88th Annual Oscars Fails To Go Beyond Black And White



I know I’m a little late to the party as the Oscars were televised from La-La Land 4 days ago, but that’s because I’ve been digesting the show and how I’m going to go about writing this little op-ed of a blog. I’ve decided not to focus or really mention Chris Rock’s performance as host nor the jokes and bits that either soared or flopped. Instead I want to talk about what could have been and how the Academy body, Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs and Oscar producers David Hill and Reginald Hudlin missed the mark.

“As The Great Actor Leslie Odom Jr. Sings And Dances In The Game Changing Broadway Musical HAMILTON, ‘I WANNA BE IN THE ROOM WHERE IT HAPPENS! People, the truth is we ain’t in those rooms and until MINORITIES are, the Oscar nominees will remain lilly white” – Award-winning filmmaker and activist, Spike Lee

Spike Lee is someone who gets the problem. The severe lack of minorities in power roles in the Hollywood system is disgraceful, and I’ll say the same for women. But the key word that Lee used is “minorities” and minorities does not mean just black people. I’m not sure if Lee was using the word in a context that evokes just black people, but I’m going to expand it to include all minorities (including women because in Hollywood, women are a minority). That’s where the problem lies.

Where was the outrage when Benicio del Toro was “snubbed” for his haunting role in Sicario or for Oscar Isaac’s excellet performance in Ex Machina? Do Latin Americans not count if/when they get snubbed by the Academy? Where’s the outrage over the continued stereotypes of Middle Easterners as terrorists? Where’s the outrage over the utter lack of Asians in Hollywood? Of Indians? Of Native Americans? That’s what the Oscars should have recognized. Instead they made the show about the snubbing of black artists like Idris Elba and Michael B. Jordan who both gave Oscar-worthy performances in Beasts of No Nation and Creed, respectively.

Cheryl Boone Isaacs did the right thing in addressing the lack of diversity when it comes to Oscar nominations by inviting more minorities and women to become voting members and sweeping out older white men with little to no current connection to film – the kind of voters that wouldn’t see Straight Outta Compton (which I saw and liked but did not think was Oscar w0rthy – Inside Out, Sicario, Creed, Beasts of No Nation, Ex Machina and more were better films in my opinion ). But she failed to collaborate with the producers and Rock to create the correct narrative during the show, because what DID come out is that this is simply a black/white issue. It’s not.

Outside of a few recipients and presenters, most people at the 88th Academy Awards stuck to the black/white script which ironically was extremely exclusive, just what Al Sharpton and Jada Pinkett Smith were boycotting. Boone Isaacs, Hill, Hudlin and Rock had a chance to create a much more inclusive show, one that satirized Hollywood’s extreme lack of diversity when it comes to all minorities and women – the fact that you have to go back to 2006 to find an Asian nominated for an Academy Award (Rinko Kikuchi for Babel) and 1984 to find an Asian who won (Haing S. Ngor for The Killing Fields); and 2011 since a Latin American was nominated in an acting category (Bérénice Bejo for The Artist) and 2009 for a win (Penélope Cruz for Vicki Cristina Barcelona); and 1999 for a Native American nominee (Graham Greene for Dances With Wolves – a Native American has never won) is quite the story and bigger than the Idris Elba, Michael B. Jordan and Will Smith snubs this year. In fact, there have been more black nominees since 1990 (39) than there have been Asians and Latin and Native American nominees combined (11). That’s the narrative. It’s not just white vs. black; it’s white vs. all minorities.

And that is where the show failed. That is where Boone Isaacs, Hill, Hudlin and Rock failed. While trying to be inclusive, the show wound up being exclusive to all minorities outside of blacks. At one point Rock said, “And the should have been nominated, Michael B. Jordan” upon introducing Jordan. Why no “And the should have been nominated Benicio del Toro”? Why didn’t the show acknowledge the great work of The Revenant‘s Native American actors? When the cameras cut to those Native American performers sitting in the audience once Leo DiCaprio began speaking about climate change, they seemed like symbols instead of actors. Rock’s bits and jokes could have easily included ones about all minorities. During the bit in which black actors appeared in Best Picture nominees, how funny would it have been to see George Takei in The Martian or Sofia Vergara negotiating terms in Bridge of Spies? That’s what I mean by inclusive.

This year’s show left me with a bad taste in my mouth because it was such a missed opportunity. Let’s see what happens when the acting nominations come out for the 89th Academy Awards. Maybe by then we’ll have more talk of equal pay for women and black activists will protest the snubbing of all minorities. Perhaps the studios will hire more minorities and women thereby “getting them in the room” as Spike Lee said. And let’s hope we see more minorities and women in powerful roles because really, couldn’t most lead characters in any movie be filled by actors of any color without it affecting the script?

Now that sounds like a pretty good narrative.

Dad 2.016, Depression and Realization

10 guys sat around a boxed in fire outside the Mandarin Oriental DC’s bar drinking, laughing, talking, reminiscing. Across the twinkling Potomac River sat the Jefferson Memorial’s glowing dome, a doppelgänger to the full moon in the sky. Despite the slight chill, Zach Rosenberg warmed the group with his always racy jokes.

There was an open space by the fire calling to me, but instead I took a chair, dragged it behind Jeff Bogle and essentially cut myself off from this group of guys that I might not see for another year. At one point Jeff turned around and was surprised to see me sitting there. The conversation grew lively, grins appearing on everyone’s faces but mine. More people arrived and someone filled that space that had been calling to me. I sat and I went deep inside myself to the point where friendly voices sounded muted and my irrational mind screamed.

“You don’t deserve to be here!”

“You’re an effing loser! A coward!”

“No one’ll miss you if you go to your room. Just go! Just go already!”

I recognized the self-sabatoge, but felt powerless against it. I looked around at the little groups of Dad 2.016 attendees enjoying the last few hours before everyone spread out across the country and wrote about how wonderful the conference was. There was one other group outside and at least 3 inside at the bar. I was surrounded by people who knew me, applauded me 2 years ago, believed in me, and yet I felt utterly alone.

The Dad 2.0 Summit is a wonderful event filled with informative panels and roundtables, exciting keynote speakers, exceptionally kind brand spokespeople, contests, amazing blog spotlight readers and trips to places like rural Virginia to fly $1700 drones thanks to Best Buy and 3DR and to the Smithsonian at night where you could have liquid nitrogen ice cream and build with blocks thanks to LEGO. And because this year’s conference was held in Washington, DC, my best friend since second grade joined in and got to see what I’ve been talking about for the past 3 years. It should have been one of the best times of my life, but as it too often happens, my depression got in the way.


Flying a seriously expensive drone in rural Virginia thanks to Best Buy and 3DR



With Oscar, my friend since 2nd grade, at the Smithsonian courtesy of LEGO








This was the first year I didn’t speak at the conference and while I didn’t have to deal with the stress of reading in front of hundreds of people or setting up a panel, the anxiety related to not being intimately connected, not being a part of the inner workings, got to me. Before leaving for DC I felt scared that I’d feel disconnected because I was a “lowly attendee.” Stupid, I know. Ridiculous. Irrational. But that’s what depression can do. I asked for advice from friends and everyone said to enjoy not feeling the pressure to perform, enjoy just walking around and taking everything in, enjoy talking to fellow dad bloggers that I only see online. So I tried. I really tried. But I still felt like less of a person because my badge read “attendee” instead of “speaker.” Still, I promised myself I’d do my best and I did. I had a blast at the Best Buy drone excursion even though we got stuck in some serious traffic on the way back. Igave and received hugs at the welcome party. I didn’t go out that first night as I’d barely slept, so I crashed, but not before I made a promise to be strong and talkative and relaxed. And not before I cracked up that I was staying in room 666. I couldn’t have asked for anything better.


Room 666!!!!

I was fine until Brad Meltzer, best-selling author and the creator of a wonderful children’s book series in which he brings to life historical people like Martin Luther King, Jr., Abraham Lincoln, Amelia Earhart and more as ordinary children with fantastic dreams and actions like standing up to bullies, delved into his opening keynote address. Mr. Meltzer’s words hit me hard, so hard that I teared up and had to leave the room. He essentially hit 2 of my biggest triggers – work and legacy. My family stressed work so hard growing up that I still have difficulty defining success. Is it money? Job title? A big house? My irrational brain says yes. My irrational brain ignores my wife, my daughter, my blog, my producing a show about ordinary people and mental illness called This Is My Brave NYC. My irrational brain tells me I have no money. I live in a tiny apartment. I’m too dependent on my parents. I’m not a VP or a VIP. I’m a failure. And my legacy? Mr. Meltzer spoke to how legacy is about your family and the people you’ve touched just as my therapist and psychiatrist have told me, just as my friends have tried to pound into my brain, but even the word “legacy” is a gut punch because I stubbornly insist that legacy is about being remembered for something extraordinary. Steve Jobs has a legacy. Albert Einstein has a legacy. Brad Meltzer has a legacy. He’s a published and celebrated author. What am I? I stumbled outside and cried and eventually got up the courage to ask Mr. Meltzer if I could speak with him more. He did email me and I did email him back, but I’m waiting for a reply. So I took the time to visit sponsors like Kidde where I was timed while putting on fireman gear and Lee Jeans which is always my favorite booth. They’re so nice there and they remember me. But I had an ulterior motive as well. I needed to get my passport punched by each sponsor if I were to be eligible for a prize at the end of the summit and I made sure I did so because I felt like I HAD to win lest I not be recognized. Again…depression…the mind going to the most ridiculous extremes.


“When you die your resume fades, but what you do for others, that’s your legacy” – Brad Meltzer. I wish I could just implant this sentence in my brain

While I did enjoy introducing my best friend around, I felt a vibe that I wasn’t wanted by my fellow dad bloggers, one that was clearly in my head. Perhaps it was the emotion of the loss of our beloved Oren Miller, a good friend and a dad blogger pioneer, to cancer, and the courage it took for his wife, Beth, to stand in front of 415 people and read a letter Oren wrote to himself when he was 37 but would never get to read. I think I took some people’s sadness and made it about myself – something else at which depression’s a master. So I purposely stayed away from some of my most important friends and supporters because I felt like they didn’t want to talk to me when it’s quite possible they were grieving for Oren. I grieved too, of course. I cried as Beth read the letter. I miss the hell out of Oren. But I felt confused and scared by the vibe and I avoided certain people.


Beth courageously reads a letter from the late Oren Miller

The most amazing part of the conference to me was DadSlam, the brainchild of John Kinnear. It was an after hours session in which people put their names in a hat and once their names were called, they read a piece – humorous, emotional, vulnerable, whatever. As I means to support John, I was the first to put my name in the hat. DadSlam was an enormous success. Standing room only. Doug announced it would be an annually thing. I listened to each person. I laughed. I teared up. And I waited for my name to be called because each time it wasn’t, my anxiety ratcheted up. I needed to read lest I be forgotten. My name was never called. Depression told me I was a failure despite the randomness of the names. Depression told me people would forget me…abandon me. And despite logically knowing my brain was wrong, I listened. It became about me, not about John’s success. I was and am thrilled for John, but at the time, it was all about me. Depression is a narcissistic, selfish disease and I hate it!


David Vienna, flask in hand, leads the was at the inaugural DadSlam conceived by John Kinnear

At one point Michael Strahan took the stage thanks to Meta Health. As I Giants fan, I couldn’t have been more excited. I sat and took pictures and listened to Mr. Strahan talk football and fatherhood and heart health and when I sensed the end of the session, I walked quickly to the edge of the stairs and kind of ambushed Mr. Strahan into taking a selfie with me. He didn’t look happy about it, but he did it.


Me with Michael Strahan thanks to Meta Health

Selfies. That’s another thing. I promised myself I’d take tons of selfies this year with all of my friends. I took two, one with Michael Strahan, and one with my sister (who kindly came down to visit me while I was out to dinner on the last night) and a few dad bloggers because I felt below everyone else. I played the comparison game more than I ever have before. When I learned that certain bloggers were chosen to do one-on-ones with Mr. Strahan, it killed me. This despite two of them offering to try to get Mr. Strahan to autograph my hat (he didn’t). When one of those bloggers told me he couldn’t tell me about it because he was sworn to secrecy, I felt like an ant, just an unimportant, useless ant. Shakily, I went into the panel about the secrets of PR to listen to Beau Coffren, Jim Lin, Barbara Jones and my good friend, Justin Aclin. As I sat there trying to understand everything, I finally got up the courage to raise my hand as ask if those in PR had a go-to list for dad bloggers (one I know I’m not on). It was an uncomfortable question, and the affirmative answer made it even more so. I asked how to get myself on that list and was told “engagement” which I didn’t understand. When the panel ended, Kyle Circle from Weave Media came over and tried to explain engagement, but I broke down. All of the pressure I’d put on myself came flooding out in tears. I went all the way back to my childhood. All the way back to when I first felt abandoned by my dad when my sister was born (as always, my dad is not like that anymore). The dam burst. I cried about my obstinate, immature view of success. I cried about how much I hate myself. Jeff Bogle and Jason Greene came in and tried to talk me down and eventually they did because they’re such good friends. But my breakdown made us miss the majority of the final keynote speaker, Derreck Kayongo, a man who went through so much personal hardship yet still retains a positive attitude.

Which brings me back to that final night. Stars twinkling on the Potomac. A fire in a box. Guys talking and laughing. Not just guys, my friends. I sat hidden in my chair and thought about abandonment and fear and depression and anxiety and I fought to get up…just get up and go sit down amongst my brothers. But I didn’t. Instead I gave in. I let the irrational part of my brain win. I said my goodbyes and returned to my room.

Dad 2.0 is about community. I’ve written before about the lessons I’ve learned from the summit, how I’ve found my tribe, but this year I let my depression take control. I guess the big takeaway is that I recognized it as it was happening. Next year I’ll be stronger. When Dad 2.0 invades San Diego, I won’t be so complacent. I’ll fight harder. And even if I don’t win, I’ll ask for the help of my dad blogger brothers.

And I’ll take lots of selfies.


My one other selfie from the conference – from left – me. Carter Gaddis, Jeff Bogle, Nick Dawson and my awesome sister, Allyson Jaffe

6 Things That Could Lead To Toddlergeddon

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Toddlers may look cute, but en masse, they could end the world

Toddlers are amazing creatures. They’re all emotion and zero logic. They are selfish, wonderful, exasperating, cute, hilarious, crazy, imaginative beings that could very well bring about the end of the world. Here are 6 things that could very well lead to TODDLERGEDDON!

1) Elevator Buttons – All toddlers must press the elevator button. If there are 2 toddlers and you try to negotiate that one press the outside button and the other the inside button, screaming matches may occur because their fingers are almost magnetically drawn to that tiny, little button that wields more power than even a Jedi can master. Considering that a horde of toddlers will race to press the elevator button leading to gloating, crying, screeching and waterfalls of tears, imagine if toddlers had access to the real button!

2) Boxes – Toddlers are like cats when it comes to boxes – they must jump inside and claim their territory. After we took out our little Christmas tree, Sienna wanted to play with the box, but we said no because we didn’t want it to get damaged (and lord knows that most boxes don’t survive after a toddler encounter). A tantrum ensued. Tears. Bawling. Throwing things. “I WANT THE BOX” over and over and over! My wife and I gave her an offer we figured she couldn’t refuse. She could A) play with the box and throw out all of her toys including the precious scarf that rarely leaves her side or B) keep all of her toys and her scarf and just let the box go. Sienna chose A! Wailing, she placed her scooter in the garbage room. She gathered up toys and put them in a basket to throw away. Shockingly, she went so far as to THROW HER BELOVED SCARF DOWN THE GARBAGE CHUTE!! (Luckily I caught it in time and later, when she calmed down, we pretended that I went downstairs and found it before they took it away). Toddlers are stubborn – ridiculously obstinate. Lesson learned…boxes can lead to Earth’s destruction if left up to toddlers.

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An exhausted Sienna after nearly throwing her scarf away over a box. I don’t know why Snoopy’s in a “Blair Witch” position

3) Toys – Piggybacking on boxes, toys hold that magic power that forces toddlers to fight even if they don’t really want to play with said toy. Billy here might be playing with some truck and suddenly, toddlers descend on him from all directions wanting to play with that same toy even though there are a zillion other fun things with which to play throughout the room. At the toddler stage, the concept of sharing is still often forgotten and the concept of ownership has yet to set in. Regardless, what is so magical about that one toy? They want it. They need it. They must grab it out of Billy’s hands leaving poor Billy in a pool of tears. Then they’ll drop it and go play with something else. One single toy might cause a toddler uprising that we parents will not be able to control. Next thing we know Obama’s been thrown into a bunker as toddler chaos envelops the world because of a red block.

4) Candy – Oh boy. Candy is like an elixir to toddlers. Ears prick up when they hear the opening of a wrapper. Eyes fill with purpose and determination upon viewing a tiny piece of chocolate. Have you ever opened a lollipop only to have twenty toddlers rush you asking, begging, pleading, DEMANDING one as well? I could throw the lollipop on the ground and watch a literal feeding frenzy and those that miss out on the coveted confection would stand up, bruised, battered, bitten, bloodied and turn their devil eyes to you like the kids in Children of the Corn. And the one that did get the lollipop? Now she’s hopped up on sugar! What if they rebel? What if they realize just how much candy is available? We adults would have no chance against toddler swarms in search of candy – that is until they ask us to open it for them.

5) Colors – It doesn’t matter what the object is – clothes, toys, food, cups – if a toddler sees another toddler using something blue, every other toddler in the world will want that same blue object and they’ll fight to get it. They’ll whine. They’ll cry. They’ll try to steal the object out of the initial toddler’s hands. They will not listen to things like, “Your plate is the same blue color as Tommy’s” or “You know, you have this nice purple popsicle…let Norah have the orange one.” Reason doesn’t exist once a toddler has his eyes set on a certain color. They’ll scream and cry until their faces turn blue and ours turn red from frustration and anger. We must be strong against colors. We must be prepared. Because World War III just might break out while we’re still trying to understand why our kids must have that blue plate!

6) Blowing Out Birthday Cake Candles – All toddlers come running when it’s time to blow out the candles on a birthday cake. You can feel their bodies tense as they try to get close enough to extinguish those little flames. They’re like deer…ready to jump at any moment. You know they’d tear each other apart if we didn’t hold them back. Is it their birthday cake? Does it matter? Just look at the picture below. See how they’re all eyeing the candles with such grit and obsession. If we’re not careful with our birthday candles, we could have a full-on battle royale on our hands.


Sienna and others eying candles on a birthday cake.

These are just but 6 things associated with toddlerhood that could lead to Toddlergedon, that could end the world if we’re not careful, patient, logical parents who take the time to explain about sharing, ownership, time and taking turns. We must be strong. We can’t let the tears and whines wear us down. We must be diligent, yet soft in our explanations. Sometimes we must let the actions play out before we can make our moves, but we can’t let the actions spread because there could be a time when every single toddler in the world wants that one orange piece of cloth and once that happens, we’re doomed. It will be…TODDLERGEDDON!

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What toddlers might look like during Toddl

What other ludicrous things do your toddlers covet and fight about? I’d love to hear your stories!

Daddies Don’t Cry!!

That’s what my near 4-yr-old daughter said as I lay under three blankets, teeth chattering, body involuntarily shaking, but still unable to feel my legs. It had been approximately 45 minutes since I finished digging my car out of three feet of snow thanks to winter storm (aka blizzard) Jonas. I stupidly skipped both breakfast and water in my stubbornness to get the car free. I just put on my coat, hat and gloves, grabbed a shovel and waded my way through giant snow drifts. And then I set to work, back and forearms aching, hands going numb. At times I’d stop to breathe and look at how much left I had to do and wanted to scream obscenities at the snow gods. I continuously wiped sweat from my brow and ignored my throat’s begging for fresh, cool water. I didn’t even think to grab a handful of snow and down it.

Hours later I’d freed the car, but parking was nonexistent. Ideally I could stay in my spot for the next few days but I’d have garnered a pile of those infuriating NYC orange parking tickets, so I took the car out and drove around and around and around looking for somewhere to leave my car. I called my parents who live in the next town over and they suggested I leave the car at their place for a bit and when ready, they’d drive me home if the conditions remained hazardous. Serendipitously, Elaine and Sienna had come down to play in the snow right when I’d finally dug myself out so they were right there when I got the invite. Elaine and Sienna piled into the car and we made our way to my parents’ house, something I barely remember. Actually, I barely recall much after that.

According to Elaine I complained of being dizzy. She’d brought a KIND bar with her because she knew I hadn’t eaten and after getting me out of my winter-wear and leading me to the couch, I chomped down the KIND bar and drank some water, but I still didn’t feel right. I remember the room spinning a bit. I remember my mom and Elaine talking about a sudden drop in blood sugar and the need for orange juice but is was like listening through walls of cotton. I don’t remember drinking it or where my dad or Sienna were playing. Apparently after drinking the juice, my teeth suddenly started chattering ferociously and I got the shakes. I lay down on the couch and they covered me with blankets. Later Elaine said my fingernail beds were blue and that I was showing signs signs of hypothermia. They pulled off my wet jeans and placed warming packs on my feet and shins which felt like blocks of ice. I must have been making pathetic sounds because this is where I recall Sienna saying, “Daddies DON’T cry!!” It sounded far away but it penetrated straight through my spasming, icy body right to my heart.

You see, as someone with depression and anxiety, I’ve cried in front of Sienna before and each time I’ve done my absolute best to explain the sadness, the tears rolling down my face. I’ve explained how there’s a boo-boo in my head causing these emotions. I’ve let her watch me take my many medications. She stays with my mom every Wednesday while I see my therapist. I’ve spent so much time trying to explain my disease and why it makes me melancholy and panicky, causes extreme chest pain and sometimes forces me to bed, and that moms and dads are human, that moms and dads can cry, that that comment’s stuck with me ever since I stupidly walked out the door with a shovel, but no food or water.

Where did she hear that? Did she tell one of her classmates that she saw me cry and the reaction was shock and disdain? Teasing even? Or did someone just come out with it during class?

“Daddies don’t cry!!”

Daddies DO cry even if they don’t have depression. It’s time we shatter that myth.

That’s why I like Keith Negley’s bold picture book, Tough Guys (Have Feelings Tooso much. It’s a beautifully illustrated children’s book that shows male superheroes, wrestlers, bikers, ninjas in poses showing sadness, fear and other emotions completely in contrast with their “macho” images.



I’m not macho. I don’t outwardly look like any of the figures portrayed in Mr. Negley’s book. The closest I’ve ever come to being “macho” is doing a fairly good imitation of the late, great Randy “Macho Man” Savage. I show fear, frustration and depression along with love, happiness (when I can) and joy (again, when I can). I don’t smile nearly enough and that’s something I need to work on along with all of the other things on which I’m working during therapy. But there’s one thing I do know – all dads (and moms) have emotions. Dads get scared. Dads get sad. Dads fall into the trap of feeling like they’re not living up to the stereotype of being tough enough for their kids. And that’s where the brilliance of Mr. Negley’s final page comes into play:


Regardless of exterior ALL dads share the same emotions as their kids. Children need to understand this. It doesn’t matter if you’re a a 6’4″ father covered with tattoos and a huge shaggy beard or an average 5’8″ schlub like me. We all experience strong emotions of sadness, fear and anger. None of us is too tough to shed tears, especially dads with diseases such as depression. But most importantly, all of us dads love our children with an immeasurable devotion.

So to whoever told Sienna that daddies don’t cry and undermined everything I’ve tried to teach her about my disease and feelings, you’re wrong and I think Mr. Negley’s book needs to be part of your nighttime ritual.

Daddies do cry and it doesn’t make us weak or foolish or silly.

It makes us human.

How The Star Wars: The Force Awakens Hype Machine And Toys Hooked Me


I didn’t plan this. I didn’t plan to be salivating at the mere thought of seeing Star Wars: The Force Awakens. While I’ve always been a big Star Wars fan, I fall into the “Damn you, George Lucas!” category. Lucas let me down. First with the special editions in which he had to add in extra, poorly rendered CGI creatures and have Greedo shoot first and miss at point blank range (which to me altered Han Solo’s entire character arc – he loses some of his depth as an antihero. The “self-defense” thing changes Han from a smuggler willing to simply kill a guy [even if that guy was a bounty hunter], thanks the barkeep, and walks away and eventually transforms into a person willing to put his life on the line for Luke Skywalker and the rebellion). Then Lucas came out with the loathsome prequels that introduced one of the most irritating and racist movie characters ever  (Jar Jar Binks); bored us with trade regulation discussions; screwed up the logic of the original trilogy (Leia remembers her mother how if her mom died during childbirth?); murdered the mystery behind my favorite character, Boba Fett, by showing him as a little kid wanting revenge; eschewed the magic of actual sets, miniatures, puppet and costumed creatures and props for  CGI worlds, CGI characters, CGI overload; shows Anakin Skywalker’s fall – I mean split second change – to the dark side; and, of course, gave us such brilliant dialogue as:

Anakin Skywalker (to Padme): “I don’t like sand. It’s coarse and rough and irritating, and it gets everywhere. Not like here. Here everything’s soft… and smooth…

So yeah, I despised the prequels, but I could get over them if Lucas did one simple thing: release the original cuts on DVD and Blu-Ray. But he’s refused to. He believes it’s his work so he can tinker and destroy as much as he wants which I understand…it is his work, but it also belongs to the world. Steven Spielberg understood this when he re-released E.T. and digitally replaced guns with walkie-talkies. When it came time to release the new version of his classic on DVD, he gave us both versions. But George Lucas is stubborn and too often shows disdain for the fans of the universe he created. And that pulled me away from Star Wars, so when I heard Lucas sold his empire to Disney, I was thrilled because maybe we’d finally get the real original trilogy on Blu-Ray (hasn’t happened yet, but I hold out hope). Still I was antsy about a new film especially one including Han, Luke and Leia. I didn’t want to see an old Han Solo just like I didn’t want to see an old Indiana Jones (and we all know how Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull worked out). I learned J.J. Abrams planned to direct, but still I worried until I learned that the new droid, BB-8, was real – not CGI; that they hired The Empire Strikes Back screenwriter, Lawrence Kasdan, to help write the script; that they filmed on location instead of sound stages for the most part and built the iconic Millennium Falcon. The needle moved towards the excitement level.

And then the Disney hype machine won me over with this image:

chewie home

The hook became deeply embedded within my cheek and the line was pulling hard.

I’d already introduced Sienna to Star Wars, but now I  went into overdrive. I found my old Darth Vader carrying case in my parents’ attic and gave it to her while Elaine’s sister supplied her with Itty-Bitty’s of all the classic characters:

Vader Case


Star Wars Collage

I showed her clips from the original movies and told her I saw Star Wars in the theater when I was 4 and distinctly remember thinking Obi-Wan Kenobi was speaking directly to me when he was trying to get R2-D2 to emerge from the shadows. We got lightsabers and continue to have enormously fun battles. Sienna even wanted to carry a lightsaber with her for Halloween even though she was dressed as Princess Aurora. And all the while the Disney hype machine permeated all of existence. The toys. How I wanted the toys to share with Sienna and to play with myself. I still badly want that $150 Sphero BB-8 that you can control with your phone even though I had no idea if either the character or the movie would be good. I wanted it! Me!


I discovered the “Black Series” which consists of highly detailed figures and vehicles. I wanted the Chewbacca mask that howls and growls like a Wookie when you put it on (and lucky for me, Elaine bought it for me as a Hanukkah present). Yes…the hype’s made me feel like a kid again. I want to play with the toys and I’m so excited to share them with Sienna and show her the original trilogy (I don’t know if I can suffer through the prequels).

Star Wars: The Force Awakens has taken over the Internet and, well, the world. You can’t go 2 commercials without seeing some sort of tie-in and for once, it doesn’t matter to me. Bring on the old Han Solo. Bring on the old Luke Skywalker and Princess (I mean General) Leia. Bring on the struggle between the light and the dark side. Bring on C-3PO and R2-D2. Bring on the Millennium Falcon – you’ve been missed. And welcome to a new diverse universe with a black former stormtrooper, what seems to be a young, female hero, and the much-needed, glass ceiling breaking first female stormtrooper/villain in Captain Phasma played by Game of Thrones’ Gwendoline Christie (speaking of Game of Thrones, now that’s a show that took its cue from the original trilogy – actual sets, locations, costumes, props…those are the things that make a cinematic or televised world feel real.

You’ve won Star Wars: The Force Awakens hype machine, and I don’t mind in the slightest.

Now I just need to wait 31 more hours until we meet universe to face.