Of Fathers and Sons: Phil Collins “Not Dead Yet” tour

Last night, the night before a significant birthday of mine that will not be named, I went to see what proved to be a really fantastic and unexpectedly emotional concert. Phil Collins in his Cleveland, Ohio appearance of his “Not Dead Yet” tour. One of the first concerts I ever went to back when I was in college, was the Genesis “Invisible Touch” tour back in 1987. I went with some of my very best friends in college and had the absolute best time. Phil was an amazing drummer and I loved the album and enjoyed the whole show.

Fast forward many years (and how the heck did *that* happen) and some friends at work wanted to know if my husband and I would like to see Phil as he did one more tour that, thankfully, took him through Cleveland. My husband, being a drummer, and knowing I loved Genesis, said yes! So last night, the night before my birthday, and a school night, we went downtown to enjoy dinner and some music.

You can read several wonderful reviews of the concert here and here so I won’t go into depth about the sets and Phil’s performance. What I will say is that it was surprisingly emotional . When the show opened, Mr. Collins walked out to center stage with the help of a cane. Apparently he’s recently had surgery and his foot isn’t in very good shape, so he would not be playing the drums. Instead he sat on a stool and sang every song from the front of the stage. His voice was sometimes soft, and at times, timid, but it was still the same Phil Collins voice I remembered from college. As he continued through the set, he became stronger in song and presence. His band and backup singers were delightful and it was obvious to the audience that there was love and admiration all around.

That wasn’t nearly the emotional part. No, that came when Phil introduced his band. He started with the horn section, because no Phil Collins or Genesis song is complete without horns. Then moved to the guitars, percussions, backup singers and keyboards. He skipped over the drums and the audience was on the edge of their seats waiting to find out who the young man was on the drums.

Turns out that the young man in question was Phil’s 17 year old son, Nicholas Collins. When introduced. the audience could not have beeb more loud. Yes, I cried. That was it for me the entire night. If Phil couldn’t play the drums, his son was there to carry on for the next generation. Maybe it was because I was about to turn a milestone birthday or maybe it’s because my own children are starting to mature and grown into teenagers who are their own people but I was deeply touched.

Here’s a little youtube video I found of the father/son duo during this tour.

If you can see Phil Collins on this tour, whether or not you’re a fan, it was definitely a wonderful time. Last night’s show was sold out, but I suspect there might have been one or two tickets still remaining here or there. I’d recommend it without hesitation.

Thank you again, Mr. Phil Collins, for your music, for your gift and for sharing both with the world.

RSM

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Solo: A Star Wars Story – I honestly loved it in spite of myself.

Solo_movieposterorangeWhen Disney announced that the next stand alone film in their Star Wars film schedule would be a young Han Solo movie, I was livid. Harrison Ford is and always will be Han Solo. Full Stop. That’s it. That’s all. No questions. I wasn’t in the least bit interested in seeing someone else play the role.

I’m still not.

I was already unhappy with Disney and their sequel trilogy from The Force Awakens. Oh, the use of story elements/beats from A New Hope didn’t bother me. That part was fine. It made the film feel like it was in universe. No, if you’ve read anything here on my blog, you know that what upset me the most was the misuse of my favorite characters. They acted in ways that were outside of how they would act. Things happened off screen that shaped key decisions and actions that were so far out of who I knew these people to be, and  we were just supposed to accept it. I always hate when plot devices trump characters. (Han wouldn’t have left Leia and Luke would never ever ever ever! have run away from his responsibilities…oh, and he wouldn’t have had a “moment of weakness” and tried to kill his man-baby nephew).

Then came The Last Jedi. I didn’t hate it like other people did, because Mark Hamill really went for it and was just wonderful. The humor was stupid. Admiral Holdo was annoying and unnecessary. Everything she did should have been action given to Akbar. Nothing about the movie surprised me. It followed exactly what I thought they’d set up in the depressing new Trilogy. That isn’t to say I liked it or thought it subverted expectations. It met mine. Mine were low. That was not a good thing. I left the theater feeling released. At this point, I don’t care where the story goes, and don’t plan to see Episode IX. That’s not being vindictive, I just honestly and truly don’t care about what happens next.

That makes me really sad.

But a funny thing happened the last few months, and I ended up going to see Solo: A Star Wars Story on its opening weekend.  After Ron Howard was brought on board as director, and he started to tweet out little things like a shot of the Spice Mine (of Kessel) and the Millennium Falcon and other little fun easter eggs, I started to warm up to the thought of an adventure with Han and Chewie. It’s hard to dislike Ron. I’ve loved his other movies: Willow, Apollo 13, so I knew he could make something I might enjoy.

Then I saw the trailers.

The first one was unremarkable, but subsequent ones started to look fun. I listen to the podcast Rebel Force Radio and as they started to talk more and more about their thoughts on the trailers and I started to get more and more excited. I really needed Solo to help undo the damage that the new sequel trilogy has done to my enjoyment and excited anticipation of Star Wars.

My children are currently done with Star Wars. My daughter thought The Last Jedi was terribly boring, and my son just isn’t into it enough to want to go to the theater to see the latest films. (The MCU is a different story for both of them). So my husband and I took in a matinee on opening weekend. And I found it delightful.

I was very anxious for about the first 5-10 minutes. I feel like I’ve been burned with so much disappointment, that I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about yet another Star Wars movie that let me down. Then there’s the scene Han pulls out a “thermal detonator”. I won’t spoil the details here, but suffice to say that it made me smile, and then I continued to smile for the rest of the movie. The subtle nods to the original trilogy and the prequels were all around. The laughs were subtle. No one was brooding or a hollow shell of their former selves. The double crosses were expected, and the adventure was fun. I absolutely loved Alden as Han and while Lando was all the buzz before the film came out, it’s the Han and Chewie relationship that develops on screen that is the heart of and the most fun part of the movie.

As I left the theater, I couldn’t wait to buy the soundtrack and return to see it a second time. None of my fellow Star Wars friends went out to see Solo in its opening weekend. Their interest in Star Wars has been severely dampened by the depressing The Last Jedi. Honestly, mine is too. But we’re taking it out on the wrong movie. Solo feels like something George Lucas would have made. Ron Howard does a great job of capturing the fun feeling of the original trilogy.

I will be sitting out Episode 9 when it hits theaters next year, but I am happy that I caught Solo: A Star Wars story while it made its first run. I only wish the two times I did go see it could help it in the box office because I want to see another adventure of Han and Chewie.

The bright spot in the Star Wars Universe: Star Wars Rebels

h_starwarsrebels_season4_72a021c3I cannot believe I haven’t yet written about the final season of Star Wars: Rebels! Rebels had a four year run, and ended with its final episode this past February. The final season was broken in to two parts, and the episodes themselves were run in blocks of two per week to fill an hour time slot. The show aired on Disney XD and was available via the Disney XD app usually the day after.

The head creative gentleman in charge of Rebels is the person in all of the Disney Star Wars machine who really gets what makes Star Wars, David Filoni. Mr. Filoni learned under George Lucas himself doing Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and Rebels carried on the same spirit that was evident in TCW. Rebels feels more like Star Wars than anything that’s come out since the Disney acquisition. I am both sad that it ended, and grateful that it was on television at all.

I have much more that I want to write up about Rebels, like actually getting into the details of the show, but this will hold my place and serve as a reminder to come back to it. If you didn’t watch Rebels while it aired, Disney did put all four seasons up on the Disney XD app back in February when the show was airing its final episodes. I haven’t checked if they are still there. I highly recommend watching.

Yes, it’s a show aimed at children so expect the good guys to prevail in the nick of time and don’t expect anything too depressing. There is loss, and the final half of the fourth season packs a lot of emotional punch. In the end, I believe that the original trilogy was meant for kids and that Star Wars is really meant for kids. It should be hopeful. It should be cause for cheering. Ultimately, I think this has been lost in the new Disney trilogy. But then, if you’ve read any of my posts over the last two years, you are very aware of this.

Until next post.

May the Force be with you.

RSM.

About that upcoming Han Solo Film…ugh

Backstory: Star Wars was my rock and my refuge during any and all of the dark times. It shaped who I am and my career path. It is what I love. My office is filled with Star Wars memorabilia.  I think you who have read my posts here already know this.

This brings me to Solo: A Star Wars Story. Let me say that this is my emotional response to the film, not the trailer. I have almost no emotional response to the trailer. The best I can say about it is that it looks like a generic science fiction film. This is a response to the existence of the film itself. I don’t care who they cast as Han in this film, Harrison Ford will always be Han for me. I loved reading the backstory (now Legends) books that came out in the 80s precisely because I could see Han as I knew him in my head while reading the stories. I am not interested in seeing another actor try to take on the role. This film just really needs to not exist. That’s really the beginning and the end of it for me.

I feel like this film is unnecessary (and yes, I know that no film is really necessary). So, I don’t care if it’s good or bad. I don’t care if it’s funny or not. I don’t care if the actor they case is any good or not. I am sure he’s a fine actor. And I love Ron Howard, so I am sure he’s done a fine job directing. I just don’t plan to see it. I know that makes me sound like all of those Star Wars fans that everyone is tired of listening to their rants, but it is how I feel.

I know that with this post, I just continue the negativity that almost all of my Star Wars related posts seem to express these days. I don’t like feeling this way, and I don’t like what the fandom is becoming. We are all angry and some of us express it in different ways.  However, I do hold Disney responsible for their part. Yes, the fans complained to/about George when he made Ep I, II, III (well, I didn’t, I liked them), but with them, he didn’t undo anything that had come before. Nothing about Luke, Han and Leia and their efforts and adventures through Eps IV, V, VI had to change with the events of the prequels. In my opinion, much if not all of Ep VII, VIII so far have been about undoing the past, and that hurts. I think that’s where those of us who are unhappy are coming from.

How funny that I feel this way, when just 5 years ago, I couldn’t give my money away fast enough to acquire Star Wars things. I collected all of the figures, all of the books, all of the things! Flash to now, and I will still buy things with Luke, Han and Leia but I no longer look forward to new Star Wars things coming out and definitely don’t collect merchandise of these new films, and neither do my children.

It is what it is.

MTFBWY

Of disappointment, resolutions and drawing things

My first #drawingaday this yearAt the end of last year, I found myself very down. I’m not sure entirely why but as funny as it sounds, Disney’s depressing take on the Star Wars saga was a large part of that. I would read every article, every blog post and every comment I could of fellow SW fans who felt the portrayal of Luke (and Han and Leia for that matter) was just wrong. These comments assured me I wasn’t alone but in the end they left me even more sad.

Sad wasn’t good. I needed to do something. I needed a distraction. So on New Year’s Eve I decided to make a resolution for 2018. I resolved to draw more and Facebook less. That was it. Just draw more. Pretty nebulous.

On January first, I picked out one of my sketchbooks that had been sitting, unloved, in my bedroom and drew. It was a quick pen and ink sketch of our television. I drew while my son was playing Legend of Zelda on our new Nintendo switch. It took me maybe 15 minutes. It wasn’t anything special but it made me feel amazing.

I started this blog years ago, as a place to post drawings I would do using the Brushes app on my original iPhone. I used it as a motivator to make me draw or do something creative. For a time it worked, then I let life get busy.

After I finished my first drawing, I posted it on my Instagram account with the hashtag #drawingaday and my new resolution took form. It has been so fulfilling to draw that I decided I would find the time to draw every day. It’s February now and I’ve actually done it. I’ve done one, quick pen and ink sketch every day so far this year and it’s been wonderful. I feel more creative than I have in a while.

There’s only one rule I’ve given myself on these drawings. Just do them. They don’t have to be perfect. They don’t have to be amazing. They just have to be. Every drawing I’ve done has been a small learning experience. I feel that I’m improving with the practice. When I pick up the little sketchbook I love flipping through it to see what I’ve drawn so far. My kids have honored me by also flipping through it to see what I’ve done. I’m looking forward to what I might draw this year.

Since I’m setting aside that half hour a day to draw, I’ve less time to blog, but I might post a picture of one of my sketches from time to time.

I encourage you to do that thing you’ve been wanting to do. Give yourself permission not to be perfect. Just do.

The Books I Read This Year: 2017 Edition

Happy New Year!

Over the last couple of years, I have done a post to capture the books I managed to read over the course of that year. With the help of Goodreads, I have challenged myself the last two years to read at least 12 books during the course of a year. Reading has always been one of my passions, but as I got busy with work and children, I made less and less time to enjoy a good book. Challenging myself to meet a goal of a book a month has been a fun way to motivate myself.   I managed to make it through 16 books in all even if a couple of them were a comic books or young adult novels.

My tastes are a little bit all over the map. If you asked me my favorite book genre, I’d have to say science fiction and fantasy. But if you look at what I’ve read over the last year, biographies and non-fiction have snuck their way into my reading list.

With the help of my iPad and the Overdrive app making it super easy to borrow digital books from the library, here is the list of the books I read in 2017. I list them from the first one I read back in January to the one I just finished in December. I have two books I am currently reading, but I won’t take credit for them until I finish them, which will most likely be January 2018.

Wishful Drinking, by Carrie Fisher

I wrote a blog post about this book back when I read it. You can go to it here.  I found that I was really affected by the loss of Carrie Fisher this time last year, so I made it my  mission to read all of her autobiographical books.

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, by J. D. Vance

Like many folks in the world, I struggled to understand what was happening in my country as we went through one of the nastiest elections I have lived through. This book made the rounds on the various NPR stations I listen to. Well written, I enjoyed Mr. Vance’s extremely honest recounting of his difficult early life and how he turned himself around through an enlistment in the Marines and eventually putting himself through Yale Law School.

Shockaholic, by Carrie Fisher

This was the last of my Carrie Fisher reads in my 2017 books.  This one focused a bit more on her relationship with her father, and pretty much broke my heart. Were it not for her humor, I’d have cried through the whole book. This is another one I borrowed the audio book from the library and listened to on my drives to/from work. It breaks my heart that we no longer have Carrie Fisher with us.

Shattered Empire, Comic by Marvel and Disney

By now you know I am a Star Wars: original trilogy fanatic. I bought the hardbound collection of the Shattered Empire comics that came out over the last couple of years, and it sat unread next to my bed since The Force Awakens came out. I decided to finally read it.  This one gives some of the back story of Poe Dameron’s parents, who were part of the rebellion on Endor after the fall of the Death Star II.  It was a fine addition to the SW canon. I neither loved nor hated it.

Talking as Fast as I can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls and Everything in Between, by Lauren Graham

This is the year I finally became a Gilmore Girls fan. Yes, I know, it took me long enough. With the revival out on Netflix, my daughter and I decided to pour through all of the episodes before checking out the new ones. It was glorious mother/daughter time, and even though we were definitely not fans of the episodes with Rory and Lorelai fighting (went on way too long), we fell in love with their banter. Lauren Graham’s timing was always hilarious, and when I saw she had an autobiography out, my daughter and I had to listen to the audiobook version. If you liked Lauren, and Gilmore Girls, I’d definitely recommend this.

Armada, by Ernest Cline

A coworker of mine recommended I read “Ready Player One” a few years back, and I instantly fell in love with the 80s nostalgia. Really looking forward to the Steven Spielberg adaptation next year. I bought Armada when it came out but just kept not getting around to reading it. That changed in March. If you liked Mr. Cline’s writing style in his first book, you will enjoy it here. While it definitely was easy to guess what would happen next, I have to say I enjoyed Armada. Sometimes I like happy endings where the heroes save the day and everything works out. Definitely takes its queues from “The Last Starfighter” but that’s a good thing.

A Caribbean Mystery,  by Agatha Christie

When I was in high school, I used to devour Agatha Christie books. They were my staple, and I’d buy them by the stacks from the used book store near my house. With the new version of “Murder on the Orient Express” coming out, I thought I’d revisit some of her books, and make my way through them again. This one is a Miss Marple mystery and I think I honestly enjoyed her crime solving method more than Poirot. When I was younger, it was quite the opposite.

The Mysterious Affair at Styles (Hercule Poirot #1), by Agatha Christie

I decided to start at the beginning for the Poirot mysteries, with his first appearance. Didn’t guess the ending, and really enjoyed the mystery. I think I’ll be adding more Christie books to my reading list.

The Woman in Cabin 10, by Ruth Ware

Over the last couple of years, I read The Girl on a Train, and Gone Girl before that, so I figured I should check out the “it” mystery book that was making the rounds in Entertainment Weekly.  I found that I actually enjoyed The Woman in Cabin 10 much more than the other books to which it is compared. That is entirely because of the main character.  Where I didn’t really care for the two main female protagonists in the other two “Girl” books, I actually liked Lo Blacklock, the lead protagonist in this book.  The mystery unfolds differently than I expected and I found I really liked how things wrapped up. Definitely ends on a much less somber note than other books of its similar category.

The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho

My son had to read this over the summer between 8th grade and entering High School, so he asked me to read it with him so we could discuss it. We had our own little book club going. Told as a parable, in rather simple anecdotes, I found I really loved it.  I loved the message. You can journey through life, and it you are open to your path, it will present itself to you. I found it to be spiritual and personal, and it definitely touched me.

 Loving Frank, Nancy Horan

I admit that I bought this book simply because I found the cover beautiful. I’ve had it for years, and just never got around to reading it. Frank Lloyd Wright is one of my favorite architects. You will find touches of his style incorporated in my own home, but I knew next to nothing about his personal life. This book, which recounts his relationship with a married woman, who leaves her family and children to be with him, surprised me. Told in a diary style and taking liberties with what might have happened, it focuses more on Mamah, the woman and their life together, than on Frank. I found I really didn’t like her very much.

Dragonfly in Amber (Outlander #2), Diana Gabaldon

I read the first Outlander book before watching the series on the Stars network and really liked it. When I learned that there were multiple books, and that the author invents new and sad ways to keep her two main characters apart, well, I was less than pleased. I read this one before watching season two of Outlander on Stars, and found that half way through I was hate reading it. I just wanted to get through it but really didn’t enjoy it at all.  It was long. It dragged, and I was tired of the Claire and Jamie in a constant state of depression.

The Force Awakens, Rey’s Story by Elizabeth Schaefer

This was a younger set adaptation of the events of The Force Awakens told from Rey’s point of view. Much as I do not like the new trilogy, I really love Rey. I read this one hoping to find new tidbits about her. There were none to be had, but it was a quick read.

The World According to Star Wars, by Cass Sunstein

I like to read stories about the behind the scenes stuff of Star Wars as well as the impact Star Wars has had on the world. I read this one to get a sense of the latter part. Honestly, the book was boring, and really didn’t give me any insights I haven’t already made over the last 40 years.

Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies, by Michael Ausiello

This one, I read but was dreading. Not because I didn’t want to read it. I’ve been a fan of Mr. Ausiello since he wrote for TV Guide and did one of their entertainment podcasts. Since then, I’ve followed all of his entertainment reporting. It is in large part because of his enthusiasm, that I finally watched Gilmore Girls. But I dreaded reading this because I knew it was going to be sad. Having followed him,  I knew the story of his having lost his husband to cancer. The book was all I expected, but strangely, his honesty and humor painted a picture of the love he and his husband shared in a way that made me happy to have gotten to know them as I was sad to for his loss. Definitely not something I could read with my children with colorful language and adult content, but very touching.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales: The Brighest Star in the North: The Adventures of Carina Smyth, by Meredith Rusu

This is another book I bought because I thought the cover was really beautiful. I bought it before seeing the latest Pirates movie, but waited to read it until after. Definitely glad that I did because this one starts with the back story of Carina Smyth, and continues through the action of the movie.  The writing style was fine, and I’d recommend it for young women who enjoyed the movie.

 

I am not alone: The disappointment of my fellow Star Wars fans

It’s been an interesting few days, now, in this post “The Last Jedi” world.  As I said in my first post, after I saw the movie, I didn’t hate it. I couldn’t. Mark Hamill was too wonderful in it. But I did say that I’m done. This isn’t my Star Wars and I’m not interested in where it goes from here.

This is really something I’ve been saying for two years, since seeing The Force Awakens. The events of The Last Jedi are pretty much exactly what I expected. Not that I am happy about that, but it wasn’t surprising. This is where I thought the Disney Story was going.

A funny thing is happening on the internet. Slowly, fans like me, are starting to vocalize that they don’t like this new direction. They aren’t happy that the victory at the end of Return of the Jedi, and the happy ending we got for our heroes Luke, Han and Leia has all been for nothing. They don’t like having to “kill the past” or accept that their heroes were just human. It’s not really an enjoyable experience anymore.

I thought it was just me. I felt mostly isolated these last two years as everyone tried to tell me The Force Awakens was great. Now, I am not alone.

Several very thoughtful articles have come out on the subject. All of them filled with spoilers, so be careful if you haven’t seen the movie yet and want to remain spoiler free.

Here are a few:

Star Wars is Dead, Gen X-ers. Get over it.” Written by a fellow member of Gen-X who is trying to come to grips with the fact that this new Star Wars isn’t for us.  It isn’t a slam on the new movie, just a commentary of unhappiness of the author. The folks commenting on the article don’t get that subtlety. (maybe that’s why so many of them like TLJ. They don’t see the subtle things that are breaking our hearts).

The Backlash against The Last Jedi explained“. I think this one comes close to understanding, although my disappointment with the new trilogy isn’t with the humor nor is it with the inclusion of women (naturally).

Here’s Why the Luke Skywalker of ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ Doesn’t Feel Like Luke (commentary).”  This is a really good one, and I agree with pretty much everything in it. My dislike, from a storytelling perspective, is that we’ve been told everything and not shown it. I can’t accept the fates of Luke, Han and Leia because we’ve been told things happened and they reacted rather than seeing the things happen and their reaction. The characters I see in these new movies are so very foreign to me, and nothing feels earned. There was no relationship between Han and Ben in The Force Awakens, and the death of Han really felt flat. It didn’t hit me emotionally then or now.  Similarly, we are told about the backstory of Luke and Kylo, not shown. Perhaps if these movies had taken place 15 years ago and actually showed us the fall of Luke’s Jedi temple, things might have been better.

I’ve been posting articles like the ones above on my Facebook page all week. My friends have probably tired of my constant anti-Star Wars rhetoric. One of them responded to a link by saying he hasn’t found a single friend of his who saw TLJ that liked it. So he and his family are going to wait for DVD. My response to him was as follows:

I think you will find that folks who are our age, who saw the original trilogy in the theaters, who grew up with Luke, Han and Leia in our heads, will not like this movie. They shouldn’t have liked the Force Awakens for the same reasons, they just didn’t see it. This trilogy very forcefully throws away everything achieved in the original trilogy. It very directly says to those of us of a certain age in the audience, to kill the past, and stop idolizing your heroes. This movie isn’t bad. Mark Hamill makes it with his amazing performance. It’s just the whole premise of the story exists to destroy what we loved, and I won’t accept it. So this is the Disney Star Wars, not my Star Wars, and I’m done.

In the end, all of these other voices, who also have the exact same feelings I do, are giving me a sense of closure. I was always going to walk away from the new Star Wars. From the moment the credits rolled on The Force Awakens, I was done. I just needed to see Luke one more time.  In a small way, knowing I am not alone is really very comforting.

Thank you, Star Wars, it’s been wonderful…

Well, I am on the other side now, so here are some personal thoughts, that I also hope aren’t spoilers. I will write a more lengthy review later that will be.

I saw Star Wars: The Last Jedi this past weekend, in an IMAX 2D showing. Because I so very much hated The Force Awakens, I decided to see this one only with my husband and children. I didn’t want to have to share my negative emotions, with a large group of friends. So I had warned my family to give me time to process before asking what I thought.

My thoughts were many. First off, I didn’t hate it. Leaving the theater, I thought it was ok. Then talking with my husband and son, who really did like the movie, I found that there were a lot of things I did like. That moved my opinion up to like. But it was a journey to get there, and I completely understand why audiences are split on this one. Those who do not like the movie are complaining about the same things I said two years ago when The Force Awakens came out. They hate what has been done to the events and people from the original trilogy. They just couldn’t see it had been done during what I’ll refer to as the remake of A New Hope.

I didn’t hate TLJ, solely because of Mark Hamill. His portrayal of Luke Skywalker was amazing. Really, for me, he made the movie. In the end, I feel like TLJ gave me permission to walk away from these new films. I just don’t like the world as they’ve constructed. I don’t like that everything was undone from the original trilogy. I don’t like how I feel watching them. And overall, I really do not care what happens to the new kids. This is all a totally personal point of view, and does not mean others can’t like them, but I just don’t. I wanted to watch this one to see Luke, and now that I have, I think this is where the new Star Wars and I part ways.

For me, the story of Luke, Han and Leia ended with Return of the Jedi. The events of Episodes VII, VIII, and IX are one retelling but not my retelling, of what came after.

The Post Before I See “The Last Jedi”

the-last-jedi-theatrical-blogI’ve been meaning to write countless articles about my feelings during these weeks leading up to “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” but I just never wrote them. I’d think about writing something, and it would spin into anxiety, so I stayed away from this blog.  To be honest, I wasn’t sure I was even going to see it.

After my disappointment with “The Force Awakens” and its treatment of my three favorite characters of all time, I was not looking forward to visiting that world again. I walked out of TFA feeling no joy and being terribly mad at Harrison Ford for what I thought was his price to return to the film. JJ Abrams has tried to take credit for the story point, but I don’t really think it’s all him.  I wanted to love the movie, but I just don’t. It traded the happiness of my characters for a repeat of the bad guys, and I just didn’t enjoy it.

I went into TFA without reading any spoilers at all, and was devastated. I told myself I’d read every spoiler I could get my hands on in order to prepare myself for TLJ and for the most part I have. I watched all the trailers. Listened to lots of podcasts. Read theories on Reddit. Then came this week, when the reviews started to come out, and I froze. I know that reviews tend to spoil major plot points (I wish they wouldn’t do that), so I have actually decided to stay away from them. All I do know is that reactions are mixed. Critics seem to mostly love it, and fans seem to be split 50/50.

I will know in about three hours how I feel about the movie.

I am torn. The first thing I said to anyone who would listen when TFA ended was that they had better not kill off Luke in the next movie. Now that we’re almost there, I am fairly certain that that is exactly what will happen. It’s almost enough to make me wait for the DVD release. Except, I love Luke. Luke was/is me. I need to be there to see his last appearance on screen.

This is not a spoiler. I’ve read nothing. If I am wrong,  then that’s another thing for me to worry about. But if they do kill him off, it will be sort of a release for me. Carrie won’t be in the final film as Leia. If Luke’s gone, and Han, then I have no reason to continue to watch these films. (I almost wrote punish myself…). I can call it a day with this one and let the new Star Wars move on without me.

If you’ve watched “The Last Jedi” already, and you enjoyed it, I am happy for you. All I have right now is dread. I hope it’s not as heartbreaking as I am anticipating.

May the Force be with You.

RSM

Star Wars – My Theory about the origin of Rey

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Photoshop mashup borrowed image of Leia, Rey and Han.

The Last Jedi opens in just a few months, and I keep meaning to write up my own theory about the origin of Rey, the young woman with force abilities whom we last saw handing Luke Skywalker his father’s lightsaber.

This isn’t based on any inside information and it could quite possibly not be where the story tellers have decided to go. I believe that as J.J. Abrams and Lucasfilm wrote The Force Awakens, they had no idea what back story they were going to give Rey. They might not have even thought she needed to have a back story until “who are Rey’s parents” dominated the conversation. Unlike the original Lucas stories, which were linked together by one person’s vision, this new trilogy seems to be made up as it goes along. I am not necessarily saying this is a bad thing (well, yes, I am saying that), rather that it is just a thing. Therefore, absent a grand plan, the answer to the “Who is Rey” question might never really be fully satisfying.

My theory below isn’t meant to be “the” answer. It’s actually the only story that will redeem this new trilogy for me. Up to now, I don’t really incorporate it into my own “head canon.” I have gone on and on before about how I abhor the fundamental changes to the main three characters (Luke, Han and Leia) in this new trilogy. My theory tries to fill in some acceptable background story so that I might find their motivation slightly more palatable. I don’t think I will ever accept the new trilogy as my Star Wars. It lacks so much of the heart and wonder and joy of the original.

So, given that long introduction, my theory on Rey is that she is the presumed dead daughter of Han and Leia, younger sister to Kylo Ren (aka Ben Solo), and also a former student of Uncle Luke Skywalker’s young Jedi academy. I based this theory less on how it neatly ties up loose ends and more on the fact that the pain of losing their daughter is the only way I will accept that Han and Leia wandered around in a separated state. They fought too long together against too many things to separate because their son made bad choices. Having their son turn to the dark side is just another thing in a long line of things that Han and Leia would have faced and fought together. I never felt it was enough of a motivation to drive Han to run off and return to smuggling as an antidote to parental pain. But the loss of a young child? That kind of grief could drive our favorite smuggler to wander about the galaxy, a grieving father, drifting about.

If I were to frame the story, Rey would have been another one of Luke’s pupils, along with her older brother and other force sensitive young children. She could have been 8-9 years old at the time of the massacre of this new Jedi academy at the hands of the Knights of Ren. But because she is his little sister, and perhaps “there is good in him”, Kylo would not have been able to kill Rey. Instead, he’s the one who took her away and hid her on Jakku. He had to do it quickly, and left her someplace that his fellow First Order folks would never look. He either had to make it look like she died as well or that somehow she got away and disappeared. Perhaps he’s spent the last few years trying to prevent anyone from finding her, keeping her safe from a distance.

Rey would have been young, and things would have been traumatic. Maybe she has a vague memory of her parents, maybe she doesn’t. We haven’t really been shown any memories on purpose so the storytellers after The Force Awakens weren’t boxed into any decisions about Rey. So, with a little hand-waving, the story could decide that Rey is be the daughter of Han and Leia.

In the end, I think the back story of Rey will be revealed in The Last Jedi. I don’t know which way Lucasfilm has decided to go. For some time, both Abrams and Johnson have said that her origin didn’t matter as much as her future. I contend that Star Wars is all about origins, and their impact on the future as well as the choices we make in spite of those origins. I approach this December with much trepidation. After I do see The Last Jedi, you can be sure I will weigh in with my opinion. Depending on how it goes, it might be the last new Star Wars movie for me for a long, long time.