Mine! Or I’ll help you not!

I watched The Empire Strikes Back again recently, though this time it was on a big screen with the Cleveland Orchestra accompanying it live–that experience is always a pleasure.  We had left our toddler at home, but it felt like he was there with us as I watched the scene where Luke meets Yoda on Dagobah. If you are a parent or have spent any length of time around a toddler, you will likely recognize these attributes:

  • Likes sticks
  • Likes hitting things with sticks
  • Picky about food
  • Likes flashlights and will indiscriminately shine them in his own eyes
  • Short and cute
  • Speaks non-standard English that can be hard to parse
  • Yells “MINE” a lot, even for things that are not actually his

Yes, that’s correct: Yoda is a toddler.

In the scene where Yoda is introduced, he behaves exactly like a three-year-old.  This had never occurred to me until I rewatched it as the parent of a toddler. It is interesting how being a parent sometimes gives you a new perspective on familiar things.  I was immediately reminded of my kid, who this morning screamed “MINEEEEE” about a toy car and a banana peel.

yoda mine

But Yoda doesn’t maintain the toddler behavior for long.  He begins to speak and act (more) normally in his hut when conversing with Obi-Wan’s spirit, and we don’t see Toddler Yoda at any other point in the movie, or any other Star Wars movie (though he does still have his quirks).  So why the act?  

I had never really thought about Yoda’s extra-peculiar behavior in this scene before.  One theory is that Yoda’s quirks have become exaggerated after so many years of living in isolation on Dagobah.  But I don’t think Yoda has gone completely around the bend. I think it’s strategy.

As many parents will probably agree, I find toddlers to be the world’s greatest test of patience.  So upon meeting Luke for the first time, what better way to take his measure than go full on toddler and try to push all his buttons?  I guess I wouldn’t advise this strategy when meeting new people in real life, but I would think you can learn a lot about someone’s temperament by seeing how they interact with misbehaving children.  I’m certainly learning a lot about myself as I figure out this parenting thing. 

Therefore, as soon as he concludes Luke is unsuitable (no patience, reckless, too old, as he says to Obi-Wan in the hut), he drops the act.  The test is over, and Luke has failed. Although he does change his mind and agrees to train Luke, he was correct about Luke’s temperament, which is shown when Luke rashly abandons his training to save his friends on Cloud City, only to walk into a trap.

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Yoda is shown in the prequels to be an excellent teacher of younglings and clearly has great respect for children.  “Truly wonderful, the mind of a child is,” he says when one young student provides an answer that the adults could not see.  So is it really any surprise to see him try to figure something out from the perspective of a child?

And you know he totally had fun doing it, too.

scary yoda

If you want to watch the antics of Toddler Yoda set to a catchy tune, please enjoy the Bad Lip Reading video “Seagulls!” which I wrote about previously here.

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A New Avenger? — Hawk Guy

Now that I have a kid, there are certain things that are once again socially acceptable for me, like ordering a Happy Meal at McDonald’s.  I admit I’m a kid at heart and really enjoy doing kid stuff like that again.  Right now, everything is Toy Story 4 branded, but prior to that I was happy to pick up some Avengers figures!  Yet my excitement soon turned to confusion…you’ll see why.

First, we have Captain America, a perfectly acceptable Happy Meal-quality toy.  When you push a button, he moves his shield arm.  Cool, right?

But then we have…well, I don’t even know what this is.  The bag said it was Hawkeye, but…?

He has a Tony Stark goatee, generic hair, and a squinty eye.  He does not have a bow or a mohawk, and is not wearing any costume that Hawkeye or Ronin wears in any movie.  His superpower: he lights up.  He LIGHTS UP.  WHAT?  Why?

Had they just made a generic superhero figure and didn’t want to waste it, so they labeled it Hawkeye because no one cares about Hawkeye?  Of course not, but that idea makes me laugh.  This is apparently the “Team Suit” version, though it barely resembles the team suits they wear in the movie.

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For comparison, this is the Funko POP! Team Suit Hawkeye.

So, of course my kid doesn’t care at all and loves the Light-Up Generic Superhero.  And my husband refers to it as “Hawk Guy.”  Poor Clint.

A selection of canon Star Wars books that you should read

I have read the vast majority of the Star Wars books published up until 2014, which were previously called Expanded Universe (EU) and are now called Legends.  I even slogged all the way through to the end of the Fate of the Jedi series. For evidence, please see my bookshelves.

For some reason, I have not read nearly as many Star Wars books since they became canon.  Probably a couple of things are contributing: less time for reading, less patience for bad books, moving on to other series like The Expanse.  Plus I’m just not as invested in new characters as I was in EU mainstays like Mara Jade.

But I’m slowly starting to get into more and more of the canon books.  Here are some I’ve read that I thought were worthwhile.

25067046Lost Stars by Claudia Gray

This was the first new canon book that got a lot of buzz.  It was published as part of the “Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens” initiative in 2015 leading up to TFA.  Technically it is classified as Young Adult (Gray is a YA author, and the characters are young) but don’t let that deter you.  (Luke is only 19 in A New Hope after all, and no one worries about that being YA.)

It tells the story of two star-crossed lovers, one belonging to the Empire and one to the Rebellion.  I liked seeing the perspective of everyday Imperial citizens, and it helps the reader understand why young people might join the Empire even though it’s evil.  The story takes place mostly during the Original Trilogy but also goes all the way up through the Battle of Jakku (so that we can find out why there is a Star Destroyer crashed on the planet in TFA).

Thrawn and Thrawn: Alliances by Timothy Zahn

31140332I remember how excited I was when they announced at Celebration 2016 that not only would Grand Admiral Thrawn, the best antagonist of the entire EU, be appearing in Star Wars Rebels, but also that Timothy Zahn, his creator and one of the best EU authors, would be writing new novels about him.  The result is two solid new canon books that will appeal to new readers and EU fans as well (and particularly those who have enjoyed The Clone Wars and Rebels).

Thrawn serves as a kind of origin story for the future Imperial officer, showing how he initially came to serve the Empire.  I was disappointed that Pellaeon does not appear; instead his role is essentially filled by a new character, Eli Vanto.  There is also an interesting side plot regarding Governor Pryce of Lothal and Colonel Yularen, and a cameo from EU character H’sishi, a Togorian.

36385830Thrawn: Alliances also has some good payoffs for EU fans, including a joke about Force-sensitive animals (but no actual ysalamiri or vornskrs).  The flashbacks where Thrawn teams up with Anakin and Padmé to take out a Separatist operation feel like a good episode of TCW. It also provides an interesting contrast to the tentative partnership of Thrawn and Vader much later as they follow the Emperor’s orders to investigate a disturbance in the Force. (Plus we get a Noghri assassin!) Both storylines take place on/around Batuu, and specifically Black Spire Outpost, which will be featured in the upcoming Disney Star Wars theme park area, Galaxy’s Edge.

My only complaint about T:A is that it was difficult to read casually.  Because the story jumps between two time periods, and also occasionally between characters, it was sometimes hard to pick up the thread of the story when I was only reading a chapter at a time.

The conclusion of Zahn’s new Thrawn trilogy will be out later this year.

Darth Vader and Doctor Aphra by Gillen, et al.

Disney launched a bunch of new lines of comics with the new canon, and these two series feature the first breakout non-movie character of this era: Doctor Aphra, a mercenary archaeologist with two homicidal droids in tow.

Aphra seems like a new take on Indiana Jones, except as a queer woman whose illustration implies a mixed race heritage.  She ends up working for Vader and forming an interesting quasi-partnership with him, which is the most interesting part of the Vader story line.  (The less interesting part involves some Force-based science experiment characters that seem like they came from the bad part of the EU.)

Plus, did I mention the homicidal droids? BT-1 (“Bee Tee”) and 0-0-0 (“Triple-Zero”) may seem like an astromech and a protocol droid, but they actually are programmed for assassination and torture.  For me, they recall HK-47 from KOTOR, which is always welcome.  Plus it’s just nice to see snarky droids, whatever their allegiance or alignment.

Aphra eventually got spun out into her own series, plus a short story in the From a Certain Point of View anthology.  I look forward to seeing where she goes from here!

Star Wars Block Book

sw block book

This is the Star Wars book I currently read the most.  Every day, in fact. Sometimes multiple times.  My 1.5 yr old loves this book and can recognize Darth Maul (“Maul Maul”), the Death Star, Darth Vader, and R2-D2.  I am a proud mama!

But seriously, this book is beautiful with lovely cutouts and illustrations.  Plus it’s sturdy enough for toddler fingers.  It covers the prequels, OT, Rogue One, and TFA.

Have you guys read any of the new canon books?  What would you recommend?

Lens-Artists Challenge #40 – Something Different

If you guys have been viewing my photos over the years, you know all about my travels and know what to expect–maybe some fields in Ireland, flowers and birds in the Galapagos, or buildings in Rome.

So today we’re throwing all that out the window for something completely different: a simple still life photo of everyday life with a toddler.

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I took this one on impulse with my phone, not staged at all.  The light was pouring in the window and I couldn’t help capturing the moment.  My kid likes to scribble but is mostly interested in simply taking the crayons out of the box and them putting them back in.

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I’m sure next week we’ll be back to Europe for photos.  Don’t worry, I’m not planning on switching to being a mommy blogger any time soon!

You can find more different things at the original Lens-Artist challenge.