Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Force is Wrong With This One...

 A short time ago, in a place too close for comfort...

The 20th century's biggest franchise gets a new lease on life, so perplexing, so invigorating, you'll want to pull the ears off a Gundark.

In one of the most dumbfounded and bewildering moves in the history of modern business, entertainment and the human experience, legendary camp sci-fi guru George Lucas recently sold the ENTIRE Star Wars franchise to a little po-dunk, two-bit Mom-and-Pop operation called the Walt Disney company. All for a meager $4.05 Billion.

Picking up jaw, inserting eyeballs back into eye sockets.

By 1999, Lucas made close to $3 billion on licensing agreements ALONE–and that was before all those God-awful prequels. So why sell the greatest Sci-Fi fantasy franchise of all time for something that alone is worth far more, and doesn't even come close to the cumulative value of the deal. Note that Lucas also sold premiere effects houses, Industrial Light & Magic, THX, Skywalker Sound and host of other smaller SW subsidiaries.

So what does this Disney/Lucas Rebel Alliance mean? Here's my very flawed, incomplete  list of fractured thoughts:

1. "Join me, and together we can rule the galaxy..."— merging entertainment's two greatest properties into one mega-conglomerate of Jedi awesomeness has got to raise the
Midi-chlorian levels of the whole galaxy. If Disney's Hans off... oh, I mean, hands off approach is policy, as demonstrated with Marvel (see: The Avengers), then this merger might be magic.

2. "I've got a bad feeling about this" – if you think the merging of these two fantasy behemoths is a match made on Mustafar, you may not be wrong. The jury is out on the effects of the merger but one thing is certain, "..this will be a day long-remembered."

3. "Do or do not... there is no try"– okay, at the core I really do think this will be a good move for Star Wars. Already Disney has green-lighted a new three-movie trilogy along with two confirmed spin-off films; young Han Solo and an as-yet-to-be determined adventure starring Boba Fett. Disney has committed to releasing a new Star Wars film every two years. Whoa.

4. "I'm getting much too old for this sort of thing" – I think we can all at least agree that it is a VERY good thing that Lucas step aside and release the tractor beam from Star Wars for someone else. After all, there was a 20 year gap between Return of The Jedi and Phantom Menace. Jeez, forget the Falcon, I could have made the Kessel Run in my family station wagon in that amount of time (she may not look like much, but she's got it where it counts, kids).

5. "It's a trap!" – don't be fooled into thinking that Lucas is gone. He isn't. He has signed on indefinitely as executive consultant. He won't be going anywhere. I suppose that's to perpetuate the preposterous myth that Greedo shot first (he didn't).

Finally, the brilliant appointment of fan-boy wunderkind director, J.J. Abrams to become Lucas's air-apparent means there is a new hope for the admittedly faltering Star Wars name. I honestly can't think of anyone better who could bring balance to the force. Or the possibilities.

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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Super Funny... Until The Bill Comes.

Watching people hurt themselves may seem funny,
but the real cost may be more than we can bear.

This week, I'm putting pop culture in my crosshairs. In particular, the TV shows that highlight human train wrecks–including UFC, "Pro" Wrestling and the coveted X-Games.

Don't look at me like that. 

We're all guilty. Even shows like America's Funniest Home Videos, Jackass and the strange on-again, off-again love/hate relationship we seem to have with Joe Rogan's Fear Factor. 

I know it always seems funny to watch people hurt themselves but I've never really found it funny at all. Maybe because I was a klutz when I was a kid and I was the one that always seemed to be tripping falling and hurting himself growing up. Maybe it was the time when I went sailing into a 100-foot brick wall at the bottom of a hill while growing up in downtown Boston when I was learning to ride a 10-speed bike. Or even the time I put my left foot through a window pane at age nine while joking around and shredded my lower foot. Scars exist to this day.

So when I see people hitting the ground, head-first, bouncing off a trampoline or leaping off a two-story house trying to jump into a pool and hitting the concrete edge instead. That's not funny to me, I recoil. 

Now, maybe it's because I'm a Dad and I'm through with paying for trips to hospitals, emergency rooms, and Next Care/Urgent Care centers. Not for sniffles or allergies or the flu. But twisted, sprained and broken ankles, pulled muscles and a near endless number of lacerations, cuts and bruises. All because one of my soon-to-be astro physicist kids thought it would be just awesome to emulate the antics of some pro-wrestler, Ultimate Fighter, par-core hot shot or X-Games dude who grew way too privileged with way too much time on his hands. 

How many kids can one society send to the hospital (or the morgue) with these kind of antics–over-sensationalized on every network, website and social media outlet? Our kids are inundated by this idiocy. And while I give my kid's generation SOME credit for binary levels of common sense, how can anyone resist this stuff when it's everywhere you turn? 

We're all guilty of tuning in to this crap but I sincerely have NEVER found watching someone get hurt all that funny. I know it hurts and I have spent enough time in the hospital (and footing the bill) to know that it's no laughing matter.

You can spin some lame "survival of the fittest" dribble at me but the truth of the matter is, this culture has a dark side that is a real danger to impressionable minds. The recent death of X-Game Snow mobile stunt guy Caleb Moore should prove that this stuff isn't for kids. 

Or anyone. 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

More Health. Less Care.

Maybe the fix to our health care issues is making good nutrition sound as good as a third helping. 

A good friend of mine–and fellow blogger–recently blogged about health and nutrition and that seemed ironic to me given the fact that; (A) I work for one the world's fastest growing whole body health and nutritional cleanse companies and (B) that I had never blogged on this topic before.

I know what you might be thinking.

'Great, here comes another lecture about health and nutrition.' Rest easy, dear reader, I am far from qualified (or vindicated) to offer health advice to anyone. Most of my life I have been overweight. At 6' 2" I once tipped the scales at 339 lbs (years ago). In all fairness, that was as much a byproduct of stress, allergies and a genetic pre-disposition to gain weight (see Protein-S and Protein-C deficiency). But mostly, it was a fondness for what I like to call "creamy, yummy things." 

Now I won't lecture here (lord knows I do enough of that for my kids) but we all know the run down... eat less, exercise more. Eat more green, eat less brown. I trust a cow over a scientist when it comes to nutrition. As I have learned over the years, seeing time and again... you can be 60 pounds over weight (the classification for obesity is actually 40 lbs or more over your pre-determined weight for height and age). You can lose that 60 lbs by eating properly, getting a decent night's rest and drinking plenty of water.

If you chose to work out, please note that you have to feed your body the proper levels of carbs, fats, minerals and a considerable influx of protein. Protein not only helps you build muscle, but when its the right type and amount, it will help you lose weight. 

The recent collapse of snack food giant Hostess foods was a wake up call for me. No, no not like what you think, I didn't suddenly get healthier because the ding-dong supply has dwindled (as God is my witness, there are still quite a few of THEM in the world) but I realized I haven't eaten one of those god-awful things in, like, forever. What's more, I didn't miss them. I mean there wasn't an ounce of anything remotely resembling food in those things anyway. At best, it was a selection of chemically and scientifically concocted compounds that would fool your system's digestive process.

In America, we thrive on the taste, the gratification of the experience and the near erotic fascination with food–with the use of terms like "sensual", "mouth-watering" and "irresistible", we often sound like we're talking about porn than food. Who doesn't see those ads with a luscious young woman slowly sucking chocolate or chips off her fingers (gulp!) –kids, cover your eyes... oh, to late for my house.

Alright Arthur, get to your point or get to the corner

Okay, so anyway, to me it's evident that to be healthy means to have a healthy relationship with food. You can exercise all you want but if you are undressing that naughty bag of salty carbs with your eyes, you might as well indulge. Otherwise, we all need to re-program how we think about food. It can be tasty, but it is FIRST about sustenance and everything else second.

Putting food in it's place will make our overburdened healthcare system sigh–at east for a moment. And the next time you go for that bag of cookies, force a detour and go for the apple instead. Your heart will appreciate the extra love... and may reward you with the beating of your life.

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