The Sith Gardener

Self portrait of me as the Sith Gardener with rake and lighsaber.

I thought I had posted this poem and picture a while ago, but when I searched for it to share with a friend, it was gone.  What happened?  I was really sure I had done so.  Am I getting old really fast?  Am I now in an alternate universe? (Which would explain a lot.)  Regardless, it is not posted anywhere and I had wanted to share this to help get interest in my friend’s work.  She is an artist and sells lovely greeting cards and has put together a charming little picture book that tells of a very different experience than my in the garden.  Her name is Carol Gillman and the book she wrote and published is The First Day of Spring.

 

 

The Sith Gardener by Gretchen Winkler © 2019

On the long journey of gardening the Sith Gardener sees the chaos before him.

On the long journey of gardening the Sith Gardener puts out suet cakes to attract minions to his cause.

The Sith Gardener sizes up his enemies the juniper, ivy, and Oregon grape.  They do battle.

On the long journey of gardening the Sith Gardener mows the lawn and kills the weeds.

On the long journey of gardening the Sith Gardener plants the flowers that pleases his eye.

The Sith Gardener observes the squirrel who tears up the bulbs, sleeps on the flowers, and suns himself mockingly on the fence.

On the long journey of gardening the Sith Gardener meditates on what still needs order.

On the  long journey of gardening the Sith Gardener installs the water system to make his Empire grow.

The Sith Gardener endures the hot sun, the stifling pollen, the annoying wasps, the bitter drought, and the desolate clay ridden soil.

On the long journey of gardening the Sith Gardener greets the bunny who pretends to be a rock in his presence.

On the long journey of gardening the Sith Gardener views the turkey vulture soaring above with majesty.

The Sith Gardener has the last laugh when he looks upon the order that he has brought to his new Empire and the power he now wields in the garden.

 

This poetic story was inspired by writer Carol Gilman, author of The First Day of Spring.  She has a very different experience in her yard.

 

G. Winkler ©2020

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Posted in Art, Culture, Inspiration

Why essential is not the same to everyone

Within the last couple of days I have seen articles, post, reports, and videos about non-essential items should not be allowed to be sold.  One news article reported that people were complaining about the local golf course being open.  Really.  If the course owners and players are following the guidelines, then why can’t people who can play golf go out and do it?

Sour grapes.

You know envy and jealousy.  If someone else can do something they love and you can’t.  Then there was the numerous complaints about non-essential businesses being open.  The officials in charge of regulating this stuff went to those locations and none of them were open.  Once again that selfish behavior of being righteously judgemental and secretly jealous.  This needs to stop.

I don’t have the money or gear to play golf, but I am not going to say those people should stop if they are following the rules.  That person playing golf may be clearing their head of anger, frustration, and thoughts of suicide.  Golf might be that lifeline to serenity to that keeps them from doing something they would regret.  Judging what other people are doing and why is a primitive behavior.  We all do it.  But to let it out of the box and into the world to infect other people’s lives is a sign of selfishness.  That we can all rise above.  Change our behavior.  Acknowledge trained reactions that may be a negative force in our society.  Stop trying to change the world with anger and hate.  It only brings more anger and hate.  It is a cycle that feeds itself.  Stop feeding it.

Yesterday, I say an article that Costco and Walmart should not be selling anything other than food.  Once again, if the store is taking the required health measures, why are these people complaining?  The article said that books, arts and craft supplies, clothes, cosmetics, yard care materials, toys and household appliances were not essential.  How are they judging that?  What makes them judges?  Do they understand the needs of every single household in this country?

I doubt it.

There are a lot of craft oriented people out there making stuff for our healthcare workers.  They are making masks for themselves as well to help protect everyone.  So why keep them from having the tools they need?  Some people just need to keep busy.  Working on yards, repainting the house, reading books, buying toys and games to help keep children happy and occupied are normal healthy things for people to do.  And the clothes still being sold…..how do these “essential judges” know what people need?  What if your favorite pair of shoes just got a hole in them, and your now can’t go for walks, which is the only thing keeping you sane while you are unable to work.  Why does some judgemental person get to determine that you buying a new pair of shoes is not essential?  It shouldn’t.  People shop at Costco because they like the prices and what is being offered.  Yes, it is a membership store.  Is that the problem?  Sour grapes again?  My sturdy pair of tennis shoes now have a rip in them.  I can wait a while longer to get a new pair.  They are still usable, but what if that other person’s shoes has damage that hurts their feet bad?  Just because I can wait doesn’t mean the other person should.

We don’t spend enough time using our imagination to see how someone else’s life might be.  The current society just judges the outside from a shallow point of view.  Stop that.  Just please stop that.  It is like a disease.  It spreads nothing but misery just like COVID 19.

I had a friend in college that would complain all the time.  He used to complain about the football players, the university administration, the way people were dressed, what music they listened to and so on…..  I was never much of a complainer, but I caught myself doing it.   Complaining about stuff that didn’t matter to me.  What the heck?!?!   His negativity was infectious.  Next time you complain about a politician or some group of people, ask yourself why?  Why are you complaining?  Are you that deeply affected by the events?  Is it because your friends and family expect you to complain?  Ask yourself why?  You may find yourself unable to answer that question.  You may find something lurking like a hidden injury that had never been acknowledged and had not healed.  In my case with my college friend, I was simply picking up bad behavior from him.  I worked to stop it.  You can to.  We can all do it.

During this time we may find ourselves having to take care of problems that we might have asked others for assistance with such as my friend in Oregon has a broken furnace.  He is pretty skillful but is no HVAC expert, but he is trying to solve the problem himself.  Other people may be having appliances that are now in more use due to staying home that have broken.  Maybe they were broken before and they just ate out in restaurants.  Perhaps they have lost their job and well, eating at home is cheaper.  Think before you complain.  Think before you encourage others to make things worse because you didn’t have any of those needs.

We can get through this.  Don’t be so quick to join the “Essentials only” bandwagon.  Essential means different things to different people.  We can make it through this pandemic.  We need to pull deep into that higher part of ourselves and work on being patient and mindful.  Save the drama and complaining when it is about something truly important.

G. Winkler April 2020 ©

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Posted in Consumer alert, Culture, current events, Education, Inspiration, Mental Health

Understand the History of Comic Books and Entertainment geared towards males

For a couple of years I have seen an upswing of anti-male behavior.  Not completely sure why.  Women are just as bad.  Both sexes can act like jerks.  And both sexes can be great companions.  It truly depends upon the individual and not their sex, age, so-called race, and whatever label people like to judge others with.  It is the luminous being inside the biological machine that truly matters.  Sometimes cultures, religions, and personal experiences can make people act like jerks.  But each person is truly unique.  And I think as the Human race matures, we shall understand this more instead of needing to label everyone with superfluous categories.

So what brings up such an intellectual or heavily philosophical article from an average blogger such as myself?

Well, I have a Twitter account.  Perhaps that says it all.  I see people arguing and tearing each other apart.  Not sure whether they truly want a serious discussion or want some kind of flame war over who is wrong or right.  You know, drama.  To get followers or something like that.  So I saw this guy post that he was surprised that so many women liked Star Trek.  And all kinds of drama erupted.  Not sure of any of the people’s motives but it did bring up an interesting and an often ignored point from the past.

Back in the 70’s and 80’s…..it was seriously uncool to like sci fi or fantasy literature, comic books, and to play Dungeons and Dragons.  The guys that liked this stuff were often labelled as weirdos and the girls were shunned by other girls.  I experienced this attitude throughout high school and into my college years in the late 80’s.  I even had a high school teacher look down upon me and chide me for my desire to write sci fi or fantasy.  She told me scornfully that I write like Ray Bradbury.   We didn’t have internet at the time.  I knew he was a well known published author, but I had no idea that he was critically acclaimed for writing novels such as Fahrenheit 451.  If I had understood better who he was, I probably would have been thrilled.  But she didn’t mean it as a compliment.  My female friends were not interested into going to see Star Wars movies or playing D&D until they discovered that “the guys” were doing it.  I hung out in high school with a  brilliant group of males.  Why?  Because they treated me with honor and integrity.  The girls around me, especially in middle school, stabbed me in the back so many times that you would have thought I got into a fight with a porcupine.  It was always about looking pretty, which I was not, being popular, which I was not, and getting boys to like them, which from what I recall, they were not interested in me as a pretty girl.  Through band I discovered a different group of people that were intellectually superior and more interesting to be with.  I wasn’t in the academically talented program, but I was drawn to the kids that were.  They seemed to have more interesting things to talk about.  They saw life differently, and that is how I ended up with the bright boys playing D&D.  Later, I managed to get the smart girls to hang out with the smart boys.  Both groups needed more interaction with the opposite sex.

The group was happy.  We were that way until others were added to the group that brought in fears and the drama of jealousy.  By the time half of us were in college for a year, I was not invited anymore because the newcomer female was afraid I might take her boyfriend.  I would never do that.  It was not in my nature, but perhaps it was in hers and she judged me by her own dark motives.

So how does this tie into the title of the article?  Okay, I did get a little off track but the point is that social life back then was not the same as now.  Now it seems that if one like super heroes, then that is cool.  We have Batman, Superman, Spiderman, the Avengers, Wonder Woman, and various other legendary comic book heroes along with lots of Sci Fi and fantasy movies and games.  This stuff is popular.  It makes lots of money!

Now.

Back then….not so much.  Read the books written by the cast of the original Star Trek series.  They tell about how Gene Roddenberry had to fight to get the show aired and how he had to compromise to keep characters as they were planned.  He wanted the first mate on the ship to be a woman.  This was back in the 60’s.  The production crew had to go dumpster diving to get props made and somebody brought their kitchen table chairs to use for the set.  Doctor McCoy’s medical scanner was made from salt and pepper shakers.  These people were not taken seriously.  Sci Fi was not taken seriously.  The whole genre was treated like it came out of the depths of back alley ways where porn and drugs were sold to degenerates.  Comic books were treated in the same fashion.  As a matter of fact, comic books were required to be approved by a special censorship group called the Comic Code Authority.    We have all seen this image on comic books.  I never gave it any thought because I didn’t know what it was.  It was started long before I was born.  This code authority was developed around the time a psychiatrist named Fredric Wertham published a book in 1954 called the Seduction of the Innocent which brought forth the idea that comic books were a serious cause of juvenile delinquency.

This happened in 1954 during the Cold War Era when everyone was just a bit paranoid and still followed what their government told them without question.  So you can imagine what mothers and fathers told their daughters and sons about having comic books and what kind of people read them.  Anyone who recalls what peer pressure was like in school can easily see how this affected the social climate in schools.  Any student seen liking this kind of stuff was considered soiled, someone to be avoided.   You can see where my old English teacher got her attitude from.   Now we have stores that sell t-shirts with Spiderman happily swinging from building to building and Wonder Woman proudly depicted upon pop culture backpacks used by all ages.  Times have changed.  Stop complaining and yelling about how bad things are.  Many things have improved.

The story of scorn and censorship goes further back to what was referred to as “pulp fiction,” and no, I don’t mean the movie.  Pulp magazines were inexpensive books, generally with a soft cover, that contained a collection of short stories.  They were published from the 1890s to the 1950’s.  The Star Trek series DS9 explored this publishing venue in a story where Captain Sisko thinks he is a writer in Far Beyond the Stars.  The writers are depicted as people who struggle to make a living in a not so well respected industry, and the Captain has a more difficult time because he is a black man before the civil rights movement.  Predecessor to these were the Dime Novel and Penny Dreadful.  The British Penny Dreadful were specifically written for working class males.  You can see where I am going with this.  This literature was designed to appeal to young men just like the comic books.  Yah, sure there were females that read and enjoyed this stuff, but you can bet they kept that a secret.  A proper lady that wanted a good marriage needed to appear respectable.  If you don’t get it, read a bunch of Jane Austin or Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth.

And lastly, I will finish with a bit more about how stories have evolved.  Way back to the Middle Ages, people didn’t write stories for fun and pleasure.  It all had to be about religion.  I am speaking specifically about Europe since my literary educational experience did not include Asia, Africa, or South America.  (Gotta focus upon what I actually know.)  This was also the case for art as well.  Art had to have a religious context just like the writing.  The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer are some of the earliest known English stories that were not centered around the church and religion.  ( I am not including any pre-Christian era stuff like what the Greeks and Romans had.)  These tales also had a less than savory reputation and were often labeled as bawdy or ribald.  So let’s just say that the pious people of that time period would not be seen reading and laughing at Chaucer’s stories.  Not to mention that not many people knew how to read back then.  This was something the Founding Fathers of this country wanted for everyone, an education.  I know there are some arguments that will arise here, but long ago only extremely wealthy and religious people were taught how to read.  And that’s a small number compared to today’s standards.  So read a book and enjoy the options you now have.

 

G. Winkler ©2020

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Posted in Comic Cons, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Writing

Pub Crawl meets the realm of Harry Potter

Items from A Very Potter Crawl 2019

Pub crawls are a growing way to create a party atmosphere that involves alcoholic libations, multiple business cooperation, and a certain amount of healthy exercise.  To make it more fun the addition of a theme has been included due to the popularity of Zombie and Santa crawls.  We just attended A Very Potter Crawl in Reno, NV, which focused upon the wonderful world of Hogwarts and the characters created by J.K. Rowling.  A couple of years ago we attended the Epic Crawl where everyone dressed as Star Wars characters.  Since that was fun, we thought (my husband and I) we would attend this one.  And since we love dressing up in costumes, we quickly realized we had to put something together.  As ardent lovers of the Harry Potter series both books and movies, we could not simply go as muggles.

So how hard is it to put together a recognizable or at least a creatively explained Harry Potter Universe appropriate clothing?  Not too difficult.  Currently there are several stores offering a selection of Harry Potter themed items such as Hot Topic and Target.  And we are lucky enough that we are coming upon the Halloween holiday season where the availability of store made costumes and accessories are more available.  The Spirit Halloween store is also currently carrying Harry Potter gear, but don’t go there for Star Wars gear because we did not see any.

To put together a basic Hogwarts student costume is pretty affordable without much need to be highly gifted in sewing or other crafty skills.  I have seen patterns in fabric stores, so that is an option.  But a very basic ensemble that will be recognizable as being from the Harry Potter Universe can be achieved with about $100.  The velvet student robes are about $40 depending upon where you live and how you obtain them.  The womens/girls student sweater is also around $40.  From my experience wearing them at the pub crawl, they were very comfortable.  My husband has a Ravenclaw varsity jacket that was more but is made very well.  It is a real jacket and not just a costume piece.  My preference has been that costumes should be like clothes – comfortable and well made to endure washing and wear.  Another item that will be helpful is the iconic school tie with your favorite house colors.  We also purchased these for $12, but we have seen them at several locations.  Some may be less or more.

Surprisingly nice wizards robes with house colors and shield patches from the Spirit Halloween store. Pretty comfortable for a very average sized person.   A person with wide shoulders may find them a bit tight.

There are many more items that one could choose to purchase to complete the costume such as scarves, socks, skirts, and hats.  Put together what you feel inspired or are comfortable doing.  During the pub crawl I saw traditional character inspired attire while others went with a more sexy approach.  For example short skirts with high heels and stockings.  If you are a hard core Harry Potter fan, you might want to do one of the more elaborate characters such as the esteemed professors, parents, politicians, shop keepers, ghosts, creatures, or perhaps one of the villains.  There are some great villains to dress up as well.  All of these will take more planning than one week.  Our costumes as Hogwarts students had a basic foundation that we owned other clothing that could be suitably paired with the new costume pieces.  My husband has a pair of black slacks and a button up white shirt.  I also own a button up white shirt and a basic black skirt, so it was easy to pair these items up with the costumes pieces.  We enjoyed wearing these costumes and they were very comfortable.

Now, I left out one important item…….the Wand.  You gotta have a wand if you want to dress up like someone from the Harry Potter Universe.  Find a good stick on the ground, a small branch from a tree in your backyard that you can cut, 3d print yourself one, or buy one of the many official Harry Potter wands.  I have seen those all over the place including book stores like Barnes and Noble.  As a matter of fact, the pub crawl that we attended sold these wands as well just to make sure that everyone had a good time and were well dressed for the event.  We purchased our wands, curiously enough, at the Rose City Comic Con that was held just a week before we knew about the pub crawl.  Ours were made by the Hungarian Wand Shop, and they feel……magical.  They are constructed of real wood.

Handcrafted wand made of wood.

So with wand in hand and properly dressed we enjoyed A Very Potter Crawl.  The participating taverns had their own versions of Butterbeer, mixed drinks, and shots in honor of the night’s festivities.  Neither of us are heavy drinkers, so we sampled only a few concoctions and checked out what was happening at least half of the locations on the mapped out list.  All the staff we met were really friendly and what we sampled of the beverages were all good.  I wish we had been able to stay longer to see the costume contests, but those are scheduled for midnight….and well….by then I turn into a pumpkin and just want to be warm and cozy in bed.

Can’t wait for another opportunity to wear our Hogwarts costumes and possibly improve them.  Maybe enlist a few friends to join us?  I know someone who would be perfect as a Slytherin.

G. Winkler ©2019 September

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Posted in Costume, Culture, Entertainment

Hike in Forest….filled with peace.

Just recently I was up in the Pacific Northwest again where I truly feel at home and at peace.  I love the climate and forests.  I want to desperately move back there and find the beauty and harmony that is that region of the country.  I took some photos since I am a picture hound, and thought I would share these images on my WordPress site.

slug in forest

I have neglected my blog lately because I have had so much on my mind and no one wants to hear about how sad I am concerning the loss of someone.  Not even sure if people believe me.  And besides, I am inclined to believe that people need more uplifting than all the irrational anger that I see on the news.  Perhaps some quiet reflecting in places that you like best will help center one’s thoughts to more important matters.  Then I can discuss how someone like Peter Mayhew meant so much to me.  How he gave me hope.  So, please enjoy my pictures of the forest and hopefully you will find a path to inner peace.

I am often amazed at how small these trees make me feel.  Small but not frightened.  Like they are giants here to protect me or look over me as I walk through these woods.  Great experience it was.

G. Winkler copyright ©2019

 

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Posted in Digital Photography, Inspiration, Photography

Chewbacca and the Nobody

Recently Peter Mayhew, the actor who famously played Chewbacca in the Star Wars films, passed away at age 74.  This hit me pretty hard.  Who am I?  I am just a nobody, but I got to work with him for a couple of years on a project.  He was my literary agent.   He changed my life.

He’s a had a couple of health scares since I first  got to known him and there have been times in his life when he has been forced to be in a wheelchair, but that did not keep him from living a full life.  At least from what I knew of him.  I met him through my friend, Bill, in 2016.  My husband and I talked Bill into cosplaying Gungi, the young Jedi Wookiee, and I have no idea how my buddy managed to get in contact with Peter Mayhew.  But he did and even got an autographed picture from him.   But Peter wasn’t just a movie star.   He cared about people and the world around him.  He started a foundation to help people in need called the Peter Mayhew Foundation.  And he was a writer.

 

I am a writer, but no one ever believed in me.  My high school teacher complained that I wrote like Ray Bradbury, she hated Science Fiction.  My high school boyfriend read one of my manuscripts without permission and told me he hated it.  In college I never felt comfortable with my fellow writers and the courses never seemed to make me a better writer.  I submitting manuscripts to publishers and always got a xeroxed response of no thank you.  Being a novelist was like being a fine artist.  You were meant to starve and succeed only after you were dead.  Becoming a novelist was a battle I had no idea how to fight, so I set it aside to focus on things that would put a roof over my head and food on the table.  When I lost my job in 2008?….I think…(It was a horrible place where I did three people’s jobs and got paid for one not to mention that the people didn’t care about me), I started painting again since I was stuck at home.  I also started writing again because my friend, Laurie, mentioned something called NaNoWriMo, which is a writing event that happens every November.  I gave it a try.  I wrote a story about a kid that went to a school for Knights.  No outline.  Just free form spilled out of my heart and mind.  I shared it with my husband and our best friend Bill.  They both liked it, but every writer knows that friends and loved ones will always be kind about art projects.  For some reason Bill wanted to show it to Peter Mayhew and I said alright.

This was the start of my friendship with the man who created what a Wookiee should be.

He really liked it, and we discovered that we had some interests in common.  He wanted to know if I had an ending for it.  And I said no, and that I was currently working on a Star Wars story.  Remember the story of a kid going to a Knight’s school was done without any planning.  I wasn’t sure how to end it.  Still don’t.  But the Star Wars story had been outlined for the upcoming NaNoWriMo event.  Why write a Star Wars story?  Well, I have loved Star Wars ever since I saw the first movie as a kid.  I’m a big Darth Vader fan.  I liked him when it wasn’t cool.   Trust me, I got some strange looks for liking Darth Vader.  I even tried to explain that he was one of the main characters like a hero but not one.  I was a kid.

So once I had my Star Wars story written and edited a couple of times to make it readable, I let Peter Mayhew read it.  After he read it, he asked if he could be my literary agent!  No kidding.  I was excited and shocked all at once.  I kept wondering if he was messing with me, but I was told that Peter had a reputation for being a straight shooter.  No bullshit and he would say it like it was.  Also, why would a busy person like him waste time on a person like me if he didn’t think I had potential.  You see, it was hard to believe because no one had ever been a mentor to me or ever taken an interest in the projects that I worked on.  He had me do a few things to set up my work  to help protect it.  He also explained how the Star Wars Universe actually worked.  People don’t submit stories to them, they contact writers and tell them what to write.  Only one writer had done what I wanted to do before in the Star Wars Universe.  He actually wanted to introduce me to her.

He worked to find me the right people to work with which seemed to be an uphill battle.  He finally asked me if he could share it with his old friend, whom I call the Decision Maker.  Peter wanted to know what his friend would think of the story.  The Decision Maker liked the story and said he would help try and find editors and a publisher.  You see, stories that are part of a franchise have to follow certain rules set up by the owners.  I had several friends suggest self publishing, but that would not work because my work was set in the Star Wars Universe.  I have read many of the novels and comic books that are pertinent to the situations in my stories as well as seen all the movies and cartoons numerous times.  So when you see authors that say they had helpers do research, well, I did it all on my own.  It’s time consuming but a labor of love.  I did not want to let down Peter or the Star Wars fans.

Unfortunately, Peter’s health was not the greatest and he had mentioned to me that he wished to retire but was willing to see my story get published.  He was still very busy doing comic cons and movie stuff he couldn’t talk about.  So when I say I knew him….I knew him not as much as I would have liked to.  He was a busy guy and I needed to be patient.  I felt uncomfortable sharing with people that he was acting as my literary agent because I didn’t want to disappoint people when I couldn’t get them autographs and so forth.  This was a professional type of friendship.  Then it came to the point when his friend the Decision Maker agreed to take on my project while Peter recovered from some surgeries.  The Decision Maker was my “temporary” literary agent.  Both men have given me guidance and have done their best to navigate through the Star Wars Universe, which has become quite complicated.  Now that Peter is gone, I guess that means the Decision Maker is my literary agent.  I hope he doesn’t mind.  He’s also a very busy person.

I’m not going to give up on what Peter and I started.  I will make him proud of me.  I will be worthy of his faith in my skills as a writer and story teller.  I just need the publishers to treat the Decision Maker with more respect.  I don’t have any control over that.  The entertainment world is not a simple place.  Not sure it ever has been.

So that’s how Peter Mayhew changed my life.  I am still a nobody, but I don’t feel as much like a nobody inside anymore.  I know that he and the Decision Maker liked my book.  They believe that it is worthy of being part of the Star Wars Universe.

I know that I am not the only person that will miss him and many of you reading this will feel the same way.  It is my understanding that Peter’s family wishes that instead of sending flowers to them that making a donation to Peter’s Foundation would be appreciated.  Make Peter’s last action on Earth be to bring more  help to others in need.  I think he would like that.

G. Winkler ©2019

PS – I know this was not written very well, but it was written more for me than anyone else.  I just needed to say that I cared about him since I felt I had to keep his name secret because I don’t think I could have deal with people asking me to try and get autographs and so forth from him.

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Posted in Art, Star Wars, Writing

Snow inspired Hoth fun

Okay, so this is another one of my action figure photo series.  I think every writer should do stuff to get in touch with the characters they are writing for especially if the characters and setting are not based on reality.  I am currently writing Star Wars Universe stories.  I am a fan, but I don’t write fan fiction.  My writing follows certain rules like respecting the characters as they have been developed.  Acknowledging and understanding the setting as it has been established.

So what does that mean?  Darth Vader doesn’t need a hot babe to solve all his problems.  That would not follow with why he is Darth Vader.  That would show a blatant disregard for what has been established for the character and a serious lacking of understanding of who Darth Vader is.  One always hears actors ask, “What is my motivation?”  Well, that is important in writing as well.

Now, don’t get me wrong….some of the fan fiction out there is well written, and some of it should be flushed down the toilet where it belongs.  Fan Fiction gives people a chance to express ideas and improve their writing skills.  That’s not enough for me.  I want my stories to be published and shared with those that love Star Wars.  I want to return the joy that I felt as I watched and read throughout the years.

So the snow today has inspired my thoughts to turn to the planet Hoth where the  Empire Strikes Backs begins.  I have a few of those Hasbro Black Series 6 inch action figures.  So I gathered up a few that I thought would make sense for a Hoth inspired scene.  But being out in ultra white snowy bright conditions has its hazards….snow blindness.  Yes, that is a thing.  You end up with a headache and an aversion to bright light.  It takes about a day for it to go away, at least for me.  It is unpleasant.  Then the other problem to contend with….the camera, which is actually my cell phone.  It has great resolution, but the Moto phone doesn’t work as well as my old Samsung.  I literally cannot not see the screen while I am outside in such bright light.  Even pulling my sunglasses away, I cannot see the screen.  I had to set up my figures and guess how things would look in each shot.

The following are the results from my blind attempt.  Good thing I am not spending millions of dollars to film an action adventure scene while doing it with just the Force to see with.

These three look pretty much the same except with some mild lighting differences.  The giant shadow was me being in the way.  Another thing to be mindful of when taking pictures or filming.  Is the camera and operator inadvertently getting into the scene?

This is how the scene looked from above.  By crouching down on the wet cement, I was hoping to get that tunnel affect of being in an area with very high snow.  The previous images were all lacking the other figure that I wanted to be in the shot.  Because I could not see the phone screen while taking the pictures, I could not tell if I was at the correct angle or if I needed to move the figures around.

Here I changed camera angle to make sure my protocol droid was included in the scene, but once again….I could not see the screen on the phone, so I could not tell how much of the house and other illusion breaking items had gotten into the shot.  This probably would have been fine if a brilliant blue sky was the back ground image.  One could attempt to Photoshop the house and so forth out of the picture.  Below is my attempt to remove the unwanted background clutter that breaks the illusion.

It does look better. 🙂  The final picture is what I was hoping for, but what I got was blurry.  I wanted the white droid to be in the background like he was surprised or hiding from the Imperials as they discuss the Rebel captive kneeling upon the ground.  He was supposed to be one of those details that people notice only after looking at a picture for some time.  A blue sky would also be useful in this image, but it lacks the clarity that I wanted.

I hope you had fun looking at these and will be inspired to do even better photos.

May the Force be with you!

G. Winkler ©2019

 

 

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Posted in Art, Inspiration, Star Wars, Toys, Writing

Star Wars: Solo the movie and the book….

Han Solo book w1000

When I discovered that a series of movies were to be made concerning the character Han Solo from Star Wars, I was excited.  I am a Star Wars fan.  I saw a New Hope in the theater as a kid, and it made me believe that flying through space could be real.  I loved  the lightsabers, blasters,  and all the cool creatures.

So the idea of a Han Solo movie sounded terrific.  Then all the rumors….yuck.  I hate Star Wars media, which I suppose is Disney media.  So full of hype and lack of substance.  I think they could spend more time and money on good writing instead of all the stupid hype that we don’t need.  Star Wars will sell itself because of what George Lucas created along with all the great artists, actors, and technical people.  Great team work makes great films.

So the rumors were that the Han Solo movie was supposed to be garbage and that came from Disney.  At least that is what my husband understood from the articles he was reading.  That seemed strange like they were sabotaging their own product.   Then the main actor Alden Ehrenreich was rumored to be concerned about how the movie was being made.  Slap stick comedy?!?  Yikes.  I’d be concerned too if I had been in his shoes.  So there was a director change with Ron Howard taking over the helm.  Then the controversy about The Last Jedi and how bad it was created more problems.  Groups of people were so pissed off that they wanted to boycott all Star Wars movies without realizing that the “side” films and cartoons were not under control of the same people.  The Star Wars Universe and the Star Wars Real World is VERY complicated.  I should know, I am working on several Star Wars novels.  No, I can’t tell you about them. NDA. 🙂

But I can tell you that I do a lot of research into what is Canon and what is Legend and how to incorporate aspects of the Legends stories into what is currently Canon.  It’s not easy.  I also don’t have a team of editors and “people” helping me out.  And to make matters more complicated, I discovered from my literary agent that people don’t submit stories to be published for the Star Wars Universe, writers are requested to write them.  There has been only one other writer that did what I am attempting to do according to my literary agent, who is reasonably connected with the whole Star Wars thing.  My agent promised to introduce me to her.  But he’s been under the weather for about a year, but I think it was Claudia Gray.   I loved her book Bloodlines.  So it has been my plan to read every Star Wars novel that I can as well as some of the comic books.  Not an easy task for a dyslexic person.  But I am doing it, and I think it is making me a better writer and gives me a broader understanding of the whole Star Wars Universe.  I don’t claim to be an expert.  So don’t start quizzing me on details like Kobold flash handles being a droid caller, okay.

So reading Star Wars: Solo by Mur Lafferty is a priority on my list.  The movie was great.  I enjoyed it.  I could have done without all the social media drama.   I recommend Star Wars fans to just watch the movies, cartoons, read the books/comics, and play the video games.  Have fun.  Buy the toys and posters.  Ignore the nonsense.

sws-behan-the-scenes-dryden-vos

Please note the marks on his face and the suit of armor in the background.  To find more goto this link.

So why read the book if you have seen the movie?  Well, there are tidbits of information that can be gathered from reading the books.  For example, I liked Rogue One and read the book and the novel that is prior in the time line that focuses around Galen Erso, Jyn’s father.  I gained a great deal of respect and admiration for Galen’s efforts.  You must read Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel by James Luceno especially if you loved those characters.   Director Krennic is such a jerk.  So since I saw the Solo movie first prior to reading the book, I had preconceived ideas about certain characters because of the way they were presented in the movie.  An excellent example of this was the character Dryden Vos, who is basically the main villain in Solo.  There are several questionable people that Han Solo comes across but no one more volatile than Dryden Vos.  After seeing the movie my husband and I pondered exactly who was Dryden Vos.  How did he get those horrible scars across his face?  Was he a soldier that got wounded in battle?  Was it Darth Maul, his boss, that punished him for some digression?  Was he part of Maul’s Mandalorian followers that stood by him and even rescued him in the Marvel comic books?  If you pay attention carefully, you can see a set of Mandalorian armor in Dryden Vos’s office in the movie.

Unfortunately, all these marvelous assumptions were wrong.  He is apparently some kind of race that has strange facial markings that change color when they have emotional reactions.  He is pretty much just a money grubbing douche-bag that uses people.  Some evil business guy.  I was disappointed.  I was wondering what the back story was on Dryden Vos………and well, now I don’t care.

But just because I was disappointed about Dryden Vos doesn’t mean that the book doesn’t have lots of other wonderful insights.  I loved Lando’s reasoning for all the capes.   The story behind L3 and why she is constructed like a biped.  What really happened to Qi’ra after Han left.   When you read the book, you get more information.

So why don’t the movie people put all these goodies into the movies?  Well, to be honest  sometimes there isn’t enough time.  Or an investor doesn’t like that part of the book.   Or they need to cut costs and need to decide what they actually need to tell the story and keep the flow of the film.  The movie has to make money and pay for all the expenses.  It also needs to make a profit or else there will not be funds for the next film.  It’s not personal,….it’s just business.

So if you were one of the people told not to see the Han Solo film, ignore that.  It is being shown on Netflix right now or you could buy the DVD.  Watch it.  It is a fun Star Wars movie.  And then read the book.  Just don’t expect Dryden Vos to be that impressive.  🙂

G. Winkler  ©2019

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Posted in movies, Star Wars, Writing

Nike ad campaign and it’s implications…

The Nike ad campaign is obviously designed to stir people up and create a buzz about the Nike product.  But when does advertising cross a line in the messages they sell and market to the population?  In the past rock musicians have been put on the spot for the content of their songs.  For example, the band Judas Priest was put on trial for lyrics that supposedly drove two fans to commit suicide.     Ozzy Osborne also had to deal with such accusations.  There have been many controversial ads in past years.  Some have been removed because people have found them offensive such as the H&M “Coolist monkey in the jungle” sweatshirt.   But this particular ad encourages people to throw caution to the wind and not think about the consequences to themselves or others.  Is this a good message during a time when the US has become so polarized?

My husband was browsing through people’s reactions to the ad campaign and read it allowed to me.  The first thing that came to mind was the Twin Towers in New York City.  I felt sick at the thought that this very phrase could encourage such darkness.  Average people think about their actions and how these actions will affect their future and their loved ones.  I am assuming that Nike was trying to encourage athletes to do their best, but  “Believe in something” does not stipulate that it has to be something positive or kind.  Something could quite literally mean anything good or bad.  They are also telling the public they should “sacrifice everything” and “just do it.”  I wonder how hard did they really think about what they were encouraging in this day and age of constant media bombardment.  With Internet trolls, school bullies, intense political hatred, and concern over social media and it’s affect upon US elections as well as our younger generations, is it wise to send this message to a fragile soul who may be on the verge of just doing something and sacrificing everything?  This is a message of extremes.

So my husband and I started brain storming of various situations of where this ad campaign could be used as a call for action.  We easily came up with some rather dark figures from history and I am sure we are missing many examples, but we started to grow concerned that there was no one positive that we could call upon.  We really had to think hard.

These are the dark and somewhat foreboding ideas that we came up with.  I think they speak for themselves.

The event known as 911.

 

 

 

Here are what I would deem as positive examples.  These are all tied to famous people, but I can imagine that many firefighters, police officers, rescue workers, and soldiers would also fall into the positive category of someone who believed in something and literally risked their lives to do what they believed in, but risking their lives does not mean sacrificing everything which would also include the people around them.  So it doesn’t quite fit.  The people that hid the Jews and other people hunted by the Nazis were actually taking a risk that would sacrifice everything, but I don’t know the names of these brave souls, so we used Anne Frank as an example of their belief in something.

Anne Frank, victim of the Holocaust during World War II – she was hidden by people who dared to defy the NAZI party.  We used her picture to stand for the unknown people that risked everything.

 

Jesus Christ – religious figure ( I think you can find information on him on your own.)

There are also many characters in literature that would go to extremes to get what they want.  Some would risk dying to obtain their goals and risk everyone and everything around them.  Someone so selfish has to be at the apex of what is described as evil.  Hopefully, you will enjoy the humor of this character being used as an example for this ad campaign that is encouraging people to go to extremes without a thought for anyone or anything else.

Sheev Palpatine – the ultimate villain in the Star Wars Universe.

 

G. Winkler ©2018

PS – Remember this is just my opinion, and I am not encouraging anyone to go to extremes.  Please think before you go off and do something stupid.  Think!

 

 

 

 

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Posted in Culture, current events, Marketing

Senator McCain

I am not a Republican.  I am not a Democrat.  I am non-partisan.  I can make my own choices and do not need a group to tell me how to feel or think.  I can do that fine on my own.

During the 2000’s I discovered that I was having health problems, so I decided since we didn’t have much money for doctor visits and had sporadic healthcare that I would make healthy changes on my own.  One of the things I decided to remove from my diet was High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS).  I had to throw away a lot of food items.  I was shocked how this stuff had been added to so many things for no apparent reason.  I also discovered to my dismay that I was actually addicted to the product.  I craved it like I was starving to death.  I had never had any addiction before to anything and this was quite new and very disturbing.  To honestly feel as if one is starving to the point of becoming angry is…..disturbing.  Why would anyone put this into their product?  Did they know what it was doing? How could the FDA approve of such a product?

I started writing to manufacturers of my favorite products such as Pepsi, Dreyer’s Ice Cream, various breakfast cereal companies, and Nabisco Oreo Cookies.  One never got a satisfying reply from any of these companies, but for every person willing to ask or show concern, there about 99 others thinking the same thing but are too lazy to write.  So I did.  I tried to increase the knowledge of others about this product.  I even posted a collected page of pdf articles on my own website that discussed what High Fructose Corn Syrup was. http://www.observationpost42.com/html/wendells_cubical_wall.php

It is the Internet, and one can say just about anything, so I collected various sources to show the different perspectives of the product.  And during this time I fought with the strange addictive qualities that would pop up from time to time.  (It took over a year to get the stuff out of my body.)  Absolute hunger for no reason and nothing would satiate that feeling……except something with High Fructose Corn Syrup in it.

Then Hurricane Katrina happened.  The stories of the strange desperation and violence that was shed upon the victims of the storm.  Over a 1000 people died from that storm.   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_Katrina  And the stories in the news about the violence was disturbing.  It was often said that many of the victims were poor people.  And during that time many poor people would buy fast food such as burgers, french fries, fried chicken, pizza, and so forth because at the time it was pretty affordable.  I know.  My husband and I used to by the $1 Burger King Whoopers during the early 90’s because we didn’t have much money to spend on food.  So we did what we could.  I am sure the food in areas affected by Hurricane Katrina did the same thing.  I also had to give up eating fast food because the High Fructose Corn Syrup was in the ketchup, the fries, the buns,  even the meat sometimes, the sauces, the pickles, and the sodas…..  I actually made the mistake of eating fast food during this time because we were helping a friend move and the only place to eat was McDonalds.   We were in an isolated small town.   I felt strange after about a half hour of eating the food and then my legs and feet swelled and my stomach felt wrong.  I could not go to the doctor because at that time I didn’t have healthcare.  I also don’t think the doctors would have understood what happened.  I stayed in that condition for two whole months.  It was awful.  There was something in the food.  (We now suspect it wasn’t just HFCS but also MSG and high salt content that contributed to this extreme body change.)  But imagine how powerful these chemicals are on one’s body to have that kind of affect.

So back to Hurricane Katrina….I started thinking about how the people behaved angrily and violently as if they had a right to do what they did.  Some complained on TV that they were starving.  Some of these people that complained were very overweight.  An overweight person should have calories to burn in difficult situations unless their stomach and brain was telling them something else.  They were all more than likely addicted to High Fructose Corn Syrup.  It wasn’t that they were fat pigs or stupid poor people….they were suffering from an addiction that they were not even aware of.  The relief workers were probably handing them bottles of fresh clean water that could not satiate their thirst for HFCS.

When this realization came to me, I decided to write to someone in the public service that would understand suffering and have some kind of power to say or do something.  I wrote to Senator John McCain.  He was not my state senator.  He was one of the candidates for President, but he had the right stuff to be able understand my concern.    I knew other people were worried about this stuff as well, but no one was listening.  The High Fructose Corn Syrup lobbyists were obviously very powerful and they actually tried to change the name of their product at one point, which was after I got my letter out and things started to happen.

Now I am not saying that my letter was the only one that mattered or that I know for sure that Senator McCain did something about the problem.  I just know that about six months after I sent that letter I started seeing bread with marketing blurbs on their product saying no HFCS.  It started to grow from there.  I like to think that in some small way I helped to get the word out and that Senator John McCain or someone in his staff helped in some manner to make the citizens of this country a bit more healthy.  Something changed for the better.

High Fructose Corn Syrup is not allowed in Europe.  It is also illegal in Mexico as well.  That is why there is “Mexican Coke” products.  I don’t have the cravings anymore, but I still have problems with my body knowing when I am full and when to stop eating.  Something was damaged by the chemicals in that product, and I am stuck with it….as far as I know.  I just have to consciously monitor how much I eat.

G. Winkler ©2018

 

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Posted in Culture, current events, Inspiration