Flight of Fancy

I had a dream

Of being high in the sky

Among the clouds

Unsure if I was falling

Or flying free

 

I don’t really care

Which one it was

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On Heroes

We all have heroes; people that we admire, people that we hope to emulate or follow, people that inspire us to do more and be better. It doesn’t matter if your heroes are found in the pages of colorful comics, small and large screens, or if they are actual physical people because these individuals become very real to you. Whether we care to admit it or not, our heroes influence us and guide us to be who we believe we are meant to be.

Of course, the problem with heroes is best summed up by the film classic, The Dark Knight. More specifically the infamous quote by Harvey Dent, “You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” While I don’t agree with the hyperbole of the statement, I do believe that most heroes eventually disappoint their admirers or simply show their humanity.

The truth of the matter is that all heroes are still human and will ultimately fall to some degree in your eyes. However, at times it is better to see the shortcomings of your idols to understand that they too fall short but still strive forward. Still continue toward some purpose. I can’t say who you should look to or consider a hero, but I can say that everyone needs some form of inspiration and aspiration and looking to those who have done great things before us are not the worst place to look.

So who was your hero and why?

P.S. This post idea was partially inspired by the unfortunate passing of Maya Angelou. She was an incredible person that inspired thousands, if not millions, and managed to do so many great things. May her memory never dwindle and may it serve as a model for us to aspire to.

Lessons From…Mobile Suit Gundam 00

To the Americans who read this: hope you enjoyed Memorial Day and made the most of it however you chose to acknowledge it. Normally on Mondays I take a look at a piece of media (film, television, video games, music. etc.) and try to find some lesson or moral I can dissect. Given the American holiday I won’t be quite doing that today.

Instead, I am recommending an anime for you to watch: Mobile Suit Gundam 00. I won’t tell you what the lesson or intended message is; I’ll let you make the decision on that. However, the one thing I ask is that you pay attention as to how the show discusses war and violence as tools; tools of change, tools of catharsis, and tools in shaping the world and society.

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If you enjoy giant mechs, epic battles, conflicted and flawed characters, or impressive narratives, you’ll enjoy this show and it will also demonstrate why, regardless of what your stance on war is, we celebrate and sympathize with those that fight.

Seriously, go watch, enjoy, and learn.

Thus endeth today’s lesson.

On Opportunities

So I was listening to a rather old podcast, Making it with Riki Lindhome to be specific, interview with Felicia Day. I hope I don’t have to explain who Felicia Day is. Really, I do?

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Fine, but you are seriously failing at the internet because of this. Actually, you know what, you’re on a computer or phone reading this so you can Google her yourself.

In fact, I’ll make it easy for you; take a look at this and read here. I’ll wait.

We good to go?

Awesome, let’s continue.

Beyond the enjoyable discussion of Ms. Day’s career, I found one thing she mentioned to be rather profound and perplexing. She stated how once she was garnering success from her series, The Guild, several opportunities for television, books, and film were offered to her. Obviously, this is a good problem to have as an entrepreneur and entertainer. However, with so many options and her desire to continue her own productions and make her own options, she ended up turning down several of these offers and essentially closing several doors in the process.

Now, Ms. Day has managed to make the best of her chances, but the question that comes to mind is how did she know which opportunities to take and which to let go of? Honestly, a multitude of choices is just as frightening and frustrating as the lack of any. In order to move forward with a project, you inevitably have to deny yourself other opportunities. What if the choice you make turns out to be a great chance and the path you followed leads to nothing? Honestly, how do people make these decisions that could have such distinct and extreme repercussions? It seems like such an incapacitating action.

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In reality, there is no real way to know which choice will lead to which outcome. The only thing that can be done is to make a decision and try to learn from the consequences. Frankly, it is rather scary knowing that and gods know I don’t always manage to follow this piece of wisdom. Still, in the future, I hope to take Felicia’s advice to heart and go with my gut and make the best of whatever scenarios arise.

Would love to hear your thoughts on opportunities, closing doors, and the, at times, terrifying act of making those choices.

Lessons From…Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons

So, I have already discussed the game Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons in a recent post, but I was merely using it as an example and recommendation and did not really delve into the game or narrative too much. Frankly, the game does one thing that I find amazing; it forces you to actually experience the climax and resolution of the narrative and it is not a happy one. Obviously from this point on: SPOILERS!

 

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Unlike a lot of video games, Brothers is kind of depressing and I say that in the most profound and complimentary way possible. You are not an overpowered superhuman mowing down enemies before you nor do you have any incredible weapons at your disposal. It is an indie game and thus limited in its abilities and scope but good lord does it take full advantage of its resources. Each level is completely different and feels and looks like it is part of the rest of the world but is a land in to of itself. Seriously, the level of the giants manages to both be awe inspiring and a bit viscerally disgusting at the same time. The scenery and settings are breathtakingly rendered and each character is fully fleshed out, even most of the NPCs, without the use of back story or dialogue.

This is of particular importance because it makes you care about the world and characters, especially the titular brothers of the game. Of course, because this game is meant to be depressing, and I am pretty sure at least somewhat based on a folk tale, which are always not happy, the eventual ending is not one you would expect. Near the conclusion of the game the older brother is mortally wounded and the younger brother must obtain the waters of the tree of life, which is the original mission of the game anyways, to save him. Unfortunately, he is too late and his brother dies in his small arms. Yeah, feel the feels, people.

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However, it is not quite over. At this point most games would give a quick cut scene of the younger brother mourning over the older brother’s grave. He would cry a bit and then continue on in his journey to try to save his father. Brothers is not most games. Instead, the game makes you, as the younger brother, grab your dead brother’s body and drag into the empty grave. Then, you have to push dirt onto the body to actually bury it. Yeah, the creators of the game wanted the player to actually go through the experience of burying their sibling. This is the climax of the entire experience and is necessary for the younger brother to become a more realized individual capable of saving his father and continuing on after the events of the game.

Which brings us to the lesson of Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons experience matters. Whether good or bad, whether joyful or melancholy, whether passionate or serene; every bit and part is worthy of our attention and experience. Sometimes instead of distracting ourselves with a multitude of options on screens, we should allow ourselves to hear and feel the silence and thoughts we have around us. I’ll leave this in the words of one of the greatest satirist and minds today:

Thus ends today’s lesson.

On Endings

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Endings suck! Seriously. They are the most difficult and frustrating things. Even if you have the greatest ending in mind getting there usually proves impossible. Somehow, your perfectly constructed ending cares not for the story you created and prefers other narratives and story tellers. The characters you painstakingly created and breathed life into do not believe your tale and do not think you merit their efforts. In short, endings suck.

Well, they can anyways. Other times, a great ending ends up being the cherry on a superb sundae; just the right bit of sweetness to finish everything off. The right phrase to describe endings came to me from, of all things, a video game. It said, “Endings are just beginnings in disguise.” The best endings provide a worthy resolution but usually leave enough for the audience to imagine beyond the pages. Hence, the existence of fan fiction, in all its forms. (Be wary of the fan fiction and what you search for).

Around this time of year come a lot of endings. Students are graduating and moving on to the next part of their lives whatever that may be. Television shows are being canceled or renewed for a series of arbitrary reasons due to unclear reasons or numbers. Basketball teams are playing the last games of the seasons putting months, and really years, worth of work to a great championship winning end.

Basically a lot of things are ending, but really they are merely pausing to begin anew. Endings are hard because we consider them some sort of conclusion to the story in its entirety. Instead, we should consider endings simply pauses to that particular chapter. There will always be more story to tell even if you are not the right author to continue it. Finish your contribution and let the tale continue. After all, an ending is only a beginning in disguise.

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Lessons From…Game of Thrones

Seriously, have you been watching Game of Thrones? If you have not, what the hell are you waiting for? Go! Watch it! Yes, I know. A Song of Ice and Fire is a great series of books, but the show definitely adds to the original narrative and definitely worth the time and effort of its investment.

The focus of this particular post will be on episode six of season four titled “The Laws of God and Men” and there will be some SPOILERS for the lessons of the episode to make sense, so you have been warned. Also, quick note that this will not be a review of the episode merely a use of a few key scenes.

Frankly, like many episodes and chapters in the Game of Thrones saga, “The Laws of God and Men” provides a smorgasbord of potential lessons and ideas to analyze, dissect, and discuss. First up, the conversation between Jamie and Tywin Lannister:

Did you notice it? The quick response and the knowing smile from Tywin after Jamie makes his plea. This trial has been a complicated and perfectly executed ploy by Tywin. He appeases and entertains the people, who have greatly suffered due to the ongoing war and the “leadership” of the previous king. He ensures his presence and position by being the head judge in the trial sitting on the Iron Throne. Most importantly, he created a situation in which Jamie takes his rightful place as his heir and that the son who he detests lives out his life at the Wall with no claim on titles, coin, or even the Lannister name.

In essence, Tywin played chess while nearly everyone around him is confused by the perplexity of flipping a coin. This is the first lesson: a mind is more powerful than a blade, an army, or even a dragon. So far, the few characters who have truly gained power and influence in this series are not the strongest, the bravest, the richest, the noblest, or even the ones that wield their power in front of the masses. The only common threads of the puppeteers have been intellect, cunning, wisdom, and ambition. While everyone else has been concerned with petty vengeance and insults, those few, like Tywin, have been moving pieces into the right places to continue his reign and rule, even if the crown will never be placed upon his head.

There have been various conversations about power and influence throughout the course of Game of Thrones. Tywin demonstrates in this scene why he is one of the key players in the Game. He manages to get everything he has wanted and more with a simple move. Granted, he did not want the death of his grandson, but he uses it to fit his needs without missing a beat. In fact, this plan would have been beautifully complete if it had not been for the next scene:

Tyrion would have agreed to his father’s terms and accepted his fate. He knew he had little to live for and it would have been the only opportunity to keep his head. However, for Cersei and Tywin, it was not enough to condemn Tyrion. They wanted him to suffer and to be humiliated. They wanted him broken down and miserable, but they gravely underestimated the diminutive lion. By throwing Shae in his face, they reignited his hatred for his family and made him think nothing of his life as he had done so before. This is the second lesson: know and respect your enemy whether it be a person or a thing. I am not saying to succumb to it or to fear what impedes your progress. Never do such a thing. Understand your obstacles. Acknowledge their strength. Face them with nothing less than your best.

Tywin overplayed his hand believing his youngest son to be weak and unworthy of his lineage. He never truly understood Tyrion’s strengths and potential and considered him a disfigured tool with limited uses. Unfortunately, Tywin’s pride and misunderstanding of his son toppled his well crafted plans and put into jeopardy his machinations. The audience sees this in Tywin;s reaction to Tyrion near the end of the clip. His anger and resolute face say it all. As well, he creates a formidable enemy in Tyrion when he has so few true allies. Who knows what outcomes Tywin has set in motion with his actions? (Yeah I know the readers of the series probably…)

So, what did we learn today? Never underestimate an ambitious mind and respect the obstacles and enemies before you. Thus ends today’s lesson.

(As a quick aside, I really hope Peter Dinklage wins an Emmy for this episode’s performance because DAMN!)