Tag Archives: Star Wars

RIP Carrie Fisher – Actor, Author, Mental Health Advocate, in her own words

Carrie Fisher, died 27 December 2016

Carrie Fisher will be mostly remembered for being Princess Leia in Star Wars as the Space Western princess with a gun and rapid riposte to Harrison Ford’s Han Solo when he needed a put-down. It didn’t stop them having a recently revealed off-screen romance. Also, off-screen was her battle with the darker forces of addiction and bipolar mental health. Her website records her in the way she’d prefer to be remembered as an “actor, author” and shamelessly, a “mental health advocate”, her site listed mental health resources, and she was active in promoting mental health awareness.

Carrie Fisher, The Princess Diarist (2016)
Carrie Fisher, The Princess Diarist (2016)

For the record, she starred in 44 films from Shampoo (1975) to Star Wars: Episode VIII (2017), wrote 7 books, and well over half-a-dozen plays, scripts and screenplays.More a signature action than her Leia buns and Avenger/Charlie’s Angels-style with

Even more a signature action than her Leia buns and Avengers/Charlie’s Angels-style gun-aloft pose, her middle finger was often shot up at the press. She was a hero for her honesty, humour and heart, the media needs to treat mental health better.

As someone who battles and “sur-thrives” with Bipolar Affective Disorder, aka manic depression, myself, I find so many echoes in her statements on mental health, and her activism in helping others through honesty and sheer guts – or clitzpah, female “courage bordering on arrogance”, as a friend puts it.

A fitting tribute is, therefore, to remember her in her own words:

Carrie Fisher Quotes – In Her Own Words

“I really love the internet. They say chat-rooms are the trailer park of the internet but I find it amazing.”

On Writing as Therapy

Carrie Fisher, Shockaholic (2011)
Carrie Fisher, Shockaholic (2011)

“I have a mess in my head sometimes, and there’s something very satisfying about putting it into words. Certainly it’s not something that you’re in charge of, necessarily, but writing about it, putting it into your words, can be a very powerful experience.”

“I always kept a diary – not a diary like, ‘Dear Diary, we got up at 5 A.M., and I wore the weird hair again and that white dress! Hi-yeee!’ I’d just write.”

“Writing is a very calming thing for me.” 

I can echo those thoughts, totally! Writing slows my racing pacing thoughts down, coming up with the language that accurately and emotional reflects my thoughts on myself, life, the universe and everything, is a process that is cathartic, creative, and better than CBT.

Her humour

Whether scripted stand-up comedy or unscripted ad-lib, Carrie was quick witted, sharp, funny and could turn the tables on an interviewer. A vital skill in the harsh world of Hollywood and media criticism.

“I brought along Gary” (Carrie Fisher’s dog) “because his tongue matches my sweater” … “I think in my mouth so I don’t lie” … “what music makes [weight loss] worthwhile?” Not to mention some beautiful flirting with “DNA jackpot” GMA’s Amy Robach!

The humour, the jokey OCD matching, the flirting, she was my kind of inappropriate unboundaried, humourous getting-into-trouble, woman.

“There’s no room for demons when you’re self-possessed” via Twitter (2014)

“I googled myself without lubricant. I don’t I recommend it.” on David Letterman (2009)

“Sometimes I feel like I’ve got my nose pressed up against the window of a bakery, only I’m the bread” – Postcards from the Edge (1987)

“Pure lust is an oxymoron” via Twitter (2016)

On Life and Being Herself

“I am a spy in the house of me. I report back from the front lines of the battle that is me. I am somewhat nonplused by the event that is my life.”

“I don’t want my life to imitate art, I want my life to be art.”

Again, one feels like an actor in one’s own drama, there is sometimes a feeling of distance from the actions one takes, as if one were only playing a part, however grand a role.

On Body, Weight and Aging

“I don’t like looking at myself. I have such bad body dysmorphia.”

“I think of my body as a side effect of my mind.”

“I’m in a business where the only thing that matters is weight and appearance. That is so messed up. They might as well say ‘Get younger,’ because that’s how easy it is.”

“There were days I could barely struggle into a size 46 or 48, months of larges and XXLs, and endless rounds of leggings with the elastic at the waist stretched to its limit and beyond – topped with the fashion equivalent of a tea cozy. And always black, because I was in mourning for my slimmer self.”

“…when I do lose the weight, I don’t like that it makes me feel good about myself. It’s not who I am.”

“Along with aging comes life experience, so in every way that is consistent with even being human.”

On Mental Health & Bipolar Mood State

Carrie Fisher, Wishful Drinking (2008)
Carrie Fisher, Wishful Drinking (2008)

“I’m very sane about how crazy I am.” – Wishful Drinking, (2008)

“I now get awards all the time for being mentally ill. It’s better than being bad at being insane, right? How tragic would it be to be runner-up for Bipolar Woman of the Year?” – Wishful Drinking, (2008)

“Anything you can do in excess for the wrong reasons is exciting to me.”

“I have a chemical imbalance that, in its most extreme state, will lead me to a mental hospital.”

“Drugs made me feel more normal.”

“I went to a doctor and told him I felt normal on acid, that I was a light bulb in a world of moths. That is what the manic state is like.”

“I have two moods. One is Roy, rollicking Roy, the wild ride of a mood. And Pam, sediment Pam, who stands on the shore and sobs… Sometimes the tide is in, sometimes it’s out.”

The manic mood ride that is Roy and the pessimistic panic that is Pam, is very familiar. I’ve not heard anyone else echo my experience of drugs making one feel normal. I tried weed, ecstasy and minor drugs like that, even smoking and drinking, but they didn’t do anything for me, indeed ecstasy made me responsible, hyper-sensible! 

On Surviving and Thriving

“Ive [sic] stopped trying to take things a day at a time. I now take 2 or 3 days at once—hoping it’ll cause a blur effect & I might look younger.” via Twitter (2015)

“I don’t want to be thought of as a survivor because you have to continue getting involved in difficult situations to show off that particular gift…”

“If anything, my mother taught me how to sur-thrive. That’s my word for it.”

Boundaries and Bad Judgements

“The world of manic depression is a world of bad judgment calls.”

“I’ll never be known for my work with boundaries.”

“Mistakes are a drag, because you get in the area of regret and self-pity.”

Fortunately, it’s not all bad boundaries and manic mistakes, and the following day come-down into reality and realisation that one has overstepped, overdrawn, overdone it, and occasionally overdosed. Manic can be fun, or at least hypomanic can, with just enough awareness to feel empowered, energied, extrovert and not yet into the territory of relationship, finance and employment self-destruction.  

“The manic end of is a lot of fun.”

On acting as if all is well

“One of the great things to pretend is that you’re not only alright, you’re in great shape. Now to have that come true – I’ve actually gone on stage depressed and that’s worked its magic on me, ’cause if I can convince you that I’m alright, then maybe I can convince me.”

“Stay afraid but do it anyway. What’s important is the action. You don’t have to wait to be confident. Just do it and eventually the confidence will follow.”

“I’m fine, but I’m bipolar. I’m on seven medications, and I take medication three times a day. This constantly puts me in touch with the illness I have. I’m never quite allowed to be free of that for a day.”

She is free now, “drowned in moonlight, strangled by my own bra“. Whilst she was “nonplused” about her life, we are far from nonplused at her death and feel the disruption in the force in 2016, which has been a traumatic year of loss. RIP Carrie, Princess, Queen, General and very human being, “May the Force be with you.” 

Postscript: Carrie Fisher’s mother, Debbie Reynolds, star of Singin’ in the Rain, died aged 84 of a stroke within 24 hours of Carrie.

LEGO bricks, an Investment worth its weight in Gold?

LEGO – A golden investment opportunity

LEGO logoKids (and adult-kids) don’t open your Christmas presents! Pristine LEGO sets have risen by 12% p.a. since 2000, unlike the FTSE100, Gold, Oil or Savings accounts. Buy, buy, buy LEGO! That’s my excuse, anyway! I do have a secondary loft devoted to the stuff, but mine is for building inspiration not buying as an investment. It is of course an investment in play, imagination, even a career choice at LEGO or as an independent builder-designer-artist. The UK even has a dedicated Adult Fan of LEGO (AFOL) Convention-Conference and Brickipedians have their own Wiki with nearly 30,000 pages.

Meanwhile, LEGO has funded a £1.5m professorship “of play in education, development and learning” at the Cambridge University, and is currently advertising for a new professional LEGO builder with:

“…Lego building experience and be able to design and build sturdy, accurate, complicated, safe and installable Lego models for a wide variety of Legoland attractions including miniature scale models and/or life sized organic models from prototypes, diagrams or computer generated instructions.”

So whilst most of the western world has seen economic austerity since 2007/8 and many nations have exercised restraint on housebuilding amidst increasing population demand, LEGO builders have bucked the trend. The ‘toy’ remains a firm favourite across the generations whether as conventional bricks, computer game play, or film.

‘Cafe Corner’ (2007, set 10182) is the most lucrative accumulation at an original retail price of £89 and which is now worth £2,096 at a 2,230% return on investment and just over a £1 a piece.

The Ultimate Collector’s ‘Millennium Falcon’ (2007, set 10179 ) is the most expensive and largest Star Wars Lego set ever made with 5195 pieces weighing over 10kg – around £230k if it was made of gold. It has shot up in value from an original RRP of $499 in 2007 to over $4,300 today (peaking at $5.2k in July 2015), indeed they range in price on Amazon from £4,495 to £5,950 new or £3,250-£3,950 secondhand. There is even a brick-box tracking index at brickpicker.com.

Gold 14k LEGO Brick
Gold 14k LEGO Brick

In reality, Gold at £23/g is worth more than an equivalent LEGO brick in weight. An actual 2×4 LEGO brick made of 14 karat gold was made and allegedly given to some long service employees – it’s now worth $14,445 for a 25g brick, which would only be $999 for its gold value alone.

LEGO Star Wars

LEGO Set 7190 Star Wars Millennium Falcon 2000
LEGO Set 7190 Star Wars Millennium Falcon

LEGO launched their first full commercial tie-in and intellectual property protected range in 1999, Star Wars – not the Millennium Falcon (2000, set 7190) but a lightsaber duel between Darth Maul and Qui-Gon Jinn (set 7101). During the current England-South Africa cricket match, Test Match Special commentators discussed their regrets at handing over a Millennium Falcon set to the school fete.

Whilst the Millennium Falcon may be the biggest Star Wars set it’s not the biggest Star Wars model – that goes to an X-Wing fighter made up of over 5 million LEGO bricks, measuring 42x44ft.

LEGO Doctor Who

The LEGO product range continues to reinvent itself embracing the early town/city building ranges through knights, castles and pirates, to modern Harry Potter, Marvel and DC Comics Super Heroes, the Lord Of The Rings and Hobbit-verse, Indiana Jones and Jurassic World.

LEGO 21304 Doctor Who Tardis Dalek
LEGO Doctor Who Set 21304 £49.99 Tardis, Companion and Daleks

Whovians, aka Doctor Who fans, can now also get there hands on two Doctors, a pair of daleks, and one Jenna Coleman, as this month saw the launch of the first official LEGO sett for the BBC show. LEGO Dimensions also offers Doctor Who multiverse video gaming options. This will no doubt grow and grow alongside Star Wars LEGO merchandise

LEGO Quantity Purchase Restrictions

LEGO quantity purchase restriction

Demand for the Doctor Who range, among collectors, is expected to be so high that LEGO have limited purchases to one per household. Even trying to buy the similarly priced Big Bang Theory “Leonard and Sheldon’s Living Room” set (21302) one is limited to a maximum of two sets.

“Dear LEGO® Customer: We appreciate your interest in ordering large quantities of a particular product. However, in our efforts to be fair to all consumers and children who order products from us, we do have to set a limit of 1 per customer/household on certain items. If your request exceeds this limit, we will have to change your order quantity to 1 to ensure availability for other LEGO customers. We thank you for ordering from the LEGO Company.”

There’s fairness, and then there’s preventing stockpiling as an investment, creating a secondary market due to scarcity. LEGO have also admitted to supply problems keeping up with demand. They also have a policy of not supplying LEGO to depict scenes of violence or politics. This resulted in the million bricks used in Belgium’s memorial of Napoleon and the Battle of Waterloo in 2015 being restricted to monuments, art and a portrayal of his funeral, none of the battle scenes, despite ranges of LEGO knights, soldiers, and pirates – not known for their pacifism. They’ve probably not seen this then:

LEGO Political Censorship of Artist Ai Weiwei

Artist Ai Weiwei also had a request for large volumes of LEGO for an art project refused due to its political purpose. After protests members of the public campaigned to supply Weiwei with bricks. Ironically, he wants to use them in an ‘Andy Warhol / Ai Weiwei’ exhibition exploring the concept of freedom of speech.

LEGO Company History

According to the Wiki Brickipedia among the several origins stories for LEGO. Nearly a century ago in 1916 a Danish carpenter, Ole Kirk Christiansen, bought a woodworking business but which due to an accident caused by his young sons set fire and burned down in 1924. After rebuilding Christiansen used to make model furniture as design and display aids. Struggling with 1930’s economic conditions he diversified into wooden toy production alongside furniture. In 1934 LEGO as a brand was coined, by an employee who was rewarded with a bottle of homemade wine. ‘Lego’ came from a contraction of the Danish phrase leg godt, meaning “play well” but which was later discovered to be akin to “I assemble” in Latin.

It was not until the late 1940s that production shifted to plastic and interlocking bricks – inspired in no small measure by a British inventor’s Kiddicraft ‘Self-Locking Building Bricks’. Indeed, three decades later LEGO bought Kiddicraft. Ten years after their introduction with numerous teething problems now mostly solved the modern LEGO brick was born around 1958. Another fire in 1960 destroyed the last of LEGO’s wooden business and LEGO bricks took over completely.

LEGO looks set to reinvent itself, grow and grow, as an investment and as an inventive and interactive ‘toy’ – if it can be called that at all now, for adults are just as keen to collect and to ‘play’ with it. It may even prove a career choice for some and/or a profitable trading commodity for others.