Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: 91 previous entries on this site bear a “Star Wars” tag, signifying that George Lucas’ beloved universe has been a major part of our entire lives, from the films to the books to the music to the fanfic to the conventions, including our all-time greatest celebrity encounter, which in turn led to that time Star Wars got me interviewed on local TV. Star Wars has been kind of a big deal in our household.
You’ve already seen Star Wars: The Last Jedi, right? I don’t plan to delve into heavy spoilers, but don’t be surprised if I mention things not in the trailers. Obviously I won’t list the names of the nine characters who die, the two who turn to the dark side, and the one who debuted in The Star Wars Holiday Special that has now made that travesty officially New Canon.
But I kid! I kid because I’d been excited for this flick ever since they announced TLJ would be helmed by Rian Johnson, the director of Brick and Looper, two films that were very much keepers. Longtime MCC readers may recall I’m not a full-on hardcore unconditional Star Wars fan who super-loves anything automatically that has those two words stamped on it. And yet, ever since the not-bad relaunch of the franchise with The Force Awakens, I find myself looking forward to these new films with increasing curiosity as to where they’ll go, what they’ll change, and how many films it’ll take before we’ll see a new generation of young Star Wars fans who weren’t scarred firsthand by George Lucas’ prequels.
Misleading Headline Disclaimer: this is really more of an “If We Were Having Coffee…” kind of entry, but I’m finicky about my entry titles, and sometimes I can’t let go of a useless, self-deprecating joke that’s been bouncing around my head for days.
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: the great Carrie Fisher died unexpectedly some thirty or forty years too soon, and MCC remembered that time we met her. As if 2016 weren’t already a frontrunner for Worst Year of the Millennium before these last-minute additions, the next day brought the equally shocking news that her mother Debbie Reynolds had also died. We can’t and won’t imagine how their family is faring and can only add our prayers for the caring and guidance of others around them through this unfathomable time.
Meanwhile here in less important spheres, the week has been sad and unusual and frustrating on a lower level. If we were having coffee, I’d be apologizing for keeping a minimum safe distance because I’ve been waging war on a nasty cold that’s been digging at me since Christmas Eve and finally took me down Wednesday, turning me into a hacking, sniffling, irritating noisemaker that my coworkers kept trying to shoo out the door. I’m now typing this at the end of a much-needed sick day and…well, at least I’m alive and typing, and I was on TV Monday night, so this is me trying to tone down my complaints.
Star Wars fans worldwide are reeling from the sorrowful news that Carrie Fisher, the valiant Princess Leia who could take any of us in a fight, passed away today at age 60, four days after a massive December 23rd heart attack had her in headlines and in everyone’s thoughts and prayers. The post-surgical prognosis from her family was positive at first, but…alas.
I trust I don’t need to summarize her vast and varied accomplishments at length here beyond the Star Wars universe. My wife Anne and I thought well of her comedic turn in Soapdish. When we were best friends but determinedly not-dating, When Harry Met Sally… was our New Year’s viewing tradition, with highlights including Fisher’s turn as Sally’s best friend whose bad decisions made dating look all the more resistible. It’s been a good decade or more since I read and enjoyed Postcards from the Edge, though I never saw the movie version and can’t speak to whether or not Meryl Streep did justice by her words. But every page, fictional or otherwise, reveled in the barbed candor that was a trademark of her post-Star Wars life.
Pictured above is a scene from one of our all-time favorite convention days, when Anne and I had the pleasure of basking in Fisher’s inimitable, unstoppable presence at the second annual Indiana Comic Con back in 2015. If you read only one entry on Midlife Crisis Crossover today, I recommend you skip this one and jump over to “The Alderaanian Glitter Bomber Strikes!”, our flabbergasted, in-the-moment recount of our unforgettable hours in the Carrie Fisher autograph line, featuring photos of the very special flourishes she yearned to share with every adoring fan she could, whether we were ready for it or not.
If we learned one thing from that occasion, it was the same lesson she taught Hollywood, interviewers, hucksters, and any other thoughtless interlopers who obstructed her path throughout her career: whenever that unflappable leader of the Rebel Alliance wanted things a certain way, only fools tried to tell her “no”.
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UPDATED 12/28/2016, 12:15 a.m.: Late Monday afternoon, our local ABC affiliate, WRTV Channel 6, interviewed me about our Carrie Fisher experience. Click here for their write-up and video, which originally aired on their 11 p.m. edition. It was a quick get-together, as you may be able to tell from my post-holiday-weekend no-care hair.
I have no current plans to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens six times as I did with one of its predecessors, but my son and I caught an encore for fun at one of the local IMAX theaters to see if the 3-D made any difference. It’s something we try maybe once every 2-3 years, not a regular part of our movie-going diet. I confess I dig IMAX screens more for their super-sized speaker systems than for any picture enlargement. In both TV and movies, JJ Abrams tends to be one of those directors who coach their sound effects team to deliver a booming, raucous performance in which you can feel the depth and the weight of every noise great and small. As a guy with lousy hearing who watches most TV shows with the captioning turned on just in case, I love a heavy hand at the soundboards.
After seeing the same scenes twice, I noticed slight shifts in a few of my opinions, along with a few other random observations beyond what I previously wrote over here and over there. I talked to a few relatives at Christmas gatherings today who still haven’t seen TFA, so I’m not the sort of elitist to assume that anyone who hasn’t seen it yet deserves spoilers as their punishment. If you’re like them and haven’t had the time or funds, please enjoy this courtesy SPOILER ALERT telling you politely to go away for now and save this entry for later.
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: we saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens! The previous entry was the requisite MCC review-not-review, but lighter on details this time for the benefit of those fans who want a fighting change to see the movie with as few surprises spoiled as possible. According to my son, some deranged Expanded Universe fans were invading random YouTube comments sections for videos that had absolutely nothing to do with Star Wars and were posting major TFA spoilers because they are bitter and they are twelve. Between the heavily armed loner gunmen we fear are waiting at the crowded theater lobbies and the entitled trolls waiting to type furiously at innocents at home, the cinema experience is strangely more challenging and less fun than ever.
That didn’t stop us, though. We had thoughts and I remembered to write down many of them. Here’s a COURTESY SPOILER WARNING in case you somehow overlooked the title.
Still hiding out from rampant internet spoilers for Star Wars: The Force Awakens?
Never fear! We here at Midlife Crisis Crossover know your fears. I spent part of Thursday and all of Friday hiding out from social media, shunning all peer contact, and busying myself around the house until it was our turn to see it Saturday afternoon. At last I can rejoin the cool kids’ kaffeeklatsch, already in progress.
But that doesn’t mean I have to ruin it for anyone else. Thus I’ve split my thoughts into (at least) two entries. First up: the light summary of impressions from my first showing, written in a manner that hopefully doesn’t compromise your own first screening.
The day after we finished up with Indiana Comic Con 2015, I could already feel “con crud” creeping into my system. I’m no stranger to the notorious cold/flu that strikes at convention attendees after they’ve hung around a few thousand fans too many, but I’d hoped to dodge a bullet this time. Between the cool temps and Friday’s nonstop rains, my good health wasn’t meant to last.
I held out for as long as I could. I lasted three business days before I surrendered and took a sick day so I retreat into defensive hibernation. After last night proved disastrously unhelpful, today I slept till noon, took more countermeasures, and tried to keep distracted with news and hobbies and such.
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: my wife and I attended the second annual Indiana Comic Con! Part One covered our Friday experience, a smooth and engaging experience. Part Two was our bewildering Carrie Fisher encounter. Part Three collected every usable costume photo we took on Saturday.
We knew Saturday would be a busier, more hectic, potentially more disappointing day than Friday. Some cons’ Saturdays are more challenging than others. When things go wrong, blame isn’t always easy or comfortable to assign, and it’s not always the con’s fault. But when it is, the flaring tempers can light up the evening sky.
We had four primary Saturday objectives and one secondary objective left over from Friday. We tried to adjust expectations based on the con’s disastrous Saturday 2014 performance and its vastly improved Friday 2015. Ultimately we nailed three out of four, though it required strategy and persistence on our part to navigate the obstacles. If ICC’s showrunners had ever attended other cons — I mean really attended them, immersed themselves in the full experience, not just skipped through exhibit halls and glanced at activities from a distance — I wouldn’t have had to abandon the fourth objective.
This is what Carrie Fisher did to me today.
Yes, that Carrie Fisher.