Friday, August 3, 2012

Heroes: Saving the Day!

The present surge of super-hero movies is an uplifting indicator that imagination is alive and well in all of us!

You've read some of my rants concerning heroes. I mostly feel like it's an overused–and sometimes misunderstood–word. However, the majority of Hollywood's storytelling has always been centered around something I have come to call the hero's journey. And nowhere is this more evident than in the recent array of super-hero movies. Especially in light of the recent run of Marvel Movies like The Avengers, the Amazing Spider-Man and the Dark Knight Rises, among a slew of other hit hero movies.

And with any luck, this party's just getting started.

Sure, I am a fan boy, tried and true. But I am about to boldly go where no blogger has gone before... and discuss the possibility of a bright tomorrow. Due in large part to super hero movies. You read that right, bare with me, this one will stick, I promise.

In 1975, I started reading what are common, even household name, comic books; The X-Men, The Avengers, Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, The Black Panther, The Defenders, The Incredible Hulk, The Teen Titans, The Justice League and Green Lantern to name only a handful of an entire universe of characters. I was hopelessly hooked and only wanted more. But while I was soaking in the tights, capes and impossibly curvaceous super women, something was happening.

I was reading. Vigorously.

Master comic creators, storytellers and writers like Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Marv Wolfman, George Perez, Neal Adams, John Byrne and endless list of other innovative men (and now women!) brought me eye-popping stories every month for .25¢ an issue. They exposed me to classic literature, current events and social issues too advanced for my seven year old mind to fully grasp. All I knew is I liked it and couldn't get enough.

Flash forward to the age of special effects and movies can now show the world what I have known for decades–this stuff is amazing! And the best part is that my children not only see my enthusiasm for these stories–something I think the are genetically predisposed to at this point–and know all these heroes and characters as they come to life on the big screen. And like me they are hopelessly addicted to this stuff–their eyes filled with starry-eyed wonder for life!

So what's it all mean?

Well, it means that creativity through imagination and story-telling is alive and well. As I am presently writing my own graphic novel, my best friend is about to have his first sci-fi adventure series published and even my daughter Jessica is writing her own short story about mythological beings.

And that my children see the fruits of using their imagination and see the power of creative thought. And that is a victory I can only begin to put into words.

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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Rise of The Machines

Technology: Taking us where no man has gone before... 
We all take technology for granted. But what does technology take from us?

Today's world is a wonder of things undreamed of when I was a child. Having grown up in the 1970's, I was a card-carrying member of the Star Wars/Video Game generation. I grew up starry eyed at the wondrous new world that technology would deliver to us.

And that promise was fulfilled. In spades.

Technology ads in the 1970's promised a budding new world of personal music players, home entertainment systems, VCRs (remember this was the 70's) and home computers. Since then, we have grown more demanding, more dependent and more expectant of the technology in today's world. I don't just mean the cell phone awesomeness we all march around with in our pockets. That's just the top layer. No it's the truly amazing stuff we all take for granted that are the underpinnings of technological achievement that we all simply expect that just did not exist in the world even 25 years ago.

Journey with me with for a look at some amazing technologies we all take for granted that are mind-boggling and inch a lot closer to science fiction freakishness than any of us  would care to admit.

1. Cars. Ok, so we don't all drive hover cars like the Jetsons, but we have some cars on the road that are capable of some pretty amazing things. Things like; all electrical powered cars, rear-view cameras or spacial sensors that allow us to know if another vehicle is close. There are even car-to-plane conversion vehicles now. Kit would be so proud!

2. Aircraft. Ok, so it's not Kubrick's  2001 but really–New York to LA in six hours? Didn't it used to take like… 10 months on horseback? Planes are now offering wifi and free Internet access for the duration of the flight. Soon, space plane technology will have us vaulting from LA to Tokyo in 90 minutes. And you were worried about the peanuts being stale…

3. Television. We have access to more than 600 channels and that number grows every year. It wasn't that long ago (inside 30 years) when most major markets offered between 6 to 12 stations–and most of those were local. As if my ADD wasn't already bad enough.

4. Laser Surgery. We can now release tumors, fix the cornea of the eye and even burn cancerous cells through non-invasive laser surgery. Somehow the New You station in Logan's Run doesn't seem so far fetched.

5. Cell phones. One of the greatest communications achievements in the last 40 years is the proliferation of cell phone technology. There is no way to share all the wonders and capabilities that have been brought into our lives by these technological wonders in our pockets, purses and palms. Suffice it to say I can speak to anyone, anywhere and see stuff anywhere on earth via satellite. If you don't think that's cool, then this is your stop. You can get off here.

What's it all mean?

It means we all often take for granted the incredible technology that has embedded itself in our world and our lives. It wasn't that long ago that we had to "dial" a telephone, "turn" a channel or have surgery that included being cut open (I am aware this still goes on but that, too, is changing). My children use terminologies that are outdated like albums or records as they make funny faces at 'gadgets' like the Walkman, Roller Blades or pinball machines–all fairly revolutionary and not THAT old. All while they use Smart Phones, stream videos and "surf" to destinations all over the world via the "web".

The world has become a faster, more hyper-connected, more accessible place. But it wasn't that long ago when surfing meant grabbing a surf board and heading to the beach–not visiting countless web sites.

It feels like there is a really profound point in all of this but for the life of me, I just can't quite tell you what it is. 

I do know however, it all, somehow, makes me just a bit… sad.
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