Author Archives: Jo Ann Schneider

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The Bones of Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

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Today we’re talking about the bones of my favorite film in the Skywalker Star Wars Saga!

Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

If you missed any of the previous installments of Good Bones, you can find them here:
Episode I
Episode II
Episode III
Episode IV
Episode V

Let’s get to it!

Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

This movie came out when I was eight years old. I’d seen the first two, and was really upset when I found out my dad, who was in the ARMY Reserves, got to see it before we did because the ARMY had gotten a copy to show them at their two week training camp.
So. Unfair.
I still remember sitting in the old Villa theater in Salt Lake City, watching this film. One of my sisters leaned over to me to read the subtitles for Jabba the Hutt, and I was like, “I can read it myself!” I should probably apologize for that.

The Bones:
The fate of Han Solo
Return of the Jedi?
What about the rebels?

The fate of Han Solo
Han Solo has been in frozen. Leia admitted she loved him. At the end of Episode IV Lando and Chewie were headed to rescue Han. Now what???

I’d never noticed before that the first third of this movie is spent rescuing Han. I love the cheese and fun that goes along with the rescue, so I don’t mind.

The first 20-25% of any story is usually spent on set-up, or showing the character’s daily life, why they need a change, and how that change might come about.

Granted, this is the third film in the trilogy, so the characters don’t need a lengthy introduction. We know who they are and what they can do. Although we do see that Luke has a few new tricks up his sleeve, which is very cool.

The writers give us everything we’re expecting as Lando fights to redeem himself to Han, Leia is out to rescue the man she loves, and Luke, relying on his newfound powers, makes sure none of his friends are going to be left to the mercy of Jabba.

As I watched this film again, I realized that this first section is one of the reasons I love it so much. I’m all about the bonds of friendship and love. Camaraderie is maybe my favorite trope of all time, and I’m a total sucker for it.

However, I’m not sure I would have written this the same way. The characters—all of them leaders—put the rebellion on hold to rescue one man. Neither the rebellion or the Empire are really mentioned until Luke comes back from Dagobah.

I’m not sure why this works, but it does.

Return of the Jedi?

Luke’s story is the crux of this movie.

Mostly.

Luke goes back to Yoda, who dies, leaving him alone. He learns about a sister, which makes a particular scene in Episode V very awkward, and then decides he can turn Vader back from the dark side.

Is that even a thing? I haven’t read/watched everything that goes before the original trilogy, but I don’t recall anyone having gone to the dark side deciding to come back to the light side.

Maybe it’s never happened before!

Imagine Yoda and Obi Wan watching Luke run off to face Vader and shaking their heads at the fact he thinks he can bring his father back. Of course, their way didn’t work, so why not try it?

While joyful, I bet it was a bit of a slap in the face knowing that family and love are what brought Vader back. Of course that’s what turned him in the first place, so there’s that.

In the end, we have to wonder if the Jedi returning was Luke beginning a new order, or Anakin sloughing off his dark ways to re-embrace the light. Perhaps it is both.

The scene with the Emperor, while not as flashy as the prequels, is much more emotional. The callback to cutting off Luke’s hand is great. There is just enough talking to keep Luke and Vader off balance.

As a kid I used to wonder if Palpatine had just shut his stupid face if Luke would have cut Vader down. Palaptine interrupts him, which gives us the tidbit that turning to the dark side has to be a conscious act. Which is interesting.

I probably wouldn’t change much through here. It works the way it is.

What about the rebels?

While Luke is on the Death Star, fighting for the fate of his soul, his friends are on the moon, working with those silly teddy bears, trying to get the shield down so Lando and the others can attack.

Without the Emperor being on the Death Star, this mission would have been a big deal. With him there, it gives the rebellion the chance they’ve been hoping for—end the Emperor and therefore the Empire once and for all.

The stakes are high. They turn to their best people to get it done. Or should I say, their best people step up to get it done.

Each battle is fierce. Because I saw this movie when I was eight years old, I’m a fan of the Ewoks. I’m the demographic Lucas was going for. I still like them. They’re primitive, and somewhat silly, but in the end they step up and use what they know to help Han and Leia.

There is a lot of humor in this film, and for whatever reason it works. Yes, it’s campy in places. Other times the dialogue is genuinely delightful:
Han: How we doing?
Luke: Same as always.
Han: That bad, huh?

The mix of action and humor really hits the spot for me. C-3PO is sometimes over the top, but not nearly as bad as they make him in the prequels.

The Bones of this movie are spot on.

The story telling isn’t bad either.

I’ve heard that originally the Ewoks were going to be Wookies. That would have been a great callback to Episode III…if it would have been written first. In the end Lucas leaned toward merchandising, and it worked for him.

What do you think of the bones of Return of the Jedi?


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21-Feb-2020

How Exactly Does a Centaur go Undercover??

I forced my expression to stay neutral as the Sabom clomped back and forth across the front of the dojo. The four rows of students in front of me stood at perfect attention. No one moved. No one breathed.

“I have heard some very disturbing news from yet another dojo.” His dark eyes matched the severe way he pulled his hair back. They met mine, but slid away without lingering. He almost got to the wall before turning around and walking back. “Sabom Nikius’ arrived at his dojo this morning and found that all of his practice pads had been replaced by sacks of flour. They didn’t find out until they started their kicking drills.”

No one sniggered.

In a room full of hyper-competitive centaurs, someone always sniggered. If not snorted. Yet silence hung around me heavier than a bag of rocks on my shoulders.

“No one has been able to catch the perpetrators.” Sabom Apostion stopped and stared hard at his front row. “If any of you know anything, you need to tell me.”

Again, no one twitched.

This had to be the place.

These students had to be responsible for all of the antics leading up to the tournament the next day.

Sabom Apostion waited. And waited.

I hadn’t been involved and I was getting uncomfortable.

My jaw started to ache from clenching my teeth so hard, and I was grateful when Sabom Apostion finally sighed and turned away.

“Twenty laps outside, then all of your kicking drills. Twice.”

“Yes Sabom!” the class answered in unison as they bowed.

I joined the rest as we lined up to go out the door. Being the lowest rank, I went last.

All the better to watch.

Sure enough, several of the mid-ranking students exchanged knowing glances as soon as Sabom Apostion wasn’t in their line of sight.

These had to be the guys playing all of the practical jokes. I watched them as we began to canter around the yard.

The flour sacks was the last in a long line of almost harmless pranks. As Sabom Apostion said, no one had been able to find out who was doing it.

Until now.

My own Sabom had been wise to send my here. I’d been attending for a couple of weeks, and I had to say that pretending not to know anything was more difficult than simply doing it. Having to kick wrong hurt my brain.

We were halfway through our first set of laps when a pair of mid-ranking students slowed until they cantered on either side of me.

“Hey,” one of them said. I hadn’t bothered to learn names. This guy had long blond hair and palamino coat.

“Hey,” I said, pretending to be winded.

“How are you liking class?” This one had dark skin and an even darker coat.

“It’s hard, but it’s pretty fun.”

“It’s not usually like this.” Blondie waved his hand. “Sabom Apostion is pretty mad about all of the pranks going on.”

“Yeah, I caught that,” I said between gasps.

“What do you think of these pranks?” the darker one asked.

I looked around, as if to make sure no one else was in hearing range. Then I leaned my body closer to blondie. “I actually think it’s kind of funny. I mean, no one’s getting hurt, right?”

“Right.”

The two of them looked at one another, then back at me.

“What?” I asked. I sped up, trying to look panicked.

“Do you like playing jokes on people?” the darker one asked.

I shrugged. “Sure.”

Blondie leaned in. “What if I told you we were playing the pranks on the other dojos?”

I hadn’t expected them to confide in me so easily. Maybe they’d figured out who I was. “I would say good job.”

They both laughed.

“Right?” the dark one said.

“Listen, we could use some help with our next one. Are you in?”

I looked around again. “Why are you asking me this?” I watched them as closely as I could as we turned the corner of the yard.

“We need a third guy. You like to tell jokes and you’re into funny stuff. We thought you might get a kick out of it.”

Either they knew who I was, or they were looking for a fall guy.

We finished our laps and we went on to kicks.

“Think about it,” blondie said.

I got partnered with the other white belt, and was apparently supposed to figure out if I wanted to go in with these guys.

They would likely give me a fun part to play, then leave me to take the fall for everything. It was possible that they actually wanted to incorporate me into their little gang, but I doubted it.

If they knew who I was, they could frame my dojo for the problems.

My partner—a red-head with a bay coat—stumbled back as I kicked with one of my back legs. A little too hard.

“Sorry,” I muttered.

She smiled.

Then I realized I’d kicked her so hard she should have flown across the room.

Maybe I wasn’t the only one here who weren’t who they seemed.

I returned her smile. “What number are we on?”

“Twenty six.”

“Thanks.”

My mind chugged on what I was going to do, but it didn’t take long to figure it out.

This called for the crocheter. Plain and simple.

***

Argh! I didn’t get to the afghan. I was going to have them replace a different instructor’s uniform with a crocheted one the morning of the tournament. So not exactly an afghan, but better.

Alas, I ran out of words. I’m really not sure how to do a caper in less than a thousand words. I’m going to have to think about it!

Genre – Caper

Character – Undercover Centaur

Setting – Taekwondo School

Random Object – A Crocheted Afghan

 


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The Bones of Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

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Today we’re talking about what most people feel is the best film in the Skywalker Star Wars Saga!

Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

If you missed any of the previous installments of Good Bones, you can find them here:
Episode I
Episode II
Episode III
Episode IV

Let’s dive right in!

Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

I honestly wasn’t ready for this film. I was only 5 years old when it came out, and I think I was only six or seven the first time I saw it.

Back then I was idealistic, and didn’t understand a flawed hero or the second act of a story. Yoda was mean, Degobah was icky, something bad happened in the cave, Han Solo ends up frozen, Luke got his hand cut off, and he didn’t win!

To tell you the truth, I mostly tolerated this film until I was in my early teens, when I suppose the hormones kicked in and I finally “got it.”

The Bones:
What happened to the rebellion after they blew up the Death Star?
How is the Empire taking this?
What’s Darth Vader up to?
Where is Luke at with the Force?
Are Han and Leia flirting?
Jedi Training?
Luke…I am your father…

What happened to the rebellion after they blew up the Death Star?

They’re hiding. Again. They seem to be low on resources and places to run.

I noticed something in the opening scroll the other week when we watched this movie. It states that “a group of freedom fighters led by Luke Skywalker has established a base…” I’m not usually sensitive about this stuff, but Like is far from in charge. Maybe the fighters are led by him, but I didn’t see that in the film either. Don’t get me wrong, Luke is my hero in these movies, but give credit where it’s due!

Leia is clearly in charge, which is awesome. I’d never noticed that she doesn’t get credit for that in the opening scroll.

How is the Empire taking this?

The Empire is hunting the rebellion, and considering the Empire has an endless array of assets to throw at the search, it’s only a matter of time before they find them.

Can I just say how much I like Admiral Piett? The fact that he makes a few mistakes and personally apologizes to Vader for them, knowing full well how that might end, makes him one of the biggest bad a**es in the film!

What is Darth Vader up to?

He seems to be heading up the hunt for the rebels. However, he’s really after Luke. He strangles one of his commanders to death, then assaults at least two more in this movie.

As a kid I was terrified of Vader! For good reason, mind you, but after seeing the prequels, this is just Anakin’s impatient, whiny side coming out. Now instead of not getting his way, he kills people who hold him back. Not cool, man.

Although it is a great way to show us how crazy he is at this point.

If you look through the eyes of the prequels, this is the son of the woman he thought he’d killed. Luke is his hope to defeat the Emperor, and bring the kind of order to the galaxy he’s always wanted. Vader is genuinely desperate in this film.

Where is Luke at with the Force?

At first we see Luke doing a mundane patrol. Then he gets attacked and taken by the Wampa. So far no Force stuff.

Then Luke wakes up hanging from the ceiling and sees his lightsaber nearby but out of reach. The Wampa is coming for him, and he takes a moment to calm down and uses the force to cut himself free and chop the Wampa’s arm off.

This gives us the sense that Luke has been exploring his powers.

Then Obi Wan’s force ghost appears to him, giving him orders to find Yoda.

The battle of Hoth ensues, the rebels get clear by the skin of their teeth, and Luke goes off to find Yoda.

Alone.

He doesn’t tell anyone.

This has always irked me. Han Solo and Luke are clearly good friends by this point, but Luke keeps his secret from everyone. As Yoda later says, Luke doesn’t think before he acts. Sometimes that’s good and sometimes that’s bad.

Are Han and Leia…flirting?

Yes, yes they are.

Leia even kisses Luke to make Han jealous.

The banter between Han and Leia is hilarious in this film.

Han : You want me to stay because of the way you feel about me.
Leia tries to hide her feelings. Yes, you’re great help to us. You’re a natural leader.
Han Solo : No! That’s not it. Come on. Come on!
Princess Leia : You’re imagining things.
Han Solo : Am I? Then why are you following me? Afraid I was gonna leave without giving you a goodbye kiss?
Princess Leia : I’d just as soon kiss a Wookiee.
Han Solo : I can arrange that.
[Leia walks away]
Han Solo : You could use a good kiss!

What is that? Maybe ten lines of dialogue? The romance is already better than the prequels. The fact that several people walk between the arguing couple tells me they’ve been at it for quite some time.

Oh George Lucas, why didn’t you let this writer create the dialogue for Episode II?

And let’s not forget
Leia : I love you
Han : I know
Right before he gets frozen in carbonite. That’s pretty awesome.

Luke, I am you Father…

I won’t get into everything on Degobah. Luke starts his Jedi training and leaves before it’s complete.

Pfft. He was there what, maybe a week? The prequels showed us that Jedi training takes a lifetime. What could Luke possibly lean in a week?

I give Yoda props here for thinking outside the box. He knows he won’t have much time, and has probably seen the outcome of Luke and Vader’s first meeting already. Still, he decides to forego the ancient ways and try something different. Darth Sidious blind-sided him and I’m sure he’s been thinking about that for the past twenty years. Luke can’t be a traditional Jedi.

Luke once again reminds us that he’s related to Anakin when he runs off to save his friends without listening to his elders. Still, Han came back for him at the end of the last movie, and I’ve always liked the fact that Luke held his friends in such high regard. Maybe the Jedi were weak because they had no ties. Love does make you stronger.

Vader is clearly toying with Luke in their fight. Trying to provoke him into doing something stupid. Luke’s ideals—his friends and the fact that he sees the Empire, along with Vader, as evil—keep him on the right track. Even when Vader reveals that he’s Luke’s father.

Which, by the way, was quite a shock to those of us who only had Episode IV before this. Luke’s response is overly emotional, but that actually works. Instead of allowing his emotions to carry him to the dark side, he instead decides he’d rather end his life than let Vader have him.

It’s hard to pick at these bones. There is a reason a huge amount of fans count this as their favorite film. It’s well written and works as the perfect second act to the original trilogy.

What are your thoughts on the matter?


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14-Feb-2020

Showing off to impress a girl has no age limit!

Jenni winced when she saw the pothole. The front tire of the private transport bus went into said hole, causing one corner of the vehicle to dip and then pop back up.

Cries of protest flew from the senior citizens.

“Every heard of dodging, buddy?”

“I think they’re trying to crash the bus!”

“I think the government is still trying to kill me.”

“Who got killed?”

“Give it a rest, Bill. The government doesn’t care about you. Probably one of my loyal fans trying to rescue me from this bus.”

Jenni exchanged an amused expression with Martha, her coworker sitting across the aisle. She stood and pat the air with her hands. “Just a pot hole, nothing to worry about. We’re almost there.”

A familiar face, sporting her favorite stern expression, glared at Jenni. “Where exactly are you talking us, young lady?”

Jenni sighed. “We’re going to the park to have a picnic, Claudia.”

“What about Nick?” someone from the back asked.

Martha snorted.

“Nick died last week,” someone else said.

Jenni shook her head and sat. Good thing they were almost there.

By the time the bus driver parked—only a couple of minutes later—a small scuffle had broken out behind Martha over a cane, and someone was asking if it was Rick that had died.

At least her job was never dull. Jenni stood and smiled. “We’re here. Everyone off!”

That drew a round of grumbles. The driver moved to help Martha with the three people in wheelchairs while Jenni made sure everyone got down the stairs in one piece.

This part was like herding cats. The first woman off the bus decided she wanted to get back on. The man behind her threatened to kick her in the face—he watched way too many Kung Fu movies—and the rest of the senior citizens asked what was going on in loud voices.

Jenni smiled through it all, making notes about the most entertaining comments so she could write them down later, and finally got everyone off the bus. She rolled her eyes when she saw
Alan tottering toward the gutter with one hand on his cane and his other holding a grabber claw that his granddaughter had given him for his birthday.

Claudia was the last one off, and she kept a hold of Jenni’s arm. There were bright yellow balloons along the path to the pavilion for everyone to follow, and Martha was already wheeling the first resident in the right direction.

Alan surveyed the gutter, pushing the dirt and rocks around with the rubber tip of his cane. He wore a t-shirt of his own rock band—he had been rather famous back in the day—under a leather jacket. He wore what hair he had left long and stringy.

“That man is disgusting,” Claudia said.

Jenni watched as Alan’s wrinkled face lit up and he used the grabber to pluck a gray rock about the size of a walnut out of the gutter. It only took him three tries. It took him another minute to get the rock into his hand. Then, in typical Alan fashion, he licked it.

Claudia strangled a cry of shock.

Alan smiled and sped toward them.

Of course sped was a relative term.

“Did you find a good one?” Jenni asked.

“Don’t encourage him,” Claudia whispered like a three-year-old. Lucky for her no one else could hear either.

Alan stopped in front of Claudia and held out his prize as he flashed his perfectly white dentures. “Granite. From the mountains.” He jerked his head toward the west.

“Really?” Jenni asked.

“Yup.” Alan’s face held both pride and hope. His eyes moved to Claudia.

Claudia sniffed. “You and your silly rocks.”

Jenni held out the hand for the rock, promising to put it with the rest of his collection. She didn’t miss Alan’s face as it lost a bit of excitement. So she pulled Claudia close as they shuffled along. “I think he’s trying to impress you. He knows you were a geologist, and he’s been reading all about rocks.” Plus, he thought it was hilarious to be a rock star who had a rock collection.

Claudia’s hand tightened on Jenni’s arm. “Don’t be ridiculous.”

The old woman said that, but she straightened her shoulders, as much as she could, and Jenni could have sworn Claudia began to sway her hips as she walked. Good thing they’d both been replaced, or Jenni would have been worried.

When they reached the benches, Claudia waited to pick a seat until Alan sat with a couple of the other guys, as he called them. Claudia then picked a spot where he could see her. As soon as Jenni dropped her off she fished a mirror and her brush out of her giant gold purse a checked her hair.

“Still using a horse brush?” Martha asked as Jenni came to sit with her.

“I can’t convince her it’s not a valuable antique.”

“Did Alan find another rock?”

Jenni held it out. “Granite.”

“It will look great in his guitar case with the other hundred or so he has.”

“It will.”

Jenni watched as Claudia put lipstick on, then practiced her smiles in the mirror.

“Uh-oh,” Martha said.

Jenni turned to see two of the other ladies fighting over a cane. “We never should have let them have the exact same cane.”

“My plan is to toss them both.”

“Good plan.”

Jenni caught Claudia giving Alan a little wave as she moved to break up the scuffle.

Nope. This job was never dull.

***

That was fun! My mom is in a nursing home, and sometimes it’s hard for me to go see her because it can feel so depressing there, but if I keep my sense of humor I always find a few things to smile about!

I forgot to mention the burial mound! I was going to have a random hill in the park that one of the old people thought was a burial mound. Then they were going to fight about it. Ah well, it’s still a fun story.

Genre – Senior Citizen Romance

Character – A Rock Star Who Collects Rocks

Setting – Burial Mound

Random Object – Horse Brush


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