King of the Dead : George Romero 1940-2017

The first movie that ever truly got to me was George Romero’s Creepshow. At 10 years old I watched the George Romero/Stephen King horror collaboration and was more and more horrified as each story unfolded until we reached “The Crate” and I felt my blood run cold. Something about that scene where the college student goes under the stairs and is pulled into the aforementioned crate by the Tasmanian Devil and is gnawed on and killed. Blood running down his shirt as he’s pulled up into the crate to be a late night snack. That scene made my stomach curdle(and I hadn’t even gotten to the “bug” episode.)

That movie and that moment put me on a track to horror-dom that I’ve never quite gotten off of, and I owe it all the George Romero(and I suppose Stephen King, too.) That night started a journey into all things creepy, kooky, and downright disturbing. While many directors helped to fill my psyche with visions of the bizarre and bloody, no one did it with as much class as George Romero. Before Creepshow I had seen Night of the Living Dead on late night TV, but it didn’t really sink into my brain at 7 or 8 years old. Once Creepshow indoctrinated me, I was off and running. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead was the game changer. It was disturbing, chaotic, quirky, gory, and it spoke to society and consumerism. You couldn’t go to the mall after seeing DotD and not see blue-skinned zombies walking around with Orange Julius cups and Hot Sam pretzels. Day of the Dead, while not as essential as Dawn, still spoke to the evil that men do went left to their own devices. It also upped the ante in the gore department.

Those two movies, along with after revisiting Night of the Living Dead felt like these massive peaks that every horror filmmaker ever since have been trying to ascend to. George Romero wanted to scare the hell out of you, but he also wanted to comment on the current state of affairs. He wasn’t out to give us cheap thrills. He wanted to show us the horrors that awaited us outside our very front doors that we weren’t willing to look for ourselves. Romero’s zombie films were like these carnival mirrors showing us the world in distorted, grotesque fashions. You could get lost in the metaphors within those films, so if you chose just to enjoy the gore, story, acting, and sights instead no one could blame you. Least of all George Romero.

Besides his series of zombie films that changed horror forever, George Romero made many more amazing horror films. Martin, The Crazies, Monkey Shines, The Dark Half, Bruiser, and even his collaboration with Dario Argento Two Evil Eyes all showed Romero’s unique eye and perspective on a genre that had been weighted down by sleazy thrills and cheap production design.

George Romero came from a place of creating art over commerce. His influences were heavy hitters and included Orson Welles, John Ford, Stanley Kubrick, Alfred Hitchcock, and Michael Powell’s The Tales Of Hoffman as one of his favorite films. His films never felt like cheap horror. They borrowed from the classics that came before and built their own worlds within Romero’s keen eye and knack for storytelling. He could’ve told stories in any genre, but horror was where he found a unique space to tell his stories. Edgar Allan Poe, with his morality plays as seen through the eyes of a doomed world and lovelorn spirit, is where Romero himself found a spot to speak out on society’s missteps and foibles. There’s nothing more horrifying than what’s lurking in our own subconscious, waiting to rise up when we least expect it.

We’ve lost one of the great voices in horror cinema, or any cinema for that matter. Romero saw the world, both the good and bad, and attempted to portray them both with equal fervor in his films. Despite the darker dispositions of his films, he was a man with heart and the desire to make great art. If he’d only made Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, and Day of the Dead and had stopped at that point we’d still be talking about the man as a genius.

Long live George Romero, the King of the Dead.

 

 

Burning Dinosaur Bones : Revisiting Soundgarden’s ‘Badmotorfinger’

It was October of 1991. It was a Tuesday which meant it was new release day. I’d gone on a field trip with my Art & English class to Indianapolis to visit the Indianapolis Museum of Art as well as a synagogue(we’d just finished reading Chaim Potok’s ‘The Chosen’.) The bus got back to the school around 6pm and I sprinted to my car for my escape. I had two goals: give my girlfriend the cool and colorful hair tie I bought her at the museum and get to Video World and pick up Soundgarden’s new album Badmotorfinger. Both were important, but one was essential.

I can remember the first time I’d heard Soundgarden was way back in 1989. I think my friend and I had seen the “Hands All Over” video on 120 Minutes and immediately thought “Who is this??” Back then we couldn’t just jump on Google and find out the band’s life story in 2 minutes. It took foot work and real research. Combing through magazines and inquiring at record stores. It was work, dammit! So on a trip to Fort Wayne for my birthday day with said friend and an older friend of ours that was out of school and could drive we hit up Wooden Nickel(a favorite record store back then) and I located a copy of Soundgarden’s Louder Than Love on cassette(the preferred method of music listening at the time) and we made our way back home. Louder Than Love was unlike anything I’d heard before. Up to this point I’d only recently been getting away from the teased hair and sexual innuendos of the Sunset Strip crowd but diving head first into the likes of Rush and instrumental guitar music like Joe Satriani, Yngwie Malmsteen, and Steve Vai. Soundgarden stood in stark contrast to those albums. Louder Than Love, to my ears, wasn’t punk rock and it wasn’t heavy metal. It was its own beast. Songs like “Hands All Over”, “Loud Love”, “Get On The Snake”, and “Big Dumb Sex” had an almost pop feel, but pop done up in rusty age and a bloody smirk. But then you get to songs like “Gun”, “Full On Kevin’s Mom”, “Ugly Truth”, and “I Awake” and things feel dingy and dark. There’s an oppressiveness to those tracks that make you feel like flipping on the light switch and keeping a conversation going through the night so you don’t have to shut your eyes. The production wasn’t necessarily lo fi, but it was somewhat muted; muffled even. It was an eye opener to my 16-year old self. It was also the first time I ever got my older brother to get into a band, instead of vice versa. That was a proud moment for me.

So fast forward to October of 1991.

I’d been dipping my toes in the Seattle waters with bands like Mudhoney, Screaming Trees, Alice In Chains, and the newly released Ten by Pearl Jam since late 1989. I was an early follower of the Seattle scene, having thought I’d found my own little secret musical world(that secret world would blow up in the fall of 1991.) I’d loved Temple Of The Dog the year before as I was a big fan of Mother Love Bone’s Apple album, so I was ready for Badmotorfinger. The first single, the wonderfully-titled “Jesus Christ Pose”, didn’t disappoint. The sound was more aggressive and metal than anything off Louder Than Love, and the production was spot-on. The video was a melee of psychedelic desert shots with Chris Cornell doing a fine job with the menacing faces while colors shone and the film skipped and blipped like a strobe light. It was the quintessential middle finger to religion and the hypocritical line towing that’s involved with organized religion. I knew I was in for a treat with this album, because once I finally got to really listen to Badmotorfinger it felt like a re-wiring of my brain. From the opening salvo of “Rusty Cage” to the the crashing blow of album closer “New Damage” I was enthralled and won over. I felt like a new convert to some new musical language. I wanted to know this world more. Everything that came before it sort of felt trite to my ears. Musically Soundgarden had created this forward-thinking metal that while may not have been “new” per say, but they seemed to have found a way to convey something new within the confines of the classic rock and roll tools.

“Rusty Cage” is one hell of an opener. That opening guitar felt new and alien in a world overrun by pop metal. Ben Shepherd’s bass playing was also a standout on this track, which was new to the Soundgarden sound as prior to this the bass seemed to linger in the background. Lyrically Chris Cornell really went to another level. “Too cold to start a fire/I’m burning diesel burning dinosaur bones/
I’ll take the river down to still water and ride a pack of dogs” felt like poetry as much as lyrics. Cornell could really paint some amazing visuals with his words, as on the next song “Outshined”. “I got up feeling so down/I got off being sold out/I kept the movie rolling/But the stories getting old now” and “I’m feeling California and feeling Minnesota” sort of defined that “what does any of this mean” vibe we were all feeling in 1991. Soundgarden were still writing songs as anthems of the disenfranchised on this album. With Superunknown the lyrics began to point inward. They began to deal with the “I” as opposed to the “we”.

Elsewhere, “Face Pollution” was a blistering track that barreled through the speakers like a freight train from Hell, while “Drawing Flies” was just this vitriolic anthem. “Searching With My Good Eye Closed” to this day knocks me on my ass. It’s this dirge-y, psychedelic monster of a song. Part Black Sabbath and part new age metal. It’s just incredible. “Holy Water” sounds like post-apocalyptic blues. “Holy water on the brain and I’m losing sleep/Holy bible on the night stand next to me” Cornell sings over massively d-tuned guitar playing a bluesy guitar riff that dangles into the doldrums.

I bought this on cassette, but in 1992 a special edition of the album was released on CD called SOMMS which stood for Satan oscillate my metallic sonatas. It had the original album plus an extra CD that contained some covers, one non-album track, and a live version of “Slaves and Bulldozers”. The covers included Black Sabbath’s “Into The Void(Sealth)”, which was Sabbath’s music with the lyrics replaced with words of protest from Chief Seattle. There was also a cover of Devo’s “Girl U Want” and the Stones’ “Stray Cat Blues”. There was an excellent non-album track called “She’s a Politician”. This was the premier version of the album. It’s still a prized possession of mine.

Besides maybe Thayil’s “Room A Thousand Years Wide” I don’t think there was a bad song on this record. I’ve been listening to it all week and I can say that with confidence. And even after 27 years my favorite song is still “Mind Riot”. It was a peek at what Chris Cornell had in store for us on future albums, both with soundtrack work(“Seasons” on Singles S/T), Soundgarden, and his solo albums. He had such a unique way of building chord structures in his songs and this was no exception. It was heavy but also very melancholy, and the lyrics are quite telling. “Candles burning yesterday/Somebody’s best friend died” he sings in the chorus, while one of my favorite lines is “I was crying from my eye teeth and bleeding from my soul/ And I sharpened my wits on a dead man’s skull“. This song, for me, is the shining example of what this band was about. They could give us a beautifully unique and catchy song in such a creative and one-of-a-kind way. That was the result of the Cornell/Thayil/Shepherd/Cameron magic.

In the wake of Chris Cornell’s death, I’ve found some solace in revisiting his work. He’s left a treasure trove of music for us to enjoy and to keep him singing in our lives for years to come. Superunknown put Soundgarden in households worldwide, but Badmotorfinger put them in my head and heart forever.

 

R.I.P. Chris Cornell : Long Live That Voice

Truth be told I haven’t followed Chris Cornell’s music career since that first Audioslave album. Call it moving forward with ones life or just not really being into what he’d been doing since “Show Me How To Live” burned into my brain. But that’s not to say he didn’t make a HUGE impression on the younger J Hub back in high school and my early 20s. The fact that he’s suddenly gone and never going to tear the roof off a theater or stadium with that massive, “Thunder-0f-the-Gods” vocal weapon of his really is quite depressing.

I bought Louder Than Love in December of 1990, on my 16th birthday, and I never looked back. That album was unlike anything I’d ever heard. It was heavy, dirty, dark, and hissy in a way that you’d a thought this cassette came out from under the front seat of some dude’s ’78 Olds Cutlass covered in dirt, dust, and THC resin. It stood in stark contrast to the Rush and various LA hair band albums I’d been slurping up heartily to that point. That album led me to Screaming Trees’ Uncle Anesthesia which led me to Mudhoney’s Superfuzz Bigmuff which led me to Nirvana’s Bleach which led me to everything else. And as much as I dug Kim Thayil’s howling abuse of his Guild, it was Chris Cornell’s voice that kept me entranced and enthrallled.

Though the guy bemoaned the Robert Plant comparisons, you couldn’t help but go there. He was my generation’s Plant(no offense to the very much alive and well Robert Plant), except better in that he was an incredible songwriter and musician. He wrote complex songs with unique chord structures and lyrics that ranged from poetic to cryptic. Badmotorfinger contained some of my favorite Soundgarden tracks. “Searching With My Good Eye Closed”, “Holy Water”, “Mind Riot”, and “Rusty Cage” were some of the best songs to come out of the 90s for me. Every Soundgarden album, though maybe not all classics, had at least three or four shining moments easily. And when he stepped out on his own with Euphoria Morning it was apparent he was the main music muscle in Soundgarden. Not taking anything away from Matt Cameron, Ben Shepherd, or Kim Thayil, but the feel and off-kilter melodies were all Cornell. With the help of Eleven’s Alain Johannes and Natasha Shneider, Euphoria Morning turned out to be a rather unique and quite beautiful record even without much in the way of great reviews.

Audioslave was one of those projects that seemed like the greatest idea in the world and the worst idea in the world at the same time. Fortunately the good ideas outweighed the bad, at least on that first record. The grooves of RATM with the soulful, powerful belting of Cornell proved to be a lightning in the bottle moment. When they hit they hit strong, but the power quickly fizzled for me. “Show Me How To Live” was that band’s shining moment. Pure power and hooks. It was the best thing Cornell had done in years.

I was lucky enough to see Chris Cornell live twice. The first time was August of 1993 at the World Music Theater in Chicago. Soundgarden and Blind Melon opened for Neil Young who was doing both acoustic and electric sets. Seeing Soundgarden live was unreal. They were so powerful on the stage. Cornell hit every note while also expertly playing rhythm guitar. Neil Young was amazing, but Soundgarden were breathtaking, even in a mere 40 minute set. The next time I saw Cornell was in October of 1995 in Indianapolis with Audioslave. Again, amazing show. His voice started out a little rough, but by the time they closed the night out with Rage’s “Killing In The Name Of” he sounded absolutely incredible. One of the best concerts I’d ever seen.

Chris Cornell as a guy seemed like he was pretty down to earth. He had struggles with drugs and alcohol and made it through the other side. He was interviewed by Marc Maron a few years ago on Maron’s podcast and it was an enlightening conversation. He seemed very humble about the mark he’d made on the world, almost uncomfortable about it. In that respect he seemed very punk rock. He liked his privacy and he’d follow the musical muse wherever she led, whether fans dug it or not. He was a pretty funny guy, too. Soundgarden covered Cheech and Chong and Spinal Tap in the past. They also covered plenty of their influences over the years; from Devo to Black Sabbath to the Beatles to Sly and the Family Stone to the Doors. He was as much a fan as he was a music titan.

Don’t know the circumstances behind Chris Cornell’s passing, and frankly it doesn’t matter. We’ve lost one of the best rock and roll voices to emerge in the last 30 years. No one belts it like Chris Cornell. Nobody.

Go spin Badmotorfinger a few times today in honor of the man. I’m looking Indiana, and feeling kinda bummed.

Stuntman : A Few Words On My Friend Mark Hutchins

I woke up to the news that one of my good friends was dead. Before coffee, before the full brunt of the new day had come into focus, before I’d even put on socks I sat in my chair and saw posts on social media from friends and acquaintances talking of a great loss in our part of the universe. My friend, musical brother, and fellow curmudgeonly middle-aged dad Mark Hutchins is gone. No more emails, no more messages, no more shared cups of coffee at Sweetwater Music, and no more collaborations with a man I considered as much a big brother as a friend who happened to be a songwriting genius.

I’ve known Mark for close to 8 years now. Back in 2009 he reached out to me via Myspace(remember that?) We both had music accounts on there, him for his bands Vandolah and New Pale Swimmers, and me for Goodbyewave. Mark knew me from the many CDs I’d sent in to local magazine Whatzup for review. It was a big deal around here to get your DIY-produced album in the pages of Whatzup, and especially when DM Jones gave you a glowing review. DM Jones was the nom de plume of Mark Hutchins when he was in music journalist mode. He’d reviewed four of my CDs from 2006 to 2009, and finally reached out to me with nothing but words of encouragement in the summer of 2009. I was in awe, as I’d heard Vandolah and was blown away by their album Please. Mark was as much a storyteller as a songwriter, and his songs were homes for characters as diverse as stuntmen, lovelorn, and of course the disenfranchised and misunderstood. I think in his heart of hearts Hutchins truly wanted to be a writer of stories, as opposed to a writer of songs. He had a knack for painting these vivid pictures, accompanied by beautifully ornamented music.

Yeah, and this guy was sending me a message telling me he loved my work. Jesus.

This began a long distance friendship and collaboration that continued up to just last year. He asked me if I’d ever want to contribute to his songs. He worked alone at home and would love to have me add some of my musical ideas. I ended up contributing to nearly every album he put out from 2009 to 2016. The first was a song called “First Off The Moon” from his first proper solo album Sleepy Furnace. I played piano on that song. I don’t really know how to play piano, but I played piano just the same. I had an opportunity to collaborate with this mountain of a local music legend and I couldn’t let him down. Mark was pretty open to whatever I’d throw his way and he’d work it in one way or another in the tracks. When I’d write a song of my own he was one of the first people I’d send a file to. I wanted him to like what I was doing. His opinion mattered greatly to me.

Outside of music we became sounding boards to each other for our disenchantment with politics, religion, music trends, and just about everything else that bugged us as middle-aged guys trying to get by in the world. We also bonded over Kurt Vonnegut, Wilco, musical toys, 4-track cassette recording, DIY aesthetics, and being dads. Mark was 6 years older than me, which put him at the same age as my older brother. That age difference, along with my adoration for the guy’s talent and his biting Midwest wit, put him more in line as a long distance big brother than musical peer. I never saw myself even close to his level of ability. I was somewhere on the map. Somewhere in my own little musical world while Mark locked into the earth’s vibrations and connected on some other human level which, I think, may have been eating away at him a little more year by year.

In all the time I’ve known Mark, I’m not sure I ever got to really know him. There always seemed to be an invisible wall that followed him around, keeping folks a safe distance away. He always seemed to be inside his own head even when in conversations(though he was a good conversationalist.) He wasn’t much for social gatherings and chit chat. Despite being a powerhouse behind a mic and an acoustic guitar(and he reveled in putting hecklers in their place), he was a quiet guy and would prefer to keep to himself. I don’t know what it was he struggled with, but I know there was a dark cloud that followed him. He dealt with it the best he could, but not without his share of wounds. Not without his share of hurt.

Photo by Duane Eby

There’s not much more I can say other than I’m saddened by the passing of my friend. Mark was a musician I admired and will continue to admire. But more than that he was a friend. Someone I could relate to as a working class clock puncher, a father, a guy struggling to make sense of the world, and as a human being. Someone who I could get sound advice from. Someone who could talk Tweedy and Turkel. Vic Chesnutt and Kurt Vonnegut.

You will be greatly missed Mark. So it goes.

Jaki’s Groove

It feels a little disingenuous of me to sit here and wax ecstatic about an artist I don’t really know that much about. In fact, my knowledge only covers three albums he played on. And those three albums have only been rummaging around in my head for the past 6 years or so. I admit it, I was a late bloomer when it comes to Can and Jaki Leibezeibt and during my formative years I had no idea who Can were. But I’m of the mindset that you never miss out on great art. You just come to it when it’s the right time for you. The right time for me was early 2011. That was when I first discovered Jaki’s amazing drumming on Tago Mago, which to my ears was pretty groundbreaking music for a rock band in the early 70s. His playing on that album personally influenced me to explore musically on my own and in my own art. His drum beats felt like loops, as they were perfectly formed throughout the song, no matter how long that song may have been. A truly free-spirited musician that pushed the boundaries of what a modern rock drummer could be. – J. Hubner

Jaki Liebezeit, drummer for the prolific Krautrock band Can passed away on January 22nd. He was 78.

I think it’s an understatement to say Liebezeit was one of the key parts to the genius of Can. I know his drumming is what first attracted me to them. I didn’t discover Can till I was nearly 40 years old. I’d always heard the name. They have been an inspiration and influence on a who’s who of rock bands, including The Fall, David Bowie, Talking Heads and Radiohead to name a few. But on a whim in 2011 I decided to jump into Tago Mago head first and see what would happen. What happened was a Krautrock christening that changed me for good. Damo Suzuki’s nonsense scream/sing style, Michael Karoli’s psychedelic blues guitar licks and Irmin Schmidt’s space-y keys sounded more space age than 1971 post-hippy comedown. But the rhythm section of drummer Jaki Liebezeibt and bassist Holger Czukay is what won me over. They locked into a seriously heady groove on every track of Tago Mago. They seemed to pull the album out of any sort of time stamp and made that whole record this timeless groove-heavy and heady freak out.

fullsizerender-6Liebezeibt especially felt like this constant force. His playing was a mix of tribal beats, slow-churning funk, and impressive foot work. There’s a treasure trove of break beats on that album that Jaki Liebezeit created, but not with the intention of giving future DJs such great funky fodder to work with. No, his intention was to lay down the groundwork for the rest of the band to explore. He basked in the trance-like funk while the rest of Can blew minds. You don’t succeed with a track like “Halleluwah” unless your confident in your skills. At over 18 minutes in length you gotta have both skills and confidence to keep an audience entranced. That song is like James Brown on quaaludes in space. The foundation is set by Liebezeit and Czukay to rocket minds into interstellar space and they succeed.

After falling hard for Tago Mago I ended up finding copies of Ege Bamyasi and Future Days. I feel that those, along with Tago Mago, are the quintessential Krautrock records, which Jaki Liebezeibt played a huge part of that. His style was powerful but sexy. Like John Bonham with scruples. A mixture of Tony Williams and Bernard Purdie with a heavy dose of rock and roll abandon.

A groove was found and it was tore up.

fullsizerender-7I wasn’t a lifelong fan, but I’ll be a fan till I no longer have life(that sounds morbid, I know.) We’ve yet lost another great, and one that should have been more well known. So I’ll spin Tago Mago in Jaki Liebezeibt’s honor. When it’s over, I’ll spin it again just for good measure.

No Plan

Tomorrow, January 10th, David Bowie will have been gone a year. His boundless creativity and hats-a-plenty that he wore through his nearly 50 year career boxed up and shoved away into the back of the closet. His last gift to the world of the living was Blackstar, a beautiful and haunting record about mortality and finding peace with where life stops you, was truly a definitive “period” at the end of the paragraph that was not only the character of David Bowie, but the man David Jones. I’m sure had cancer not caught up with him we’d be looking forward to yet another David Bowie release. Or maybe a Tony award for his performance in the Broadway show Lazarus.

We’ll never know.

As is the case when an artist passes while still very much active, creative, and making what put them in the spotlight in the first place, David Bowie has some unreleased works stocked up. Some of these works have been released as the No Plan EP. These were songs that had been recorded during the Blackstar sessions and were included on the Lazarus S/T. The first track, “No Plan”, is a beautiful and moving song that seems to embody the same spirit of finding peace with what you’ve done and accomplished at the inevitable end. Lines like “I’m lost in screens of sound”, “All of the things that are my life”, and “Here is my place without a plan” embody the headspace of a man at peace with what’s coming. There’s a melancholy lean for sure, but Mr. Jones is ready for whatever is coming.

I suppose we can take solace in that. If the man given the death sentence is singing up till the end of his life, then there’s no reason for the rest of us to continue mourning the loss. We should celebrate the gifts left behind.

Right?

Carrie Fisher

Carrie Fisher, umm,…I mean Princess Leia was my first crush. I saw Star Wars in 1978 when it had come back to play in theaters after a monster run the year before. I was 4 years old and the movie made an indelible mark on my psyche. At that young of age I felt the gamut of emotions one doesn’t usually come to understand until much later in life. The whole idea of the “damsel in distress” thing hadn’t completely sunk in to me prior to this point, but after seeing Luke, Han, Chewbacca, Obi-Wan, C3P0, and R2D2’s gallant rescue of the Princess from Alderaan I felt my head open up to a whole other world. But Princess Leia wasn’t some wallflower waiting for some space stud to sweep her off her feet. She was a beautiful and tough-as-nails gal that was in the thick of a fight that may very well kill her, but she didn’t care.

dsc05120Carrie Fisher played Princess Leia with both a sly wit and an open heartedness. She came across both as this unattainable beauty and as the girl next door that would come over to babysit you when your parents went out for drinks on Friday night. Star Wars was an obsession of mine(I know join the club, right?) from that first viewing of Star Wars in the summer of 1978 till 1984 when GI Joe and Transformers took more precedent and real estate in my closet and brain. While the swashbuckling adventures, the spaceships, laser guns, lightsabers, Jedi mind tricks, and sensory overload battle scenes were enough to stick around for, it was the characters that kept me wanting. They kept me emotionally invested in the story. Carrie Fisher was a big part of that for me. I wouldn’t say I obsessed over her, but yeah, I obsessed over her. I was part of the Star Wars Fan Club. I remember getting patches, the famed ‘Revenge of the Jedi’ movie poster, and my most prized possession, an autographed 5×7 photo of Carrie Fisher in Hoth attire. It was signed “Galactically Yours, Carrie Fisher”. My mom gave me a little gold frame to put it in and it sat on my desk for years. Of course, it wasn’t really signed personally by her, but it was the thought that counted. I also remember being quite jealous of Paul Simon for marrying her.

I tried to watch everything Carrie Fisher was in after Star Wars. I watched The Blues Brothers on TV and when she appeared as Belushi’s ex trying to kill him all I wanted to see was her. Then at the end when he leaves her behind all I could think was “You fool!!” She was also in Under The Rainbow with Chevy Chase. I sat through that at 8 years old because of her. The Man With One Red Shoe, Hannah and her Sisters, The ‘Burbs, and Drop Dead Fred were all movies I was excited to see Carrie Fisher in. Hell, even as an adult I was thrilled to see her in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery. 

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Watercolor by Shane Darin Page

Of course, Fisher was far more than just a Princess in a galaxy far, far, away. She was human with human problems. Addiction, mental health issues, and growing up with famous parents can’t be all that easy. But she also possessed this amazing mind and ability to write beautifully. She was very candid about her life and wrote about it freely. Her wit and smarts shined through in her books and in her appearances in 30 Rock, Weeds, Robot Chicken, and The Big Bang Theory. She was a person not to be trifled with, possessing a Dorothy Parker-like razor wit and though she did suffer from typecasting from Star Wars, she never let it control her and stop her from doing what she wanted.

I may not be that little kid with butterflies in his stomach every time Carrie Fisher, umm….I mean Princess Leia appears on the screen, but I’m still pretty devastated at the thought that she’s gone. We’re lacking in sly wit and open heartedness as of late. I hope wherever the Princess is, she’s found some peace.