Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Spiderman: The Prideful Nephite

Stardate 05-23-2007

Its happened to the best of them: The Backstreet Boys, Corey Feldman, Brittany Spears, Marie Osmond, Enron. Their start is humble, eagre and full of ambition. They are willing to work hard, put forth the effort and do whatever it takes to reach their goals. Soon their hard work pays off; they are rewarded for all of their time and effort that they have put forth. For these people, their rewards could have been self satisfaction, recognition, promotions, gigs, record contracts, acting roles, money and fame. They continue to live right and work hard, but soon, living right and working hard are forgotten and replaced with what is making them happy in that moment, which are of course, the fruits of their hard work. They soon forget what got them to the top and they start to care more about the fruits than the labors. Before they know it, Litte Nicky of BSB aint so little anymore; he's a fat drunk and his best friend AJ is checking into rehab. Corey can't act anymore because he's got too much coke up his nose. Brittany's shaving her head and becoming the laughing stock of the media. Marie decides not to love her kids anymore, and Enron's top exectutives are stealing the pensions of their hard working employees. Their pride and wickedness have lead to destruction and suffering. Not only for themselves, but for those around them. They have fallen and they are no more.

The scriptures teach us that this can happen to all of us. It can in fact, happen to an entire civilization. Those who have read the Book of Mormon know that the Nephites constantly fell into this vicious pride cycle. Their humility would lead to righteousness and prosperity, which would lead to pride and wickedness, which would lead to destruction and suffering, which comes full circle with humility and repentance. Over and over again. The following is a scripture from the Book of Mormon that illustrates this point-

"Yea, and we may see at the very time when he doth prosper his people, yea, in the increase of their fields, their flocks and their herds, and in gold, and in silver, and in all manner of precious things of every kind of art; sparing their lives, and delivering them out of the hands of their enemies; softening the hearts of their enemies that they should not declare wars against them; yeah, and in fine, doing all things for the welfare and happiness of his people; yeah, then is the time that they do harden their hearts, and do forget the Lord their God, and do trample under their feet the Holy One--yea, and this because of their ease, and their exceedingly great prosperity." -- Helaman 12:2

We can now add one more to the luandry list of those who have fallen into the Pride Cycle. I recently went to see Spiderman 3 and was suprised to see how closely this movie followed this cycle. The first thing that we see in Spiderman 3 is that Spidy has risen to the top. Everyone loves him and crime is at an all time low. Peter Parker is also on top. It appears that he has finally figured out how to balance his personal life, MJ and school, with his life of fighting crime. Pretty soon Peter starts to love how famous he has become. He even has advice on what its like to be famous for his broadway star girlfriend, MJ.

The time comes for Spidey to take on the Sandman. Spiderman basically gets worked and can do little or nothing against this new villain. Luckily for Spidey, a strange alien has fallen from the sky. It looks like stringy strands of gooey black tar that can attach and mold itself to whatever it wants. We eventually find out that it can also take over whoever it molds itself to. Well, this black goo molds itself to Spiderman's suit and when Peter tries it on, he finds that he is faster, stronger, more powerful. Powerful enough to take out the Sandman. This new power doesn't come without its consequences. It makes Peter mean and hutful. He cares about no one but himself. For me, this black goo is an obvious metaphor for pride and both Peter and Spidey have fallen victim to it.

It takes while, but Peter is able to see how terrible he has been treating those whom he loves. He realizes the evil of the suit and tears it off of his body. At the end of the fim, Spiderman has to humble himself, swallow his pride and ask the help of one who used to be his enemy in order to save MJ from both Sandman and Venom.

Hopefully my literally thousands of readers can learn from Spiderman, the Nephites, and others who have come before them and not fall victim to the pride cycle. Unless of course you want to become a Dark Lord of the Sith. In that case you should use pride to make you more powerful.

Monday, May 14, 2007


Stardate 05-14-2007

I keep going back and forth, trying to decide which is my favorite drama on TV: Heroes, Battlestar Galactica or Lost. All three are amazing and in my opinion, there isn't another drama out there that even comes close. I don't know why people waste their time watching garbage like CSI, CSI New York, CSI Las Vegas, CSI Miami, or SVU (I can sort of understand why people watch SVU--who doesn't love Ice-T?) etc.

Anyway, I've been really excited and getting into Heroes as of late. They are leading up to the end of Volume (season) 1 and things are lookin hot!!! The following are a list of observations and things that I've read about the show. First my observations and questions.

1. If Peter has absorbed Claire's power to heal, why does he have a scar on his face in the episode that jumps five years into the future? I believe that there is sometihng significant about the scar. I believe this because 10 or so episodes before the future episode, when future Hiro stops time in the subway to tell him to save the cheerleader, the first thing that he says to Peter is, "You look different without your scar." Any ideas as to the significance of the scar?

2. The little girl Molly will be very important in the next episodes. We actually met Molly the second episode of the season. She is the little girl that Parkman finds when he first discovers that he can hear other's thoughts. Linderman's company now has Molly in their care, but she is suffering from some sort of disease. They have enlisted the help of Mohinder in order to cure her. It appears that there is a disease that affects young girls who are developing their special powers. I believe that this disease that she has may be a future story line. Mohinder's little sister had special abilities and suffered and died from this disease. Molly, a special young girl also is suffering from the disease, but hopefully from the help of Mohinder, will not die. There was also an episode where Claire's mother told her that they had tried once before to find Claire's real parents. They did this because she was suffering from an unknown disease and wanted to find out about her family history. My guess is that because of her powers, Claire was able to heal on her own. What do you think?

3. When Nathan Patrelli meets Linderman, Linderman reveals to Nathan that he also has special powers. He tells Nathan that when he first found out about what he could do, himself and others with powers got together to form a group that would help those who needed it. He then says that the others in this group ruined things because of their desire to use their powers for personal gain and they broke up, though to me, it seems as if this is exactly what Linderman has done. In the future I hope to learn the back stories of these people and to find out where they are now. Are they the future evil ones that the Heroes will fight against? Or will they join them in their attempts to bring down Linderman?

The following comes from what I have read:

1. From an interview with Sulu- In the season finale, Hiro will travel back in time to learn how to use his sword. (On a few occasions, Hiro has told Ando about the history of the sword and who wielded it. It is Darth Spencer's belief that we may see that this is an ancestor of Hiro or possibly even his father. Perhaps Sulu has a similar ability to travel through time and space and it is he, who is the Bushido sword master)

2. From an interview with Tim Kring, creator of the show- Season 1 will end with a clear idea of what is in store for season 2. Season 2 will deal with the history of what is happening. The older characters, Sulu, Mother Patrelli, Linderman, will play a larger role in helping us to understand how these special powers are passed from person to person.

3. From an article in Newsweek- Season two will include a spin-off series. There will be 8 filler episodes that have nothing to do with the main Heroes storyline. These episodes will introduce new heroes and give a back story on them and their abilities. At the end of the season, the audience will be able to vote for one of these people to become a regular cast member. These episodes will appear during weeks when the show would usually be on a break. This way we get a maximum amount of Heroes. Pretty creative. Though it won't progress the story, I'd rather see this than another episode of Deal or No Deal.

4. Each week, a couple of small comics come out on that give back story and filler between the TV episodes. I've finished them all and recommend them for those who really like Heroes. Some are great, some are pointless. The coolest thing that I found out is that Linderman served on a special ops mission during the Vietnam war with Nathan and Peter Patrelli's father. The father does not have special powers, but was actually healed by Linderman after being shot in the gut. Upon return to the States, Patrelli tries desperately to tell others in the army about Linderman's powers. Linderman denies everything and tells them that Patrelli is mad. This puts a serious scar on Patrelli for the rest of his life. Years later, Patrelli is married and has a little boy. He is contacted by Linderman and Linderman begs his forgiveness for not telling the truth. The comic ends with what looks to be the start of Linderman starting his company.

What do you think is the best drama on TV?
What ideas do you have about Heroes?
What do you think or hope is in store for season 2?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

And the World Moved On...

Stardate 05-10-2007

"The greatest mystery that the universe offers is not life, but size...The child that is most at home with wonder says, 'Daddy, what is above the sky?' and the father says, 'The darkness of space.' The child, 'What is beyond space?' The father, 'The galaxy.' The child, 'Beyond the galaxy?' The father, 'Another galaxy.' The child, 'Beyond the other galaxies?' The father, 'No one knows.'"

"You see, size defeats us. For the fish, the lake in which he lives is the universe. What does the fish think when he is jerked up by the mouth through the silver limits of existence and into a new universe where the air drowns him and the light is blue madness? Where huge bipeds with no gills stuff it into a suffocating box and cover it with wet weeds to die?"

"If you fell outward to the limit of the universe, would you find a board fence and signs reading, 'Dead End?' No. You may find something hard and rounded, as the chick must see the egg from the inside. And if you should peck through that shell or find a door-- what great and torrential light might shine through your opening at the end of space? Might you look through and discover that our entire universe is part of one atom on a blade of grass?

"Imagine the sand of the desert. And imagine a trillion universes, not worlds, but universes, encapsulated in each grain of that desert, and within each universe, an infinity of others. We tower over these universes from our pitiful grass vantage point. With one swing of your boot, you may knock a billion, billion worlds flying off into darkness; in a chain, never to be completed. Size. Size."

"Yet suppose further. Suppose that all worlds, all universes, meet in a single nexus. A single pylon. A tower."--Thoughts by The Man In Black

These were a few excerpts from book one of Stephen King's seven book series-- The Dark Tower. Book one of The Dark Tower series is The Gunslinger. Many have said that The Dark Tower series is King's greatest achievement. Book one was written in 1982 and the series wasn't complete until books six and seven were released in 2004. King has said that during this time period, the number one question that his fans asked him was, "When are you going to finish book seven?" Though there is violence and some gore, this series is not horror, like most of King's other works, but a fantasy. I listened to The Gunslinger on CD and really enjoyed the story and the narration. The narrator sounds like an old cowboy with a raspy voice and a bit of a drawl. The voice of the narrator reminded me of the voice of the old guy from Young Guns II who claimed he was Billy the Kid.

In book one we meet Roland of Gilead, the last of the Gunslingers. He is on a quest to find the mysterious Man In Black, who will start him on the path to find The Dark Tower.

The book is set in a world that feels like the old west, where light and dark magic exist, and its people are strewn out over a vast desert plain. From the start the reader knows that there is something strange about time in this land and that things don't fully make sense. For example, there is a part where Roland walks into town and coming from the local saloon, he can hear Hey Jude being played ragtime style on the piano. Stranger things occur when Roland finds Jake, a young boy from New York who explains that he died in a car crash and then woke up in this strange land. There is also talk of In-World, Mid-World, and End-World, though it is unclear which they are in and how they get back and forth from one world to another.

A lot of people have said that book one can be slow at parts, but that the rest of the series is just amazing. I personally didn't find it slow at all. I really enjoyed the whole thing and I'm very excited to read or listen to the rest of the series and find out what awaits Roland in The Dark Tower.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Ender's Shadow

Stardate 05-01-2007

Whenever I was assigned to write a book report on the book of my choice from grades 5-12 I did that report on Ender's Game. The funny thing is is that it wasn't until my 6th or 7th go at the book that I actually finished it. In fact, it may be possible that I have attempted to start Ender's Game, but never finished it, more times than I have done so with The Book of Mormon. Now, the last thing I want to do is turn my literally thousands of readers off of Ender's Game. Since high school I have both read it and listened to it on CD from start to finish and it is by far one of my favorite sci-fi novels.

Years later, Orson Scott Card decided to look at possibly expanding upon the "Enderverse," and looked at the option of letting other authors write the stories of Ender's friends from Battle School. After lots of thought and contemplation, Card decided that he didn't want to let others write about the characters, but that he wanted to do so himself. He decided to try out an interesting experiment and write the same novel, but from a second characters perspective. Those who have read Ender's Game know that Bean becomes Ender's right hand man and only confidant. Card decided that Bean would be the logical person to write about and so he wrote Ender's Shadow.

Though I did like Ender's Game more, Ender's Shadow was also excellent. Card does an excellent job of expanding upon the original story and even the parts that overlap are not dull and seem entertaining and original. Just like in Ender's Game, this story progresses and is mostly told through the inner dialogue of the main character. There are of course some differences with the largest being that Ender is always thinking about the buggers and Bean is more focused on politics. This of course translates into the rest of the books in the "Shadow" series where we find Bean back on Earth where he is now in Ender's older brother Peter's shadow. I have not read these books but look forward to doing so.

Another item of interest to note is that at the end of the Ender's Shadow, there is an original afterward from Orson Scott Card where he talks about Ender's Game the movie. Here are the highlights from what he said.

He has run into numerous problems trying to get this movie made. At first, the most common problem was that they wanted to make Ender 16 years old, rather then 6 years old. This means that they would most likely cast a 24 year old who looks young to play a 16 year old. They also wanted to give Ender a love interest. This infuriated Card so much that he stalled production. The production company then lost the rights to the movie and Card took control of them. For the next few years he ran into the same problem, but has finally found a production company that will work with young children.

This creates another problem. Children are only allowed to work half days which translates into a longer shooting time and more money. Another problem is that for the most part, children are bad actors and he is very worried about finding someone to play Ender, let alone the rest of his friends from Battle School. Card mentions that after seeing Finding Neverland he feels more confident that he will be able to find children who can actually act.

The largest problem has been the fact that the story of Ender's Game is driven by Ender's inner voice. It has been extremely difficult for Card to come up with a screen play that progresses the story at a good pace, but that does not use Ender's inner voice let the audience know what is going on. After years or toying with different solutions, Card's production team came up with the idea of molding both Ender's Game and Ender's Shadow into one story. The interaction between Ender and Bean will drive the story rather than relying on inner dialuge.

At the time that this afterward was written, Card mentioned that he had chosen Wolfgang Peterson as his director. He did not give any reasons why except for that he has enjoyed his work. I checked IMDB and Wolfgang is still slated to direct. Some of his past movies have been Outbreak, In the Line of Fire, Das Boot, Air Force One, Troy and Poseidon. I enjoyed Outbreak and In the Line of Fire, but some of his other movies seem like cheesy action films. I hope he does a good job with Ender.