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Friday, July 29, 2016
Last night my dad settled in next to me to watch Hillary Clinton accept the democratic nominee for president, the first female to do so. He said "here you go, sister" knowing my excitement in this moment. As a father of three girls, this night was significant for him too. I was never raised to think I couldn't be president, him and my mom made sure to encourage me to do whatever won my heart. After watching Chelsea Clinton's speech introducing her mother last night, I know she raised her daughter to feel the same way.
Last night we all witnessed history. Many may not be able to appreciate it based on their opinions and party lines, similar to President Barack Obama's historic run missed by many. But the history is not lost on me. I'll remember this night forever. This is only the first step though.
I'm grateful that I have the parents I have. They taught me to fight hard, work even harder, never give up, and believe in myself. My parents and HRC have that in common. That's why I'm with her and so are they. Last night meant a lot to me, more than words can say.

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Eight years ago she suffered defeat in the face of once-in-a-lifetime candidate Barack Obama. Many would quit, many do quit. But she didn't rest. She got back up because her passion is public service. Her job wasn't done. Last night she accepted the democratic nominee. The first woman to do so. We witnessed history. Thank you for fighting, HRC. You're a hero to many, myself included. 




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This was a perfect moment of rhetoric. The passing of the torch. Everything that President Obama has crafted these (nearly) eight years needs to continue. I believe it with everything inside of me. Secretary Clinton is the right person to carry on his legacy and craft her own. I look forward to the next chapter. 





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Thank you, Mr President. You've inspired me more than I'll ever be able to express. You gave me hope that there was a place for me in this nation. You taught me that I'm not defined by who I love but by the content of my character. You taught me that championing our ideals is as important as anything you can do. As a country, we hold each other up and we work towards the union we've always wanted. I will miss you. Your legacy is not lost on me. Thank you for being a leader and an inspiration. I may not have been alive for JFK but I voted for President Barack Obama. I can't wait to be able to tell my children that one day.
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"I feel so strongly about my mom now particularly because I am a mom. I mean, I didn't know I could love and admire and respect my mom more until I became a mom. And couldn't believe any more in her as the right leader for the country I want my daughter to grow up in but I do. Because she has been working to ensure that every woman should get the chance to grow up and be you [Ellen] or be the next Hillary Clinton. That every little girl should have the opportunity to pursue her dreams. And so when I see her be attacked, I just have even more respect that she keeps fighting. Because I think she could have stopped a long time ago, she would have accomplished a lot in life. But she keeps going because there is so much unfinished business to ensure that every little girl and every little boy has the chance to live up to their God-given potential."

Tiny Ripple of Hope

Wednesday, July 27, 2016
I've tried to stay fairly quiet on facebook and other forms of social media about this election cycle. Sure, I'll share speeches I enjoy or pictures showing that I support Hillary. I believe in her and her vision. But at this moment is so much more about keeping Donald Trump out of the White House.

I always feel like Trump can't get any worse. He always finds a way. It can't get worse than being a sexist pig, a bigot, a person who mocks the disabled and accuses entire races of being rapists. But he keeps building on it every day. Today Trump is now openly calling for foreign intervention in our election process in order to help him win. Saying he hopes that Russian hackers go after emails from our former Secretary of State. That is so much more serious than can even be fathomed. That is the Republican Nominee calling upon others to commit acts of harm against our National security. He lies about never having met Putin when just last year he said they know each other.

There is no lesser of two evils. You can stay home and not vote but you have to realize what you're costing this nation. You can vote to prove a point, vote third party and throw a small whisper into a vacuum. As said in this Huffington Post article, 'The genuine growth of a third party will be based on actually winning elections at the lower levels and building a base of support locally. Random performance in presidential elections is not the crux of the effort.' Or you can vote to keep a bigot and fear monger out of the White House. If you want a better future for yourself, for your kids, for your grandkids, then you will get out and vote. And if you truly care about this great nation then you'll vote for Hillary Clinton.
A vote for Trump is a vote for hate. This isn't lesser of two evils. While one candidate may not be ideal to your feelings and ideas, she is not in the same league as Trump. He is a bigot, he is an opportunistic business man, he mocks the disabled, he implies he'd sleep with his daughter if they weren't related, he is an accused rapist, he incites violence and spreads hate. He is a terrible man.
I didn't want to have to do this but to quote Bobby Kennedy:
"Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance."
This is my tiny ripple of hope.

Star Wars Celebration Europe (Day 2)

Saturday, July 16, 2016
Wowwwwww, day 2 of Star Wars Celebration did not disappoint!

While Anthony Daniels' panel was charming, it is hard to care for something outside of the Star Wars Rebels panel! Holy cow, it was jammed packed with cool stuff. Dave Filoni, Sam Witwer, and Tiya Sircar sat down with Warwick Davis to discuss the upcoming season 3 of Rebels. A few clips were shown, but the ultimate reveal came within the trailer. Maul is back, Ezra is studying a Sith holocron, Sabine is getting even further into her Mandalorian roots, and Kanan has a beard! That is all that was revealed right? Nothing else significant happened...


Okay, so many were blown away by the fact that Grand Admiral Thrawn, of Thrawn Trilogy fame, will be joining the cast. Filoni expressed how important it was to them to incorporate him, "we knew you wanted it and we wanted it too. Thrawn is back!" Many of the more uh intense(?) SW fans out there have been throwing fits for awhile now about the EU being renamed Legends, I've never really cared. The stories are still there and it only means we'll get even more Star Wars content. I trust them, Dave reminded everyone why they should too: "we got your back at Lucasfilm!" The news was accompanied with a video from Timothy Zahn himself. In it he gave his blessing, said he loved what they were doing with the character, and announced that he's hard at work on a new Thrawn book! Hello, big reveals!

I'm really excited for the new season. The work that Filoni and the gang are doing with this show is pretty incredible. It is certainly some of the best content coming out in the Star Wars Universe right now. Filoni said they're working closer towards A New Hope and Rogue One, even hinting at tie ins with the latter. My big gasp moment, before the reveal of Thrawn, was the inclusion of Wedge! Watch the trailer here!




There were clips of the Trials of Tatooine VR experience and hints towards the future including a Vader experience. As for EA, they showed a trailer of the new Death Star expansion that is coming soon. My favorite announcement was that they will have a Rogue One component coming out around the release of the film! My excitement level for Rogue One right now is through the roof! 




The amount of content rolling out is insane right now. Check out Star Wars YouTube Channel for more panels, trailers, and interviews. You won't be disappointed! Check out tomorrow's stream schedule here and read my thoughts from yesterday, Day One of Star Wars Celebration Europe!

Star Wars Celebration Europe (Day 1)

Friday, July 15, 2016
Disclaimer: I'm not there.

Man, do I wish I was, though!

This is purely just a reactionary post based on the excellent content revealed on day one of  Star Wars Celebration. I had my day all planned to get up at 5:55am so I could watch the live stream the moment it started. Imagine my surprise when my phone had updated over the night and I woke up with my wife's alarm at 7:32am. In a panic, I grabbed my iPad and went to the stream just in time to catch the last moments of Mark Hamill's panel. (I have since watched it, you can too, but at the time I was bummed.) I was glad to see the crew of the Star Wars Show holding down the fort and interviewing some folks.



The good news is that I didn't miss the Ahsoka's Untold Tales panel! That was one of the ones I've wanted to see most because Ahsoka, and Ashley Eckstein who portrays her, is the best. It was a pretty eye-opening panel. Pablo Hidalgo, Dave Filoni, and Ahsoka Tano herself Ashley Eckstein were present to discuss what happened to Lady Tano after she walked away from the Jedi Order during the Clone Wars. More of her story was left untold, as Clone Wars ended. The panel provided many sketches they did and work that had not been seen before.


Filoni, the creator of the character and supervising director of the series, chronicled how if Clone Wars hadn't ended that she would've been off in the depths of Coruscant, level 1313. She makes friends (and maybe more?) with a young scoundrel of a man, Nix. She goes out on her own and tries to survive in the underworld, becoming a vigilante with a moral center. Eventually, she comes back to visit the order and see Anakin and Obi-Wan, as she still cares for and trusts them. She still wants to help, which isn't surprising. This provided a little bit of closure before the events in her return to Rebels. (#AhsokaLives, by the way.) She is promoted to general and takes the clones, including Rex, to battle Maul. This is why Maul approaches Ahsoka as if they already know one another in Rebels.

Poor Ashley got extremely emotional. To see her return with Anakin and to see Rex once again, it is a beautiful finish to an unfinished tale. She is the surrogate for all of our feelings in that moment. I had the pleasure of meeting Ashley (and her husband who is one of my all-time favorite baseball players) awhile back. Talk about the sweetest individual. We're truly lucky to have her in Star Wars.


He also told tales of Ahsoka discovering that the Jedi Temple was on top of an ancient Sith temple. Ahsoka would have had a minor confrontation with Sidious, guarding holocrons. These were the kind of plot lines they had in mind for Ahsoka Tano going forward.


The world of Ahsoka isn't over with the ambiguity from the Rebels season 2 finale, it is only the beginning! Coming down the line is a new book, the cover being revealed during the panel. The writer, E.K. Johnson, worked with Dave and Pablo to reference where she has been and where she is headed. I'm extremely excited for this book! Though not mentioned, I hold out hope that she returns to Rebels in the future. And for the collectors, an Ahsoka Tano Funko will be released in the fall... Take my money!



Following the Ahsoka's Untold Tales panel was the ILM Presents: Star Wars Archeology panel. This was about the various effects ILM created and used over the decades they've been making Star Wars films. I really enjoyed the in-depth portrait of their work. I particularly enjoyed the segment about the prequels. Resident bad ass artist Doug Chiang showed many behind the scenes images of all of the practical effects, miniatures, and models used during that era. There is a common misconception that it was all green screen. While it was utilized immensely, so was the standard techniques they used for the original trilogy as well. 



After the ILM panel came the big ticket item of the day, the Rogue One Panel! You may recall my post in April about the Rogue One teaser, which you can read here. I've been feeling a fair amount excitement about Rogue One that has grown with each new bit of content released; today was no exception. The "Sizzle" Reel (their words) was nothing short of jaw-dropping. I had chills and a few tears throughout the (nearly) three minutes. "May the Force be with us" caused a particular yelp from me!

But the reel was only a small piece of an exciting puzzle that unfolded today. The cast and crew of Rogue One truly seem like a great bunch. It seems to me that Rogue One is a bit more of an intellectual's Star Wars war film. I can't think of anything more appealing to me. They shared that George Lucas visited the set. Gareth Edwards, the director of the film, is so genuine. Listening to him speak about the film and his love for the franchise was refreshing in a way that didn't feel bottle fed at all. I love JJ but at times, before the Force Awakens, it felt a bit like he was feeding us lines. This didn't feel like that at all to me. We learned a lot about these characters, my favorite being that Donnie Yen's character is a Force-wielder, it seems. I can't wait to see how this film turns out.

They also released the poster, which is stunning:




The Mark Hamill panel was just him talking and answering questions for an hour. It's pretty excellent. He gives a lot of insight into being Luke Skywalker, the Joker, and more. My favorite moment came in around 54 minutes, he said he thought his intro was going to be when Kylo can't Force grab the lightsaber in the snowy forest on Starkiller Base. He exclaims "Rey caught it!? She hasn't even been to Dagobah for training!! What's the deal!?" Hilarious. What a tremendous fellow. You can tell he loves what he does. I can't imagine a better usher for young fans and old alike to appreciate the Star Wars Universe.

"You are more like family than fans."



Many pictures began to pop up on Twitter of numerous displays and exhibits. One of them being the Rogue One costumes and models, etc. The one that struck me most was the TIE Striker. It is a cool looking ship but what caught my eye was how much it reminded me of Anakin Skywalker's Eta-2 Actis-class interceptor from Revenge of the Sith. I know they based many of the prequel ships, especially in Episode II and III after the original ships to show continuation. I'm glad to see that style has continued. Rogue One lies in between Revenge and ANH, so it works. Stylistically, Star Wars is like no other.



Watching day one unfold was a blast. I wish I was there but there is an excitement inside of me knowing that next year I will be! 275 days can't pass fast enough. It may not seem like much to some but to me, it'll be a dream come true. 

The stream schedule for the rest of the weekend can be found here. Some highlights I can't wait to catch being Keeping Up with the Fetts, Rebels, Carrie Fisher, the Art of Storytelling, and the Future of Films (the last which won't be streamed but I hope to see clips of!) Keep an eye out on Star Wars' official YouTube channel for clips and entire segments from the day!

Hope you all have a great weekend! May the Force be with you!

A Teenage Grave Robber

Tuesday, July 5, 2016
Swinging my legs makes me think of tombstones. For as long as I can remember, I’ve swung my legs while seated. Short in stature, this luxury is presented. It is a way to pass the time mostly, monotonous as it is.  It’s not some hidden trick that will change someone’s life. It is simply just something I do. Now, as an adult, when I swing my legs I think of a certain moment in time. A snapshot of times gone that remain, marinating in the soul. Those cool crisp nights atop scratchy aged tombstones fill my mind. I can still smell the tall grass. I can hear the tree branches scratch along to the crickets’ symphony. Those grave markers were always so high. Admittedly, most things are for me, but I can still feel the way my knees bent to hoist myself onto them.

In my adolescence I thought it was cool to toil around in grave yards at night. Granted I’m not sure I knew (or know) what is cool. It wasn’t overly large, probably some two hundred graves dotted across the land. The grass in between was as dead as the occupants. There weren’t many trees once you entered its gates. However, along the fence that lined the street there was a row of poplar trees. I found the place while riding home on my bike once in middle school and never thought much of it. Then high school came and for whatever reason it called to me. Perhaps I was inflicted by the break between the dead and the living. Under my feet were thousands of stories from hundreds of lives, both told and untold. Cemeteries are like ghoulish mazes. Early on time was well spent weaving amongst the headstones trying to determine which side the bodies lie beneath. At some point I gave up and began to walk straight over each, figuring they wouldn’t know the difference. That could be considered disrespectful by some, but I always thought they’d want to be treated like anyone else. Each name I read sounded like someone out of Dickens or from the Golden Age of comics. The dates amazed me, some pre-1900.

Early on I sought out the oldest interned. Even taking the time to write them all down and sorting them by date. Then I drew a small map in economics class one day on the back of an old test, I kept it in my back pocket. I didn’t need the map for long. That cemetery ingrained itself in me. Each night, under the bright celestial light, I’d steal away after my parents’ heads hit their pillows. Frank Lee Mitchell laid to rest in June of 1870. He was fairly young, by my standards; only fifty eight. There wasn’t much left on him that I could find. His tombstone was simple, it read “Good Man.” That seemed like enough to me. If that is how I am remembered, “Good Woman,” then it would be very hard to complain. I’d searched the internet with little luck. They stopped entombing folks here just short of the 1920s. There were quite a few veterans laid there right towards the end, as you’d imagine. The youngest I found was fifteen. He must have lied about his age because he died in combat and for that you had to be nineteen back then. Calvin Jones was fifteen when he was gunned down. Kind of miraculous they got the body back. “Son, Brother, Soldier.” That was all that was carved into his tombstone. I figured he was also a good man – well, boy -- considering his selfless choice to fight. He was far better than I was then (or now, frankly.) I was just a sixteen year old that road her bike up a steep hill to wander a graveyard at night. What had I done? The hill was a unique torture but nothing compared to what he endured. My burning thighs were a walk in the park in comparison to sleeping in the mud under a blanket of gunfire.

In the mid-morning hours I would ride home. The hill was more steep than ever and I was more alive than ever. The wind beating my face left me feeling chapped. That freeze didn’t vanish until well into my slumber, nestled in my bed. I would grab three or four hours of sleep before I would have to be up and off to school with little time to spare. It may seem like the actions of a loner, but I was no such thing. I had my friends, I wasn’t a total loser. This was simply something held close to the chest. I never told any of them. This was my time to internalize, to figure myself out. Teenagers don’t get a whole lot of time to reflect. The years blow by and while in them you feel as though you are about to burst. Or at least I did. But never in that cemetery did I fear combustion. Once I hopped over those gates surrounded by the likes of Frank Lee Mitchell, Calvin Jones, and the small tombstoned seamstress Sara Richards. I felt comfort. I breathed in the last bit of life they had left, robbing them of the night sky and fireflies.

Early on the grounds keeper approached me, a kind white haired older gentleman. He told me I couldn’t stay and it was against the rules. My heart immediately sank. I didn’t want to lose this small slice of sanctuary where my floor was a lot of ceilings. He said, with a hand on my shoulder, that he had been observing me for a few nights and found me to be harmless. So while I wasn’t allowed to trespass and should under no circumstances come back, he wouldn’t enforce anything. I thanked him. His small cottage, that was more like a shack, was on the other side of the hill. If there was ever any trouble, I knew where to find him.


When he walked away, with a slight limp at a slow pace, something occurred to me. We are all trying to simply get by, just as Mitchell, Hones, and Richards did way back when. The groundskeeper and his shack. Me and my bike. My parents and their bills. My friends and their gossip. It was all just filler. We were all filling the cracks between sun up and sun down until we finally reached the eternal sleep like the hundreds underneath my sneakers. With time I visited them less. It wasn’t a conscious choice, just the tides of time. But in my head I’m still atop the grave yard shelf kicking my legs and reciting the names of folks long forgotten by most but not by me.

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Been awhile since I post. Things have been a bit hectic (and I have an addiction to Overwatch.) Wrote a little short story recently, thought I'd share. I'm a bit rusty but here we are. Enjoy!

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