Tag Archives: Television

Anthony Bourdain was a wanderer who knew exactly where he was in the world. Not necessarily in a geographical sense – in fact, he often was quite lost in that way – but from the perspective of a man who exemplified a go-with-the-flow wisdom in numerous locations and situations that most of us would be freaking out if we found ourselves in, Bourdain saw the beauty in every back alley, every dish,  and every culture.

Looking at his beginnings in the New York City area, Anthony Bourdain was raised by a family environment conducive to cultural growth. His mother was an editor for the New York Times (the paper whose famous book bestseller list he would later find his own name on), and his father was a top man at Columbia Records. With print and music covered in the family, and younger brother Christopher going into money (no, really, he’s a currency analyst), it seemed only natural for Anthony to round out the family’s varied experience with his own mastery of cooking and sense of travel.

Bourdain is best known for his television shows, most notably, Anthony Bourdain: Ne Reservations on the Travel Channel, and then Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown on CNN. On those shows, he brought his personal expertise as a chef who honed his French style in New York’s famous Brasserie Les Halles, as well as his linguistic skills that were certainly on point in his unique culinary books like his first: Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly. Bourdain always added his wit and charm to every situation, every travel by rickety rail or gondala.

Sadly, we lost Bourdain, last week when he took his own life. Whatever troubled him is still being uncovered, but I want to remember the man who recognized the humanity in all through his extensive travels and trials of different food from different places. Whether you remember the man who certainly lived a life worth living through his shows, his books, his food, or his humorous appearances in shows or films like Archer and The Big Short, remember to look at everyone around you as he did: as fellow people with something to share, to learn from, and to enjoy time with.

Alex

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Skywalkin’ Blues

This is not going to go the way you think.

I am a tremendous Star Wars fan. Frank(Oz)ly, it’s rare to meet someone who is a fan of the series who is not extremely passionate about it. For me, the Star Wars saga is the greatest story I have ever experienced. Yes, I know about the prequels, and honestly, while I don’t love them or blinded defend terrible facets of them, I certainly don’t hate them and even find much of what they serve to be quite entertaining. Even in the  original trilogy films, which for most Star Wars fans are almost critically untouchable, are scenes that are flawed or downright silly, but I love them even more for this. Okay, I cringe every time I watch Leia kiss Luke and see him revel in it in The Empire Strikes Back, but it hardly sinks the film for me. That is still my second all-time favorite movie behind only Jaws, another film that is hardly perfect, but is so to me.

Nevertheless, my opinion as a Star Wars nerd is not the highlight of today’s focus, but rather a justification of a certain expertise if you will. Time has passed, and criticism from myself and others has been digested, and now I have some things to say regarding the latest, and perhaps most immediately and globally controversial of all Star Wars films: Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi. Specifically, I will be addressing my take on the most significant aspect of the movie: the characterization of Luke Skywalker.

Allow me to again call upon my experience as a Force fanatic to say that my personal favorite character in any story in any media, whether it be film, book, television, radio, etc., is Luke Skywalker. I attribute this to many of the same reasons I love the Star Wars saga. For one, I saw these movies at an early age and they made an indelible impression on me (the same is true of Jaws). Like so many others over the decades, first seeing Star Wars in theaters was life-changing. My dad took me to see the release of the Special Editions (versions of Star Wars films with plenty of justified criticism) back in 1997, and I was blown away. No other movie looked like Star Wars, and nothing has looked like it since. Not just from a technical standpoint, but from a story and character level. Thanks to a great cast of characters (played by a great cast of actors) thrust into the space-based adventures of good versus evil, we the world over have been treated to an amazing trio of films that redefined how films were made in almost every way. None of this should sound new as countless people have heard about and experienced Star Wars in a similar way, and I would wager that many have also latched onto Luke Skywalker in much the same way as I did. It makes sense to, as Luke is the modern epitome of the monomythic hero, or the guy who goes on the big adventure in the storytelling structure know as the hero’s journey. Popularized by mythologist Joseph Campbell, and altered and updated by many, including Dan Harmon with his Story Circle, the Hero’s Journey is a general outline of how a story’s protagonist gets his/her adventure rolling and changes as a result of it. Campbell explained this in his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces, which after Star Wars was released had a newly designed cover with Luke Skywalker pictured among carvings and paintings of mythological heroes. It is based on classical storytelling from some of the earliest iterations of mythology and rolls the common themes in myths from across the world into one set called the monomyth. The original 1977 Star Wars followed this formula perhaps more apparently than any other film to date with fresh farmboy Luke Skywalker at its crux as – to borrow a term from Altered Carbon – the sleeve through which we, the audience observer, experience the story.

I believe that this is the primary reason why people, especially the most devoted Star Wars fans, had difficulty grappling with what was going on with Luke in The Last Jedi. Now, as should be obvious to anyone who has read this far, I will be getting into spoiler territory from here on out, so continuing to read assumes that you have already watched The Last Jedi. But, c’mon, who hasn’t by now?

Now that you have been warned, allow me to start off this dive into what’s going on with Luke by weighing some opposing views of his role in The Last Jedi. First, we have a well crafted video essay from one of my faves, Nerd Soup, the thesis of which may seem right on or harsh depending on your opinion.

As Beau Oliver likes to frequently reiterate on Nerd Soup’s many Star Wars related videos, nobody hates Star Wars like Star Wars fans. Now, of course he does not hate Star Wars, and certainly did not hate The Last Jedi, a point he makes quite clear in this video. In fact, I find his argument to be far and away the best of the bunch I offer up to you in this post, and I agree with what he says. However, I also agree with much of what the next two guys say as well.

Some good analysis that reminds us that Luke is a human who makes mistakes and has struggles, something that should be apparent in the best protagonists, be they good, bad, or ugly. In The Last  Jedi this is most obvious when a concerned uncle peers into his nephew’s darkening dreams (there’s no way that I’m going to make that sound not weird). Basically, Luke checks Ben’s text messages and freaks. He normally would not have done such a thing, but his sister’s son was acting really shady, and he decided he needed to take a quick peek to make sure it wasn’t drugs or something. When it becomes clear that the situation is out of hand more than he could have imagined, he makes a brief, but big bad call. For more on all this, let’s look to the video recommended in the last one.

Some fathier – er,  further good points for the film. For one that I particularly liked, Finn finds his groove as a Rebel. His storyline was the weakest part of the film and I’ll never be in love with it, but working with a great new character in Rose, and the always excellent Benecio del Toro plus BB-8 is going to win back some points. In all fairness, this storyline had the most cut from it before the final release, so there was a little more meat on those bones once. Regardless, the result is that Finn, who is still on the run from the fearsome First Order he knows the ruthlessness of better than anyone, finally makes the decision to fight for something more than his own skin and Rey’s.

Similarly, The Last Jedi shows us character growth in the other new crew members like Poe learning to be a leader and realizing sometimes you’ve got to lose the battle to win the war (Holdo totally should have told him and everyone else of her plan though). Rose goes from a mechanic working on the sidelines who gets starstruck by seeing Finn, to a badass on the frontlines working alongside him while also helping to teach him more about how the galaxy works and why the Resistance matters. Most prominently of all, Rey gets some schooling in what the Force truly is (I’ll talk more on this later), why it’s not entirely black and white, a crash course in trusting too much, and a harsh dose of reality regarding your heroes.

This final point is what makes and breaks The Last Jedi. As is the case with the entire film from start to finish, we have our expectations thrown back in our faces. Expecting a “can you hear me now?” schtick to open the movie? You sure weren’t. Did you call Leia and the other leaders getting blown into space in the first third of the film? Probably not. Did you think Luke was going to walk out with a laser sword and face down the whole First Order? In all fairness, he pointed out how crazy it was to think this would ever occur when he asked it aloud. In all further fairness though, he later did this. But did you see him projecting his image from lightyears away to offer closure to his sister, escape to her comrades, and the ultimate “how you like me now?” to his nephew? Furthermore, did you expect him to die?

Expectations rarely come to fruition in our favorite films, especially Star Wars (watch  one of my absolute favorite YouTubers/film critics, Filmjoy – formerly Movies with Mikey – serve up some stellar stuff in his two-part series “How We See Star Wars” if you have not already for more on this). Look at how George Lucas expected so much more out of his initial movie in the series. He desired better effects, better acting, better support from the studio (yeah, all this), but the only thing that lived up to his lofty expectations, and actually far exceeded them was the incredible score from the amazing John Williams. This is the only constant that we can and should expect from movies in the Star Wars saga. The music will be excellent – the greatest ever among any film scores – as long as John Williams is composing it; all other bets are off. With that being said, allow me to get into the nitty gritty of my take on The Last Jedi‘s portrayal of Luke Skywalker, and remember what he told you in the film and I told you at the start.

This is not going to go the way you think.

Mark Hamill is a true professional. He was understandably not crazy about his character’s tonal shift and the finality of this role, but he set that aside and brought his A-game to every scene. Director Rian Johnson asked a lot of Hamill, and he got way more than he could have anticipated because Hamill recognized that his desires were not as important as making something great. Included in the bonus features of The Last Jedi is a documentary, The Director and the Jedi, that chronicles the making of the film with an emphasis on Johnson and Hamill’s relationship. We see Mark Hamill explain how he told Johnson that he disagreed totally with the direction of the character… but that he would do everything he could to give the best performance to bring Johnson’s vision of the character to life.

I would also recommend that you watch another bonus feature (I’m just generally assuming that everyone purchased the same steelbook that I did) called The Balance of the Force (which is shorter at around 10 minutes) where Rian Johnson explains that the Force is not a superpower, and he wanted to remind everyone of this fact while simultaneously presenting a new generation of fans with the realization of what the Force really is. To reiterate for the sake of not simply assuming all know, it is an energy that is created by and connects all living things. Channeling this energy is what allows Jedi and Sith and others to enhance their amazing abilities, but it does not magically bestow those abilities onto a select few. At least that is how it is supposed to work. As Mikey recently expressed in his two-part “How We See Star Wars”, there is a major canonical issue that spoils so much of the mystique of the Force: midichlorians. Check out his segment on The Phantom Menace here, and take a surprised trip down memory lane to realize how many people straight up loved this movie when it came out. (Props to the music intros to each film with a song that was prominent during the release of each.) As Mikey points out, the explanation that midichlorians make people sensitive to the Force – the all-living-things-are-connected energy that is felt by all and manufactured by all – is a problem. No longer, do we have the aspiration that we could be the next Luke Skywalker, for our fate with the Force is determined by bacteria in our blood or some such nonsense. Fortunately, this notion has generally been cast aside by one of the unexpected resolutions regarding Rey’s parentage being nothing special. If Rey is not from one of the dynastic Force-sensitive bloodlines we know of, and neither is that boy we meet on Canto Bight, then genetically-inherited midichlorians, like size, matter not where the Force is concerned.

Now that that is addressed, let’s consider a reason why Rian Johnson did not want Luke walking out in the flesh to face the First Order and Kylo Ren: it would open up a need for him to have a superpower. If Luke went to Crait (the salty sit-in for Hoth) why wouldn’t he just push aside the gorilla walkers with a wave of his hand? Sure, he probably is not the most agile swordsman anymore compared to Kylo Ren, but why duel him directly when you could fling him around the way Snoke was doing with Rey? The story could not have Luke confront Ren and his regime in person because he would be too much for them to handle and we would wonder why he could not simply handle them if he did not, but we would not be entertained if he did. It’s the Superman paradox of how do you make Superman interesting and relatable if he’s unbeatable both physically and emotionally. We need to see Luke’s humanity and his continued growth in order to care for him (and to have a ninth movie that isn’t just him mowing down the bad guys with ease).

Let’s look at Luke in each orig trig film according to Mikey from his great videos. He shows a snippet from each movie with a caption.

Star Wars: “Look at this precious boy”

The Empire Strikes Back:”Look at this struggling boy”

Return of the Jedi: “Owns entire Hot Topic catalog”

We need something different from older, weary Luke in The Last Jedi. But where to go from the Skywalker kid who grew up to save the galaxy? The classical hero has finished his quest; how does he grow up more? How does he even begin another quest without repeating his earlier adventure beat by beat? The solution is in updating his archetype.

In my post from last week, “Hit Me!”, I expanded upon similar scenes between Batman and the Joker in the 1989 Batman and 2008 The Dark Knight films after watching Just Write and his adorable Canadianly way of saying “out” in his videos “What Kind of a Hero is Batman?”. In the two-part series (which my YouTube faves are big on lately), he elaborates on how Batman has the unique distinction of having represented six of the main character archetypes over his many characterizations. Batman is a comic book character, so it is no surprise that he has seen a shift in style over the decades, but it is a testament to a character to be able to fit in more than one mold for the sake of his stories. Batman is my favorite comic book character thanks partly to this chameleonic ability, but mostly I am a fan of his time spent as a tragic hero, which Just Write goes into a good degree of detail of in his first video. He explains how the tragic hero must be relatable and not all powerful (using Superman as a foil example), but also has to be the reason for his own undoing. The moment at which Batman experiences his fall, his hamartia, in The Dark Knight is the scene I covered last week with the Joker staring down the barrel of a street with Batman rocketing toward him on his Batpod. Batman swerves, and sets in motion his fall from grace and more deaths, including the woman he loves, because he cannot bring himself to kill. Did Batman mean for this to happen? Certainly not. Should he be blamed for not killing the Joker? No. However, it cannot be ignored that his refusal to take down a man who has been a monster in his city perpetuates the events that unfold as a result of his inaction.

Similarly, Luke must have a hamartia in order for the Star Wars saga to grow beyond itself. This was set up in The Force Awakens as the instance where Ben Solo rebelled against his uncle, left him for dead, destroyed his temple and followers, and absconded with those loyal to him to don the moniker Kylo Ren. It comes as a shock to us to see a moment where an older Luke panics and contemplates, however briefly, murdering his nephew. Beau Oliver brought up the point that Luke has seemingly less of a connection to Ben Solo his nephew than to Darth Vader when he learns he is his father which makes their interaction and this moment come out of nowhere for us observers in the audience. I definitely don’t disagree with this, and I doubt that it will ever sit well with me as a huge fan of Luke from the orig trig, but it is worth noting that we do not see what leads up to this probably due to time and directorial desire to keep us in the dark. Rian Johson not only upended all of our predictions and expectations, but he crafted Luke as a tragic hero in a way that aided Rey’s arc as well. Rey, and the rest of us, discover that our hero is man after all. We’ve seen the great work that Luke has done, and we expect that ship to keep right on sailing without stopping, but that is not how life works, and Luke’s troubles with Ben create a new set of troubles to tackle, but he hung his helmet up a long time ago. We and Rey together realize how hard it is to see your heroes as anything but once they reach the level of legend.

Yet Luke’s story does not end entirely in tragedy. His shift into a tragic hero serves as a revival of his classical hero. Rey arrives with a call to action, but he refuses. Nevertless, with the help of an old mentor (in the greatest Yoda scene in the entire saga), Luke is provided with the push and guidance he needs to return to his sister and friends before confronting the new threat in a novel way, and receiving his reward of peace through that purpose to become one with the Force. His last act amplifies his status as a legend at a time when the galaxy needs it most, and provides the call to adventure that the heroes of tomorrow will answer.

The Last Jedi is not a perfect movie, and its characterization of Luke Skywalker is not perfect either, but it will endure for its effort to strike out in a new direction and burn the conventions of the past in order to reawaken the greatness we saw in the beginning of this magnificent series while continuing to make its own path throughout the galaxy far, far away.

Props again to Mark Hamill, the consummate professional and humorous presence who always excels at being honest and bringing joy to people. He may not be awash in film credits like his costar Harrison Ford, but his roles in his body of work is solid (something that honestly cannot always be said of Ford). Thanks to his talent, work ethic, and the happiness he brings, Mark Hamill is one of my favorite actors. He recently received his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, along with some nice, heartfelt speeches of appreciation from Ford and George Lucas. Hamill himself thanked his fans for their support on a fantastic ride that has taken him “from Jedi to Joker and back again”. It is understandable why people love his characters so much when the man himself is so loveable. No matter what your feelings on The Last Jedi and the final hurrah of his most popular character, you’ve gotta love the man behind the lightsaber no matter who you are.

Thanks for reading and watching! Be sure to revenge- uh, sorry, return back here next week when I’ll take a closer look at the latest Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees officially being christened in this Saturday April 14. As always, you can keep in touch with me at monotrememadness@gmail.com.

May the Force be with you,

Alex

View Unto Others

For most Christian denominations this coming Sunday is Easter, the most important holiday to Christianity even though Christmas is undeniably more fun. Easter is the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ after a weekend of fixing the afterlife infrastructure that followed his crucifixion. Now, it has been a long while since I took any stock in stories from the Catholic teachings I was brought up on, and my connection to the faith of my family is currently only apparent in my allegiance to the Ramblers of Loyola Chicago University in this year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four as they are, like my high school and university, a Jesuit school (plus they’re playing Michigan and I hate Michigan).

Nevertheless, I am one of over seven and a half billion people in the world, and when you consider religious populations Christians are the biggest slice of that pie – according to an estimate made in 2012 – so losing me to the third place collective community of people who do not adhere to a religion (secular/nonreligious/agnostic/atheist) is hardly a problem for the remaining 2.3 billion Christians in the world. Among the reasons why I have drifted away from the Church and religion in general, is my concern that a strong devotion by on faith in place of facts is problematic, and truly fanatic. I am not trying to get you to cut loose from whichever practices of faith you partake in; so long as they are physically and emotionally safe for you and others, go for it, especially if you actively help people by supplying food, medicine, care, etc. I do have a concern though regarding advertising your creed aggressively, or worse yet, spreading your message with propaganda. You are not likely to convert nonbelievers to your cause, but you do certainly have the capability to rile up those who already align with your beliefs. Historically, rallying the masses to a like cause based on shared beliefs can turn sour, especially where religious-based agenda is concerned. More and more though, we see religious (and political) organizations take to technology to advance their cause. Really anybody who has a subjective stance to take and is trying to get others to take it too tries this using social media, or if they have big buckos, they put together a TV channel and/or movies.

One such newer practitioner is the Church of Scientology. It’s easy for us to look at Scientology and scoff. It’s a modern religion, legally-recognized by the United States government as such (the requirements are really not that difficult to meet), and their prophet is Tom Cruise – no, sorry that’s not exactly correct. However, Scientology was created by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, and numerous other high-profile celebrities join Cruise in praying to aliens or whatever it is that they do. Okay, that’s not quite what they have going on within the Church of Scientology, but do you feel bad for the institution in the wake of my poking fun at it? I imagine not, and that’s because Scientology just sounds silly. South Park skewered it, countless comedians jab at it in some way, shape, or form, and their most famous member isn’t doing them any favors with the non-believers either.

But what about Christianity? The world’s biggest religion doesn’t get all of its followers from whatever iteration of Jesus Christ Superstar is airing on Easter (it doesn’t hurt, either). As a matter of fact, Christian movies are becoming more popular for more studios to put out and for some bigger studios to get involved.

 

In 2016, the world went wacky over Deadpool, and for good reason as the self-aware superhero slayed in every way in his feature film. Deadpool quickly became not only the highest-grossing R-rated comic book movie, but the second highest-grossing R-rated movie of all time. Despite this fantastic success, it still falls almost $8 million shy of the top grossing R-rated movie: The Passion of the Christ.

Thanks for reading and watching. Have yourself a merry little Easter and a fantastic Passover this weekend! Who knows? Perhaps in a couple months we’ll see Deadpool 2 atop this list.

Good humor is divine,

Alex

 

 

 

 

“We Don’t Actually Want Less Guns in Schools; We Want Fewer Guns in Schools”

After yet another school shooting, young and older citizens in the United States are hoping for an end to the senseless cycle of violence that is becoming more frequent. I have heard many articulate pleas for greater gun control from many people, chiefly the actual students who endured this most recent tragedy.  Their urge to those in political power to use their authority to instill real and productive change is inspiring.

One group who has been listening to these impassioned teenagers is the team at my favorite late night show, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. Over the past two weeks since the show returned from hiatus, Oliver and his crew have made a few observations on the response to the latest school shooting.

However, this topic and its obvious solution is nothing new to Oliver, who was at the center of one of the greatest recurring pieces The Daily Show with Jon Stewart ever put together when he was a correspondent on that show. Take a gander yourself to see how the same stupid argument to “protect gun rights” perpetuates the lack of protection for people:

If hearing a British man explain how Australia did it right and America is doing nothing despite that proof that things worked for Australia is exhausting, then take a quick listen to an Australian who recognizes the same flaws:

Thanks for reading and watching. Please come back next week when I can hopefully talk about Black Panther, or something.

Alex

We Got Him!

Media is tricky these days. It’s difficult to work out what is going on through the surge of sensationalism that dominates the news outlets we rely on for information. Even our most trusted sources can get swept up in screaming out something that they know will get heads turned towards them, even if that is not necessarily the something they should be shouting about, or if what they are shouting about it misses the mark of what they should be shouting about. Too vague? Certainly, but let’s look at a specific subject that he media has been obsessed with for the past few years: Donald Trump. Trump has always been in a good position of prominence and authority thanks to his family’s business prospering before he got into it. However, in the last two years, he has skyrocketed into the global public eye, which is understandable for a President of the United States, but he manages to capture headlines with everything he does  and everywhere he goes at every minute of the day. His mastery of the bullshit arts and utilization of the social media vehicle that is Twitter allowed him to dominate the coverage leading up to the last presidential election, and definitely played a part in helping him to get elected to that position. Now with a bigger soapbox than he’s ever had to shout from, the media struggle to keep up with all that old Donnie can blather out. Few have managed to consistently cover his crap and actually express how it is legitimately crap, and they have something in common: they’re comedic journalists who have all worked on The Daily Show. From current host, Trevor Noah, to former host Jon Stewart, to former correspondents and current hosts of therir own shows, Samantha Bee, Stephen Colbert, and most of all, John Oliver, the Daily Show gang has nailed nailing down Trump’s insanity where traditional news outlets have failed. Those with a show of their own routinely rail into the toupee-touting toddler (prove me wrong Donald, I dare you!), as do other comedy hosts, such as Jimmy Kimmel and Conan O’Brien. However, nobody dishes out the “DAMN!”s like John Oliver and his crew on HBO’s Last Week Tonight. Certainly, having what Oliver once referred to as “dragon money” on his former constituent Stephen Colbert’s Late Show helps, but beyond the blatant overspending that Last Week Tonight  likes to show off (in line with the “if you’ve got it, flaunt it” philosophy) their entire staff has excelled at delivering quality current and investigative newspieces over their four seasons, and tackling Trump has been their forte, and nabbed them another Emmy in the same category Jon Stewart’s Daily Show used to dominate.

It’s a shame that last night was Last Week Tonight‘s last show until next season starts in February, Thankfully, Oliver and Co. went out with a bang, breaking down the dynamics of what makes Trump strangely successful, and why it is bad, as well as leaving us with one hell of a post credits callback clip. Enjoy it for yourself:

We may be stuck with a dipshit of an executive leader, but at least we have John Oliver to carry us through the remaining 3-7 years of it. If you need to catch up or get your dose of Oliver while you wait for next season, then visit the show’s YouTube page here for the featured clips of most of their episodes.

Thanks for reading and watching! Swing back next week for more something or other!

XOXO,

Alex

Media Maelstrom

Houston, we’ve had a problem, and we continue to. It has been rough enough for the residents of Texas and Florida, not to mention the many others living throughout the Caribbean who have been affected by the recent hurricanes. Here in the USA, the pieces are still being picked up as another storm blows in. Thankfully, the early response for these and other storms has advanced greatly over the last century which has led to countless lives being saved by being able to leave or prepare for what’s to come. In that, the 24/7 availability of news and media outlets has helped. However, it has not been perfect coverage of such storms from the news – far from it, actually.

Today’s media, both televised and printed, but especially television news, has a nasty habit of presenting us with the spectacular side of a story at the expense of what is actually at the heart of it. Insofar as hurricane coverage (and any other natural disaster) is concerned, this approach is fairly formulaic in portraying the wake of the storm as something akin to a battlefield and painting the hurricane as the enemy force to be endured and defeated. The problem with this, is that is misidentifies what the real problem is, for it’s not a story of man versus nature, but man versus ignorance, in this case, man not paying sufficient attention to the need to maintain the natural spaces around him in order to provide himself with protection. Watch this video to see a more in depth discussion why it is vital we keep spaces such as wetlands, floodplains, and breakwaters in place for our own sake:

As you can see, there is more at stake with the sensationalized news coverage than misappropriating the true threat (climate change and overdevelopment), as poor media management can facilitate racism and purport myths.

Thanks for reading and watching. Continue to wish well for and help if you can those affected by the hurricanes.

Alex

“Let’s Roll”

It’s easy to say, “Never Forget”, and for those of us who witnessed any part of the news coverage or the actual attacks we will never be able to forget the horrors the United States endured on September 11, 2001. There are markers and memorials in the impacted areas in New York City, Arlington County, VA, and Stonycreek Township, PA that commemorate the people who died and the people who helped rescue those lucky enough to escape with their lives, so that everyone born after that date will forever be able to learn about the history of largest terrorist attacks in human history. Today, I would like to highlight a few specific heroes whose efforts 16 years ago helped to save the lives of many others in the hope that this will help us to continue to remember them and their sacrifices and contributions.

First, I want to salute a single individual named Todd Beamer. Beamer was a sales rep for IBM traveling for work from Newark to San Francisco onboard United Airlines Flight 93. United 93 was one of the four airplanes hijacked on September 11, 2001, and it appeared to be bound for Washington D.C. after the hijackers turned the plane southeast as they flew near Cleveland. The plane never made it to its target thanks to efforts of Beamer and fellow passengers, including Alan Beaven, Mark Bingham, Tom Burnett, William Cashman, Jeremy Glick, Linda Gronlund, Rich Guadagno, Lou Nacke, and Honor Elizabeth Waino, as well as flight attendants Sandra Bradshaw and Cee Cee Ross-Lyle. They called their loved ones, prayed together, and then stormed the cockpit.

Their brave efforts to fight back against the terrorists who had killed the pilots led to the United 93 crashing into the ground near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Todd led the charge to reclaim the plane, first calling on one of the plane’s seat phones and connecting with Lisa Jefferson, a supervisor at GTE Airfone who spoke with Todd about the situation and the passengers’ plan to retake the plane. She prayed with him and some passengers, then Todd checked with the group, asking if they were ready. When he was given an affirmative response, he said, “Let’s roll.” Sadly, all aboard perished in the crash, but their sacrifice ensured that no one else would suffer from another attack. Todd and the others on United 93 are American heroes and should be forever remembered as such. Thank you to them all.

 


All of us in the United States also owe a great debt to our northern neighbors who helped to safely redirect the flights that were already in the air after the attacks had begun. The attacks prompted the FAA (the United States Federal Aviation Administration) to ground all flights close down American airspace – the first time in history that such an immense action was taken. This left over 250 planes bound for US airports in the air with nowhere to land. Operation Yellow Ribbon was Canada’s response. Canada took in 255 airplanes at 17 of their airports in cities great and small, and at military bases. Canadian airspace was also shut down for departing flights, except those with emergency and military distinction.

The Canadian government and the airports with diverted planes helped secure lodging and meals for the passengers of each aircraft. The following year, Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien said,

9/11 will live long in memory as a day of terror and grief. But thanks to the countless acts of kindness and compassion done for those stranded visitors here in Gander and right across Canada it will live forever in memory as a day of comfort and of healing…. You did yourselves proud, ladies and gentlemen, and you did Canada proud.

To the entire nation of Canada, thank you.


Finally, a nod to astronaut Frank Culbertson, who was Station Commander on the International Space Station and took the title picture as ISS passed over New York City on the morning of September 11, 2001. Of the sight of the great smoke plume rising from the tower of the World Trade Center he went on to say,

“It’s horrible to see smoke pouring from wounds in your own country from such a fantastic vantage point. The dichotomy of being on a spacecraft dedicated to improving life on the earth and watching life being destroyed by such willful, terrible acts is jolting to the psyche, no matter who you are.”

Culbertson also wrote a couple of letters in response to learning of the attacks which you can read here. Near the end of the final letter, he expresses hope that their mission can be a beacon of hope and cooperation for future harmony:

I hope the example of cooperation and trust that this spacecraft and all the people in the program demonstrate daily will someday inspire the rest of the world to work the same way. They must!

I know many of us wholeheartedly agree.

Thanks for reading and watching. As we honor our heroes and remember our fallen from 16 years ago, let us continue to do what we can to aid in the efforts to brace and heal in Texas, Florida, the rest of the southeast US, and the Caribbean islands affected by the trio of hurricanes currently impacting America. Good luck to everyone seeking shelter and to all aiming to help them find it.

Alex