Maybe these Star Wars Fun Facts Will Fill The Void at the Core Of My Being
I’ll admit that sometimes it feels like the inevitability of death creeps into my day and strips away any possibility of joy. Not every day, but some days. It’s like everything is tainted. When my grammaw was getting closer to the end—when she could still talk and everything—she used to obsess over the fact she knew she was dying. I’d try to joke around and ask her questions to distract her. One time I asked her if she’d had a lot of boyfriends before she got married. She said yes, and I asked her if she had sex with any of them. She narrowed her eyes and told me I wasn’t her type and should find a girl my own age. We both laughed, and then she stopped laughing and sobbed that God must not love her or else He’d let her die and end her suffering. I mean, that sums it up if you ask me. That’s the human experience writ large. So it’s kind of neat that the scenes set on Tatooine in the original trilogy were filmed in Tunisia, and some of the sets they built are still there and in use by the locals. Some stuff lasts, you know? Some stuff continues to find a purpose. That’s just awesome.
Did you know that Yoda was originally going to be played by a monkey with a mask on? Gosh, I’m glad they changed their mind on that one. Can you imagine? That would have looked so dumb. It always cheers me up when I hear about something like this, where it could have been a disaster but then better heads prevailed. Makes me think about all the mistakes I’ve made, how in some ways I feel like it’s the mistakes that define me, but that also there were plenty of times things could have been so much worse. Well, at least a little worse. Different. But maybe different would have been better? It’s hard to say. Maybe anything would be better than this. Anyway, I’m glad they ditched the monkey idea and went with the classic puppet we all know and love.
Did you know that the phrase “I have a bad feeling about this” is spoken in every single Star Wars film? That’s pretty neat. I get bad feelings sometimes—specifically, every once in a while out of nowhere I’ll feel this heavy sense of unease. Dread. Like something absolutely awful is about to happen, or like I’ve done something terrible and I’m guiltily waiting to be caught. Hard to be productive on days like that. All I end up doing is sitting around wishing there was someone around to reassure me, but also not wanting to let anyone know I have this horrible feeling. So I sit there and try to come up with something interesting that a normal happy person might say and then calling people to say it, hoping to kick off a conversation. But you know what? Nothing kills a conversation quicker than premeditation. When you hear that line in Star Wars it usually indicates that some kind of cool action/suspense thing is about to kick off, which is pretty far from my experience, but what I take solace in is the fact that in Star Wars everything almost always works out for the best. I try to remind myself of that all the time, that things do work out, and thinking about this fun little morsel really helps.
It’s hard to believe, but apparently a disco arrangement of the Star Wars theme was the number one song in America for two weeks in 1977. I mean, I’m trying to imagine what that sounded like and it seems like it was probably really unpleasant. But who knows. I mean, think about what people like now, stuff like Imagine Dragons or Mumford and Sons. Imagine Dragons sounds like a make-believe band from a time travel movie made in the early 1990’s. Mumford and Sons, some of their songs are okay. You know what they make me think of, though? Last year, when grammaw was dying, after she went to bed I used to drive around every night just totally aimless, listening to the radio—and this was when Mumford and Sons were on the radio basically every ten minutes—and I’d think about how I’d already known that when you’re heartbroken every song you hear is about you or her or the situation, but it wasn’t until then that I knew there was a level beyond that, where no song is relatable, because you don’t even feel like a human being anymore. You’re just empty. I don’t think there are any songs about that, or at least there aren’t any on the radio. Anyway. Disco gets a bad rap but it’s fun if you can stomach all that camp. Definitely not music for people enduring a crushing, desolate feeling. But to each their own. I’m not one to judge.
Denis Lawson, who played fighter pilot Wedge Antilles in Star Wars: A New Hope, is Ewan McGregor’s uncle. I wonder if they’re close? If nothing else, being a part of the Star Wars phenomena is such a singular experience, that’s something they must bond over. Family is tough, though. You never know. The day before my grammaw died, my whole family came around to hang out and say goodbye. She’d already slipped into this kind of pre-death state, so it wasn’t clear if the farewell messages were getting through. I guess it doesn’t matter. What matters is everyone was there, standing around in what had been the dining room at my folks house before they took her in and replaced the table and chairs with a hospital bed and a counter to hold her medications and diapers. We were all standing around her—my mom and dad and siblings and their spouses and my nephew and my aunt and cousins and my cousin’s kids—and someone started singing these songs that Grammaw had sung to us when we were little. I’m not kidding. This is not a scene from a Zach Braff movie, this happened in my life. “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” and “How Much for that Doggie in the Window.” Everyone joined in, singing and crying and at some point Grammaw’s eyelids kind of fluttered, her jaw kind of tensed, and someone said, “She’s trying to sing with us,” and someone else said, “We’re all here with you, Grammaw, we’re all here for you,” and they started singing louder and crying harder and I thought, Fuck this garbage, and stormed the fuck out. Out the room, out the house. Stood in the yard fuming. So yeah, you always hope that familial bonds will be strong but you never can tell. I bet Lawson and McGregor get along, though. They’re both actors, even outside the Star Wars thing. Very cool.
That the text crawl that opens the first Star Wars film was co-written by Brian De Palma is interesting. Teamwork, you know? People working together. Doesn’t the world need more of that? Maybe that’s what made me so mad when my family members started singing and crying around Grammaw’s deathbed, that I felt like I’d been all alone when it came to the tough parts—feeding her, making sure she got her medicine, changing her diapers and keeping her clean, shifting her recliner around the room over and over and over all day long to minimize the glare on the TV screen, and then they all had the audacity to swoop in right at the end, and I just knew there’d never be another Christmas where someone didn’t bring up how magical it was, the way her eyes fluttered when they were singing. I mean, I was the one who watched TV with her all day long because she couldn’t stand to be alone. Who couldn’t get up to go to the bathroom without her crying and making me promise to come right back. Sure, I realized fast that she never knew what we were watching, and sometimes when she asked me to put on Dr. Phil I’d put on Pulp Fiction instead. If she ever wondered why Dr. Phil was cursing so much or covered with blood, she kept it to herself. This Star Wars fact does nothing to cheer me up, actually. This one actually makes me feel worse.
Ok, how about this: Christopher Walken almost played Han Solo. That’s a good one. Obviously that would have made for a different film. Only Harrison Ford could pull off that moment when Leia says “I love you” and he says “I know.” He says it like, Of course you do, and I love you too. Imagine Christopher Walken speaking the line, it would have come off like he already knew because he’d been spying on her. So there’s another one that shows that things really do work out for the best, in a way. Which is certainly not how I felt standing outside the house watching my family sing and hold hands that day. That day all I felt was angry and isolated. I’m still pissed, as it turns out. Embarrassing. But you know, maybe things do work out for the best in the end, and I just haven’t gotten to that part yet. Maybe everything could snap into place at any moment. Just not this one. Or this one. Or this one. Maybe it won’t be today. But tomorrow, maybe. I mean, you have to get through the doom and gloom of The Empire Strikes Back to arrive at the ebullient Ewok party at the end of Return of the Jedi. Right?
Leave a Reply