The day of my grandfather’s funeral.

John PetersJust before Christmas 2013, my grandfather passed away. I read the following at his memorial service.

I did not know the same John Peters you did. When you’re children, your parents are superheroes; it just so happens that mine still are. Your grandparents are beings of even greater power and mystery.

Grandpa was made of granite, stern-faced and serious, with impenetrable eyes of steely blue. Even a child could tell his approval was hard to win. He was the last person I wanted to admit weakness to. So when I was severely sunburned after a day wakeboarding on the lake, crying in pain, grandpa was the last person whose help I wanted.

But children rarely get a say in such matters, so it was grandpa who helped me. Wary of disappointing him, I composed my cries to mere sniffles. But grandpa gave no reprimand, no recrimination. He simply took care of me, massaging aloe into my scorched skin, his hands as gentle as any I’ve ever known.

Grandpa constantly shaped the world to his vision, whether he was running a restaurant, building a house or uprooting trees. That particular day, his vision was to heal his grandson.

I said before that grandpa was serious, but that is only half the story. Grandpa was more prone to issue proclamations than mere opinions, his eyes full of blue fire, holding my gaze, daring me to challenge him. Then the corners of his mouth would twitch, his eyes would crinkle, and ever so gradually, a huge grin would split that granite face.

While I remember grandpa as stern and ambitious, he had moments of great tenderness and great humor.

Perhaps his greatest fault was having too much vision, and never enough time.

Five reasons Luke Skywalker is a jerk.

Five ReasonsRemember Luke Skywalker, the hero of the original STAR WARS trilogy? He’s kind of a jerk; here’s five reasons why.

1. He drops everything to chase tale.

When backwater Luke wakes up R2’s messaging software, the holographic princess awoke something in Luke. We can chalk some of Luke’s behavior to being a Tatooine provincial, but not all.

One sight of the princess and he’s forgotten about cleaning droids. He wants the entire message, and only bedtime interrupts him. (Perhaps Luke has reason to rush for the privacy of his bedroom.) In the morning when R2 is missing, any responsible young man might have confessed his error, prompting Uncle Owen to dock Luke’s allowance to pay for a replacement. Not Luke. He risks not only himself, but his other droid in hot pursuit. Read More →

The day I accidentally killed a Jedi Padawan.

Gaming for the Non-GamerAs my Jedi Sage alter ego, Lomerell, I was on a mission for the Republic:

A plague is afflicting Jedi Masters, clouding their minds with the dark side and driving them insane. I have learned a Force Shielding technique which cures the afflicted and protects them from future influence…when I can confront them directly.

On the planet Taris, I tracked down Jedi Master Cin Tykan, thus afflicted and threatening thousands of innocent lives. In fact, he threatened to destroy most of Taris’s much-needed restoration project.

Unfortunately, by the time I reached him, Tykan had been joined by his Padawin, Aris. She was a bright and talented pupil, who fully embraced the Light Side…until she allied with her plagued Master.

I find peace and serenity in the light, but I’m perhaps too quick to fire up my lightsaber. I don’t take kindly to threats, and sometimes convincing someone I could hurt them (even if I don’t plan to) is expedient.

When I confronted Master Tykan and his Padawan, I started calm, but they greeted me with bravado and threats. I don’t remember exactly what was said, but I grew impatient. I don’t know whether I could have resolved the entire matter peaceably, but somehow I offended Tykan.

They both attacked. Read More →

The day I “proposed” to Megan.

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Jason and Megan, 2008

I never gave Megan an engagement ring or technically asked her to marry me.

When I worked for the Sheriff’s department, Megan found a ring she liked and called me at work. The ring was on sale because the store was going out of business. The store was open for one more day…for 8 hours in the middle of my 12-hour shift. I couldn’t come see the ring or buy it for her out of custom. Either she bought, it or waited for another she liked.

Megan assured me:

  1. We could afford the ring.
  2. She liked it.
  3. She had no misgivings.

Mobile phones don’t work inside Orange County Jail (Hillsborough). Calls from the Missus were taken at the front desk, a huge office separated into “behind” and “out front” by huge metal bars — the same ones that demarcated cells. The room was part office, part break room for everyone working “up top” (the front half of the jail).

My half of the conversation was plainly audible.

After hanging up, I turned to my fellow officers and said, “Guess I’m getting married.”

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Five reasons “The Two Towers” is the worst Lord of the Rings film.

Five ReasonsCritics claim that the middle film of a trilogy is the most difficult. They’re wrong.

The opening has the advantage of introduction. More time is allotted to get to know the people, setting, rules. Caring about the characters is more critical than advancing the plot.

The ending has the advantage of drama: Everything hinges on individual moments.

The penultimate installment has its own advantages, though. New threads can be introduced that don’t require immediate resolution. The characters are established. The center of a trilogy is the only place you can get away with episodic cliffhangers (the kind television takes for granted).

That’s why The Empire Strikes Back is the strongest STAR WARS. There’s no time wasted on Luke’s background, Han’s motives or Leia’s personality. Obi-Wan’s stoicism sets up Yoda’s hilarity (which wouldn’t be funny if we’d met Yoda first). Throw-away lines from the first movie (“You think a princess and a guy like me…?”) become whole plots, because there’s time for development.

Events aren’t concluded. Heroes stumble from bad to worse ’til credits roll. It’s fantastic.

Despite the gooey fun at the trilogy’s center (like a tootsie pop), The Two Towers managed to repeatedly disappoint, though sandwiched between two of the greatest fantasy adaptations of all time. Read More →

The day Megan proved four of you wrong.

On Friday, I explained Megan’s Surprise Dilemma, a gambit wherein Megan had the option to unravel various surprises.

As a bonus, I included a poll to predict both Megan’s reaction and Jason’s plans. Only five people voted (despite >30 reading the article) but there were still interesting “trends.” (Can you say “trend” of a tiny sample size?)

  • Nobody voted either “surprise” was a lie. Everyone expected both surprises to exist.
  • Four readers predicted that Megan would not want to know and would abstain from checking the laptop bag.
  • One reader predicted that Megan would check, deliberating spoiling both surprises.

Neither Megan nor I voted.

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The day I went politely dark side.

Last week was stressful. I needed a break when I could be both un-creative and harmlessly vengeful. (Pundits have missed the point of violence in video games…it’s so we don’t act out in reality.)

Typically, I prefer light-sided Sith. Their questlines are convoluted, balancing acts of kindness with impressing their masters and hiding their secret generosity. Dark Jedi balance similar deception among their elders. The gun classes (Trooper, Bounty Hunter, Smuggler, Imperial Agent) are less polarized.

Dark Sith are a different animal. They’re afforded regular opportunities to be truly vicious. Normally, it’s exhausting. But sometimes you just need to play the villain. Tordethal was my first villain who pulled no punches. Weaklings and cowards who beg for mercy get receiving end of Force Lightning. *zap, crackle* Let that be a lesson to my coworkers! Yeah!

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