Ok, Let’s Geek Out A Bit About Star Wars

When Disney erased the Star Wars expanded universe, my initial thoughts were brief disappointment, followed by excitement. There are stories I loved from the expanded universe. And there are stories I hated. It made sense to reset the canon because how to you choose which stories are worthy to keep and which aren’t? How do you tell an author that “your stories aren’t good enough anymore”? And let’s be honest, Star Wars has long had an evolving canon. That’s why fans adopted a hierarchical approach that treated the stories as having degrees of canonicity. Do we really want to open the door to Grand Moff Thistleborn, Trioculous, and Ken the Jedi prince?

With the slate wiped clean, I wanted to jump in and stay up to date on the new canon. “I should read every book and comic,” I thought. But hardcover prices can be steep for books and authors that you may or may not like. Also, I’m not the fastest reader out there. When I was younger, I read quickly, but somewhere along the line my reading speed decreased. I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep up. So, I dropped this goal.

A year ago, my wife and I decided to share an Audible account. I get even-numbered months; she gets odd numbers. Eventually, I started picking up the Star Wars audio books. Sometimes I like the stories and sometimes I don’t, but the production quality is always high. This was an opportunity, I realized, to get caught up and start following the Star Wars canon novels.

So that is what I plan on doing. Each time I listen to a new audio book or watch a movie, I’ll add it to my ranking. Things will shift around, which will be fun for comparison. And it might help you see if we share the same tastes when it comes to Star Wars stories. I may even do a separate series for expanded universe books and comics.

Here is the current ranking, using the films from the George Lucas era.

  1. The Empire Strikes Back
  2. A New Hope
  3. Return of the Jedi
  4. Revenge of the Sith
  5. The Clone Wars
  6. The Phantom Menace
  7. Attack of the Clones

Again, this list is based on my preference for Star Wars stories. Your list is your own, and I would love to see how you rank these movies. Over the next few weeks, I’ll start filling in the list with other movies and books that I have read. Again, this list will be Disney canon only. I’ll give some thought to my Star Wars Legends list, though, because I don’t want those stories to be forgotten.

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Of Long Hiatus and Slow Healing

It has been far too long since I’ve written. Life has been incredibly busy, and most of my creative energies have been taken by work projects. But in addition to the business, I’ve been seeking help with years worth of depression and suicidal ideation. My wife and a couple of friends have been at me for years to seek help. I’ve had mixed results with counseling in the past. I typically hit a point where progress stops, but I felt obligated to keep going to the counselor I was seeing. My current counselor, however, has helped me sort through many things. Years of burnout and suppression of my own wants and needs are taking time to unravel, but progress is slowly being made.

Futaba, from Persona 5, sitting alone in her room.
Futaba’s depression is one of many elements from Persona 5 that resonates with me. Image from megamitensei.wikia.com. Persona 5 is owned by Atlus.

As the depression has started to become less frequent, I have pursued some changes at work that are actually freeing up my mental energy. I feel like writing again. Well, more accurately, I feel like seeing some sort of personal creative work. And so, I want to post here from time to time. My goal is once a week, but I’m not going to beat myself up if I miss a week here or there. I’m also not going to put pressure on myself to do in-depth analyses or reviews (unless I feel like it at the time). It’s more an outlet to share where I am and what I am doing, and if anyone gains insight or enjoyment, that’s great.

After playing through the Final Fantasy series (which I continued to do, even though I stopped writing about it), I’ve moved on to other games. I’m currently streaming a Kingdom Hearts playthrough on Twitch for an hour or so on Mondays and Tuesdays. My goal is to play through all the games on the 1.5, 2.5, and 2.8 remix collections in preparation for Kingdom Hearts 3 next year. One or two nights a week, my wife watches me play Persona 5. She didn’t plan on watching, but the story has hooked her. The game is a lot of fun, and I love the music and visual design.

Kingdome Hearts logo and characters
Kingdom Hearts is owned by Disney and Square-Enix

Outside of those games, I’ve been looking at something to play on my own, free from the obligations of being “on.” At the risk of jRPG overload, I picked up Dragon Quest VIII for the PS2. Again, great music and visual design. But the main thing I enjoy about the game is the grinding. Sometimes grinding can lead to a mild zen state. It also accompanies audio books well.

My gaming tastes tend to skew toward jRPGs, but I also enjoy some Western RPGs, such as The Elder Scrolls and some of Bioware’s games. You can probably tell that I also like games with compelling music and visual designs. (For example, I picked up Hyper Light Drifter from a GOG.com sale, and I look forward to digging into the world of that game.) So, if you have recommendations, let me know.

I’m also trying to get back into reading. I hit a string of uninteresting books lately, and rather than finish them, I just avoided them. One personal goal that I’m working on is to not force myself to finish a book if it isn’t working for me. Finishing books was just another area where a sense of obligation was wearing me down. But really, who was I reading for? Does it matter if I stop reading a book because I don’t enjoy it? No one is standing over me to make sure I read every word. I don’t have to give a book report as an exit exam to life.

And that brings me back to why the depression and suicidal thoughts became overwhelming: years of accumulating “have-to’s” for no reason. That some illusory entity was there to make sure I was doing all the things I was supposed to be doing. I was tired all the time (and still am from time to time), and suicidal thoughts were a longing for rest. They still arise every now and then. Years of habitual thoughts don’t stop overnight. But I think I am making progress. I am working rediscover my sense of self, to re-learn what it means to enjoy things after years of emotional repression. I am working to learn that I don’t have to prove myself and to be okay with discovering what I like and don’t like.

And if I feel like sharing, I’ll do that, too.