First Thoughts – Moana Trailer

Technically while this is not the only trailer Disney has released, this is the first time I have seen any promotional material for Moana. I mean I have caught glimpses before, but I kept myself from watching so I could write a “First Thoughts” post when the time was right. Now the time has come…wow that sounded more ominous then it was supposed to. Anyway on to my initial impressions of Moana.

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Sailing for adventure on the big blue wet thing.
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Epic shot!
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Follow the glowing blue current.

 

What stood out to me when I was watching the trailer was the presence of the ocean. I mean there is water in almost every shot within this trailer and I am sure the same is true for the movie as well. I was impressed animation and how they made the ocean look look realistic and how its appearance changes depending on what is going on a particular scene. Just like Frozen’s focus was on snow and ice, Moana is going to be focused on water and the ocean. The only different the movie’s title is the main character’s name instead of a verb (or adjective) for freezing conditions.

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I love this reaction 🙂
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The Hero of Men folks.

 

And while we are on the subject Moana herself she appears to be an ordinary girl in extraordinary circumstances. Extraordinary in the sense that she goes on a hero quest to save her people by teaming up with the demigod Maui in order to prevent an oncoming disaster. Now as the trailer clarifies Maui is a shapeshifter, demigod of the wind and sea, and hero of men. He has great power, but seems to have a pretty sizable ego as well. Needless to say Moana is very brave not only in seeking him out but also in calling him out when he makes the wrong assumptions about her. Of course having the ocean for a friend also helps especially when the demigod of the wind and sea throws you off your boat.

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High Five-O!
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Demigod or not, you’re on my canoe now.

 

 

 

 

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Just your average quest to save the world.

This trailer while it gives a taste of what is to come, I am the first to say I am not entirely sure what it is. The story of Moana is based of Polynesian mythology from the Central and South Pacific Islands which the state of Hawaii is a part of, and I am not as familiar with those stories as others are. Whether I watch it in the theaters or wait for the DVD/download release it will be interesting to see the journey that Moana and Maui are going to take.

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The 3 R’s of Stargate SG-1 – Retribution, Repentance & Reconciliation

For those who thought I was referring to the other 3 R’s (Reduce, Reuse & Recycle) I apologize in advance. But seriously at first I was only going to talk about repentance, but then I thought about adding retribution and reconciliation as I went through the researching process. I also was planning to discuss multiple media examples but I found one that was able to exemplify all of the 3 R’s: the show Stargate SG-1 and the episode “Cor-ai.”

For those who are unfamiliar, Stargate SG-1 is a TV series, which was a continuation of the original Stargate movie that aired from 1997 to 2007. It follows the story of SG-1, a team consisting Colonel Jack O’Neill, Dr. Daniel Jackson, Captain Samantha (aka Sam) Carter and Teal’c of Chulak. They serve General George Hammond of Stargate Command and are tasked to defend the earth from a parasitic species known as the Goa’uld by exploring new worlds via the Stargate which creates a wormhole between two points in space. Now with that brief synopsis of the series out of the way, on to the episode discussion and just a warning there will be spoilers ahead.

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Teal’c surrounded by the Byrsa.

“Cor-ai” takes place at the end of the first season, and starts off with SG-1 transporting to a new world. Teal’c recognizes the location from the many visits he made when he was the First Prime of the Goa’uld System Lord Apophis. During the team’s investigation they come across the planet’s inhabitants, the Byrsa, who not so welcoming given their frequent contact with the Goa’uld. O’Neill convinces them they are not their enemies and they mean them no harm. Tensions ease for a bit but not before a young man by the name of Hanno sees Teal’c.

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Hanno in the Past.
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Teal’c in the Past.

 

 

 

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Hanno in the Present.
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Teal’c in the Present
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Let the Cor-ai commence.

It is revealed that Teal’c, during his service to Apophis, had killed Hanno’s crippled father. The young man seeks retribution on Teal’c for killing his father through Cor-ai which is the Byrsa culture’s version of a court trial. However Cor-ai is very different from U.S. court trials we may see both in its fictional and non-fictional forms. First off the notion of innocent until proven guilty does not exist in Byrsa culture and it was explained to SG-1 in the episode, “If there were no guilt there would not be Cor-ai.” Second the victim of an offense has the three roles of judge, jury and executioner, and needless to say this concept doesn’t sit well with O’Neill:

Jack O’Neill: “You can’t be the judge, that’s not fair.”

 

Hanno: “Judge?”

 

Jack O’Neill: “Yeah, the guy who controls the proceedings, decides what happens here.”

 

Hanno: “Why is it not fair?”

 

Jack O’Neill: “Because your are the son of the victim.”

 

Hanno: “Yes.”

 

Jack O’Neill: “The judge has to be impartial.”

 

Hanno: “What does that mean?”

 

Daniel Jackson: “Uh, impartiality would require someone who hasn’t already formed an opinion about Teal’c’s guilt or innocence.”

 

Hanno: “How can there be such a person? Everyone who has a mind has an opinion.”

In a desperate attempt O’Neill tries to appeal the Byrsa elder to have someone else judge the Cor-ai. She responds saying, “Only the person who has suffered understands the pain that been inflicted. Who else can fairly say what the punishment must be?” While Cor-ai seems unfair in light of the American justice system, Hanno is well within his rights to seek retribution in this way (within his culture at least). It’s better than just killing Teal’c right then and there and Hanno even acknowledges at the start of the Cor-ai that he was wrong to let his anger control him in that instance. So despite differences in perspective, Cor-ai serves the same purpose as court trials, to carry out justice and prevent revenge killings.

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Hanno questions Teal’c.
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Jack O’Neill’s conversation with Teal’c.

As the Cor-ai commences and Hanno asks Teal’c if he killed his father he replies, “Yes. I am the one who killed your father.” Admittedly he didn’t want to kill Hanno’s father, in fact it is revealed that he shot him not just to appease Apophis but so that the Byrsa would not be slowed down when they had escape into their hidden caves if the Goa’uld were to return to the planet again. While he had the right to blame it on Apophis, Teal’c acknowledges and accepts responsibility for his actions. This is best exemplified through his conversation with O’Neill (apologies for the length but I thought it would be best to show the entire conversation):

Jack O’Neill: “Teal’c are you trying to commit suicide?”

 

Teal’c: “I do not understand.”

 

Jack O’Neill: “Why didn’t you tell me you were guilty? At least before you told a room full of people that wanna see you dead.”

 

Teal’c: “You already knew, only you did not want to hear it. That is why you asked me not to speak.”

 

Jack O’Neill: “What happened?”

 

Teal’c: “Apophis ordered me to kill Hanno’s father.”

Jack O’Neill: “So, you were following orders.

 

Teal’c: “Hanno’s father died by my hand. No one else’s. I am responsible. What I did while serving Apophis, I will not hide from.”

 

Jack O’Neill: “Even if the punishment is death?”

 

Teal’c: “Then that is what I deserve.”

 

Jack O’Neill: “Teal’c, you sound like you wanna die.”

 

Teal’c: “Colonel O’Neill, have you ever faced the crying eyes of a child whose father you have just murdered?”

 

Jack O’Neill: “Not exactly. Teal’c, there are a lot things we do that we wish we could change and we sure as hell can’t forget, but the whole concept of chain of command undermines the idea of free will. So as soldiers, we have to do some pretty awful stuff. But we’re following orders like we were trained to. It doesn’t make it easier; it certainly doesn’t make it right, but it does put some of the responsibility on the guy giving those orders.”

 

Teal’c: “Then you are saying Apophis is responsible for Hanno’s father’s death.”

 

Jack O’Neill: “Yes.”

 

Teal’c: “You are wrong, O’Neill. While in the service of Apophis I did many things. For these deeds, my victims deserve retribution.”

 

Jack O’Neill: “Can we focus on this one case only for now please?”

 

Teal’c: “This case represents the many.”

 

Jack O’Neill: “Well it shouldn’t! Why? Why are you doin’ this?”

 

Teal’c: “When I look into Hanno’s eyes, I see the horror on the faces of many others, as their loved ones prepare for Goa’uld absorption. Worse yet is the face of the victims whom I selected as they realize they are about to take their final human breath. Hanno’s father is not the first nor the last of those whose lives I’ve taken. And I have done far worse, O’Neill. I cannot give all of their loved ones retribution, but I can at least give it to this one. I am sorry, O’Neill. I will not run.”

I wouldn’t say that Teal’c is giving up but rather he is letting this Cor-ai give him the chance to repent from all the acts he committed as First Prime of Apophis. Teal’c didn’t deny the crime he committed and I guess that is what stood out to me the most when watching this episode. It is rare especially in our society to see someone who is so repentant that they willing to accept retribution from those they have wronged. Despite SG-1’s best efforts to defend Teal’c, Hanno sentences him to be killed by his own staff weapon.

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Teal’c risks his life to save the Byrsa villagers.

Thankfully the story does not end with Teal’c’s death for Goa’uld decided to show up in the Byrsa village just before Teal’c’s execution. Hanno leaves with the other men to fight them off but instructs a boy to inform those in authority to go through with the execution that if he is killed in battle. Unfortunately despite effort of the Brysa men as well as O’Neill and Carter, the Goa’uld discover the location of the women and children along with Jackson and Teal’c. Thankfully Teal’c is able to cut his bonds thanks to the boy who gave him a knife and put his life on the line to save the women and children from the onslaught of Apophis’ Serpent Guards. After risking his life to save the Byrsa villagers, Teal’c still hands over his staff weapon prepare for his execution by Hanno’s hands. This is the conversation that followed:

Hanno: “You would save those who wish to kill you?”

 

Teal’c: “I would save those who deserve to live.”

 

Hanno: “I have made a mistake. My memory is faulty. You are not the same man as he who murdered my father.”

 

Teal’c: “I am the one.”

 

Hanno: “No that Jaffa is dead…”

In that moment there was reconciliation as Hanno gives Teal’c his staff weapon back and allows him to go back to Earth with SG-1.

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Hanno returns Teal’c’s staff weapon.

In some ways the justice system we see in “Cor-ai” is similar to how God operates. Like Teal’c, we all deserve retribution at the hands of God for all the sins we have committed against Him. We also have the same choice as Teal’c to repent and confess our wrongdoings to God. Finally we all have the ability receive reconciliation from God but unlike Teal’c we don’t need to prove ourselves worthy. Romans 5:6-8 explains:

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

God has already forgiven us and paid the price for our sin through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. All we need to do is to repent and accept that forgiveness for the wrong we have done and will do. It is only when we do this that true reconciliation is accomplished and the promise from Jeremiah 31:34 is fulfilled:

“For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”

In this way we begin life anew and just like Hanno’s words to Teal’c the old self we leave behind is dead. That still doesn’t mean the struggle isn’t over but we live in the knowledge that we are free from the retribution of sin through our act of repentance and our acceptance of God’s reconciliation through His death and resurrection. That leaves only one question: Are you ready to lose your life in order to save it?

Dungeons & Dragons Review – S1 E1 “The Night of No Tomorrow”

Now just as I promised here is my first review series and the TV show I will be reviewing is…Dungeons & Dragons. When I saw this Dungeons & Dragons DVD collection at a local bargain retail store for a dollar (yep seriously it was one dollar) and I thought I’d give it a shot. I guess I shouldn’t have expected much, but then again I was hopeful that it might be entertaining. And what you know it had a lot of 80s cheese and was also more confusing that I thought it was going to be. So this is my summarization of my initial impressions on Dungeons & Dragons‘s pilot episode “The Night of No Tomorrow.”

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Ahhh, title screen.
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Pilot episode? What’s that?

First we have the introduction to the story and characters that is done in the span of 2 minutes. Talk about suspension of disbelief…or not in the case of 6 teens and pre-teens ending up in a world of magic just from riding a theme park ride. Probably my major compliant about this episode is that they don’t take time to set up the story and characters. I would have loved to see what the kids were like in our world and then see their adjustment to the fantasy world right after it happened. However this first episode seems more like a follow-up and you feel like you are missing something when you are watching it for the first time. Despite this I will do my best to summarize the plot.

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Purpose…this Dungeon Master says. There is no purpose for this series. Well other than further promote the game Dungeons & Dragons.

After the kids trap a multi-headed dragon creature called Tiamat, the Dungeon Master (who looks like a more human version of Yoda) appears and tells them that they might find something that will help them return home in the village of Helix which is having a millennial celebration the magician Merlin’s banishment of fire-breathing dragons that had plagued the town. But he warns the kids that they might come across Venger (the enemy of the series and voiced by Peter Cullen of all people) and they will know him by his white hair. Or is hare?

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Castles in the sky…now where have I heard that before?

After he vanishes the kids make their way through the desert and come across Merlin’s floating castle. After they climb up a ladder leading up to the castle they are greeted by Merlin himself who holding a white rabbit. They initially were suspicious of him due to his white hair but it’s soon revealed to be a toupee. He tells them the story of Helix again and one of kids Eric (the annoying jerk of the group) says he’s had enough and proceeds to leave only to encounter Tiamat again. How she got into a floating castle in the sky? She flew of course. The kids and Merlin trap the multi-headed dragon in the castle’s dungeon.

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Cast coming across a dungeon while being chased by a multi-headed dragon. Well at least it fits with the title of the series.
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The Magician’s Apprentice…not what I was expecting.

The kids are about to leave for Helix but the magician Presto (I can’t believe that’s his name) decides to stay to learn more about magic from Merlin as his apprentice. Merlin instructs him to stir the cauldron, but while he is out of the room Presto takes a look at the book he’s instructed not to look at in order to find a spell that will help him and his friends return home.

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Oh great Presto! You unleashed hell!

Unfortunately the spell that Presto casts unleashes the dragons that Merlin had imprisoned. It is soon after that he discovers that Merlin is not Merlin at all but Venger (remember the white hare aka rabbit) who used Presto to release the dragons because only his “good” magic could undo the original Merlin’s spell. This begs the question: Why did the original Merlin cast a spell that could be undone? Anyway while Presto stands there dumbfounded Venger takes his hat and Presto doesn’t do anything to stop him. Come on man, you can at least struggle with Venger for your hat. You might not succeed in getting it back but you can still try can’t you?

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Don’t just stand there you idiot! Get your magic hat back!

After the dragons commence their attack on Helix the kids quickly figure out what happened and head back to the sky castle to find Presto. They face Venger who says if they hand over their magical items and he would let them go. It is actually really surprising having a villain whose initial goal does not involve hurting or killing the heroes/heroines. The rest of the kids refused to so, at least they don’t just stand there and let Venger take their weapons like Presto.

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Evil Magic…
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Good magic.

 

 

 

 

 

They come up with a plan to counter Venger by releasing Tiamat from the dungeon they trapped her in while Presto casts the spell to seal the dragons again, saving Helix in the process. The kids escape from the castle where Dungeon Master appears again and returns Presto’s hat. How did Dungeon Master get Presto’s magic hat back? No time for that, the kids are now off on their next adventure as they try to find their way back home to the 1980s.

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To borrow from Nostalgia Critic, explain D&D! Explain!

While it is not the worse show ever I realized after watching this first episode that there was a lot I did not understand. I think it’s due to the fact that I am not the intended audience; it was intended for the young people who grew up during the early 80s. That’s all well and good but this prevents it from being universally understood and only serves to date the series even more. To those you have fondness for Dungeons & Dragons I am glad you can enjoy it for what it is. As for me the only enjoyment I had was in awkwardly chuckling at it. I plan to watch all the episodes on the DVD despite my cringing and convey my thoughts on them for future posts. Who knows maybe it’ll get better or perhaps I am glutton for punishment but we’ll see how long I last.

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One thing we all can agree is that Eric deserved to be left with a cow.

Where’s the Post?

Where’s the post? I normally write posts for “What’s In A Story” on the first and third Mondays and “A Few of My Favorite Things” on the second and fourth Wednesdays but the weeks of August this year fell in such a way that we have five Mondays and Wednesdays instead of four. In light of this I am deciding to do something a little different than the usual, an episode review. This will be start of a blog post series which I will continue every two weeks or so. When I finish one show I will start on another one and you guys can make recommendations if you feel so inclined, just don’t be offend if I decide not to continue on from the first few episodes. As for the series I will be reviewing you have to wait and see what it is on Thursday. Yeah I know I am such a tease but I like it to be a surprise. See you then 🙂

Wonder, Excitement & Discovery [Part 2] – My List of 10 Recommended Episodes

Last time on “A Few of My Favorite Things,” we went over my personal background with Adventures in Odyssey as well as the people behind the stories and characters of the audio series. But now the time has come to talk about the stories that AiO tells by discussing some of my favorite stories. Now with almost 30 years worth of episodes there are some that I have not been able to listen to. With this is mind this not going to be a top 10 list where I rank the best episodes, but rather I will just list ten episodes that stood out to me personally. In addition I will only talk about episodes do not require a lot of context to understand what is going on, so that means no episodes that relate to bigger story arcs. Now that’s out of the way let’s talk story.

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“On Solid Ground” (Episode 210)

I choose “On Solid Ground” as an example of a series of episodes I enjoyed listening to. It starts off like a regular Kids Radio program which is a format that AiO adopts from time to time to tell a story or a series of stories, but the broadcast is “interrupted” by OT Action News which follows the events that take place in the Old Testament of the Bible as if they were really happening. For this episode they follow the story of Abraham or Abram as he was once called and his nephew Lot and how their lives are affected by the choices they make. This first OT Action News story is great start to a great format that AiO would continue to use in future episodes.

 

“B-TV: Compassion” (Episode 345)

Like “On Solid Ground,” “B-TV: Compassion” is one in series of episodes where window washer Bernard Walton is the host of a show called B-TV where he and others tell stories that relate to particular topic they are covering. If couldn’t tell from the title this B-TV episode is about compassion and it probably has one of the funniest intros with Eugene Melstner mistaking the topic of compassion for compression. All in all this is one of the greats of the B-TV themed episodes.

 

“Hidden in My Heart” (Episode 321)

This one is a pure Kids Radio presentation that demonstrates the importance of scripture memorization but with an interesting twist. They spoof a number of TV shows including Rescue 911 (it’s a real show) renaming it Rescue 119 (after Psalm 119), Lassie or Laffie the Wonder Dog, and Star Trek aka Star Trip. It is fun listen especially if you enjoy a funny impression of William Shanter or Shattered as he is called in this parody. 

 

“A License to Drive” (Episode 194)

For those who are familiar with the series, Connie and Eugene are at odds with each other quite a lot with Eugene sometimes lording his high IQ over Connie’s more average intelligence. But despite Eugene’s success in academics he has failed to get his driver’s license, something Connie was able to pass with flying colors on her first try. With Whit’s insistence, they set up driver’s lessons so that Eugene can learn how to drive as well give Connie experience in teaching. Needless to say it is a fun ride (get it fun ride) while showing diligence in action on Eugene’s part as the student and on Connie’s part as the teacher.

 

“Welcoming Wooton” (Episode 472)

This is the episode in which we are introduced to Odyssey’s eccentric mailman, Wooton Basset. We learn right off the bat that he loves people and he does what he can to help out, even if his job performance suffers. Unfortunately his boss fires him for taking one too many well-meaning detours from his postal route. While the ultimate outcome seems a bit cliché, we get to know Wooton as a person and have a lot of laughs along the way.

 

“Called On in Class” (Episode 539)

A fun episode told from the perspective of Trent DeWhite who is facing the worse fear of his life: giving a report in front of the entire class. His exaggerated imagination is working on overdrive thinking of what could go wrong and how he is going to escape the horror that is public speaking. But in all seriousness “Called On in Class” exemplifies the fear of public speaking and the fact that is being narrated by a kid gives it a degree authenticity along with a dash of humor. Give it a listen and get caught up with Trent as he tells his story.

 

“Sunday Morning Scramble” (Episode 552)

While this episode has the simplistic set up of the a family getting ready for church, for the Washington’s it becomes Mission Impossible. While giving lots of humorous scenarios, it also reveals an important lesson about taking the time to worship God. “Sunday Morning Scramble” is one of those episodes that you have to hear for yourself in order to understand what makes it so funny.

 

“Odyssey Sings!” (Episode 572)

American Sings has come to Odyssey to find new talents and many enter into the singing competition believing it is their chance to become famous. This episode provides AiO the opportunity to satirize singing competitions series you find on TV all the while teaching that true affirmation comes not from men but from God. Additional plus for the original songs that were performed as a part of this episode especially Wooton Basset’s “Ode to Macaroni.”

 

“The Great Wishy Woz” (Episode 453-454)

Another quasi-musical and a parody to boot, “The Great Wishy Woz” is of course parodying The Wizard of Oz. It is presented as a Kids Radio program written by Mandy Straussburg who also plays Dotty. She and her little dog NoNo are swept up by a tornado and end in a different and strange world. To find their way back home the Fairy Oddmother advises they follow the Big Fat Road to ask the Great Wishy Woz for the answer. Along the way she meets Manny Kin (portrayed by Tom Riley), Metal Guy (portrayed by Bernard Walton), and Mystic Mountain Lion (portrayed by Jack Allen) who also are meeting the Woz so their wishes may be granted. “Great Wishy Woz” serves an allegory for the Christian life and you can pick up on things the more you listen. I can not recommend these episodes enough.

 

“A Lesson From Mike” (Episode 412)

For the last episode I decided to share an episode that really hit home for me. It is a story about how a girl named Julie comes to terms with the death of classmate named Mike. As Julie gets to know who Mike was she found they shared a lot of common interests and in the process begins to regret that she had never taken the chance to know him while he was alive. “A Lesson From Mike” doesn’t pull any punches and it tackles a difficult subject with depth and realism. Through this episode AiO shows us how important it is to reach out to those who are lonely. As someone who had their lonely moments in high school I agree with Julie that having a few friends can make all the difference.

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While there are many more amazing Adventures in Odyssey episodes these ten are my recommendations from what I have listened to thus far. Who knows maybe I will update this in the future, but for now this will suffice. Thank you reading and I will see you all next week.

Some Changes…

So yeah there’s going to be some changes in my plans I mention in my three month anniversary post. First of all First Thoughts is only going to be for movie trailers ONLY. I realized that having to wide of a category would be a real mess if I were to review a series episode by episode. So I decided that First Thoughts would strictly be reviews of trailers whether they be for films, TV series, or even audio dramas (and yes they do have trailers). While I am here I might as well say that I have plans on reviewing a older cartoon series episode by episode. That’s all for now but stay tuned for further updates.

First Thoughts – Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders Trailer

First of all let me say that while I am not a huge fan of Adam West’s Batman I do appreciate the fact that he played the first Batman ever even if was the groovy Batman of the 60s. While the show was campy, it was the kind of campy that can be enjoyable. Remember this show came out around the same time as the original Star Trek series which could boast of a lot its own campiness as well. But I am getting off track here, back to the topic at hand. When I saw this trailer with Adam West reprising the iconic role in animated form I knew I had to check it out.

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Behemoth TV Dinners Inc. provides you the best dynamic duo to have with your meal.

We are treated with the sight Batman and Robin tied up and about to be roasted on top a TV dinner: a predicament worthy of the original show. As they go about their pun-riddled bantering (again worthy of the show it came from) they talk about the film. And that’s it. It is surprisingly simple but that is what makes it so effective. Nowadays trailers give you a basic synopsis of the movie and sometimes you get more than you should.

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Self-aware anyone?

The minimalistic approach they went for peeked my interests but without going too deep into spoiler territory, and they pulled it off with such humor which makes this a fun trailer to watch. I especially enjoyed the self-awareness Batman and Robin demonstrated when they were promoting the release of the movie. While there is little to speculate on, what is known currently is that Adam West and Burt Ward will be reprising their role as the dynamic duo along with Julie Newmar as Catwoman; the characters of Joker, Riddler and Penguin will also be making appearances in this feature.

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We will NOT be used as utensils TODAY!

Really there is not much else to say but that I am definitely interested to see what they will do in the actual film when it comes out this fall, but whatever they do I know it will be GROOVY!

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Batman: “What are waiting for an invitation? Go watch the trailer!”

 

Looking Beyond the Surface – Making the Right Media Choices

At sometime in our lives we have probably heard the phrase you can’t judge a book by its cover. Many times it used to express the belief that just because it doesn’t look good on the surface doesn’t mean it’s bad on the inside. But what if the opposite was true? What if the book cover looks perfect but story contained within is awful? Some might think I mean awful in the sense that is not written well, but I am talking about the messages within the story itself.

It is easy to pass this off and say that is just a story; however, any story whether it be found in books, movies or TV shows reflect the beliefs the creators and by extension the culture. However we need to be aware of what we put into our minds, because while it may look good it may not be good for us. Just as the saying goes you are what you eat and those who are health conscience do what they can to watch what they eat, the same is true with what we read and watch.

I find disheartening that there are many who are unaware or apathetic towards state their minds and spirits as they read or watch media that has flawed messages. I don’t expect everyone and everything to be perfect in a story; main characters need to have flaws in order to make them relatable. But what if those same main characters who are displayed as role models are saying or doing something that is wrong? It doesn’t even have to be overt, in fact most times it’s very subtle and there lies the potential danger. If a certain behavior is displayed as normal it conveys the message that it’s acceptable when it is not.

Now I know it is not popular these days to judge media by what it may or may not be implying but if we expect not to be affected by the media we set our minds on then we are sorely mistaken. This reminds me of something I read for my senior seminar paper which addresses this issue. In her book How Fantasy becomes Reality: Seeing Through Media Influence, Karen E. Dills describes,

“…the paradox that we live in a culture where we are powerfully influenced by messages from the mass media but where many of us misread that influence because we think are invulnerable to it. I believe we deny our own vulnerability to media we are actually increasing the degree to which we can be manipulated. If you do not know you are vulnerable – indeed, if you think your are invulnerable – you will not think and act in way that protect you. Two basic errors in judgment that we make are (1) believing that fantasy stories in no way shape our realities and (2) believing that media’s reason for being is to entertain rather than to persuade us.” (p. 9)

We first have to admit the potential influence that media can have over our thoughts and second to take steps to think more critically about what we watch and why we watch it. For Christians a good rule of thumb comes from Scripture in Philippians chapter 4 verse 8:

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

When we set our minds on these things we will reflect it in our lives and verse 9 continues with this thought:

 “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

So look beyond the surface and reflect on excellent and praiseworthy media that affirms what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely and admirable.

via Daily Prompt: Surface

Wonder, Excitement & Discovery – Listening to Adventures in Odyssey

Hi I’m Kendra. You are about to travel to a place of wonder, excitement and discovery! Welcome to Adventures in Odyssey! In honor of the last month of summer for elementary, middle and high school as well as college students I decided to talk about one of my favorite audio series. The fact that Focus on the Family has produced this audio series for nearly 30 years demonstrates how many people enjoy and identify with the stories and characters from the fictional small town of Odyssey. Adventures in Odyssey has something for everyone from children to adults.

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Adventures in Odyssey (1987-Present)

I remember being aware of the series for most of my life but it was not until in late elementary school that I began to listen it on a regular basis thanks to a local radio station. At 6:30 PM on weekdays (Mon. – Fri.) the station would air previously released episodes of Adventures in Odyssey while on Saturday at 8:30 AM they would aired the newer episodes. This radio station still maintains this schedule to this day and every now and again I tune it to hear the odd episode or two.

After being properly introduced to the series my family bought a number of AiO audio albums, which contain a set of episodes. One of the albums entitled “Countermoves” was recorded on tape cassettes, which I would listen to when I was younger to help me fall sleep at night. When I was older I would even listen to them in car as I drove to locations as part of my merchandising job since I had an older car with just a tape player (Oh the HORROR!). I still have this album, unfortunately I am short one tape because it got stuck in the tape player of my first car and after it was sold and exchanged for my second one I never saw it again. In light of this I am hoping to purchase a CD version of “Countermoves” sometime in the future in order to replace my incomplete cassette tape version.

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John Avery Whittaker: Shopkeeper, Inventor and Teacher.

Anyway enough talk about tapes and CDs, and let’s get to the amazing people behind the scenes of Adventures in Odyssey. This includes the amazing voice actors who have taken on the role of Whit’s End’s owner and operator John Avery Whittaker (or Whit to his friends) throughout AiO’s time on the air. The first voice of Whit to grace the airwaves was none other than Hal Smith, best known for his role of the town drunk Otis Campbell in The Andy Griffith Show. Upon his death in 1994, the search began to find an actor to voice the ice-cream shop owner. Two years later in 1996, Paul Herlinger became the second voice of Whit, and this was the Whit that I grew up with. Many people may unfairly compare him to Hal and while I do note some differences in performance, I believe Paul did an amazing job considering the big shoes he had to fill. Upon Paul’s retirement in 2008 (passing away only 2 years later), yet another actor by the name of Andre Stojka came in to take on the role of Whit starting in 2009 and is currently playing him in the series.

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Hal Smith (1916-1994)
Paul Herlinger
Paul Herlinger (1929-2010)

 

 

 

 

 

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Andre Stojka (1944-)

Of course AiO is not complete without its two other iconic characters who are employed at Whit’s End. Enter Connie Kendall voiced by Katie Leigh and Eugene Meltsner voiced by Will Ryan. Just like it’s hard to imagine Odyssey without Whit, it is equally hard to imagine not having Connie and Eugene working alongside him. Connie’s youthful enthusiasm and Eugene’s unsatiated thirst for knowledge give them an interesting dynamic to their relationship to Whit as well their relationship with each other…by that I mean friendship. Their voice actors Katie and Will are also good friends in real life and have recently wrote a book together called Adventures in Oddity in which they talk about their work both on AiO as well other projects which include Disney’s Little Mermaid, An American Tail, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and much more.

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Whit’s End Trio.
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Bernard Walton…Window Washer.

Besides the Whit’s End Trio as I like to call them there are a number of memorable characters that have been played by talented voice actors over the years. This includes actors have since passed on: Walker Edmiston, the voice actor for Whit’s friend Tom Riley and business rival Bart Rathbone, Dave Madden the voice actor for pragmatic window washer Bernard Walton, Alan Young who voiced Jack Allen a childhood friend of Whit and Janet Waldo who voiced Jack’s wife Joanne Allen (nee Woodston). Other talented voices who are still alive include Chris Anthony, Earl Boen, Steve Burns, Townsend Coleman, Corey Burton, Aria Cruzon, Jess Harnell, etc. Of course none of this would be possible without the talented directors, producers, writers and sound designers which include Phil Lollar, Chuck Bolte, Paul McCusker, and Dave Arnold just to name a few.

If you can’t already tell there is a lot to be said about this series and I have not even got into the stories yet. That will be saved for Part 2 coming up later this month. Hope you see then as we look at the episodes of Adventures in Odyssey.

Three Month Anniversary Reflection…Plus Updates

It is hard to believe that it has been 3 months since I published my very first blog post. When I first started I wasn’t even sure if I could do even 2 scheduled posts a month but I now I have 4 scheduled posts plus extra when something interesting comes up. I always did enjoy thinking critically about media and blogging has given me the chance to express my thoughts via the written word. I also have learned how to promote myself, setting up a Facebook page and doing what I can to promote upcoming posts so that people will know what is coming. While I hope to see more views and visitors on my stats page, what I desire most is that I can continue to engage in thoughtful discussions of finding the meaning within the stories of our past, present and future.

While I am here I would like to announce a few updates about a couple of different posts I am planning to do in the future alongside or in place of “What’s in a Story” and “A Few of My Favorite Things.” One them is “First Thoughts” which you may have seen already with Star Wars Rebels Season 3 Trailer. For this post category I will post my initial impressions of media I have not seen previously. This can include entire films, books, audios, TV shows, single TV episodes or even the trailers for films and TV shows. Basically if I have not seen, read or heard it before, it is fair game. I know this covers a lot of ground but considering one project I might want to review could be a different stage of production than another, having a wide spectrum is helpful so I can do a film trailer for one and the entire TV season for the other. Another category I have in the wings is one I like to call “Content of Character” in which I will look at a fictional character in depth. I have a few ideas for this but I rather wait until I am ready to share my first post. And finally I have an idea to do category of posts in which I can talk about the people “Behind the Stories” whether they be actors, writers, animators, directors, producers etc.

So as you can see a lot of ideas and hopefully I can have some of them come to fruition. For now though I will say goodbye and thank you for reading!