Life Lessons from Inside Arkham

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Crouched in the shadows, slowly moving towards a target.  The silence is broken – but my concentration is not – by agitated husky voices complaining that it’s too cold; cheap, two-bit, thugs. They’re spooked by a noise and start shooting, alerting others to a phantom presence that may only exist in their mind; maybe not.  Slowly, I look up and scan the sky above for a grapnel point; it’s high, but the best vantage points always are.  Pressing the worn button, the milometers thick wire releases like a coiled serpent ready to strike, the hooked ends flashing open like the gaping maw of a Predator.  The scarlet beams of laser-scope sights sweep the area far below, desperately searching, as the high-pitched voice of the queen makes threats fueled by rage and a psychotic, growing, loneliness.  These are the pawns on the board in the game of chess against injustice.  Their princely king is dead.  I know because I saw it, I carried him just like I carried someone long before him; someone he killed.  Nevertheless, the contest plays on unabated, because the queen still lives and seeks revenge for the death of her love.  Revenge against me.  Who am I?  I am Vengeance.  I am the (K)night.  I am Batman.

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Famliy of S.H.I.E.L.D.?

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“You fit S.H.I.E.L.D.’s profile: a criminal with a specialized skill-set and no family; that is what these people do, prey on loneliness, desperation, and fear and offer a home when you have no one else to turn to” – Ian Quinn, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

What is family?  Is it blood relation?  Is it those you fall in with and build community around?   Can it be both?  This is a fundamental question that arises in almost every project that Joss Whedon is involved in.  From Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Firefly/Serenity to Dollhouse, The Avengers and his latest project, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. this theme manifests again and again.

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The Light That Burns Twice As Bright…

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“The light that burns twice as bright only burns half as long and you have burned oh so brightly…” – Eldon Tyrell

Roy Batty. Rick Deckard. Eldon Tyrell.  If you know these names, then it’s likely you’ve seen Ridley Scott’s science fiction “tech-noir” masterpiece Blade Runner.  It’s also likely you’ve read – or at least know – that the film is based on a novel called “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” by Phillip K. Dick, who also wrote the stories that led to Minority Report, Total Recall, and A Scanner Darkly.  Simply put, Blade Runner is the story of Rick Deckard – Harrison Ford – and his mission to “retire” (terminate) a rouge band of “replicants”:  life-like machines that think they are, and desire to be, human.

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Don’t Waste My Time…

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What if you had more time on that clock?  Don’t waste my time.  – Henry Hamilton, In Time

What if Bonnie and Clyde happened in the future – or in an alternate universe – and instead of stealing money, they stole time?  This is the premise of In-Time, a sci-fi action/drama in the vein of Logan’s Run, Soylent Green, and The Island.

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Sometimes cheerleaders are the best heroes…

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“Save the cheerleader…save the world!” – Heroes

When the NBC show Heroes debuted seven years ago, it was unlike anything the world had seen before.  Yes, it was part X-Men, but the idea that – in the show – super-powered individuals were discovering their powers, trying to cope with them and everything they went through became the panels of a comic book that existed in-universe?  Yes, that was new and what made the first season brilliant.  Unfortunately that candle that burned twice as bright burned half as long…and every time the candle was rekindled it just wasn’t as bright (i.e. the third and fourth seasons).

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Sometimes, “people” just don’t matter…

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Often people expend  a lot of energy and time trying to figure out how other people think.  Marketing and public relations experts feed off of this task, they live and die by it.  For the average individual, the focus can be on figuring out what/how others think, sometimes – in the age of social media and cable news – people may never know.  Authors write books trying to explain how one gender thinks one way and another gender thinks another; although I suspect that the literary volume and value of such an exercise is heavily slated to one end of the spectrum.

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What Story Will You Read?

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One of the most profound ideas to come from the 1984 film The Neverending Story is Mr. Koreander’s idea that some stories are not safe stories.  Yet, at the same time, overshadowed like Walt Disney’s Oswald the Rabbit, is another idea.  It’s the reason that the film (and book) are called The Neverending Story – no, not because of the potential for additional, less quality, sequels – because the story is different for every person who reads it.

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What Do People Remember?

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If I were to give this past summer that just ended a nickname, I might be tempted to call it “The Summer of Medical Visits”.  During my eight years so far in Washington, DC, I’ve done very well – all things considered – at staying OUT of doctor’s offices.  Between a  vehicular accident, back spasms and other difficulties in recent months, I’ve spent a considerable time with doctors and radiologists.

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A long time ago…on a bench far far away…

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The grating of plastic wheels against concrete went unnoticed rotation after rotation as the senses were always more attuned to the sound of rubber soles scraping concrete (but only slightly).  One rubber soled foot scraping after another propelled the boy forward as the four-wheeled frame the that surrounded him kept pace.  As the mid-afternoon sun reflected off the metal exoskeleton, his mind was far far away…thinking of twin suns and epic dogfights in space as the music of Star Wars raced in his mind.  Still keeping an eye on his surroundings, another sound arrests his thoughts causing the music to fade into the recesses of his mind.  Looking around, he notices a little girl sitting alone on a park bench.  Walking towards her, his suspicions are confirmed:  someone WAS crying, and this little girl seemed the source.  Scraping and grating to a halt, the boy stopped to see what the problem might be.  Sitting down beside her, he offered whatever words of comfort and wisdom he could in hopes of getting her to stop her tears and go back into the school building.  Somehow, it worked and the crisis was averted.  Back within the walking confines of his wheeled exo-skeleton and epic notes reemerging from the recesses of his mind, he continued on…dreaming of what it might be like to save the galaxy…

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It’s People…it’s PEOPLE…

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If you’ve got images of masses upon masses of people living one upon the other in a dingy world wherein a detective – Robert Thorn – solves crimes and gets by with the help of his friend Sol, I applaud you.  Nevertheless this isn’t a time to talk about corporations, executives murdered, or what day Tuesday is, because it sure isn’t Soylent Green day here today.  Rather I hope to tell a much more uplifting story.

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