2016: It Wasn’t All Bad

calendarbackdrop2016 has been blamed for a lot of pain and heartache.  It has, quite literally, felt like some force was actively trying to destroy any piece of hope and joy in the world.  While it’s easy to get bogged down in all the horrible things that have happened in these last 12 months I wanted to take a look at some of the good things that happened for me this year.

Of course, the calendar is a human construct for us to measure our time and the actual day, month, or year has little bearing on what happens day to day.  But, it’s basic psychology to view the end of the year and the beginning of the new year as a fresh start to make amends and changes.

With so much negativity in the last few months, I wanted to look back and take stock of the good things.  I went through my calendar of events this year and found quite a bit of positivity and even some things that had slipped my mind.

For me, 2016 began on a high note.  We were still riding the good feelings of the release of Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens in the last weeks of 2015.  There was a lot of excitement and anxiety going into the film, and I feel that the film delivered admirably.  This would carry forward into the spring when we got the home video release.  I have since watched the film countless times, and it always makes me happy.

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In February, we had new windows installed in our home.  Our house is older with poor insulation and very drafty windows.  For years, we would freeze in the winter and melt in the summer.  Basically, whatever it was outside, it was the same inside.  Adding new windows to our home has made a huge improvement to how the house has felt.  We haven’t needed to run our a/c or heat nearly as much, and the house looks so much better.

In April, we traveled to the west coast to visit my family in Seattle.  Since moving to Virginia in 2000, I haven’t gotten to visit my family as often as I would like.  So, I treasure any chance to visit and we try to go at least once a year.  This year was a shorter trip, but it was fun.  We got to take my nephews to various art exhibits and a Mariners game.  Seeing their joy and enthusiasm was infectious and just what was needed.

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This was a big year for us in the 501st Legion.  Countless new members joined.  Garrison Tyranus in Virginia is now up to nearly 200 members and the Legion as a whole is over 10,000 members worldwide.  We did countless troops, conventions, and events throughout the year.  The endless smiles work like magic at lightening even the darkest day.  We have definitely felt a shift with the release of the new Star Wars movies, everyone is excited for Star Wars these days.

I was able to complete a costuming goal I have had for many years now.  Well, when I say completed, I mean Jenn worked extremely hard to complete it for me.  We were finally able to complete my Revenge of the Sith Obi-wan costume.  In the few chances I’ve had to wear it this year, it’s been a huge hit.  I also completed my TIE Pilot costume.  I managed to start work on a new costume as well, Kylo Ren from The Force Awakens, but it will be a while before that one is completed.

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This year saw the release (finally!) of the newest Metallica album “Hardwired to Self Destruct” after 8 years in the making.  I don’t know if it’s worth 8 years of waiting, but it’s a thrashing good listen.

The year ended as it began with the high of a new Star Wars film.  Rogue One is simply the exact film we needed for this year.  It is an exciting message of hope and fighting for what is right.  Important lessons to take with us into 2017.

2016 is coming to a close on a series of highs and lows, but for this, I am only focusing on the highs.  This year has been a lot of things, but I recommend taking a look back as I’ve done through your own personal year and look at the good and exciting things that have happened throughout this year, no matter how big or small.

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2 D’s are enough for me, Thank you.

Tonight, Jenn and I finally made it out to the rerelease of Star Wars Episode 1 in 3D.  This is the first 3D movie I’ve ever seen in theaters. My brief experiences with 3D in the past have not been good, most of them have ended up with me getting eye strain and headaches.  I do believe that the 3D technology has improved since Captain Eo first premiered in Disneyland.

3D or not I’m happy to see Star Wars back on the big screen.  There is just something special about seeing a movie like this on the big screen with a crowd, people cheer, laugh, applause at the opening logos.  It’s a communal experience.  So any time that Star Wars returns to the big screen, is a good thing for me.

Now, I’m not a big fan of 3D.  However, I do understand the appeal of 3D in theaters.  Beyond the extra money that theaters and film studios get to take in, 3D is a reason to go to the theater.  3D makes sense in the theater, but I do not want 3D in my home.  But that’s a different rant for another time.

Star Wars in 3D is mostly “depth-based.”  I may have just made up a new phrase there, but it’s the only way to describe it.  There is almost none of the “coming out of the screen” type of effects.  That is the effect that really hurts my eyes, and it was nice to not have to deal with that.  The best 3D moments were the action scenes, especially the space battle at the end, there was a good immersive effect.  You really felt like you were zigging and zagging along with the fighters.  That made me very excited to see what the opening battle of Revenge of the Sith or the Trench Run in the original Star Wars would be like.

On the flip side of that, the 3D seemed mostly pointless throughout the majority of the film.  Most of the matte paintings felt more like paintings in 3D, very flat with cut-out characters floating on top of them.  This was the most distracting part of the 3D conversion, and it was especially noticeable in the beginning of the film.  The scenes on Tatooine and Naboo were not quite as flat.  Maybe it’s the difference between a CGI matte painting and an actual set.

In the end, my thoughts on 3D are pretty much the same as they were before I saw the movie.  I’m not a fan.  My eye-strain was not bad, but it was there.  After a 2 hour movie it was comparable to a really stressful day at work.  I really have no urge to put myself through this again, especially if I have to pay extra to experience it.  I will go see Star Wars as it continues in theaters, but nothing else beyond that.

2 D’s are enough for me, I don’t need a 3rd.