Philosophy

All I ask of a Superhero

Iron Man
Image via Wikipedia

A couple of people took me to task for my take on Iron Man 2. I like to think of myself as a simple man, but maybe that isn't true anymore.

Rethinking my expectations

I started reading comics as a kid.  Batman, Green Lantern, The Hulk, and the X-men were some of my favorites.  Growing up, superheroes were pure escapism.  Granted some of the characters had family problems, personal problems, and even Batman lost a Robin, but the stories were all larger than life.

Superhero flicks are still larger than life, but they have more "realistic problems."

  • Batman is a male Paris Hilton who fights crime.
  • Peter Parker wouldn't know what to do with the girl if he got her.
  • Tony Stark is rotting away from a self-inflicted disease + he is a male Paris Hilton who doesn't fight crime, he is bringing about world peace.

Holding out for a Hero!

Ok, everyone knows that I am a huge Bonnie Tyler fan, but every time I watch one of these movies, I hear her in the back of my head:

Where have all the good men gone And where are all the gods? Where's the street-wise Hercules To fight the rising odds? Isn't there a white knight upon a fiery steed? Late at night I toss and turn and dream of what I need

I need a hero I'm holding out for a hero 'til the end of the night He's gotta be strong And he's gotta be fast And he's gotta be fresh from the fight I need a hero I'm holding out for a hero 'til the morning light He's gotta be sure And it's gotta be soon And he's gotta be larger than life

I want a superhero who is, well a hero.  They don't have to be perfect, and well they can have basic human flaws, but at the end of the day, they need to be a hero!

Returning to Iron Man 2, I thought Whiplash made a good case against the Stark family, and Tony just acted like the spoiled brat Whiplash thought he was.  I actually found myself wanting Whiplash to win.  I can't stand whiny, self-important bitches, and that is all I saw in Tony.  His womanizing turned me off, and his self-pity made me roll my eyes.  He dug his own grave, and I was ready to see him lay in it.

Escapism and Realism

I think my biggest issue with the film is that I was really looking for some pure escapism from the movie. That is what I look for in a superhero movie.

I watch a superhero for action, mystery, and pure escapism. Watching a super hero struggle with illness was outside the realm of what I wanted to see, especially with people in my life actually struggling with various illnesses that do not have a magical deus ex machina serum.  It felt like salt in the wound.

The illness reminded me of my real life, and the magic cure just upset me.  I went to see a movie where a superhero and super-villain tangled with each other until the film climaxed in a super-mega-ultra battle.

The movie, like all (not so) superhero movies since Batman Begins, opened with scenes of stark realism... but it is a superhero movie!!  Superheroes just aren't realistic, and films cannot serve two masters.

I am not sure exactly when escapism became a bad word, but my life is complicated enough.  Sometimes I just want to walk into a dark cave and forget about my real life for a couple of hours.  It might sound petty, but that is it.

I want a great, escapist spectacle from time to time, but more than anything, I want filmmakers to be honest with me and with their material.  If the movie is not an action movie, don't tell me it is.  If the movie is not a smart, well written think piece, be good with that.  Just don't pretend one is the other, and stop telling yourself you can be both at the same time.

A half-assed story with half-assed action is just a half-assed movie.  Two half-assed jobs never make a whole.

I know some of you liked the movie.  Great!  I wish I was one of you.  Keep having fun, and sharing. It is good to hear contrary opinions.  Just remember, we don't have to love the same things, we just need to help each other find more things we can all enjoy.

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Learn to Live in the Present Moment

Ocean Lake and Alamere Falls Image by brothergrimm via Flickr

To a large degree,the measure of our peace of mind is determined by how much we are able to live in the present moment.Irrespective of what happened yesterday or last year,and what may or may not happen tomorrow,the present moment is where you are --always.

Without question,many of us have mastered the neurotic, the art of spending much of our lives worrying about a variety of things --all at once.We allow past problems and future concerns to dominate our present moments,so much so that we end up anxious,frustrated,depressed,and hopeless.On the flip side,we also postpone our gratification,our stated priorities,and our happiness,often convincing ourselves that ‘someday’ will be better than today.  Unfortunately,the same mental dynamics that tell us to look toward the future will only repeat themselves so that ‘someday ’never actually arrives.

John Lennon once said,‘Life is what’s happening while we’re busy making other plans.’When we’re busy making ‘other plans’,our children are busy growing up,the people we love are moving away and dying,our bodies are getting out of shape,and our dreams are slipping away.In short,we miss out on life.

Many live as if life were a dress rehearsal for some later date.It isn’t.No one has a guarantee that he or she will be here tomorrow.Now is the only time we have,and the only time that we have any control over.

When our attention is in the present moment,we push fear from our minds.Fear is the concern over events that might happen in the future--we won’ t have enough money,our children will get into trouble,we will get old and die,whatever.

To combat fear,the best strategy is to learn to bring your attention back to the present.Mark Twain said,‘I have been through some terrible things in my life,some of which actually happened.I don’t think I can say it any better.

Practice keeping your attention on the here and now.

Your efforts will pay great dividends.

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Chuck: The Tao of Morgan

Chuck discovers he learned Kung Fu from the In...
Image via Wikipedia

In life all of us have to wrestle with love, family, and our purpose in life.  When on the right path one finds everything moves smoothly and when not one finds difficulty.  I’m really enjoying the third season of Chuck and their representation of those real struggles.

By using the intersect and chuck's ability to access it as a symbol of chuck's spiritual compass we get to clearly see when his life is out of balance.  Like in life, when one gets so out of balance, there comes a time when a spiritual adviser comes along to put one back on the path.  For Chuck this was the Tao of Morgan.

Chuck Verses the False Choice

Chuck’s purpose in life is facing a false choice between the old Chuck verses spy Chuck.  Unfortunately by working within the confines of labels he is unable to see how both choices are wrong.  Old Chuck denies how he is very capable and spy Chuck denies his emotions which is his source of strength.  He has to find the real Chuck.

To protect Chuck’s family he made a false choice to keep them at a distance.  This false choice is causing great problems in Chuck’s life because it is his family that grounds him.  To protect them he need’s them close and to keep a distance between himself and his spy life.

In love Chuck made a false choice by believing Sarah is not an option.  This false choice is preventing him from finding out what kind of romantic relationship really exists between them.  He is left with unresolved emotions that also prevents any future choices.  Thus the relationship with Hanna is not able to move forward because Chuck has not resolved his position with Sarah.

With all of those false choices Chuck is left lost and out of balance.  This manifests it’s self by his inability to access the intersect.  Then enters his spiritual advisor to put him back on the path.

Tao of Morgan

Chuck reveals his spy identity to Morgan.  One might expect two years of lying to hurt the friendship but not in Morgan’s case because he understands the way.  I love how out of all the people in Chuck’s life Morgan is his spiritual guide.

The Tao of Morgan:  Follow your bliss and be true to yourself.  This is the real secret to our purpose in life and it is a path not a destination.

The Real Chuck

The real Chuck is a very capable person who cares to do the good and protect innocent people from harm.  He draws his strength from his emotions which is directly tied to his desire to do good and protect innocent people from harm.  This is why Chuck’s emotions play such a vital role.

He gets back on the path of following his bliss and being true to himself after putting Morgan back into his life.

The Struggle Continues

Now we must see how chuck resolves his false choices that lead him off the path in the first place.  I don’t see him finding his true self right away since it is his peers that keep perpetuating the false choice between being a spy or being his old self.  Sarah sees the real Chuck but is unable to clearly tell him because of the unresolved feelings between them.

Will Chuck find his true self?

What kind of relationship do you see Chuck and Sarah having by the end of season three?

[reus name="Chuck"]

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Odd: Live to 100, Just Take a Pill

Breakthrough pill to help people live to 100

The pill is based on immitating [sic] the effects of three super-genes that make people 20 times more likely to live to be 100 and 80 percent less likely to develop Alzheimer’s or other similar diseases. The new pill is expected to be ready for testing within three years.

This would be awesome!  Not only give a nice extension on ones lifespan but to reduce the chances of Alzheimer’s or other similar diseases.

Sounds too good to be true?

Possibly, The quest for the philosopher's stone goes back for millennium and shows up in speculative fiction in many forms.  My first reaction to this is to sigh and think ‘ah, another snake oil salesman.’  What is fun with this pill concept is that they gave it some credibility by tying it to the longevity effects of genes.

There is ongoing research into human longevity.  Most of the successful results are tied to tweaking the subjects (mostly worms) genes.  A while back I watched a fascinating news piece on the longevity research and it’s results.  They were successful in extending even doubling the life span but there was a catch.  It doubled all of the lifespan which means twice as long as an infant, puberty twice as long, and the declining years taking twice as long.  Would this extension and payoff for the extension of life really be any increase in the quality of life?

The ethical questions raised were fascinating.  If one could live longer what quality of life would they get for it?

Would you be willing to take a pill to extend your life to 100 years?  Would you still be willing to take a pill if it had to be taken on a regular basis?

(via Unexplained Mysteries)

Growing Buddha Shaped Pears

Buddah Pear Tree

Agricultural and Religious Geek mashup that will leave you in awe.  These pear trees are taught by a Chinese farmer to grow Buddha shaped pears!

They look so cool.  Part of me was a little uncomfortable with the thought of eating them but then I remembered that all life is impermanent and reveled in these little meditation fruits.

I wonder if just walking through the grove would help to steer one's mind toward an enlightened direction.

They cost about $7.32 each which is not much considering that they grew in that shape.

(via Geekologie)

Regrets of a Weak Willed Stormtrooper

A tribute to those writers out there when their minds and words fail them: regrets-stormtrooper-star-wars

... perfect poster for my day so far!  I used to live a life of no regrets and I think it is time to return to that reality.

Rules for a no regret life **warning it is brutality honest**

  • No regrets.. not allowed... not accepted
  • Think twice, act once
  • If you are going to do something mean it or don't do it.
  • If you mess up something either demonstrate your sincerity and fix it or be honest about not caring and move on.
  • Regrets waste life (time + effort + joy+ purpose=life)

How does this poster motivate you?

(Thanks Brian Chang via FriendFeed)

Speculative Fiction: The Lost Art of "What if?"

I feel alone lately as a fan of Speculative Fiction.  Many of the people I talk to have never heard of it, and others have had a hard time wrapping their head around the concept, so I have decided to talk about the lost art of speculative fiction.

Art of the Imagination

Speculative Fiction (SF) is the art of the imagination.  Any story, video, image, or song that answers the question, "What if?" is SF.   There are five main subgenres of SF:

  • Science Fiction
  • Scifi
  • Fantasy
  • Horror
  • Alternative History

I meet a lot of people who lack an imagination.  Most are not fans of SF, but what frightens me more than anything is the number of writers/would-be writers who don't have an imagination.

Many people believe that SF is easy to write, when nothing could be father from reality.  Great SF requires more imagination and work than any other genre of fiction.  Not only does the writer have to create a good story, but they also have to construct a new world that is internally consistent and filled with an immaculate reality that will engage the reader/viewer/listener in the setting and story.

The problem with the industry is that too many writers with little to no imagination have found employment making SF because their work is commercially viable to the mass market and lacks any of the qualities great or even good works should have.  They too often forget the one thing that SF should do:

Transcend Limits

Stellar Spire in the Eagle NebulaThe last time SF was popular in the mass market, a spirit of activism, adventure, and dream pervaded the works.  Not all of them, but enough for the the majority of SF fans to be satisfied with many of the films and series launched.  Since then, post-modern fiction styles have dominated print, television and movies, as a result the recent SF works have lacked any depth.

Pioneering SF writers/creators like Frank Herbert, Gene Roddenberry, Harlan Ellison, David Gerrold, et al, believed that SF could challenge peoples preconceptions and inspire them to transcend the limits imposed upon them by their upbringing and culture. They wrote and produced SF that attacked our sacred cows, presenting the world as it could/should be with all of the ambiguity and possibility that this world offers us.

This is the SF I love, produce and support. The trite cynicism that has again become en vogue is antithetical to this spirit of transformative fiction that inspired so many to fall in love with science and hope for a better world. It does not have to go this way. We must reclaim the spirit and art that made SF great.

The Search for Meaning

The root of the problem is simple:

  • We hope for a meaning and purpose for our lives and when we find that nature does not provide us with an easy answer we can slavishly follow after, we assume life is devoid of meaning and purpose all together. Nihilism is an easy trap to fall into, but is also an easy one to escape.

Sure, life has no grand overriding purpose... or does it? Life seems to exist to survive, thrive, and evolve. With the exception of evolution, these are not very inspiring goals, but the urge to better ourselves and grow throughout our life is a fundamental function, if not purpose of existence.

This is no reason to despair. The fact that life does not impose a purpose on us allows us to find or invent one for ourselves. What a liberating gift from the universe! We are free to choose our purpose and to find meaning for ourselves.

Now, I won't lie to you. This is a burden to bare, there is no doubt about that, but it is a burden that is easy for us to take up, if we choose to live boldly.

For too long, we have lived our lives under the constraints and limitations placed upon us by society. We have to rise above the nihilistic stupor, and make the world we want to live in.

Let's All Dream Again

We have to rise up, stand up, speak out, and most of all dream. If we do not, then the future is indeed lost, but not because of destiny, but because we have let it follow that path.

Dream again, and dream big. Find something to be for, not something to be against. We are strong and imaginative enough to rise above any darkness that comes upon us. Rise up! Let's take our future back!

This post was inspired by The Lost Art of Speculative Fiction, which I originally posted on March 14, 2008.

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Haloes and the Seven Demons

The air of mystery and the art of the dark romance have left the world. The grotesque has replaced horror, and the beauty of supernatural horror is rarely seen any more. Gone are the old masters, and few if any have risen up to walk in the footsteps of giants.

Watching the haunting beauty of Cecil B. DeMille's Seven Deadly Sins set to the music of Christian Death reminds me of what could be. The simplicity of these images, made in the days before computer generated effects makes me wonder what could be made now with the ubiquitous camcorders and digital video.

It only takes a bit of imagination to use the simple tools that surround us to make great art... but who is striving to make a film that that captures the power of the image to transport us away into world that are beyond belief? Who is making movies that do more than just entertain or self-aggrandize?

Anyone can make a movie these days, and a lot of people are. YouTube is flooded with them, but like everything in our world these days, they are made for the moment and not to outlast their initial viewing.

I don't believe that just anyone can create a classic. It takes talent and genius. I do believe that another classic will never be made unless the creators take upon themselves the task of making something that will outlive them. Unless we strive for excellence, we will never achieve it.

Our culture celebrated mediocrity. It is important to make sure that everyone feels important and significant, because every life is precious, but it is vital that recognize and promote genius and talent when we see it. We each need to strive for excellence in everything that we do. Then and only then will we each come truly alive, and share that life with the world.

The Lost Art of Speculative Fiction

fiction-thumb.pngWhen I was first getting into Speculative Fiction, it had a spirit of activism, adventure, and dream to it that so much modern fiction simply lacks. Pioneers in this field, Frank Herbert, Gene Roddenberry, Harlan Ellison, David Gerrold, et al, believed that SF could challenge peoples preconceptions and inspire them to transcend the limits imposed upon them by their upbringing and culture. They wrote and produced SF that attacked our sacred cows, presenting the world as it could/should be with all of the ambiguity and possibility that this world offers us. This is the SF I fell in love with and endeavor produce and support. The trite cynicism that has again become en vogue is antithetical to this spirit of transformative fiction that inspired so many to fall in love with science and hope for a better world. It does not have to go this way. We must reclaim the spirit and art that made SF great.

The root of the problem is the basic existential quandary we each experience in our time. We hope for a meaning and purpose for our lives and when we find that nature does not provide us with an easy answer we can slavishly follow after, we assume life is devoid of meaning and purpose all together. Nihilism is an easy trap to fall into, but is also an easy one to escape.

Sure, life has no grand overriding purpose... or does it? Life seems to exist to survive, thrive, and evolve. With the exception of evolution, these are not very inspiring goals, but the urge to better ourselves and grow throughout our life is a fundamental function, if not purpose of existence.

This is no reason to despair. The fact that life does not impose a purpose on us allows us to find or invent one for ourselves. What a liberating gift from the universe! We are free to choose our purpose and to find meaning for ourselves.

Now, I won't lie to you. This is a burden to bare, there is no doubt about that, but it is a burden that is easy for us to take up, if we choose to live boldly.

For too long, I have lived my life under the constraints and limitations placed upon me by society. I allowed myself to fall under this nihilistic stupor, but I have had enough.

This is why I am not a fan of Battlestar Galactica or Heroes. They have followed this cynical path into a nihilism I find neither sophisticated nor mature. It is solipsistic and puerile. Yes, life can be dark, but no one benefits from wallowing in that darkness.

When I was growing up, I became an avid fan of Goth Rock, Deathrock, Punk, and Metal. At their bests, these genres are about rising up and railing against these cynical worldview foisted upon us. "Only Theatre of Pain" (Christian Death) is the music of defiance, not acquiescence. Black Sabbath sang in anger at the darkness of life. At their best, these are songs about standing up and not about being trodden under foot.

We have to rise up, stand up, speak out, and most of all dream. If we do not, then the future is indeed lost, but not because of destiny, but because we have let it follow that path.

Dream again, and dream big. Find something to be for, not something to be against. We are strong and imaginative enough to rise above any darkness that comes upon us. Rise up! Let's take our future back!

Otep's "The Salvation of Music"

 A visionary speak:

I believe our performances are akin to the endeavors of the ancient Alchemists. Our goal is to take physical lead (the body & mind, flawed and inherited), and transform it into spiritual gold. Then, ultimately, generate and infect ourselves and our supporters with the great Panacea, the elixir of life, which holds the remedy for all life’s suppressions. In laymen’s terms, we believe words matter, music is holy, and art saves (Headbangers Blog).


If I could, I would quote her entire post. Their is salvation in art. Throughout the many things that I have gone through in my life, music and art have been my constant companions. Catharsis is absolutely necessary.

I have often envied musicians and painters for the power of their media to so easily connect two souls in a way that amazes me and astounds me. This is the difference between fandom and pop culture fans.

The emotional, near religious, experience that transforms people into devoted, life-long fans. We experience something that soothes a wound or that we identify with on such a deep level.

This is also the burden that anyone who considers themselves an artist has to bare. How can your art transcend the limits of words on paper, sound, or paint on canvas, and become something that is capable of carrying an unspeakable message from soul to soul. No one can plan this, it is a byproduct of listening to ones muses and riding the leopard without been eaten by it.

Tears for A Young Life

hatecrime190 I did not post when young Larry King's life was snuffed out by hate because I was too full of anger and hate at the causes of his murder, and I did not want to add more hate into the world. I have been blind for tears every time I pray because unholy words from a book that I hold as sacred played a part in the slaying of this young child. Hate is all we need to know of hell.

No matter what you believe about the nature of the universe, a demon, a devil is responsible for the killing of this boy, and I am not talking about other boy who pulled the trigger. I am talking about the demon that roams our psyche that says it is ok to mock, harass, harm, and kill gay people. This devil is a poison in our national blood stream and it must be banished if we are ever going to live up to our national creed, Justice for All.

Thanks to Ellen, I have found a way through my own hate, but I still have pity. I must find a way to make pity into compassion.

See Ellen's words here.

(thanks Lady Bunny)