Rest In Peace Carrie Fisher (1956-2016) – My Personal Memories

carriefisherEarly Tuesday morning, we lost Carrie Fisher, after a heart attack earlier in the week. There are very few actresses who have become such massively iconic figures that their passing leaves gaping holes behind them. But, in my opinion Carrie Fisher is one of them.

Actress, writer, mental health advocate, and a star that almost everyone respected, Fisher sprang into the spotlight with Star Wars, and remained there. Her role as Leia might be what most people remember her for, but she had a hand in writing, or improving the screenplays for a number of very popular films.

However, my deepest respect has to go out to Fisher for her role in raising mental health awareness, and the way that she treated being bi-polar. When talking about her own mental health, Fisher was blunt, outspoken and for the most part disarming:

I am mentally ill. I can say that. I am not ashamed of that. I survived that, I’m still surviving it, but bring it on. Better me than you.

I get lots of awards for being mentally ill. Apparently, I am better at being mentally ill than almost anything else I’ve ever done. Seriously – I have a shelf of awards for being bipolar.

When it came to interacting with the fans, Fisher was well known for having embraced her role as Leia. She handled the attention the role brought her with grace, humor and an acceptance that few could have managed. For me though, her humor was best shown in her tweets, and social appearances. In September this year, she tweeted:

The only exercise I get lately is running off at the mouth & jumping to conclusions…..

And it is for these kinds of quotes that I am going to remember her best (excluding quotes from films). But, while we’re remembering this amazing woman, I felt that I should share some of my favorite on-screen memories…

carrie-fisher-star-wars-1977Princess Leia – Star Wars IV: A New Hope (1977)

For the vast majority of people growing up when I did, the first of the Star Wars films wasn’t the first time we saw Carrie Fisher playing the role that made her famous. However, it remains her most pivotal role, in my opinion.

Once reported as saying that she would

…go hang out with a bunch of robots for a few months and then return to my life and try to figure out what I want to do when I grow up. – source Business Insider

On the character of Leia, she has said:

Leia is not a real character. She is more of a caricature, and is somewhat one-dimensional. It’s not really possible to write out a list of Princess Leia’s likes and dislikes. I do know her favorite color, though, it’s white. She wears white all the time. But that doesn’t help me much. – source IMDB

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The Mystery Woman – Blues Brothers (1980)

The Blues Brothers duo of Jake and Elwood Blues originated from minds of Dan Ackroyd and John Belushi, and first appeared on “Saturday Night Live”. Bringing great music to a TV audience, it was far from inevitable that they could translate that popularity into film. And, indeed, despite it’s all-star cast from music, film, and television, the film was far from a cinematic success.

Yet, it remains one of the biggest cult classics of all time, filled with amazing music, and some great guest appearances. None of these is more memorable than Carrie Fisher’s role as the ‘Mystery Woman’, who spends most of her on-screen time either preparing to, or actually trying to kill Jake.  For me this is one of the strangest roles in the film, because it takes a very long time to find out why she wants Jake dead. (And honestly, with the way he treats her, I can almost sympathize with her).

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Princess Leia – Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens(2015)

When Disney announced they were planning to do a new Star Wars film, that would follow on from the original trilogy, I was thrilled. But that was nothing compared to the joy of hearing that many of the original cast would be returning to reprise their roles.

Most importantly, we were going to get to see what happened to two of the characters we loved most from the series, Han and Leia. It was a shock to see how much time had passed for the two of them, and how the events between “Return of the Jedi” and “The Force Awakens” had changed them. But, when Han and Leia are reunited, it’s very clear that the love between them is still very much there.

I personally think this is one of the best performances Carrie Fisher ever put together, and gave us a story that was well overdue.

9-11-2001 … In Memory of All Who Sacrificed, or Were Lost

September 11th 2001 Montage
Image courtesy of Wikipedia.org

September 11th 2001

I’m not normally one to comment on anything remotely political, or even related to current events, but I couldn’t let this anniversary pass without comment, for a number of reasons.

The images to the left are among some of the many images that are burned into people’s memories from this day 15 years ago. It’s a day that stands in memory for so many people around the world, as the day that terrorists carried out a series of coordinated attacks on American soil.

Here are some facts:

  • Four flights from US airports were hijacked, and aimed at major landmarks and political and military targets.
  • Two of these aircraft impacted the twin towers of the World Trade Center, in New York City
  • One flight impacted the Pentagon, home of the US Department of Defense
  • A fourth flight was on course for the US capital, Washington DC, but was brought down near Stonycreek Township, when passengers on the flight tried to overcome the hijackers.
  • Almost 3,000 people lost their lives, and over 6,000 were injured in the attacks, or the aftermath.
  • $10 Billion dollars of property and infrastructure damages were done, with over $3 trillion in total costs.

Let Us Never Forget:

  • The men and women who lost their lives in the attacks, and the families and friends they left behind.
  • Those who became part of some of the largest rescue, recover, and cleanup operations ever conducted.
  • The bravery of those who put their lives in danger to save others from the wreckage.
  • The valor of those who prevented the terrorists from reaching their intended target in Washington DC

I Remember Where I Was When I First Heard The News

I was visiting my friend Sarah, in Darlington (north England) at the time, and it was mid-afternoon on September 11th 2001. The two of us were in one of the city’s music shops, and I was just completing the purchase of a guitar, when the first reports started coming over the radio.

Three of us stood there in complete shock, as we listened to the initial reports of some kind of explosion at the World Trade Center in New York city. Now, this may seem like it was a very distant event,  but this was obviously big news, since it reached the UK within minutes of the event happening, and then the studio switched to live reporting.

Having grown up with the IRA as a fact of life, those of us in the store were pretty familiar with how terrorist attacks are reported, and this was nothing like what we were used to. As the facts of the event became clearer, it soon became obvious that this was nothing like anything that we’d heard about before, and all the channels were buzzing with the same news.

Sarah and I rushed back to her place, and watched replays of the impact on the first tower, and the second, which had been hit while we were driving. It wasn’t until later that we discovered the full horror that had been inflicted on the US.

If you have a story of where you were on this day, fifteen years ago, please feel free to share it in the comments.