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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The Scooter and the Phone Box: Life as an Episode of “Doctor Who”

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As it’s legions of fan know well, Doctor Who is a long standing science fiction television series from “across the pond”, thanks to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).  In it, “The Doctor” travels through time in a 1960′s era blue “police box” (phone box) called the TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimension In Space).  The show began in the 1960′s and still continues today, with the premiere of the seventh season of the reboot – which began in 2005 – just a few weeks off.

In one of the more well-known episodes of the reboot, an episode called Blink, The Doctor is trapped in the year 1969 and unable to extradite himself because he doesn’t have access to the TARDIS.  Meanwhile, in 2007, a young woman named Sally Sparrow encounters a message from The Doctor scrawled out on the inner walls of an old house foretelling future events involving her.  It is in this house that Sally and her friend Kathy encounter “The Weeping Angels” – an alien race of beings that look like crying stone angels – who, if you look at them, won’t kill you but send you back into some point in the past.  This happens to Kathy and she is transported back to 1923, where to marries, lives out her life, dies, and has her grandson promise to deliver a letter to Sally at that house on the day she would be there.  This leads her to a video store run by Kathy’s brother, who is obsessed with a series of, what appear to be, one sided conversations that the doctor recorded back in 1969.  These messages try and explain the nature of time as the Doctor sees it and warns of the Weeping Angels, their desire to posses the TARDIS,  and how they also move closer to you when you turn your back on them; they are the Boo Ghosts – from Super Mario – of the Doctor Who universe.  In the video message he utters the immortal words, “The Angels Have The Phone Box…don’t turn your back, don’t look away, and whatever you do, Don’t Blink”

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Learning Patience: When Life Takes Longer

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This might be the sort of blog post you expect to see written by someone with an AARP card or maybe a parent with young kids – like my best friend and his wife  – but I’m neither.  I’m about a quarter-century away from the card and a long way off from being a dad; right now my aspiration to be the geeky uncle the future kiddos want to hang out with is quite enough in that department.  Despite being somewhat youthful still, I don’t move at a rushed pace as if I have a super-villain by the lapel, ready to right-cross him with the mighty Fist of Justice, and then win a race against The Flash.  The pace is more akin to the three-legged and worn steadiness of Jedi Master Yoda, exuding great bursts of physical energy only when such is needed.  This pace is most evident to me when I travel, which I recently did.  I do my best to arrive at the airport with more time than I need as I rarely run though the airport in danger of missing a flight, although that happened recently.  Only once have I actually run the length of an airport – with the walker – to ensure I made a flight on time and the subsequent exhaustion and pain made me feel like I had just run in the Special Olympics like when I was much younger; trying to talk to my parents by phone after being rushed onto the plane by the flight crew wasn’t a walk in the park either.

More often than not I slowly meander my way to the gate, one step at a time, minding my surroundings like Bruce Wayne was taught to do in Batman Begins.  Often times I take the time at the gate to rest, because you never know who you’ll meet on the plane, if a conversation will happen, or the energy it might take.  Nowadays I opt for a seat near the rear of the plane, since I generally board first, have to deal with less passenger traffic that way, and always have to wait for the plane to empty to get my walker when the plane lands.  Same goes for when I get off the plane and on to where I am going.

Time is all we have, and we don’t even know how much.  Rushing from one place to the next is rarely beneficial; who knows what – or who – you’ll miss.  Right now I’m in one of the best periods of life, as things have been forced to slow down due to my former boss’s resignation and the shift in focus to finding what is next in life after six-plus years of working in Congress.  Instead of being beholden to the tyranny of the urgent, I can take the time to search, write, question, and try to determine what the next chapter, I daresay the next Quest, will be; I am not rushing it at all.

When you rush, it’s like blinking; when you blink, you miss it.  Don’t Blink.  The slower path is often better – here’s to the slow path – the one whereby you arrive precisely when you are meant to, for the road goes ever on and on; down from the door where it began; now far ahead the road has gone and I must follow if I can…

Which path are you on and what might you be missing?

The Quest: Not All Who Wander Are Lost…

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What is your name?  What is your quest? What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?” – The Keeper of the Bridge of Death

What is a Quest?  The term is defined as “a long and arduous search for something” or “An expedition undertaken in medieval romance by a knight in order to perform a prescribed feat”.  I looked a few days ago through the dictionary that sits just to the left of the dais on the floor of the House of Representatives for what it had to say about “Quest” and what I was presented with was nothing but lame jargon…on the floor of the House of Representatives?!  I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised.  Tim Keller purports that a quest is a journey upon which one embarks  – not entirely of their own choice – that either leads to their death, or they return from the journey so changed that they cannot return to their old life.  Conversely, an adventure is something chosen freely that one embarks upon and at its end is able to return to their old life as it was before they left.

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