The Forbidden Wing: A Potal Into The Past

Posted on by Aaron in Star Wars, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Among the many activities and incidents while in Michigan recently to see my brother get married, one found me at the doors of Annapolis Hospital in Wayne, Michigan.  Fortunately I wasn’t there because of some biological incident or medical malady, but rather to meet some wonderful people who work in a Family Medical Residency program housed within it’s walls.  Specifically, this program trains medical students to become general practitioners of medicine (aka Family Medicine) and those who graduate from this program generally go into undeserved areas of Michigan to provide much needed medical care.  So why might a lowly Capitol Hill staffer be addressing folks in such a program?  Because folks on both sides of the aisle in Congress worked together to preserve that program.  During the meeting, I talked with the faculty and students about how things had transpired and why it was so important to me to be involved in the effort given my own journey and that I was born in that hospital.  As I told them in the meeting:

“When many of you finish with your residency here, you will go out into under-served areas of Michigan and you’ll meet children just like I was, and their parents. Some will be scared, confused, feeling very alone and unable to cope. But they aren’t alone, they have you. In an age of medical science and genetic testing unheard of when I was born, you are there to guide them with your knowledge and expertise when the genetic test says their child will have a certain propensity for disability and the parents think they can’t; you have to fight for that precious life and reassure the parents they can. If you ever wondered “what are the problems, riddles and conundrums in the world that only I am meant to solve?” – you just got your answer, so know that when the training ends and you walk out these doors you have a purpose”

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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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The FENX and The Fox: The “non-role” role of a Racing Jacket in the Origins of The FENX

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

Not all Jackets are created equal, they just aren’t; it’s a fact of life.   I happen to know this because I own one of the coolest jackets ever; it’s so cool that it was probably the understudy for Luke Skywalker’s jacket at the Yavin awards ceremony in Star Wars Episode IV:  A New Hope (I wonder  if that got broadcast across the galaxy as”The First Yavin Awards”?)  This happens to be a black, red, and white Fox Racing  padded leather jacket given to me in college by my father; the first racing jacket he ever owned.  He previously tried to give it to my  brother, but for some reason the cool factor didn’t hit him the same way.  I pull it out every Spring and Fall, never knowing what adventures it might be involved in.

Several years ago, one Spring afternoon in April, this jacket was resting on a post in my dorm room at Cedarville University.  The weather was perfect and my brain told me that my Lake Ann Camp polo shirt didn’t need that jacket to tag along to ward off the elements; the elements weren’t the danger, something else was coming.    The clock on the wall said I was late for a afternoon class, my last class of the day before my dad was supposed to pick me up for Easter break in Michigan.  Exiting the room, I assessed my transportation options:  the Revo scooter wasn’t working, so my best option was the navy blue custom tricycle I sometimes called the “FENX II”.  Strapping my feet into the pedal locks and adjusting the handlebars, I flew out of the dorm at nearly top speed…right down the paved hill my dorm rested on.  Hurtling towards the sidewalk, I didn’t see the motorcycle coming right away; once I did the bigger cycle missed me, but my cycle still flipped over and I was attached to it at the pedals.

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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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The FENX and the First Book: The Question of Job

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Reading through the Book of Job again, as I was two years ago when I first wrote what follows, we’ll see if my thoughts have changed…

I just finished reading though the Book of Job. It’s a fair assessment to say that Job is a pretty depressing book and certainly not on a typical top-ten list of “Favorite Books of the Bible” – I wonder what mine might be? Anyway, why isn’t it? Obviously, because it details to great degree with real calamity and suffering which Job endured. To the American mind, suffering is a bad thing, something we don’t want for various reasons (it hurts, makes life hard, it’s not part of the American dream); yet some don’t get to live life on “easy” or “normal” or use cheat codes. So often when these things happen to people we read about, people we know, or ourselves we ask one question – WHY?

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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 Chris Rush, Part II: One year and many miracles later.

Posted on by Aaron in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

If you had told me 365 days ago that I would have a small role in helping a movie get made, I might have called you crazy or asked if you had overdosed on pixie dust.  Had I done so, today, I might have had to eat my words.  One year ago today, I came across what is still my favorite post on Big Hollywood; the story of a film maker passionately determined to tell the life story of one of his dearest friends.  The man behind the camera, is Zack Arnold, the editor of Burn Notice on USA Network.  His friend, Chris Rush, one of the poster children for the Muscular Dystrophy Association in the 80’s and an amazing man who persevered and accomplished much but is no longer with us on this earth.    I didn’t know what I was getting into, but as I wrote last year, I felt compelled to find a way to help Zack in his quest to honor Chris in this way.  I sure haven’t been disappointed.

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The FENX and Thinking Long: When the Sowing Turns to Reaping

Posted on by Aaron in FENX 4.0, NBC News, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Capitol Hill is not an easy place to plant oneself.  The hours can be arduous and the scenarios frustrating.  It is in this nexus of power and ideology that staffers find themselves.  A lot of time can be spent working hard to sow ideas, meet objectives, fix problems, and fight injustices – with no guarantee that a resolution will come or if/when it does you will be there to see the sowing turn to reaping.  It is in this environment that the long view of events must be taken and the long game played, worrying not about who gets the credit or when the victory comes, but just working to ensure that outcome.

However, there are those rare times when the sowing turns to reaping during your time; today was one such day, and there hasn’t been a day like this for awhile.  In October of 2008, a hospital in my Home Congressional District in Michigan came to my boss and I asking for our help.  This hospital was contesting  that they had erred in a Family Medical residency program that the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Studies (CMS) had helped them get off the ground in 2004 to serve disadvantaged populations in Michigan.  I didn’t know anything about their plight then, but I learned a lot.   In short, if it was determined that this hospital had erred, the residency program would have to shut down and the funding from CMS paid back (and it wasn’t a small amount of money).  Over the next three years various attempts were made politically and legislatively to persuade CMS to admit there was no error on the part of this hospital; all of these attempts failed.  Late last year, the hospital took their case before a special review board hoping for a favorable decision.  In January of this year the review board ruled in their favor.  It’s important to note that the decision of this review board is non-binding, CMS does not have to comply with this decision if they do not wish to and 85%-90% of the time CMS does not.

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The FENX and The Autobots: Thoughts on Transformers: Dark of the Moon *minor spoilers ahead*

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“Autobots wage their battle to destroy the evil forces of the Decepticons” – Transformers Theme

Those words, familiar to many a Transformer fan for nearly three decades, have never rung as true as they do in the case of the new Transformers movie, Transformer: Dark of the Moon. Of the three films, this is by far the darkest and most intense and the war between the Autobots and the tyranny of the Decepticons comes home in a big way. The last installment in the franchise was a disappointment and there was no doubt it had fallen from the great heights of the first film (even if I liked it more than most folks did). This movie redeems the franchise on many levels.

The film opens with vivid and fantastic scenes from the final days of the war on the Transformers’s home planet of Cybertron, detailing a failed mission that, if successful, would have allowed the Autobots to prevail against the Decepticons. The mission focuses on a secret ship that crash lands on Earth’s moon and NASA detects it. This sets off the “Space Race” between the United States and the Soviet Union in the 1960’s in an attempt to discover what happened. History goes forth, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin arrive on the moon on Apollo 11, but really to embark on a secret mission, wherein they discover the crashed Autobot vessel and special pods. Fast forward to present day and Sam Whitwicky is a recent college graduate living in DC with his girlfriend Carly (long gone is Megan Fox and her character) who previously worked at the British Embassy and now manages a car collection for a character played by Patrick Dempsey who functions as a foil for Sam on multiple levels. Sam is struggling to find both a job and himself, not understanding why after helping to discover the Transformers and save the world (twice) he can’t make something of himself; as Sam says “I just want to matter”

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The FENX and Wounds: Thoughts on a piece of wisdom from A.W. Tozer

Posted on by Aaron in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Over the last few months I’ve begun to listen to sermons given by Matt Chandler, lead pastor of The Village Church in Texas. This morning, as I was listening to his sermon series on Habakkuk he quoted something he attributed to Martin Luther while it’s really something offered up by A.W. Tozer: “It is doubtful whether God can use a man greatly, until first He wounds him deeply.” Now I don’t know if this is true in one-hundred percent of cases (therefore I can’t say it’s a law in the same way the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics is a law – always true in very case) but in my life it appears to be truth. I also wonder if the term “wound” is synonymous with “burden” – it would seem that it could work out as such. These deep wounds in my experience are often things which, as a result of carrying said wound, forces an individual into closer proximity and deeper understanding of both themselves and the Heavenly Father, the Creator and Master of the Universe. This proximity is something He desires for us but we don’t desire for ourselves because of the sacrifice and/or pain that is often required to bring someone to a point wherein an epiphany occurs: alone, you cannot hold your own life together – you are in need of something more (and He IS that something more) in order to cope with the difficult thing life WILL hand to you. When this realization occurs, often amidst trial, then closer proximity to Him can follow. (Not to say that it cannot happen otherwise, but the crucible of trial is often the best teacher; it is why what the Apostle Paul has to say about suffering – In Romans 5 – will ALWAYS be leagues better than anything Jedi Master Yoda can come up with.)

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