Commentary

May 9, 2014

Fly Over: ‘Michael Jackson: The Life of an Icon’, and ‘Wheel of Time’ Series’

Flyover-Michael-Jackson-review

On Netflix:

Michael Jackson: The Life of an Icon

As a child I remember being excited whenever my mom turned on the car radio, and I would fight with my brother about who would sing the next song. I grew up listening to rhythm and blues with a little soul, commonly known as R&B. While my ‘90s favorites include Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Brian McKnight and KC & Jo Jo, one artist and his music that will remain engrained in my head is Michael Jackson.
Before I knew what Jackson looked like, I always jammed out to his music, and I recall the day I saw him for the first time in a music video. The song was called “You Are Not Alone.” I was captured by the song immediately but was confused even as a child because he looked different. I questioned why he was so pale and why there was something odd about his face. Nonetheless, I still enjoyed his music. It wasn’t until I got older that I came to understand the man who sang the song “ABC” by The Jackson 5, “Billie Jean” and “Thriller” was the same man in that music video.
And then there it was, a documentary in my Netflix recommendations list, titled “Michael Jackson: The Life of an Icon.” The documentary chronicles Jackson’s life from early childhood, through his teen years and into adulthood when he reached the peak of his career earning the title King of Pop.
Jackson didn’t start out living a lavish lifestyle. He was the eighth of 10 children and grew up in a two-bedroom house in Gary, Indiana. His mother, Katherine Esther Scruse, stayed at home while his father, Joseph Walter “Joe” Jackson, was a steelworker.
Growing up, Jackson’s older brothers were the original members of what is known today as “The Jackson 5.” Michael begged for a chance to sing in the band until they finally let him. It didn’t take long before Jackson’s talent was recognized, and he became the star of the group. His natural talent and presence on stage were undeniable, making crowds cheer and clap for more. He and his brothers worked tirelessly, going to school during the day, practicing for hours afterward and falling into bed at the crack of dawn after performing hours away in Chicago.
After many more performances at local music venues including the R&B mecca, the Apollo Theatre, Motown Records signed the Jackson 5 in 1969. The Jacksons relocated to Los Angeles, where they set chart records with their first four singles, “I Want You Back,” “ABC,” “The Love You Save,” and “I’ll Be There.”
The documentary follows Jackson to the start of his solo career when he released “Thriller,” his best-selling album worldwide.
The documentary also focused on his personal life, such as how he was confident on stage but had a quieter demeanor off stage and covered the plastic surgeries he had throughout his career. His first was reported as surgery to fix a broken nose. It also explained he wanted a pale skin tone and began bleaching his skin.
The documentary also mentioned the multiple child molestation charges. The documentary claimed Jackson’s legal team advised him to pay off the first alleged victim because they were watching out for themselves. It purports the lawyers wanted to preserve his fortune and him to continue touring without court dates causing cancellations. In interviews, close friends and family say Jackson regretted paying off the accuser because the public then assumed his guilt.
Overall, it was a good documentary covering the main points of Jackson’s life. There are interviews and clips of Jackson’s performances intertwined with his personal life and his final appearances in 2009. I recommend the film to Jackson fans or anyone who is curious to know more about the man behind the hat, gloves and moves.

 
wheeloftime

In print:

‘Wheel of Tim Series’

“The ‘Wheel of Time’ turns, and Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth comes again.”
These simple words usher in the beginning of every book of the Robert Jordan’s “Wheel of Time” series. The series revolves around the struggles of the Dragon Reborn and the events leading up to his fight with the Dark One in “Tarmon Gai’don” or “The Last Battle.”
In the mythology series, a deity known as the Creator forged the universe and the “Wheel of Time,” which spins the lives of all people into the Pattern of the Age. The Creator sealed Shai’tan, known as the Dark One, away from the wheel at the moment of creation. The wheel has seven spokes, each representing an age, and rotates due to the energy of the One Power, which flows from the True Source. Composed of two halves, saidin, the male half, and saidar, the female half, working in opposition and in unison, turns the wheel. The humans who can use this power are referred to as channelers; the principle organization of such wielders are called Aes Sedai or Servants of All in the Old Tongue of the book.
In a time called the Age of Legends or the Second Age, an Aes Sedai experiment accidentally breached the Dark One’s prison, allowing him to touch the world. He called the powerful, corrupt and ambitions to his cause and they began to try freeing the Dark One fully from his prison in return for worldly power and immortality.
In response to this threat, the wheel spun out the Dragon, a male Aes Sedai named Lews Therin Telamon, as the champion of light. A century after the breach, the Dark One’s influence has spread throughout the world. After a decade of grueling world-wide war, the forces of the Light were found facing the possibility of defeat.
In desperation, the Dragon led a force of male channelers and soldiers to the site of the earthly link to the Dark One’s prison and was able to seal it off, although imperfectly. The Dark One, backlashing from the attempt to reseal him, tainted saidin, driving male channelers insane.
The Dragon wasn’t immune to the effects. In his insanity, he killed his family, friends and anyone related to him. Given a moment of sanity by Ishamael, chief among the Dark Ones’s servants, the Dragon realized what he had done, drawing more of the One Power than even he could safely handle, killing himself. This ushered in the Time of Madness where male Aes Sedai reshaped the planet with the One Power. This event would come to be known as The Breaking of the World.
Thirty-five hundred years later, only women are able to wield the One Power safely. Men who can channel eventually became objects of fear and horror since they would go insane unless stopped. People are scattered from their native lands and civilization has managed to rebuild, but nowhere near the power or prestige of the Age of Legends.
The Dark One has continued to try and break free. Humanity lives with the Prophesy of the Dragon which states that the Dragon will be reborn to face the Dark One once more, raining destruction and chaos on the world while saving it from the Dark One. This series is the story of how that comes to be.
I would love to go into the dichotomy of the series – how it has chief elements of duality and all of that, but it doesn’t really matter. Instead, I’ll let you know that the series is fantastic. Jordan, and eventually Brandon Sanderson, who finished the series after Jordan passed away, weaves a world that is easy to become immersed in. The characters are likeable, relatable and fun to follow. You worry about their safety while at times wanting to kick them for their stubbornness. The only gripe I have with the series is that it is overly long. Some of the books didn’t seem to push the plot forward at all. I see how they fit now that I’m almost done with the series.
With none of the books clocking in under 600 pages, this isn’t a pick-it-up-and-read-over-the-weekend kind of series. It is an epic fantasy series that I believe is worth the time to read.




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