Friday, February 25, 2011

Transformers Feature: Animated Ultra Magnus

Transformers fans definitely have Animated on their minds these days. Yesterday saw the reveal of Motormaster, the final figure of the five-figure "Stunticon" box set for BotCon 2011, a toy that even before the reveal was generating a huge amount of discussion. I don't actually have the Voyager Optimus Prime toy on which Motormaster is based (although I could grab it for about $12 at Tuesday Morning at the moment if I really wanted to), and I reviewed popular alternative mold-choice Wreck-Gar more than a year ago (ironically, a Twitter "repost" of that entry went live yesterday, entirely by coincidence. I set up that buffer weeks ago, before I knew that Motormaster would be revealed the same day), so I'm instead going to discuss one of the admitted "longshots" that some fans wanted to see made into Motormaster: Animated Ultra Magnus.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Stories of Peace and Suffering

Note: This entry was actually written a couple of weeks ago, and was intended for the Fuller Blogs site, where I contribute weekly reflections specific to the Fuller seminary community.  Unfortunately, that site has been down for some time now, and so I made arrangements last week to have this posted here today.  This past weekend, the Fuller community was hit with the news that one of our graduates and former adjuncts, Scott Adam, along with his wife and two others, were captured by Somali pirates, and the subsequent news of their deaths by the time we woke up to come to work yesterday.  I'm not sure I have anything productive to add to the discussion around that news, but obviously can't help but think of that as I revisit this piece.  Please continue to pray for the families of those involved.

At about 10:30 am, on the morning of February 2nd, Fuller was honored to welcome Lloyd Ogilvie as he began preaching a sermon for our regular Wednesday morning chapel service.  Ogilvie spoke about the gift of God’s peace, and as one of my co-workers later suggested, there wasn’t a dry eye in her row.

At about 10:30 am that same Wednesday morning, a janitor at Louisiana Schnell Elementary School in Placerville, CA, walked into the principal’s office, raised a weapon, and shot him.  The principal died within hours.

No children were physically harmed in this tragedy.  But I expect that they feel considerably less at peace today than they used to.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Transformers Feature: Animated Ratchet

Every once in a while, a character in Transformers: Animated, while definitely being an homage to the Generation One character for which it is named, shows signs of being at least as much an homage to another character entirely.  This is the case with Ratchet.  While Ratchet remains the doctor of the group, just as the original version was, the personality of Ratchet bears a stronger resemblance to Kup, the "crotchety old guy" character that originated in Transformers: The Movie back in 1986.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Scandalous Definition of the Word "Amen"

There are a lot of words Christians use all the time, but which, when asked to give a concise definition to someone not already entrenched in Christian culture, we might have trouble defining.  Obvious examples include "sanctification," "predestination," and "transfiguration," although even more common words such as "peace" and "hope" are often used in particular ways when used in a Christian context as opposed to a secular one.   One word which we use perhaps more than all those others combined may demonstrate this difficulty well.  If you were asked to define the word "amen," without using the phrase "the word placed at the end of a prayer or a hymn," what would you say?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Transformers Feature: Animated Bulkhead

Not every character that appears in Transformers: Animated is a Generation One homage.  In fact, there are a few characters in Animated that are entirely new to the Transformers canon.  Bulkhead is one of these.*

Friday, February 11, 2011

Transformers Feature: Animated Starscream

If you're watching a Transformers cartoon, in pretty much any continuity, and you see a character named Starscream, you have a pretty good idea of what to expect.  Starscream is just one of those character-types that has become a perennial part of any Transformers line.  Much like Optimus Prime and Megatron, you can be fairly certain these days that any new line will have a Starscream character, that he will probably turn into some kind of a jet, and that he will be a back-stabbing schemer seeking to replace Megatron as the Decepticon leader.  Animated Starscream is no exception.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Denominations, Division, and Doctrine

There's been a lot of talk recently around the PC(USA) circles that I frequent (and a few non-PC(USA) ones) about a letter that was written, co-signed by a number of PC(USA) pastors, suggesting that the church is "deathly ill" and calling for "something new" that looks, to me, a lot more like a Baptist-style congregational polity than the kind of "connective" denomination that the PC(USA) used to pride itself on being.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Transformers Feature: Animated Jazz

Many fans of Animated seem to like the line because it has an arguably higher number of explicit Generation One homages than other lines of the recent past.  However, Animated does take enough liberties with the homages to ensure that it remains its own distinct line.  Often, an homaged character may closely resemble the Generation One version on the surface, while introducing new wrinkles to make the Animated version unique.  Jazz is a good example.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Inventions, Ideas, and Imagination

Hand toolsEarlier this week, there was a bit on NPR that suggested that no invention ever completely becomes extinct.  This led to a humorous bit of back-and-forth as the NPR interviewer tried to come up with tools or inventions that he considered so obsolete that surely no one makes them anymore.  He was unable to come up with anything definitive (depending on how you set your terms.  There was one five-hole tool that he was only able to find a modern three-hole version, but the basic intent was clearly the same thing).  For emphasis, I should make clear that I don't mean that they were just looking to ensure that no antique sample of the tool could be found.  They were looking for tools that may have been made any number of years ago, and looking to see if someone, anyone, was still making them new today.  In every single case they could come up with, a modern version was found.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Transformers Feature: Animated Optimus Prime vs. Megatron: The Battle Begins 2-Pack

Every Transformers franchise these days needs an Optimus Prime and a Megatron.  It's all but unthinkable that Hasbro would attempt a new line that lacked leader characters with these names.  The Animated line is certainly no exception, and Hasbro made sure to get these characters in kids' hands quickly by releasing this two-pack right at the beginning of the line.

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