Living by the Todd Family Motto: "It behooves us to live."
Howdy. I'm Matt Todd. My wife and I have four kids and a dog,. I'm passionate about orphan care. I'm a die-hard fan of the Evansville Aces, the Indiana Hoosiers, and Star Wars. I'm trying to live life by the Todd family motto: "It behooves us to live!"
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The release of the first stand-alone Star Wars film, Rogue One, is just around the corner. And I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty excited about it. In case you aren’t familiar with the storyline, Rogue One is about the Rebellion’s attempt to steal the plans of the Empire’s ultimate secret weapon: the Death Star. If the trailers are any indication, this movie is going to be one wild ride. The movie opens on December 16, but advance tickets are available NOW through Fandango.
Will there be Bothans?
There has been a little bit of confusion about when this story takes place. It is not the mission Mon Mothma is referring to in Return of the Jedi (it’s my favorite, you might remember) when she says that “Many Bothans died to bring us this information.” That was for the second Death Star. This story takes place immediately before A New Hope (also my favorite). It’s presumably the plans that Princess Leia hides in R2-D2, which leads to a swashbuckling adventure unmatched by most (if not all) films.
I secretly hope Bothans are part of this story. I hope they’re tucked away in the background somewhere. But I also hope none of them die. Because it sounds like far too many of them die later on.
“Rebellions are built on hope.”
Hope. That’s what the original trilogy is full of. Obi-wan Kenobi is Princess Leia’s only hope. It’s clear that Luke Skywalker becomes the Rebellion’s new hope. And by the end of the trilogy, it’s the hope that there is still good in his father that compels Luke to journey into the heart of darkness. There’s hope in friends. The Empire has misdirected hope in power and technological terror. There’s hope in the mystical unknown. The original trilogy is fueled by hope. And it sounds like Rogue One taps into that same spirit. We are surrounded by reasons to have hope.
I look forward to another reminder of how much hope we can have in the midst of darkness.
In celebration of the upcoming release of Rogue One: a Star Wars Story, I’ve compiled the film’s trailers below. I don’t know about you, but watching them really makes me excited about watching this movie. I hope (there’s that word again) it lives up to my expectations.
If that isn’t enough to get your blood flowing and your adrenaline pumping, here are some of the trailers that have popped up on TV over the last month or so.
I have to admit, I wasn’t that excited when I heard of Disney/Lucasfilm’s plans to release stand-alone films that are outside the main Star Wars saga storyline. The story of how the Rebellion stole the plans to the Death Star is the perfect way to kick off these stand-alone Star Wars films, in my opinion. This movie looks good. Very good. I’m excited. And I hope you are, too.
What are you waiting for? Join the Rebellion today.
I recently had the opportunity to preview When War Comes Home, an entry in this year’s Heartland Film Festival. It was eye-opening. And heartbreaking. But it also has a hopeful message. Although we probably haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of the implications of war-related PTS (post-traumatic stress) and TBIs (traumatic brain injuries) we’re making strides. In the meantime, documentaries like this are important. They show how far we’ve come. And how far we’ve yet to go. But we have to be there for the men and women who have stood in the middle of hell and somehow tried to return to a normal life.
Here’s an excerpt from the press release about the film:
In Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Michael King’s powerful new documentary WHEN WAR COMES HOME, three soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress (PTS) and traumatic brain injury (TBI) share their stories of coping with these devastating invisible wounds of war. Now back home from Iraq and Afghanistan, they face the toughest battle of their lives – trying to find a way to readjust to life with their families and build a healthy and hopeful future out of a present that is wracked by pain, stress and loss. From Indiana, to Florida, to Colorado, the film follows the men and their families as they wage their personal fight for freedom from these ever present debilitating illnesses that affect an estimated 20% of the 2.6 million military service members who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Many assume that veterans who participated in active combat are the only ones who suffer from PTS. When War Comes Home shatters that myth. If you have a chance to see it, I hope you do. It helps shed the light on the horror that some of our bravest men and women encounter every single day.
When War Comes Home is still showing at the Heartland Film Festival. You can purchase tickets here. It will also be showing in other locations around the nation. You can find their updated film schedule here.
“Really? An x-wing? What does that have to do with Ethiopia?”
I promise. There’s a legitimate connection. But even if there wasn’t a real connection, you really shouldn’t be surprised that X is for X-Wing. During my first endeavor into the Blogging through A to Z Challenge, I announced that X is for X-Wing. And that it will always stand for x-wing, no matter the theme.
While I was in Ethiopia, The Force Awakens was in theaters around the world – including Addis. I even had the opportunity to go to the cinema housed at a nearby mall and watch the long-anticipated and much-hyped Star Wars sequel.
It would’ve been a pretty interesting experience, watching Star Wars in a foreign country. And it would’ve been fun to share this experience with the missionary friends of mine who suggested that we go watch it together. It’s always memorable to watch a movie in a different place.
It was certainly tempting to watch the movie in Ethiopia. I really didn’t want to have to wait any longer. But I had a commitment to watch it with Aiden. And I was going to keep that commitment. I’m glad we have that shared memory together.
Of course, I’m looking forward to the release of Star Wars: Rogue One this December. It’s another memory I’ll be able to share with my boys. Shoot, I’ll probably share it with my whole family. Because the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. I became a Star Wars fan at a very young age. And I’ve done my best to pass on what I have learned.
Maybe there will be some x-wings in this new installment. I mean…Rogue Squadron had a pretty strong connection to x-wings. But who knows if Rogue One is actually connected to Rogue Squadron in any way, shape or form? There’s part of me that hopes there isn’t a connection. But there’s also part of me that does.
That way I’ll already have my “X” entry for the 2017 Blogging from A to Z Challenge. Of course, at the rate I’m posting for the 2016 challenge, it might be 2017 before I finish posting!
Back when they did the Star Wars Special Edition releases in 1997, I became a big fan of the website that was known as Red 5. The site leaked all kinds of information about the changes that were expected. I’m sure I visited that site several times a day in anticipation of this re-release. I’m a bit ashamed to admit it, but when the movies were finally released, I almost felt a little bit of Star Wars fatigue.
I know. That’s borderline blasphemy.
But it’s true. And I think some of it had to do with the fact that I was following all of the leaked information so closely in the months and weeks leading up to the release.
Fast-forward to Episode I.
I pretty much knew the whole story before the movie was released, thanks to leaks, the song listing on the Phantom Menace soundtrack, and Weird Al Yankovic.
So I left the movie feeling…underwhelmed. While I know the film could never live up to the hype generated by the 16 year buildup of anticipation between Return of the Jedi and The Phantom Menace, the movie itself falls pretty flat (no, this isn’t a reference to the 3D re-release. I almost kind of liked that one, oddly enough). I’m convinced that part of my initial lackluster response to Episode I had a little bit to do with having been inundated with spoilers during the time leading up to the film’s release.
Don’t get me wrong. Episode I was awful. It’s still awful. But it was made even more awful-er because of the spoilers.
Yep. The spoilers spoiled the movie. That’s why they’re called spoilers.
I have been to several conventions over the years. Several of them were of the geek-related variety in Indianapolis. And what I can say without a shadow of doubt is that Indy PopCon is my favorite of the cons that I’ve attended. Due to the fact that we were moving that weekend, I was only able to attend for a little while during last year’s inaugural run. But I loved every minute I was there. And I can’t wait to return this year.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m happy about all the cons that are here. They are great for Indianapolis. And I think Indianapolis is great for them. But Indy PopCon? There’s something entirely different about it. And I love it.
For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, here’s how the fine folks in charge of Indy PopCon describe the event:
PopCon was founded to celebrate all aspects of pop culture, rather than just hyper focusing on a specific genre. We have a wide variety of interests – just like our fans – so we created a con to celebrate them all in one awesome weekend!
I don’t want to miss this event. There’s a lot that I love about this event. And I’ll share some of those things in just a minute. But first, the rest of the basic details:
Indy PopCon Indiana Convention Center Indianapolis, IN Friday, June 26-Sunday, June 28
You can go here to order your tickets. And if you use “ATRO” as a promo code, you’ll be helping out one of my pals, plus, you’ll get an exclusive PopCon print.
Indy PopCon is a con of the people, by the people, for the people
I nifty little community has sprouted up in Indy. It began close to two years ago when they started making noise about the coming of Indy PopCon. The con’s creators are local pop culture enthusiasts. And they wanted input from other local pop culture enthusiasts. A lot of dreaming, planning, implementing, and promoting has gone into this event.
The 2015 con promises to be exponentially better than the 2014 con. And the 2016 version will be exponentially better than this year’s. That’s because the organizers regularly listen to feedback and actively participate in the local community. They aren’t a group of outsiders just swooping in to Indianapolis hoping to make a quick buck. Like many of us, they love Indianapolis. They’re part of the community. And that shows by the quality of the event they strive to pull off.
You can be who you are at Indy PopCon
I love that Indy PopCon celebrates all things related to pop culture.
Don’t get me wrong. I think the genre-specific cons that focus on things like comics or gaming or Star Wars or Star Trek are great, great things. But I can bring my kids to Indy PopCon and use it as a teachable moment, reminding them that they can be whoever they want and love whatever they want to love. They don’t need to feel boxed in to one type of label. At Indy PopCon, YouTubers rub elbows with gamers who hang out with cosplayers who share a drink with film buffs who get to chat with artists. Seeing such diversity can encourage my kids to be more comfortable in their own skins.
Indy PopCon is a grand assembly of all things geek. And it’s a beautiful thing.
Movies! Tons of movies!
Have you seen how many movies they’re screening? Holy cow! That alone is worth the price of admission. I mean, where else can you see The Last Starfighter, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Red Dawn, Alien, Gremlins, and The Princess Bride (just to name a few) in one place?
There is so much going on at Indy PopCon that I can’t even begin to cover it all! You’ll just have to make a visit to downtown Indy and check it all out. So when will I see you there? Let me know and we’ll get together! Or we can just hang out at the Awkward Twitter Mingle.
The Force will be with us as we live long and prosper at one con to rule them all. So say we all.
This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #AvengersUnite #CollectiveBias
Have you heard? Of course you’ve heard! The Internet has practically exploded with each movie trailer release over the past few months. A huge impact has already been made on the international box office.
I’ve done my best to turn my family into a gaggle of geeks, and I think it’s starting to pay off. We are super excited about this super hero movie. To help us get ready for the coming blockbuster, I downloaded the Super Heroes Assemble app (available via Google Play and iTunes) and discovered tons of great stuff about MARVEL’s The Avengers: Age of Ultron.
With this app, you can unlock all kinds of cool features like character bios, featurettes, special behind-the-scenes features, a tour of the Hulkbuster facility, and other great content by heading over to Walmart or Walmart.com and scanning specially marked displays.
You can also unlock content on the app by scanning specially marked packages. And starting today, you can unlock a special digital comic book thanks to Dr. Pepper. All you have to do is scan a Dr. Pepper sign at Walmart. Or you could scan any Dr. Pepper 12-pack that has The Avengers on its package. It’s a pretty cool feature and it’s the perfect tool to help you and your family to get ready for MARVEL’s The Avengers: Age of Ultron.
There’s even an opportunity to use the app to “suit up.” Our family, however, decided to take that whole suiting up thing one step further. It’s really only the next logical step – especially for a gaggle of geeks like mine. Right?
So watch out, world! I grabbed these masks and other accessories from The Avengers at our local Walmart. So now our family has suited up and is ready to take on any foe that may come our way. You might find us walking the halls of an upcoming convention. Or you might even find us roaming downtown dressed as these heroes. Just for the fun of it.
We didn’t choose these heroes in a willy-nilly fashion. Each of these characters from MARVEL’s The Avengers: Age of Ultron has a connection with each of our family members. That’s right, friends. There was a method to our madness. Here’s how characters from The Avengers universe connect with my family:
Christy as Captain America
Captain America has a strong moral compass. He stands up for what is right with little concern for any personal gain or profit.
That’s my wife. She has an inner strength and compassion that compels her to act on the behalf of others, giving a voice to the voiceless and remembering the forgotten. She is always helping others and trying to make the world around her a better place.
Aly as Thor
Thor, a visitor from another realm, has a strong connection with the natural world. Thor can control the weather and has the ability to call down lightning from the heavens. He alone is worthy to carry his hammer, which focuses his power.
Aly can’t call down lightning from the sky, but she has a deep connection with the world around us. When she was little, she said the animals would talk to her. I don’t know how, but there were times where it sure felt that way. She is in tune with the nature around us. It’s almost superhuman.
Aiden as the Hulk
Bruce Banner is smart. He’s super-smart. His alter-ego, the Hulk, is a giant mass of muscle and is misunderstood by most people. The Hulk possesses superhuman strength and can smash just about anything.
Aiden is smart. And as a teenager, he’s often misunderstood. And much like the Hulk, Aiden is a man of few words. He has been working out with the high school football team for the past six months. He’s become a lean, mean, muscular machine. Because of his strength, he has been called upon several times to help move furniture.
Mihret as Iron Man
With the help of sophisticated technology, Tony Stark can suit up in a powerful set of armor to become Iron Man. Much like Dr. Banner, Mr. Stark is very smart. And his creativity knows no bounds. He’s a determined person whose Iron Man suit helps him accomplish his dream of protecting the world.
Mihret’s nickname at school is “Miss Determination.” Much like Mr. Stark, she won’t take “no” for an answer. Although she requires the use of mobility aids in order to walk and get around, she is always using her creativity to find new ways to achieve what doctors have suggested she wouldn’t be able to do. She always has on her “armor,” ankle and foot orthotics that help her walk. She is able to use the assistive technology available to her to help her achieve her goals and accomplish her dreams.
Our family is united
When you watch the trailers for MARVEL’s The Avengers: Age of Ultron, it’s apparent that, once again, the world needs these heroes to unite together in order to defeat a powerful foe. Working together as a team isn’t always easy. It requires sacrifice, humility, honesty, and teamwork. It can be messy. But when they work together, they can accomplish much.
That’s not unlike our family. Sure there are personality clashes at times. And we a little rough around the edges. Life together can be messy – both physically and emotionally. But we’re united. And when we work together, we can accomplish much. Who knows? We just might end up changing the world.
I know what you’re asking. What about me? Which members of The Avengers am I? Well, he’s really not an Avenger, but I think I might relate the most closely with Nick Fury, who gets things done in the background and does his best to help the rest of his team succeed.
How about your family?
Why not check out the MARVEL’s The Avengers: Age of Ultron section at Walmart.com and find the perfect snacks and equipment for the super heroes in your life? I’d love to hear which members of The Avengers are most like your family members.
Feel free to share those connections in the comments!
Well, here it is, kids! After several fan-made versions faked out legions of fans this week (I’m sure Admiral Ackbar is shouting about how it was a trap), the official version of Star Wars: The Force Awakens was released about an hour ago.
I have to admit that I was so excited about the release that I hooked the laptop to our big TV so I could watch it in as close to theatre as possible. I should’ve popped popcorn, but I didn’t. I’ll remember to do that next time, though.
I’m still not happy that they’re releasing the film in December instead of the traditional May (it is Star Wars month, after all), but after seeing this teaser, I’m also not happy that I’ll have to wait a whole ‘nother year before this film’s released!
And that lightsaber seems kind of strange. But I’m sure I’ll grow to love it.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been intrigued by the power of story. I’ve been especially interested in the way a story can be told through the magic of film. I’m sure that my interest in powerful stories and magical films was enhanced by my love of one movie in particular: Star Wars.
While I don’t believe Star Wars is the cause of my love of story and film, it certainly magnified it. My eyes were opened to a whole new magical world because of the artful storytelling of George Lucas and his editors.
In middle school and high school, I wanted to become known as “The Next Steven Spielberg.” I was the first Scout in our Troop to earn the Cinematography merit badge. I took as many creative writing and film-related classes in high school as I could. I entered Milligan with a plan. I was going to graduate with a degree in Communication and then move to LA where I was going to attend film school. My ultimate dream was to take the story of Elijah and present it on the silver screen. And then, after making that blockbuster, I was going to spend the rest of my filmmaking career telling moving, inspiring stories through the medium of film.
Obviously, that didn’t happen.
But I still love a good story. I love how film can transport you to another time and place. Sometimes even another dimension. I love how a well-told story can make you laugh with delight or move you to tears. It can challenge your beliefs. It can poke around at the tender parts of your soul, prodding you to make a difference in the world around you. It can inspire you to act. Sometimes, it can even change your own life. And yes, it can also provide a place to escape the trials and troubles of the day.
Stories that challenge. Stories that inspire. Stories that move you. Stories that make you want to create. That’s what I think film does best.
And that’s why I love that Indianapolis is host to the Heartland Film Festival, Indiana’s largest and longest-running independent film festival. Over a course of 10 days in October, this festival shines the spotlight on more than 130 independent films and gives audiences access to more than 100 independent filmmakers from around the world. And it’s all right here in the Crossroads of America. The Heartland Film Festival is one of the many reasons to love this great city.
In addition to shining the spotlight on some amazing storytellers, The Heartland Film Festival is also a qualifying festival for the Annual Academy Awards® within the Short Films Category. This means that the winner of the Grand Prize for Best Narrative Short Film will qualify for consideration in the Short Films category of the Annual Academy Awards® without the standard theatrical run, provided the film otherwise complies with the Academy rules. That’s a pretty big deal.
This year’s festival has almost completed its run, but that doesn’t mean you’re out of luck. You still have today, tomorrow, and Saturday to catch a screening or two. For some strange reason, the powers that be have decided to grant me a media pass to this year’s festival. So maybe we’ll run into each other while we’re catching some powerful stories on the big screen. You can check out the lineup and screening schedule here.
This is an amazing event. It’s one that truly puts Indianapolis on the map and introduces some great filmmakers to the public eye. I hope you take advantage of this opportunity before the festival ends Saturday night. I know I will.
I know I’ve been silent about it for a while, but I must say that I’m quite excited that they’re about to start filming Star Wars Episode VII. And now that I know that it’s supposed to take place 30 years after Return of the Jedi, I have to admit that I’m looking forward to seeing some of my favorite characters return to the big screen for one last hurrah.
I’m especially looking forward to the return of Jar Jar Binks. That’s right. I’ve dumped Chewie. Jar Jar is my all time favorite Star Wars character. And he would be a great addition to the cast of characters expected to return in Episode VII. Sure, the character will be pushing 90 years old when Gungans generally live to be 65 or so. But that’s OK. Because he’s Jar Jar. And an ancient Jar Jar would be awesome, wouldn’t it? Especially if he becomes a Jedi Knight. He could totally help restore the Jedi Order.
Or maybe they could make him the chief antagonist. Could you imagine Jar Jar as a Dark Lord of the Sith? That would be epic. I sure hope Disney, Lucasfilm, and J.J. Abrams, make this happen. Maybe I should start a petition or something. Think I should get the White House involved? I mean, this is pretty important stuff.
I have a big confession to make. Some of you aren’t going to like it. But that’s OK. I’ve come to grips with this horrible parental neglect that I’ve been practicing for the last decade or so. The whole situation is what it is and it’s time that I man up and own what I have done.
Or what I haven’t done.
I like to dabble in the art of geekery. I enjoy a good superhero story or a sci-fi flick. I still wouldn’t qualify myself as a “gamer,” but I have allowed myself to get caught up in the occasional pursuit of video game domination. It’s because of my interest in all things geek, I’m pretty excited (it took all that was within me not to say “pretty geeked” here) about Indy PopCon*. But when push comes to shove, my first true geek love has been and always will be the Star Wars universe. That being said, there’s plenty of room for Star Trek.
And that’s where I’ve failed my kids.
This might even be a bigger failure than the fact that Aiden’s favorite Star Wars episode is Attack of the Clones. I don’t know how I allowed this to happen. Frankly, I’m embarrassed to admit it.
My kids have never watched Star Trek.
There. I said it. I know this is a travesty. But it’s time to fix this situation. And that’s where I need your help.
Since I’m introducing them to the Star Trek universe, I need to provide an introduction. How do I do that? Where should their starting point be as they boldly go where they had not gone before?
Come on. You knew that reference was coming.
Begin at the beginning?
In The Sound of Music, Maria tells us that the very beginning is a very good place to start. That ain’t happening here. Thanks to Netflix, I recently had the chance to re-watch Star Trek: The Motion Picture. And that’s definitely somewhere I don’t want to start with them. In fact, I’m not even sure if they’d miss anything if they never saw it. Unless they desperately need to understand some cultural reference to V’Ger. Or fall asleep. Then I guess they could watch it.
Now that we’ve established that we aren’t beginning at the beginning, where does that leave us? I remember watching The Wrath of Khan in the movie theatre. I didn’t eat my popcorn during the rest of the movie after watching this scene. I was scared those wormish things were in my bucket of popcorn and would crawl into my ears.
Oh man. It still makes me squirm. That’s some good filmmaking right there.
Since I’ll be watching it with them, I could guide them through the film, filling in the gaps along the way. That would make sense, right? Then I could follow with the two subsequent sequels that complete this story arc.
I have no desire to watch Star Trek V again. So I don’t really want to subject them to watching a bunch of retired guys flying around the universe in search of the Divine. It just didn’t hold my attention and I highly doubt it’ll capture theirs, either.
OK, so we’ve established that I’m not going to initially show them The Motion(less) Picture or The Final Frontier. Might as well throw Insurrection and Nemesis into that category, too. They’re decent movies, but let’s face it: Insurrection feels like it’s just a really long episode of The Next Generation. It doesn’t necessarily feel like a film. And Nemesis? Well, it just feels like a big ol’ mess.
So that leads into the reboot.
Let’s recap, shall we?
This is the order I’m thinking of showing the Star Trek films to my kids:
The Wrath of Khan (II)
The Search for Spock (III)
The Voyage Home (IV)
The Undiscovered Country (VI)
Star Trek (reboot)
OK, Star Trek lovers, I need your insight!
Is this the right path to take? Or should I start with the Next Generation films and then somehow fill in the story after those? The problem with doing that is they really won’t care that much about Kirk’s appearance in Generations if they don’t know who he is or why he is so significant.
I would assume that very few of you would suggest that we start with the reboot. Right?
And then once we’re done with Star Trek, I guess I should introduce them to Indiana Jones, Back to the Future, and Ghostbusters.
Oh man. I’ve failed my kids. I’ve failed them.
Oh, and live long and prosper!
*Yeah. That’s an affiliate link. I’m a member of the Indy PopCon Street Team! 😀