Earlier this week Disney CEO Bob Iger announced there are additional Star Wars movies being planned besides Episodes VII, VIII and IX which will each focus on a stand-alone character.
Alright so this sounds a lot like their approach to the Marvel franchise – which works – but since I’m a baleful movie critic I am not that excited. (Also, my tender inner child is still on the mend from the prequels [they’re all bad, don’t believe Joey’s apologist arguments])
Here’s what we know so far: two movies are in the works, one on Han Solo and one on Boba Fett. Ain’t It Cool News claimed one would be about Yoda but that’s apparently hearsay. (The prequels ruined Yoda anyway, so unless they’re going to delve into his adventures in Jedi afterlife I don’t care.)
If you are a regular reader of our blog, you may have noticed something. No, not the fact that we are narcissistic man-boys who have nothing better to do than write for a blog that 30 people read, but that we are pretty much obsessed with the universe of A Song of Ice and Fire, or in laymen terms, Game of Thrones. You will find several references sprinkled throughout our writing. If you ever bring it up in casual conversation with us around, we will talk your head off for an hour about how we would pledge fealty to the Starks, but that Tyrion is still our favorite character. We are ‘those guys’ that sit around and play the Game of Thrones board game for five hours at a time, all while making ridiculous references, stabbing each other in the back, and holding grudges against one another months later. Hell, McCannon still is furious that I turned on him in the second to last round of a game we played six months ago. We haven’t played the game since.
My point being that A Song of Ice and Fire is absolutely something that you have to experience. I don’t care if you are young or old, male or female, or whether you love fantasy or can’t stand it. This series has something for every single walk of life. Without further ado, here are the five reasons you should drop everything you are doing and immerse yourself in Game of Thrones. As always, the reasons are in reverse order. And don’t worry, there are no major spoilers ahead.
1) Everybody you know has recommended it to you: I am a big believer in the idea that just because something is popular doesn’t mean that it is a quality product, sometimes it means the opposite*. I guarantee you that at least five people have recommended either watching Game of Thrones or told you that you had to read the books, and you are probably a little skeptical.
*Look at Nickelback: Every single song they come out with is a shit stain sandwich that tastes exactly like the previous shit stain sandwich. Yet somehow, they still have rabid fans, make millions of dollars, and get laid significantly more than me or you.
But guess what? They are ABSOLUTEY right! The quality of both the show and the books really is unmatched. I am not exaggerating at all when I say that I think Game of Thrones Seasons 1 and 2 are some of the best TV seasons in the history of the medium and that the books are my favorite series I have ever read. I know that all the rage these days is being hipster and that we as individuals feel that we can’t like something unless we were the firsts to do so.
Please don’t let that attitude take away from what I promise will be one of the best literary and viewing experiences of your life. Once you take the plunge, you can finally join in in your co-workers conversations, tell your friends to get off your back, and have your mind blown. I haven’t met a single person that has actually dove in and didn’t like what they got*. Seems like a win-win-win to me.
*Eli’s stance: If you can read the prologue of the first book and then put it down, maybe this story isn’t for you. As for Eli, he couldn’t put it down. Neither could I.
2) If you don’t like to read, there is a TV show to watch: This is kind of piggy backing on the previous one, but I think it is still important to point out. Look, I know that over 5000 pages of small text about an imaginary medieval kingdom can seem daunting. And I realize that not everybody has that kind of time, energy, or passion to read. But that is the beauty of what HBO is doing: they are putting together one of the best produced and highest quality programming out there and they are making the plunge much less daunting. You can watch the first couple of seasons, see if you like it, and decide to read it if you want. If not? Well then you’ll eventually have 10 seasons of top-notch television to take up your time! Whatever floats your boat!
3) Dragons: Ben Franklin once said, “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” But I think we all know that there is one more certainty: people love dragons. Whether it is in video games, movies, music, or television; people just can’t get enough of dragons. They are the ultimate magical beast, the final frontier for majestic creatures, and the keeper of secrets. With dragons come power, wealth, and fame. Every little kid dreams of slaying one to save the damsel in distress. Everybody wants to harness the power of the beast to help them rule the world.
Dragons play a huge role in Westeros, the setting of Game of Thrones, where one hasn’t been seen in over 150 years. But they are omnipresent throughout the narrative and hold the key to many of the mysteries in the universe. They also help speak to many of the themes sprinkled through the books: The illusion of power; strength; fear; secrecy; wealth. Not to mention the fact that they are totally badass.
4) You could spend twice as much time researching theories on the internet about the universe as you could actually reading the books: There is a reason that Star Wars, Star Trek, and Lord of the Rings have such rampant followings: they are amazing universes that are realistic enough that we could find ourselves a part of them while simultaneously letting us escape to a place that is deep, engaging, endless and imaginative. The same can be said for the A Song of Ice and Fire universe. To me, the sign of a strong universe is one that attracts thousands of fan theories, rampant speculations, and crosses into the main stream conscience.
I have spent probably hundreds of hours researching theories online, playing the board game, and talking about what I think will happen next with my friends. For those of you who have read ALL the books, I strongly recommend checking out both http://www.reddit.com/r/asoiaf and http://towerofthehand.com/ for several hours’ worth of really well thought out theories and speculation, as well as several interesting facts, foreshadowing, and insight that you probably missed on your first read through. It really helps add to the whole experience when reading the last chapter of the last book is only just the beginning of the adventure. A big kudos goes out to everybody that has contributed to this community. They are actually coming out with a book that focuses on thematic elements, character development, and general narrative structure. Simply amazing.
5) Shit like this happens throughout the whole series: I dare any of you to watch that scene and not immediately want to jump in. Not much else needs to be said.
Ah… to be home. Everyone out there has been away from home for a while. A long weekend away, a full vacation or even some time working abroad… You know that feeling when you finally get home, you put your suitcases on your bed, get into something comfortable, and sit on the couch… Take that feeling and multiply it by exactly 267.23 and that is what it feels like to return home from a combat deployment. I’m always reminded of the great scene in Fight Club where Tyler threatens the shopkeeper’s life and then lets him go…
Tomorrow will be the most beautiful day in Raymond K. Hessel’s life. His breakfast will taste better than any meal you and I have ever tasted.
This is what it feels like. The colors of the leaves on the trees are more vivid, the food tastes richer, the breeze on your face as you drive with the windows down feels cooler; everything just feels better. So in celebration of getting home, I bring to you the Five Best Things about Being Back in America… In no particular order.
1) Pavement: For anyone who hasn’t lived the majority of their life in a 1st world country… Large portions of the rest of the world are not blessed with particularly great infrastructure. Afghanistan, continuously being in the bottom 10 poorest countries in the world, is no exception. My first deployment I spent almost the entire time driving on some of the worst roads in the world. Trying to get from Point A to Point B on a road where you have to stop every couple hundred meters just to avoid a massive hole (I won’t even get into the IEDs that produced them- because that’s just not the direction we’re going with this post) is incredibly frustrating.
Worse than the roads though, is walking on gravel every day all day. The amount of gravel purchased and used by the US Army in Afghanistan would easily fill this hole
with plenty to spare. Spending every day trudging through the stuff gets old very quickly. Just being able to go for a stroll around the block on a combination of well constructed roads and sidewalks is fantastic.
2) Couches: It’s a verifiable fact that couches are the most underrated personal possession in any family’s inventory. You hear a lot of, “Oh nice car,” or “did you get the new iPhone 5?” but usually unless you just got a new one, people don’t comment a whole lot on the comfiness of a couch. This is a national tragedy. Furthermore, upon googling if there is a national couch day, the first link I found (answers.yahoo) said no. Which is unquestionable proof. Chairs are all well and good, and lying in bed is of course great, but there is just something about kicking back on a couch spreading out a bit and doing any number of things. They are are force multipliers. They make pretty much anything more fun.
3) Clothes that aren’t a Uniform: I’m not really a super well dressed guy (though I am a horribly addicted Gilt shopper- somebody please help me stop) but I’d ask anyone to consider wearing the same thing everyday with two variations. Boots, pants, and a long sleeve top with a hat and sunglasses, or running shoes, white socks, and the Army Physical Fitness Uniform with sunglasses. Oh… you know who else only wears one or two things every single day… Inmates. And part of the reason wardens insist on this, is to strip away convicts’ identities. The feeling of putting on my most comfortable pair of jeans, a tshirt, and some sandals was in a word splendiferous. Everybody has that set of clothing (Nike basketball shorts, and an American Flag imprinted Under Armor shirt that says “We must protect this house,”) that they wear around their castle, and is their go-to when they just need to be comfortable. Getting back into this getup is equally glorious.
4) Friends and Family: This one probably goes without saying but was too critical to leave out. For anyone who has never been present for a deployed unit’s homecoming… It is truly something to experience. Take Hugh Grant’s Love Actually comment about the uplifting experience at Heathrow’s Arrivals section and add the fact that everyone coming home could have been killed.
In 2004 I was present when my Uncle’s reserve unit returned from the invasion of Iraq. As they marched across the field to join with their families in the stands, pandemonium ensued. The families in the bleachers could not be contained. They came down on the returning soldiers like a pack of ravenous carebears. It was a sight to see.
Almost a decade later I’ve had two such homecomings. Without a doubt they were polar opposites in many ways, but the one thing that stayed constant was my mom. Who was at both and was more than prepared to bring on some joyful waterworks. Since I know my mom is one of about five people who read my posts, just thought I’d give her a shout out and a thanks.
Though my particular group of friends like to write posts exaggerating some of my past exploits, and as Rudy mentioned “My deployed friend has now sent our house in Clarendon more packages than we have sent him in Afghanistan,” spending some time with these clowns (read- drinking, arguing, and endlessly ragging on each other) is pretty much the best.
5) Freedom: Quite paradoxically, soldiers spend a large percentage of their time with limited to no freedom, in order for the other 99% of American’s to enjoy theirs. This isn’t me getting on a high horse. The way this country has continuously separated political decisions by our government from supporting our troops is incredible. (Nearly) everyday of my short Army career I have felt supremely appreciated by my fellow Americans. From random people buying me drinks in airports (I’m wasn’t even in uniform, but the bad haircut gives it away), to shaking hands with WW2 veterans in Maine on our way out, we are given rockstar treatment and it means a lot to us.
Yet, while deployed we have almost no personal freedom. Want to go grab a bite to eat? Sure, if the DFAC is open. How about driving down the… oh wait, there is no where to go except from your tent to the office, to the gym, to the DFAC… and that’s about it. This type of insulation goes against everything that makes us American. Americans love wide open spaces because wide open spaces breed big ideas and limitless possibilities. We like trying new things, seeing new places, and taking chances. We’re a people born for adventure, discovery, and ambition. Coming home now, as the leaves start to change, the smell of limitless possibilities is pungent in my nostrils. What does the future hold? The beauty of being American is the freedom to build that future through my own will and determination. And that is completely worth dressing like an inmate and walking on gravel all day.
3G/4G Cellular Service
Freshly Cut Grass
$5 Footlongs at Subway
It’s common knowledge among our longtime followers and 18 facebook likers that one of the most beloved PO Life contributors, Cliff, has been deployed since February. From February up until now, everyone at The PO Life has lived a life of normalcy. But that’s all about to change. At time of print, Cliff was safely en route back to America, finishing his second and final tour of duty in Afghanistan.
For better or worse, having Cliff back stateside is sure to usher in a wave of changes. In this week’s edition of The Friday Five, we’re highlighting the Five Signs That Cliff is Back from Afghanistan, penned in a team effort by those that know him best: the writing staff of The PO Life.
Welcome back Cliff… I guess.
1) Eli’s Mom Has an Extra Mouth to Feed - by Eli and McCannon
Eli - I am one of four so my mother has been cooking large meals for my whole life. She’s a solid cook who loves little more than feeding groups of ravenous mouths. For years our house was a spot where the neighborhood kids could go to get stuffed. Alan and Rudy are regulars at our Thanksgiving meals. McCannon has made his way over for the only meal he eats (pizza). Easily the most overfed of my friends, however, was Cliff. Pretty much any time we would hang out he would ask what leftovers were hanging out in our family fridge or what my mom was cooking for dinner. He would pop over to the house, suck up to my mother*, and proceed to demolish the Costco-sized portions that were placed in front of him. Now that my parents are empty nesters, my mother is stuck cooking meals for two. Once Cliff is back, she can start cooking for six again. Her and my dad will each eat one portion, Cliff can eat four.
I’ve talked to some Hokies about Friday’s VT bashing column and the reactions ranged from annoyed to genuinely angered. They wanted to know why the post was necessary and what I was going to do about it. The post was “necessary” because the only thing Rudy loves more than himself is stirring up trouble and getting a rise out of people. That’s a large part of why this little blog was started so if you read, you’d better get used to it.
As for the second question: what am I going to do about it? At first, I figured the best thing to do was not to dignify it with a response. Frankly, as Rudy’s attempts to get under my skin go, this ranks somewhere near the bottom. The whole post screams “inferiority complex” and the fact that he felt it needed to be posted in the first place proves its fallacy. After a while though, I changed my mind. I figured, if we’re going to turn this thing into a fanboy cheering section, I might as well take this opportunity to toot the Hokies’ horn a bit. Now, you may notice that unlike Rudy, I prefer not to make myself feel better by trying to tear down someone out of jealousy. I don’t need to belittle other local institutions to make myself feel important. I prefer to build. Virginia Tech has a multitude of endearing qualities and therefore can rest on its own laurels and beam at its own accomplishments. So, in preparation for today’s opening game, here are my top five reasons that it’s great to be a Hokie.
It’s that time of the year again. School’s back in session and while most of us are looking in the rear view mirror watching our glory days fade into the horizon, a lucky few are still living on cloud nine without a care in the world. To the wunderkinds that still have so much potential, so much to live for, and the naivety that a adequately-paying job is waiting for them on the other side, I say this to you:
As the cold grey walls of my cubicle paint a panoramic landscape only favorable to House Stark and the Night’s Watch, my thoughts venture a hundred miles away to a beautiful, lush prairie. Nestled at the intersection of Utopia and Shangri-La, warmed by the rays of Apollo himself and, in turn, cooled by the shades of the Hanging Gardens, Bridgeforth Stadium rises like a temple to the gods of James Madison Football lore. Names like Rascati and LeZotte, Jordan and Landers, (and let’s not forget Scott Norwood) echo in the hallways, their names etched into the very foundations of the monument built in their namesake.
It’s become a true testament to how far we’ve come. But no matter how much the Dukes continue to invest into the program, the big brother down the road will always beat its chest and proclaim gridiron dominance. And not in a salt-of-the-earth kind of way where superior play and outmatched athleticism are given their days in the court of pigskin objectivity. Instead, it’s delivered with an overzealous sting that’s baptized in hubris and consummated within 15 seconds of interacting with any alum. With few local rivals to squash the inevitable annual pre-season hype, spending any amount of time with a Hokie in August or September is simply intolerable.
So without further ado, football fans, here are the five reasons why your college football team (especially JMU) is more tolerable than Virginia Tech.
1) You Own More Than Two Different Colors of T-Shirts – Now, I want to preface this by saying that orange is above and beyond my favorite color. In fact, I just bought an obnoxious pair of Brooks PureConnects in bright orange and it’s arguably been the greatest purchase of my life already. It dates back to my undying love for Michelangelo of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. ‘Cause, ya know, he’s a party dude.
Tonight most of The PO Life crew had a softball game. We lost in a heartbreaker, squashing any chance at the playoffs and really putting our collective athletic prowess into a realistic and humbling framework. About an hour before the game I was walking into a California Pizza Kitchen when I bumped into none other than the Chosen One, Bryce Harper. The conversation went something like this:
Me: “Bryce, (as I reach out for a handshake) it has been a real pleasure watching you play this year.”
Bryce: “Thanks man, that really means a lot” (while moving a plastic bag full of what seemed like a barbeque chicken pizza to his left hand).
Me: “Good luck the rest of the year.”
Bryce Harper: “I appreciate it”.
That was the entire conversation.
But you know what was a weird feeling? I was truly star struck. This kid is 19 years, he has never spent a day at a University (Not counting this http://www.csn.edu/pages/716.asp), he says things like “That’s a clown question bro” and wears t-shirts with the words “BEAST MODE” in huge black letters across them, and yet he is such a celebrity to me that the entire encounter with him is almost a blur, some strange distant reality that I had to text all my friends about and immediately bring up upon entering the softball field (and of course introduce the Friday Five with). What does this say about me as a person? Am I so ordinary that the mere sight of someone that significant literally puts me into a daze? I suppose so. The entire concept of celebrity is really laughable when you think about it, but I am as intrigued as the next guy. I digress; American’s obsession with the concept of “fame” is another topic for another day (and clearly a topic that shouldn’t be addressed by me as I am just a contributing member of the insatiable masses). I should also note that for what its worth Bryce seemed like a really nice guy.
More importantly, the meeting with the Chosen One got me thinking – is Bryce Harper the biggest celebrity I have ever met? I met Joe Paterno once, (insert some strange pedophiliac-themed joke referencing everything from Jerry Sandusky to Kitty Genovese here…. too soon? (Kitty, not Jerry) Either way, meeting JoePa didn’t really mean anything to me at the time because I was so young. I actually think Bryce Harper might be the biggest celebrity I have ever met…if there is some strange people met/celebrities met calculation, I believe I would belong in the “Holy Shit Bryce Harper is the Most Famous Person You Have Ever Met?” category.
All these considerations inspired today’s Friday Five. Since the top of my list is Bryce Harper – what would be the ultimate list? In the words of Plato; let us begin again – The Five People I Would Most Like to Meet:
We get a lot of fan mail here at The PO Life. As the resident ladies man, I frequently get asked for advice on how win over the opposite sex. Below you will find a sure-fire set of instructions to picking up chicks that has been perfected by years of successful encounters. For your convenience, I’ve broken the advice into visual and auditory categories. These are the only perceivable senses that females have, so they are the focus. You may find that implementing some of these suggestions is easier than others, however, I must insist that you fully immerse yourself in this lesson and become the Bro depicted in these methods. Doing so will allow you to gain entry to the bedroom of any woman you desire. So, without further ado, I give you Five Ways to Get Chicks, Bro
The PO Life is made up of a band of innovative minds that drive forward thinking and push human potential to its ultimate zenith. But, like many in Generation Y, our dreams of economic prosperity have been quelled, or at least temporarily postponed, as we maneuver through uncertain times. How have we survived, you ask? And how can you too drive more value to your bottom line?
It’s simple. You’re simply spending way too much money in five key areas. Follow these five factors of frugality for framing your future family’s finances (Alliteration count: 9. Your move Eli).
1) Sunglasses – Once upon a time, Eli, Bart, Al, McCannon (only part time because he couldn’t be relied on to wake up before 1:45 in the afternoon) and I all worked at the same summer camp. It was my first job and it would ultimately last for five glorious summers. The thrill of my first payday was denied until a month and a half into the summer due to an accounting error. But when it finally came, my world instantly transformed into a real-life version of Blank Check. I made it rain at the Tysons Corner mall with all $800 I earned. My most extravagant expense? Oakley sunglasses.
Now, I’m not knocking the quality of Oakleys. My original pair lasted all five years of camp. Which, when you have little shitbags climbing over you all day while simultaneously trying to take off your head with flying dodgeballs, is no small task. But, with a pricetag north of $100, few have the budget for more than just a single pair.
Since my exit from the YMCA, my paycheck has grown but my discretionary sunglasses fund has shrunk. How?
Office humor!? Boooooooo
I know. It’s been done. A lot. No one ever said we were pioneers on this site.
Fridays often bring about a strong sense of thankfulness. The week is finally over; you can get back out there and do whatever you fancy for your too-short weekend (Joey is partial to gardening.) Most of all, it gets you away from these people for a few days: