Princess, Sister, General

I could never figure it out, and it isn’t really stated anywhere, so as a kid I never knew. Was Leia the elder Skywalker, or was Luke? I know they were retconned to twins sometime after Star Wars and before Return of the Jedi, but still, logically, one is older. Who was it? I was one of three boys in my family, complete and whole, until my sister came along six years later to upset the established order and complete us all. It wasn’t really until I was six or seven that I began to religiously watch the Star Wars saga, so in my mind I became Luke Skywalker and my new baby sister was Princess Leia.

leia-suggested

My sister and I never played that way, that is, never acted out the Star Wars story together, but in my head I saw Carrie Fisher’s Princess Leia as the twin sister I never had until I had a little sister, and then as my sister grew up to be a fierce, independent, wise, take-no-bullshit young woman she became Leia to my Luke.

We were raised differently, like Luke and Leia, as my parents doted on the only daughter, gave her her own room (where I had to share space with one or both of my brothers as conditions allowed), and in general lavished the favoritism upon her. I mean, of course my parents said they had no favorites, but really, three boys didn’t hold a candle my to parent’s little princess.

I never had my mind on where I was, or what I was doing, and was always craving excitement and adventure, like a certain young sand-locked farm boy, and my sister always knew what she wanted and how she wanted it and seemed to be driven in ways I wasn’t, like a certain young Senator from Alderaan.

I could stretch the metaphor and say that I like to wear black, and her white and interesting hair-dos but that would be stretching the truth as well. Suffice to say, we met late* in life and became a duo that learned to appreciate and love each other.

Now, as adults, past our “growing up” years, she is, as ever, driven, and I am wandering the galaxy in search of my own Force to guide me. She is the General: moving forward; I am the Jedi: mystically engaged with life’s triumphs and failures.

Given such a personal connection to the character of Leia Organa-Skywalker-Solo, I was deeply affected by the tragic death of Carrie Fisher last year. I had watched her all my life as she “grew up” as a character on Star Wars and I had followed her later life on social media. I always dreamed of going to a Star Wars celebration or ComicCon to meet her, and regret that I will now not have the chance to tell her what she meant to me. Like my sister, Fisher was feisty, funny, and familial. I am not the only one in the Star Wars community to view her as a surrogate-sister, and that was a role she embraced after a certain time. Certainly she was honest about her struggles with mental illness, substance abuse, and a dysfunctional family in a way that made me ok with my own depression and personal struggles.

I grew up knowing that women could be strong, resilient, heroic, steadfast, worthy, sexy, beautiful leaders and sisters and women all at the same time and that was because Carrie Fisher embodied that so well on screen and on the internet, and my sister was all those things and more in what I saw as a little mirror of Fisher.

It seemed at first a strange thing to be so sad at the death of a celebrity I had never met and who inhabited my star-struck fascination with Star Wars, but having come to this realization of what Carrie Fisher truly meant to me in such personal terms, it doesn’t seem strange at all anymore.

As I enter a world now robbed of Fisher, I embrace my sister all the more tightly and thank the Force that I was given such a wonderful gift and example of womanhood at such a young age, that despite not being twins, we grew to be very close, a closeness we share today.

Fisher is now one with the Force, and I have my sister to guide me always. I look forward to the next chapter in our Saga…

 

*If by being introduced when I was just 6 can be called “late” in life.

 

Logan

There are some films that you watch and when the credits roll, you feel as if you’ve been hit by a truck of emotions and you cannot move from your seat. Logan was such a film for me. Here follows my spoiler review of the most emotional, best superhero film I’ve seen since they’ve been making superhero films.

logan-film-header-front-main-stage

From the moment drunk Logan a.k.a. the Wolverine, stumbles out of his limo to confront some would-be rim thieves, you know this isn’t the 2000 X-Men film that launched a franchise. Well, Logan has always been a bit of a drunk, but never to this extent. You figure a man who has lived 150-200 years and fought in every single hellish war available during that time has to find some way to cope with the horrors he has seen and perpetrated, and especially now, in the 2030’s when (almost) all of his fellow mutants are dead and he yet remains. And then when Logan’s claws extend between his fingers and begin to be shoved through eye sockets and through kneecaps, this definitely isn’t any of the previous X-Men films. For one thing, this one is rated R, and it earns that rating within minutes.

Eventually it is revealed that Logan is making a living as a limo driver while taking care of a mentally ill Professor Xavier and living with another mutant who managed to survive into this post-mutant apocalypse. It is also evident that something extraordinary is happening to Logan as his famous healing factor has slowed significantly, and he is covered with the scars of past battles. It is a bleak, hopeless picture of enduring pain.

Things don’t get any better for Logan as he is approached by a mysterious Latino woman seeking passage to Canada, and a mercenary who is seeking what the Latino woman is protecting. That protectorate is soon revealed to be a young girl, a young girl with a healing factor and claws. Eventually Logan learns that this girl his genetic daughter, born in a lab and raised to be a soldier.

Reluctantly he begins to protect her from the corporation that designed her and wants her back and takes the girl to Canada, with the ailing Professor X in tow. What follows is a dramatic-road-trip-running-battle that eventually leads to the death of Logan, Professor X, and most of the mercenaries that were foolish enough to cross the Wolverine’s (and his daughter, X-23’s) path.

This film is bleak, tragic, stark, and occasionally humorous. Logan learns a little bit what being a parent is like, buries his last dear friend, and finally realizes the peace of death and the love of (a highly dysfunctional) family. Hugh Jackman is excellent in the role he has played for 17 years – the world weary mutant Wolverine – and Patrick Stewart delivers in spades as old Professor Xavier. The rest of the supporting cast is led by 12 year old Dafne Keen who is spectacular as Logan’s daughter Laura, the mutant known as X-23. From there, the characters range from Caliban, the mutant friend of Logan, and What’shisface, the main mercenary tracking them and Doctor What’shisface the guy who created X-23 and her fellow mutants. Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention that there are about 23 other mutants that were created by the Doctor What’shisface, mostly children, who are also seeking asylum in Canada. I am being facetious, but I don’t really remember much about the other children or the antagonists because they aren’t really important to the story except to foil Logan or add to the emotional stakes.

I would say this is one of the central flaws of the film, that most of the mercenaries exist to die, and Head Mercenary Guy is there to die a little bit harder, so why should they get story arcs? Similarly, the other mutant children are only glimpsed in context to X-23. I found myself wanting to know why the mercenaries were so against the mutants and what the other mutant children wanted to achieve. You get the feeling, through little story touches like the fact that the X-men had their own in universe comic book series, that they were somewhat accepted and were heroes of a sort, so what happened? The back story to this particular adventure is also scarcely filled in, as it, like most X-men films, only follows a rather loose chronology so you can’t even depend on the previous X-men films for context.

With that being said, Logan is an exceptional film, from beginning to end, and even if the story is a bit vague on the how, it is full of the why, and it tends to hit you, repeatedly, right in the feels.

I don’t know that I want to see it again right away. Don’t get me wrong, I loved it, but Logan is like a war film for me: it can be exceptional, but it isn’t particularly enjoyable to watch multiple times and feel good and happy after each viewing. There is no shawarma at the end, just blood and death.

In closing, I hear a black and white version is in the works. I think, after my unlimited enjoyment of Mad Max: Fury Road in B&W, I will similarly enjoy a desaturated Logan. I think that would only add to the already rich story and visuals.

Check-up twenty17: Jan and Feb

January came and went, and with it blustery winds and driving snow. Well, not here in Texas, but I am sure somewhere that was true. Anyhow, along the way I made a few non-resolutions, and one of them was that in twenty17 I would write more. I want to regularly assess how I am doing and introduce a few new non-resolutions into the mix. Here goes…

January twenty17

Ok, first, writing more. How am I doing? Well, I wrote four blog posts in January, so for that I will give myself a 5 out of 5. Great!  Second, reading more. How did I do? I read a book, The God Who Is There by Francis A. Schaeffer. And that was all I resolved publicly at that point, so for all of January I get a 10 out of 10 and for the year a 100%. Not bad so far.

February twenty 17

Writing…well, sad to say I didn’t write anything in February. I am forced to give myself a 0 out of 5. I did read a short book of mostly pictures, Myth and Magic: The Art of John Howe, and I finished The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien so I will give myself a 5-5.  For February a total of 50%. For the year that puts me at 75%. Not terrible, but I need to write more.

Looking ahead twenty17

Here is where we introduce more opportunities for points. So far I have #1: Writing. I will introduce #2: Reading, #3: Building, #4: Art and #5: Activities. A précis of each will follow, a standard set of guidelines by which to judge myself and my progress, and then I will re-do February and look ahead to March.

#1: Writing – I will write at least twice on the blog, about anything, any time.

#2: Reading – I will finish at least one book per month. Any length, any genre.

#3: Building – I will build at least one LEGO My Own Creation (MOC) per month. Any size.

#4: Art – (here things get interesting) I will create one piece of art each month. This includes photography of LEGO or stormtroopers, or painting, or building of a physical piece of art. Anything artistic, any size, any media.

#5: Activities – I will get out of the apartment for at least one activity each month that does not include my parents or siblings.

I will grade on a bit of curve to begin, to give myself a chance at building a feeling of success, but will lessen the curve as I go on to be realistic. Ok. Let’s look back at February.

February twenty17

#1: Writing – I didn’t write. 0-5
#2 Reading – I finished reading two books. 5-5
#3 Building – I built a MOC of a rally sport dune buggy (pic to follow). 5-5
#4 Art – I didn’t make any art (I didn’t take the pictures of my MOC until March). 0-5
#5 Activities – I met with a friend to chat. 5-5

Total = 70%, grading on a curve I gave myself a retroactive 2.5-5 for #4 since that wasn’t technically a requirement in February.

For the year I get an overall score of 85%. Yeah!

I am looking forward to see how March works out. I will have written at least once on the blog (you’re reading it!) and I have made some art, did an activity or two, and am reading, so here’s hoping I finish well.

Now, for the promised shot of my LEGO rally sport dune buggy:

rally sport