Ecktivate Plen Suxty Sux

Movies
I caught Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith the other day. It was the first movie I’ve seen at the cinema for months. I’ll throw my opinion into the ring by saying I loved it.

The movie had a weird narrative structure – all epic-scale action at the start with ever decreasing scenes throughout until the viewer is left with the sad, intimate scenes at the end. It felt like an inverted pyramid as far as the plotting goes, but I still think it worked. The plot was an inevitable extension from the first two movies, so it had to be ‘shaped’ that way to bridge it into the original Star Wars (Episode IV).

A lot of it had to do with the antagonists. Obviously Darth Sidious and Vader were ultimately destined to be the antagonists, but (much like the bogus Clone war instigated by Sidious/Palpatine) a more obvious enemy was needed until Anakin amassed enough ‘dark side’ tokens to edge him into Vaderville. Enter Count Dooku and General Grievous.

Yeah, Dooku is really old Saruman dressed up in black with a stylistic light sabre, but hey, he still added some class. Much to Lucas’ credit, he was disposed of early and thoughtfully, in a way I expected – nay, hoped for. Grievous was a nice touch, and although I wanted him to stick around a little longer, he too had to go to make way for the Dark Lords of the Sith.

So, the inverted pyramid plot was exacerbated by an almost serene pause in the middle as the superficial bad guys were taken care of, and Anakin Skywalker stepped up to the plate. It did feel to me like two stories in one. As I said though, I doubt there was any other way to tackle it. Regardless, it worked, and for mine, worked well.

I loved Anakin’s descent into darkness. I was totally with him, and probably would have made the same choices. It was just at the end that I thought he kinda lost the believability but I can accept the cumulative effect of ‘dark side’ tokens (ie. murders) and how this would impact on a cock-sure young Jedi’s mindset.

All in all, Revenge of the Sith was dark, like everyone said. Tinged with melancholy, as was expected. But dammit, I wanted more Vader! I wanted more ‘holy shit! I’ve been put into a black spacesuit and life sucks because I’ve just screwed everything up!’ kind of angst from the man in black. Oh well.

The one moment I absolutely loved, and no one appears to have picked up on – when the Emperor commands his army of clone troopers (ALL with New Zealand accents, thanks to Jango Fett in Ep 2) with the phrase ‘Activate Plan 66′. I mean, come on! Surely one of the script writers was havin’ a lend of those poor old clones. Imagine the order being relayed – ‘ecktivate plen suxty sux’! Why ‘Plan 66?’ Why not ‘Plan Omega’? or something equally ominous? Well, I thought it was a hoot.

Aside from Revenge of the Sith, I recently caught Shaun of the Dead and The Impossibles on DVD. Yeah, I know, I’m way behind the times, and never watch TV anymore (ha! take that! I’m immune to Big Brother!).

The Impossibles was funny, cool, and superheroey. Shaun of the Dead was funny, cool, and zombiey. Both elicited giggles (especially Shaun, as his best made Ed is striking similar to someone I know!), both were well worth the watching.

Writing
In the midst of wrapping up my final uni assignments for the semester (another distinction rolled in, for one of my 40% weighted assignments. Woot!), I’ve been methodically editing several of my stories for a few month’s end deadlines. It’s with spades of relief that I’ve submitted to the KSP SF Competition, both categories of the AHWA competition, and the Eidolon anthology. I also squeezed out a freshly revised Clarion story to Aurealis for consideration. In addition, I’m trying to turn an outstandingly bizarre premise into a story for the Charm, Beauty, Strangeness anthology, but time (and four assignments due this week) may beat me on that one. It’s a damn shame if I do fall short. This story will undoubtedly rock.

The big advantage to this burst of editing is seeing the value of patience and distance. Almost all of these stories have been stewing for a few months now on the drawing board. They’ve been completed for ages, some have even been submitted before. However, the critical mass of post- Clarion and current Shadowed Realms slush reading insight has transformed these stories (a couple of Clarion ones, and a few earlier efforts) into far more powerful pieces. Allowing a story to stew for a while between drafts really, really does improve it. I guess the concept is similar to red wine. I am learning patience, but it does rankle not to see these babies fly out sooner rather than later. I’ll get over that. The end result is worth it.

Life
Karma seems to be looking after us quite well at present. Ange is exceedingly busy Shadowed Realmsing and has been for weeks. Non stop. She’s like a machine. A dark, scary editing machine. I think it has something to do with the ‘Shadowed Realms central’/office facelift. We now have a full-wall whiteboard (which is already jammed with SR plans), plus another smaller board. The Jacquii’s excellently morbid painting hangs over the desktop PC, as does Hattori Hanzo and Hayley’s success stone (well, they’re actually on the monitor).

The computers have also had a massive reshuffle. We’ve bought a splendiferous flat panel monitor and put it on Hayley’s machine, and have swapped her monitor for the old one in the study. A new 120GB hard drive is now in the desktop, with the old hard drive to be shuffled around as a secondary HD on Hayley’s PC.

It all makes little difference to me though – I’m on the laptop most days now anyway. I gave over ownership to my PC about a month ago, all in the name of ‘Shadowed Realms progress’ (well, it was hijacked by a certain Ms. Challis, who snarls when I approach within two metres of it).

Sahma doesn’t know what to make of all this efficiency. She’s still only half-clipped and looks like Mr. T. But hey, we’ve been stoking the wood heater lately, so she should stay warm enough.

I guess that will be after we return from Thylacon (in two weeks! eek!), and Continuum (only 6 weeks, double eek!). At least we have the hotel, flights, and memberships all organised nice and early this time. And we’ll be arriving early to both cons to settle in and relax a little before the madness begins.

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