Monday, December 28, 2015

My Stanford Prison Experiment While Waiting in Line for 'Star Wars'

As published in The Huffington Post

The scene reminded me of the 1971 experiment on authority which suggested why Nazis conformed, only instead of cells with prisoners there was an IMAX movie theater full of Star Wars nerds.

My numbered wristband revealed when I could enter the IMAX theater at the National Air and Space Museum the night Star Wars: The Force Awakens opened. I would be the 362nd nerd in the theater because I arrived only 90 minutes before the showing instead of 630 minutes like the luckiest nerd, Number 1.

Screw this. I cut through the pack, weaving between ropes, to stand with my friend Griffin who had arrived 150 minutes early.

"Do not cut in line or stand out of order!" a uniformed man who was standing outside the roped area screamed to the moviegoers. "You will enter the theater single-file! We will check your wristband! If you are out of order we will remove you! There will be no saving seats!"

Nerds began chattering, asking other nerds "What number are you?" to ensure they lined properly. When nerds asked about my number, I said, "I'm just standing with my friend," and pocketed my right hand.

"Good luck, I hope you make it," nerds said patting me on the back.

The line began moving and solemn nerds shuffled towards the leader, the man checking wristbands, in front of the theater. I quickly considered what to say to that man justifying my disorder in as few words as possible. Keep reading My Stanford Prison Experiment While Waiting in Line for 'Star Wars'.

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Friday, December 4, 2015

Rocky VII

Creed snuck up on us like a left hook from 27-year-old Rocky Balboa. Creed is the latest film in the Rocky franchise and hit us all in the face for doubting Sylvester Stallone (yes, I know he didn’t write the screenplay this time, but come on). It has a 93 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes and an 8.7 on IMDB. “Five star movie of the year best actor best supporting actor top 25 movies I've ever seen,” I emailed JD when it ended.

I still smiled hours after seeing the movie in the theater on Thanksgiving, thinking of the character I grew up with, loved, and considered my last line of defense against cancer; of the music that inspired my stem cells to flourish during my transplant; and of hitting something. Thankfully I have an 80-pound heavy bag for that.

The original Rocky released in November 1976 and won three Oscars including Best Picture. In 1982, when Stallone was 36, Philly placed a statue of Rocky at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the site of the “Rocky Steps.” Not even Tom Brady, 38, has a statue (yet). Rocky will remain part of Philadelphia's, and America’s, culture. I celebrate, instead of tease (yes, Rocky V stunk but they can’t all be winners), the people who have made Rocky special for 39 years.

Small Spoiler Below Related to Rocky’s Health, Hinted at in the Trailer. Stop Reading If You Wish.

Benjamin Rubenstein with Rocky statue and Rocky steps at Philadelphia Museum of Art
Climbing the Rocky Steps and seeing Rocky's statue at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in September 2012
Some critics criticized the film for forcing drama by having Rocky develop cancer. By the end of this year, there will be an estimated 1,658,370 new cancer cases diagnosed in the U.S. Most of those people can’t afford to pause life so they continue working, parenting, attending school, and living. They contribute as best they can.

It is not cheap or forced for Rocky to develop cancer and continue training Creed as best he can. It is reasonable that he could be one of the 1.6 million diagnosed who continue living and striving to succeed. I commend Creed for sharing a small piece of the cancer world in a way that doesn’t dominate the plot and isn’t over the top.

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