Guest contributor Lauren Milberger’s previous pieces for Travalanche have included essays on Gracie Allen and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Today she observes the 40th anniversary of the release of Star Wars with this tribute to the recently-passed Carrie Fisher.

“I don’t want my life to imitate art. I want my life to be art.” — Carrie Fisher

The day after Carrie Fisher passed away in December, and for subsequent days afterward, letters still flooded the U.K. newspaper The Guardian where Fisher had an advice column. Not because these people had no idea the actor/writer had just died, but because they thought maybe in some way Fisher could still reach out to them, just as her character Princess Leia had reached out when she was in need: “Obi-Wan Kenobi, you are my only hope.”

After its premiere in 1977, Star Wars became a surprise hit that not only changed the…

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My favorite part of last night’s Oscars was the most amazing song, This is Me. WOW, WOW, WOW!! What a wonderous anthem. Keala Settle who plays the bearded lady in The Greatest Showman has a powerhouse voice that gets you up on your feet with tears of triumphant in your eyes. Michael Gracey’s original movie musical is a must see. Songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul have hit a home run. Like most of us Keala had the bad habit of self-criticism saying, “I’ve always been the biggest bully to myself. No one can bully me better than me”. This song has helped her to kick insecurities out the door saying, “I learned not to give power to that doubt and that insecurity anymore. Everybody has those feelings. So it made me step up. That fight will always be something I struggle with, but each time I sing, it gets…

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A Little Weird

I’m a big fan of learning things. New things, old things, things that are beyond me. The one thing you keep learning as you learn things is that you can continue to learn things. For instance, I’ve been dabbling in physics since I was in my twenties. The term ‘dabble’ is fitting; my math skills are rudimentary and I still can’t quite grasp things that have to be described by math. I was in my forties before I finally figured out that geometry and algebra do, in fact, have a place in adult life. If you want to lay out a soft ball diamond and have it not look like a new Picasso-inspired sport, learn the relationship between the hypotenuse of a right triangle and the sides. Nobody likes it if the run from third base is sixty feet longer than the run to first base. Makes it hard to…

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Today is the birthday of the incomparable Jack Cassidy (1927-1976). Growing up in the 1970s, he was one of my favorite character actors. The idea of himself that he seems to have held (and that has been perpetuated by others), i.e. that he was living in the shadow of his wife Shirley Jones, has always been a bit perplexing to me as someone who saw him on television constantly, where he was always cheerful, witty, carefree,  and in possession of a larger-than-life, clearly defined public image. Cassidy was both ahead of, and behind his times. He adored John Barrymore (even played him in W.C. Fields and Me), though he unfortunately seemed to model his persona on late Barrymore: one part former thespian, one part drunken buffoon. Clearly talented, not just as a musical comedy star but as a dramatic actor (he won both a Tony and an Emmy)…

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March 3 is the anniversary of the release date of the hilarious W.C. Fields short The Fatal Glass of Beer (1933).

Classic comedy buffs cherish this film to a degree that you can scarcely imagine. Fields only made about a half dozen comedy shorts during his film career; most of his movies are features. Most of the shorts (like this one) were made for Mack Sennett and count among the Keystone founder’s very last films. Fields’ shorts were based on sketches he had originally presented in Broadway revues. Many of them slipped into the public domain in the 1960s and thus have gotten a good bit of play, originally on tv and then on home video. This little movie was one of my earliest exposures to the comedy of Fields, and was one of the first videeotapes I ever owned — I’ve probably seen it 50 times.

Further The Fatal Glass…

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