really heartbreaking.

Best of all, while we walked to the bus stop chatting about the movie, I felt a Huge Idea creep up in the midst of our conversation. I often get these when I attend concerts, shows or movies. The stimulation of focusing on a performance always releases my internal creative programs.

I looked up at Brad - he's a foot taller than me - and could barely contain my excitement. I brainstormed with Brad on the bus ride home. I'm so energized I know I won't sleep for another few hours.

Day job or no, I'm a night owl and this is when the ideas hit. They'll just have to wait for me to wake up around lunch time tomorrow, even if I do make it in for 9:00 am.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Poetry Train Monday - 3 - Skewed Landscapes

I thought this one was in keeping with the American Memorial Day weekend. Though I found myself wondering, why does the US have Memorial Day when they also celebrate Remembrance Day on Nov. 11th?

At any rate, here is a poem I wrote in 1994 while I was in university.

Skewed Landscapes

As Darwin's hairy men
Turned and strode from
Adam's gentle brow
Begloved matrons
Swooned in their seats
Overcome by Stravinsky's dissonance

A democracy of junk
Ripened into collaged provinces
Turner's spectral train
Retreated to Romantic gloom

Europe turned to mud
Its watery trenches
Inheriting the fallen

Big Bertha spewed hard death
At the Somme
Gallant bayonets faltered
As noxious clouds robbed the
Divisions of their glory

Braque's Portuguese man
While Picasso's Harlequin
Shouldered his sliced violin
Digressing into the angular fragments
Of a modern age

Copyright 1994 - Julia Smith

Saturday, May 26, 2007

999 Dandelions, 1000 - That's it For Today

My mom and I headed out this morning to a plant sale at the heritage farm museum and scored some lovely stuff for the garden. I got some daylilies, irises, golden hosta, a burning bush and some angelica.

We dropped off the plants at home, then went to a church flea market where I got one research book and three coffee table books for $3.00! One on Britain, one on Pompeii and one on Canadian wilderness info. The research book is a look at loss as a means of growth - I was drawn to it because my main vampire character has to work through loss issues through the story.

Before heading out to the front yard with the dandelion picker, I took my dog Xena next door to my neighbors for a play date with their two dogs! While she played with them, Mack put up a gazebo on the deck, while Freda and I sat in the shade chatting and sipping cool drinks. That was lovely.

When Xena seemed too hot, I took her inside our cool basement apartment to hang out with Brad. Then I started harvesting the dandelions. I filled two garbage bags with them (our local green bin composting facility asks that noxious weeds not go into the bins.) There's still another thousand or so waiting for me tomorrow. I calculated the amount by counting ten in one area, estimating the area covered by 100, then sized out the rest of the yard.

We'll probably get my almost-brother-in-law to treat the lawn with something that conforms to our city's non-pesticide-use bylaw. He did last year and it worked well. My mom and I are the exact types that can't handle exposure to pesticides, so we're grateful for that bylaw. But I do have a few things on my calendar that are more pressing than continuous dandelion removal.

It's worth it for now, though, to use the dandelion picker. Especially since I want to take some pictures of the front garden, with the forsythia and tulips in bloom by the rock feature we put in last year.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Tagged - I'm It! - 2

I just discovered I was tagged by Miss Frou Frou over at I Used to Be, But I'm Alright Now

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As you can plainly see, I don't know how to link without the whole gobbledygook coming up, but one day soon...

Answer all questions using only 1 word :

1. Where is your cell phone? figment
2. Relationship? lifelong
3. Your hair? down
4. Work? scanning
5. Your sister? silly
6. Your favorite thing? ballet
7. Your dream last night? quest
8. Your favorite drink? wine
9. Your dream car? Jaguar
10. The room you’re in? reception
11. Your shoes? sneakers
12. Your fears? demystify
13. What do you want to be in 10 years? bestseller
14. Who did you hang out with this weekend? Gram
15. What you’re not good at? plotting
16. Muffin? cookie
17. One of your wish list items? pain-free
18. Where you grew up? Maritimes
19. The last thing you did? botched
20. What are you wearing? hoody
21. What aren’t you wearing? tiara
22. Your pet? dog
23. Your computer? plodding
24. Your life? escalating
25. Your mood? buoyant
26. Missing? Toronto
27. What are you thinking about right now? downtown
28. Your car? bus
29. Your kitchen? evolving
30. Your summer? commencing
31. Your favorite color?
32. When is the last time you laughed?
33. Last time you cried?
34. School?
35. Love?

I'm tagging Michelle, SciFiChick and Akelamalu!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Thursday Thirteen - 7 - Julia Needs

I got this idea from Toni at her blog, In The Midst of This Season

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If you type your name and the word 'needs' in Google, start laughing at what turns up when you press 'search':

1 - Julia needs to return to the Victorian era

2 - Julia needs to completely restore her homeland

3 - Julia needs a bad boy, not a saint

4 - Julia needs a bath

5 - Julia needs to revive herself

6 - Julia needs another mocha

7 - Julia needs more airtime

8 - Julia needs to drink more to avoid kidney problems

9 - Julia needs to buy drinks and cookies

10 - Julia needs to get into a bikini

11 - Julia needs an ass whoopin'

12 - Julia needs to go to la-la land

13 - Julia needs prayers to get her babies back in her arms