As I have mentioned more often than is really necessary, I liked Star Wars when I was a kid. I really, really liked it. And before Jedi came out and Vader was revealed to have a boiled-fish, soft-unripened-cheese, triangular, vulnerable under-helmet head, I was more scared of him than of just about anything else, which was unfortunate, because he lived in my closet.

I'm not sure why I decided he lived in my closet and not, say, in the equally sinister under-bed region of my room. But rule the Empire from my closet he did, and sometimes I could actually hear his breathing when I was trying to get to sleep and trying to ignore the fact that my closet had a door, and that doors both concealed things and could be opened by things that were concealed. Things with black-gloved hands that could mime-strangle people and actually cause them to die from strangulation.

Probably inspired by my mother's "don't be scared of earwigs because they can crawl into your brain and befriend you" story, I dealt with my terrible fear of Closet Vader by deciding that spending so much time in my closet had led to his observing me a great deal and to his realizing that I was a well-meaning, thoughtful, and decent young person. He had been lurking in my room in order to kill me, but after getting to know me, he just couldn't do it. Did he therefore leave my closet in order to return to a far-flung galaxy? No. He decided to live in my closet forever more and to protect me from the other forces that menaced me (centipedes, mostly, and something else I'll reveal next week).

What I find somewhat discouraging about my budding imaginative powers is that, as far as I can remember, I used them to save only myself. I don't think I imagined a fully reformed, child-protecting, Rebel-Alliance-embracing Vader. He was still pretty much evil and nasty and rebellion-crushing—I just made him make an exception for me. If I had it all to do over again, I would absolutely speak up for Admiral Motti.

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The other day, while combing the internet for corgi-fied movie posters and lists of foreign words that have no equivalent in English (did you know that the Germans have a word for "excess weight gained from emotional overeating" that translates literally as "grief bacon"? If you did not know that, were you truly alive until one sentence ago?), I came across a list called 48 Things That Will Make You Feel Old. This list inspired me a) to suspect I might be older than the person who compiled this list, and b) to remember the following three things that recently made me feel aged and "hey kids, did you realize there was a time before the internet when, if you wanted some good, old-fashioned corgied-up movie posters, you had to get scissors and paper and make them yourself"-y.

1) My niece, who was born when I was already basically an adult and is now in JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL, is maybe going to be playing the Ramones' "Blitzkrieg Bop" next year with the school band. A couple of things about that bother me. The thing I was proudest of in grade seven (besides my battered "journal" full of "poetry", obviously) was my Ramones t-shirt, which I purchased from a Yonge St. head shop (along with a t-shirt featuring a skull wearing an eye-patch that I have since tragically lost track of [the shirt, I mean, not the eye-patch]). I still have that Ramones t-shirt, which makes it twenty two years old. My Ramones t-shirt is nine years older than my niece. Also, when I was in grade seven, my music teacher (who looked almost exactly like James Taylor) made us sing songs like "One Tin Soldier" and "Big Yellow Taxi." They were roughly twenty years old when we sang them. When my niece performs "Blitzkrieg Bop" it will be thirty-seven years old. Of course, my music teacher was much older in relation to the release dates of his songs than I was in relation to "Blitzkrieg Bop", but still. If we'd sung thirty-seven-year-old songs in junior high school, we'd have been singing songs from 1952.

2) When I was in my first year of university, my boyfriend's fifteen-year-old brother purchased Ill Communication and was amazed to discover it wasn't the Beastie Boys' first album and that I had been all of ten years of age when I heard that first Beastie Boys album. That experience of feeling much older than a younger person occurred eighteen years ago.

3) On a recent episode of 30 Rock, Liz Lemon was revealed to have purchased a tiny Princess Leia costume for a daughter she does not yet have. This revelation triggered a sudden, vivid flashback to Halloween, 1982. I was in love, IN LOVE, with a boy named Colin. Colin was emphatically not in love with me. Imagine how thrilled I was, then, when I turned up at school on Halloween wearing my super-awesome Princess Leia costume and discovered that Colin was wearing a super-awesome Luke Skywalker costume (I preferred Han, really, but Colin wasn't dressed as Han; he was dressed as Luke). I proceeded to pursue Colin around the schoolyard (not a winning strategy, by the way), yelping things like, "But you have to love me! I'm Leia and you're Luke! We HAVE to love each other!" That totally underwhelming, slow-moving chase sequence was made possible by the fact that this was 1982, and NOBODY KNEW THAT LUKE AND LEIA WERE BROTHER AND SISTER. 

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In order to really effectively and profitably catastrophize, it's occasionally a good idea to brood about something that on the surface may appear to be not much more than surface. This adds variety to the habit of obsessively worrying about things, and allows you to later reproach yourself for being petty and superficial. 

Which brings me to the upcoming Muppet movie.

There are a number of things that went into forming me. I will now enumerate the ones that are least embarrassing: Star Wars, the Beatles, Doctor Who, and The Muppet Show. The recent incarnation of Doctor Who is not awful (although I seem to be the only person not charmed by either River Song OR Amy Pond); I never liked Paul very much, so the fact that he turned out all earnest and chipper and jowly doesn't really bother me.

Which brings me to Star Wars. I don't need to belabor this, because I seem to recall others discussing this a number of years ago... I went to see the prequels, young and full of hope and excitement, and left, an old and broken woman without wonder. George Lucas, who took a break from cultivating his McCartney-esque jowls to break me, romped through the memory of a generation and pooed all over it.

It remains to see whether we will now be pooed on by the Muppets. A new movie is being made. Jason Segel is making it. Jason Segel is kind of charming. Therefore the new Muppet movie might be kind of charming.

However, recent reports indicate that Frank Oz is not happy with the new movie. Veteran Muppet puppeteers considered dissociating themselves from the film. 

So either: a) Frank Oz is right and I will no longer like Jason Segel and another childhood memory will be tarnished; or, b) Frank Oz is just upset because he didn't get to make the movie and is not, in fact, a glorious and magnanimous person, in which another childhood memory will be tarnished.

Muppets fans desperate to reassure themselves in the lead-up to the premiere are reminding themselves that Oz might not be a reliable source in any case, as he was also involved with the Star Wars prequels. At least we know that since Oz isn't involved with this reboot, he won't make Kermit shoot Greedo in self-defense. 

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The Castrophizer's earliest artistic response to Christmas (1982)
Please note: The following observations apply equally to non-Christmas holidays that involve families, reproaches, and long-simmering resentments sitting down together at a table to eat.

We recently purchased our Christmas tree. It was all trussed-up and anxious looking, but we had high hopes, and when we took it home and liberated it from its twine, it proved to be the tree equivalent of a pimply and emaciated twelve-year-old. It is sparse and spindly when it should be dense and luxuriant; it shrivels where it should proudly spread. 

My father reminded me that this should remind me forcibly of the Christmases of my youth. Our trees were often waif-like unfortunates. We would argue over which side was the most defective so we could turn that side toward the wall. Often there was no least defective side and we just had to make do with a holiday vision of spectacular arboreal deformity.

I may never have a polished, self-respecting tree. (I am clearly beginning to build up to an unsolicited Christmas gift of ponderous insight and dubious value). No one has a truly stately and flawless tree. Or if they do, they also have a weight problem and parents on the verge of a divorce. Nobody has a Christmas that is not in some measure grim and disappointing. So no matter how bleak and joyless your Christmas ends up being, don't flatter yourself that you're interesting or singular. Someone, somewhere, is having a worse one.  

Send the Catastrophizer your requests for advice and/or rationalizations using the form conveniently provided HEREI will publish my responses on the THE CATASTROPHIZER page.

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If you were a movie or television show, which one would you be? Would you be: The Seventh Seal (not to be confused with the searingly honest Demi Moore / Michael Biehn vehicle The Seventh Sign); Ally McBeal (dated reference that might no longer have any purchase with today’s youth); High School Musical (compensating for the previous example with bracing contemporaneity); or, the first three-quarters of Hannah and Her Sisters?

Why not find out by taking the Catastrophizer’s Are You Bergman, Efron, Woody or McBeal quiz? I know “Woody” stands out because it is the first name rather the last, but I was worried you’d think I meant the Alexander Viets Griswold Allen.

1. What do you think when you hold a friend's newborn baby?

a) Oh my God, I'm going to drop it. Or sicken it. Or otherwise ruin it.
b) This child is beautiful, as is life, which alas is doomed to end in death.
c) This child will soon be a toddler, and then a teenager, and before you know it, it will be as annoying as its parents.
d) I love babies. They're ADORABLE.

2. How do you respond when you've gotten a new job?
a) Have I forgotten my security pass on my first day? Did I lose my day-planner? Are these nude nylons form-flattering?
b) However long this job lasts, it cannot last forever, as nothing lasts forever. We are all doomed to die.
c) It might start off well, but soon I'll be disappointing my coworkers, and then my bosses, and then they'll fire me, and soon this whole nauseating cycle will begin all over again.
d) This is awesome! I'm going to dress appropriately and make new friends!

3. What's your attitude towards a new romantic relationship?

a) Why didn't I wash my sexier underwear? Are my nails dirty? Should they be dirty? Does that mole look worrisome?
b) It doesn't matter if this relationship succeeds, because ultimately we'll both die.
c) If tonight I say something that he/she finds irritating, the rot will begin to set in, because inevitably I'll do it again, and then it will seem like a pattern, and he/she will break up with me. I won't mourn forever, thank God, because ultimately I'll die.
d) He/she is so hot! I love love. It's awesome,  just like my friends' babies.

4. How do you feel about your personal appearance?

a) Is one of my breasts and/or testicles larger than the other? Is that normal? Will my boyfriend and/or girlfriend think that's normal? Why is my torso so unusually long?
b) I will never be more attractive than I am right now, because each minute that passes, I age and sag. Ultimately, I will die.
c) I don't mind the way I look, but there's no guarantee that anyone else will ever find me attractive, or that even if they say they do, they can be believed. 
d) I'm super-hot, not like my friends who have babies.

Answer Key: 

A: You're A Nervie!
If you tended to choose A’s, you are dangerously neurotic and resemble Ally McBeal. She has, however, ended up with Han Solo, so maybe there’s a rakish space-pirate with a hidden heart of gold in your future.

B: You A Bergman!
If you were drawn to the B’s, you are dangerously morbid and fond of the films of Swedish tear-mongerer Ingmar Bergman (not to be confused with Ingrid, who was not quite as hot). His real first name was “Ernst”, but “Ingmar” is clearly hotter.

If you consistently selected the C’s, you love the first three-quarters of Hannah and Her Sisters (Mickey: A week ago I bought a rifle, I went to the store - I bought a rifle! I was gonna, you know, if they told me I had a tumor, I was gonna kill myself. The only thing that might’ve stopped me - MIGHT’VE - is that my parents would be devastated. I would have to shoot them also, first. And then I have an aunt and uncle - you know - it would’ve been a blood bath), but think it goes downhill at the end by embracing hope and the promise of new life. 

D: You're An Upbeat!
If you are a “D” person, why are you reading this? Go out and play some ultimate frisbee. 

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