The Sleeper Must Awaken: Arise and Be a Quitter

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“…a person needs new experiences.  They jar something deep inside, allowing him to grow.  Without change something sleeps inside us, and seldom awakens. The sleeper must awaken.” – Duke Leto Atreides of Caladan, in Dune by Frank Herbert

Quitter.  Say it with me, “Quit-ter”.  This is another word we hate; maybe not as much as “humility” but we still hate it.  It implies weakness, a lack of perseverance, loyalty, focus, and maybe even a micron of entitlement (i.e. “Luthor Syndrome“).  No one wants to be called a “Quitter “…until now.  “What?!  How can being a “Quitter” be a good thing?  Why the change in perception?  Did you go in for one of those paid psychology experiments that happen in college campuses?” someone might ask.  What changed my view of the concept was reading a book by Jon Acuff that, irony alert, is actually called Quitter.  In this book, Jon gets his faux-pride on and admits that he is likely better than the rest of us at two things: 1) Quitting his job and, 2) The Reverse Superman.  Acuff admits that he’s quit more jobs than most of us have ever had and that he’s really good at transforming himself from motivational super-dude to average guy in the confines of a bathroom stall after a weekend of traveling and speaking at a conference.  Apparently, this can be blamed as an unintended consequence of the lack of public telephone booths in America; at least that’s what I think…

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Humility and the Death Star: If you don’t build it, it can’t blow up on you.

Posted on by Aaron in Comic Books/Superheroes, Star Wars | 3 Comments

Humility.  If you’re honest with yourself you’ll admit you don’t like this word very much.  You might even admit that you hate that word; not just it’s meaning. but the spelling and sound of it too.  Chances are the feeling of loathing might come from more than just “It’s the word that lost me the school-wide spelling-bee in 4th Grade”  Forget using the word in a sentence; if a sentence were the center of the universe, this word is the farthest thing from it.  It conjures up images foreign to the 21st Century “culture of self-celebrity” we’ve created for ourselves.

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NBC’s Revolution: A Future where the Power is…off.

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Imagine a world where wherein all the electrical power suddenly shuts off and doesn’t turn back on…and no one really knows why.  Welcome to the new Monday night drama on NBC.  In truth, the pilot doesn’t air until this coming Monday night but it has been available to watch free online for a week or so now.  If something like a worldwide Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) actually occurred what might happen to society as we know it?  Would governments remain stable?  How might people react?  Where would be the safest place?  Who might rise up in the midst of a confused “techno-planet” and restore order?  Revolution attempts to grapple with these questions and more as it flashes back and forth between the past (right after the power goes out) and the present (15-years after the incident).

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The Godfather and a Galaxy Far Far Away…

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I once heard the story of how actor David Giuntoli – Detective Nick Burkhardt on NBC’s Grimm – was recently introduced to the Star Wars films.  His good friend, and fellow actor, Sam Witwer – Darth Maul on Star Wars:  The Clone Wars and the Secret Apprentice the the Star Wars:  Force Unleashed games – sat him down and showed him the films in a specific order:  A New Hope, Empire Strikes Back, Revenge of the Sith, and then Return of the Jedi.  From the way Witwer told the story in an interview to the Star Wars podcast, The Forcecast, it was an experience.

Labor Day weekend I had a similar experience with the Godfather films.  It’s a project I started and never finished, because to really finish it you have to be fully present; at the time, I wasn’t.  Honestly, the first time around I didn’t make it through Godfather II (and suddenly I feel a great disturbance in the Force as if millions of voices cried out like I frequently do when a friend tells me they’ve never seen Star Wars).  However, this time, thanks to viewing with some friends, I finished.  It’s a simple, yet deep and philosophical, story.  It asks hard questions of the audience, and makes you work a little to figure out the entirety of the plot.  For this Star Wars fanboy though, The Godfather did something else: it helped me have an even deeper understanding of the Galaxy Far Far Away…especially the the regions of it I appreciate less, the Prequel Trilogy.  Essentially, the Star Wars saga is the space-faring inverse of The Godfather Parts I & II.

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The Value of Knowledge and Taking Risks: A Lesson from Samus Aran

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In 1986 I was four years old.  That same year Nintendo released a little game for it’s Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) called Metroid.  Something different than what had been done before, it was a side-scrolling game like Super Mario Bros. but the player also collected various items to enhance Samus Aran:  an inter-galactic bounty hunter that roamed this non-linear world (akin to the Legend of Zelda).  Due to the game’s vastness, it also included a password feature like the Mega Man games.  I was finally introduced to it a few years after it’s release and spent hours working to saves Planet Zebes from the Mother Brain and her dreaded Metroids; something similar to a “face-hugger” from Alien.  The greatest shocker to the original came during the game’s end credits, when you realized that Samus was a woman.  Samus Aran was the first real video game heroine.   Since that time, Metroid has gone on to become an impressive franchise of it’s own, spawning numerous sequels over various Nintendo gaming systems; all of which I own or had played heavily, as Metroid is my favorite video game franchise behind The Legend of Zelda. Metroid almost became a major motion picture that would have been directed by John Woo.

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The Legacy of TRON: The Primacy of the Father/Son Relationship

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Thirty years ago, in 1982, Disney gave us TRON:  the story of Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges), who found himself transported, literally, inside the digital world – called “The Grid” – that is computer technology in our “modern age”; “the Matrix” before there was The Matrix.  A young programmer at a large computer company called ENCOM, Flynn was responsible for some of the company’s best software products (video games) and ran an arcade called FLYNN’S.  Late one night he accidentally activates a special laser that transports him into “digital space”.  In there, he discovers a whole other world where programs are alive and oppressed by the Master Control Program – “Skynet” before The Terminator and it’s enforcer, Sark (both played/voiced by David Warner).  As a “user” – a creator of these programs – Flynn must save them from this oppression.

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GI Joe and The Gospel: Be the “Anti-Destro”

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When GI-JOE:  Real American Hero premiered in the early 80′s as a television companion to already published comic-books, viewers were introduced to an eclectic cast of characters comprising the ranks of both “The Joes:  America’s Highly Trained Special Mission Force” and “Cobra:  an evil terrorist organization determined to rule the world.”  One of the craftier villainous characters was Destro, a partner to Cobra Commander in his nefarious plots at world domination and destruction who wore a metal mask.  Born James McCullen Destro, of Scottish clan McCullen, Destro was the founder and CEO of Military Armament Research Systems (MARS) Industries, a weapons manufacturer whose technology and profits often fueled Cobra’s evil missions of terror and world-domination, as clan McCullen had long been the suppliers of weapons in various conflicts throughout history (imagine an evil Tony Stark/Iron Man).  As such, Destro uses his wealth, position, and influence for evil and does so willingly.  Nevertheless, he would, and sometimes did, work against Cobra if it is in his interest as ultimately Destro served himself.

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Heroes and a Telephone Pole: You Don’t Know the Power of your Life

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

In the Star Wars three-quel, Return of the Jedi, Darth Vader famously tells Luke Skywalker:  “You don’t know the power of the Dark Side” as a statement of finality and admission to the grim hold Emperor Palpatine had upon Vader’s life.  Fortunately, we know that all changed shortly thereafter.    Think for a moment on the power of those two lives within that fictional universe.  Darth Vader: innocent; chosen; hopeful; hoped in to bring balance to the Force and Justice to the Galaxy as one of the greatest Jedi Knights; powerful; eager; reckless; a Hero of humble beginnings; too self-aware; arrogant; prideful; discontent; susceptible; a deceiver and deceived; fallen; enslaved; instrument of tyranny; destroyer of millions; redeemed.   Luke Skywalker:   innocent; chosen; hopeful; hoped in to bring balance to the Force and Justice to the Galaxy; powerful; eager; reckless; a Hero of humble beginnings; humbled; learned; self-sacrificing; truthful; caring of friends and family; champion over evil; agent of redemption.  Two hyperspace lanes diverged in a star system…and Luke Skywalker took the one less navigated through.  Two lives, with such an effect on an entire galaxy and a far reaching legacy that bled over into (at least) the next generation.

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The Expendables Sequel: What’s the Message in THAT?!

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Schwarzenegger. Stallone. Willis. Lungren. Staham. Jet Li.  These men are the paragons of Hollywood action films spanning the last thirty-plus years.  Terminator. Predator. The Rocky Saga. Die Hard movies. Demolition Man. Judge Dredd. The Fifith Element.  Punisher.  The One. Transporter. Crank. Death Race.  And yes, even Masters of the Universe.    These are the movies that made them stars and household names.  The idea of ever getting these names all together for a single film was about as crazy as Marvel Studio’s plan to build-up to and then execute a “team-up” film called The Avengers.   Crazy as it sounded it happened in 2010 when Lionsgate released The Expendables and it did surprisingly well, earning $274 million and some change.  Low on character development and complex plot, it was the ultimate throwback to the action movies that made these men who they are today…and it was a fun ride that showed there are men out there – though rough and tumble – willing to take on the evil and corruption that others will not.

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The FENX, a Flux Capacitor, and Bolt

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Two-thirds of the way through the year 2012, the future still has between twenty-eight and thirty-five months for Mattel to get their act together and give us this before a class action lawsuit happens as a result of false advertising, although I’ve heard rumors that it might happen as soon a Christmas 2012.  Let’s not even get started on the issue of why we don’t have jet-packs yet, but an article by Bill Winningham pretty much sums it up:  we’re too afraid, although the Breitling “Jet-Man” is showing the world that some have it in them to overcome that great fear.  Much of this has to do with the conflict between what is deemed possible and what is deemed otherwise.

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