Sunday, January 01, 2017

The New Year Awakens

Wish I could have begun 2017 more pleasantly than listening to Charlie scream at the dogs downstairs because they went to the bathroom where they shouldn't have again. (They're all old. What does he expect?) I read short stories and poems about New Year's from Colliers Harvest of Holidays and ignored him. My favorite short story is the very first one in the book, about a group of schoolchildren in a New Hampshire town who bring firewood for a kind old man on a snowy New Year's Eve, then ring the bells to usher in the New Year when he can't.

As soon as I got dressed, I headed out to the Legacy Diner in Audubon. Since I'm not a party person, my special New Year's tradition is going out for breakfast. The diner was a madhouse when I arrived, busy with families and groups of elderly people. I had to wait for my table, and then for them to notice me in the back. I did finally have my short stack of blueberry pancakes...which were only ok. They had pretty decent Christmas decorations, including gorgeous paintings on the windows.

I needed a calendar. I thought I would be able to find one at Family Dollar, but I didn't see any. Darn. Ended up getting one at Rite Aid, as I did last year. The themes were really boring, and nothing seasonal. I like it when they do seasonal themes, instead of variations on puppies or scantily-clad people in poses. Ended up with a songbird-themed one that had birds in different, appropriate backdrops for each holiday - even a sort of scary-looking warbler for October. They also had two of the Christmas bags of Yorks Peppermint Patties left. I hadn't seen them at the Acme or Target. I grabbed one.

At least it was a nice day for a ride. It was still windy, but sunny and much warmer, probably in the upper 40's-lower 50's. The traffic wasn't too bad, either. I got home and back with no problems.

When I got in, I ran a few remaining New Year's and party-related shorts I forgot yesterday while getting organized and coloring a picture from my new Star Wars adult coloring book. "New Year's - 1960" doesn't begin well for Laverne & Shirley. Shirley comes down with a cold right before their big New Year's Eve party. Laverne's dumped by her date well before midnight. At least they can watch Lenny drop Squiggy in honor of the New Year instead of the ball.

Donald Duck asks Daisy out on a date in one of my favorite Donald shorts, "Mr. Duck Steps Out." Huey, Dewey, and Louie are determined to join them. Donald does what he can to get rid of them. They try to humiliate their uncle, but their efforts only make Daisy love him even more.

Headed to Dad's house to watch the last Eagles game of the season around 1:30. It was just Dad, Jodie, Vanessa, Mark, and later Jessa. Dad and Jodie had gone away for the New Year's weekend and had only just gotten home an hour before. Vanessa brought taco dip, and Jodie made sloppy joes. At least the game was as good as the company. Dad kept whining that the Eagles should have been able to run rings around the Cowboys' second stringers, but hey, at least they won at all, 27-13.

(The Eagles aren't the only ones who ended the season on a high note. Mark's beloved Packers got past the Detroit Lions tonight, 31-24. Dad's Dolphins didn't have nearly as much luck with an on-fire New England Patriots and lost 35-14.)

Headed home as soon as the game ended. Worked on my story for a few hours. The bear is glad to make friends with the falcon and the deer. The deer is playful, fun, and an expert mimic who makes her laugh. The falcon is quiet, but kind and noble. She finds herself falling in love with him, and with the idea of flight...but not only does he have a mate and fledglings, but he's a bird, a flying creature. She's grounded. They part, but vow to remain friends.

Broke for dinner around 6:30. Did Jack Frost while eating bran flakes and broiled grapefruit for a very simple meal. In this Rankin-Bass cross between Santa Claus Is Coming to Town and The Little Mermaid, Jack Frost (Robert Morse) begs to become human in order to win the heart of a human girl. Not only does she have another, more dashing suitor, but she's also pursued by Kubla Krouse (Paul Frees), the evil Cossack King. When Kubla threatens her village, Jack makes it snow to keep him from attacking. But he needs to get a signal from one certain little groundhog to allow him to keep the snow going...

Returned to the Star Wars series to finish the night after a shower. Return of the Jedi kicks off with Luke, Leia, Lando, and Chewie rescuing Han from the clutches of the evil gangster slug Jabba the Hutt. While Lando takes off with Rogue Squadron leader Wedge Antilles (Dennis Lawson) to blow up another Death Star, Han and Leia get help from the furry Ewoks to take down the Empire's base on the forest moon of Endor. Luke, meanwhile, finds himself confronting not only Vader, but his boss Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDermid). He's determined to bring his father back to the side of Light, but Vader isn't sure he really wants to be saved.

The Force Awakens picks up 32 years later. Rey (Daisy Ridley), a scavenger from the desert wastelands of Jakku, intercepts a message from cute little rolly-polly droid BB-8. He has a piece to the map that may lead to long-lost Jedi Master Luke Skywalker. Rey and escaped stormtrooper Finn (John Boyega) take off in the Millennium Falcon, hoping to return BB-8 to General Leia Organa and her Resistance. They're found by Han Solo and Chewbacca, who have been looking for their ship for years. Meanwhile, the First Order are the newest villains in the galaxy. Their hot-tempered, black-clad leader Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) has connections to Han and to Leia that could have grave consequences for the young woman, and the galaxy.

I'm not as fond of either of these as I am of The Empire Strikes Back, but they both have their good points. The opening in Jabba's palace in Jedi is just pure fun, and the final duel between Vader and Luke is intense as hell. I don't mind the Ewoks, either. I think they're adorable and make for some great comic relief.

I almost didn't do The Force Awakens, despite fine performances from Ridley, Boyega, and Harrison Ford, nifty characters (I love Maz Kantana), and that awesome final duel between Rey and Ren. I didn't know how I'd handle Han's death after Carrie Fisher died the way she did.

I think I learned an important lesson this holiday season about real death vs fictional death. A lot of people in the Star Wars fandom, especially those who saw the Original Trilogy when it first debuted, have been complaining bitterly about Han Solo's death and how the older characters were treated. It does hurt when fictional characters are killed off, especially when you're attached to them...but there's always a chance that they could be resurrected later. And there's fanfiction and fan art. Beloved characters never quite leave us.

Death is real. It's raw. It hurts. It can be sudden. It can be messy. It's not something that can be automatically retconned or written away. You can't bring real people back from the dead. It's not like seeing a fictional character die, and knowing we can do something to bring them back. This isn't a Marvel comic book. It's life...and death is a part of that, even sudden, sad deaths.

(And I'm never going to make fun of how Padme Amidala died in the end of Revenge of the Sith ever again. We now know it is possible to die of a broken heart. :()

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