The only child, Number Seven, or Vanya as she likes to be
called, without powers is perhaps slated to be the most powerful of all the
superhero children gathered at the Umbrella Academy. In the first episode we’ve
already seen Vanya, played by Ellen Page, practicing violin on a stage. She’s
written a book, and her dream patterns were beeping off the chart and compared
to the relatively normal brain patterns of the other children. She is clearly
the most creative of the group, and that’s what makes her dangerous.
Diego and Luther are the tanks. Time and space travel boy is
a freak! His fight scene against what appears to be an elite military group was
incredible. Suggestive woman is dangerous, but says she has stopped using her
power. And Klaus, a drug addict and cliché, speaks with the dead – that’s a
different kind of freaky. That leaves Vanya, who is undervalued and
Creativity and the resulting innovations are what set the humans
of today, homo sapiens sapiens, apart from other humans and animals. Being able
to make something and then turn that to other uses is how people became the
dominant species on Earth. People aren’t the fastest or strongest. They aren’t
even the smartest necessarily, but people adapt the situation to their needs.
Too cold? Build a fireplace and house. To hot create an air conditioner. To
wet? Open an umbrella.
Vanya also trained with her father though she may not see it
that way. She knows what the people in the group can do and how to use their
powers, and as soon as she adapts her thinking to solving the problems at hand,
she will be the one to guide the members of the Umbrella Academy to greatness
with better chances for success.
Spoiler Alert: CBS’ “Salvation” illustrates the problem of a countdown. When a show has a significant, world-ending event on the calendar, it can only end poorly. The asteroid is coming and for two seasons of “Salvation” the main thrust of action comes from the reaction of people to the asteroid and the ineffectual efforts of the government, a rogue hacker organization and a genius billionaire to divert the asteroid from its course. There are plenty of amazing, thought-provoking episodes, especially in the first season. And then there are the dumb actions, mostly in the second season.
By the penultimate episode, none of that matters. Humans are
doomed by the incoming asteroid. Old rich and evil people have made off with
the show’s namesake spaceship/lifeboat for humanity and there’s nothing left to
do but tie up loose ends, except “Salvation” is a TV show and needed a way to
continue if it were picked up for a third season. (It wasn’t.) That’s when the
writers decided it wasn’t an asteroid.
If you’re writing a series with an asteroid and you’ve built
it up to the point of impact, you either need to end it with a bang or with the
success of people over nature. In this case, “Salvation” decided to offer a
vote of no winner and scuttle everything it had built up to the last episode,
which was unfortunate because they could’ve gone out with a bang.
I was lucky enough to be invited as a journalist to Malta Comic Con 2015, where I met the man who built R2D2 for the Star Wars films of the 1970s and 1980s. Tony Dyson was a personable, friendly man who invited me outside to interview him about creativity. For a Star Wars fan writing a dissertation on creativity, this is about as good as it gets. Dyson summed up his advice for people who want to be more creative in two words – “Play more.”
In the stage play when Tinker Bell drinks the poison that is intended to kill Peter Pan and starts to fade, Peter says it’s because not enough people believe enough in fairies. If the audience could believe more in fairies, and show that belief through applause, Tinker Bell could be saved. This isn’t the only time that the two characters are associated with belief.
In Disney’s 1953 screen adaptation, Peter tells the Darling children that they can fly. “All it takes is faith and trust… and a little bit of pixie dust.” As long as the children think happy thoughts and believe they can fly, they can.
The first step to improving your creativity is to believe
you can. Too many people believe that creativity is an innate gift bestowed
upon a blessed few at birth. The reality is that everyone is creative, you just
have to harness it, practice it and release your inhibitions. None of that can
happen unless you believe in your own creativity and your ability to improve it
In “The Prisoner of Azkaban,” Professor Lupin is teaching the students at Hogwarts how to protect themselves from a boggart. Boggarts take the shape of what the person fears most. Lupin advises the students to picture what they fear most and use the incantation “Riddikulus.” However, just using the incantation isn’t enough. “What really finishes a boggart is laughter. You need to force it to assume a shape you find amusing.”
Todd Kashdan offers similar advice for dealing with anxiety in his book “Curious?”. The incantation he uses is “I’m having the thought that…” followed by whatever the anxiety producing thought is. Kashdan points out that we aren’t our thoughts. Our thoughts do not always reflect reality. By adding the observation that you’re having a thought, you’re able to separate the thought from reality and look at the situation more objectively while limiting the power of the thought.
After exploring the incantation, Kashdan talks about other
ways of dealing with anxiety, including imagining the anxiety as an animate
object, like a purple puppy dog or a tiger with candy cane claws and licorice
teeth. “It becomes a lot easier to confront unwanted experiences and prevent
fusion (the strength imbued in a thought when it is taken as literal truth)
when they look silly and nonthreatening.
So, imagine your anxiety as a black widow on roller skates
it can’t control or as Snape dressed like Neville’s grandmother and start
getting control of your anxiety. Who knew that Harry Potter had insights on how
to deal with anxiety and fear?
Let’s forget the mildly entertaining and somewhat inconsistent shorts that Disney spun from its billion-dollar franchise ‘Frozen’ and look at the new teaser that just dropped. A determined Elsa faces the fury of a stormy coastline. Was she kidnapped and left on an island? Shipwrecked? We don’t know. We do know, by the determination in her face and body language, that she’s going to get off the island using her ice powers. The ocean can’t defeat her. (I don’t know why she needs a running start or how long she plans on running.The ocean is big.) She could probably make a stairway or bridge over the waves, but that would be way less cool.) Winter is coming!
Floating multi-colored diamond shapes…
All the SVENS! Gather the herd, we have places to run!
Anna shows off her athleticism. That’s quite a leap. Of
course, tossing a bust around like it’s a bouquet of flowers showed off some of
Anna’s unexpected strength.
Elsa is fighting fire to save her friend Olaf. Is this the
time we see the demise of Olaf? If this scene comes before Elsa fighting the
ocean… I fear for our friend who likes warm hugs. Maybe, it’s retribution for
the short that was too long and shown before “Coco.” Olaf! Some people are
worth melting for. Just maybe not right now!
The wind through the leaves as fall settles across the land.
Has fall come too early? After Elsa’s eternal winter of the first movie, is
this how the trees would react? Are those two new characters? It doesn’t look
like Christoff’s coat. And he’s being blown like a leaf on the wind. It could
be Hans or the son of the Duke of Weselton.
There’s a fell voice on the wind. All of those blowing
leaves… It’s the Fall of Elsa. How else would a queen, her sister and the
official ice deliverer be able to leave the castle and ostensibly the kingdom? Who
did they leave in charge? Hans? He was a capable leader who seemed to care
about the people of Arendelle, even if he wanted to kill the sisters.
The all female version of “Vuelie,” the seemingly weirdly out of place opening to the first movie featured a choir of men and women. This trailer version is different. And cut! No, Anna, I didn’t mean that literally!
I have already proposed several different plotlines that I’m pretty sure Disney didn’t consider. You can see them on my Patreon page as a preview of my planned book “Penguinate! The Disney Company” if you join today! You might also want to check out five bad pick-up lines from “Frozen” at our Weebly archives.
“Trust is the most valuable commodity in the world” –
paraphrased from the Russian Defense Minister Toporov on “Salvation.”
In fewer than six months, the world will end. All it would
take to save the world is to launch a gravity tractor equipped with the newly
developed EM drive into space. It seems like it should be a relatively simple
thing to accomplish. The biggest issue is that no one trusts each other enough
to let anyone else do his or her thing, and it starts at the top with the
governments of Russia and the U.S.
REM: It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)
Russia cuts off all diplomatic ties to the U.S. and threatens war. They know the asteroid is coming, and they don’t have the ability to build an EM drive, in spite of having kidnapped one of the scientists responsible for its invention. Russia threatens to shoot down anything shot into space and has already destroyed any satellite capable of crashing into the asteroid (which they should do, because if the asteroid is blown to pieces, it will result in a lot of meteors raining down on Russia and other countries in the Eastern Hemisphere rather than an extinction level event.) Russia threatens these things because they found that the U.S. has already dropped one asteroid on them (using the real-life Chelyabinsk meteor as part of its story).
Kaa the Python: Trust in Me
The U.S. president refuses to acknowledge the action, and
the only way to move forward with a launch is for billionaire Darius Tanz to
take PR official Grace Barrows to Moscow. Barrows is friends with the former ambassador,
who may be able to arrange a meeting with the Minister of Defense. Pointless
shenanigans (meaning the death of Barrows’ friend and the frame-up of Tanz and
Barrows for her murder by polonium) ensue and the two meet with Toporov, who
demands a test of their trust. Barrows and Tanz drink the tea laced with
SP-117, which is not sodium pentothal, and tell the truth about what they want
and how they propose to get it.
Russia still doesn’t trust the U.S., but it trusts Tanz and
Barrows. The launch is a go. Yay! We’re going to save the world with a joint
operation between the U.S. and Russia… Scrap that. The world learns about the
asteroid, and Russia withdraws its people again. The Secretary of Defense sends
up the rocket with the only EM drive, as far as he knows, and it gets shot
down. The world will be destroyed because government officials couldn’t do the
right thing. The only plan anyone has left is to shoot nuclear missiles at the
asteroid as it gets closer, and every scientist has already said that plan won’t
work. (Tanz has a secret plan, but the Secretary of Defense doesn’t know this
at the time he makes his stupid decision.)
Liam, the kid scientist responsible for the discovery of the
asteroid and calling its attention to Tanz and then develops the EM drive,
finally gets his ex-girlfriend Jillian back to Tanz Industries to do a job she’s
uniquely qualified for. She may be willing to get back together with Liam;
after all, she had to keep the secret from her family and discovered how difficult
it was. Then, the reporter shows up, attempts to blackmail Liam and reveals to Jillian
that they kissed. Liam is dumbstruck.
First of all, this is not how a good reporter behaves. However,
it’s the second time that this particular reporter attempted to blackmail
someone. She has also made friends with people who could provide her with
information for her story. She’s going to get the story regardless of the
morality involved in the methods to get it. Her story is the reason the
Russians pull out of the launch deal. She is also the reason why Liam and
Jillian have more trust issues than before.
Billy Joel: A Matter of Trust
While in Russia, Barrows and Tanz engage in a tete-a-tete,
which results in an SP-117 kiss. Barrows is dating Harris Edwards, her boss at
the Department of Defense. This action would likely undermine their relationship
by destroying the trust they have in one another, but back in the states, it’s
clear that Edwards doesn’t trust her. Professionally, he revokes her security clearance;
personally, he goes to a bar and has sex in the bathroom with the bartender.
When Barrows gets back to the U.S., he arrests her and then accuses her of
sleeping with Tanz. Dude, that ship sailed when you went to the bathroom with
the bartender. What gives him that right? Oh, and he’s being set up by someone
to make it look like he ordered Barrows to be assassinated.
Fleetwood Mac: Little Lies
Barrows daughter doesn’t trust her and ends up in Re/Syst. Tanz makes a deal with RE/SYST, who tack on a malware program to monitor Tanz’ work from here on out. With all of the lies and deception, it’s hard to see how anyone will gain another person’s trust.
Instead of people trusting in each other, we’re stuck with a
bunch of egos, lies, and the inability to let it go for the sake of saving the
human race. Everyone is involved in making shady deals and shadier decisions
that work to undermine what little trust they’ve built up. Worse, everyone is
ready to believe the worst of someone else; they turn on a dime regardless of
their confessed feelings. If this show is any indication of the truth about
people and trust, there is little difficulty in believing that a few people at
the top will wind up destroying the Earth for petty reasons and because they
lack the humanity, intelligence, and moral compass required to do the right
thing for everyone rather than the right thing for themselves. If people facing
the end of the world can’t trust each other, how can normal people in everyday
life expect to do so?
Trust isn’t an easy thing to rebuild. Once it’s broken,
there are few people who are big enough to build it back up, and few people who
change for the better in order to justify rebuilding the relationship. Human beings
are creatures of habit. If a person engages in behavior that destroys trust he
or she will probably engage in the same behavior again no matter the good
intentions the person may have. The point is: Trust is the most important
commodity in the world. The world is ending for someone every day; inspire
trust and help make it easier to face.
Three episodes into “Salvation” and I can’t believe how stupid the characters are. The premise of the show is there is a planet killing asteroid on a collision course with the Earth. It has a 97 percent chance of colliding with our planet creating and extinction level event. The U.S. government has known about it for three months, and ordered a rocket from the Tanz company to send up a gravity tractor. The rocket has to retrofitted to work for what the government wants, and in testing, the retrofits don’t work right and the rocket blows up. The gravity tractor is out as far as the government is concerned.
In the meantime, a college student’s algorithm found the
asteroid. The student informs his professor, who disappears. The student gets
close to Darius Tanz, head of the Tanz company, and tells him what’s going on.
Tanz contacts the Department of Defense. Both the student and Tanz get added to
the secret group that is trying to find ways to deal with the asteroid. With
the gravity tractor out, one of the men has proposed running the IO satellite
into the asteroid to knock it off course.
The student and Tanz point out that doing so won’t move the
asteroid. It would instead create a lot of meteorites that would rain down on
Earth with no telling where they would land. The man, who proposed the idea,
concedes the point and asks if Tanz has a better idea. Tanz proposes the
invention of an electromagnetic engine which doesn’t exist. They agree on that
solution for the moment.
Flash forward to the next meeting because the president is
getting nervous and wants an update. The man, who proposed the ramming of the
asteroid, comes back with the same proposal, but this time, he’s done the
calculations: the created meteors would rain down on Russia, China and Korea
killing an estimated 1.4 billion people. They have two windows. The first is in
seven days, the next is in 60 days. Rather than give Tanz and his team 60 days
to build and perfect their EM engine, they decide to go with the first window
because it gives them two chances to get it right.
What? The false logic here is that they have two chances.
Unless they have two satellites in orbit around IO, they have only one chance.
Waiting for the second window wouldn’t change anything. If they didn’t get it
right the first time, there is no second chance. The IO satellite would be
careening into space, and there’s no backup. You have one satellite and one
chance. Wait for the second window.
However, there’s a larger problem. Russia and China have
active space programs. Chances are they’re going to find out about this asteroid
and what the U.S. did. If they do, there’s a good chance, they’ll see the
destruction of the asteroid as an act of war and decide to use their missiles
to blow the U.S. up. The political wonks and military people should understand
that’s the natural reaction of any person in power and that this secret
asteroid information is going to get out. At the very least, some spy is going
to find out. More likely someone’s going to let something slip.
If colliding with the asteroid is the only choice, this
group needs to make sure it has a plan to evacuate the countries that are going
to be affected before it decides on this plan of action. That means the
information about the asteroid needs to be brought before the United Nations
and nations need to know what’s coming. Even more importantly, the U.S. doesn’t
have a monopoly on “smart” people or space. In fact, with the defunding of
NASA, the U.S. isn’t the leader in space exploration any more. The asteroid could
be used to bring countries together; instead of as a way to fill the American
In “the Mummy” (2017), Tom Cruise is a rogue army officer looking for ancient artifacts to sell on the black market. He gets caught in a tough spot, calls in an air strike, and blows a hole in the street of an insurgent occupied town that reveals a screaming face. His commanding officer gets there along with a woman who specializes in protecting antiquities. They discover a giant screaming bust, which she recognizes as Egyptian. Cruise, his partner and the woman go into the hole.
There the woman narrates what she sees: A rope with
hieroglyphs to warn against evil spirit submerged in a pool of mercury being
used to weaken its power, watchers faced inward (rather than outward) guarding
against the pool, a set of chains (not for bringing the object up but instead,
for keeping it down). We find out later that she knows monsters exist, and this
is one of the most ancient. Even with all of these warnings and the knowledge
of why the cavern looks the way it does, Cruise shoots the rope, activates the
lifting mechanism and reveals the sarcophagus, which is taken aboard a military
aircraft as a sandstorm threatens to engulf the plane.
Many of the other Mummy movies that came before involve a
team seeking treasure in the desert and continuing to proceed despite warnings
of natives, tribes put in place to guard against the release of the evil, and
bad things happening to the team before they even enter the chamber.
There is a popular myth about the curse of Tutankhamun. Many
people believe there was a curse written on his tomb and Howard Carter went in
anyway. Even though there has been no curse inscribed on the tomb, it’s
representative of what people will do for knowledge, history, fortune and
glory. The truths exposed in these films and this legend include people are
curious and people are greedy. And these are the reasons why burying nuclear
waste won’t work.
Nuclear waste is deadly for 250,000 years. That’s longer
than any languages will survive. Burying it with statues and pictograms
detailing its deadliness may be treated as superstition from a less developed
society. Or it may not be readable to explorers who have no context for the
depictions. Worse, it may entice the future explorers to learn more about the
inhabitants who lived amongst the strange drawings. At that point, the horror
and joke will be on them. Assuming the mummy of nuclear waste isn’t unwrapped
by natural disasters or our own people with malevolent intent.
Netflix’ “Io” is a minimalistic, quasi-science fiction movie about the end of the world. The CGI and backgrounds are questionable, and the two main characters have a hard time holding viewers’ attention, which is too bad because I like Anthony Mackie. However, what drives me to write this review is the anger I felt at the main character Sam, played by Margaret Qualley, at the end of the film. (Spoilers ahead.)
The Earth is contaminated by ammonia vapors and the entire
population has fled to Io, Jupiter’s moon, to find a new planet and build a new
life. The entire movie takes place on Earth, so the movie name is a bit of a
misnomer, but not so much that it creates cognitive dissonance. Sam, the daughter
of a scientist who has claimed that people can adapt to the new atmosphere and
urged people not to leave the planet, is the only one left alive as far as she
knows. She self-administers some sort of inoculation against the toxic
Her human connection is a man who is already at the Io
station. She meets Mackie’s Micah when he lands at her place in a helium balloon.
Micah is looking for Sam’s father and headed for the last shuttle off the
In no particular order, she dumps the man on Io, there’s a
flashback of her father telling her that the human connection is more important
than science, and Micah reinforces that idea when he says people aren’t meant
to be alone. Sam acknowledges all of this and agrees to go with Micah to the
shuttle. Before that happens though, she seduces Micah overcoming his
objections with “we have to.”
And here’s where I get angry. Sam goes to a museum and then
tells Micah, she’s not going with him. She sees life on Earth where everyone
else sees death. She rips off her mask and survives the toxic atmosphere. Micah
leaves the planet. She gives birth to a child, and they go visit the sea. What?
Seriously? She’s a scientist working in biology. She should know that women don’t
necessarily get pregnant after one session of intercourse. But it can happen,
so let’s go ahead and give that to the movie.
Here’s where the movie doesn’t make any sense. When Micah
tells Sam that she’s coming with him, she has already gone through the process
of convincing herself that’s the only logical plan. She’s lost the bees. She
needed help with the windmill. Most importantly, she knows she needs the human
connection. She’s accepted that. She says, “Okay,” and that should be that.
There is no indication that she has changed her mind about human connection in
the rest of the film or that she understands she is pregnant.
There is no sense to her decision, and if she knows she’s
pregnant, she makes the most selfish decision available. First, the treatments
didn’t work for her father, and administering them to a child would be
different. She doesn’t have the expertise or data necessary to insure the
survival of the child.
Second, that child is going to grow up, she’s going to die,
and the child is going to be alone with no chance for human connection. She is
basically sentencing her child to solitary confinement for much of its life –
at best, and she’s doing it for no other reason than because she still believes
the human species can adapt. Except, the child will not be able to reproduce.
He or she (according to the credits, the child is a boy) will be the last
person on Earth with no chance to find the human connection beyond the
mother-child one. Which brings us to the last point, she cannot on her own
establish a new species or a human adaptation to the ammonia with just her
child, which begs the question of incest and menopause, if they both survive to
his sexual maturity.
I was willing to deal with the long, slow parts of the movie,
but to have it conclude so illogically and against the character of the only
real characters in the film, was more than disappointing. It was disturbing and