Friday, December 18, 2015

A few thoughts on the new star wars movie

That title should be enough for you to not read this if you don’t want spoilers.  The person who doesn’t want spoilers has the responsibility to not click or read stuff.  Especially after the movie has come out.

It was a good movie.  A good adventure.   But I do feel a bit melancholy.    And I don’t think it’s really the movie or JJ Abram’s fault.   I’m just sad George Lucas wasn’t a part of it.  I’m sad they didn’t use his outline.   I’m sad for the end of an era.  The end of the man who created this universe being involved in it.

I’m well aware of people’s feelings about George.   But I love his work.  I feel like he’s the Storyteller.   Every story, I have enjoyed has been held up against star wars.   When I bought a TV, I thought, “how will star wars look on this”   Star Wars is my escape,  my fictional universe.  There are other galaxies, worlds, and times I enjoy.  Even enjoy a lot.  But Star Wars, the Jedi, The Force,   Death Stars, princesses, holograms and Light Sabers.  Droids, wookies, youth, Sith Lords, younglings, Cloud City, Ewoks, Vile Gangsters, Star destroyers, rebel ships, Mustafar—oh my Mustafar, pod racing, double bladed light sabers, Tattooed sith, Tattooine, Owen and Beru, Luke, Obi wan Kenobi, The galactic Senate, Jar Jar, beast, Dooku, political intrigue, trade federation, destiny, midicholorians, speeders, Bail Organa, the epic sound track, the opening crawl, these are what make up my favorite universe to visit.

And the creator of the universe was George.   He had quirks, which I love.  I loved that so much of him was in the movies.  He did things his own way.  Told the stories he wanted. And they made a butt load of money.  All of them.   And so I’m a little sad I guess.   The universe Is gone from him.  I don’t begrudge him at all for selling it.    But I miss him.  I miss his hand in this universe. 

He left us with a great universe to play in.   And he always let others play in it.  The expanded universe.  The video games, and even some less than stellar entries like the holiday special.  

But when a creator leaves a universe, those who pick up are left with the task to either repeat what the creator did, then people will say they did it just like the creator did, or grow it,  Introduce new ideas.  And those ideas may be amazing, awesome, and fun.  But they are not a natural outgrowth.  The spark of creation, that existed in the creators mind is gone.  They are others ideas.  An attempt to guess where the genius of creation should go.   Or in this case a conscious choice to go  in a different path.

Episode VII was great.  It’s a great movie.  Holy cow.  How cool is Kylo Ren.   He can stop a blaster bolt with his hand.   How fun was it to see Han, Chewy, Leah.   And some pretty sweet scenery.  The star destroyer wreck, the falcon (did you notice it had a different satellite dish on it—nice attention to detail seeing how it lost the original in the second Death Star).   That saber was awesome.   A Storm Trooper who got a soul.   A droid on a mission.   And a search for Luke Skywalker. 

The death of Han Solo (if I just ruined the movie for you, it’s your own fault)  Was powerful.  Family has always been such an important part of Star Wars.  Especially parentage.  When Solo went out on that bridge after his son, Kylo Ren (yep another spoiler, why are you still reading) I feel like he knew he was probably going to his death.  He knew how evil Ben had become.  But he had to try.  I think primarily for Leah.  She asked him to bring their son back.  He had to try.   I think for Ben.  There are some things you do, because you love someone.  You have to try-disregarding your own safety.

In that way, Han Solo, was like my favorite character, Obi Wan Kenobi, who went to Mustafar after Anakin.  They both stepped out of their own safety, to do what was right.  That is what a Hero is.  Han Solo may have started a smuggler.   But he was a man who did what was right.  And he died a hero.

I mourn for Leah, who lost a lover, at the hands of their son. 

I mourn for Ben Solo.   How can someone go so far into the darkside?  And how can he have any hope for peace in life?  He killed his father.  He squelched the light in him (as the light from the sun disappeared) and His Journey to the darkside is now complete. 

I’m pretty dang excited to see where this goes.   I’m betting heavily on Rey being the Daughter of Luke.   That makes her and Kylo Ren cousins.   The Son of Leah and the Daughter of Luke, will do battle again.  

How precious was it to see Luke.  A wizened old Jedi master.  The Jedi master.   I had hoped this new movie would have scores of Jedi.   They are my favorite part of Star Wars.  That’s probably why I loved the prequels so much.   But seeing Luke--the last hope for the galaxy—on that rocky island, was a perfect end for the movie.

So here we go again. A new trilogy has started.   It looks pretty sweet.   I will pour out a glass of blue milk and burn an action figure in memory of George Lucas.   Thank you for your great universe. 

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Christmas Potatoes

Ethel Burbank lived for 94 long years, however she only had Christmas, in 93 of them.

It was December 14th, 2015.   An angelic little girl came to visit Ethel.  I assume she was her granddaughter, I had only worked at the Senior Center for a few weeks.  Her small perfect hands grasped Ethel’s gnarled stiff hands with arthritic bulges. 

“I brought you a Christmas present.  Here open it.” 

Ethel didn’t seem to notice. 

“Please Grandma.”  The girl’s father whispered something to her.  And she gave up.   “I love you so much.” And with that the little angel gave the most sincere hug, and kiss on the cheek I think I’ve ever seen.

One of the most painful parts of Alzheimer's is the way people who suffer from it sometimes react.  They don’t understand what’s’ going on.  It’s hard on adults, but even harder on children. 

“Get off me you little brat!” Ethel barked, “get out of here.”

Time paused at the angel’s face went from love to confusion, to sadness, to a full bawling.  Her father scooped her up and carried her from the room.  The daggers of the shattered mind, had flown once more.

I didn’t see them again, for the rest of Ethel’s life.  

The holidays kept on coming.  The snow fell.  Church groups came and sang.  Families bustled in and out.   Ethel had a few other guest, but she was even less responsive than normal.

About a week later, I was working the graveyard shift.  The lights were dim.  I was reading some blog.  And Ethel came shuffling down the hall. Cradled in her armss were TV remotes, pictures from our bulletin board of volunteers, and a banana.  Sometimes a patient will revert to hoarding.  A little flustered at having my quiet night shift interrupted, I took the items away and took Ethel back to her room.

Two hours later, Ethel was  going through the pantry.   Once again back down the hall with her.   She kept muttering “Christmas, it’s Christmastime.  Don’t you like the snow?  Do you think Anna will come see me.  She has such pretty eyes”

The next day Ethel was all about presents.  “Have you seen my presents? Can we go to Macy’s?  I must buy something for Anna.  Where is Mark?  He would take me.  You’re useless.  All you do is sit around here.”

Ethel coded that night.   She was gone.  I felt bad for not taking her shopping, not that it’s something we do, but still-- sometimes you just want to humor an old person.

As we cleaned up Ethel’s room, and organized the few things she still owned, I found some lumps under her mattress.  Solid, misshapen things, like her hands I thought, and immediately felt bad.  Pulling back the mattress there were a dozen or so potatoes.   Taped to each potato was a photo that I recognized from our volunteer or staff boards. Each photo had been scrawled upon.  Most were illegible, but some said “Merry” others  looked like “Christmas”  and on a photo of the little angel girl who had come to visit her before was written “love you.”

I wasn’t sure what to do with the Christmas Potatoes as we called them.   In the end we decided to give them to the people in the picture.  Some people were confused, but some had bright eyes as they received Ethel’s last Christmas gift.

I tracked down the angle girl, who I noticed had the most beautiful blue eyes.  Her name was Sarah.  Her father and her had adopted Ethel as grandma after their own had passed away.

I explained that we had found the potatoes and I knew it wasn’t a normal present—Sarah cut me off.

“Oh it’s the most perfect present ever.   Ethel was so nice and beautiful.  And sometimes mean…   But that’s ok.  She’s with God now and He loves her, and she didn’t know what she was doing”

“How do you know that”

“She saw me last night, and her hands were soft, and she gave me a hug.  And told me”

I took my own potato out of the my car, and kept it near my desk.  A gift is more than the present itself.  A gift is a vessel of good intent”