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The Dorky Diva Show: Episode 3 with Brian Ballance

Dec 22, 2016


On this month's episode of The Dorky Diva Show, Savanna introduces her new co-host Brian Ballance and they share a spoiler-filled discussion about Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. 
If you'd like to check out Brian's podcast when Savanna guest starred on his show, click here- https://soundcloud.com/jedibrian/ep-26-savanna-kiefer-1
You can also find Brian's new Clone Wars discussion podcast here- Soundcloud.com/BDStarWars
Feel free to support The Dorky Diva Show at www.patreon.com/thedorkydiva


The Belonging You Seek Is Not Behind You, It Is Ahead

Dec 19, 2016
Let's be real. 2016 was a rough year for a lot of us. I'm pretty transparent with my life online through my blog and social media, but I struggled with something over the last few months that I didn't display publicly. If you've been following The Dorky Diva since this summer, then you may remember that I went through a pretty tough breakup back in August. I later found out that I was cheated on, which is not something I'd wish upon my worst enemy.

In the following months after that unsettling event in my life, I dealt with a great deal of anxiety and depression. Not only was I embarrassed to admit that I was struggling with these issues, but I felt alone. I would talk to my close friends and family about what I was dealing with emotionally, but nothing they said helped me. I didn't want to talk about it online because I feared that my followers would think I was fishing for attention. I personally decided to hold off on talking about this tough time until the darkest days were over and I felt like I had recovered. So here we are in the middle of December. I feel happy again and I'm willing to talk about how lessons from Star Wars got me through this tough season of life, just like many of my other phases of life in the past.

I've heard about anxiety from many people, but I had never experienced it first hand until a few months ago. One day I was working on a photo project for one of my final classes. I was on a tight deadline and my camera battery died mid-shoot. For some reason, that threw me into a panic attack. Yes, something as mild and unimportant as a battery dying made me freak out. I felt like I couldn't breathe while the stress of the deadline ahead of me seemed to be dashing closer and closer to me. Things like this happened almost every day. Little issues that I could normally brush off with no problem turned into crippling moments that ruined my entire day.

At night, I would cry myself to sleep for no reason. I felt sad, alone, and defeated in every way. Why did I feel like this? Some people assumed it was because I missed the relationship I once had. That was definitely not the case. If someone has the audacity to leave me for someone else or just to leave me in general, I don't have the time or energy to miss them, not even for a second. I believe I was mostly upset and thrown into a spiral of depression because my entire life made a complete 180 degree turn in the matter of an hour. My wedding plans, my plan to move up north at the end of the year, the rest of my life had changed immediately and I was left to figure out everything alone. I was scared and sad at the same time. Not for being dumped, but for having to figure out a new life plan when it had taken me two years to figure out the one that had just been destroyed.

After dealing with these issues for a solid couple of months, I decided to seek out help. Not only was I experiencing emotional pain, but I started to experience physical pain as well. I talked to a doctor about getting my hormones in balance and went to physical therapy for a month to mend my body. Now that I've fully adjusted to these treatments, I feel better than ever. I have energy, I feel motivated to do the things I love, and I've been spending more time with the people who were there for me during those tough times. I don't think medical help is the answer to everyone's problems, but if you feel like you need help with things that are out of your control, definitely go chat with your doctor and see if they can help.

So, why am I writing this? Why am I discussing the most personal moments of my life with complete strangers who will read this? Well, I wanted you to know that if you're dealing with something similar to this, you are not alone. Even though you may feel alone, you're not. Those words by themselves will not heal you or make you feel happy again, but I hope that you can find peace in knowing that there IS a light at the end of the tunnel. You will find happiness again. You will figure you what to do with your life. You will realize who your true friends are and life will be better than ever.

There is a quote from The Force Awakens that brought me a lot of peace on those nights when I cried myself to sleep and felt like there was no purpose to my life.


This message from Maz Kanata applied to my situation in so many ways and taught me plenty of lessons. Don't hold onto the past. There are so many great things ahead of you and even though you may feel like you've been rejected over and over, there are people out there who will love you exactly the way you are. If one situation rejects you, be confident and know that there's a better opportunity around the corner. Most importantly, don't ignore the friends that drop everything to be there for you. Just like Finn went back for Rey after she was captured by Kylo Ren in The Force Awakens, your true friends will be there for you in real life too. I'm insanely blessed to have several people in my life that would do anything for me, no matter what time of day it is or how far away they are. Also, never pass up the chance to hug a Wookiee. It's the best form of therapy. As always, if you truly feel completely alone and need someone to chat to about these types of issues, my email is always open. May the Force be with you all.

48-Hour Shoretrooper

It's no secret that I love the costumes of Star Wars. I've written about them in the past here on The Dorky Diva, I'm a member of the 501st Legion, and I've helped create costumes for Star Wars fans who want to get involved with charity work through the 501st. Many of my friends know that I'm addicted to projects, especially building armored costumes, so a couple weeks ago I got a text from my friend Wes right before I was about to get some sleep for the night. He asked if I would be willing to drive all the way from Jacksonville, Florida, down to central Florida the next morning to help him build a Shoretrooper in two days. Why such a short deadline? Well, there was a special event coming up for the premiere of Rogue One and the costume needed to be complete by Monday in order to get approved for the event.


Of course I said I would help him, so I woke up at 5am on Saturday morning and drove three hours across the state to get to my parents house where we have a huge shed full of all the tools and space I would need to help complete this costume. Wes showed up around 10am with a dozen donuts (my only request for helping with this build) and all the armor pieces we needed. 


Day 1
Thankfully, all of the armor was trimmed and ready to be assembled, which shaved a good two or three hours off our build time. The first thing I worked on was the helmet, which was a piece of cake because I only had to Dremel out the eyes and neck opening. Then I started assembling the forearms and biceps while Wes assembled the complex shins. After that we both worked on the chest and back pieces, both hacking away at little details that had to be added to the overall set that fit together to create one piece. We struggled with the ab plate at first and then finally figured out how it was supposed to look and assembled that. By the end of the first day, we had all of the pieces primed and ready to be painted the next day. We called it quits before midnight to let Bondo dry on the ab plate and managed to get a full 8-hours of rest before working again the next day.

Day 2
Wes and I were fortunate enough to know what brand and shade of spray paint that was actually used on the Shoretroopers in Rogue One. However, this created a problem because the specific type of paint we needed was sold out in all the stores near us and we only had two cans on hand to use. We needed two more cans so Wes drove two and a half hours round trip Sunday morning to get the beige paint we needed along with the can of red for the bicep armor. While he drove to Tampa and back, I sanded down the Bondo on the ab plate, primed it, and glued on all the greeblies. As soon as Wes got back, he applied small bits of liquid latex to all of the pieces so that paint could be applied over the latex and peeled off to create a chipped look. 

When the latex dried, I started to paint those pieces beige while Wes painted the belt boxes that didn't need liquid latex. This is when it really started to look like a Shoretrooper! After hitting the armor with a second coat of beige, Wes grabbed a wire brush and some steel wool to weather the armor while I added the final touches to the helmet. By the end of the night, the costume was 95% complete. The fabric part of the belt was delivered the next day so we quickly attached the belt boxes, made some hip armor from scratch, and threw it all together for submission photos. 

I felt so relieved when the submission photos were sent off and we quickly heard back that he was approved to troop the premiere event. This was an insane accomplishment and I was overjoyed to be involved with the project! It was even better seeing Wes stand on the red carpet during the opening night event with Star Wars fans swarming around him for a photo. 

This project taught me that teamwork really does make the dream work! There's no way this Shoretrooper could've been built in two days single handedly. Now if only I could summon the help and motivation to get my Sabine costume done so quickly. 

Rogue One Review

Warning: This post contains spoilers. Do not read if you haven't seen Rogue One!

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story made a spectacular debut last week in theaters across the world. Walking into my 7:40pm showing on December 15th, I had no idea what to expect. Sure, I had seen all of the trailers and TV spots that Disney had released over the past year, but I hadn't spent time speculating about who these Rebels were and what struggles they would encounter while capturing the plans to the Death Star. I thought Rogue One was near perfect so I really don't have too many negative things to say, but I wanted to break down what I loved about the film and the minor things I would change.


The Good: What I Loved

Star Wars: Rebels References
There were plenty of Rebels Easter eggs scattered throughout the movie including several shots of the Ghost flying in the Battle of Scarif and parked on the Rebel base at Yavin 4. Chopper, my favorite sassy droid, can be spotted on the Rebel base when the communications officer runs to inform Mon Mothma about the group that went to Scarif. I think my favorite reference was when General Syndulla was summoned over the loudspeaker at the Rebel base. I love knowing that Hera was involved with the Battle of Scarif and even made it out alive. One of my favorite things about Star Wars is how the story group ties together the films with the television shows, books, and comics. These subtle references to Rebels might not be picked up by all viewers, but it means a lot to fans who will spot the quick cameos. It helps show that Star Wars is one universe and all the characters can cross over into different mediums as long as the story goes together.

Shadow Scout Cameo
As a girl who's been cosplaying as a shadow scout in the 501st Legion for almost three years, I was thrilled to see a new rendition of the shadow scout when Bodhi Rook was being captured and delivered to Saw Gerrera. I'm looking forward to modifying my costume after the Blu-ray version of Rogue One is released and I can take high quality screen caps of the outfit. This cameo won't mean much to all Star Wars fans, but I personally squealed when I saw such a familiar helmet in the background. Shadow scouts are no longer considered "canon" since the comics and books after Disney's purchase of Lucasfilm were deemed uncanon, so I'm glad shadow scouts have a legitimate history in Star Wars now.

CGI Characters
Two words- Governor. Tarkin. I'd like to think that Peter Cushing was brought back to life for this role, but obviously I know that the people who work at ILM are visual effects wizards who made this concept a reality. Prior to the premiere, I was hoping to see Tarkin in Rogue One, but I had no idea they would actually show his face and he would look exactly like Peter Cushing. My jaw had to be lifted from the ground after staring at his face in disbelief for 10 minutes. I was absolutely astonished. With that being said, L-E-I-A. I'm thrilled she made an appearance too! While I would've been just as happy if her face hadn't been shown, I'm glad they did such an awesome job with the CGI rather than casting someone with a similar face and not perfectly matching Carrie Fisher's look.

I've seen tons of conflicting opinions from other fans about Tarkin and Leia saying that just because ILM could make these characters look realistic doesn't mean they should have been in the movie. I disagree. Not only was this a technically impressive feat, but I think it helps tie Rogue One together with the original trilogy.

Darth Vader
If you had asked me a month ago what I thought of Darth Vader, I would've said, "Meh, I wish he wasn't going to be in Rogue One." My reasoning for this was that I wanted the movie to focus on the new characters including Jyn and Cassian rather than shine the spotlight on characters like Darth Vader that we've seen in multiple Star Wars films. However, I've never seen Vader in more of a truly horrifying form than what we saw in Rogue One. Everyone speaks of how utterly terrifying Vader is and how he's such a huge threat to the Rebels. Growing up watching Star Wars, I was never afraid of his character, but goodness, if I had seen this version of Vader as a child I would've had nightmares about him for weeks. He was relentless, unforgiving, and exuded a sense of unmatchable power, which are all qualities Vader possesses. Gareth Edwards perfectly captured his character and did Vader the utmost justice.


Ponda Baba and Dr. Evazan
Ever since I was a little girl, I've loved the back and forth bickering between Luke Skywalker and Dr. Evazan in the Mos Eisley Cantina. It's my favorite scene out of any Star Wars movie and when I saw this legendary duo make a short appearance on Jedha, I actually teared up and laughed at the same time. It's the little things that impact me the most.

In addition to all of the things I mentioned above, Rogue One captured my heart because of the diverse range of characters fighting for the Rebel alliance. It was interesting to see a movie without Jedi and I particularly enjoyed how Chirrut Imwe felt such a strong connection with the Force even though he was not a Jedi. I also think racial diversity is important because Star Wars is universally loved across the globe by all sorts of people. When I was younger, I loved seeing characters that looked like me so I know how important it is for young fans to feel like they can relate to one of these rebels.


The Bad: What It Lacked

Lyra Erso
Before I pick apart the reason why I didn't enjoy Jyn Erso's mom, I will note that I've heard Lyra is discussed in Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel. I realize that some of my issues with her character may be addressed in the book, but as far as the movie goes I felt she was a little cold-hearted to be the mother of such a precious daughter. I was surprised she didn't tell Jyn how much she loved her on screen, as she must have known they may never see each other again. I think mother/daughter relationships are very important to show in movies so I wish Rogue One had included a little more detail about the bond Lyra and Jyn shared in addition to Jyn's relationship with her father. The fact that Jyn watched her mother get murdered must have been tough, so I also wish they had shown how that affected Jyn in the future. With that being said, I understand why Lyra was a very minor character in the movie so it's not a huge deal to me, but this might push me into reading Catalyst to learn more about Lyra.


Saw Gerrera
As much as I love that Lucasfilm made the decision to bring a character from Star Wars: The Clone Wars into a live-action film, I wasn't crazy about Saw Gerrera. I never got attached to him in The Clone Wars and I was hoping that Rogue One would make me like him more, but that wasn't the case. I disregarded him after finding out that he deserted Jyn in a bunker when she was sixteen. He will be returning in Star Wars: Rebels later this season so I'm hoping that we'll learn more about what thrusted him into the fighter we saw in Rogue One.

Overall, I have to say that I was extremely impressed by Rogue One. I really didn't expect to fall in love with this movie as much I did. Kudos to Gareth Edwards, Kathleen Kennedy, and every single person that was involved with the making of this crucial component of the Star Wars story. The success of this movie makes me even more excited for the Han Solo standalone in 2018!

Floral Helmets

Dec 2, 2016
This week I celebrated completing my final project for the last class of my photography minor. For the series, I explored the contrast of masculine and feminine elements between Star Wars helmets and flowers. As a woman who paints prop replica helmets in a male-dominated industry, I thought the flowers and greenery would represent my personal approach to prop making. All of these images were shot with natural light in front of a window with minimal editing in Lightroom. 

I'm offering very limited 8x10 prints of these photos while supplies last. Each print is $15 or you can buy the set of 5 for $60 plus shipping. If you're interested in placing an order, please email me at savannaakiefer@gmail.com with "Print Order" in the subject line. These would make great Christmas gifts for any Star Wars fan!