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.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Price of Promises

So here's a problem - how do you go about breaking a promise you made to a dragon?

He-Man and Teila faced this situation. They knowingly and willingly entered into a bargain with a dragon. Why? The dastardly hell-fiend Skeletor sneaked into the palace and turned Man-At-Arms into a statue. The Sorceress didn't know how to turn back Duncan, but she did know someone who did: Granamyr, the most ancient Dragon and the wisest being on all of Eternia. One little problem, though. She can't tell anyone where he lives. She made a promise.

This should have been a big warning to He-Man. Be careful what you promise dragons.

He-Man and girl power heroine Teila manage to find their way to Granamyr. He sees em, makes a few choice remarks about the human race, and agrees to help them. If. If they will promise to cut down the oldest tree in all of Eternia - the oldest living being in all of Eternia - thereby making Granamy the oldest of em all.

Okay. Maybe there's something special about this tree. Maybe He-Man and Teila should do some investigating before they agree to cutting it down. But they were desperate. Desperate people do stupid things.

Making a deal with the devil, it's called. Wanting something so bad that you don't look toward the consequences. Or maybe you do look to the consequences, but you do it anyway. For He-Man and Teila, they were saving Duncan's life. They agreed to banish to the demon dimension of they were to renege on their promise.

Be careful what you promise dragons.

Of course the tree turns out to be a living, conscious being. (Complete with a blue leprechaun guard.) Of course He-Man and Teila cannot bring themselves to cut it down. They won't pay that price, even for Man-At-Arms.

There is a price on human lives, it turns out, even for one such as Man-At-Arms. It's not so much what you'll pay for a life that determines its price - it's what you won't do. The value of Duncan's life would become meaningless if it was purchased with the blood - or sap, in this case - of an innocent.

Luckily for He and Te, Granamyr is impressed with their choice and doesn't send them to dance with the demons. But still. Granamyr had them in his power. He could've banished them forever.

Be careful what you promise dragons.

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