The first Terminator featured an unstoppable killing machine. The 2nd film had a similar villain, but in a stroke of creative genius, the previous film's antagonist was transformed into the hero of the 2nd. Arnold Schwarzenegger's T-800 has long been lauded as an iconic character in cinema. His portrayal as a man with a plan toes the line of what it means to be a "man's man". But as far as I can tell, the Terminator holds a unique space in the quest for what constitutes the true measure of a man. And if this machine, played by a man, has anything to teach us, the "man's man" is more than big and strong. He invests; he is attentive; he protects; and he knows what his priorities are. The "macho Dad" is more than machine, he's something more.
You probably thought the Ninja Turtles' greatest enemy was the Shredder. And if you did, you wouldn't be alone in that assumption. The Shredder has always been touted as the greatest threat to the Turtles' livelihoods, if not the city in which the Turtles reside. But I happen to see a much greater nemesis at play. A true arch rival lurking behind the scenes, snatching up the outcasts and downtrodden youths of New York; all in exchange for family and community. Buckle up - or should I say 'shell up' - for this latest episode of The Writer's Lens. #PardonThePun
Robin Hood is a beloved, if not timeless, character that has become part of American folklore. Though the character's origins cannot be found in American culture, the idea of an outlaw who steals from the wealthy and gives to the poor has inspired numerous adaptations over the years. From Disney's animals-only musical, to the comedic "Men in Tights", Robin Hood challenges its viewers to consider what it means to stand up to those in power. Moreover, to stand up to those who hoard their riches and refuse to share the wealth.
But is the idea of Robin Hood inherently 'good'? Can we be thieves and maintain our moral righteousness? This episode will explore that idea in depth.
C.S. Lewis is one of my all-time favorite authors. He's written many stories that are internationally known (and loved). But one in particular he's not as well-known for: his Space Trilogy. Three stories about our solar system and the spirits who are waging war over our planets. In Lewis' second of the three, Perelandra, Lewis explores the planet Venus through the eyes of his protagonist, Ransom, who has been sent there to keep Venus' inhabitants from turning into another "bent" world like Earth.
Spoilers aside, Ransom eventually encounters some high order angels who are the embodiments of Mars and Venus. And when he does, he sees something on display that he can only recount as being the "spiritual expressions of gender" - male and female, or rather, masculine and feminine.
This fascinated me and thus, wanted to dive into Lewis' explanation a bit further with this episode.
Tombstone is one of my favorite movies of all time. Which is saying a lot as I'm not the biggest fan of western films. Packed with an ensemble cast, Tombstone tells the story of Wyatt Earp, his brothers, Doc Holliday, and the cowboy gang whose hatred for law and order clashes with the Earp brothers and Holliday.
This episode explores Wyatt Earp's quest for a rich and exciting life while ignoring his past as a peacemaker. Can he actually achieve a life of fine wine and riches without law and order? This arc of human experience will be the focus on this edition of the Writer's Lens.
Adam and Eve. Two people synonymous with what many consider to be humanity's greatest mistake. By taking fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, Adam and Eve catalyzed humanity's fall from grace. They ushered in a world where we experience suffering, pain, and loss of identity. All sons and daughters who descend from these two have to experience a world less than ideal, but still beautiful in its own right. It's just not quite as good as it could be.
Netflix's "Dark" recently finished its three season run and though it's one of the greatest time travel stories I've ever witnessed, that topic is not one I'm going to tackle with this episode. Instead, I'd like to discuss one of Dark's core components: the issue of causality and choice. Can one choice create a ripple so drastic that every other person, whether they know the origin of that choice or not, become affected by that choice? Can we adequately pin the centuries of undue pain on two people we've never met but only read about?
This episode is as deep and engaging as the show itself. Promise. #NeverBelieveAnythingElse
Forrest Gump stands as one of the great cinema treasures. It's a story about a simple man navigating his way through one of the most turbulent times in American history: the 1960s. And during that journey, Forrest remains unchanged. Whether it be his naive nature, his inherent understanding of what is good, or his limited mental faculties, Forrest experiences some of life's harshest trials yet remains seemingly unchanged by them. A trait of his that causes those around him to ask, "are you stupid or something?"
But who are the truly foolish ones in this story? Is it Forrest or the ones asking the question? This episode unpacks one of my all-time favorite films and its portrayal of one of mankind's oldest enemies: the world.
Netflix's Bodyguard is a story about gentleman tasked with guarding the life of another human being. Hence the name, "Bodyguard." Short observations aside, I sat down and watched this show alongside my wife and was pleasantly surprised by it. And what does a storyteller who has a podcast do, post-show? Well, he does an episode about it, of course.
In this short episode, I talk through some of the highs and lows of the Netflix drama. Warning, #SPOILERS are ahead.
In case you've been living under a rock for several years, there was this global phenomenon called "The MCU", aka the Marvel Cinematic Universe, that swept through movie theaters. Within that universe is a character called, "Captain America." Now, I was never a big fan of the Captain, but after seeing him on the big screen and doing more research on his inception and history, I've grown to really like him. You know, as far as fictional character-liking can go....
In his second movie, "The Winter Soldier", the Captain is confronted with an interesting dilemma. He is face-to-face with new and dangerous technology, the kind that is aimed at stopping criminals before they even act. This poses as a major conundrum for the Captain as he stands for the ideals of freedom, not fear. His observation is the catalyst for this episode, where I'll discuss the implications of personal freedom, oppressive government action, and whether we are being paranoid about the freedoms we covet. Doing so through the lens of a writer a writer and in just about a half an hour (simple, eh?).
C.S. Lewis is one of my favorite authors of all time. His literary works are popular outside of even the Christian community, for which he is most known. But one such title that is often overlooked is a short story called, The Great Divorce. It's about about a man riding a bus to somewhere. And that somewhere just so happens to be heaven. For those who get off, it's a path to hell. But there are more than a few ways to get off the bus and head to the underworld.
This analysis I attempt is a true deep dive. So it's lengthy, but like any of Lewis' works, it's chock full of meat to chew on. In particular, the topic of heaven and hell and why we might forget about one while in pursuit of the other.