Given (Prequel to Taken)


After having seen the movies “Taken 1, 2 and 3,” I started thinking to myself: “how far can they go with the Taken Movies?” It seems that they have been doing a great job at the box office, and it appears people are enjoying those kinds of movies. Liam Neeson is a great actor and being in any movie really, changes the caliber of that movie. But the question remains, if there were to be a prequel to the taken movies, what would it be like? And what would it be called?  We all know there are no negative numbers in a movie’s title. If it was a comedy then we could perhaps entertain the idea but it’s not. For this reason, If I were to come up with a prequel for taken, I would use the name that a close friend of mine suggested “Given”.

The story will be about the young Liam Neeson character, early on in his life, recently married. One day he hears a knock on the door. His wife asks him to check it out, and like any normal tall person he opens the door without looking down. He thinks it’s a prank at first, until he hears the sound of a baby crying. He looks down and sees this cute baby in a basket with a note in it “this baby has been given to you” something like “tag, you’re it”.  Now we all know Neeson’s character; since he doesn’t appreciate things taken from him, he wouldn’t like things given to him either. So he researches the hand writing and discovers who the real parents are. He digs further and gets the cell phone number then calls them up and says: “Hey, I will find you, and I will give you this baby back”.

Raghid Khalil

Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance (Review)

FotorCreated I was discussing the movie “Birdman” with my cousin the other day, and we have come up with several different possible endings or interpretations of the movie in its entirety.

However, since we’re both happy people, “it runs in the family”, we tried to look at it from a positive angle.

From this point on, this post contains massive spoiler alert. If you still haven’t seen the movie, I suggest you stop reading until you have seen it. Then again, I suggest you read this, and give me your thoughts on our perspective.

The most important part is the reference made about superheroes in the movie, not only verbally but also visually; this appeared towards the end of the movie “on stage”.

When watching the movie Birdman, one has to draw a parallel between the Character of Riggan together with Birdman, and the real life Character Michael Keaton together with Batman.

Aside from that, you will notice Edward Norton who has played Hulk, Naomi Watts played alongside “King Kong” and Emma Stone played alongside “Spider-man”. All three have managed to succeed in real life.  When it comes to Michael Keaton or even “Riggan” the character in the movie, both of them have once been greater than life, and have almost sunk to the lowest low to an extent that they were almost forgotten. Birdman and Batman, both are birds and both have grossed millions in the theatres, but both Riggan and Michael were harshly critiqued for their superhero roles.

Since we have established that to a large extent, that both Michael Keaton and Riggan are to a great extent a reflection of one another, and since we do not have a clear idea of the ending of the movie, as to when the window of the hospital was left open.  Did he jump? Did he die? What was really meant by that?

So this is where the optimism comes into play, by looking at the success of Michael Keaton today not as a superhero but as an actor, especially after his role in Birdman, and by monitoring the look of Riggan’s daughter  “Sam” slowly staring up towards the sky, I could only deduce the ending of Birdman’s Riggan to be in parallel to that of the real life Michael Keaton. He is back on the map, he is slowly emerging  as an actor after he has proven himself to be a success outside of his suit.

–Raghid Khalil

The Unfortunate Genius

Wheel of Fortune

How many geniuses do you know? How many of them are successful?

I am in the midst of reading a book written by Malcolm Gladwell titled “Outliers”. It tries to reshape our understanding of success and successful people. I am still halfway through the book and I can say Gladwell is enlightening and thought provoking. His inventive theories are logical and delightful.

What do you think Bill Gates and the Beatles have in common?

In a nutshell, the answer is practice. The saying “practice makes perfect” is revised and well defined. In order to be good at anything you have to do it almost 10,000 hours. It is the 10,000 hour rule. Mozart practiced over 10,000 hours before producing his masterwork of a concerto that contains his own original pieces at the age of 21. Before the Beatles hit stardom they were performing at strip-clubs in Germany. They used to perform for 8 consecutive hours, 7 days a week, for a whole year. I am not such a math wiz but looking at the calculations they got to practice 2,950 times in one year. It took them 10 years to be famous. So around 29,500 hours in 10 years. They exceeded the 10,000 hour rule and voila they became famous.

Talent does definitely play a role too in success. I am not going to argue that.

So the formula so far is practice + talent.

The third and last piece of the formula to success is Luck. How lucky are you?

Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and other successful individuals were lucky as lucky can be. You would think that some invisible force is disregardful to all of us 7 billion people on earth and focusing on gearing these lucky people toward good and better opportunity.

Let us examine this simple anecdote of Bill Gates life. His family was well to do. They enrolled him in a private school. That school club raised money and decided to get the most up to date computer of that time. He got the chance at a very young age to practice programming and work on the computer for hours on end. By the time he was at university he exceeded 10,000 hours of practice. Mind you that was in the 60’s when computers where expensive and not that very available. Thus he had the upper hand and practice. He had talent. And to top it all, he had a series of fortunate events.

On the other end of the spectrum we have the smartest man in the world, Chris Langan. His IQ is the highest recorded. Langan’s IQ is 195 compared to Albert Einsteins IQ of 150 . Yet this poor man is jinxed. He grew up in poverty. His stepfather used to beat him up. When he went to college his mother forgot to fill out the scholarship renewal forms so he was expelled. The universities he went to were disregardful to his genius nature. He dropped out. He lives in Montana and has worked in construction and as a bouncer at clubs throughout his life. This is the smartest person in the world… Now that is food for thought. He taught himself and has come up with a theory on the universe called “Cognitive-Theoretic Model of the Universe”. I tired reading through it but to no avail… The sad thing about his theory is that it will never be published or peer reviewed because at the end of the day it is written by someone who does not have credential and a degree.

Finally, to sum things up; the formula to success is practice+ a dash of talent + a tub full of opportunity and luck.

For all the people out there dreaming of success I wish you Good luck.

Rasha Nasser Khalil