It starts with five simple words:


And then it comes. The music builds. Lightning from the sky strikes the man with the upraised sword. Does it hurt him? Just listen to what he says next:


You remember. Electric bolts of pure energy crackle around his muscled body. Hands that can punch through solid steel grip the sword that transformed the bumbling prince into the most powerful man in the universe. You remember the way it felt to grab hold of a plastic sword or a stick or even empty air and say those same words: I have the power.

We all want the power. But the world seems to be short on magic swords these days. Believe me, I've checked. (You think I'd be writing this if I had a magic sword? No way. I'd be out battling shadow beasts and seven-headed monsters, saving nubile red-haired maidens from guys with skulls for faces.)

So what do we do? Well, I suppose you can grow a mustache and build weapons devices and adopt an orphan who grows up to be captain of the guards. But let's face it. Not everyone can grow mustaches. And even if you can, do you really want to? Basically the only people who can have mustaches without looking silly are those who've always had mustaches. (Having a mustache attached to a beard doesn't count, by the way. It's still just a beard. That's a whole other story.) It's something set from the time of adolescence, something you have to choose. Either you're a mustache guy or you're not. Once you've decided, it's locked in. (It works both ways, too. Suddenly you shave off your mustache and bam! You've got a lip coming from nowhere. Scary.)

Okay. You don't have a magic sword, or a mustache, or skill with weapons or space technology in a barbarian sorcery world. You can't be He-Man or Man-At-Arms. I'll assume that, like me, if you can't do any of the above, you also cannot fly, ram into buildings with your head, or transform into a mystical falcon. Is this reason to despair? Will your life be meaningless from now on?

The answer to all of these questions is: NO! You can have the power without the magic sword. No, I don't mean you'll be able to pick up Castle Grayskull and throw it into the air using your bulging muscles. I'm talking about the real power that He-Man wields. His morality.

Fast forward to the end of the show. The battle with Skeletor was fought and won. Old skullface runs off, shaking his hands in the air, vowing eternal revenge. Like we're scared. Next time we'll just beat him again. No matter who he brings along! (By the way, who has a skull instead of a face? How can he even see without eyeballs?) After all that the show should be over, right?

Wrong! Now comes the most important part. The moral.

You've heard the expression, "the moral of the story." No doubt your 11th grade English teacher had you combing all the pages from "Call me Ishmael" to "Finis" so you could explain, in your own words, just what Moby Dick really meant. He-Man would never lead you on such a pointless chase. At the end of every single episode, He-Man (or one of his faithful and heroic friends) tells you plainly and simply what you should know about how to live a good and happy life. That knowledge, my friends, is real power. With it you can master the universe. Stay tuned.

Friday, May 29, 2009

It's Tough To Be A Dragon

One of the things He-Man teaches us again and again is that you can't judge a book by its cover.

Take Dragons, for example. Dragons can fly; they have razor sharp claws that can tear you to ribbons; they have a massive tail that can crush your spine; and, oh yeah, they breathe fire. Very dangerous creatures to be around.

Those are precisely the reasons Skeletor takes control of a clutch of dragon eggs. With Beast-Man's help, he steal the eggs, juices them up with quick growth serum, and sicks them onto the heroic warriors.

Luckily for the good guys Man-At-Arms has developed a stasis ray that immobilizes the dragons.

At this point, the heroes could rest easy. They've defeated the dragons - and dragons are bad, right? I mean, look how dangerous they are. Something so scary and dangerous must be evil. But He-Man doesn't stop there. He doesn't assume the dragons are bad. He wonders why the dragons attacked. Well, who would want to attack Eternia? Old Bone Dome, who just happens to a have an animal control expert on staff.

This leads him to investigate Skeletor. It's a good thing, too. Skeletor has broken through Castle Grayskull's defenses and imprisoned the Sorceress. He-Man and friends, with the dragons as allies (once Beast-Man is stasis-ized) manage to win back the day.

If He-Man and company had simply assumed that the dragons were bad (and not investigated Skeletor, thus learning of his diabolical plot), they might not have arrived in time to save the Sorceress and Grayskull. A Skeletor in control of Grayskull would have meant enslavement and eventual death for every foe of Skeletor.

(By the way, can you really blame the guy for wanting to be in control of Castle Grayskull? Come on! The guy has a skull for a face! It's like the thing was made just for him. Are the good guys taunting him? Couldn't they at least put a beard made of vines on the front of the castle to make it look a little less like the Big Bad Bone?)

Usually we're told not to judge by appearances because of the effects this can have on the person (or creatures) being judged. That's true here, of course - the dragons weren't put down, which I'm sure they appreciate. But more importantly are the effects on the people doing the judging. Looking past the book's cover and reading the pages gave them the information that saved their lives.

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