You Do You, Boo-Boo

A few weeks ago, I attended a leadership conference on campus. The closing speaker was a Creative Director from EA (Electronic Arts), who I actually got to hang out with during lunch time. She asked the people in the room eating with us what our favorite video games were, and when she got to me, I was already a nervous wreck, and said: “I’m not much of a gamer, but…”

She stopped me, and said something along the lines of: “Don’t say that. If you play games in some shape or form, you’re a gamer. Don’t let that gendered/sexist bulls*it stop you from being passionate about things. Too often, when people get older, they lose touch with the stuff they’re passionate about, and they’re cold. Now, what are your favorite games?”

Then, without hesitation, and while almost tearing up a little, I said spewed out the titles of some my favorite games: Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga, Left 4 Dead 2, and a few more (I forgot to mention Wario Land 4, Monster Rancher, etc.). It was a pretty pivotal moment for me, because for the past year and a half, I’ve expressed a lot of interest in wanting to buy my own PlayStation 4 and a copy of the new Star Wars: Battlefront. One or two guy friends of mine who I’ve talked to about this have looked at me when I said this and replied with, “But you’re not *really* a gamer.” What the heck is a “gamer” then? In the voice of Tita Auntie, “YOU E’TELL ME RIGHT NOW.”

Oh, thanks dictionary:

gam·er (/ˈɡāmər/) | noun
noun: gamer; plural noun: gamers
  1. a person who plays a game or games


After talking for a bit, the Creative Director gave me her e-mail and told me that whenever I get a PS4 to e-mail her my address so she can send me a free copy of Battlefront. And then, she introduced me to some games she thought I’d be interested in and we geeked out over their designs.

That was the highlight of my day at the conference, besides getting to know a lot of really cool people from other schools and attending fun workshops.

The point of all of this is: why is it so hard for womxn/non-male identifying people to like things in nerdy spaces without being questioned? I’m done with these elitist, mostly male-dominated circles not acknowledging the fact that other people thrive in these spaces and live and breathe in these fictional worlds like they do. Of course, they’re partially not to blame – it’s society’s habit of sorting things into “male” and “female” that have created this very damaging barrier of masculinity and femininity, causing things like the above and the “fake geek girl” stereotype to perpetuate in society. Not only boys can like video games and Legos – not only girls can wear make-up. We shouldn’t question or challenge people for liking things (unless they are really, really bad things…like, well, murder). It’s 2016. You do you.

On a lighter note, I’m thankful for my amazing friends and family for always being so supportive of my nerdy ventures. I also really want to thank that Creative Director for calling out my battle with myself and making me acknowledge and reaffirm the fact that I am a passionate individual who can like whatever I please. I can immerse myself in these spaces that encourage growth and innovation.

TL;DR – just let people like whatever the heck they want.


In Defense of Rey: Star Wars’ New Heroine

WARNING: Spoilers for Star Wars: The Force Awakens below. Proceed with caution.


Greetings and salutations, fine readers! It has definitely been a while since my last post. I sort of blame school and my writer’s block – but I’m back! I hope your holidays were fun and full of adventure.

The last time I posted here was when The Force Awakens trailer was shown during Monday Night Football all those months ago. The film was finally released almost two weeks ago, and I had the opportunity to watch it on opening night (unfortunately not at 7PM because those tickets sold out like wildfire at my local theatres – but I did manage to see it at 9PM with one of my best friends)! The feeling of watching a Star Wars film with an incredibly enthusiastic bunch of people is exhilarating. Everyone cheered, clapped, and gasped at the same moments – from the Lucasfilm logo to the “Long time ago…” card all the way to the end credits. The world didn’t seem as big as usual for those two hours. The film was magical.

I ended up watching it three times* in theaters.

(More on that later.)

In the week and a half following the release of the film, many pieces picking the film apart have been published by various outlets and blogs. Many of them have provided great theories and character analyses. I’ve decided to jump into the fray and write my own piece about one of my favorite characters from the new trilogy: Rey.

(Here is where the spoilers start. Read at your own risk if you haven’t seen The Force Awakens!)

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New Year, New Changes

I made this post almost two years ago. I’m kind of feeling emotional right now, because I’m a senior(!!) now and before, I would have never spoken up in class/said my opinions out loud, but now it’s gotten to the point where that I’m the annoying kid who always sits in the front and blabs the answer. This is from my old blog (which I maintained before Sami Says).


First of all, hello again, Empty Little Spaces! It’s been quite a while since my last post. I sort of slacked off during Winter Break and spent quite a bit of time with my good ol’ pal, Netflix, and my good friends up in Arendelle, Anna, Elsa, Olaf, Sven, and Kristoff…

(Yeah, I saw Frozen twice during the break. Call me obsessed. I’ll probably be making dumb little Frozen puns in the next few posts.)

Anyway, it’s a new year, and a new quarter at UCSD, and for the first time in forever (I PROMISE THAT WASN’T A FROZEN REFERENCE. This was unintentional, I swear), I feel like I’m going to enjoy all four of the classes I’m taking. Heck, I’ve had good schedules in the past, but this time, I truly feel like I’m going to really get into these courses! I’m taking How to Read a Film (for…

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Little Miss Star Wars

“SAM, STOP TALKING ABOUT STAR WARS!” Here’s why I like it so much.

I grew up on Star Wars. I was introduced to the saga in the fifth grade, a few months before Revenge of the Sith was due to be released in theaters. Needless to say, I was hooked. I collected newspaper clippings – most notably the front cover of The Stars & Stripes Pacific (I lived on a military base in Japan at the time), which featured Darth Vader’s face and the words “The End of a Trilogy”, or something like that.

When my dad bought the original trilogy on DVD, I held onto that gold little box like it was my life; this was something that was a part of me now. I watched the films over and over again and I always marveled at and admired the scene in A New Hope where Luke stares out at the twin suns of Tatooine, longing for adventure. Not long after I watched the saga, I roamed the hallways of my elementary school, breathing into my hand as if I were the notorious, black armored Sith Lord, spouting out phrases such as the iconic “Luke, I am your father…” and “…search your feelings, you know it to be true.” The films made me feel like I was on my own adventures; made me feel like I could shape my own life – which I eventually learned was a real life thing, the ability to choose your destiny. The films definitely sparked the imagination of this wide-eyed and idealistic 10 year-old.

I wanted a lightsaber so badly. (I never got one.)

I was introduced to the wonderful world of theatre in the fifth grade by my wonderful teacher, Mr. Cal Grossheusch (Mr. G!). I played the lead role, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, in a play he wrote with one of his friends, titled The Case of the Missing Nose (you can tell the entire plot from the title). I loved it; I loved being on stage. (It was at this point in my life that I realized I was also very much a lover of the spotlight, something I eventually grew out of.) Participating in a show for the first time inspired me to want to write my own plays.

Guess what I wanted to write first? A Star Wars play. I collaborated with the boys in my class (and one other girl), and as I was making the cast list, I remember stating that I really, really wanted to play Luke Skywalker. I wanted to fly an X-Wing fighter, wield a majestic lightsaber, and beat the bad guys. Of course, some of the other boys wanted to play Luke Skywalker. I fervently demanded that I play Luke, because little girls should be able to play kickass people.** I think I also wanted to play Leia, too (because she is literally the Queen of Everything). They were twins! However, we did eventually “assign” the role to the only other girl helping plan this out. Though the play was never written (teaching me a very valuable lesson about planning before executing), the idea and inspiration still stuck with me. I guess you can say that Star Wars (and Harry Potter, of course) was one of the reasons why I wanted to get into screenwriting in the first place, to give people the same inspiration I was given back then.

Revenge of the Sith came and went. I remember feeling such a rush watching it. It was the first time any new movie premiered on the Naval Base I lived on the same day it was released in the United States. The film was a big deal on base; all the showings were sold out, but my parents managed to get tickets for an afternoon showing. I cried when I watched Obi-Wan and Anakin fight. I felt chills when Darth Vader broke out of the binds on his gurney, mourning the loss of Padme (who deserved so much more – but that is for another post, another time).

The void after the film was released was so real. I immersed myself in the extended universe after that, occasionally reading articles on Wookiepedia to get up to speed on what Disney would eventually consider non-canonical.

Tonight, I watched the trailer for Star Wars, Episode VII: The Force Awakens. I felt oddly nervous and excited at the same time; for the past few months I’ve been going crazy, looking for news and new footage to fawn about to tide myself over before the film is released this December. When the first trailer premiered during the Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim this year, I was beside myself in the Student Union, flailing and flapping my arms everywhere, attempting to suppress my excitement in public. Tonight was no different; I rushed home as soon as I heard the trailer was released and watched it on the projector my apartment-mate rented from the university library.

I won’t say too much about the trailer itself – it’s something you have to experience, especially if you are a die-hard Star Wars fan (well you probably watched it about 50,000,000 times by the time you’ve stumbled upon this article if you are a die-hard fan). It is definitely an awakening, no, a re-awakening, a herald for fans to fly back to that galaxy far, far, away. Everything looks so real, and it truly does feel like the Star Wars universe, lightyears better than what Lucas tried to provide with the prequels.

I felt like I was that ten year old who wanted a lightsaber and to be Luke Skywalker again; the ten year-old who held the original trilogy box set in my hands for the first time. With my heart racing, hands flailing, chills running down my spine, endorphins filling up every fiber of my being; I can safely say that “Chewie, we’re home.”

(However, the question still stands: where is Luke Skywalker?)

TL;DR: I really love Star Wars. I am a big nerd. Please watch Daisy Ridley (who is playing Rey in TFA) crying over the trailer on the Facebook. Then you will see how I feel. I still need a lightsaber.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be released on December 18th, 2015, and December 17th in select cinemas.

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** – This was probably the birth of Feminist!Sami. You can also say it was when I wanted to be Ash Ketchum when my friends and I pretended we were in the Pokemon world when I was in kindergarten/the first grade.


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Deconstructing “The Force Awakens” Poster & More

Earlier today, the Star Wars gods decided to grace us with a new gift: the latest Force Awakens poster. And, of course, with a new poster comes many, many questions. Created by the universe’s longtime artist, Drew Struzan, the poster features an array of characters, new and old. Check it out below:


*sings the beginning of “Circle of Life” and raises poster up to the sky*

Now that you’ve gotten a better look at it, let’s deconstruct this thing.

1. Rey and Kylo Ren

Screen Shot 2015-10-18 at 11.53.15 AM

bro please

It makes me incredibly happy to see Rey (Daisy Ridley) right in the middle – seeing another woman lead the saga alongside Carrie Fisher’s Leia Organa sends a really powerful message: women have always kicked ass in the galaxy far, far away. One thing that is super interesting about the positioning of Rey’s staff is that it directly aligns with Kylo Ren’s (Adam Driver) lightsaber. In the past few months, there have been many fan theories floating around concerning the possibility of Kylo and Rey being siblings (with Han and Leia being their ~separated~ parents [please, no, no, no, I would rather fall into the Sarlacc Pit than to see them split up]). I, for one, am totally on board with this, and the fact that Rey and Kylo Ren are facing the same exact way, weapons all lined up speaks volumes. Or, it just makes really good, symmetric art.

2. #FindLukeSkywalker2k15
Okay, where the heck is Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill)? His character’s role in Episode VII has been a mystery for a long time – we only get a voiceover from Hamill himself (ha, ha, Twitter pun intended) in the film’s teaser trailers, but we’ve never gotten a proper glimpse of him…well, unless this IS him, robot hand and all (I’m pretty sure this is him).

Screen Shot 2015-10-18 at 10.50.35 AM

It is pretty jarring to not see Luke on a Star Wars poster, especially on a film where he is featured. He wasn’t even on the last poster that was released – that one heavily featured my main man, Han Solo. Weird, huh? After talking with my good friend Hannah (who is also blogging about this crazy poster), we came up with our own theory that Luke may be on some “damn fool idealistic crusade” (to quote Obi-Wan in A New Hope) to restart and reform the Jedi Order, and that Finn may be a part of that.  And on that note, let’s talk about Finn and his lightsaber!

3. Finn’s Lightsaber
I am a fervent believer of the fact that Finn’s (John Boyega) lightsaber might be the one that Luke dropped while fighting Vader on Bespin in The Empire Strikes Back. It definitely has the same make (from what we can see of the hilt…in some angles), and obviously, the same color. But the question is: where did he get it from?

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How on earth did young Finn come across this lightsaber? When we first see him, he wakes up in the middle of Jakku in a First Order Stormtrooper uniform. I am trying to connect the dots here: in the second teaser trailer, Leia is given a lightsaber. Is it the one that Luke lost? Or is Luke lost himself? Was this lightsaber given to Finn by Leia after Luke supposedly goes missing? So many questions, and so many names! In the screenshot above, he is also fighting Kylo Ren. Did he have some form of training before this…from Luke? Will Luke be his Obi-Wan (but not die please)? We’ll see when the film is released in December!

NOTE: *We also know that Leia is Force-sensitive from Empire and ROTJ, so the lightsaber given to her might be hers. (Please, I need some extended universe stuff, PLEASE.)

4. That’s No Moon…

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That’s (probably) some sort of space station! The giant sphere thing hovering behind Rey and Finn looks strangely like another Death Star. While I love the little nostalgic bits we’ve been given so far, I’m kind of not on board with having another Death Star-like object. However, while scrolling through Twitter during the madness, I saw someone suggest that as the poster is essentially split into the Dark Side/Light Side, as the Death Star Thing is on Rey and Finn’s side, it might be a…good thing? Then again, you can note that Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie) is dead center on the poster, supposedly on the “light” side under where Rey and Kylo Ren’s weapons line up. It would be an interesting twist to see it on the Resistance’s side…but also a weird question of morality. If it is a planet-destroying object and is on the “Light” side, is it good? Oooh.

5. That One Character Next to R2 and C3PO

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At first, I thought: DOBBY? IS THAT YOU? No, it definitely isn’t Dobby. Come on, Sam, this is the Star Wars world. Some say that this little character might be female pirate, Maz Kanata, who will be played by the beautiful and extremely talented Lupita Nyong’o. Kanata looks very mini but mighty. I mean, she owns her own palace.

6. “I love you.” “I know…maybe.” 

Finally, a picture of the galaxy’s favorite couple, Han (Harrison Ford) and Leia (Carrie Fisher). I love Han and Leia a lot.

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For some reason, both of them look like they are from two different worlds, despite getting together at the end of Return of the Jedi. Of course, this can be attributed to the fact that Han likes his comfortable clothes and would definitely hate being in some sort of fancy getup. Leia looks very regal and wonderful (THAT HAIR, THOUGH). I’m sort of scared that something definitely happened between ROTJ and The Force Awakens, causing the two to drift apart. Some are saying that Kylo Ren and Rey could be their kids as Rey looks awfully like she could be the granddaughter of Padme Amidala. Maybe something happened that forced them all to split up? Is that why this film brings them back together? When Leia is seen in the SD Comic-Con behind the scenes video, she is wearing stuff one would wear on a mission, kind of close to what Han would wear. I’m assuming they team up and find the Millennium Falcon and are “home” again. (Maybe they find the Falcon at Maz Kanata’s place?)

Those are definitely my biggest questions and theories. I think the poster looks fantastic, despite its little flaw: where in the Galaxy is Luke Skywalker? There are a few things that should be questioned and noted as well, aside from the main stuff above:

  • What exactly will Poe Dameron’s (Oscar Isaac) role be?
  • Where is Domnhall Gleeson’s General Hux?
  • Where is Luke Skywalker?
  • Did Kylo Ren make that lightsaber itself? It doesn’t have the proper, fluid energy flow that Finn’s obviously has. It looks like a makeshift one. Could he be some sort of Jedi/Sith fanatic?
  • Also, Gwendoline Christie as Captain Phasma: yes.
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pew pew pew

So much is going on in one poster. I guess we’ll get the answers to these questions and more when the film is released in December. If you have any fun theories, sound them off in the comments below! Now, I have to go do homework and laundry. May the Force Be With You!

flashback friday: my past torrid love affair with “glee”

You can definitely split my life into different sections, particularly by the things I’ve liked over the years. If you would like a visual guide, here it is:

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Now that I think about it…you really can’t split my life up into certain sections because everything OVERLAPS.

For the next few weeks, I’m going to reflect back on my life and how it was affected by some of the stuff featured in the graphic above. First up, I’m going to talk about something that recently ended, my Glee period.

I was sixteen when I first started watching Glee. Before that, I wasn’t into television at all (unless you count the many VHS tapes of Pokemon my parents bought for me as a child), and every time my friends talked about Glee in our morning carpool I never knew what to think of it. It was sort of the thorn in my side as they gushed about it every single week

What the heck is a “Puckleberry”?

Who was covering what by Journey?

Yeah, the lead guy (Cory Monteith) is super cute, but what is this show?

Those questions ran through my mind at every mention of Glee. My ninth grade honors English teacher recommended the show to me saying that “it would be something I would like” as I was heavily involved in band, theater, and dabbled in choir a little bit in middle school. He even gave me the first few episodes to watch. However, me being a super hipster and picky individual, I watched a little bit of the pilot, but never really gave it a chance.

When I moved to Manila in the summer of 2010, well after season one ended, I was stuck in a rut. I had just left Yokosuka, Japan, which was my home for almost ten years. My dad was shipped off to Afghanistan, I didn’t have friends, felt lonely, it was hot and humid, my Tagalog was (and still sort of is) terrible, and I was stressing about how I was unceremoniously thrown into the International Baccalaureate program at my new school, not knowing what the hell it was. I didn’t know what to turn to.

One hot summer day, I stumbled upon an article that said that one of my favorite internet stars, Darren Criss, was going to have a recurring role as one of the main characters’ mentors and friends in the show’s second season. I knew Criss from A Very Potter Musical, a Harry Potter parody created by the now Chicago-based theater company, StarKid, and loved him as the title character. So, with that in mind, I decided to watch Glee (also because I knew that cutie Cory Monteith was in it. I wasn’t into the show before, but I was totally into Cory Monteith) and catch up before season two began.

After watching the pilot all the way through, I was hooked. I couldn’t stop. And so, my torrid love affair with Glee began. I managed to catch up on everything before the second season started. I fell in love with the characters and every single one of their flaws. I empathized with their struggles, soared with their successes–I watched as they all found their home in the Glee Club. I suddenly didn’t feel so alone anymore. It was like I had found my escape, my television home away from reality. Every time I didn’t feel like I was ever good enough, every time I wanted to cry into a pillow, every time I was stressed beyond belief, I turned to the show.

I felt such a deep connection to it. It championed the fine arts as I was someone who spoke against school administrations for slashing budgets for music, dance and theater programs – programs I probably would have ended up a soulless automaton without. The perseverance of Will Schuester and the Glee Club to remain an integral part of McKinley High’s environment led me to work even harder in one of the only arts classes my high school offered, theater. My Theory of Knowledge presentation during my senior year was about the preservation of the performing arts in schools and their importance.

What made me relate to the show even more was that the characters were my age (though the actors being about 5-10 years older than me was kind of weird). In a sense, I grew up with these characters. I even ended up graduating the same time Finn, Rachel, Kurt, Mercedes, Mike, Puck, Santana, and Quinn did on the show. It was pretty bittersweet. A lot of my major life milestones matched big ones on the show.

Glee was also a major source of inspiration for me writing-wise. I wrote so much fanfiction for Glee (particularly for the Kurt/Blaine pairing) and always thought of really cool alternative universe plots (I wrote a dystopian fic before and I was particularly proud of that one). I wrote and wrote, even jotting down notes during class in high school to work with when I got home.

Of course, I grew out of my Glee phase by the end of my freshman year of college. I kind of got sick of its lack of continuity (WHERE IS BETH CORCORAN?) and shoddy writing starting the latter half of season three and on until the end. However, the characters did stay with me – Kurt Hummel and Rachel Berry in particular. Oh, man, I loved them. (I even got to meet Chris Colfer twice and Lea Michele once during this long phase of mine.) A lot.

While I do have many criticisms about the show in general, I’m not going to deny the large impact the show has had on me, and how much the cast has inspired me. It’s always good to do a healthy critique of the things you like and things you need to get out of your life, and Glee was one of those things I really needed to kick out (for personal reasons I’d rather talk about some other time, mostly dealing with the fandom in general).

Well, I hope you enjoyed that little trip down memory lane! I’ll be talking about other stuff soon. Peace out.

fandemonium: fun times at anime expo and comic-con 2015

time for you all to see how much of a nerd I am. ENJOY! featuring: many photos

“The price of freedom is high. And that’s a price I’m willing to pay.”

As you can tell by the majority of posts I’ve made on this blog, I am a fan of pretty much everything. And there are always conventions for things that I love. However, I grew up a Navy brat – and though I am so, so thankful for all of the opportunities traveling around the world has brought me, I didn’t have the chance to attend nerdy conventions growing up. Bummer, right?! As an avid internet user, I have had to go through several years of Comic-Con pining over panel videos and kick-ass cosplay online.

But, this year, everything changed. I am incredibly grateful that I got to attend the first days of both Anime Expo and San Diego Comic-Con International 2015. The chance to go to these very large conventions was an absolute blessing (special shout out to the Leyco family for the tickets to both cons). They were also on my bucket list too, so I got to cross both of those off, which was absolutely crazy.

Stepping into the Los Angeles and San Diego Convention Centers and being exposed to utter pandemonium, excitement, and euphoria was very surreal. I had never seen so many people who liked the same things I did in the same room. Thousands of individuals, in costume or not, from all over the country and the world came together to celebrate what united them – their sheer love and passion for popular culture. Needless to say, I was utterly speechless.

People so often mock people who are passionate about any facet of pop culture. Girls and boys alike are criticized for liking boy bands like One Direction, comic book fans are pegged as “elitist” – the list goes on and on. Conventions like these, no matter the size, allow for everyone to unite and let all of these negative feelings go away. It’s very exhilarating to see and hear people discussing the latest issue of Matt Fraction and David Aja’s Hawkeye (which hadn’t been released yet) and what kind of ending “Rio Bravo” would have, people helping out cosplayers with broken props and costumes, people holding other peoples’ camping spots in the massive Hall H lines each day, and fans greeting strangers with so much enthusiasm. What is also very great to see are groups of friends who probably met online meet each other for the first time.

All of that aside, here are a few highlights of my time at both Anime Expo and SDCC 2015.

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