Oct 29, 2006

The Saints Are Coming music video

Well, the new music video for the U2/Green Day collarboration "The Saints Are Coming" has been released.

Interesting video, and yet I'm torn about it. The footage of the two bands playing is amazing. The sight of all those jets dropping relief supplies is also amazing...and saddening.

But aren't they rewriting history here a little? Yes, the "Bush Administration" was a little slow helping out. But then again, this was a big catastrophe. Even if relief had been sitting around waiting BEFORE Katrina hit, I doubt it would have made a difference in people's minds. Bush caused Katrina to come hit New Orleans, same as he caused 9/11 and AIDS and other things.

But let's ignore the Bush thing for a second. Featured pretty prominently in the video are mockups of the troops redeploying from Iraq to New Orleans. Obviously this is something that did not happen, as the video says at the end (in a nice way too). Of this I really am of two minds...perhaps even three or four.

As a US citizen, the idea of all those troops coming home to help and bring relief is a great idea. But is this the ideal thing? The way the video is set up, it implies that ALL the troops must come home to help. As a US citizen, I say "Great!" But as a US citizen who values freedom, I cannot help but think that it was a good thing that all the troops did not come home.

Despite the image the "drive-bye" media has been painting, we really have done some great and amazing things in Iraq. And some terrible things too. Mistakes have been made, and Bush has said as much. Maybe not in exactly the words everyone seems to want to hear ("I f*cked up, impeach me."), but he has said it; on national tv too, if I remember correctly. But overall, I'd say the "US occupation" of Iraq has been a great thing to many people. So in that sense, I disagree with the idea that ALL the troops should have come home.

But my third mind is also in conflict. The spiritual, Biblical mind that is. I know Christians should definitely be invested in politics, and we need more serving in politics, helping to create and mandate policy, etc. But are the majority of us too invested in politics? The "rightwing Christian conservative" group, or whatever we have been called. Politics seems to take our mind and eyes away from things that are more important; spiritual matters and the like. Plus if we aren't capable, politics can instill hatred in us, or bigotry or prejudice or any number of nasty personality tics.

How do I view the Katrina disaster and the War in Iraq through spiritual eyes? Well..."blessed are the peacemakers" is one way. Helping the poor and needy in general is another way; but that can go for either Katrina or Iraq. Then there is always the option to ignore the physical and just focus on the spiritual (witness only); 1 Peter (or was it James?) warns us against this, but it seems the angle that many Christians seem to take. And it's a view I obviously disagree with.

So I don't know. Any thoughts on this would be appreciated. I wonder though how this video/collaboration will affect Bono's relationship with President Bush. I know they aren't exactly buddy-buddy, but Bush has been very instrumental in helping Bono with debt relief and AIDS supplies to Africa.

Still, there is one thing I am 100% in agreement about:

The song rocks!!


Oct 25, 2006

A genuine post...about Star Wars

I wrote this way back on Nov 4 of 2005. I feel I've been neglecting blogging recently, mainly due to my work schedule, so thought I'd repost this.

Judge me kindly now.


If any of you bought the soundtrack for Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith, it came with a bonus dvd, The Musical Journey. Basically, each of the major Star Wars songs with scenes and audio clips from the movies. Really amazing quality...even has introductions/story telling by Ian McDiarmid (Palpatine). So I have that playing in the background right now, and while I can't actually see it, the music is enough for me.

Star Wars is an amazing entity, and a very important part of my life. I have so many thoughts on it right now that putting it all down would take time and an editor, and possibly even an monetary advance, but lets see what I can do right now...

I don't know why people hate on Star Wars. I don't know why people call people who like it "nerds." I just don't get it. But heck, I'm a nerd, maybe I'm not suppose to. I even know people who have never seen any of the movies, and don't know a single thing about them. Then again, these same people also don't know who Nixon was...sad.

One of my earliest memories was watching Star Wars. The first one, not any of the sequels or prequels; the one commonly called "Star Wars." I remember the scene vividly, but to this day I can not find it. There was a scene where Darth Vader was walking down the corridor at the beginning, and he was stopped by some officer, and they stuck a chip or something into those slots on his vest. Now, I might be getting the chip scene mixed up with when Leia stuck that chip into Artoo, but I really don't think so. I know for a fact that there are multiple copies with multiple scenes out there; it wasn't until the VHS copies that Lucas nailed one down as the "official" version.

My mom also likes to say that as a kid I would run and hide in the other room whenever Darth Vader would come on the screen. That might be true, but by the time I was 8 or so, I was acting out the movies. There was a wallswitch in our basement at the time that I would pretend was the controls for the wall where Han was stuck in carbonite (Return of the Jedi). I'd even run around with sticks; lightsaber battling, of course.

Once I had a fairly massive collection of Star Wars action figures...the old ones. The ones that cost a fortune now. And I got them all for relatively cheap...few bucks for a pair, or so. However, since I had been having recurring nightmares back then, my mom decided Star Wars was to blame, even though we never owned the movies, and sold them all to some guy during a garage sale for maybe a tenth of what their actual value was. She only kept a landspeeder vehicle; it's still in her dresser drawer, I should go and take that sometime. But yeah, we never even owned them. When I wanted to see them, I had to go to the local library to rent Star Wars, and to the only video store in town we would go to to rent Return of the Jedi (believe it or not, it was a Hardware Hank, eventually to become an Ace Hardware. We use to get tons of movies and video games from them). Empire Strikes Back, which I now consider the best of the Originals, was at a store we would go to once in a few years, so it was always a treat to be able to actually see that one.

One of the very first cds I ever bought was the Special Edition collection of Return of the Jedi; still have them, still listen to them fairly regularly. I remember when Hollywood Video first started carrying the Special Editions on VHS. I was just amazed that an entire wall was devoted to Star Wars. Never did get to see the Special Editions in the theatres, to my regret. I remember seeing, by chance, an Entertainment Tonight special on the making of Episode 1 (they were covering a sandstorm that had destroyed all the sets, and Lucas claimed it a good omen cause it had happened on the first movie too!). One of the first novels I ever read was The Last Command, book three in what can be called the book trilogy by Timothy Zahn that really kickstarted Star Wars up again, waaaay back in '92. Still haven't read books one and two of that trilogy, but I heard the audio books millions of times.

Perhaps one of the reasons I don't hate on the Special Editions is because I was so in awe of them when they came out. I remember us renting them one by one and sitting down as a family in our basement to watch them. And I loved it. So while now I might dislike little aspects of them (Han shot first, dangit!) , at the time, I was like "cool! they made it better!!"

Taking a little side detour from the memories - if you ever want to really experience Star Wars, find the Radio Dramas, preferably on cd or mp3, although they are out of print and cost a bundle when you do find them, but most libraries have copies. These are Star Wars at its best. I own the first set, A New Hope, if anyone wants me to burn them a copy. But with expanded storylines, Mark Hamill doing his own voice work, newly recorded scores by John Williams, they are simply amazing. I use to lie in bed at night with a pair of headphones on and just blast them. If you ever want to actually get transported to a galaxy far far away, this is the best way to do. Hands down, still my favorite Star Wars anything. Radio dramas; nothing can touch them.

Let's see...I saw Episode 1 in theatres, with my family, the same day my friends Jon and Jim had their highschool graduation party. It had rained all day. Afterwards, the parents took us to see it. Once again...blew me away...although I had cheated and read the comics so I knew the basic story. On the way home, we stopped at Taco Bell, picked up the original Bell Grande (u know...when it had those 10 tacos/burritos plus the pizza PLUS the nachos, all for $10), watched some tv while eating that, and then my parents went out and bought a new tv! Still have it too, it's sitting unused to the right of me.

Episode 2 was an amazing experience. I had been at church, knowing it was having a midnight showing. This is at Fourth, 2002, so not too long ago. I was planning on going to see it on the weekend probably. Jason Webster, friend and youth leader at the time, came up to me, and was like "my friend has an extra ticket...want to come?" I hit the roof, literally. Jumped and touched it.

I cannot begin to describe that experience. I was, what...16 maybe at that time. A bunch of 30 somethings, a group I always tended to get along with better than people my own age, invited me to go to a MIDNIGHT SCREENING of STAR WARS!!! I was going insane! Met some really cool guys (2 of them owned gaming stores in the Mpls area, and one of them worked for Bioware, a highly respected video game company), stood outside for two hours with a bunch of people dressed up, just having a great time, and then running inside to get good seats. Saw the Matrix Reloaded trailer for the first time (loads of cheers!), couple cool other trailers, and then the movie started. LOTS OF CHEERING! This screening, luckily enough, had mainly older people at it, no stupid pre-teens running around to ruin it. Throughout the entire movie there were cheers (Yoda coming to lay the smack down on Dooku!), some jeers (jar-jar...), and some great oneliners (the fireplace scene- "Time to make some Luke and Leia!"). As a side note, I found out two years later that Kevin Brick, one of my Davanni's friends, was at the same screening! I walked out of that theatre on Cloud 9.

Now Episode 3, just last summer, was a little different. As opposed to the first two movies, I said "what the heck" to knowing anything, so I learned it all. I kept checking the sites every day for any new info. I was pumped for this movie. So let's give the sequence of events leading up to it:

-maybe 3 weeks before it opened, I bought tickets for the only digital theatre in Minnesota, at Eden Praire Mall. 4 tickets, for me, david, joe, and jelani. Two of the three still owe me. Guess which ones...

-wednesday, one week before it opened, i had my final biology test at school. within two hours, i was on the road for chicago.

-thursday, six days to go. U2 UNITED CENTER!!! my first U2 show, a story in itself.

-friday, five days. within an hour of coming back to town, went out with a girl to see a movie, then went to dena's party, dead tired.

-few days of nothing.

-wednesday, Episode 3. Stupid, stupid highschoolers running around being loud. While it was a midnight showing, it had nowhere near the energy or excitement that Episode 2 had. my only regret that night. But once again, I was blown away. The movie was amazing. And now I have the dvd.

To this day, Star Wars has had a continual impact on me. I've read almost all the novels and comics, own most of the cds, own nearly all the home video releases (including those crappy, crappy dvds from last year...ugh, horrible job on those, they did). There are very few things that effect me really deeply, but Star Wars is one of them. If I let my guard down, if I just sit back and think and reflect, Star Wars can make me cry. Especially the music that plays while Luke is burning Vader's body at the funeral. That music is so bittersweet, and just thinking of all it implies, I could easily just break down and lose it.

As for which is the best Star Wars song, hands down, I have to go with Across the Stars, the love theme from Episode 2: Attack of the Clones. It wasn't until I really, really listened to that song did I understand exactly what George Lucas was trying to do with Anakin and Padme. But I got it, and I appreciated it. If there is one song that I might fight to have on a cd at my wedding, it would be that one, even above anything by U2. The song is their relationship; it IS Star Wars. This mighty and powerful love that has such a sad ending to it, like it was doomed from the start, but burned oh so brightly while it was alive. And when the harps chime in...magic.

Second best, The Imperial March. Gets the blood flowing, that it does.

I know one thing; when I get married...I want them to understand. They don't have to like Star Wars, but they need to understand. It is very important to me, it is precious (without the creepiness), and it is a huge part of who I am. It embodies some of the best things of my childhood, and it's continuing into my adult years. No one can take away from me what it all means to me, and no one should even try. You'll be fighting a losing battle. It remains a source of wonder and amazement and innocence, even if all the rest of my life is spiralling down the drain.

Just a few of my thoughts...

Anyways, thanks to you who actually do read blogs on Stu Station, and thanks for going through this one. I appreciate it. And at the risk of sounding like a nerd,

May the Force be with you.


One final thought from nowadays...The Prequel Trilogy (1,2,and 3) is brilliant. While it has some problems in the directing, acting, production, and ESPECIALLY THE EDITTING (Lucas!!), it is otherwise better than the Original Trilogy. I realize that is heresy, but I believe it to be true. They are different movies ultimately, graded on different scales. But if you delve beneath the surface of the movies, into the books, comics, cartoons, etc...Brilliance.

Aight. I'm done with the Star Wars love for now.

I'll think of something genuinely serious to write about next time.

Wow but I LOVE Star Wars

Seriously, I really do. The last track on the soundtrack for Attack of the Clones gets me every time...

(Yes, this is a stupid blog post, but it's what I'm thinking and feeling right now).

May the Force be with you.

Oct 17, 2006

Working and Reggie

For some reason, I've been thinking about Reggie White recently. Might have something to do with the fact that I've joined a Facebook group or two dedicated to him. Anyways, decided to do a Wikipedia search on him, just to see what was there. Turns out his son Jeremy wrote a book about growing up with him.

Most of you probably don't know this, but I went to school with Jeremy and his sister. And I don't mean your typical "student body of hundreds" type of thing. I'm saying, a small classroom of 20 for a couple of years. I want to say 3 years, but I could be wrong. Anyways, I knew the kids and Sara, Reggie's wife. Didn't actually know Reggie himself, which I regret.

I remember Jeremy and I didn't quite get along all the time, although we had our moments. I'm not even sure what it was about, but we got into a fight once on the playground. This had to be around fifth, sixth grade. We just started punching and wrestling around on the ground; I remember winning, but it's irrelevant. I don't even know what the fight was about. The funny thing was the instructor watching us didn't seem to care; he just watched us fight. I didn't even get in trouble or anything.

So I guess he's written a book about having Reggie as a dad. I'm thinking I might pick up a copy sometime, and try to track down a copy of the movie Reggie made, "Reggie's Prayer." What's unfortunate is that it is only available on VHS...I saw it once a long time ago, and while I know it's a really crappy movie, I still want a copy.

We lost a great man with Reggie.

Ok, moving on. At work Sunday, one of my coworkers, we'll call her B since I can't spell her name (and shouldn't), told me about a bunch of guys trying to get her to come to their church yesterday. She didn't know what church they went to, but after I asked a few questions (JW? Suits and ties? A huge wooden cross carried by some weirdly dressed people? etc), found out that they were Mormons. Then she dropped the question on me: "What do they believe?"

Sheesh. What a loaded question. I tried explaining to B the big thing first, the entire "Jesus was not God but only a man" issue. Well, she sided with the Mormons; doesn't believe that Jesus was God, and for some reason, kept on repeating that "dying on the cross proves he wasn't God!" Oh, and she denied the resurrection too, when I asked her about that. B says she based these opinions of hers on the Koran. I know she grew up around Islam, but she tells me she got away from all of that.

For some reason we started talking about Moses...and how Jesus was Moses or some such nonsense...and how when Moses saw God he was struck blind...whatever...and then I tried explaining to her the concept of the Trinity, trying to get off the rabbit trail and back to her original question about the differences between Mormons and, well, me.

She didn't understand it. Three in one and one in three. The Beatles is one band but four musicians...ok, maybe five if you count Yoko. She claimed that God is "unknowable", and cannot be male, first of all, so he can't be a father. And there can't be a father, a son, and a holy spirit! After a while of me just trying to explain the concept to her, she got a little frustrated and pretty much ended the conversation, citing that "logically" I could not be right.

I went up to her later and apologized, told her I wasn't trying to attack her beliefs or her "logic", but only just trying to explain myself/Christianity to her. She told me she reads a lot, so I'm probably gonna give her a book or two to read later, but I wonder where even to begin!

Still, this shows promise. It was refreshing actually to just talk about stuff like that with someone. I hope it happens again. While I'm not exactly wide-open with my faith at work (I don't go telling everyone that Jesus loves them, or preaching at them), I've never shied (shyed?) away from denying anything, and I'm quite honest about going to church and stuff like that.

Already I can imagine several people at my church spiritually "tsk-ing" me for not being more open or evangelistic...but then I remember Scripture and who I'm accountable to.

I'm thinking of giving B a copy of The Case For Christ first. It's been several years since I read it, but I remember it gave a strong argument, as well as being written for normal people. Any other suggestions? Maybe a copy of the Message too...