It's Groundhog Day Again!


So why don't you get yourself something nice? I would suggest this adorable t-shirt depicting Phil ("Phil Connors?!") stealing Punxsutawney Phil, the groundhog.


If you've never seen this hilarious, wonderful movie about a man who gets stuck in a time loop and relives the same day over and over, who gets second and third and hundredth chances to get it right, stop right there and go watch it before today, the actual Groundhog Day, is over. Unless you don't like comedies where, amidst the incredible laughs that can be wrung out of such a silly situation, and a surprising streak of hopelessness, the main character's heart thaws and he becomes a better human being.

My favorite line: "What if there is no tomorrow? There wasn't one today!"

There are also some great Groundhog Day designs at RedBubble, which is having a 20% off sale today sitewide with coupon code CELEBR8.

The Force Awakens and Rekindles My Love of Star Wars

If you came here looking for the posters that I pinned or tweeted about, and you don't want to read through hundreds of words detailing my renewed adoration of Star Wars, just skip to the end.

I finally got a chance to see The Force Awakens!!! Yes, three exclamation marks were necessary for that. Don't worry, that's that last time you'll see them. It's just that I'm excited about this, that it was better than I imagined, and that I was able to avoid almost all spoilers, by not reading a thing about it and averting my eyes on Twitter. Due to other obligations, I thought I would have to wait until the Blu-ray to see it. Instead, I bring you my accidental sort of recap of my relationship with Star Wars/review for The Force Awakens mere weeks after the premiere! (Ooh, sorry, I lied about the exclamation, but that's it...I think.) At the start of this I had originally written that I wasn't going to talk much about the movie, because I wanted to wait until I watched it again and could remember more. I just had some posters to share, but then I kept typing. And the results are below.

The Force Awakens? Yes, it sure did. It also awakened something in me. My love of Star Wars was reignited. It never went away, but I just haven't been attentive to it for a long time. Now and then, I see bits and pieces of "A New Hope," "The Empire Strikes Back," or "Return of the Jedi" on TV. I'll pay attention until a commercial break and then it's back to doing what I have to get done. I have them on DVD, but they've been neglected for some time. But having a job that sends me to hundreds of random websites daily, having a Twitter account that I usually check often, and being an affliate of TeeFury and RipApparel, I see mentions of this series a lot, sometimes daily. It's an unavoidable staple of pop culture. I just haven't sat down and watched any of it beginning to end in a long time.

When I was a kid, the Star Wars universe was a part of my life that I would often think about. The series has just always been there. That's what happens when something is hugely popular and is two years older than you. It just is and always has been and always will be. I fell off my new 10-speed bike one day when turning in a patch of dirt on the road. I went home with a skinned knee, and a trembling chin, and spent the next couple hours curled up on the couch watching Empire, which made me feel better. I think that was the first time I saw it. Sometimes I take it for granted and think there will always be time to revist it, some other time.

Sadly, I never got to see the original trilogy in the theater, even when they were re-released for the 20th anniversary. My family didn't understand the appeal of taking a ten-minute drive to the theater and paying for tickets for something we'd seen a number of times. (I went to a re-release of The Princess Bride a few months ago and it was absolutely worth it). Two years later I enthusiastically went to The Phantom Menace, and then went back for a second time. Part of that was because of Liam Neeson as Qui-Gon. When he was mortally wounded, I started writing fan fiction in my head about that moment and kind of became obsessed. The other part was that is was more Star Wars! I loved the adventure, the imagination, the scenery...the podracing. I got all the books I could read. My brother and I were inspired by it artistically and began drawing spaceships and weapons. I still do when I can.

So even though there was, and is, a lot of negativity and disappointment surrounding the prequels, they certainly had their place, at least with me. Of course, Eventually the enthusiasm faded. Nowadays I realize it was a lot of colorful fluff that didn't really convey a sense of urgency and definitely could have had better dialogue. They seem to have been made for children instead of a general audience that can have fun with them while also taking the story seriously. Even so, there's still a place in my life for them (a small one), and I will forever adore Qui-Gon.

Some may wish the prequels had not been made, but then we may not have The Force Awakens now. Maybe any sequel plans would have been abandoned altogether. Maybe without the disappointment of the prequels, no one would have felt the need to go back to the big screen and instead just leave it to the books and video games. Or maybe we'd just now be getting the prequels instead of Episode VII. Can you imagine them with J.J. at the helm? That could have been interesting.

But let's not think about what could have been. Let's think about what we have now, and we have a beautifully-done piece of cinema. The Force Awakens is a movie that I will count among my favorites of all-time and that I think I love more than the originals, even though you need all that backstory to really feel the tragedy that happens. I could have done with that moment going a different way, but a movie that makes me have a feeling that powerful is a very special one. This is the one that really turned me into a fan who will never again forget how special this galaxy far, far away is.

Now I see the beating heart that those prequels were missing, which was snuffed out during a lightsaber duel with a thrust through the chest of my favorite Jedi. The original trilogy was grittier and had more substance and a wonderful twist. The Force Awakens goes back to the sensibilities of the first movies. There was a great range of emotion in this sequel, some of that being a reaction to just seeing Han and Leia again, still alive and 30-plus years older and wiser. (It's sometimes strange to think of our actors aging with us, seeing that frailty of life in front of us. But damn if Harrison Ford doesn't still look great. And people are actually being asses to Carrie Fisher for how she looks now? What disrespectful idiots.)

The Force Awakens respects the past while paving a way for the future while being on much firmer footing than the previous three installments. There were many parallels with and homages to the wider world of the series, which makes it feel real and lived-in, like the rusting AT-AT in the desert of Jakku or threatening someone with throwing them in a trash compactor. Then there was one point where I immediately thought of Qui-Gon and how he went out, and another reminiscent of the end of Serenity, with two characters, who had been through so much, sitting in the cockpit of a spaceship, solemnly starting a new chapter.

The Force Awakens is a fascinating reinvigoration of Star Wars and J.J. Abrams, as always, was a choice that I didn't doubt. The new characters of Rey, Finn, Poe and BB-8 can absolutely take the burden that was too heavy for Anakin and Padme. Oh, my goodness, BB-8. What a hilarious and sweet character. This little soccer ball with a head didn't say one real word but stole so many moments, like the scene with the thumbs up. Just like R2-D2, BB-8 is a robot with huge personality. This movie was terrifically fun and funny, had well-drawn characters that felt like real people, and it was also quite devastating. It's amazing when a movie can do that and make it all look effortless.

Speaking of effortless, I've never had more admiration for Harrison Ford. I was reminded that he's one of my favorite people. I was so enthralled with Indiana Jones when I was younger that I'm surprised I didn't set up a shrine in my room. How did I ever forget that? There were a few scenes in The Force Awakens when Harrison said everything there was to say with just his eyes, the emotions raw on his face. Every moment was genuine, both in writing and acting, with how people talk and their attitudes even in dark times, and that's why it all worked so well. Humor goes a long way to making me love characters and breaking down my defenses.

The Force Awakens deserves every bit of its $781 million domestic haul and more than $1.6 billion worldwide. (As I was writing this today, the totals were updated to $812 million and $1.73 billion!) Now I'm really, really looking forward to VIII, IX and the spin-offs. Though, I wonder if any of the rest will touch this one in my affections for being both so hilarious and so sad. I don't really want sad, but if it's done well then it can be superb and The Force Awakens was absolutely that.

So, now what do I do with this rekindled love? Pre-order the heck out of the Blu-ray, I'm thinking. And, also, bring you all the fun things when I can, like t-shirts and these wonderful posters. I really want them all to put on my walls, but my walls are completely covered. I'm sure there will be one I can't live without at some point and I'll decide that one of my other posters can come down for a while. I have a lot of Fringe. Normally, I wouldn't even think of doing that, but that was another Abrams project, so I'm thinking it wouldn't mind. There are so many great artists making fantastic designs.

 

Kylo & Phasma


Price: $14 to $45
Sizes: 12" x 16", 18" x 24", 27" x 40"
Artist: Juice-On

Shades of the Dark Side


Price: $14 to $45
Sizes: 12" x 16", 18" x 24", 27" x 40"
Artist: MDK7

Also available as a T-Shirt or a Hoodie.

Lady and the Scoundrel


Price: $14 to $45
Sizes: 12" x 16", 18" x 24", 27" x 40"
Artist: brettsartworld

Also available as a T-Shirt and a Hoodie.

So Many iPhone Cases

Phone cases: Another way to show your love of, or complete obsession with, a thing. RedBubble has some beautiful cases and I had to look through some because they're 15% off with code GETENCASED until December 30. Code also works for laptop skins and sleeves. If I had an iPhone, it would be terribly hard to choose between even this small selection of Doctor Who, Breaking Bad, Firefly, The Walking Dead, Psych, Supernatural, Harry Potter, and Star Wars.

Those are just some of the ones that caught my eye on the first few pages. There are millions of other designs for practically anything you can think of, like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Sherlock, Guardians of the Galaxy, Big Hero 6, Game of Thrones, James Bond, Pokemon...and it's too early for me to think of more, but I'm sure you have something in mind.

Or buy one of these beauties. All images link to RedBubble and each case is around $25 to $27. Designs are also available on t-shirts, mugs, and more than a dozen other types of products.

Rediscovering Mrs. Brown's Boys

Taking a few minutes off from present wrapping to bring you a little something. No, it's not a preview of the Doctor Who Christmas Special, "The Husbands of River Song," that airs Christmas Day. No, it's not the posts I'm working on about "Heaven Sent" and "Hell Bent" or Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s "Maveth." Those are on hold due to the sheer craziness of the last few weeks. Work is done...mostly. Christmas shopping is done...just in time! But I wanted to share this.

The last Christmas present I bought, and the biggest decision I had to make, was Mrs. Brown's Boys. I know almost nothing about this series. Last year, or maybe even the year before, my family sat down to a Christmas episode. I have no idea what channel was playing it, but since it wan't censored, I'm guessing it wasn't PBS, our old go-to for introducing us to over-the-pond TV series. Now, usually it's Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon, but public television still brings us the occasional surprise, like Doc Martin.

As for Mrs. Brown's Boys, I have a feeling if we hadn't been channel surfing that night then we would have never heard about it. I haven't heard a whisper since. The memories came flooding back the second I saw the DVD set cover, though. (The Blu-ray isn't available for the U.S., unless you have a region-free player.) I remembered that I couldn't stop laughing, my ribs hurt by the time it was over, my cheeks were sore, and I was dehydrated, like a great episode of Whose Line is it Anyway? I loved it. I hope the rest is just as funny. I will absolutely be watching this with the gift recipient, my father, or I'll just steal it for a while.

I gathered a few clips here so you can see if this is a comedy for you.

Mrs. Brown's Boys
The Complete Series


Price: ~ $78
# of Discs: 8
Runtime: 749 minutes
Release Date: November 3, 2015

The Force Awakens and Inspires T-Shirts

It turns out neither of my brothers is excited for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. When did this happen? I thought we all enjoyed it. Yes, even the second trilogy. Space monks with glowing swords were always just damn cool. My youngest brother and I even started drawing space ships and lightsabers after we saw the The Phantom Menace twice in the theater. I had another reason to go twice and that was Liam Neeson, of course, not Jar Jar. Those lightsabers for me quickly turned into knives and swords, and I've kept that up over the years [see ShinyDangerousThings].

But guess now I'm the only one left to love George Lucas's endearing creation. That doesn't even make any sense. The trailer looked great and people are saying wonderful things about it. We all were excited for and loved J.J. Abrams' reboot of Star Trek, so what happened here? I have no clue. Anyway, this means I wont get to see it in the theater. The weekends are out, because I almost always have to do something with or for family, and if we're all not seeing a movie then no one is seeing a movie. There's only so much time in a weekend. Weekdays are also out, because my job, plus everything else I have to do, makes that very unlikely.

It also premiered at one of the worst possible times. I never get to see anything in the theater that's released around Christmas. The weeks before Christmas are about shopping, baking, cleaning, and just running myself a bit ragged trying to do all that and my normal daily routine. And the weeks after are always devoted to extremely early spring cleaning; this year the house needing it more than ever now that there's no storage unit and two of us are trying to jump start our hobbies into super small businesses.

My schedule may usually get changed by others, but it's so much easier to get along with family by going along with them. Going to see movies in the theater alone is not a fun experience, so I'm thinking that's not going to happen. Such a huge event movie that everyone is enjoying together, and then tweeeting about, and I get to watch it at home, probably on the small TV in my bedroom, when it comes out on Blu-ray. That means it will be impossible to avoid spoilers.

Okay, that's the end of the pity party I just threw for myself. I may not get to see The Force Awakens anytime soon, but I can at least cheer myself up by saving a couple of these wonderful tees to my desktop, and maybe buying that one that's mashed up with The Simpsons. That one is hilarious. The Galactic Collection is available until the 25th at TeeFury. Even if you like none of the shirts here, there are quite a few more at TeeFury. I only chose my favorites. They are also running a contest with a BB-8 lamp, R2-D2/C-3PO leg lamp, and Taun Taun wall mount as prizes.

UPDATE, 1/10/16: I saw the movie on the weekend and spent all day writing about it. Check out The Force Awakens and Rekindles My Love of Star Wars.

Ha-Hoth


Price: $15 to $10
Sizes: Up to 3XL
Colors: Black or Charcoal

Price: $45 - $48
Sizes: Up to 4XL
Colors: Heather Grey, Black, Royal Blue, Navy, or Red

The Trisaber


Price: $15 - $19
Sizes: Up to 3XL
Colors: Black or Navy

Price: $45 - $48
Sizes: Up to 4XL
Colors: Heather Grey, Black, Royal Blue, Navy, or Red

To Sith or Not to Sith


Price: $15 to $10
Sizes: Up to 3XL
Colors: Black or Navy

Price: $45 - $48
Sizes: Up to 4XL
Colors: Heather Grey, Black, Royal Blue, Navy, or Red

Death of a Star, Birth of a Hero


Price: $15 - $19
Sizes: Up to 3XL
Colors: Charcoal or Dark Chocolate

Price: $45 - $48
Sizes: Up to 4XL
Colors: Heather Grey, Black, Royal Blue, Navy, or Red