The FENX and Encounters at Farpoint: To CON or not to CON, that is the question…

Posted on by Aaron in FENX 4.0, Star Wars | Leave a comment

Often, the hardest thing about blogging is beginning; finding a way to allow that kernel of an idea (or in this case a recent experience) to flow onto the screen coherently though the keys.  Sometimes, the difficulty comes because you’re still processing your experience as you are trying to write about it; this is where I am.  This past weekend, I travelled to Baltimore with some friends to attend Farpoint, a DC/Baltimore area Sci-Fi convention (often referred to as a “con”) named after “Encounter at Farpoint”, the pilot episode of Star Trek:  The Next Generation that aired in 1987.  I’d never been to an event like this (an admission that I am sure surprises some).  Growing up, my Star Wars/sci-fi fandom was really contained between certain members of my family and a few close friends, very much of the Fanboys variety.  Yes, we collectively spent a small fortune (to us) on the Star Wars Customizeable Card Game in our teenage years and read all sorts of novels and comic books, debating this or that, and saw the Star Wars Special Edition in theatres in 1997 and the prequels after that, but yesterday was the “first step into a much larger world”, to quote a wizard who’s “just a crazy old man.”

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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, the Phantom Menace, and kids from “across the pond”

Posted on by Aaron in FENX 4.0, Star Wars | Leave a comment

Sometimes all I can do is smile and laugh like the Joker at small blessings in life.  Star Wars came roaring back into theatres this weekend with the 3D release of Episode I:  The Phantom Menace.  Naturally, I went to see it – twice.  Driving the FENX to Chinatown this afternoon to meet my friend Isaac for the second screening, the wind was howling and the snow flurries were flying.   It wasn’t until after the film was over and dinner at Fuddrucker’s had concluded that it got really interesting.  As I neared Union Station, I happened upon a group of teenagers from England.  Having never seen anything like the FENX before, their reactions were exclamations of awe, wonder, and one “It’s like Artoo-Deetoo or something”.  At this, I of course stop, pop the canopy, and inform them that I was driving home from just seeing Episode I in the theatre.  Somehow they weren’t that surprised.  As we all continued along the same route, I see one of them running alongside me to keep up and I slow down upon hearing music.  Popping the canopy again I realize the young fellow is playing the Star Wars theme on his phone, and I tell the group “yeah, I actually listen to that a lot when I drive this” to which the chaperone of the group asks “but can you make it in less than twelve parsecs?”    Pausing just for a moment, I tell him “here’s the thing, a parsec is a unit of (and he repeats with me) distance not time”.  Suddenly one of the teenagers shouts to the adult “You just got Star Wars-ed”.

After that, I couldn’t stop laughing as I continued to drive on home into the distance (obviously minus the binary sunset); just another day in the life, I guess.

Riding Towards Eternity,

Aaron

The FENX and the Emerald Power of Will: Thoughts on Green Lantern

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

“In Brightest Day, In Blackest Night, no evil shall escape my sight; those who worship Evil’s might, beware my power, GREEN LANTERN’S LIGHT!” – The Oath of the Green Lantern Corps.

Those words were first penned many decades ago and for many decades since then, fans of the Green Lantern comics have waited for silver screen treatment; on June, 17, 2011, it came (kicking off a big weekend for me which included a birthday and the return of The FENX to Washington once again for my use). The story of Green Lantern is very much a cross between Top Gun, the original Star Wars and The Last Starfighter (all movies I love). The main character, Hal “Highball” Jordan, is a former United States Air Force (USAF) pilot who works as a test pilot for Ferris Aerospace a company started by former USAF pilot Carl Ferris (a friend of Hal’s aerospace daring father who died in a crash Hal witnessed as a young boy). Hal works alongside Mr. Ferris’s daughter (and fellow pilot) Carol “Sapphire” Ferris with whom he has an on again/off again romantic relationship. Both characters are asked to fly a sortie against a pair of UAV fighters that Ferris Air is development for the Department of Defense, an exercise which results in another plane crash.

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The FENX and the White Warlock (Old Man Winter)

Posted on by Aaron in FENX 4.0, Star Wars, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Imagine for a brief moment that you are standing on the sidewalk in a busy city as the snow falls fast and the wind whips, grasping at you with icy talons. All of the sudden in the midst of nature’s temper-tantrum of frigid pandemonium emerges a clean aerodynamic form as it roars past; you cannot see into it and whoever (or whatever) might be within its confines (presumably) cannot see out of it. What are you thinking in that moment? What do you do? How do you react? Do you suddenly think we aren’t alone in the vast cosmos? A week ago that was me. I wasn’t the bewildered bystander though, I was the unseen one inside the all white alien form, and that form was the FENX.

Last week was baptism by snow as I slowly made my way home across the treacherous “Hothscape” that Washington, DC had transformed into over a matter of hours one afternoon. The government shut down around 3 pm that afternoon and I left “early” at 5 – already too late as I would soon learn. As I locked myself into the FENX; inserted keys; flipped switches to activate displays and check lights; set the Blue-tooth on the phone so I could catch-up on Star Wars: The Clone Wars Round-table discussions, all of this was routine but I knew this was going to be an adventure and visions of The Empire Strikes Back started to dance across my cortex. The snow was falling and it was sticking to the FENX with no place to go. Before too long I was having a tough time seeing and often opened the canopy so I knew where I was headed. My memorized route was being altered by law enforcement as there was too much snow to know what to do with and I was praying safety a mile a minute even though the FENX is a veteran survivor of storms (but of the summer sort). As I slowly went along the weight of the snow gave my muscles a run for their money in lifting the viewport for sight (but I empathized with Luke Skywalker’s plight of the downed Snowspeeder and trying to open the canopy to escape the oncoming Imperial Walker). I can only imagine what passersby must have thought as they saw me roll by. In the end (thanks to much evident grace) I made it safely home and away from the world of Wampas outside. I knew the White Warlock of Old Man Winter had returned and caught me unawares; thus one of my greatest enemies had returned and our struggle began once again – and I was clearly losing.

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The FENX and the Master(s) of the Universe: An excercise in Sovreignty

Posted on by Aaron in FENX 4.0, NBC News, Star Wars | Leave a comment

Two days from now I will be sitting at a table with (almost) my entire family eating turkey, enjoying their company, and reflecting on what I’ve been thankful for in 2010. It’s been a tough year in some respects, just like the previous year was. It’s sometimes easy for me to let the things that happen to me which are difficult or downright unjust crowd out everything else. I’ve learned a lot of hard lessons in 2010, lessons which the Master of the Universe sees fit to have me learn, lessons about identity; contentment; perseverance; trust; and owning who you are – embracing one’s destiny and calling no matter where it may lead, knowing it can alter and morph, even if it puts you in places you’d rather not be and you reside there longer than you want, often facing things which seek to damage the core of who you are, to diminish the person you are wired to be.

Passengers hate it when they are flying on a big commercial airplane and the captain comes over the speaker system to inform them the tower on the ground has put them in a holding pattern, forcing all those passengers on board to have to wait longer to reach their destination – and not one of the passengers on the plane has the power to change what is happening to them; the ultimate authority in air traffic gives a directive and it puts a wrench in things – I say this as someone who is flying home to celebrate thanksgiving and I’ll be at the airport a dozen hours from now. This is just on a plane; imagine such a scenario invading the rest of your life and not just your travel plans.

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Yellow Jackets, Airplane Passengers, The Force(cast) and The FENX

Posted on by Aaron in Cedarville University, FENX 4.0, NBC News, Star Wars | 1 Comment

Although it has been a month since I’ve written in this space it has been a very interesting and adventurous month for The FENX Project. Almost a month ago exactly NBC Nightly News went live with the piece produced by Carl Sears. Since then some very interesting things have happened:

1. Cedarville University has thankfully taken it upon themselves to promote the story in conjunction with a story on me earlier this year.

2. Other opportunities to tell the story of the FENX Project on radio and TV have arisen and right now I’m waiting to see if these opportunities come to fruition

3. I received an e-mail recently from a gentlemen whom I had met on a plane headed to Michigan for Easter this year (and wrote about here) telling me he got to see the FENX piece by NBC and showed it to all his family and friends – making sure they knew he met me on a plane.

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