Happy 40th Anniversary, Star Wars

May 25, 1977, Star Wars was released in the United States. 

I first heard of it was in class in elementary school in Wheaton, Illinois. Our teacher mentioned it. I think one of the dads of the kids in my class worked for an advertising firm, and they were trying to promote it. So she heard of it from him (possibly through his son). And before it was even released, the teacher (who wasn’t really my favorite for a variety of reasons) mentioned it to the class. I think it was something like, “there’s a new movie coming out this summer called, Star Wars, and it’s supposed to be really good.” (With this, she redeemed herself some … )

So we saw it sometime after school got out (though I don’t think it was the first day …) Looking in the newspaper, I saw those bold black letters in the movie listings and show times, and I remembered the mention in class. Newspapers were needed to see show times back them. No online listings or apps.

We went. I sat mesmerized. I barely moved I was so captivated, and with my brain so alive with spaceships and laser (blaster) fights and lightsabers, my foot fell asleep. It blew me away! 

I’m pretty sure there was an extra scene in the very first showing that I saw — one where Luke throws th grappling hook and misses the first time as the storm troopers are trying to capture Luke and Leia. Later, he makes the shot on his first try. Maybe there are others … or not.

I saw it many times after that first one. It would be the first movie that I’d want to see multiple times. And at the end, seeing Darth Vader spin away in his damaged TIE fighter (not dead), I had hope that they would make more movies to continue the tale of Luke, Leia, Han, C-3PO, R2D2 and the others …

The rest, as they say, is history. 

Happy 40th Anniversary! 

Advertisements

So Long, 2016, And All that You Took

You were here and then you weren’t. I could say that about the year and a lot of other things — quite a few celebrities died plus our Mojo kitty and our hamster, Prarrie Dog, who passed several months ago too.

We miss our kitty dearly. He had the best character arc ever (especially for a cat). I think about his cuddle-bug personality daily.

David Bowie, Prince, Gene Wilder, Alan Rickman, Ron Glass, Florence Henderson, Alan Thicke, John Glenn, George Micheal, and more. All gone. Perhaps this year seemed so harsh because I knew who all of these people were, and I was used to having them around. They were popular for my generation. Plus so many of them weren’t even old. It seems unfair.

Carrie Fisher is the celebrity death that hit me the hardest. I still can’t believe she’s gone. Her mother, Debbie Reynolds, passing the next day only upped the sadness. What heartbreak for the family and all their friends.

I first loved Carrie Fisher in Star Wars, a movie that came out when I was nine years old and blew me away. It made me a different person. I could probably date my life “b.SW” and “a.SW”. Or maybe BS and AS. Anyway, it sparked my love of science fiction (though some may debate calling it science fiction) and my love of (most) things Star Wars that would follow. 

I had seen Star Trek before Star Wars, but Star Wars prompted me to watch Star Trek again. I was hungry for adventure and outer space. Star Wars ignited the hunger.

Carrie Fisher’s Princess Leia was a strong woman, a leader, who could save the guys as much as they saved her. (Somebody had to get them into that garbage chute. You can’t just shoot all the stormtroopers.) She was the original self-rescuing Princess. If there were others before her, I don’t remember them. She’s the one that mattered to me. 

Carrie Fisher kept up that theme throughout her life. She became so much more than just Princess Leia. From her honesty about mental illnesses to her insanely funny interviews to her witty and amazing writing… 

And I really mean amazing. She wasn’t just some celebrity who decided to write a book and isn’t that cute. Her writing was awesome — funny and compelling. And it was more than just books. Carrie Fisher was a script doctor, a person the studios could call in to rescue lackluster scripts for movies and such. She knew her craft. 

She kept at it and excelled. 

She melded with Princess Leia in ways that made her own the character and allowed Princess Leia to become part of who Carrie Fisher was too. She was more than the sum of her parts.

And then she was no more. She will be missed. 

2016, I’m sure I will miss parts of you too. Other parts not so much.

May those of us who made it through, have a rich and wonderful 2017 filled with love and laughter, joy and peace. May we rise to the challenge.

Copyright Deb L. Kapke 

The Wrong Star Wars Costume

So I decided to dress up for Halloween this year. My office has a Halloween party with a costume contest, and I’ve also dressed up to go trick-or-treating with my daughter (though maybe she’s getting a little old for that these days).

I almost purchased a Princess Leia costume, but then changed my mind because:

A.) I’ve been there, done that several times.

B.) I’ve cut my hair short enough now that I can’t really pull off Princess Leia buns or even good Mini-buns without adding fake hair or a wig. Right now my buns would look more like crumbs.

C.) I already have a Princess Leia Costume but have misplaced parts of it over the years, and I don’t want to purchase another one because (see options A and B).

So I managed to find a Rey costume in my size, and I got that instead.

I love Rey, the protagonist in the 2015 movie Star Wars, The Force Awakens. She’s a strong, smart, energetic, and talented female character. YAY, Daisy Ridley and  J.J. Abrams et all for bringing her to life!

Plus the movie didn’t suck. It was a lot fun! I liked it more than the previous three Star Wars movies. And, probably, at least as much as Return of the Jedi. Though my favorites are still Star Wars and The Empire Strikes back. I’m pretty sentimental about those.

So, the Rey costume fits. It’s reasonably comfortable too. While it’s not a high-end, cosplay-quality costume, it’s fine for Halloween and even for wearing to occasional movies on opening nights. I even kinda-sorta managed Rey’s hair (though mine is messier and a few shades lighter with, um maybe, a couple of gray streaks).

But I had the costume on today, and I realized I had gotten something I had not expected.

Rey Costume packaging

The package looked like a Rey costume. The label said “Rey.” But somehow in my package I managed to get a Rey’s middle-aged mom costume instead. Well, crap. I don’t even remember that character from the movie. Maybe it’s really Rey 20+ years in the future?

Me in the “Rey” costume. More like Rey’s mom or perhaps Rey 20 years in the future. No Princess Leia buns, but there are buns.

A lot of my co-workers haven’t seen The Force Awakens. I think they’d recognize Princess Leia or Darth Vader, no prob. But some wouldn’t recognize Daisy Ridley if she showed up in person with BB8 while wearing a genuine Rey costume. So yeah.

A group of my co-workers dressed as the adult card game, Cards Against Humanity. They each wore large cards containing select, office-appropriate words that were either a question or answer. They could pair up together for humorous question & answer combos. I think I may need to check this game out!

The Cards Against Humanity split the contest winnings with some other co-workers who dressed as “Food Groups” — chips & salsa, milk & cookies. Get it? It was cute.

I think I’ll have to hope that Rey’s mother shows up in a future Star Wars movie. I mean, there are speculations about Rey’s parents, right? My costume is ready! I’d like to see those Cards or food groups show up at a Star Wars movie opening night, so there!  (Okay, maybe as snacks and games to play while waiting for the movie, but you know what I mean.)

And hey, my Rey costume looks better without my glasses. Shoulders back. Suck in my tummy. Hid my behind … behind me. My hair even looks reasonably close-ish to Rey’s in this lighting. (Can’t see the gray unless you look really close.)

Rey hair and lightsaber. Looks better without my glasses. I think I need new glasses.

Oh and, I wore my hiking boots with the costume, so my feet are crazy happy. They’re all like, “OMG girl, why don’t you wear these thangs every frickin’ day?” Are those mom-feet talking or what?

Rey with hiking boots.

Bun Practice

I have a billion things I should be doing this morning. Not a single item on my list has anything to do with trying to create Princess Leia buns again. But that’s exactly what I did.

We have tickets to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens this week.

I don’t know if we really NEED to see it opening day. I’ve gotten a little wishy-washy about seeing movies on opening day. I need my sleep. But there are enough potential surprises in Force Awakens that I don’t want any spoilers. I’ve been purposely avoiding articles on overseas trailers and such to keep myself guessing. I like it that way.

Opening day is also the perfect time to wear Princess-Leia-Cinna Buns.

My hair is totally long enough to pull it off, but not nearly thick enough. So I tried a couple of buns using a pair of socks as a foundation.

It worked a lot better than I thought it would.

I was expecting to have a hard time wrapping my hair to adequately cover the sock, but it wasn’t bad. It took only a few minutes.

It helps that I regularly wear my hair up, and I have gobs of practice putting my daughter’s hair in a bun for her ballet classes. Practice makes perfect (or at least pretty darn good).

One sock is sticking out a little in the back on my right bun, but I’m pretty sure I can fix that kind of thing on the actual day of the movie.

I used dark socks so that bright white bits wouldn’t stick out. Brown or tan socks would probably work best in my hair, but I used black ones with small green dots because that’s what I had handy (and clean).

If a sock pops out it may look more like a green-spotted black slug is hatching from my buns than some form of underwear breaking free. I think that’s better. Ya know, like maybe a space slug or something. It could work.

I was inspired to try the buns again this week when I read a blurb about Billie Lourd. She’s Carrie Fisher’s daughter and will appear in the new Star Wars movie wearing her own rendition of the classic Leia duo buns.

Apparently she’s also in a show called Scream Queens where she regularly wears ear muffs as an homage to her mom’s awesome roll as Princess Leia. (Strongest character in Star Wars!) I’ve never seen Scream Queens but am temped to check it out just to see the ear muffs.

I have to say, the hair feels pretty good. (And my ears are nice and warm right now too.)

I’m pretty happy with the sock-enhanced buns. Now I’m trying to figure out if I should attempt to go out of the house like this today. Maybe I will. Maybe I won’t.



My daughter is helping me make the most of my buns. First with bunny ears, then antlers, then her own awesome silly face. No cinnamon was harmed in the making of these buns.

The Journal and the Head: Writing 101, Day Twenty

Day Twenty, most treasured possession – long form.

Our last assignment for Writing 101 is to tell the story of our most prized possession in long-form writing.

That is a bit tricky because it seems so materialistic. My thoughts travel to those things in the world that I most treasure — family, friends. My mind. Memory. The bits of me that make me, me. Laughter! My cat’s warm sleepy stretch exposing his tender underbelly. Above all things, I treasure my daughter. They way she makes me smile. Her hugs. The wacky food combinations she fixes us when she’s making us a meal.

But none of those are things that I possess any more than I can own the earth. Or air. I value those things, but I do not own them. They exist, and I treasure them.

So returning to something materialistic — that I can possess or own — I turned to two things. First, the journal I kept in the first year of my daughter’s life. Those pages hold all the little memories from her first smiles to her first words. The way she used to roll everywhere instead of crawl. The way she loved her swing. Her bouncy seat.

Along with the journal, I’d have to include the photos and movies we took of her along the way. Maybe I can put those on a flash drive and tape them to the journal for safe-keeping.

When I wrote the words in that journal I did not know that my child’s eyes would eventually turn from dark blue to hazel green when she was three. That she would like to laugh so much. Be so wonderfully silly. That her hair would lose the little waves and turn from strawberry to warm blonde. That baby is gone. She’s grown into a very silly tween. But I loved the baby as much as the tween, and I’ll cherish her always. I’ll also treasure that journal.

The other thing that I treasure is my Darth Vader head of original Star Wars action figures. Yes. Yes. I know. It’s dorky. And how can I have a toss up between my beloved journal and some plastic toys, right? I mean is it even a contest? Yes. And no.

If the house were burning down and I could only save one material thing (after the humans and cats, of course), then it would certainly be the journal. How could I replace those memories? Time travel back inside my own brain as I awed at the miracle of my child? It would be irreplaceable!

But for years before my daughter was born I guarded that Darth Vader head of original Star Wars action figures. I did not bring it with me to college as college held too many dangers. I brought a spare Yoda and a large Chewbacca that I got at a flea market. But the head? I needed to keep it safe. I made my mom swear not to sell or donate it as so many other mothers had done.

Inside the head are the first Star Wars action figures I ever got. Not dolls. Action figures. Not that I didn’t like dolls. Before we moved from Chicago to Mount Juliet, Tennessee, I really, really, really, really, wanted to buy Star Wars action figures. I had friends whose little brothers had them. I had a second cousins who had them. They were amazing! Luke. Princess Leia. Han Solo. Dearth Vader and Ben Kenobi with their telescoping light sabers. I collected Star Wars bubble gum cards. But somehow buying these toys meant for little kids. Little boys, really. It set a fear into me. I was afraid, somehow, that I’d be breaking rules to buy Star Wars toys.

My grandparents used to have a drawstring bag full of beautiful marbles. I loved those marbles. I played with them when I was at their house. I chose my favorites. The ones that were clear with no swirl looked like little crystal balls, and I could imagine the wonders of the universe trapped inside them. If I could just look at them the right way, I might see what the future might hold. Maybe see what my future child might look like. My loves.

I wanted to keep the marbles for my own. My grandmother said, “no.” Marbles were for boys. I could pick some dolls. My cousin, David, could have the marbles if he wanted them. My grandparents wouldn’t let me have the chemistry set from the attic for much the same reason either. I had almost talked my grandfather into letting me have the chemistry set even though I was a girl. The little jar of uranium was covered with the coolest little screen. The bottles were glass with stoppers. These held the ingredients of magic. All contained with a buckle inside a yellow, wooden case. Alas, I almost had it, but my grandmother convinced my grandfather that the chemistry set was too dangerous for me. I might hurt myself. They would get rid of it.

So somehow this idea had sunk into my head that I could not have toys for boys. That I couldn’t have toys for little kids. I was nine when Star Wars hit the big screen. Soon to be a tween. Nearly a teenager. I’d almost ask my mom for action figures. Or I’d almost spend some of my own money. Then not.

Until we moved. Being displaced can be a strange experience. It’s as if by leaving everything you know behind you can find more of yourself. So I think it was for my thirteenth birthday, possibly twelfth, I asked my friends for Star Wars action figures. Most did not take my request seriously. Some teased me. I didn’t care. I was done worrying if it was OK. My first was a Luke Skywalker. He was a birthday present from my friend, Linda, and I stood him on my shelf next to books. My nightstand. My dresser next to my frilly girl stuff. It was awesome!

The spell was broken and I no longer cared a hoot if anybody else thought I was weird for wanting action figures. I wanted more. A few of the more popular figures were hard to find — Leia, Han, Dearth Vader. I could find Power Droids and R5D4 just fine.

We ordered the set of basic characters through the Sears catalog. Even then it was hard to find the good ones on pegs in the stores. The catalog was a doorway to awesomeness. I was a little disappointed when the figures arrived in a plain white box instead of a bubble pack with pictures and descriptions of the characters. But they were nonetheless exactly what I wanted.

Soon I had enough for a whole Dearth Vader head — the moulded case that held the action figures. But what to do with all those weapons? I didn’t want to just put them all in the case haphazardly. They might get lost or mixed up. I’d lost too many Barbie shoes along the way to know that those pesky little plastic accessories had a way of losing themselves like socks. So I taped each one to a strip of paper and labeled it with the character to which is belonged. It was perfect.

So there it is. My most prized possessions. Material things, yes, but inside each lives a special piece of my past.

The Dearth Vader head now sits packed away on a self in my daughter’s room. My daughter doesn’t like them quite the same way. She likes other things.

Three Songs, a Trilogy

It’s the song you hear when Darth Vader walks into a room, The March. It’s there instantly telling you how to feel about this tall man, if we can call him a man, in a mask and dark robes. It’s energizing and pulls at both our fears and our sense of awe and wonder. There’s power there. At this point only a few notes are needed, and that part of our brain is engaged.

The Star Wars Main Theme does about the same. Those first few notes and you are there — transported, instantly, not just to the world of Star Wars but to that time in your life when you had all that awe and wow and popcorn grease on your fingers. And you didn’t know that Luke Skywalker was quite as whiney and cheesy as he would turn out to be. And you didn’t know how dangerous it was to fall for guys like Han Solo — you can change them in the movies but maybe not so much in real life. Those pesky scoundrels. Those bad boys. And you didn’t yet know that when Leia would kiss Luke in Empire that they would turn out to be siblings.

So those two songs, if we can call them that. I’ve never been sure. Do songs have to have lyrics? Those two songs are an important part of my life. From middle school through nearly all of high school I’d set up the album on my good ol’ record player and fall asleep listening to the music of Star Wars.

There’s one more significant song, again from Star Wars. It plays when the droids are escaping at the begining of the movie. I don’t know why, but it always resonated with me. It was, maybe, a song of friendship and adventure and rescue (or escape) and safety. So that when it would come on I would be transported, as I could by the Star Wars Main Title and The Imperial March. That third song isn’t as easily recognizable in an instant as are the other two, but it could nonetheless take me to another place. I’d set up the record payer with the machine set to turn off when that side of the album stopped and drift off to sleep. It was a reassuring lullaby that would ensure my dreams were neither boring nor too scary. I could let go and drift off like the droids in the escape pod.

Popular music has not had the same effect on my psyche, though there are many songs I like and some may creep in as favorites. My tie to the original Star Wars sound tracks is hard to beat even today — a time far enough in the future that Star Wars has actually become “long ago.” I had a friend who had the Imperial March as a ring tone. I’ve thought about that, but at this point I don’t want to hear it too much for fear that it will become too ordinary and loose it’s ability to transport me to that other world. I have a Doctor Who ringtone instead. It works well for my blue phone. But perhaps someday that will change.

Editing to add that this was for WordPress Writing 101: Third Assignment: Write about the three most important songs of your life. In the order that I wrong about them, the Songs are:
The Imperial March (Star Wars, Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, original soundtrack, but the march notes can be heard on many tracks of the soundtrack)
Main Title/Rebel Blockade Runner (Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope, but Main Title/The Ice Planet Hoth from ESB is similar and ranks up there. I might even like it better than the original. Probably do.)
Imperial Attack (third track on Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope, I had to look up the title of this one because I remember it being the music that played while R2D2 and C-3PO were escaping to Tatooine from the boarded rebel ship early in the original Star Wars movie. I associate it more with the droids than with imperials.)