Learned On Hoth

In the middle of the Arctic blast, snuggled under the Beatles blanket and between discussions on Sherlock, I decided it would be most appropriate to watch The Empire Strikes Back.  I mean, what better way to acknowledge the bitter cold outside, and the continuing drop in temperature than by watching a movie that starts on a frozen planet?!  To Hoth I traveled and quickly fell into one of my favorite worlds to escape to – the world of Star Wars – a place “a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.”

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A Week Into p90x and The Phantom Menace Comes Out in 3-D?!

Don't underestimate the power of the 3-D

Okay, I know it’s not a coincidence that the end of my first week of p90x is on the same day Star Wars in 3-D hits the movie theaters.  Being the avid fan of the Star Wars Saga, I was aware that today was the day that the 3-D releases of the films began with Episode 1: The Phantom Menace.  As I write, I am lounging post workout (and shower) in my Star Wars pajama pants watching the theatrical version of A New Hope on DVD.  You get the picture, I’m a Star Wars fanatic!  You’ve seen my art, that’s not a total surprise.

I’m still not sure how I feel about the Star Wars films in 3-D.  There is a part of me that wants to see them on the big screen – just for the parts I like in the case of the prequels and special editions.  Then there is the other side of me that says, “Staci, you have all the films.  You watch them pretty regularly.  Do you really need to see them in 3-D – even the ones that you don’t like that well?!”  Well….yeah.  I’m not running out the first day they are at the theater, but I’d like to see them.  A bad Star Wars film is better than a crappy regular film (Attack of the Clones…maybe not).  I can over look the bad dialogue and sometimes slow story development (pod race anyone?) to see Darth Maul vs Qui Gon and Obi Wan.  Besides, I’m a little curious to see how the 3-D was added to the films.

Duel of the Fates

Now, back to my first week of p90x.  It has been pretty great actually.  Very difficult and more often than I like I fall a bit short of the rep goal, but hey “Do your best, forget the rest!”  I have also given up on carbonated drinks.  Yes, the Diet Dew that I have truly enjoyed for the last 12 years of my life is no longer my go to drink.  Water and flavor packets have become my drinks of choice.  Occasionally I’ll have soda (when I’m out to dinner with friends), but other than that, no more fizzy bubbles for me.

Speaking of friends – I should thank my friends for their support in my new me endeavor.  Doug, John, Jinny, Sara, Dez, Tom, Michelle – and a whole slew of others! – could not have been more inspiring and helpful.  I’m not always the easiest to support with the pessimistic attitude I at times adopt, but they have been super helpful and, hey, it’s paying off.  I was asked today if I had lost weight!  I don’t really think I have, but I do feel more toned and better to face my days.  Here’s looking forward to the next week and what that brings.

Good night all – and may the Force be with you…always.

T-Shirt Painting and the Dark Side

My Vader t-shirt painting

Well, I finished it – my first experiment with using a part of an old t-shirt in a painting.  I had first to decide which shirt to use.  I went through a plethora of Belfry t-shirts, followed by a few Monty Python tees, then I it came down to two: Ash and Vader.  In this instance, I chose Vader and essentially, the Dark Side. More

It’s been a while…

Shirt I'm using for new artwork

Well, it’s been quite a while since I’ve sat down to write or do anything beyond go to school, teach, coach, come home, but I’m trying to get back on track.  Hopefully, if I can get my mind to where I want to be my life will get back to where I want it to be (I hope that makes sense to you reader…sometimes I believe I’m making perfect sense when really, I’m not).  But I’m getting off topic….

I really want to work with the idea of using t-shirts as a base for paintings that don’t reflect my family or friends, like most of my art does.  I’m starting off with a Darth Vader shirt with the words “The Empire Wants You” written in red across the front.  My goal is to use gesso to attach the shirt to a piece of plywood (instead of canvas) and then paint a scene around it based on the t-shirt used.  Now, this isn’t a one-off deal – I have many t-shirts that I can use for some pretty neat paintings.  Yes, I have a confession to make: I’m a t-shirt junkie.

I LOVE fun t-shirts.  Comic shirts, Star Wars shirts, Monty Python shirts, University of Kentucky shirts, movie shirts – I LOVE LOVE LOVE them.  I wear them under my “work” shirts (aka: button up).  Being an Art teacher, I get a little leeway.  It also doesn’t hurt that the most awesome principal ever, Mark Leet, is a Star Wars fan and doesn’t think my Boba Fett hoodie is a problem.  ANYWAYS….

I’m using the t-shirts that I know I need to clean out of my closet BUT can’t really give away.  I’m sorry to those of you who wait knowing I’ll eventually clean out my closet – I’M KEEPING THEM ALL!!!! hahahahahahaha!

This is ONE of my shirts

Sorry.  That wasn’t very mature.  I’m just excited about this new project – a new start on something.  Now, despite my depression about things beyond my control, I haven’t been completely out of the loop or trapped in my Dark Hole of Questioning My Future.”  Besides time with family, friends, and good, quality time with Doug, I’ve been coaching a 6th grade boys basketball team AND patiently waiting for The Muppets.

If you are not aware that there is a new Muppet movie out there in the world – THERE IS A NEW MUPPET MOVIEOUT NOW!!!

To be Amy Adams in this film....*sigh*

It is a blast!  Written by Jason Segel (who also stars as Gary) and Nicholas Stoller, the movie is, in brief, about a young Muppet Walter who, with his brother Gary and Gary’s girlfriend Mary, go to L.A., discover an evil plot to destroy the Muppet studios, and help round-up the original Muppet lineup to do a telethon to save the studios.  There are many cameos (Jack Black’s is awesome but Dave Grohl’s is my favorite) and the story is very self-aware.  I love the fact that while the film acknowledges that the Muppets are popular with an older generation (the now 30 year olds of while I’m included) and that television is not as wholesome as it once was, it shows that funny is funny.  The Muppets are FUNNY and this movie is well worth the watch for ANY generation.  It would probably be great for as many younger children to watch it as well.  Still, that’s only my opinion and while I’m not an expert….it’s the Muppets! (PS: Chris Cooper is AWESOME as the villain)

Thank you all for your patience and understanding with the lack of posting on my part.  I’m trying to swim out of my pool of self-pity and doing some art for myself and not for teaching or the hallways (Christmas decorations for the main hallway is KILLING ME!) is my life saver.  Still, I appreciate the support of my family, friends, and Doug.  No matter what, I know I’m loved and at the end of the day, that’s good enough for me – and more than I ever expect.

Now, GO WATCH THE MUPPETS and if you see Jason Segel out there somewhere in the world please tell him Staci Gilliam said “hi.”

Star Wars on Blu Ray – You Knew This Post Was Coming

Original Trilogy Box Set Art

Well, in two hours Star Wars will be released in its entirety on Blu-Ray.  I have discussed this with friends at great lengths over the last few weeks and I’m still unsure how I feel about this.  Logically, I agree that George Lucas has brought us so much awesome, and that these are his films and that he can do whatever he likes with them.  Like any artist, he can go back and re-work on his pieces as much as he likes.  But just like any artist, there comes a time when you just have to stop.

Now that the logical reason is out of the way….WHY GEORGE?!  WHY ARE YOU TRYING TO TAKE AWAY ALL THE AWESOME!!! DARTH VADER DOES NOT YELL “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!”  Whew!  I feel a little better now.  I want to see my all time favorite movies in all their Hi-Def glory, but I want MY movies.  I want to see through the cockpit of a snow speeder as it circles an Imperial Walker.  I want Obi-Wan to be a strange tint of blue as he walks around in Force Ghost mode.  I want freakin’ Darth Vader to be OLD when his Force Ghost shows up to the Ewok dance party!  I’m sure sometime after the Blu-Ray release, this may happen, and, like with the Blu-Ray release tonight, I’ll buy it.  Only then it’ll be for the joy – tonight, it’s for what I don’t understand but am curious about: George Lucas’ changing, yet again, of my childhood memories.

Still, I haven’t watched the films yet.  I really hope it’s not as heartbreaking as I imagine – then again, I always try to imagine the worst so when it doesn’t happen to be THAT bad, I feel a little better.  So, in honor of all you Star Wars fan who, like me, consider the Original Trilogy the only trilogy that counts, here are some fun films/shows that give tribute to both the films and the fans.

Robot Chicken Star Wars Episodes

There is nothing quite like claymation (or the use of dolls in a way similar to claymation).  Have some really funny Star Wars fans make claymation skits using the characters we know and love?  It’s spectacular!  Brecken Myer’s Boba Fett is probably my FAVORITE version of the character.  His voice is the voice I wish Boba Fett had in the special editions (you know, since they changed the voice anyways).  If you have never watched Robot Chicken, you should at least check it out.  If you love Star Wars, you need to see the Robot Chicken Star Wars Episodes.  Yes, they poke some fun at the series, but they do it as the true fans they are and with love.

Fanboys

A great movie about friendship, Star Wars, and a time prior to the Prequel’s release (remember when we just called it “the Prequel?”).  The plot is simple: five friends are going to break into Skywalker Ranch so one of them can see the Prequel (the Phantom Menace) before his illness takes him (he has cancer).  It’s a road trip film, full of gags that reference the original trilogy.  The action at the Skywalker Ranch is probably my favorite because of all the references to the movies that George Lucas has given us: THX-1138, Indiana Jones, Willow – Willow?!  Camoes by Carrie Fisher, Billy D. Williams, Ray Park, Kevin Smith, Seth Rogen (as a Trekkie and Pimp), William Shatner –  the list goes on.  For me, I could identify with the characters because they are MY friends.  Fanboys is, like Robot Chicken, for fans by fans and it’s obvious.  Even those of you who may not consider yourself  THAT much of a fan will get a kick out it because you know “that guy” (or “that girl” in my case).

Muppet Babies

Muppet Babies in the Falcon!

Next to “The Empire Strikes Back,” my first exposure to Star Wars was during the Saturday morning cartoon Muppet Babies.  There wasn’t a door opened that a TIE fighter or Star Destroyer wasn’t flying around in.  They also referenced Indiana Jones pretty frequently as well – which is why its the best cartoon for children EVER!

Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back

Yes, it’s not a tribute movie in the sense that Fanboys is, but you can’t deny the influence Star Wars has had on Kevin Smith when watching this film.  Cameos by Mark Hamill (the link has some language just in case you are offended – but it’s funny!) and Carrie Fisher aren’t the only connection I’ve seen Smith make to Star Wars.  In Mallrats, his character Silent Bob spends most of the movie practicing the Jedi mind trick and Force powers.  This movie isn’t homage to Star Wars, but it references the films – quite a bit actually –  and is a fun watch.

pAUl

Lastly, but certainly not the least, is pAUl.  A more recent film starring Nick Frost and Simon Pegg, pAUl makes references throughout the film to not only Star Wars but all the best Sci-Fi has to offer.  Jason Bateman shooting the radio in his car and saying “It was a boring conversation anyway” is just one of the many awesome additions to dialogue from classic films.  Bill Hader quoting from Jaws, “smile you son of a bitch!” is pretty spectacular as well.  It’s a great cast and if you haven’t watched it yet, I would suggest you do so and soon.  If you can’t get to it quickly though, follow my link (Star War Re-Do) and watch Nick Frost and Simon Pegg re-enact the opening desert scene from Star Wars: A New Hope. I really wish I could show this to my class.  Yeah, it doesn’t really relate to ancient Rome – but I could think of something!

Good night all and May the Force be with you – Always.

Me, My Brother, and Star Wars

When my brother and I were little, my parents made us a video tape of movies they recorded off of TV. In the middle of the tape was The Empire Strikes Back. I remember fast forwarding through random cartoon one, random cartoon two, and finally seeing those little pinpricks of light that would speed across the screen to form three letters – HBO. This was it – A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. For me, this was it. There was no A New Hope or The Return of the Jedi – I didn’t even know they existed! (sorry, I was young) What else I knew about Star Wars came from the Muppet Babies, but that’s another story for another time.

Han, Luke, Leia, Chewie, 3PO, R2D2, Lando, Cloud City, carbonite, lightsabers, Star Destroyers, asteroid fields, flippin Darth Vader – characters that would stay with me through adulthood, a story that, for me, has never – and will never – get old. This is where my love of Star Wars originated. Even now, when life is overwhelming, I pop in my DVD of Empire (original theatrical release, not this special edition b.s.) and everything seems a little better.

I remember after we’d watch Empire – not often, but once every few months – my brother and I would act it out in the yard with my mother and aunts’ majorette batons. Now, we didn’t hit each other or anything like that, but we would play out the scenes we loved. I even had a pajama top that if I turned it around it would look like Lando’s shirt. Mainly I remember our lightsaber battles that lasted for minutes, but have stayed with me FOREVER.

What does all of this fit into my artwork, you may ask. I have found that my most successful works, works that I feel a particular pride in, are works that reflect my family and home. These are themes I believe everyone can identify with – whether you grew up, as I did, in Eastern Kentucky or a city in some far away state or country.

I posted earlier that I am working on some ideas to incorporate characters into my paintings. The goals of these paintings are to use aspects of pop culture that I am a fan of (Monty Python, Star Wars, the Beatles, etc) with characters to tell stories that I hope are identifiable to the viewer. The characters I have focused on, so far, are mishmashes of both me and my brother. I like all of the sketches so far, but I like my boxy characters the best. What do you think?