Yesterday at our library’s Story Time, the reader chose a book that knocked my socks off: Little Witch Hazel: A Year in the Woods, by Phoebe Wahl, from 2021. (Trailer above.) It’s about a tiny witch who lives in the forest, and it follows her on her adventures through the seasons. (The book is divided into four sections.) The kids in the crowd — ages two through five — were mostly entranced.
Two of the book’s most beautiful pages are available as prints; my favorite is above.
Born in 1944 in Barnes, Surrey, England, Mayhew suffered from gigantism. I can’t even imagine how horrible that must be. You are just a freak and one who might not live very long either, although luckily, Mayhew had a pretty normal life span. Just a tough break. He was diagnosed as a very tall 8 year old. He eventually grew to be 7 feet 3 inches. He was just a guy trying to survive in a world where he couldn’t walk anywhere without being stared at. He worked in a hospital as an orderly. Now, in his early 30s, he was featured in a newspaper article about men with enormous feet. Must have been some pretty compelling journalism there. But Hollywood has a need for giant men, especially in the pre-CGI days. So someone read that and realized that this guy might be perfect for a role in a film called Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger, which I have never even heard of despite being released in 1977. Evidently Jane Seymour is also in it and has a nude scene. Hope the check cleared.
Well, in terms of Mayhew, he became the perfect guy for giant people roles. Or….giant non-people. As everyone reading this already knows, not to mention anyone seeing the grave, George Lucas cast Mayhew to play the Chewbacca role in Star Wars. Now, I hate the entire Star Wars series. It’s trash. The first film is a complete abomination and Lucas is a bad director. Empire Strikes Back is at least a decent film because it’s a little darker and the story is a little more interesting. Return of the Jedi mostly exists to sell toys, as do the ridiculous number of films and TV shows in the “Star Wars Universe” that have polluted the world since Lucas decided he didn’t have enough money. But at least, at least aging Gen Xers can pretend like they are playing with light sabres again like they did when they were 7. Great stuff.
This gives me a chance to discuss fan fiction. I can think of nothing more pathetic than fan fiction. I want to be very specific here. I am not a fantasy guy. Don’t care for it at all. Think it’s almost all pretty dumb. But whatever. That’s not what I am getting at here. What I am getting at is writing your own version of corporate IP. That’s just sad. Make up your own characters! Make up your own story! It can be as dumb as you want, that’s not my concern. But spending your life making fan art, I dunno. I have a good friend who draws comics and does comic festivals and so I hear about all the fan art. She doesn’t get it either. It’s just incomprehensibly weird. And honestly, it’s just sad. You are literally spending your life promoting a corporate intellectual property. Huh?
But then we can go deeper, down the well of the most horrible thing in contemporary America–erotic fan fiction. Now this, I mean, I am just unsparing here. These people are fucking losers. This is some sad, pathetic shit right here. You have fantasies about fucking your favorite corporate IP? This is not “kink-shaming,” which is a stupid term in its own right. It is not about your weird fantasies per se. It’s about your position vis-a-vis the corporate world? I mean, if you want to be fucked by a half-wolf, half-frog beast, you go for it (I guess???) but for god’s sake at least make up your own fantasies.
‘You’re going in here?’ she asked, and Chewbacca nodded his shaggy head. ‘So was I,’ Leia admitted. ‘Well, after you.’ She stepped back and gestured to the door. Chewbacca moaned a quick thank-you, and opened the door. The hydro-room was relatively small, with a single hydrotub in the centre of the heated chamber; although there remained a slight chill in the air–a constant reminder of the harsh conditions of the planet. The tub was automatically filled for two hours at a time, and it was currently bubbling away nicely. Chewbacca couldn’t wait to sink into its steaming waters.
He heard the lock click firmly behind him, and sensed a presence at his back; he turned to find Leia gazing beatifically up at him, leaning casually against the closed door. He wuffed a question, and Leia shrugged. ‘Oh, I thought it might be best if we tried to conserve heat. After all, we only have two hours.’ She smiled brightly, and Chewbacca felt the urge to tear off her bodysuit right there. Instead, he barked in agreement, and crossed to the bubbling tub. He cocked his head at Leia. ‘After you, big guy,’ she said.
Chewbacca grinned and tugged off his bandolier, throwing it casually to the floor. He stepped into the water, feeling the heat enclose around his large foot and infiltrate every fibre of his hairy calf. He swung his other foot around and sank lower, resting his rear on the bottom of the tub, his legs stretched out in front of him. It was a pity the tub couldn’t accommodate a full-sized Wookiee lying down, but one look at Leia told Chewbacca that it wouldn’t be a problem today.
The angelic princess stepped closer, and raised her gloved hands to the zipper of her vest. Chewbacca watched in mounting excitement as Leia slowly trailed the zip down the length of her petite torso, opening her jacket to reveal her white jumpsuit, tight enough to define the contours of her young body in tantalizing detail. Chewbacca urged Leia on with a soft woof, and the princess, a sly grin fixed on her radiant face, shrugged the vest from her shoulders and worked at the catch of her jumpsuit.
She peeled it away from her slim neck and over her collarbone, revealing her creamy flesh to the reclining Wookiee. Leia bared her chest, giving Chewbacca a glimpse of her cleavage that men would kill for. Her tender breasts, which Chewbacca knew, first-hand, were just the right size for his Wookiee palms, popped free of their confines, the creamy mounds and rosy nipples on full display. Chewbacca’s gaze locked onto them as Leia squeezed her breasts between her arms, reaching down to peel back her jumpsuit.
She tugged the jumpsuit down over her flat abdomen and its dainty nub of a belly button, and over the thin, dark patch of curls leading to what Chewbacca desired most on all of Hoth. The princess had never much bothered with the constraints of underwear, and so it was moments before the sweet little vee between her succulent thighs was revealed, as the jumpsuit fell around Leia’s legs to pool over her snow-boots. Leia flexed her hips and shuffled over to the tub, planting herself on the edge, her smooth back facing Chewbacca. She tugged off one boot, then the other, skidding them across the room to hit the wall. The jumpsuit followed, and Leia turned around to face Chewbacca in all her naked glory. Chewbacca drank the sight in, Leia’s skin becoming flush with a slight chill.
Leia glanced down, and reached up with her gloved hands to tweak her nipples, hardening against the temperature. She moaned lightly as she grazed her fingers over her sensitive nubs, and gazed down at Chewbacca. ‘May I join you, Chewie?’ she asked sweetly, and Chewbacca barked out a loud and very enthusiastic ‘yes.’
Leia giggled, and hooked one long leg over the side of the tub, dipping her dainty toes into the hot water. She arched her back at the sensation, and circled her foot over Chewbacca’s thigh, wiggling her toes into his submerged fur. Planting her heel firmly on the bottom of the tub, Leia languidly straddled her other leg over Chewbacca’s prone body, standing knee-deep in the steaming water, the flushed flesh of her sweet spot inches from Chewbacca’s eager face.
The sultry princess placed her hands on the Wookiee’s broad shoulders, and lowered herself into the water; her body trembled as her ass touched the hot water, and she sank into its warmth until the lapping liquid splashed against the underside of her perky breasts. Kneeling over Chewbacca’s legs, Leia sighed in contentment as the heat penetrated her, a potent energy that crackled through her body like a current. She bucked her hips gently, sliding her tingling snatch over the Wookiee’s furred legs. Leia moaned softly, and worked her fingers in Chewbacca’s fur, kneading the hard muscles around his thick neck.
Chewbacca yapped in appreciation, his strong hands coming up to brush along Leia’s submerged thighs, rolling her soft flesh under his rough, leathery fingers. The princess cooed at his ministrations, and stroked her hands lower, curving over Chewbacca’s pectorals, outlining the contours of his battle-hardened frame. Leia’s fingers found the Wookiee’s abdomen, and the bulging muscle hidden under his fur. In turn, Chewbacca’s palms circled the princess’s thighs, cupping her sweet ass and squeezing her rounded buttocks.
Leia let out a loud gasp, and wasted no time in reciprocating Chewbacca’s touch; her hands grazed over his navel and down to the hardening shaft steadily unsheathing itself from between the Wookiee’s thick legs. Leia rubbed over the engorging head with her fingers, trailing lightly over the rim of Chewbacca’s crown. The Wookiee wuffed low in his throat, and slid his hands under Leia’s buttocks, raising her gently from his legs. Leia leaned in, buoyed in Chewbacca’s grip, and wrapped her small hands around his bulging cock, leathery to the touch. She circled her thumbs over the thick veins twisting down the Wookiee’s length, until the prodigious rod breached the surface of the water, its salty head glistening with moisture.
Her hands stroking Chewbacca’s cock with increasing vigour, Leia moaned lewdly as the Wookiee’s fingers brushed against her labia, heightening the sensation of the water flowing over her tender folds. She felt his thick fingers invading her lower lips, and tightened her grip on the engorged prick in her hands; she pumped Chewbacca’s shaft hard, bouncing her fists from the base of the massive shaft up to its bulbous head. The Wookiee was releasing a stream of low woofs, and his fingers slipped deeper inside Leia’s sweetness. She moved her hips against his meaty paws, urging him on while she jacked his Wookiee cock in her fists.
What in the living fuck did I just read? I challenge anyone to defend this.
None of this is Mayhew’s fault. So let’s not blame him. He was just a guy trying to make a living and he happened to stumble in a particularly unusual way to do so. He couldn’t control any of this. And he seems like a nice guy who was happy to bring joy to people’s lives.
Mayhew didn’t make any of Chewbacca’s sounds. Those were animal noises tracked over him. But, I dunno, I guess he was good in the role, so much as a giant dude romping around in a furry suit can really be “good.” But he embraced it. I mean, for all the absurdity around Star Wars fans, a sign of a very pathetic life from a lot of these uncut losers, what else was he going to do? This was his life now and he was able to make a positive difference in the life of a lot of people who evidently needed it. He played Chewbacca in lots of commercials and generally was just happy to be a giant British guy bringing love to the people of America, especially kids. He played Chewbacca through Star Wars: The Force Awakens, in which a bunch of pointless bullshit happens to sell toys for the studio and George Lucas’ pocketbook. By the time everyone wanted the next paycheck with Star Wars: The Last Jedi, his health had declined too much to play a physical role like this.
In terms of other roles for Mayhew, there were just a couple. He was in the 1978 film Terror and he did one of the voices for the English version of Dragon Ball GT: A Hero’s Legacy. Mostly, he was just good ol’Chewbacca. He would absolutely show up at your Comic Con, sign all the autographs, presumably put up with the losers telling him about their Chewbacca erotic fan fiction, and make some money. Otherwise, I think he tried to just be as normal as a guy with gigantism can be. He didn’t necessarily have to be seen as Chewbacca when walking around. Mark Hamill did not have that luxury. But still, with his size and a very certain kind of fame, I can see where it would be tough. Still, he leaned into being as nice as one can be. He was a big rugby guy and invested in a team back home. He also had a lumberyard and he worked in it too. I don’t know if ever really needed to–I can see a situation where the 90s might have been a bit financially tough since this was the era before Lucas cashed in. But I don’t know the finances behind Mayhew’s contract either. He married a woman from Texas and moved there, living outside of Dallas.
Toward the end, Mayhew’s body began to break down. That can happen to all of us, but when you are that big, it really happens. He had a double knee replacement in 2013 but I don’t think ever fully recovered from that. He was in a wheelchair the last few years before dying in 2019, at the age of 74. Not bad for a man with that particular health issue.
Peter Mayhew is buried in Azleland Memorial Park, Reno, Texas. He must have really loved his wife to live in that awful place.
If you would like this series to visit other people who starred in Star Wars so I can talk about shitty all this is from a slightly different angle, you can donate to cover the required expenses here. Carrie Fisher is in Hollywood Hills, California (speaking of bad actors). There were a lot of Brits in these movies, so of course Alec Guinness and Kenny Baker (R2-D2) are in England. So are lots of other people in these movies. I always find it interesting how science fiction movies hire upper class English because they are exotic or authoritative or something. But other than the biggest stars in the series, almost all the minor actors are from the UK or Ireland. I wonder if R2-D2 erotic fan fiction is more or less horrifying than that of Chewbacca? Previous posts in this series are archived here and here.
The idiot Oregon rednecks tried to secede and join Idaho has gotten a bunch of play all of a sudden, first with a CNN piece and now from the Times. A quick overview from the latter for those of you not paying attention to the brilliance of right-wing Oregonians from Roseburg to Burns:
Corey Cook still holds a fondness for her days living in Portland, where the downtown pubs and riverfront cherry blossoms made her proud to call the Rose City home during her 20s.
But as she started growing wary of the metro area’s congestion and liberal politics, she moved to the suburbs, then the exurbs, before heading east, eventually escaping Portland’s sphere of influence on the other side of the Cascade Mountains in 2017. But even here, where she now runs a Christian camp amid the foothill pines overlooking the Grande Ronde Valley, she cannot help but notice how the values of western Oregon are held over the eastern part of the state by way of laws making guns less accessible and abortions more accessible.
Unwilling to move east into Idaho, farther from her family, Ms. Cook, 52, now wonders if redrawing the state maps could instead bring Idaho’s values to her.
“Oregon is not a unified state to me anymore,” she said. “To say that I’m an Oregonian is a geographic truth, but it doesn’t really have meaning to me the way that it did before I lived in eastern Oregon.”
The broad sense of estrangement felt across rural Oregon has led conservatives in recent years to pursue a scrupulous strategy to open a theoretical escape hatch, gathering thousands of signatures for a series of ballot measures that have now passed in 11 counties. Those measures require regular meetings to discuss the idea of secession. In those places, including Union County, Ms. Cook’s new home, county commissioners in rooms adorned by Oregon flags and maps are now obligated to talk about whether it would one day make sense to be part of Idaho.
This is dumb on about 298 levels, including that they have no legal mechanism for making it happen. Oregon will….just not do it. And neither will the federal government. But on top of that, how much are Oregonians paying no sales tax and loving that going to embrace Idaho’s 7 percent sales tax? How much are they going to embrace less money for their roads? The end of Oregon’s superior medical care program? But of course they are not thinking of any of this. They just hate the libs and would prefer the guidance of such legends of modern politics as Raul Labrador.
But what this is really about is the decline of natural resource politics. That’s been the driver of this anger since the 1970s. Yes, there are other issues–certainly race, social issues, abortion rights, and Portland’s tolerance of homelessness (which I want to be clear is a very real problem, and not because of housing prices but because the streets of downtown are filled with heroin addicts and people extremely off their meds and screaming or shitting or doing whatever–and I saw all of this in one 30 minute walk there recently; it’s not good. Housing prices may well be contributing to this, but it’s not the driver of this kind of homelessness being in this place.). But the real core is that they were brought up with the idea that their way of life was The Way Things Should Be. This was the pioneer heritage. Timber, cattle, fishing, sheep, whatever–productive turning of the natural world into wealth for the family farm is the idealized world. And that’s mostly gone. The trees have more value standing and the fish have more value swimming than they do being harvested. The tourism economy is huge. And it infuriates these people.
This portrait of two of the most egregious Trump lickspittles in Washington, Kevin McCarthy and Lindsey Graham, reflects something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately, which is the extent to which the hunger for celebrity has become the driving force in American culture and politics.
What Trump, McCarthy, and Graham all have in common is that they want to be the center of attention – they’re all desperate to be, in the Washington parlance, “relevant.” None of these men seem to have any genuine political commitments per se: they are pure careerists, and their “careers” consist of simply trying to be and remain famous.
One thing the piece does really well is capture how DC in general and the Republican party in particular is full of people like this.
McCarthy’s visit [to Mar-a-Lago eight days after the insurrection] set off a parade of ring-kissing pilgrimages. Graham headed down to Florida again and again, so often that his host couldn’t help but marvel. “Jesus, Lindsey must really like to play golf,” Trump told an aide, according to a report in The New York Times. Graham “would show up at Mar-a-Lago or Bedminster to play free rounds of golf, stuff his face with free food, and hang out with Trump and his celebrity pals,” observed Stephanie Grisham, the former White House press secretary and top aide to Melania Trump, in her memoir. Grisham wrote that she and some colleagues referred to Graham as “Senator Freeloader.”
In April 2021, Senator Rick Scott of Florida showed up in Palm Beach to present Trump with the first-ever “Champion for Freedom” trophy, an award Scott invented just for that momentous occasion. It was kind of a lame trophy, to be honest—a puny silver bowl, roughly the size of the participation trophy my daughter got for her incredible hard work and dedication on the fifth-grade soccer team (so proud of you, Franny!). But Trump, who held the memento out for the cameras like a hot-fudge sundae, beamed at the recognition. Did Obama ever win a Champion for Freedom trophy? Don’t think so!
Watching the procession of GOP genuflectors, I was reminded of Susan Glasser’s 2019 profile of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in The New Yorker, in which she quoted a former American ambassador describing Pompeo as “a heat-seeking missile for Trump’s ass.” This image stuck with me (unfortunately) and also remained a pertinent descriptor for much of the Republican Party long after said ass had been re-homed to Florida.
One of Donald Trump’s special talents is that he triggers the most extreme toadyism imaginable among people who have been toadies all their lives, but are now being given the opportunity to achieve a kind of Platonic Form of toadyism. This, the piece argues, is the key to understanding Trump’s continuing hold over the GOP. There are, it’s true, some people in it who are genuinely ignorant and idiotic enough not to be “in on the joke” that is Donald Trump – Lauren Boebert is adduced as an example – but most of the Republican movers and shakers in DC are perfectly well aware of what Trump is, and they are terrified of the prospect of his second presidential term.
But they continue to support him because this remains, for the moment, the savvy play, and these people want to be famous and relevant and “popular,” and they will do literally anything in the pursuit of that goal.
Behind all this, of course, is the ravening GOP base, which loves Donald Trump precisely because, in the most deeply perverse way possible, he isn’t a phony, or at least not the same kind of phony as Kevin McCarthy and Lindsey Graham. Trump doesn’t even pretend to care about anything other than his mind-blowingly petty hunger for celebrity, which in Washington DC — a town that is Hollywood for ugly people, academia for stupid people, and high school for people who never grew up – makes him a kind of paragon of certain especially disgusting form of authenticity.
At the moment, we’re in the grip of yet another wave of wishful thinking that Trump is losing “relevance,” that he’s going to be displaced by Ron DeSantis or some other smooth-talking aspiring fascist, and that he’s fated to fade away. I don’t think so, because Donald Trump still owns Kevin McCarthy and Lindsey Graham and the rest of them.
McCarthy hates discussing 2024 on the record. Mostly because it involves talking about Trump. “Why do you keep asking me about Trump?” McCarthy said to me when I accompanied him to Iowa last year. It was as if the former president were sitting on his shoulder, watching for any sign of disloyalty. Whenever Trump’s name came up, McCarthy seemed to be bracing for an orange light fixture to drop on his head.
But it’s fun to make McCarthy squirm, so I asked him if he thought Trump would run again. He flashed me a look—not a nice one.
“I think he’ll talk about it,” McCarthy said, finally. “I don’t think he’ll make that decision until later.”
Did McCarthy want Trump to run? His look got even dirtier. “I think it’s a long way away,” he said. “I think there’s a lot of stuff that’s gonna happen prior to that.”
McCarthy will not be winning any Profile in Courage Award anytime soon. In fairness, that could make him a good fit for the cowardly caucus he is so eager to lead.
Soon enough, 2024 will not be a long way away, and Trump is well positioned to claim his third consecutive Republican presidential nomination. Again, Trump will do as he pleases and take what he can take. Because really, who’s going to stop him?