The Terminator and The Apostle

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I think that destiny and revelation have common denominators.  Not only do both posses a massive feeling of “otherness” or “beyondness” to them, but I think the two are both often inconvenient; neither, as Optimus Prime said, “calls upon us at a moment of our choosing.”  Rather, they present themselves in the midst of moments wherein nothing can be done about them “right then” and, as such, things must wait and risk the moment fading away.  Recently, I had a moment like this and only now record it, willing it to stay within the foreground of my memory.

When considering instances of destiny in modern American culture, few are more poignant than the tale of John Connor in the Terminator films.  The story of a young boy possessing the knowledge of not only what he will become, but what must happen to the world in order for him to become it; always racing against time to prevent it and stave off disaster.  It is within this story that recent revelation arose.

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Living Action Figures: Life as a worn out superhero toy

Posted on by Aaron in Comic Books/Superheroes, Star Trek, Star Wars | 1 Comment

I’ve been thinking some about action figures lately.  When you’re young you don’t think past tearing the miniature plastic superhero or villain off the card and using the figures to re-enact your favorite scenes from a show or movie.  I did this a lot with Batman figures such as the Caped Crusader, Robin, The Joker, Riddler, Mr. Freeze, and even the Joker’s henchman Bob – alongside the Joker Van, all the Bat-vehicles, and the Batcave playset.  Might as well add to that a collection of Playmate’s Star Trek: The Next Generation action figures too; along with the Enterprise D bridge and Transporter.  When you’re older, all you can think about is how much those plastic toys would be worth if you hadn’t opened them; they’d be collectibles then, not just toys.

The best collectibles are “Mint in Box”; never opened, never played with. Much like my Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire Dash Rendar, or Chewbacca in Bounty Hunter Disguise from 1997.  Or Sheldon Cooper’s Mint in Box 1975 Star Trek Transporter toy with “real transporter action” on Big Bang Theory a few weeks ago (Leonard Nimoy voiced Mr. Spock action figure not included, sadly). Open the box, and the object loses it’s value.

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The Avengers: Worth the Assembly Required

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In May 2008, movie-goers the world over were introduced to Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man; it changed things forever. Marvel had formed their own movie-making apparatus and had an ambitious plan: release movies about the origins of characters in the Marvel universe (Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, and Captain America) that made up the more recent incarnation of the Avengers, known as “The Ultimates” and release them in a specific order, connecting one to another to build up to something that had never been done: an Avengers team-up film. That film released this weekend and the assembly required was worth it.

Picking up where some of the previous movies ended, Nick Fury and the Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement and Logistics Division (SHIELD) are in possession of the Tesserac (or Cosmic Cube) last seen at the end very of Thor and in Captain America. SHIELD is running tests on the cube, hoping to turn it into a new energy source for Earth. Unexpectedly, Loki (Thor’s brother and the villain in the Thor) materializes via the Cube, and begins wreaking havoc on SHIELD HQ to steal the Cube and use it to subjugate Earth with some extra-terrestrial assistance. Comprehending the gravity of such a threat, a rouge Asgardian allied with a an army not of Earth or Asgard, Fury assembles the Avengers to defend the Earth. Such a defense is not without difficulty, as personalities and world-views clash spectacularly. Captain America follows orders; Iron Man and Bruce Banner don’t trust Nick Fury and Banner doesn’t trust himself, Black Widow and Hawkeye have personal issues to work through, and Thor is, well, Thor; throwing around muscle and Mjolnir, his hammer, at anyone who looks at him wrong and dialogging as if William Shakespeare were possessing him. It’s not until the team suffers a sobering defeat that they coalesce and, thus inspired, become the teammates that Nick Fury (and the audience) knows they can be (and needs them to be). As always, something awaits those with patience at the end of the credits and the big reveal won’t disappoint those familiar with the Marvel-verse, but may leave the average movie-goer wondering what the big deal is; trust me, it’s huge.

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Native Son: Fragments of the Gospel in the Thudercats Reboot

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“Don’t let your pride get in the way of forgiveness” – Lion-o, Lord of the Thudercats

I have memories of watching the original Thundercats alongside the Silverhawks when I was very young, and when Cartoon Network aired both series together when I was in High School.  Last fall, Cartoon Network launched an updated reboot of the Thundercats which I have grown to enjoy more than the original series, as it is structured as a weekly serial instead of a daily afternoon cartoon, thus allowing for episodes to build one upon another in ways both large and small.

The new show establishes the Thundercats living in peace in the land of Thundera on the planet Third Earth, having long triumphed over their mortal enemies the lizards and the ancient evil known as Mum-Ra, the ever living.  Mistakenly thought to be forever vanquished, Mum-ra returns and lays waste to Thundera, leaving Lion-o and Tygra – the sons of Claudis, Lord of the Thudercats – among the few survivors of the attack.  Joining with General Panthro and Cheetara, the last of the clerics of Thundera, the sons of Claudis set out on a quest to gather the artifacts described in the book of Omens and once again defeat Mum-Ra.

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Giving Life: Should have asked for that Midichlorian Count…

Posted on by Aaron in Comic Books/Superheroes, Star Wars, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

To break the chains of routine or elude the bonds of habit, sometimes people do something spontaneous, acting on a whim.  It’s never been better captured than in the words of Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory:  “What’s Life without Whimsy?”  I did a bit of that this week when I decided to give blood for the first time.  I know it doesn’t sound all that earth shattering, but when you’re the one who tried to give blood in High School and were told “there’s not enough ‘you’ in you” – I think the reference was to a lack of mass multiplied by the acceleration of gravity, not a lack of awesome – then being of the proper combination of those two components is “kinda a big deal”.

My apprehension grew when I started investigating the whole procedure, wanting to make sure that I wasn’t missing a step somewhere.  Asking a donor to bring a list of all the pills you’re currently taking gave me pause as I scribbled it all out on a post-it I ended up not needing (thought that might knock me out of the running – first physics, now biology…you’d think I hated science, but then there are probably folks who would want my blood for the very reason of what was in it…).  Is it bad when one of the volunteers tells you they’re ready to start and you’re not because you are intently reading the list of medications to make sure you aren’t taking something that would prevent you from donating?   (At least my Mom will smile and laugh internally if she ever reads that; because I almost always read that sort of stuff…comprehension is another matter.)  Then came the questions.  Some folks are probably glad that you answer them on a computer because answering yes to some of that stuff to another person could be embarrassing, then again if I answered those questions the person asking might think I grew up in Puritania, Peralandra, or some other non-Earth place that CS Lewis wrote about (hint: I think that really only leaves one).

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Life As Story: I never thought I would actually read a book by Donald Miller.

Posted on by Aaron in Comic Books/Superheroes, FENX 4.0, NBC News, Star Trek, Star Wars | 2 Comments

I really like books; I like owning them, having shelves full of them, and reading them.  I’m currently in the midst of four separate books between various small groups and my own personal reading.  I started reading Frank Peretti at 11 years old and started collecting the Star Wars expanded Universe at 12; 17 years later my Star Wars  novels count is well over 80 and takes up three shelves of one of my bookcases.  I was obsessed with Christian apocalyptic fiction for most of Jr. High and High School thanks to the Left Behind books (but I won’t say anything more about that – except that I never finished the whole series).  When looking at my bookshelves, I never expected for it to hold a book by Donald Miller, the author of Blue Like Jazz (which is going to be released as a theatrical film soon)JRR Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Susan Cooper, G.P. Taylor, Chuck Colson, and two series on Philosophy and Popular Culture (Star Wars, Star Trek, Transformers, Terminator, Green Lantern, Batman, X-MEN, Battlestar Galactica, 24, LOST) sure, you’d find those, but Donald Miller?  Wasn’t he the guy that the “cool kids” read, those on the 21st Century cutting edge of Christianity?  Yeah, that was way too “Christian Hipster” for me when I actually thought about it, and I honestly would have rather read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy books if given the choice (which I own but  haven’t finished).

All that changed one night a few weeks ago.  It was a cold Tuesday night and I’d just finished leading a C.S. Lewis reading group called “The Inklings” (what else would you call it?) when I ran into my friend Andy.  We hadn’t seen one another since the Leadership retreat for National Community Church a few weeks prior, so we got to talking.  Before we knew it we got talking about dreams, destiny, and how it takes intense conflict and perseverance to make a good story (all in “epic superhero/comic book movie” context as well as some of my own life story).  All of the sudden a light goes on inside Andy’s mind and he asks me “Have you ever read Donald Miller?”  I said “no”, and I wasn’t so eager to begin.    Andy began to explain that he understood my hesitation, as he didn’t like Donald Miller either, at first.  It wasn’t until he read A Million Miles in a Thousand Years that his perspective began to change (and he has now lead multiple smallgroups though this book).  In fact, my friend believed so much that I should read this book that he bought me a copy and had it sent to my house.  When that happens, you’ve got to give the book a shot because someone you respect sees it as a powerful vessel for wisdom, transformation, and change.  So I began reading.

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The FENX and Scott Pilgrim: A Hero for the 21st Century vs. The League of Evil Ex’s?

Posted on by Aaron in Comic Books/Superheroes, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Author’s Note:  Thoughts on Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (via a Facebook note) after it’s release in 2010; great movie.

Anyone who knows me knows that I really enjoy heroes, comic books, and video-games. Now if someone can successfully turn that into a movie, I am all in. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is all this and more. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is based on the six volume comic book saga of the same name, volume six having just recently released in the last month. In truth, I have not read the comic books yet, so I do not know how well it follows the source material.

In the film, Scott Pilgrim (played perfectly by Michael Cera) is a 22 year old bass player in a band with some friends from high school. The band’s desire is to make it big, to sign with a producer everyone calls “G-man” and Scoot is dating Knives Chow a high school senior. Enter Ramona Flowers, a roller-blading punk girl with wild hair colors that Scott really wants to date. The audience soon learns that in order to date Ramona Flower, Scott Pilgrim has to fight and defeat Ramoa’s seven evil exes (a.k.a. The League of Evil Exes). It’s a riot to watch Scott Pilgrim go one-on one with with Lucas Lee (played by Chris Evans – Fantastic Four’s Human Torch and soon to play Captain America) and Todd the Bass Player (played by Brandon Routh; Superman in Superman Returns). I particularly enjoyed the “Bass Battle”. Some are going to see this as romantic-comedy-esque, because yes, romance is one of it’s main themes, and it’s a very funny movie. As someone who doesn’t like romantic comedies all that much, I actually like this (battling a League of Evil Exes who all have superpowers to win the heart of a girl; who doesn’t?).

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The FENX and the Last Son: Long Live the House of EL

Posted on by Aaron in Comic Books/Superheroes | Leave a comment

Author’s Note:  This is a post/note written for Facebook in May 2011 at the conclusion  of Smallville on television.  Since then, it has been announced that Smallville will be continuing in comic book form from where it left off at the end of the 10 season finale.

As Bilbo once said, “I’m going now, this is the end; goodbye”  For Smallville fans, that was last night.  For the past decade the world has watched the story of how Clark Kent of Smallville, the Last Son of the planet Krypton, became Superman, the Man of Steel.   I have watched the show since shortly after it began, and have enjoyed it.  In this appreciation I am not alone – as my whole family watches it too – from my parents and brother to an aunt and uncle who are pretty much Lois and Clark in real life (my Uncle looks like Christopher Reeve).  While some enjoy the early seasons more, being a fan of the entire Superman mythos, I enjoyed the latter seasons to a greater degree once characters like Brainiac, Zod, Darkseid, and the fledgling Justice League (JLA) came into play.  (I also wonder how the latter seasons might have differed if Miles and Millar had stayed on as showrunners…as most of what I would consider missteps have occurred within the last three seasons).

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The FENX and the Dark Lord (of the Sith): Redemption and removing the mask

Posted on by Aaron in Comic Books/Superheroes, FENX 4.0, Star Wars | 1 Comment

Star Wars lightsped it’s way back into theatres this weekend, in 3D no less, so in honor of it’s return, I want to talk a bit about what I, among many, affectionately call “The Wars”.  I’m an unabashed Star Wars fan, a FANBOY if you will.  I cannot tell you how many times I’ve seen the Star Wars films or the Star Wars:  The Clone Wars animated series; I lost count long ago (let’s not even get into the comic books and ever expanding novel collection I have).  The only things that has had a greater effect on me if life are the Gospel of Jesus Christ and my own unique story (and yet Star Wars has had it’s own role in that).  Late last year, a friend pointed me to the “Never Beyond” series that has been created by a group called People of the Second Chance.  The idea is to focus on individuals (real or not) who’ve done things that they should certainty be condemned for, but that even for them redemption is still possible (or achieved in some cases).

Which brings me to Darth Vader, the Dark Lord of the Sith formally known as Anakin Skywalker (one of the figures that the People of the Second Chance has highlighted).  The first time you see Vader in Star Wars (only later changed to Star Wars:  A New Hope in a theatrical re-release prior to the release of Empire Strikes Back in May of 1980) you know nothing about him, except that his very presence exudes fear in those that do not know and dread in those that do.  His troops have just wiped out the resistance to their boarding party, and his ship just plain dwarfs the Blockade Runner/Tantive IV.  Watching him threaten the hapless rebel trooper while he lifts the trooper under his own power, choke him to death, and then toss his lifeless body aside like a rag doll, you know this guy is bad news (and this is just the start).  He goes on to threaten/capture/torture a teenage Princess Leia (who he doesn’t know is his daughter), restrain the princess while they both watch Leia’s adopted home-world be destroyed in an instant along with almost two billion people, strike down his former friend and teacher in a duel, and almost kill Luke Skywalker (whom he doesn’t know is his son) in a space battle; and this is just the “first film”.  Except for Episode I:  The Phantom Menace, the Star Wars saga is filled with Anakin/Darth doing unspeakable thing: wiping out an entire tribe of Tusken Raiders after he watches his mother die because of their treatment of her, beheading Count Dooku, killing younglings during the siege on the Jedi Temple, wiping out the Separatist Council AFTER the Clone Wars are over, almost force choking his pregnant wife to death, cutting off his son’s hand (and destroying his innocence), and watching while his son gets tortured almost to the point of death by his Master, Palpatine/Darth Sidious – but I’ll come back to that one.  As an aside to buttress the point of Darth Vader being a bad dude, there is gargoyle of him hidden high on one of the towers of the National Cathedral in Washington, DC; the stone carving  was part of a competition to choose a representation of evil, and Vader won out.

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The FENX and the Captain: Thoughts on the Silverscreen treatment of Steve Rogers’s Origin

Posted on by Aaron in Comic Books/Superheroes, FENX 4.0 | Leave a comment

“I’m just a kid from Brooklyn” – Steve Rogers, Captain America

I can only imagine the roar and applause that must have erupted all across movie theaters in Brooklyn, NY Friday when die-hard fans and those just curious sat down to watch Captain America: The First Avenger this weekend. Captain America: The First Avenger is the latest offering in the Marvel Studios series of silver screen solo adventures for the heroes that will assemble into Joss Whedon’s The Avengers in May of 2012, a day many a fan of superheroes has waited decades for.

The origins of Captain America revolve around Steve Rogers, a twig of a man young who has been bullied all his life but wants nothing more than to join the Army and fight along side millions of others who have joined the military to fight the Nazi threat. As he says in the film “There are men laying down their lives, I can’t do any less”; his best friend Bucky Barnes had already received orders and was to ship out to the front. He’s tried to enlist multiple times in various cities, each time being declared “unfit for service”. Having witnessed this, a defected German scientist named Abraham Erskine offers Steve his one opportunity to actually serve in the American military by selecting him for the Super Solider program.

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