Cinema Toast

My Disney Princess Carried a Blaster

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We all loved her.

Last year ran roughshod over my list of Hollywood Heroes. From start to finish, David Bowie to William Christopher, we’ve all lost some of our favorites. But for me, Carrie Fisher’s passing probably hit the hardest. Was there anyone who didn’t love her?

She ushered in a new age of Princess. She took that character genre from damsel-in-distress to kick-butt hero. She was sassy, smart, smart-mouthed, skilled, and stunning. And this is before she ever stepped in front of a camera. She was honest, brutally so, about her struggles. She was willing to step from the shadows, rip off her bandages, and show us her scars.

How best to honor her?

As a writer, I hope to honor her memory by infusing my “princesses” with her strength and presence. I want them to have vulnerabilities to face, mountains to climb, partners in passion, and character oozing from every pore. I want them to defend the less able and champion the righteous cause. I think Ms. Fisher would appreciate that. I think that’s the legacy she’d like to leave.

The Princesses next in line?

From the moment I first saw her on screen, I decided I needed to let my hair grow long enough for the bun-do and then the braids. I had grown up with tall, blonde, Barbie-type princesses, and she was a short brunette. Yay! I hope that the role models for tomorrow’s princesses will buck the trends, not just for the bucking, but to send the message that buying into the mass-production idea of beauty will never bring happiness. Happiness is a decision. It is a condition of contentment and reconciliation with one’s own actions and responsibilities. It will never be a product you can purchase or a sheep-like trend.

Carrie Fisher let us know, in no uncertain terms, that growing up as a Hollywood Princess didn’t make her the happiest girl in the kingdom. I want the next generation of role models to be grounded in reality, willing to show their flaws without making excuses. She embraced the role of princess, but not without disclaimers. She showed both that she could be romantic and rough at the same time.

Ms. Fisher requested of her obituary, “I want it reported that I drowned in moonlight, strangled by my own bra.”

Rest in peace, princess.

Carrie Fisher

October 21, 1956 – December 27, 2016

 

Living Write

I Meant to Do That

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One of my favorite things in the world is when you get to the end of a chapter, a TV episode, or a movie installment of a serial and your mind screams, “This can’t be the end!”

Watching he screen turn black as Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia barely escape the grips of Darth Vader and regroup, knowing Han Solo is frozen in carbonite and on his way to Jabba, my heart breaks. I ache. It will be three years before the Jedi returns to save the rebels. I vow that I will be first in line on that day.

…Or it will be next fall before I see if Ducky survives his heart attack. Or it will be next week before I know if Monroe is executed.

That’s what I love about books. There is always “one more chapter” as I tell myself at 2:30 in the morning. After all, how can I sleep soundly when the heroine of the story is about to walk into the coliseum to face the lions? No matter how much faith you may have in the author, you have to see the poor girl through.

“Just because they’re fictional characters doesn’t mean they’re not real,” I told a reader friend the other day. We laughed. But we understand each other. Readers are invested.

My friend asked me about my writing, too. “So when you’re writing, do you plan out the chapter breaks, or do you go back and divide the story into chapters later?”

I told him that I love to write episodically. I work very hard to leave every chapter at the apex of the roller-coaster. That’s the tingly sensation I crave, and I’m not alone.

Yes, I meant to write it like that. I want you to get to the end of the scene and whisper, “Just one more chapter,” a dozen times a night.

 “This suspense is terrible. I hope it will last.” -Oscar Wilde

 

Cinema Toast

Fun With My Imaginary Friends

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When I was little I always wanted to be my favorite TV or movie characters. That’s one of the reasons I loved Halloween and costume parties. Those were my opportunities, rare as they were, to dress up as Princess Leia (Star Wars) or Kelly Garrett (Charlie’s Angels) or Mary Ann Summers (Gilligan’s Island).
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In high school I took Theatre Arts so that I could reprise the roles of my most beloved actresses. Like Judy Garland, I got to play Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz. I played the role of Lizzie, Katherine Hepburn’s role from The Rainmaker. I even had the part that Vicki Lawrence played in a skit once performed on The Carol Burnett Show.

 

 

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As an adult it’s much more difficult to “pretend” you are someone else, unless you’re a professional actor or don’t mind being put under doctor’s observation. My dilemma is this: how can I indulge that little urge without completely embarrassing myself or, more importantly, my family?

My friends and I came up with a fun game of make-believe that we play at restaurants. When the host/hostess asks for a name to call when our table is ready, we leave them the name of one of our favorite characters. It’s great fun. It makes the host smile when they recognize the name, and it’s a hoot to watch the other patrons’ facial expressions.

We’ve used Charles Carmichael and John Casey (Chuck), Jack Shephard (Lost), Holly Golightly (Breakfast at Tiffany’s), and others. At one of our preferred local eating establishments the hosts know us and ask, “Who are you today?”  It makes their job  more fun, too.
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Is this silly? Yes, and ridiculous, but don’t we have enough boring and grown-up stuff that we have to do already? I’m not suggesting taking on an alter ego for anything important, serious, or legally binding. However, for the little moments that would be otherwise boring and mundane, I say enjoy! Rather than saying good-bye to our fictional movie friends when the credits roll, enjoy them just a little longer by taking them with you for times such as these.

That’s a wrap for this Toast to Cinema. Thanks for reading!

Cinema Toast

My Disney Princess Carries a Blaster

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People are cranky about the whole thing. “It’s selling out,” they say. “How could George do this to us?” they ask. “He handed the whole Star Wars universe over to a mouse,” they claim.

And then there’s me, just as pleased as punch about it. Lucas made a business deal that will preserve his Empire for generations beyond his lifetime.

I fell in love with Star Wars right from the get-go. I stood in line for a ticket in 1977. I saw Episode IV over a hundred times. I had it memorized. I know, but it’s a GOOD MOVIE!

I appreciated the innovations in technology. I adored the characters. Most of all, I loved the story. I know that Lucas has made some controversial editing to his original films.

I get why he changed Solo’s first scene, even if I don’t agree with it. I know that Han shooting first contradicts the spirit of the Jedi code, but purists see it as the power of a changed man.

Why don’t I join the true fans that are up in arms about George Lucas selling Lucasfilm to Disney?

First, I don’t consider this a sellout. Lucas revolutionized the commercialization of movies all those years ago. My best friend still has an original Luke Skywalker doll/ action figure. Actually it was her brother’s, but she commandeered it to have a cute boyfriend for her Barbies. I knew lots of kids that had Star Wars lunch boxes, soundtracks, and tee shirts.

I don’t believe Lucas is dumping us. Kathleen Kennedy is still the head of Lucasfilm. She’ll help maintain the integrity of the story. She’ll insist on quality across the board. By selling to Disney, Lucas is insuring that his legacy will not become lost to time. What story-teller has been more faithful to preserve legends than Disney? Yes, they’ve been known to candy-coat a few fairy tales in their time, but let’s remember that Jar-Jar Binks was one of Lucas’ creations, too.

As far as “the mouse” goes, let’s take a minute to consider what Disney World could do with a Star Wars-inspired theme park. Imagine a virtual trip on the Millennium Falcon, competing in a pod race, or piloting an X-wing or Tie Fighter. I’m there.

And if Disney wants a new role model princess that can take care of herself—and lead a rebellion against an evil empire—Princess Leia is armed and ready for the job.

As far as the storylines and characters for Episode VII and beyond, I’d love to see Zachary Levi donning a Solo-esque vest and blaster.

That’s a wrap for this Toast to Cinema. May the force be with you!