Monday, March 22, 2010

This terrifies me

I'm normally very happy to see Anime hitting the big screen, but this anime is so out there I don't think it will translate very well to the live action screen. Check it out and let me know: Bleach Live Action Movie.

The Hero with a Thousand Faces

As I mentioned before I have been studying "The Hero with a Thousand Faces" by Joseph Campbell. Basically it is a book about the most widely recognized and well-known literary theory: The Heroic Journey.

This book has been a marvelous experience for me, and as I finish it I feel like I've completed my own journey. It's a book that requires dedication, focus, and a lot of help from outside sources to understand it. It's a hard book.

But, next to the scriptures I have never read a book that has affected me like this book.

Let me impress upon you how much that statement means to me. I have read some great literature. I have read books that have brought my spirit to tears for it's beauty and power of speech. I have read books that have elevated my thoughts to new levels. I have read books that have created entire worlds of beauty and magnificence in my mind. I have read books that have made me a better man. And, this book is better than anyone of them.

Campbell's theory is basically (and I do mean very basic) that the purpose of myth is to help bring about maturity and growth. Look back to the Greeks, Egyptians, Hindus, Aztecs, etc and you will see that each of their myths were designed to teach the hearers and the readers something. They were written to create opportunities for us to grow and become better.

Campbell teaches the three major phases of the hero as follows: Departure, Initiation, and Return. The Departure is when the Hero is called to go and accomplish something great. When he is asked to leave the comfort of his home and travel far away to gain something of value for his people. The call to adventure is really the call to die as to the self.

The Initiation that follows is the set of trials through which the hero must pass, but also the most important aspects he must face. The Hero must become one with "the Goddess," a mystical female figure that represents life, and rebirth. He must avoid the temptress, who represents those same powers abused and misused for power. Then he must atone with the Father, which directly proceeds Apotheosis: The act of becoming just like the Father.

The Return is how he comes back to the society from which he has left. He not only returns, but he brings power with him. He brings "renewal in his wings." The entire purpose of the Heroic Journey is to renew the world around him. Every hero brings renewal to his world. Even heroes in video games. Take just about any video game and you can find a hero who has renewed his world in some way.

Link brings back the princess and restores order and happiness to Hyrule. Any Final Fantasy hero saves the world and brings about an era of peace and happiness unlike any other. Even games about war such as Modern Warfare show a renewed world. Even BrĂ¼tal Legend, a game featuring JACK BLACK of all people as the hero. This game is about a world of rock and roll that receives a roadie savior who helps them put on concerts and fight against the wicked demon, Deviculous. Seriously?

I could go on, but I think you get the point.

I bet you're probably bored by now, but if you've made it this far, bear with me I'm condensing 391 pages of very strong, powerful prose into a single blog post, it's bound to be less powerful coming from me.

I stated before that this book has done more for me than any other save the scriptures, and I'm getting to that reason right now. This entire book has focused on people, and heroes that are so far beyond anything we mere humans can hope to ever attain. This book talks about Achilles, Buddha, Christ, and so many others that people around the world will always look to for inspiration.

"The mighty hero of extraordinary powers-able to lift Mount Govardhan on a finger, and to fill himself with the terrible glory of the universe-is each of us: not the physical self visible in the mirror, but the king within" (Campbell 365).

"Live," Nietzsche says, "as though the day were here." It is not society that is to guide and save the creative hero, but precisely the reverse. And so every one of us shares the supreme ordeal-carries the cross of the redeemer-not in the bright moments of his tribe's great victories, but in the silence of his personal despair" (Campbell 391).

This entire semester Brother Allen, my professor, has taught us that this Journey is applicable to each and every one of us, but when I read those two quotes this morning it resonated within my very core that this knowledge is true. I found something that to me is magnificent. Something that to me, is powerful.

Something that has created within me a new soul.

And, that my dear friends, is precisely the point.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

More PT for me

I thought this was pretty interesting. First time in three decades the Army has changed anything regarding Basic Training. I'm even more excited to go now.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Secret World

I'm not normally a fan of MMO's. I think they waste too much time and they're honestly a little boring to me. World of Warcraft is a waste of time, I just get so bored with it.

But, when I found this little snippet on youtube and I wanted to know more about this beautifully rendered game. I'm a sucker for a pretty face.

The Secret World is already looking like a game that will not only be worth it's price, but that will provide an interesting storyline that we haven't seen in too many places. I've had an idea similar to this thing for years and it's something I'd love to be able to play.

Check out the website and take the test. Leave a comment telling me what group it said you were best suited for. Also, don't forget to take a peak at the other trailer they have out. It's pretty freaking cool too.

In case you were wondering where they said I should go:

I mentioned it to a my wife, a friend, and his wife and they all guessed I was a Dragon before I told them the outcome. I wonder if I really am that ruthless?

Power of the Panda

Anyone who has children around the age of two will understand me when I say they are obsessive. About what cup they use, what movies they watch, what blanket they must have in order to fall asleep, where they fall asleep, etc. They're developing habits that will drive parents insane for the duration of their toddler-hood.

Luckily my loving and ever-patient wife was able to get our two-year old molded to some of the best movies. Sure, she likes Elmo (I want to kill that thing), and some of the more annoying creations for her age group (like Barney. I understand that he's been designed to be cuddly, and loveable, but he's just creepy to me), but Justine has been able to get her addicted to a wider variety of movies so we don't just watch Elmo go to "Grouchland" over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over...

You get the point. If not, wait till you're child is addicted to something that you hate, and must have it at all costs.

Well, like I said, Toriana (my oldest daughter) has several favorites of which I approve. Movies such as the legend of Johnny 5 (Also known as Short Circuit), the epic tale of a race forced from their homeland into a old rundown apartment building (Batteries not included), a true story about friends who risk it all to save their friend from Japanese slavery (Toy Story 2), or the increasingly epic story of a Panda warrior (Kung Fu Panda). Mixed in there are movies about runaway crazy dogs (Bolt), talking, googly eyed trains (Thomas the Train), and a coming of chef story (Ratatouille).

With a mixture of movies like that I'm honestly never forced to watch the same movie too many times.

Unless I like it too.

I absolutely love Kung Fu Panda. It's such a fun story, with lines that are so quotable it's as if you're mind is constrained at any given opportunity. Words like bodacious sprinkled throughout the movie are tasty little sweet morsels of ingenuity and humor. It's a movie that I have watched close to fifteen times in the past week and a half (that's probably not half as many times as my wife has seen it, but I'm at school, ROTC, and work everyday) and I'm still not tired of it.

I laugh at the funny parts, smile when I hear it from the other room, and quote it back and forth with my wife and/or friends who have come over enough to memorize parts of it as well (I particularly like when the Ox bandit in the beginning tells him to "chew on my fist!"- As a side note, it is the funniest thing in the world to hear my daughter say it along with him).

It's a solid movie. I think it's one of my favorite movies to be honest. It follows Joseph Campbell's Heroic Journey. It uses humor and inspiration in equal portions for a fantastic mix. Kind of like a great cake. You know, one of those marble cakes with the yellow and chocolate mixed together in a swirl? Man, that sounds good.

But, either way it's a great movie, and if you haven't seen it before. Go watch it.


Come on. Get a move on it. You'll enjoy it, and if you have kids they'll probably enjoy it too.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Comsic Books

This semester I've been studying. No, I believe partaking is a better word for what I've been doing with this class. I have an American Superheroes class.

Yes, bask in the glory.

In this magnificently masterwork course we have studied literature such as Old Man and the Sea, Superman:Birthright, To Kill a Mockingbird, and The Ultimate X-Men volume 1; and we have studied books like Last of the Mohicans. Note the difference in describers.

Most people can't believe that we'd have actual classes where we take comic books and read them as if they were literature. The Audacity of it all.

Yes there was a capital "A" there. It's that Audacious.

But, there are a few things I've learned as I've studied literature before and during college (an I suppose I will continue learning this fact long after I have graduated and moved into the military). One is that age does not make a book literature. Taking the ragingly racist novel The Last of The Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper. That book was published something like a hundred and fifty years ago, and it is one of the worst pieces of literature I have ever read. I loathed handling that book for I felt as though my hands would corrode from the cheap and weak prose. Cooper covers his readers in an avalanche of poorly selected words that, more often than not, serve to confuse a reader's imagination instead of clarify and direct it.

Deep breath Gericke. Deep Breath. 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.

Man I really hate that book. I'm contemplating burning it, but I may also give it away as a present to someone I dislike. So, if you get The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper for your birthday, Hanukkah, or Christmas then be aware that I dislike you enough that I would give you brain poison.

I like that term, brain poison.

Anyways, to get to the real purpose of this post. The unreasonable hatred of comic books and what they are capable of conveying. I've written two papers this semester and I might post them up here so you can bask in my magnificence (I'm really not this arrogant, it's just the power of the blog taking over my mind. It's like the one ring in Middle-Earth).

A comic book can create a world unlike any that a novel could create. The art creates a different feel. You can't ignore the art and read the words alone. You can't pick it up with a bias. You simply cannot come into the reading of a comic book thinking it is anything other than literature to be discovered. The key to learning from a comic book, to seeing it as a piece of literature is that you, the reader, must read it as a student of literature.

Remember the saying, "all truth can be circumscribed into one great whole?" We cannot assume that truth, and indeed knowledge, will fall into our laps without any sort of effort. If you want to find out whether a comic book, or a novel, or a movie, or anything is worth any value you absolutely must dig into its core and discover the truth behind it.

Basically, if you can't find something good in a piece of literature, it's because you're choosing not to.

Here's the two papers I wrote- You may want to brush up on your Campbellian theory (Hero of a Thousand Faces) before you read them. Then again, you may not.
Jean Grey as the Cosmic Mother
This one isn't as good as the first, a little scatter-brained Superman:Birthright vs Last of the Mohicans

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Funny junk

I've told as many people as I can about this website. If you have any inclination towards humor you should like it.

Skippy's List

It's freaking hilarious.

I got no culture.

So my obligatory first post requires that I spell out for you lay-folk a little bit more about myself and why I think my voice is important enough to be posted on the internets. For one, it's the internet, the biggest repository of mis-information and stupidity ever built into the framework of our puny human lives, and for the second, because I felt like I'd get myself a blog.

That's pretty much all there is to the reasoning behind it, but I did want to address a serious issue in all communities across the United States of America, and in truth all across the world.

Internet gaming.

Now I know what you're thinking. "We all know World of Warcaft is like crack." Yeah, for people with no real willpower, but I'm not talking about that crap. That's not internet gaming. That's not real gaming at all. It's a bunch of guys who get together on a fake world, and kill fake monsters, for fake money, to get a "real" sense of accomplishment. I put quotations because the feeling is real, though the actual achievement is far from it.

No, good sirs, the gaming to which I reference myself is the mecca that has become play-by-post. Most DM's shudder at the thought (any experienced player should at least shudder a little as well) of trying to manage a game spread out across not only the entire world at times, but spread out through the course of his day. He's forced to obsessively check their website every ten minutes just in case someone has posted.

He slaves over the game for everyone involved, and when something doesn't go perfectly right, his players selfishly whine and moan making life suck for everyone involved. If they really get going they'll actually post their complaints and start causing other people to notice the problems, thus creating a further diversion making the game worse.

This sucks. It's incredibly boring to deal with, because you forget the story altogether, time-consuming, because anyone who wishes to actually play the game must slog through the vile filth to understand and add anything pertinent, and the absolute worst part: anyone not involved has to listen to your annoying, whiny, purposeless rants.

Now, that being said, play by post can be something magical. Magnificent even.

When a play by post works properly, each player is actively contributing to the whole story in their character's unique perspective and honestly trying to create a fun, involved story it can become something wonderful. It's a chance to write and expand your writing style. This is something that every parent should want for their child, because communication in this world is key to survival. So, Dungeons and Dragons via chat rooms and forums becomes a useful tool for teaching personal development.

Take your time writing for your character. If you create a one-dimensional character, you'll get one-dimensional results, and that's boring. Think you're character through. Think about what his thoughts are, about what he believes is good and bad. How does he feel about love? Money? Power? Danger? Adventure? Think about the different aspects that make YOU a unique individual person, and put them into this person you're making, and then you can create a three-dimensional person.

Why should this be important? What do you say that no one else says? Why? What led to that? Are we so pompous to think that we are the only people in this world capable of more than one-dimension (watching our government at work I think that there are some people like that in charge) that we cannot even CONCEIVE of someone else, having similar psychological structure?

Break that mold and you will enter the mystical realm of fun that play by post can create.