Thursday, June 28, 2012

My Alien Response Team

(So after all those serious posts about Loki and being a slacker in blogging last week and Tuesday I decided we needed a more lighthearted and geeky post. So here you go. :) ) 

So my work limits what internet sites I can visit during the day. Not a big deal, except when you’re eating your lunch and thinking, “Hmm…I’ll check out the latest Wheel of Time re-read on while I chow down.” Because you can’t access But strangely you can access Basically, it’s almost a random algorithm that chooses which websites we can and cannot visit. 

But as at most work places, news websites are perfectly acceptable, so I often find myself going to even though I don’t actually like the site and I find most of their articles completely pointless. The same goes for their geek blog called “Geek Out!” which is really a fantastic idea gone horribly astray. Instead of it being a website celebrating different geeky things or things geek’s like to talk about, like or, it instead spends way too much time expounding on what makes geeks different and how life for geeks is different and blah blah blah. (Honestly, I find this to be the biggest problem with in general. The way to get around stereotypes and various –isms like racism and ageism and geekism is not to point out the numerous ways in which we are different and to constantly talk about it. It’s to treat the different subjects of the different groups as if they’re the equal. But that’s my personal opinion and apparently not the opinion of 

Anyway, yesterday, for once, cnn’s Geek Out! had an article that was actually appropriate for a geek website. It was arranging a list of fictional characters that we would want as leaders during an alien attack. Because let’s face it, when it comes to alien attacks I don’t care who is president and how you feel about them. You really want Ellen Ripley to be leading. 

So I started thinking about who would I want on my team to fight the aliens. My own personal Avengers if you will. Note: I am only allowing myself to choose from fictional characters who within their own chronology would be alive today (so sadly no Ellen Ripley) and who are most likely to be on Earth at the time (so no Doctor). And I came up with the following list: 
  • Captain America. Call it an Avengers high. Call it a deep seated love for the good old Captain. Whatever. Honestly, in any crisis, this is the man I want leading my team. He has a natural leadership ability and has that good boy scout quality that makes almost everyone love him. He’s also the sort of leaders that other leaders (and loners) are willing to follow, whether they be Mr. Fantastic, Wolverine, or Spiderman. And he’s got experience fighting Nazis, Aliens, and gods. So yeah. I assign Captain America as our team leader. 
  • Samantha Carter. So this might be problematic for team dynamics because technically she outranks Captain America. But we need someone on this team capable of figuring out alien technology and capable of holding her own in a gunfight (I’m looking at you, Dr. McKay). Carter is the woman we need for things like blowing up alien ships, blocking strange technologies, and just in general keeping our own gizmos running. She also has experience fighting various different kinds of aliens in two galaxies.
  • John Connor. If you need a man who can organize a rebellion on our own soil against a stronger, better foe while simultaneously keeping the human race from going extinct, John Connor is your man. And Aliens should be a breeze after robots. He’s also pretty good with technology, so Carter won’t be left hanging on her own. And he’s great with weapons and a gun, so more muscle for our team. 
  • Hermione Granger. Get that incredulous look off your face. This is a list detailing what fictional, contemporary, Earth-bound characters I want with me to fight against aliens. And Hermione fits the bill. She’s smart as a whip, quick on her feet, keeps her cool under pressure, and has already proven herself fighting against a stronger enemy. If there is something our engineers can’t figure out with technology, Hermione will be there to bring the magic. And I’m fairly confident that between her and Carter we’ll be able to get some particularly awesome devices that utilize both technology and magic. 
  • Magnus Bane. Another one for the magical side of things. High Warlock of Brooklyn. Like 900 years old. Does the man need more credentials? I get the impression there is very little in this world he hasn’t done (and all the “ewww” that goes with that), so he’s got the street smarts to balance Hermione’s book smarts. Together, they would be one awesome magical pair to help fight aliens. And also, he could use his awesome good looks and natural charm to seduce aliens. As long as Alec isn’t around to go all emo-teenage boy on him. Seriously Alec, get over yourself. 
  • Agent J. Because well, if we’re getting invaded by aliens, the Men in Black probably know why. He probably knows what kind of alien it is and has access to all of our past history with that type of alien. He would probably know their strengths and weaknesses, or at least have access to the database that does, and would probably know their language. His humor would help defuse any tension on the team while still getting the job done. Oh, and he has access to a huge arsenal of awesome weapons to get used against aliens. And he has a neurelizer and could essentially turn our human squad into the Silence. The aliens won’t remember seeing us and we can plant subliminal messages inside their minds. That’s a win all around. 
So that’s my dream team. The people I wish we could call up in a case of alien invasion. I’m kind of concerned that there are six of them (what if half want to do one thing and the other half another thing), but I have confidence in almost all of their ability to follow chain of command and listen to whatever the Cap tells them to do. (Though I have suspicions about Magnus’ ability to do so). If we had these people on our side, we would never need to fear aliens. We would kick their butts in a timely manner. 

Notable mentions include Harry Dresden, Buffy Summers, Captain Jack Harkness, and Batman. They can be the second string.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Can You Hear the People Sing?

So I'm a sucker for a good revolution. Well, a historical revolution. I'm not sure how I would feel about a revolution affecting my own personal life. But I'm a sucker for stories about revolutions of the past, whether they be American, French, or during the year of 1848. (Come on, who doesn't enjoy the tale of the Second Defenestration of Prague?)

I love studying revolutions. And, as I've said before on this blog, I love musicals. So there are few things I love more than musicals about revolution. I recently bought the soundtrack to the Broadway musical Newsies (not the movie). And boy, it's fantastic. Go listen to it now. Right now. 

Anyway, it inspired me to make a playlist (which I don't often do) called "Let's Start a Revolution". It's a compilation of songs from Les Mis, Newsies, Wicked, and a few other musicals and movie soundtracks. After listening to that soundtrack, I'm ready to go save the world. 

So to share the inspiration, please watch this youtube video of "The World Will Know" from Newsies.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Burned Finger!

So this past Sunday I badly burned my finger. Like a second degree burn. It was a lot of fun. Luckily for my typing ability, ibuprofen is keeping the pain down for the most part and I can barely feel. I can also barely move the affected finger, which means this post will probably be short. Typing is possible but not easy.

Anyway, I moved into a new place, which means a new oven. I skipped church Sunday morning and spent the entire morning unpacking boxes. Around 1:00 pm I got hungry and decided to make Bagel Bites so I set the oven to heat. I had shoved my only pan in that weird drawer at the bottom of the oven while unpacking. Turns out, on this oven, that drawer heats up as much as the oven. I didn't know that. The thought did cross my mind to check, so touched the outside of the drawer and it wasn't hot at all. So I opened it up, grabbed a pan, and gave myself a really bad burn.

I immediately put it under flowing cool water (not frigid water! Never use ice on a burn! It's bad bad bad bad). Usually (for a first degree burn) you do that for about ten minutes and your fine. As I was watching it I noticed my skin was getting all really wrinkly and weird looking. So I figured I'd grab my cell phone and call my parents to see if I should be concerned. The six feet walk to my phone and back to the sink to shove my hand back under the water nearly killed me. The pain was searing. Awesome. 

So I then spent the next half hour on the phone with my parents trying to figure out how bad a burn needs to be to go to the ER. We decided it was a second degree burn and I needed to go. The problem? I live by myself. I couldn't keep my finger in cool water and drive myself. And it was Father's Day. So 80% of my friends had family they would be celebrating with. I hung up on my parents and called my friends without any local family. They didn't pick up. So I called my friends with local parents. They didn't pick up. I didn't want to call my friend with kids. So I started at the back of the list again. Luckily one of my friends answered and so graciously came for me.

I wanted to go to an urgent care facility and not the ER, because ER's are crazy. But turns out all the urgent care facilities are closed on Sunday so I ended up at an ER, which took forever. But eventually they gave me this wonderful magical cream for my finger that is sort of like the cream Katniss gets for her burn in The Hunger Games. So now my finger doesn't look terrible. Just sort of waxy. 

And after typing all that, it really hurts. Like sore all inside it and outside of it from all this stretching and working it to hard.

So there you have a rather pointless story about me burning my finger. All to explain why today's post isn't very amusing or meaningful. I apologize. I'll type Thursday's post over a longer period of time, like one paragraph an hour or something so as not to strain my finger.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

I am Loki, Part VI: Not Being a Super Villain

So for the past few weeks, longer than I originally intended, we've been talking about what I've learned from the story of Loki and Thor, as portrayed in the movie Thor. We've talked about how deeply the story touched me. We've talked about how easy it is to slip from being a good kid to a super villain. We explored the idea of Sisyphean Ambition and how it leads to the Dark Side. We've discussed how the prodigal son story has historically driven me insane. And we've discussed how the story of Loki and Thor relates to the story of the prodigal son.

And all of this has caused me to view the story of the prodigal son in a completely new light. Because whenever I thought of the prodigal's brother, whenever I thought about my own situation, all I could think was "it's unfair", and then my mind starts churning justifications, times when I've been hurt and neglected. And you know what, it's not fair. I have been hurt. I have been neglected. I have been wronged.

But churning, holding on, acting on those justifications when it can't change anything--because I can't earn equality in my family, it's a Sisyphean Ambition--that's leading me towards a path of villainy. It's leading me towards a path where I choose to go prodigal even though I know it will hurt people. 

And you know, people have tried to tell me this for years. They've tried to tell me the prodigal's brother's attitude is wrong, that bitterness eats you up from the inside, and will lead to your destruction. But I felt so justified and didn't listen to them.

My justifications aren't wrong. Loki's justifications of the unfairness of his life weren't wrong. Thor has been favored over him. Brawn is valued more than brain in Asgard. He will never get to be king or equal to Thor no matter how hard he works, because he's a frost giant. He is completely 100% right.

And it doesn't matter.

No, that's not right. It's not that it doesn't matter. It's that somehow I've got to choose to be better. Because if I don't, if I don't choose to change my path, I'm going to come back in The Avengers with an alien army and try to subjugate the world. 

I don't want to be a super villain. 

I have to choose not to be a super villain.

This seems a simple conclusion--choosing a different path--one I should have realized a long time ago. But in Christian circles we have a saying, where things go "from your head to your heart." This idea has been in my head all my life, but it was the movie Thor that moved it into my heart. 

Because my life isn't about them, my family. It's about me. Wait...that seems like a really selfish thought doesn't it? What I mean is that I can't change them. I can't make them treat me differently. But I can change me.

And it's not going to be easy. This revelation has been in my heart for a little while now and it's still been hard to enact. I've done things wrong. But that's why learning is a process, right? And God is working a process in all of us. It's rarely snap your fingers and everything is fixed.

So from now on, in dealing with my family, when something comes up and I feel my mind falling into the same old churn of justification, the same old churn where I remember all the times I've been overlooked for Thor--the prodigal, I will stop and ask myself, "What would Loki do?" 

And then I'll do the opposite.

Because I may deeply empathize with Loki, but I don't want to be him. I don't want to be Thor either. I want to be me. I want to be who Loki would have been if he hadn't sneaked frost giants into Asgard and tried to destroy Jotunheim. I want to be who God wants me to be, and that's not a person who holds onto bitterness and anger.

I can't change what's happened to me. I can't change how others will treat me. But I can change who I become. 

It's all about choice. 

And I choose not to be a super villain.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

I am Loki, Part V: Loki and the Other Son

(Spoilers for Thor and the story of the Prodigal Son below. For the other parts of this series, click the appropriate post: Part I, Part II, Part III, the Story of the Prodigal Son, and Part IV.)

You may be wondering at this point how the movie Thor relates to the story of the prodigal son. I'll admit, it's not a perfect metaphor, but so few things are. The important thing is that it is the metaphor that made me understand the Biblical story.

Loki and Thor seem to have had a good childhood, as far as we can tell (well, other than an unneeded competition for the throne of Asgard). I think we can guesstimate that the prodigal son and brother had a good childhood. I mean their father is a metaphor for God, so I think that's a pretty safe assumption.

I think it's safe to say that all families have their sibling rivalries. Loki and Thor's is pretty obvious. They're vying for the throne. And I think it's safe to say the prodigal and his brother had their own rivalries--if the brother's response to his arrival is any clue.

My family is of course no different. Great childhood. Lots of sibling rivalry.

Then the prodigal leaves. In the story of the prodigal son, he demands his inheritance and storms out. In the story of Thor, Thor (our prodigal) demands his inheritance and is exiled.

Now we all know what happens to the prodigal when he leaves, whether he be Thor or the actual prodigal. The prodigal's story is well known. But no one knows what happens to the other brother during the time the prodigal is gone. All we know is that whatever happens causes him to resent the younger brother.

We do know what happened to Loki while Thor is gone. He discovers he's a frost giant and that's why he's always been different. He is given the responsibility of being king--though he never really expected that. And even though he is going through all of this--discovering he's a monster, being king--his mother worries about Thor. 

In one scene, Loki and his mother are having a conversation at the sickbed of Odin. They're talking about why they never told Loki he's a frost giant. His mother is trying to explain. Loki doesn't get it, and he's worried about his father, who seems so frail, so sick, so old. Loki loves his father and doesn't want him to die. And his mother tells him to never lose hope, not for his father or for Thor. And Loki responds:

"What hope is there for Thor?"

Oh, that question. That is not a question where Loki is condemning Thor. That is not a question of wishing the brother was gone. The emotion of the question is, "Why are we talking about this right now? We're supposed to be talking about me and the fact that I'm a frost giant and you never freakin' told me? Can we please get back to me?"

But of course he doesn't voice that. Because that would be selfish. And we're not supposed to be selfish, no matter how much we work just for our parents attention.

Oh that feeling. I know that feeling so well. In the past decade I would say that 75% of my conversations with my parents revolved around my older siblings. And to this day I have put it up with it with little complaint just so I could talk to my parents. Because that's the topic they cared about. And I just wanted to talk to them.

So Loki is at home without Thor, and he's enjoying as much as he can. This single child attention is all he ever really wanted, even if it is tainted with the occasional discussion about Thor.

And then the prodigal returns.

He claims to have changed. He claims he's different. And it doesn't matter that you've been working the fields at home or just saved your father's life (let's ignore the fact that you sent the frost giants in the first place). Your mother goes from mid-hug with you to flinging herself into Thor's arms. Leaving you just standing there.

Leaving you bitter.

And the story of the prodigal stops there, but the story of Loki goes on. Because Loki goes where I've always thought to go.

When you have a sibling go prodigal and you see all the attention that gets them--attention you want--you have this serious temptation to go prodigal yourself.

I can't explain to you the number of times I've seriously considered going prodigal, for a short while, so that I can get all that attention, worry, and concern to yourself. And then you can come back to open arms and a party.

I've considered it so many times. I've been deeply tempted. I've had entire discussions with my little sister about whether this would work or not. How it would work, but it would hurt our parents, and we're not callous enough to hurt them.

But Loki, Loki who has done everything for his parents, for his family, who has tried so hard to no avail, he does it.

He gives up. He let's go. He goes prodigal.

And it does get him attention. It works. His father goes to great lengths to send Thor to Earth in The Avengers in order to bring Loki home. His family loves him. And he's getting attention. What he always wanted.

But the cost is too great.

The cost is villainy.

And I don't want to be a villain.

Click here for the final installment, Part VI: Not Being a Super Villain.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Still a Slacker

So I really thought I was going to have time yesterday to write a post. But as it is, it's 11:20 PM Mountain Time, which is 7:20 PM here in Hawaii where I just flew in. And I'm buschwacked. Seriously, all I want to do is fall in bed and go to sleep. I can't even entice myself to watch the first episode of Season 2 of Sherlock even though I just watched all of Season 1 on the plane and am newly addicted--and what about that cliff hanger?

And now my sentences aren't making sense.

So no real post today. I apologize.

I'm really trying to hold true to this Tuesday/Thursday posting things. Please just bear with me guys. This is my last trip until August (when my life will explode into a crazy amount of conferences, both legit for work and of the Science Fiction kind).

Thank you for your patience. And please forgive all typos/misspellings/errors in this post, because I'm so jet lagged I can barely see straight.