The Royal Rumble & Why One Fan Won't Be Ordering the WWE Network.

NOTE: I wrote this blog with such anger and seething frustration that I may have made several grammatical errors, and my thoughts may seem scattered. Such is the case when trying to defend the WWE's actions tonight...

Royal-Rumble-Graphic
Royal-Rumble-Graphic

I occasionally mention my love of wrestling on my weekly podcast, Stay Cool, Geek. Nonetheless, let's get this important fact out of the way right up front…

I am not a wrestling internet "smart" fan. I do not belong to the IWC (Internet Wrestling Community). I do not watch ROH or other independent wrestling promotions. In fact, I don't even love Daniel Bryan. I like him just fine, but also see the inherent need for established "names" to work within the WWE in order to attract a larger, casual audience.

I tell you this up front because all too often, it seems anyone criticizing the current WWE product is labeled a very specific type of fan. The smark. These fans, while I have deep respect for, tend to attack almost anything popular within the WWE. Their most notorious target is the face of the WWE, John Cena. I admit, I don't like Cena. I'm bored of him. I tune off when he comes on the television set. I wish he'd turn heel, or not, just something to make him interesting. BUT, I also understand his value to the company. And don't forget, it IS a global, publicly-traded company. John Cena is needed for reasons that don't even involve wrestling. So is Triple H, the guy who couldn't hide his open contempt for internet fans if he tried.

Point is, I can reasonably see the balance.

But what happened tonight at the Royal Rumble was indicative of not only how little the WWE cares about their core audience, but worse, I think it shows they care just as less about their wrestlers.

Let me explain…

This wasn't a one-time situation. The infectious, non-stop Daniel Bryan chants have been invading nearly every show for months now. First it was "Daniel Bryan, Daniel Bryan". Then it was "Yes! Yes! Yes!", a chant so huge that Alberto Del Rio even got a sideways bump of love from the fans by mere association.

The Yes chants have even crossed over into the mainstream, with the recent Michigan State crowd being the most obvious one. People love this guy, love to chant his name, and want him desperately to get the acclaim he so rightfully deserves after years of dedication.

Now, if WWE was making a case for the big money being in the chase, I'd buy it. The problem is, they're not. Tonight at the Royal Rumble, Daniel Bryan lost to the latest hot newcomer in the WWE, a Jake Roberts-esque madman named Bray Wyatt. Wyatt is fantastic by the way, and having him beat Bryan made absolute sense. They had a fantastic match, and having Wyatt win kept his heel persona strong… and at the same time, kept the underdog story of Daniel Bryan alive and well… provided he enter the Royal Rumble later that night.

NOTE: For those uneducated, the Royal Rumble is the ticket to a main event at Wrestlemania, a ticket no one deserves more than one Daniel Bryan. Every two minutes, a new competitor enters the rumble, and one by one, thirty wrestlers comes out and attempt to throw every else out over the top rope. The last man standing (the winner) wins the opportunity to main event Wrestlemania. Simple enough.

But tonight, as the numbers ticked down, and less surprises happened, only one thing would quench the rowdy Pittsburgh crowd's thirst. Daniel Bryan needed to enter the Royal Rumble. The seconds and minutes ticked off, anticipation growing. The chants started again, and grew with each number announced until finally only wrestler #30 remained. Surely, it would be Bryan.

Instead, Rey Mysterio came out and faced a thunderous swath of boos he likely wasn't prepared for. To be clear, Mysterio is a legend. He's beloved. He wears cool costumes and flies through the air. But anything short of Bryan wasn't going to satisfy the crowd. The boos kept going, even causing returning superstar Batista's night to be spoiled. Bet he didn't see that coming.

It wasn't just at the end ether. Earlier in the night, fans booed all manner of phases during the John Cena-Randy Orton championship match.

"You two suck. You two suck."

"Booo-ring. Booo-ring".

It was loud, palpable, and actually kind of painful. Cena and Orton don't deserve to be booed, they've worked their asses off for over a decade. They've both been apart of monumental moments and five star matches. I actually felt bad for them, but understood completely the frustration dedicated fans feel over having the same two guys in the limelight month after month. Especially considering their hero, Daniel Bryan, is regulated to anything but the title picture.

Again, this happens EVERY. DAMN WEEK. Even the WWE seemed to see the errors of their ways by switching Daniel Bryan back to babyface just a few weeks after turning him heel. It seemed they had finally got it. But here we were again, as if the past few weeks mattered nothing.

Vince McMahon says they listen to their fans, but all indications from tonight's show they say otherwise.

More than anything, it's embarrassing to the wrestlers trying to make the audience invest emotionally in their story. They are crushed with choruses of boos, all while trying desperately to do their jobs. Imagine if this happened at your job? Wouldn't you eventually feel so ashamed that you beg the boss to give Bryan your position? It's that bad people.

The poor wrestlers don't have a chance.

Do I think Daniel Bryan should have won the Royal Rumble? Maybe. But he sure as hell deserved to be in it, and make it to the end. From a writer's perspective, either option would work… as yes, the big moment and money lie in a Wrestlemania coronation. They may even still do that after tonight's reaction, but it's not good enough for this fan.

The Royal Rumble showed tonight that this wasn't their plan, so any adjustments here on out almost make it more infuriating.

As fans continue to chant obscenities at the WWE's top stars, you'd think the front office would care. Because let me tell you, Batista wouldn't have been booed as heavily had Bryan been in the match and been eliminated in some nefarious fashion. I don't even think the fans would boo Randy Orton and John Cena as much, but no one is safe right now. The WWE simply is not listening to the fans, and so ANYONE out there is going to get booed.

What's baffling most of all, is the way the WWE reacted to one RAW crowd's healthy Fandango reaction many months ago… they seemed to think they hit jackpot and did whatever they could to capitalize on the fleeting success of Fandango's theme music. But with Bryan, it almost shows their arrogant ambivalence for the guy's popularity. Instead, they'll probably shove Sheamus down our throats. He's a solid guy, but the WWE does't seem to understand that they're actually doing Sheamus a disservice by pushing him while the crowd begs for another. Of course they're going to yell "No!" at him, they want Bryan!

More than anything, it's very sad.

daniel-bryan2
daniel-bryan2

I'm an intelligent fan, and I've been defending the WWE for a long time now. I've even been able to sway decidedly non-WWE fans into checking out the product, most notably getting them interested in the CM Punk backstory/storyline.

I can't do that anymore.

When the WWE announced the WWE network, I saw it as truly revolutionary. I felt the WWE and my WWE stock were in good hands. In fact, on the heels of their enormous network announcement, I vowed to not only sign up, but to even shell out good money for the Royal Rumble.

In my opinion, this was an important pay per view. You needed to show your core fans that they meant something to you, that their needs would be taken care of, despite the ever-changing multimedia landscape.

Their voices are loud. They've been loud.

The WWE simply doesn't seem to care. Well, if they're not going to listen to the crowds and the wrestling sites and the casual fans…

Maybe they'll listen if we don't buy their network.

In fact, this long-time dedicated fan isn't going to. Maybe you shouldn't either.

How Two Wrestlers Found Peace, and Maybe You Can Too.

"You can't find peace halfway. You have to go all in." - paraphrasing Bret Hart on the new DVD WWE: Greatest Rivalries, Shawn vs Bret. If I've made anything clear in the mass of blogs I've accumulated over the years, it's that there is nothing more that I admire than a fellow man or woman growing with age. Someone who constantly works on the faults and demons brewing inside their minds, only to keep trying to find the light that most assuredly exists at the end of their own personal journey.

I seek out this type of trait in everyone I surround myself with- friends, families, and heroes. Yes, I said heroes. I think having heroes is a necessity often overlooked by people of a certain age, resigned to the idea that they can't learn anything from anyone else, least of all someone they don't know personally. I'm just not that way.

Admittedly, finding those that I admire becomes an increasingly difficult task with each year. Two men that have risen to the top in my eyes are Bret Hart and Shawn Michael. Wrestlers.

Wrestlers with a story we could all benefit from following, because my gratitude for their presence has little to do with how exceptional they are in the ring. It has to do with who they are as men.

brethug
brethug

Years ago, my very first blog entry touched on this subject. Specifically, it focused on Bret Hart and his re-emergence into the WWE and what that meant. I remember feeling anxious about putting it out into the world, as this was my first piece, and wrestling is nothing if not polarizing. But I had a hunch. A hunch that if readers invested the time, they'd come to understand the words had nothing to do with wrestling, and more to do with forgiveness. Wrestling was the backdrop, but one man's journey was the story.

I was overwhelmed with the response, and it continues to be one of my most popular blogs.

For those unaware, here's a brief, albeit vague description of the events that lead to these two men finding mutual salvation in letting past ghosts go...

Bret Hart was a gifted technical wrestler who defied the status quo in the monster-laden WWE during the 1990's. He rose through the political and professional ranks to eventually become World Champion, no small feat for a man of his size. It took him nearly a decade to get his big break, but when he did, he took the ball and ran with it. He was a hard-working, gutsy wrestler from Canada who was beloved the world over.

Shawn Michaels had similar traits to Bret. Like Bret, he could be perceived as undersized. Especially next to giants like Hulk Hogan, The Ultimate Warrior, and the biggest giant of them all- Andre. But he had skills far ahead of his contemporaries, and it was only a matter of time before Shawn would be afforded the same opportunities as Bret.

Along the way, something started changing in the wrestling world. Even to this day, many of my friends associate wrestling with the mid-1980's, a plodding, character-base style of good vs evil. The kind of wrestling Hulk Hogan essentially globalized. Like everything in art, things must adapt and divert from the norm, otherwise the audience will flee.

Bret and Shawn were at their peak when the wrestling landscape was starting to lose the elementary aspects that fans had been accustomed to for so long. It was a vastly different landscape. For one, there was a rival promotion becoming serious competition, WCW (at one point even trumping the success of the WWE). Secondly, fans were tired of the boring, obvious results that Hogan and his cronies were known for. The audience was ready for something grittier.

Bret was from the old school age of thought. He certainly wasn't Hogan, even comparing the two would do a disservice to Bret and his skills. But, there is no question Bret came out of that initial wrestling surge. Shawn wasn't. Shawn saw what the audience wanted and probably needed at the time. It needed attitude, something Shawn wasn't short on giving.

Now, as a viewer, it's tough to argue with either point of view. Bret's stance was that the more adult-friendly WWE wasn't suitable for kids. He's right. It wasn't. But Shawn's point that storylines had become stale was also correct. I, a lifelong fan, had deserted the product years earlier. There are only so many garbage men, magicians, and voodoo practitioners I could take.

Long story short, Bret and Shawn started a rivalry on television that culminated in an epic 60+ minute iron man match at Wrestlemania.

That was the storyline for fans.

Behind the scenes, things were much more dramatic. And real.

Bret had been offered a contract by the aforementioned WCW. It was an insane amount of money, but Bret felt staying with the WWE was the right thing to. They had given him everything, and he was nothing if not loyal.

WWE Owner Vince McMahon was pleased, as he wasn't losing one of his crown jewels.

Than it all changed.

Bret and Shawn, behind the scenes, started blurring the lines of what was real and what wasn't. They started hating each other. And suddenly Vince pulled his offer to Bret, citing his inability to pay Bret what they had agreed upon.

Bret signed with WCW.

Only, he was still WWE Champion. As I said in my earlier piece, WWE and WCW were like Coke and Pepsi. You can see how this was a conflict of interest for Vince and everyone involved.

Making matters worse, Bret was set to face Shawn at their annual Thanksgiving-time pay-per-view, Survivor Series. It also happened to be in Canada, Bret's hometown. For the title.

All parties agreed upon an ending to the match that didn't involve Bret losing the title to Shawn, as their real-life hatred of one another wouldn't allow Bret to lose in Canada on that night. There's obviously a lot more to it, so feel free to read up on it BY CLICKING HERE for those uneducated about the specifics.

In the end, it didn't matter, as what has now become the most controversial moment in wrestling history, Bret lost the belt to Shawn. How? Well, Vince and Shawn had concocted a plan to put Bret in a submission hold (the Sharpshooter, his own nonetheless), and while Bret lied there helplessly, they had the referee ring the bell. Thus, the Montreal Screwjob was born.

Just to reiterate, this wasn't planned. This was very, very, real. Bret was legitimately angry, and even allegedly knocked McMahon out with one punch in the dressing room afterward.

Bret left for WCW, and Shawn continued on in the WWE.

That was over a decade ago.

CUT TO- Today. The WWE has released a new DVD, entitled WWE Greatest Rivalries: Shawn Michaels vs Bret Hart.

In it, Bret and Shawn talk candidly for the first time together about what led up to that night, and how things have changed. For any wrestling fan, it's gripping.

Both men tear up several times, as neither one realized how much that one moment would forever affect their lives.

And yet, wrestling aside, it's unbelievably beautiful. Bret and Shawn were friends long before their animosity started. Shawn very much wanted Bret to like and respect him, something it's clear Bret did. However, misinterpretations and misunderstandings exacerbated the situation, and things spiraled out of control. It's so wonderful to see these two come together and forgive one another that it literally makes you reflect on your own grudges with those you were once close with.

In my original blog, I focused on Bret. But in reality, Shawn's journey has been just as fascinating. Make no mistake about it, I fully stand on Bret's side when it comes to what did and did not happen that night in Montreal. Shawn, for all his talents, certainly had a reputation. And yet, I can't help but feel I know that guy. That guy who feels the world is against him and no one is giving him the respect he deserves. To be frank, I had similar undesirable personality traits at one time in my life as well.

There's a moment in the interview when Shawn makes a point to address the fact that he wishes he could have traversed the waters in a different way, but that "his head wasn't screwed on right."

Now really, who hasn't related to that at some point in their life?

For these two men, to sit down and shake hands after all that's happened, shows us all what the definition of forgiveness is. Their in-ring, unscripted embrace months earlier was a triumphant moment that showed the world what can happen if you just lay down your sword.

Bret talked about metaphorically walking around for years with a "bag of rocks" on his back.

During that time, Shawn found Jesus Christ and religion. He changed. He became a better man.

Bret, however, wasn't involved in the WWE, and thus always kept a wary eye on this new Shawn Michaels. But sometime during his stroke, Bret received a call from Vince McMahon, and old wounds started to heal. Although he doesn't say it, it's fairly obvious Bret feels his stroke gave him a second chance.

And so, with a step filled with unbelievable faith, he moved forward. Calls were made, and soon enough, these two onetime friends turned bitter enemies, realized life was too short.

Bret found in Shawn truth. He saw how much Shawn had grown, as a man.

Many people have said that it was the WWE fans who got the most out of their reconciliation, but I think that's too narrow-sighted. The real winners were Bret and Shawn themselves.

The ability to forgive someone, to make peace, and to admit that perhaps you made mistakes... that's a gift some people aren't capable of. Bret, and Shawn, each admit to faults within the piece, and in the end they provide many of us fans closure.

Hopefully, their story can be the impetus for you to remove your own proverbial bag of rocks.

As Bret and Shawn showed, life is sweeter when you aren't filled with anger and sadness. That's why I admire these two men more than anything else, because they grow.

Thanks fellas, you once again led the way, much like you always did. Kurt Edward Larson just published his first book, Finding the Super-Hero Within. It also deals with his own journey of forgiveness, and how it led him to the love of his life Nicole. In fact, Nicole had never watched wrestling before, but Kurt is happy to report she cried during Shawn's Hall of Fame Speech.

You can purchase Kurt's book here.

My Incredible Star Wars In Concert Experience.

Look, there's no real way to describe what happened to me last night. Not for a Star Wars fan at least. You should know, that what follows in a detailed report of what it felt like. This blog is not for the casual fan.

It's long. It's descriptive. It'll probably be filled with errors in spelling and grammar. I can only apologize and say that my frenzied mind is still reeling from what will forever be one of my fondest memories.

It's not very often you get to take a peek behind the curtain of the Star Wars universe. But for one day, I did.

Join me, if you dare...

But first, like all good stories, this saga begins in a galaxy far, far, away...

When you first come to Hollywood, you meet a ton of people. You're excited. They're excited. Quite frankly, it can be overwhelming. It seems that everyone is someone, and you're no one.

Because of that, or perhaps in spite of that; I never sought out friendships based on job titles. I have a deeper sense of what true friendship is, and it most certainly has nothing to do with someone's credits.

And so it was that several years ago I was invited to a private movie screening at the house of a fellow actor friend, Kerby Joe Grubb. Kerby and I had bonded over our shared sense of personality a few years before. Still, I had never met his roommate. All I knew about him was that he was an older fellow who wanted to make movies. You would think that would make an aspiring actor/writer like me salivate over the possibilities. But again, I didn't work like that. I thought it was cool, but I didn't seek out any sort of professional connection.

CUT TO- the first movie night I attended at Kerby's apartment some 10 years ago. His roommate held these private screenings for his various friends as a way for creative artists to get together and mix and mingle. I walked in and was immediately panicked with insecurity. The room was filled with all sorts of interesting and diverse people. I might as well have walked into the Mos Eisley Cantina, that's how out of place I felt. To put it bluntly, they all looked much smarter than me. I must have been about 24, and although a wide range of ages were represented, no one felt younger than me that night. They wore interesting clothes, spoke elegantly, and conversed over art. Art? To me, art was Ralph McQuarrie's early Darth Vader concepts.

mcquarrie
mcquarrie

Kerby introduced me to his roommate, and with a Texas drawl that took me more than a minute to comprehend, I met Kerry O'Quinn. Kerry was one of those people you meet that instantly makes you feel at ease. He welcomed me to his home and thanked me for coming. He asked if I had any difficulties parking and whether or not I wanted a beverage. Considering he was hosting an event with 30-40 REAL people working in the industry, I thought it was terribly gracious.

Kerry went about his bsuiness of hosting and the movie commenced.

Towards the end of the night, people started clearing out. Kerby and I kept drinking, as that was pretty much a given with Kerby and I at this point in our lives. The walls of the apartment became more and more visible with each head disappearing, and suddenly I spotted something familiar. In the back corner was a black and silver poster of immense proportions. The curves of the lettering were unmistakable, and the jet-black background might as well have been Darth Vader himself. STAR WARS.

Excited, I asked Kerby who owned the poster.

"Ahhh do." said the incoming Texas shooting star Kerry O'Quinn.

And with that, Kerry and I began a life-long friendship bonded on writing, movies, and most importantly... Star Wars.

DSC01026
DSC01026

I discovered shortly after that first encounter that Kerry was the creator and founder of Starlog Magazine, as well as Fangoria and several other cult magazine classics. He was an icon within the Sci-Fi and Horror industries. Kerry knew more people than I could ever hope to, and many of them were Star Wars-related. He was even personally responsible for producing the 10th Anniversary Star Wars Convention back in 1987, a precursor for the incredible amount of conventions that now take place annually.

In short, Kerry was a part of history, and always will be. He made it okay for dorks like me to buy action figures, and even for their girlfriends to buy those same dorks Wampa Rugs. He brought nerds together before the age of the internet, before the advent of facebook, and before it was cool to be outspoken in your zeal for things like Dagobah.

And while all of that is impressive, I like Kerry because of Kerry. He's a wonderful man with a big heart and big ambitions. He provides myself and his friends with endless laughter, as he's just so damn fun. Anyone that's ever met Kerry, loves Kerry. Present company included.

Through the years, Kerry has regaled me with his Star Wars tales. From meeting George Lucas to talking with Mark Hammil, Kerry is never short on stories. He once invited me to Skywalker Ranch for his birthday, but I unfortunately wasn't able to go.

He's invited me to several other excursions, whether they be Comic-Con or concerts, they're always greatly appreciated by me. Unfortunately, when you're trying to make your own mark in the industry, time alludes you. I've never been able to attend most of the events Kerry has invited me to, and that includes this past month's Star Wars In Concert at The Hollywood Bowl. I had to turn Kerry down several times, each time becoming more and more painful.

This Saturday was the last night to see Star Wars In Concert. Once again, obligations kept me from attending. Kerry, ever the sweet man, attempted to do something special instead. He asked me if I wanted to have lunch with Anthony Daniels and a slew of other people from the show.

daniels c3
daniels c3

Excuse me. Did I want to have lunch with Anthony Daniels, aka C-3PO? Did I want to meet other people involved with Lucasfilm and Star Wars In Concert?

Are you kidding me?

I was so giddy to meet "Tony" Daniels that I originally bought a gold tie. I wanted to look nice, while also wearing something symbolic.

I thought about what to ask, what to say, and what to have him autograph. I'm not an autograph collector, so the choice of merchandise had to be something special. I thought about an action figure, but ultimately decided on something more personally memorable (more on that later).

The morning of the lunch, I couldn't have been more of a girl. If you wanted to see the very definition of a Star Wars nerd, you would find it in me two hours before lunch. I tried on several outfits, with each one leaving me more and more frustrated. It wasn't the clothes, it was the idea of meeting someone from the original trilogy.

You need to understand, never in my wildest dreams as a kid did I think I'd meet a principle from the Star Wars universe, let alone the man who could rightfully claim to be THE voice of the whole damn saga. He's in every movie. Every cartoon. He narrates the rides. The games. Anthony Daniels and Star Wars are one and the same. This wasn't just standing in line for hours at a convention, it was totally unique. My geek neuroses were at defcon five.

I ditched the gold tie.

I picked up Kerry and his roommate Brian Lamberson a few minutes later. I was relieved to know Brian was attending with us, as at least I'd know one other person at the table.

We arrived and waited patiently as each member of our group appeared. There were about 15 people in all. As usual with Kerry O'Quinn's friends, they were all successful. It's not an easy group to be thrown into, and I found myself becoming more and more self-conscious with each word spoken. This is an odd phenomenon for me, as I'm usually quite gregarious. If nothing else, I'm definitely outspoken and opinionated. I know I'm smart enough to converse with these people, and worthy of even working with them, but it's all a matter of comfort. They knew one another. I might as well have been an Ewok. Foreign and amusing, but not someone to be taken seriously. At least not until I took down a few stormtroopers on my own with giant boulders.

But because I'm cognizant of my passionate opinions and their ability to divide people, I tried to lay low. It certainly wasn't easy. At one end of the table, a voracious conversation was taking place regarding the upcoming Green Lantern movie. Clearly, I had opinions on this. Not only was I a personal fan, but as a writer and actor, I have a lot of takes on what's about to unfold on the screen June 17th. But I had to bite my tongue, as I didn't want to disagree and make a bad impression.

Again, context is everything.

Kerry's close friend Howard Roffman showed up and sat in the middle of the table. Howard is the President of Lucasfilm Licensing, and his tenure there dates back to the Star Wars origins. As a Star Wars nerd, this was about as close as I could get to George Lucas.

The funny thing was, it's not like anyone ever announced his arrival or title. Remember, almost everyone there were friends. I was an outsider. And so when Howard sat down and Kerry mentioned that I had ridden the new Star Tours ride, I felt no need to filter my opinions. Basically, I had no idea Howard was behind Star Tours with every step of the process.

Of course, as noted previously here, I really enjoyed the new ride. It's a marked improvement on the last one. So in that sense, I'm sure I only reconfirmed Mr. Roffman's faith in the ride. On the other hand, I didn't exactly hold back on my disdain for the original Star Tours. And do you know who also had a hand in the old Star Tours ride? That's right, Howard Roffman.

Sigh. I am an idiot.

Luckily, I was polite about it. He asked me why, and I gave a short description of my feelings towards "Rex" and the lack of real Star Wars characters within the story. He surely had heard this before, as the new ride completely makes up for it. Kerry later told me that Mr. Roffman appreciates honesty and passion, so I felt comfortable I hadn't made too bad of an impression.

This was good. After all, I didn't want to burn the bridge that will eventually lead to me pitching my new Star Wars trilogy to George one day. Ahem. One can dream, right? Laugh. Out. Loud.

Twenty minutes into lunch, Mr. Roffman received a call that informed us Tony couldn't make it. Apparently, he had some business affairs to attend to. The table collectively deflated a bit upon hearing the news. Kerry, ever the loyal friend, looked at Howard and said, "But Howard, this is going to break Kurt's heart."

All eyes at the table focused in on me.

"Ummm, hey everyone. I'm Kurt."

It was the best I could muster up. I said something else to take the attention away from me, and lunch thankfully continued.

Kerry walked over to Howard and they had a private conversation. Howard made a phone call, and Kerry returned.

Nothing was said, though I had a suspicion what might be unfolding. Call it my Force powers...

For the next three hours, we feasted on all manner of delicious treats. I have to be honest, there were things said at the table that I wish I could share with you. There were things from a Star Wars' fan's point of view that I found incredibly interesting. It was fascinating.

The truth is, I have way too much respect for the people there to reveal things I heard. The conversation wasn't all Star Wars, but certainly that dominated the bulk of dialogue. There were a lot of stories I knew through reading other material, but many I didn't. And in many ways, spending a few hours with people who work closely with George will alter your mind.

Look, I'm a fan like the rest of you. I certainly have the same issues as we all do with various aspects of the prequels (though you should know, I still very much like them). But I can tell you this, getting a few hours with people from the inside can give you a new understanding of the process. It was eye-opening. Fanboys like me sit in a darkened room and anonymously critique every nuance that comes out of George's mouth, all the while proclaiming that if we were in the room with him, we'd shout out why something wasn't working.

Let me tell you, it's an entirely different experience when you're actually there in some capacity.

Besides, I've long held the notion that Lucas is going to come back and kick all the naysayers in the teeth one day with something explosive and awesome. It might be Star Wars related. It might not be. I'd love to see George Lucas return to something small and character-driven like American Graffiti. Not that I'm complaining if he wants to play in Cloud City one more time either... All I can hope is that someone deep within Skywalker Ranch is pumping George up and telling him that he's capable of blowing us all out of the water again with his unique vision. I want to see George Lucas return to filmmaking, and hopefully all the hipster trust fund kids going to film school will remember that George Lucas is one of the few visionaries that can rightfully claim he changed the medium forever. Call me a naive fanboy, but I'm convinced Lucas has it in him. He's like Vader. It's in there man. And I for one, have his back. He's friggin' George Lucas!

At any rate, lunch was fabulous. I didn't speak much, but did manage to tell Mr. Roffman and friends how The Angel bought me a Wampa Rug for Christmas and it was then that I knew I wanted to marry her. I was amazed that Mr. Roffman knew exactly what the Wampa Rug was and asked if I also had a Taun Taun sleeping bag. Yes, he's the head of licensing. But the fact that he knew two obscure items like that blew my mind. Do you know how many Star Wars products are on the market? Least to say, I loosened up a bit and my real energy came out.

Wampa
Wampa

There's a line between being cool while still being a fanboy, and I was deftly managing it.

The lunch ended and everyone said goodbye. I thanked Mr. Roffman for spending time with us and he coyly said something to the effect of, "well, I think I'm seeing you later so we'll talk then."

I turned back to Kerry and he quietly pulled Brian and myself to the side.

"Listen, I have to be a bit quiet about this. I talked to Howard, and he made some calls. I have two Star Wars In Concert passes. If you two can go, I'd like to go together. We can go backstage and meet Anthony Daniels and such..."

I didn't hesitate. I knew I had an obligation that night, but there was no way I was missing this again. Kerry had invited me to Star Wars In Concert three previous times, and I always said regretfully no.

I wasn't saying no this time.

I dashed home and showered up as quick as I can. Hollywood traffic is worse than Vader's force grip, but somehow I managed to arrive back at Kerry's apartment on time. Sitting there, staring me in the face, was my own VIP pass. We made small talk and then ascended the uneven hill en route to the Hollywood Bowl.

I've never been a VIP for anything, so I'm not going to lie when I say I was thrilled to bypass all the lines. The fanboy in me was no longer going to be held back. I'd be cool, but damn if I wasn't going to enjoy myself.

Maybe it was the wine, or the faint smell of Wookie in the air, but I was back to my old self... loud, giddy, and definitely not shy.

Mr. Roffman met us at the gate and immediately asked me if I wanted to meet the men behind Star Tours. He introduced me and I told them how much I enjoyed it. They seemed genuinely interested in a fan's opinion, and it was something that stuck with me all night as it quickly became a commonality. They wanted to know who I saw, what planets I visited, and how it compared to the old one. There was no question these men put a lot of thought and energy into Star Tours 2, and they were excited they had apparently hit a home run with fan and park goers alike.

It made me think of the immeasurable pressure men like these face from fans like me. It's something we forget about too often. It's not just us they have to please. There are major sponsorships. The companies they work with. And that bearded guy we call George. I spent a few minutes thinking about what it would be like to be in charge of something creative within Lucasfilm, and if you really imagine it, the weight of expectations can melt your mind.

Don't get me wrong, I'd still do it in a heartbeat (cough, cough NEW TRILOGY cough cough WRITING STAFF FOR ALLEGED TV SHOW cough cough), but it IS a mountain of pressure. I mean, we analyze the shade of skin on Bossk's feet for God's sake. "IT BETTER BE MUSTARD YELLOW!!!"

Bossk
Bossk

I also met the Director and Designer of Star Wars In Concert, Steve Cohen. He was at lunch as well, but I didn't really get much time to speak with him. He was very pleasant, and I got the impression he was the kind of guy who could bust balls with the best of them. A few drinks and I'm sure we'd be trading quips on various things Star Wars related and otherwise.

sunset director
sunset director

We were led to our seats and this is where the story really gets magical for me.

In what became a running gag of the night, I sat down in my seat and with shock in my eyes, exclaimed "oh my god, I'm literally in the best seat of the house."

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DSC01025

Our group chuckled, but it's true. I simply can't understate it. If you were asked to pick one seat and one seat only in the Hollywood Bowl, it would have been mine. We were dead center, approximately fifty rows back, with no one in front of us. To give you some semblance of understanding, they were filming something that night... and the camera was directly behind me. Amazing doesn't do it justice.

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DSC01027

Any closer and you'd have to look upward at the screen. Any further back and you'd be totally aware that you were surrounded by thousands. In my seat, it felt like you were alone.

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DSC01029

Only I wasn't. As Mr. Roffman decided to sit next to me.

So, to recap... I'm sitting in the factually accurate best seat in the world-famous Hollywood Bowl. I'm watching Star Wars. I'm listening to an orchestra recreate the music live. And I'm sitting between the creator of Starlog magazine and the President of Lucasfilm.

Sorry Mom, but... "are you fucking kidding me?!"

As for the show?

It was incredible.

Really, it was. It was beautiful. It was dark. It was fun. And it was everything Star Wars is.

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DSC01043

There were generations of fans there, and nothing warms my heart more than seeing little Han Solos and little Princess Leias dancing around with their parents. Harrison Ford can say whatever he wants, Star Wars IS IT MAN. It will never, ever, ever go away.

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DSC01035

And yes, for those close to me and aware of my emotional tendencies, I did tear up at one point. During the Princess Leia portion of the show, the video surmised the relationship between her and Solo. Anyone that knows me pre-Nicole and post-Nicole knows how much the on-screen dynamic parallels ours. What can I say? She's my princess. And I'm her scoundrel.

KurtNicole
KurtNicole

The show featured lasers, lights, and dynamic cut-scenes. There's nothing quite like turning around and seeing a host of lightsabers glowing in the night. It made you remember, much like my dear friend Kerry O'Quinn had done years earlier in Starlog magazine, that we geeks are not alone. We are okay. We're not weirdos. Perhaps just a little strange.

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DSC01040

And what I found most interesting of all was Mr. Roffman's reaction to the show. You would think a guy that spent nearly every day of his adult life surrounded by Star Wars would grow sick of the music and theatrics associated with it. Ummmm, you would be wrong.

Mr. Roffman bounced and bopped to EVERY SONG. It was totally genuine, and absolutely endearing. He laughed at my enthusiasm over Lando and smirked when I bellowed to him that they better damn well have The Cantina Song. They did, and he roared at my happiness when those unforgettable notes eventually queued up.

The night started to wind down and I prepped myself for meeting Anthony Daniels backstage. To be frank, it couldn't have gotten much better in my eyes. And then of course, it did.

Anthony hushed the never-ending applause and then announced that there was a very special guest in attendance tonight.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. John Williams."

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DSC01048

As I write it now, listening to the indelible music of Star Wars, I get goose bumps. John Williams is arguably the most prolific and important composer of the modern era. His music is a part of our own personal soundtrack. Star Wars. Indiana Jones. Harry Potter. Saving Private Ryan. Jurassic Park. E.T. Superman. Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Jaws.

I really loathe when people in the film industry throw around the word genius, because I think by doing so, you demean the very definition of the word. That all being said, John Williams is a genius.

Watching Mr. Williams take the stand was a moment I'll never forget. It's very rare you get to see a Master of his work up close, performing the duties that make them iconic. I've been fortunate enough to see this moment once before, when I worked with Steven Spielberg on The Terminal. Watching Mr. Williams reminded me of how uplifting we can be when we're at the height of our abilities.

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DSC01049

He launched into the orchestral for The Imperial March. The power of those first notes were not lost on me, as the music pounded with authority in a familiar, yet totally fresh way. My glee could only be contained for so long, and I wheeled around to Mr. Roffman and grabbed his shoulder, "you knew he was coming you son of a bitch, didn't you?!"

My fangs exposed with joy, Mr. Roffman laughed. Of course he did.

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DSC01051

Mr. Williams finished and we made our way through the various clonetroopers in attendance to the backstage area. We were whisked inside, where dreams became reality. The first person I met was Dirk Brosse, the wonderful conductor of Star Wars In Concert. He was gracious, almost embarrassed by the attention. We chatted briefly and I went on my way.

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DSC01064

Like the nature of The Force, I suddenly felt the air get sucked out of the room. Everyone was quiet. I looked around and there I saw Mr. John Williams. You don't really know how to describe someone of that magnitude, but I'll do my best. He was dapper, yet not so much that you felt intimidated. He constantly smiled, in the way someone with a warm demeanor has a habit of doing. He spoke soft, and made sure to look everyone in the eyes. He reminded me a bit of Santa Claus.

Now, instinctively I assessed the rest of the room. There were about 40 of us. I knew Mr. Williams was a special guest and he would most likely be on his way in a matter of moments. Taking that into account, I knew there was no possible way he was going to meet everyone there. And that's when years of baseball games and baseball autograph shows finally came into play. You see, procuring a moment with someone like that all comes down to body language and angles. You never step in front of people. You never alter someone's space. To do so would be rude.

I've also long established a personal rule when it comes to meeting someone special or famous, those that it would mean the most to should have first opportunity. Although that can be hard to gauge, it's a manner of personal assessment. I've seen famous people before that I'd like to meet, but not at the expense of a bigger fan. Usually, this scenario is fairly obvious.

And of course, it goes without saying that kids come first. Always. As an action figure collector, it has always baffled me how collectors gobble up everything in sight before kids get a chance. I don't understand it, and I remember fighting at a local Toys R Us for some new Power of the Force action figures in college, only to relinquish them to a much more deserving person... a little boy desperately seeking Luke Skywalker in Bespin fatigues. I handed it over without a blink.

Kids comes first.

Since there were no kids in the area, I surmised that no one deserved to meet John Williams more than Kerry O'Quinn. Kerry, the man that met nearly everyone from Tatooine and beyond, had never shook the hands of John Williams. Kerry had interviewed George Lucas, but never so much as had a photo-op with John Williams. So in my eyes, there was no way he wasn't going to be the first to break bread with the man who totally superseded the expectations of George Lucas those many years ago.

I positioned myself behind Mr. Williams, at precisely the spot he'd no doubt turn into. I'm a fairly tall guy, so no one was going to step in front of me. I waited for Mr. Williams to turn, and upon doing so, realized I needn't had tried to help Kerry. This is Kerry O'Quinn! Kerry will meet and talk to whoever he damn well pleases, and he certainly didn't need me to help him! I should have known... :)

Kerry walked up to John and everyone spread out as Kerry explained his history with Starlog Magazine. Brian and I, both on opposite sides, took over a dozen pictures. At one point, we even took dueling photo-bombed pictures.

photo bomb swars
photo bomb swars
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DSC01059

Kerry was delighted, and I was even more pleased that he had met John.

But as soon as they parted ways, it was on!

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DSC01060

Again, all thanks has to go to my Father for helping me learn to be in the right spot at the right time. You always have to be respectful of other people, just know where to be. Mr. Williams turned right into me, and I met him with a humongous and heartfelt grin.

He was so kind, and I did my best to politely ask for a picture and autograph. Not only did he oblige, but he had his own marker. Yup, pretty sure he's done this before. He asked me where I wanted him to sign and I replied that it didn't manner. I thanked him for his generosity and backed out of the way.

He greeted a few more fans until retiring into the moonlight. I would guess only a dozen of us met John Williams that night, and I was lucky to be one of them.

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DSC01061

As if it couldn't get any better, finally the time had come to meet Mr. C-3PO himself, Anthony Daniels. "Tony" was radiant in his gold vest and perfectly fitted black suit. Here's what I can tell you I gleaned from the few moments I observed Mr. Daniels. The most obvious is, he's a star. He's a total professional, and yet a star. As an actor, I've been around enough sets and backstage areas to grasp the chaotic nature that can occur. With John Williams being present, with the tour ending... there was no question Mr. Daniels had a wealth of activity to take part in, all while under a small amount of time. But did he ever show this? No, he was nothing but lovely.

And he's a total actor. Make no mistake, there's a reason Tony made it. You look at him and know he's an actor.

I'd like to share with you one more moment I observed before meeting Tony.

At one point, he looked at Kerry and said something to the effect of, just hold on. He went into his dressing room and closed the door. When he emerged a few moments later, a beaming child and his family walked out with huge smiles in their faces. It was evident to anyone in that area that this child was sick. Not sure with what illness, only that he was.

But damn, you wouldn't have known it by that kid's demanor. He was smiling, a real hero. He was the happiest kid in the world, and no one wasn't moved by the moment. I know I was, and that is the power of Star Wars.

A bit later we finally had our chance to meet Tony, and clearly someone had prepped him that there was a tall goofball in a hat that had something special for him to sign. He seemed to tractor beam into me as he approached.

"Yes, I understand you have something for me to sign?"

He smiled, and I swear I saw C-3PO for half a second. I suppose that doesn't make much sense, as Threepio has no facial expression, but I saw it nonetheless. I handed him what I brought to sign and he laid it down in front of his makeup counter. He asked my name and took the most delicate time in signing it. I thanked him profusely and again, casually bowed out of the picture.

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DSC01052

Kerry, Tony, and Mr. Roffman took a few more pictures and our time had come to a close.

I was the last one to shake Tony's hand upon leaving, and once again he couldn't have been warmer.

We walked outside, but before doing so, we all thanked Mr. Roffman. Because everyone in our group knew him personally, there were a lot of hugs. I had already thanked him profusely and shaked his hand, but as everyone waved goodbye... there was one last moment. I thought of what just occurred and said...

"Screw it, I'm giving you a hug too Howard!"

Everyone laughed, and Kerry later told me that Howard really enjoyed my total enthusiasm for the whole night. Here's a pic with the man that along with Kerry, made it all happen...

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DSC01066

For the record, I don't hug many people. It's very awkward for me and has a lot to do with my upbringing. And even though it was a funny moment, I meant that hug I gave. The whole night was enthralling.

Walking back to the house, I had one last autograph I needed to get.

There, in his living room, I had Kerry O'Quinn sign what I had previously had John Williams and Anthony Daniels sign. You see, I had bought a 1985 issue of Starlog Magazine with C-3PO on the cover. It was my friend's magazine, and to me, Kerry is the biggest star of them all. Because it's his friendship that matters most. He could have brought anyone to Star Wars, and he brought me.

In an eerie bit of coincidence, his editorial from that issue's magazine mirrored a blog I just posted about what life really is.

I can assure you, living was what I did on Saturday at the bowl. I went home and admitted, this was literally one of the fondest memories of my life. I know a lot of people don't understand that, and that's okay. Because there's a whole slew of us Star Wars fans that do.

I took away so much from the experience, and most of all was what Star Wars meant to me. The next day, still beaming, I made a promise. I don't know how, and I don't know when. But there will come a day when I work with Lucasfilm in some capacity. It may be as a writer. Or an actor. Or someone in the mail room (not joking), but it's given me so much joy... that I can only hope to give it back in some way.

I'm sure the entire table at lunch thought I was just a goofy awestruck kid. Little do they know the professionalism and creativity I have. It's okay, because one day I'll have my opportunity to play in the Star Wars universe. It will happen.

Until then... May the Force Be With You.

c3po
c3po

ALWAYS

Ps- IT GOES WITHOUT SAYING THAT THERE ARE SIMPLY NOT ENOUGH WORDS FOR ME TO WRITE DOWN IN ORDER TO PROPERLY AND THOROUGHLY THANK KERRY O'QUINN AND HOWARD ROFFMAN. From the bottom of this Star Wars fan's heart, thank you. I look forward to future adventures...

The Silver Age of Friendship

I sat in a small, slightly cramped theater in North Hollywood last night and subjected myself to musical theater. I was dealing with incredible pain, primarily on account of my lower back and moronic refusal to catch only three innings in a baseball game I had just played. Instead, I ended up catching eleven innings straight, and was now paying the price. Lower back. Quads. Shoulder. Elbow. Arm. Even the backs of my knees throbbed, a direct result of poor equipment straps that dug into my legs so deeply that I started actually bleeding. To put it bluntly, watching a musical was about the last thing I ever wanted to be doing. It doesn’t help that I severely dislike musicals, and unless they involve a Phantom or some other geek character I happen to like, I don’t go to them. They hurt my ears. And I wasn’t too keen on adding them to the list of body parts currently causing me pain. I just didn’t want to be there.

This is no reflection of the performers, as I found them to be talented and charming. In fact, I rather enjoyed myself. It was a nice little show, and I certainly can comprehend why people like musicals. I just don’t. It doesn’t seem plausible that someone would break out in song at any given emotional moment.

And yes, I fully understand how foolish I look in saying that, especially when I completely buy into a made-up mystical premise known as The Force.

Nonetheless, I don’t enjoy musicals very much.

But I was there, and I found the moment touching in a private way. Here’s why…

I had come to this particular show to support my friend George. George is a newer friend, newer in the sense of a few years. George and I have an interesting relationship, one filled with equal parts respect and astonishment. That could be my inference of course, but by astonishment I mean that it never fails to surprise me how different we are in certain aspects. George reminds me of something out of the 1950’s, and I don’t mean that in a negative manner. George is the kind of guy you look at and realize… “hmm, I’m not sure I know what he’s thinking.” If George was in pain, emotional or otherwise, you probably wouldn’t know. He has The Man attitude, which is entirely likeable coming from George. On the other hand, I wear my heart on my sleeve and am woefully ill-equipped at hiding my feelings. Believe me, this is where I wish I had a little George in me now and then… because tearing up when trying to explain to a friend how happy you are for them can be utterly humiliating. I can’t seem to get three sentences out sometimes without getting misty-eyed. It’s pathetic! But it’s also the reason George probably wishes he had a little bit of me in him as well, though because he’s George, he isn’t about to admit that. Bottom line, George and I are different. There’s no right or wrong to our differing personalities, only that they’re different. These differences lead to the occasional humorous argument, one in which George and I never seem to give up ground.

But I like George very much; he’s a wonderful guy with a wonderful heart. This is important to the story, as my friendship with George is indicative of the wonderful period of friendship I’m finding myself immersed in at this stage in my life.

I’ve always had numerous close friends. Even when I was young and not very cool (as opposed to now, where I’m old and also not very cool), I was fortunate to have several pals to do all manner of nonsense with. As an adolescent, these friends revolved around baseball. In high school: theater. In college: my fraternity. And after moving to Hollywood, it became mutual actors.

I would never attempt to marginalize these various groups of friends, but I find myself in a unique position right now. I’m about to get married. I’ve accumulated some knowledge, albeit small scraps. I’m figuring it out. And moreover, I’m trying to define who I am and who I want to be. Like the website moniker says, a geek –cliché struggling to become a man.

Fortunately, I’m not alone.

Not only do I have The Angel, but I’m lucky enough to have these lovely friendships that are real. Full of depth. Sincere. And ultimately, filled with love.

This is no easy task, because heading into middle-age finds all of us with certain emotional scars that prevent new friendships from arising. Trust is not easily given away anymore, as the prospect of being hurt or disappointed weigh heavily on our ability to make that next step in developing a friendship.

Men are especially bad at this, and a movie like I Love You, Man perfectly captures how awkward it can be to form male friendships. There’s a lot of ego and embarrassment involved in reaching out male to male, as there always is. And so a lot of times, we stay friends with those we collected over the years, rather than form new ones.

I’m not advocating losing old friends, I’m just saying times change and common kinship varies based on life goals and mutual interests.

And boy, I must say that finding the one you wish to spend the rest of your life with makes things easier. A mutual mate eliminates all previous motives in friendships. I mean, I didn’t know you could be friends with a female without wanting to sleep with her (or at the very least, her hot friend). It’s a treasure, who knew?!

It’s because of all of this that I find myself in the midst of what I like to call The Silver Age of Friendship.

The Silver Age of Comic Books took place roughly between 1956-1970, and sparked a slew of character-driven storylines that helped shaped super-heroes forever. It seems my peers and I are in a similar era, only we’re actually living it.

I know full well it won’t last forever. Kids will come, and time spent will be cut short. But I look around and see a group of my friends banding together in ways I haven’t experienced in some time.

It may have something to do with working in the creative realm, but supporting someone’s endeavors in the past was something done on somewhat shaky ground. Let’s face it, when you’re friends with ten other single male actors, competition is bound to creep in. Sure, you were always happy to see someone succeed, but back then you wondered in your head when your moment was coming. Throw in the incessant need to score with whatever girls were running around at the time and you have the recipe for potential toxicity.

That doesn’t exist anymore. Not in the Silver Age of Friendship.

In the Silver Age, you’re all just hoping everyone will find happiness, in any form. Because now, you just love seeing your friends happy.

And so I looked to the theater seat right of me, smiled at The Angel. I glanced backwards; saw The Angel’s sister and the Hollywood Blonde watching. A few rows in front of me, another pair of close friends sat admiring George. There were six of us total on this night. Considering there were only about twenty seats total, this was a high percentage. And we weren’t the only ones who had viewed George. In the previous weeks, The Nightwings had descended upon the show. They too, weren’t alone. There were others. Friends of friends.

All to see George do what he loved best- perform. It was evident in his energy, his smile, and his afterglow following the show. The show was enjoyable, but it wouldn’t have mattered if it wasn’t. We were there to support George, because he’s one of us and we love him. He's talented, but that's just the cherry on top.

When it finished, I left doing my best to remember this moment in time. This moment. Not quite young. Not quite old. Somewhat wise. Somewhat not. Bonded together.

The Silver Age of Friendship.

avengers25
avengers25

How Tron Made Me & My Fellow Geeks Look Like Idiots.

I'm a pretty fortunate guy. As you can no doubt tell from my pictures and words, I'm a geek. I've always been a geek. I will always be a geek. Even in the years I might have been considered somewhat cool, I was a geek. In college, there were several mornings I was forced to explain to some doe-eyed sorority girl why I had to wake up and go to Toys R Us. At seven in the morning. On a Saturday.

For the record, it was because the shipping trucks always arrived on Saturday mornings. You had to get there early in order to get the newest wave of Star Wars action figures. If you didn't get there at eight, the most popular guys would be pilfered by other nerds, and you'd be stuck with two stormtroopers and an alien you were pretty sure never actually appears in the film.

But back to being fortunate. I don't have to explain these geek things to The Angel, as she willingly lets my geek lifestyle run rampant, and in many cases is an active participant. She doesn't put up with it merely because she loves me, she actually embraces it. Not for nothing, but she knows far more than the average guy does when it comes to these things. For example, even before the new Green Lantern movie hits, she knows who Sinestro is and what the biggest threat to all Green Lanterns is. If you don't know, you will after the movie... and yes, it's pretty lame.

But there are some lands of geekdom where The Angel hasn't ventured into yet. Tron was one of them.

full tron
full tron

I had tried to get her a copy of the original Tron before the new movie, Tron Legacy, came out. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to. I know that sounds preposterous, but there were all kinds of conspiracy theories floating around the net regarding Disney holding the original Tron virtually hostage until the new movie came out. I'm not sure if that's true, but all I can tell you is that Tron was #1 in my Netflix queue for well over six months, and it always remained in 'unavailable' or 'long wait' status. I couldn't even buy the original, as all the nearby stores were sold out. I don't know what it was, but something was definitely going on, as I wasn't the only one with problems securing the cult classic.

Nonetheless, it's now magically available everywhere with the release of the newer Tron Legacy on Blu-Ray. I obviously bought it right away. After a few couch adjustments in order to get maximum geek effect, The Angel and I sat down on Monday night and watched the newer Tron Legacy.

She liked it. I knew she liked it. I always know when she likes these things simply based on the way she breathes and what her body language projects. I suppose that's part of being in love.

It was late when the end credits scrolled along Olivia Wilde's face, and so any discussion of Tron was shelved for the night.

And this is where the great divide between a smart, logical woman and my fellow geek friends comes in. Because with the exception of The Social Network, there was no film last year I discussed more than Tron. There were hours of intricacies debated about between my cohorts: what we liked, what we didn't, and how the movie made us feel overall.

For the record, I loved it. I mean... it's friggin' Tron, what did you expect, Citizen Kane? I think the first 45 minutes are flawless as far as these things go, and the ending was more than satisfying. It's also so damn cool. And I was confident a third one is coming, which only served to wet my appetite for more. I knew a third one was coming even before the new blu-ray hinted at it. Any Tron dork will tell you, you don't put the delicious creepy actor Cillian Murphy in one scene and not have a third film. Especially when the character he's playing is the son of the original Tron's primary villain...

The Angel had a few questions during the viewing, but overall was content to just go along for the ride. This was no small feat in itself. To be honest, I can't even explain everything happening in Tron. Users. Programs. Isotopes. The Grid. It's all a bit fuzzy, even for a veteran like me. This is part of the allure of Tron. I can't reasonably explain the flaws and plot holes, though I'm sure they're there. It's not like Tron is a baseball movie where I can easily see that the filmmakers screwed up by showing the winning team hitting a game-ending double... in the TOP OF AN INNING. There's no explaining Tron, and you don't have to. You know the good guys. You know the bad guys. You understand the potential romance and the Father-Son issues. That's all you need, just enjoy the amazing visuals and ridiculously cool soundtrack.

If you're into the history of Tron, discuss it afterward with your pals. Hell, my main running buddy Baron Nightwing and I talked about it... in multiple conversations!

But then, The Angel, in her infinite wisdom, made me realize that not all things in Tron can be easily dismissed as blurry logic.

We were driving to see Rain at The Pantages Theater last night. It had been roughly 24 hours since her Tron Legacy viewing. We were in traffic, casually listening to the radio. I think U2's Unforgettable Fire was playing when she turned the dial down.

Turning the dial down in our car is a serious movement, especially when I'm driving. I love music more than most, and often play it too loud in the car. When she made the car go silent, I knew something was up.

I knew a serious conversation was about to take place, one that probably involved our impending nuptials or some monetary issue. The only other possible topic would be of course life goals, as The Angel and I converse about this often.

After a pause, she turned to me with a mixture of embarrassment and inquisitive wonder. Whatever she was about to say, she was concerned I'd think she was an idiot for asking. For the record, I never think this. She is the farthest thing from an idiot, even when she inexplicably can't articulate proper directions such as left or right.

She looked at me, her brown eyes glistening with love. It was either that or the noxious stench Echo Park can sometimes leave one with.

"Why do they keep the discs on their backs?"

Come again?

"The discs. In Tron. They keep them on their backs. I know I might be stupid for asking, but it doesn't make sense. Jeff Bridges had his disc stolen pretty easily. It seems like you could just walk up and grab it off their backs."

I paused. I first assured her that her query wasn't stupid.

In fact, after a few moments of pondering on my part, I realized it wasn't stupid at all. I tried to think of a reason why indeed the characters in Tron kept the most important item in their arsenal on their backs.

Tron
Tron

I had nothing.

I have discussed Tron for well over 24 total hours of time in my entire lifetime. I have discussed every possible facet of Tron with my brother... with Baron Nightwing... with so many others.

And not once... not once... has anyone ever brought up the obvious absurd nature of the discs being on the backs of the characters. Yes, the back and chest are probably the only places it could be... but surely there are other options. A cool disc-holding belt? I don't know, but the fact that the whole movie hinges on Flynn's disc would at least mean he'd guard it a little bit better than just on his back. Have they never heard about pick-pockets in The Grid?

Again, it's the most important item in the Tron universe. And it's right there. On his back. This fact is, without question, a poor decision.

The Angel had proven yet again why women are so much more logical than men.

It's been over 15 hours since she asked me.

I want you to know, I'm still trying to come up with an answer that is better than... "it just looks cool aesthetically."

I can't.

But I'll keep thinking about it. For days. I will probably talk with Baron Nighwing about this. And others.

Meanwhile she, The Angel, will move on with her day. In doing so, she will once again prove my point that women are much more logical than men when it come to matters of geekdom.

The Takeover of My Life by DC Universe Online - part1

I am not a ‘gamer’. For all of my geek obsessions, gaming has never been one of them. The truth is, there are only so many hours in the day to devote to all things geek… adding video games would only complicate my frenzied life even more. But to clarify, I enjoy video games as much as the next nerd, just not on a level where it consumes my life. I certainly played hours of them as a child.

Even in adulthood, there have been sporadic bouts of game-playing over the years, times when I did delve deep into a particular game. There were hours spent at the fraternity playing WCW/NWO Revenge, and certainly pre-party matchups on Madden occurred more than I’d like to admit.

Many of these battles ended with thrown controllers and hurt feelings that were only later soothed by shots of tequila and begrudged apologies.

Video games left my everyday existence in college, replaced by adventures with women where the end goal was much harder than simply throwing a fireball at Bowser.

I always had a console around, but as the revolution of video gaming took off, I trudged my way through old Playstation 2 games while everyone else moved on. It was ironic that the thing I liked most about video games- playing with actual people as opposed to the computer, was now becoming easier with technology and the internet. Still, I did nothing.

The introductory price of XBOX 360 and PS3 did nothing to soothe my reservations about buying another system. I was far too busy writing, producing, or trying to write and produce. Occasionally, I would fiddle with a PS3 game at a friend’s house, more out of curiosity than anything else. It always went the same, me amazed at the amount of buttons and the ways in which you needed to successfully combine said buttons just to get The Ultimate Warrior to kick someone. Never mind his finishing move the gorilla press slam…

I was old. Video games had surpassed me. Shocking as this was, I was content with that.

Then came the introduction of the WII. For real gamers, even mentioning this device in their presence can lead to an embarrassing barrage of insults that you may never recover from. But the WII accomplishes so much more than hardcore gamers realize. It’s a wonderful system for a casual gamer under the age of 12 or over the age of 30. It’s simple and basic. Dare I say… even cute. Above everything else on the market, it’s non-threatening.

And that’s the point. The Angel and I love game night at our house, as entertaining various couples is a real pleasure for us. The WII provided a fun gaming experience that everyone could pick up and play right away. We had countless nights filled with Beatles Rock Band, Grand Slam Tennis, and Family Feud. I still love the WII and will defend it’s positives against any fellow geek.

But something in me started to itch. Playing the WII brought out a wave of nostalgia for the video gamer inside me… I thought about all the systems I had owned over the years… Intellivision, Ninetendo. N64. Genesis. PS2.

This need to play something tougher and more challenging wouldn’t go away, and I started thinking about purchasing a XBOX 360 or PS3. It also coincided with The Angel telling me I needed to relax more in life. Believe it or not, I don’t spend a lot of time relaxing, and it has become sort of an issue. I always seem to be doing something or “getting something done.”

It also helped that PS3 had dropped its price, and I kept hearing about this unbelievable game called Batman: Arkham Asylum. WAIT- a game of the year candidate featuring Batman? Hmm… well, The Angel and I did need another blu-ray player anyway…

And so the PS3 was purchased. I bought Madden, Batman AA, and NBA2K (they put Michael Jordan on the cover after all). I played quite a bit of my new PS3 during those first few weeks. It was fun, and it did the job of easing my mind for an hour or so. Nothing about my time spent playing games was unhealthy.

Then came DC Universe Online.

Then came doom and destruction for my free time.

I may never recover from what this game does to you.

To explain, I’ll be writing part 2 later this week.

For now though, I have to log on and play it.

And that’s enough to tell you where this story is headed…