Monthly Archives

December 2016

Entertainment

The Dark, Defining Relevance of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Last week some serious existential thought was given to my current state of mind as a writer and where I want my laptop and swiftly tapping fingers to take the direction of my writing. My inability to definitively dislike a film without becoming awashed with guilt over criticizing someone else’s expression of art makes me feel kind of dirty. Someone has shared their craft with me, and I think I have the credentials to sit behind my keyboard and poke holes in their passion project. For a film to spark any kind of discussion means it’s accomplished a feat of relevance, but who am I to decide whether it is or isn’t worth your time? Even the worst movie I’ve ever seen is still worth the time, because someone cared enough to create it. So as I took time to ponder my path as a writer, I questioned both my desire and my place in the realm of film discussion and criticism.

I say this as I sit here, bursting with words I want to share about my recent experience with Rogue One and remember why I began this blog in the first place: I can write whatever, whenever I want. So bear with me as this space provides a cathartic place for my excitement and gushing and devastation all at once. The experience of watching Rogue One rocked me to my core, and I’m still trying to figure out why. I am, for the lack of a better description, a weird crier. I can remain stone-faced during The Notebook, and dry eyed through every ASPCA commercial, but I need the whole box of tissues every time I watch both parts of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Something about tales of human connection that expand further than the scope of two people in love, or the death of a loved one tend to hit the hardest for me. These moments are no less important or emotional, they just drive me to tears less often than the overwhelming feeling that I am or could be part of something bigger.

On the same day I went to the theater to see Rogue One, the news broke that the Russian ambassador to Turkey had been assassinated. As details were revealed and startling images circulated of the incident, comparisons were made to the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in June of 1914, the event largely accredited to the trigger of the start of World War I. Things in Syria had reached an eruption unlike any we had seen thus far, resulting in the fall of Aleppo and the death of endless innocent men, women, and children. The rebels have fallen. The empire rises. Tensions reach and unavoidable boiling point. This is the environment we dive into as soon as the lights dim for Gareth Edwards’ Rogue One, jumping right over the titular Star Wars textual stage setting that usually crawls up the screen into the galaxy.

Conflict. Oppression. Destruction. These words rain down on viewers as they realize the uphill battle Jyn and the rest of the rebels must face to destroy the weapon her father has built. As they land on the moon Jedha, a surprise attack from the a rogue group of rebels on the Empire puts civilians in the crossfires. Jyn scrambles into the middle of the battle to save a young child, who is paralyzed with fear, screaming, covered in a mixture of grime and terror in the street. This moment was startlingly similar to stills I’ve seen of children in Aleppo, struggling to survive and buried in the rubble of destruction. Suddenly I, too, was paralyzed with fear. Fear of art depicted life, of science fiction becoming nonfiction.

SPOILERS AHEAD.

As the parallels between fantasy grew more prominent and the lines that divide the two diminished during the film, I realized what was coming. The battle was lost. The rebels, in this moment, during this conflict, would lose. Jyn Erso would be a fleeting, but ferocious, addition to the Star Wars universe, and this magnetic, endearing cast would only be together for one chapter in this story. However, the way one chooses to view the outcome of this conflict speaks volumes about the future of the hope and progression that our world depends on to thrive under fascism and oppression. We can focus on losing the battle, or we can shift to the future, and put all of our efforts into winning the war. The rebels in Rogue One sacrificed themselves for the future generation. They lost their lives trying to ensure the future of their cause for those they were leaving behind.

It’s poignant that the last thing we see in Rogue One as the rebels on this mission to steal the Death Star plans are annihilated is the word “hope” coming out of the mouth of a young Princess Leia when the woman who brought her to life four decades ago left is just yesterday. Carrie Fisher, although she’s gone, gave us hope that as sufferers of mental illness, as young women, as human beings, we can all still change the world when the odds are against us. If, after the death and destruction, hope is all we have, then that’s enough to start with. Rebellions are built on hope.

Best of the Month

Best of the Month: November

This month I’m introducing a special guest who’s going to be sharing her favorites of every month as well: my wonderfully brilliant and supportive fiance Jen. So allow me to hand over the keyboard! Here she is…

Jen’s November Picks

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Hey everybody!  After an obnoxious amount of pressure, my fiancé has agreed to let me write on here!  I get to do my very own list of “Best Of’s” once a month.  I’m pretty pumped! 🙂

So, thank you so much in advance for humoring me and reading this, even though I know you’re here for the babbling blonde (I can’t blame you, she’s the most incredible writer I’ve ever read).  Here goes…

 

Best Thing I Watched: Panel Discussion: “Racism in America”

 

This amazing, thought-provoking event was part of the Heinz Hall Speaker Series and featured Michel Martin, Jason Riley, and Morris Dees.  Michel Martin and Jason Riley are both journalists (Martin for NPR and a Democrat and Riley for the Wall Street Journal and a Republican).  Both are people of color, whose perspectives were deeply personal.  Morris Dees is the founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the attorney who fought and beat the Ku Klux Klan in a very famous court case.  Dees is white and a Democrat, and brought a really interesting perspective as someone who benefits from white privilege, but understands how damaging its existence is.  The talk was so timely, taking place just a week after the election.  It moved me and inspired me, and it was by far the greatest thing I watched in November.  Sidebar: I’ll go ahead and let you all know now that I’m a giant nerd who is obsessed with politics.

 

Best Thing I Read: Love Warrior, by Glennon Doyle Melton

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Full disclosure, I haven’t actually finished the book yet, which Beth may tell me is cheating, but I’m counting it!  You guys, if you haven’t read this book yet, you have to.  It’s funny and heartbreaking, and so insightful.  Love Warrior is one of the most brutally honest memoirs I’ve ever read. It’s so well-written.  And Glennon and I share an alma mater, so it’s almost like we’re friends.  I mean…am I right?

 

 

Best Thing I Tasted: The Manhattan at The Summit

 

The Summit is this super hip bar on Mt. Washington in Pittsburgh that has such a cool atmosphere.  The bar has the best hardwood floors, the seats are church pews, and each table has these really cute candles.  Anyway, all of that is just bonus stuff, since this is the “Best Taste” category.  The bartenders there made me the best Manhattan I’ve ever had.  Now, I realize most of you are judging me and/or trying to guess my age.  Don’t worry about that.  Just go try it!  You won’t be sorry!

 

Well guys, it’s been really fun talking with you, but my girl tells me I have to give the blog back.  So, I guess I’ll see you next month.  Stay sexy and don’t get murdered.  Byeeee.

 

Beth’s November Picks:

Best Thing I Watched: The Crown, Netflix

We’re in a Golden Age of television right now, and the options for quality are almost on par with the options on quantity for the first time since I can remember. Post-election, Jen and I decided we wanted to escape the world of American and dive into the British monarchy for a tick or two. Now I’ll ashamedly admit (my future mother-in-law says this must be corrected pre-wedding) that I’ve never seen Downton Abbey, but I’m told by even the most diehard of fans that The Crown gives it a run for its money. I’d be acing world history classes across the board if they all presented historically accurate events in engrossing of a display.

Photo: Netflix

Photo: Netflix

Best Thing I Ate: “Just Because” Blueberry-Orange Pancakes – Home Chef

I’ve always enjoyed cooking. There’s something uniquely satisfying about filling your family’s tummies and knowing you’re responsible for providing them with something delicious. Cooking is an expression of love. However, as much as I like to cook, I’ll never claim to be particularly skilled at it. I can follow step-by-step directions, but I must use up all of my creativity on the written word, leaving none leftover for kitchen concoctions. Home Chef has been a lifesaver, allowing me to provide my girls with a variety of meal options and sending all of the perfectly portioned ingredients so I don’t waste any food. Mia loved these pancakes, and they even came with powdered sugar to sprinkle on top! You can sign up using my referral link to get a $50 free trial

That’s all for me this time around. What were your favorite things you tried in November? Let me know in the comments!

 

XO – Beth

 

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