Light & Magic Documentary Review

When we think of films or TV shows, we often think of the boldface names at the top of the credits: the director, the actors, the producers, the screenwriter(s), etc. For every name that is in large letters, there are many others whose work is important, but unknown by the audience.

Light & Magic is a new six-part documentary about the creation of Industrial Light & Magic, otherwise known as ILM. Started by George Lucas, the company started out as a way to create special effects for Star Wars Episode 4: A New Hope. In the beginning, they were a bunch of young rebels living off of dreams, hard work, and a limited budget.

Over the decades, ILM would not just become the pioneer for special effects. The company would also be behind the success of some of the biggest movies of our era, creating visual imagery that has caused multiple generations of fans to ask “how did they do that?”.

I enjoyed this documentary. It proves that determination, creativity, diligence, and coloring outside the box can change the world.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Light & Magic is available for streaming on Disneyplus.

Lego Star Wars Summer Vacation Movie Review

Summer vacations, in their many forms, should be simple. A chance to get away from the every day, see something else, and generally take a breather. But anyone who has ever gone away will tell you that it can be far from simple.

Lego Star Wars Summer Vacation recently dropped on DisneyPlus. In this 45-minute kid-friendly film, Finn (voiced by Omar Miller) is more than excited to get away with his friends for a little while. But then they all scatter and Finn is left to wonder if his expectations were just a little too far from reality.

This movie is so much fun. it is adorable and fans of all ages will love it. The humor is mostly directed at a younger audience. However, there are a few easter eggs that the adults will recognize and get a chuckle out of.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Lego Star Wars Summer Vacation is available for streaming on DisneyPlus.

The Republicans Got Owned: Beto O’Rourke and Dick Cheney

Politics is more than the creation of a series of laws. The impact of such legislation has consequences that go far beyond the room that it is passed and signed in.

Over the past few weeks, the Republicans got owned twice.

The first instance came earlier this week. During a campaign event, Texas gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke was speaking about the need for gun control in the wake of the school shooting in Uvalde in the spring. One person laughed and O’Rourke went off on him. The crowd cheered in response.

This is the type of leadership we need. We need someone who cares more about saving lives than padding their pockets or kissing the asses of their 1% donors.

Meanwhile, last week, former Vice President Dick Cheney released an ad supporting his daughter Liz while warning that he who shall not be named is dangerous. The reaction from MeidasTouch contributor Texas Paul is absolutely on the spot.

These days, the former VP is one of the OGs of the right. Back in the day, his nickname on the left was Darth Vader due to his less than moral actions. I can’t say that his reputation has taken a 180. But given what is going on in this country at the moment, his warning should not be taken lightly.

We still have time to save our nation and our future. The question is, will we do so, or let everything we know and love turn into a dumpster fire?

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Can You Learn to Write Via Fanfiction?

Learning to write can only be described as a process of trial and error. For every polished piece or story that is published, there are others that are still in messy draft form.

Many writers (myself included) started writing via fanfiction. Fanfiction is fiction that is based on previously released work. The beauty of this genre is that there are so many opportunities to take the narrative in a new direction. The story can be a prequel, a sequel, go inside a character’s head, take place in an alternative universe, etc.

The one caveat is that the publishing date determines whether or not the writer is breaking copyright laws. Anything that was published more than 100 years ago (i.e. the novels of Jane Austen or Charles Dickens) is public domain and obviously fair game. The same cannot be said if the tale being crafted is based on a work that is less than a century old. Anyone writing, for example, Harry Potter or Star Wars fanfiction is wading into legally murky waters.

The answer is yes, you can learn to write via fanfiction. Some of my early works are in need of a major rewrite. Even with that cringe factor, there is no doubt that I was learning along the way. The basics of creating fiction in terms of narrative, characters, setting, etc, can be mastered via this genre. E.L. James, the creator of the Fifty Shades of Grey series, has become one of the preeminent authors of our era started out by creating Twilight fanfiction. Regardless of one’s opinion of James’s writing, there is no doubt that she has turned a hobby into a successful career.

Not everyone takes the same route when they start out writing. That does mean, however, that one path is better or worse than another. We all learn how to craft stories in our own way and own time. One of these routes is fanfiction.

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I Stand With Moses Ingram

The world of Star Wars stands for everything that racism and hate are against. Diversity, inclusion, respect, democracy, etc are ingrained into this world. That does not mean, however, that everyone in the fandom is immune from the hate and racism in the outside world.

Earlier this week, Obi-Wan Kenobi star Moses Ingram spoke out about the racist messages she has been receiving via social media from a small group of fans who are unhappy with her character’s place in the universe.

Ingram is unfortunately not the first SW actor of color to have this experience. Both John Boyega and Kelly Marie Tran were also verbally attacked by online trolls. They could not fathom that there are more non-Caucasian characters than Lando Calrissian.

Thankfully, both the upper echelons at Disney and her colleagues have spoken up. Ewan McGregor, as both the lead actor and executive producer of the series, released a video in support of his co-star.

As a performer, Ingram is completely new to me. But in the three episodes that have been released so far, I have become a fan. Her performance is brilliant and I cannot wait to see where she will go in future episodes.

The haters can suck it for all I care. I stand with Moses Ingram.

Thoughts On the Andor Trailer

The hero’s journey is a fascinating tale. From where they start to where they end requires courage, a belief in the path they are taking, and the innate trust that everything will work out in the end.

The trailer for the new DisneyPlus Star Wars series, Andor dropped last week. The program follows Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) as he goes on a path that will lead him to the rebellion in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

As usual, DisneyPlus and Lucasfilm are keeping the details close to the vest. What I see so far, I like. Cassian is such a fascinating character that I am curious to see where the story goes.

Andor premiers on August 31st, 2022 on DisneyPlus.

The Fans Strike Back Exhibition Review

Though the Star Wars saga is only forty-plus years old, it feels as if it has been part of our collective culture for eternity.

The Fans Strike Back recently opened in New York City. This nearly 25,000 feet exhibition is by and for the fans. Containing numerous figurines, lightsabers, life-size figures, vehicles, etc, it is a trip through the world of Star Wars and the fandom that has given rise to a universe that we all love. Starting with Episode One: The Phantom Menance, we walk through the narrative, hitting all of the major plot points and feeling this delicious energy that is nothing short of infectious.

One thing I do have to point out is that the pieces with the exhibit strictly come from the fans. Nothing has come from either Lucasfilm or Disney. That being said, it is wonderful. I walked in with a smile on my face and walked out with a smile on my face. Perfect for both children and adults, it is an absolutely wonderful experience and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Star Wars Vintage GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

The Fans Strike Back is located at 526 6th Ave in New York City. It is open until July 26th. Check the website for ticket times and prices.

All About Me!: My Remarkable Life in Show Business Book Review

The word “genius” is often thrown around without anything to back it up. One of the few people who can legitimately be given that title is Mel Brooks. He has made audiences laugh for 70+ years, taking comedy in a direction that few have dared to.

His new autobiography, All About Me!: My Remarkable Life in Show Business, was released last November. The youngest of four boys, Brooks was born to a Jewish immigrant family in 1926. Raised in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn by his widowed mother, he grew up during the Great Depression and served his country during World War II. After the war, he joined one of the greatest comedy writing teams of all time as a co-writer of Sid Ceasar‘s Your Show of Shows.

Married to actress Anne Bancroft for five decades, Brooks directed (and in some cases starred in) such classics as Young Frankenstein, To Be or Not To Be, The Producers, Spaceballs, Robin Hood: Men in Tights, History of the World: Part I, etc. Telling his story as only he can, Brooks reveals his heart, his humor, his work ethic, and his acute ability to use laughter to delve into topics that many would not dare to touch.

In his mid 90’s, he has more energy and gusto many are half his age. It was an incredible insight into a man who has made generations of audiences laugh. What I loved was the revelation of the man behind the jokes. He reminds me of someone’s old uncle who is not quite politically correct. They know that they are crossing the line. But it is not out of spite or to cause trouble. It’s to make the audience laugh and while they are laughing, perhaps think about the message behind the joke.

As I read the book, two things jumped out at me. The first was that there was no mention of his first wife and not a lot of time focused on his older children. The second is that he refers to almost every woman first by her looks and then by her talent. Maybe it’s me or maybe it’s a generational thing. I get that it could be construed as a compliment, but I would rather be known for my abilities first and my looks second.

Other than that, do I recommend it? Absolutely.

Mel Brooks Comb The Desert GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

All About Me!: My Remarkable Life in Show Business is available wherever books are sold.

The Little Girl Singing “Let It Go” in Ukraine Gives Me Hope

It is easy to go down a dark rabbit hole when war is knocking at your door.

The war in Ukraine has been going on for more than two weeks. The images of death, destruction, and millions of refugees leaving the country are enough to make one believe that the future is bleak.

Then hope arrived in the most unlikely of ways.

Earlier this week, a video was released of a young girl in an air raid shelter singingLet It Go” from the Disney movie Frozen.

Her innocence is the light in the darkness that we all need right now. There is obviously no way to know when this war will end. But even with all of the heaviness, there is something to fight for and someone who believes in the possibilities that the future holds.

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