About This Blog

As time permits, in-depth musings on myriad subjects will be posted. Abbreviated adages will be announced via Twitter.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


A few days ago, I made up my training plan for this year's San Antonio Marathon, since I'm again pacing the 4-hour finishers. Because I knew that meant a lot of long runs, oftentimes alone, I dusted off & charged up my iPod Shuffle for those runs. Tonight, I ran with music for the first time in months...maybe even a year or more. It was nice.

The playlists I make up for the Shuffle are largely comprised of high-energy, high-tempo tunes to help tick by the miles. Tonight's playlist included Tupac Shakur's "Holler if You Hear Me," a tune that has helped propel me to some pretty stellar run splits. Tonight was not necessarily one of those nights. Granted, my splits were faster than what they had been as of late, but not the ±7:00 I used to run.

In less than a week's time, Suunto is set to release its newest watch in the Ambit GPS line, the Ambit 3. Among features desired from this watch is one of cadence. It's just one more metric in an already impressive lineup of those offered by the Ambit series, including the seemingly outdated, no-longer-being-updated original Ambit (now referred to as the Ambit 1) with which I run. In addition to cadence, the Ambit 3 will offer updating & uploading via mobile devices, as well as the ability to update the firmware; again, the Ambit 1 is set with an update from over a year ago. While I would love, love, love to have one of the Ambit 3s, it's just not in the budget. Besides, the Shuffle and its high-tempo playlist helps with cadence. It's what I used before I even ran with GPS.

So, I keep on running with an older iPod Shuffle and an older Suunto Ambit. The miles still go by, and I still feel better than I would if just sitting on the sofa, doing nothing. Tonight's run was definitely one of those runs, and I've a feeling there will be many more of those as the distance required in marathon prep continues to mount. I can't wait.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, August 11, 2014


Tonight, at open house for The Boy at his daycare, I was alerted to the to-be-confirmed news that actor, comedian, cyclist, and wonderful human being Robin Williams had died. It was a momentary distraction from the ordinary. And, perhaps, that's exactly why I am having such a difficult time processing the death of this man.

At the time of my writing this, social media & media outlets alike are abuzz with news & tributes to Mr. Williams. Me, I've withheld from posting anything beyond tweeting this clip from Disney's Aladdin:

While I did enjoy Aladdin—and many of Williams's other comedic efforts—it was his dramatic roles that really resonated with me. Williams's character of John Keating in 1989's Dead Poets Society served as not only motivation to get me through high school but also as what a teacher could & should be to his students. I have attempted to model my own teaching practices and approach to curriculum in a similar fashion—and I told him as much when we met at the expo for the Lance Armstrong Foundation's Ride for the Roses (now known as the LiveStrong Cycling Challenge). He was kind enough to sign a DVD of DPS and pose for a picture.

Whatever the cause of death (most reports mention suicide) is irrelevant. A candle has been extinguished, leaving only its wispy smoke in the form of memories millions have of Williams's myriad performances, which spanned the whole of human emotion over the course of decades.

The earliest role in which I can remember Williams was that of wayward alien Mork from the television series Mork & Mindy. At the conclusion of each episode of the show, Mork would muse with off-screen presence & fellow alien Orson of the oddities observed in human existence. Of the "tributes" making the rounds on social media tonight cites one such exchange:

Because I was barely a kindergardener when the show aired, I cannot vouch for its authenticity, but such is of little importance. What is of import is its substance—aye, there's the rub—to not spend quite so much time looking out for number one; rather, keep an out on numbers two on down. Don't doom yourself to a life of loneliness. But don't just talk to others; talk with them. Speak. Listen. Learn. Live.

One of the more visually delicious films in which Williams starred was 1998's What Dreams May Come, a film, tragically ironic enough, which focused on the loss of loved ones, including through suicide. The title of the film stems from the famous "To Be or Not to Be" speech from Act 3, Scene 1 of Hamlet. A larger excerpt of that speech is with what I will close:
To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover'd country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.
Thanks for reading.

Saturday, August 02, 2014


I happened upon this story in Business Insider regarding Samuel L. Jackson's "one request" for The Avengers—a request which was, apparently, denied and, apparently, news worthy.

But that's not what gave me cause to take to the keyboard and hack out this bit. Rather, it was his purported request to George Lucas for his (Jackson's) character of Mace Windu to have a purple lightsaber. From the article:

While filming Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones, Jackson requested a purple lightsaber for his character Jedi Master Mace Windu so he could find himself in a big action-sequence of around 300 lightsabers.
Jackson recounted that George Lucas originally tried to tell him lightsabers only came in three colors but eventually relented.
One of the areas of focus I have enjoyed teaching in high school English is that of archetypes. In a manner of speaking, it is literally my job to teach Star Wars. Well, part of my job, anyway. The part that's really awesome.

The reason the Jackson request resonates with me is because I had presumed (and taught) that Windu wielded a purple lightsaber because of his character. It would make movie sense for Mace Windu, a Jedi Master, to burnish a blue lightsaber, especially in consideration of his line from Episode II when he tells Emperor Supreme Chancellor Palpatine that Jedi "are keepers of the peace—not warriors."

Green, in case you don't recall from your own high school English studies (or fail to recognize what happens in nature during springtime), represents rebirth and a community with nature, but that's not important for this discussion. What is important are the colors blue & red, the other common colors Lucas indicated as options for lightsaber color.

For a Jedi, red would be right out. After all, it's the only color we've seen Sith lords use, and, by the time Episode II rolls around, we've seen darths Vader & Maul. By the time the film ends, we've also seen Count Duku's; also, red. The Sith's use of red goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway: Red denotes anger, passion, war. Mars (the planet) has a red hue to it, matching it up perfectly with Mars the god. God of war, at that. On the other end of the lightsaber spectrum is blue. In archetypes, blue is oft-associated with peace, serenity, cooling, and other such pleasantness. Naturally, blue is far more appropriate for a Jedi and is likely why we see so many Jedi use blue for their glowing blades.

Mace Windu is an interesting character. Admittedly, I've not read Shatterpoint, the novel focusing on his character and his unique abilities, although I am somewhat aware of those abilities, as they are mentioned in the novel of Episode III. Also mentioned is Windu's fighting style, Vaapad, named after a creature which "attacks its prey with whipping strikes" (Stover, 328). Windu definitely does this when fighting Palpatine. Stover (author of the novel for Episode III) goes on:
Vaapad is as aggressive and powerful as its namesake, but its power comes at great risk: immersion in Vaapad opens the gates that restrain one's inner darkness. To use Vaapad, a Jedi must allow himself to enjoy the fight; he must give himself over to the thrill of battle. The rush of winning. Vaapad is a path that leads through the penumbra of the dark side. 
Mace Windu created this style, and he was its only living master. (Stover, 330)
How Stover discussed Windu's fighting style is what led me to conclude that Mace Windu's lightsaber is purple because of Windu's position as Vaapad's "only living master." Windu was the only Jedi Master able to master the extraordinary discipline necessary to walk the thin line separating the two sides of the Force, light and dark. If the light side of the Force (Jedi) often opt for a blue lightsaber blade, and the dark side of the Force (Sith) stick with red, the line separating them (Vaapad) would be a combination of the two.

Thus, Windu's lightsaber is purple.

It could reasonably be argued that Stover came up with the whole Vaapad line after the fact as a means of rationalizing Windu's blade, but Lucas is no dummy when it comes to archetypes—and the Episode III novel is based on Lucas's story & screenplay. Further, Lucas's writing and directing is purported to have been widely influenced by the work of Joseph Campbell, a man whose Hero with a Thousand Faces brought archetypes to the masses—and that was before Star Wars. I am without certain whether or not Samuel L. Jackson ever read Campbell's work directly, though he, for certain, had seen Star Wars.

Lucas and Jackson can say whatever they wish—and people can and will believe what they wish—when it comes to why Mace Windu's lightsaber blade is purple. But consider this: When it was announced that Samuel L. Jackson was going to play a Jedi in the Star Wars prequels, one running joke was spun off of Jackson's role in Pulp Fiction, where Windu would muse, ala Jules: Which lightsaber is mine? It's the one that says bad ass mother[expletive]!

While there were no closeups of the Windu lightsaber in film to show BAMF engraved on the hilt, the Master Replicas model does not sport such engraving—I know, because I have it. But, knowing what I do of both archetypes and Vaapad, such engraving would be superfluous. The purple blade says it all.

Works Cited

Acuna, Kirsten. "Samuel L. Jackson Had Only One Request for 'The Avengers'—And He Was Denied." Business Insider. 31 July 2014. Web. .

Stover, Matthew. Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. New York: Lucas Books, 2005.