Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Movie Web Monday: Jack Black

Movie Web Monday: Each week, I'll look at a specific actor's roles across three good movies. The third movie will in turn tie into the first movie of the next week's actor, whose third movie will continue the pattern. I will go through actors and movies at this rate, with the following limitations in mind: every movie(or television show) invoked will be one I either own, or wish to own; no movie or actor will be invoked twice. So sit back and enjoy as you fall into the nerdery's movie web. (Oh, and I'll try to keep spoilers to a minimum, telling you just enough to know if you'll enjoy the movie)

Jack Black: Chris Farley for the Twenty-First Century

It's not exactly sage to compare Jack Black and Chris Farley, two overweight actors who have distinctive physical comedy styles and generally play the same or similar role in all their movies. But where Chris really dialed in the physicality of his work, Jack Black has done a good job of throwing in subtlety into his roles as well. And, while he hasn't really dived into the dramatic pool yet, it's fun to see him dip his toes in with some movies that feel much more diverse than Chris Farley's.

Movie: Nacho Libre (Own it)

Last week I explained that Nacho Libre isn't for everyone. Part of that verdict is the cultural nesting--being a movie about Mexican wrestling culture, there's certainly a broad demographic that won't get it. Jack Black gives one of his more goofy performances in the film, but the childishly lovable quality that he imbues Ignacio with helps to sell the silliness. And the genuine, if farcically simplistic, nature of his faith makes for a lot of surprising charm. For me, one of the biggest laughs comes when Ignacio (or Nacho, as he is more frequently invoked) explains to his self-proclaimed atheist partner that he's a liability for their match with the "Devil's Cavemen":

The lame, uncultured delivery sets a wry tone as the man of the cloth sneaks up on his gaunt teammate and ninja-baptizes him in a basin of water. Throughout the film, his childish spirituality comes out in silly little quips--especially regarding his crush on a cute nun, whom he flirts with using second-grade overtures. In a movie with fart jokes, stylized wrestling matches, and weaponized corn-on-the-cob, it's nice to have contrastingly subtle humor stemming from internal conflict and character definition.

Movie: School of Rock (Own it)

While Nacho Libre is a movie of particular tastes, School of Rock has much more mass appeal--and much of that can be fairly attributed to Jack Black's perfectly synched charisma, which plays off the rock-centric plot and interacts with the great kid actors well. Jack Black plays Dewey Finn, a perpetual slacker coping with getting kicked out of his band by posing as his substitute teacher roommate to earn money. In the process, he enlists a classroom of private school kids to form a rock band fit for his modest ambitions. Black hits all his usual notes here, ad libbing musical numbers throughout and looking dreadfully intense while cracking one-liners, but in School of Rock it works better than anywhere else. Part of the mass appeal of this film is how mild it is--Dewey eventually teaches his class about the 'values' of Rock* as he identifies them, and they come down to sterilized anti-party messages about standing up for yourself and being a care-free person. This candy-coated heart is adorably clear in the middle of the movie when Dewey tries to teach the class a lesson about Rock that is really geared towards one child he'd seen being dressed down by his father. Asserting that Rock is about "sticking it to the man," he polls the kids on what problems they have and how they feel about it, which composes a quick little song:

While Dewey is teaching the kids an ostensibly deviant lesson, the irony is that he's imbuing the private school shut-ins with the real keys to success. The scrubbed clean Rock is really a coping tool for dealing with failure, hostility, and goal-setting in Dewey's life, and as the film progresses, it becomes the same for the kids, too. Effort and action become more important than success to the pressured youths. They embrace the emotional frustrations they have with their parents, defusing the hostility through healthy confrontation. And the exhilaration of the concert gives the kids an outlet where they become responsible for the fulfillment of their own projects. It's got PSA class with a great Rock soundtrack and a toothlessly counter-cultural vibe, so you can appreciate the film without comprehending any of Jack Black's copious music references. And the cast of kids, with Jack Black as the kinetic shepherd, is well-rounded throughout.

Note to casting directors: James Hosey is a perfect young Tony Curran.

*Rock here is capitalized as it is Dewey Finn's own personal deity of wholesome youth culture.

Movie: Envy (Own it)

Jack Black may be the co-star of Envy, but his presence in the film is a distant second to Ben Stiller's typical twitchy, stuttering comedy. With Black playing a dreamer named Nick Vanderpark, Envy depicts two best friends and family men who have to cope with greed and jealousy when Vanderpark markets a doodoo-disintegrator called Vapoorize and gets absurdly rich in the process. Vanderpark's wealth and eccentricity is the driving force of the film, but he's surprisingly played mildly on screen. Instead, he plays a fairly normal, if attention-challenged, husband and father who goes on a garish spree when he turns out to be filthy rich. Jack Black gets no outlet for his usual hyperactive physicality, and he makes do with only one underplayed musical scene.

Of course, the whole premise of the magical macguffin is a cornerstone of the humor, and Vapoorize is invoked in various ways works really well, as you can tell from the first time Nick spins the idea to his best friend:

Jack Black's wild-eyed, nasal delivery of this and many other lines helps to make this farce feel like one of those classic comedies governed by cartoon physics. It could be any number of Chevy Chase's comedies from the last quarter of the twentieth century, complete with over-wrought plots, wild developments, and episodic plot structure. And Jack Black is perfect, if a little unusual, in the role of the entrepreneur-turned-walking-eyesore--outlining it with a spacey detachment that prevents you from looking too hard at the outlandish and horrible plot developments of this wacky film.

Movie Web Monday will continue next week with a new actor, picking up with some other prolific player from the last movie listed above.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Movie Web Monday: Peter Stormare

Movie Web Monday: Each week, I'll look at a specific actor's roles across three good movies. The third movie will in turn tie into the first movie of the next week's actor, whose third movie will continue the pattern. I will go through actors and movies at this rate, with the following limitations in mind: every movie(or television show) invoked will be one I either own, or wish to own; no movie or actor will be invoked twice. So sit back and enjoy as you fall into the nerdery's movie web. (Oh, and I'll try to keep spoilers to a minimum, telling you just enough to know if you'll enjoy the movie)

Peter Stormare: That Not-Russian Guy

Peter Stormare is one of the more recognizable character actors out of Europe. A Swede by birth, Stormare is known for playing different ethnicities other than his own Scandinavian heritage. He's got a long list of films, including some big blockbusters by Michael Bay and Steven Spielberg--see below. And, thanks to an accounting error in your favor, this week's Movie Web installment will have four entries. Enjoy.

Movie: Jurassic Park: The Lost World (Own it) Light Spoilers

Last week I used Peter Postlethwaite as an atypical antagonist for a Michael Crichton story. This week, Peter Stormare features as a completely typical Crichton antagonist--he bites it hard in a stupid, cruel, and senseless way. This time playing the incredibly German-named Dieter Stark, Stormare is mostly a background fixture in this movie, even more so than the others in today's list. This dino-poacher gets a memorable introduction scene, in which he examines a chicken-sized thunder lizard. The hunters' zoologist explains that the little scavenger hasn't had enough contact with humans to be scared, to which Dieter produces a small cattle prod and tazes the upstart dinosaur, remarking:

It's a goofy little scene that is just plain wrong, and since Crichton's books tend to be anal about the details, I'll blame this on the movie makers: for the most part, animals don't learn to fear man; they learn not to fear man. For instance, coyote attacks are much more worrisome in suburban areas, where the animals become inured to man's presence enough that they learn to attack us large mammals rather than flee in ignorant fear. Rural coyotes, on the other hand, are known to give people a wide berth as they uncertainly probe the larger predator's behavior. Country rats compared to city rats are another good example, as the boldness of the latter is well-known. This makes the whole shtick of Dieter's introduction and his wretched demise sort of a poorly thought-out, zoologically atypical excuse to inflict a painfully drawn-out potty-break-cum-death that doesn't work on a rational level. Stormare, however, sells the agony and the panic of the character's final moments quite well.

And this, by the way, echoes the death of the lawyer in the first Jurassic Park movie. You have a guy off-handedly apathetic towards a small animal's place in the food chain who then dies in the middle of a bathroom break. Gorram lizards, they don't give you a moment's peace.

Movie: Armageddon (Own it)

Armageddon was such a popular film in its time, I doubt Peter Stormare role in this film needs to be introduced. He's Lev Andropov, eccentric cosmonaut and Wookie stand-in for the asteroid teams. As Lev, he gets a couple of the best lines in the rock-beats-planet-but-roughnecks-beat-rock film, and Stormare knows how to deliver the saltily stereotypical Russian lines with just enough cheese to make them work. And it usually serves as a perfect highlight for some of the absurd action set-pieces. For instance, just after the Russian orbital Citgo blows up and the rock-nukers escape, Lev give his ace commentary:

Bunch of cowboys, indeed. Stormare is able to take this funny, one-dimensional character and make him a consistent but reflective element throughout the film. Lev joins in the protagonists' heroics, and as he does so he adopts their level of dramatic gravity while still getting to make a few wry "mother Russia" type jokes. This film probably cemented Stormare's status as funny Eastern European guy, which says a lot about the confident handling he gave this dauntingly shallow role.

Movie: Minority Report (Own it) Light Spoilers

So I shouldn't have done Minority Report this week. I'd planned the movie progression out a long time ago, and it was supposed to be Nacho Libre next (see below), but for whatever reason I thought Minority Report fell into this slot. This was doubly painful for me, as I was reacquainted that Stormare--playing chop-shop surgeon Solomon Eddie--dominates a brief section of the film that is so unwatchably gross that it constantly makes me remember cringing through my first and only viewing of Osmosis Jones. Eddie's impromptu surgery setup is gross, and the profusion of snot in this scene probably exceeds the cumulative total of Spielberg's other works. They lampshade this factor, of course, but it feels forced into the film, with little in the way of transition from the shiny skyscrapers to the slum of this moment. To add to the scene's confusion, the imminent eye-swap is drawn into strict tension that evokes a few Marathon Man notes as Eddie reveals that he's met Tom Cruise's John Anderton before:

Stormare plays up the sadistic pleasure of the scene well, and it's clear that Eddie is really getting off on this moment of power over the cop that put him into prison. Tom Cruise also does a good job playing the doped-up fear of realizing that he might get mutilated as the anesthesia kicks in. But the tension boils away to nothing, as Eddie doesn't do anything too bad to Anderton, and leads me to wonder why the scene wasn't edited down to the bare bones rather than fixating on gross, pointless tension that feels cheap after the payoff is abruptly abandoned. The only explanation I can give is that Stormare's portrayal of Eddie is too good, too condensed and rich already to further edit.

Darn you, Peter. Your quality acting means that this slick sci-fi chase film must always be punctuated by snot dripping out of a grown man's nose and Tom Cruise chugging rancid milk.

Movie: Nacho Libre (Own it)

Most of the movies featured in the Movie Web are ones which I whole-heartedly endorse. One of my favorite past-times is evangelizing unknown or under-appreciated nerd gems, and that forms much of the impetus for the series. That said, Nacho Libre is probably one of the more specialized films on the Movie Web. It's a weird Jack Black film that both homages and parodies certain bizarre elements of Mexican culture in a third grade sort of way that is difficult for some to accept. I love it, but it's not the sort of film I would blanket promote, either. It's easier to appreciate if you enjoy Jack Black's comedy, or if you miss Chris Farley's humor. Indeed, certain strains throughout Nacho Libre are very similar to that of Almost Heroes, as it's a culturally distinct story about a couple of losers banging their heads against a solid object in an effort to feel special...and get rich, too. It also helps if you know a thing or two about luchador culture (a stylized form of Mexican wrestling which makes the WWF* look restrained) or don't mind light ribbing of Latin Catholicism (as opposed to, say, Irish Catholicism).

In this quirky, funny, live-action cartoon of a film, Peter Stormare is just a random piece of crazy potpourri that marks the mid-point of the movie. A "water gypsy"--whatever that is--named Emperor, Stormare gets two lines in the film, but he delivers them with such a drunken, unstable panache that he makes a much larger impression than several other supporting characters in the flick. It boils down to Emperor giving Nacho the most bizarre recipe for wrestling success you'd see outside of an anime:

Like so many of Nacho Libre's moments, much of the humor is enhanced by the pervasively outrageous characters filling this real-ish world. They act serious in the moment, not really giving any big laugh lines at this juncture, but yet this is a strange hobo in a rowboat telling a guy in a home-made wrestling outfit that horking an eagle egg's yolk will make him a magically empowered fighter. The seriousness is what makes it funny, if you enjoy it at all, and Stormare's throaty, bleary delivery of his advice really helps to nail down these elements for me.

*Yes, WWF is the old wrestling organization, from Hulk Hogan's original era. I stick by my archaic identification, as I have no clue what the modern American wrestling abbreviation is.

Movie Web Monday will continue next week with a new actor, picking up with some other prolific player from the last movie listed above.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Movie Web Monday: Pete Postlethwaite

Movie Web Monday: Each week, I'll look at a specific actor's roles across three good movies. The third movie will in turn tie into the first movie of the next week's actor, whose third movie will continue the pattern. I will go through actors and movies at this rate, with the following limitations in mind: every movie(or television show) invoked will be one I either own, or wish to own; no movie or actor will be invoked twice. So sit back and enjoy as you fall into the nerdery's movie web. (Oh, and I'll try to keep spoilers to a minimum, telling you just enough to know if you'll enjoy the movie)

Pete Postlethwaite: Great, Gravel-voiced, and Gone

I've been putting off this Movie Web Monday for some time. This week's featured actor, Pete Postlethwaite, passed away this year at the age of 62. A fabulous British actor I always marked for being one of those fine fellows who needlessly uplifted movies through his high-caliber acting, whether they deserved it or not, Pete has one of the fantastically distinctive voices of modern cinema. He will be missed, and it's almost painful to limit his cross-section of roles to these three movies.

"C'mon, Sharpie..."

Movie: Dragonheart (Own it)

As I've said previously, Dragonheart suffers from a bit of an identity crisis. It has PG humor mixed with grim, dramatic moments, and a damsel in the sort of marital distress that falls uncomfortably between Saturday morning cartoons and the deep anxiety of more serious treatments of the threat. Some of the actors fit well with the serious, dramatic side--I think Quaid falls into this category--and others fit the comedic demands better--Connery's Draco, being a little too kid-friendly, feels this way more often than not. And in the midst of this confusion sits Pete Postlethwaite as Brother Gilbert, a character who succeeds at elevating both the humor and the drama of the film, gloriously making it more fun in a guiltless, not-too-silly way while also heightening the drama of the climax with his seasoned gravity.

Just consider the fun his character exudes in the early film. Gilbert's tireless enthusiasm serves as an excellent and immediate contrast to Bowen's dour, jaded age. It's rare and fun to have an action-oriented movie feature multiple past-prime characters, let alone two who are so distinctly defined by their life experiences. In the monk's case, he lets his academic flair and pseudo-religious quest form a strong backbone to a character who is otherwise terribly naive due to the nature of his life experience. And Postlethwaite delivers on every line, such as when he tries to vet Bowen's prowess as a dragonslayer:

The serious way he delivers that unconfident, faint certification is irresistibly funny. And the bashful way he gets ingratiated into the plot is rather more natural feeling than that of Kara, the leading lady. But he's not just a comedic pillar--he also helps to sell the drama of the closing act of the film, beginning with his face-twitching internal conflict as he forces himself to kill in order to do what he believes is right. And his closing monologue does a superb job of making you forget the half-cocked camp and feel like you really just watched something terribly special. Postlethwaite as Gilbert and soundtrack composer Randy Edelman really define the best moments of the film for me.

Movie: Alien3 (Own it) Light Spoilers

Truly, the Alien series is starkly monochromatic. Normally when applied to movie, that statement is inaccurate--true monochrome implies only one note is being played, so most movies that receive the title should probably be credited as dichromatic. But this sci-fi series merits the term in all its implications. Ripley is a solitary, almost completely out of place point of light in a setting that is defined by the jet grotesquery of the xenomorph defiling the charcoal douche-baggery of the worthless humans who generally fill out the cast. And Alien3 is particularly steeped in this trend: Ripley is surrounded by rapists and murderers whom she enlists to help her kill the alien raping killing-machine. Pete Postlethwaite is a small highlight of the film, but he's a stark one. Other than a handful of lines in Aliens, Pete's character David has one of the most real-sounding lines in the series. It comes as they begin moving some old drums of some sci-fi combustible to arrange a trap for the alien:

The first part of the line is delivered with conscientious gravity--David's really concerned about Ripley being careful with her and his safety. But the afterthought exclamation is the perverse nature rearing its head in a totally believable moment of admiring the destructive potential of the substance. This line always makes me think of my old pyro buddy Luke--it's just a touch of approachable, amicable wickedness in a movie and series that knows one volume: blaring. And nobody but Pete Postlethwaite could deliver it in such a quickly endearing and grounded fashion.


Movie: Jurassic Park: The Lost World (Own it) Light Spoilers

Most of Michael Crichton's stories are about a specific scientific ethic, and woe betide any of his characters opposed to the ethic of his particular story. You normally have one figure--almost always a scientist, an unheeded specialist in his field--who is unassailable in his prescriptions. If you disobey Crichton's mouthpiece, you are not going to fare well. Except when you do. In Jurassic Park: The Lost World, Crichton uncharacteristically makes a character who is both ethically opposed to principal Ian Malcolm and manages to come out as well off as one could hope. Pete Postlethwaite plays Roland Tembo, a big game hunter and orchestrator of the mass-scale hunt that sweeps through the sissy dinosaur preserve. Thanks to Postlethwaite's superb delivery and timing, he storms into the movie and immediately becomes that character you just can't get enough of. Starting with him telling off the pencil-neck exec, Tembo is an acutely principled and forceful character. When he gets to tell off the functionally brain-dead eco-terrorist (played by a pre-popular but still annoying Vince Vaughn), it always gives me a thrill: "Yeah, shut up dino-hugger! I'm going to bag me a T-rex." You'd think he was heading for a grisly end, but Tembo not only makes it through the film intact he also gets the best parting line in the whole film:

Sure, it's still Crichton deconstructing a character opposed to his core message--this time about preservationism--but at least Postlethwaite doesn't die like a punk like all the other nameless goons beneath him in the rest of the movie. Heck, the film probably would sit better with audiences in general if the film ended right here rather than extending itself through a laughable Godzilla riff. Since he's gone now, I sure hope every movie director out there who didn't take the opportunity to have their movie end with Postlethwaite's glorious, gripping, gravelly voice is kicking himself.

Shame on you, Steven Spielberg.

Movie Web Monday will continue next week with a new actor, picking up with some other prolific player from the last movie listed above.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

September 11, Ten Years Distant...

...Ten Years Near.

I've been quiet the past few weeks. An unfortunate admission, notwithstanding the matrix of other concerns and family ailments. And still the blog's been getting regular activity,  which convicts me all the more for my absence.

But I could not let today pass without comment. It would be unacceptable. If this blog stayed silent today of all days, I'd feel completely unworthy to write one word about nerd culture tomorrow. Because, for my generation and my slice of the global demographic, few images are so intensely recognizable, few memories so vibrant or jarring, and few concepts so divisive as those associated with the four terrorist attacks perpetrated against the United States people ten years ago.

When I was younger, I'd hear adults speak all the time about the vivid memories they had of where they were when some seminal event occurred. John F. Kennedy's assassination. Neil Armstrong landing on the moon. The Iran hostage crisis. The Challenger accident. When I would hear someone talk about these vivid life moments, I'd feel a strange mix of envious condescension. I was envious of feeling that intense recollection of one time, one event in history and my tenuous connection with it, but I also felt a patronizing impulse that said there was something--deep down--defective about that surpassing response.

"If this blog stayed silent today of all days, I'd feel completely unworthy to write one word about nerd culture tomorrow."

I was in high school on September 11, 2001. I was in the band room when it happened, warming up on my trumpet and talking to one of my good friends in the section. I felt nothing. No intuitive response, no dread feeling of foreboding, no tickle at the back of my awareness. I went through first period without a single piece of dramatic sensation. In passing period, though, I saw and heard a subtle shift in tone. I'd always transported myself between classes in a quiet solitary fashion, which seemed to make me remarkable amongst the raucous pedestrians around me. On that day, though, everyone seemed a little rushed and hurried.

In a strange way, I was disconcerted by the paradigm shift towards my own behavior. Even the teachers seemed... struck. I got to my math class, sat down, and let the influx of other kids bring in a trickle of more information.

We'd been attacked. New York? Yeah, the Twin Towers. Again? How? They blew it up? It feels stupid to recall the gossiping confusion that accompanied that moment, but that's how it began for me. My math teacher, a big guy named Mr. Arms who liked to smile with his chin when he stumped the class, came into the classroom. He explained what had happened. Two planes had crashed into the World Trade Center, but they didn't really know much more than that. Right now we needed to continue with our curriculum: quadratics or something else essential like that.

I remember Adam--another trumpet player, a year older and a decade better than me--suggested that we should get the day off of school. He said it with that easy-going prom-king smirk of his. Adam and I were friends, even if I didn't merit much face time with the more popular guy. I told him to shut up. This was that moment I'd heard about, that moment I'd never forget, and he inserted a dumb request for a school holiday into it. And, if the dread I'd felt at the moment was at all indicative, we'd be at war the next day anyway.

School continued. It was almost pathetically mundane. Some teachers let us watch the news on the television, and I first saw the oft-repeated footage of those burning towers. Some of the teachers made us continue with our lessons; some didn't. Some kids cried; some didn't. No one really had a good explanation for what they were doing. The teachers who continued with lessons as usual made lame excuses. The teachers who let us watch the news gave us enlightened reasons that were completely irrelevant by lunchtime--we'd all seen the footage by that point, and the answers to our questions weren't forthcoming. The kids who cried really didn't have good reasons for their outbursts--'my mom knows someone who works in New York'--but the rest of us didn't either. I remember telling someone that this was our generation's Pearl Harbor. I used it as an accusation for them being flippant, but the real barb caught myself in the chest when I realized that I was living through my generation's Pearl Harbor and I wasn't even crying.

And that was it. A day without sense, or reason, or explanation, or any sort of natural narrative to it. I felt a tremendous push to go out and do something, but I didn't even have my learner's permit yet--it's not like I could drive from Lake County to New York on a whim. Everything passed, eventually the answers arose, the poor reasoning of the terrorists came to light, and we started to get a narrative of activity. With that narrative, eventually, came dissension. As time moved forward, everyone looked to a different response. Initial landslides of approval for swift response diminished, and by the end of that year, stupid high school students were debating in English class about the nature of the reactionary conflict. I know, I was one of them.

"And that was it. A day without sense, or reason, or explanation, or any sort of natural narrative to it."

Through the years, the motto we've gravitated towards using is "We will never forget". It's powerful. It's elegant. It's wrong. We know it's wrong, and that's why it became the motto of the attack. Like the phrase "The king is dead, long live the king," the saying is almost self-contradictory. Deep down, we all know that time is going to dull the affectation of that moment, to mute the replies, the hurt and the questions we all asked on that day. We use pictures and video and memoirs to fool ourselves that we aren't forgetting--that we won't forget--but we know it's an act. Today I can't tell you in whose class I was sitting when I first saw the footage of the burning towers, and I'm sure in ten years I'll be able to recall few details without referring to the news or an article. Or maybe even this post itself.

So what does "We will never forget" mean? If it's wrong, does it matter? Of course it does. There are some truths that transcend fact. The fact that I will one day forget the specifics of my own experience on September 11, 2001 doesn't change the fact that I will never be the same. Nor will America. Or the rest of the world, for that matter. "We will never forget" isn't a denial of that transient instant that died ten years ago: it's an affirmation that the lessons we learned on that day and the days following are ones that will shape our future. Forever.

Perhaps you might think it's crass to bring this back to nerd culture now, but you can read the heart of a people in their entertainment. And nerd culture is replete with profoundly affecting images and stories that either invoke or reflect the aftershocks of 9/11. Comic books like Spider-Man portrayed their principal characters dealing with the aftermath and devastation directly. Superman had to cope with 9/11 symbolically through a parallel disaster. Much of the later meta-plot of Star Trek: Enterprise was directly inspired by the attacks, almost irreverently so if you watch it with an over-sensitive eye. And new science fiction novels are being written with the attacks firmly ingrained into the authors' and audience's minds. The nature of the senseless, devastating attacks and a blind, determined response are featured as the pillars of Orphanage, by Robert Buettner.

"'We will never forget' isn't a denial of that transient instant that died ten years ago: it's an affirmation that the lessons we learned on that day and the days following are ones that will shape our future. Forever."

We might forget, but we'll never escape the impact of what happened, or our responses as individuals or as a group. It's a part of our culture today, and for my generation it will always be that one event that you tell yourself you'll never forget. Not because it's possible to live up to such a promise, but because it's unthinkable for us to allow ourselves to complacently let it happen again. So we've hard-coded it into our culture, into the language of the consumer. The lessons that there are people out there who are fueled by hate, that the determined annihilists* of the world have sudden and terrible power in their secrecy, and that the peacemakers have awesome and deadly power in their unity. That we can too easily become that which we behold for too long, and that we can also too easily make an image invoked too often vain and useless. That security is a relative, fragile state, and that love and life are fleeting things. We all know stories relating these renewed values, and thanks to the thorough ingratiation of our society into these themes, we have the guarantee that our children will grow up learning from these lessons without having to live through them.

We will never forget.

*Annihilists: those whose loathing for life dictates they waste it in violence.